One day Mrs. Blake asked Hal and Mab to pick as many of the ripe tomatoes they could find on the vines.
“Are we going to have another store and sell them?” asked Hal.
“No, I am going to can some, and make chili sauce of the others,” answered his mother. “In that way we will have tomatoes to eat next Winter.”
It was more fun for Hal and Mab to pick the ripe tomatoes than it was to hoe in the garden, and soon, with the help of Uncle Pennywait, they had gathered several baskets full of the red vegetables. Then Aunt Lolly and Mother Blake made themselves busy in the kitchen. They boiled and stewed and cooked on the stove and there floated out of the door and windows a sweet, spicy smell.
“Oh, isn’t that good!” cried Mab.
“It will taste good next Winter!” laughed their uncle.
“And to think it comes out of our garden—the tomato part, I mean,” spoke Mab.
“Come on!” called Hal, after a while, when they had picked all the tomatoes Mother Blake needed.
“Where you going?” asked Mab.
“Over to Charlie Simpson’s and have some fun. He’s got a new dog.”
“Wait a minute and I’ll give you each a penny!” called their uncle, and Hal and Mab were very glad to wait, for they were hungry after having picked the tomatoes.
Very early the next morning the Blake family was awakened by the loud ringing of their door bell.
“Oh, my goodness! I hope the house isn’t on fire!” cried Aunt Lolly, quickly getting out of bed.
“It’s Mr. Porter. He’s at our front door,” reported Hal, who had looked from the window of his room, from which the front steps could be seen.
“What’s the matter? What is it; a message—a telegram?” asked Mr. Blake, as he, too, looked from Hal’s window. “What has happened?”
Mrs. Blake and the children waited anxiously to hear what the answer would be.
“In our garden you say!” cried Daddy Blake, with his head out of the window. What it was Mr. Porter had told their father, to make him exclaim like that, neither Hal nor Mab could guess. For they could not tell what Mr. Porter, who now was calling from down on the sidewalk in front, was saying.
“That’s too bad!” Daddy Blake went on, as he drew his head in from the window. “I’ll come down right away.”
“Oh, what is it?” anxiously asked his wife as he hurried to his room to change from his bath robe into outdoor clothes. “Has anything happened?”
“I’m afraid there has,” answered Daddy Blake.
“Is anyone ill that Mr. Porter wants you to come out in such a hurry. Is little Sammie hurt in our garden?”
“No, but it’s something in our garden,” replied her husband.
“What? Oh, don’t tell me the garden is on fire?” cried Aunt Lolly.
“How could a green garden burn?” asked Uncle Pennywait, laughing.