“Right there, by that stone. I saw it jump. Oh, girls, I’m going to run!”
“And she said she wasn’t afraid of them!” cried Nellie.
The professor cautiously approached with his net outstretched. With a long stick he turned the boulder over, and made a quick movement with his net, imprisoning something beneath it.
“I’ve got it!” he cried. “I have the horned toad!”
Holding his captive down beneath the net, he leaned forward on his knees, to get a better view. Over his face came a look of disappointment.
“It’s only a harmless lizard,” he said, “and not one of the web-footed variety, either. That’s too bad. I thought I had my toad.”
“I’m glad, Professor,” said Rose. “Oh, no,” she added quickly, “I’m sorry for you, but I’m glad it wasn’t a horned toad so close to me.”
The professor raised the net and the lizard scurried away, probably very much frightened, and wondering what all the excitement was about.
“Let’s go over this way,” suggested Ned.
“That looks as if it might be a good place for toads,” and he pointed to where there was a clump of trees.
“Can you tell where horned toads like to stay?” asked Olivia.
“No,” replied Ned, in a low voice, “but it’s shady over there, and this sun, beating down on the sand, is very hot. I wanted to get where it’s cool, and, anyhow, there’s just as liable to be horned toads there as anywhere. If he doesn’t find a toad he’ll find something else that will make him nearly as happy, so it’s all the same.”
“Isn’t he a queer man,” said Olivia, as they followed along behind Mr. Snodgrass, who was walking ahead, closely scanning the ground.
“He is, but he’s a good friend of ours,” replied Ned. “He is very much in earnest over his collection of insects and reptiles, and, though he acts queerly at times, he is one of the best men in the world.”
“I’m sure he must be,” agreed Olivia. “I like him very much. I hope he stays a long time, and I hope you boys do also. It’s quite lonesome here, with nothing but Mexicans and Chinese for the main part of the population.”
“We’ll stay as long as you let us,” said Ned.
“We can have fine times,” went on the girl. “We can go boating on the little bay, and take trips off into the country. We, ourselves, haven’t seen much of it yet, as papa was not feeling well when we first came, and we had to stay home and care for him. But he is better now, and we can go on little excursions.
Ned’s harmless trick to get the party to a shady spot was successful. The professor headed for the little clump of trees looking, the while, for a horned toad, but he saw none of the queer creatures.
“My, but it’s hot!” exclaimed Bob, as he sat down on the ground.
“Oh, it will be worse than this, some days,” said Rose. “We are getting used to it. But suppose we go down to the seashore? It’s not far, and there is a very pretty view.”