Meet the Curlytops
Our story is about a family who lived in the United States of America around the early 1900's. You might notice, from reading of their adventures, how different life was then compared to now. The story is all about the adventures of a pair of children who have been nick-named "Curlytops." Of course, "Curlytops" is not their right name. Theodore Baradale Martin is called Ted, or Teddy, and Janet's name is more often shortened to Jan. William is nick-named Trouble whose correct name is William Anthony Martin, and he is the youngest member of the Martin family. He was called "Trouble" because he is in it so often—sometimes through his own fault, but more often because of Ted and Janet.
The name "Curlytops" was given the two older children, Ted and Janet, because of their curly, golden heads of hair. They live with their father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Martin in the city of Cresco, in one of our Eastern states. Mr. Martin owns a store.
TROUBLE IN TROUBLE
"When do you s'pose it'll come, Teddy?"
"Oh, pretty soon now, I guess. We're all ready for it when it does come," and Ted Martin glanced from where he sat over toward a slanting hill made of several long boards nailed to some tall packing boxes. The boxes were piled high at one end, and on top was a little platform, reached by some steps made of smaller boxes.
"It's a good while coming though, isn't it, Ted?" asked his sister Janet, looking up toward the sky.
"Yes, I wish it would hurry," said the boy, giving his cap a twist, thereby making more of a tangle than ever the curly, golden hair that had given him and Janet the nicknames of "Curlytops."
The two children walked around the wooden structure which they had built, with the help of Tom and Lola Taylor, their playmates, after much hard work in hammering, pounding, and the straightening of crooked nails. Now and then Ted and Janet turned their faces to the gray clouds which floated above them.
"I wish it would hurry!" murmured Janet.
"So do I!" exclaimed Ted.
There was a sudden chorus of shouts and laughter coming from around the corner of the house, and another boy and girl rushed up the path.
"What you looking for, Ted?" asked Tom. "An airship?" for Ted's eyes were again turned toward the clouds.
"Or maybe birds," added Lola, with a laugh. "Are you watching to see some of the birds fly south, because it's soon going to be winter? Are you, Ted?"
"Nope!" was the answer. "I'm looking to see when it's going to snow. Mother said a snowstorm was coming, and I'm watching for the first flakes. What's the good of a toboggan slide when there isn't any snow?"
"That's right," chimed in Tom Taylor. "Now we have this toboggan slide made, we want some snow or else we can't ride down on it."
That is what the wooden structure in the yard of the Curlytops was—a toboggan slide. Tom and Ted, with the help of some other boys and the aid of a few jolly girls, who brought up boards and boxes had, after much hard work, built up a sort of toboggan slide.
Now all that was needed was snow so they could ride down it on their sleds, for none of the children had toboggans—those low, flat sleds, all of wood, with the round curved piece in front.
A pile of big packing boxes fastened together made the high part of the slide. To get to the top of this pile one had to climb on a number of smaller boxes arranged in the form of steps—and crazy, tottering steps they were, but the children didn't mind it. It was all the more fun when they nearly fell down in climbing up.
From the top of the high pile of big boxes there sloped down a hill of boards, nailed in some places and in others fastened together with ropes to make an incline, or hill. This was about twenty feet long, and ended in a little upturn so that a sled would shoot up with a jerk and come down with a bang. More fun!
After several days of hard work the toboggan slide had been finished, and now, as Ted remarked, all they needed was some snow to fall, to cover the incline and make it slippery enough for the sleds to glide down.
But where was the snow? The gray clouds floating high in the air seemed to promise a fall of the white flakes, but though the Curlytops and their playmates, the Taylor children, strained their eyes and made their necks ache looking up, not a feathery crystal did they see.
"Maybe if we whistled it would do some good," said Janet, as all four sat in rather gloomy silence.
"Whistle for what?" asked Ted, throwing a stick for Skyrocket, his dog, to race after, a game that Skyrocket was very glad to play.
"Whistle for snow," went on Janet. "Didn't mother read us a story about some sailors on a desert island whistling for snow?"
Ted and Tom both laughed, much to the surprise of Janet, who seemed a little hurt at their chuckles.
"Well?" she asked. "What's the matter?"
"You don't whistle for snow!" shouted Ted. "You whistle for wind! Ha! Ha!"
"She's got it twisted!" laughed Tom.
"I don't care!" exclaimed Janet, getting up and walking toward the house. "What's the difference? Wind brings snow, and if you whistle for wind, and it comes and brings snow, it's just the same as whistling for snow."
"I think so, too," agreed Lola. "Smarty!" she exclaimed, thrusting her tongue out at her brother and his chum.
"That's a good one—whistling for snow!" laughed Ted, clapping his playmate on the back. "We'll tell the fellows!"
"If you do I'll never speak to you again!" cried Janet. "And if you want to make any more of your old toboggan slides I won't help you. Will we, Lola?"
"Nope, we won't at all! Let's go get our dolls!"
"You'll want to coast down this slide when the snow does come!" taunted Ted. "And then we won't let you; will we, Tom?"
"Nope! And maybe it's going to snow pretty soon," added Tom, with another squint at the sky. It was a very hopeful sort of look, but it did not seem to bring down any of the swirling, white flakes.
The girls walked on toward the house. The boys were beginning to feel rather disappointed. They had worked so hard to get the toboggan slide finished, and now there was no snow so they could use it! Suddenly Tom Taylor gave a cry, causing the girls to turn around and making Ted look up from where he was playing with Skyrocket.
"What's the matter?" asked Lola.
"I've got an idea!" her brother answered.
"Tell us!" begged Ted.
"I know how we can have some toboggan rides without waiting for snow!" exclaimed Tom.
"How? Make believe?" asked Janet. She was very fond of this game of pretending.
"No, not make believe!" answered Tom. "Listen! Have you got any candles in your house, Ted?"
"Candles? I guess we have some. I saw my mother rubbing one on a flatiron the other day when she was ironing a dress for Jan. I don't know why she rubbed the candle on the flatiron, but she did."
"She did it so the iron wouldn't stick to the starched dress," explained Janet. "I should think anybody would know that! Wouldn't you, Lola?" she asked in a rather "snippy" manner and with an upward turn of her little nose.
"Of course!" agreed Lola. "Candles makes irons slippery."
"Well, if you've got some candles we can make our sled runners slippery the same way, and we can toboggan even if there isn't any snow," went on Tom. "I just happened to think I read a story once about some fellows who put candle grease on their sleds and rode down a wooden hill like this when there wasn't any snow. We can do like that! Get the candles, Ted, and I'll go get my sled!"
"Oh, maybe we can have some fun!" cried Janet. "Come on, Lola, let's get our sleds."
"You've got to grease your own runners," Ted warned the girls. "We aren't going to do it for you."
"Oh, I guess we can do it," answered Lola. "Boys aren't so smart!"
Tom and Lola hastened back to their house to get their sleds, which they had not brought over to the newly built toboggan slide, as there seemed no use of doing this until snow came. Janet hastened after her sled, and Ted went in the house to beg some candle ends of his mother.
"What are you going to do with them?" Mrs. Martin wanted to know. "You mustn't play with lighted candles."
Teddy told about the new plan, and his mother said:
"Well, you must be careful. I believe the candles, rubbed on your sled runners, will make them slippery enough to coast down the wooden hill. But be careful. And don't make any noise, for I've just gotten William to sleep."
"Don't let Trouble come out when we're on the toboggan," begged Ted. "He might get hurt."
"Yes, I'll keep Trouble in," said Mrs. Martin, with a smile. "And here are your candle ends," she added, giving Ted a handful. "Be careful."
Ted promised and ran out into the yard to meet his playmates. Tom had also found some candle ends, and the boys and girls were soon busy rubbing the paraffin on their sled runners. For the candles mostly sold nowadays are made of paraffin, instead of beeswax or tallow, as old-fashioned candles were made. Paraffin is made from crude oil, as is kerosene and gasoline.
"Now we'll have some nifty fun!" cried Tom, as, having rubbed as much of the candle on his sled runners as the steel would hold, he turned his coaster over right side up.
"We'll have races!" cried Ted.
"But we have to take turns going down," said Janet. "The toboggan slide isn't wide enough for two to go on at a time."
"We can have sorter—now—sorter races to see who can go the farthest," remarked Ted, stumbling over his words in his excitement.
"That'll be fun," agreed Lola. She and Janet were also greasing their sled runners, all the little quarrels forgotten in the jolly good times they were hoping to have.
"All ready now!" cried Tom, picking up his sled. "Who's going to have the first coast?"
"I think Janet or Ted ought to have it, for they started the toboggan and it's in their yard," said Lola.
"That's right!" agreed her brother.
"No, company ought to have the first ride!" decided Janet, who made up her mind she would be as polite as her playmate.
"Jinks!" cried Tom, with a laugh. "Nobody'll ride if we keep on talking like this! Come on, Ted!" he added. "Let's you and me go down together!"
"Oh, don't!" begged Janet. "'Tisn't wide enough, and you might get hurt."
"Oh, we'll not!" insisted Tom. "And it'll be more fun that way. I guess it's wide enough, Ted. Let's try, anyhow."
They found that there was just about room enough on the toboggan slide for their sleds side by side. They climbed up the rickety stairs, made of small boxes nailed one to the other, and soon the two boys stood on the little platform at the top of the wooden slope. They had carried up their sleds with them—the sleds with the candle-greased runners.
"Are you ready?" asked Ted of his playmate.
"All ready," answered Tom. "Let's start!"
They put down their sleds and stretched themselves out on the coasters.
"Wouldn't it be funny if they got stuck half way down?" giggled Lola, who, with Janet, was waiting on the ground below off at one side to see what luck the boys would have.
"Oh, we won't get stuck!" laughed Tom. "Come on now, Ted! Push!"
Together they pushed themselves from the level platform down the wooden hill. The sleds hung on the brink for a moment and then went coasting down as nicely as you please, and quite swiftly.
"Hurray!" cried Ted, as he felt himself gliding along, coasting almost as well as if there had been snow on the wooden toboggan hill. "This is nifty!"
"Great!" added Tom.
The boys were so surprised to find out how well they could coast without snow that they forgot about having a race. As it was, they both came to the end of the slope at the same time. The sleds shot up the little incline and landed on the grass beyond with a bump. Teddy fell off his, but only laughed.
"How is it?" asked Lola.
"Dandy!" cried her brother. "You girls take a ride now!"
Rather timidly at first, Janet and Lola went down the incline one at a time, but they soon grew bolder and liked it as much as did the boys. It really was lots of fun, and as the boards became more slippery when partly covered with flakes of paraffin from the candles the coasting was swifter.
"Now let's have a real race!" cried Ted, after they had been sliding for some time. "I mean let's see who can go farthest from the end of the slide."
They took turns at this, one at a time coasting down the wooden hill and marking where the sleds landed on the grass. Tom and Ted seemed able to make their sleds jump farther than did the girls.
"I beat!" cried Tom, pointing to the mark his sled had made on the grass, after jumping up and away from the little end bump of the slide.
"You did not! My sled went farther!" shouted Ted. "Here, girls, I'll leave it to you!"
The four were trying to decide who had won the race when Janet, glancing back toward the toboggan slide, gave a cry of alarm.
"Look at Trouble!" she exclaimed.
There, on top of the pile of big boxes, having climbed to the platform by means of the rickety steps, stood baby William.
"I s'ide down!" he cried, jumping up and down in delight. "I s'ide!"
"No! No! Don't! Stand still, Trouble! Don't move! I'll come and get you!" shouted Ted.
He started on a run, but he was too late. A moment afterward Trouble was in trouble, for the little fellow toddled toward the back edge of the platform, which had no railing to guard it, and a second later he seemed to topple off backward.