SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT AUNT JO'S
BY LAURA LEE HOPE
AUTHOR OF "THE BOBBSEY TWINS SERIES," "THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES," "THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES," ETC.
NEW YORK GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS
By LAURA LEE HOPE
* * * * *
12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. 50 cents per volume.
* * * * *
THE SIX LITTLE BUNKERS SERIES
SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT GRANDMA BELL'S SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT AUNT JO'S SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT COUSIN TOM'S SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT GRANDPA FORD'S SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT UNCLE FRED'S
* * * * *
THE BOBBSEY TWINS SERIES
THE BOBBSEY TWINS THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE COUNTRY THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE SEASHORE THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SCHOOL THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SNOW LODGE THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON A HOUSEBOAT THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT MEADOW BROOK THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT HOME THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN A GREAT CITY THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON BLUEBERRY ISLAND THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON THE DEEP BLUE SEA
* * * * *
THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON GRANDPA'S FARM BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE PLAYING CIRCUS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT AUNT LU'S CITY HOME BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CAMP REST-A-WHILE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE BIG WOODS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON AN AUTO TOUR BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AND THEIR SHETLAND PONY
* * * * *
THE OUTDOOR GIRL SERIES
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS OF DEEPDALE THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT RAINBOW LAKE THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A MOTOR CAR THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A WINTER CAMP THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN FLORIDA THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT OCEAN VIEW THE OUTDOOR GIRLS ON PINE ISLAND THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN ARMY SERVICE
GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK
Copyright, 1918, by GROSSET & DUNLAP
* * * * *
Six Little Bunkers at Aunt Jo's
I. A QUEER HUNT 1
II. GOOD-BYE TO GRANDMA 11
III. ON THE BOAT 22
IV. IN BOSTON 32
V. ALEXIS IS SPLASHED 42
VI. THE POCKETBOOK 52
VII. A SAD LETTER 62
VIII. RUSS MAKES A FOUNTAIN 72
IX. WHAT HAPPENED TO WILLIAM 83
X. ROSE MAKES AN AIRSHIP 92
XI. VI IS LOST 103
XII. MARGY TAKES A RIDE 112
XIII. MUN BUN DRIVES AWAY 122
XIV. THE WHISTLING WAGON 133
XV. LADDIE'S FUNNY "RIDDLE" 144
XVI. ROSE BREAKS HER SKATE 151
XVII. THE SKATE WAGON 163
XVIII. THE SPINNING TOPS 171
XIX. FLYING A KITE 181
XX. THE JUMPING-ROPE 191
XXI. MUN BUN IN A HOLE 202
XXII. OUT TO NANTASKET BEACH 210
XXIII. THE MERRY-GO-ROUND 219
XXIV. ROSE FINDS HER DOLL 228
XXV. THE POCKETBOOK OWNER 238
SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT AUNT JO'S
A QUEER HUNT
"Let me count noses now, to see if you're all here," said Mother Bunker with a laugh, as her flock of children gathered around her.
"Don't you want some help?" asked Grandma Bell. "Can you count so many boys and girls all alone, Amy?"
"Oh, I think so," answered Mother Bunker. "You see I am used to it. I count them every time we come to the woods, and each time I start for home, to be sure none has been left behind. Now then, children! Attention! as the soldier captain says."
Six little Bunkers, who were getting ready to run off into the woods to frolic and have a good time at a good-bye picnic, laughed and shouted and finally stood still long enough for their mother to "count noses," as she called it.
"And I'll help," said Grandma Bell, at whose country home in Maine, near Lake Sagatook, the six little Bunkers were spending part of their summer vacation.
"Russ and Rose!" called Mother Bunker.
"Here we are!" answered Russ, and he pointed to his sister.
"Vi and Laddie!" went on Mrs. Bunker.
"We're here, but we're going to run now," said Laddie. "I'm going to think of a riddle to guess when we get to the woods."
"Where are you going to run to?" asked Vi, or Violet, which was her right name, though she was more often called Vi. "Where you going to run to, Laddie?" she asked again. But Laddie, her twin brother, did not stop to answer the question. Indeed it would take a great deal of time to reply to the questions Vi asked, and no one ever stopped to answer them all, any more than they tried to answer all the riddles—real and make-believe—that Laddie asked.
"Well, that's four of them," said Grandma Bell with a laugh.
"Yes," said Mother Bunker. "And now for the last. Margy and Mun!"
"We's here!" said Margy, who, as you may easily guess, was, more properly, Margaret. "Come on, Mun Bun!" she called. "Now we can have some fun."
And for fear you might be wondering what sort of creature Mun Bun was, I'll say right here that he was Margy's little brother, and his right name was Munroe Ford Bunker; but he was called Mun Bun for short.
"They're all here," said Grandma Bell, with a smile.
"Yes," answered Mrs. Bunker, as she saw the six children running across the field toward the woods. "They're all here now, and I hope they'll all be here when we start back."
"Oh, I think they will," said Grandma Bell with a smile. "I'm sorry this is your last picnic with me. I certainly have enjoyed your visit here—yours and the children's."
The two women walked slowly over the field and toward the woods, in which the six little Bunkers were already running about and having fun. The woods were on the edge of Lake Sagatook, and not far from Grandma Bell's house.
"Come on, Rose!" called Russ to his sister. "We'll have a last ride on the steamboat."
"I want to come, too!" shouted Laddie, dropping a bundle of pine cones he had picked up.
"So do I," added Vi. "I want a ride."
"Say, we can't all get on the steamboat at once!" Russ cried. "It'll sink if we do."
"Then we can play shipwreck," proposed Rose.
"Yes, we could do that," Russ agreed. "But if the steamboat sinks it'll be on the bottom of the lake, and it won't move and we can't have rides. That'll be no fun!" And the boy began to whistle, which he almost always did when he was thinking hard, as he was just now.
"Well, what can we do?" asked Rose. "I want a ride on the steamboat."
It wasn't really a steamboat at all, being only some fence rails and boards nailed roughly together. It was more of a raft than a boat, but it would float in the shallow water of the lake near the shore, and the children could stand on it in their bare feet and paddle about in a small cove that a bend in the shore-line of the lake made. The reason they had to take off their shoes and stockings was because the water came up over the top of the raft, and splashed on the children's feet. Anyhow, it was more fun to go barefooted, and no sooner had the six little Bunkers reached the shore of the lake in the midst of the woods, than off came their shoes and stockings.
"I want to ride on the steamer, too," said Mun Bun.
"No, we don't want to do that," put in Margy, who was standing near him.
"Why?" he asked.
"Don't you 'member? We're goin' to roll downhill where the pine needles make it so slippery."
"Oh, yes," agreed Mun Bun. "We'll roll downhill, and then we'll ride on the steamer."
"But I want a ride now!" insisted Violet.
"So do I," added Laddie.
"I asked first," cried Rose. "But I s'pose mother'll make me give in to you two, 'cause I'm older'n you; but I don't want to," she added.
"My! what's all this about?" asked Mother Bunker, as she came along with Grandma Bell, the two women having walked more slowly than the children. "Has anything happened?" She could tell by the faces of the little ones that everything was not just right.
"Oh, they all want to ride on the steamboat at once, and it isn't big enough," explained Russ.
"Then you must take turns," said Mother Bunker quickly. "That's the only way to do. Rose, dear, you are the oldest; you will let Laddie and Violet have the first ride, will you not?"
"There! I knew you'd ask me to do that!" cried Rose, and her voice was not just as pleasant as it might have been.
"Never mind, Rose," whispered Russ to her. "I'll give you a longer ride than I give them. Anyway, they'll soon get tired of the raft, and then you and I can play sailor, and steamboat around as much as we like."
"And will you let me help push with the pole?" asked Rose.
"Yes, you can do that, of course," Russ agreed.
"All right," assented Rose. "I'll wait. Go on, Violet and Laddie. You may have your ride first."
With shouts of glee the twins ran down to the edge of the lake where the raft, or, as Russ called it, the "steamboat," was tied by a rope to an old stump. Russ, with the help of Tom Hardy, the hired man, had made the raft, and on it the children had had lots of fun.
Russ now took his place in the middle, holding a long pole by which he pushed the raft about in the shallow cove of the lake. The water here was not deep—hardly over the children's knees.
"All aboard!" cried Russ, and Laddie and Violet got on the raft. Mother Bunker and Grandma Bell sat down in the shade to watch, while Mun Bun and Margy ran over to a little hill, covered with dry, slippery pine needles, and there they started to roll over and over down the slope, tumbling about in the soft grass at the foot, laughing and giggling.
Up and down, and around and around the little cove of Lake Sagatook Russ pushed his little twin brother and sister. The raft was just about large enough for three children of the size of those who were on it, but any more would have made it sink to the sandy bottom of the lake. Then, though they might have played "shipwreck," it would not be as much fun, Russ thought.
"Toot! Toot!" cried Russ, making believe he was the steamboat's whistle. Then he ding-donged the bell and hissed, to let off steam. Violet and Laddie laughed, and did the same thing, pretending they were part of the engine of the boat.
"Well, I think you have ridden on the steamboat long enough now, Laddie and Vi!" called Mother Bunker, after a bit. "Give Rose a turn."
"Just one more ride!" pleaded Laddie.
"All right—just one more. But that's the last," said Russ.
So he poled the raft across the cove again, and then his little brother and sister got off while Rose waded out in her bare feet and got on board, carrying a pole so she could help push the raft; for it had no sails like a sailboat, and no motor like a motor-boat, and to make it go it had to be pushed.
"Come on, Vi. Let's go over and roll downhill with Margy and Mun Bun," said Laddie, after watching Rose and Russ a bit. "They're having lots of fun."
The two smallest of the six little Bunkers did, indeed, appear to be having a good time. Over and over they rolled down the clean, slippery hill covered with the brown pine needles.
Soon Laddie and Vi joined in the fun, and their shouts and laughter could be heard by Mother Bunker and Grandma Bell, where they were sitting in the shade of the trees.
All at once Laddie, who had rolled to the bottom of the hill, ending with a somersault in the soft grass, stood up and called:
"Listen! What's that?"
Vi, Margy and Mun Bun listened.
"I don't hear anything," said Vi.
"I do," went on Laddie. "It's some one hollering!"
And, as the children became quiet and listened more intently, they did, indeed, hear a voice calling:
"Come and get me! Come and get me!"
"Oh, it's somebody lost in the woods!" said Violet.
"A little boy, maybe!" exclaimed Laddie.
"Or a little girl," added Mun Bun, his eyes big with wonder.
"Let's go and hunt for 'em," proposed Laddie. "If we were lost, we'd like some one to hunt for us. Come on!"
The other children did not stop to think whether or not this was right. Laddie was the oldest of the four, except Violet, who was just as old, except maybe a minute or two, and Mun Bun and Margy thought what Laddie said must be right.
"Come and get me! Come and get me!" cried the voice again, and to the four little Bunkers it seemed to be a sad one.
"Come on!" exclaimed Laddie. And the children started on a queer hunt.
GOOD-BYE TO GRANDMA
Mrs. Bunker, who was busy talking to Grandma Bell, looked up just in time to see Laddie, Violet, Margy and Mun Bun running off through the woods.
"Children! Children!" she cried. "Where are you going?"
Faintly came back Laddie's answer:
"There's a little boy or girl lost in the woods, an' they're callin' to us and we're going to hunt for 'em!"
"Oh, my!" exclaimed Mother Bunker. "Wait, children! Wait for me!" she continued. "Russ—Rose! Come off the raft! I don't want you on it while I'm not near you!"
"Where are you going?" asked Grandma Bell, as she saw her daughter getting up.
"I'm going to see what those children mean," was Mrs. Bunker's answer. "I can't tell what mischief they may get into."
And while Rose and Russ poled the raft toward shore, as their mother told them to, and got off, Mrs. Bunker started after the other children, who were going to find the strange voice that had called to them.
And while this is going on I shall have a chance to tell my new readers something about the little Bunkers. There were six of them, as, perhaps, you have counted. Russ, or Russell, to give him the whole of his name, was eight years old. He was the oldest, a great boy for making things to play with, such as a steamboat out of some old boards, or an automobile from a chair and a sofa cushion. He was also very fond of whistling, and knew several real tunes.
Rose, who came next, was seven years old. She was a regular "mother's helper," and often sang as she washed the dishes or did the dusting. She had light hair and blue eyes while Russ had a dark complexion.
Then there came Violet and Laddie, the twins, aged six. Laddie's real name was Fillmore Bunker, but he was seldom called that. His hair was curly, and his eyes were gray, and whether that made him so fond of making up riddles, or of asking those others made up, I can't say. Anyhow he did it. His twin sister loved to ask questions. She could ask more questions in a day than several persons could answer. No one ever tried to answer all Vi asked. Her hair and eyes were just like Laddie's.
Next came Margy and Mun Bun. Margy was five, and her brother was a year younger. He had blue eyes and golden hair, and, you can easily imagine, was a pretty picture.
"Daddy" Bunker, whose name was Charles, had a real estate and lumber office in Pineville, which was in Pennsylvania, and was on the Rainbow River. About twenty thousand people lived in Pineville, and it was a very nice place indeed. The home of the Bunkers was on the main street of the town, and was less than a mile from Daddy Bunker's office.
Then there was Mother Bunker, whose hands were full keeping house and looking after the six little Bunkers. Her name was Amy, and before she married Daddy Bunker her last name had been Bell.
Those of you who have read the first book of this series, called "Six Little Bunkers at Grandma Bell's," remember that there were two other members of the "family"—Norah O'Grady, the good-natured Irish cook, and Jerry Simms, the man who had once been a soldier and who was very kind to the children. Jerry did odd bits of work about the house, and often ran the automobile for Mr. Bunker.
The Bunkers had many relatives. There was Grandma Bell, who was Mrs. Bunker's mother, and there was Grandpa Ford, who was Daddy Bunker's stepfather. He was kind and good, and had loved Daddy Bunker when Daddy Bunker was a little boy, and now loved the six little Bunkers as well. Grandma Bell lived in Maine, near Lake Sagatook, and Grandpa Ford lived at Tarrington, New York, his place being called Great Hedge Estate.
Then there was Miss Josephine Bunker (she was "Aunt Jo," you know), who lived in Boston; Uncle Frederick Bell, of Moon City, Montana; and Cousin Tom Bunker, who lived at Seaview, on the New Jersey coast.
In the first book I told you about the six little Bunkers when on a visit to Grandma Bell, in Maine, and how they helped solve a mystery and find some valuable real estate papers that an old tramp lumberman had carried off in a ragged coat.
I can't begin to tell you, here, all the fun the six little Bunkers had at Grandma Bell's. They spent the last of July and the first part of August there, and now, just before leaving, they were planning for the rest of the summer vacation.
But, just at the present moment, something else was happening. The children's play had been stopped by the voice in the woods; a voice heard by Laddie, Vi, Mun Bun and Margy.
"Are you sure it was a little child you heard calling?" asked Mrs. Bunker, overtaking the four children.
"Oh, yes; sure!" answered Laddie. "It was a little boy."
"I think it was a little girl," said Violet.
"Hark!" exclaimed Grandma Bell, who had come with Mother Bunker. "There it goes once more!"
And, surely enough, the voice called again:
"Come and get me! I'm lost!"
"Poor thing!" said Grandma Bell. "I wonder whose little boy or girl it is."
"'Tisn't any of us," said Violet, "'cause we're all here!"
"Yes, I counted to make sure," said Mother Bunker. "But we must find out who it is. Come on, children. Are we going too fast for you, Mother?" she asked Grandma Bell.
"Oh, no, indeed!"
"We must find the lost one," Mother Bunker continued, and so they kept on with the queer hunt. Every now and then they could hear the voice calling. Pretty soon Mrs. Bell said:
"I can hear some one coming."
Then the voice called again:
"Come and get me! I'm lost!"
"Oh, there it is! Over in that direction!" exclaimed Grandma Bell.
They hurried toward a thick clump of trees, from which the voice seemed to come. Then, all at once, another voice called:
"Oh, there you are! I see you! Now come right here to me, and don't go away again!"
"Why, I know who that is!" exclaimed Grandma Bell.
Before the children could ask they heard a funny voice say:
"Oh, hello! Pretty Poll! Pretty Poll! Polly wants a cracker!"
"Well, you'll get one, and it won't be a sweet cracker, either, if you fly out of your cage again," said a man's voice. "You'll get a fire-cracker! Now you flutter right down to me and be good!"
"Hello! Hello!" said the funny voice, and then came a strange laugh. "Ha! Ha! Ha!"
"Why—why! It's a parrot!" shouted Laddie. "I can see his green feathers!"
"Yes, and there is Mr. Hixon after him," said Grandma Bell. "You have been fooled by Bill Hixon's parrot, children, just as you were teased once before. It wasn't a little boy or girl lost in the woods at all. It was just the parrot."
"That's just what it was, Mrs. Bell," said Mr. Hixon, and a man stepped out from behind a tree. "Were you after him, too?" he asked, as he held out his hand the parrot flew down out of the tree and alighted on his finger.
"The children, playing in the woods, heard your parrot calling, and thought it was a lost child," said Mrs. Bunker. "Did he get out of his cage?"
"That's what he did," said Mr. William Hixon, or "Bill," as his neighbors called him. "He got out early this morning, and I've been looking for him ever since. I followed along through these woods, because a man said he had seen a green bird flying about in here, and, surely enough, I heard my Polly singing out about being lost, and wanting some one to come and get her. She always begs that way when she gets lost."
"We heard her," said Laddie. "But I thought it was a little boy."
"And I thought it was a little girl," added Violet.
Mun Bun and Margy didn't say anything. They just stood and looked at the green parrot on Mr. Hixon's finger. The bird seemed happy now, and bent its head over toward its owner.
"She wants it scratched," said Mr. Hixon. "Well, I'll be nice to you now, but I won't like you if you get out of your cage again," he said. "She can open the door herself," he explained to Grandma Bell and Mrs. Bunker.
"She talks very plainly for a parrot," said Grandma Bell. "I remember the day the six little Bunkers first came, and Polly was in the back of the auto. We thought it was a child then."
"Yes, Polly is a good talker," said Mr. Hixon, who lived not far from Grandma Bell's. "But I think I'll have to get her a new cage so she can't get out. It keeps me busy chasing after her."
"Polly wants a cracker! Polly wants a sweet cracker!" chanted the parrot.
"Well, you'll get a sour one if you aren't good!" said Mr. Hixon, with a laugh. "I'm sorry my parrot fooled you, and made you think a child was lost in the woods," he went on.
"Oh, that's all right," said Mother Bunker. "We didn't mind hunting, and we're glad no one was lost."
"How are all the six little Bunkers?" asked the owner of the green parrot, as he started for his home.
"Well, these four, as you see, are fine," said Grandma Bell. "The other two, Russ and Rose, are playing steamboat on the lake. But I am going to lose them all."
"Lose them all!" cried Mr. Hixon. "How's that?"
"We are going to pay a visit to Mr. Bunker's sister, who lives in Boston," explained Mrs. Bunker. "She wrote and asked us to come, and this is our last week at Grandma Bell's."
"Well, I'm sure we'll miss the six little Bunkers when they go," said Mr. Hixon.
"Indeed we shall!" said Grandma Bell. "But they are coming to see me again."
"We love it here," put in Vi.
"And we've had lots of fun," added Margy.
"Maybe we'll have fun at Aunt Jo's," said Laddie.
"I'm sure you will. I guess you could have fun anywhere, you six," said Mr. Hixon with a laugh. "Well, good-bye, if I don't see you again!"
"Good-bye!" said the others.
"Good-bye," echoed the parrot.
Grandma Bell, Mother Bunker and the four children went back to the shady cove of the lake.
"Where'd you go?" asked Russ and Rose, who were walking along to meet them.
"Oh, we thought somebody was lost in the woods," answered Laddie.
"But it was Mr. Hixon's parrot," added Vi.
The children went back to their play.
A day or so later they helped pack the things they had brought with them to Grandma Bell's.
"We're going to Aunt Jo's! We're going to Aunt Jo's!" shouted Rose, dancing about.
"In Boston! In Boston!" added Russ. "And we'll have Boston baked beans!"
The next day the children said good-bye to Grandma Bell and, with Daddy and Mother Bunker, started for Aunt Jo's. They hardly even dreamed of all the good times they were to have there, nor of the strange things that were to happen.
ON THE BOAT
From Grandma Bell's home, near Lake Sagatook, the six little Bunkers, with their father and mother, were taken to the railroad station in a big automobile. As the children looked back, waving their hands to their dear grandmother, who had made their visit such a pleasant one, Russ said:
"What's the matter?" asked his father. "You seem sad."
"I wish we could take that nice lake with us," explained Russ. "We had such fun there."
"And the boat, too," added Rose. "Can we have a boat at Aunt Jo's, Daddy?"
"I hardly think so," answered Mr. Bunker with a smile. "Aunt Jo lives in the city—in Boston, in the Back Bay section, and I hardly think there is a place there where you can paddle a raft."
"Can we go wadin'?" asked Laddie.
"Not unless there is a little lake in some park near by," his father answered.
"Couldn't we wait for it to rain and make a mud puddle?" asked Vi. "We could wade in that! We do when we're home!"
"But Boston isn't home. And you can't do in a big city the things you can do at home in Pineville," said Mrs. Bunker, as the automobile chugged along through the woods.
"Can't we have any fun?" asked Russ.
"Oh, yes, lots of fun," his father replied. "Aunt Jo wouldn't ask us to spend two weeks or more at her house, if she didn't know you children could have fun, even if she does live in a city. Don't worry about that—you'll have fun."
"But we can't have a boat," sighed Rose. She and the other children loved the water, and, living so near Rainbow River as they did, they were used to paddling about, playing with make-believe boats and toys like that.
"Well, if you can't have a boat at Aunt Jo's in Boston, you are going to ride on one before you get to her house," said Mother Bunker with a smile.
"Are we?" cried Russ and Rose together.
"Yes. Didn't I tell you about that?" asked Daddy Bunker. "We are going to Boston by boat, instead of by train. That is, we are going most of the way by boat."
"Where is there any water for a boat?" asked Vi, looking around in the woods through which they were riding. "You can't make a boat go lessen you have water."
"Oh, I know. Yes, you can! Yes, you can!" suddenly cried Laddie.
"How can you?" asked Russ. "You can't sail a boat without water."
"Yes, you can!" said Laddie again, and he was laughing now. "I just thought of a riddle. This is it. What kind of a boat can you sail without water? It's a riddle!"
"Huh! I should say it was! Nobody could answer a riddle like that!" declared Russ.
"Yes, they can!" insisted Laddie. "It's a riddle! And I made it up all by myself. Nobody told me, and I know the answer."
"Well, that's more than I do," said Mrs. Bunker with a laugh. "Suppose you tell us, Laddie."
"And then Daddy can tell us about the boat we're going to ride on to Aunt Jo's," suggested Rose.
"Yes, I'll do that," said Mr. Bunker. "Go on, Laddie. What is the riddle you thought of?"
"What kind of a boat don't have to go in water?" asked the little boy, his eyes shining, for he loved to make up riddles.
"Well, go on. Tell us the answer," said his mother.
"It's a gravy boat!" laughed Laddie. "You know, a gravy boat. It's the kind of a dish we have on the table, with gravy in it, for your bread. You don't have to put that kind of a boat in water."
"That's right! You don't," said Mr. Bunker. "That was a good riddle, Laddie."
"And maybe I could think up another one," went on the little boy. "I almost got one. It's about what makes bread always fall with the butter-side down. But I haven't thought of the answer yet."
"Well, don't tell us any more riddles now," said Russ. "We want to hear about the boat we're going to ride on to Aunt Jo's. Tell us, Daddy."
"All right, I will," promised the children's father.
Then he went on to tell that, by taking a train to a station on the coast, they could get a boat that would take them to Boston.
"We shall have to travel all night though, just as we did in the sleeping-car," said Mr. Bunker.
"Why?" asked Vi.
"Because it will take that long to reach Boston," explained her father.
Rose had quite a large doll, her best one, which she carried with her in her arms whenever the family went traveling. Rose had brought her doll to Grandma Bell's and something funny had happened to the doll in the sleeping-car. You may read about it in the book before this one.
"I must see if my doll is asleep," said Rose.
She had put her toy in a cosy corner of the auto seat, and covered her with a blanket. But when Rose went to look for Sue, as she called her doll, Sue was not to be found.
"Oh! Sue's gone! Sue's gone!" cried Rose. "Somebody has taken my Sue!"
"Who did?" asked Vi.
"Are you sure she hasn't fallen to the floor of the car?" asked Mrs. Bunker.
"No, she isn't here at all," wailed Rose.
"Maybe you didn't bring her. Perhaps you left her at Grandma Bell's," said Mr. Bunker.
"Oh, no! I'm sure I had her," sobbed Rose. "Don't you all 'member that I held her up and wiggled her hand at grandma to say good-bye?"
"Yes, I do remember that," said Mrs. Bunker. "Rose surely had her doll when we started. Have any of you children seen Sue?" she asked.
None of them had, and then Daddy Bunker called to the man driving the auto to stop.
"What are you going to do?" asked Mrs. Bunker.
"I thought I'd walk back a little way and see if Sue had not dropped out along the road," answered her husband.
"Have we got time for that? Won't the train go?"
"Well, we've got a little time," said the driver. "I'll get out and help you look, Mr. Bunker."
"Why'd you lose Sue, Rose?" asked Vi.
"Why, Vi Bunker, I didn't mean to lose her!" exclaimed Rose.
Rose was still searching among the blankets, hoping that, somehow or other, the doll might be found, and her father and Mr. Mead, the auto driver, were getting out, when they heard a shout behind them.
"That's some one calling," said Mrs. Bunker.
They looked and saw riding toward them a boy on a bicycle. He had something in one hand, and clung to the steering bars with the other.
"Oh, he has my doll! He has my doll! I can see Sue!" cried Rose, clapping her hands in joy. "He found her!"
"I do believe he has the child's doll," said Mother Bunker.
"But where did he get her?" asked Vi.
"He must have picked her up along the road after she slipped out of the auto," answered Mrs. Bunker.
By this time the boy on the bicycle had caught up to the auto, which had stopped in a shady place.
"This doll dropped out of your car in front of our house," panted the bicycle boy. "I saw it fall, and I picked it up and rode after you. But I had hard work to catch you."
"I'm glad you did catch us," said Mr. Bunker, taking the doll from the boy's hand. "You had quite a ride. Aren't you tired?"
"Oh, I'm a little tired, but not much," said the boy. "The doll is all right. She had a little dust on her, but I brushed it off."
"I'm ever so much obliged to you," said Mr. Bunker.
"Thank you—a whole lot!" murmured Rose. "I was 'fraid my doll was lost forever."
"And here is something for your trouble," said Mr. Bunker, giving the boy a silver quarter.
"Oh, I don't want to take it!" he said, backing away.
"Of course you must take it!" insisted Rose's father. "You had a hard ride to bring the doll back to us, and you saved us a long walk to look for her. Take the money and get yourself something with it."
"All right. Thank you," said the boy, blushing a little under his tan. "I'll get me a new knife. I want a knife a lot. My old one's no good."
Then the boy told of having seen the doll bounce out of the automobile as it went past his house. He had called, but the machine made such a noise, and the six little Bunkers were probably talking so much, that no one heard the lad.
So he picked up Sue from the road and hurried on after the car.
"And I never want to lose you again," said Rose, as she hugged her doll close in her arms.
Mr. Bunker and Mr. Mead got back into the auto, and they set off again, Rose and the children waving good-bye to the boy, who stood near his bicycle, looking at the silver quarter in his hand.
"Why'd you give the boy a quarter, Daddy?" asked Vi. But that was one question too many from Vi, and her father did not explain.
A little later the Bunkers reached the railroad station, without losing anything more, and they were soon on their way to take the boat for Boston.
They had had much fun in Maine, at Lake Sagatook, but just as good times were ahead of them, they all felt.
It was evening when they went aboard the big steamer that was to take them to Boston. The children were rather tired from the day's journey in automobile and train.
"I guess we'll all be glad to get into our little beds," said Mother Bunker, as they went to their staterooms, there being two, one next to the other. "Now let me count noses, to make sure you're all here," she went on. "Russ, Rose, Laddie, Vi, Mun Bun—Where is Margy?" she suddenly cried, as she missed the little girl. "Margy isn't here! Where is she?"
It was true. Margy wasn't with the other little Bunkers. There were only five in sight!
Daddy Bunker and Mother Bunker were used to having things happen to the six little Bunkers. Not that they liked to have things happen—that is, unpleasant things—but the father and the mother knew they could not travel around with half a dozen children and not find a bit of trouble now and then.
And now trouble had come! Margy was not to be found!
"I'm sure she came on the boat with us," said Daddy Bunker.
"Yes, I know that," said his wife, as she looked quickly around the deck. "I saw her with the rest not a minute ago."
"Then where can she have gone?" asked Mr. Bunker. "As the steamer has not moved away from the dock, maybe she ran back to shore to get something, or look at something."
"Why'd Margy go away?" asked Vi.
"Margy is too little to go off by herself," said Mrs. Bunker.
"Do you mean some one took her—maybe a gypsy?" asked Russ.
"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Rose. "Are there gypsies here?"
"Nonsense! Of course not!" answered Mr. Bunker, seeing that what Russ had said might frighten the children. "No one has taken Margy. Maybe she is just playing hide-and-go-seek!"
Mr. Bunker didn't really believe Margy was doing this, but he said it to make the children feel better.
"You take the children down to the stateroom," said Mr. Bunker to his wife, "and I'll look for Margy. I'll find her in a jiffy, which is very quick time, indeed," he told the children. "Run along now, Mun Bun, and you too, Vi and Laddie. Rose, you go with your mother and help take care of Mun Bun."
"Shall I come with you, Daddy?" asked Russ.
"Yes," answered Mr. Bunker, "you may come with me, Russ. You can run faster than I can, and if we find Margy playing tag with some of the other little boys and girls on the steamer you can catch her more easily than I can."
Mr. Bunker said this for fun. He didn't really think Margy was playing tag. But he had to say something so the others would not be frightened. And, to tell the truth, Mr. Bunker was a little bit frightened himself, and so was his wife.
"Where do you suppose Margy can be?" Mrs. Bunker asked her husband, as she started down the stairs for the staterooms, or bedrooms, where they were to spend the night.
"Oh, she's around somewhere," he answered. "She may be watching the men load the steamer." Boxes and barrels were still being put into the hold, or "cellar," of the steamer, which would soon start for Boston. Margy, from the upper deck, might have seen this work going on, and have stepped out of sight to watch.
"Come on, Russ, we'll find her," said Mr. Bunker.
Many people were now coming on board the steamer. There were some boys and girls, and certainly a number of them were tired and sleepy. As Mrs. Bunker went down the stairs with the four little Bunkers, she looked at every other child she saw, hoping it might be Margy. But she did not see her smallest daughter.
Russ and his father walked around the upper deck. They met several men who worked on the steamer, and asked them if they had seen a little girl about five years old, with dark hair and eyes, for that is how Margy looked.
Each of the men Mr. Bunker asked said he had not seen the little lost girl, and then Mr. Bunker said:
"Well, Russ, we'll go down on the next deck. Maybe she is there."
There were several decks to the steamer, just as there are several floors in a large house. Russ and his father went downstairs, and as they started to look on the lower deck they met a man who had shiny gold braid on the sleeves of his coat, and also on his cap.
"Are you looking for some one?" asked this man, who was a mate, or helper, to the captain.
"We are looking for my little girl," said Mr. Bunker. "She has wandered away since we came on board."
"Was she a very little girl?" asked the mate.
"Rather small," answered Daddy Bunker.
"And did she have dark hair?"
"Yes!" exclaimed Russ eagerly. "Oh, have you seen her? She's my sister Margy."
"Well, I just happened to pass a stateroom, where I chance to know no little girl belongs on this trip. The door was open, and I looked in," went on the mate. "On the bunk, which is what we call the beds on a steamer," he told Russ, "I saw a little girl with dark hair curled up in a heap. She seemed to be asleep, and there was a little white poodle dog with her."
"A little white poodle dog!" exclaimed Mr. Bunker. "Then I'm afraid it can't be my little girl. We have no white poodle dog."
"Maybe Margy found one, Daddy, and that's why she didn't come with us," said Russ.
"Better take a look at this little girl," went on the mate. "She seems to be all alone in this stateroom, and she may be yours."
"We'll look," said Mr. Bunker. "But I hardly think it can be Margy."
He followed the mate, holding Russ by the hand so the little boy would not get lost, though Russ was almost too big for this.
"Here she is," said the mate, as he came to a stop at an open door of a stateroom. And there, on the clean, white bunk, curled up with one arm around a white poodle dog was a little girl, whose dark hair mingled with the white coat of the poodle.
"Oh, it is Margy!" exclaimed Russ.
"Yes, so it is," said Mr. Bunker. "Thank you," he added to the captain's helper. "Now we are all right. We have found our lost little girl."
"I was wondering to whom she belonged," said the mate. "And I was going to tell the captain about her. Now I won't have to."
When Mr. Bunker and Russ went into the room, the little poodle dog raised up his head, opened one eye, and wagged his little stump of a tail, as if he were saying:
"It's all right. You don't need to worry. I'm taking care of Margy and she's taking care of me."
And it was Margy asleep in the bunk! Poor, tired, sleepy little Margy Bunker.
"My dear little girl," said Daddy Bunker softly, as he took her up in his arms. "We were so worried about you. Where have you been?"
"I—I founded a little dog," said Margy sleepily, as she put her head down on her father's shoulder. "He was a little white dog an' I loved him an' I went with him an' we went to—went to—we——"
And then Margy herself went to where she was trying to tell her daddy she had gone—to sleep.
"We'll ask her about it in the morning," said Mr. Bunker. "I'll carry her to her mother now, so she won't be anxious any more."
Margy was in slumberland once more, and so was the little white poodle dog. He just looked up, with one eye, when he saw Mr. Bunker carrying his little girl away, and then doggie went to sleep again also.
"Aren't you glad we found Margy?" asked Russ, as he walked back with his father to where Mrs. Bunker and the other children were waiting.
"Indeed I am," said Margy's daddy.
"Where was she?" asked Mrs. Bunker, as she saw her lost little girl.
"She had wandered into some other stateroom, and had gone to sleep," Mr. Bunker answered.
"And the little poodle dog was asleep with her," added Russ.
"Where's the little poodle dog?" demanded Laddie, who was almost asleep himself.
"Oh, we couldn't bring him," Russ said. And then his father told how Margy had been found.
The little girl was still too sleepy to talk, so her mother undressed her and put her to bed.
"We can ask her in the morning what happened," she said.
Now the six little Bunkers were together again, and happy once more, and Mr. and Mrs. Bunker were no longer worried. They all went to bed, and then the steamer traveled through the night, getting to Boston the next day.
The children were awake early, and when they were dressed they went out on deck. They had breakfast on board, in the big dining-saloon.
"When shall we get to Aunt Jo's?" asked Rose, as she helped her mother pick up some of the things the other children had scattered about the stateroom.
"We'll be there in time for dinner," said Mr. Bunker. "But we haven't yet heard what happened to Margy. Why did you go to sleep in the strange bed?" he asked his little girl.
"'Cause I wanted the doggie," she answered. And then she told how it had happened, though they had to ask her many questions to get the whole story.
Soon after coming on board the steamer Margy, walking a little distance apart from the other little Bunkers, had seen the white poodle dog running about the deck. She made friends with him, and when the dog, who belonged to an elderly lady passenger, went off by himself, Margy followed.
The poodle went into the stateroom where his mistress was to sleep, and jumped up on the bed. Margy did the same thing, and then they both fell asleep. Through the open door the mate saw them and then Mr. Bunker came and got his little girl.
"But you mustn't do it again, Margy," he said.
"No, Daddy. I won't," she promised. "But he was an awful nice little dog."
"Could we have him?" Mun Bun wanted to know, for they had seen the white poodle running about the deck that morning.
"Oh, no," replied Mrs. Bunker. "We're going to Aunt Jo's, and she may have a dog herself."
"That'll be fun!" laughed Margy. "I likes a dog!"
"Has Aunt Jo a dog, really?" asked Vi.
"Well, maybe," returned her mother.
A little later the six little Bunkers were riding through the Boston streets on their way to Aunt Jo's house.
ALEXIS IS SPLASHED
"Well, well! Oh, I'm so glad to see you! Now stand still, please, while I look at you to make sure you're all here!"
This is what Aunt Jo said as she stood smiling on the steps of her beautiful house in the fashionable Back Bay section of Boston. The six little Bunkers, with Daddy and Mother, had arrived in a big automobile that Mr. Bunker had engaged at the steamer dock. It needed a large machine to take the whole family, with their baggage, through the city. And when they had rung the bell Aunt Jo was waiting to answer it herself, as she expected her visitors.
"One, two, three, four, five, six!" she counted, pointing her finger, first at Russ, as he was the oldest, and ending with Mun Bun, who was the youngest. "All here! And I'm so glad to see you," she went on.
"And we're glad to see you!" added Daddy Bunker as he kissed his sister, for Aunt Jo was his sister, you remember. "I'm afraid you won't find room for us all."
"Oh, yes, I shall," said Aunt Jo, and she laughed and looked so jolly that the six little Bunkers loved her at once. "I've got lots of room in this big house," she went on.
Just then a big dog, the kind called a Great Dane, came stalking into the hall where the Bunker family was gathered. The dog seemed pleased when he saw the children, and wagged his tail.
"I can sleep with the dog if you haven't got room for me anywhere else," said Margy, as she went up to Alexis, which was the dog's name. "I did sleep with a dog on the boat, and he did love me and I did love him."
"Has you got a cat?" asked Mun Bun. "I want to love something, too," and he looked at Aunt Jo with big, round eyes.
"No," answered Daddy's sister, "I haven't a cat, but Alexis is large enough for all you six little Bunkers to love, I guess," and truly the Great Dane seemed so.
"What makes Alexis so big?" asked Vi.
"Because he's a Great Dane."
"What makes a Great Dane be so big?"
"Vi, Vi!" protested her mother. "Don't ask any more questions now."
"But come in and get your things off," went on Aunt Jo. "I'm keeping you standing in the hall as if I didn't have room for you inside. Come in, make yourselves at home and I'll have Parker hurry the lunch. You must be starved."
"We had breakfast, but it wasn't much," said Russ. "I guess it's on account of war times." Russ had really eaten a big breakfast, but, of course, that had been a long time before.
"Well, of course we must all help with the war," said Aunt Jo, "but I think Parker can give you enough to eat."
"Is Parker a cat?" asked Vi.
"Oh, no!" laughed Aunt Jo. "Parker is my cook. I call her by her last name instead of her first name, as it is the same as mine. Parker is a very good cook, you'll find."
"If Parker was a cat maybe I could think up a riddle about her," put in Laddie. "Anyhow, I know a new riddle, Aunt Jo."
"Do you? Well, I must hear it," she said, as she opened the door to the sitting-room.
"Oh, Laddie, can't you wait to ask riddles until we get our things off?" asked his mother.
"I—I'm afraid I might forget it," said the little boy. "It's a hard riddle."
"Well, let me hear it," said Aunt Jo with a laugh. "I used to be pretty good at guessing them."
"This is it," said Laddie. "I didn't make it up, but I asked one of the sailors on the steamer for a good riddle, and he told me this one. It's, 'What can you put in your left hand that you can't put in your right hand?' That's the riddle."
"Pooh! there can't be any answer to that," said Russ. "If you can put anything in your left hand you can put it in your right, too. Look!"
He took his knife from his pocket, and put it first in his right hand and then in his left.
"But I don't mean a knife," said Laddie. "'Tisn't what you can put in both hands, it's what you can't."
"Let me hear the riddle again," begged Aunt Jo.
"What can you put in your left hand that you can't put in your right?" asked Laddie. "It's awful hard—you'll never guess it," he went on, laughing at the puzzled look on Aunt Jo's face.
They all tried to guess the riddle—that is all except the smallest children—Mun Bun and Margy, and they were too much taken up with loving the dog Alexis. Aunt Jo tried several things, but she found she could put them in one hand as easily as she could in the other, so that couldn't be the answer.
"Do you give up?" asked Laddie.
"Yes," said his father, "we all give up. Tell us the answer."
"It's your right elbow," said the little boy with a laugh.
"Your right elbow?" cried Russ.
"Yes," Laddie went on. "Look! You can hold your right elbow in your left hand, but you can't put your right elbow in your right hand. Nobody can!"
And, surely enough, when they tried, no one could do it. And you can quickly prove it for yourself to make sure Laddie was right. You can easily rest your right elbow in the palm of your left hand. But try to put your left elbow in your left hand, or the right elbow in the right hand, and see how hard it is.
"Well, that's a good riddle!" laughed Aunt Jo. "I shall have to put on my thinking cap when you ask me any more, Laddie."
"Oh, I know lots more riddles," cried Laddie eagerly. "Some I made up myself. I know one about why don't the railroad tickets get mad when the conductor punches 'em, but I never can think of an answer for that riddle."
"Well, a riddle isn't much fun unless you know the answer," agreed Aunt Jo. "And now I'll show you to your rooms, and you can get ready for lunch."
They went upstairs, Alexis following, for he seemed to like children. And the six little Bunkers certainly liked the big dog.
"Does he like dolls?" asked Rose, as she held her Sue close in her arms.
"Well, I never saw him bite any," said Aunt Jo.
"I don't want to put my doll down where he could get her if he would carry her off," went on the little girl.
"Would Alexis do that?" asked Vi.
"No, I don't believe Alexis would hurt the doll," said Aunt Jo. "Here, we will try him. Come to me, Alexis!" she called.
The dog managed to get away from Mun Bun and Margy, who were trying to see who could hug him the hardest, and he stood near his mistress.
"Do you see this doll, Alexis?" went on Aunt Jo, holding Sue out for him to see. "Look at her!"
"Bow-wow!" barked Alexis, and that meant: "Yes, I see her, what about it?"
"You must be very nice to her, and not chew her nor carry her off and put her in some hiding-place, as you do your bones," went on Aunt Jo. Alexis waved his big tail, sniffed at Rose's doll, and then barked again.
"He will never hurt your toy, Rose," said Aunt Jo. "You may safely leave her anywhere in the house."
"She's my best doll, and she's been lost in the woods and had lots of adventures," Rose said. "But I wouldn't like a dog to carry her off—'specially not such a big dog."
"Well, don't worry about Alexis," said Aunt Jo. "He won't hurt your Sue."
The visitors were shown to their different rooms, and their baggage was carried up so the children could change their clothes.
"Why do we have to change our clothes?" asked Vi.
"We want to put on some old things so we can have some fun," returned Russ.
"Can we sail a boat anywhere around here?" asked Laddie.
"I'm afraid not," said Aunt Jo. "You see this is a big city, and not the country, as at Grandma Bell's, where you have been staying. True, we are near the bay, but you couldn't very well sail boats there. I shall have to think up some other fun for you."
"We like fun," added Violet.
By this time Mun Bun and Margy had been fitted out with their "play clothes" as they called them; clothes that could not easily be soiled. Russ and Rose had dressed themselves, and Mrs. Bunker was seeing to Laddie and Violet.
"And when you're all ready I'll have Parker serve the lunch," said Aunt Jo. "If you'll just excuse me now, I'll run down and see about it," she added to her brother.
"Go ahead," said he. "We'll be right down."
"Can Alexis stay up here with us?" asked Mun Bun.
"Oh, yes, he likes to be with children," said Miss Bunker, for that really was Aunt Jo's name, she being Daddy Bunker's sister.
So Aunt Jo went downstairs to see that the cook got a nice lunch ready for the six little Bunkers.
Mr. and Mrs. Bunker, now that they had the children ready, could stop and "get their breaths," as Mother Bunker said. Really it is a good deal of work to look after six children.
"Come on!" called Daddy Bunker, when he had helped his wife put the baggage away in the rooms they were to have while at Aunt Jo's house. "Come down to lunch, children!"
Russ, Rose, Violet and Laddie came from the windows, out of which they had been looking at scenes in the street.
"Where is Mun Bun?" asked Mrs. Bunker.
"And Margy?" added her husband.
"I saw 'em a minute ago," answered Rose.
And just then, from down the hall, came strange sounds.
"Now it's my turn, Mun Bun! It's my turn to splash him!" shouted Margy.
"No, it's mine!" insisted her brother. "You splashed him a lot, an' I'm goin' to do it now. You let me pull it!"
"Oh, what are those children doing now?" asked Mrs. Bunker.
"I'll go and see," offered her husband.
And then, from a room down the hall, came the sound of splashing water and the barking of Alexis, the big dog, while Mun Bun could be heard calling:
"Let me pull it! Let me pull it! I want to splash him, too!"
"What are Mun and Margy Bunker doing?" asked Vi.
"Where are they?" asked Daddy Bunker, looking at his wife.
"They must be in the bathroom," she answered. "Oh, do go and look please, and see what is happening."
"What is it? May I go and see?" cried Vi, going toward the bathroom without waiting to have her questions answered.
Mr. Bunker ran down the hall. The bathroom door was open and within he saw a strange sight.
Mun Bun and Margy had, somehow or other, got the big dog Alexis to jump into the bathtub. Perhaps the dog had done it before. Anyhow he was in it now, and, as he stood there, Margy and Mun Bun were having a sort of tug of war to see who should pull the handle of the chain that worked the shower bath.
Margy had her chubby fists on the handle, and she was pulling, but Mun Bun was trying to pull her hands away so he could take hold of the chain himself. So the pull of the two children was enough to make the water spurt out from the overhead shower. Down the water came, splashing on Alexis, but he seemed to like it. He barked, but not too loudly, and wagged his tail.
"Mun Bun! Margy! What in the world are you doing?" cried their father. Of course he could see, perfectly well, what they were doing, but, somehow or other, that seemed the most natural thing to ask.
"What are you doing?" he cried.
"We're splashing Alexis," said Margy.
"It's my turn to do it, but she won't let me," complained Mun Bun. "She's splashed him a lot, and now I want to."
"You mustn't either of you splash Alexis any more like this!" exclaimed Mr. Bunker, wanting to laugh at the funny sight, but really not daring to, lest the children try it again some time.
"Stop it at once," he said. "Turn that water off, Mun Bun!"
"I'm not pulling it—it's Margy!" said the little boy.
"Both of you stop!" commanded their father. "Come here, Alexis!" he called, and the big dog jumped out of the bathtub. Luckily the floor of the room was of white tile, so the water that dripped on it from the dog did no harm. But when he gave himself a shake, as dogs always do when they come out of water, the drops splashed on the two children and also on Mr. Bunker.
"Oh! Oh!" cried Mun Bun. "I'm—I'm all wet!"
"So'm I!" added Margy. She had let go of the shower-bath chain, and the water no longer ran out.
"Alexis got me wet, too," said Daddy Bunker. "But you children should not have done this. It was very wrong."
"But Alexis was very hot," said Margy. "His tongue was stickin' out of his mouth just like Grandma's dog Zip's used to, and so we wanted to cool him off; didn't we, Mun Bun?"
"Yes, we did," answered the little boy. "So I told him to get into the bathtub, and we pulled the chain and the water splashed out on him."
"I should say it did splash!" exclaimed Mr. Bunker, trying not to laugh. "I don't know what Aunt Jo will say."
"Well, she said she wanted us to have fun," went on Margy, "and we did have fun, and Alexis liked it."
"Perhaps he did," said her father, for the dog did not seem to mind being wet. "But it was very wrong to do it. You children are very wet."
"Did anything happen?" asked Mrs. Bunker, as she came down the hall toward the bathroom, with Russ, Rose and Laddie.
"Well, lots happened, but nothing very bad," said her husband. "Alexis had his bath, that's all."
"Oh, my dears!" cried Mrs. Bunker, when she saw the splashed bathroom and how wet the two children were. "How could you do it?"
"I'll show you how to do it!" exclaimed Mun Bun, not exactly knowing what his mother meant. "This is how!" and he reached for the handle of the shower-bath chain. But his father caught him just in time to stop him from splashing any more water about.
"It is a good thing I changed their clothes," said Mrs. Bunker. "Poor Alexis! Did you think it was raining?" she asked, as she patted the dog's wet head.
But the Great Dane did not seem to mind. He wagged his tail joyfully, and, after all, the day was a hot one.
"Don't mind about a little water, as long as the children are all right," said Aunt Jo, when she heard what had happened. "Alexis loves to get a bath, but he is generally washed out in the garage by William, the man who attends to the car. I had never put him in a bathtub, but I suppose he liked it."
"He waggled his tail like anything," said Mun Bun.
"Well, then that's a sure sign he was pleased," said Aunt Jo.
Margy and Mun Bun had been partly dried off in time for lunch, and the six little Bunkers, with the rest of the family, were now at table.
"What we going to do this afternoon?" asked Vi.
"What would you like to do?" inquired her aunt with a smile.
"Well, I'd like to see something," Russ put in.
"I want to see some cows and sheep," added Laddie. "Maybe I could think up a riddle about them if I was to see some. We had some at Grandma Bell's."
"And he gave 'em sugar 'stid of salt," said Russ with a laugh.
"Well, they liked it," Laddie declared. "Only the old ram—he wasn't nice!"
"I'm sorry, but there aren't any sheep or cows around here," said Aunt Jo with a smile. "You must remember that this is a city, and not the country. But there are many things to see here. We can go to visit Bunker Hill Monument, and we can go on excursions to Nantasket Beach—oh, we can do lots of things to have fun!"
"That's good!" murmured Rose. "I think I'd like to go for a walk, and see things."
"So would I," agreed her mother. "If you like, Rose, you and I will take a walk. I want to get a few things from the store."
"Well, you can do that," said Daddy Bunker, "and I'll stay here with Aunt Jo and look after the children. I'm afraid even five little Bunkers will be too much for her to manage."
"Oh, no!" exclaimed Aunt Jo. "I love children!"
She had never had any of her own, being unmarried, but no mother could have been more kind nor have loved children any more than did Aunt Jo.
"Well, if mother and Rose go downtown for a walk, we'll stay here and look around a bit," said Daddy Bunker.
"And maybe I can find something to make," said Russ, as he walked about, whistling his shrillest. Russ was not quite happy unless he was making something, whether it was whittling a sword out of a piece of wood, or building an airship.
So, while Daddy Bunker took the children out into Aunt Jo's back yard—and she had a large one, for which the boys and girls were very glad—Mrs. Bunker and Rose got ready to go shopping.
At one end of the yard was the garage for the automobile. The reason she had not sent it to the dock to meet her brother and the children when the boat came in was that she did not know at just what hour they would arrive.
Working around the garage was William, the chauffeur, who also helped about the house, taking out the ashes in winter and cutting the grass in summer.
"We've a man named Jerry Simms who does that at our house," said Russ, when he learned what William did for Aunt Jo. "Jerry is a soldier, or he was. Are you a soldier, Mr. William?"
"No, but I may be, some day," he answered.
"Have you got any corn shuckers here?" asked Laddie.
"A corn shucker? No. What's that?"
"Well, it's a thing, and you put ears of corn in a spout and turn a wheel and the kernels of corn come out of one end, and the empty cob comes out of the other end. Grandma Bell's got one."
"And we put Rose's doll in and shucked off all her buttons," added Russ.
"That's what they did," said Daddy Bunker. "I'm glad you haven't one here, William. Rose didn't like it when all the buttons came off her doll."
"But it was lots of fun," added Laddie. "Maybe I could think up a riddle about a corn shucker, if I tried real hard."
"Oh, look! Here's a hose!" cried Russ, as he saw one with which William had been washing the automobile. "May we squirt it?"
"I'm afraid you'll get wet," said the chauffeur, with a look at Mr. Bunker.
"A little water won't hurt them," said the children's father. "They have on their old clothes. But perhaps you don't want them to take it."
"Oh, I was going to water the lawn, anyhow," said William; "and I'd just as soon they would do it if you don't mind."
"Hurray!" cried Laddie.
"I'm going to have first turn at squirting!" insisted Russ.
Their father settled this little dispute by saying that Vi and the two older boys might have the hose for five minutes at a time, and he would stay near by to see that everything was fair. So Laddie and Russ and Vi began to sprinkle the lawn, while Margy and Mun Bun found a pile of clean sand near the garage, where they could play.
And now I must tell you something that happened to Rose and her mother. They were walking down one of the Boston streets, after having bought some things in one of the stores, when Rose, who was walking a little ahead of her mother, suddenly called:
"Look! Look, Mother!"
"What is it?" asked Mrs. Bunker.
"It's a pocketbook," went on Rose, pointing to one on the sidewalk. "And it looks as if it had money in it. Shall I pick it up, Mother?"
"Yes. Why not?" said Mrs. Bunker, glancing about, and seeing no one who might have dropped it. "Why shouldn't you pick it up, Rose?"
"'Cause maybe it's an April fool one, and somebody will pull it away with a string," the little girl answered.
A SAD LETTER
April fool was something Mrs. Bunker had not thought of as she looked at the pocketbook lying on the sidewalk. As Rose had said, it did seem to have money in it, but perhaps it might be stuffed with paper.
Then, too, there might be a string tied to the wallet, and boys, hidden somewhere near, might pull on the string and yank the pocketbook away just as soon as any one stooped over to pick it up. Still Mrs. Bunker said to Rose:
"This is too late for April fool. This is August, and no boys would think of playing such tricks now."
"Maybe not, Mother," Rose agreed. "I just thought maybe that was what it was there for. But I'll pick it up. I hope it's got a lot of money in it!"
With shining eyes Rose stooped to pick up the purse.
"Open it, Rose, and see what is inside," said Mrs. Bunker. "We may find out the name of the owner, and, if she lives around here—for it looks like a lady's pocketbook—we can take it to her."
"But we don't know the streets, Mother," said Rose.
"We can ask a policeman. If we find the name of the owner, and it is too far for us to go where she lives, we can give the pocketbook to the policeman and he will deliver it for us. But open it and see what is in it," returned Mrs. Bunker.
The pocketbook opened easily enough, and as Rose turned back the flap she gave a cry of surprise.
"What's the matter?" asked the excited child's mother.
"Oh! Oh, it's just full of money!" cried the little girl. "It's piled full of money, Mother! Look!"
She hurried to her mother's side with the opened pocketbook. Surely enough, when Mrs. Bunker looked, she saw a roll of green bills. Just how many were in the pocketbook she could not tell.
"Well, this is quite a find!" said Rose's mother. "The person who lost this will feel bad about it. We must try to find the owner."
"Oh, can't I keep it?" asked Rose.
"Of course not," said her mother. "Whenever we find anything we must try to discover the owner and give the lost thing back. If you lost your doll you'd want whoever found her to give her back; wouldn't you?"
"Oh, of course, Mother! But Sue—she isn't a pocketbook full of money."
"No," agreed Mrs. Bunker with a smile. "If Russ were here I suppose he'd say your doll was full of sawdust. However, no matter what it is, we must give back whatever we have found if we can find the owner. Of course, after we have tried hard, if we can't discover who lost whatever we have found, we may keep it."
"How can we tell who lost this pocketbook and all the money?" asked Rose.
"We'll look inside, and we'll also count the money," said her mother.
"Maybe it's a hundred dollars!" exclaimed the little girl, her eyes shining brightly.
"Perhaps it may be," said Mrs. Bunker. "But we won't count it out here on the street. We have nearly finished shopping, so we will take the pocketbook home with us, and show it to Daddy and Aunt Jo."
Rose had the wallet open, looking at the roll of bills inside. Now her mother gently took it from her and closed it.
"What made you do that?" asked Rose.
"Because the wind might blow some of the money out," was the answer, "and then we could not give it all back to the poor person who owns it."
"What makes you think the pocketbook is a poor person's?" asked Rose, who was asking almost as many questions as would her sister Vi had she been there.
"Well, the pocketbook is rather a shabby one, even though it seems to have quite a lot of money in it," said Mrs. Bunker, as she put it away in her own shopping bag. "The leather is worn and it is torn. But we will go over it more carefully when we get home."
Rose could hardly wait to get back to Aunt Jo's house to look farther into the pocketbook and see what it held. No one on the street had paid the slightest attention to Rose and her mother when the wallet had been found, and no policeman was in sight who could be asked about it. So Mrs. Bunker thought the best thing to do was to take it with her and examine it later.
When Aunt Jo's house was reached Laddie, Vi and Russ had about finished watering the lawn. They had watered themselves a little, also, for they were so eager, and took so many turns with the hose that it splashed on them.
But the day was warm, and, as they had on their old clothes, their father did not mind, as long as they did not get too wet.
"Oh, we had lots of fun!" cried Russ as he saw his mother and Rose coming along.
"We had a dandy time!" added Laddie.
"You don't know what I found!" cried Rose, not thinking so much about her brothers' fun with the hose as she was about what had happened to herself and her mother. "I found something!"
"What?" asked Vi.
"Was it a little kittie?" asked Mun Bun, who, with Margy, had finished playing in the sand pile.
"No, it wasn't a kittie, though I wish I could find one," said Rose.
"Did you find a new riddle?" Laddie wanted to know. He thought more of riddles than of many other things that most boys like.
"No, it wasn't a riddle," answered Rose. "You'd never guess, so I'll tell you. I found a pocketbook, and maybe it's got two hundred dollars in it! So there!"
"Oh, you did not! Did she, Mother?" asked Russ, in surprise at what his sister had said.
"Yes, Rose did find a pocketbook," answered Mrs. Bunker. "It was lying on the sidewalk in front of us. But whether it has two hundred dollars in it, or only one hundred, I don't know yet."
"Where is it? Where is it?" cried Vi over and over.
"In my bag. We really did make quite a find," she went on to her husband and Aunt Jo, who came out on the porch just then. "Look!" and Mrs. Bunker took the purse out of her shopping bag, handing it over to her husband.
"See if you can find out who owns it," she suggested.
"And if nobody owns it I'm going to keep it for mine," said Rose.
"Can she, Mother?" Russ wanted to know.
"Well, we'll see," said Mrs. Bunker.
Meanwhile her husband was opening the pocketbook. He saw the roll of bills and whistled.
"Well, there's some money here, anyhow," he said. "I'll count it first, so we'll know just how much it is."
Mr. Bunker was used to counting over bills. He could not do it quite as fast, perhaps, as the cashier in a bank, but he soon had spread out the money in a chair in front of him on the porch, and he said:
"There are just sixty-five dollars here."
"Sixty-five!" exclaimed Rose. "I thought it was two hundred."
"Is sixty-five dollars much money?" asked Vi.
"Well, sixty-five dollars is a lot of money if you lose it," said her father. "And whoever lost this will be very glad to get it back, you may be sure."
"Is there anything else in the pocketbook to tell who may own it?" asked Mrs. Bunker.
"No, there doesn't seem to be anything but just the roll of bills," he answered. "Hold on, though!" he exclaimed, as he looked in another part of the pocketbook, "here is some sort of a paper."
"That may have the owner's name on it," said Aunt Jo. "I always carry in my purse a slip with my name and address on it, so if I lose my pocketbook whoever finds it will know where to bring it back. Probably that is what this is."
"No, it doesn't seem to be," said Mr. Bunker. "This appears to be part of a letter. Of course it isn't nice to read letters that are for other people, but as we are trying to find out to whom this money and pocketbook belong it will be all right. I'll read this."
He took out a folded paper from a compartment in the pocketbook next to where the money had been, and began to read. He read it aloud. It said:
"DEAR MOTHER: I am so glad you have the sixty-five dollars, for then you will not have to work so hard, and can take a little rest. It was so good of Uncle Jack to send it to you. I feel so much better now that you have this money. You will not have to worry so much. I am working hard myself, but I like it, and I will save all I can and send all I can spare to you. Take good care of the money and don't lose it, for you may never have as much again. I am very lonesome and wish I could see you, but I know the rest will do you good. With lots of love."
"Is that all?" asked Mrs. Bunker, as her husband stopped reading.
"That is all," he said.
"Isn't there any name or address to that little letter?" Aunt Jo wanted to know.
"No, nothing like that," answered her brother. "The only name in it is 'Uncle Jack,' and that might mean anybody. There must have been a name signed to the letter, but it has been torn off. You can see where the paper has been torn across. I don't see how we can find who owns the money from this letter."
"Maybe there is something else in the pocketbook," said Russ.
Mr. Bunker looked, and did find a Chinese coin with a square hole in it. There was only the letter, addressed to "Dear Mother," and the sixty-five dollars, and the Chinese coin.
"We'll have to put an advertisement in the paper, saying we have found a pocketbook," said Mr. Bunker. "Whoever has lost it will see the advertisement and call here. And we must look in the 'lost and found' advertisements in the paper to-night."
"Yes, we'll do that," said Aunt Jo. "The poor woman must be very sad over her loss. She will be very glad to get it back, and——"
Just then the telephone in Aunt Jo's house gave a loud ring.
"Oh," cried Rose. "Maybe that's some one now to ask about the pocketbook I found. Oh, maybe it is!"
RUSS MAKES A FOUNTAIN
The six little Bunkers, as well as their father and mother, waited while Aunt Jo went to answer the telephone, which kept on ringing as though in a hurry. Vi had asked "Who's ringing?" but of course nobody could tell her until Aunt Jo answered the call.
"Yes! What is it?" asked Aunt Jo into the mouthpiece of the instrument, which stood on a table in the sitting-room. "Oh, it's you, is it, Mr. North?" she went on. "What's that? Did we lose anything? No, not that I know of. One of my little guests found something, but I haven't heard of anything being lost. Wait a minute, though, until I count noses. I'll see if all the six little Bunkers are here. I might have missed one and not know it."
Laughing, Aunt Jo turned from the telephone to look at the children. They were all there, from Russ the oldest to Mun Bun the youngest. Then Aunt Jo spoke again into the instrument.
"No, we haven't lost anything," she said. "Oh, you'll bring it over, will you, Mr. North? Thank you!"
"Was it something about the pocketbook?" asked Rose eagerly.
"No, it was nothing like that," answered her aunt. "The gentleman who telephoned was Mr. North, my next-door neighbor. He says he has something belonging to one of you children, and he is going to bring it right over. Did any of you leave out any of your toys when you were playing in the yard?"
"I didn't," said Russ, and none of his brothers or sisters could think of anything of theirs that was missing. In a few minutes the door bell rang, and when this was answered, Mr. North brought in what seemed to be a bundle of rags.
"Your dog Alexis brought this over and left it on my door mat," he said to Aunt Jo.
"Oh, it's my doll Sue!" cried Rose, as she ran forward to take it. "I forgot all about her. I left her to sleep on the porch in the sun so she would get nice and tanned, as I do when I go to the seashore, and then I went downtown with mother and I forgot all about her."
"Well, I'm glad to bring her back to you," said Mr. North with a smile. "I guess I must have been holding her upside down," and so he had. That was what made Sue look so like a bundle of rags. Really she was a nice doll when she was held right side up.
"It's queer Alexis brought her to your house, instead of in here to me," said Aunt Jo.
"Oh, Alexis and I are great friends," said Mr. North. "He often brings me my paper when the boy leaves it at the front gate instead of walking up to the porch with it, and perhaps your dog might have thought this was a paper, though a very large one," and Mr. North smiled at Rose.
Mr. North had been introduced to the six little Bunkers, and also to Daddy and Mother Bunker, when he entered, and he stayed some little time, talking with them, for he liked children, though all his were grown into big boys and girls now.
"I found a pocketbook," said Rose, when she had got over her first bit of shyness sufficiently to talk to the visitor.
"Did you, indeed? Well, you are lucky!" said Mr. North. Then he was told about the sixty-five dollars, and shown the sad letter in the pocketbook.
"We are going to put an advertisement in the paper," said Aunt Jo. "And if you hear of any poor woman who has lost this sum of money, or read about any in the paper, I wish you would tell us."
"I will," promised Mr. North. "Well, Rose, you have had quite an experience almost as soon as you come to Boston. What are you children going to do the rest of your stay here?"
"I'm afraid I won't know how to provide fun for so many of them," said Aunt Jo. "I want them to have a good time, and remember their visit pleasantly, but I have no toys for girls and boys——"
"That's just what I was going to speak about," said Mr. North. "There is an express wagon in my barn, and an old velocipede, as well as a coaster wagon. They used to belong to my youngsters, but they have outgrown them. If the six little Bunkers would like to play with those toys they are very welcome."
"That will be splendid!" cried Aunt Jo. "I was just wondering what I could do to amuse Russ and the others, for I haven't any things that children like, and we can't go on sight-seeing trips or excursions all the while, though we will go on some. The toys you have, Mr. North, will be just the thing."
And indeed they did prove so. The next day Russ and his brothers and sisters went over to Mr. North's barn. It was an old-fashioned one, the kind horses and carriages used to be kept in before there were automobiles. Mr. North also had a garage for his cars, but the old barn stood far back in his yard, which was a large one next to Aunt Jo's, and in it were the velocipede, the express wagon, a coaster wagon and other things with which to have fun.
"Oh, we can have jolly good times now!" cried Russ.
"And I can give my doll a ride, after Alexis carried her in his teeth," put in Rose.
"Can't we have rides, too?" asked Vi.
"'Course you can," answered Russ. "I'll give you a nice ride."
And then, while Aunt Jo and Mother Bunker went to a Red Cross meeting and while Daddy Bunker went downtown to put an advertisement in the paper about the pocketbook Rose had found, the children played around Mr. North's barn and Aunt Jo's yard.
"Will it be all right to leave them while we go out?" asked Aunt Jo of Mrs. Bunker.
"Oh, yes, as long as your man, William, and your cook, Parker, and your housemaid, Anne, are around to sort of look after them. I often leave them with our Norah and Jerry Simms."
So the six little Bunkers were left to themselves. And you can easily imagine that they had all sorts of good times. There was a stone walk around Aunt Jo's house, as well as around Mr. North's, and there Russ and his brothers and sisters rode in the express wagon, on the velocipede and on the coaster. They laughed and shouted, and every now and then there would be an upset, but no one was hurt and they all seemed to like it.
Now and then Parker or William or Anne would come out from the house or the garage to look and see that the six little Bunkers were coming to no harm, and when they found the children were all right they smiled, for it was fun to watch them play.
"I know what we can do," said Russ to Laddie, after they had taken turns riding on the velocipede and coaster. Just at this time Margy and Mun Bun had the coaster and were playing steam-car with it.
"What can we do?" asked Laddie, always ready to have fun with his older brother.
"We can make a harness for Alexis, and hitch him to the express wagon," went on Russ.
"Oh, that'll be lots of fun!" cried Laddie. "But what'll we make a harness of? Aunt Jo hasn't any horses and Mr. North hasn't either."
"We can make it of string," said Russ. "It doesn't need to be very strong, for we aren't very heavy to pull."
So Russ and Laddie begged pieces of string from Parker, not telling what they were going to make.
"If it's a cat's cradle you have cord enough for a dozen," said the good-natured cook, as she handed out the pieces of string she had saved from the grocery packages.
"No, we're not going to make cats' cradles," answered Russ. "You can see it when we get finished."
It was no very hard matter to catch Alexis and fasten a lot of pieces of string around him, as nearly like a harness as the two little boys could manage. The dog loved children, and asked nothing better than to be with them. So he stood very still, just hanging his tongue out of his mouth, as the day was hot, while Laddie and Russ tied the cord around him. Then they fastened the ends to the express wagon, tying a number of knots.
"We've got to have lines to drive him with," said Laddie. "Else we can't guide him the way we want him to go."
"Yes, I'll make some lines," said Russ. He tied two strings around the neck of Alexis, one for the left-hand side and the other for the right.
"I can't put a bit in his mouth, as I could if he was a horse," said Russ, "'cause Alexis holds his mouth open so much, to cool off his tongue, that the bit would fall out."
"That's right," said Laddie. "Anyhow, we don't want a bit. Now can we have a ride?"
"I guess so," said Russ.
There was quite a collection of strings tied around Alexis and made fast to the little express wagon.
"We'll get in now," said Russ, when he had the cord reins in his hands, "and we'll drive around the walk where Rose and Vi are playing with their dolls," for the two girls were having a party, with cookies and sugar water, which had been given to them by Parker.
Into the wagon got Russ and Laddie. Alexis, harnessed to the little wagon, turned his head to look at them, as if to make sure they were all right.
"Gid-dap!" called Russ, as he would to a horse.
"Bow-wow!" barked the dog, meaning, perhaps: "I will!"
Then he started to walk off.
Now, when I tell you that Alexis was a big, strong dog, and that Laddie and Russ in the express wagon made quite a heavy load, and when I say that the string harness was not very strong, you can easily imagine what happened. Alexis had not taken more than two steps before——
Snap! went the string harness, and it broke in several places.
"Whoa! Whoa!" called Russ. "Whoa there, Alexis!"
But Alexis never "whoaed" a bit. He kept on walking, and he walked right off with the bits of the string harness clinging to him, leaving the express wagon with the two little boys in it on the walk at the side of the house.
"Come on back and give us a ride!" called Laddie.
"I guess we'll have to make a stronger harness," said Russ with a laugh.
"I guess so, too," agreed Laddie.
Anyhow, Alexis didn't come back. Just outside Aunt Jo's fence he saw another dog which he knew, and he ran up to have a "talk" with him, in bow-wow language, of course.
"Well, we didn't get a ride," said Laddie.
"No," agreed Russ, "we didn't. But I know what else we can do."
"What?" asked Laddie.
Russ did not answer for a moment. He was looking at a shovel lying in the back part of the yard, where William had been spading for a late flower bed. Then Russ saw the hose with which the man had been washing the automobile.
"We can make a fountain, Laddie!" exclaimed Russ.
"A fountain! How?"
"Come on, I'll show you!" said Russ.
Then he and his brother began to make a fountain. And I suppose you wonder how they did it.
WHAT HAPPENED TO WILLIAM
"First," said Russ, as he took up the shovel, "we've got to make a hole."
"I thought you said we were going to make a fountain," said Laddie.
"We are," Russ went on. "But first you have to have some place for the fountain water to run into, don't you?"
"I guess so," agreed Laddie, who was not quite sure.
"'Course you have," insisted his older brother. "Don't you 'member how a fountain is? It has a big basin where the water splashes in out of a thing like a hose, and us boys could paddle our feet in the water if we wanted to."
"Oh! are you goin' to make that kind of a fountain?" asked Laddie.
"Sure," said Russ. "Come on, help me dig the hole, and then we'll fix the hose in it and run it full of water and then we can paddle in it—I mean in the hole full of water—and the hose'll be squirtin', and that will be a fountain."
"That'll be fine!" cried Laddie. "I'll get a shovel and help you dig."
Laddie found a small shovel in the barn, and, Russ using the larger one, which was really too big for him, the two brothers began to make their fountain. If their father and mother had been at home, or even Aunt Jo had seen them, I don't suppose they would have been allowed to do this, for it wasn't exactly right, no matter how much fun they thought they would have.
But the boys went on digging, making a deep and large hole in the garden. They tossed the dirt out with their shovels, and, as the soil was soft, it was easy for them to dig in it.
"Isn't it 'most big enough now?" asked Laddie, after a while.
"Almost," Russ answered, as he looked up from where he stood in the hole.
"I'm tired—my back aches," Laddie went on.
"I'm tired, too," said Russ. "But I guess when you build a fountain it makes 'most everybody tired. We'll only dig a little more, and then we can run the water in and wade. I haven't had a good wade since we came from Grandma Bell's."
"Neither have I," said Laddie.
So they dug some more, until they really had quite a large hole in the garden, and then Russ went to get the hose. It was still attached to the faucet, but the water was not turned on.
If William had seen what the boys were doing he would have stopped them. For, though Mr. and Mrs. Bunker had said nothing about not letting the children play in the water, and though Aunt Jo had not spoken of it, either, still, I feel sure William would have stopped Laddie and Russ from making their fountain if he had seen them. But he did not. He was doing something inside the garage just then, and it was at this time that Russ took the nozzle end of the hose, and dragged the long, rubber pipe over toward the hole he and Laddie had dug.
"Now all we've got to do is to fasten the hose in the hole, so it sticks up straight," said Russ. "Then I'll turn the water on, and we'll have a fountain and we can wade in it."
"That'll be fun!" exclaimed Laddie.
At first Russ did not have an easy time trying to make the hose nozzle stand up straight in the hole he and his brother had dug. Then the boy, after whistling a bit, and thinking as well as he could, exclaimed:
"I know how to do it!"
"How?" asked Laddie.
"Why, I'll just drive a stick down in the middle of the hole, and I'll leave part of it sticking up. Then I can tie the end of the hose to it, sticking up in the air, you know, and when I turn the water on it'll squirt right straight up and come down in the fountain."
"That'll be nice," said Laddie. But you just wait and see what happens.
Russ found an old broom-handle, and, using the shovel for a hammer, he drove this stick down into the soft dirt, leaving enough showing above the bottom of the hole to which to tie the hose.
Laddie helped his brother do this, and then the fountain was ready to "play" as it is called. I suppose the water bubbling up and down, as it does in a fountain, really looks as though it were playing.
"Now we're all ready to turn it on," said Russ when the hose was tied fast.
"And then we can wade in the fountain," added Laddie. "I'm going to get my shoes and stockings off now," and he sat down on the ground, near the hole, and began to do this.
Russ went back to where, on the outside wall of the garage, the hose was screwed on the faucet. He tried to turn the brass handle. But it was stiff, and more than his little fingers could manage.
"Come here, Laddie!" called Russ. "You've got to help me turn on the water."
"Wait till I get my other shoe off!" said Laddie.
"No, come on! Do it now!" said Russ. "You can take your shoe off afterwards, while we're waiting for the fountain basin to fill."
So, with one shoe on and the other off, Laddie limped over to the garage to help his brother turn the faucet. Before this William had finished what he was doing, and had gone to the house to ask Parker something. He did not notice what Laddie and Russ were doing, but on his way back to the garage the chauffeur saw the pile of dirt, noticed the hole and looked at the end of the hose sticking up in the air.
"Now I wonder what that is," said William to himself. "I didn't leave the hose like that, and I don't believe Alexis could have dug such a big hole. I must certainly see what it is."
So William, forgetting for the moment about the little Bunkers, walked over to the hose. He saw it sticking up in the hole and, as he bent over it, he said:
"This must be the work of Laddie and Russ. I wonder what they're going to do. Play fireman, maybe."
And it was just then, as William leaned over the hose, that Russ and Laddie managed to turn the faucet. You can imagine what happened after that.
Through the hose spurted the water, out of the end, right in William's face. But of course Laddie and Russ did not mean to do that.
"Oh, my! Here! What's this! Oh, I'm all wet!" spluttered the chauffeur. He jumped back, but not quite far enough, for he stumbled over some of the dirt, and fell down, and the water, shooting up into the air, came down on him in a regular shower.
"I say now! Stop it! Shut off the water!" cried William.
At first Laddie and Russ did not know what he meant. Then they looked toward the hole, which they intended for a fountain, and saw the chauffeur getting wet. William's legs seemed to be so tangled that he couldn't get up in a hurry, and he was getting very wet.
"Turn off the water! Turn off the water!" he begged. "I'm getting all mud!"
Laddie and Russ were frightened, then, and they tried to shut off the faucet. But, just as, often, when you want to do a thing in a hurry you can't, so it happened with the two boys. The faucet wouldn't turn, and the water kept on spurting, and William kept getting wet, until he finally managed to roll out of the way and then he stood up, looking at the showering hose.
"What's all this?" asked the dripping chauffeur, but he was not angry. "What are you boys doing?"
"Please, it's a fountain we made," said Russ.
"And we're goin' wadin' in it!" added Laddie. "Oh, look, Russ! It squirts fine! I'm going to take off my other shoe!"
He sat down to do this. Really the fountain made from the hose, was sending out a fine shower of water that sparkled in the sun. The water was beginning to fill the hole the boys had dug.
"What are you going to do?" asked William, wiping the water from his face.
"We're goin' wadin' in the fountain," explained Laddie. "That's what we made it for."
"Oh, no, you'd better not," said William. "I'm sorry, but your aunt wouldn't like a fountain in her garden. It'll only be a mud-hole, and you'll get all dirty. Your father and mother wouldn't want that. I guess I'd better shut off the water. When your aunt comes home, if she lets you do it, why then it will be all right. But I'm afraid I can't let you do it now."
Russ and Laddie looked disappointed. After all their work not to have the fountain! It was too bad!
"We—we're sorry you got wet," said Russ, thinking perhaps William felt a little vexed at them.
"Oh, that's all right," said William. "I don't mind. These are my old clothes, anyhow. But I'd best shut off the water."
He started toward the faucet to do this. Already the hole Laddie and Russ had dug was half full, and would have made, as Russ said, a "dandy" place to wade. But it was not to be.
As the boys stood beside the hole half filled with water, and as William was at the faucet, ready to turn it off, a loud barking was heard, and into the garden came racing a little dog, chased by big Alexis, who was barking loudly.
"Oh, look!" cried Russ.
And then something else happened.
ROSE MAKES AN AIRSHIP
The little dog that Alexis was racing after must have thought the puddle of water Russ and Laddie had made would be a good place in which to hide. For right into it he ran, and he splattered some of the muddy water over the two boys, who stood near the hole they had dug. William was over at the garage, turning off the faucet, so he did not get wet this time. And it was a good thing, too, as he was quite wet enough already.