THE POSTMAN'S WHISTLE
"Oh, Trouble has fallen! Trouble has fallen!" screamed Jan, as she ran around toward the back of the toboggan.
"Come on, Tom!" yelled Ted. "I guess my little brother's hurt!"
Lola followed the others, and as the four children raced to the aid of baby William a shrill whistle was heard near the front of the house.
"Is that a policeman?" cried Tom to his chum.
"No, it's the postman," answered Ted. "He's taking a letter into our house. Hey, Mr. Brennan!" he called, as he saw the gray-uniformed mail carrier entering the yard. "My little brother's hurt!"
Screams coming from the mouth of William seemed to tell that he was badly frightened, anyhow, and also hurt, very likely.
"Trouble hurt? I'm coming!" cried the postman dropping his bag of mail and running around the side path.
Another moment and the Curlytops and their playmates had reached the rear of the high pile of boxes from which the toboggan slide started. They looked on the ground, expecting to see Trouble huddled there in a crumpled heap.
But he wasn't there. His voice, however, could be heard crying lustily, and it seemed to come from overhead. Yet the little boy was not on the high platform, from which he had been seen to topple backward.
Where was Trouble?
This was the question the Curlytops asked themselves. And it was what their playmates wanted to know, as did the postman.
"But where is your little brother?" asked the postman of Ted and Janet, as he rushed around behind the high pile of boxes. "You say he fell off the platform, but where is he?"
"I hear him crying!" exclaimed Lola.
"So do I," added her brother. The two Taylor children were among the many playmates of the Curlytops.
"He didn't fall to the ground, that's sure, or else he'd be here now," declared the postman. "There isn't a sign of him. Maybe—"
But Mr. Brennan never finished what he started to say, for just then a little voice, above the heads of the postman and the children, cried out:
"Here I is!"
"Oh, look!" exclaimed Jan.
They all glanced up and saw the head of Trouble thrust out of one of the big packing boxes which Ted and his friends had made into the highest part of the toboggan slide.
The opening of this large packing box was toward the rear of the slide and Trouble was in the box. How he got there could only be guessed, but there he was, tears streaming down his little red face as he looked out.
"I—I wants to tum down!" he sobbed.
At times Trouble talked fairly well and plainly, but when he was excited, as he was now, he said wrong words. Nobody minded that, however.
"Don't jump, Trouble! Don't jump!" shouted the postman. "I'll get you down all right. Is there a ladder anywhere around?" he asked the children.
"There's a stepladder in the shed," answered Ted. "I'll get it."
"I'll help," offered Tom.
Away sped the boys, while Jan and Lola remained with Mr. Brennan looking up at Trouble, who seemed like some little animal in a circus cage.
"How'd you get in there, William?" asked Jan. Whenever the name "William" was used there was always more seriousness than when the youngest Martin child had been called by his pet title.
"I—I falled in!" sobbed Trouble.
"We saw you tumble over backward," remarked Lola. "But how did you get inside the box? Why didn't you fall all the way to the ground?"
"Suffin ketched me and I fell in here," was all Trouble could explain about it.
"I guess part of his clothes caught on a nail, or a piece of wood that was sticking out," said the postman, "and he was swung inside the box. A good thing, too, for it saved him a bad fall. He didn't go far."
This was true enough, for Trouble had swung into an open packing box not far from the top of the platform, so he had really only fallen a few feet—not enough to harm such a fat, chubby little fellow as he was.
"Well, we'll soon have you down," said Mr. Brennan cheerfully. "Don't cry any more, Trouble. Here come Ted and Tom with the ladder. I'll soon get you down!"
As the boys were hastening up with the ladder toward the high part of the toboggan slide, Mrs. Martin came running out of the back door of the house.
"What's the matter? What has happened?" she asked.
"Nothing much, Mrs. Martin," answered the postman, with a laugh. "Trouble is in trouble, and also in a packing box; that's all. I'll soon have him out."
"In a packing box?" William's mother repeated.
"Yes, you can see him," and Mr. Brennan pointed to the head of William thrust out from his "cage."
"Oh, the little tyke!" cried Mrs. Martin. "After he awakened from his nap and went out to play, I told him to keep away from the toboggan slide."
"Well, he went up on it when we weren't looking," explained Janet.
"And he fell off, only he didn't fall far and he swung into the box," added Ted.
"What a narrow escape!" exclaimed Mrs. Martin. "You children will either have to take that slide down or watch William more carefully," she added, as the postman put the ladder in place and began to climb up after Trouble.
"Oh, we don't want to take the slide down!" cried Ted. "We haven't tried it in the snow, yet. It'll be a lot more fun when it snows."
"We won't let Trouble get up on it again," added Janet.
By this time Mr. Brennan had climbed down with the little fellow in his arms. William seemed to be over his fright, for he smiled and asked:
"Can I have a wide?"
"You'd better go in the house with mother," said Ted. "No rides for you!"
"Oh, give him one ride! He's so cute!" begged Lola.
"We'll take care of him," went on Jan.
"Are you all right, darling? Are you hurt?" asked Mrs. Martin, looking William over carefully. "It's a mercy you didn't have some bones broken."
"I guess he would have had if he had fallen all the way," said Mr. Brennan. "But his clothes caught on something and saved him. He just swung into the open box like a piano being slung in a second story window by the moving men. Well, as long as you're all right, Curlytops, I'll be traveling on," he added, as he walked to where he had dropped his bag of mail.
"We're ever so much obliged to you," said Mrs. Martin.
"Oh, yes! Thank you!" called Ted and Janet. They had almost forgotten this in the excitement.
"All right!" laughed the postman, waving his hand to them, as he went out of the gate.
"Now if I leave William with you, will you watch him carefully?" asked Mrs. Martin, as she turned to go in the house.
"Oh, yes, Mother!" promised Ted and Janet in the same breath.
"We'll help!" offered Tom Taylor.
"I'll let him ride down on my sled," said Lola.
"I want to wide all alone!" declared Trouble.
"No, you can't do that!" his mother said.
The postman turned and came into the yard again.
"I forgot to give you this letter," he said, with a laugh. "So much excitement made me nearly forget the mail. There you are, Mrs. Martin," and he handed her a letter.
The children played on the wooden toboggan slide the remainder of the morning, having much fun, and the laughter and shouting of Trouble was as loud as that of the Curlytops and their playmates. Trouble was not exactly a curlytop, for his hair was not like the locks of Ted and Janet.
"I hope it snows tomorrow," said Tom, as he and his sister went home to dinner.
"So do I," added Ted. "It looks like it," he added, with a glance up at the gray clouds.
"If we pack the slide with snow we'll coast lots better," declared Lola.
Ted and Janet, with Trouble, went in the house, having planned to do more "dry" coasting after their meal.
Daddy Martin had come home to lunch from his store, and as the Curlytops entered the dining room they saw their father and mother with serious looks on their faces. Mr. Martin had just been reading a letter, the same letter the postman had left after rescuing Trouble.
"Well," Mr. Martin was saying, "I think we'll both have to take that trip, Mother, and see about this. Yes, we'll both have to go."
"Oh, are you going somewhere?" cried Ted.
"Take us!" begged Janet.
Mrs. Martin shook her head slowly. There was a worried look on her face.
"This isn't to be a pleasure trip," she said. "You children couldn't possibly go. It's about business. Just daddy and I will go, if we have to. But I don't want to go away with winter coming on."
"Why do you have to go?" Janet wanted to know.
"Because, unless we do, daddy may lose a lot of money," said Mrs. Martin gravely. "We wouldn't want that to happen. If we go away we shall have to leave you children behind, and I don't like to do that, however—"
Suddenly the bark of a dog sounded outside, and there came a ring at the front door.
"Somebody's coming!" cried Ted, making a dash for the hall.