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HOME > Children's Novel > The Curlytops in the Woods > CHAPTER VI THE HAY WAGON
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 Daddy Martin put on the brakes very quickly and pushed on the pedal that threw out the clutch. With a squeak1 of the brake bands the car came to a stop. The cracking, splintering sound stopped, and the father of the Curlytops quickly leaped from the automobile3 to look behind and see what the trouble was.  
“What is it?” asked Mrs. Martin.
“Anything broken?” Ted4 wanted to know.
“We seem to have broken off a small tree,” replied Mr. Martin. “But the auto2 isn’t damaged. We are chained fast to a tree.”
“Chained fast to a tree!” cried Janet. “How can that be?”
“With one of the tire chains,” went on Mr. Martin. “One end of a tire chain is fast around a tree and the other end of the[63] chain is tangled5 around one of the car springs. No wonder I couldn’t move!”
“How did it happen?” asked Mrs. Martin.
“It couldn’t have happened by accident,” replied her husband. “That chain never got there by itself. I remember using the chains the other day, and, instead of putting them with the tools under the seat, I left them in the front of the car. Some one must have taken a chain and made us fast.”
As Mr. Martin said this he looked sharply at Trouble, who had been sitting between him and his wife in the front seat.
“Did you do that Trouble?” asked his mother, shaking a finger at him.
“I guess maybe I did,” admitted small William.
“Don’t you know that you did it?” asked his father sternly.
“Yes, I did it,” confessed Trouble.
“What for?” asked Janet.
“You might have caused an accident,” added Ted.
“I—er—now—I now—jest did it so our auto wouldn’t run away,” explained Trouble.
“Oh, dear!” sighed Mrs. Martin. “What will you do next, Trouble?”
[64]“I don’t know,” he said, and he probably meant it. For not even small William himself knew what next would pop into his mind.
“Well, it’s lucky no great harm was done,” said Mr. Martin. “If I had started off too suddenly I might have broken a tire chain. Then when we needed it to use on a wet and slippery pavement, William, we wouldn’t have had it. I might skid6 and break a wheel.”
“Yes, ma’am—I mean yes, sir, I—I’m sorry,” said Trouble.
By asking Trouble questions they learned how it had happened. When they got out to “stretch their legs,” as Mr. Martin called it, William alighted with the others. Then, when no one saw him, he took one of the tire chains from the front of the car. He tangled one end of the chain around the rear spring, and the other end of the chain he wound around the small tree.
Consequently, when Mr. Martin started his machine he pulled over and broke off the small tree, this causing the cracking, splintering sound.
“Well, it might have been a lot worse,” said Mr. Martin, as he loosed the tire chain[65] and put it, with the second one, in the tool box under the seat.
“Better look to make sure there’s nothing else loose that William can make trouble with,” suggested Mrs. Martin, with a smile.
“If William makes any more trouble I’ll send him back home to stay with Skyrocket,” declared Mr. Martin, for the Curlytops’ dog had not been brought along on this trip, it being thought too much bother.
“I’ll be good,” promised the little fellow.
The automobile was being driven along the pleasant country roads toward Mount Major and the lumber7 camp where Mr. Martin was going to start the store for the lumber company that would get out the trees.
“Are they going to float the logs down the river?” asked Ted.
“Some of the logs will be floated that way,” his father said. “Others will be sawed into boards right there in the woods.”
“How can they saw them?” asked Janet.
“The men have set up a regular sawmill there in the forest,” her father answered. “And, before I forget it, I want to warn you children—all of you—to keep away from the saw.”
[66]“Yes, it is very dangerous!” added Mrs. Martin.
“We’ll keep away,” promised Ted.
“And see that William keeps away, too,” cautioned Mr. Martin.
It was well along in the afternoon when Mrs. Martin noticed that her husband was speeding the automobile each chance he got on good roads, and she also saw him often looking at the clock on the board in front of him.
“What’s the matter?” she asked. “Are we late?”
“We aren’t quite as far along on our trip as I’d like to be,” he answered. “There were more hills than I counted on. But I think we’ll get there before dark.”
“I hope so,” said his wife. “It won’t be very pleasant settling in a strange bungalow8 after dark.”
“I’ll hurry as much as is safe,” said Mr. Martin. He put on more speed, but as they were coming down a narrow road that led across a small white bridge there appeared, just ahead coming toward them around a turn in the highway, a big load of hay.
“You’ll never pass that!” said Ted.
[67]“Call to him to stop before he gets on the bridge,” said Janet.
“It would be wise to do that,” added Mrs. Martin. “If he doesn’t stop, or you don’t, Dick, you’ll meet on the bridge, and there isn’t room to pass anything as large as a load of hay.”
“I guess you’re right,” admitted her husband. “I can’t very well stop on this hill with the load I have. I say, you there!” he called to the driver of the hay wagon9. “Pull up, will you? Wait until I pass you, please! Don’t go on the bridge!”
Whether the rattle10 of the hay wagon drowned Mr. Martin’s words, or whether the farmer was deaf was not known, but the load of dried grass kept on, and, in another moment, it and the automobile were close to the bridge.
“Oh, look out!” screamed Mrs. Martin.
“Whoa there!” yelled the farmer, seeing the danger. “What you trying to do?” he asked, rather angrily.
Mr. Martin did not try to answer then. He was putting on both foot and hand brakes with all his power. And luckily he stopped right in front of the horses of the hay wagon. There never would have been[68] room for the automobile to have passed the hay wagon on the bridge. Two automobiles11, or an ordinary wagon and an automobile could have passed easily. But the hay stuck out so much on either side that it took up most of the roadway.
“Didn’t you hear me call to you, asking you to keep off the bridge until I had crossed it?” asked Mr. Martin.
“Wa’al, no, I didn’t,” answered the farmer, and he smiled a little. Evidently he was not going to get angry after all.
“I did call to you,” said Mr. Martin. “I would have stopped my car before reaching the bridge, but I couldn’t, coming downhill as I was.”
“No, I calculate ’twould be pretty middlin’ hard,” admitted the farmer. “I’m sorry I didn’t hear you. Now if you’ll wait a minute I’ll try to back up.”
“No, you’d better let me do that,” suggested Mr. Martin. “I can back off easier than you can. I’ll get out and take a look at things.”
The bridge was rather narrow, and the road on either side leading to it was also narrow. It was not an easy matter for either the hay wagon or the automobile to back up.[69] But one or the other must do it, for they could not pass.
“I think I can back up all right,” said Mr. Martin, after looking the ground over carefully.
“All right, neighbor. Sorry to put you to all this trouble,” said the good-natured farmer.
“That’s all right. We must give and take in this world if we are going to get along,” said Mr. Martin pleasantly.
“Wait a minute!” exclaimed Mrs. Martin, as her husband was about to get back in the machine and back it up. “I want to get out before you try anything like that, Dick,” she added. “And the children had better get out also.”
“Maybe it would be better,” her husband agreed. “I’ll feel freer then to switch around.”
“Are you going to stay in, Lucy?” asked Janet.
“Good lan’ ob massy no, indeedy!” cried the black cook, and out she scrambled12.
The Curlytops and the others stood in the road while Mr. Martin carefully backed his automobile off the bridge. Ted stood at the rear to tell his father which way to turn—whether[70] to the right or the left—to avoid going off the road into the ditches which were on either side. The farmer had to remain on his hay wagon to keep his horses quiet, for they seemed a bit skittish13 at the sound of the throbbing14 automobile.
At last Mr. Martin had backed far enough off the bridge for the hay wagon to keep on across it and pull out to one side so the automobile could go ahead.
This was done after a while and the road cleared.
“You folks comin’ to live around here?” asked the farmer, as the Curlytops and others began to enter the automobile again.
“No, we’re just going to stay for a while at Mount Major,” answered Mr. Martin. “I’m going to open a store for the lumbermen who are soon to arrive.”
“Oh, yes, I heard somethin’ ’bout there going to be lumberin’ off at Mount Major,” the farmer said. “Wa’al, mebby I’ll see you again. I live not far from Mount Major. Armstrong is my name—Silas Armstrong.”
“I’m glad to meet you, Mr. Armstrong,” greeted Mr. Martin, as he told his own name. “And I hope we see you again.”
[71]“Thanks,” drawled Mr. Armstrong, as he drove off.
Once more the Curlytops were in the car. They crossed the bridge and were perhaps half a mile down the road when Mrs. Martin suddenly turned, looked back to where Ted and Janet were sitting with Lucy, and then Mrs. Martin cried:
“Where’s William?”
Quickly Mr. Martin looked to where Trouble had been sitting on the other side of Mrs. Martin in the front seat. William was not there.
“Is he back there with you, Janet?” asked his mother.
“No, he isn’t here.”
“Then he’s fallen out,” cried the frantic15 mother. “Dick, stop the car! William has fallen out!”

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