Read CHAPTER IX - GATHERING PEANUTS of Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue in the Sunny South , free online book, by Laura Lee Hope, on ReadCentral.com.

Sam and Grace Morton were somewhat older than Bunny Brown and his sister Sue, and they knew more about cotton gins.  So when Sue cried that Bunny was being pressed into one of the white bales neither Sam nor Grace thought this could be so.

For they had been standing near the big press all the while, and they would have seen if Bunny had fallen in.  But the little boy was not in sight, and something must have happened to him, or why did he cry out as he had?  Sue had certainly heard Bunny’s voice.

“Bunny!  Bunny! where are you?” shouted Sue, as she broke away from the Morton children.

“Who yo’ all lookin’ fo’?” asked a big colored man, who had been rolling bales of cotton about the floor.

“My ­my bro-brother!” stammered Sue, almost ready to cry.  “He’s in a bale of cotton!”

“Oh, nopey!  Nopey, he ain’t, li’l girl!” said the kind colored man.  “I done see dat li’l boy jest a minute ago.  He was climbin’ up on a basket ob loose cotton, an’ he done pulled it over on top ob him!  He’s under dat pile right yeah!” and he pointed to the mass of white, fluffy stuff on the floor.

“I see what happened!” exclaimed Sam, hurrying over with his sister to Sue, who stood near the pile of cotton.  “Bunny’s all right.  You can’t get hurt when loose cotton falls on you,” and he laughed.

“Is ­is Bu-Bunny under there?” asked Sue.

There was no need for any one to answer her, for a moment later out from under the fluffy pile crawled Bunny himself.  Lumps of cotton clung to him all over, and his clothes were covered, but he was not in the least harmed.

“I ­I was under there!” gasped the little fellow.

“You don’t need to tell us that!” laughed Sam.  “We can see for ourselves.  You sure have been under the cotton.”

“What happened to you, Bunny?” his sister asked, happy, now that nothing had occurred to harm her brother.

“I saw a big basket of loose cotton,” he explained, “and I wanted to see how heavy it was and to find out if I could lift it.  I pushed on it, and it fell over on top of me.  Then I yelled.”

“We heard you,” said Grace.

“And I thought you were being pressed in a bale,” added Sue.

“I’m glad I wasn’t,” remarked Bunny, as he noticed how very hard the press squeezed the loose cotton.

The colored workers picked up the fluffy stuff Bunny had spilled from the big basket, which he had pulled over on him.  He had been hidden from sight in the white mass that had toppled out on the floor.

“It was just like the time when I was under the snowdrift, only it wasn’t so cold,” Bunny said, telling about his accident afterward.  “And it was awfully ticklish!”

“Better that than a cotton press,” his mother said.  “You must be careful around the gin, children.”

“It’s all right to go to the peanut fields though, isn’t it, Mother?” asked Sue.  She had been eager, ever since hearing that peanuts grew in Georgia, to see how they clung to the ends of the vines, like little potatoes.

“Yes, I think visiting the peanuts will be all right, if you don’t eat too many,” Mrs. Brown said.

“They won’t want to eat too many,” said Sam Morton.  “When the peanuts come out of the ground they are raw, and they have to be roasted before they are good to eat.  They won’t eat too many.”

“Can’t we roast some?” Sue wanted to know, and her mother promised that this would be done.

When the children came away from Mr. Morton’s cotton press and gin, after the little happening to Bunny, the visitors could hear the darkies singing there, as they had sung in the fields.

Most of Mr. Morton’s peanut crop had been gathered, as it was almost the close of the season, but some late vines were growing in one of the fields, and this was visited by the children a day or so after their arrival in Seedville.

Bunny Brown and Sue had been rather disappointed when they heard that peanuts did not grow on trees, as did chestnuts and hickory nuts, but they soon forgot this when Sam told them something about this crop, by which his father made money.

“We don’t call ’em peanuts down here,” Sam said.

“What do you call ’em?” asked Bunny.

“Ground nuts and sometimes goobers,” answered the Southern boy.  “Over in England, my father says, they call ’em monkey nuts.”

“What for?” Bunny wanted to know.

“I s’pose it’s because the first peanuts came from Africa, and there are so many monkeys in Africa,” answered Sam.

“I wish there was a monkey here!” exclaimed Sue.  “I’d like to see him eat peanuts ­I mean goobers!” she added, with a laugh at the funny word.

“There’s a monkey near our house at home,” explained Bunny.  “We could send Wango some peanuts, couldn’t we, Sue?” he asked.

“Oh, yes, let’s!” cried the little girl.

“Well, come on first and pick some, or dig ’em, which is what you’ll have to do,” suggested Sam.

What had not been gathered of Mr. Morton’s peanut crop was growing in a field not far from the plantation buildings.  There were no darkies gathering the goobers, as it was more important now to pick the cotton.

“Pull up one of the vines,” suggested Sam to the children from the North.

You can imagine how delighted Bunny and Sue were when they pulled up by the roots one of the vines and saw, dangling on the end, some of the peanuts they knew so well.

“Oh, wouldn’t Mrs. Redden like it here?” cried Bunny, as he pulled off some of the peanuts.

“Who’s she?” asked Grace.

“She keeps a peanut and candy store where we live,” explained Sue.  “And she sells lots of peanuts.  If she was here she could get all she wanted.”

“But she’d have to roast them, or get them roasted,” said Sam.  “About the only things unroasted peanuts are good for is to make peanut oil and to feed to horses.  We’ll take some to the house and roast them.  We have a little roaster in the kitchen.”

“And can we make some peanut molasses candy?” asked Bunny.  “Don’t you have molasses down here?”

“Oh, yes, plenty of molasses,” said Grace.  “We don’t raise any sugar cane, which molasses come from, but they do farther South.  We’ll make some peanut candy.”

The prospect of this delighted Bunny and Sue almost as much as did the gathering of the nuts.  The children from the North looked curiously at the “goobers” they had pulled up on the vine.  As Sam had said, they were not at all good to eat, needing to be dried and roasted before they would be enjoyable.

For several days Bunny and Sue enjoyed themselves on the Southern plantation.  One day Mr. Morton took them over a grove where a friend of his was growing pecans.  These were nuts which grew on trees, and Bunny and Sue were allowed to gather and eat as many as they wished, for these nuts did not need to be baked or roasted before being eaten.

There were busy times on the cotton plantation.  Much work yet remained to finish, and one day, after his business with Mr. Morton was almost at an end, Daddy Brown went with his wife and Bunny and Sue to watch the gathering of cotton by the negroes.  Up to now he had not had much time to see this.

“What are they all so jolly about?” he asked Mr. Morton, as they walked through the field, the bushes of which were now almost stripped of their white tufts.

“Oh, they expect to finish work to-night and they’re going to have a jubilee dance later on,” was the answer.  “You must come to it, for it will be great fun for the children.”

“Oh, yes, they must see that,” said Mother Brown.

Indeed the darkies were much more musical than on the occasion of the first visit of Bunny and Sue.  Several banjos were playing and also a mouth organ here and there, while snatches of songs could be heard all about the field.

Suddenly, over in the place where a number of pickers had gathered to empty their baskets into the big bin, whence the cotton was carted to the gin, there arose a great shouting.

“Whoa now!  Whoa dere, Sambo!  Steady now!” called a man’s voice.

Then there was the shrill shrieking of women and girls, and a moment later a big mule hitched to a cart rushed toward Bunny, Sue and their friends, and on the mule’s back, clinging for dear life, was a little colored boy, frightened almost out of his wits.

“Oh, look out, Bunny!  Sue!  Look out for the runaway!” cried Mrs. Brown.