IN THE HEART OF THE WOOD
"We'll have to turn back soon," said Benny. " Scamp! Scamp! Come along now. Home, boy, home! "
Sally whistled. No Scamp came. Bother! Now they would have to look for him.
Into the wood they went, and then heard, in the distance, Scamp's excited barks. But he took no notice at all of their calls. They hurried towards him, going deeper into the wood than ever before.
Scamp was chasing a rabbit round a tree—or was the rabbit chasing him? Sally laughed. Then the rabbit suddenly darted off, ran to the right, and disappeared at the foot of another tree.
But what a tree! The children stared in wonder at it. They had never seen a tree so big before. Scamp ran to it and sniffed about at the bottom, where there was a hole into which the rabbit had gone.
" Let's come and look at that enormous tree," said Sally. " My goodness—what a size it is round the trunk! "
Benny hit it hard, and then looked at Sally, his eyes shining. " It's hollow! " he said. " Let's climb up and look down into the hollow. Come on! "
So into the branches of the big tree they went, up and up. Then they looked down into the hollow. The heart of the trunk was empty and rotten—completely hollow. It was a wonder that the tree was still alive !
" Let's get down into the hollow, Sally," said Benny. " Do let's! "
Sally looked down into the tree. " But Benny," she said, " suppose we dropped down into the hollow and couldn't climb up again. We'd have to stay there for ever. Nobody would hear our calls, you know."
" We'd better get a rope," said Benny, peering down into the vast empty heart of the tree. " Come on. Let's go back and get it now. I feel excited! Why, the inside of that tree is almost big enough to play houses in! "
They climbed down again and rushed home, Scamp following them. He felt rather pleased with himself, because it was he who had shown them the tree they thought so wonderful!
They found a long, strong rope in the gardener's shed, and went off with it again. Mother called them back. " You can't go off now," she said. " It's tea-time."