Snowball, the China Cat, was so excited that she felt she must really jump out of the window and go across the yard to her old friend, when Jennie, the little girl, came back into the room. Of course the China Cat had to be very still and quiet then.
"Oh, Joe has his Nodding Donkey in the window!" exclaimed Jennie. "That's a sign he wants me to come over and play with him. I'll go and ask Aunt Clara if I may go!"
Out of the room sped Jennie again, and the China Cat, who had heard what the little girl said, mewed to herself:
"At last I shall have a chance to see the Nodding Donkey again." For it was this old friend at whom the China Cat had looked through the window, watching him nod his head.
"Yes, Jennie. What is it?" asked Aunt Clara, as the little girl called to her.
"Please may I go over and see Joe?" begged Jennie. "He has set his Nodding Donkey in his front window, and that means he wants me to come over. He always does that when he wants me. I'll take my new China Cat over to see him."
"Very well, dear," agreed Aunt Clara, and a little later Jennie was crossing the yard, carrying Snowball under her arm. The China Cat was very glad that she was going to be taken to see the Nodding Donkey, with whom she used to live in Mr. Mugg's store.
"I'm glad you came over, Jennie," said Joe, as he opened the door for the little girl. "What have you?"
"My new China Cat, named Snowball. I brought her over so she could play with your Nodding Donkey."
"I guess maybe they know one another," said Joe. "They came from the same store, you know."
"Oh, so they did!" exclaimed Jennie.
"I have a toy wagon," said Joe. "I'll hitch my Nodding Donkey up to it, and we'll give your China Cat a ride."
"Oh, that will be fun!" cried Jennie. "Only don't upset her, for if she falls out she may break off her tail."
"I'll be careful," promised Joe, and then he and Jennie had a lot more fun with the Nodding Donkey and the China Cat. They were just thinking up another game to play when Joe cried:
"Here come Dorothy with her Sawdust Doll and Mirabell with her Lamb on Wheels."
"I should like to meet those toys," mewed the Cat to herself. And, a little later she did, as two other little girls came in to play with Joe. Then along came Dick, who was Dorothy's brother, and he brought his White Rocking Horse, though it was rather a large and heavy toy to carry. And Arnold, who was Mirabell's brother, brought along his Bold Tin Captain Soldier and his men.
Now began a very gladsome time for Snowball. She lived in a fine house, with a dear little girl for a mistress, and she had no more troubles.
Thus Winter passed and Spring came, with warm, sunny days when the children could play with their toys on the porches. One day Joe took his Nodding Donkey and went over to call on Jennie and her China Cat. But just as Joe was going up the porch steps he heard a hand organ down the street.
"Maybe there's a monkey with that hand organ!" said Joe to himself. So, without stopping to ring the bell, or letting Jennie know he had come to call, Joe set his Nodding Donkey down on the porch and ran out of the yard.
And now I must tell you what happened. The hand organ was quite a distance from Jennie's house, and it took Joe some little time to reach it. While he was gone, having, as I said, left his Nodding Donkey on Jennie's porch, along came sneaking Jeff, the colored boy.
Jeff's family had moved back into their basement tenement after the flood, and Jeff was the same dirty, careless colored boy as before. He, too, had heard the music of the hand organ down the street and he wanted to see if there was a monkey.
But as he was passing Jennie's house he looked toward the porch, and there he saw Joe's Nodding Donkey.
"Oh, golly!" whispered Jeff to himself, "dis yeah is mah chance! I kin git dat Donkey, suah!"
Sneaking along, Jeff softly opened the gate and went into Jennie's yard. On tiptoes he approached the porch where the Nodding Donkey was slowly shaking his head up and down.
"Dis yeah suah is a fine toy!" muttered Jeff. "It's a heap sight better dan de China Cat I got at de fire! I'll take dis Donkey!"
Jeff reached the porch and stretched out his black, dirty hands to take the Nodding Donkey. But, as he did so, the negro boy happened to look up at a side window, and there, on a table behind the glass, sat the China Cat!
The China Cat had big, staring eyes, and now because of the way the sun shone on them, they seemed to glare straight at Jeff. They even seemed to open wider, and move and blink, did those glaring eyes of the China Cat.
Jeff stood still and pulled back his hands that had been about to take the Nodding Donkey.
"Oh, golly!" he murmured. "Oh, dey's lookin' straight at me, dey is! Dat's de China Cat I tooked from de fire, an' she must have come to life! Oh, I dassn't take dat Donkey while she's glarin' at me wif dem big eyes! Oh, I's skeered, I is!"
With that Jeff turned and started on a run out of the yard. The Nodding Donkey, who had been very much afraid he was about to be stolen, was so thankful he did not know what to do. And the China Cat, who had feared that her friend was about to be taken from her, kept on staring as hard as she could.
Jeff ran faster. He gave one look back over his shoulder to see if any one might be chasing him, and he caught sight of the Cat's eyes again.
"Oh, golly!" cried Jeff.
At that moment his foot caught in a loose board of the walk, and down fell that bad boy Jeff with a bang, bruising knees and his nose and his chin.
"Ouch!" cried Jeff, as he got up and limped away.
"It serves him right," said the China Cat to herself, "for trying to take my friend, the Nodding Donkey."
"I guess you won't come back here in a hurry," said the Donkey to himself, as he saw Jeff going off down the street as fast as he could go. And the colored boy never did.
Joe came back, after having seen the hand organ and the monkey, and Joe carried his Nodding Donkey into Jennie's house. There the children played with their toys.
"How can I ever thank you?" said the Nodding Donkey to the China Cat. "With your big, glaring eyes you saved me from that colored boy."
"I am glad I did," mewed the Cat. "I didn't want you to be taken away from me. You are the best friend I have."
"I am glad you think so," brayed the Nodding Donkey. "I had another very good friend in the workshop of Santa Claus, at the North Pole, but I have not seen him for a long time."
"Who was that?" asked the China Cat.
"He was a Plush Bear," answered the Nodding Donkey. "A most wonderful Plush Bear! When he was wound up he moved his head and his paws and he growled as natural as anything."
"Oh, tell me about him!" mewed the China Cat. "Tell me about the Plush Bear."
The Nodding Donkey was just going to do this when Jennie and Joe came into the room and the toys had to remain quiet, not even talking.
But I happen to know the story of the Plush Bear, and it is to be the very next one I tell you of these Make Believe Stories.
Of course Snowball had many more good times while she lived with Jennie, which she did for many years. She often had fun with the Nodding Donkey and other toys.
One day Joe came over to Jennie's house, carrying his Nodding Donkey, a toy which was seldom out of his arms.
"Oh, Jennie!" cried Joe, "let's have a picnic in the woods for our toys. I'll take my Donkey, you can take your China Cat and I'll get Dorothy, Dick and the others to bring their toys."
"Oh, what fun to have a Toy Picnic!" exclaimed Jennie.
And the Nodding Donkey and the China Cat looked at one another most happily. They liked good times. The Toy Picnic was a great success, and how the boys and girls did laugh when the China Cat fell into the brook!
"But it doesn't hurt her," said Jennie, "and I was going to give her a bath, anyhow, 'cause I got some sticky candy on her tail."
The Cat, herself, was glad to be washed and clean, and here we must leave her, having fun as she is with the other toys.