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HOME > Children's Novel > The Curlytops in the Woods > CHAPTER VII AT THE FARMHOUSE
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 Mr. Martin acted as quickly in bringing the automobile3 to a stop this time as he had done when Trouble had fastened it to a tree by the tire chains. Once the car was stopped the father of the Curlytops leaped out and looked back over the road.  
“I don’t see him anywhere,” he said. “Are you sure he isn’t in there?”
“No, he isn’t here with us,” answered Janet.
“Unless he’s slipped in among the packages,” added Ted1. “I’ll look.”
“Ef de poor chile am down in amongst de t’ings he’s suah to be smashed!” declared Lucy.
But Trouble was not there. Nor was he in front. Mr. Martin had been sure of this before he leaped from the car.
“Oh, where can he be?” cried Mrs. Martin.
[73]“He was with us just before we met the hay wagon4,” said Mr. Martin. “Then we all got out to look and see how much room there was, and you all stayed out while I backed up.”
“Did Trouble get back in with you?” asked the Curlytops’ mother.
“No, he didn’t,” Janet answered.
“We thought he was in front with you,” said Teddy.
“And we thought he was in the rear with you,” added Mrs. Martin. “It wasn’t until I looked back to see if he might be getting sleepy that I missed him. Oh, where is he?”
“We’ll find him!” declared Mr. Martin. “He couldn’t have fallen out, or we would have heard him yell.”
“Then how did he get out?” asked Mrs. Martin anxiously.
“I think he didn’t get in,” her husband replied. “I mean, when all of you got back in after the hay wagon passed Trouble stayed out and I started off without him.”
“But where can he be?” inquired Janet.
“Oh, he wandered off along the road to pick flowers as he often does,” said Ted.
The automobile was turned around and started back over the road they had come.[74] Eager eyes looked everywhere for a sight of Trouble, but he was not seen. They looked carefully near the bridge, then went on a little farther. As Mr. Martin steered5 around a bend in the road, he saw the hay wagon again, just ahead of them.
“I have an idea!” he suddenly cried, as he put on speed. As he neared the big load of fodder6, in front of which, hidden from sight, sat the driver. Mr. Martin called:
“I say there! Wait a minute! Have you seen a lost boy?”
He made his voice heard above the rattle7 of the hay wagon. From in front came a call:
The horses came to a stop.
“What’s that?” asked Mr. Armstrong, looking around the front edge of the hay.
“My little son William is missing,” said Mr. Martin. “Did you see anything of him along the road?”
Anxiously Mrs. Martin waited for the answer.
“No, I didn’t see him!” said Mr. Armstrong.
Mrs. Martin seemed on the edge of tears when Ted gave a sudden shout.
[75]“Maybe he’s up on the load of hay where we can’t see him!” he exclaimed.
“How could he get there?” asked Jan.
“And wouldn’t he call to us?” asked Mrs. Martin doubtingly.
“He could easily climb up,” explained Ted. “He could get on the back of the wagon, and there’s a thing like a ladder to climb.”
This was true enough. To keep the hay from slipping off the end of his wagon Mr. Armstrong had fastened there an upright, consisting of two pieces of wood joined by cross pieces. It was like a short ladder leading to the top of the load of hay.
“Trouble could easily climb that,” insisted Ted. “I’ve seen him climb harder places than that.”
“So have I,” added Janet.
“But why doesn’t he answer us?” asked Mrs. Martin.
Then Mr. Martin solved the puzzle.
“If he’s up there maybe he’s asleep,” he said.
“I’ll soon find out!” cried Ted.
A moment later he was climbing up the little ladder at the back of the load of hay.[76] When he reached the top of the pile of fodder Ted cried:
“Here he is!”
Trouble was peacefully slumbering8 in a little nest he had wiggled himself into on top of the sweet-smelling hay.
“He is like Little Boy Blue!” laughed Janet.
“Except that Boy Blue was under the haystack fast asleep, and Trouble is on top of the hay,” said Mr. Martin.
“I’ll slide him down. Catch him!” cried Ted to his father.
They could hear Trouble sleepily protesting at having been awakened9. But he soon grew good-natured, and amid the laughter of the farmer, Janet, her mother and Lucy, Ted and his father got the small boy down off the load of hay.
“What did you ever go up there for?” asked his mother, as she picked wisps of hay out of his hair.
“Oh, jest for—now—for fun,” slowly answered Trouble.
And that is how it had happened. He had strolled around when they were all out of the car, waiting for Mr. Martin to back it and get it out of the way of the hay. Then[77] Trouble had seen the little ladder leading to the top of the fodder. He had scrambled10 up on a wheel when no one was watching and climbed to the summit.
“It was awful nice up there,” he said, “an’ I had a nice sleep, I did.”
“It’s a wonder you weren’t jiggled off!” exclaimed Janet.
“Oh, you should see the hole he was in!” laughed Ted. “He was like a little squirrel in a nest.”
“I like to be a squirrel,” declared Trouble. “An’ if I was a squirrel now I would eat a nut for I am hungry.”
“Bless your heart!” exclaimed his mother, with a laugh, “I suppose you are hungry. Well, it’s some time until supper, but I guess I can find you something. Did you thank Mr. Armstrong for the hay ride?” she asked with a smile and nod at the farmer.
“Oh—er—now—thank you!” said Trouble politely.
“You’re welcome, young man,” chuckled11 the farmer. “The next time you want to ride with me let me know and I’ll put up a lunch for you.”
There was more laughter and then good-byes[78] were said. The load of hay continued on down the road, and Mr. Martin, making sure that Trouble was now in the car, turned the machine and started back over the road toward Mount Major.
But so much time had been lost, first because of the chaining of the car to the tree and then the hunt for Trouble, that it was now late afternoon.
“I don’t see how we are going to make it,” said Mr. Martin to his wife, as they drove along.
“You mean get to Mount Major before dark?” she asked.
“Yes. I don’t want to take you into the woods with the children after dark—especially to a strange place.”
“Oh, I don’t mind much,” she said. “Of course it will be quite a trouble, but we may get some fun out of it.”
“It will be lots of fun!” exclaimed Janet, who overheard what her father and mother were saying.
“Like camping out,” added Ted.
“Camping out is all right when you have your camp set up,” returned Mr. Martin, with a laugh. “But it isn’t much fun to make camp after dark in a strange place[79] with three children. So I think we had better stay over for the night.”
“Where?” asked Ted. “Do you mean camp here in the woods?” and he motioned to the forest that was then on either side of the road.
“Oh, no, we won’t stay here,” his father answered. “We’ll go on to the next town and stay at the hotel.”
“We’re not really dressed to stop at a fashionable hotel,” objected Mrs. Martin.
“I guess the hotels around here aren’t very fashionable,” laughed her husband.
But, as it happened, they did not stay at a hotel. The automobile was driven along until it came out of the wooded road and was speeding along a highway that led past a pleasant farm, with its big white house and green shutters12 and barns and outhouses clustered near it.
Just as they were passing the house Mr. Martin looked at the motormeter, or thermometer, on the radiator13 of the car, and exclaimed:
“Something’s wrong!”
“It is overheating,” said Mrs. Martin. “Are you out of water?” For sometimes when there is not enough water in the radiator[80] of an automobile, what little there is boils and turns to steam, and this heat makes the red column of alcohol on the tube go nearly to the top. It was almost there now.
“I have plenty of water and oil,” said Mr. Martin. “It must be something else.”
He stopped the car and got out to raise the hood14. Ted also got out, for he knew a little about cars and once or twice he had seen things that needed fixing almost as soon as had his father.
But this time it was Mr. Martin who saw what was wrong.
“The fan belt is broken,” he said. “The fan stopped whirling and that let the water get very hot.”
“Have you a new belt?” asked Ted.
“Yes, but it will take some little time to put it on.”
“I’m hungry! I want a good supper!” suddenly cried Trouble.
“Dear me!” exclaimed his mother. “I’m afraid we haven’t very much left to eat. I counted on being in the bungalow15 for supper.”
Mr. Martin appeared to think for a moment. He looked toward the white farmhouse16 and seemed to make up his mind.
[81]“Wait here,” he said to his family. “As long as we are going to put up over night I’ll see if they won’t take us in here. It will take quite a while for me to put on the fan belt, as I’m not used to doing it. By that time it would be quite late, and it is several miles to the next town where there is a hotel.”
“It would be lovely to stay here,” said Mrs. Martin. “But of course we can’t expect strangers to put themselves out for us.”
“It will do no harm to ask, at any rate,” said Mr. Martin.
He walked up to the side door of the farmhouse and soon those waiting in the automobile saw him talking to a pleasant-faced woman. Matters seemed to be all right, for Mr. Martin called:
“Come on! This lady has very kindly17 consented to let us stay here over night.”
“Oh, that is good of you!” exclaimed Mrs. Martin, as she advanced with Ted, Janet and Trouble, while Lucy began getting out the bags.
“No trouble at all,” was the answer of the farmer’s wife. “We have plenty of room, and often accommodate auto2 parties.[82] My husband will soon be here. He is Jed Pitney.”
Mrs. Pitney led the Curlytops and the others, except Mr. Martin and Lucy, into the sitting room. Mr. Martin was going to help Lucy bring in the baggage.
As he was doing this Mr. Pitney came in from the barn, where he had gone to oversee18 the milking of the cows by his hired man. The situation was explained to the farmer by Mr. Martin. Then Mr. Pitney, looking sharply at the automobile, said:
“You must have been carting hay.” He pointed19 to some wisps of the dried fodder dangling20 from the rods that supported the top.
“Oh, that!” laughed Mr. Martin. “No, we weren’t exactly carting hay, but we passed a load at a tight squeeze, and then my youngest boy climbed up on the hay wagon and went to sleep. It was Mr. Armstrong’s hay.”
“Silas Armstrong?” asked Mr. Pitney.
“That was his name, yes. He said he lived around here.”
“I should say he did! Why, he’s a neighbor of mine!” exclaimed Mr. Pitney. “Shake hands, Mr. Martin. I feel as if I[83] knew you since you’ve met my neighbor Si Armstrong on the road. Come right in and make yourself at home. Here, give me one of the satchels21.”
He helped bring in the baggage, and then, in his loud, jolly voice, he told his wife that Mr. Martin had met Silas Armstrong with a load of hay. This seemed to make them better acquainted.
Mrs. Martin was given a room for herself in which Janet and Trouble could sleep, and Ted and his father had another room.
“When’s supper going to be ready?” asked Trouble, in a loud voice after the sleeping arrangements had been made.
“Hush, dear!” whispered his mother.
“But I’m hungry! I want my supper!” he insisted.
“And you shall have it, my dear!” laughed Mrs. Pitney. “I know what little boys want,” she went on. “Bread and jam.”
“Oh, goodie!” cried Trouble, with shining eyes as he clapped his chubby22 hands.
It was a very good meal that was soon set before the Curlytops and the others of the party. Lucy insisted on being allowed to help wait on the table, and this she was permitted to do, much to her delight.
[84]The meal and the rest afterward23 in comfortable chairs freshened the travelers after the day’s trip. And after the car had been put in Mr. Pitney’s garage—for the farmer had an automobile of his own—they all sat out on the porch enjoying the pleasant evening.
After a while Mrs. Pitney, noticing that the children were rather restless, said:
“Wouldn’t you like to go up in the attic24 and play?”
“Oh, that would be lovely!” cried Janet.
“Are there any old Indian guns there?” asked Ted.
“None that shoot,” laughed Mrs. Pitney. “There are a lot of old-fashioned things there, though, that you may play with,” she added. “I’ll light a lamp and hang it in a safe place where they can’t knock it over, for it will be dark before long, and it’s never very light in the attic, at best,” she told Mrs. Martin. “Let them play in the attic.”

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