SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT COUSIN TOM'S
LAURA LEE HOPE
Author of "Six Little Bunkers at Grandma Bell's," "Six Little Bunkers at Aunt Jo's," "The Bobbsey Twins Series," "The Bunny Brown 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 Cousin Tom's
I. SAMMIE'S STORY 1
II. TREASURE HOPES 13
III. ON THE BOAT 23
IV. A MIX-UP 33
V. MARGY'S CRAWL 41
VI. AT COUSIN TOM'S 51
VII. DIGGING FOR GOLD 62
VIII. ROSE'S LOCKET 72
IX. THE SAND HOUSE 82
X. THE PIRATE BUNGALOW 93
XI. GOING CRABBING 101
XII. "THEY'RE LOOSE!" 111
XIII. IN THE BOAT 123
XIV. VIOLET'S DOLL 132
XV. THE BOX ON THE BEACH 143
XVI. CAUGHT BY THE TIDE 153
XVII. MAROONED 162
XVIII. THE MARSHMALLOW ROAST 170
XIX. THE SALLIE GROWLER 181
XX. THE WALKING FISH 191
XXI. THE QUEER BOX AGAIN 200
XXII. THE UPSET BOAT 208
XXIII. THE SAND FORT 218
XXIV. A MYSTERIOUS ENEMY 227
XXV. THE TREASURE 236
SIX LITTLE BUNKERS
AT COUSIN TOM'S
They were playing on the lawn of Aunt Jo's house—the little Bunkers, six of them. You could count them, if you wanted to, but it was rather hard work, as they ran about so—like chickens, Mrs. Bunker was wont to say—that it was hard to keep track of them. So you might take my word for it, now, that there were six of them, and count them afterward, if you care to.
"Come on!" cried the eldest Bunker—Russ, who was eight years old. "Come on, Rose, let's have some fun."
"What'll we do?" asked Rose, Russ' sister, who was about a year younger. "I'm not going to roll on the grass, 'cause I've got a clean dress on, and mother said I wasn't to spoil it."
"Pooh! Clean grass like Aunt Jo's won't spoil any dress," said Russ. "Anyhow, I'm not going to roll much more. Let's get the pipes and see who can blow the biggest soap bubbles."
"Oh, I want to do that!" cried Vi, or Violet, who was, you might say, the third little Bunker, being the third oldest, except Laddie, of course. "What makes so many colors come in soap bubbles when you blow them?" she asked.
"The soap," answered Russ, getting up after a roll on the grass, and brushing his clothes. "It's the soap that does it."
"But soap isn't that color when we wash ourselves with it," went on Vi. "And what makes bubbles burst when you blow 'em too big?"
"I don't know," answered Russ. Like many an older person, he did not try to answer all Vi's questions. She asked too many of them.
"Let's blow the bubbles," suggested Rose. "Then maybe we can see what makes 'em burst!"
"Come on, Margy and Mun Bun!" called Vi to two other and smaller Bunkers, a little boy and girl who were digging little holes in a sandy place in the yard of Aunt Jo's home. "Come on; we're going to blow bubbles!"
These two little Bunkers left their play and hastened to join the others. At the same time a boy with curly hair and gray eyes, who was Violet's twin, dropped some pieces of wood, which he had been trying to make into some sort of toy, and came running along the path.
"I want to blow some bubbles, too!" he said.
"We'll all blow them!" called Rose, who had a sort of "little mother" air about her when the smaller children were with her. "We'll have a soap-bubble party!"
"Shall we have things to eat?" asked Mun Bun.
"'Course we will," cried Margy, the little girl who had been playing with him in the sand. "We always has good things to eat at parties; don't we, Rose?"
"Well, maybe we can get some cookies from Aunt Jo," said Rose. "You can run and ask her."
Off started Margy, eager to get the good things to eat. It would not seem like a party, even with soap bubbles, unless there were things to eat! All the six little Bunkers felt this.
While Margy was running along the walk that led to the kitchen, where Aunt Jo's good-natured cook might be expected to hand out cookies and cakes, another little Bunker, who was walking beside Violet, the one who had been trying to make something out of pieces of wood, called out:
"Nobody can guess what I have in my mouth!"
"Is that a riddle, Laddie?" asked Russ. For Laddie was the name of the gray-eyed and curly-haired boy, and he was very fond of asking puzzle-questions. "Is it a riddle?" Russ repeated.
"Sort of," admitted Laddie. "Who can guess what I have in my mouth?"
"Oh, it's candy!" cried Violet, as she saw one of her brother's cheeks puffed out. "It's candy! Give me some, Laddie!"
"Nope. 'Tisn't candy!" he cried. "You must guess again!"
Nothing pleased Laddie more than to make his brothers and sisters guess his riddles.
"Is it a piece of cake?" asked Mun Bun.
"Then 'tis so candy!" insisted Violet. And then, seeing her mother coming down the side porch, she cried: "Mother, make Laddie give me some of his candy! He's got a big piece in his mouth, and he won't give me any!"
"I haven't any candy!" declared Laddie. "I only asked her if she could guess what I had."
"'Tis so candy!" insisted Violet again.
"No, 'tisn't!" disputed Laddie.
"Children! Children!" said Mrs. Bunker softly. "I don't like my six little toadikins to talk this way. Where's Margy?" she asked as she "counted noses," which she called looking about to see if all six of the children were present.
"Margy's gone to get some cakes, 'cause we're going to have a soap-bubble party," explained Russ.
"What makes so many pretty colors come in the bubbles, Mother?" asked Violet.
"It is the light shining through, just as the sun shines through the water in the sky after the rain, making the rainbow."
"Oh," said Violet. She didn't understand very well about it, but her question had been answered, anyhow. "And now what's Laddie got in his mouth?" she went on. "Make him give me some, Mother!"
"I can't, 'cause it's only my tongue, and I can't take it out!" laughed Laddie, and he showed how he had thrust his tongue to one side, bulging out his cheek, so it really did look as though he had a piece of candy in his mouth.
"That's the time I fooled you with a riddle!" he said to Violet. "It was only my tongue!"
"I don't care! When I get some real candy I won't give you any!" cried Violet.
"Here comes Margy with the cakes!" exclaimed Rose. "Now we'll have the soap-bubble party."
"But don't get any soap on your cake, or it won't taste nice," warned Mother Bunker. "Now play nicely. Has the postman been past yet?"
"Not yet, Mother," answered Russ. "Do you think he is going to bring you a letter?"
"He may, yes."
"Will it be a letter asking us to come some other place to have a good time for the rest of the summer?" Rose wanted to know. For the six little Bunkers were paying a visit to Aunt Jo in Boston, and expected to leave shortly.
"I don't know just what kind of letter I shall get," said Mrs. Bunker with a smile, "but I hope it will be a nice one. Now have your party, and see who can blow the largest bubbles."
"Let's eat our cake and cookies first," said Russ. "Then we can't get any soap on 'em."
"Why not?" asked Violet, who seemed especially fond of asking questions this day.
"'Cause they'll be inside us—I mean the cookies will," explained Russ.
"Oh, that would make a good riddle!" exclaimed Laddie. "I'm going to make up one about that."
The children went out to the garage, where there was a room in which they often played. There they ate their cookies and cakes, and then Russ and Rose made some bowls of soapy water, and with clay pipes, which the little Bunkers had bought for their play, they began to blow bubbles. They made large and small ones, and nearly all of them had the pretty colors that Violet had asked about.
They took one of the robes from Aunt Jo's automobile, and, spreading this out on the grass, they blew bubbles and let them fall on the cloth. The bubbles bounced up, sometimes making several bounds before they burst.
"Oh, this is lots of fun!" cried Laddie. "It's more fun than making riddles."
"I wondered why you hadn't asked one," said Russ with a laugh. "Oh!" he suddenly exclaimed, for he had happened to laugh just as he was blowing a big bubble, and it burst, scattering a little fine spray of soapy water in his face.
Margy giggled delightedly.
"I like this!" said Mun Bun, as he put his pipe down into the bowl of water and blew a big string of little bubbles.
Just then a voice called:
"Hey, Russ! Where are you?"
"Back here! Come on!" answered Russ, laying aside his pipe.
"Who is it?" asked Rose.
"It's Sammie Brown, the boy we met the other day when we went to Nantasket Beach," Russ explained. "He lives about two blocks from here, and I told him to come over and see us. Here he is now!" and he pointed to a boy, about his own age, who was coming up the walk.
"Hello, Sammie!" greeted Russ. "Want to blow bubbles?"
"Yes," was the answer, and a pipe was found for Sammie. He seemed to know how to use it, for he blew bubbles bigger than any one else.
"What's inside the bubbles?" asked Violet, who simply had to ask another question. "Is it water?"
"No, it's air," said Sammie. "If you could blow a bubble big enough to get inside of you could breathe the air, just like outside. Only when it was all breathed up you'd have to get more."
"Would you, really?" asked Rose.
"Sure," Sammie answered.
"How do you know?" Violet questioned.
"'Cause my father's a sea captain, and he takes divers out on his boat and they go down after things that sink. The divers have air pumped to them, and they wear a big thing on their heads like a soap bubble, only it's called a helmet. This is pumped full of air for the diver to breathe."
"Oh, tell us about it!" begged Laddie, laying aside his pipe.
"Did your father ever go down like a diver?" asked Russ.
"Yes, once or twice. But now he just helps the other men go down. He's been a sea captain all his life, and once he was shipwrecked."
"What's shipwrecked?" asked Margy.
"It's when your ship hits a rock, or runs on a desert island and sinks," said Sammie. "Then you have to get off if you don't want to be drowned. And once my father was shipwrecked on a desert island that way, and they found a lot of gold."
"They did?" cried Russ.
"Sure! I've heard him tell about it lots of times."
"Oh, is it a story?" asked Rose.
"No, it's real," said Sammie.
"Tell us about it," demanded Laddie.
"Well, I don't 'member much about it," Sammie said. "But if you come over to my house, my father'll tell you about it. Only he isn't home now 'cause he's got some divers down in the harbor and they're going to raise up a ship that's sunk."
"Couldn't you tell us a little about it?" asked Russ. "Did your father dig gold on the desert island?"
"Yes, he dug a lot of it," said Sammie. "He's got one piece at home now. It's yellow, just like a five-dollar gold piece."
"Where was the island?" asked Violet.
"Maybe we can go there," suggested Laddie. "That is, if it isn't too far."
"Oh, it's terrible far," said Sammie. "It's half-way around the world."
"That's too far," said Russ with a sigh.
"Maybe we could dig for gold here," suggested Rose. "There's nice sand in one part of Aunt Jo's garden, and I guess she'd let us dig for gold. We could give her some if we found any."
"I don't guess there's any gold here," said Sammie, looking the place over. "This isn't a desert island."
"We could pretend it was," said Laddie. "Let's do that! I'll go for a shovel."
He ran to where the garden tools were kept, but, on the way, he heard the postman's whistle and stopped to get the mail. This he carried to his mother, and, when she saw one letter, she cried:
"Oh, this is from Cousin Tom! I hope it has good news in it!"
Quickly she read it, while Laddie wondered what the good news was about. Then Mrs. Bunker said:
"Oh, Laddie! We're going on another nice trip! Cousin Tom has invited us all down to his seashore cottage! Won't that be fine? We must soon get ready to leave Aunt Jo's and go to Cousin Tom's!"
Laddie Bunker looked up at his mother as she finished reading the letter. Then he shook his head and said:
"We can't go to Cousin Tom's!"
"Can't go to Cousin Tom's!" repeated his mother. "Why not, Laddie, my boy?"
"'Cause we're going to dig for gold here. Sammie Brown's father is a sea captain, and he has divers. He knows a lot about digging gold on desert islands, Sammie's father does, and we're going to make believe Aunt Jo's back yard is a desert island, and we're going to dig for gold there."
"But there isn't any," replied Mrs. Bunker, wanting to laugh, but not doing it, as she did not want to hurt Laddie's feelings.
"Well, we're going to dig, just the same," insisted Laddie. "We can go to Cousin Tom's after we find the gold."
"Oh, I see," said Mrs. Bunker with a smile. "Well, don't you think it would be nice to go to the seashore? There is plenty of sand there, and perhaps there may be a desert island, or something like that, near Cousin Tom's. Couldn't you dig for gold and treasure at the seashore?"
"Oh, maybe we could!" cried Laddie. "I guess that would be nice, Mother. I'll go and tell the others. We're going to Cousin Tom's! We're going to Cousin Tom's!" he sang joyously, as he raced back to where he had left Sammie Brown telling his story, and the other little Bunkers who wanted to dig for gold.
"I think it will be just lovely for the children at Cousin Tom's," said Mrs. Bunker to her husband, who came out to see if there were any letters for him. "They can play in the sand and never get a bit dirty."
"Yes, they can do that," said Mr. Bunker. "So Cousin Tom wrote, did he? Well, I suppose that means we will soon be leaving Aunt Jo's."
"I shall be sorry to see you go," said Aunt Jo herself—Miss Josephine Bunker, to give her complete name and title. She was Daddy Bunker's sister, and had never married, but she had a fine home in the Back Bay section of Boston, and the six little Bunkers, with their father and mother, had been spending some weeks there.
While Mr. and Mrs. Bunker are talking about the coming trip to the seashore, and while Laddie is hurrying back to tell his brothers and sisters the good news, there will be a chance for me to let my new readers hear something about the children who are to have the largest part in this story.
This book is complete in itself, but it forms one of a series about the six children, and the first volume is called "Six Little Bunkers at Grandma Bell's." In that I introduced the boys and girls.
First there was Russ, aged eight years. He had dark hair and eyes, and was very fond of whistling and making things to play with, such as an automobile out of a soap box or a steamboat out of a broken chair. Rose, who was next in size, was seven years old. She often helped her mother about the house and looked after the younger children. And that she was happy when she worked you could tell because she nearly always sang. Rose had light hair and blue eyes.
Vi, or Violet, was six years old. As you have noticed, she was very fond of asking questions, and she looked at you with her gray eyes until you answered. Laddie, her twin brother, was as persistent in making up queer little riddles as Vi was with her questions, and between the two they kept their father and mother busy.
Margy, or Margaret, was five years old, and almost as dark as a little Gypsy girl. Margy and Mun Bun usually played together, and they had a great deal of fun. Lest you might think "Mun Bun" was some kind of candy, I will say that it was the pet name of Munroe Ford Bunker, and it was shortened to Mun Bun as the other was too long to say. Mun Bun was rather small, even for his age of four years. He had blue eyes and golden hair and looked almost as I have an idea fairies look, if there are any real ones.
So there you have the six little Bunkers. When they were at home, they lived in the town of Pineville, on the Rainbow River. Mr. Bunker was a real estate dealer, whose office was about a mile from his home.
In the first book of the series I told you of a trip the Bunkers took to Grandma Bell's at Lake Sagatook, in Maine. Grandma Bell was Mrs. Bunker's mother, and in the Maine woods the children had so many good times that it was years before they forgot them. They had quite an adventure, too, with a tramp lumberman, who had a ragged coat, but I will not spoil that story by telling it to you here.
Before the Bunkers left Grandma Bell's they received an invitation to visit Aunt Jo in Boston, and they were at her Back Bay home when the present story opens.
There had been adventures in Boston, too, and the pocketbook which Rose found, with sixty-five dollars in it, was quite a mystery for a time. But, finally, the real owner was discovered, and very glad she was to get the money back.
"Well, we have had good times here at Aunt Jo's," said Mrs. Bunker to her husband, when they had read all the letters that had come in the mail. "And now it is time for us to go. I think we shall enjoy our stay at Cousin Tom's."
"It will be fine for the children," said their father.
"Yes, they are already counting on digging gold out of the sand," said Mrs. Bunker with a laugh. "Sammie Brown has been telling them some story about buried treasure his father found."
"Well, I believe that is a true story," said Mr. Bunker. "I heard my sister say something about Mr. Brown having been shipwrecked on an island once, and coming back with gold. But if we go to Cousin Tom's we shall have to begin packing soon, shall we not?" he went on.
"Yes," agreed his wife. "We are to leave about the middle of next week."
"We have been doing a great deal of traveling so far this summer," went on Mr. Bunker. "Here it is about the middle of August, and we have been at Grandma Bell's, at Aunt Jo's and we are now going to Cousin Tom's. I had a letter from Grandpa Ford, saying that he wished we'd come there."
"And my brother Fred is anxious to have us come out to his western ranch," said Mrs. Bunker. "If we accept all the invitations we shall be very busy."
So Mr. and Mrs. Bunker talked over the time of leaving, what they would need to take, and the best way of going. Meanwhile Laddie had run back to tell his brothers and sisters the good news.
"We're going to the real seashore!" he exclaimed. "It's down to Seaview where Cousin Tom lives, and we can dig for treasure there!"
"Can we really?" asked Violet. "What's treasure, Russ? Is any of it good to eat? And look at that robin! What makes him waggle his tail that way? And look at the cat! What's she lashing her tail so for?"
"Wait a minute, Vi!" cried Russ with a laugh. "You mustn't ask so many questions all to once."
"Treasure isn't good to eat!" said Laddie. "But if you find a lot of gold you can buy ice-cream sodas with it."
"Maybe the robin is flitting its tail to scare the cat," suggested Rose, who remembered Violet's second question.
"Well, I know why the cat is lashing her tail," said Russ. "Cats always do that when they think they're going to catch a bird. This cat thinks she's going to catch the robin. But she won't!"
"Why not?" asked Rose.
"'Cause I'm going to throw a stone at it—at the cat, I mean," explained Russ. He tossed a pebble at the cat, not hitting it, and the furry creature slunk away. The robin flew off, also, so it was not caught, at least not just then.
"I know a riddle about a robin!" said Laddie. "Only I can't think of it now," he added. "Maybe I shall after a while. Then I'll tell it to you. Go on, Sammie. Tell us more about how your father got the gold on the desert island."
"He dug for it," Sammie answered. "He and the other sailors just dug in the sand for it."
"No, they used big shells. It's easy to dig in the sand."
"Is sand the best place to dig for gold?" Rose wanted to know.
"I guess so," answered Sammie. "Anyhow there's always sand on a desert island, like that one where my father was."
"There's sand down at Cousin Tom's," put in Laddie. "I heard my mother say so. I'm going to dig for gold, and if I get a lot, Sammie, I'll send you some."
"I hope you find a big lot!" exclaimed the visiting boy with a laugh.
They talked over their hopes of finding treasure in the seashore sand, forgetting all about the soap bubbles they had been blowing.
"I'll be lonesome when you go away," said Sammie to Russ. "I like you Bunkers."
"And we like you," said Russ. "Maybe if we dig for gold down at Cousin Tom's, and can't find any, you'll come down and help us."
"Sure I will!" exclaimed Sammie, as if that would be the easiest thing in the world. "I'll ask my father the best way, and then I'll come down."
"Could you bring a diving suit?" asked Laddie. "Maybe the gold would be down on the bottom of the ocean, and we'd have to dive for it. Would your father let you take a diving suit?"
"No, I don't guess he would," said Sammie, shaking his head. "They are only for big men, and you have to have air pumped down to you all the while. It makes bubbles come up, and as long as the bubbles come up the diver is all right."
"Did a shark ever bite your father?" asked Rose.
"No, I guess not," Sammie answered. "Anyhow he never told me about it. But I must go now, 'cause it's time for my lunch. I'll come over after lunch and we can have some more fun."
Sammie said good-bye to the six little Bunkers and started down the side path toward the front gate of Aunt Jo's home. Hardly had he reached the sidewalk when Russ and the others heard him yelling:
"Oh, come here! Come here quick, and look! Hurry!"
ON THE BOAT
"What is it? What's the matter?" cried Rose, as she hurried after her brother, who started to run toward Sammie Brown.
"I don't know," Russ answered. "But something has happened!"
"Maybe Sammie found the treasure," suggested Laddie. "Oh, wouldn't that be great? Then we wouldn't have to dig for it down in the sand at Cousin Tom's!"
"Pooh! there couldn't be no treasure out in front of Aunt Jo's house," exclaimed Violet, not being quite so careful of her words as she should have been.
By this time Russ and Rose were in the front yard, but they could not see Sammie, because between the yard and the street were some high bushes, and the shrubbery hid Sammie from sight.
"What's the matter?" asked Rose.
"What happened?" Russ wanted to know.
"A policeman has arrested a big bear!" cried Sammie. "Come on and see it! The policeman has the bear, an' there's a man with gold rings in his ears, and he's got a red handkerchief on his neck, or maybe that's where the bear scratched him, and there's a big crowd and—and—everything!"
Words failed Sammie. He had to stop then.
"Oh—a—a bear!" gasped Rose.
She and Russ, followed by the rest of the six little Bunkers, hurried out to Aunt Jo's front gate. There they saw just what Sammie had said they would—a policeman had hold of a long cord which was fastened about the neck of a bear. And there was an excited man with a red handkerchief tied about his throat, and he had gold rings in his ears. He was talking to the policeman, and there was a crowd of men and children and a few women about the bear, the policeman, and the other man, who seemed to be the bear's owner.
"What happened?" asked Russ of a boy whom he knew, and who lived a few doors from Aunt Jo's house.
"I don't know," was the answer. "I guess the bear bit somebody though, and the policeman arrested it."
"No, that wasn't it," said another boy. "The bear broke into a bake shop and ate a lot of pies. That's why the policeman is going to take it to the station house."
"Here comes the patrol wagon!" some one else cried, and up the street dashed the automobile from the precinct station house, its bell clanging loudly.
"Get in!" the six little Bunkers heard the policeman say to the man with the red handkerchief around his neck. "Get in, you and the bear! I'll teach you to come around here!"
"Oh, maybe the bear bit the policeman," half whispered Rose.
"No, my dears," said Aunt Jo, who, with Mother Bunker, had come out to see what the excitement was about and why the six little Bunkers had run so fast around the side of the house. "Nothing much at all happened, my dears," said Aunt Jo. "But in this part of Boston, at least, they don't allow performing bears in the streets. That is why the policeman is taking this one away. The man, who is an Italian, led his tame bear along the street and started to have the animal do tricks. But we don't allow that in this Back Bay section."
"Will he shoot the bear?" asked Mun Bun breathlessly.
"Oh, no," said Aunt Jo with a laugh. "The poor bear has done nothing, and his master did not know any better than to bring him here. They will just make them go to another part of the city, where, perhaps, performing bears are not objected to. Whether they allow them anywhere in Boston or not, I can't say. But he will be taken away from here."
The automobile patrol, with the bear and man in charge of the policeman, rumbled away. The crowd waited a little while, and then, as nothing more seemed likely to happen, it began to scatter.
"I'm glad we saw it," said Russ, as he turned back into the yard.
"So'm I," added Laddie. "It's 'most as much fun as digging for gold. Say, Russ, I hope we find some, don't you?"
"I sure do! I wish we were at Cousin Tom's right now. I want to start digging for that treasure."
"Don't be too sure of finding any," said Mother Bunker, who heard what her two little boys were saying. "Many persons dig for gold but never get any."
"Oh, we'll get some," declared Russ, and if you read this book through you will find out that what Russ said came true.
After supper that evening, when they had finished talking about the bear that had been arrested, Laddie and Vi wanted to go out into the yard and start digging.
"Oh, no," said their mother. "You have been washed and dressed, and digging will get you dirty again. Better wait until to-morrow."
"I thought we were going to start to pack to-morrow to go to Cousin Tom's," remarked Rose.
"So we are, but I guess you'll have time to dig for a little gold," returned Mother Bunker with a laugh. "Though that doesn't mean you will find any," she went on with another laugh.
The next day Laddie and Vi did start to dig in a place where Aunt Jo said it would do no harm to turn over the ground.
"Though if there is a golden treasure in my yard I never knew it," she said. "But dig as much as you like."
"I—I just thought of a riddle," said Laddie, as he and Vi started out.
"Let me hear it," suggested Aunt Jo.
"What is it that's so big you can't put it in anything?" he asked. "That's the riddle. What is it that's so big you can't put it in anything in this world?"
"The ocean," answered Rose, who came along just then.
"Nope!" and Laddie shook his head.
"Well, the ocean is terrible big," Violet stated.
"Yes, it is," agreed Laddie. "But that isn't the answer to my riddle."
"Do you mean the sky?" asked Russ. "That's big, too."
"That isn't the answer," said Laddie. "I'll tell you, 'cause you never could guess it. It's a hole that you dig. You can dig one so big that you couldn't put it in anything. Not even the biggest box that ever was. Isn't that a good riddle?"
"Yes, it's pretty good," agreed Russ; and he commenced to whistle a merry tune. "But you could fill a small box with some dirt, and dig a little hole in that, and you'd have a hole in a box," he added, after a moment.
"Yes, but the answer to my riddle is a big hole," said Laddie. "Now come on out and dig!"
"How big a hole are you going to dig?" Vi wanted to know.
"Oh, not the kind in my riddle," replied her brother. "We'll just dig a little one and make believe we're after treasure."
Of course I need not tell you that Laddie and Violet did not find any. Treasure doesn't usually grow in Boston back yards. But the children had fun, and that was best of all.
During the next few days there was much packing of trunks and valises to do, for the six little Bunkers were getting ready to go to Cousin Tom's at Seaview. This was a place on the New Jersey coast, and none of the Bunkers had ever been there. For Cousin Tom had been only recently married to a very pretty girl, named Ruth Robinson. Cousin Tom and his bride had stopped to pay a visit to Daddy and Mother Bunker when the young couple were on their honeymoon trip, and then Cousin Tom and his wife had said that as soon as they were settled in their new seashore home the Bunkers must come to see them.
"And now we are going," said Mother Bunker, on the morning of the day they were to leave Aunt Jo's. The last trunk had been locked and sent away, and the family of travelers was soon to take the train from Boston to Fall River. There they would get on a boat that would take them to New York, and from New York they could go on another boat to Atlantic Highlands, in New Jersey. Then they would take a train down the coast to Seaview.
"Well, I certainly shall miss you!" said Aunt Jo, as she kissed the big and little Bunkers good-bye. "And I hope, children, that you find lots of treasure in the sand."
"We'll dig deep for it," said Laddie. "Did you hear my riddle, Aunt Jo, about what's so big you can't put it in anything?"
"Yes, dear, I heard it."
"The answer is a big hole," went on Laddie, lest his aunt might have forgotten.
"I remember," she said with a laugh.
The trip to Fall River was not a very long one, and the six little Bunkers, who looked out of the windows at the sights they saw, hardly realized it when they were told it was time to get off the train.
"Where do we go now?" asked Rose, as she helped her mother by carrying a package in one hand and holding to Margy with the other. Rose was a real "mother's helper" that day.
"We go on the boat now," said Daddy Bunker. "And I want you children to be very careful. We are going to ride on the boat all night, and we shall be in New York in the morning."
"Shall we sleep on the boat?" asked Laddie.
"Yes, we'll have cute little beds to sleep in," said Mother Bunker.
A half hour later they were on one of the big Fall River boats that make nightly trips between New York and the Massachusetts city. The Bunkers were shown to their state-rooms. They had three large apartments, with several bunks, or beds, in each one, so there would be plenty of room.
They had their supper on the boat, and then they went out on deck in the evening. There were many sights new and strange to the children, and they looked eagerly at each one. Then it grew dark, and it was decided that the time had come for little folks to "turn in," and go to sleep.
Laddie, who with Russ and his father shared a room together, was looking from the window of the stateroom, out into the dark night, when he suddenly cried out:
"Oh, there's going to be a big thunder storm! I just saw the flash of lightning!"
"Are you sure it was lightning?" asked Mr. Bunker with a smile. "I didn't hear any thunder."
"There it is again!" cried Laddie, and this time a ray of bright, white light shone in the window, full in Laddie's face.
"That isn't lightning," said Russ, who had come to the window of the stateroom to stand beside his brother and look out.
"'Tis, too!" insisted Laddie, as another flash came. "It's lightning, and maybe it'll set our boat on fire, and then we can't go to Cousin Tom's an' dig for gold! So there!"
Mr. Bunker, who was opening a valise in one corner of the room, getting out the boys' pajamas for the night, had not seen the light shining in the window, but had seen the glare of it on the wall.
"'Tisn't lightning at all!" declared Russ again.
"How do you know it isn't?" asked Laddie.
"'Cause lightning flashes are a different color," said Russ. "And, besides, they don't stay still so long. Look, Daddy, this one is peeping right in our window like a light from Aunt Jo's automobile!"
Mr. Bunker turned in time to see the bright flash of light come in through the window, and then it seemed to stay in the room, making it much brighter than the light from the electric lamps on the wall.
"Of course that isn't lightning!" said Mr. Bunker. "That's a search-light from some ship. Come on out on deck, boys, and we'll see it."
The bright glare was still in the room, but it did not flare up as lightning would have done, and there were no loud claps of thunder.
"Well, if it isn't a storm I'll come out on deck and look," Laddie said. "But if it rains I'm coming in!"
"It won't," said Daddy Bunker with a laugh. "We'll go out for a few minutes, and then we'll come in and go to bed. To-morrow we'll be at Cousin Tom's."
Out on the deck of the big Fall River boat they went, and, surely enough, the light did come from the search-lantern of a big ship not far away. It was a United States warship, the boys' father told them, and it was probably kept near Newport, where there is a station at which young sailors are trained. The warship flashed the light all about the water, lighting up other boats.
"I thought it was lightning," said Laddie.
"It is a kind of lightning," said Daddy Bunker. "For the light is made by electricity, and lightning and electricity are the same thing, though no one has yet been able to use lightning to read by."
Mrs. Bunker, who had left Rose in charge of Margy and Mun Bun, came out on deck with Violet, and met her husband and the two boys. She was told about Laddie's thinking the light was from a storm, and laughed with him over it.
"I'm going to make up a riddle about the search-light to-morrow," said the little fellow eagerly.
They stayed out on deck a while longer, while the boat steamed ahead, watching the various lights on shore and on other vessels, and occasionally seeing the glare of the search-beam from the warship. Then, as it was getting late and the children were tired, Mother Bunker said they had better go to their beds.
This they did, and they slept soundly all night.
The morning was bright and fair, and the day promised to be a fine one for the rest of the trip to Cousin Tom's. As I have mentioned, they were to take a boat from New York City to Atlantic Highlands, and from there a train would take them down the New Jersey coast to Seaview, and to Mr. Thomas Bunker's house on the beach.
"Are we going to have breakfast on the boat?" asked Russ, as he helped his father gather up the baggage, whistling meanwhile a merry tune.
"No, I think we will go to a restaurant on shore," said Mr. Bunker. "I want to telegraph to Cousin Tom, and let him know we are coming, and I think we shall all enjoy a meal on shore more than on the boat after it has tied up at the dock."
So on shore they all went, and Daddy Bunker, after leaving the hand baggage at the dock where they were to take the Atlantic Highlands boat later in the day, took them to a restaurant.
"Shall we have good things to eat?" asked Violet, as she walked along by her mother's side.
"Of course, my dear," was the answer. "That is what restaurants are for."
"Will they have as good things as we had at Aunt Jo's?"
"Well, yes, I think so."
"Will they have strawberry shortcake?"
"You don't want that for breakfast!" laughed Daddy Bunker, turning around, for he was walking ahead with Russ.
"I like strawberry shortcake," went on Violet. "It's good and mother said they had good things in a rest'ant. I want strawberry shortcake."
"Well, you shall have some if we can get it," promised Mother Bunker, for Violet was talking quite loudly, and several persons on the street, hearing her, looked down at the little girl and smiled.
"All right," said Vi. "I'm glad I'm going to get strawberry shortcake in the rest'ant. What makes 'em call it a rest'ant, Daddy? Does an ant rest there? And why doesn't Aunt Jo come to one an' rest?"
"I'll tell you about it when we get there," said her father.
The restaurant was not far from where they were to take the boat for Atlantic Highlands, and, though it was rather early in the morning, quite a number of persons were at breakfast.
There was a smell of many things being cooked, and the rattle of dishes, and of knives, forks and spoons made such a clatter that it sounded as though every one was in a great hurry.
"Are all these people going down to the seashore like us?" asked Violet, who seemed to have many questions to ask that day.
"Oh, no," answered her father. "They are just hungry, and they want their breakfast. Perhaps some of them have been traveling all night, as we were. But come, we must find a table large enough for all of us. I don't believe they often have a whole family, the size of ours, at breakfast here."
A waiter, who had seen the Bunkers come in, motioned them to follow him, and he led them to a quiet corner where there was a table with just eight chairs about it.
"Ho! I guess this was made specially for us," said Russ with a laugh, as he slid into his seat.
"Yes, it just seems to fit," agreed Mr. Bunker. "Now, Mother," and he looked over at his wife, "you order for some of the children, and I'll order for the others. In that way we'll be through sooner."
"Have they got any strawberry shortcake?" asked Vi. "I want some."
"I don't see it down on the bill of fare for breakfast," replied her father, "but I'll ask the waiter."
One of the men, of whom there were many hurrying to and fro with big trays heaped high with dishes of food, came over to the Bunkers' table.
"No, the strawberry shortcake isn't ready until lunch," he said. "But you can have hot waffles and maple syrup."
"Oh, I like them!" and Violet clapped her hands. "I like them better than strawberry shortcake."
"Then you may bring some," said Mr. Bunker. It took a little time to get just what each child wanted, and sometimes, after the order was given, one or the other of the youngsters would change. But finally the waiter had gone back to the kitchen, to get the different things for the six little Bunkers and their father and mother.
"And now we can sit back and draw our breaths," said Mrs. Bunker. "My, I never saw such a hungry lot of children! Now sit still, all of you, until I 'count noses.' I want to see if you're really all here."
She began at Russ, and went to Rose, to Violet, to Laddie, and to Margy, and then Mrs. Bunker suddenly cried:
"Why, you're not Mun Bun! Where is Mun Bun? You are not my little boy!"
And, surely enough, there was a mix-up. For in the seat where Mun Bun had been sitting was a strange little boy. He was about as big as Mun Bun, but he was not one of the six little Bunkers.
Where was Mun Bun?
Mother Bunker looked at the strange little boy. And the strange little boy looked at Mother Bunker.
"Where did you come from?" asked Mr. Bunker.
"Over there, and I'm hungry!" said the little fellow. "I'm terrible hungry, 'cause I didn't have no breakfast yet. Has you got any breakfast?" and he looked at each plate in turn, for the waiter had put plates in front of each of the Bunkers. "No, you hasn't anything to eat, either. I guess I'll go back," and he started to slip down from his chair. He was sitting between Violet and Margy.
"Wait a minute, my little man," said Daddy Bunker with a smile. "Don't run away so fast. You might get lost. Who are you and where do you live?"
"I live away far off," answered the strange boy. "My name is Tommie, and I come in a ship and I'm going out West, and I'm hungry!"
"Oh, maybe he's lost!" exclaimed Russ.
"I'm sure Mun Bun is!" said Mrs. Bunker. "Oh, where can he be? He was in his chair a minute ago, and then I looked to see what else I wanted to order to eat, but when I looked up there was this strange boy, and Mun Bun was gone. Oh, I hope he hasn't gone into the street!" and she looked toward the door of the restaurant.
Mun Bun was not in sight, and Mr. Bunker got up from his chair to make a search. The strange boy who had said his name was Tommie, looked about hungrily.
Just as Mrs. Bunker was going to call a waiter, and ask about Mun Bun, there came a cry from another table at the far end of the restaurant. It was the voice of a woman, and she said:
"Oh, that isn't Tommie! Where is he? Where is Tommie?"
"I guess that explains the mystery," said Mr. Bunker with a smile. "The two boys are mixed up. We have Tommie—whatever his other name is—at our table, and Mun Bun must have gone down there," and he pointed to the table where the woman had called for Tommie. There were five children at this table, waiting for breakfast as the six little Bunkers were waiting, and one of them was Mun Bun, as his mother could see. She ran down the long room.
"Oh, Mun Bun!" cried Mrs. Bunker. "What made you go away? Why did you come over here?" And she hurried to his chair and took him in her arms.
At the same time the boy who had called himself Tommie, slipped out of his chair and hurried with Mrs. Bunker back to the table where the woman who had called him sat.
"Now I guess the mix-up is straightened out," said Daddy Bunker with a laugh. "Mun Bun slipped away, when we were not looking, and went to the wrong table. At the same time a little boy from that table came to ours. They just traded places."
"Like puss-in-the-corner," said Rose, who had followed her mother and father to the other end of the room.
"That's it," agreed Daddy Bunker. "I'm sorry you were frightened about your little boy," he went on to Tommie's mother. "We didn't know we had him."
"And I didn't know I had yours," she said with a smile. "I have five children, all girls but this one, and when I didn't see Tommie in his place, but saw, instead, this strange little chap, I didn't know what had happened."
"That's just the way I felt," said Mrs. Bunker. "I have six, and when we travel it keeps me and their father busy looking after them."
"My husband isn't with me now," said the woman, who gave her name as Mrs. Wilson. "But I expect to meet him at the station. We are going to Asbury Park for the rest of the summer."
"We are going to Seaview," said Mrs. Bunker. "Perhaps we may meet you at the shore."
"I hope so," said Mrs. Wilson, as Tommie slipped into the seat out of which Mun Bun slid. "Now here comes your breakfast, children."
"Yes, and the waiter is bringing ours," said Mr. Bunker with a look over toward his own table. "Come, Mother, and Mun Bun. You, too, Rose."
They said good-bye to Mrs. Wilson, and soon the six little Bunkers at one table were eating waffles and maple syrup, and at the other table the five little Wilsons were enjoying their meal.
"What made you go away, Mun Bun?" asked his mother, as she buttered another waffle for him.
"I wanted to see if they had any shortcake down there," he explained. "I wanted some like Vi did, and I went to another table to see. But there wasn't have any," he added, getting rather mixed up in his talk. "And when I wanted to come back I didn't know the way and I sat down and you weren't there, Mother, and I was afraid and——"
"But you're all right now," said Mrs. Bunker, as she saw Mun Bun's chin begin to quiver as it always did just before he cried. "You're all right now, and not lost any more. Finish your waffle, and we'll soon be ready to go on the boat to Cousin Tom's."
The children were eating heartily, for they were hungry after their night trip from Fall River. Laddie, who had had several helpings of waffles, at last seemed satisfied. He leaned back in his chair and said:
"I know another riddle. When is Mun Bun not Mun Bun?"
"He's always Mun Bun, 'ceptin' when Mother calls him Munroe Ford Bunker, when he's got himself all dirt," said Vi. "I don't call that a riddle."
"It is a riddle," insisted Laddie. "When is Mun Bun not Mun Bun?"
"Is it when he's asleep?" asked Russ, taking a guess just to please his small brother.
"Nope! That isn't it," went on the small boy. "It's awful hard, and you'd never guess it, so I'll tell you. Mun Bun isn't Mun Bun when he's Tommie Wilson. Isn't that a good riddle?" he asked. "Mun Bun isn't Mun Bun when he's Tommie Wilson."
"Yes, that is pretty good," said Mr. Bunker. "But now we had better hurry, or we may be late for the Atlantic Highlands boat. Are you all through?"
They were; all but Mun Bun, who saw a little pool of maple syrup on his plate, and wanted to get that up with a spoon before he left the table. Then once more the six little Bunkers were on their way.
The Atlantic Highlands boat left from a pier near one of the New Jersey Central Railroad ferry slips on West street in New York City, and it was quite a long walk from the shore end of the pier to the end that was out in the Hudson River. It was at the river end that the boat stopped, coming down from a pier farther up the stream.
"Now are we all here?" asked Mother Bunker, as she and her husband started down West street. "I don't want Mun Bun to change into some one else after we get started on the boat, for then it will be too late to change him back. Are we all here?"
They were, it seemed, and down West street they hurried. The way was lined with out-door stands, where it seemed that nearly everything from bananas and oranges to pocketbooks and shoes, were sold. West street is along the river front, where many boats land, and there are sailors, and other persons, who have no time to go shopping for things up town, or farther inland in the city of New York. So the stands on West street are very useful. You can buy things to eat, as well as things to wear, without going into a store. A big shed over the top keeps off the rain.
As the Bunker family hastened on, Margy, who had been walking with Rose, let go of her sister's hand and cried:
"Oh, look at the little kittie! I want to rub the little kittie!"
A small cat had crawled out from under one stand and was walking along the street. Margy saw it, and, being very fond of animals, she wanted to pet it.
But the cat, young as it was, seemed to be afraid. As Margy ran from Rose's side and trotted after the furry animal, it gave a sudden scamper under another stand.
But Margy had chased kittens before, and she knew that once they got under something they generally stayed near the front edge, hoping they would not be seen. By stooping down, and reaching, she had often pulled her own kitten out from under her mother's dresser.
"I can get you! I can get you!" laughed the little girl.
Paying no attention to her clean, white stockings, which her mother had put on her only that morning, Margy knelt down on the sidewalk, and stretched her arms under the fruit stand, beneath which the half-frightened kitten had crawled.
If the little cat had known that Margy only wanted to stroke it softly and pet it I am sure it would not have run away. But that is what it did, and that is what caused all the trouble. For there was trouble. I'll tell you about it.
"Come on out, kittie!" called Margy. "Come on out! I won't hurt you! I like kitties, I do! Come on out and let me rub you!"
She stooped lower down to see under the edge of the fruit stand. By this time Mrs. Bunker had seen what had happened, and she called:
"Margaret Bunker, get right up off your knees this instant. You'll spoil your clean white stockings! Get up! We'll miss the boat!"
But Margy paid no heed. She could see the kitten now, back in a dark corner under the stand, and she wanted to get it out.
"Come on, kittie!" called the little girl. "Come on out, and I'll take you to Cousin Tom's with us and you can play in the sand! Come on, I'll rub you nice and soft!"
"Mew! Mew!" said the kitten, but it did not come out.
And then Margy did a very queer thing.
With a sudden wiggle and a twist she crawled all the way under the fruit stand, her little legs, in the white stockings, being the last to disappear.
"Oh, catch her! Quick! Catch her!" cried Mrs. Bunker. But it was too late. Margy was out of sight under the fruit stand after the little kitten.
AT COUSIN TOM'S
When Mr. Bunker heard his wife calling as she did, he stopped and looked back, for he was walking on ahead with Russ and Laddie. Then all the other Bunkers stopped, too, and gathered around the fruit stand. All except Mr. Bunker and the two boys knew what had happened, for they had seen Margy crawl under.
The man who owned the stand, who had gone away from it a moment to talk to the man who kept a socks-and-suspender stand next to him, had not seen the kitten crawl under his pile of fruit, nor had he seen Margy go after it. But when he saw the seven Bunkers gathered in a group he at once thought they wanted to buy some apples, pears, or oranges.
"Nice fruit! Nice fruit!" said the man, who was an Italian. "Very nice good fruit and cheap."
"No, we don't want any fruit now," said Mrs. Bunker. "I want my little girl."
"Lil' girl? Lil' girl!" exclaimed the Italian.
"No got lil' girls. Only got fruit, banan', orange, apple! You want to buy? Good nice fruit cheap!"
"No, I want Margy!" cried Mrs. Bunker.
"Where is she?" asked Mr. Bunker, who, as I have told you, had not seen where Margy went.
"She's under the stand," explained his wife.
"She went to get a kitten," added Rose.
"No got kittens nor cats needer," said the Italian. "Only got fruit. Nice fruit, cheap!"
Mr. Bunker stooped down to look under the stand.
"No fruit there!" the owner said. "All fruit on top. Nice fruit, cheap!"
"I am looking for my little girl," explained Mr. Bunker. "She crawled under there—under your stand—after a kitten."
And just then could be heard a loud:
"Mew! Mew! Mew!"
"Oh, she's caught it! Margy's caught the kittie," cried Mun Bun. "I can hear him holler."
Certainly something seemed to have happened to the kitten, for it was mewing very loudly. Mr. Bunker reached in under the fruit stand, and made a grab for something. He gave a pull and out came—Margy!
And as Margy came into view, being pulled by one leg by her father, who found that was the only way he could reach her, it was seen that the little girl held, clasped in her arms, the kitten after which she had crawled.
"I got it! I got it!" cried Margy, as she sat down on the sidewalk in front of the fruit stand.
The kitten was a soft, furry one, but it was rather mussed and bedraggled now, from the way Margy had mauled it. And the little Bunker girl was rather tousled herself, for there was not much room underneath the stand where she had crawled.
"Oh, my dear Margy!" cried Mrs. Bunker. "You are such a sight!"
"But I got my kittie!" said the little girl.
By this time quite a crowd had gathered around the six little Bunkers and their father and mother. Margy still sat on the sidewalk, with the kitten in her lap, petting and rubbing it.
"Come! We must hurry!" exclaimed Mr. Bunker. "We may miss the boat. Get up, Margy. Rose, you help your mother dust Margy off, and then we must hurry."
"Can't I take the kittie?" asked the little girl.
"No, dear," answered her mother. "It isn't yours. And besides, we never could take it to Cousin Tom's with us. Put it down, Margy, my dear!"
"Oh, oh, I don't want to!" cried the little girl, and real tears came into her eyes. "I got this kittie out of a dark corner, and it loves me and I love it! I want it."
"But you can't take it," said Daddy Bunker. "The kittie must stay here. It belongs to the fruit stand. It's your cat, isn't it?" he asked the Italian.
"My keeten? No. I have no keeten. I sell banan', orange, apple! You buy some I give you keetie. Me no want!"
"No, and we don't want it, either," said Mrs. Bunker. "I was hoping it was yours so you could say you had to keep it here to drive the mice away. If Margy thought it was yours she wouldn't want to take it away."
"Ah, I see!" exclaimed the Italian with a smile. "All right, I keep the keeten," and he said the name in a funny way.
"There, Margy!" exclaimed her father. "You see you'll have to leave the kitten here to keep the mice away from the oranges."
"Can't I take it to Cousin Tom's with me?"
"No. And you must put it down quickly, and hurry, or we shall miss the boat."
Margy started to cry, but the Italian, who seemed to understand children, quickly offered her a big, yellow orange. Then Margy let go of the kitten, and the fruit man quickly picked it up and put it down in a little box out of sight.
"She no see—she no want," he whispered to Mrs. Bunker.
"I want an orange!" exclaimed Mun Bun, seeing Margy beginning to eat hers. "I likes oranges!"
"All right, we'll all have some," said Mr. Bunker. It seemed like disappointing the stand-owner to go away without buying some, after all that had gone on at his place of business.
So Mr. Bunker bought a large bag of oranges, telling his wife they could eat them on the boat. Margy forgot about the kitten, and, being dusted, for she was dirty from her crawl under the stand, the six little Bunkers once more started off. This time their father and mother watched each one of the boys and girls to see that none of them did anything to cause further delays. Russ and Rose and Laddie and Violet were not so venturesome this way as were Margy and Mun Bun.
"Now here we are at the dock, and all we have to do is to walk straight out to the end of the pier and get on the boat when it comes," said Mr. Bunker. "It is nearly time for it. I don't believe anything more can happen."
And nothing did. There was a long walk, or platform, elevated at one side of the covered pier, and along this the children hurried with their father and mother. A whistle sounded out on the Hudson River, which flowed past the far end of the dock.
"Is that our boat?" asked Russ.
"I hope not," his father answered. "If it is, we may miss it yet. But I do not think it is. There are many boats on the river, and they all have whistles."
A little later they were in the waiting-room at the end of the dock, where there were a number of other passengers, and soon a big white boat, with the name "Asbury Park" painted on one side, was seen steering toward the dock.
"Here she is!" cried Mr. Bunker, and, a little later, they were all on board and steaming down New York Bay.
They steamed on down past the Statue of Liberty, that gift from the French, past the forts at the Narrows, and so on down the bay. Off to the left, Daddy Bunker told the children, was Coney Island, where so many persons from New York go on hot days and nights to get cooled off near the ocean.
"Is Seaview like Coney Island?" asked Vi.
"Well, it may be a little like it," her father answered; "though there will not be so many merry-go-rounds there or other things to make fun for you. But I think you will have a good time all the same."
"We're going to dig for gold, like Sammie Brown's father," declared Laddie. "If we find a lot of it we can buy a ticket for Coney Island."
"What makes them call it Coney Island?" asked Vi. "Did they find some coneys there?"
"I don't know," her father replied.
"What's a coney, anyhow?" went on the little girl.
"I don't know the answer to that question, either," said Mr. Bunker. "You'll have to ask me something else, Vi."
"Maybe it's an ice-cream cone they meant," said Russ, "and they changed it to coney."
"Did they, Daddy?" Vi wanted to know.
"Well, you have a questioning streak on to-day," laughed her father. "I'm sorry I can't tell you how Coney Island got its name."
So the children looked, first on one side of the boat and then on the other as they steamed along. Now and then Vi asked questions. Russ whistled and thought of many things he would make when he reached Cousin Tom's. Laddie tried to think up a riddle about why the smoke from the steamer did not stack up in a pile, instead of blowing away, but he couldn't seem to think of a good answer. And, as he said:
"A riddle without an answer isn't any fun, 'cause you don't know when people guess it wrong or right."
Finally the boat turned toward land and, a little later, Daddy Bunker said they were near Atlantic Highlands. Then the steamer slowly swung up to a big pier, the gangplank was run out, and the six little Bunkers, with their father and mother and the other passengers, got off, their tickets being taken up as they left the boat.
A train was waiting at the pier, and soon, with the Bunkers in one of the coaches, it was puffing down the track, along the edge of the water. Above the train towered the high hills which gave Atlantic Highlands its name.
On the heights, at a station called "Highlands," are two big lighthouses.
The Highland light is as bright as ninety-five million candles, and on a clear night can be seen flashing for many miles.
"Could we come down and see the light some night?" asked Russ, as his father told him about it.
"Yes, I think so," was the answer. "But get ready now. We shall soon be at Cousin Tom's place."
The train rumbled over a bridge across the Shrewsbury river, which flows into Sandy Hook Bay, and then, after passing a few more stations, the brakeman cried:
"Seaview! Seaview! All out for Seaview!"
"Oh, now we're at Cousin Tom's!" cried Rose. "Won't we have fun?"
"Lots!" agreed Russ.
"And don't forget about digging for gold!" added Laddie.
They got off the train, and Cousin Tom, who was waiting for them, hurried up, all smiles. Behind him came his pretty wife.
"Oh, I'm so glad to see you!" said Cousin Ruth.
"Are all the six little Bunkers here?" Cousin Tom wanted to know, with a grin.
"Every one!" answered Mother Bunker. "But we nearly lost Margy. She crawled under a fruit stand after a kitten. Where is she now? Margy, come back!" she called, for she saw the little girl running toward the train. "Don't get on the cars!" cried Mrs. Bunker. The train was beginning to move. "Come back, Margy! Oh, get her, some one!"
But Margy was not going near the train. Suddenly she stooped over and caught up in her arms a little, white, woolly poodle dog.
"Look what I found!" she cried. "If I can't have a kittie cat, I can have a dog. He is a nice dog and he jumped off the train 'cause he likes me!"
And, just as Margy picked up the dog in her arms, a woman thrust her head out of one of the windows of the moving train and screamed.
DIGGING FOR GOLD
The dog began to bark, the engine of the train whistled, the woman with her head out of the car window kept on screaming, and the conductor, standing out on the platform, shouted something, though no one could tell what it was.
"It sounded," said Daddy Bunker, afterward, "like that Mother Goose story, where the fire begins to burn the stick, the stick begins to beat the dog, the dog begins to chase the pig and the old lady got home before midnight."
"What is the matter?" asked Cousin Tom, who had stopped greeting the six little Bunkers to look at Margy and the dog, and listen to the screaming of the woman on the train.
No one seemed to know, but, suddenly, the engine whistled loudly once, and then the train came to a stop. Out of the car rushed the woman, down the steps and toward Margy.
"My dog!" she cried. "Oh, my pet dog! I thought he was killed!"
"No'm, I picked him up," explained Margy, as the woman took her pet animal. "I saw him, and he came to me, 'cause he liked me. I almost got a little kitten, but it went under a stand and when I pulled it out Mother wouldn't let me keep it. Now I can't have the doggie, either," and Margy acted as if she were going to cry.
"I'm sorry, little girl," said the woman, "but I couldn't give up my pet Carlo. He is all I have!" and she cuddled the dog in her arms as she would a baby.
"Did you stop my train, lady?" asked the conductor, and he seemed rather angry.
"Yes," was the answer. "My Carlo ran off, just as it started, and I saw the little girl pick him up. Then I pulled the whistle-cord, and stopped the train. I just had to jump off and get my Carlo!"
"Well, now that you have him, please get back on again," said the conductor. "We are late now, and must hurry."
"I'm sorry I can't leave Carlo with you, for I'm sure you would love him," said the woman to Margy. "But I could not get along without him."
Margy did not have time to answer, as the woman had to hurry back to the train. The conductor was waiting, watch in hand, for the train had stopped after it had started away from the station, and would be a few minutes late. And on a railroad a few minutes mean a great deal.
"Oh, dear!" sighed Margy. "I had a little kittie and then I didn't have it. Then I had a little dog and now I haven't that, either! Oh, dear!"
"Never mind," said Cousin Tom, as he patted the little girl on the head. "You can come down to the bungalow and play in the sand, and maybe you can find a starfish or something like that."
"Oh, are there fish down in your ocean?" asked Russ.
"Lots of 'em, if you can catch 'em," said Cousin Tom, laughing.
"And is there any gold?" Laddie asked.
"I never found any, if there is," was the answer. "But then I never had much time to dig for it. You may, if you like. But now are you all ready?"
"All ready, I think," said Mother Bunker. "Don't pick up any more stray dogs or cats, Margy, my dear."
"This one came to me," said the little girl. "I loved him, I did, but now he is gone."
However there was so much new to see and talk about down at the seashore that Margy soon forgot about her little troubles. There were some carriages and automobiles at the station, and, dividing themselves between two of these, the Bunkers and Cousin Tom and his wife were soon driving down toward the ocean, for Cousin Tom lived on a street not far from the beach. He was the son of Mr. Ralph Bunker, who had been dead some years, and Mr. Ralph Bunker was Daddy Bunker's brother. So the children's father was Cousin Tom's uncle, you see.
"Did you have a nice trip?" asked Cousin Ruth, of Mrs. Bunker, as she rode beside her in the automobile.
"Yes, very. Laddie thought a search-light was a thunderstorm, when we were coming down on the Fall River boat, Margy crawled under a fruit stand in New York to get a stray kitten, and Mun Bun got mixed up with another little boy. But we are used to such things happening, and we don't mind. I hope you will not be driven wild by the children."
"Oh, no, I love them!" said Cousin Ruth with a smile, as she looked over at the six little Bunkers.
"That's good," said their mother with a smile. "Of course they get into mischief once in a while, but they are usually pretty good and don't give much trouble. They play very nicely together."
"I'm sure they must. I shall love them all—every one! I wonder if they are hungry."
"They generally are ready to eat," said Mrs. Bunker. "But don't fuss too much over them. They can wait until meal time."
But the six little Bunkers did not have to do this, for when they reached the bungalow, not far from the beach, where Cousin Tom and his wife lived, there was plenty of bread and jam for the hungry children—and hungry they were, you would have believed, if you could have seen them eat. Cousin Ruth seemed to think it was fun.
"Welcome to Seaview!" cried Cousin Tom, when the children were eating and Mr. and Mrs. Bunker had laid aside their things and the baggage had been carried to the different rooms. "Now I want you all to have a good time while you're here. Make yourselves right at home."
"They seem to be doing that," said Daddy Bunker, for the children just then finished their bread and butter and jam, and began to run all around the house.
Cousin Tom's bungalow was about a block from the ocean, and on a new street in Seaview, so there were no other houses very near it. Not far away was what is called an "inlet." That is, the waters of the ocean came into the land for quite a distance, making a place where boats could get in and out without going through the surf, or heavy waves. This inlet was called Clam River, for toward the upper end, a mile or so from the sea, it was shallow and sandy, and many clams were found there.
Clam River was a harbor for fishing and lobster boats, and they could run into it and be safe from storms at sea.
"I'm going out and dig in the sand!" cried Mun Bun.
"I'll come, too," said Margy.
"Well, don't pick up any stray dogs or cats," warned her mother. "Perhaps you had better go with them, Rose," she said to the oldest girl.
"All right, Mother. I'll look after them," was the answer, and Rose became her mother's little helper again.
Vi and Laddie seemed to be looking for something. They wandered about the big porch of the bungalow, and out in front, up and down.
"What do you want?" asked Cousin Ruth, who saw them.
"Something we can use to dig for gold," answered Laddie.
"Dig for gold!" exclaimed Cousin Ruth. "Is that a riddle?" for she had heard that Laddie was very fond of asking riddles.
"No, this is real," answered the little fellow. "'Tisn't a riddle at all. Sammie Brown's father dug for gold, and we're going to. There is always gold in sand."
"Oh, I'm glad to know that," answered Cousin Ruth. "We have so much sand around us that if it all has gold in it I'm sure we shall soon be rich. But I wouldn't be too sure about it, Laddie. Some sand may not have any gold in it. But you may dig all you like. You'll find some shovels and pails on the side porch. I put them there on purpose for you children."
Vi and Laddie found what they wanted, and hurried down to the beach to dig. Margy and Mun Bun went also, with Rose, while Russ, having found some bits of driftwood, began to whittle out a boat which he said he was going to sail on Clam River, where the water was smooth.
Mr. and Mrs. Bunker sat in the bungalow talking to Cousin Tom and his wife, telling them about their trip and the visit to Aunt Jo's, from whose house they had just come.
"I hope you can stay the rest of the summer with us," said Cousin Tom.
"It is a lovely place," said Mrs. Bunker, "And we shall stay as long as you like to have us, for I think the children will like it here. And we are more than glad to be with you and Cousin Tom. But we have half promised to visit Grandpa Ford."
"Yes, and he surely expects us," added her husband. "Is it all right for the children to play on the beach?" he asked his nephew.
"Oh, yes, surely. Did you think anything could hurt them?"
"Well, I didn't know. It's so near the water——"
"The beach is a very safe one, and the water is shallow, even at high tide," said Cousin Tom. "At low tide you can wade quite a distance out. The children will be all right. But do they really expect to find gold by digging?"
"I believe they do. It's a story they heard," said Mr. Bunker with a laugh. "Near Aunt Jo's lived a boy whose father was a sea captain, and who, I believe, did once find gold on an island. It set Laddie and Vi to thinking they might do the same. But, of course, there isn't any gold here."
"Of course not," said Cousin Tom.
So Mr. and Mrs. Bunker talked with Cousin Tom and his wife, while the children played outside. The sun was going down, and it would soon be time for supper, when Mrs. Bunker, who had gone upstairs to change her dress, heard Rose calling:
"Come back, Laddie! Come back! You mustn't get into that boat!"
"Into a boat? Oh, I should say not!" cried Mrs. Bunker, who could not see from her window what was going on. "What are you doing, Laddie?" she called, as she hurried down.
She heard her little boy's voice in answer:
"I'm going off in the boat and dig for gold. No, I won't come back, Rose. I'm going to dig for gold. Come on, Vi!"
Fearing that something was going to happen, Mrs. Bunker ran out on the porch, from where she could see the beach.
Mrs. Bunker gave a quick glance about to see what was happening. She noticed Margy and Mun Bun, well up on the beach, digging holes and making little piles of sand. But down near the inlet, where a boat was tied, Rose was having trouble with Laddie.
The little boy who was so fond of asking riddles, and his sister Violet, who liked to ask questions, had left the place where they first had begun to "dig for gold," as they called it, and Laddie was about to get into the boat, calling to his sister Vi to follow.
"No, you mustn't go!" declared Rose. "You mustn't get into the boat. Mother told me to stay and watch you, and you've got to keep here on the beach and dig for gold!"
"There isn't any gold here!" declared Laddie. "I've dug all over, and we can't find any; can we, Vi?"
"Nope, not a bit," and Vi shook her curly hair.
"So we're going out in the boat, like real sailors. That's what Sammie Brown's father did," went on Laddie. "Then we'll find gold."
"But you mustn't get into the boat, Laddie, unless Daddy or Cousin Tom is with you!" said Mother Bunker. "Do as Rose tells you, and come away."
Laddie did not want to, but he always minded his mother, except when he was very bad, and this was not one of those times. So he went slowly away from the boat, which was tied to a little pier.
"I was going after gold," he said. "We can't find any here," and he pointed to the holes he and his little sister had dug.
"But if you went out in the boat alone, or with Vi, you might fall into the water," said his mother. "Never get into the boat unless some big person is with you, Laddie. And I mean you, too, Vi."
"All right," said the two children. "We won't."
"Come on!" called Rose to them, now that the dispute was over. "We will go farther down the shore and dig. And if we don't find any gold maybe we'll find some pretty shells, or a starfish."
"Does a starfish twinkle, Mother?" asked Vi.
"No, I don't believe it does, my dear."
"Then what makes 'em call it a starfish?" the little girl wanted to know.
"Because it has five arms, or perhaps they are legs, and as a star, such as you see in our flag, has five points, they call the fish that name. It is shaped like a star, you see. It doesn't twinkle, and it eats oysters, so I have read."
"How does it crack the oyster shells?" asked Vi.
"Oh, now you are asking too many questions for a little girl, and some that I can't answer," said Mrs. Bunker with a laugh. "Run along and play in the sand with Rose. But don't go too far, for it will be time for supper soon. And don't forget about the boat!"
"I hope we find a starfish," said Laddie, glad he had something new to think about.
"Could I make up a riddle about one, Mother?"
"I guess so, if you tried hard."
"I know a riddle about the sand," went on the little chap. "Why is the sand like a boy?"
"It isn't," said Rose. "Sand isn't at all like a boy."
"Yes, it is," went on Laddie. "A boy runs and so does sand."
"Sand doesn't run," declared Rose.
"Yes, it does," insisted her little brother. "I heard you say that some sand ran down into your shoe. So sand runs and a boy runs and that's a riddle."
"Yes, I guess it is," laughed Mother Bunker. "Well, you run along and play."
And Rose and Laddie and Violet did. They went to where Margy and Mun Bun were digging holes in the sand.
"Did you find any gold?" asked Laddie.
Mun Bun shook his head until his hair was in his eyes.
"We found a lot of funny little white bugs that jump," he said.
"They were awful nice little bugs, and they wiggled and wiggled in the sand," added Margy.
"Oh, I want to see some!" cried Vi, and then Margy and Mun Bun dug until they found some "sand hoppers," for the other children. They are a sort of shore shrimp, I think, and very lively, jumping about, digging themselves holes in the sand in which they hide.
Margy and Mun Bun and Laddie and Vi became so interested in looking for the sand hoppers that they forgot about digging for gold, and it was almost time for supper when Russ came whistling down the beach calling:
"Who wants to come and see me sail my boat?"
"I do! I do!" cried Mun Bun and Laddie, and the girls, Rose also, said they would go.
"I haven't got all the sails on yet," explained Russ, "but I guess it will sail a little this way, and I can put some more sails on to-morrow."
From an old shingle and some sticks Russ had made a nice little boat, fastening to the mast a bit of cloth, which looked like a sail. Followed by his smaller brothers and sisters Russ took his boat to a place in the inlet where the water was not deep, and there he let the wind blow it about, to the delight of all.
Then came a call from the bungalow.
"Supper, children! Come on in and get washed!"
"Oh, I'm so hungry!" cried Rose.
"So'm I," agreed Russ.
Margy and Mun Bun didn't say anything, but they looked as if they could eat.
"I thought of another riddle," said Laddie, as he went along with Russ. "It's about why does the sand run."
"No! That isn't it!" laughed Rose. "You've started it backward, Laddie, and spoiled it."
"Oh, yes, now I know. Why is sand like a boy?"
"Because they both run," answered Russ. It was easy to guess the riddle after Laddie had partly told it to him.
"Cousin Tom said lobsters run backwards," put in Violet, having heard Rose say that Laddie started his riddle backwards. "What makes lobsters go that way, Russ?"
"I don't know. I s'pose 'cause they like it."
"Do fish go backwards?" the little girl went on.
"I never saw any," Russ answered.
"And can they stand on their heads?" went on the little girl.
But no one could answer this question, and there was no time to do so, anyhow, as they were now at Cousin Tom's bungalow, and from it came the smell of many good things that had been cooked for supper.
"My! you have a houseful with all of us Bunkers," said the children's mother, as they gathered about the table.
"Yes. There wouldn't be room for many more," said Cousin Tom's pretty wife. "But I like company."
"Even if they eat so much it will keep you busy buying more?" asked Daddy Bunker.
"Oh, I guess they won't do that," replied Cousin Tom, laughing.
"We're going to dig gold in the sand, and then we can buy our own things to eat," declared Laddie.
"Well, until you do that I'll see that you get enough to eat," said his cousin.
After supper they went for a ride on the inlet in Cousin Tom's big rowboat.
"I think we had better go back," said Mother Bunker, after they had ridden about a bit. "It is getting late, and I see two of my little tots are getting sleepy."
This was true, for Margy and Mun Bun were nidding and nodding, hardly able to keep their eyes open, though it was hardly dark yet. But they had been up early and they had traveled far that day.
Back to the bungalow they went, and soon the four smaller children were in bed.
"And it will be time for you, Russ and Rose, in a little while," said Mrs. Bunker. They were allowed to stay up a half hour longer than the others.
While Daddy Bunker and Cousin Tom and the two Mrs. Bunkers were talking on the side porch, and watching the moon rise, as though it came right from the ocean, Russ and Rose sat down on the beach. They were within call from the bungalow, though about a block away from it, Cousin Tom's place being the first one up from the water.
Russ picked up a shell, and started to dig.
"What are you looking for?" asked Rose.
"I was just wondering if there was any gold here," said her brother. "Sammie Brown said there was gold in sand, and there's lots of sand here; isn't there, Rose?"
"Yes, but Laddie and Violet dug in a lot of places to-day, and so did Margy and Mun Bun, and they didn't find any gold."
"They didn't know how to look for it," declared Russ. "You have to dig deep for gold."
"I'll help," offered Rose. "I like to dig in the sand."
She found a clam shell, as large as the one Russ had, and with those for shovels, the children began digging on the beach in the moonlight. They could look back and see the bungalow, and Mr. and Mrs. Bunker could see the children from where they sat.
The ocean surf made a loud noise.
"Doesn't it sound nice and scary-like?" asked Rose, as she reached her arm down into the hole she was digging, and scooped up some damp sand.
"Yes. It's like the desert island Sammie told about," agreed Russ, listening to the boom and hiss of the waves as they broke on the beach. "Have you found any gold yet, Rose?"
"No. Have you?"
Russ shook his head.
"I guess we've got to go deeper," he said.
It grew later. The moon rose higher, and it became a little more "scary-like." Presently Mrs. Bunker called:
"Come, Rose! Russ! Time to go to bed!"
"All right!" they answered. They were tired enough to want to go to sleep.
They dropped their clam shells near the holes they had dug, and started up the beach. Suddenly Rose gave a cry.
"What's the matter?" asked Russ.
"My locket! My gold locket that Grandma gave me! It's gone! Oh, I have lost my lovely gold locket!"
THE SAND HOUSE
"What's the matter?" called Mr. Bunker from the bungalow porch. He had heard the sobbing voice of Rose. "Has anything happened?" he went on. "Tell Daddy what it is."
"I have lost my lovely gold locket!" sobbed Rose. "The one Grandma gave me! I dropped it in the sand, I guess, when I was digging the holes for gold. I wish I hadn't dug!"
"Stand right where you are!" called Daddy Bunker. "I'll bring my electric flashlight and look around for your locket. It may have dropped on the sand right where you are. So don't move until I get there and can see the place. I'll find your gold locket, Rose."
The moon was bright, and, shining on the ocean and on the white sand, made the beach very light. But still, as Rose looked about her and over to where Russ stood, she could not see her gold locket. And she wanted very much to get it back, as it was a present from Grandma Bell, and Rose liked it more than any of her other gifts. She did not often wear it, but on this occasion, coming on the trip from Aunt Jo's, Rose had begged to be allowed to hang the ornament on its gold chain about her neck, and her mother had allowed her to do so.
Rose had promised to be careful, and she had been. She had noticed the locket after supper and when she came out in the evening to dig in the sand with Russ. But now it was gone, and just where she had dropped it Rose did not know.
"And now my lovely locket is gone!" she sobbed.
"Never mind! I'll get it for you," said Daddy Bunker.
Russ and Rose stood still as he had told them to do, and now they saw their father coming toward them waving his pocket electric light. He usually carried it with him to peer into dark corners. It would be just the thing with which to look for the lost locket.
"Did you remember where you had it on you last?" asked Daddy Bunker, as he came close to Rose.
"Just before Russ and I started to dig with the clam shells to find the gold," she answered.
"Where was that?" her father asked.
Russ and his sister pointed to where two little piles of sand near some holes could be seen in the moonlight.
"That is where we dug for gold," said Rose.
"But we didn't find any," added Russ.
"You may now, if you dig—or to-morrow," said their father.
"Really?" inquired Russ.
"You may dig up Rose's gold locket," went on Mr. Bunker. "I don't believe there is any other gold in these sands, even if Sammie Brown's father did find some on a desert island. But if Rose dropped her locket here, there is surely gold, for the locket was made of that. Now don't walk about, or you may step on the locket and bend it. I will flash my light as I go along, and look."
Daddy Bunker did this, while Rose, standing near her brother, looked on anxiously. Would her father find the piece of jewelry she liked so much? It was hard to find things, once they were buried in the sand, Rose knew, for that afternoon Cousin Ruth had told about once dropping a piece of money on the beach, and never finding it again.
"And maybe my locket slipped off my neck when I was digging the deep hole," thought Rose; "and then I piled up the sand and covered it all over."
Daddy Bunker must have thought the same thing, for he flashed his light about the sand piles made by Russ and his sister. He did not dig in them, however.
"We won't do any digging until morning," he said. "We can see better, then, what we are doing. I thought perhaps the locket might lie on top of the sand, and that I could pick it up. But it doesn't seem to. You had better come in to bed, Russ and Rose."
"But I want my locket," sighed the little girl.
"And I thought I could find it for you," said Mr. Bunker. "I think I can, in the morning, when the sun shines. Just now there are so many shadows that it is hard to see such a little thing as a locket."
"Will it be all right out here all alone in the night?" asked Rose.
"Oh, yes, I think so," her father said. "As it is gold it will not tarnish. And as no one knows where it is it will probably not be picked up, for no one will be able to see it any more than I. And I don't believe many persons come down here after dark. It is rather a lonely part of the shore. I think your locket will be all right until we can take a look for it in the morning."
"Maybe a starfish might get it," said the little girl.
"Oh, no!" laughed Daddy Bunker. "Starfish like oysters, but they do not care for gold lockets. I'll find yours for you in the morning, Rose."
This made Rose feel better, and she went inside the bungalow with Russ and her father. Mrs. Bunker, as well as Cousin Tom and his wife, felt sorry on hearing of Rose's loss, but they, too, felt sure that the ornament would be found on the sand in the morning.
I do not know whether or not Rose dreamed about her lost locket. Certainly she thought about it the last thing before she fell asleep. But she slumbered very soundly, and, if she dreamed at all, she did not remember what her visions of the night were.
But she thought of her locket as soon as she awoke, however, and, dressing quickly, she ran down on the sand. Her father was ahead of her, though, and, with a rake in his hand, he was going over the beach near the place where Russ and Rose had dug the holes.
"Is this the only place you children hunted for gold?" asked Mr. Bunker, as he saw Rose coming along.
"Yes, Daddy," she answered. "And we were right there when I didn't have my locket any more. Can't you find it?"
"I haven't yet," he answered. "I've raked over the sand as carefully as I could, but I didn't see the locket."
"Did you look down into the holes we dug, Daddy?"
"Yes, and all around them. It's queer, but the locket seems to have disappeared."
"Maybe a starfish came up and took it down into the ocean with him."
"No, Rose. If the locket was dropped on the beach it is here yet. But it is rather a large place, and perhaps I am not looking just where I ought to. However I will not give up."
Daddy Bunker looked for some little time longer, pulling the sand about with the rake, but no locket showed. Then others looked, including the children, Cousin Tom, his wife and Mother Bunker. But they had no better luck.
"Well, we know one thing," said Daddy Bunker. "There is gold in this sand now if there was not before. Rose's gold locket is here."
"And I don't guess I'll ever find it," said the little girl with a sigh. "Oh, dear!"
"Maybe it slipped off your neck in the house," suggested Cousin Ruth. "I'll look carefully, and you may help me."
But this did no good either, and though the search was a careful one, and though the sand was gone over again, the lost locket was not picked up.
"I'm going to dig every day until I find it!" said Rose.
"And I'll help!" added Russ.
"So will I!" said Laddie; and the other children, when they knew what a loss had come to Rose, said they, also, would help.
If it had not been for this accident the visit of the six little Bunkers to Seaview would have been without a flaw. Even as it was, it turned out to be most delightful. Seaview was a fine place to spend the end of the summer, and Cousin Tom and his wife made the children feel so at home, and did so much for them, that Russ and the others said they never had been in a nicer place.
"If I only had my locket!" sighed Rose, as the days passed.
But it seemed it would never be found, and after a time, the thought of it passed, in a measure, from the little girl's mind. She did not speak of it often, though sometimes when she went down on the beach, near the holes she and Russ had dug in the moonlight, Rose looked about and scraped the sand to and fro with a shell or a bit of driftwood.
But as the beach looks pretty much alike in many places, it is hard to know whether, after the first few times, Rose dug in the right place.
Cousin Ruth looked again all through the bungalow for the gold locket, and, whenever any one thought of it, he or she poked about in the sand. But the locket seemed gone forever.
There was plenty to do at Seaview to have fun. The children could go in wading and swimming, they could play in the sand, they could sail toy boats in the inlet and they could go out in a real boat with their father or Cousin Tom.
More than once they were taken out on the quiet waters, and they sat in the boat while their father or his nephew fished. Once Russ held the pole and he caught a funny, flat fish, that seemed as if it had been put through the wringer which squeezed the water out of the clothes on wash day.
"What kind of fish is that?" asked Violet, when she saw it flapping about in the bottom of the boat.
"It's a flounder," answered Cousin Tom.
"Is it good to eat?"
"Yes, very good."
"Maybe it swallowed Rose's locket. Do you think so, Daddy?" asked the little girl.
"Oh, no, Vi. Now don't ask so many questions, please."
"Could I ask a riddle?" Laddie wanted to know.
"Oh, I suppose so," laughed his father. "What is it?"
"I haven't made it up yet," went on Laddie. "It's going to be about a flounder and a wringer, but I got to think. When I get it ready I'll tell you."
"Don't forget!" laughed Cousin Tom.
It was about a week after Rose had lost her locket and it had not been found, that one day Russ called to Rose:
"Come on down to the beach. I know how we can have some fun."
"What can we do?" asked his sister.
"We'll build a house and have a play party," answered Russ.
"On the beach. We can build a house in the sand."
So the children started off, with their shovels and sand pails. Their mother watched them, thinking how nice it was that they could be at the shore in hot weather.
It was about an hour after Rose and Russ had started down the beach together to make a sand house that Mrs. Bunker, who was just thinking of taking a walk and having another look for the lost locket, heard cries.
"Mother! Mother! Come quick!" she heard Russ calling.
"What's the matter?" cried Mrs. Bunker.
"Oh, come quick!" went on Russ. "Rose is in the sand house! Rose is in the sand house!"
Not knowing what had happened, Mrs. Bunker set off on a run down the beach.
THE PIRATE BUNGALOW
The mother of the six little Bunkers was used to having things happen to them. She did not have half a dozen children without knowing that, nearly every day, some one of them would fall down and bump a nose, cut a finger, get caught in a fence, or have something like that happen to make trouble. So, in a way, Mrs. Bunker was used to calls for help.
"But this seems different," she said to herself, as she ran along. "I'm afraid something has happened to Rose."
And something had. As Mrs. Bunker came within sight of Russ and his sister, where they had gone to dig their sand house, their mother saw her oldest boy dancing about on the beach.
"Where is Rose?" called Mrs. Bunker. "What have you done with Rose?"
"I didn't do anything to her, Mother!" answered Russ. "But she's in the sand house and she can't get out!"
Mrs. Bunker kept on running toward the children; at least toward Russ. Rose she could not see.
"She can't get out of the sand house 'cause it fell down on her," explained Russ. "I tried to pull her out, but I couldn't, so I hollered for you, Mother!"
"Something dreadful must have happened! I wish I had stopped for Daddy!" thought Mrs. Bunker.
By this time she was close beside Russ, who was capering about like an Indian doing a war dance. But Russ was not doing it for fun. He was just excited, and couldn't keep still.
"Where is your sister?" asked Mrs. Bunker.
"There!" answered Russ, pointing.
Then Mrs. Bunker understood why she had not seen Rose before. It was because the little girl was hidden behind a pile of sand. But there was more than this the matter. For Rose was down in a hole, and the sand had caved in on her feet and legs, covering her up almost to her waist. Rose was held fast in a heap of sand, and, wiggle and twist though she did, she could not get out.
"Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" sobbed the little girl, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I'm all fast and I can't get out!"
"I'll get you out! There! Don't cry any more," said Mrs. Bunker. "I'll soon have you out. Get a shovel, and help me dig Rose loose," she called to Russ.
"All right," answered the little boy. He had stopped jumping about now.
"Where are your shovels, Russ?" asked his mother, looking about for something with which to dig.
"We didn't have any. We used big clam shells," he answered. "Here's one, and I'll get another."
The large clam shells were pretty good to use as shovels, though Mrs. Bunker felt that she could have worked faster with a regular one. However, she had to do the best she could, and really the shell scooped the sand out very well. Russ helped, and they both set to work to dig Rose out of the hole in which she was partly buried.
"It's a good thing the sand didn't slide in on you and cover your head," said Mrs. Bunker. "How did it happen, Russ?"
"Well, we were digging a sand house—it was just a hole in the sand, you know," the little boy explained. "We were going to put some sticks across the top, when we got it deep enough to stand up in, and put some seaweed over the sticks for a roof. I saw some boys on the beach make a sand house like that yesterday.
"But after we dug down a way," he went on, "Rose got down in the hole so she could dig better. She scooped the sand up to me and I put it in a heap on the beach. And then, all of a sudden, a lot of the sand slid in on Rose and she was held fast and—and——"
"And I couldn't get out, but I tried like anything!" added Rose, as her brother stopped for breath. "And then Russ screamed for you and—and—Oh, I'm so glad you came!" and Rose leaned her head against her mother, who was busy digging out the sand with the clam shell.
"I'm glad I came, too, my dear," said Mrs. Bunker. "After this don't dig such deep sand holes, or, if you do, don't get into them. Sand, you know, is not like other dirt. It doesn't stay in one place, but slips and slides about."
"But we want to have something to play in!" exclaimed Russ.
"Well, we want you to have fun while you are here at Cousin Tom's, but we don't want you to get hurt," said Mrs. Bunker. "Can't you make a little playhouse of the driftwood on the beach? That would be nicer to play in than a damp hole."
"Oh, yes, we could do that!" cried Rose. "Let's make a wooden house on the beach, Russ! There's lots of wood!"
"And then we can play pirates!" added the little boy.
A little later Rose had been dug out of the sand, and though her dress was a little damp, for the sand, as one dug down into it, was rather wet, she was not hurt.
All along the sands at Seaview, after high tide, were bits of planks and boards and chips, and after Rose had been dug out of the sand house she and Russ began gathering all the wood they could pick up to make what Russ said would be a "pirate bungalow."
Mrs. Bunker, after telling the children once more not to dig deep holes, left them on the beach to play, herself going back to Cousin Tom's bungalow.
Margy and Mun Bun, who had been gathering shells and stones down on the sand, had come up to play in front of the house, on a bit of green lawn. Laddie and Vi, who had walked up and down the beach, looking for some starfish, which they did not find, came to where Russ and Rose were getting ready to play.
"What are you making?" asked Laddie.
"A pirate bungalow," answered Russ. "Want to help?"
"Yep," answered Laddie.
"And I will, too," said Vi. "What are you going to put in it? Will it be big enough for all of us, and what makes so much wood here, Russ?"
"Now if you're going to ask a lot of questions you can't play!" said Rose. "You just help pick up the wood, Vi."