Read STORY XVI - THE WIBBLEWOBBLE HOME ON FIRE of Lulu‚ Alice and Jimmie Wibblewobble, free online book, by Howard R. Garis, on ReadCentral.com.

After the ball game, which I told you about last night, all the players, and those who had looked on, and Uncle Wiggily, the umpire, started for home.  On the way they talked of how kind Aunt Lettie was.

“She’s the kindest person I have ever known,” said Uncle Wiggily, as he limped along on his crutch that Nurse Jane Fuzzy-Wuzzy had gnawed out of a cornstalk for him.  “She is very — Oh dear!  Oh me!  Oh my!  Oh disproportionability!  Wow!  Ouch!  My rheumatism again!” and it hurt him so he had to stand still and waggle his ears as hard as ever he could.  Then he felt better, especially after he had rubbed a horse chestnut on his sore leg.

You see the rheumatism which was cured by a red fairy, as I told you about in the first book, came back because Uncle Wiggily got his feet wet going out one day without his umbrella.

Of course Papa and Mamma Wibblewobble were much surprised to hear about the ball game, and the broken window, but they didn’t scold Jimmie very much, and pretty soon, oh, in a little while after supper, you know, it was bedtime for the duck children and they went to bed.

Well, it got darker and darker, and soon it was nice and quiet around the pond where the ducks lived.  Only the frogs seemed to be awake, and they were croaking away in the water.  And pretty soon Lulu and Alice were dreaming and so was Jimmie, and the funny part of it is that they all dreamed different things.

Pretty soon it got even darker, and then up popped the silvery moon, and it wasn’t quite so dark.  But it was more quiet.  Oh my, yes!  It was so quiet that I believe if a feather had fallen off a duck’s back it would have made a noise when it struck the ground.  Oh, it was very quiet.

Then, all of a sudden Jimmie awakened.  He sniffed and he snuffed, and he smelled smoke.  So he got up and he called to Lulu and Alice in the next room: 

“Say, don’t you smell smoke?”

“Yes,” said Alice, “I do.”

“Maybe it’s Grandfather Goosey-Gander smoking his pipe,” suggested Lulu.

“No, he doesn’t smoke as late as this,” said Jimmie.

Then the smell of smoke got stronger, and, in about as long as it would take you to count one and a half, what should happen but that the whole duckhouse was suddenly lighted up.  Then there came a crackling, roaring sound, and Papa and Mamma Wibblewobble jumped up.

“Oh, dear!  It’s burglars!  I know it’s burglars!” cried Mrs. Wibblewobble.  “Quack real loud, Leander” (you see Mr. Wibblewobble’s name was Leander).  “Quack real loud, and call the police!”

So Mr. Leander Wibblewobble quacked as loudly as he could, and just then Aunt Lettie jumped out of bed.

“Oh dear!  Oh dear!  Oh dear!” she cried, three times, just like that.  “The house is on fire!  The house is burning up!  Run!  Jump, everybody!”

And, sure enough, the ducks’ house was on fire, and it wasn’t a burglar at all; no sir!  Whether the moon was so hot that it caused the fire, or whether it was sparks from grandfather’s pipe, I can’t say, but anyhow, the house was on fire, and it was burning fiercely.

“Oh dear!  Oh dear!” cried Aunt Lettie again.  And Mamma Wibblewobble cried just the same, too.  Then they all ran and jumped out of the second-story window, but it didn’t hurt them, for they could fly a little bit, you know, and they came down like balloons.  That is all but Aunt Lettie, and she was used to jumping, so she came down like a lot of dishes falling off the table.

Well, you should have seen that house burn!  Oh, it was a dreadful sight.  All the other ducks and the geese and the chickens gathered around.  The rooster crowed the alarm.  Box number twenty-one it was, but of course there were no engines to come and put out the fire.

“Oh, we must save the house!” shouted Papa Wibblewobble.

“Everybody bring water from the pond and throw it on the fire!” cried Aunt Lettie, and she ran down and filled her two horns, which she carried on her head.  The horns were hollow and had the tops sawed off, so she could fill them quickly and pour out the water just as easily.  She splashed some water on the fire, but it didn’t do much good.  Then Lulu and Alice and Jimmie, they filled their bills with water and threw it on the blaze, but that didn’t do much good.

No, sad to tell, all the water the ducks and the geese and Aunt Lettie could carry, to say nothing of the rooster who couldn’t bring much, because he stopped to crow every now and then — all this water didn’t do a bit of good, and the house was burning faster and faster.

Then, what do you think happened?  Why, all at once there came running up old Nero, the big, shaggy, yellow dog, who was so old and kind that he would never hurt any one.  Yes, he ran right up and called out: 

“Make way, if you please.  I will put out that fire!”

So he ran down into the pond as fast as he could run and soaked himself in the water.  Then he ran up close to the fire and shook himself hard, and the drops of water scattered from his shaggy sides all over the blaze, just like a rain storm.  And the fire was partly out.

Then he ran down again and got all wet and shook himself, and scattered some more water over the fire.  And that fire was pretty nearly out.

Then for the third time that dog, Nero, ran down into the water and got all soaking wet, and scattered the drops over the blaze, like two showers and a half.  And then that fire was all completely out!  Oh, wasn’t he a good dog, though?

Well, the house wasn’t burned so much after all, and the ducks could go back into it.  And maybe they weren’t thankful to Nero, but he only said: 

“Ah, you should have watched me gnaw bones when I was a young dog.  That was a sight worth seeing.”  But I think it was great for him to put out the fire, don’t you?  Now, to-morrow night’s story, providing my automobile doesn’t hit a balloon, will be about how the fairy prince was caught.