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- The Curlytops on Star Island - 5/32 -
"I'll ask grandma for some," promised Ted, and he soon came back with his hands full of the round, brown molasses cookies.
"Hello, Curlytops, what can I do for you. to-day?" asked the storekeeper a little later, when the three children had driven up to his front door. "Do you want a barrel of sugar put in your wagon or a keg of salt mack'rel? I have both."
"We want baking soda," answered Jan.
"And you shall have the best I've got. Where are you going--off to look for the end of the rainbow and get the pot of gold at the end?" he asked jokingly.
"No, we're not going far to-day," answered Ted.
"Well, stop in when you're passing this way again," called out the storekeeper as Ted turned Nicknack around for the homeward trip. "I'm always glad to see you."
"Maybe you won't see us now for quite a while," answered Jan proudly.
"No? Why not? You're not going to leave Cherry Farm I hope."
Ted stopped Nicknack that they might better explain.
"We're going camping with grandpa on Star Island."
"Where's that you're going?" asked a farmer who had just come out of the store after buying some groceries.
"Camping on Star Island in Clover Lake," repeated Ted.
"Huh! I wouldn't go there if I were you," said the farmer, shaking his head.
"Why not?" asked Ted. "Is it because of the blue light?" and he looked at his sister to see if she remembered.
"I don't know anything about a blue light," the farmer answered. "But if I were your grandfather I wouldn't take you there camping," and the man again shook his head.
"Why not!" asked Janet, her eyes opening wide in surprise.
"Well, I'll tell you why," went on the farmer. "I was over on Star Island fishing the other day, and I saw a couple of tramps, or maybe gypsies, there. I didn't like the looks of the men, and that's why I wouldn't go there camping if I were you or your grandpa," and the farmer shook his head again as he unhitched his team of horses.
OFF TO STAR ISLAND
"Oh Ted!" exclaimed Janet, as she drove home in the goat-wagon with her brother and Baby William, "do you s'pose we can't go camping with grandpa?"
"Why can't we?" demanded Teddy.
"'Cause of what that farmer said."
"Oh, well, I guess grandpa won't be 'fraid of tramps on the island. It's part his, anyhow, and he can make 'em get off."
"Yes, he could do that," agreed Janet, after thinking the matter over. "But if they were gypsies?"
"Well, gypsies and tramps are the same. Grandpa can make the gypsies get off the island too."
"They--they might take Trouble," faltered Jan in a low voice.
"Who?" asked Ted.
"Who take me?" demanded Trouble himself. "Who take me, Jam?"
Sometimes he called his sister Jam instead of Jan.
"Who take me?" he asked, playfully poking his fingers in his sister's eyes.
"Oh--nobody," she answered quickly, as she took him off her lap and put him behind her in the cart. She did not want to frighten her little brother. "Let's hurry home and tell grandpa," Jan said to Ted, and he nodded his curly head to show that he would do that.
On trotted Nicknack, Trouble being now seated in the back of the wagon on a cushion, while Ted and Jan were in front.
"Maybe it was tramps making a campfire that we saw last night," went on Jan after a pause, during which they came nearer to Cherry Farm.
"A campfire blaze isn't blue," declared Ted.
"Well, maybe this is a new kind."
Ted shook his head until his curls waggled.
"I don't b'lieve so," he said.
"Bang! There, me shoot you!" suddenly cried Trouble, and Ted and Jan heard something fall with a thud on the ground behind them.
"Whoa, there!" cried Ted to Nicknack. "What are you shootin', Trouble baby?" he asked, turning to look at his little brother.
"Me shoot a bunny rabbit," was the answer.
"Oh, there _is_ a little bunny!" cried Jan, pointing to a small, brown one that ran along under the bushes, and then came to a stop in front of the goat-wagon, pausing to look at the children.
"Me shoot him," said Trouble, laughing gleefully.
"What with?" asked Ted, a sudden thought coming into his mind.
"Trouble frow store thing at bunny," said the little boy, "It bwoke an' all white stuff comed out!"
"Oh, Trouble, did you throw grandma's soda at the bunny?" cried Jan.
"Yes, I did," answered Baby William.
"And it's all busted!" exclaimed Ted, as he saw the white powder scattered about on the woodland path. "We've got to go back to the store for some more. Oh, Trouble Martin!"
"I's didn't hurt de bunny wabbit," said Trouble earnestly. "I's only make-be'ieve shoot him--bang!"
"I know you didn't hurt the bunny," observed Jan. "But you've hurt grandma's soda. Is there any left, Ted?" she asked, as her brother got out of the wagon to pick up the broken package.
"A little," he answered. "There's some in the bottom. I guess we'll go back to the store and get more. I want to ask that farmer again about the tramps on Star Island."
"No, don't," begged Jan. "Let's take what soda we have to grandma. Maybe it'll be enough. Anyhow, if we did go back for more Trouble might throw that out, too, if he saw a rabbit."
"That's so. I guess we'd better leave him when we go to the store next time. How'd he get the soda, anyhow?"
"It must have jiggled out of my lap, where I was holding it, and then it fell in the bottom of the wagon and he got it. He didn't know any better."
"No, I s'pose not. Well, maybe grandma can use this."
Teddy carefully lifted up the broken package of baking soda, more than half of which had spilled when Trouble threw it at the little brown rabbit. Baby William may have thought the package of soda was a white stone, for it was wrapped in a white paper.
"Well, I'm glad he didn't hit the little bunny, anyhow," said Jan. "Where is it?" and she looked for the rabbit.
But the timid woodland creature had hopped away, probably to go to its burrow and tell a wonderful story, in rabbit language, about having seen some giants in a big wagon drawn by an elephant--for to a rabbit a goat must seem as large as a circus animal.
"I guess Trouble can't hit much that he throws at," observed Ted, as he started Nicknack once more toward Cherry Farm.
"He threw a hair brush at me once and hit me," declared Jan.
"Yes, I remember," said Teddy. "Here, Trouble, if you want to throw things throw these," and he stopped to pick up some old acorns which he gave his little brother. "You can't hurt anyone with them."
Trouble was delighted with his new playthings, and kept quiet the rest of the way home tossing the acorns out of the goat-wagon at the trees he passed.
Grandma Martin said it did not matter about the broken box of soda, as there was enough left for her need; so Ted and Jan, did not have to go back to the store.
"But I'd like to ask that farmer more about the tramps on Star Island," said Ted to his grandfather, when telling what the man had said at the grocery.
"I'll see him and ask him," decided Grandpa Martin.
It was two days after this--two days during which the Curlytops had much fun at Cherry Farm--that Grandpa Martin spoke at dinner one afternoon.
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