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Title: The Curlytops at Silver Lake - On the Water with Uncle Ben
Author: Garis, Howard Roger
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: ON CHUGGED THE MOTOR BOAT, AND SOON IT WAS ALONGSIDE
THE SAILBOAT.]


THE CURLYTOPS AT SILVER LAKE

Or

On the Water with Uncle Ben

by

HOWARD R. GARIS

Author of “The Curlytops Series,” “Bedtime Stories,”
“Uncle Wiggily Series,” etc.

Illustrations by Julia Greene



New York
Cupples & Leon Company


      *      *      *      *      *      *

THE CURLYTOPS SERIES

By HOWARD R. GARIS

12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.

  THE CURLYTOPS AT CHERRY FARM
  Or, Vacation Days in the Country

  THE CURLYTOPS ON STAR ISLAND
  Or, Camping Out With Grandpa

  THE CURLYTOPS SNOWED IN
  Or, Grand Fun With Skates and Sleds

  THE CURLYTOPS AT UNCLE FRANK’S RANCH
  Or, Little Folks on Ponyback

  THE CURLYTOPS AT SILVER LAKE
  Or, On the Water With Uncle Ben

CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, New York

      *      *      *      *      *      *


Copyright, 1920, by Cupples & Leon Company

The Curlytops at Silver Lake

Printed in U. S. A.



CONTENTS

  I     Skyrocket Is Gone
  II    The Queer Man
  III   Pushing and Pulling
  IV    The Queer Box
  V     Uncle Ben
  VI    Off to Silver Lake
  VII   Trouble in Trouble
  VIII  The Wind Blew
  IX    What Trouble Found
  X     Janet’s Flowers
  XI    Trouble in the Air
  XII   Company in Camp
  XIII  Catching Fish
  XIV   The Growlery Hole
  XV    A Big White Bird
  XVI   The Bad Dog
  XVII  A Joyous Find
  XVIII In the Lake
  XIX   The Shipwreck
  XX    The Queer Box Again



CHAPTER I

SKYROCKET IS GONE


“Mother, make Trouble stop!”

“What is he doing now, Janet?” asked Mrs. Martin, looking up from her
sewing and across the table to where her three children were playing a
button game.

“Oh, he’s doing _everything_!” said Teddy, shaking a finger at his
funny little brother, who was smiling and holding something in his
tightly closed fist. “He’s got some of my buttons, and he——”

“Yes, and he knocked a lot of my buttons down on the floor,” added
Janet. “And he——”

“I must have all de wed buttons!” interrupted Trouble himself. “Wed
buttons all mine—I goin’ to put ’em on a stwing!” and the little boy,
whose name was William, but who was more often called “Trouble,” made
a grab for another red button which he saw in a pile in front of his
sister Janet.

“Don’t take that!” cried Janet. “Ma—I mean Mother—please make him
stop!” and she tried to push Trouble’s hand away.

“Wed buttons all mine!” cried Trouble, just a trace of tears coming
into his eyes.

“No, Trouble,” said Ted, more gently. “Let sister have the red
buttons. We’re playing a game with them. I’ll let you take all the
white buttons!”

“I want wed buttons!” wailed Trouble, and as he still tried to get a
handful of them from Janet, and as Janet was doing her best to stop
William from doing this, there was a little scramble at the table.
Trouble’s hand slipped, the buttons slid across the smooth oak boards
and fell with a clatter to the floor.

“There! Now look what you did, Trouble Martin!” cried Janet, as she
leaned back in her chair. “All the nice buttons are on the floor!”

Trouble seemed much surprised by what he had done. He opened his fat
little fist, and out rolled more buttons, some of which rattled to the
floor.

“Oh, Mother, he’s spoiling all our game!” said Janet. “Please make him
stop!”

“I’ll pick up the buttons,” said Teddy, with a sigh. “I guess this is
about fifty times I’ve done it to-night.”

“Oh, hardly as many as that, I think,” said his mother, with a smile,
as she thrust her needle into the cloth she was sewing. “You must not
exaggerate, Teddy.”

“What’s zaggerate, Mother?” asked Janet. “Is that a new game you can
play with buttons?”

“No, dear,” answered Mrs. Martin, as she laid aside her sewing and
looked at the clock. “To exaggerate means to tell what isn’t exactly
so so as to make anything seem bigger than it is. Now I don’t really
believe you have picked the buttons off the floor more than five times
to-night, have you, Teddy?” she asked.

“Well, maybe it was—maybe it was—_six_!” replied the curly-headed
little lad.

“And you said _fifty_!” laughed his mother. “That’s
exaggeration—making a thing too big, Teddy, my boy!”

“Mrs. Henderson that lives across the street is zaggerated, isn’t she,
Mother?” asked Janet, as Teddy was busy picking up the buttons Trouble
had knocked to the floor.

“Mrs. Henderson exaggerated? Why, Jan, what do you mean?” asked Mrs.
Martin.

“I mean she’s awful big—fat, you know,” explained the little girl.
“She’s zaggerated all right, isn’t she?”

“Oh, it doesn’t mean _that_ at all!” said Mrs. Martin, trying not to
laugh. “And you mustn’t say ‘awful’ when you mean only ‘very much,’
Janet. That’s exaggeration, too. But, Trouble, I think it’s time for
you to go to bed. I’ll take him upstairs,” she said to the two older
children, “and then you can play your game a little longer without any
one to bother you. Come, Trouble, dear!”

“Ho! Don’t want to go to bed! I want wed buttons!” and the little boy
tried to reach over the table to where Ted had placed a pile of
buttons of different colors.

“Ho, William! Come with mother,” said Mrs. Martin quietly. When she
used any of the children’s real names—such as William, Theodore or
Janet, instead of Trouble, Ted or Jan, the little folks knew Mrs.
Martin was in earnest and that it was useless to beg further. Trouble
heard his right name spoken and he gave a long sigh. Bedtime had come
after a long, happy day.

“Could I have one more wed button?” he asked wistfully.

“No more,” answered his mother.

“All wite. Den I go to bed!”

He slipped down from his chair, as Ted began putting the buttons from
his mother’s mending bag into two piles, so that he and Janet might go
on with the game.

“Give sister a kiss!” begged Janet of Trouble.

He held back a moment, as if he had not quite forgiven her for not
letting him have all the fun he wanted, and then he held up his chubby
face.

“That’s a good boy!” said Janet as she kissed him. “I’ll let you have
a lot of red buttons in the morning.”

“Night-night!” called Trouble to Ted, as the older boy began counting
out the buttons.

“Night-night,” echoed Ted, as he wiggled his fingers in a funny
fashion at Trouble.

As Mrs. Martin took William up to bed, Ted and Janet started their
game over again. It was a simple little game. They spread out on the
table all the buttons from mother’s bag. Then they divided them into
two piles, each taking one.

Janet would then take a button from her pile and hold it in her hand
with her fingers closed over it so Teddy could not see it.

“Guess what color it is!” Jan would say to Ted.

“Black,” he might answer, or perhaps he would say red, blue, or
white—whatever he thought it might be. If he guessed the right color
Janet had to give Ted five buttons of the color he had guessed. If he
said the wrong color he had to give Janet seven buttons of any color
she wanted.

If Ted guessed right, then it was his turn to take a button and make
Janet guess the color of it. But if he guessed wrong it was his
sister’s turn again. And so they played the game, taking turns this
way, until they were tired, or until one of them had all the buttons
on the table.

It was this game they had been playing when Trouble, or Baby William,
made the trouble by wanting all the “wed” buttons.

They played the little game for some time, having lots of fun, and Ted
had just taken a number of buttons from Jan when their mother came
softly down the stairs.

“Is Trouble asleep?” asked Janet.

“Yes. And it will soon be time for you two Curlytops to go upstairs
too,” said Mrs. Martin, as she took up her sewing again. “Even if it
is vacation time, I can’t have my Curlytops staying up too late.”

One needed to take only one look at Ted and Janet Martin to know why
they were called “Curlytops.” It was because their heads were covered
with pretty tight little curls of a golden color.

“We’ll play three more times,” said Ted. “I’ll have all Jan’s buttons
by then.”

“It’s my turn to win, now!” laughed his sister.

They traded more buttons, first one and then the other guessing right,
and finally, with another look at the clock, Mrs. Martin said:

“Come now, Curlytops! Off to bed with you!”

“Can’t we stay up until daddy comes home?” asked Ted.

Mrs. Martin shook her head without looking up.

“Please!” begged Jan. “You know he said he might tell us where we were
going to stay this summer. He said so when we were eating supper.”

“Yes, I know he did,” said Mrs. Martin. “But daddy is late to-night.
He may not be home for an hour yet, and I can’t have you staying up
until then. You can find out in the morning, if he knows then, where
we shall spend the summer vacation.”

Ted and Jan looked at one another. They were about to make one last
appeal to be allowed to stay up, but a glance at their mother showed
them that she would not give in to them.

“Do you think we’ll go to a nice place this vacation?” asked Janet.

“Oh, yes, I think so,” answered Mrs. Martin.

“A place where there’s water, and where we can go in swimming, and
have a boat and go camping and—and all that?” asked Ted eagerly.

“Oh, dear me!” laughed Mrs. Martin, “I might just as well let you stay
up playing the button game, as to let you ask me so many questions.

“Now run along to bed, both of you! As soon as daddy has made up his
mind where we’ll go for the summer vacation we’ll tell you. Maybe
you’ll hear in the morning. But go to bed now, like good children!”

There was no staying up after that. But Teddy suddenly thought of
something.

“Oh, Mother!” he cried, “may Jan and I just go and look to see if
Skyrocket is all right? I put a new piece of carpet in his box to-day
for him to sleep on, and I want to see if he likes it!”

“Oh, yes, please! I want to see, too!” begged Janet eagerly.

“Well, you may take just one look at Skyrocket,” agreed Mrs. Martin,
“and then come straight in and go to bed!”

“Yes’m; we will!” promised Ted. “Come on, Jan!”

Skyrocket was their dog; a dear, curly, black fellow, and all three
children loved him. While Skyrocket, I am sure, felt that nowhere in
the world were there such delightful children as the Curlytops and
little Trouble. Skyrocket slept in a box in the woodshed, just outside
the kitchen door.

Out to the shed hurried Ted and Jan. It was a little after eight
o’clock, and just getting dark.

“Do you think Skyrocket will like his new carpet?” asked Jan, as Ted
opened the door.

“I guess so. I knocked all the dust out so he wouldn’t sneeze. Carpet
dust makes you sneeze, you know. It made me sneeze when I was knocking
it out of Skyrocket’s carpet.”

Together the Curlytops opened the woodshed door. At first they could
see nothing, because it was rather dark inside. There was only one
window, and when the children had stood still for a moment or two they
could see this window, and also the pile of wood and other things in
the shed.

“Are you all right, Skyrocket?” asked Ted.

“Don’t you like your new carpet bed?” asked Janet.

There was no answer. Of course the Curlytops did not expect their dog
to answer in words, but whenever they spoke to him he always either
barked softly, whined or thumped his tail on the floor. That was all
the answer they expected.

But this time there was neither bark, whine nor thump of tail. All was
quiet within the woodshed.

“Hi, Skyrocket! Are you all right?” asked Teddy, speaking louder.

“Maybe he’s asleep,” suggested Jan.

“If he is he’d wake up when I called him,” returned Ted. “Dogs don’t
mind being woke up. Sometimes they sleep with one eye open anyhow.
I’ll call him again. Hi, Skyrocket!” he exclaimed. “Skyrocket, are you
all right?”

There was no bark, no whine, no thumping of tail.

“Maybe he likes his new bed so much he doesn’t want to wake up,” said
Janet.

Teddy paused a moment to think this over.

“Maybe,” he said. “But I wish he’d come out and see us. I’m going in
to see if he’s all right,” he added.

Together the Curlytops stepped within the woodshed. They could see
quite well now, from the faint light that came in through the window,
and they looked over to where Skyrocket’s sleeping box was, in a
corner.

Stooping down over the box, Ted put in his hand. He expected to feel
the soft, fluffy back of Skyrocket. But, instead, his hand only met
the carpet which the little boy had folded and put in the box that
afternoon to make a soft bed for his pet.

“Is he all right?” asked Janet.

“He—he isn’t here at all!” exclaimed Ted.

“He isn’t _here_! You mean _Skyrocket_ isn’t here?” cried Jan.

“Not in his box,” added her brother. “You can come and feel for
yourself.”

Janet did so. She faced Teddy in the half-darkness of the woodshed.

“He—he isn’t in his bed,” she whispered. “But maybe he’s hiding from
us under the wood. He does, sometimes.”

“If Skyrocket was here he’d be jumping all over us now,” said Teddy in
a strangely quiet voice, and Janet knew her brother was right.

They could not go near their pet without having him leap all about
them, and sometimes climb half over them, in his joy at seeing them.
Now there was no Skyrocket in the woodshed.

“He—he’s gone!” said Teddy, and his voice trembled. “Skyrocket is
gone, Janet.”

“Oh! Oh!” exclaimed the little girl. “Let’s go and tell mother!”



CHAPTER II

THE QUEER MAN


“Mother, he’s gone!” cried Ted, as, followed by his sister Janet, he
hurried into the house.

“Who is gone?” asked Mrs. Martin, who had begun to put away her
sewing, for she had done enough that evening.

“Skyrocket is gone!” added Jan. “He isn’t in the woodshed, and the
window is open.”

“Maybe he jumped out,” said Ted. “He could climb up on the woodpile
and jump out the window. Do you think he’ll come back, Mother?”

Mrs. Martin looked at her two Curlytops.

“Are you sure your dog Skyrocket isn’t in the shed?” she asked.

“No, he isn’t there,” answered Ted.

“We looked all over, and I felt in his bed,” added Janet. “The soft
carpet Ted put in for Skyrocket is there, but our dog is gone. Oh
dear!” and she was almost crying.

“I’d better take a look to make sure,” said Mrs. Martin. “We’ll bring
a lamp with us. He may be hiding in some dark corner,” she added as
she lighted a lamp.

“And, if he isn’t there, can we go out and look for him?” asked Ted.

“We’ll see,” answered his mother. “Maybe he’ll come back himself, if
he really is gone.”

“Oh, he’s gone,” declared Ted, sadly enough.

Out to the woodshed the two Curlytops followed their mother, who
carried the lamp. And while they are looking for the lost Skyrocket it
will be a good chance for me to let my new readers know something of
the Martin children, as told in the previous books of this series.

As I have told you, Theodore and Janet were called the “Curlytops” as
often as anything else, and the reason for this was because they had
such curly hair. Ted’s whole name was Theodore Baradale Martin, and
Jan’s was Janet, while “Trouble’s” right name was William Anthony
Martin.

Mr. Martin kept a store in Cresco, a town not a great way from New
York, and he also owned property in other places. Cresco was a pretty
village, and Ted and Jan thought it one of the nicest places in the
world. Other nice places were Grandpa Martin’s farm at Elmburg near
Clover Lake, Aunt Jo’s summer cottage at Mt. Hope on Ruby Lake and
Uncle Frank’s ranch at Rockville, in the state of Montana.

The first book that tells about Janet, Ted, and their friends, is
named “The Curlytops at Cherry Farm,” and in that I told you what fun
they had at Grandpa Martin’s home, and how they helped sell cherries
to the Lollypop Man.

In the next book, “The Curlytops on Star Island,” you may read of the
fun the children had when they went camping.

In the third book there is a story of “The Curlytops Snowed In.” Many
things happened to Jan, Ted and Trouble when the big snow storm came,
and they thought they never had had so much fun in all their lives.

But that was before they went out West, and in the fourth book you
have the story of “The Curlytops at Uncle Frank’s Ranch.” There the
little folks rode ponyback and had a grand time.

They came back to Cresco after many adventures, and now it was summer
again, and there was no school, for it was the long vacation. Ted and
Janet wondered where they would spend it, for nearly always they went
with their father and mother to some lake, or else up in the
mountains, or perhaps to the seashore during the hot weather of July
and August.

I have told you, in this book, how the Curlytops were playing the
button game, and how, just before they went to bed, they went out to
the woodshed to see if their dog Skyrocket was all right. Besides the
dog, they had a cat named “Turnover,” who used to roll over in a
sideways somersault when told to. The Curlytops had once had a goat
named Nicknack, but the goat had been sold a few weeks before, so that
now they had only the cat and the dog.

“But we haven’t got any dog if we can’t find Skyrocket,” said Ted, as
he and Janet went out with their mother to the shed.

“Oh, we’ll find him all right,” said Mrs. Martin. “Perhaps he heard
Turnover crying, and he jumped out of the window to see what the
matter was with her. Skyrocket takes good care of Turnover, you know.”

“But Turnover is asleep in the sitting room,” said Ted. “She didn’t
cry, so Skyrocket didn’t jump out to help her. And he never jumped out
the window before.”

“No, that’s so,” agreed Mrs. Martin. “But we’ll find him, I think,
though it is strange he isn’t in the shed where he always sleeps at
night. But wait until I look.”

She held the light high and low, all around the shed, but there was no
sign of the pet dog. She called, and so did Ted and Janet, but
Skyrocket did not answer with a whine, a bark or by a thump of his
tail.

“Was this window closed when you put Skyrocket in here after supper?”
asked Mrs. Martin of Teddy.

“Yes, I closed it,” answered the curly-headed boy. “I always shut it
’ceptin’ on hot nights, and it wasn’t so very hot to-night.”

“Well, if the window was closed, Skyrocket didn’t open it, that’s
sure,” said Mrs. Martin. “He’s a smart dog, and he can do many tricks,
but he can’t open the shed window.”

“Do you think he got out that way, Mother?” asked Jan.

“It looks so,” was the answer.

“Did somebody open the window and take Skyrocket out?” Ted wanted to
know.

“They might have taken him out, or whistled for him to jump out to
them,” said Mrs. Martin. “I’m sure I don’t see how else it could have
happened. Skyrocket could jump up on the pile of wood, and from there
jump out of the window, as long as it was open. Are you sure it was
closed, Teddy boy?”

“Sure,” was the answer. “I ’member thinking was it hot enough to leave
it open, and then I said it wasn’t. And I made the new piece of carpet
all smooth, and Skyrocket curled up on it, and I told him goodnight.
And then, when Janet and I came out to look and see if he was all
right—why—he wasn’t here!” and Teddy, seven-year-old boy though he
was, acted as if he might be going to cry.

“Well, perhaps he just jumped out of the window to have a little fun
after dark, though he never did it before,” said Mrs. Martin. “We’ll
take a look around the house and call him.”

As they came out of the shed they heard a voice calling them. The
voice said:

“Hello! Where’s everybody?”

“It’s daddy!” exclaimed Ted.

“Oh, Skyrocket is lost!” added Jan, as she ran to meet her father, who
stood in the back kitchen door.

“Skyrocket lost? No!” exclaimed Mr. Martin, in surprise. “Did he run
away?”

“It looks so,” said Mrs. Martin. “Come out here and we’ll tell you all
about it.”

This Janet and Teddy did, taking turns, with Mrs. Martin putting in a
word now and then.

“You say you shut Skyrocket up in the shed, and left the window
closed?” said Mr. Martin, to Ted.

“Yes, Daddy. And when Jan and I came out he was gone.”

“And he isn’t here now,” added Mrs. Martin. “We were just going to
look around outside, and whistle and call, when we heard your voice.
You’re late, Daddy Martin!”

“Yes, I stayed to write some letters at the store,” answered the
merchant. “I have been arranging about the place where we shall go to
spend the summer vacation. I think it’s going to be at——”

“Hark!” suddenly exclaimed Mrs. Martin, raising her hand to stop her
husband from speaking.

“What is it?” asked Ted, while Janet looked eagerly at her father. She
wanted to hear him say where it was they were going that summer.

“I thought I heard a noise back by the little barn where we used to
keep Nicknack, the goat,” said Mrs. Martin. “Perhaps it was
Skyrocket!”

“Oh! Oh!” exclaimed Teddy and Jan, and, without waiting another
moment, they hurried out, running down the path toward the little goat
stable.

It was quite dark outside by this time, and Ted and Janet, hurrying
from the woodshed where Mrs. Martin had a light, could not see very
well. You know how it is when you go into a dark moving picture place
from the bright outdoors—you can’t see very well, at first.

Well, this happened to Ted and Jan, and the first Mr. and Mrs. Martin
heard, after the Curlytops ran out, was a cry from one of them.

“Did you find Skyrocket?” asked Mr. Martin, hurrying out of the shed.

“No, but Teddy fell down,” said Jan.

“Did you hurt yourself, Teddy boy?” asked his father.

“N—no—I—I guess not,” answered Teddy slowly. “I stumbled over that
pile of grass Patrick cut to-day. I fell on that—it was nice and
soft.”

“Well, it’s a good thing to pick out something soft to fall on when
you stumble,” said Mr. Martin. “Now be careful, both of you. Better
wait for us. Mother, come and bring the lamp. Maybe Skyrocket is shut
up in the goat stable and can’t get out.”

But the little stable, empty since Nicknack had been sold, held no
little dog, either. Skyrocket was not there. And now they began a
search all around the house, whistling and calling for the pet of the
Curlytops.

But Skyrocket did not answer; he did not whine, he did not bark, and
there was no joyful thump of his tail.

“Where can he be?” asked Teddy.

“Where can he be?” echoed Janet.

Mr. and Mrs. Martin looked at each other in the light of the lamp.
Then Mr. Martin spoke.

“I think Skyrocket will be back by morning,” he said. “Sometimes dogs
run away, just for the fun of it, but they usually come back.”

“Skyrocket never ran away very far before,” said Teddy. “And he always
came back when I whistled.”

“Perhaps he has gone so far he can’t hear you this time,” said his
mother. “Come, we’ll go into the house. It’s getting late, and you
children must go to bed.”

“But we want Skyrocket!” cried Janet.

“I know, my dear. But we can’t find him, and there is no use hunting
in the dark. We’ll leave the shed door open, and if he comes back, as
I’m sure he will, he can go in to his new carpet bed. In the morning
when you wake up, he’ll be ready to play with you.”

There was nothing else to do, and so Teddy and Janet went into the
house, after one last, lingering look at the shed where Skyrocket
slept at night.

“Oh, dear!” sighed Janet. “Nothing will ever be any fun if Skyrocket
is gone!”

“Oh, but he isn’t gone, I’m sure!” said Mr. Martin, in as jolly a
voice as he could speak. “I think he’ll be here in the morning, though
it certainly is queer about the window being open. But now trot off to
bed, Curlytops! It’s long past your time!”

“Don’t feel so bad,” said Mrs. Martin. “I don’t believe Skyrocket is
lost. Haven’t you something pleasant to tell them, Daddy? What was
that you started to say about our summer vacation?”

“Oh, yes!” exclaimed Mr. Martin. “I have picked out a place for us to
go. It’s a new place. I have bought some property there, and I expect
to spend part of the summer there looking after it.”

“Oh, where is it?” asked Ted, and already he and Janet were feeling
not quite so sad over the lost dog—they had something new to wonder
over.

“The place where we shall spend the summer vacation is at Silver
Lake,” said Mr. Martin. “It isn’t very far from here. We can go by
train or in an auto.”

“And live in a tent?” asked Ted.

“No, I think we’ll have a bungalow,” answered his father. “But there!
I’m not going to tell you any more about it until morning. Off to bed
with you, and dream about Silver Lake!”

He kissed the Curlytops goodnight, as did Mrs. Martin, and then Jan
and Ted went upstairs. They were smiling now, and, for the time, had
forgotten about Skyrocket, though, of course, they wanted him to come
back.

“Do you think their dog is really gone?” asked Mrs. Martin of her
husband, as they sat down to talk about spending the summer at Silver
Lake.

“I’m afraid so,” answered Mr. Martin. “He never ran away before, and
the window being open makes it look as though some one had taken him.
Skyrocket is a valuable dog, and could be taught to do tricks for a
show or circus.”

“Dear me!” said Mrs. Martin. “Ted and Janet will feel very bad at
losing him.”

Early the next morning the Curlytops ran down to the woodshed. They
peered in through the door, which was still open, and looked in the
box where Ted had so carefully put the new piece of soft carpet to
make a bed.

“He—he isn’t there,” whispered the boy softly.

“Skyrocket didn’t come back!” said Janet, and there were tears in her
eyes.

Slowly and sadly the Curlytops walked out of the shed, and just as
they turned to go into the house they saw Mrs. Ransom hurrying toward
them. Mrs. Ransom was a woman who kept a small store not far from the
Martin house, where she sold drygoods, toys and candies.

“Oh, Ted! Jan!” exclaimed Mrs. Ransom, when she saw the two children,
“where’s your father?”

“He’s in the house eating breakfast,” answered Jan, for she and Ted
had seen him at the table when they hurried downstairs to look to see
if Skyrocket had come back.

“Well, tell him to come out here, please,” said Mrs. Ransom.

“Did you find Skyrocket?” asked Ted eagerly.

“Skyrocket? No. I hadn’t heard that he was lost,” answered Mrs.
Ransom. “But there’s a man acting very oddly in your front yard, and I
thought your father ought to know about it. I saw the queer man from
my store window, and I hurried over to tell you about him. Go in and
have your father come out. He ought to do something about the funny
man!”



CHAPTER III

PUSHING AND PULLING


For a moment or two Jan and Ted stood looking at Mrs. Ransom. They
knew her very well, for she had kept her little store near their house
as long as they could remember. They often went there to buy candy or
small toys.

“What’s the funny man doing?” asked Jan, forgetting, for a little
while, her sorrow over the loss of Skyrocket.

“Is he funny like a clown in a circus, and is he turning somersaults?”
Ted wanted to know.

“Gracious goodness, no, child! Why should he do that?” asked Mrs.
Ransom. “When I said he was funny, I meant he was acting in a queer
way. He walked toward your house, fell down, got up again, and fell
down once more. You’d better go and tell your father.”

“We will!” exclaimed Ted, starting for the house, followed by his
sister.

“I’d go in and tell him myself,” said Mrs. Ransom, “but I must get
back to my store. I left it all alone to run over and tell him about
the queer man. When I saw you two Curlytops I thought I’d tell you.
Hurry in, now!”

“Oh, maybe he knows something about Skyrocket!” cried Jan, with new
and sudden hope.

“Huh! How could he know Skyrocket?” asked Ted. “Come on, we’ll go and
see what he’s like.”

“Oh, aren’t you going to tell daddy first?” asked the little girl, as
she watched Mrs. Ransom hurry across a short-cut path through the
garden, and so back to her store.

“Let’s look at the man first, and see what he does funny,” suggested
Teddy. “Maybe he’s a clown, anyhow, and maybe Mrs. Ransom never saw
one that wasn’t in a circus. Come on!”

Janet hung back for a second or two, and then followed Ted around the
corner of the house.

There, just as the storekeeper woman had said, was a strange man lying
on the lawn of the Curlytops’ home. He was not doing anything funny
just then. Instead, he seemed very still and quiet.

“He isn’t a bit funny!” declared Janet.

“No, I don’t think he is,” said Teddy. “Maybe he got tired of being
funny. I’ll go in and tell daddy.”

It did not take Mr. Martin long to hurry out to the front of the house
after Ted and Jan had come in with the strange story of the “funny
man.” And Mr. Martin had no sooner bent over the man and rolled him to
one side, to get a better look at his face, than he cried:

“Why, this poor man is sick! He needs a doctor! Ted, run in and tell
mother to telephone for Dr. Whitney. Have her ask him to come right
over here. Jan, you skip back to the tool house and see if Patrick is
there. If he is, tell him I want him.”

“Yes, Daddy!” exclaimed Janet.

“Yes, Daddy!” echoed Ted, and together they hurried off, one into the
house, the other to get Patrick, the kindly old Irishman who cut the
grass, made the garden, and did other work about the Martin home.

Janet found Patrick sharpening the lawnmower, ready for a day’s work.
Laying that aside, he hurried to the front of the house, where Mr.
Martin was bending over the stranger.

“Is he a tramp?” asked Patrick.

“No, indeed,” answered Mr. Martin. “He seems to be a poor man, but he
is clean, and few tramps are that. And though some of his clothes are
ragged, they are clean, too. Help me carry him into the house,
Patrick. I’ve sent for Dr. Whitney.”

And when Dr. Whitney came he said that the man, who had not opened his
eyes since he was carried in, was quite ill.

“But I think that if he has a good rest, a little medicine, and plenty
to eat he will soon be better,” said the doctor. “Are you going to
keep him here, Mr. Martin, or shall I have him sent to the hospital?”

“Oh, keep him here, Daddy!” cried Teddy. “He looks like a good man,
and maybe he knows where our Skyrocket is.”

“No, I hardly think that,” answered Mr. Martin. “But I believe I will
let him stay here, Dr. Whitney. My wife says she and Nora will look
after him, and he will be better off than in the hospital, as long as
he is not very ill.”

“He is sick mostly because he hasn’t had enough to eat,” said the
doctor. “Feed him well, and he’ll soon be all right.”

The doctor went away, after leaving some medicine for the stranger.
And stranger he was, since nobody at the Martin house knew him, and
Mrs. Ransom, who came over again, after she had found some one to stay
in her store for a little while, said she had never seen him around
Cresco before.

“And I know ’most everybody in Cresco,” she added, as indeed she did,
since many of the fathers and mothers, as well as the boys and girls,
bought a good many things in her little shop.

As for the “funny man” himself, he could not tell who he was, for he
seemed to be asleep from the time Mr. Martin and Patrick carried him
in and put him to bed in a spare room. The man was not really asleep,
as Jan and Ted learned later. It was his illness that made him keep
his eyes closed, and would not let him talk or hear things that were
said.

“Now you children run out to play,” said Mrs. Martin to Ted and Janet,
after Dr. Whitney had left. “Take Trouble with you, and look after
him. Nora and I are going to be busy with—well, with him,” and she
nodded toward the room where the strange man lay so quietly.

“What’s his name?” asked Ted.

“I don’t know, my dear,” answered his mother. “When he wakes up he may
tell us. Run out and play now.”

“We’ll go and see if we can’t find Skyrocket,” said Janet.

“Oh, yes! We’ve got to find him!” added Ted.

The children had hurried through their breakfast, and now with Baby
William, or Trouble, in their care, they started to search around the
yard for the missing Skyrocket.

There were several buildings on the Martin place. There was the
garage, where Daddy Martin kept his automobile, there was the tool
house, where Patrick kept the lawn mower, the hose he used for
sprinkling the lawn, and such things. There was a hen house and the
stable where Nicknack the goat used to live. Then, of course, there
was the woodshed, which was the home of Skyrocket. But alas! Skyrocket
was not in it now.

“Let’s look there just once more!” said Janet, as she and her two
brothers walked down the back steps toward the woodshed. “Maybe he
came back.”

But no Skyrocket was to be seen. There was a bone he had been gnawing
the night before, and there was the nice, soft carpet Teddy had given
him for a bed. But the pet dog was gone.

“Let’s look out in Nicknack’s stable again,” went on Janet.

So they did, and in other places, but no Skyrocket was to be found.

“I guess we’ll have to put a piece in the paper about him,” went on
Jan, as she and the two boys sat down to rest after running about the
yard, looking in all sorts of places.

“A piece in the paper—what do you mean?” asked Ted.

“I mean a—a tizerment,” declared Janet. “You know—a piece like the one
Mrs. Ransom put in when she lost her pocketbook. She got it back, too.
Somebody found it and brought it back. Maybe somebody has found our
Skyrocket, and they’d give him back if they knew we wanted him. Let’s
get daddy to put a piece in the paper.”

“Yes, we could do that,” agreed Ted, after thinking the matter over.
“We’ll tell him when he comes home to dinner. But now let’s look out
in the auto stable again, Jan. We didn’t look there very good. Maybe
Skyrocket is hiding in there.”

“Me want wide in auto!” decided Trouble, as his brother and sister led
him down the path once more.

“No, dear! Daddy has the auto down at his store,” explained Janet.
“Trouble can’t ride now.”

“Oh!” said the little fellow. “Wide to-mollow?” he asked.

“Yes, maybe you can have a ride to-morrow,” said Ted. “And say, Jan!”
he cried, “what about Silver Lake? We almost forgot! Maybe we’ll go
there to-morrow!”

“Oh, maybe we shall!” cried Janet, with shining, eager eyes.

“Me go, too?” asked Trouble.

“Oh, yes, you’ll have to come, too!” sighed Janet. “I do hope you
don’t fall in too much!” she said.

“Come on!” called Teddy to her. “Let’s go and look in the garage
again. We didn’t look there very good.”

The garage had once been a stable, but no horse was kept in it now,
since Mr. Martin had an automobile. There was, however, an old
carriage, and several other things, such as a wheelbarrow, old boards,
shutters, broken doors and the like, that Patrick had stored away.

“There’s lots of places for Skyrocket to hide!” said Ted, as he and
Janet entered the garage. “Here, Sky! Sky!” he called, and he whistled
for the pet dog, giving him the pet name of “Sky.”

But there was no answer. Skyrocket must have been far away, his little
owners knew, not to answer their call. Ted and Janet forgot Baby
William for a few moments while they searched all about the garage for
their pet dog.

“I guess he isn’t here,” said Janet, with a sigh, after a while.

“No,” agreed Teddy. “We’ll have to put a piece in the paper. Maybe
he——”

Teddy suddenly stopped speaking, for both he and Janet heard a funny
little squeal.

“There he is!” cried Ted.

“That’s Skyrocket!” added Jan, clapping her hands. “He’s caught fast
somewhere and can’t get out.”

They both stood still, listening for the cry to sound once more. It
did, but in a different way. For besides the squeal came a call of:

“Ted! Jan! Oh! Oh! I tan’t det out! I caught fast! Oh, tum an’ det
me!”

“It’s Trouble!” shouted Janet.

“Where is he?” cried Ted.

They looked around. They had let go of the hands of their little
brother while searching in the back part of the garage among the odds
and ends for Skyrocket. They had forgotten about Baby William for a
time, and now they could not see where he was.

“Where are you, Trouble? Where are you?” cried Ted.

“I—I’se stuck!” was the answer.

“Yes, dear! But where are you?” asked Janet.

“In de horsie wagon!”

“Oh, he’s playing in the old carriage!” exclaimed Ted, for Trouble
always called that the “horsie wagon.”

It did not take Jan and her older brother long to reach the place
where Trouble was. But instead of seeing him upon the seat of the
battered old carriage, where he sometimes climbed to play he was
driving a horse, they saw him caught in between the spokes of one of
the wheels.

“Oh, Trouble!” cried Janet.

“Oh, Trouble!” shouted Teddy.

And well might they say this, for Trouble was indeed in trouble. His
head was stuck between two spokes, and he could not get it out either
way.

“Come on!” he cried to his brother and sister. “Help me det out!”

“Of course we’ll help you, dear!” said Janet. “But how did you get
caught that way?”

“I was playin’ peek-a-boo wif a chicken.”

“Peek-a-boo with a chicken?” echoed Ted.

“Yeppie! He chicken, he comed in de auto house, an’ he looked at me
froo de horsie wagon wheel, an’ I looked at him, an’ I did stick my
head froo de spokes, I did, an’ I did holler ‘peek-a-boo!’ an’ den I
touldn’t det out!”

“Well, I should say you couldn’t!” cried Janet. “Take hold of him,
Teddy, and push him out.”

“We can’t push him out, we’ve got to pull him!” decided Teddy; after
looking at the way his baby brother was caught.

“No, he’s got to be pushed!” insisted Janet.

“Pulled!” cried Teddy.

“Oh, det me out! Det me out!” wailed Trouble.

Janet took hold of his legs, and Teddy took hold of his head. But as
Janet pushed and Teddy pushed also, instead of pulling, which he had
said was the right way, poor Baby William stayed just where he was,
with his head caught between two carriage spokes.

“Oh, dear, we’ll never get him out!” said Janet. “What’ll we do, Ted?”

“We’ve got to try again,” decided Ted. “We’ll both push, and then
we’ll both pull.”

“All right,” agreed Janet.

Whether it was that Ted and Jan pushed or pulled at the wrong time, or
whether it was that they were so excited they didn’t know what they
were doing, I can’t say, but Trouble was still held fast, and with
tears in his eyes he looked up from his queer position and cried:

“Det me out! Det me out!”



CHAPTER IV

THE QUEER BOX


Trouble was now crying and kicking with his little heels against the
floor of the garage. Part of his little body was half way under the
carriage, the front wheels of which were turned in such a way that
Janet could reach her little brother’s legs. His head stuck out
through one of the front wheels, in between two spokes.

“We’ve got to get him out!” decided Janet, as she and Ted paused to
get their breath.

“Yes,” replied Teddy. “Let’s both pull hard!”

They were about to take hold of Baby William once more, but he
screamed so loudly that they held back.

“You hurted me!” he wailed. “You hurted me! Don’t push me an’ pull me
any more!”

“But we’ve got to get you out, Trouble!” said Teddy. “We have to push
you or pull you!”

“Which hurts the most, Trouble?” asked Jan kindly. “Does it hurt most
to pull you or to push you?”

“Dey boff hurts!” sobbed the little boy. “You go and tell my mommer I
wants her to get me out! I wants my mommer!”

“I guess we’d better do that!” decided Teddy. “You go for mother, Jan.
I’ll stay with Trouble.”

Off toward the house hurried the little girl. She burst into the
kitchen, where Mrs. Martin was making some broth for the sick man who
had fallen down through weakness and hunger on the Martin lawn that
morning.

“Oh, Mother, he’s stuck fast!” cried Janet.

“Who, Skyrocket? Did you find him?” asked Mrs. Martin, thinking of
course it was the dog about which her little daughter was talking.

“No, Skyrocket isn’t stuck fast. We didn’t find him,” replied Janet.
“It’s Trouble! He’s stuck fast! And Teddy pulled and I pulled, and
then we both pushed, but we can’t get him loose. He’s stuck!”

“Oh, dear me!” sighed Mrs. Martin. “What will happen next? Here, Nora,
watch this broth so it doesn’t burn. Now, Jan, come and show me where
Trouble is stuck fast.”

Taking hold of Janet’s hand, Mrs. Martin hurried out to the garage.
Rushing in, she saw Teddy holding Trouble’s head, which was still
thrust between two of the carriage wheel spokes.

“Is he badly hurt?” asked Mrs. Martin, thinking perhaps Baby William
was in worse trouble than Janet had told her.

“Oh, no, he isn’t hurt,” explained Ted. “He just can’t get his head
out, that’s all. I’m holding it up for him, ’cause he says the wheel
spokes hurt his neck.”

“Poor little darling! I should think they would!” said his mother.

“I—I was playin’ peek-a-boo wif a chicken,” explained Baby William.
“An’ I stuck in my head, but I can’t stick it out! Oh, Muzzie!” he
cried, using a pet name for his mother that he had almost forgotten,
“you det me out!”

“Of course I will!” exclaimed Mrs. Martin. “Here, Ted, let me get hold
of him.”

“You can’t push him out!” declared Ted.

“And you can’t pull him out,” added Janet. “His head is too big!”

Mrs. Martin gave one look at the wheel spokes, she saw just how
Trouble’s head was caught, and then, with a quick motion, she lifted
him up, pulled him back, and in another moment he was safe in her arms
and sobbing on her shoulder.

“Why—why!” exclaimed Teddy, “how’d you do it so quick, Mother?”

“We tried and tried, an’ we couldn’t do it,” added Jan. “We pushed and
we pulled; didn’t we, Ted?”

“Yes!”

“Well, you should have lifted up,” said Mrs. Martin with a smile.

“We never thought of that,” Teddy said.

“You see the carriage wheel spokes are put together like the letter
‘V,’” said Mrs. Martin, as she showed the two older children. “When
Trouble’s head and neck were toward the bottom of the V they were in
so tightly that neither pushing nor pulling would get him out. But
when I lifted him up I raised him toward the wide part of the V, at
the place where he had stuck his head in, and then it was easy enough
to get him out. But you mustn’t do it again, Baby William!” she added,
as she patted the sobbing little fellow on his shoulders.

“No, me don’t want to play peek-a-boo wif a chicken any more at all!”
decided Trouble.

“Haven’t you found your dog yet?” their mother asked.

Ted and Jan sadly shook their heads.

“Well, maybe he’ll come home,” said Mrs. Martin kindly. “He may be off
paying a visit to some doggie friends of his. Look around some more,
and take good care of Trouble.”

Baby William felt better now, especially after Nora had brought out to
him, and also to Janet and Teddy, some sugar cookies. Munching these,
the children wandered around, looking here, there, everywhere for the
lost Skyrocket.

Mrs. Martin went back to the kitchen to finish making the broth for
the sick man.

“I wish he would wake up,” said Teddy, as he and his sister, each
holding a hand of Baby William, walked about searching for the pet
dog. They had looked in the room of the sick man.

“What do you want him to wake up for? To tell us a story?” asked
Janet.

“Oh, maybe he can tell stories!” exclaimed Ted. “I didn’t think of
that. But I want to ask him if he saw Skyrocket. He’s a tramp, and
tramps see lots of dogs when they walk around.”

“He is not a tramp!” declared Jan. “I heard daddy say he wasn’t a
tramp, even if he was poor.”

“Well, he’d been walkin’ a lot!” exclaimed Ted. “I looked at his shoes
when daddy and Patrick carried him into the house, and his shoes had a
lot of holes in ’em. Shoes get holes in ’em when you walk a lot, and
if you walk a lot you’re a tramp, even if you have good clothes. So
maybe he did see Skyrocket.”

“Well, maybe he did,” agreed Janet, thinking that, as Teddy was older
than she, he must know more about it.

“’Et’s go in an’ p’ay buttons!” suddenly proposed Trouble, as he
thought of the fun he had had the night before. “I want all de wed
buttons!”

“No, dear, we aren’t going to play the button game now,” said Janet.
“We must look for Skyrocket.”

“Trouble want to play buttons!” exclaimed the little fellow. “If no
play, Trouble sit down in de mud!” and he pulled his hands away from
both Ted and Janet and started toward a little mud puddle at one side
of the garden path.

Jan looked at Ted, not knowing what to do.

“No play button game, Trouble sit in de mud!” cried the little fellow;
and, tiny “tyke” that he was, he stuck the toe of one shoe in the
puddle.

“Yes, Jan will play the button game!” cried his sister. “Don’t sit in
the mud!” She ran over and caught Trouble by the hand again. “I’ll
take him up to the house and get out the button bag,” said Jan to Ted.
“You can keep on looking for Skyrocket. Mother won’t like it if
Trouble gets all muddy, and he will sit down in it if I don’t keep
hold of him.”

“All right,” agreed Ted. “You can play with him. I’ll go and see if I
can find Skyrocket. But if that man wakes up you come and tell me. I
want to ask him if he saw our dog.”

A little later, when Janet had taken Trouble back to the house, and
while Ted was walking down in the peach orchard, whistling and calling
to Skyrocket, the boy heard an answering signal.

“Hello!” called Ted. “Who’s there?”

“It’s me,” was the answer, which, if not just the right way to answer,
told Teddy what he wanted to know.

“Oh, hello, Tom!” he called, as Tom Taylor, a boy chum who lived in
the next street, came walking along the orchard path. “What are you
doin’?”

“Nothin’!” answered Tom. “What you doin’, Ted?”

“Looking for our dog,” said Teddy, beginning to remember that his
mother had told him to be careful not to drop the last letter “G” from
his words that needed it. “Skyrocket is lost.”

“Skyrocket lost?” cried Tom Taylor. “How’d it happen?”

Teddy told the simple little story, and also how he and Janet had been
looking for their missing pet, and how Trouble had been caught in the
carriage wheel.

“I’ll help you look,” offered Tom. “Skyrocket is a nice dog. Maybe
some tramp opened the woodshed window and coaxed him out,” he added.

“There’s a tramp up at our house now,” said Ted, rather proud to be
able to tell such news as that.

“A tramp! There is?” cried Tom. “Did he take Skyrocket?”

“Well, he isn’t zactly a tramp,” went on Ted, and then he explained
about the man his father and Patrick had carried in. “When he gets
woke up I’m going to ask him about Skyrocket, though.”

“I guess you’d better,” agreed Tom. “Now come on, I’ll help you look.”

But, though the two little boys wandered here and there, calling and
whistling, there was no sign of Skyrocket.

“I guess we’ll have to put a piece in the paper about him,” decided
Ted, as he sat down to rest on the bank of a little pond in the shade
of a willow tree.

“I hope you’ll find him,” said Tom, again. “Say, I know what we can do
while we’re resting,” he went on.

“What?”

“We can make a raft and go riding in the pond,” answered Tom. “It’s
got lots of water in now, after the rain. We can make a raft from the
fence boards and have a dandy sail.”

Ted thought about it for a moment, and then said:

“That’s what we’ll do! We can take off our shoes and stockings, ’cause
a raft isn’t like a boat. The water sloshes all up on it. We’ll go
barefoot, and we’ll have a lot of fun.”

The pond where the boys had sat down to rest in the shade was not
usually deep enough to float a raft, or any boat except tiny toy ones.
But since the rain two days before had made the pond larger and
deeper, and also muddier, there was, as Tom had said, water enough to
let a small raft of boards be paddled around in it.

This raft Ted and Tom now started to make. There were plenty of loose
fence boards near the pond, and some of the boards had nails in them.
Using stones for hammers, the two boys knocked out some of the rusty
nails, and drove them in again, fastening a number of boards together.
Then they put the raft in the water. It floated, but when Tom and Ted
stood on it, the raft sank out of sight under the muddy surface.

“But it doesn’t touch bottom!” cried Ted, as he pushed it about with a
willow pole. “It floats, and we don’t care if we get our feet wet,
’cause we’ve got our shoes and stockings off.”

“Hi! We’ll have lots of fun!” cried Tom.

And the boys did. They pushed the raft to and fro, from one side of
the little meadow pond to the other. They pretended they were making
long voyages, and half the time Ted was captain of the “ship,” and the
other half it was Tom’s turn.

The boys were having a very jolly time, thinking nothing of splashing
each other with the muddy water as they poled the raft about, when
suddenly Ted gave too hard a thrust on his pole. It broke in two
pieces and the next second he found himself splashing about in the
muddy water. He had fallen off the raft!

“Oh! Wug! Guggle! Blug!” spluttered Ted, his mouth full of muddy
water.

“Wait! Sit still! I’ll get you out!” cried Tom.

But Ted did not wait. The water was not deep—hardly up to his knees,
and, after splashing and floundering about, he managed to stand up on
his feet. He did not “sit still” as Tom had told him to.

Oh, but he was a sight—all muddy, and dripping water all over!

“Are—are you hurt?” asked Tom.

“N—n-no!” stammered Ted, in answer. “You don’t need to jump in to get
me out. I—I can wade out.”

“Get on the raft and I’ll pole you to shore,” offered Tom.

“Yes, I can do that,” Ted answered. “There might be glass on the
bottom and I’d cut my feet. I’ll get on.”

He managed to get aboard the raft again, though he nearly tipped Tom
off in doing so. Then the two boys poled their craft to shore.

“Say, you are wet!” exclaimed Tom, as he looked at his chum. “Awful
wet! Will your mother be mad?”

“I guess she won’t like it,” Ted confessed. “But if I stay out long
enough maybe I’ll dry. I guess we won’t sail any more.”

“No,” agreed Tom, “I guess we better not. I’ll walk around with you
till you get dry.”

It was a warm, sunny day, and Ted felt sure he would not take cold
from his ducking. He knew, too, that the sun and wind would soon dry
his clothes, though of course the mud would still remain.

So he and Tom walked about in the lower peach orchard, and around in
the meadow where the pond was, on which they had sailed the raft. Ted
was about half dry, and the two boys were throwing stones in the
water, seeing who could make the biggest splash, when they saw Mrs.
Ransom, owner of the little store, hurrying along the meadow path.

“Hello, boys!” she called pleasantly to Ted and Tom. She knew them
well, for they spent many pennies over her counter.

“Hello, Miss Ransom!” answered the two boys.

“Land sakes! what are you all wet and muddy for, Teddy Martin?” asked
the storekeeper, when she saw the state Teddy was in. “It hasn’t been
raining, has it?”

“No’m,” answered Ted. “I fell off the raft.”

“Raft? What raft?” asked Mrs. Ransom. “I didn’t know there was a raft
around here.”

“Ted and I made one,” explained Tom, “an’ his pole broke and he fell
in. He’s walkin’ around to dry himself off.”

“Land sakes!” exclaimed Mrs. Ransom. “Your mother won’t like that,
Teddy Martin. But I mustn’t stand here talking. I’m going over to
Constable Juke’s house. Have you see him this morning?”

“Constable Juke!” exclaimed Teddy and Tom in one breath.

“Yes, I want him to arrest somebody,” went on Mrs. Ransom.

The two boys looked at each other. A constable in the country, they
knew, was the same as a policeman in the city. He could arrest people
if they were bad.

“You—you want Constable Juke?” asked Ted, in a low voice.

“To arrest somebody?” asked Tom, almost whispering.

“Yes, that’s what I want him to do if he can catch ’em!”

“Is it—do you want him to arrest _us_, ’cause I fell in the water,
Miss Ransom?” asked Teddy, and his voice trembled.

“Land sakes, no, child!” laughed the storekeeper lady. “What ever put
such a notion in your head? What I want of Constable Juke is to have
him arrest somebody that robbed my store.”

“Robbed your store!” cried Ted and Tom. This was getting more and more
exciting.

“Yes,” went on Mrs. Ransom, whom the boys were apt to call “Miss,”
though she had been married and was a widow. “Some one got into my
place last night and took a lot of things. I didn’t miss ’em until
just now. And as soon as I did I started for the constable. I’m on my
way there now. I hope to find him at home.”

“Did they take any money?” asked Ted.

“Yes, a little. But they took some other things, too. I don’t mind the
money so much, nor the other things. But they took a queer box my
brother, that used to be a sailor, brought me from a far-off country.
It was a very queer box, and I wouldn’t sell it for a lot of money.
Now the burglars have it, and I’m going to have them arrested if
Constable Juke can find ’em! Land sakes, but I must hurry on! Stay out
in the sun, Teddy, until you get dry, and then most of that mud will
brush off. Dear me! To think that queer box should be taken after all
these years that I’ve kept it! I hope I can get it back!”



CHAPTER V

UNCLE BEN


Mrs. Ransom hurried along the meadow path on her way to the house of
Constable Juke. The constable was not like a regular policeman. He did
not wear a blue uniform with brass buttons, and he did not walk up and
down the street swinging a club. He was just a farmer, and when he was
called on to arrest anybody, as he was once in a while in Cresco, he
just went out in his regular working clothes and took the person to
the jail.

“Say!” exclaimed Tom, as he watched Mrs. Ransom hurrying away, “I’d
better go home, I guess, Ted, and so had you.”

“What for?” asked Ted. “Let’s go and see Constable Juke arrest the
burglars that robbed Miss Ransom’s store.”

“Nope! I’m going home!” declared Tom.

“But what for?” asked Ted again.

“’Cause,” explained his playmate, “if burglars robbed Miss Ransom’s
store maybe they robbed our house, and maybe my mother would want me
to help catch ’em—or, anyhow, go after the constable for her. And
maybe they robbed your house, too, Teddy. You’d better go home.”

Ted looked down at his clothes, which were only partly dry and which
still had much mud on them.

“No, I don’t b’lieve I’ll go home yet,” he said. “I’ll stay out in the
sun till I get dryer. Anyhow, our house wasn’t robbed. I was there all
night, and no burglars came in. We have a tramp at our house,” he
added. “You know—the one I told you about.”

Tom thought for a moment.

“Say!” he cried, “maybe he’s the man that took the things from Miss
Ransom’s store. Tramps rob places, don’t they?”

“Maybe,” agreed Ted. “But I don’t believe this tramp did. He’s a nice
looking man. Anyhow, Miss Ransom saw him on our lawn, and he wasn’t in
her store. I guess it was somebody else.”

“I guess it was, too,” agreed Tom. “Anyhow, I’m going home to see if
we had any robbers. If we had, I’ll tell you about it, and then we can
go off in the woods and hunt for ’em!”

Both boys looked across the meadow to the house of Constable Juke.
They could see, even from where they stood, Mrs. Ransom going into the
yard, and after they had watched a little longer, they saw a man come
out and speak to the woman who kept the candy and notion store.

“That’s Constable Juke now,” said Tom.

“And she’s telling him all about the robbers,” added Ted.

“I’m going to hurry home,” went on Tom. “And if there’ve been any
robbers at our house I’ll go and tell the constable, too.”

“No, don’t do that!” cried Ted.

“Why not?” asked his chum.

“’Cause we want to catch ’em ourselves. If you find out your house has
been robbed, you come and tell me and we’ll hunt the burglars. We
won’t say anything about it to Constable Juke till we catch the
burglars.”

“Say, that’ll be fun!” cried Tom, his eyes opening wide. “Won’t
everybody be s’prised?”

“They surely will,” cried Ted. “You hurry back now, and then come an’
tell me.”

Tom ran off across the meadow, and Ted walked slowly up and down in
the sun, waiting for the mud to dry, so it could be brushed off. But,
after a while, he grew tired of this.

“I guess it doesn’t show much now,” he said to himself as he tried to
turn around to look at his back. “Anyhow, I’m going to tell mother I
fell in. Besides, she can see I did. I might as well go home now and
see if we had any burglars. I don’t see how we could, but maybe we
did,” he added, half wishing this would be so. “Then Tom and I could
catch ’em all together.”

So, not waiting for Tom to come back, Ted hurried home. Out in front
of the house he saw an automobile, which he knew was not his father’s.

“Oh, maybe there’s a policeman in there now about the burglars!”
thought the little boy. But, as he entered the house, he heard the
voice of Dr. Whitney. It was the doctor’s automobile out in front.

“Yes, I think he will do very nicely now,” Ted heard the doctor
saying.

The doctor and Ted’s mother came out of the room where the sick man
had been put to bed.

“Hello there, Curlytop!” cried Dr. Whitney to Ted, as he ruffled up
the tangled curls of the little fellow. “Well, where have you been, in
swimming?” the doctor asked with a laugh, as he noticed the mud on the
boy and the wet clothes.

“I—I wasn’t swimming,” said Teddy. “I fell in—off the raft.”

“Dear me, Theodore Martin!” cried his mother. “What do you mean? What
raft?”

Of course Teddy had to tell all about it then, but he hurried over the
accident in the water as fast as he could, for he had other news.

“What do you think?” he exclaimed, before his mother could say
anything about his having fallen off the raft. “Miss Ransom’s store
was robbed and she’s gone after Constable Juke, and maybe Tom Taylor’s
house is robbed, too, and the burglars took a queer box from Miss
Ransom that her brother brought from away off and Tom and me—I mean
Tom and I are going to——”

Teddy stopped just then. There were a number of reasons for this. One
was that he was out of breath, from having talked so fast.

Another was that he thought, just in time, that he had better not say
he and Tom were going to try to find the burglars—for that is what Ted
had on the tip of his tongue to say next. Another reason for stopping
so quickly was that his mother held up her hand, just as a policeman
at a busy street crossing holds up his hand to stop the automobiles.
Whenever Mrs. Martin did that, Teddy knew he must calm down. And he
did this time.

“Theodore Baradale Martin!” said his mother slowly, “what does all
this talk mean about burglars?”

“It’s true, Mother!” exclaimed Teddy. “Miss Ransom’s store was robbed,
and the burglars took some money and a queer box and—and——”

“Yes, it’s true,” said Dr. Whitney, nodding his head as Mrs. Martin
looked at him. “I heard something about it as I was coming here just
now, but I didn’t pay much attention. I didn’t hear anything about Tom
Taylor’s house being robbed, though, Teddy.”

“Well, maybe Tom’s isn’t,” answered the Curlytop lad. “He’s gone home
to find out about it.”

“Oh,” said Mrs. Martin with a smile. “Well, there haven’t been any
burglars here, I’m glad to say. Now, Teddy, you go and get washed and
put on clean clothes. Then you go out and help Jan take care of Baby
William.”

“Yes’m,” said Teddy. But he made up his mind that as soon as he could
he would see Tom and find out if any burglars had been at his friend’s
house.

That afternoon nearly everybody in Cresco knew about Mrs. Ransom’s
store having been robbed. But that was the only place in the town that
had been entered. Much to the disappointment of Ted and Tom, no
burglars had been at the Taylor house. And the story of the robbery at
Mrs. Ransom’s was very simple. As a matter of fact no one knew
anything about it.

The woman who kept the store counted up the money in the drawer and
she found that some had been taken. Then she looked around her house
and shop and found that some silver spoons were gone, and also some
things from the store.

“But what I miss most of all,” she said to Mrs. Martin, when she came
over to talk about her loss, “is a queer box my brother, who used to
be a sailor, brought me from a far-off land. The box was made in
Japan, and if you didn’t know how to open it you could try all night
and never get the cover off or the little drawer out.”

“Was anything in the box?” asked Mrs. Martin.

“Yes, there was a picture of my brother and some other things I wanted
very much to keep to remember my brother by.”

“Is he dead?” asked Teddy softly.

“Well, I’m afraid he is by this time,” said Mrs. Ransom. “You see, my
brother is a sailor. He went off on a voyage a good many years ago,
and I haven’t heard from him since. I guess he was shipwrecked. He
gave me that box just before he went away for the last time, and his
picture was in it. That’s why I thought so much of it, and why I feel
so sorry that the burglars took it. They could have my spoons, the
money and everything else, if they’d give me back the queer box with
the puzzle top. Nobody knows how to open it, except the man who made
it, my brother John and myself.”

Mrs. Ransom could not tell how the burglars got in. There was no sign
of a door or a window being broken, and Constable Juke, who came over
to look at the store, said he guessed the robbers (or robber, if there
was only one) must have sneaked in when Mrs. Ransom was out for a
little while, and so have taken the things.

“But I’ll keep my eyes open for the robber,” he promised, “and if I
see him around I’ll arrest him and get back your spoons, Mrs. Ransom.”

“Get back Brother John’s queer box,” begged the storekeeper. “I want
that more than anything else.”

She went back to her little shop, the constable went home, and Ted,
Janet, and Baby William sat down to supper.

“How is the sick man?” asked Daddy Martin, when he came home.

“Much better,” answered Mother Martin. “Dr. Whitney says he’ll soon be
sitting up.”

“May we go in and see him?” asked Teddy.

“Yes, I think so,” answered their mother.

Two days later Ted, Jan, and Baby William were allowed to go into the
room where the “tramp,” as the children often called him, was sitting
up in an easy chair. He looked much better than when he had been
carried in a few days before.

Ted and Jan stared at the invalid, who was fast getting better. And
Ted suddenly exclaimed:

“Why, he’s Uncle Ben!”

“Uncle Ben!” repeated his father. “What do you mean?”

“Why, he looks just like the picture of Uncle Ben in our photograph
album,” went on Teddy. “Doesn’t he, Mother?”

Mrs. Martin looked closely at the man, who had a bushy, brown beard.

“I have been puzzling my head, trying to think whom you did look
like,” she said to the stranger. “Now I know. It is Uncle Ben!”



CHAPTER VI

OFF TO SILVER LAKE


The sick man smiled at the children and at Mr. and Mrs. Martin. When
he smiled he had a very pleasant face—in fact, he had a very pleasant
face at all times, now that he was getting well and strong.

“I’m glad to know I look like some one in this family, which has been
so kind to me,” he said. “But I’m sorry to say I’m not your Uncle Ben,
my dear little Curlytop!”

Ted was surprised to hear the man use the pet name, but then that was
not strange, as many persons, seeing Ted and Jan for the first time,
called them “Curlytops,” for that name seemed just to fit them.

“Aren’t you anybody’s Uncle Ben?” asked Janet softly. “You look
exactly as if you ought to be somebody’s Uncle Ben.”

The man, sitting up in the easy chair laughed, and his laugh was a
pleasant one and caused the children to like him more than ever.

“Yes,” he said, “I suppose I am some one’s Uncle Ben. My name, which I
have not had a chance to tell you,” he went on, “is Benjamin Wilson,”
and he looked at Mr. and Mrs. Martin. “Some years ago my sister, who
lived in New York, had two children, and of course I was Uncle Ben to
them. But they both died, and now I am not Uncle Ben to any one.”

Just then Baby William, who was always an impulsive little chap, broke
away from Jan, who was holding him, and ran to the strange man—no, I
must not call him a stranger any longer. I must use his name—Mr.
Wilson. Trouble climbed up into the lap of Mr. Wilson, and clasped his
baby fingers in the man’s brown beard.

“I ’ikes you!” he lisped.

“Do you? Well, I’m glad of that. And I like you!” laughed Mr. Wilson.

“Say!” cried Teddy, struck with a new thought, “couldn’t you be our
Uncle Ben?”

Mr. Wilson looked at Mr. and Mrs. Martin.

“If you don’t mind, the children could call you that,” said the mother
of the Curlytops. “The Uncle Ben they speak of, whose picture is in
our photograph album, is my uncle, but they always claim him as their
own. He does look a great deal like you. His name is Benjamin
Thompson, and he lives in Florida. We don’t see him very often, but
the children like to look at his picture.”

“He looks just like you,” declared Jan. “Can’t we call you Uncle Ben?”

Mr. Wilson did not answer for a moment. Then, looking at Mr. and Mrs.
Martin, he said:

“You have been so kind to me that I must tell you my story. After
that, if the children want to, they may call me Uncle Ben. But it will
be only for a little while, as I hope soon to be able to travel on.”

Mr. Wilson’s story was quite a long one, and I will not put it all
down here. Enough to say that he had worked as a sailor for a number
of years, until he lost his health. Then he had to get something else
to do. But he did not get better, his relatives all died or he lost
track of them, and at last he could not work hard enough, any longer,
to make a good living.

“So I turned into what is often called a tramp,” he said. “I went from
place to place, trying to get a little work here and there. A doctor
told me that if I could live out of doors for six months I would get
well and strong again. But the only kind of life out of doors is that
on a farm or being a sailor, and I am not strong enough to plow and do
farm work, and cannot get on a ship. So I don’t know what to do.

“I wandered to Cresco, thinking perhaps I might get work here. I
didn’t have very much to eat, and when I reached your house I was weak
and I just couldn’t go any further. Everything seemed to be going
around and around, and I—I fell down, I guess.”

“Yes, you did,” said Teddy, who, like Jan, was eagerly listening to
this story. “You fell down, and Miss Ransom told us you were acting
funny, and we told mother, and——”

“Yes, and you brought me in and have been very kind to me ever since,”
said Mr. Wilson. “But I cannot stay here. I must travel on and see if
I can’t get work out of doors. Then I could get well and strong
again.”

“And now may we call you Uncle Ben?” asked Jan, when the man had
brought his story to a close.

“Of course you may, children!” exclaimed their mother. “If he was
Uncle Ben once he is Uncle Ben still, and though he isn’t the same
Uncle Ben you know down in Florida, I think it will be nice to call
him that, since it really is his name.”

“Were you a sailor long, Uncle Ben?” asked Ted, now that this point
was settled.

“Yes, I was a sailor for several years,” was the answer. “I sailed to
many queer places, and once I was shipwrecked. Then I was taken ill
and found a sailor’s life too hard for me. I liked it, though, for I
like to be near the water and around boats. All sailors do.”

“Miss Ransom’s brother was a sailor,” said Janet. “And he went off on
a ship and maybe he was shipwrecked, and she didn’t ever see him
again, and he left her a funny box that nobody except two or three
could open, but the burglars took the box and did you see them, I mean
the burglars, Uncle Ben?” she asked, all out of breath.

“My, that’s a lot of talk for a little girl!” exclaimed Mr. Wilson,
with a laugh. “And who is this Mrs. Ransom at whose house the burglars
called?”

By turns they explained to him what had happened and how the little
store had been robbed.

“It happened the same day you came to our house, Uncle Ben,” said
Teddy. “And Tom Taylor and I were thinking maybe we could catch the
robbers if Constable Juke didn’t. So—maybe—did you see any of ’em as
you came along—tramping on the road, you know?”

Uncle Ben shook his head.

“If I saw the robbers I didn’t know them,” he answered. “I was too
weak and sick to notice anything. All I wanted was to get to a place
where I could lie down and rest, and then have something to eat,
perhaps. And I found such a place, thanks to you,” he added with a
grateful look at Mr. and Mrs. Martin.

“Well, now, children, you have heard and talked enough, I think,” said
Mrs. Martin to Ted and Jan, who were crowded as close as they could
get to their new friend. “Come, Trouble!” and she held out her hands.

“Trouble! Is that his name?” asked Mr. Wilson.

“It’s his pet name,” answered Mr. Martin. “Though he does get into
trouble now and then. But we must let you rest. Please stay here as
long as you like, and you must not go until we have had another talk.
I may be able to find out-of-doors work for you that will not be as
hard as farming or as work on shipboard.”

“I wish you could!” said Uncle Ben eagerly. “I want to work. I don’t
like being a tramp. And I want to be a real Uncle Ben to these
Curlytops!” and he smiled at Ted and Jan.

“I ’ikes you!” said Trouble again. “You be my Unk Ben, too?”

“If you want me to, I will,” was the smiling answer.

“Yes—me wants!” said Trouble, as if that settled it. And not until
then did he slip down out of the comfortable lap.

“It’s nice to have an Uncle Ben, isn’t it?” asked Ted of Janet after
they had left the room.

“Awful nice,” she replied. “I hope he’ll stay with us forever.”

“And I hope Tom and I can catch the burglars and get back Miss
Ransom’s queer box,” said Teddy. “Maybe she’ll give us a reward.”

“I’d rather get back Skyrocket than the box,” said Janet. “But course
I want Miss Ransom to get her box too. But I want Skyrocket most of
all!”

“Oh, so do I!” exclaimed her brother. “Oh, Jan!” he cried. “I just
thought of it! Maybe the burglars took our dog!”

“Maybe they did!” agreed Jan.

“I’m going to tell Constable Juke!” decided Ted.

But just then his mother called to ask him to bring in some chips to
boil the teakettle, and it was not until some time later that the
little boy had a chance to go to the constable about the lost dog. For
Skyrocket continued to be lost. Though Ted and Janet hunted all over
town for him, and their boy and girl friends did the same, Skyrocket
was not to be found, nor did he come back to his sleeping box in the
woodshed.

Though Ted and Janet felt very bad about their loss, so many other
things happened at the same time that they did not grieve as otherwise
they might have done. They had something else to think about.

“Mother, has daddy said any more about where we are going for our
vacation?” asked Janet one day.

“Yes; what about Silver Lake?” inquired Teddy.

“Oh, we haven’t forgotten about vacation—or Silver Lake, either,” said
Mrs. Martin with a smile. “I think daddy will have something to tell
you this evening. Now, Jan, will you run over to Mrs. Kent’s, and ask
her if she can let me have the spool of strong, black thread. I want
to mend some of Uncle Ben’s clothes. Mrs. Ransom was out of it and
Mrs. Kent said she had some she would let me have.”

“I’ll go!” exclaimed Jan. “Will Uncle Ben come out and play with us
to-day?”

“Well, perhaps to-morrow,” her mother answered. “Dr. Whitney said he
must not go too fast all at once. He may take a walk with you
to-morrow or next day.”

“Goody!” cried Janet.

“That’ll be fun!” exclaimed Ted.

The more the Curlytops saw of Uncle Ben the more they liked him. And
Mr. and Mrs. Martin, too, were growing fond of the stranger who had
fallen almost at their very door. He proved to be a good man, and Mr.
Martin was sure he was one who could be trusted. He was slowly getting
better, and could walk around the house now and go out into the yard
and sit in the shade. But he had not been able, yet, to play with Ted
and Jan, who wanted some one pretty lively to enter into their games.

“You look after Trouble while Janet goes for the thread for me,” said
Mrs. Martin to Teddy.

“All right, Mother,” was the answer. “Come on, Trouble. We’ll go down
to the brook and I’ll show you my water wheel. It splashes around like
anything!”

Janet soon reached Mrs. Kent’s house and told what was wanted. Mrs.
Kent was busy churning. Into a blue tub, shaped like a barrel, she had
poured some sour cream. Inside the barrel was a round piece of wood,
called a “dasher,” and fastened to this was a long stick, like a broom
handle. Mrs. Kent made the handle go up and down, and this splashed
the dasher in the sour cream, and churned it into butter.

She had just taken off the cover, to look in to see how near the
butter was to “coming” when Jan arrived.

“Sit down here, my dear, while I get the thread for you,” said Mrs.
Kent. “I won’t be but a moment.”

Janet sat down. Then she thought she would look down in the churn, to
see if there were any little round balls of yellow butter yet. Her
mother often churned, and Jan knew all about it.

Over the edge of the churn leaned the little girl. Then she gave a
sudden cry and hurried back to her chair. She had hardly sat down in
it before Mrs. Kent came back with the spool of thread.

“There you are, Jan,” she said. “And how is every one over at your
house? I hear you have a new visitor.”

“Yes’m, only he’s going to be our Uncle Ben now,” answered the little
girl. “He’s getting better, and we’re all well. And say, Mrs. Kent,
when you get through churning will you please give me back my rubber
doll?”

“Give you back your rubber doll! Gracious me, child! what do you mean?
I haven’t your rubber doll!”

“Yes, you have,” insisted Jan, with a funny little smile.

“Why, no, dear, I haven’t.”

“You can’t see her,” said Janet. “She’s in the butter.”

“In the _butter_!”

“I—I just dropped her in the churn,” explained the little girl. “You
left the cover off, and I looked in to see if the butter had come, and
my rubber doll slipped, and now she—now she’s in the churn!”

Mrs. Kent quickly lifted off the cover, which Janet had put partly
back on, and as she did so she cried:

“There she is! Oh, Janet!”

“Oh, it won’t hurt her,” said Janet easily. “She’s a rubber doll, you
know, and water or milk, or even butter, won’t hurt her. You can give
her back to me after you make the butter.”

[Illustration: “OH, IT WON’T HURT HER,” SAID JANET EASILY. “SHE’S A
RUBBER DOLL.”]

“Oh, but Janet dear! To drop a—a rubber doll in my clean cream!
And—and——”

“Oh, my doll was awful clean,” explained Janet. “I washed her nice
just before I came over, really I did.”

“Well, that makes it better,” said Mrs. Kent with a smile. “Wait and
I’ll fish her out for you, Janet. I guess my butter won’t be spoiled
after all. It’s a good thing your doll is rubber.”

“That’s what I thought after she fell in,” Janet said. “It won’t hurt
her a bit. And a lady once told my mamma that buttermilk was good for
freckles. Only my doll hasn’t any.”

The doll was “fished” out of the churn, wiped off and given back to
Janet, who tucked her under one arm and then hurried home with the
spool of thread.

The Curlytops waited eagerly for their father to come home that night,
for they wanted to ask him about Silver Lake.

“Yes,” he told them, after supper, when Janet and Ted had climbed on
his knees and Trouble was seated in Uncle Ben’s lap, “we will spend
our vacation at Silver Lake. I think you will like it there.”

“Shall we have a tent?” asked Ted.

“And a boat?” asked Jan.

“An’—an’—a drum?” Trouble wanted to know. “I wants a drum!”

“I don’t know about the drum!” said his father with a laugh, “but
we’ll have a tent, and also a bungalow. We’ll eat in the tent when it
doesn’t rain. We’ll also have a boat, for Silver Lake is a fine place
for them. And there will be lots of other things so you children can
have a good time. But now you must get to bed. We will start for
Silver Lake to-morrow.”

And you can well believe that when to-morrow came the Curlytops were
up bright and early. Such packing and getting ready as there was! But
Daddy and Mother Martin, with the help of Patrick and Nora, managed to
get things in shape finally. The automobile was brought around to the
door. Turnover, the cat, had been shut up in a little crate, for she,
also, was to be taken to Silver Lake.

“If we only had Skyrocket!” sighed Jan.

“Maybe he’ll find out where we are and come to us,” said Ted
hopefully.

Trouble stood on the porch, holding Uncle Ben’s hand.

At the sight of the man with the brown beard, whom they had learned to
like very much, Ted and Jan had a new thought.

“Oh, isn’t Uncle Ben coming with us?” cried the Curlytops.

“Yes, of course he is,” said Mr. Martin. “I forgot to tell you about
him. Uncle Ben is coming with us, and will stay all summer at Silver
Lake. He is to have charge of the boats there, for I own quite a
number, and also a pavilion and a soda-water stand. Uncle Ben will
have charge of them. It will be just the place for him, Dr. Whitney
says, and will make him get well.”

“I’m sure it will,” said Uncle Ben himself. “I can’t tell you how much
I thank you, Mr. Martin. And I am delighted to spend the summer with
the Curlytops at Silver Lake. Come on now, Trouble, we’ll get aboard
the auto.”

“All aboard for Silver Lake!” cried Ted gaily.

They started off, the whole family and Uncle Ben. Then, just as they
reached a turn in the road, they heard a voice shouting:

“Wait a minute! Wait a minute!”

Mr. Martin stopped the car.

“It’s Constable Juke!” said Mrs. Martin, looking around. “He is waving
at us. I guess he wants to speak to us.”

“Oh, maybe he’s found the burglars and got back Miss Ransom’s queer
box!” exclaimed Ted.

“And maybe he’s found Skyrocket!” echoed Jan.

Hurrying along the road, while the Curlytops waited for him in the
automobile, came Constable Juke. What could he want?



CHAPTER VII

TROUBLE IN TROUBLE


“Just a minute there, Mr. Martin! Just a minute!” called Constable
Juke, as he came along the dusty road. “Sorry to call you back,” he
went on, as he came nearer. “I heard you were going away to-day, and I
thought I’d get over before you left. But I didn’t, and when I saw you
going off down the road I called to you.”

“Is it about the burglars that got into Miss Ransom’s store and took
the puzzle box?” asked Ted.

“No, it isn’t about them,” answered the constable. “Though I hope to
have ’em soon, the rascals! Just wait until I catch my breath and I’ll
tell you.”

He sat down on a stone at the side of the road, while Mr. Martin,
Uncle Ben, and the others in the automobile waited.

“Is it our dog Skyrocket?” asked Janet.

“Yes, it’s about him,” said the constable.

“Oh, have you found him?” cried the two Curlytops both at once, while
Trouble, who heard the name of the pet he liked so much, said:

“Me want Skywocket, too!”

“I’m sorry to say I haven’t got your dog,” went on the constable. “But
I ran after you to ask whether he’s black or white. You see, I forgot
whether you said white or black when you told me about him, Mr.
Martin. And I don’t want to be looking for a black dog, if it’s a
white one that’s lost. And I don’t want to be looking for a white dog
if it’s a black one that’s lost. Sometimes I had it in mind that it
was a black dog you owned, and again it struck me that it was white. I
wanted to be sure about it. Now if he is a white dog——”

“Skyrocket is mostly black,” said Teddy.

“But he’s got a little white on him,” added Janet.

“But you’d call him a black dog, I guess,” said Daddy Martin. “And he
was a curly black dog, too, and not very large. Did you find any such
lost dog as that, Constable Juke?”

“No, I didn’t, I’m sorry to say,” was the answer. “But now that I know
for sure what Skyrocket looks like I’ll write it down on a piece of
paper. Then I’ll have it with me always, and I won’t forget. If I do,
every time I see a lost dog I’ll take out the paper and read that
Skyrocket was black.”

“I hope you’ll find him,” said Teddy.

“So do I,” echoed Janet.

“I hope the same thing myself,” remarked the constable. “Well, now I’m
sure in my own mind I can make a better hunt for him. I sort of plan
to look for your dog and the burglars at the same time,” he added to
Mr. Martin.

“Well, I don’t believe the burglars that robbed Mrs. Ransom’s store
had anything to do with Skyrocket’s going away,” said Mr. Martin. “The
children’s dog may have run away himself.”

“Oh, Sky wouldn’t do that!” cried Teddy. Sometimes he called his dog
“Sky” instead of “Skyrocket.”

“Well, the best of dogs run away once in a while,” said Mr. Martin.
“However, we wish you good luck, Constable Juke.”

“Thank you,” answered the man. He had written down on the back of an
envelope, with a stub of a pencil, the color of the Curlytops’ dog, so
he would know Skyrocket if he saw him.

“Well, I’ll be getting back now,” said the constable, as he got up and
knocked some dust from his shoes with a bunch of weeds he pulled from
the roadside. “Sorry to have kept you waiting.”

“Oh, we aren’t in any hurry,” replied Mr. Martin. “We’re going to
Silver Lake for the summer.”

The automobile started off once more, Mr. Martin steering it down the
road on the way to Silver Lake.

“When are we going to get there?” asked Teddy, after his father and
mother had finished talking about the queer way Constable Juke had run
after them to ask about the color of Skyrocket.

“Oh, we shall get there some time this afternoon,” answered Ted’s
father.

“Do you like it near the water?” asked Uncle Ben, for the children now
called him by this name all the while.

“Oh, I just love it!” exclaimed Janet. “And it’s good for my dolls,
too. They like to be near the cool lake.”

“How did the rubber doll get over her swim in the churn?” asked Uncle
Ben, with a smile, for Mrs. Kent had told the story of Jan’s dropped
doll.

“Oh, she’s all right,” answered the little girl. “Some of the
buttermilk got inside her, ’cause she’s got a hole in her back. But I
make believe feed her that way, lots of times, so I guess she likes
it.”

“Will you show me how to sail a boat on Silver Lake, Uncle Ben?” asked
Teddy, as the automobile rolled on.

“Yes, if your father lets you go out in one,” was the answer.

“Will you, Daddy?”

“Will I what?” inquired Mr. Martin, for he had not heard what Teddy
said, as, just then, a rooster ran across the road in front of the
automobile and Mr. Martin did not want to run over the crowing chap.

“Will you let Uncle Ben take me out and show me how to sail a boat?”
asked Teddy.

“Oh, yes, I think so—if you’ll be careful,” was the reply.

“Oh, I’ll be careful,” promised Uncle Ben. “I used to be a sailor and
I once worked at a dock where rowboats and sailboats were rented out,”
he went on, “and lots of times I’d take out parties of children. I had
to be very careful of them.”

That was one thing that Mr. and Mrs. Martin liked Uncle Ben for—he was
so kind and careful about children. They felt that they could trust
the Curlytops and Trouble with him at any time, even though they had
not known him very long.

“Oh, I know I’ll just love it at Silver Lake!” exclaimed Jan, when she
had heard Ted talking about the boat rides he was to have.

“We’ll have plenty of fun!” decided the little boy. “I wish we’d hurry
up and get there!”

“So do I!” echoed his sister.

The day was rather warm, and after having passed through a little
village the automobile was driven past a little wayside ice-cream and
soda-water stand.

“Let’s stop here and cool off,” said Mother Martin. “I’m sure some
ice-cream would be good for the children, and I know I’d like a drink
of lemonade.”

“Yes, we can stop here,” decided Daddy Martin. “The automobile wants a
drink, too. I forgot to put water in when we started. I’ll get some
here.”

The ice-cream stand was kept by a boy about fifteen years old. He said
he took charge of it every summer, as soon as school was out, so he
could earn money to help his mother, who lived not far away.

“I’ll get some water for your auto while you’re eating the ice-cream,”
said the boy. “I can get it from a well right back of my stand. And
you can sit over there under the trees. It’s shady and cool there.”

“Yes, we’ll get out of the auto and walk around a little,” decided
Mrs. Martin. “One of my feet is asleep.”

“Did you sing it to sleep, ’ike you sing me to sleep?” asked Trouble.

“No, indeed!” laughed his mother. “My foot went to sleep of itself.”

What she meant was, as you know, that her foot felt as if “pins and
needles” were sticking in it—you know how it is if you lie down with
your head on your arm sometimes. When you try to move your fingers
they feel numb, as if they were “asleep.”

But a little walk around under the trees near the roadside ice-cream
stand made Mrs. Martin’s foot “wake up;” and then the Curlytops, Baby
William, Uncle Ben, and Mr. and Mrs. Martin sat down to enjoy the good
things which the boy set on a little table for them.

“Now I’ll go and get the water for your auto,” said the lad, after Mr.
Martin had paid him.

They sat there eating the ice-cream, and sipping the lemonade, which
Mr. Martin also ordered, and in a little while a man whom Mr. Martin
knew drove past, stopping his carriage in the road while the
Curlytops’ father talked with him a moment.

“Come, children, we’ll go and see how the boy is coming along putting
the water in daddy’s auto,” suggested Mrs. Martin, when the ice-cream
had been finished and the last drop of lemonade was gone.

“This is a nice place here,” said Teddy, as he got down from his chair
and looked around the country farm, near which the ice-cream stand had
been built.

“But not as nice as Silver Lake,” said Janet.

“Oh, no, course not!” agreed her brother.

“Where’s Trouble?” suddenly asked Mrs. Martin, as she brushed some
crumbs off her dress, for she had opened a box of crackers she had
brought from a supply in the automobile.

“He was cleaning out his ice-cream dish a moment ago,” answered Uncle
Ben.

“And he asked me if there was any left in mine,” added Jan.

“But he’s gone!” cried her mother. “He must have slipped away when I
leaned over to pick up my handkerchief that I had dropped. We must
find him!”

“I hope Trouble isn’t in trouble again,” said Uncle Ben.

“Ted, go and call your father,” said Mrs. Martin. Her husband was out
in the road talking to the man who sat in a carriage.

As Teddy hurried out to do this, suddenly, from somewhere back of the
ice-cream stand, came the shrill voice of Baby William.

“I dot him! I dot him!” cried Trouble. “Tum on, Teddy—Jan! I dot him
all wite!”

“What kind of trouble is Trouble in now?” thought Uncle Ben.



CHAPTER VIII

THE WIND BLEW


Every one stood still on hearing Trouble’s voice.

“There he is!” cried Mrs. Martin. “Did you hear him?”

“I heard him,” said Uncle Ben.

“But where can he be?” asked Mrs. Martin. “I can hear him, but I can’t
see him.”

“Who’s that?” asked Mr. Martin, coming back from the road, holding
Teddy’s hand. For his little boy had run down and told him to come
back, though Teddy forgot to say what for. “What’s the matter?” asked
Mr. Martin.

“Oh, it’s Trouble again,” answered his wife. “He slipped away after we
had finished our ice-cream, and now I can’t see him, though he just
now called to us.”

And, once more, came the voice of Trouble, saying:

“I dot him! Tum an’ det him, Teddy!”

“He’s back of my stand!” cried the ice-cream boy. “His voice comes
from there.”

“Come on! Let’s look!” exclaimed Uncle Ben.

“Here I is!” came the voice.

“Why—why—that sounded just as if it came from that dog kennel!”
exclaimed Mrs. Martin, pointing to one not far away.

“Is there a dog in there?” asked Uncle Ben of the boy.

“Yes. At least, a puppy,” was the answer.

“Trouble! Trouble, where are you?” called his mother.

In answer a little tousled head was thrust out of the opening, or
front door, of the dog kennel, and the head was followed by the body
of Trouble himself. He was smiling, though his face was dirty, and in
his arms he held a little black puppy.

“I dot him!” he cried. “I dot our Skywocket back aden!”

You should have heard Janet and Teddy laugh then.

“That isn’t Skyrocket, Trouble, dear!” said Janet.

“That isn’t our dog at all!” added Teddy, laughing so hard he could
hardly speak.

Trouble seemed much surprised. He held the puppy, which was a very
small one, away from him so he might look at it better. Then he
brought it back into his lap as he sat on the ground outside the
kennel.

“Dis not Skywocket?” he asked.

“Why, no, Trouble. That dog belongs to this boy,” said Mrs. Martin.
“How did you come to crawl in there with the puppy?”

“I wanted Skywocket,” explained Trouble. “I did see a doggie. He
wanted me to tum an’ play wif him, an’ I did tum. An’ I went into his
little house, an’ we had fun. Him is a nice doggie and he kissed me on
my face ’ist ’ike Skywocket!”

“Yes, I dare say he did!” laughed Mrs. Martin. “Most puppies will lick
you with their tongue if they get a chance. But put the little doggie
down now, Trouble, and come to me. My! but you are dirty.”

“You can take him over to our house and wash him,” suggested the
ice-cream boy. “We have lots of water at our house. My little brother
gets dirty, too, and has to be washed every day.”

It did not take long to get Trouble clean, with the big basin of warm
water and a little soap which the mother of the boy who kept the
ice-cream stand brought out for Mrs. Martin.

“Now I think we are ready to travel on again,” said Daddy Martin, when
they were once more in the automobile.

“Skywocket not come?” asked Trouble, waving his hand toward the kennel
of the puppy into which he had crawled. “Me want Skywocket.”

“That isn’t Skyrocket!” laughed Teddy, though he felt quite sorry when
he thought of his lost pet. “That fellow is this boy’s dog!”

“Yes; and I’d hate to have any one take him away,” said the ice-cream
boy. “Did your dog die?” he inquired.

“No,” answered Janet. “But he dis—he dis—— Oh, what’s that funny word
you told me, Uncle Ben?” she asked.

“Disappeared,” answered Mr. Wilson. “Skyrocket disappeared. That is,
he went off all at once, just like a skyrocket,” he added.

“We don’t know if the same burglars took him that took the queer box
from Miss Ransom,” said Teddy, “but Skyrocket is gone. But of course
we wouldn’t take your dog!” he added quickly. “My little brother
doesn’t know dogs very well, and he surely did like Skyrocket.”

“Skywocket nice dog!” exclaimed Trouble. “Me ’ike dis dog, too!”

“Yes, you like a good many things,” laughed Mrs. Martin, as she
smoothed out Baby William’s hair. “You like to get in the dirt, too!”

Good-byes were said to the ice-cream boy and his mother, and when a
supply of lollypops had been bought for Ted, Jan and Trouble, Mr.
Martin started the automobile, and once more they were on their way to
Silver Lake.

Nothing more worth telling you about happened until they reached the
place where the Curlytops expected to have such good times with Uncle
Ben on the water. The only little thing that really did happen was
that Trouble dropped his lollypop when they were almost at the lake,
and he wanted his father to stop the machine and get his bit of candy
on a stick.

But as Trouble had eaten more than half of the lollypop, and as it was
wet and sticky and had dropped in the dust, Mrs. Martin did not think
it would be a good thing to give it back to Trouble.

“I’ll give you another when we get to Silver Lake,” she said, and with
that the little fellow was satisfied.

On chugged the automobile, up hill and down, through the woods, now
and then passing through small towns, and finally Mr. Martin said:

“There it is!”

“What?” asked Ted and Jan both at once.

“Silver Lake!” answered their father. “See it just ahead of you, at
the bottom of the hill, sparkling in the sun!”

He pointed, and the children saw it. They had been to Silver Lake once
or twice before, but they did not remember much about it.

“What a beautiful place!” exclaimed Uncle Ben, as he leaned forward to
look. “I’ve seen many a bit of water,” he added, “but none as pretty
as that.”

“Do you like it?” asked Mrs. Martin.

“Very much, indeed. I think I shall be very happy there, and I know
I’ll get well and strong.”

Silver Lake was very much like its name. It sparkled like a new, shiny
piece of silver in the sun. Around the lake were many trees, making a
regular picnic woods. And indeed Silver Lake was what is called a
picnic resort. That is, a company had put up on one of the shores a
merry-go-round and a place where you could “shoot the chutes”—that is,
slide down a wooden hill into the water, riding in queer little wooden
boats. There was also a roller coaster, places to get ice-cream and
candy, and one place where you could get a regular dinner.

There were many things to amuse children, and grown-ups also. There
were sailboats and rowboats to hire, and there was a motor boat in
which one could ride all around the lake for ten cents.

Silver Lake was quite a large body of water, and the picnic grounds
were only a small part of it. Around the shores of the rest of the
lake were summer cottages and bungalows, and it was to one of these
bungalows, which he owned, that Mr. Martin was taking his family to
spend their vacation.

Mr. Martin also owned some of the boats on the lake, and it was to
take charge of these boats, hiring them out to picnic parties who
wanted to ride in them, that Uncle Ben had been brought to Silver
Lake.

“You can stay on the boat pier in a little office, and look after my
sailboats, canoes, and rowboats,” said Mr. Martin to Uncle Ben. “That
will keep you outdoors, and make you well and strong.”

“And can we go out in boats with him?” asked Teddy, as they alighted
from the automobile in front of the bungalow in which they were to
stay.

“Oh, yes,” answered Mr. Martin. “I think you will have lots of fun on
the water with Uncle Ben. He will not have to be busy all the time, as
he will have a man and a boy to help him.”

“Oh, it’s just dandy here!” cried Teddy, as he ran about on the soft
ground under the trees in front of the bungalow.

“We’ll have lots of fun!” echoed Janet.

Trouble got slowly down from his mother’s arms. He walked this way and
that, looking out at the lake, which was shining like silver among the
trees, and he looked up at the clouds floating overhead.

“Me ’ikes it here!” he decided. “Maybe we find Skywocket!”

“Oh, isn’t he cute!” cried Janet, and she hugged and kissed her little
brother. “But, Trouble, dear, I don’t b’lieve Skyrocket will come
here.”

“I don’t think so, either,” said Teddy. “But still he might. Once we
hid away up in Tom Taylor’s barn, in the hay—’member, Jan?—and Sky
found us there.”

“Yes, he did,” agreed Janet. “But this is a long way off.”

“Don’t think too much about your lost dog,” advised Mrs. Martin. “If
he is lost he is lost, and that is all there is to it. It’s too bad,
of course, and I wish he were back. But you must make the best of it,
and, some day, maybe we’ll have another dog.”

“No,” said Ted slowly, as he thought it over. “If I can’t have
Skyrocket I don’t want any dog.”

“Me, either,” said Janet. “But maybe he’ll come back to us.”

“And maybe Tom Taylor and me—I mean I—maybe we’ll find the burglars
that went into Miss Ransom’s store,” said Teddy.

“How can you, when Tom Taylor isn’t here?” asked Janet.

“That’s so,” agreed her brother. “I wish Tom was here,” he went on. “I
like to play with him. Could he come and stay with us?” he asked his
mother.

Mr. and Mrs. Martin looked at one another and laughed in a queer way.

“Oh, have you got a secret?” cried Janet, for she had seen her father
and mother laugh like this before. “Have you a secret?”

“Maybe—just a little one,” said her mother, still smiling. “But now
you children play around, while daddy and I take the things out of the
auto and get ready for supper.”

Supper was to be the first meal in the bungalow at Silver Lake, and
plenty of things to eat had been brought along, so that not much
cooking would have to be done the day the Curlytops arrived. Later on
Nora, the cook, was to come and help Mrs. Martin.

“I can help get supper,” said Uncle Ben.

“All right, then we’ll let you help,” said Mrs. Martin. “Now, Jan and
Ted, you take good care of Trouble while I’m busy.”

“Yes’m,” promised the two Curlytops.

They had on their play clothes, and it was not long before they were
running here and there, rolling about and tumbling about on the soft
carpet of green moss under the forest trees. Trouble laughed and
squealed with delight.

There were a number of bungalows near the one that Mr. Martin had
bought for his family, but, as yet, no one was in them. The owners
would be down in another week or two, Mrs. Martin said.

Not far away from “Sunnyside,” as the Martin bungalow was named, was
the boat dock owned by the children’s father, and there were several
sailboats and rowboats tied there.

Uncle Ben was helping Mrs. Martin get supper, Mr. Martin was busy
putting away the groceries he had brought in the automobile, and
everything was being put in “ship-shape” order, as Uncle Ben would
say, when Janet, followed by Trouble, came hurrying into the bungalow.

“Oh! Oh!” cried the little girl, and her mother could see that she was
much excited. “Oh, dear! He’s gone!”

“Who’s gone?” asked Mrs. Martin, though in another instant, not seeing
Teddy, she guessed who it was that Janet meant.

“Ted—Teddy!” gasped Janet. “He’s gone! The wind blew him away!”



CHAPTER IX

WHAT TROUBLE FOUND


Mrs. Martin almost dropped the egg she had in her hand, and Uncle Ben
let fall to the floor a pan he was going to put on the stove in which
to boil some potatoes. Luckily, he had not yet put the water in it.

Daddy Martin came hurrying in from where he was getting ready to run
the automobile under a shed. He stooped down and looked closely at
Janet.

“What did you say?” he asked. “Are you playing some game, Jan?”

“Oh, no, it isn’t a game!” exclaimed the little Curlytop girl. “The
wind blew, and it just blew Teddy away. He’s out in the middle of the
lake now, I guess!”

“The lake! The wind! I see what she means!” cried Uncle Ben.

Out of the door, and out on the bungalow porch ran Uncle Ben, followed
by Mr. and Mrs. Martin. Jan, still holding Trouble by the hand,
followed more slowly.

“There he is!” cried Mr. Martin, pointing toward Silver Lake, which,
just then, was glowing red from the setting sun. “Ted is out in a
boat.”

“Yes, that’s what I mean,” added Janet. “Teddy got in a boat. He
wanted me to come, and Trouble, too, but I wouldn’t. But Teddy got in
a boat, and the wind did blow him away, it did!”

“That’s what I thought the minute she spoke about the wind!” cried
Uncle Ben.

“Oh, Teddy!” cried Mrs. Martin. “Is it deep out there?” she asked her
husband.

“No, not very,” he answered. “The little tyke! I thought I told him
not to get into a boat alone,” he went on.

“Never mind about that, now!” cried Mrs. Martin. “How are we going to
get him back?”

“Oh, I’ll do that easily,” said Uncle Ben. “I’ll row out and get him.
I didn’t know he knew enough to hoist the sail on a boat,” he added.

“You can’t get him that way,” said Mr. Martin. “The wind is blowing
harder now, and the boat is sailing faster, even if Ted doesn’t know
enough to fasten the sail in the right way. You can’t get him by
rowing out to him, Uncle Ben.”

“Then how can we reach him?” asked Mrs. Martin.

“In a motor boat,” her husband answered. “There’s one over at the next
pier. We can row over there, start the motor boat, and soon bring back
Teddy and the sailboat.”

Uncle Ben and Daddy Martin hurried down to where the rowboats were
tied. Getting into one, they quickly sent it skimming over the water
to the next pier. They could row over much more quickly than they
could have walked around the shore.

Mrs. Martin, with Jan and Trouble standing beside her, eagerly
watched, now and then looking out to where the sailboat was drifting
slowly down the lake.

Pretty soon she heard the sound:

“Chug! Chug! Chuggity-chug-chug!”

“They’ve started!” she exclaimed.

Janet, too, knew what that sound meant. It was the noise made by the
engine of the motor boat. Soon the boat, which ran something like an
automobile, and did not have to be rowed nor need a sail blown by the
wind, moved away from the dock, and, with Daddy Martin steering it,
went out to bring Teddy back to shore.

A sailboat can go very fast in a swift breeze when the sail is rightly
hoisted, but even a fast sailboat is not as fast as a motor boat, and
soon Daddy Martin and Uncle Ben, in their craft, were coming closer
and closer to the tiny ship in which Teddy was riding.

The little fellow had not meant to go sailing all alone in this way,
and he was as much surprised as any one when the boat moved away from
the dock. But he was a wise little chap, and when he found himself
going out, away from the dock and the shore, he very properly sat down
on the bottom of the boat, out of the way of the swinging boom, and
kept still. It was the best thing he could have done.

But when he saw the motor boat coming up behind him, and noticed his
father and Uncle Ben in it, Teddy could keep still no longer.

“Daddy! Daddy!” he cried. “Take me out! Take me home!”

“Yes! Yes! We’re coming! We’ll take you home all right,” said his
father.

“Sit down! Sit down!” shouted Uncle Ben. “Sit down, Ted, or the boom
will knock you overboard.”

Teddy did not know exactly what the “boom” was, but afterward he
learned that it was the big stick on the bottom of the sail that swung
from side to side. And if Ted had sat up too straight this stick was
likely to hit him. Teddy knew that to fall “overboard” meant to fall
out of the boat. He had fallen “overboard” off the raft that day he
played with Tom, and he had not forgotten.

So when Teddy heard Uncle Ben shouting to him to sit down the little
Curlytop boy did this at once. And it is a good thing he did, too, for
a moment later the wind swung around the lower part of the sail, with
the big, heavy wooden boom, and Teddy would have been knocked into the
lake by it if he had not been on the bottom of the boat.

“That’s the boy!” cried Uncle Ben, as he saw that Teddy had minded.
“Now stay that way until we get you out.”

On chugged the motor boat, and soon it was alongside the sailboat.
Uncle Ben gave a jump from the motor boat into the sailing craft, and,
in an instant, had loosed the ropes that held up the sail. Down it
came, and, as the wind no longer had anything to blow on, the sailboat
moved more slowly. But, no matter how fast it moved, the motor boat
was beside it now, and Mr. Martin tied both craft together with a
rope.

“Why, Teddy! what made you go sailing all alone?” his father asked the
little boy, as he took him into the motor boat. “Didn’t I tell you not
to get into a boat unless your mother, Uncle Ben, or I were with you?”

“Yes, Daddy. But I—I—forgot!” confessed Teddy. “I won’t do it again!”

“That’s right!” exclaimed Mr. Martin. “And now how did you come to
haul up the sail? I’m sure there wasn’t any sail on this boat when we
arrived at Silver Lake. How did you get the sail up, Teddy? You aren’t
strong enough to hoist it yourself.”

“No, I didn’t do it,” admitted Teddy. “A man did it for me.”

“A man? What man?” Mr. Martin asked, and he looked in surprise at
Uncle Ben.

“I didn’t do it, that’s sure,” said Mr. Wilson. “And I didn’t see any
strange man around the dock.”

“Nor I,” said Mr. Martin. “Are you sure, Teddy, that a man hoisted the
sail for you?”

“Well, I didn’t ask him to,” went on the little boy. “I was playing
around with Jan and Trouble. You were up in the bungalow—you and Uncle
Ben and mother.”

“Yes, I know that part,” said Mr. Martin. “Go on. Tell me who put up
the sail for you. He shouldn’t have done it, whoever it was.”

“They didn’t do it for _me_, zactly,” went on Teddy. “I was playing,
and I said to Jan, ‘let’s get in a boat’ and she said, ‘no,’ and I
went down to get in and I saw a man then putting up the sail.”

“Did the man say anything?” asked Uncle Ben.

“He looked at me kind of funny,” replied Teddy. “An’ then he said:
‘What? You here? Then I’ve got to run!’”

“The man was surprised, was he, Ted?” asked his father.

“Yes, he was terrible s’prised, I guess,” answered the little chap.

“Did he run away?” asked Uncle Ben.

“Yes, he ran away as soon as he saw me. But he left the sail up on the
boat, and I thought maybe daddy sent him to put it up for me, and I
got into the boat, and the wind blew, and it did blow me away, it
did.”

“Yes, Janet told us that part!” said his father. “It’s lucky she saw
you before you were blown clear across the lake. I can’t understand
what man it was, though, who hoisted the sail,” said Mr. Martin.

“Have you any man working for you around the boats?” asked Uncle Ben.

“Not yet, though I’m going to hire a man and a boy to help you,”
answered the father of the Curlytops. “This man must have been a
stranger, though why he should hoist the sail on one of my boats and
then run at the sight of Teddy is more than I can make out.”

“Maybe he has been using the sailboat while you were at home in
Cresco,” suggested Uncle Ben. “He didn’t hear us come, and he came
down to the dock to take a ride as he had been used to doing. Then he
saw Teddy. He thought he might be caught, so he ran away.”

“I guess that’s how it was,” agreed Mr. Martin. “But I’d like to know
who the man was. What did he look like, Teddy, boy?”

“Oh, he—he was—he was just a—man!”

“I know,” replied his father. “But was he a man like Uncle Ben or like
me?”

Teddy looked first at his father, then at Uncle Ben.

“He was like both of you,” he said. “That’s the kind of man he was.”

“We can’t tell very much from that,” said Mr. Wilson, with a smile.

“No, but we must be on the watch,” said Mr. Martin. “I don’t want
strange men hoisting the sails on my boats. They might sail off in one
and not come back.”

“Maybe it was a burglar!” exclaimed Teddy. “I guess he looked like a
burglar—only I never saw one.”

“No, I presume you never did,” agreed his father. “But we must get
back to shore, or your mother will be worried more than she is now.
Though she can see that you are all right, I suppose. Anyhow I’ll make
sure.”

Mr. Martin stood up in the motor boat and held Teddy high in his arms,
so that Mrs. Martin, on shore, could see that the little boy was safe.
Teddy’s mother waved her handkerchief, to let her husband know that
she had seen and understood.

Then the motor boat was started again, and back to the dock it went,
towing the sailing craft.

“Oh, Teddy, what made you do it!” cried his mother as she clasped him
in her arms.

“He won’t do it again!” declared Mr. Martin, after he had explained
how it happened.

“But it was very curious!” said Mrs. Martin. “I don’t like it.”

“I wants to go in sailboat!” cried Trouble, as they all walked up from
the lake to the bungalow.

“Now let’s settle this once and for all,” said Mr. Martin solemnly.
“None of you children is to get into a boat unless one of us is with
you—don’t forget!”

He shook his finger at the two Curlytops and at Trouble. They knew
what this meant, and each one promised.

“Come to supper!” called Uncle Ben a little later, and they sat down
to the table which had been set under the tent in front of the
bungalow.

Never was there a jollier meal. Then came a delightful time of sitting
under the trees in the cool of the evening, until Mrs. Martin said in
a low voice:

“Well, Trouble has gone to by-low land in my arms, and I think it must
be time for Ted and Jan to see what they are going to dream about.
They’ve had a long day of it.”

“That’s right!” agreed Uncle Ben. “Come, Curlytops—tumble in! as we
used to say on shipboard when we went to bed.”

There were a number of beds in the bungalow, and soon the Curlytops,
as well as Trouble, were asleep.

Teddy was having a queer dream, about sailing in a boat with his dog
Skyrocket perched up on top of the mast, when suddenly the little
Curlytop lad was awakened by hearing Trouble calling to him. Ted
opened his eyes to see his little brother, in his baggy pyjamas,
standing beside the cot bed where Teddy slept. Trouble lifted up
something round and black and shiny and toppled it over into Ted’s
cot.

“’Ook what Trouble found!” cried the little fellow. “Trouble det him
down by de ’ake, and bringed him in. He’s nice, but he not as nice as
Skywocket! He don’t bark, but he stick out hims head an’ pull it in
a’den! ’Ook what Trouble found!”



CHAPTER X

JANET’S FLOWERS


At first Ted was not quite sure whether he was fully awake or whether
he was still dreaming. But when he took a second look at his little
brother Trouble, standing beside the cot bed, Ted began to feel pretty
sure he was no longer sleeping.

“’Ook what Trouble found!” went on the little fellow, laughing
joyously. “Hims is ’ike a big stone, but hims isn’t a stone. Hims is
a’ive, hims is!”

Ted looked at the funny, half-round, black object Trouble held. If
Ted’s eyes had been more widely opened, and if he had not been so
suddenly awakened from his sleep, he might have known what it was Baby
William had found so early in the morning.

The night had been rather warm, and, to be cooler, Teddy had left his
feet and legs uncovered. One bare leg was outside the covers on the
cot now, and the first thing Teddy knew he felt something cold and
clammy crawling over his leg, and then something scratched him.

“Oh! Ouch!” cried Teddy, sitting up in bed. “What have you there,
Trouble? Did you put a snake on me?”

“Hims no snake!” laughed Baby William. “’Ook at him.”

Then Teddy rubbed his eyes so he could see better, and he saw what it
was Trouble had brought in. It was crawling about on the bed
now—sliding on and off Ted’s bare leg, and the little Curlytop boy saw
what made the scratchy feeling.

“It’s a mud turtle!” cried Teddy. “Oh, where’d you get him, Trouble?”

“Trouble find mud turkle in woods, down by lake,” was the answer.
“Trouble bring turkle in to Ted. Nice turkle!”

“Yes, he’s nice all right,” agreed Ted, with a laugh. “But I don’t
want him in my bed. Take him out, Trouble, and I’ll get dressed. It’s
morning!” cried Ted, as he saw the sun shining into the bungalow.

“Trouble give turkle to Jan,” murmured the little chap as he reached
for the crawling creature. “Jan ’ike a turkle, too!”

“No, don’t put it in Janet’s bed!” advised Teddy.

“All wite,” assented Trouble. “Me give him Unk Ben!”

“No, don’t do that, either!” cried Teddy, catching his little brother,
just as Baby William was about to toddle into the room where Mr.
Wilson slept. “Take the turtle outside, Trouble. I’ll come out pretty
soon and we’ll have some fun. Don’t let him run away.”

“All wite,” agreed Trouble, and out he went with the queer creature.

“What’s going on out there?” called Mrs. Martin from her room.
“Trouble, where are you?” she asked, looking over to the crib where
Baby William had been put to sleep the night before. Mrs. Martin saw
that the crib was empty, and she guessed what had happened. Trouble
had awakened early, and had slipped out without waiting to be dressed.
“What are you doing?” his mother called.

“Oh, he’s all right,” answered Teddy, who was dressing himself now.
“He went down to the lake, found a mud turtle and put it in my bed. He
woke me up. The turtle crawled on my bare leg, and I thought at first
it was a snake. Trouble wanted to put the turtle in Jan’s bed and then
in Uncle Ben’s, but I wouldn’t let him.”

“That’s right!” said his father. “Trouble, put the turtle down and
come in here!”

“Yes,” answered Trouble, and he did what he was told at once, as he
nearly always did when his father spoke.

In a little while the two Curlytops were dressed, as was the rest of
the family, and soon they were sitting down to the breakfast table.

“Where’s the turtle, Trouble?” asked Jan, as she got up from the
table. “I want to see it, but I don’t want it in bed with me.”

Trouble looked around on the floor.

“Turkle gone!” he said, not seeing his new pet.

“Gone!” cried Ted. “Why, I told you to watch him, Trouble. We could
’a’ had a lot of fun with that turtle, and now you let him get away!”

“Did you put him anywhere, Trouble?” asked Janet.

“Ess, me put him somewhere,” answered Baby William, still stooping
down and looking around the floor.

“Well, where’d you put him?” asked Ted.

Trouble shook his head.

“Me fordet!” he said simply.

That was often the way with Trouble. He would sometimes put his toys,
or one of Janet’s dolls, maybe, away and forget where he had left it.

“I guess he put the turtle down on the floor when I called him to
breakfast,” said Mrs. Martin, “and the turtle crawled off. Never mind,
there’ll be plenty else to play with.”

“And maybe we can find another turtle,” said Ted. “Come on, Jan, we’ll
look.”

“I have something else I want to do now,” answered the little girl.

“All right. Then I’ll go on a turtle hunt,” decided Ted. “Come on,
Trouble. Show me where you found the one that got away.”

“Don’t go too far, and keep out of the boats!” called Mrs. Martin to
her two little boys, as they walked away, hand in hand.

There was quite a lot of work to do about the bungalow to get it in
order for the summer visit, and soon Mrs. Martin, her husband, and
Uncle Ben were busy. Trouble and Ted were in plain sight down on the
shore of the lake, looking for turtles, so their mother was not
worried about them. Janet was on the porch, taking some of her toys
from the box in which they had been packed, and Uncle Ben was getting
ready to fix the rudder of the motor boat. The rudder was under water,
and Uncle Ben said he would put on a pair of rubber boots to wade out
and see what was wrong with the steering gear.

“Hello! Something is wrong here!” exclaimed Uncle Ben, as he put his
left foot in one of the pair of boots that Daddy Martin brought out of
a closet for him.

“Something wrong? Aren’t they big enough for you?” asked Mr. Martin.

“One is, but the other doesn’t seem to be,” answered the man who had
once been a sailor. “There’s something in this boot. I can’t get it
on!”

He had his foot half way in, but now he pulled it out and thrust in
his hand. As he did this Uncle Ben gave a laugh.

“I’ve found Trouble’s lost turtle,” he called.

“Where was it?” asked Mrs. Martin.

“In this rubber boot,” answered Uncle Ben. “Trouble must have dropped
the turtle in the boot, and then he forgot about it. Here it is!”

He drew forth his hand and there, surely enough, out came the turtle
in it.

“No wonder I couldn’t get my foot in!” laughed Uncle Ben. “The turtle
took up all the room.”

“Put it in a box so it can’t get away,” said Daddy Martin. “The
children can play with it. They won’t hurt it, and the turtle isn’t
the snapping kind, so it won’t bite them.”

The queer pet Trouble had found was put in a wooden box, high enough
on the sides to keep the creature from crawling out. Then Uncle Ben
put on the other rubber boot and fixed the motor boat.

Meanwhile Trouble and Teddy, walking up and down the shore of the
lake, were looking for more turtles. They did not see any, but they
found plenty of other things to make them happy. There were frogs, and
there were little fishes swimming close to shore in the shallow water.
But every time the boys tried to catch a fish or a frog they missed.
The fishes gave little flips of their tails and swam away, and the
frogs hopped into deeper water.

There were other little swimming creatures, however—tiny black
tadpoles, that, some day, would turn into frogs. And by scooping up
water in their cupped hands Ted and Trouble caught some of the
“taddies.”

“Let’s put ’em in a can and watch ’em turn into frogs,” suggested Ted.
“That’ll be fun, won’t it, Trouble?”

“Um—yes,” agreed the smaller boy.

Ted found an old tomato can, filled it with water, and then he and his
brother caught more tadpoles. Soon they had a dozen swimming around in
the water of the can.

“Now we’ll sit down and watch ’em turn into frogs,” said Ted, as he
carried the can over to a shady place.

Uncle Ben had told him that the tadpoles, though they had a tail at
first, lost it after a while, and then grew two feet, and then, later,
had four feet and legs, and finally were frogs.

For some little time Ted and Trouble sat and looked into the can of
wiggling tadpoles. Then, as no change took place and as not a single
frog hopped out, Ted exclaimed:

“Oh, I guess they won’t change while we watch ’em. Let’s go away now,
an’ when we come back they’ll be frogs.”

“All wite,” agreed Trouble. They did not know that it takes many days
for a tadpole to change into a frog.

“Come on, let’s go get a cookie, and then we’ll see what Jan’s doing,”
suggested Ted, as he led his brother toward the bungalow. “Maybe
she’ll come with us an’ have some fun now. Maybe Uncle Ben will take
us out in a boat. Shall we do that, Trouble?”

“All wite—’ess!” was the answer.

Janet was tired of her unpacking, and after each of the children had
been given a sugar cookie by Mrs. Martin, they started out again to
look for something to do. There were many ways of having fun at Silver
Lake, even though the picnic season had not started yet.

When it did, and when the merry-go-round and the shoot-the-chutes were
going, there would be more ways of having fun.

“Don’t go too far off, children!” called Mrs. Martin to the Curlytops
and Trouble. “Uncle Ben is going to take you for a boat ride before
dinner.”

“Oh, that’ll be fun!” cried Ted.

“We’re just going a little way,” added Janet.

The three strolled toward the lake, down the winding path. Janet saw,
in a clump of trees, some pretty blue flowers.

“Oh, I know what I’m going to do!” she cried. “I’m going to pick a
bouquet for mother to put on the table. It looks so pretty! I’ll get
some flowers!”

“I’ll pick some green ferns to go with the bouquet,” added Ted, as he
saw a clump near the blue flowers. “Come on, Trouble, you help me pick
the ferns.”

Janet started toward the clump of blue flowers. She did not know that
the posies grew on the edge of a hole that was filled with water and
very sticky mud. As the grass grew tall near the edge of the hole
Janet could not see it.

Up to the pretty blossoms she ran, and she reached her hands out to
pick some. Ted, who was watching her, suddenly saw his sister go out
of sight. He knew she had fallen down, but he did not know just how it
had happened.

“Janet! Janet!” he cried. “What’s the matter?”

“Ted!” she answered. “Oh, Teddy, I fell in! Come and get me out!”



CHAPTER XI

TROUBLE IN THE AIR


Teddy Martin ran to the edge of the little bank over the top of which
he had seen Janet’s head a moment before. The boy had his hands full
of ferns, but he dropped these as he ran forward, calling:

“I’m coming, Jan! I’m coming! Wait for me!”

“I can’t get out!” Janet answered. “I’m stuck fast!

“And I’m going down farther all the while!” she called. “Oh, Oh! You
must get me out, Teddy!”

“Yes, Janet! Yes, I’ll get you out!” cried Teddy. He flung himself
face downward on the grassy bank below which Janet was caught in a
trap of mud. It was soft mud, and did not, of course, hurt her, but it
was so sticky that she was held fast.

“Can’t you pull your legs out, Janet, and walk over to me?” asked
Teddy. “If you could get over here I could take hold of your hands and
pull you the rest of the way out. Try to pull your legs loose!”

“I did try,” Janet answered. “I can pull one leg out, but then the
other leg sticks down deeper in the mud. Then when I try to pull my
first leg out, that’s stuck, too.”

“Can’t you pull both your legs out together?” asked Teddy, as he lay
on the top of the grassy bank and looked down at his sister.

“Nope! I can’t pull both my legs out at once,” she answered. “’Cause
if I did I’d fall down.”

“Well, then I guess I’ve got to come down and get you,” said Teddy, as
he thought about the matter. “You stay there, Janet, and I’ll come
down and pull you out. I’ll hold you so you can pull both your legs
out at the same time.”

He started to get up, but his sister called to him.

“No, don’t come down here, Teddy!”

“Why not?” he asked, in surprise.

“’Cause if you do, you’ll be stuck, too, and then we’ll both be stuck
in this sticky mud, and we can’t get out, and nobody will know we’re
here, and nobody can take Trouble home, and——”

“That’s so—I forgot about Trouble,” said Teddy. “And that is pretty
sticky mud, isn’t it, Jan?”

“It’s terribly sticky!” answered the little girl. “It’s just like that
time when I sat down in the fly paper. I guess you better go and get
mother or daddy or Uncle Ben. They can get me out.”

“Wait! Maybe I can do it myself!” said Teddy, after a bit. “If I had a
rope I could throw it to you, and you could take hold of it and I
could stand up here, where there isn’t any mud, and pull you out.”

“Yes, but you haven’t any rope,” said Janet.

Teddy thought some more.

“No, there isn’t any rope,” he said. “But if I could find a piece of
wild grapevine, that would be as good as a rope. Don’t you ’member,
when we went to Grandpa’s Cherry Farm, how we swung on a wild
grapevine in the woods, just like a swing?”

“I ’member,” Janet answered. “Please go and get me a wild grapevine
rope, Teddy, and pull me out. My shoes are all full of mud.”

“Yes, and there’s a lot on your legs, too,” her brother said. “Well,
I’ll see if I can find a grapevine. If I can’t, I’ll get daddy or
Uncle Ben—they’ll pull you out, anyhow.”

“Where’s Trouble?” asked Janet, as her brother stood up and started to
walk away.

“That’s so—mustn’t forget him,” answered Teddy. “He was picking ferns
when I heard you yell, but I don’t see him now.”

“Oh, you must find him!” cried Janet. “If he goes away by himself
maybe he’ll fall into a mud hole too.”

“I’ll find Trouble first, and then I’ll go and get the grapevine and
pull you out,” decided the little boy. Of course it might have been
better if he had run at once and told his father or his mother what
had happened to Janet. But Teddy liked to do things for himself, and
if he could help his sister out of the bog he wanted to do it.

“Hi, Trouble! where are you?” cried Teddy as he looked toward the spot
where he had left his little brother, picking ferns.

At first there was no answer, and, for a moment, Teddy feared that
Baby William had wandered away and become lost, or perhaps had fallen
into some swamp hole. But, in a few seconds, after he had called
again, Teddy heard some baby laughter.

“Trouble, are you hiding away from me in the grass?” asked Teddy, for
sometimes the little chap did this. “Are you hiding?” asked Teddy in
louder tones.

“No, I’se playin’!” was the answer. “I got nudder turkle!”

“You have?” cried Teddy, running toward the spot from which Trouble’s
voice sounded. “Say, you’re great on finding turtles! Yes, you have
found one!” he went on, when he reached Baby William’s side. He saw
the little boy sitting down in a grassy hollow, and near him, slowly
crawling, was a mud turtle—much larger than the one Trouble had found
that morning and put in Teddy’s cot.

“Oh, that’s dandy!” cried Ted. “We’ll keep ’em both, and maybe we can
get up a show with ’em. Come on, Trouble. Jan’s stuck in the mud, and
I’ve got to get her out. I’ve got to find a wild grapevine.”

“Jan in mud?” asked Trouble, looking up into Ted’s face.

“Yes, she’s away down in a deep mud hole. We’ve got to pull her out.”

Carrying the turtle in one hand, with the other Teddy led Trouble to
the edge of the grassy bank, where the little fellow could look down
and see his sister stuck in the mud.

“Oh! Too bad!” said Trouble, in a gentle voice, as he saw the plight
of poor Janet.

“Yes, it is too bad,” agreed the little girl. “I didn’t see the mud
hole when I went to get the blue flowers.”

She still held a bouquet of them in her hand.

“Now you stay here with Janet, Trouble, and I’ll go and get a
grapevine for a rope,” said Teddy. “Sit right here and don’t go away.”

“I won’t,” promised Baby William. “I give turtle grass for hims to eat
breakshust!”

“Yes, you can feed the turtle his breakfast,” agreed Janet. “And don’t
be too long, Teddy,” she begged. “’Cause I think I’m sinking farther
in all the while.”

“I’ll come right back,” he promised, as he ran toward the tangled
woodland where he thought some grapevines might grow. And Teddy was
lucky enough to find some, so that, in a little while, he came back
with one trailing after him.

“Now I’ll pull you out, Janet!” he cried. “This is as good as a rope.”

He stripped the leaves and little branches from the long, thin vine,
which is really a rope of the woods, and then, holding one end, Ted
tossed the other to his sister, who was standing below him in the bog.
She caught it with one hand, holding the blue flowers in the other.

“Hold fast now, I’m going to pull!” cried Teddy. “I’ll pull and you
wiggle your feet, and then they’ll come loose out of the mud and you
can walk over where it’s hard ground.”

Well, Teddy, pulled and Janet tried to keep hold of her end of the
grapevine rope, but as Teddy was stronger than she was, and as he was
pulling with two hands, while she was holding with only one, and as
the mud was very sticky, you can imagine what happened.

Teddy pulled the grapevine away from his sister, and she nearly fell
over backward into the muddy puddle just behind her.

“You must take hold with both hands!” cried Teddy, as he, too, almost
toppled over. “Take hold with both hands, and I’ll pull with both
hands, and I’ll get you out.”

“I’ve got only one hand,” declared Janet. “I must hold on to my
flowers.”

“Oh, let the flowers go!” ordered Teddy.

“No, I want ’em!” insisted Janet.

“Then I can’t pull you out,” was Teddy’s reply.

Janet thought this over for a moment, and then she said:

“Well, I can throw my flowers to you up there on the bank. You can
give ’em to Trouble to keep, and then I can take hold with both
hands.”

“Yes, you can do that!” agreed Teddy. “Go ahead! Throw me your
flowers. I’ll give ’em to Trouble.”

“But don’t let the mud turtle eat ’em!” pleaded Janet, as she tossed
the pretty bouquet to her brother. The gathering of the blue flowers
had gotten Janet into a lot of trouble.

“My turkle eats grass—hims don’t like flowers!” said Baby William, as
Ted laid the blossoms down on the ground beside his little brother.

Janet now had both hands free, and she took a good hold of the
grapevine rope. Teddy braced his feet in the grass, and began to pull.
Janet pulled also, lifting her feet out of the sticky mud, and, with a
queer, sucking sound as she lifted her legs, first the right and then
the left, she soon found herself free of the bog. She stepped out on
firm ground, and was soon upon the bank with Ted and Trouble.

“Oh, what an awful lot of mud!” cried Teddy, as he looked at his
sister’s feet. And well might he say that, for she was covered with
muck up to her waist.

“I guess I better wade out in the lake, with my shoes and stockings
on, and wash off,” said Janet. “I can’t get any wetter, but I can get
a little cleaner.”

“I guess you can,” decided Teddy.

He and Trouble (who carried the flowers, while his brother held the
turtle) walked to the shore of the lake where the water was shallow.
There Janet waded in and splashed around. Of course she got very
wet—and with her clothes, shoes and stockings on, too!—but the mud was
washed off.

“Where have you children been, and what have you been doing?” cried
Mrs. Martin, when the Curlytops and Trouble walked up to the bungalow
Sunnyside a little later.

“I’ve been picking a bouquet for you, Mother,” answered Janet, and she
held out the blue flowers. “Aren’t they pretty?”

“Yes, my dear, they are very nice, and thank you for them. But did you
have to wade in the lake up to your waist after them?”

“Oh, no. I fell in the mud and then I had to wash off,” explained
Janet.

“And I found annuver mud turkle!” cried Trouble.

Then the children told their mother what had happened.

After dinner, when Janet had been washed again and dried and had had
clean clothes put on her, Uncle Ben took the three children out on the
lake in a little motor boat. It was great fun for them to go riding
about the silvery water, the engine of the boat making a chugging
sound which Trouble liked very much.

Silver Lake was so large that Uncle Ben did not have time to take the
children all around it.

“Some day,” he said, “we’ll put up a lunch and go on a regular voyage
all around the shores in the big motor boat.”

“Shall we get shipwrecked?” asked Ted eagerly.

“I hope not!” laughed Uncle Ben. “I was shipwrecked once, and that was
enough. But now we are going to stop here. I have to get some rowboats
your father has bought.”

He steered the motor craft up to a little pier about a mile from
Sunnyside. To this pier a number of small boats were tied. After some
talk with a man Uncle Ben tied to the back of the boat in which the
Curlytops sat five of the rowboats, strung out one after the other,
like beads on a string.

“Are we going to take ’em home?” asked Janet.

“Yes,” answered Uncle Ben. “Your father needs more boats to hire out
at his dock near the picnic grounds, and he bought these. I am going
to paint them red, like all his boats.”

“May I help paint?” Teddy asked.

“Me too?” cried Janet.

“Well, I’ll see about it,” promised Uncle Ben. “I’m afraid you would
get more paint on your hands and faces than you would on the boats.
But maybe I’ll let you paint a little with a small brush.”

“That’ll be fun!” cried both children. “Do let us!”

Off they started once more, hauling the rowboats after them in a long
line back of the motor craft. Trouble wanted to climb back into the
nearest rowboat, but they would not let him, of course.

Uncle Ben was steering the big boat, and pulling the smaller ones, in
toward the Sunnyside dock when suddenly something jumped from the
water with a splatter of drops and seemed to leap over the rowboat
nearest the motor boat. Then the shining object fell back into the
lake again with a splash.

“What was that?” cried Ted.

“Did somebody throw something?” Janet asked.

“Maybe it was a turtle,” said Trouble.

“That was a fish that jumped out of the water and clean over the
rowboat,” said Uncle Ben. “Fish sometimes leap out of the water that
way when they want to catch a bug or a fly that is just above them.
But I did not know there were such large fish in Silver Lake. I must
bring a hook, line, and pole the next time I come out.”

“I’m going to fish, too!” declared Teddy.

“So’m I!” added Janet.

“Yes, we’ll get up a fishing party!” agreed Uncle Ben. “Maybe we can
catch enough for a meal.”

The rowboats were tied up at Daddy Martin’s dock, and for the next few
days Uncle Ben was busy painting them. Teddy and Janet were both
allowed to use a small brush, and really they did quite well, for they
were careful.

The only thing that happened was that once, when Trouble came close to
watch him, Teddy splattered some red paint on the face of Trouble’s
beloved rag doll.

“Oh, Teddy Martin! ’ook what you did!” cried Trouble. “I’m goin’ to
tell mozzer! My doll’s all wed!”

“I didn’t mean to,” Teddy said, sorry enough about what had happened.
“Anyhow it makes his cheeks look nice and red.” Trouble hadn’t thought
of this.

“It does make him ’ook pittier,” he agreed. “I’m glad ’oo did it,
Teddy.”

The Curlytops had lots of fun at Silver Lake. Gradually the bungalow
was put in order, and Nora came to cook and help with the work. Then
Mrs. Martin could take long walks in the woods with the children, and
they often went out on the lake with Uncle Ben, having many good times
on the silvery water.

It was just before supper one evening, and Ted and Janet had come in
from sailing with Uncle Ben. Trouble had not gone, as he was asleep,
but now he had awakened, and he was freshly washed and dressed.

“Take Trouble for a little walk down the path, Ted and Jan,” their
mother said. “But don’t go far away, for supper will soon be ready.”

“All right,” they answered, and soon the two Curlytops were leading
their little brother by the hand.

“Let’s go down to the ice-house,” proposed Teddy. “They’re taking
cakes of ice out now and we can watch.”

The ice-house was one partly owned by Mr. Martin. In the winter, when
Silver Lake was frozen, men cut big chunks of ice from it, and packed
it away in sawdust in a small house, not far from shore. In the summer
the ice was taken out and used to make ice-cream and to cool
soda=water.

[Illustration: “OH, TEDDY MARTIN! ’OOK WHAT YOU DID!” CRIED TROUBLE.]

The cakes of ice were so large and heavy that they were lifted from
the house and lowered to the ground outside by a rope and pulley. The
pulley was up near the roof of the house, and the rope dangled to the
ground. The ice was hoisted up just as you may have seen a piano
hoisted up to the second or third story of a house. The Curlytops used
to like to watch the men lift the ice out by the rope and pulley.

“Oh, they’re all done!” exclaimed Janet, much disappointed, when she
and her two brothers reached the ice-house. “They’re all done, and
they’re gone!”

“But they’ve left the rope where we can reach it,” said Teddy. “Oh,
Jan, I know what we can do!” he cried.

“What?” she asked.

“We can make believe Trouble is a cake of ice, and hoist him up by the
rope,” went on Ted. “Come on—let’s do it. Trouble, do you want a ride
in the air?”

“Oh, ’ess! Me want wide in air!” said the little fellow eagerly.

“All right! Then you’re going to have one!” laughed Ted.



CHAPTER XII

COMPANY IN CAMP


Mrs. Martin was sitting on the front porch of the bungalow. She had
just finished writing a letter, which she hoped would bring more
happiness and fun to the Curlytops. Uncle Ben and Daddy Martin were
washing themselves, after having been at work among the boats and at
the dock. In the house, or bungalow I suppose I had better call it,
Nora was finishing the supper preparations.

“Yes, this ought to make Ted and Jan happy,” said Mrs. Martin to
herself as she sealed the letter she had written. “I’ll have Uncle Ben
take it to the post-office after supper. They won’t miss Skyrocket so
much if everything turns out the way I want it to,” thought Mrs.
Martin.

For Ted and Jan had certainly missed their pet dog very much.
Skyrocket had been with them on nearly all their trips to Cherry Farm,
to their uncle’s or aunt’s, and to other places, and now, since the
dog had vanished in such a queer way from the woodshed, the Curlytops
had sorrowed for him very much. Even Turnover, the cat, did not make
up for Skyrocket. And seeing how much Ted and Janet thought about
their missing dog, even when they were having fun on the water with
Uncle Ben, Mrs. Martin decided to write the letter she had just
finished.

She was getting up from her chair, to go inside the bungalow to see if
Nora needed any help about the supper, when, suddenly, the mother of
the Curlytops saw a curious sight. This was a glimpse of Baby William
being raised up off the ground and swaying to and fro on the end of a
rope in front of the ice-house.

For a moment Mrs. Martin could not believe that she really saw this.
But when she had brushed her hand over her eyes, to make sure that she
was wide awake, she felt certain that what she had seen was real.

“Oh, Trouble! William! Ted! Janet! What are you doing?” cried their
mother, and, dropping her letter, she ran off the porch, calling as
loudly as she could:

“Daddy! Uncle Ben! Come quick! The baby is hanging from the end of a
rope!”

Mr. Martin and Uncle Ben had just finished washing, and when they
heard the call they ran down the path after Mrs. Martin. They, too,
saw just what she saw—Trouble dangling from the end of a rope that ran
over a pulley, or wooden wheel, near the top of the ice-house. And as
the two men watched they saw Baby William slowly go down, and then go
up again, just as an elevator goes down and comes up.

“Somebody’s hauling Trouble up and down, just like a cake of ice!”
cried Daddy Martin.

“That’s what they are!” said Uncle Ben. “I wonder who it is?”

The next moment he and Mr. Martin came in sight of the ice-house, and
they saw who was doing it. There stood Teddy and Jan, first hauling up
on the end of a long rope, and then letting it run through their hands
again. On the other end of the rope, as it ran over the pulley wheel
at the roof of the ice-house, was Baby William.

The rope was tied about his waist, and every time the Curlytops pulled
on the rope their little brother was hoisted up in the air, swaying
and dangling about as a spider does on the end of the web he spins.
And when Ted and Jan let the rope slip through their fingers, Trouble
was lowered toward the ground.

The Curlytops were quite strong for their age, having played out of
doors so much, and Trouble was not very heavy. The rope slipped easily
over the wooden wheel, or pulley, and so it was that Ted and Jan could
very easily raise and lower their little brother. They had tied the
rope around his waist. Ted was pretty good at tying knots, for Uncle
Ben had showed him how.

“Children! Children! What are you doing?” cried Mrs. Martin, as, with
her husband and Uncle Ben, she came in front of the ice-house.

“Theodore, Janet, stop it at once!” cried their father.

“Lower him easy now! Don’t let him come down too hard!” was what Uncle
Ben said. And he said it just in time, too. For Ted and Jan were so
surprised at being called to in this sudden way that they might have
let go of the rope while Trouble was hoisted in the air, and then the
little chap would have had a hard fall.

But Uncle Ben knew what he was doing, and no sooner had he called out
than he ran beneath the dangling little boy and caught him in his arms
as Ted and Jan lowered him.

“There you are!” cried Uncle Ben, as he loosed the loop of rope from
around Trouble’s little stomach and set Baby William on the ground.

“Oh, Ted! Jan! What were you doing?” asked their mother. “What were
you thinking of?”

“We were just playing Trouble was a cake of ice,” said Janet, as she
let go her hold of the rope.

“And we gave him a ride up and down in the air,” added Teddy.

“Me ’iked it!” declared Trouble himself, as he laughed and clapped his
hands. “Me went up and me went down!”

“I should say you did!” said his mother. “It’s a mercy you didn’t
fall. Don’t ever do such a thing again, Ted and Jan.”

“No’m. We won’t!” they promised.

“Anyhow, if he did fall, or the rope broke, he wouldn’t have hurt
himself much,” said Teddy, after thinking the matter over. “The ground
is all sawdust here, and he’d fall on that. Besides we didn’t pull him
up very high. Did we, Jan?”

“No, not high at all,” she agreed.

“And I tied the rope around his stomach good and tight so it wouldn’t
slip,” went on Teddy. “I tied the rope the way you showed me, Uncle
Ben.”

“Well, I am not going to show you how to tie any more knots if you use
a rope on your little brother,” said Mr. Wilson.

Teddy thought that over, and decided he wanted to know more about
ropes and knots, and as, moreover, their father and mother said the
Curlytops must not do it again, that was the first and last time Baby
William was ever hauled up on an ice rope by his brother and sister.
But the Curlytops did plenty of other queer things, as you shall hear.

Supper over that night, they all went for a sail with Daddy Martin.
Silver Lake was getting to be quite a lively place now. The
merry-go-round was being put up, after having been stored in a barn
all winter, the shoot-the-chutes were being painted and made ready for
the picnic crowds, and the other places to have fun would soon be
open. The picnic grounds, as I have told you, were a little distance
from Sunnyside Bungalow, but it was easy to reach them in a boat, or
by walking around the shore of Silver Lake.

Mr. Martin had his boats all in readiness to be hired out now, and a
few persons had come to get them, being waited on by Uncle Ben, who
was in charge. Uncle Ben had told Mr. Martin it would be a good idea
to put up a little candy and soda-water stand on the pier, so those
who went out in boats could buy something to eat and something to
drink. So this had been done, and the Curlytops were quite delighted.
For, of course, they could have all the soda-water and ice-cream they
wanted without paying a cent—as their father owned the stand. Mrs.
Martin did not let the children have more than was good for them,
though.

Every day the Curlytops had fun at Silver Lake, and the fun did not
always end at night, for Uncle Ben or Daddy Martin would take them out
on the water either in a sailboat a rowboat or in the motor launch.

“When are we going fishing?” asked Teddy one evening, as they were
coming back to the dock after a pleasant sail.

“Oh, pretty soon now,” said Uncle Ben, with a smile at the Curlytops.
For Janet was as eager to start out with hook and line as was Teddy.
“I’ll have to go soon, if I go at all. For soon the picnic and
excursion crowds will be coming to Silver Lake, and I’ll be so busy
attending to the boats, the soda-water and the ice-cream, that I won’t
have any time to fish.”

As I have told you, Uncle Ben was to be in charge of Mr. Martin’s dock
at the lake, and the old sailor was to have a man and a boy to help
him. The man had come, but the boy had not yet been hired. Mr. Martin
spent many days at Sunnyside Bungalow, at Silver Lake, as he had some
one he could leave in charge of his store at Cresco.

One day, after dinner, Ted had found some string that came off a
package of groceries. He took out the knots, fastened one end of the
cord on a stick which he found in the woods, and cried:

“Where’s Uncle Ben? I want to go fishing now, but I haven’t got a
hook. Come on, Uncle Ben, let’s go fishing!”

Mrs. Martin was reading a letter, and when she finished it she looked
at the clock and said:

“I wouldn’t go fishing just now, Teddy.”

“Why not, Mother?”

“Because I thought perhaps you and Jan would like to go in the motor
boat over to the Point to meet the train.”

“Go to the Point to meet the train!” cried Ted. “Is anybody we know
coming on the train?”

“Yes, I think so,” and Mrs. Martin smiled.

“Oh, who is it?” cried Ted and Janet together. For when their mother
smiled in that queer way they knew something good was in store for
them.

“Well, the other day I wrote a letter, inviting some company to come
here to visit us,” she said. “Just now I have their answer and they
are coming on the eleven-o’clock train. Uncle Ben is going over to the
Point to meet it, and I thought you would like to go with him. But if
you would rather go fishing——”

“Oh, no!” cried Ted. “We want to see the company; don’t we, Jan?”

“Yes! Who is it?”

“See if you can’t guess. I’m not going to tell you,” said Mrs. Martin
with a laugh.

Well, the Curlytops guessed. Grandpa Martin? Uncle Prank? Aunt Jo? But
their mother only shook her head after each guess.

“You’ll have to wait and see,” she told them.

So you can well imagine how excited Ted and Janet were when they got
ready to go over to the Point in the motor boat with Uncle Ben to meet
the company that was to come to camp. The Point was the nearest
railroad station for Silver Lake, and it was on the other side of the
sparkling water from where Sunnyside Bungalow was built.

“Do you know who is coming, Uncle Ben?” asked Ted, as he and his
sister took their seats in the launch.

“Oh, please tell us!” begged Jan. “That is, if it isn’t a secret and
you didn’t promise not to tell.”

“Well, it’s a secret. But I didn’t promise not to tell, for your
mother didn’t tell me who was coming,” said Uncle Ben. “She just said
I was to take the boat, go over to the Point, meet the train and bring
the company back to camp.”

“But how are you going to know who to bring if you don’t know who is
coming?” asked Ted.

“Oh, your mother said you’d know who it was as soon as you saw them,”
said Uncle Ben, with a smile.

And Ted and Janet did. For no sooner did the train puff into the
station and the passengers begin to get off than the Curlytops spied a
boy and a girl of about their own ages.

“There’s Tom Taylor!” cried Ted.

“And Lola, his sister, too!” fairly shouted Janet. “Oh, they’re our
company!”

“Hurrah! Hurrah!” yelled Ted and Janet.

Tom and Lola, seeing their playmates, whose mother had invited them to
spend part of their vacation at Silver Lake, rushed down the depot
platform.

“Oh, won’t we have fun!” cried Ted, capering about Tom.

“Oh, won’t we!” agreed Tom, dancing up and down. “And Ted, I’ve got a
secret!”

“You have? What is it?”

“I know where your dog Skyrocket is!”



CHAPTER XIII

CATCHING FISH


What Tom told Teddy as the two boys danced around on the railroad
station platform was the second surprise of the day for the Curlytops.
The first was in seeing the two Taylor children who had come to visit
them at Sunnyside. And the second was when Tom said:

“I know where Skyrocket is!”

Of course that was enough to make Ted and Janet open their eyes very
wide and look closely at their little friend.

“Did you bring Skyrocket with you?” asked Janet eagerly.

“Oh, no. I couldn’t do that,” explained Tom. “Anyhow, a man had him.
He was a gypsy man, and he had Skyrocket in a red wagon with a lot of
looking-glass on the outside. I mean the wagon had looking-glass on
the outside—not Skyrocket.”

“I know that!” cried Ted. “I’ve seen gypsy wagons before. But go on!
Tell me about Skyrocket! Where is he?”

But Uncle Ben stepped up just then and asked:

“Are you two little visitors all alone? Did any one come with you?
Shall I look for your father or mother in the crowd?” For there was
quite a crowd of people who got off the train at the Point, and many
of them had come either on an excursion or to spend a vacation at
Silver Lake.

“We came all alone,” explained Tom. “The conductor took care of my
sister and me. We got here all right.”

“And they know where Skyrocket is!” cried Ted.

“Is that so?” asked Uncle Ben.

“Well, I don’t zactly know where he is now,” said Tom Taylor. “But I
saw him, and so did Lola.”

“Yes, we saw him in a gypsy wagon,” added Tom’s sister.

“Tell us all about it!” begged Janet, very much excited.

“Not now,” said Uncle Ben. “We had better get back to Sunnyside. Mrs.
Martin will want to know that you two youngsters arrived safely. You
can talk about Skyrocket on the way home in the boat. But I had better
see the conductor and tell him I have his two little travelers safe.
Just wait here for me.”

The two Curlytops and their friends were so excited and glad to see
each other that they could not possibly stand still. They danced
around in circles, they looked at one another, and they talked so fast
and had so much to say to one another that it is a wonder they ever
finished.

Uncle Ben soon came back, saying he had seen the conductor, who was
glad to know that Tom and Lola had met their friends from Silver Lake.
The train journey from Cresco was not a long one, and children often
traveled in the care of the train conductors, when their fathers or
mothers had no time to go along.

“Oh, we’ll have packs of fun!” cried Ted to Tom, as they started for
the gasolene launch. “We have a bungalow, and a tent, and lots of
boats and there’s a merry-go-round and a shoot-the-chutes, and——”

“And we’re going fishing,” broke in Jan. “And Uncle Ben is going to
show me how to sail a boat, and I got stuck in the mud and we played
Trouble was a cake of ice and—and—everything!”

She had to stop then, she was so out of breath.

“Oh, say, that’s great!” cried Tom. “Your mother was awful good to ask
us to come out and have a vacation here.”

“And we didn’t know a thing about it till we saw you get off the
train,” said Teddy. “And now tell us about Skyrocket.”

“Oh, yes! Where is he?” asked the little Curlytop girl.

“Well, I don’t know where he is now,” Tom said. “We saw him just when
we were at the station in Cresco waiting for the train. A gypsy wagon
came along—all looking-glass and painted red, you know—and I heard a
bark inside, a dog’s bark.”

“I heard it, too,” said Lola, “and I said it sounded just like your
dog Skyrocket.”

“Yes, she said that,” agreed Tom. “And then we were going to run out
to the wagon to see, and, all of a sudden, a dog stuck his head out
the back door and it was Skyrocket!”

“Are you sure?” asked Uncle Ben, as he steered the boat out into the
open lake, and pointed the bow toward Sunnyside. “There are lots of
dogs that may look like Skyrocket, you know.”

“This was Skyrocket all right!” declared Tom. “I whistled to him and
called his name.”

“And he wagged his tail, just like Skyrocket used to,” declared Lola.
“And then Tom and I were going to run after the wagon and get your dog
for you, but then our train came and we had to get on.”

“Oh, dear!” sighed Janet. “Then the gypsy has our dog.”

“Well, I told Mr. Whitter, the station agent, about it,” said Tom. “He
said he’d try to find out where the Gypsy wagon was going, and then
he’d let you know.”

“Do the gypsies ever camp near Cresco?” asked Uncle Ben.

“They used to,” said Tom. “They sold horses and the gypsy women told
fortunes and they had a lot of dogs.”

“Well, it might be that your Skyrocket was taken from the woodshed
that night by a prowling gypsy,” said Uncle Ben. “You can have your
father write to Mr. Whitter, Ted, and ask if the gypsies are camping
near Cresco this year. If they are we’ll go there and see if they have
Skyrocket.”

“I hope they’ll be good to him,” murmured Janet.

“I wish he had jumped out of the gypsy wagon when you saw him,” said
Ted.

“So do I!” agreed Tom. “If he had, Lola and I could ’a’ brought him
along with us in the train.”

“Did they catch the burglars that got in Miss Ransom’s store?” asked
Teddy, when the boat was nearing the bungalow dock. “And did she ever
get back the funny box with the secret drawer?”

“No, I don’t b’lieve she ever did,” said Tom. “Anyhow, I didn’t hear
anything about that. I’ve just been thinking about coming out here to
see you and Jan and have fun.”

A little later the motor boat stopped at the pier in front of the
Sunnyside bungalow, and Tom and Lola were being made welcome by Mrs.
Martin and Nora. Daddy Martin had gone to town to see about ordering
some things for his soda-water stand.

“Isn’t this great?” cried Ted to Tom, when the two boys had a chance
to roam about the woods near the bungalow.

“It’s just dandy!” cried Tom. “I could live here forever!”

“We’ll get our dolls and take them for a walk in the woods,” said
Janet to Lola. “You brought a doll, didn’t you?”

“Yes, I brought my three best ones.”

“Oh, then we can have a lovely time, and play parties and all like
that. What is it, Trouble?” Janet asked, for Baby William was pulling
at her dress.

“I want some, too!” he exclaimed.

“Some what?” asked Janet.

“Trouble want ’ovey time!” he answered.

“Well, you come with Janet and I’ll get you a sugar cookie,” said his
sister. “Then you can have a lovely time eating it.”

He was soon satisfied with a cookie his mother gave him, and a little
lunch was also set out for Tom and Lola. And of course Ted and Jan had
to have some, too. So there was a lovely, jolly time almost as soon as
the visitors reached Sunnyside.

“How get on your old clothes,” said Ted to Tom, after they had
finished the simple meal, “and we’ll go off into the woods and have a
lot of fun.”

“But be careful!” cautioned Mrs. Martin. “Don’t go in the boats unless
Uncle Ben is with you, don’t fall in the mud, don’t play that Trouble
is a cake of ice and—— Dear me!” she exclaimed to Nora, “there are so
many things to tell the children _not_ to do that I can’t remember
half of them.”

“We’ll be good!” promised Ted.

Soon he and his boy chum were roaming about in the woods and over to
the picnic grounds, which would soon be open to parties from Cresco
and other villages and cities. Lola and Janet got out their dolls, and
had a play party. Trouble played about in a pile of white sand that
Uncle Ben had put in front of the bungalow in a shady spot for the
little fellow. So all the boys and girls were having a good time.

During the next two days everything opened at Silver Lake. The
merry-go-round started with its organ that played the same tunes over
and over again, the shoot-the-chutes and the roller coaster were in
operation, and then the excursion parties and picnics arrived.
Sometimes the Curlytops, with Tom and Lola, went over to the picnic
grounds, but more often they played around Sunnyside, or went out in
the boat with Uncle Ben or Mr. Martin.

With the coming of the picnic parties Uncle Ben was kept busy, as were
his two helpers—a man and a boy—in hiring out boats, attending the
ice-cream and soda-water stand, and in doing other things. But still
Uncle Ben had time to take the Curlytops and their two little friends
for many a sail, row, or trip in the motor boat. He also went with
them on little journeys back into the woods. Sometimes Trouble was
taken along.

Tom told Mr. Martin about having seen a dog that looked exactly like
Skyrocket in the Gypsy wagon, and Ted’s father wrote to Mr. Whitter,
the station agent, asking him to find out if any of the queer folk,
who lived in red wagons, with looking-glasses on the sides, were
camping near Cresco.

One day, when no picnic parties were expected, and when Uncle Ben was
not going to be very busy, he said:

“How would you like some fish to-morrow, Mrs. Martin?”

“I’d like them very much,” answered the mother of the Curlytops. “Do
you think you could catch any in Silver Lake?”

“I might try,” answered Uncle Ben, with a funny wink of one eye. “But
I think I’d need some help. There are pretty big fish in the lake, and
perhaps I couldn’t pull one out all alone.”

“Oh, let me come!” cried Ted, who heard what was being said.

“Can’t I go?” shouted Tom.

“I want to fish!” added Janet, while Lola looked up from the floor
where she and Jan were playing jackstones.

“Well, I guess we can get up a regular fishing party,” said Uncle Ben,
with a laugh. “What do you say, Mrs. Martin; shall I take the
Curlytops fishing?”

“You might,” was the answer. “If you bring home enough I’ll have Nora
cook them for dinner.”

“Oh, goodie! We’re going fishing!” cried Ted.

“I hope I get a big one!” sang out Tom.

“I never caught a fish,” confessed Lola.

“It’s fun,” said Janet, who had often gone fishing with her father and
brother.

A little later the four children were out in the motor boat with Uncle
Ben, ready for fishing. Trouble had been left on shore with his
mother, as it was thought that he would be in the way.

“Now we’ll anchor the boat here,” said Uncle Ben, when they had gone
about half way across Silver Lake. “I think this will be a good place
to catch fish.”

So the anchor—which in itself was like a big fish-hook, only with two
sharp points to it instead of one—was thrown overboard, being made
fast to a rope that was tied to the motor boat. The anchor kept the
boat from drifting away.

Soon Uncle Ben had baited four hooks for the children and tossed them
over the side. Then he baited his own and they were all ready to catch
fish.

“How are you going to tell when you get one?” asked Lola.

“Oh, you’ll feel something pulling on the line,” said her brother.
“But you must keep still, Lola! Fish don’t like to hear you talk.”

“Don’t they?” asked the little girl. “Our parrot likes to hear me
talk.”

“Well, a parrot isn’t a fish,” went on Tom. “You must keep still.
Mustn’t she, Uncle Ben?”

“It isn’t good to make too much noise when you’re fishing,” was the
answer, “though if you talk in low voices it doesn’t so much matter.
Now let’s see who’ll catch the first fish.”

For a time no one spoke. The Curlytops and their two little guests
eagerly watched their lines, and, now and again, one or another of the
children would pull theirs up to see if they had a fish.

“Don’t pull up until you feel a good nibble,” said Uncle Ben.

There was another wait, and then suddenly Tom whispered:

“I have a big bite!”

The next instant Ted called:

“Oh, so have I!”

Tom was fishing from the left side of the boat, and Ted from the
right. As they raised their poles Lola and Janet saw that both lines
were stretched tight.

“Oh, they’re big fish!” exclaimed Janet.

“Pull up! Pull up!” called Uncle Ben. “Land your fishes, boys!”

Tom pulled and so did Ted. Their poles bent with the strain, but
neither one could seem to get the fish he had caught into the boat.

“They must be regular whales!” cried Ted.



CHAPTER XIV

THE GROWLERY HOLE


“Pull in! Pull in!” called Uncle Ben from where he was sitting in the
stern, or back end of the boat. “Pull in your fish, boys!”

“I’m trying to!” answered Teddy.

“So’m I,” called Tom.

Harder and harder they pulled. Their poles bent more and more, and
their fishing lines were now straight up and down in the water.

Suddenly Tom turned to look at Ted, who was back of him on the other
side of the boat.

“Hey there! Look out, Ted!” called Tom. “Your line is all tangled up
with mine!”

“And so is your line tangled with mine!” added Ted. “That’s why I
can’t get my fish in!”

Both little boys had turned and were looking at one another. All of a
sudden Uncle Ben began to laugh.

“What’s the matter?” asked Ted, who was red in the face from pulling
so hard on his pole.

“Somebody’s got to help me get my fish!” exclaimed Tom.

“Neither one of you has a fish,” said Uncle Ben, with another laugh.
“Your hooks and lines tangled together under the boat and you have
been pulling one against the other. Ted was pulling on Tom’s line and
Tom was pulling on Ted’s line. Take it easy, now, and I’ll untangle
your lines.”

The two little boys looked at one another and then at Uncle Ben. Then
they laughed, and so did Lola and Janet.

As Ted and Tom lowered their poles their lines were no longer
stretched tight. Then Uncle Ben pulled on Tom’s line and drew it from
the water beneath the motor boat. And just as he had said, Tom’s hook
was caught in Ted’s line. The two cords were snarled together, and it
was no wonder each lad felt that he had a big fish when, the truth
was, he was only pulling against his friend on the other side of the
boat.

“There! Now you’re all right once more, and you can throw in again,”
said Uncle Ben, when he had finished the untangling. “Better move a
little farther apart. Ted, you come back here to the stern, and Tom,
you go forward to the bow. Then your lines won’t be so likely to get
crossed under the boat.”

As the two boys started to separate Lola gave a cry.

“I’ve got a fish! I’ve got a fish!” she shouted.

There was no doubt but she had. Something under the water was fast to
the hook on her line and was darting to and fro, making the cord cut
through the little waves.

“Pull in! Pull in!” cried Uncle Ben.

“Oh, oh!” shrieked Lola, and she pulled and she pushed, but most of
all she waved her pole in the air—she was so excited, you see—and she
was just about to drop her pole, when her brother grabbed it.

“You’ll lose your fish if you don’t pull it in!” he exclaimed.

“All right, you do it!” gasped his sister. And Tom was very ready to
do this.

With a quick jerk of the pole he raised it in the air. The line came
up with it, and there, dangling from the hook, and squirming about in
the sun, the water dripping from it, was rather a large fish.

“Oh, I caught the first one! I caught the first one! I did!” cried
Lola, clapping her hands.

“Yes, but I had to help you!” said Tom, as he landed the fish in the
bottom of the boat, where it flapped about.

“Well, we both caught it, then,” said Lola, with a laugh. “We can
write and tell mother we each caught half a fish.”

“Next time you get a bite pull it in yourself, and then you’ll catch a
whole fish,” said Uncle Ben. “Look!” And with that Uncle Ben showed
the little girl how she should handle the rod when trying to land a
fish.

After the excitement of the first catch had quieted down, the boys and
girls threw in their baited hooks again, and Ted caught the next fish.
It was not quite as large as Lola’s, but it was a good fish, Uncle Ben
said. Then Janet caught one, and pulled it in herself.

Soon after that Lola felt a nibble. This time she pulled up quickly,
and she had a fish herself—almost as big as the first one she had
caught.

“Now I got one all myself!” she cried. “Didn’t I, Uncle Ben?”

“Yes, you landed that one all alone—no more half fish for you!” agreed
the old sailor.

The fishing in Silver Lake was very good, and it was not long before
every one had made a catch, including Uncle Ben. When there were half
a dozen or more fish in the “cage,” as Ted called the water-filled
space made for keeping the catch fresh, Uncle Ben said:

“We have enough now. No use to take more fish than you need. Save some
for the next time.”

Then they had a nice ride around Silver Lake and got back to Sunnyside
in time for supper. Daddy Martin was there, waiting for them, and he
laughed when Tom and Ted told him how Tom and he each thought they had
a big fish, when, really, they had only caught each other’s lines.

But they all had had a good time, and they said they were going
fishing again with Uncle Ben. Many were the happy days at Silver Lake
and at the Sunnyside Bungalow.

One morning when the Curlytops and Tom and Lola came in to breakfast
at the call of Nora Mrs. Martin said:

“Don’t go away when you have finished eating, my dears. I want you to
stay around the house.”

“Why?” asked Ted. “May Tom and I go off into the woods? We heard a dog
barking there last night, and maybe it was Skyrocket. Maybe he got
away from the Gypsies, and has come to find me.”

“Well, I hope he does,” said Mrs. Martin. “I heard that dog barking,
too, but it wasn’t Skyrocket. But the reason I don’t want you to go
away is that we are going off into the woods for a little picnic, and
I don’t want to have to look all over for you when I am ready.”

“Oh, are we going on a really truly picnic?” cried Janet.

“With things to eat?” asked Ted.

“I don’t believe it would be much of a picnic without things to eat,”
said his mother, with a laugh. “Yes, it’s going to be a truly real
one. So don’t go too far away!”

“I guess not!” exclaimed Tom, with a laugh. “I like picnics!”

“Specially the kind where you have things to eat!” added Ted.

“That’s the only kind of a picnic worth going on,” added Uncle Ben.

“Are you coming?” asked Janet. Both she and her brother had grown very
fond of Uncle Ben, and Tom and Lola liked him very much, too.

“Uncle Ben is going to take us across the lake in the motor boat,
leave us there, and come for us later this afternoon,” explained Mrs.
Martin. “He is so busy at the boat dock that he can’t get off this
time. But he’ll come on the next picnic. Now run out and play. I’ll
call you when Nora and I have put up the lunch.”

And a little later Mrs. Martin called:

“Come on now, children! All ready for the picnic!”

Down the hill they raced to the boat dock, where Uncle Ben was waiting
for them in the motor launch. Nora carried down the baskets of lunch,
and soon the little party was on its way across Silver Lake to the
picnic grounds.

Of course there were plenty of picnic places on the same side of the
lake as Sunnyside Bungalow, but Mrs. Martin thought it would be more
fun to take a little trip and find a new place. You can often have
plenty of fun in your own yard, but, sometimes, it’s more fun to go to
your chum’s.

Over the shining waters chugged the motor boat, and in a little while
it turned into a shady cove. Up from the shore was a grove of trees,
and when Uncle Ben had landed with the children and Mrs. Martin, and
had found a spring of water, it was decided to eat the lunch there.

“But we won’t eat right away,” said Mother Martin. “Run about and
play, children, and when it’s time to eat I’ll call you, but don’t go
too far off.”

They promised that they would not, and when Uncle Ben had set the
baskets and boxes out of the boat he started back across the lake
again, promising to come at the close of the day to take them all
back.

Mrs. Martin had brought along a book to read, and, finding a shady
spot under the trees, she sat down on a blanket, while Ted, Janet, Tom
and Lola, with Trouble, walked around looking at the different things
to see. The two girls had each brought a doll, Trouble had his rag
doll and a big red rubber ball, which he liked to toss about, and then
run after. Ted and Tom had not brought anything with which to play, as
they said they wanted to pretend they were boy scouts and look for
things in the woods.

It was when Trouble gave his red rubber ball an extra hard throw that
Tom and Ted discovered something. Baby William came up to his brother,
after having lost his ball, and began to tell all about it.

“Trouble’s ball gone!” he said.

“Well, where has it gone to, Trouble?” asked Ted.

“Me show!” was the answer. “Down hole. You get hims for me!”

“He’s thrown his rubber ball down a hole, Tom,” said Ted to his chum,
who was following a bird through the woods, trying to see where she
had made her nest. “I’ll get it for him, and then we’ll see if we can
find the eggs. But we won’t take any.”

“No, we won’t take any,” agreed Tom.

“Now come on, Trouble, show me where you threw the red ball, and I’ll
get it for you,” said Ted.

“All wite! Me show!” was the answer, and Baby William put his little
hand into his brother’s. Down one of the woodland paths Trouble led
his brother, and at last he stopped where a round, black hole showed
just under the edge of an overhanging stone.

“Trouble’s ball down there!” said the little fellow.

“All right! I’ll get it up for you,” offered Ted. He stretched out on
the ground, and reached his arm down into the hole, thinking he could
easily touch the bottom, and bring up the red ball. But Ted’s hand was
only half way down the hole, and his fingers had not felt the soft
rubber ball when he heard a growl from inside the hole.

“Oh! Oh!” cried Ted, jumping up in a hurry. “There’s something down in
that hole besides your rubber ball, Trouble!”

“Yes, Trouble’s ball down there!” said the little fellow. “You get
hims.”

“But there’s a wild animal down there—a bear or a wolf, maybe!” said
Teddy. “I’m not going to put my hand down again!”

“What’s the matter?” asked Tom, coming along the path just then. He
had given up trying to find the bird’s nest.

“Oh, Trouble’s ball rolled down a hole, and when I stuck my hand in to
get it something growled at me!” exclaimed Ted.

“I wish I could hear him,” said Tom.

“You can hear him if you stick your hand down the hole,” explained
Ted.

“Huh! Think I’m going to get bit?” cried his chum. “I guess not! But I
know how I can make it growl without that.”

“How?” asked Ted.

“Poke a stick down. That’ll do it!”

“Oh, yes! Let’s!” cried the Curlytop lad.

They hunted about until they found a long, smooth stick and, standing
on the edge of the hole down which Trouble had said his ball had
rolled, Tom poked in the branch.

Instantly there was a growl and several queer little barks.

The two boys looked at one another.

“Did you hear that?” cried Tom.

“I should say I did!” agreed Ted.

“It’s your dog Skyrocket,” went on Tom. “The Gypsy man must have let
him go, and he came here. Then he hid in the hole so the Gypsies
couldn’t find him again.”

“Oh, maybe he did!” cried Teddy. “Come on out, Skyrocket! Come on
out!” he called.

There was no answer from the hole.

“Let me poke the stick in,” begged Ted, taking the branch from Tom.

“All right. But poke it easy, so’s not to hurt Skyrocket!”

“I will.”

Ted thrust in the stick. Once more there was a growl, followed by a
number of tiny barks, like those of a dog.

“That isn’t Skyrocket,” decided Ted, when his pet did not come out
after being called again and again.

“What is it then?” asked Tom.

“I don’t know,” admitted his chum. “We’d better go and tell my mother.
Come on, Trouble!”

“Trouble want wed ball!” cried the little fellow.

“I know you do,” answered his brother. “But it’s down in the hole, and
something always growls at us. I don’t want to get bit, and Tom
doesn’t either. I guess we’ll have to wait till Uncle Ben comes back.
He’ll get the ball for you, Trouble.”

“All wite!” was the answer.

Then Ted and Tom ran to where Mrs. Martin was sitting in the shade and
the boys cried:

“Trouble’s red ball is in the growlery hole, and we can’t get it out!”



CHAPTER XV

A BIG WHITE BIRD


Mrs. Martin looked up, smiling at the three children. She was thinking
of setting out the lunch which had been brought along, and perhaps her
mind was so much on this, wondering whether there would be enough for
five hungry children, that, at first, she did not know just what Tom
and Ted were saying.

“Come on, Mother!” cried Ted to her. “You come and see what it is!”

“Where shall I come?” she asked, getting up, as Ted tugged at her hand
to help her to her feet.

“Come to the growlery hole,” begged Tom.

“And me want my wed ball!” cried Trouble.

“Is this some game you are playing?” asked Mrs. Martin, looking first
at one and then the other. “Have you taken Trouble’s ball and hidden
it, Teddy?”

“Oh, no’m!” answered the little Curlytop boy. “Trouble threw his ball
down a hole. Tom and I tried to get it out for him, but every time we
poke our hands or a stick in a growl comes out of the hole.”

“What comes out?” asked Mrs. Martin in surprise.

“A growl!” answered Tom. “It’s a growl, like a dog, and that’s why we
call it the growlery hole.”

“Maybe it’s Skyrocket, Mother!” suggested Ted. “Please come and see.”

“Oh, it couldn’t be Skyrocket,” said Mrs. Martin. “If your dog were in
a hole he’d come out as soon as you called him. Besides, how would
Skyrocket get here?”

“He might get away from the Gypsies,” answered Ted. “Anyhow, Mother,
come and see what’s in the growlery hole, please!”

“Very well, I’ll come,” said his mother. “But it’s probably only a
little squirrel or chipmunk that thinks you’re trying to hurt it.”

“Does a squirrel or a chipmunk growl?” asked Tom.

“Well, I don’t know that they exactly growl,” answered Mrs. Martin,
“but they make funny noises. However, we’ll go see what it is.”

As she was starting back with the three boys to the place that Ted and
Tom called the growlery hole, Jan and Lola came over the top of a
little hill.

“Where are you going, Mother?” asked Jan. “Is it time to eat?”

“Not quite,” answered the Curlytops’ mother. “But it will be soon. I
am going with the boys to look at a growlery hole. Do you want to
come, Jan and Lola?”

“Is a growlery hole nice?” asked Janet.

“I don’t know—I never saw one,” Mrs. Martin answered with a smile.
“Tell them about it, Ted.”

Which Ted and Tom did, in quite excited voices, you may be sure.

“Is it very loud growls that come out?” asked Ted’s sister.

“If they’re as loud as thunder I don’t want to see them!” declared
Lola.

“You can’t _see_ growls, you _hear_ ’em!” exclaimed Tom.

“Well, we’ll go, anyway, and see _and_ hear,” said Janet.

So Lola and Janet went with Mrs. Martin, Trouble, Ted, and Tom to the
“growlery hole.”

“There it is!” cried Tom, after a little walk. “There’s the growlery
hole!”

“Yes, there it is!” added Ted.

They pointed to a small hole under the overhanging ledge of a rock.

“My wed ball down there!” said Trouble. “Me want wed ball!”

“All right. Mother will see if she can get it for you,” promised Mrs.
Martin with a smile. “But first I want to hear the growl.”

“Just poke a stick down, or your hand, and you’ll hear it,” said Tom.

“I think I’d better put a stick down first,” answered Mrs. Martin. “If
there is some animal there—and there seems to be from what you boys
say—he might bite me. A stick will be safer.”

And when she thrust down the same stick that Tom and Ted had used,
surely enough there sounded first a growl and then a queer little
barking noise.

“Oh, is it Skyrocket?” cried Janet.

“No, I think not,” answered her mother. “It doesn’t sound at all like
our little dog. But there’s some animal there, that’s sure, and I
don’t believe that it is quite as harmless as a squirrel or a rabbit.
I’ll tell you what we’ll do.”

“What?” cried the four larger children in a chorus.

“We’ll wait until Uncle Ben comes,” was the answer. “He knows a lot
about the woods and about animals.”

“Uncle Ben get my wed ball?” asked Trouble.

“Yes, we’ll have Uncle Ben get your red ball if he can,” his mother
told him. “And now we might as well go back and have our lunch.”

“But maybe the bear in the growlery hole will take Trouble’s red ball
while we’re gone,” said Teddy.

“It isn’t a bear in there—that’s sure,” answered Mrs. Martin. “There
are no bears around here.”

They all went back to the little grassy hill under the shade of the
trees, and near the spring of clear, cold, bubbling water. There Mrs.
Martin set out the lunch on a big flat stump for a table, and the
children sat down on the ground to eat it.

“Oh! Ah! Um!” murmured Teddy and Janet when they saw their mother set
out some jam tarts on a little wooden plate.

“You may pass them, Janet,” said her mother, and Janet, very politely,
passed the jam tarts first to Lola, she being company, and next to
Tom, he being company also.

“Me want jam tart!” cried Trouble, reaching across the stump-table.

“Yes, you shall have one, dear,” said Janet, and she passed the plate
to him next, at the same time smiling at Tom and Ted. They understood
what this meant—that Ted would have to wait until his little brother
had been served. Then came Ted’s turn, and next Janet offered the
plate to her mother.

“Help yourself, dear,” said Mrs. Martin. “I am not very hungry.”

But the Curlytops were, and so were Trouble and Tom and Lola. And I
wish you could have seen them all eat! No, on second thought, I don’t
wish that. It would have made you so hungry that you would go right
out to the kitchen, I’m sure, and ask whoever was there to make some
jam tarts. And there might just happen to be no jam, you know.

So we’ll pass over that part and I’ll tell you what happened next.
Lola was eating a second jam tart, and had just taken one bite from
it, when Janet asked her to pass the sugar. Lola put her tart down on
a plate at her side to reach for the sugar bowl, and when she turned
again to take up her piece of pastry it was gone.

“Tom Taylor!” she exclaimed, looking sharply at her brother, who sat
next to her, “did you take my jam tart?”

“Why no, I didn’t take it,” he answered.

“You’re eating one!” exclaimed Lola.

“This is my own!” Tom declared. “Ted passed it to me; didn’t you,
Ted?”

“Yes, I gave it to you,” was the answer.

“Well, somebody took mine!” cried Lola. “I put it down to hand Jan the
sugar, and now it’s gone!”

“I think I can show you who took it, Lola, my dear,” said Mrs. Martin,
in a low voice.

“Who?” asked the little girl.

“Look over there, on that little stump,” was the whispered answer.
“There is the little chap who took it.”

Lola and the others looked, and saw a pretty striped chipmunk, a
little animal something like a squirrel. The chipmunk was sitting up
on the flat stump, and, held in its paws, was the missing jam tart.
Mr. Chipmunk was eating away as fast as he could at Lola’s tart, and
he seemed to like it. He didn’t mind in the least that she had taken a
bite out of it. Though of course I suppose he would rather have had a
whole one.

“There is the burglar who took your tart, Lola!” said Mrs. Martin.

“Oh, did he come up here when I wasn’t looking and take it?” asked the
little girl who was visiting the Curlytops.

“That’s just what he did. The chipmunks in these woods are very tame,”
said Mrs. Martin. “I have heard campers say they would sometimes jump
up on the table and take pieces of bread. The little animals are so
pretty and harmless that no one hurts them, so they grow bolder and
bolder. Next time put your jam tart down in front of you, and then you
can shoo the chipmunk away if he comes after it.”

“Maybe I won’t have any more jam tarts,” said Lola.

“Oh, yes, I have some more in another box,” answered Mrs. Martin, with
a laugh. “But watch out for chipmunks!”

And they did, after that. They watched the one that had taken Lola’s
tart as it sat on the stump eating it until Trouble laughed so hard at
the queer motions of the striped animal that Mr. Chipmunk seemed not
to like it, and away he scampered, carrying what was left of the tart
with him.

There was no other accident to the rest of the picnic lunch, except
that a lot of ants crawled on a piece of bread and sugar that Trouble
laid down for a moment, and some bees buzzed around when Mrs. Martin
brought out a can of peaches. But the bees stung no one, and Trouble
said the ants could have his bread.

The dishes were put away—there was no lunch itself left, you may be
sure—and when the crumbs had been brushed into a little pile for the
birds, and the scattered papers piled under a rock so they would not
blow about and make the woods untidy, Ted looked down toward Silver
Lake and cried:

“Here comes Uncle Ben!”

“Yes, that’s our boat,” said Mrs. Martin, shading her eyes from the
sun and peering toward the boat at which Ted pointed.

“Now we’ll find out what’s in the growlery hole!” exclaimed Tom.

Uncle Ben was almost knocked down by the rush of four eager children
at him when he reached the shore, all crying:

“Uncle Ben! Uncle Ben!”

“What’s the matter?” he asked, when he had made the motor boat fast to
shore. “Did you think I wasn’t coming?”

“Oh, no. But we want you to see what’s in the growlery hole!” cried
Ted.

Then they told Uncle Ben what they meant, and when Mrs. Martin had
nodded, to show that there was really something in the story so
breathlessly gasped out, Uncle Ben said:

“Well, we’ll go and see about this. Show me the growlery hole.”

Eagerly Tom and Ted led the way, hurrying on ahead of the sailor. Mrs.
Martin, with Trouble, Janet, and Lola followed.

“There it is!” cried Ted, pointing.

“Me want my wed ball!” cried Trouble.

Uncle Ben looked at the hole. Then he took the stick which had been
left beside it and poked it down. Suddenly, just as had happened when
the boys and Mrs. Martin did this, there was a growl, followed by a
tiny bark.

“Oh, ho! I know what that is!” said Uncle Ben.

From his pocket he took a heavy leather glove that he used when he
worked around the motor in the gasolene boat. Drawing this glove on
his hand, the old sailor stretched out on the ground, and thrust his
hand and arm into the hole as far as it would go. Then he seemed to be
feeling around, down inside, and a moment later he pulled something
out of the hole.

“Is it my wed ball?” asked Trouble.

“It’s a baby dog!” cried Janet, as she caught sight of something alive
and wiggling in Uncle Ben’s gloved hand.

“No, it’s a little baby fox,” said Uncle Ben. “That’s what the
growlery hole is, children—the den of a fox. But the big foxes are out
now, hunting chickens, perhaps. Only the little ones are at home. This
is one of them.”

He held out a little animal with a sharp nose, a rather large tail,
and very bright eyes for the children to see. The baby fox tried to
get away, but Uncle Ben held it firmly though gently.

“Could we take it home with us?” asked Ted eagerly.

“I’m afraid it’s too small to be taken away from the mother fox,”
answered Uncle Ben. “Later on, perhaps, we can come back and get one
of the little foxes when they are bigger. I once knew a boy who had a
tame fox for a pet. But after a while it began to steal chickens from
the neighbors’ coops, so the boy had to let his fox go.”

“Did de fox eat my wed ball?” Trouble wanted to know.

“I guess not,” answered Uncle Ben. “I’ll feel around down there and
see if I can get it. I’ll hurry though. There are three or four little
foxes in there, and the father and mother fox may come back at any
moment, and as they can bite pretty hard when they try, I don’t want
my hand in the hole then, even with a glove on. I put it on because I
thought there were foxes in the hole, and I guessed right.”

Uncle Ben gave Mrs. Martin the baby fox to hold in her lap while he
put his hand down in the hole again. The tiny animal did not seem
afraid now, and it did not try to bite. The five children stroked its
soft pretty fur gently.

“Here’s your rubber ball, Trouble,” said Uncle Ben at last, as he
pulled his arm out of the fox hole for the second time.

“Are the little foxes there yet?” asked Tom.

“No, they seem to have gone farther back in the den,” answered the
sailor. “And I guess we’d better put this one back with his brothers
and sisters, so he’ll be there when his father and mother come back.”

After the children had given a last look at the little wild animal,
Uncle Ben put it down at the mouth of the hole, and in the tiny chap
scampered, probably very glad to be at home again. Then with Trouble
holding tightly to his red ball, the picnic party went down to the
boat, talking on the way of the fine time they had had.

“It was a regular adventure!” exclaimed Tom.

“It surely was,” agreed Ted. “I’m coming back next week and get a
fox.”

“So’m I,” cried all the other children.

Across Silver Lake puffed the motor boat, and soon they were all at
Sunnyside once more. Daddy Martin was there to greet them, having
spent the day at his office in Cresco, coming down on the evening
train.

Of course he had to be told all about the picnic and the loss of
Trouble’s ball, the finding of it in the growlery hole, and the way
the chipmunk took Lola’s jam tart.

“How does it look at our house, Daddy?” asked Ted of his father.

“Oh, just about the same,” was the answer. “It’s lonesome, though,
with you Curlytops away. I wouldn’t want to stay in Cresco without
you.”

“Did you see Miss Ransom?” asked Janet. “And did she get back her
queer box that the burglars took?”

“Yes, I saw her. But she hasn’t her box yet, and they haven’t caught
the burglars,” answered her father.

“You didn’t see Skyrocket, did you?” asked Ted.

“No,” was the answer, “I didn’t.”

The next morning after breakfast Uncle Ben came up from the little
office on the end of the pier that Mr. Martin owned.

“Some of our rowboats drifted off in the night,” said the sailor to
Mr. Martin. “A man told me they were about a mile down the lake shore.
I’ll take the motor launch and go after them. Do any of the children
want to come?”

“Oh, yes!” cried Ted and Janet, Lola and Tom.

“Me tum too!” cried Trouble.

“I can take them all if you’ll let me,” said the sailor to Mrs.
Martin.

“Well, take them,” she said. “Now be good children with Uncle Ben!”
she told them, as they started off.

“Yes’m, we will!” was the answer.

It was a nice little trip down the lake after the missing boats. They
were seen on shore, just where the man had told Uncle Ben they would
be, and soon the sailor was tying them to the stem of the motor boat
to tow them back.

While he was doing this, the children wandered along to a little shady
cove, and Tom and Ted, who always carried fishlines in their pockets,
started to try their luck.

Uncle Ben had made fast the last boat, and he was going in search of
the children, whom he could hear talking, but not see, when Lola came
running up to him.

“Oh, Uncle Ben! Uncle Ben!” she cried. “A big white bird has got hold
of Trouble, and it’s trying to fly away with him! Come and get Trouble
away from the big, white bird!”



CHAPTER XVI

THE BAD DOG


Uncle Ben fastened the last knot of the rope by which he was tying the
rowboats to the launch. Then he glanced quickly up at Lola.

“What’s that you said?” he asked.

“I said a big, white bird is trying to take Trouble away,” answered
Lola.

“Well, why don’t some of you older ones drive it away?” asked Uncle
Ben, hardly thinking of what he was saying. “Are you afraid of a
bird?” he asked.

“Oh, it’s a terrible big bird!” exclaimed Lola, spreading out her arms
like wings. “It’s awful big, Uncle Ben!”

“Is it an eagle?” asked the sailor. “No, it can’t be that, either. I
never heard of a white eagle,” he said.

“I don’t know what it is,” said Lola. “But please hurry, Uncle Ben.
Tom and Ted aren’t there, and Jan is trying to make the big white bird
let go of Trouble, only it won’t let go.”

“It must be a big white owl!” exclaimed Uncle Ben, as he started to
run, for he now heard the cries of Jan and the screams of Baby
William. “I’ve heard of big white owls hurting people, but I thought
owls only flew around at night. They can’t see very well in daylight.”

“Oh, it isn’t an owl!” exclaimed Lola, who was running as fast as she
could to keep up with Uncle Ben. “I’ve seen owls, and they have big
eyes. This bird has big wings and a big, long neck, and it swims in
the lake.”

“Then it isn’t an owl! Owls don’t swim, I’m sure of that!” said Uncle
Ben.

He hurried along, and soon he had crossed the top of the small hill
over which Lola had come to summon his help. Down in a little hollow
on the shore of the lake the sailor saw Trouble and Janet trying to
beat off a big, white bird that had hold of Trouble’s loose bloomers
with its yellow bill.

“Oh, Uncle Ben! Uncle Ben! Come quick!” cried Jan, as she saw the
sailor over the top of the grassy hill. “He’s trying to pull Trouble
into the water!”

“Bless my hat!” cried Uncle Ben, as he saw what was going on. “It’s a
wild swan. I’ve heard folks tell about them coming to the lake, but
this is the first I’ve seen here. Don’t be afraid, Trouble!” he
called. “It’s only a swan bird and it won’t hurt you!”

Quickly Uncle Ben ran down to the edge of the water and caught up
Trouble in his arms. He had to pull the loose bloomers out of the big,
yellow bill of the large white swan that had hold of the cloth. And as
Uncle Ben did this the swan spread out its wings and hissed, just as
geese hiss at you when they think you are going to hurt them.

“Go on away, Mr. or Mrs. Swan, whatever you are!” cried Uncle Ben, as
he held Trouble safely in his arms. “Go on away! Shoo! We won’t hurt
you and we don’t want you to bother us!”

Janet had run back from the shore as soon as she saw that her brother
was safe, and a moment later, putting Trouble down so that Janet and
Lola could look after him, Uncle Ben caught up a branch of a tree and
waved it at the wild swan.

The big, white bird flapped its wings, stretched out its long neck,
gave a hiss or two, and then began to flap its wings. A moment later,
with a sort of “honking” sound, it began to half run, half fly along
the top of the water. And then, suddenly, it seemed to jump up into
the air, and away it flew, its neck stretched out in front like a
yardstick.

“There it goes!” cried Uncle Ben, with a laugh. “Now it won’t bother
you any more, Trouble!”

“What was that big bird that just flew away?” cried Tom and Ted,
hurrying up from the fishing cove.

“It was a wild swan,” said Uncle Ben. “I never saw one by itself
before. Generally they fly in flocks, sometimes eight or ten of them.
They go from lake to lake, often staying a long while on the same one.
But what did this one do, Janet?”

“Oh, Lola and I were just dabbling our hands and arms while we waited
for you to fasten the boats,” answered Ted’s sister, “and Trouble was
throwing little stones into the water, when, all of a sudden, this
big, white bird came flying down out of the sky. He made a terrible
splash in the water.

“Trouble went up to it, and held out his red rubber ball. The swan bit
at it, and then it bit his bloomers and tried to pull Trouble into the
lake.”

“And I ran to get you,” said Lola, “while Jan held on to Trouble.”

“Oh, I guess the swan didn’t really try to pull Trouble into the
lake,” said Uncle Ben. “Perhaps the swan isn’t as wild as I thought.
It may have lived once on a lake near people’s houses. They get quite
tame, and children feed them. The swans will take bits of bread from
your hand.

“Maybe this swan thought Trouble’s red ball was a new kind of bread,
but when he nibbled it with its yellow bill he thought he had been
fooled. Then he may have pulled on Trouble’s bloomers to show that he
was angry, or maybe that was his way of asking for something to eat.”

“Well, he scared me, ’Cause I thought he wanted Trouble!” exclaimed
Jan.

“Bird scared Trouble,” added Trouble.

“And me, too,” said Lola. “I thought he’d fly away with Trouble.”

“No, he couldn’t do that,” explained Uncle Ben. “A swan is quite a
large and heavy bird. They have to run along the top of the water for
a little distance, to get a start so they can fly, just as an airship
has to run along on the ground before it can rise up. But a swan
couldn’t carry off even a little baby, to say nothing of a boy as big
as Trouble.”

“Well, I’m glad it didn’t take him,” said Jan, as she held her small
brother by the hand.

By this time the swan, flying over the lake, was almost out of sight,
and as all the missing rowboats had been gathered together and
fastened to the launch, Uncle Ben said it was best to start back for
Sunnyside.

“Tom and I didn’t catch a fish,” said Ted. “We had some bites and
nibbles, though.”

“We won’t wait here to fish,” decided Uncle Ben. “We can come out in a
boat to-morrow. We’d better get back home now. It looks like a storm.”

And it did storm that night. There was a heavy rain and the wind blew
very strongly. But the bungalow was snug and comfortable, and the
waves from the lake could not reach it.

The Curlytops sat about the table after supper, when the lights were
glowing, and told Daddy Martin about the wild swan that had caught
hold of Trouble’s bloomers with his yellow bill.

For two days it rained, and the children had to stay either in the
bungalow or close to it. No picnics or excursions came to Silver Lake,
and if it had not been that Mr. and Mrs. Martin and Uncle Ben found
many ways of making fun for the children they would have passed a dull
time.

But the sailor knew what to do to make it lively in the house when it
rained outside. He made up little games, as did Daddy Martin, and the
Curlytops and their visitors played them.

Trouble, too, had fun with his red rubber ball, playing that it was a
baby fox and chasing it as it rolled about the floor under the chairs.

Then Mrs. Martin, too, did her share to make sure that the children
had a good time. She let them make candy, and, as you know, that’s
lots of fun. The only thing that happened that was not exactly fun,
was when Trouble sat down in a pan of candy that had been put on a
chair near the back door to cool.

Luckily for Trouble the candy was not hot, and all that happened was
that some of the sticks, which Tom and Ted and Lola and Jan had pulled
out so carefully from the sweet, sticky lump Mrs. Martin gave them,
were spoiled. A pair of bloomers that Trouble wore were all stuck up,
of course, but his mother said she could soak the candy out of them in
the wash.

On the third day the rain stopped, the sun came out, and with joyous
shouts the Curlytops ran from Sunnyside Bungalow and down to the shore
of Silver Lake, followed by Tom and Lola, with Trouble stumbling after
them.

“Now we can go fishing again!” cried Tom.

“And sailing!” added Ted.

“And we can go in the woods!” said Lola.

“And wading!” shouted Jan.

It was very beautiful at Silver Lake after the storm. The rain had
washed all the dust from the leaves of the trees, and when the sun
shone on the leaves they were such a bright green that it was most
pleasant to look at. The showers, too, made more blossoms come out in
the woods, and Jan gathered a fine bouquet for her mother, who liked
blossoms in the bungalow. But Jan took good care not to slip into any
more bog holes as she picked the posies.

One day Uncle Ben had to go up to the far end of the lake, to a small
town named Cardiff, to get some things Mrs. Martin wanted. Uncle Ben
went in the motor boat, and he took Jan and Ted and Tom and Lola with
him. Trouble was left at the bungalow with his mother.

“I wonder if anything will happen to-day?” said Ted, as he sat near
Tom in the motor boat.

“What do you want to happen?” asked Uncle Ben.

“Oh, something queer—like a wild swan or a big fish,” answered Ted.

“Well, maybe something will,” said Uncle Ben. “We haven’t got to
Cardiff yet.”

On chugged the motor boat, and in about an hour it was at the village
where Uncle Ben was to buy the things for Mrs. Martin. The store was
not far from the lake, and the children got out to go in with the
sailor.

“Oh, they keep peanuts here!” exclaimed Ted, as he saw some in a glass
case.

“Yes, they’re nice and freshly roasted,” said the storekeeper.

“Oh!” exclaimed Tom, and then he and the others looked at Uncle Ben.
“Oh!” sighed Tom again.

“Well, I guess a few peanuts wouldn’t hurt the youngsters,” said the
sailor good-naturedly. “Their mother didn’t say not to let them have
any, so you may give them a bag each.”

“Oh, thank you!” said the Curlytops and their friends in chorus, as
the bags of peanuts, still warm from the roaster, were handed to them.

“Where are you folks stopping?” asked the storekeeper, as he finished
doing up the grocery packages for Uncle Ben.

“At Sunnyside Bungalow,” answered Ted.

“Got any dogs at your place?” the man, whose name was Mr. Blake, went
on.

“No, we had a dog, but he went away,” answered Janet.

“Oh, he did!” exclaimed Mr. Blake. “Was your dog a bad dog?”

“Oh, no! He was good!” exclaimed Teddy.

“And his name was Skyrocket!” added Janet.

“Well, if your dog was a good dog I’m not looking for him,” went on
the storekeeper. “I’m looking for a bad dog that has been taking my
chickens and chasing my sheep. He’s taken other folks’ chickens, too!”

“Oh, no!” exclaimed Uncle Ben. “So there are bad dogs around here, are
there? Are you sure, Mr. Blake, that it isn’t a fox? I found a fox den
over in the woods the other day.”

“No, this is a big yellow dog,” answered Mr. Blake. “I saw him
carrying off one of my chickens, and one of my men saw him chasing my
sheep early the other morning. A farmer saw him do the same thing at
his place. I’d like to find out who owns that dog. I’d make them take
him away, or keep him shut up. I don’t like to lose chickens and
sheep. I ask every one who comes into my store if he has a dog. Some
day I’m going to find out who has that bad, yellow one.”

Just then a farmer entered the store, and, as he heard what Mr. Blake
was saying, he exclaimed:

“I think I can tell you where to find that dog you’re talking about.
He’s at a Gypsy camp about five miles from here.”



CHAPTER XVII

A JOYOUS FIND


Janet and Ted looked at each other and then at Tom and Lola Taylor
when the farmer spoke the word “Gypsy.”

“What’s that you say?” asked Mr. Blake, who was a little deaf. “Did
you say you knew where the bad dog was that’s been chasing my sheep
and taking my chickens, Mr. Addison?”

“I think I can tell you where you might find him,” was the answer. “I
was driving past the Gypsy camp the other day, and I saw a lot of dogs
near their tents and wagons. You know those Gypsies always do have a
lot of dogs.”

“Yes, they seem to be particularly fond of dogs and horses,” agreed
the storekeeper, hearing quite well now, for Mr. Addison, the farmer,
spoke loudly.

“Well, among the other dogs was one big, ugly, yellow one,” went on
Mr. Addison. “I shouldn’t be surprised but what he was the one that’s
been around your place, Mr. Blake. And he’s been at my place, too.”

“There may be something in that!” exclaimed the storekeeper. “It
surely was a yellow dog that chased my chickens, killing some, and
taking others away with him. And it was a yellow dog that my hired man
saw chasing my sheep.”

“Do you keep sheep and chickens, as well as run this store?” asked
Uncle Ben.

“Yes, I have a farm and a store,” answered Mr. Blake. “And a dog that
chases sheep is a bad animal to have around a farm.”

“Our dog wouldn’t chase sheep!” exclaimed Janet.

“I’m glad to know that,” Mr. Blake replied. “Now I think I’ll take a
trip over to that Gypsy camp, and if they have a sheep and chicken
chasing dog there, I’ll get the constable after them and make them
either get rid of the yellow dog or keep him chained up.”

“Oh, could we go with you?” cried Ted, almost before he knew what he
was saying.

“Go with me? Why do you want to go to the Gypsy camp?” asked the
farmer storekeeper, in surprise.

“Because maybe the Gypsies have our dog Skyrocket,” answered Ted.

“Oh, maybe they have!” cried Janet, clapping her hands excitedly.

“Why, I thought you said your dog ran away,” went on Mr. Blake. And he
looked first at Uncle Ben and then at the children.

“But I saw Skyrocket in a Gypsy wagon!” cried Tom. “And maybe these
Gypsies have him. Oh, I hope they have!”

“Hum!” said Mr. Blake, as he got up from his seat on a nail keg to
weigh out a pound of sugar for a barefooted boy who came into the
store. “Hum! Let me hear the whole story, children. There may be more
out at this Gypsy camp than we think there is.”

So Janet and Ted told how Skyrocket had been lost, and Tom told how,
later on, he had seen one of the Gypsy wagons going along with a black
dog in it, that looked just like the Curlytops’ pet.

“And if these Gypsies are the same ones, maybe they have Skyrocket out
at their camp now,” finished Tom.

“They surely have a lot of dogs out there—I saw ’em,” said Mr.
Addison, the farmer who had first mentioned the Gypsies. “And that
big, yellow one looked as savage as a wolf. I’m sure he’s a bad sheep
dog. I think he took some of my sheep and chickens, too.”

“Well, we’ll go and take a look!” said Mr. Blake, the storekeeper,
after thinking a few minutes. “I’ll get my wife to stay behind the
counter to-morrow, and I’ll go up and look over this Gypsy camp.”

“And may we come and bring back Skyrocket—that is, if he’s there?”
begged Teddy.

Mr. Blake looked at Uncle Ben.

“I wish you could take the children there,” said the sailor. “How
would it be if we all went in the motor boat to-morrow? I could run
you up to the end of the lake, and you could go to the camp from
there, couldn’t you?”

“Yes, that would be the best way,” answered Mr. Addison. “It’s nearer
by water, too, than by going around the road.”

“Could you come with us to show us where the camp is, and where you
saw the yellow dog?” asked Mr. Blake.

“Yes, I could go with you,” was the answer.

“Then we’ll make up a party, and go up to the end of the lake the
first thing in the morning,” decided Uncle Ben. “I’m sure Mr. and Mrs.
Martin will let the children go if there is a chance to get back
Skyrocket.”

“Oh, I hope you can find him!” whispered Lola to Janet.

“I hope so, too,” replied the little Curlytop girl.

After a little further talk with the two men, Uncle Ben took the
things he had bought down to the dock where he had left the boat, and
soon he and the children were on their way back across Silver Lake.

All the way home Ted and Janet, with Lola and Tom, talked of nothing
but what they had heard of the Gypsy camp, and they wondered if
Skyrocket would be found there.

“I wish I could be with you when you go up there to-morrow,” said
Daddy Martin, when he heard the story of the yellow dog, the missing
chickens, and the sheep that had been chased so hard that some of them
died. “But I have to go back to Cresco the first thing in the
morning.”

“But we can go look for Skyrocket, can’t we?” asked Ted anxiously.

“Oh, yes, Uncle Ben can take you there,” his father answered. “I
guess, with him and the storekeeper, and the farmer you’ll be enough
to make the Gypsies be good. And if you see Skyrocket——”

“I’ll just hug him and bring him home!” exclaimed Janet.

“Me want to hug Skywocket, too!” exclaimed Baby William.

“You’ll have to wait until they bring him home, Trouble, dear,” said
his mother. “That is, if they are lucky enough to find him.”

When supper was over and after they had played about in the woods a
bit, the Curlytops and their visitors went to bed. Trouble, some
little time before, had nodded off to sleep in his mother’s arms. Mr.
and Mrs. Martin, with Uncle Ben, sat up in the bungalow, talking over
what had happened during the day.

“Do you really think Skyrocket may be at the Gypsy camp?” asked Mrs.
Martin.

“I don’t see how he could be,” her husband said. “Of course, it may
have happened that the children’s dog was stolen by Gypsies, just as
it may have been Gypsies that went into Mrs. Ransom’s store and took
her queer box and other things. But it would be too much to have it
happen that the Gypsies camping at the upper end of this lake are the
same ones who took the Curlytops’ pet dog.”

“Well, it could happen,” said Ted’s mother.

“Yes, it _could_,” agreed her husband, “but I don’t believe it will.
I’m afraid Skyrocket will never be found, though I wish he would, for
our Curlytops miss him so much.”

“We’ll know by this time to-morrow whether or not he is in the Gypsy
camp,” said Uncle Ben. “We’ll start early in the morning, and make a
trip of it. I have to go over to Cardiff to pick up Mr. Blake and Mr.
Addison first.”

“Well, I hope you’ll find Skyrocket,” said Mr. Martin, as he went
about the bungalow, locking up for the night. “But I’m afraid you will
not, and the children will be very much disappointed.”

“I’ll try to give them a good time on the water, in case we don’t find
their dog,” answered Uncle Ben.

All was still and quiet in the bungalow a little later. Every one was
fast asleep, and I am quite sure the Curlytops, and perhaps Tom and
Lola, were dreaming of going to the Gypsy camp and maybe having their
fortunes told.

All of a sudden came a loud cry that awakened every one in Sunnyside.

“Oh, I’ve got him! I’ve got him!” shouted the voice of Ted Martin.
“I’ve got him! He came back to me! He got away from the Gypsies and
now he’s here!”

“Hush, Teddy! Hush, my dear!” called his mother from the next room.
“Wake up! Wake up! You’re talking in your sleep!”

But Teddy kept on calling:

“I have him! Oh, I have Skyrocket! My dog has come back!”

“Teddy, be quiet! Wake up. You have the nightmare!” said his father,
and, getting up, Mr. Martin hurried into the room of his little son.

Turning on the light, for there were electric lamps at Sunnyside, Mr.
Martin saw Teddy sitting up on his cot. There was a strange look on
the little boy’s face.

“Where did he go?” he asked his father, in sleepy tones.

“Where did who go?” Mr. Martin asked, while Uncle Ben, from his room,
called to know if anything was wrong.

“Only Teddy talking in his sleep,” answered Mr. Martin. “I guess he
was dreaming he was at the Gypsy camp and had found Skyrocket; weren’t
you?” he asked the little boy.

“I did find Skyrocket,” was the answer. “Skyrocket was right here. I
felt his soft fur. He was right in bed with me. Oh, where did he go?”

Teddy spoke so loudly, and seemed so much in earnest that his mother
came in and tried to quiet him.

“You’ll wake Trouble up,” she said; “and you know how hard it is to
get him to sleep again. And you have already awakened all of us. It’s
all right, Tom and Lola!” she called to the visitors. “It was just
Teddy talking in his sleep. He thought he had Skyrocket.”

“I really did have him, Mother!” Teddy insisted. “I could feel his
soft fur, and he was right in my bed.”

“Nonsense, Teddy!” exclaimed his father. “You just dreamed it!”

“No! Look! Oh, I feel him now!” cried the little boy. “Here he is in
bed with me! He’s under the covers, down by my feet!”

His father and mother looked. Surely enough, something was moving
under the bed clothes, and it was not Teddy’s toes that were wiggling,
for they could be seen, sticking up under the sheet, off to one side.

Daddy Martin, with a quick motion, turned back the sheet. Out on the
floor jumped a big gray animal with a very large tail.

“That’s what it was!” cried Teddy. “I knew I felt something soft and
fuzzy.”

“It’s a big gray squirrel!” said Mr. Martin. “He must have crawled in
bed with Teddy. No wonder you felt something like Skyrocket’s fuzzy
coat,” he added.

“Oh, get the squirrel for me!” begged Teddy. But the squirrel did not
wait to be caught. It was one thing to be in a soft warm bed in the
dark with a little boy, but quite another to have big folks looking at
him in the light. So the squirrel scurried out of an open window and
disappeared in the darkness off the porch.

“There! it wasn’t a dream, was it?” asked Teddy, when it was certain
that the squirrel had gone.

“No, it was part real,” his father said with a laugh. “Now go to
sleep.”

Nothing else disturbed the Curlytops or the others in the bungalow
that night, and in the morning after breakfast they started for
Cardiff, there to get Mr. Blake and Mr. Addison, and then go on to the
Gypsy camp.

[Illustration: “THAT’S WHAT IT WAS!” CRIED TEDDY. “I KNEW I FELT
SOMETHING SOFT AND FUZZY.”]

“Did you lose any more chickens, or were your sheep chased in the
night?” asked Uncle Ben of the storekeeper, when the two men came down
to the dock.

“Yes,” was the answer. “That bad, yellow dog was around again, and I
fired my gun at him, but I didn’t hit him. He ran off toward the place
where Mr. Addison says the Gypsy camp is.”

“Well, we’ll soon be there and we can see for ourselves,” replied
Uncle Ben.

“Will it be all right for the children?” asked Mr. Addison, as he
noticed Ted and Janet and Tom and Lola in the boat.

“Oh, yes,” answered Uncle Ben. “I guess we three men are enough to
make the Gypsies be good. Besides, we can have them arrested if they
try any tricks.”

Off puffed the motor boat once more, and after about an hour’s ride
they reached a little cove, or bay. From there a path led to the Gypsy
camp, Mr. Addison said.

The boat was chained and locked to a pier, and then the party started
through the woods. The children were very much excited, looking on
each side as they went along, each one hoping to get the first sight
of the camp.

“There’s the place!” said Mr. Addison, after a while, in a low voice.
He pointed through the trees. The Curlytops and the others could see
some white tents and a number of red and yellow wagons, with bits of
looking-glass fastened on the sides.

It was the Gypsy camp.

Eagerly Ted and Tom pressed forward, running ahead of Uncle Ben and
the others. As the boys came out on a little open space, around which
were the tents and wagons, Ted caught sight of a small, black dog.

“There he is! There he is!” cried the Curlytop lad. “I’ve found
Skyrocket! Hurrah!”

But, as he spoke, he and Tom saw a big, dark-skinned Gypsy man with
gold rings in his ears grab the black dog up in his arms and hurry
into a tent with him.



CHAPTER XVIII

IN THE LAKE


Just as soon as Ted called out that he had found Skyrocket, in fact
before that, and while the Curlytops and their friends were walking
through the woods toward the camp, there was a great deal of
excitement among the Gypsies. The dark-skinned people, who lived in
tents and in funny red wagons with looking-glasses on the outside,
seemed to think that the coming of the strangers meant that something
was going to happen. And it was.

“That was Skyrocket! I know it was!” cried Ted, pointing toward the
tent into which the Gypsy man, with rings in his ears, had taken the
black dog.

“I know it was, too!” added Janet. “Oh, Uncle Ben, please get our dog
back!” she begged. “That was Skyrocket, wasn’t it?” she asked Lola.

“It looked like him,” declared Tom’s sister, while Tom Taylor said:

“Course it was! That was Skyrocket, and that’s the same Gypsy man that
I saw have him before—the time I told you about.”

“Easy now, children! Easy!” said Uncle Ben, in a low voice. “We want
to be sure we’re right before we go ahead. If we make a mistake and
claim some dog that isn’t ours, there may be trouble.”

“I think there is going to be trouble anyhow,” said Mr. Addison,
speaking to Uncle Ben and Mr. Blake. “These Gypsies don’t look very
pleasant.”

“Well, they’d better behave themselves or they’ll get into trouble,”
said Mr. Blake. “Now then, Mr. Wilson,” he went on, speaking to Uncle
Ben, “we’ll let you do the talking. If that is the Curlytops’ dog, we
want to get it, and you know most about it.”

“All right then,” agreed Uncle Ben. “We’ll see what happens.”

Uncle Ben walked on ahead, followed by Ted and Jan and Tom and Lola.

The children were interested and curious when they saw a number of not
very friendly looking Gypsy men and women around the tents and wagons.
There were Gypsy boys and girls, too, but they did not smile at the
newcomers. Instead, the Gypsy children seemed to be hiding in among
the tents and wagons. And there were some little Gypsy babies, also,
which their mothers carried about wrapped in shawls. The shawls were
bright green, red, or yellow. Gypsies like bright colors and things
that shine—that’s why they put looking-glasses on the outside of their
wagons as well as inside.

As Uncle Ben, the children, Mr. Blake, and Mr. Addison walked along
the woodland path, through the Gypsy camp, they were met by the same
big, dark-skinned Gypsy man who had taken the black dog into the tent.

“Good morning,” said Uncle Ben, in a pleasant voice, as he stood
still. The Curlytops and Tom and Lola came to a halt behind Uncle Ben.

“Mornin’,” answered the Gypsy man, and he did not seem to be very
pleasant.

“We called to ask about a dog,” went on Uncle Ben. “I see you have a
number of dogs here.”

“Yes, we have dogs,” answered the Gypsy. That was true enough, for
there were many dogs and horses scattered here and there about the
camp, some behind the tents and red wagons. “We have dogs and horses.
Want to buy some?”

“No, we don’t exactly want to _buy_ a dog,” answered Uncle Ben.

“Well, we don’t give dogs away,” said the Gypsy, who spoke the same
language as did Uncle Ben, though perhaps the dark-skinned man could
talk in his own special language, too. “We sell dogs. What kind do you
want to buy?”

Eagerly Ted and Jan listened for what Uncle Ben would answer, and he
replied:

“We’d like to get that little black dog you took into the tent just as
we came along. That’s the dog we want.”

“That dog is not to be sold!” cried the Gypsy, and this was more than
Ted could stand.

“That’s our dog!” exclaimed the little boy. “That’s our dog Skyrocket,
and we want him back! He got lost from our house. He climbed out the
woodshed window, and we want him.”

“Yes, we want Skyrocket!” added Janet. “He didn’t ever sleep on his
new piece of carpet that Teddy put in his box. Please, Mr. Gypsy man,
give us back our dog!”

The Gypsy with the gold rings in his ears scowled as he answered:

“I have not your dog! That black dog is mine!”

And at this Mr. Addison broke in with:

“Yes, and I suppose that big yellow dog is yours, too!” and he pointed
to a large yellow animal that was sneaking around behind a red wagon.
The yellow dog was not what you would call a friendly dog. He was more
like a wolf or a fox. “Is that your dog?” asked Mr. Addison, pointing
to the animal.

“Yes, that’s my dog, too,” answered the Gypsy.

“Then you’re just the man I’m looking for!” exclaimed the farmer.
“That’s the yellow dog that’s been chasing my sheep and taking my
chickens. And he took Mr. Blake’s sheep and chickens, too! Now then,
I’m a deputy sheriff of this county. As you know, that’s just as good
as a policeman in the city. And either you’ve got to get rid of that
yellow dog and pay me for the loss of my lambs and chickens, and Mr.
Blake for his, or I’ll arrest you, and drive you away from this camp.
Now, what’s it going to be, Mr. Gypsy? I guess you’ll find you have
one dog too many!”

“My dog never kills sheep or chickens!” said the Gypsy, but he was not
as bold as he had been at first.

“Well, plenty of farmers near me have seen this yellow dog of yours,
and they know what he has done,” said Mr. Addison. “Now, either you’ll
get rid of that yellow dog, or you’ll get out of here,” and he spoke
sharply.

“Well, if my yellow dog hurt your sheep or chickens I didn’t know it,”
said the Gypsy, and his voice was quite different now.

“I’m telling you about it,” said Mr. Addison. “And, what’s more,
you’ve got to pay us for the animals and fowls your dog killed. And
now what about this other dog—the black one that belongs to these
children? Where’s the dog Skyrocket?”

“I don’t know,” answered the Gypsy. “I haven’t got their dog.”

“Oh, you have so!” cried Jan.

“I saw you take a black dog into the tent. That was Skyrocket!” added
Ted.

“No! No!” cried the Gypsy, getting angry again.

All the other Gypsies, men and women, boys and girls, were now
gathered in the middle of the camp, around Uncle Ben, the children,
the farmer and storekeeper.

“Look here,” put in Uncle Ben. “It’s easy to settle this matter. Let
us have a look at that black dog, and then we can tell for sure if he
belongs to the Curlytops. Bring out the little black dog.”

“He is mine I tell you!” exclaimed the Gypsy. “I’ve had him a long
time.”

“Well, Skyrocket has been gone a long time,” said Janet.

“Bring out the dog,” ordered Mr. Addison, and he showed the shiny,
nickel badge he wore on his vest, to prove that he was a deputy
sheriff; a man who can arrest people.

“I show you that not your dog!” said the Gypsy. “I show you!”

Quickly he went into the tent, and in a moment he came out with a
little black dog in his arms. It was a dog much smaller than
Skyrocket, and of a different breed.

“That your dog?” cried the Gypsy, holding out the small black poodle.

“No, that isn’t Skyrocket,” said Teddy, in a sad voice.

“What I tell you?” demanded the dark-skinned man.

Janet looked disappointed. Mr. Blake, who had not spoken since
entering the Gypsy camp, now stepped forward and called out:

“I saw you take a black dog into that tent, and this isn’t the same
dog. You have another black one there. Here, I’ll take a look!”

Before any of the Gypsies could stop him Mr. Blake pressed forward,
passed the man with the gold rings in his ears, and a moment later the
storekeeper was inside the tent. Some one else inside it gave a
frightened cry, and then there sounded the excited barking of a dog.

“I thought so!” cried Mr. Blake, and in another instant out of the
tent he stepped, and in his arms was a wildly struggling black dog.

“Oh, that’s Skyrocket! That’s Skyrocket!” cried Teddy, springing
forward.

“That’s our dog!” echoed Janet, and she and her brother both tried at
once to take the wiggling animal from the arms of Mr. Blake.

The Gypsy man, with a scowl on his face, started forward, but he was
caught by Uncle Ben.

“Wait a minute!” exclaimed the sailor. “Take it easy now. Whose dog is
that?” and he pointed to the larger black one which was now trying to
jump into the arms of both Ted and Janet at the same time, meanwhile
wagging his tail as if he would wag it off, and barking and whining,
so glad was he to see the Curlytops again.

“That’s my dog!” answered the Gypsy. “I have had him a long while.”

“Your dog, is it?” asked Uncle Ben. “Well, we’ll see about this. Put
him on the ground, Jan, and we’ll see who he goes to. Put the dog
down, Teddy!”

It was hard work to do this, for the black animal was frisking around
the Curlytops, crazy with joy. But at last the dog was made to stand
still for a second or two, though he kept on wagging his tail and
looking from Ted to Janet and from Janet to Ted as if he feared to
lose sight of them for a moment.

“Now then, Mr. Gypsy, you call this dog, and see if he’ll come to
you,” ordered Uncle Ben. “Call him to you.”

“Here, Jack! Jack! Come here!” commanded the Gypsy, and he whistled
and snapped his fingers. “Come here!”

The dog gave one look at the Gypsy, and then the animal’s tail
dropped, between his legs and he crouched down.

“That dog certainly doesn’t like you! He is afraid of you!” said Uncle
Ben.

“He is a bad dog!” the Gypsy declared.

“Skyrocket is not a bad dog!” exclaimed Teddy.

And then a curious thing happened.

No sooner had Teddy mentioned the name “Skyrocket” than the dog, which
had been slowly and tremblingly creeping toward the Gypsy, turned,
and, with a joyful bark, sprang toward the Curlytop boy and girl. In
another instant he was being hugged in their arms.

“I guess that shows whose dog he is!” said Mr. Blake.

“I should say so!” cried the farmer. “How then, Mr. Gypsy, what have
you to say for yourself? Where did you get that dog which belongs to
these children?”

“That’s my dog!” said the Gypsy again.

“Your dog! He’s only your dog because you found him, or took him away
from his home!” cried Uncle Ben. “You’ve beaten him and made him
afraid of you while you’ve had him, but you sha’n’t have him any more.
Curlytops, that’s Skyrocket sure enough. He knows his name when you
speak it only once, and he came to you without calling, while he was
afraid of this Gypsy. Now you have your dog back!”

“And we’ll never let him go again!” said Janet.

“Now look here, you Gypsies!” said Mr. Addison in a stern voice.
“You’ll be allowed to camp here just as long as you behave yourselves,
and no longer. Get rid of that yellow dog that kills sheep and
chickens, and don’t take any more pet dogs and you’ll be better off.
Remember what I say—don’t take any more pet dogs that belong to
children!” and he shook his finger warningly at the dark-skinned man.

“I didn’t know it was their dog!” growled the Gypsy. “He came to me on
the road and I kept him.”

“Well, maybe he did, and maybe he didn’t,” went on the deputy sheriff.
“Anyhow we’ve found what we came after and you heard what I said.
We’ll be on the watch now. And you get rid of that bad yellow dog!”

The Gypsy muttered something that no one could hear, and there were
growls and grumbles from the other men and boys, while the women, each
one of whom wore a bright shawl or dress, talked among themselves in
the Gypsy tongue.

“Come on now, children, we’ll be getting back to camp,” said Uncle
Ben. “Is Skyrocket all right, Ted?”

“Yes. But I guess he didn’t get much to eat while the Gypsies had
him,” the Curlytop boy answered. “He’s awful thin.”

“And I guess they beat him,” added Janet. “Skyrocket was never afraid
of anybody before.”

“Yes, I guess the Gypsies didn’t treat him very kindly,” said Uncle
Ben. “But you can make it up to him from now on. Take good care of
him.”

“We will!” said Janet and Ted.

You can imagine how glad Mrs. Martin was, and Trouble and Mr. Martin
and Nora, also, to welcome Skyrocket to Sunnyside Bungalow. It was a
new place for Skyrocket, but he soon made himself at home, and a
little bed was got ready for him on the porch.

“And if any Gypsies come to take you away again, I’ll—I’ll scratch
’em!” declared Janet.

“And I’ll help!” added Lola.

“Well, I guess those Gypsies won’t make any more trouble,” said Uncle
Ben. “If they don’t behave themselves Mr. Addison will arrest every
one of ’em.”

But from then on there was no further trouble from the dark-skinned
Gypsies, and the yellow dog no longer chased sheep and chickens.
Either he was sent away or kept chained up in the woods.

It was two or three days after Skyrocket had been found that something
else happened which caused excitement at Sunnyside. Daddy Martin had
been back in Cresco, looking after some business about his store, and
he came to Silver Lake in the automobile one evening, to stay about a
week, he said.

“How is everything back in Cresco?” asked Uncle Ben, as he helped Mr.
Martin take some groceries out of the automobile.

“Oh, all right,” answered the father of the Curlytops. “There has been
another robbery, though.”

“Was it at our house?” asked Tom Taylor, who, with his sister and the
Curlytops, was listening to what Mr. Martin was saying. “Did burglars
get into our house as they did into Miss Ransom’s store?”

“No, it wasn’t at your house,” answered Ted’s father. “It was at Mr.
Henderson’s hardware store. Thieves got in there last night and took a
lot of knives, forks, and things like that.”

“Did they take any funny box, with a secret drawer in, like Miss
Ransom’s?” Ted asked.

“I didn’t hear anything about a queer box,” answered his father. “But
I brought a newspaper. There it is, Uncle Ben. It says a big storm is
on the way, and may reach here by morning. I guess we’d better tie the
boats up so they won’t blow about and be wrecked. There’s a big wind
storm on the way here from the west.”

“Out west, where Uncle Frank’s ranch is?” asked Janet.

“Well, perhaps not quite as far as that,” answered her father. “But
we’ll have to get ready for the storm.”

“And after supper will you tell us more about the burglars at Mr.
Henderson’s store?” asked Ted.

“I guess so,” replied his father.

But after supper was a busy time for Daddy Martin and Uncle Ben. There
were many boats to be tied fast, or put in safe places. Trouble stayed
with his mother on the bungalow porch, but Ted and Tom did what they
could to help. Lola and Jan went down to the dock to help, too. Just
how much help they were I am not going to try to say.

It was getting dusk, and the wind was beginning to blow pretty hard.

“I think the storm is coming now,” said Mrs. Martin to Nora. “We had
better see to shutting some of the windows.”

At that moment Lola and Janet came running up the path that led from
the bungalow down to the dock and shore of Silver Lake. The two little
girls seemed much excited.

“Oh, Mother!” cried Janet. “He’s in! They’re both in!”

“Both in where? And who’s in?” asked Mrs. Martin.

“Ted’s in, and so’s Tom,” answered Janet. “They both fell into the
lake off the pier!”



CHAPTER XIX

THE SHIPWRECK


“Look after Trouble!” Mrs. Martin cried to the two girls the moment
Janet told this startling news to her mother. “I’ll get the boys out
of the lake!”

Down the path she ran, and so quickly had she gotten up that she
knocked Trouble down. He sat down on the porch, rather hard, and he
was just going to cry, not knowing what it was all about, when Janet
took him up in her arms.

“Don’t cry, Trouble! Don’t cry!” she said.

“Trouble fell down!” said the little fellow, in a voice that sounded
tearful. “Momsie make Trouble fall!”

“But she didn’t mean to,” said Lola, thinking to help Janet take care
of Baby William. “Momsie has gone to help get Ted and Tom out of the
lake.”

“Trouble want to go in ’ake!” exclaimed Janet’s brother.

“Oh, no, Trouble! Two in a lake at once is enough!” said Janet. “I
wonder if they’re out yet,” she added.

“Uncle Ben and Mr. Martin will have them out by this time,” replied
Lola. “We forgot to tell your mother that they were after them.”

And when the mother of the Curlytops reached the end of the path from
the bungalow, where she could look down to the lake and the dock her
husband owned, she saw that Uncle Ben and Mr. Martin were lifting from
the water two small, dripping boys.

“Oh, they’ve got them out!” gasped Mrs. Martin, and she did not run so
fast now, for she was quite out of breath. “Oh, I thought Ted and Tom
had fallen in when no one was near to help them!”

As she reached the pier she saw Ted and Tom placed on the end of
it—Tom by Uncle Ben and Ted by his father. Water gushed out from the
shoes of the small boys, and even seemed to splatter from their many
pockets, and both of them were gasping and trying to wipe the drops
from their eyes. Skyrocket was prancing about and barking as loudly as
he could bark. At the same time he was wagging his tail, and that was
a good sign, for it showed he knew Ted and Tom were all right.

“What happened?” gasped Mrs. Martin, as she hurried down to the dock.
“Are you hurt?”

“Not a bit!” answered Uncle Ben, with a laugh. “Only wet. And they’ll
soon dry in this wind.”

The wind was, indeed, blowing hard, and it was bringing a storm with
it. The lake was getting rough.

“What happened, Teddy?” asked his mother.

“Oh, it was just a little accident,” explained Mr. Martin, as he and
Uncle Ben got out of a boat from which they had reached over and
pulled Ted and Tom out of the water. “The boys were helping us make
everything snug from the storm that is coming, when Ted slipped off
the pier and went into the lake.”

“And Tom tried to grab me, and he fell in, too!” added Ted. “Then we
were both in, and we couldn’t swim very well with our clothes on.” Ted
and Tom could both swim a little, not so very well though even with
their clothes off.

“I could ’a’ caught you if I’d ’a’ seen you falling in,” declared Tom.
“But you went in so quick!”

“Yes, it didn’t take him long!” laughed Mr. Martin. “He seemed to jump
in as quickly as a frog jumps in off a log when he hears a boy with a
dog coming.”

“And then what happened?” asked Mrs. Martin, as she wiped some of the
water off Tom’s face with her handkerchief.

“Oh, well, Uncle Ben and I were right here. We jumped into a boat,”
said Mr. Martin, “and reached over and lifted the boys out. They were
trying to swim, but couldn’t very well. Did you swallow much water?”
he asked them.

“A little,” admitted Ted.

“And I ate some, too,” said Tom. “It’s better than the ocean water,
’cause it isn’t salty.”

“Go up to the house now and get on dry clothes,” advised Mr. Martin.
“Uncle Ben and I will finish making fast the boats.”

“Yes, come with me,” said Ted’s mother.

Ted and Tom went up the hill with Mrs. Martin, just as Janet and Lola,
leading Trouble by the band, were coming down to the dock.

“Oh, are they all right?” asked the two little girls.

“All right! We had a swim with our clothes on!” boasted Tom.

So the little accident was soon over, and no one was much the worse.

“Well, now it can blow as much as it likes,” said Daddy Martin after
supper that night, when they were all sitting on the bungalow porch.
“All our boats are snug, the candy house on the pier is shut up, and
we are ready for rain or snow.”

“Oh, not snow, Daddy!” exclaimed Mrs. Martin. “We aren’t ready for
snow. This bungalow would be too cold for the Curlytops to be snowed
in.”

“Oh, do you ’member how we got snowed in once?” asked Janet of her
brother.

“Sure I do,” he answered. “Say, we did have lots of fun then!”

And those of you who have read about what took place when the
Curlytops were snowed in will recall what happened to Ted, Janet and
the others.

“I think the storm is coming along fast,” said Uncle Ben, as he
listened to the sighing of the wind in the trees around the bungalow.
“It’s going to rain, but I don’t believe it will snow, though it may
hail, and hail stones are worse than snow.”

“Can we throw hail stones, Uncle Ben?” asked Ted, while he built up a
little house of dominoes for Trouble on the floor of the porch.

“Well, if they don’t melt too soon you might throw hail stones,”
answered the sailor.

So they sat on the porch and talked until it was time to go to bed.
Meanwhile the wind blew harder and harder.

Then, in the middle of the night it began to rain. But the Curlytops
and Trouble, and Tom and Lola did not know this, for they were asleep.
Skyrocket, the dog, who slept in a little box on the porch, was
awakened by the storm, and whined. He was lonesome, so Mrs. Martin let
him into the bungalow for the rest of the night.

In the morning, when the Curlytops and their friends awakened and
looked from the window, they saw how bad the storm was. It was raining
very hard, and the wind blew in great gusts that shook the trees, and
bent the smaller ones half way to the earth.

“Oh, look at the lake!” cried Ted, as he pressed his nose flat against
the window. “See the big waves!”

“I wouldn’t want to be out on it now,” added Janet.

“Pooh! I’d go out on it now, if I had a big boat; wouldn’t you, Ted?”
asked Tom.

“Sure I—well, maybe I would if daddy went with me,” was the answer.

“We’ll not try it,” said his father. “You had better stay around
here.”

“Can’t we go out at all?” asked Ted. “I have rubber boots and a rubber
coat.”

“Oh, you may go down on the pier after breakfast, if some one goes
with you,” said Mrs. Martin.

“Oh, can’t I go too?” cried Janet.

“Yes, I think so. You all have rubber cloaks or coats and rubber
boots,” said Mr. Martin.

It did not seem to rain quite so hard after breakfast, though the wind
was still very strong. So, when the four children were well wrapped
up, Uncle Ben and Daddy Martin took them down to the dock to look at
Silver Lake in a storm. Trouble wanted to go, also, but his mother
made him stay in with her.

At first Trouble cried, but Nora made him a little paddy-cake, with
sugar on it, when she was baking a pie, and this pleased Trouble
almost as much as if he had gone out.

“Look at the big waves on the lake!” cried Ted, as he and the others
walked out on the pier.

And indeed Silver Lake was very rough. The wind made quite high
waves—not as high as on the ocean, of course, but quite too high for a
small rowboat.

“Well, all our boats are safe,” said Daddy Martin to Uncle Ben, as
they stood on the pier near the children.

“Yes, I think so,” answered the sailor. “Hello!” he suddenly cried, as
he looked off across the white-capped waves. “There’s a boat that
isn’t all right, though.”

He pointed to a motor boat in the middle of the lake. It was being
tossed to and fro, and as Ted and the others looked they saw something
white waved from the boat.

“They’re in trouble!” said Daddy Martin. “I guess their motor has
stopped and they can’t move. Maybe their boat is leaking.”

“Is it a shipwreck?” asked Ted, who had heard stories from Uncle Ben
about great ships that were wrecked in big storms on the ocean.

“Well, yes, you might call it that,” said Uncle Ben. “Oh, look!” cried
the sailor. “They’re going to turn over!”

As he spoke a big wave seemed to sweep over the motor boat that was
out on the middle of the lake. Ted, Janet and the others, watching,
saw the craft swing about. Again they saw something white waved, and a
moment later the boat seemed to turn right over on its side and some
men were spilled out into the water.

“They’re shipwrecked now, all right!” cried Tom.

“Yes, indeed they are,” said Mr. Martin.

“We’ll have to go to their help,” cried Uncle Ben, above the roar of
the wind and the patter of the rain. “We’ll have to go to the rescue!”



CHAPTER XX

THE QUEER BOX AGAIN


Ted and Janet, as well as Lola and Tom, heard what Uncle Ben and Mr.
Martin said. And the same thought came to the Curlytops and their
friends.

“Oh, take us with you!” begged Teddy.

“We couldn’t think of it, my boy,” answered his father. “There may be
hard work in getting those men out of the water, and besides, in this
storm I couldn’t dream of taking you little children out on the lake;
could we, Uncle Ben?”

“No, indeed!” was the answer, and the sailor ran across the dock to
loosen a large rowboat, in which he and Mr. Martin intended to go to
the rescue.

“But we want to see you save the shipwreck!” exclaimed Ted. “Please
Daddy, mayn’t we go?”

“Of course not!” answered his father. “But if you’ll promise not to
fall off the pier you may stay here and watch us. You can see all that
happens from here.”

Ted knew it would be of no use to ask again, so he made the best of
it.

“Look!” suddenly said Tom. “The men are rowing away in a little boat.”

He pointed to the motor boat, which was now right side up again, but
was very low in the water, as if the waves, washing over it, had half
filled it. And as he pointed the others saw what he meant.

The two men in the wrecked motor boat, who had been waving a white
handkerchief as a signal, must have been towing a rowboat behind their
launch. And when they were tossed into the lake by the storm, they
swam around and got in the smaller craft. In this they were now rowing
away from the wreck as hard as they could row.

“Well, I guess we don’t have to go out to save them,” said Uncle Ben,
who was loosening a rope that held the largest of Mr. Martin’s
rowboats to the dock. “They are rescuing themselves.”

“It does look so,” replied Mr. Martin. “I wonder if they’ll come
here.”

While Uncle Ben and Mr. Martin stood on the pier, hardly knowing what
to do, Ted saw something else.

“Look!” he cried, pointing over the windy waves. “There’s another
motor boat chasing the first one.”

“Yes, there is a big craft coming from near the Point,” said Uncle
Ben. “And it looks as if they were going to the wreck.”

Daddy Martin took a telescope from the boathouse at the dock, and
through this glass, which made things that were far off seem close by,
he looked across the lake.

“The second boat is Mr. Blake’s,” said the father of the Curlytops.
“He’s the storekeeper at the point. And Mr. Addison, the deputy
sheriff, is in with him. They helped get Skyrocket back, you know.”

“Maybe they’re going to arrest the Gypsies that had Skyrocket,” said
Ted, leaning over to pat his dog, that had come out in the storm with
the children.

“No, they wouldn’t be out on the lake if they were after the Gypsies,”
said Uncle Ben.

“Maybe the men in the wreck were Gypsies,” suggested Ted. “Look!
They’re rowing away fast!”

This was true enough. The two men who had been spilled out of the
motor boat, which now seemed to be sinking, were rowing away as fast
as they could.

“And Mr. Blake’s boat is chasin’ ’em!” exclaimed Tom.

“No, Mr. Blake’s boat is going up to the wreck,” said Daddy Martin, as
he looked through the telescope. “I think we’d better go out there,
too,” he added to Uncle Ben.

“All right. Just as you say,” was the answer, and the sailor began to
get out the oars.

“We’ll go in the big motor boat,” decided Daddy Martin. “At first when
I thought we’d have to pick up the men, I thought the rowboat would be
best. But now I think it will be better to go in the motor boat. We
can get there more quickly, and if there is anybody left on the
sinking boat we can take them off.”

“Oh, can’t we go if you go in the motor boat?” begged Ted.

Daddy Martin looked at Uncle Ben, and then, after a moment, the father
of the Curlytops answered:

“Well, I think if we go in the big motor boat it will be all right.
The wind isn’t blowing quite so hard now. Tumble in and come along. It
will be all right.”

“And can we take Skyrocket, too?” asked Janet.

“Oh, yes, bring your dog,” said Uncle Ben.

Soon the Curlytops, with Tom and Lola, not forgetting Skyrocket, were
aboard the _Gull_, as Daddy Martin’s motor boat was named, and out
over the lake they went.

The men rowing from the wreck were now some distance away from their
sinking boat. The other motor boat, belonging to Mr. Blake, the
storekeeper, was coming nearer and soon two men in it began waving
their hands to Daddy Martin and Uncle Ben.

When they were near enough to talk, Daddy Martin called and asked:

“What’s the matter?”

“A lot is the matter!” answered Mr. Blake, whom the children well
remembered as having helped, with Mr. Addison, in getting Skyrocket
away from the Gypsies. “A whole lot is the matter, Mr. Martin. There
has been a robbery at the Point, and we are chasing after the
robbers.”

“Robbers!” cried Uncle Ben, while the Curlytops and Tom and Lola
listened to hear all that was said. “Robbers! What did they take, and
where are they now?”

“They took a lot of money and stamps from the post-office,” went on
Mr. Blake. “They broke into it last night, in the storm, and blew open
the safe. The wind and the rain made so much noise that no one heard
them.

“This morning, when the postmaster came down to open his office, he
saw what had happened. Then we heard about two strange men down at one
of the docks in a motor boat, and we thought they might be the
burglars; so Mr. Addison and I came after them. We’ve been chasing
this boat for some time now, and a little while ago something happened
to it. Maybe the motor blew up. It’s sinking, isn’t it?”

“That’s what it is!” chimed in Mr. Addison. “Now we can catch the two
men who were in it and find out whether or not they took the stamps
and money from the post-office.”

“I’m glad we’re here,” whispered Ted.

“The men aren’t in the sinking boat,” said Uncle Ben. “We saw them
jump out or fall out, after they waved a white rag for help. There
they go, now!” and he pointed to the rowboat, in which were the two
men pulling hard toward shore.

“Oh, ho! So that’s how they are getting away, are they?” cried Mr.
Blake. “We saw they had a rowboat tied on behind their motor craft.
Then there came a dash of rain and we couldn’t see anything more until
we saw the sinking boat. So we hurried toward it, and then we saw
you.”

“Shall we try to catch those two men?” asked Mr. Addison. “We can
easily do it in our motor boat.”

“Let’s first look and see if they left behind any of the money and
stamps,” said Mr. Blake. “If we get back what they took out of the
safe I don’t care so much about getting the men themselves. We can
arrest them later, maybe. Let’s look in the motor boat.”

So the _Gull_, in which were the Curlytops with their father and Uncle
Ben, and the other motor boat, in which rode Mr. Blake and Mr.
Addison, steered toward the sinking craft. And no sooner had Ted
looked over the side of the boat which was half sunk, than he cried:

“I see a satchel!”

“And I see a box!” added Janet.

“Maybe that’s the post-office stuff!” cried Mr. Blake.

Going close to the boat, half full of water, from which the two men
had jumped, or been tipped out, Mr. Blake lifted out the satchel. It
was opened, and inside were stamps and some money.

“This is the stuff the burglars took from the post-office!” cried Mr.
Addison.

“Good!” exclaimed his friend. “They didn’t have time to take it with
them in the rowboat.”

“Maybe they were afraid to get the stamps wet,” suggested Teddy.
“Stamps get sticky in the water.”

“So they do,” replied Uncle Ben. “Well, anyhow, the robbers left
behind them the stuff they took. Now do you want to chase after them?”
he asked Mr. Blake.

“It’s too late!” said Mr. Addison, pointing across the lake. “They are
going to land on the shore now, a mile away. We’ll have to get them
later, if we can.”

“Then let’s try now!” shouted Mr. Blake. “Might as well! Here, I’ll
take the satchel of money and stamps in my boat,” he said to Daddy
Martin. “We’ll keep on after the burglars, and if you think it won’t
sink all the way down, you might tow this motor boat over to your
dock,” and he nodded to the craft in which the burglars had been
riding before the accident happened.

“All right,” answered the father of the Curly tops. “I’ll tow this
motor boat back to my dock. But there’s a queer box in it. Do you want
to take that with you? Maybe that has some money and stamps in it.”

“No, it seems to be empty,” said Mr. Blake, leaning over and lifting
up the queer box, which was made of wood. “I guess this wasn’t taken
from the post-office,” he said. “The burglars may have stolen it
somewhere else. We’ll leave that in their boat. Maybe they stole the
boat, too. Tow it to shore, Mr. Martin—that and the box and we’ll keep
on after the burglars.”

So while Mr. Blake and Mr. Addison, in their motor boat, puffed on
toward the place where the two men had landed in their rowboat, Daddy
Martin and Uncle Ben fastened a rope from the half sunken craft to
their _Gull_. Then they began slowly towing it back across Silver
Lake. But not before Daddy Martin had lifted out the queer, wooden
box.

So much had happened, and there was so much to talk about, that no one
paid much attention to this box. It was not until the Curlytops and
the others had landed at the Sunnyside dock that any one thought of
the box. The motor boat from which the burglars had jumped was made
fast to the pier, in shallow water, so that if it sunk completely it
could easily be got up again. But it seemed to want to sink only half
way.

“My, you’ve had a lot of adventures!” exclaimed Mother Martin, when
she heard all that had happened. “I wonder if they got the robbers?”

“No, they got away,” answered Uncle Ben, who had gone out to a
telephone to inquire. “The robbers got away, but we got back the money
and stamps they took.”

“And the queer box, too,” added Ted.

“What queer box is that?” asked Mrs. Martin.

“Why, one we found in the wrecked motor boat,” her husband answered.
“Here it is. I haven’t had time to look at it.”

As he spoke he handed the box to his wife. It was square, and made of
some light and finely polished wood.

“Why!” exclaimed Mrs. Martin, as she looked at the queer box, “do you
know what I think this is?”

“What?” asked her husband.

“I think it’s the same queer box that was stolen from Mrs. Ransom,”
was the answer. “I remember what she told me about it. I never saw it,
that I remember, though I may have. But I’m sure this is the same one
she told about as being taken from her store the time it was robbed.”

“It does look like it,” agreed Mr. Martin, as he took the box again
for a second examination. “Yes, I believe it is,” he added. “Then the
same burglars that broke into Mrs. Ransom’s store must have robbed the
post-office.”

“We had better send word to Mrs. Ransom that we have a box like the
one taken from her,” went on Mrs. Martin. “We could send it to her, or
ask her to come here and look at it. Maybe the deputy sheriff, Mr.
Addison, would rather we kept the box here until he sees if he can
catch the robbers.”

“Maybe,” agreed Mr. Martin. “We could ask Mrs. Ransom to come and
visit us for a few days, and show her the box then.”

“We’ll do that!” decided his wife.

So it happened that, about two days later, Mrs. Ransom came to Silver
Lake to spend a few days at Sunnyside. The post-office burglars were
not caught, but all the money and stamps they had taken were found in
the boat which they left after it seemed to be sinking. But it did not
sink, and later on it was mended and made almost as good as new. It
had been stolen from a boatman near the Point, and he was glad to get
it back.

In one of the lockers of the boat were found some of the knives stolen
from Mr. Henderson’s store in Cresco. The burglars had gone about,
breaking into many places, it was believed. The Curlytops remembered
about the man who had hoisted the sail for Ted, the time he was blown
out into the lake, and it was thought perhaps he might have been one
of the bad men, but this was never found out for certain.

Mr. Henderson was glad to get back his stolen knives.

“And I imagine you’re glad to get the queer box that your brother, the
sailor, gave you, back, aren’t you, Mrs. Ransom?” asked Mrs. Martin,
when the storekeeper had come to Silver Lake.

“Yes, indeed, I am glad to get it back,” said Mrs. Ransom. “And I’d be
more glad if I could find my brother who gave it to me—my brother who
has been gone so many years. But I don’t suppose I ever shall. Did
they find any of my other things that the burglars took when they
robbed my store?”

“No, the queer box was the only thing they left behind in the boat,
besides the knives, the post-office money and the stamps,” replied Mr.
Martin.

“Well, well! I guess I’m lucky to get my brother’s box back—it has his
picture in it, and some trinkets,” went on Mrs. Ransom. “And I hear
you Curlytops got back your dog from the Gypsies,” she added.

“Yes, we got Skyrocket back,” answered Ted. “And we’re sorry we
couldn’t get the burglars that robbed your store.”

“Oh, well, we can’t have everything we want,” said Mrs. Ransom. “I’m
glad it was no worse.”

Mrs. Ransom turned over and over in her hands the queer box which she
feared she would never see again. She was very glad to get it back.

“I declare I’ve forgotten how to open it!” she said with a laugh, as
she looked at it on all sides. “There’s a secret drawer in it, and I
was just trying to find it. I was wondering whether the burglars took
out my brother’s picture and the trinkets I kept so many years. I
wonder if the box is empty.”

“Let me see,” said Uncle Ben, reaching out his hand for the box. He
shook it as he held it close to his ear.

“There’s something inside,” he said.

“But you can’t get it out unless you know how to open the secret top
and drawer,” said Mrs. Ransom. “My brother showed me how a good many
years ago, but, I declare! I seem to have forgotten.”

And then a funny thing happened. All at once, as Uncle Ben held the
queer box, there was a click, and it opened. A small drawer shot out,
and in it was a picture of a man, and also some little curiosities,
pink shells, red sea beans and bits of coral.

“There you are, Mrs. Ransom!” said Uncle Ben. “I’ve opened the queer
box for you.”

“Why, why, how did you do it?” cried the storekeeper. “I thought
nobody but my brother and I and the Japanese man that made the box
knew how to open it. How did you know?” and she looked in a strange
way at Uncle Ben. “How did you know?” she asked again.

“Why, I—I don’t exactly know,” was his answer in a strange voice. “It
seemed to come to me all at once. I just pressed on a secret spring,
under this queer, carved flower, and the box opened. As soon as I had
it in my hands I remembered that I had heard of this box once before.”

“Are you—no, it isn’t possible that you can be my lost brother!” said
Mrs. Ransom. “You don’t look a bit as he used to look, though I
suppose he has changed after all these years. But how did you know the
secret of his box?”

“What was your brother’s name?” asked Uncle Ben.

“John Dowd,” was the woman’s answer. “Dowd was my name before I
married. Yes, John Dowd was my brother. But I’m afraid I’ll never see
him again. I’m glad to get back the box he gave me, but I suppose he
has been dead many years.”

“No, he hasn’t, either!” suddenly cried Uncle Ben, springing to his
feet. “It all comes back to me now! It all comes back! I know how I
remembered the secret of the box, too.”

“But you aren’t my brother!” cried Mrs. Ransom.

“No. But I have seen your brother, and not less than a few months ago,
in New York when I was sick there. He was sick in the same hospital;
but he got better before I did, and he left to go on a ship. But
before that he got to talking of different things, and he told me
about a queer box he once owned. It was this same box, I’m sure, and
he told me how to open it by pressing below the carved flower. He made
a little picture of the box. It looked just like this.

“That’s how I happened to remember, and how I knew how to open your
box,” he went on. “As soon as I had it in my hands it seemed to me as
if I had seen it before. But it was because your brother told me about
it, and told me just how to open it.”

The Curlytops were listening to all this, and so were Tom and Lola and
all the others.

“Oh, can you tell me where my brother is now?” eagerly asked Mrs.
Ransom.

“Well, I can tell you where I saw him last—in the New York Hospital,”
answered Uncle Ben. “It was there he told me about the queer box he
said he had given to his sister. But he said he had not heard from her
for a good many years, and he thought she was dead.”

“And I thought he was dead!” cried the storekeeper. “And instead we’re
both alive—at least, I hope John is,” she murmured softly.

“Well, he was getting well and strong when he left the hospital,” said
Uncle Ben. “Perhaps if you write there, they can tell you on what ship
he sailed. I’m sure it’s the same John Dowd who was your brother, for
surely there wouldn’t be two of the same name who had given their
sisters queer boxes with secret drawers.”

“Did he look anything like that?” asked Mrs. Ransom, as she held out
the photograph which had been in the secret drawer of the queer box.

“He didn’t look like that when I saw him in the hospital,” answered
Uncle Ben. “But of course that picture was taken a good many years
ago.”

“Yes, it was,” said Mrs. Ransom. “It’s been a good while since John
gave me the queer box and sailed away. I supposed he was shipwrecked
between that time and the present.”

“Yes, he was shipwrecked, he told me,” replied Uncle Ben. “He said he
wished he could find his sister, but as he did not tell me your name,
of course I did not know you were she.”

“Well, maybe it will turn out all right after all,” said Daddy Martin.
“We must write to the hospital and find out.”

And this was done. About a week later the answer came back, giving the
name of the ship on which John Dowd had sailed. And, later, when Mrs.
Ransom sent a letter to the place where the ship had voyaged to, back
an answer came from her brother.

“Oh, I’ve found him! I’ve found him!” Mrs. Ransom wrote to Mrs. Martin
when the joyful news came in the letter, for, of course, she had gone
back to Cresco by that time. “I’ve found my brother! He is in England,
but he will soon be coming back here. Oh, how glad I am.”

“And if the burglars hadn’t taken the queer box, and if Uncle Ben
hadn’t known how to open it, maybe she never would have seen her
brother,” said Teddy.

“That’s right—maybe I wouldn’t,” agreed Mrs. Ransom when Teddy
repeated that to her later. “But now I have found him, I’m almost glad
the burglars robbed me. They can keep the other things they took as
long as I have my brother back.”

In less than a month John Dowd came sailing back. He was glad to see
his sister again, of that you may be sure, and he was very glad to
meet, once again, Uncle Ben, and to see the queer box.

“And now everything is found!” said Janet when the long-missing sailor
and his sister had come out to Silver Lake to spend a day or two. “We
even got our dog back!”

“But we didn’t find the robbers,” said Uncle Ben. “They got away.”

“Tom and I are going to hunt ’em after we get back home,” declared
Ted. “Aren’t we, Tom?”

“Sure!” was the answer. “And maybe we’ll find another place they
robbed, and get back the stuff they took.”

“You’d better go and find Uncle Ben and ask him to take you all
fishing!” laughed Mother Martin.

“Take me, too!” begged Trouble. “Me want fiss!”

“Yes, take Trouble with you, but don’t lose him,” said his mother.

“Come on!” cried Ted. “We’ll go fishing with Uncle Ben!”

They went out in the motor boat, the Curlytops, Tom, Lola and Trouble.
On the porch of the bungalow sat Mr. and Mrs. Martin, and Mrs. Ransom
and her brother, John Dowd.

“How strange everything came about,” said Mrs. Martin. “There was the
robbery of your store, Mrs. Ransom, the finding of Uncle Ben on our
lawn, Skyrocket being taken by the Gypsies, and the finding of your
brother’s queer box in the wrecked boat.”

“Yes, and then I found my brother!” said Mrs. Ransom softly, as she
looked at him. “That was best of all!”

The Curlytops stayed at Silver Lake quite a while longer, until it was
time to go back to school, and they had many good times on the water
with Uncle Ben.

And now, as this story is finished, we will say good-bye for a time,
though I hope you will meet the Curlytops again, and hear more of
their adventures.

THE END



VISITORS UNWELCOME

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Reprinted by John Martin’s Book, permission of the Child’s Magazine



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