Chapter 10 | Joe Can Run | The Story of a Nodding Donkey

About a week after Joe had been taken to the hospital, where he had been put in a little white bed, with a rosy-cheeked nurse to look after him, there came a knock on the door of the house where Joe lived, and where the Nodding Donkey also had his home.

"Is Joe here?" asked a little girl named Mirabell, who carried in her arms a toy Lamb on Wheels.

"Joe? No, dear, he isn't here. He is in the hospital having his lame legs fixed," answered Mrs. Richmond. "Didn't you hear about his going away?"

"No," answered Mirabell, "I didn't. But Sidney said Joe had a Nodding Donkey, and I brought my Lamb on Wheels to see the Donkey."

"That is very kind of you," said Mrs. Richmond. "Come in. We are quite worried about Joe, and we hope he will get well and strong so he can run about. But it will be some time yet before he comes from the hospital."

Mirabell entered the house with her Lamb on Wheels. The little girl looked sad when she heard about Joe, but a smile came over her face when she saw the Nodding Donkey, which Joe's mother brought from the closet.

"Oh, what a lovely Donkey!" cried Mirabell. "See, Lamb!" and she held up her toy. "Meet Mr. Nodding Donkey!"

The Donkey nodded his head, but the Lamb could not do that. However, she looked kindly at the nodding toy.

While Mirabell was playing with her Lamb and the Donkey there came another knock on the door of Joe's house.

"It is Herbert with his Monkey on a Stick," said Mrs. Richmond. "Come in," she added, as she opened the door.

"Is Joe back yet?" asked Herbert, after he had said "hello" to Mirabell and put his Monkey toy on the table.

"No, Joe is still in the hospital," answered the lame boy's mother. "He will be home in about three weeks, we hope. Here is his Nodding Donkey toy."

"Oh, that's fine!" cried Herbert. "Arnold told me about it, and I wanted to see it. My mother told me about Joe going to the hospital, and I came to see how he was."

"It is very kind of you," said Joe's mother. "Now I'll leave you children to play with your toys awhile, until I call up the hospital on the telephone and see how Joe is to-day. I have not had a chance to visit him yet."

Herbert and Mirabell had fun playing together, and with the Lamb on Wheels, the Monkey on a Stick, and the Nodding Donkey. After a while the children were given some bread and jam by Mrs. Richmond, who called them into another room to eat it.

"I heard from the hospital that Joe is much better to-day," said Mrs. Richmond, as she spread more bread and butter for her little visitors.

While they were left in the room by themselves, the toys spoke to one another.

"You are a new one, aren't you?" asked the Lamb of the Donkey.

"Yes," was the answer. "Joe got me only a little while before he was taken to the hospital, wherever that is. I guess I was in the hospital myself, when I had my broken leg mended."

"Oh, tell us about it!" begged the Monkey, as he climbed to the top of his stick and slid down again.

So the Donkey told how Frisky had knocked him off the shelf, breaking his leg.

"And Joe had something the matter with his legs, too, so that's why he had to go to the hospital," added the Donkey, as he finished his story. "I do hope he comes back soon, for I am lonesome without him."

The toys spent a happy half hour together, and then when Mirabell and Herbert came back into the room, having finished their bread and jam, the Donkey, the Lamb, and the Monkey had to become quiet.

"We'll come over again, when Joe gets home," said Mirabell, as she and Herbert left.

"And we'll get the other boys and girls and give him a toy party," added the owner of the Monkey.

"Oh, that will be lovely!" said Mrs. Richmond.

The Nodding Donkey was put back in the closet, where he told the Noah's Ark animals all about the visit of the Monkey and Lamb.

"I have heard of those toys," said the Elephant. "They know the Sawdust Doll, the White Rocking Horse, the Candy Rabbit, and the Bold Tin Soldier."

"My, what a lot of jolly toys there are!" said the Donkey. And then he grew silent, thinking of poor little Joe in the hospital.

Joe did not have an easy time. He was very ill and in great pain, but the kind doctors and nurses looked well after him, and his father and mother went to see him almost every day. One afternoon, when Joe had been in the hospital for what seemed to him a whole year, his father and the doctor came into the room. There was also a nurse, and she began to put on Joe the clothes he wore in the street.

"What is going to happen?" asked the boy.

"I am going to take you home, and give your mother a joyful surprise," said his father.

"Oh, how glad I am!" cried Joe. "And then I can see my Nodding Donkey, can't I? Is he all right, Daddy?"

"As right and as fine as ever," answered Mr. Richmond.

Joe could hardly sit still during the ride home. He got out of the automobile and went through the snow up to the front door. His father opened it, and Joe saw his mother standing at the end of the hall.

For a moment Mrs. Richmond could hardly believe what she saw.

"Joe! Joe, my little boy!" she cried. "Oh, you have come home again! Are you all right? Are your legs better? Can you walk?"

"Can I walk, Mother!" cried Joe, in a happy voice. "Of course I can! I can walk without my crutches, and I can run! I can run! See!"

And with that Joe ran down the hall and into his mother's arms.

Oh, what a joyful happy time there was! Joe's legs were straight and strong again, and he did not need his crutches any more.

"And now where is my Nodding Donkey?" he asked. "I want to see him!"

"I'll get him for you," offered his mother, and when the toy was set on the table near Joe, it nodded its head to welcome him home.

"Oh, my dear Donkey! how I missed you while I was in the hospital," said Joe.

"And I missed you, too," thought the Donkey.

Two or three days after this, when Joe had gotten used to being at home again, there came a knock at the door. Outside happy voices were talking and laughing.

When Joe opened the door there stood Dorothy with her Sawdust Doll, Dick with his White Rocking Horse, Arnold with his Bold Tin Soldier, Mirabell with her Lamb, Madeline, who had a Candy Rabbit, Herbert, who carried a Monkey on a Stick, and Sidney with the Calico Clown.

"Surprise on Joe! Surprise on Joe!" cried the children. "We have come to make a Toy Party for you and your Nodding Donkey!"

"Oh, how glad I am!" Joe laughed. "Look at my legs!" he went on. "They are straight now, and I don't have to go on crutches. And my Nodding Donkey, who had a broken leg, is well, too! He doesn't have to go on crutches, either!"

Joe Can Run

"Hurray!" cried Dick, and all the other boys and girls said: "Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!"

Then the Toy Party began, and the children and the toys had so much fun that it would take three books just to tell about half of it. Joe and his Nodding Donkey were the guests of honor, and all the others tried to make them feel happy. And Joe was happy! One look at his smiling face told that.

As for the Nodding Donkey, you could tell by the way he moved his head that never, in all his life, had he had such a good time.

When Mrs. Richmond called the children to the dining room to eat, the toys were left by themselves in a playroom.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," said the Calico Clown in his jolly voice, "we have all met together, after a long time of being apart. We have all had good times together, and now I hope you will all agree with me when I say that we are glad to welcome the Nodding Donkey among us."

"Yes, he is very welcome," said the Sawdust Doll. "We are glad he has come to live in this part of the world."

"I am glad of it myself," said the Nodding Donkey. "I never knew, while I was in the workshop of Santa Claus, that so many things could happen down here. Yes, I am very happy that I came. There is only one thing I wish."

"What is that?" asked the Monkey.

"I wish the China Cat were here," said the Donkey. "She lives in Mr. Mugg's store, and I'm sure you would all like her, she is so clean and white."

"Three cheers for the China Cat!" called the Bold Tin Soldier, waving his sword.

And the toys cheered among themselves.

"Tell me more about this China Cat," begged the Candy Rabbit to the Donkey. "Is she anything like me?"

The Nodding Donkey was just going to tell about the China Cat when Joe and the other children came trooping back into the room, having finished their lunch.

"Now let's play circus!" cried Joe. "We have a lot of toys and animals now. Let's play circus."

And so they did. But as there is a story to tell about the China Cat, and as I have no room in this book, I will make up another, and it will be all about the Nodding Donkey's friend, the white China Cat, and how she had many adventures, but managed to keep herself clean.

As for Joe and his friends, they had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and the Nodding Donkey lived for a long while after that, happy and contented, and he never even had so much as a pain in the broken leg that Mr. Mugg had mended so nicely.