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The Story of a Bold Tin Soldier(Chapter5)

2006-08-22 21:49

  Chapter V. The Captain and the Lamb

  For a few seconds Arnold did not know what to answer. One of the hard, dried beans had struck him on the nose, and, while it did not hurt very much, it made his eyes water and he could not see what was happening.

  But the beans kept on falling about the porch, and one struck a Tin Soldier and knocked him over. This Soldier was a very small chap. He was, in fact, the drummer boy.

  "But who is shooting the beans at us?" cried Mirabell, as she lay down on the porch behind her Lamb on Wheels.

  "I don't know who is pegging beans at us," said Arnold, looking around and out toward the street. "It isn't my Soldiers, for their tin guns can only make believe shoot."

  Just then some shouts were heard and more beans came rattling across the porch, some, once more, hitting the Lamb, Arnold, and the Tin Soldiers.

  "Oh, look, Arnold!" suddenly called his sister. "I see who is doing it!"

  "Who?" he asked.

  "A lot of rough boys! Look! They, have bean-blowers!"

  As she spoke more shouts sounded and more beans came flying swiftly over the porch.

  "Shoot the Tin Soldiers! Shoot the Tin Soldiers!" cried the rough boys. There were three of them, and, as Mirabell had said, they had long tin bean, or putty, blowers. They were blowing the beans at the boy and his sister on the porch.

  Rattle and bang went the hard dried beans, but the Bold Tin Soldier Captain and his men stood bravely up under the shower of bean bullets. The Red Cross Nurse Doll was brave, too, and did not run away, while the Lamb on Wheels stood on her wooden platform and never so much as blinked an eye as bean after bean struck her.

  "Shoot the Tin Soldiers! Shoot the woolly Lamb!" cried the bad boys, as they, blew more beans.

  "Here! You stop shooting beans at us!" cried Arnold. "Do you hear me? You stop it!"

  "Ho! Ho! We won't stop for you! You can't make us!" shouted the boys, and they were going to blow more beans, but just then Patrick, the gardener next door, came along with some seeds he had been down to the store to buy.

  "Patrick!" called Mirabell.

  Patrick saw the bad boys blowing beans at Mirabell and Arnold, and, with a shout, the gardener chased the unpleasant lads away.

  "Be off out of here and let my children alone!" cried Patrick, for he considered Dorothy and Dick and Arnold and Mirabell as his special "children," and was always watching to see that no harm came to them. And once Patrick had saved the Lamb on Wheels, as you may read in the book written specially about that toy.

  "Did they hurt you, Mirabell or Arnold?" asked the gardener, as he came back from chasing the boys.

  "No, thank you, not much," Arnold answered. "One bean struck me on the nose, but it didn't hurt——hardly any."

  "And one bean knocked over one of your Soldiers, Arnold," said Mirabell.

  "He's the drummer boy——I guess he isn't hurt any," returned the boy, and he set the Tin Drummer on his feet again.

  "Well, well! You have a fine regiment of soldiers, there!" said Patrick. "A fine regiment. What are you going to do with 'em, Arnold?"

  "We're going to have a make-believe battle, now that the boys with the beans have gone away," Arnold replied.

  "And my Wooden Doll is going to be a Bed Cross Nurse," added Mirabell. "And if any of the Soldiers get hurt I'll give them a ride on the back of my Lamb."

  "Oh, sure and you'll have dandy times!" laughed Patrick.

  Then Arnold and Mirabell had fun playing on the porch with the Tin Soldiers, the wooden cannon, the Doll and the Lamb on Wheels. Back and forth Arnold marched his two companies of Soldiers, firing the make-believe guns in regular bang-bang style.

  Sometimes he would pretend a Soldier was wounded, though, of course, none of them really was, and Mirabell would make the Red Cross Nurse Doll look after the injured. And when the battle was nearly over Arnold made believe that a dozen or more of his Tin Soldiers were hurt.

  "Oh, my Doll nurse can't look after so many hurt soldiers!" objected the little girl. "There's too many!"

  "Put 'em on the back of your Lamb and make believe it's an ambulance," said Arnold, and Mirabell did this.

  So the two children continued to play together with Arnold's new soldier toys. And then, just as the last bang-bang gun was fired, Susan, the jolly, good-natured cook, called:

  "Come, children! I have a little pie I baked especially for you two. It is just out of the oven! Come and get some while it is hot!"

  And you may well believe that Mirabell and Arnold did not wait——they ran at once, leaving their toys on the porch.

  "Well, now we have a chance to rest," said the Bold Tin Soldier Captain to his men. "Whew! that battle was surely as lively as the one we had in the store the other night."

  "I should say so!" agreed the Sergeant. "The bayonet on my gun is bent."

  "Well, that shows you have been to war," said the Captain. "And now we must thank the Red Cross Doll and the Lamb on Wheels for what they did for us during the make-believe fight."

  "Oh, I didn't do much," cried the Wooden Doll, with a laugh. "None of you was really hurt, you know."

  "That is true," agreed the Captain. "But if we had really been wounded you would have helped us, I am sure."

  "Yes," admitted the Doll, "I surely would."

  "And I was only too glad to have you ride on my back," said the Lamb on Wheels. "It is so good to meet you again, Captain," she went on. "Quite like old times. We have a few minutes now, while the children are away, getting their pie. Do tell me what happened to the Calico Clown."

  "His trousers were burned," said the Captain. "And because Arnold bought me and my men I had to leave the store before I could see the new trousers the girl was going to make. But I'll tell you all about it," and the Bold Tin Soldier did.

  "Did he ever tell the answer to that riddle of what it is that makes more noise than a pig under a gate?" asked the Lamb.

  "No, he never did," said the Captain. "I meant to ask him, but I came away in a hurry, you see."

  "Yes, we toys don't generally have much say as to what we shall or shall not do," bleated the Lamb. "I have been puzzling over that riddle myself."

  "The next time I see the Calico Clown I will ask him the answer," declared the Captain. "There is no need of making such a secret about it. But, speaking of the store, it was lonesome there after you and the Sawdust Doll and the White Rocking Horse came away."

  "Really? Did you miss me?" asked the Lamb.

  "Indeed we did," declared the Captain. "And, in a way, I am glad I was bought and brought away. One reason is that now I may have some adventures, and another reason is that I have seen you again."

  "It is very nice of you to say that," said the Lamb.

  "Is there any chance of seeing the Sawdust Doll or the White Rocking Horse again?" asked the Captain.

  "Yes, indeed! Every chance in the world," was the Lamb's answer. "Why, they only live next door. The Sawdust Doll belongs to a little girl named Dorothy, and the White Rocking Horse to a boy named Dick."

  Then the Wooden Doll, who was a Red Cross Nurse, the Lamb on Wheels and the Bold Tin Soldier and his Tin Men talked together for some little time longer, while Arnold and Mirabell were in the kitchen eating the pie Susan had so kindly baked for them.

  All of a sudden, as the Lamb was telling the Soldier some of her adventures, and how she had floated downstream on a raft, something fluttered down out of a tree near the porch, and the Lamb cried:

  "Ouch!"

  "What is the matter?" asked the Bold Tin Soldier. "Did a bee sting you?"

  "No, that was a bird!" bleated the Lamb on Wheels. "And did you see what he did?"

  "No! what?" asked the Soldier.

  "Why, that bird flew right down out of a tree and grabbed a beak full of wool off my back," went on the Lamb. "Gracious, how he pulled!"

  And while the Captain was getting ready to say something, down flew the bird again, and he plucked another beak full of loose, soft wool, pulling it from the Lamb's back.

  "Ouch! Oh, how you pull! Please stop!" bleated the Lamb.

  The Bold Tin Soldier drew his sword.

  "Look here, Mr. Bird!" cried the Captain. "I do not want to hurt you, but I can not allow you to pull wool from the back of my friend, Miss Lamb. You must stop it, or I will drive you away with my shiny, tin sword, as I drove away the bad rat that wanted to nibble the ears of the Candy Rabbit! Stop it, Mr. Bird!"

  "Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!" chirped the Bird. "Please let me pull some more wool from your back, Miss Lamb," and he fluttered in the air with his beak wide open, while the Bold Tin Soldier, with drawn sword, took a step forward.

  What was going to happen?

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