Read STORY XIX - THE RATS WHO TOOK THE EGGS of Lulu‚ Alice and Jimmie Wibblewobble, free online book, by Howard R. Garis, on ReadCentral.com.

Nothing had happened at the Wibblewobble house in several days, and Jimmie and Lulu and Alice were beginning to feel that it was about time they went off on another picnic, or else tried to find the fairy prince again.  But, one day, just as Jimmie was looking for his baseball and his catching glove, his mamma came out of the pantry, where she had gone to get some dishes to set the table.

“Did any of you children take my eggs?” she asked, and she looked very severely at them.

“What?  Are the eggs gone?” asked Aunt Lettie, the old lady goat.

“Yes,” said Mamma Wibblewobble, “there were just thirteen eggs, and now there are only ten.  Three have been taken, and I hope Lulu and Alice and Jimmie didn’t touch them.”

“Oh, no indeed, mamma,” spoke Alice very quickly, as she finished tying a sky-blue-pink ribbon around her neck.  “I never touched them.”

“Neither did I,” added Lulu.

“Nor me,” said Jimmie.  “I don’t like eggs anyhow.”

“I was saving them to hatch more little ducklings out of,” went on Mamma Wibblewobble, in sorrowful tones.  “Now I shall have to wait.  Oh, it’s such a disappointment to me!”

“Maybe they fell off the shelf,” suggested Jimmie.

“No,” replied his mother.  “If they had fallen from the shelf out of the basket, where I had them, the eggs would have broken, and made a mark on the floor,” and, of course, you know they would, for when an egg breaks on the floor it makes a splish and a splash and a big yellow and white spot that you can’t help but see; now, doesn’t it?  So Mamma Wibblewobble knew the eggs couldn’t have fallen.

“Well,” remarked Aunt Lettie, “it’s very strange.  Perhaps they have been stolen.  You should notify the police.”

“Or tell Mr. Cock A. Doodle, the rooster,” added Jimmie.  “He would crow over it; and if we offered a reward, maybe we would get the eggs back.”

“Well, I’m glad you children didn’t take them, at all events,” said their mother.  “Run along and play now.  Aunt Lettie has made some molasses cookies, with corn meal and raisins on top, and you may have some of them.”

So Lulu and Alice and Jimmie went out to play, but all the while they were thinking of the missing eggs.  It was very strange.  Their mamma and Aunt Lettie hunted all over the duck pen for them, but the eggs couldn’t be found, any more than you can find a penny after you drop it down a crack in the board walk.

Well, when Papa Wibblewobble came home, he was told about the three missing eggs.  He was much surprised, but he said at once: 

“Why, a burglar has taken them; that’s what!  I remember now I heard a suspicious noise last night.  It was some one sneezing.  That was the burglar taking the eggs.  I thought of getting up and going down to catch him, but I was too sleepy, so I stayed in bed.”

“No, it wasn’t a burglar who sneezed,” said Aunt Lettie.  “It was I. I left my window open, and I caught a little cold.”

“Then who did sneeze and take the eggs?” asked Papa Wibblewobble.

But no one could tell him, and it was more mysterious and wonderful than ever, yes indeed.  Not a trace of those eggs could be found, and Mamma Wibblewobble felt terribly.

Well, that night Jimmie thought of a plan.  He decided he would catch the bad burglar, or whoever it was that had taken the eggs, for the little boy duck thought if they took three eggs they would come back for more.

“I’m going to hide in the pantry to-night,” he said to Lulu and Alice, “and when the burglar comes I’m going to grab him.”

“Won’t you be afraid?” asked Alice, shivering.

“Afraid?  Humph!  I guess not,” replied her brother.

So that night, after every one had gone to bed, and it was all still and quiet in the house, and Aunt Lettie was snoring the least little bit, Jimmie crawled softly out of bed.  Oh, so softly, and went and hid in the pantry.

It was dark, so he took a candle and was all ready to light it whenever he heard a sound.  Well, he had to wait quite some time, and it was getting pretty lonesome, and he was beginning to feel sleepy when, all of a sudden, he heard a noise!  Then he heard another noise, and then a scratching and a squeaking.  Then he lighted the candle as quickly as he could, and what do you suppose he saw?

Why, two great big rats, no relation to good, kind Nurse Jane Fuzzy-Wuzzy, the muskrat, oh, not at all, but two other bad rats!

Well, as true as I’m telling you, if one rat didn’t climb up on the shelf, where the duck eggs were in the basket, and take one up in his paws; and then what do you suppose he did?  Why, he went to the edge of the shelf and dropped the egg to the rat on the floor below.

Then the rat on the floor caught it and lay down on his back, and hugged the egg in his four paws, and the rat on the shelf ran down and got hold of the tail of the rat that had the egg and began pulling him along the floor, just as if he were a little wagon or sled with an egg on it.  All this Jimmie saw, and he cried out: 

“Oh, you bad rats, you, to steal my mamma’s eggs!”

Well, you should have seen how frightened those rats were at that!  One dropped the egg out of his paws and ran away, and the other followed.  Oh, but they were frightened, though! and wasn’t Jimmie brave to hide in the pantry and discover them?  So that’s how the first three eggs were taken, but no more were, for Papa Wibblewobble stopped up the rat hole.

And that’s the end of this story.  The one to-morrow night will be about how Jimmie tried to stand on his head, that is, if the pussy cat doesn’t go to sleep in the milk bottle.