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Title: Six Little Bunkers at Cowboy Jack's
Author: Hope, Laura Lee
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Six Little Bunkers at Cowboy Jack's" ***

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SIX LITTLE BUNKERS
AT COWBOY JACK'S

BY
LAURA LEE HOPE

          AUTHOR OF "SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT GRANDMA BELL'S,"
          "SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT UNCLE FRED'S" "THE BOBBSEY
          TWINS SERIES," "THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES," "THE
          OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES," ETC.

_ILLUSTRATED_

          NEW YORK
          GROSSET & DUNLAP
          PUBLISHERS

Made in the United States of America



BOOKS

By LAURA LEE HOPE

12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.

       *       *       *       *       *

=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
          SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT CAPTAIN BEN'S
          SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT COWBOY JACK'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 BOBBSEY TWINS IN WASHINGTON
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE GREAT WEST
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT CEDAR CAMP

       *       *       *       *       *

=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
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE GIVING A SHOW
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CHRISTMAS TREE COVE
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE SUNNY SOUTH

       *       *       *       *       *

=THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES=

(Eleven titles)

=GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK=

          Copyright, 1921, by
          GROSSET & DUNLAP

       *       *       *       *       *

Six Little Bunkers at Cowboy Jack's

[Illustration: BLACK BEAR CAME TOWARD THE CHILDREN.

_Six Little Bunkers at Cowboy Jack's._ _Frontispiece_--(_Page 160_)]



CONTENTS

          CHAPTER                                 PAGE

              I. "A THUNDER STROKE"                  1

             II. VERY EXCITING NEWS                  9

            III. THE SILVER LINING                  18

             IV. WHAT WAS STUCK IN THE MUD?         31

              V. GOOD-BYE TO GRAND VIEW             39

             VI. THE COAL STRIKE                    48

            VII. THE SOUP JUGGLER                   57

           VIII. AN ALARM AND A HOLD-UP             68

             IX. THE BIG ROCK THAT FELL DOWN        78

              X. WHERE ARE THE TWINS?               87

             XI. THE MAN WITH THE EARRINGS          97

            XII. CAVALLO AT LAST                   104

           XIII. A SURPRISE COMING                 114

            XIV. AN INDIAN RAID                    126

             XV. A PROFOUND MYSTERY                138

            XVI. MUN BUN TAKES A NAP               145

           XVII. IN CHIEF BLACK BEAR'S WIGWAM      157

          XVIII. THE NEW PONIES                    167

            XIX. RUSS BUNKER GUESSES RIGHT         177

             XX. PINKY GOES HOME                   185

            XXI. THE LAME COYOTE                   195

           XXII. A PICNIC                          207

          XXIII. MOVING PICTURE MAGIC              215

           XXIV. MUN BUN IN TROUBLE                226

            XXV. SOMETHING THAT WAS NOT EXPECTED   235



SIX LITTLE BUNKERS
AT COWBOY JACK'S



CHAPTER I

"A THUNDER STROKE"


"Whew!" said Russ Bunker, looking out into the driving rain.

"Whew!" repeated Rose, standing beside him.

"Whew!" said Vi, and "Whew!" echoed Laddie, while Margy added "Whew!"

"W'ew!" lisped Mun Bun last of all, standing on tiptoe to see over the
high windowsill. Mun Bun could not quite say the letter "h"; that is why
he said "W'ew!"

Such a September rain the six little Bunkers had never seen before, for
the very good reason that they had never before been at the seashore
during what Daddy Bunker and Captain Ben called "the September equinox."

"That is an awful funny word, anyway," Rose Bunker said.

"What's funny?" Violet asked.

"Can I make a riddle out of it?" added Laddie.

"It is a riddle," replied Rose, quite confidently. "For 'equinox' is
just a rain and wind storm."

"That isn't a riddle," said Laddie promptly. "That's the answer to a
riddle."

And perhaps it was, even if Rose had the equinox and the equinoctial
storms a little mixed in her mind. At any rate, this was a most
surprising storm to all the little Bunkers--the wind blew so hard, the
rain came in such big gusts, flattening the white-capped waves which
they could see, both from Captain Ben's bungalow and from this old house
to which they had come to play. And now, as all six peered out of the
attic window of the old house, there was an unexpected flash of
lightning, followed by a grumble of thunder.

"Oh! just like a bad, bad dog," gasped Vi, not a little frightened by
the noise. "I--I am afraid of thunder."

"I'm not," declared Laddie, her twin.

But perhaps, because he was a boy, he thought he must claim more courage
than he really felt. At any rate, he winced a little, too, and drew
back from the window.

"Maybe we'd better go back to Captain Ben's house--and mother,"
suggested Margy in a wee small voice.

"W'ew!" lisped Mun Bun, the littlest Bunker, once more, but quite as
bravely as before. Like Laddie (whose name really was Fillmore), Mun Bun
wished to claim all the courage a boy should show.

"I guess we can't go back while it rains like this," said Russ, the
oldest of the six.

"And Captain Ben thought it would maybe clear up and not rain any more,
so we came," announced Rose. "Oh! There goes another thunder stroke."

The rumble of thunder seemed nearer.

"I guess," Russ said soberly, "that Norah or Jerry Simms would call this
the clearing-up shower."

"But Norah and Jerry Simms aren't here," Vi reminded him. "Are they?"

"That doesn't make any difference. It can be the clearing-up shower of
this equinox, just the same."

"Can it?" asked Vi.

She was always asking questions, and she asked so many that it was quite
impossible to answer them all, so, for the most part, nobody tried to
answer her. And this was one of the times when nobody answered Vi.

"We'd better keep on playing," Rose said, very sensibly. "Then we won't
bother 'bout the thunder strokes."

"It is lightning," objected Russ. "I don't mind the thunder. Thunder is
only a noise."

"I don't care," said Rose, "it's the thunder that scares you---- Oh!
Hear it?"

"Does the thunder hit you?" asked Vi.

"Why, nothing is going to hit us," Russ replied bravely, realizing that
he must soothe any fears felt by his younger brothers and sisters. Russ
was nine, and Daddy Bunker and mother expected him to set a good example
to Rose and Laddie and Violet and Margy and Munroe Ford Bunker, who,
when he was very little, had named himself "Mun Bun."

"Just the same," whispered Rose in a very small voice, and in Russ's
ear, "I wish we hadn't come over from Captain Ben's bungalow this
morning when it looked like the rain had all stopped."

"Pooh!" said Russ, still bravely, "it thunders over there just as it
does here, Rose Bunker."

Of course that was so, and Rose knew it. But nothing seemed quite so bad
when daddy and mother were close at hand.

"Let's play again," she said, with a little sigh.

"What'll we play?" asked Violet. "Haven't we played everything there
is?"

"I s'pose we have--some time or other," Rose admitted.

"No, we haven't," interposed Russ, who was of an inventive mind. "There
are always new plays to make up."

"Just like making up riddles," agreed Laddie. "I guess I could make up a
riddle about this old storm--if only the thunder wouldn't make so much
noise. I can't think riddles when it thunders."

The thunder seemed to shake the house. The rain dashed against the
windows harder than ever. And there were places in the roof of this
attic where the water began to trickle through and drop upon the floor.

"Oh!" cried Mun Bun, on whose head a drop fell. "It's leaking! I don't
like a leaky house. Let's go home, Rose."

"Do you want to go home to Pineville, Mun Bun?" shouted Russ, for he
could not make his voice heard by the others just then without shouting.

"Well, no. But I'd rather be at that other house where mother is--and
daddy," proclaimed the smallest boy when the noise of the thunder had
again passed.

"I tell you," said Russ soberly, "we'd better go downstairs and play
something till the thunder stops."

"What shall we play?" asked Vi again.

"I'll build an automobile and take you all to ride," said the oldest boy
confidently.

"Oh, Russ! You can't!" gasped Rose.

"A real automobile like the one that we rode down here in from
Pineville?" asked Laddie, opening his eyes very wide.

"Well, no--not just like that," admitted Russ. "But we'll have some fun
with it and we won't bother about the thunder."

Rose looked a bit doubtful over that statement. But she knew it was her
duty to help the younger children forget their fears. She started down
the steep stairs behind Russ. Laddie and Margy came next, while Vi was
helping short-legged little Mun Bun to reach the stairway.

And it was just then that the very awful "thunder stroke" came. It
seemed to burst right over the roof, and the flash of lightning that
came with it almost blinded the children. There was even a smell of
sulphur--just like matches. Only it was a bigger smell than any sulphur
match could make.

The children's cries were drowned by the crash outside. The lightning
had struck a big old tree that overhung the house. The tree trunk was
splintered right down from the top, and before the sound of the thunder
died away the broken-off part of that tree fell right across the roof.

How the old house shook! Such a ripping and tearing of shingles as there
was! Rose could not stifle her shriek. She and Margy and Laddie came
tumbling down the rest of the stairs behind Russ.

"Where's Vi and Mun Bun?" demanded the oldest of the six little Bunkers,
staring up the dust-filled stairway.

"Oh! Oh! Help me up!" shrieked Vi from the attic.

"Help me!" cried Mun Bun, very much frightened too. "Somebody is holding
me down."

"Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" cried Rose, wringing her hands and looking at
Russ. "That old roof has fallen in and Vi and Mun Bun are caught under
it!"



CHAPTER II

VERY EXCITING NEWS


The old house was still groaning and shaking under the impact of the
lightning-smitten tree. It seemed, indeed, as though the whole roof was
broken in and that gradually the house must be flattened down into the
cellar. Dust and bits of broken wood and plaster were showering down the
open stairway.

Although the house might be falling, Russ felt he had to go up those
stairs to the aid of the shrieking Vi and Mun Bun. They were both caught
under some of the fallen rubbish, and it was Russ Bunker's duty, if
nothing more, to aid the younger children.

Russ did not often shirk his duty. Being the oldest of the six Bunker
children, he felt his responsibility more than other boys of his age
might have done. Anyway, when the others needed help, Russ's first
thought was to aid. He was that kind of boy, as all the readers of this
series of stories know very well.

Almost always Russ Bunker was not far from a set of carpenter's tools,
of which he was very proud, or from other means of "making things." His
brothers and sisters thought him quite wonderful when it came to
planning new means of amusement and building such things as play
automobiles and boats and steam-car trains. It was quite impossible for
Russ now, however, to think up any invention that would help his small
sister and brother out of their trouble in the attic of the old house.
He was quite helpless.

Nine-year-old Russ Bunker was an inventive, cheerful lad, almost always
with a merry whistle on his lips, and quite faithful to the trust his
parents imposed in him regarding the well-being of his younger brothers
and sisters.

With Rose, who was a year younger than Russ, the boy really took much of
the care in the daytime of the other little Bunkers. The older ones
really had to do this--or else there would have been no fun for any of
them. You see, if the older children in a family will not care for the
younger, and cheerfully look after them, there can never be so much
freedom and fun to enjoy as these six little Bunkers had.

Rose was a particularly helpful little girl, and, being eight years old
now, she could assist Mother Bunker a good deal; and she took pride in
so doing. That she was afraid of "thunder strokes" must not be counted
against her. Ordinarily she made the best of everything and was of a
sunny nature.

The twins, Violet and Fillmore, came next in the group of little
Bunkers. These two had their own individual natures and could never be
overlooked for long in any party. Violet was much given to asking
questions, and she asked so many and steadily that scarcely anybody
troubled to answer her. Her twin, called Laddie by all, had early made
up his mind that the greatest fun in the world was asking and answering
riddles.

Margy's real name was Margaret, and, as we have seen, Mun Bun had named
himself (just for ordinary purposes) when he was very small. Not that he
was very large now, but he could make a tremendous amount of noise when
he was--or thought he was--hurt, as he was doing on this very occasion
when he and Vi were caught by the crushing-in of the house roof.

After we got acquainted with the Bunker family at home in Pineville,
Pennsylvania, they all started on a most wonderful vacation which took
them first to the children's mother's mother's house. So, you see,
_that_ story is called "Six Little Bunkers at Grandma Bell's."

From that lovely place in Maine the six little Bunkers went to their
Aunt Jo's, then to Cousin Tom's, afterward to Grandpa Ford's, then to
Uncle Fred's. They had no more than arrived home at Pineville after
their fifth series of adventures, than Captain Ben, a distant relative
of Mother Bunker's, and recently in the war, came along and took the
whole Bunker family down with him to his bungalow at the seashore, the
name of that sixth story of the series being "Six Little Bunkers at
Captain Ben's."

And the six certainly had had a fine time at Grand View, as the seashore
place was called, until this very September day when an equinoctial
storm had been blowing for twenty-four hours or more and the
lightning-struck tree had fallen upon the roof of the old house in
which the six little Bunkers were playing.

But now none of the little Bunkers thought it so much fun--no, indeed!
At the rate Vi and Mun Bun were screaming, the accident which held them
prisoners in the attic of the old house seemed to threaten dire
destruction.

Russ Bunker, when he had recovered his own breath, charged up the
dust-filled stairway and reached the attic in a few bounds. But the
floor boards were broken at the head of the stairs, and almost the first
thing that happened to him when he got up there into the dust and the
darkness--yes, and into the rain that drove through the holes in the
roof!--was that his head, with an awful "tunk!" came in contact with a
broken roof beam.

Russ staggered back, clutching wildly at anything he could lay his hands
on, and all but tumbled backwards down the stairs again.

But in clutching for something to break his fall Russ grabbed Vi's curls
with one hand. He could not see her in the dark, but he knew those curls
very well. And he was bound to recognize Vi when the little girl
stammered:

"What's happened? Did the house fall on my legs, Russ? _Must_ you pull
my hair off to get me out?"

Mun Bun was bawling all by himself, but near by. He seemed to be quite
as immovable as Vi. And perhaps Russ would have been unable to get out
either of the unfortunates by himself.

Just then there came a shout of encouragement from outside, and the
rapid pounding of feet. The door below burst open and Daddy Bunker's
welcome voice cried out:

"Here I am, children! Here I am--and Captain Ben, too! Where are you
all?"

In the dusky kitchen it was easy enough to count the three little
Bunkers who remained there. But Daddy Bunker was heartily concerned over
the absent ones.

"Where are Russ and Vi and Mun Bun?" cried Daddy Bunker.

"They're upstairs--under that old thunder stroke," gasped Margy. "But I
guess they're not all dead-ed yet."

"I guess not!" exclaimed Captain Ben, who was a very vigorous young man,
being both a soldier and a sailor. "They are all very much alive."

That was proved by the concerted yells of the three in the attic. Both
men hurried to mount the stairs. The dust had settled to some degree by
this time, and they could see the struggling forms. Russ had almost got
Vi loose, and he had not pulled out her hair in doing so.

Daddy Bunker saw that Mun Bun was only caught by his clothing. Captain
Ben took Vi from Russ and Daddy Bunker released Mun Bun. Then they all
came hurriedly down the stairs.

Mun Bun was still weeping wildly. Laddie looked at him in amazement.

"Why--why," he said, "you're a riddle, Mun Bun."

"I'm not!" sobbed the littlest Bunker.

"Yes, you are," said Laddie. "This is the riddle: Why is Mun Bun like a
sprinkling cart?"

"That is too easy!" laughed Captain Ben, setting Vi down on the floor.
"It's because Mun Bun scatters water so easily out of his eyes."

They all laughed at that--even Mun Bun himself, only he hiccoughed too.
It did not take much to make the children laugh when the danger was
over.

"Why did the old thunder stroke have to do that?" asked Vi. "Why did it
pin me down across my legs?"

Daddy Bunker hurried them all out of the old house. He was afraid it
might fall altogether.

"And then where should we be?" he asked. "I couldn't go away out West to
Cowboy Jack's and leave my little Bunkers under that old house, could
I?"

At this Russ and Rose immediately began to be excited--only for a reason
very different from the effects of the storm. They looked at each other
quite knowingly. _That_ was what Daddy Bunker and Mother Bunker were
talking about so earnestly the night before!

"Oh, Daddy!" burst out Rose, clinging to his hand, "are you going so far
away from us all? Aren't you going to take us to Cowboy Jack's?"

"Why do they call him that?" asked Vi. "Is he part cow and part boy?"

But Daddy Bunker replied to Rose's question quite seriously:

"That is a hard matter to decide. It is a long journey, and you know
school will soon begin at Pineville. And you must not miss school."

"But, Daddy," said Russ, very gravely, "you know you take us 'most
everywhere you go. It--it wouldn't be fair to Cowboy Jack not to take us
to see him, would it?"

Mr. Bunker laughed very much at this suggestion, and hurried them all
through the rain toward Captain Ben's bungalow.



CHAPTER III

THE SILVER LINING


One might think that the accident at the old house would have been
excitement enough for the six little Bunkers for one forenoon. But Russ
and Rose, at least, and soon all the other children, were bubbling with
the thought of Daddy Bunker's going West again to look into a big ranch
property to which one of his customers had recently fallen heir.

To travel, to see new things, to meet wonderfully nice and kind people,
seemed to be the fate of the six little Bunkers. Russ and Rose were sure
that no family of brothers and sisters ever had so much fun traveling
and so many adventures at the places they traveled to as they did. Russ
and Rose were old enough to read about the adventures of other
children--I mean children outside of nursery books--and so far the
older young Bunkers quite preferred their own good times to any they had
ever read about.

"Why!" Russ had once cried confidently, "we have even more fun than
Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday. Of course we do."

"Yes. And _they_ had goats," admitted Rose thoughtfully.

The thought of daddy's going away from them, in any case, would have
excited the children. But the opening of their school had been postponed
for several weeks already, and Russ and Rose, at least, thought they saw
the possibility of their father's taking Mother Bunker and all the
children with him to the Southwest.

"Only," Russ said gravely, "I don't much care for the name of that man.
He sounds like some kind of a foreign man--and you know how those
foreign men were that built the railroad down behind our house in
Pineville."

"What makes 'em foreign? Their whiskers?" asked Vi, her curiosity at
once aroused. "Do all foreigners have whiskers? What makes whiskers
grow, anyway? Daddy doesn't have whiskers. Why do other folks?"

"Mother doesn't have whiskers, either," said Margy gravely.

"Say! Why?" repeated Violet insistently.

"Daddy shaves every morning. That is why he doesn't have whiskers," said
Rose, trying to pacify the inquisitive Violet.

"Well, does mother shave, too?" immediately demanded Vi. "I never saw
her brush. But I've played with daddy's. I painted the front steps with
it."

"And you got punished for it, you know," said Russ, grinning at her.
"But we were not talking about whiskers--nor shaving brushes."

"Yes we were," said the determined Vi. "I was asking about them."

"Is that man father is going to see an _awful_ foreigner, Russ?" Rose
wanted to know.

"I guess not. Father says he's a nice man. He has met him, he says. But
his name--oh, it's awful!"

"What _is_ his name?" asked Vi instantly.

If there was a possible chance of crowding in a question, Vi had it on
the tip of her tongue to crowd in. This was an hour after the "thunder
stroke" had caused such damage to the old house, and Vi was quite her
inquisitive little self again.

"His name----" said Russ.

Then he stopped and began to search his pockets. The others waited, but
Violet was not content to wait in silence.

"What's the matter, Russ? Do you itch?"

"No, I don't itch," said the boy, with some irritation.

"Well, you act so," said Vi. "What are you doing then, if you're not
itching?"

"She means scratching!" exclaimed Rose, but she stared at Russ, too, in
some curiosity.

"Oh! I know!" cried Laddie. "It's a riddle."

"What's a riddle?" asked his twin sister eagerly.

"What Russ is doing," said the little boy. "I know that riddle, but I
can't just think how it goes. Let's see: 'I went out to the woodpile and
got it; when I got into the house I couldn't find it. What was it?'" and
Laddie clapped his hands delightedly to think that he had asked a real
riddle.

"Oh, I know! I know!" shouted Margy eagerly.

"You do?" asked Laddie. "What is it, then?"

"My Black Dinah dolly that I lost somewhere and we never could find."

"That isn't the whole of that riddle, Laddie," said Russ. "You ought to
say: 'And I had it in my hand all the time.' Then you ask 'What was
it?'"

"Well, then," said Laddie, rather disappointed to think he had made a
mistake in the riddle after all. "What _was_ it, Russ?"

"It was a splinter," said Russ, now drawing a scrap of paper from one
pocket. "And here it is----"

"Not the splinter?" gasped Rose.

"No. It was this piece of paper I was hunting for. I wasn't scratching,
either. Here it is. This is that foreign man's name."

"What man's name?" asked Vi, who by this time had forgotten what the
main subject of the discussion was.

"Cowboy Jack's name!" cried Rose.

"Has he got more names than that?" asked Vi. "Isn't Cowboy Jack enough
name for him?"

"His name," said Russ, reading what he had scribbled down on the paper,
"is 'Mr. John Scarbontiskil.' That's foreign."

"Oh!" gasped Rose. "I shouldn't think Daddy Bunker would want to go to
see a man with a name like that."

"I don't suppose," said Russ, "that he can help his name being that."

"Couldn't he make his own name--and make it a better one?" demanded Vi.
"You know, Mun Bun made his name for himself."

"I could not pronounce that name at all," said Rose to Russ. "I guess,
after all, maybe we'd better not go to that place."

"What place?"

"Where daddy is going. To that--that Cowboy Jack's place."

"Why not?" asked Russ, almost as promptly as Vi might have asked it had
she heard Rose's speech.

"Because," said Rose, who was a thoughtful girl, "of course they don't
call him Cowboy Jack to his face, and I should never be able to say
Scar--Scar--Scar--whatever it is to him. Never!"

"Nonsense! You can learn to say anything if you try," declared Russ
loftily.

"No," sighed Rose, who knew her limitations, "_I_ can't. I can't even
learn to say Con-stan-stan-stan-ple--You know!"

"Con-stan-ti-no-ple!" exclaimed Russ with emphasis.

"Yes. That's it," Rose said. "But, anyway, I can't say it."

"I'd like to know why not?" demanded her brother scornfully.

"'Cause I get lost in the middle of it," declared Rose, shaking her
head. "It's too long, Russ."

"Well, 'Mr. John Scarbontiskil' _is_ long," admitted Russ. "But if you
practise from now, right on----"

"But what is the use of practising if we are not going there with
daddy?"

"But maybe we'll go," said Russ hopefully.

"We have got to go to school. I don't mind," sighed Rose. "Only I do so
love to travel about with daddy and mother."

"You can practise saying it on the chance of our going," her brother
advised.

But Rose did not really think there was much use in doing that. She said
so. She was not of so hopeful a disposition as Russ. He believed that
"something would turn up" so that the six little Bunkers would be taken
with daddy and mother to the far Southwest. Grandma Bell often spoke of
a "silver lining" to every cloud, and Russ was hoping to see the silver
lining to this cloud of Daddy Bunker's going away.

At any rate, the fact that Mr. Bunker had to go to Cowboy Jack's (we'll
not call him Mr. Scarbontiskil, either, for it _is_ too hard a name) was
quite established that very afternoon. Daddy received another letter
from his Pineville client, and he at once said to Mother Bunker:

"That settles it, Amy." Mrs. Bunker's name was Amy. "Golden is
determined that nobody but me shall do the job for him. He offers such a
good commission--plus transportation expenses--that I do not feel that I
can refuse."

"Oh, Charles," said Mrs. Bunker, "I don't like to have you go so far
away from us. It really is a great way to that town of Cavallo that you
say is the nearest to Cowboy Jack's ranch."

"I'll take you all home to Pineville first. Then you will not be quite
so far away from me," Daddy Bunker said reflectively.

So daddy and mother were no more happy at the prospect of his being
separated from the family than were the children themselves. The six
talked about the prospect of daddy's going a good deal. But, of course,
they did not spend all their time bewailing this unexpected separation.
Not at all! There was something happening to the six little Bunkers
almost all the time, and this time was no exception.

The equinoctial storm seemed to have blown itself out by the next
morning. As soon as the roads were dried up Daddy Bunker said they would
have to leave Captain Ben and start back for Pineville. Meanwhile the
children determined to have all the fun possible in the short time
remaining to them at Grand View.

Bright and early on this morning appeared Tad Munson. Tad was the
"runaway boy" in a previous story, and all those who have read "Six
Little Bunkers at Captain Ben's" will remember him. He was a very
likable boy, too, and Russ liked Tad particularly.

"They told me you Bunkers were going home soon, so I asked my father to
let me come over once more to see you," Tad said, by way of greeting.
"There's a lot of things you Bunkers haven't seen about here, I guess. I
know you haven't seen Dripping Rock."

"What is Dripping Rock?" Vi promptly wanted to know. "What does it
drip?"

"Not milk, anyway, or molasses," laughed Tad.

"It drips water, of course," Russ explained. "I have heard of it. You go
up the road past the swamp. I know."

"That's right," said Tad. "It's not far."

"I want to go, too, to D'ipping Wock," Mun Bun declared.

"Of course you do," Rose told him. "And if mother lets us go----"

Mother did. As long as Tad was along and knew the way, she was sure
nothing would happen to her little Bunkers. At least, nothing worse than
usual. Something was always happening to them, she told daddy, whether
they stayed at home or not.

"Don't go into the swamp, that is all," said Mother Bunker.

"Why not?" asked Vi.

"I know a riddle about a swamp," said Laddie eagerly. "Why is a swamp
like what we eat for breakfast?"

"Goodness!" cried Rose. "That can't be. I had an egg and two slices of
bacon for breakfast, and that couldn't be anything like a swamp."

"But you ate something else," cried Laddie delightedly. "You ate mush.
And isn't a swamp just like mush?"

"Huh! You wouldn't think so if you ever tasted swamp mud," said Tad.

"But I guess that is a pretty good riddle after all," Russ told the
little boy kindly. "For the mush and the swamp are both soft."

"And--and mushy," said Margy. "I think that's a very nice riddle,
Laddie. Why do we eat swamps for breakfast?"

"Goodness! We don't!" exclaimed Rose. "Now, come along. If we are going
to the Dripping Rock, we'd better start."

It was not far--not even in the opinion of Mun Bun. They took a road
that led right back from the shore, and you really would not have known
the sea was near at all when once you got into that path. For there were
trees on both sides, and for half the way at least there were no open
fields.

"I hear somebody calling," said Russ suddenly, as he led the way with
Tad.

"Somebody shouting," said Tad. "I wonder what he wants!"

"I hear it," cried Rose suddenly. "Is he calling for help?"

"Hurry up," advised Tad. "I guess somebody wants something, and he wants
it pretty bad."

"Well," said Russ, increasing his pace, but not so much so as to leave
Mun Bun and Margy very far behind, "if he wants help, of course he wants
it bad. Oh! There's the swamp."

They came to the opening. There were a few trees here on either side of
the road, which was now made of logs laid down on the soft ground. Grass
grew between the logs. There were pools of water, and other pools of
very black mud with only tufts of tall grass growing between them.

"Oh!" cried Rose, who had very bright eyes, "I see him!"

"Who do you see?" demanded Tad, who was turning around and trying to
look all ways at once.

"There! Can't you see him?" demanded Rose, with growing excitement. "Oh,
the poor thing!"

Just then an unmistakable "bla-a-at!" startled the other children--even
Tad Munson. He brought his gaze down from the trees into the branches of
which he had been staring.

"Bla-a-at!" was the repeated cry, which at first the children had
thought had been "Help!"

"And sure enough," Russ said confidently, "he is saying 'help!' just as
near as he can say it."

"The poor thing!" sighed Rose again.



CHAPTER IV

WHAT WAS STUCK IN THE MUD


Russ began to whistle a tune, as he often did when he was puzzled. It
was not that he was puzzled about the thing he saw--and which Rose had
seen first--but at once Russ felt that he must discover a way to get the
blatting object out of the mud.

"What do you know about that!" cried Tad Munson. "That's John Winsome's
red calf. See! He's sunk clear to his backbone in the mud."

"Oh, dear me!" cried Rose. "The poor thing!"

She had said that twice before, but everybody was so excited that none
of them noticed that Rose was repeating herself. In fact, both Vi and
Margy said the very same thing, and in chorus:

"Oh, the poor thing!"

"Is that a red calf, Tad Munson?" asked Laddie. "For if it is, it's a
riddle. Its head and its neck and its tail are all splattered with mud."

"It was a red calf when it went into the swamp, all right," said Tad
with confidence. "I know that calf, all right. And John Winsome told me
only this morning that he had lost it."

"Who put it in that horrid swamp?" Vi demanded.

"I guess it just wandered in," said Tad.

"And it is sinking down right now," Russ tried. "See it?"

Indeed the poor calf--a well grown animal--was in a very serious plight.
It was eight or ten feet from the edge of the road where the logs were.
And the calf had evidently struggled a good deal and was now quite
exhausted. It turned its head to look at the children and blatted again.

"Oh, dear!" said Margy, almost in tears, "it is asking us to help it
just as plain as it can."

"I'm going to run and tell John Winsome--right now I am!" shouted Tad,
and he turned around and ran back along the road they had come just as
fast as he could run.

But Russ stayed where he was. His lips were still puckered in a whistle
and he was thinking hard.

"What can we do for the poor calf, Russ?" asked Rose.

She seemed to think that her brother would think up some way of helping
the mired creature. No knowing how long Tad would be in finding the
owner, and it looked as though the calf was sinking all the time.

Russ Bunker had quite an inventive mind. The other children were
helpless in this emergency, but he began to see how he could help the
calf stuck in the muddy swamp. He ran to the roadside fence, which was a
good deal broken down just at the edge of the open swamp lands. The
fence rails were so old and dry that Russ could pull them, one at a
time, away from the posts. He dragged the first one to the spot where
the calf was blatting so pitifully. Although these cedar rails had been
split out of logs many years before, they were still very strong.

"Come on, Rose! You can help drag these rails too," cried Russ, quite
excited by the thought that he might be able to save the calf before Tad
Munson brought help.

"Oh! what are you going to do? Are you going to burn that poor calf like
the Indians used to burn folks?" asked Vi, who remembered something she
had heard at Uncle Fred's ranch. "You going to burn the calf at the
stake?"

This was a horrifying thought, but even Laddie, who was very
tender-hearted, was too much excited to think of this. He said to his
twin sister:

"How silly, Vi! You couldn't burn those old rails on that wet place. The
fire would go right out."

"Russ won't burn it, or let it drown either," Margy said, with much
confidence in their older brother.

Meanwhile Russ and Rose were pulling off fence-rails and dragging them
to the edge of the swamp. Then, while Rose brought more, Russ began to
lay the rails on the quivering mire, side by side but about a foot
apart, the ends of the first row of rails being only a few inches from
the side of the calf.

Having made a foundation of four rails upon the soft muck, Russ began to
lay the next tier across them, thus building a platform. It was a shaky
platform, but he crept out upon it slowly and carefully and the lower
rails did not sink much.

"Won't you sink down in the mud, too, if you do that, Russ?" asked Vi
curiously. "Won't those old rails get splinters in your hands?"

"Oh!" cried Laddie, jumping up and down in his excitement, "then you'll
be the riddle, Russ. 'I went out to the woodpile and got it'--you know."

"Maybe it's a riddle--what I'm going to do for the poor calf when I can
reach him," their brother said. "I know I can get to him; but how can I
pull him up out of the mud?"

This was a harder question to answer than one of Vi's. The rails did not
sink much under Russ's weight, and he believed he could get within reach
of the calf. But, having reached the animal, what could the boy do?

"Bla-a-at!" bawled the calf, his smutched head lifted out of the mire.

"Oh, dear! The poor bossy!" gasped Rose, staggering along with another
rail. "How you going to help him, Russ?"

"Give me that rail," commanded her brother, standing up gingerly upon
the crisscrossed rails. "I bet I can keep him from sinking any farther,
anyway. And maybe Tad will find his owner before long."

Russ had just thought of something to do. He balanced himself carefully
and took the last rail from Rose.

"Oh, Russ!" cried Vi, "your shoes are getting all muddy."

"Well, I can clean them, can't I?" panted the boy.

"How can you when you haven't any blacking and brush here?" asked Vi.

Russ paid her and her question no attention. He had too much to think of
just then. He pointed the rail he held downward and pushed it into the
mire just beyond the far end of the platform he had built. The calf
bawled again, and struggled some more; but Russ knew he was not hurting
the creature, although he could feel the end of the rail scraping down
along the calf's side.

He pushed down with all his might until at least half the length of the
rail was out of sight. It was poked down right behind the calf's
forelegs. Russ thought that if he could pry up the fore-end of the calf,
the animal could not drown in the mud.

This is what he tried to do, anyway. And although the calf began to
struggle again, being evidently very much frightened, Russ was able to
force the end of the rail up, and lifted the calf's head and shoulders.

"Oh, Russ, you're doing it!" cried Rose.

The other children jumped up and down in their delight, and praised him
too. All but Mun Bun. He didn't say anything, for the very good reason
that he was no longer there to say it!

Nobody had noticed the little boy for the last few minutes. Mun Bun
always liked to help, and he had first followed Rose to try to pull a
rail off the fence. This was too heavy for Mun Bun, so he had wandered
along the road to find a rail or a stick or something that he could drag
back to help make Russ Bunker's platform.

None of the others had noticed his absence, and Mun Bun was out of sight
when Russ, with the help of Rose, bore down on the end of the fence
rail far enough to hoist the calf half way out of the mire.

"Where's Mun Bun?" demanded Rose, looking around.

"Can you save the calf, Russ?" asked Vi.

Russ, however, like Rose, was instantly alarmed by the absence of Mun
Bun. A dozen things might happen to the littlest Bunker here in the
swamp.

"Where is he?" rejoined Russ. He jumped up and the rail began to tip
again, dousing the poor calf into the mire.

"Don't, Russ!" screamed Rose. "He's going down again!"

Russ sat down on the fence rail, and the calf came up, bawling
pitifully. It was a very serious problem to decide. If they ran to find
Mun Bun, the calf would be lost. What could Russ Bunker do?



CHAPTER V

GOOD-BYE TO GRAND VIEW


"Didn't you--any of you--see which way he went?" Rose demanded of the
other children. "Oh! if Mun Bun gets into the swamp----"

"Of course he won't," said Margy. "He isn't a bossy-calf."

"Of course he won't," added Laddie. "Mother told us not to, and Mun Bun
will mind mother."

"Shout for him!" commanded Russ, and raised his own voice to the very
top note in calling Mun Bun's name.

The chorus of calls brought no response from Mun Bun. Only an old crow
cawed in reply, and of course he knew nothing about Mun Bun or where he
had gone.

Russ got off the rail again in his excitement, and down went the calf!

"Oh, you mustn't!" gasped Rose. "You'll drown him."

"But I guess we've got to find Mun Bun," said Vi.

Russ, however, had another idea. He was frightened because of the little
boy's disappearance, but he did not want to lose the calf, having
already partly saved him from the mud.

"You and Laddie, Vi, come here and help Rose hold down the rail," said
Russ.

"But I must go look for Mun Bun, too!" cried Rose.

"Wait a minute," said Russ, "and we'll all go and hunt for him."

Russ had noticed a post of the old fence that had rotted off close to
the ground. It was quite a heavy post, but Russ was strong enough to
drag it to the side of the miry pool where the calf was fixed. He rolled
the post upon the platform, and then on the end of the rail which the
other children were holding down.

The post did not stay there very firmly at first. It was not perfectly
round and it was gnarled (which means lumpy), and it did not seem to
want to stay in place at all. Russ, however, was very persevering. He
was anxious too, to keep the poor calf from drowning in the mud. And at
length he got the post fixed to suit him.

"Now get up," Russ told them, and Rose and Vi and Laddie stood up.

"That fixes it!" cried Laddie, in great excitement.

"It's all right if the calf doesn't struggle much while we are gone,"
said Russ doubtfully. "Which way did Mun Bun go?"

"He went on ahead, towards that Dripping Rock we started to see," said
Vi. "I saw him start, but I didn't think he was going to run away."

So the five Bunkers started off hurriedly along the log road through the
swamp, calling for Mun Bun as they went, and hoping he had not got into
real trouble. And he had not come to any harm, although he had wandered
some distance from the swampy pool where the calf was.

By and by Mun Bun heard them calling, and he called back. But he was so
busy that he did not return. They ran on along the road and at last
around a turn, and there was Mun Bun down on his hands and knees in the
middle of the road, so much interested in what he was looking at that
he did not at first give the others much of his attention.

"What are you doing, Mun Bun?" cried Rose, first to reach the little
boy.

"Oh, what's that?" asked Vi, at once curious when she saw the object
before Mun Bun.

"I dess it's a box," said Mun Bun, looking over his shoulder. "But
sometimes it walks. I'm waiting to see it walk again."

"A walking box!" shouted Laddie. "I can make a riddle out of that, I
know. When is a box not a box at all?"

"When it's a turtle!" exclaimed Russ, beginning to laugh.

"No, no!" said Laddie. "That isn't the answer. When it walks. That is
the answer to _my_ riddle, Russ."

"That is an awfully funny looking turtle," Rose said. "See how high up
it is." None of them had ever seen a wood tortoise before, and the
box-like, horny shell was not like that of the little mud-turtles in
Rainbow River or the snapping turtle Laddie had found at Uncle Fred's.

The tortoise was so scared (for Mun Bun had been poking it with a
stick) that its legs and head were drawn into the shell and it refused
to move. Russ did not know but that the tortoise would bite, so he said
they had all better go back to the calf. Mun Bun did not like to give up
his new-found treasure, but he went back, clinging to Rose's hand and
looking back at the tortoise as long as he could see it.

When they came to the place where the calf had been stuck in the mud
there was Tad Munson and with him a man. The man had already dragged the
calf out to the road and was wiping the mud off with a bunch of grass.

"I declare, you are smart young ones," said John Winsome. "I would not
have lost this calf for a good deal. I thank you. I never would have got
him out if you hadn't thought of those rails, sonny."

Russ did not much care about being called "sonny." He said that he might
as well have been called "moony"--and he didn't go mooning about at all!
Older folk were always calling him "young staver" and "chip of the old
block," and things like that. They didn't mean any harm; but of course
Russ, like other boys, did not fancy being called out of name. And
"sonny" did not make the oldest Bunker feel dignified at all.

"Don't mind, Russ," said Rose in a soft little voice when the man had
led the staggering calf away. "Don't mind if he did call you sonny. I
guess he thinks you are pretty smart just the same. Anyway, we know you
are."

"I would have helped you get the rails and build that platform if I had
stayed," said Tad Munson. "But I don't know that I would ever have
thought of using the rails to save that poor calf. You see, all I could
think of was running for John Winsome."

"And I guess that was the first thing to think about," Russ observed,
nodding. "Anyway, it's all over now and the calf is safe again. We might
as well go on to the Dripping Rock and see what it looks like."

"Oh, yes!" cried Vi. "And find out what it drips."

They trooped along the road, and, coming to the place where Mun Bun had
so earnestly studied the wood tortoise, the little Bunkers were
surprised to find that the hard-shelled creature had totally
disappeared.

"Oh!" mourned Mun Bun. "My turkle is gone. Somebody come and took him."

"No," Rose told the little boy. "He was watching you very slyly, and
when he saw you had gone, he ran away just as fast as he could travel."

"He needn't have been so scared," said Mun Bun, in disgust. "I wouldn't
have hurt him."

"But you were poking him with a stick, you know, and he prob'ly thought
you might poke his eyes out. Come on; let's hurry to the Dripping Rock."

They did this, and Vi, in her curiosity, even got wetted a good deal
with the water that dripped from the rock where the spring welled out of
the ground and spattered over the lip of the stone basin on top of the
big boulder. Ferns grew all about the pool of water below, and Rose and
Vi and Margy gathered a lot of these to carry home to Mother Bunker.

"I want to pick ferns, I do!" cried Mun Bun. "I want to take mother the
biggest bunch of all."

He worked so hard at pulling the ferns that he tired himself out. And
that and the walk to the Dripping Rock and the excitement about the
calf in the mud, added to the walk back to Captain Ben's bungalow, made
Mun Bun very tired and not a little cross when he got home.

"I want to give these ferns to mother. And I want my face and hands
washed. And I want bwead and milk and go to bed right away!" was Mun
Bun's declaration.

Although it was only lunch time, they let him have his way, for Mun Bun
often took a nap in the early afternoon and mother said it made him as
bright as a new penny when he woke up again.

So it was the others, and not Mun Bun, who told their elders about the
calf stuck in the mud.

The end of their stay at Captain Ben's bungalow had now come, and
although all the little Bunkers were sorry to leave Captain Ben and
remembered with delight all the fun they had had here at Grand View,
home at Pineville beckoned them.

"Even if we have to go to school," said Russ, "it will seem like
visiting at first. Don't you think so? Almost as though our vacation
kept on--because we haven't been home much."

"Well," sighed Rose, to whom he spoke, "I sort of like to go to school.
But if father goes 'way out West to that Cowboy Jack's, and without us,"
and she sighed again, "it will seem awfully hard, Russ."

"Maybe something will happen!" cried the oldest little Bunker suddenly.

But just what did happen, even Russ Bunker could not possibly have
imagined.



CHAPTER VI

THE COAL STRIKE


Mother, of course, took Mun Bun and Margy back to Pineville by train. It
was much too long a journey for them in an automobile. Mr. Bunker, with
the four bigger little Bunkers (doesn't that sound funny?) drove in a
motor-car and spent one night's sleep on the way at a very pleasant
country inn.

They did not have quite so much excitement here as they had at the
farmhouse on their way down to the shore. But Rose and Vi had a room all
to themselves, and felt themselves quite grown-up travelers. Russ and
Laddie were in a second bed in Mr. Bunker's room, and in the night
Laddie must have had a very exciting dream because he began to kick
about and thrash with his arms and woke up Russ very suddenly.

"Get off me!" cried Russ. "Stop!"

Then he became wide awake, sat up, and saw that it was not a dog jumping
all over him, as he had supposed, but his brother.

"Why, Laddie!" he exclaimed, shaking the younger boy. "If you don't stop
I'll have to get out and sleep on the floor."

"Oh!" gasped Laddie. "Am I sleeping?"

"Well, you're not now, I guess. But you were sleeping--and kicking,
too."

"Oh!" said Laddie again. "I thought that old calf was pulling me down
into the mud to take a bath. That--that must be a riddle, Russ."

"What's a riddle?" asked his brother, yawning.

"When is a dream not a dream?" asked Laddie promptly.

"I--ow!--don't know," yawned Russ.

"When you wake up," declared Laddie with conviction.

But Russ did not answer. He had snuggled down into his pillow and was
asleep again.

"Well--anyway," muttered Laddie, "I guess that wasn't a very good riddle
after all."

They got home to Pineville the next day, and as the automobile rolled
into the Bunker yard mother and Norah, the cook, besides Mun Bun and
Margy, were in the doorway. The two little folks at once ran screaming
into the yard.

"There's a strike!" cried out Margy.

"You tan't go to school!" added Mun Bun.

"What do you mean--strike?" asked Russ wonderingly.

"That old thunder struck us. That's enough," said Rose, harking back to
their exciting time in the old house at the seashore.

"Who got struck?" asked Violet. "Did it hurt them--like it did Mun Bun
and me when the tree fell on us?"

"It's a coal strike," said Margy. "And the school can't have any coal."

Neither Rose nor Russ just understood this. What had a coal strike to do
with their going to school?

But they found out all about it after a time. Something quite exciting
had happened in Pineville while they had been down at Grand View. Of
course, it happened in quite a number of other places at the same time;
but only as the coal strike affected their home town did it matter at
all to the six little Bunkers.

Daddy Bunker had plenty of coal in the cellar against the coming of cold
weather when the furnace should be started. But everybody was not as
fortunate--or as wise--as Daddy Bunker.

And in the school bins no coal had been placed early in the season.
Suddenly the delivery of coal in cars to Pineville was stopped. The coal
dealers in the town had no coal to deliver, although they had sold a
great deal of it for delivery.

Frost had come. Indeed, the flowers and plants in the gardens were
already blackened by the touch of Jack Frost's scepter. That meant that
soon it would be so cold that little boys and girls could not sit in the
big rooms of the schoolhouse unless there were warm fires to send the
steam humming through the pipes and radiators.

"Here we are, three weeks late for school already, and no likelihood of
coal coming into the town for another month. Of course there will be no
school," Mother Bunker said decidedly. "I should not dare let the
children go in any case unless the fires were built."

"Quite right," said Daddy Bunker. "And I presume the other people will
feel the same about their children. School must be postponed again."

"Oh, bully!" cried Russ.

He shouted it out so loud that the older folks, as well as the children,
looked at him in some amazement.

"What is bully?" asked Vi. "Do you mean a coal strike is bully? Why
can't we have coal to burn? Who has got our coal?"

Nobody gave her questions much attention, which of course was not
unusual. But Daddy Bunker began to laugh.

"I can see what is working in Russ's mind," he said. "You reason from
the cause of a lack of coal, to an effect that you need not go to
school?"

"I--I don't mind going to school," Rose said, a little doubtfully but
looking at her elder brother.

"And I don't mind, either," said Russ promptly. "Only daddy is going to
that Cowboy Jack's. And if we can't go to school for a month, why can't
we go with daddy? We might as well."

"Oh! Oh!" cried the other children in chorus, seeing very plainly now
what Russ had meant by saying the coal strike was "bully."

"Perhaps you are taking too much for granted," Mother Bunker said
soberly. "Still, Charles, maybe I had better not unpack our trunks quite
yet?"

"I'll see what the outlook is to-morrow morning," said Daddy Bunker
quite soberly. "Anyway, I shall not start for the Southwest until day
after to-morrow. Will that give you time, if----?"

"Oh, yes," said Mother Bunker, who had become by this time an expert in
making quick preparations for leaving home. "Norah and Jerry will get on
quite well here."

This was enough to set the six little Bunkers in a ferment. At least, to
put their minds in a ferment. They were so excited and so much
interested in the possibility of going away again that they could not
"settle," as Norah said, to their ordinary pursuits.

Even Rose had by this time decided that she would be able perhaps to
pronounce the name of the man Daddy Bunker was going to see--Mr. John
Scarbontiskil.

"And, anyway," she told Russ, "maybe I won't have to talk to him much."

"You needn't mind that," said Russ kindly. "Daddy says everybody calls
him Cowboy Jack. Daddy has met him and likes him, and he told me that
Cowboy Jack likes children, although he has none of his own."

"Why hasn't he?" demanded Vi. "Don't they have little boys and girls
down there on the ranch where he lives?"

"He hasn't got any," said Russ. "So he likes other people's children."

[Illustration: RUSS AND LADDIE GOT OUT THEIR COWBOY AND INDIAN SUITS.

_Six Little Bunkers at Cowboy Jack's._ (_Page 54_)]

Russ and Laddie were very busy getting out their cowboy and Indian suits
and having Norah mend them. Of course they would want to dress like
other people did in the Southwest.

The coal strike in western Pennsylvania really did send the six little
Bunkers off to the Southwest almost as soon as they had returned from
the seashore and their visit to Captain Ben.

Daddy came home the next noon and said that coal enough to supply the
Pineville school might not arrive before November. At least, there would
be four full weeks before school could safely open.

"We might as well make a long holiday of it, Charles," said Mother
Bunker, quite complacently.

For she, too, liked to travel, and had, by now, got used to journeying
about with the children. Russ and Rose were so helpful, too, that a trip
to Cavallo did not seem such a huge undertaking after all.

"Shall we take our bathing suits, Mother?" asked Rose.

"No bathing suits this time, for we are not going to the seashore,"
declared Mother Bunker.

But in repacking what few things had been unpacked there were two things
forgotten. The children really did not have time to "count up" and see
if they had all their most precious possessions with them.

It was after they were on the train the following morning, and Pineville
station, with Norah and Jerry waving good-bye on the platform, was out
of sight, that Rose suddenly discovered a lack that made her cry out in
earnest.

"Oh! Oh! I've lost it!" she said.

"What you lost?" asked Vi.

"My watch!" gasped Rose.

"Oh, dear me! Your nice new wrist watch?" asked Mother Bunker
admonishingly.

"Yes, ma'am," sighed Rose. "I--I haven't got it."

"Oh, my!" cried Laddie suddenly.

He was fumbling at his scarf and trying to look at it by pulling it out
to its full length and squinting down his nose at its pretty pattern.

"And what's the matter with you, Laddie?" asked Daddy Bunker. "What have
you lost?"

"Oh, my!" said Laddie, quite as dolefully as Rose had spoken. "I--I
don't see my new stick-pin. It isn't here. I--I just guess I have lost
it, too."



CHAPTER VII

THE SOUP JUGGLER


Rose was almost in tears when she found that her watch was lost. But
although Laddie felt very bad about his missing stick-pin, he would not
cry. Just the same, he did not feel as though he could make a riddle out
of it.

"Now, Rose, and you, Laddie," said Mother Bunker admonishingly, as she
seated them before her in one of the double seats of the Pullman car in
which they had their reservations, "I want to know all about how you
came to forget the watch and the pin--and just where you forgot them?"

Although Mother Bunker was usually very cheerful and patient with the
children, this was a serious matter. Carelessness and inattention were
faults that Mother Bunker was always trying to correct. For those two
faults, as she pointed out so frequently, led often to much trouble, as
in this case. The loss of the wrist watch and the stick-pin could not be
passed over lightly.

Laddie shook his head very sorrowfully. "That _is_ a riddle, Mother," he
said. "I can forget things so easy that I forget how I forget them."

But Rose was thinking very hard, and she broke out with:

"Maybe I never had it there at all!"

"Where?" asked Mrs. Bunker, while the other children stood in the aisle
or knelt on the seat behind to listen at the conference. "Where didn't
you have it?"

"At home, Mother. I--I guess I haven't seen that watch since we were at
Captain Ben's."

"Oh!" shouted Laddie. "That is just it! I left my stick-pin at the
bungalow. I left it sticking in that cushion on the bureau in that room
where Russ and Mun Bun and I slept. Of course I did."

"Are you sure, Laddie?" asked Mrs. Bunker. "I remember that I did not go
into that room to see if anything was left. I should have done so, but
we were in such a hurry."

"My rememberer is all right now," declared Laddie, with conviction.
"That is where I left the pin."

"And you, Rose?" asked their mother.

"I--I don't know for sure," admitted Rose. "I can't remember where I had
the watch last--or when I wore it last. But I do not believe I had it at
all when we came home to Pineville."

"Well, Laddie is positive, and I suspect that you were quite as careless
as he was," Mrs. Bunker said. "You should not be, Rose, for you are
older."

"Oh, Mother! I am so sorry," cried Rose. "Don't you suppose we'll ever
see my watch and Laddie's pin again?"

"We will write a letter to Captain Ben at once," said Mrs. Bunker,
getting the writing pad and fountain pen out of her bag. "He has not
left Grand View, and he may have already found them both. But, of
course, we cannot be sure."

"He would know they belonged to Rose and Laddie, if he found them," said
Russ, trying to comfort the others.

"Yes. If he cleans up the house he might find them. But it is likely
that he will hire somebody to do that, and we cannot be sure that the
person cleaning up is honest."

"Oh, how mean! To steal Rose's watch and Laddie's pin!" cried Russ.

"What makes them steal, Mother?" queried Vi.

"Because they have not been taught that other people's possessions are
sacred," said Mrs. Bunker gravely. "You know, I tell all you children
not to touch each other's toys or other things without permission."

"Well!" ejaculated Vi, "Laddie took my book."

"I didn't mean to keep it," cried her twin at once. "And, anyway, it
wasn't a sacred book. It was just a story book."

"Stealing is an intention to defraud," explained their mother, smiling a
little. "But Vi's book was just as sacred, or set apart, to her
possession as anything could be."

"I--I thought sacred books were like the Bible and the hymn book,"
murmured Laddie wonderingly.

Which was of course quite so. It took Laddie some time, he being such a
little boy, to understand that it was the fact of possession that was
"sacred" rather than the article possessed.

However, Mother Bunker wrote the letter to Captain Ben, asking him to
hunt all about the bungalow for both the wrist watch Rose had lost and
the stick-pin Laddie was so confident now that he had left sticking in
the cushion on the bureau in the bedroom. She also wrote a letter to
Norah asking the cook to look for the lost articles.

"Now what will you do with them?" asked Vi, referring to the letters.

"Mail them," replied Mother Bunker.

"How will you mail them? Is there a post-box in the car?"

"No. But we will find a way of getting them into the mails," her mother
assured the inquisitive Violet.

"I know!" cried Russ. "I saw the mailsack hanging on the hook at the
railroad station down on the coast, and the train came along and grabbed
it off with another hook."

"That is getting the mail on to the train," said Vi promptly. "But how
do they get it off?"

When Mrs. Bunker had finished writing the letters and had sealed and
addressed the envelopes she satisfied Vi's curiosity, as well as that of
the other children, by giving the letters and a dime to the colored
porter, who promised to mail them at the first station at which the
train stopped.

Then they all trooped into the dining car for dinner, where daddy had
already secured two tables for his party. They had a waiter all to
themselves, and the children thought that he was a very funny man. In
the first place, he was very black, and when he smiled (which was almost
all the time) he displayed so many and such very white teeth that Mun
Bun and Margy could scarcely eat their dinner properly, they looked so
often at the waiter.

He was a colored man who liked children too. He said he did, and he
laughed loudly when Vi asked him questions, although he couldn't answer
all her questions any better than other people could.

"Why is he called a waiter?" Vi wanted to know. "For he doesn't wait at
all. He is running back and forth to the kitchen at the end of the car
all the time."

"That's a riddle," declared her twin soberly. "'When is a waiter not a
waiter?'"

"You'll have to answer that one yourself, Laddie," said Daddy Bunker,
laughing.

"When he's a runner," Laddie said promptly. "Isn't that a good riddle?"

"And he juggles dishes almost as good as that juggler we saw at the
show," Russ declared.

"He must have almost as much skill as a juggler to serve his customers
in this car," said Mrs. Bunker, watching the man coming down the aisle
as the train sped around a sharp curve.

"Oh! Look there!" cried Rose, who was likewise facing the right way to
see the waiter's approach.

The smiling black man was coming with a soup toureen balanced on one
hand while he had other dishes on a tray balanced on his other hand. The
car swayed so that the waiter began to stagger as though he were on the
deck of a ship in a heavy sea.

"Oh! He's going!" sang out Russ.

The waiter jerked to one side, and almost dropped the soup toureen. Then
he pitched the other way and his tray hit against one of the diners at
another table.

"Look out what you're doing!" cried the man whom the tray had struck.

"Yes, sah! Yes, sah!" panted the waiter, and he tried to balance his
tray.

But there was the soup toureen slipping from his other hand. He had
either to drop the tray or the soup. Each needed the grasp of both his
hands to secure it, and the waiter, losing his smile at last and
uttering a frightened shout, made a last desperate attempt to retain
both burdens.

"There he goes!" gasped Russ again.

"I guess he _is_ a soup juggler," declared Laddie, staring with all his
might. "He's got it!"

After all, the waiter showed wisdom in making his choice as long as a
choice had to be made. Even Daddy Bunker, when he could stop laughing,
voiced his approval. The tray and the viands on it flew every-which-way.
But the waiter caught the hot soup toureen in both hands. It was so hot
that he could only balance it first in one hand and then the other while
the train finished rounding that curve.

"My head an' body!" gasped the poor waiter. "I done circulated de
celery an' yo' watah glasses, suah 'nough. But I done save mos' of de
soup," and he set the toureen down with a thump in front of Daddy
Bunker.

The steward came running with a very angry countenance, and the people
who had been spattered by the water sputtered a good deal. But Daddy
Bunker, when he could recover from his laughter, interceded for the
"soup juggler," and the incident was passed off as an accident.

When daddy paid his bill and tipped the very much subdued waiter, Laddie
tugged at his father's sleeve and whispered:

"What is it, Son?" asked Mr. Bunker, stooping down to hear what the
little boy whispered.

"Ask him if he will juggle the soup again if we come in here to eat?"

But Mr. Bunker only laughed and herded his flock back into the other
car. The children, however, thought the incident very funny indeed, and
they hoped to see the juggling waiter again when they ate their next
meal in the dining car.

Mother Bunker had brought a nicely packed basket for supper (Nora
O'Grady had made the sandwiches and the cookies) and she sent daddy
into the buffet car for milk and tea.

"The children get just as hungry on the train as they do when they are
playing all day long out-of-doors," she told daddy. "But they must not
eat too much while we are traveling. And I have to shoo the candy boy
away every half hour."

The boy who sold magazines and candy interested Russ and Laddie very
much. Russ thought that he might become a "candy butcher" when he grew
up, although at first he had decided to be a locomotive engineer.

"It must be lots nicer to sell candy than to work an engine," Laddie
said. "You get your hands all oil in an engine."

"Where does the oil come from?" asked Vi, who had not asked a question
since she had seen the waiter "juggle" the soup toureen. "What does an
engine have oil for? Do they keep it in a cruet, like that cruet on the
table in the hotel we stopped at coming up from Grand View?"

And perhaps she asked even more questions, but these are all we have
time to repeat right now. For evening had come, and soon the little
Bunkers would be put to bed. Although they had two sections of the
sleeping car, there was none too much room when the porter let down the
berths and hung the curtains for them.

Besides, even after the little folks had all got quiet, peace did not
reign for long in that sleeping car. The very strangest thing happened.
Even Russ couldn't have invented it.

But I will have to tell you about it in the next chapter.



CHAPTER VIII

AN ALARM AND A HOLD-UP


Of course, the six little Bunkers were just ordinary children, although
they sometimes had extraordinary adventures. And confinement for only a
few hours in a Pullman car had made them very restless. It was
impossible for them always to keep quiet, and their running up and down
the aisles, and their exclamations about what they saw, sometimes
annoyed other passengers just a little.

Most of the passengers in this car were people, fortunately, who liked
children and could appreciate how difficult it was for the six to be
always on their best behavior. And the passengers could not but admire
the way in which Daddy and Mother Bunker controlled the exuberance of
the six.

But there was one man who had scowled at the little Bunkers almost from
the very moment they had boarded the train at Pineville. That man
seemed to say to himself:

"Oh, dear! here is a crowd of children and they are going to annoy me
dreadfully."

And, of course, as he expected to be annoyed, there was scarcely
anything the Bunkers did or said but what did annoy him. He was a very
fat man, and the car was sometimes too warm for him, and he was always
complaining to the porter about something or other, and altogether he
was a very miserable man indeed on that particular journey.

Maybe he was a nice man at home. But it is doubtful if he had any
children of his own, and probably nobody's children would have suited
him at all! Mun Bun and Margy made friends with almost everybody in the
car but the fat man. He would not even look at Mun Bun when the little
fellow staggered along the car, from seat to seat, and looked smilingly
up into the fat man's red face.

"Go away!" said the fat man to Mun Bun.

Mun Bun's eyes grew round with wonder at the man's cross speech. He
could not understand it at all. He looked at the fat man in a very
puzzled way, and then went back to Mother Bunker's seat.

"Muvver," he said soberly, "do you got pep'mint?"

"I think you have eaten all the candy that is good for you now, Mun
Bun," said Mother Bunker.

"No," said Mun Bun earnestly. "Not tandy. Pep'mint for ache," and he
rubbed himself about midway of his body very suggestively.

"Mun Bun! are you ill?" demanded his mother anxiously. "Are you in pain,
you poor baby?"

He explained then that he did not need the "pep'mint"; but knowing that
Mother Bunker sometimes gave it to him when he had pain, he said he
thought the man up the aisle would like some for the same reason.

"Better ask him," suggested Daddy Bunker, who had noted the unhappy face
of the fat man.

Mun Bun did this. He asked the man very politely if he needed
"pep'mint." But all the cross passenger said was:

"Go on away! You are a nuisance!"

So Mun Bun went back to daddy and mother in rather a subdued way, for
he was not used to being treated so. Mun Bun liked to make friends
wherever he went.

Perhaps the fat man was the only person in the car who was glad when the
Bunker children went to bed. He went into the smoking room while his own
berth was being made up, and when he came back to the berths, daddy and
mother, as well as most of the other passengers, had retired. The car
was soon after that pretty quiet.

Russ and Laddie were in the upper berth over daddy and Mun Bun. The boys
in the upper berth had been asleep for some little time when Russ woke
up--oh, quite wide awake!

There was something going on that he could not understand. Whether this
mysterious something had awakened him or not, Russ lay straining his
ears to catch a repetition of the sound. Then it came--a sound that made
the boy "creep" all over it was so shuddery!

"Laddie! Laddie!" he whispered, nudging the boy next to him. "Don't you
hear it?"

Laddie was not easily awakened. When Laddie went to sleep it was, as the
children say, "for keeps." Russ had to punch him with his elbow more
than once before the smaller boy awakened.

"Oh, oh! Is it morning?" murmured Laddie.

"Listen!" hissed Russ right in his ear. "That man's being
mur--murdered!"

"Mur--murdered?" quavered Laddie in response. "You--you tell daddy about
it, Russ Bunker. Don't you tell me. I don't believe he is, anyway. Who's
mur--murderin' him?"

"I don't know who's doing it," admitted Russ, shaking as much as Laddie
was.

"How do you know it's--it's being done?" repeated Laddie, his doubt
growing as he became more fully awake.

"He says so. He says so himself. And if he says he's being murdered, he
ought to know--Oh!"

Again the doleful sound reached their ears, this time Laddie hearing as
well as Russ the moaning of a voice which uttered a muffled cry of
"Mur-r-rder!"

"There! What did I tell you?" gasped Russ. "I'm--I'm going to tell
daddy."

"Wait for me! Wait, Russ Bunker! I'm going with you," Laddie cried. "I
don't want to stay here and be mur--murdered, too!"

That was an awful word, anyway. Russ crept over the edge of the berth at
the foot and dropped down behind the curtain. Laddie was right behind
him, and in fact came down first upon Russ's shoulders and then slipped
to the floor of the car.

Before they could get inside daddy's curtain--a place which spelled
safety to their disturbed imaginations--they heard the moaning voice
again groan:

"Mur-r-rder!"

It was an awful choking cry--just like a hen squawked when Jerry Simms
grabbed it by the neck and had his hand on the hen's windpipe!

"He's mur--murderin' him all right," chattered Laddie, tugging at Russ's
pajama jacket. "Are--are you going to stop it, Russ?"

Russ had no idea of going himself to the rescue of the victim; he had
only thought of waking daddy. But now he put his head outside the
curtain and looked into the narrow aisle of the sleeping car. The first
thing he saw was the colored porter, his cap on awry, his eyes rolling
so that their whites were very prominent, stalking up the aisle in a
crouching attitude with the little stool he sometimes sat on in the
vestibule gripped by one leg as a weapon.

"It's the porter!" whispered Russ huskily.

"Is--is he being mur--murdered?" stuttered Laddie.

"He--he looks more as though he was going to do the mur-murdering,"
confessed Russ.

Laddie would not look; but Russ could not take his eyes off the
approaching porter. The colored man crept nearer, nearer--and then
suddenly he snatched away the curtain almost directly across the aisle
from where the two little Bunkers stood.

There was nobody in that lower berth but the fat man before mentioned!
He lay on his back with his knees up, his face very red, his eyes
tightly closed. Again there issued from his lips the stifled cry of
"Mur-r-rder!"

"Fo' de lan's sake!" exclaimed the porter, dropping his stool and
grabbing the fat passenger by the shoulder. "I suah 'nough thunk
somebody was bein' choked to deaf. Wake up, Mistah White Man! Ain't
nobody a-murderin' of yo' but yo'self."

The fat man's eyes opened wide at that and he glared around. He saw the
face of the porter at last and blinked his eyes for a moment. Then he
sighed.

"I--I guess I was asleep. Must have been dreaming," he stammered
gruffly.

"Say, Mistah!" the porter replied, "if yo' sleep like dat always, you
bettah have a car by yo'self. For yo' ain't goin' to let nobody else
sleep in peace. Turn over! Yo's on your back."

Russ and Laddie could only stare, and some of the other passengers began
to open their curtains and ask questions of the porter. The fat man
grabbed his own curtain away from the colored man and quickly shut
himself in again.

"All right! All right!" said the porter, picking up his stool and going
back to his place. "Ain't nobody killed yet. Guess we goin' to have
peace now fo' a while."

Daddy Bunker awoke too and sent his little folks back to bed, and Russ
and Laddie did not wake up again till broad daylight. They had to tell
the other little Bunkers before breakfast about what had happened; but
they never saw the fat man again, for he left the train at a station
quite early.

There were other things to interest the little Bunkers. In the first
place, it began to rain soon after they got up. A rainy day at home was
no great cross for the children to bear. There was always the attic to
play in. But on the train, with the rain beating against the windows and
not much to see as the train hurried on, the children began to grow
restless.

It was reported that the heavy rains ahead of them had done some damage
to the railroad, and the speed of the train was reduced until, by the
middle of the forenoon, it seemed only to creep along. The conductor,
who came through the car once in a while, told them that there were
"washouts" on the road.

"What's washouts?" demanded Vi. "Is it clothes on clotheslines, like
Norah's washlines? Why don't they take the wash in when it rains so?"

She really had to be told what "washout" meant, or she would have given
daddy and mother no peace at all. And the other children were interested
in the possibility that the train might be halted by a big hole in the
ground where the tracks ought to be.

Every time the train slowed down they were eagerly on tiptoe to see if
the "washout" had come. They were finally steaming through a deep cut in
the wooded hills when, of a sudden, the brakes were applied and the
train came to a stop with such a shock that the little Bunkers were all
tumbled together--although none of them was hurt.

"Here's the washout! Here's the washout!" cried Laddie eagerly.

"Can we go look out of the door, Mother?" asked Rose.

For some of the passengers were standing in the vestibule and the door
was open. Daddy got up and went with the children, all clamorous to see
the hole in the ground that had halted the train.

But it was not a hole at all. It was something so different from a hole,
or a washout as the children had imagined that to be, that when they saw
it they were very much excited and surprised.



CHAPTER IX

THE BIG ROCK THAT FELL DOWN


"Where is it? Let me see it!" was Vi's cry, as she rushed out into the
vestibule ahead of Daddy Bunker and her brothers and sisters.

Vi was so curious that she thought she just had to be first. Daddy
Bunker tried to restrain her, for he was afraid she would fall down the
car steps and out upon the cinder path beside the rails. And although it
had now ceased raining, she might easily have been hurt, if not made
thoroughly wet.

"Oh, Vi's going to see the washout first!" cried Laddie, who did not
like to play second when his twin wanted to be first.

"Now, wait!" commanded daddy. "You shall all see what there is to
see----"

"I want to see the wash up on the clotheslines," said Mun Bun, breaking
into his father's speech.

"Well, if you will be patient," Mr. Bunker said, smiling, "I think we'll
all have a fair view of the wonder. But the 'washup' isn't going to be
just what you think it is, Mun Bun."

Nor was it just what any of the six little Bunkers thought it would
be--as I said before. Daddy went down the steps first and then turned
and "hopped" the children down to the cinder path, one after the other.
Only Russ, who came last, jumped down without any assistance.

It was still very wet and all about were shallow puddles. But the rain
itself had ceased. In places, especially in the ditches alongside the
railroad bed, the water had torn its way through the earth, leaving it
red and raw. And big stones had been unearthed in the banks of the
ditches and in some cases carried some distance away from where they had
formerly lain.

"Why, that isn't a hole in the ground at all!" cried Laddie, first to
realize that what had made the train stop was something different from
what they had all expected.

"Oh!" shouted Violet. "It's a great, big rock that's fallen down the
hill."

"Well," said Russ, soberly, "I guess it's a washout at that. For the
rain must have washed it out of the hillside. See! There is the hole up
there in the bank."

"You are right, Russ," said Daddy Bunker. "It is a washout, and it will
take a long time to get that big rock off of the track so that the train
can go on."

The rock that had fallen completely blocked the west-bound track, as
daddy said. And a good deal of earth and gravel had fallen with it so
that the rails of the east-bound track were likewise buried. There was
already a gang of trackmen clearing away this gravel; but, as the
children's father had told them, it would take many hours to remove the
great boulder.

"Suppose our train had been going by when the rock fell?" suggested Russ
to Rose.

"What would the rock have done to us?" asked Vi, who heard her brother
say this.

"I guess it would have done something," replied Russ solemnly.

"It would have pushed us right off the track," declared Rose, nodding
her head.

"And what would it have done then?" demanded Vi.

"I wish you wouldn't, Vi," complained her twin suddenly.

"Wish I wouldn't what?"

"Ask so many questions."

"Why not?"

"Why, I was just thinking of a riddle about that big rock; and now it's
all gone," sighed Laddie.

"No, it isn't gone at all," Vi said wonderingly. "Daddy says it will
take hours to move it."

"Oh! That old rock!" said Laddie. "I meant my riddle. That's all gone."

"I guess it wasn't a very good riddle, then, if it went so easy," said
the critical Vi. "Oh, look there!"

"At what?" exclaimed her twin, following Vi to the fence beside the
railroad bed.

"See that path, Laddie? I guess we could climb right up that hill and
see down into that hole where the big rock washed out."

"So we could," agreed the boy. "Let's."

Daddy and the other children were some yards away, but in plain sight.
Indeed, they would be in sight if Vi and Laddie climbed to the very top
of the bank. It did not seem to either of the twins that they needed to
ask permission to climb the path when daddy was so near and could see
them by just looking up. So they hopped over the low fence and began to
climb.

It was an easy path, almost all of stone, and the rain had washed it
clean. It was great fun to be so high above the railroad and look down
upon the crowd of passengers from the stalled train and upon the
workmen. The two explorers could see into the hole washed in the
hillside, and it was much deeper than it had looked to be when they
stood below. There was a puddle of muddy water in it, too.

"Guess we don't want to fall into that," said Laddie, and Vi did not
even ask why not. "Let's go on to the top. We can see farther."

Vi was quite willing to go as far as her twin did. And there really
seemed to be no reason why they should not go. It would be hours before
that rock could be moved, and of course the train could not go on until
that was done.

They reached the top of the bank. Here was a great pasture which sloped
away to a piece of woods. Although the ground was wet, it had stopped
raining some time before and a strong wind was blowing. This wind had
dried the grass and weeds and the twins did not wet their feet. And----

"Oh!" squealed Vi, starting away from the edge of the bank on a run.
"See the flowers! Oh, see the flowers, Laddie!"

Laddie saw the flowers quite as soon as she did, but he did not shout
about it. He followed his sister, however, with much promptness, and
both of them began to pick the flowering weeds that dotted the pasture.

"We'll get a big bunch for mother. Won't she be glad?" went on Vi.

Mother Bunker was supposed to have a broad taste in flowers, and every
blossom the children found was brought for her approval. In a minute the
twins were so busy gathering the blossoms of wild carrots and other
weeds that they forgot the train, and the big rock that had fallen, and
even the fact that they had climbed the bank without permission.

At length Laddie stood up to look abroad over the great field. Perhaps
he had pulled the blossoms faster than Vi. At any rate, he had already a
big handful. Suddenly he caught sight of something that interested him
much more than the flowers did.

There was a stone fence near by which divided the fields. And on the
fence something flashed into view and ran along a few yards--something
that interested the boy immensely.

"Oh, look, Vi!" cried Laddie. "There's a chippy!"

"What chippy? Who's chippy?" demanded Vi excitedly.

"There he goes!" shouted Laddie. "A chipmunk!"

He dropped his bunch of blossoms and started for the stone fence. Vi
caught a glimpse of the whisking chipmunk, and she dropped her flowers
and ran after her brother.

"Oh, let me catch him! Let me catch him!"

The chipmunk ran along the stone fence a little way, and then looked
back at the excited children. He did not seem much frightened. Perhaps
he had been chased by children before and knew that he was more than
their match in running.

At any rate, that chipmunk drew Laddie and Vi on to the very edge of the
woods, and then, with a flirt of its tail, it disappeared into a hole
and they could not find him.

Laddie and Vi were breathless by that time, and they had to sit down and
rest. They looked back over the field. It was a long way to the brink of
the bank from which they could see the train and the passengers.

"I--I guess we'd better go back," said Laddie.

"And mother's flowers!" exclaimed Vi. "Do you know where you dropped
them?"

"I dropped mine just where you dropped yours, I guess," returned her
brother.

"We'll go pick them up. Come on."

They were both tired when they started to trudge back up the hill. And
just as they started they heard a long blast of a whistle, and then two
short blasts.

"What do you suppose that is?" asked Vi.

"It's the engine. Oh, Vi! maybe it's going to start without us," and
Laddie began to run, tired as he was.

"Wait for me, Laddie! It can't go--you know it can't. The big rock is in
the way."

But they were both rather frightened, and they did not stop to find
their flowers. The possibility that the train might go off and leave
them filled the two children with alarm. They ran on as hard as they
could, and Vi fell down and soiled her hands and her dress.

She was beginning to cry a little when Laddie came back for her and took
her hand. He was frightened, too; but he would not show it by
crying--not then, anyway.

"Come on, Vi," he urged. "If that old train goes on with daddy and
mother and the rest, I don't know what we _shall_ do!"



CHAPTER X

WHERE ARE THE TWINS?


The wrecking crew with their big derrick and other tools had not yet
arrived in the cut where the stalled west-bound train, on which rode the
Bunker family, had stopped. But the section gang had shoveled away the
dirt and gravel from the east-bound track.

Russ and Rose and Margy and Mun Bun had found plenty to interest them in
watching the shovelers and in listening to the men passengers talking
with daddy and some of the train crew. Finally Mun Bun expressed a
desire to go back into the car, and Rose went with him. As they were
climbing the steps into the vestibule a brakeman came running forward
along the cinder path beside the tracks.

"All aboard! Back into the cars, people!" he shouted. "We're going to
steam back. Get aboard!"

Russ and Margy being the only Bunker children in sight, Mr. Bunker
"shooed" them back to the Pullman car. He saw Rose and Mun Bun
disappearing up the high steps, and he presumed Laddie and Violet were
ahead. The train had started and the four children and daddy came to
mother's seat before it was discovered that there were two little
Bunkers missing.

"Oh, Charles!" gasped Mrs. Bunker. "Where are they?" The train began to
move more rapidly. "They are left behind!"

"No, Amy, I don't think so," Mr. Bunker told her soothingly. "I looked
all about before I got aboard and there wasn't a chick nor child in
sight. I was one of the last passengers to get aboard. The section men
had even got upon their handcar and were pumping away up the east-bound
track. There is not a soul left at that place."

"Then where are they?" cried Mother Bunker, without being relieved in
the least by his statement.

"I think they are aboard the train--somewhere. They got into the wrong
car by mistake. We will look for them," said Mr. Bunker.

So he went forward, while Russ started back through the rear cars, both
looking and asking for the twins. As we quite well know, Vi and Laddie
were not aboard the train at all, and the others found this to be a fact
within a very few minutes. Back daddy and Russ came to the rest of the
family.

"I knew they were left behind!" Mother Bunker declared again, and this
time nobody tried to reassure her.

Her alarm was shared by daddy and the older children. Even Margy began
to cry a little, although, ordinarily, she wasn't much of a cry-baby.
She wanted to know if they had to go on to Cowboy Jack's and leave Vi
and Laddie behind them--and if they would never find them again.

"Of course we'll find them," Rose assured the little girl. "They aren't
really lost. They just missed the train."

Daddy hurried to find their conductor and talk with him. He came back
with the news that the train was only going to run back a few miles to
where there was a cross-over switch, and then the train would steam back
again into the cut on the east-bound track. The conductor promised to
stop there so Mr. Bunker could look for the lost children.

But Mother Bunker was much alarmed, and the children kept very quiet and
talked in whispers. Although Russ and Rose spoke cheerfully about it to
the other children, they were old enough to know that something really
dreadful might have happened to the twins.

"I guess nobody could have run off with them," whispered Russ to his
sister.

"Oh, no! There were no Gypsies or tramps anywhere about. Anyway, we
didn't see any."

"They weren't carried off. They walked off," said Russ decidedly. "Maybe
they will be back again waiting for the train."

They all hoped this would be the fact. The train finally stopped and
then steamed ahead again and ran on to the east-bound track that had
been cleared of all other traffic so that the passenger train could get
around the landslide. Mr. Bunker and Russ went out into the vestibule so
as to jump off the train the moment it stopped in the cut. The conductor
and one of the brakemen got off too, but other passengers were warned to
remain aboard. The train could not halt here for long.

Russ ran around the big rock that had fallen on the other track, and up
the road a way. But there was no sign of Vi and Laddie. Mr. Bunker saw
the path up the bank, and he climbed just as the twins had and reached
the top.

The big pasture was then revealed to the anxious father; but Vi and
Laddie were nowhere in view. Why! Daddy Bunker didn't even see the
chipmunk Laddie and his sister had chased. Daddy Bunker shouted and
shouted. If the twins had been within sound of his voice they surely
would have answered. But no answer came.

"You'll have to come down from there, Mr. Bunker!" called the conductor
of the train. "We can't wait any longer. We're holding up traffic as it
is."

So Mr. Bunker came down to the railroad bed, very much worried and
hating dreadfully to go back and tell Mother Bunker and the rest of the
little Bunkers that the twins were not to be found.

There was nothing else to be done. Where the twins could have
disappeared to was a mystery. And just what he should do to trace Vi
and Laddie their father could not at that moment imagine.

The train started again, but ran slowly. Mrs. Bunker did not weep as
Margy did, and as Rose herself was inclined to do. But she was very pale
and she looked at her husband anxiously.

"My poor babies!" she said. "I think we will all have to get off the
train at the next station, Charles, and wait until Vi and Laddie are
found."

Daddy Bunker could not say "no" to this, for he did not see any better
plan. Of course they could not go on to Cowboy Jack's ranch and leave Vi
and Laddie behind.

The other passengers in the car took much interest in the Bunkers'
trouble. Most of the men and women had grown fond of Violet, in spite of
her inquisitiveness, and all admired Laddie Bunker. It seemed a really
terrible thing that the two should have become separated from their
parents and the other children.

"Something is always happening to us Bunkers," confessed Russ. "But what
happens isn't often as bad as this. I don't see what Vi and Laddie could
have been thinking of."

We know, however, that the twins had been thinking of nothing but
gathering flowers and chasing a chipmunk until that train whistle had
sounded. How the twins did run then across the pasture and up to the
very verge of the high bank overlooking the railroad cut!

"Oh, the train's gone!" shrieked Vi, when she first looked down.

"And the workmen are gone too," gasped Laddie.

There was nobody left in the cut, and both the train and the handcar on
which the section hands had traveled, were out of sight. It was the
loneliest place that the twins had ever seen!

"Now, see what we've done," complained Vi, between her sobs. "We ran
away and lost mother and daddy and the others. They've gone on to Cowboy
Jack's and left us here."

"Then we didn't run away from them," Laddie said more sturdily. "They
ran away from us."

"That doesn't make any difference," complained his sister. "We--we're
lost and can't be found."

"Say!" cried Laddie suddenly, "how do you s'pose that train hopped over
that rock?"

This point interested Vi at once. It was a most astonishing thing. If
the train had gone on to Cowboy Jack's, it surely had got over that big
rock in a most wonderful way.

"How did it get over the rock?" Vi began. "Did it fly over? I never saw
the wings on that engine, did you? And if the engine _did_ fly over, it
couldn't have dragged the cars with it, could it?"

"Oh, don't, Vi!" begged Laddie, much puzzled. "I couldn't tell you all
that. Maybe they had some way of lifting the train around the rock.
Anyway, it's gone."

"And--and--and what shall _we_ do?" began Vi, almost ready to cry again.

"We have just got to follow on behind it. I guess daddy will miss us and
get off and come back to look for us after a while."

"Do you suppose he will?"

"Yes," said Laddie with more confidence, as he thought of his kind and
thoughtful father. "I am sure he will, Vi. Daddy wouldn't leave us alone
on the railroad with no place to go and nothing to eat."

At this Vi was reminded that they had not eaten since breakfast, and
although it was not yet noon, she declared that she was starving!

"You can't be starving yet," Laddie told her, with scorn. "We haven't
been lost from the train long enough for you to be starving, Violet
Bunker."

"Well, Laddie, I just know we will starve here if the train doesn't come
back for us."

"Maybe another train will come along and we can buy something from the
candy boy. You 'member the candy boy on our train? I've got ten cents in
my pocket."

"Oh, have you? That will buy four lollipops--two for you and two for me.
I guess I wouldn't starve so soon if I had two lollipops," admitted Vi.

"I guess you won't starve," Laddie told her without much sympathy. "Now
we must climb down to the tracks and start after daddy's train."

"Do you suppose we can catch it? Will it stop and wait when daddy finds
out we're not on it? And are you _sure_ he'll come back looking for us?
Shall we get supper, do you s'pose, Laddie, just as soon as we get on
the train? For I'm awfully hungry!"

Her twin could not answer. Like the other Bunkers, he was nonplussed by
some of Vi's questions. Nor did he have much idea of how Daddy Bunker
was going to stop the train, which he supposed had gone ahead, and
return to meet Vi and him trudging along the railroad tracks.



CHAPTER XI

THE MAN WITH THE EARRINGS


The twins got out of the cut between the two hills after a time, and
then it _was_ long past noon and Laddie was hungry as well as Vi. It
seemed terrible to the Bunker twins to have money to spend and no way to
spend it. They might just as well have been on a desert island, like
that man Robinson Crusoe about whom Rose read to them.

"I know a riddle about that Robinson Crusoe man. Yes, I do!" suddenly
exclaimed Laddie.

"What is the riddle, Laddie? Do I know it?"

"You can try to guess it, Vi," said the eager little boy. "Now listen!
'How do we know Robinson Crusoe had plenty of fish to eat?'"

"'Cause the island was in the water," said Vi promptly. "Of course there
were fish."

"Well, that isn't the answer," Laddie said slowly.

"Why isn't it?"

"Because--because the answer is something about Friday. You fry fish,
you know--And anyway, Crusoe's man was named _Friday_."

"Pooh!" scoffed Vi. "You fry bacon and eggs and lots of other things,
besides those nice pancakes Norah makes for breakfast when we're at
home. I don't think much of that riddle, Laddie Bunker, so now!"

"I guess it is a good riddle if I only knew how to ask it," complained
her twin. "But somehow I've got it mixed up."

"Don't ask any more riddles like that. They make me hungry," declared
Vi. "And there isn't a candy shop or anything around here."

She came very near to speaking the exact truth that time. On both sides
of the railroad track where they now walked so wearily there seemed to
be almost a desert. There were neither houses nor trees, and although
the country was rolling, it was not at all pleasant in appearance.

And how tired their feet did become! If you have ever walked the
railroad tracks (which you certainly must never do unless grown people
are with you, for it is a dangerous practise) you know that stepping
from tie to tie between the rails is a very uncomfortable way to travel,
because the ties are not laid at equal distances apart. First Vi and
Laddie had to take a short step and then a long step. And if they missed
the tie in stepping, their shoes crunched right down into the wet
cinders, for the ground by no means was all dried up since the heavy
rain.

"Oh, me, I'm so tired!" complained Vi, after a while.

"So'm I," confessed her twin brother.

"And I don't see daddy coming for us," added Vi, her voice tremulous
with tears again.

[Illustration: "I SEE SOMETHING!" CRIED LADDIE.

_Six Little Bunkers at Cowboy Jack's._ (_Page 99_)]

"I see something!" cried Laddie suddenly and hopefully. He did not want
his sister to begin crying.

"Is it Daddy Bunker?" demanded Vi, looking ahead eagerly.

"It's a house--right beside the railroad," said Laddie, quickening his
own pace a little and trying to drag Vi along, as he still held her
hand.

"Where? Where is the house?" demanded Vi anxiously. "I don't see any
house."

"Well, it's a very small house. But there it is," said her brother,
pointing ahead with confidence.

"Oh! I see it, Laddie," cried Vi. "Oh, what a little house it is--and so
close to the tracks! Do you suppose anybody lives in that little house?"

"I don't know. It is small," admitted Laddie.

"Maybe a dog lives in it. It isn't much bigger than Mr. Striver's
dog-house at home in Pineville."

"I guess it isn't a dog-house. Anyway, we'll see."

"Maybe it's a candy store," suggested the reviving Vi more cheerfully.
"If you could spend your dime, Laddie, for something to eat, I'd feel a
whole lot better, I guess."

"Oh, I know what it is, Vi!" exclaimed the boy suddenly. "It's a
riddle."

"There you go again with your old riddles," sniffed Vi. "We can't eat
riddles."

"This is a good one," declared her brother cheerfully. "I'm going to ask
you: What looks like a dog-house, but isn't a dog-house?"

"I don't know. A hen-house, Laddie?"

"Pooh! They don't build hen-houses right down beside railroad tracks,
and just where a road crosses the tracks."

"Don't they? What do they build there, then?"

"Why," cried Laddie, quite delighted at his discovery, "a flagman's
house. That is what that little house is, Vi. A flagman stays there to
stop people from crossing the tracks when the train is coming. There!
There's the flagman now. See him?"

Just as Laddie spoke so excitedly a man came out of the little house,
and he bore a flag in his hand. Unnoticed by the children, there had
begun behind them a rumbling sound, and the rails between which they
walked began to hum. There was a train coming from the east.

The flagman unrolled his flag, and then he looked both ways along the
road that crossed the railroad. Then he turned and saw the two little
folks coming toward him. At sight of them he became much more excited
than the children were.

"Look out-a da train!" he shouted. "Look out-a da train!"

"What does he say?" asked Vi curiously.

The flagman began to wave his arms and the flag, and ran toward the
twins. He was a man with a very dark face, and his hair was black and
curly. But what interested Laddie and Vi most about the flagman was that
he wore big gold rings in his ears.

"Look out-a da train!" shouted the flagman again.

"I never saw a man wearing earrings before," said Vi soberly. "And he
acts awfully funny, doesn't he?"

The little girl began to feel a bit afraid of the strange man. She
stopped walking ahead and pulled back on her brother's hand.

"I guess he doesn't mean any harm," said Laddie doubtfully.

But drawn away by Vi, he stepped with her off the ties into the path
between the east-and west-bound tracks. The flagman stopped running, but
still gestured to the children. And just then, quite startling in the
twins' ears, sounded the long drawn shriek of a locomotive whistle.

Laddie and Vi glanced behind them. Around the curve, out of the railroad
cut in which their adventure had begun, was coming a big locomotive
drawing a long passenger train. The man with the earrings reached Vi and
Laddie the very next moment.

"Look-a da train!" he cried. "You bambinoes want-a get run over--yes?"

"We're not Bambinoes, Mister," said Laddie. "We're Bunkers."

Vi could not quench her usual curiosity, although the man seemed so
strange in her eyes. She asked:

"Why do you wear rings in your ears? Please, why do you wear 'em?"



CHAPTER XII

CAVALLO AT LAST


The man with the earrings led the twins over the other track so that
they would be sufficiently far from the train. To his surprise the
engine began to slow down, the engineer and fireman waved their hands as
they leaned out of the window and door of the cab, and by and by the
train rumbled to a stop.

"That looks just like our train," Laddie announced confidently. "Only
ours was traveling on this nearer track. Maybe the two trains were
racing and our train got ahead in spite of the washout."

Vi stuck to her subject. She scarcely looked at the train when it first
stopped. Her gaze was fastened upon the flagman who had showed such
anxiety for her safety and that of Laddie.

"Say, please, Mister," she continued to ask, "what makes you wear
earrings?"

A Pullman coach had halted just opposite the spot where the twins and
the flagman stood. They saw several people at two of the windows, waving
to them. Then Russ Bunker popped out of the front door of the car and
down the steps.

"Look! Look! Here they are!" Russ shouted, as he ran toward his brother
and sister and the man who wore earrings.

"Why, Russ Bunker!" ejaculated Vi, "how did you come on that train? Were
you left behind, too?"

"Come on! Hurry up!" the oldest Bunker boy replied. "This is our train.
And the engineer will stop only a minute. Do you know, it costs three
dollars and thirty-three and a third cents every time the train stops?
The brakeman told me so."

"Why does it cost that much?" demanded Vi, forgetting the Italian
flagman and his earrings, as Russ hurried her toward the car steps. "Are
you sure about the third of a cent, Russ?"

Laddie looked back and waved his hand to the man who wore earrings.
"Good-bye!" he called to the man.

"Good-a-bye!" cried the flagman in return, smiling very broadly.
"Good-a-bye!"

"Why does he talk so funny?" asked Vi, panting, as Russ helped her up
the car steps and into the vestibule.

"He talks broken English," said Russ in return. "Come on, Laddie."

Vi remembered that answer, and later, when she was helping Laddie relate
the story of their adventure to Mother Bunker and daddy and the other
children, she declared that the man with the earrings was "a broken
Englishman," and would have it that Russ told her so.

It had been a very exciting time, both for the twins when they were lost
and for the rest of the family on the train. Vi and Laddie could not
stop talking about it. And, really, it had been a very important
adventure in their small experience.

"That man with the earrings thought he knew us, too," Vi said finally.

"Of course he didn't know you," Rose observed.

"He thought we were Mrs. Bam--Bam---- Laddie, whose little boy and girl
did that man think we were?"

Laddie did not understand her question at first; but finally he realized
what Vi meant.

"Oh, I know! 'Bambinoes.' That was the name. He asked us about our being
called 'Bambinoes.'"

"Oh, dear me!" laughed Mother Bunker. "That was his way of saying
'babies.' He called you babies in his mixture of languages."

"Is that the broken English for little boy and little girl?" scoffed Vi.
"I guess that man doesn't know very much, even if he _does_ wear
earrings."

There was quite a celebration over the return of Vi and Laddie to the
train, for the other passengers made a good deal of the two little lost
Bunkers. A lady and gentleman made a little party for them that
afternoon at their end of the car. There was milk bought in the buffet
car, and cakes. But Mun Bun declared he wanted ice-water. Nothing else
would satisfy his thirst.

The glasses brought from home were all in use at the time at the
"party"; so somebody had to go with Mun Bun to the ice-water tank at the
other end of the car and get him his drink.

"I'll go," said Margy. "I can reach the paper cups."

"Be careful and don't spill the water all over him," Mother Bunker said
to her, and the two smallest Bunkers went to the end of the car on that
errand.

Margy borrowed the porter's stool in the anteroom to climb up to the
rack where the waxed-paper cups were kept. Those cups pleased Mun Bun
greatly.

"Wouldn't they be nice to make dirt pies in, Margy?" suggested the
smallest Bunker longingly. "And puddings. If we only had 'em when we
were at home, wouldn't they be nice?"

"But we haven't any sand pile here," Margy pointed out. "So we can't
make dirt pies in them."

"We can fill them with water. There's lots of water. You push that
button again, Margy, and let some more water run."

"But you mustn't spill it on you. You know mother said you shouldn't,"
replied the little girl.

Margy was, however, quite as pleased with the wax-paper cups as Mun Bun
was. When one cup was full, Mun Bun took it and set it carefully down
on the floor. Then he reached for another. He actually forgot he was
thirsty he was so much interested in filling and stationing the cups in
a long line on the floor.

The porter had left his station in the anteroom and did not see what the
two children were doing. And the rest of the Bunker family were so much
engaged at the other end of the car they quite forgot Margy and Mun Bun
for the time being.

"Get another! Get another, Margy!" Mun Bun kept saying.

Margy reached down the cups until there was not another one in the rack.
And by that time the ice-water dripped very slowly from the faucet. The
tank was just about empty.

"I guess we have got it all, Mun Bun," said the little girl. "They are
all full."

"And I didn't spill a drop on me," declared the little boy virtuously.
"So mother will say I am a good boy, won't she?"

Just what Mrs. Bunker might have said had she come upon the little
mischief-makers we cannot know. For it was the colored porter who was
first to discover what the smallest Bunkers were doing. He came back
from the other end of the car, smiling broadly at Mun Bun and Margy
when he saw them. The two stood to one side and looked rather seriously
at the tall colored man. Somehow they felt that perhaps their play would
not entirely meet his approval.

Suddenly Mun Bun saw where the pleasant colored man was about to step.
He cried out:

"Oh, don't! Look out! All our puddin' dishes!"

"What's that, little boy?" demanded the porter.

"Look out! You'll splash----"

Margy tried to warn him too. But she was too late. The porter stepped
right into the first of the filled waxed-paper cups, and then went
plowing on, almost falling over them!

"My haid and body!" gasped the porter, stumbling on until he had
overturned and stepped on the complete array of waxed-paper cups. "What
you chilluns been a-doin' here, eh?"

"Now you spilled 'em," cried Mun Bun. "Look, Margy, how he's spilled
'em."

There could be no doubt of that fact. The passage was a-flood with
ice-water! The porter was sputtering, and the two children were
inclined to be somewhat tearful when Daddy Bunker came along to see what
they were up to.

"These yere pestiferous chilluns!" exclaimed the colored man, trying to
mop up the flood. "And dem cups was near 'nough to las' me clear to
Texas."

"All right--all right, Sam!" rejoined Daddy Bunker, giving the colored
man a generous tip. "You get some more cups and some more ice, and call
it square. I expect I'd better tie a halter to each one of my children
for the rest of the journey so as to keep track of them. I can't trust
them out of my sight any more."

It was not quite as bad as that, although daddy was really annoyed by
what Mun Bun and Margy had done. They were old enough to know mischief
from play, and he told them so. Mun Bun looked pretty sober when he got
back to the party.

"Aren't we going to get to that wanch-place pwetty soon, Muvver?" he
asked Mrs. Bunker. "'Cause if we ain't, I'd rather go back home. There
aren't any nice plays here on this train. And I'm tired of it."

"I suppose you are tired of it, dear," his mother said, taking him upon
her lap. "We are all pretty tired of it. But after another night's sleep
we shall be near our journey's end."

This news was eagerly received by all the little Bunkers. Even Russ and
Rose were tired of traveling by train. After a certain time, riding in
the steam cars grew very wearisome. The Bunker children were active by
nature, and Russ liked to build things. He missed the attic and the
woodshed at home.

The train rocked on into the Southwest, and while the children slept it
covered several hundred miles. After they got up and were washed and
dressed and had breakfasted, the bags were packed, for they did not
expect to open them again until they reached Cavallo.

They stared out of the windows, watching the prairie country slide past,
now and then passing small herds of cattle, as well as many little towns
at which the train did not halt.

"I suppose Cowboy Jack will come with ponies and we'll all have to ride
horseback," said Rose. "I don't know that I can stick on very well."

"You did at Uncle Fred's," Russ told her.

"But maybe I have forgotten how," his sister said doubtfully.

But Rose need not have worried about riding pony-back on this occasion.
When the train stopped at Cavallo and they all got out there were no
horses waiting for the Bunkers at all. The town did not look like a
cattle-shipping place. And there was not a cowboy in sight!



CHAPTER XIII

A SURPRISE COMING


There was a nice-looking railroad station at Cavallo and some rather
tall buildings in sight. There was a trolley line through the town, too,
and the children saw the cars almost as soon as they alighted from the
train. But they were all loudly wondering where the cow-ponies were, and
the cowboys whom they had expected to see.

The little Bunkers, of course, did not know that nowadays even the
cattle-shipping towns of the Great West are changed from what they were
in the old times. Whether they are improved by the coming in of other
business besides that connected with the raising of cattle, horses, and
sheep is a question that even the Westerners themselves do not answer
when you ask them. But, in any case, Cavallo had changed a good deal
since the time Daddy Bunker had previously seen it.

"And what can we expect? The range bosses ride around in automobiles now
because it is easier and cheaper than wearing out ponies. And I read
only the other day," added Mr. Bunker, "of a Montana ranch where they
hunt strays in the mountains from an airplane. What do you think of
that?"

"Are you sure Mr. Scarbontiskil got your message, Charles?" asked Mrs.
Bunker of daddy. "Perhaps we had better go to a hotel."

"Oh!" cried Laddie, "I want to go right out where the cows and horses
are."

"So do I," said Russ. "A hotel isn't very different from a Pullman
coach."

And they were all tired of _that_--even daddy and mother. But while they
were discussing this point (the children rather noisily, it must be
confessed) a big man in a gray suit came striding toward them, his hand
outstretched and a broad smile upon his bronzed face. He wore a crimson
necktie and a heavy gold watch-chain with a bunch of charms dangling
from it, and a diamond sparkled in the front of his silk shirt. Russ and
Rose noticed these rather astonishing ornaments, and although they
thought the man very pleasant looking, they knew that he was not dressed
as men dressed back home. At least, daddy would never have worn just
such clothes and ornaments. But he did not look at all like a cowboy.

"I reckon this is Charlie Bunker!" exclaimed the man in a booming voice.
"I'd most forgotten how you looked, Charlie. And is this the Missus?"
and he smiled even more broadly at Mother Bunker.

"That's who we are," cried Mr. Bunker quite as jovially as the big man
spoke. "And these are the six little Bunkers, Mr. Scarbontiskil."

"Oh! That's him!" whispered Rose to Russ. "And I know I never _can_ say
that name!"

The ranchman, however, at once put Rose and everybody else at their ease
on that point. When he took off his broad-brimmed hat to make Mrs.
Bunker a sweeping bow, he said:

"Don't put on any dog out here, Charlie. I've most forgotten the name I
was handicapped with when I was born. Nobody calls me anything like that
out here. Call me 'Jack'--just 'Cowboy Jack.' It fits me a sight better,
and that's true. I was a cow-puncher long before I got hold of a lot of
good Texas land and began to own mulley cows myself. Now, let me get
acquainted with all these little shavers. What's their names? I bet they
got better names than my folks could give me."

Rose and Russ, and even the smaller children, liked Cowboy Jack right
away. Who could help liking him, even if he did shout when he spoke and
wear such flashy clothes? His smile and his twinkling eyes would have
won him friends in any company of children, that was sure. And then,
though the clothes were odd, the children were not at all certain that
they were not more beautiful than those their father wore.

And what a game they made of telling Cowboy Jack their names, so that he
would remember them--"get 'em stuck in his mind" as he called it.

"I can remember 'Russ' because he is the oldest," declared Cowboy Jack.
"And 'Rose' is the sweetest flower that grows, and I can't forget her.
And 'Violet'? Why! she's the first blossom that comes up in the spring,
and I sure couldn't forget her. And this boy, her twin, you say?
'Laddie'? Why, that's just what he is--a laddie. I couldn't mistake him
for a lassie, so I'm sure to get _his_ name stuck in my mind," and
Cowboy Jack boomed a great laugh, shaking hands with each of the
children as daddy presented them.

"And this is 'Margy,'" proceeded the ranchman. "I'd know that was her
name just to look at her. She couldn't have any other name but 'Margy.'
No other would fit. Now, that's all, isn't it?" added Cowboy Jack, his
eyes twinkling very much as he looked right at Mun Bun but appeared not
to see him. "Russ, and Rose, and Violet, and Laddie, and Margy? Yes,
that must be all."

"There's _me_!" exclaimed the littlest Bunker, staring up at the big
man.

"What's that I hear?" asked Cowboy Jack, looking all about the platform,
and up in the air, and over the heads of the Bunker children. "Did I
hear somebody speak?"

The five older Bunker children began to giggle, but Mun Bun did not take
the matter as a joke at all. He was quite sure he was being overlooked
and that he was just as important as anybody else in the crowd.

"Here's me!" cried Mun Bun again, and he laid hold of the skirt of
Cowboy Jack's long coat and tugged at it. "You forgot me."

"Jumping grasshoppers!" exclaimed the big man, staring down at Mun Bun.
"What do I see? Another Bunker?"

"It's me," said Mun Bun soberly. "I have a name, too."

"I--I wouldn't have seen you if you hadn't pulled my coat-skirt,"
declared the ranchman quite as soberly as the little boy himself. "And
are you a Bunker? Honest?"

"I'm Mun Bun," said the little boy.

"Jumping grasshoppers!" ejaculated the ranchman, stooping down very low
and staring at Mun Bun. "Another Bunker--and named 'Mun Bun'? That's a
very easily remembered name, isn't it? I couldn't forget you--sure I
couldn't! For you see every time I go to the bake shop I buy buns--and
you are a bun, so you say. Are you a currant bun, or a cinnamon bun, or
what kind of a bun are you?"

"I'm a Bunker bun," declared the little boy. "And you can't eat me."

"No, I can't eat you," admitted the ranchman. "But I can pick you
up--this way--and carry you off, can't I?"

And he suited his action to the word and rose up with Mun Bun on one of
his palms, and held him right out on a level with his twinkling eyes and
smiling lips. Mun Bun squealed a little; but he liked it, too. It was
just like being carried about by a giant!

The next thing was to get something to eat in the lunchroom of the
railroad station. To be sure, breakfast had been not many hours before,
but there was a long trip yet before Cowboy Jack's ranch would be
reached, and one could always count on one or more of the six little
Bunkers being hungry if not fed at rather frequent intervals. So
sandwiches and buns--cinnamon buns, not Mun Buns--were bought, and milk
for the children and coffee for the grown-ups, and a light lunch was
eaten. There was really not very much to choose from, but the children
were satisfied with what was got for them.

"Now, come on, all you little Bunkers," said Cowboy Jack. "We've got to
start right away for my ranch, or we won't get there before supper time;
and then Maria Castrado, my cook, won't give us anything but beans for
supper."

"Oh! Where are your horses?" cried Laddie and Vi together.

"Out on the range," said Cowboy Jack. "Plenty of 'em there."

"But don't we ride out to your ranch on them?" Russ wanted to know, as
Cowboy Jack strode around the railroad station, again carrying Mun Bun,
and they all trooped after him.

"Got something that beats cayuses," declared Cowboy Jack. "What do you
think of _these_ for cow ponies?"

What he pointed out to them were two great, eight-cylinder touring-cars,
both painted blue, and behind the steering-wheel of each a smiling
Mexican who seemed as glad to see the Bunker children as Cowboy Jack was
himself.

"Pile in! Pile in!" said Cowboy Jack in his great voice.

He gave Mun Bun over to Mrs. Bunker, who got into one car with daddy and
the hand baggage. But he put all the other children into the tonneau of
the other car and got in with them. It was quite plain that he was fond
of children and proposed to have a lot of fun with the little Bunkers
who had come so far to visit him.

"I've got a lot to show you youngsters," he said to Russ and the others
when the cars started. "And I have a surprise for you out at my ranch."

"What is the surprise?" Vi asked. "Is it something we can eat? Or is it
a surprise we can play with?"

"You can't eat my surprise," said Cowboy Jack, with one of his widest
smiles. "But you can have a lot of fun with it."

"What is it?" asked Vi again.

"If I tell you now, it won't be a surprise," replied the ranchman. "So
you'll have to wait and see it."

They drove through the town in the automobiles, and it seemed a good
deal like an Eastern town after all. People dressed just the same as
they did in Pineville and there was a five-and-ten-cent store painted
red, and a firehouse with a motor-truck hook-and-ladder just like the
one at home. Russ and Laddie thought maybe they would not have any use
for their cowboy and Indian suits after all.

But by and by the motor-cars got clear of the town and struck into a
dusty road on which there were no houses at all. In the distance Rose
spied a moving bunch of cattle. _That_ looked like a ranch; but Cowboy
Jack told her that his ranch was still a good many miles ahead.

The little Bunkers liked riding in these big cars, for the Mexicans
drove them very rapidly. The road was quite smooth and they kept ahead
of the dust, except when they passed some other vehicle. The dust was
very white and powdery, and Margy and Laddie began to sneeze. Then they
grabbed each other's right little fingers, curling the fingers around
each other.

"Wish!" cried Violet eagerly. "Make a wish--both of you."

"What--what'll I wish?" stammered Laddie excitedly.

"Oh, dear! Now you spoiled it," declared Vi. "Didn't he, Rose?"

"He can't make the wish after he has spoken," agreed the older sister.
"No, Laddie; it is too late now."

Margy began to wave her hands and evidently wanted to speak.

"Did you wish, Margy?" asked Vi.

The smaller girl nodded vigorously. Cowboy Jack laughed very heartily,
but Rose said to the little girl:

"You can talk now, Margy."

"I wished we'd have waffles for supper," announced Margy, hungrily. "I
like waffles."

"And I bet we have 'em!" cried their host, laughing again. "Maria can
make dandy waffles."

"Well, I would have wished for something--just as nice if you'd let me,"
Laddie broke in. "I don't see why I couldn't wish, even if I did speak
first."

"That's something mighty mysterious," said the ranchman soberly. "We
can't change the laws about wishing. That would bust up everything."

He talked so queerly that sometimes the little Bunkers were not sure
whether he was in earnest, or only joking. But they all liked Cowboy
Jack very much. And best of all--so Rose thought--they did not have to
call him by his right name!

The sun was very low when the cars got into a winding road through a
scrubby sort of wood and then climbed into the range of hills that they
had been approaching for two hours. Mun Bun was asleep. But the
children in the ranchman's car were all eagerly on the outlook for the
first sight of the ranch houses which Cowboy Jack told them would soon
appear.

"And then for the surprise," said Russ to Rose. "I wonder what it can
be?"

"Something nice, I am sure," sighed his sister contentedly. "It must be
something nice, or Mr. Cowboy Jack would not have mentioned it."



CHAPTER XIV

AN INDIAN RAID


It did seem, however, that the ranchman must have forgotten the surprise
he had in store for the six little Bunkers. He was so busy getting his
Mexican cook to make waffles for supper and seeing that the rooms had
all been made ready by his Mexican house boys for the use of the Bunker
family and doing a dozen other pleasant things for the comfort of his
guests that he did not say a word about the surprise.

It had been almost dark when the party arrived at the broad, low house
in which Cowboy Jack and his household lived. If the surprise was
outside the house the children would have been unable to see it.

Mun Bun fell sound asleep over his supper, and Margy had to "prop her
eyes open," as daddy declared, before the meal was done. Both these
youngest Bunkers made no objection to going off to bed. But Vi and
Laddie wanted to stay up as long as Russ and Rose did.

"We're almost as big as they are," declared Laddie, when he was
questioned on this point. "And if Rose and Russ would only stop and wait
for us a little, Vi and I would catch up to them--so now!"

But Russ and Rose were quite as eager to grow up as were Laddie and Vi;
so they were not willing to wait, could they have done so. Daddy pointed
out the fact of the "march of time" to the little folks and explained
that everybody had to grow older each tiny second.

"Why can't we stop and wait?" demanded Vi. "We can stop an automobile
and get out and wait."

"Or get lost from a train," put in Laddie, who was sitting on what
Cowboy Jack called a "hassock"--a low seat--and studying a paper he had
found. "I ought to make up a riddle about Vi and me being lost from the
train that time."

"I'll give you a riddle," said Cowboy Jack, with one of his booming
laughs.

"Is it a good one?" asked Vi.

"Please do!" cried Laddie. "I just love riddles."

"Well, here is one," said the ranchman. "'What is it that is black and
white, but red all over?'"

"Black--white--and red?" repeated Laddie, puzzled, for if he had ever
heard that riddle he had forgotten it.

"I know what is red, white and blue!" cried Vi. "That's the flag."

"Three cheers!" returned Cowboy Jack. "So you do, little girl. You've
got the flag quite right. But this isn't the flag I am talking about."

"I don't believe I ever saw anything that was black and white but red,
too," confessed Laddie slowly.

"Oh, yes, you have," said their big friend, apparently just as much
entertained by the riddle as the little folks.

"I guess you must be mistaken, Mr. Cowboy Jack," said Laddie soberly. "I
can't think of a single thing that is black and white, besides being red
all over."

"Why, look at what you have in your hand!" exclaimed the ranchman.

"This is a paper," said Laddie.

"And isn't it black and white?"

"Yes, sir. The print is black and the paper is white. But I don't see
any red----"

"But lots of us have _read_ it all over," chuckled Cowboy Jack. "It is
black and white, and is _read_ all over!"

"Oh!" cried Laddie, clapping his hands, "that's another kind of 'red,'
isn't it? I think that is a nice riddle. Don't you, Vi?"

But Vi was leaning against her mother's knee and her eyes were fast
closed. She had gone to sleep in the middle of the talk about the
riddle.

"It's time for all little folks to go to bed," said Mother Bunker.

So none of the six little Bunkers saw the surprise that night. But they
had not forgotten it when morning came again. The six little Bunkers
never forgot anything that was promised them!

While they were all at breakfast there was a great deal of noise
outside--whooping and shouting and the like--that startled the children.
But their mother would not let them leave the table to find out about it
until breakfast was over. They heard, too, the pounding of ponies'
hoofs, and then caught sight through the windows of a company of pony
riders galloping by and off across the plain.

"Cowboys!" cried Russ. "I guess we'd better go back and put on our
cowboy suits, Laddie."

The smaller boy was just as eager as Russ to get out and see the pony
riders. As soon as they could honestly say they had eaten enough, Mother
Bunker excused them all. But when they got outside upon the broad
veranda at the front of the great house, the cowboys had disappeared.

There was something else in sight, however, that astonished the children
more than the cowboys could, for they had expected to see them.
Traveling across the plain some distance from the house was a procession
that made all the little Bunkers shout aloud.

"What's those?" Rose asked at first sight. Rose almost always saw things
first.

Russ gave one glance and fairly whooped: "Indians!"

"Oh, dear me!" gasped Rose, "are they _wild_ Indians?"

"They are real Indians just the same!" exclaimed Russ, with confidence.
"They aren't just the dressed-up kind. Look at them!"

The big Indians riding at the head of the procession wore great feather
headdresses. "Feather dusters" Laddie called them. And they did look
like feather dusters from that distance.

"We'd better get our guns and bows and arrows, hadn't we, Russ?" the
little boy asked.

"The Indians are not coming this way," explained Russ. "I guess we're
safe enough."

"See! There are Indian babies, too," cried Rose. "There's one strapped
to a board on its mother's back--just like in the pictures."

"Just the same," said Vi, rather soberly for her, "I'm glad they are
going the other way."

The Indians were traveling away from the ranch house and soon were out
of sight. So before the children could ask any of the older people about
them they were gone. And "out of sight out of mind" was almost always
the rule with the little Bunkers, as daddy frequently said. Besides,
there were so many new and interesting things to see that the matter of
the Indians escaped the new-comers' minds.

There were great corrals down behind the big house, as well as
bunkhouses in which the cowboys lived, and stables, and a long cook-shed
in which three men cooked for the hands, as Cowboy Jack called his
employees. Cowboy Jack owned a very large ranch and a great number of
steers and horses and mules.

"It's almost like a circus," said Russ. "And all the different kind of
dogs, too. _That_ dog has hardly any hair, and he comes from Mexico, so
they say. While that _wolfy_ looking dog comes from away up in Alaska.
Then there are dogs from places all between Alaska and Mexico."

This information he had gained from one of the Mexican boys with whom he
became acquainted. They did not think to ask the friendly Mexican about
the Indians, and not until the children went back to the house did they
think to make inquiry about the procession they had seen right after
breakfast. It was then Vi, inquisitive as usual, who broached the
subject.

"Why do Indians wear feather dusters in their hair?" she asked.

"For the same reason that ladies wear feathers in their bonnets,"
declared Daddy Bunker seriously. "Because they think the feathers are
ornamental."

"And why do they strap their babies to boards?" demanded Vi.

"Where did you see Indians?" asked Mother Bunker, guessing the source
from which Violet's questions were springing.

"Oh!" cried Rose. "There _were_ Indians--lots of them. We saw their
parade go by--just like a Wild West Show parade."

Cowboy Jack began to laugh. And when he laughed his great body shook all
over, and the chair in which he sat shook too.

"Are there Indians here, Mr. Scarbontiskil?" asked Mother Bunker.

"That's part of the surprise I told the children about," said Cowboy
Jack, nodding to Mother Bunker, but smiling at the interested children.
"Those Injuns are a part of it."

But he would not tell them any more--at least, not just then.

"It's a sort of a riddle," said Laddie eagerly, when they were all out
of doors again. "I know it's a riddle. And we ought to find the
answer."

"Well," scoffed Vi, his twin, "you can sit down and think of your old
riddle if you want to. I'm going to pick flowers for mother."

"There must be some nice flowers here," agreed Rose. "I'll go look, too,
Vi."

"Me want to pick flowers!" cried Mun Bun eagerly.

He always wanted to do anything the older children did. And picking
flowers was one thing Mun Bun could do pretty well, little as he was.
Holding a hand each of Rose and Vi he trudged off from the ranch house.
Russ and Margy and Laddie came after. Russ and Laddie were still
discussing the matter of putting on their cowboy suits so as to help
herd the cattle with Cowboy Jack's "other hands." Just at this time,
however, they became more interested in picking flowers.

For they did find pretty blossoms along the wagon track they followed.
The ranch house was soon out of sight, for the children went over a
little ridge and then down into a swale in which were clumps of low
trees. It was quite a pretty country, and there was much to interest
them.

At one place something jumped out of the shrub and went leaping away
along the wagon track with great bounds.

"A rabbit!" cried Laddie. "Oh, such a big rabbit!"

"The very longest legs I ever saw," agreed Russ. "And long ears--like
those on the mules in the corral."

"And he thumps the ground just like a horse stamping," said Rose. "There
he goes out of sight. I--I believe I would be afraid of that rabbit if
he came at me."

"Well, he is going, not coming," remarked Russ. "I want to see where he
went."

He and Laddie started on the run to mount the little ridge over which
the jackrabbit had disappeared. This ridge crossed the swale, or valley,
and divided what lay beyond from the view of the six little Bunkers.
When the children climbed the rise and came to the top, they all
stopped. Even Russ did not say a word for a full minute; nor did Vi ask
a question, so astonished was she by what she saw.

There, on the low land beside a stream of water, was a log cabin. It
looked like a dilapidated cabin, for there were no windows and the door
was off its leather hinges. There was a bonfire by the doorstep and a
black kettle was hung over the fire from the tripod of smoke-blackened
sticks.

On the doorstep sat a woman who appeared to be rocking her baby to sleep
in her arms. She was watching whatever was cooking in the pot. A man was
chopping wood a little way; from the doorstep. He wore a funny fur cap,
with the tail of some animal hanging from it down to his shoulder, and
his hair was tied in a funny looking queue--the strangest way for a man
to dress his hair the little Bunkers had ever seen.

Suddenly Russ pointed behind the cabin--over to another ridge, or knoll,
of land.

"Look!" Russ gasped. "Those Indians!"

None of the Bunker children had thought of the Indians they had seen as
really wild Indians. But here came riding the Indian men now on active
ponies, and with be-feathered spears in their hands. Their headdresses
nodded, and, as the redmen rode nearer, the children saw that their
faces were broadly striped in red and yellow. The paint made the
Indians' faces look frightful.

"Oh!" cried Rose, clinging to Mun Bun, who clung to her in return.
"Those Indians are coming right at that woman and her baby--and the
man!"

"It's an Indian raid," murmured Russ. "Do you suppose it is _real_, or
just make-believe?"



CHAPTER XV

A PROFOUND MYSTERY


Russ Bunker was a sensible chap, and it did not seem to him that the
Indians could really mean to harm the people living in the old cabin.
Cowboy Jack would not have let the children wander away from the ranch
house unwarned had wild Indians been in the neighborhood.

At least, so Russ tried to believe. But the other little Bunkers were
much frightened, and when the redmen began to hurry their horses down
toward the cabin at the side of the stream, and began to whoop and yell
and wave their be-feathered spears, even Rose turned back and began to
run toward the ranch house.

"Come on, Russ! Come on!" she cried to her older brother. "That poor
little baby!"

"Aw, I don't believe the Indians are really going to hurt those folks,"
objected Russ.

Nevertheless, he soon caught up with his sister and the others. Russ did
not remain to see the outcome of the Indians' attack upon the cabin.

The younger children did not altogether understand what the excitement
was all about. But they caught some fear from Russ and Rose and were
willing to hurry along the wagon track without making objection at the
pace the older children made them travel.

And here came another astonishing thing. Out of a woody place appeared a
cavalcade of horsemen--and they were not cowboys! In fact, for a minute
Russ and Rose were just as frightened as they had been by the charging
Indians. Then Russ exclaimed, with a deal of relief:

"Oh, Rose! I know those men. They are soldiers!"

"All in blue clothes?" questioned Rose in doubt. "Soldiers don't wear
blue clothes. They are dressed in khaki or olive-drab. Like Captain Ben
was when he first came to our house."

"Those are soldiers. They have got swords and guns," repeated Russ
confidently. "And I guess they are American soldiers, too."

"Well, they are not Indians, anyway," agreed Rose. "I guess they won't
hurt us, anyway. We can go by 'em. Don't be afraid, Mun Bun."

"Not 'fwaid," declared the littlest Bunker. "But I want to see muvver
and daddy."

"Sure you do," agreed Russ kindly. "Guess we all do. Come on. I'm going
to tell that man riding ahead what the Indians are doing to those folks
at the cabin."

They could still hear faintly the yells of the supposed savages behind
the hill, down which the little Bunkers had just run. This noise did not
seem to disturb the men in blue, who trotted their horses along the
wagon track in a most leisurely manner.

The six little Bunkers stood off the track as the soldiers rode nearer.
The chains on the horses' bits jangled, and the sun flashed from the
barrels of the short guns and from the sword hilts. The men wore
broad-brimmed hats with yellow cords around them, and one of the men
riding ahead, who was an officer, wore a plume on the side of his hat.

"It's more than Indians that wear feather headdresses," whispered Vi to
Rose. "So why _do_ they?"

Like a number of Vi's other questions, this one remained unanswered.
When the head of the procession came up Russ began to speak quite
excitedly to the man leading it:

"Please, Mister Officer! There are Indians over that hill. Don't you
hear them? And they are going to hurt some white people I guess."

"There's a baby," added Rose earnestly. "I wouldn't want the baby to be
scalped."

"Hi!" exclaimed the leader of the soldiers, "it will be pretty tough if
Props' rag baby gets scalped, that's a fact. Come on! Shack along, boys!
They are looking for us now, I bet."

This seemed rather a strange way to command a troop of cavalry, and even
Russ Bunker was puzzled by it. But as the soldiers in blue rode on at a
faster pace Rose called after them:

"Please save the baby! Look out for the baby!"

"We'll do that little thing, girlie," promised one of the soldiers
riding in the rear. "Don't you fear. We'll save the baby and the whole
bunch!"

This was quite reassuring to Rose's troubled mind. But Russ was greatly
puzzled. These soldiers did not look like the soldiers he had seen, nor
did they act or speak like soldiers. He stared after them with great
curiosity as they disappeared over the hill. But the other little
Bunkers were so anxious to get back to the ranch house that Russ could
not remain any longer to satisfy his curiosity.

Rose and the smaller children told the story about the Indians and the
people at the cabin and about the soldiers in a very excited way to
Mother Bunker. But Russ went to find Cowboy Jack. He felt that the
ranchman should know all about what was going on in that valley, and
about both the Indians and the soldiers in blue.

Mother reassured the younger Bunkers. There was nothing really to be
afraid of, she told them. But she did seem mysterious and smiled a good
deal while she was telling the children not to fear any of the strange
things they might see about Cowboy Jack's ranch.

"It isn't anything like Uncle Fred's ranch," declared Laddie. "Why! it's
a regular riddle here at Cowboy Jack's. I guess I can think how to ask
that riddle in a minute--or maybe an hour. Let's see."

So Laddie--or the others--was not by when Russ propounded his question
to Cowboy Jack, the big ranchman.

"Those Indians? I told you they were part of the surprise I had for you
little Bunkers," declared Cowboy Jack, laughing very heartily.

"And the soldiers?" murmured the puzzled Russ.

"Part of the same surprise," answered the ranchman.

"We--ell, we _were_ surprised. But I don't just understand how you come
to have wild Indians and soldiers--and they don't look just like _our_
soldiers back East--here on your ranch. And how about that baby?"

"I promise you," said Cowboy Jack quite seriously, "that the baby will
not be scalped--or any of the white folks at all. Those Indians are not
so savage as they seem. To-night, after the day's work is over, I'll
take you over to the redskins' camp and you can get acquainted with
them."

Russ was rather startled by this suggestion. He wanted to be grateful
for anything that Cowboy Jack said he would do; but--but----

"Will Daddy Bunker go too?" asked Russ, suddenly.

"Sure. We'll take your daddy along with us," agreed Cowboy Jack.

"Then I'll go," said Russ Bunker, with a sigh.

He would go anywhere daddy went, although the matter of the wild Indians
did seem to be a profound mystery.



CHAPTER XVI

MUN BUN TAKES A NAP


After lunch that day Mun Bun managed to have the most astonishing
adventure of his life! And nobody could ever have imagined that the
littlest Bunker could get into trouble just by falling asleep.

He had walked so far and seen so many strange sights that morning that
after eating Mun Bun was just as sleepy as he could be. But he was
getting old enough now to think that he should be ashamed of taking a
nap in the afternoon.

"Only babies take naps, don't they, Muvver?" he said to Mother Bunker.
"And I aren't a baby any more."

"You say you are not," agreed his mother quietly. "But of course you
must prove it if we are all to believe that you are quite grown up."

"I'm growed too big to take naps, anyway," declared Mun Bun, quite
convinced.

"What are you going to do if you grow sleepy?" asked his mother, before
he started out after the other children.

"I'll pinch myself awake," declared Mun Bun. "Oh, I'll show I'm not a
baby any longer."

He was some way behind the other children; but as he started in their
wake Mother Bunker did not worry about him. She was confident that Russ
and Rose would look out for the little boy, even if he was finally
overcome with sleep.

But as it happened, the other little Bunkers had run off to see a lot of
mule colts in a special paddock some distance from the big ranch house.
Mun Bun saw them in the distance and he sturdily started out to follow
them. He was no cry-baby ordinarily, and the fact that the others were a
long way ahead did not at first disturb Mun Bun's cheerfulness.

But something else began to bother him almost at once. The wind had
begun to blow. It was not a cold wind, although it was autumn. But it
was a strong wind, and as it continued to come in gusts Mun Bun was
sometimes almost toppled off his feet.

"Wind b'ow!" gasped Mun Bun, staggering against the heavy gusts. "Oh,
my!"

That last exclamation was jounced out of him by something that blew
against the little boy--a scratchy ball of gray weed that rolled along
the ground just as though it were alive! It frightened Mun Bun at first.
Then he saw it was just dead weeds, and did not bother about the
tumble-weed any more.

But when he got to a certain wire fence, through which he was going to
crawl to follow the other little Bunkers, the wind had buffeted him so
that he lay right down to rest! Mun Bun had never tried to walk in such
a strong wind before.

The wind blew over him, and the great balls of tumble-weed rioted across
the big field. In some places, against stumps or clumps of brush, the
gray mats of weed piled up in considerable heaps. Mun Bun watched the
wind-rows of weed roll along toward his side of the field with
interested gaze. He had never seen anything like those gray, dry bushes
before.

His eyes blinked and winked, and finally drowsed shut. He had no idea
of going to sleep. In fact, he had declared he would not go to sleep. So
of course what happened was quite unintentional on Mun Bun's part. While
Mother Bunker thought he was with the other children, they had no idea
Mun Bun had refused to take his usual nap and had followed them from the
house.

The mule colts in the paddock were just the cunningest things! Margy and
Vi squealed right out loud when they saw them.

"And their cunning long ears flap so funny!" cried Rose. "Did you ever?"

"But their tails are not skinned down like the big mules' tails,"
objected Laddie.

"Oh, they'll shave those later. That is what they do to the big
mules--shave the hair off their tails, all but the 'paint-brush' at the
end," said Russ, who knew.

The children pulled some green grass they found and stuck it through the
wires for the colts to pull out of their hands and nibble. Mule colts
seemed even more tame than horse colts, and the children each "chose" a
colt and named it, although the colts ran around in such a lively way
that it was difficult sometimes to keep them separated in one's mind
and, as Cowboy Jack said when he came along to see what the children
were about, to "tell which from t'other."

"Let me see," he added, in his whimsical way. "I have to count and
reckon up you little Bunkers every once in so often so as to be sure
some of you are not strays. Let's see: There should be six, shouldn't
there? One, two, three, four, five---- But there's only five here."

"Yes, sir," said Rose politely. "Mun Bun's taking a nap, I s'pose."

"He is, is he?" repeated Cowboy Jack, with considerable interest. "And
where has he gone for his nap?"

"He is up at the house with mother," Russ said.

"Oh, no, he isn't," said the ranchman. "I just came from the house and
Mrs. Bunker asked me particularly to be sure that Mun Bun was all
right."

"Where is Mun Bun, then?" asked Vi.

"He's lost!" wailed Rose.

"Why, he didn't come down here with us," Russ declared.

"He started after you," said the ranchman, quite seriously now. "You
sure the little fellow isn't anywhere about?"

He was so serious that Russ and Rose grew anxious too. The other little
Bunkers just stared. Vi said:

"He's always getting lost--Mun Bun is. Why does he?"

"'Cause he's so little," suggested her twin. "Little things get lost
easier than big things."

"That's sound doctrine," declared Cowboy Jack.

But he did not smile as he usually did when he was talking with the
little Bunkers. He was gazing all around the fields in sight. He asked
Russ:

"Which way did you come down here from the house, Son?"

Russ pointed. "Down across that lot where the bushes are all piled up."

"Come on," said Cowboy Jack. "We'd better look for him."

"Oh!" cried Margy suddenly, "you don't s'pose the Indians got him, do
you?"

"Those Injuns wouldn't hurt a flea," declared the ranchman, striding
away so fast up the slope that the children had to trot to keep up with
him.

"Do the Indians like fleas?" asked Vi. "I shouldn't think they would.
Our cat at home doesn't."

"I know a riddle about a flea," said Laddie, more cheerfully. A riddle
always cheered Laddie. "It is: 'What is the difference between a flea
and a leopard?'"

"Jumping grasshoppers!" exclaimed Cowboy Jack. "I should think there was
a deal of difference--in their size, anyway."

"No, their size hasn't anything to do with it," said Laddie, delighted
to have puzzled the big man.

"A leopard is a big cat," said Russ. "And a flea can only live on a
cat."

"Pooh! That isn't the answer," declared Laddie. "I guess that is a good
riddle."

"It sure is," agreed Cowboy Jack, still striding up the hill. "What is
the difference between a flea and a leopard? It beats me!"

"Why," said the little boy, panting, "it's because--because a leopard
can't change its spots, but a flea can. You see, the flea is very lively
and jumps around a whole lot----"

"Can't a leopard jump?" demanded Vi.

"We--ell, that's the answer. Somebody told it to me. A leopard just
_can't_ change its spots--so there."

"I think that's silly," declared Vi impatiently. "And I want to know
what has become of Mun Bun."

They all wanted to know that. They were too much worried about the
littlest Bunker to laugh at Laddie's riddle. They went up to the fence
and crept through an opening where the tumble-weeds had not piled up in
great heaps as they had in many places along its length. The wind was
still blowing in fitful gusts, and Laddie and Margy and Vi took hold of
hands when they stood up in the field.

"Now, where can that boy be?" demanded Cowboy Jack in his big voice,
staring all about again. "If he followed you children down this way----"

"Mun Bun! Oh, Mun Bun!" shouted Rose.

Russ joined his voice to hers, and they continued to call as they
wandered about the brush clumps and the piles of dry weeds.

But no Mun Bun appeared! The ranchman looked very grave. Russ and Rose
really became frightened. How could they go back to Mother Bunker and
tell her that her little boy was lost on this great ranch?

Then Cowboy Jack began to shout Mun Bun's name. And how he could shout!

"Ye--ye--yip!" he shouted. "You--ee! Ye--ye--yip! Mun Bun! Mun Bun!"

Rose shut her ears tight with her fingers.

"My goodness!" she whispered to Russ, "Mun Bun _must_ hear that--or else
he has gone a very long way off."

But Mun Bun was not a long way off. He was quite near. And after Cowboy
Jack had shouted a second time all the other Bunkers, and the ranchman
himself, heard a small voice respond--Mun Bun's voice.

"Here I is!" said the small voice. "I'm here--_here_!"

"I'd like to know where 'here' is," cried Cowboy Jack in his great
voice. "If Mun Bun's up in the air I don't see his aeroplane; and if
he's dug himself in like a prairie dog I don't see the mouth of his
hole. And to be sure he isn't in this field----"

"Oh, yes, he is!" exclaimed Russ Bunker, suddenly diving for a great
heap of tumble-weed against the wire fence. "Anyway, here is his voice,
Mr. Cowboy Jack."

"Bring out his voice and let's see it," commanded the big ranchman.

The others began to laugh at that, but Mun Bun did not laugh. He had not
had his sleep out and did not like being waked up. The ranchman's loud
shout had aroused the little fellow, and when he found himself under the
heap of scratchy, sticky weeds he did not like that either.

But Russ pulled the weeds away in a hurry. The wind had rolled a great
bunch of the dead weeds upon Mun Bun and had quite hidden him from
sight.

"Like the Babes in the Wood," said Rose thoughtfully. "Only the robins
covered them up with leaves."

"I'm not a baby," complained Mun Bun. "And robins didn't cover me. It
was nasty old dry grass things, and they've got prickers on them."

Indeed, Mun Bun was not quite his happy self again until they took him
back to the house and Mother Bunker took him into her lap for awhile.
Margy stayed in the house with him, so the two smallest Bunkers did not
go with Cowboy Jack and daddy to see the Indians, as the ranchman had
promised Russ.

They all climbed into one of the big blue automobiles and Cowboy Jack
drove the car himself. It was not a long way to go; but it was over the
prairie itself, for there was no trail to the Indian encampment.

"I see the tents!" cried Rose, standing up in the back of the car to see
over the windshield.

"Those are wigwams," said Russ. "Aren't they wigwams, Mr.
Scarbontiskil?"

"You look out or my name will get stuck crossways in your throat and
choke you," growled the ranchman. "You can call 'em wigwams. But those
are just summer shacks, and not like the winter wigwams. Anyhow, up
there on their reservation, these Indians have pretty warm and
comfortable houses for the winter."

The children did not understand all of this, but they were very much
interested and excited. When the car stopped before the group of
tent-like structures a number of Indian children and women gathered
around, laughing and talking. They seemed to be very pleasant people,
and not at all like the wild-looking red riders the little Bunkers had
seen earlier in the day.

"But I am just as glad those painted men are not here," Rose said to
Russ. "Aren't you, Russ?"

But Russ had begun to see that there must be some trick in it. These
squaws and Indian children would not be so gentle if their husbands and
fathers were as savage as they had appeared to be. He could not exactly
understand it, but there was a trick in it he was sure. Another surprise
coming!



CHAPTER XVII

IN CHIEF BLACK BEAR'S WIGWAM


"Where is Black Bear, Mary?" asked Cowboy Jack of an old woman who was
cooking something in a pot over one of the fires in the open.

"Out on the job, Mr. Jack," was the reply. "They ought to be in soon,
for the sun is too low for good light. You can go into Bear's wikiup if
you want to."

"Oh! A bear!" whispered Vi, clinging to daddy's hand. "Is it loose?"

"I expect it is loose, all right," chuckled daddy. "But you will
probably not find it a very savage bear."

"Has it teeth--and claws?" pursued the little girl. "Bears bite, don't
they?"

"I promise you that this one won't bite you," boomed Cowboy Jack's great
voice. "He's just as tame a bear as ever you saw. Isn't he, Mary?"

The old woman smiled kindly at the children and nodded. She was old and
wrinkled, and her face looked as though it had been cured in the smoke
of many campfires. Nevertheless, she was a pleasant woman and even Vi
felt some confidence in her statement. At least, all four little Bunkers
went with Cowboy Jack and daddy to the big skin and canvas tent that
stood in the middle of the camp. It was the biggest tent of all.

It was rather dark inside the tent; but Cowboy Jack had a hand-torch in
his pocket, and he took this out and flashed the light all about the
interior of the tent by pressing his thumb on the switch of the torch.

"Never know what you'll find in these Injun shanties," muttered Cowboy
Jack. "Black Bear is college bred, but he's Injun just the same----"

"Goodness me! what does he say?" gasped Rose.

"Why, this Black Bear is a man!" exclaimed Russ. "He's an Indian. And I
guess he must be a chief of the tribe. Is he, Daddy?"

"You've guessed it," laughed Daddy.

"Was he one of those awful painted Indians we saw riding down on the
cabin?" queried Rose. "Are they safe?"

Daddy laughed and assured her that "out of business hours" the painted
Indians were quite as gentle as the women and children about the camp.
But Rose and Russ could not just understand what the Indians' "business"
could be. It was a very great mystery, and no mistake!

Vi and Laddie were so curious that they wished to examine everything in
the wikiup. And there were many, many things strange to the children's
eyes. Brilliant colored blankets hung from the walls, feather
headdresses with what Vi called "trails," so that when a man wore one
the tail of it dragged to his heels. There were beaded shirts and pretty
moccasins and long-stemmed pipes decorated with beads and feathers in
bunches. There were, too, little skins and big skins hanging from the
framework of the Indian tent, and most of the floor was soft with cured
wolf hides, the hair side uppermost.

"Black Bear is 'heap big chief,'" chuckled Cowboy Jack. "When he travels
he takes a lot of stuff with him. Hello! Here they come, I reckon."

The four small Bunkers heard the pounding of the ponies' hoofs on the
plain. They peered out of the "door" of the wikiup as daddy held back
the blanket that served as a curtain over the entrance.

"Oh, they _are_ the painted Indians!" wailed Vi, and immediately hid her
face against Rose's dress.

"They won't hurt you," scoffed Laddie. "You know they won't with daddy
and Mr. Cowboy Jack here."

"But--but what did they do to that woman at the cabin--and her baby?"
wondered Vi with continued anxiety.

"I don't see any scalps," said Laddie confidently. "Maybe it isn't the
fashion to scalp folks any more out here."

"You can ask Black Bear about that," chuckled Cowboy Jack. "I'm not up
in the fashions, as you might say."

The big ranchman was evidently vastly amused by the little Bunkers'
comments. The four children peered out of the wikiup and saw the party
of horsemen dismount. A tall figure, with a waving headdress, came
striding toward the children. Vi and Laddie, it must be confessed,
shrank back behind the ranchman and daddy.

"Hullo!" exclaimed Cowboy Jack. "Here's Black Bear now."

"But he doesn't look like a bear," Laddie whispered. "Bears don't walk
on their hind feet."

"Sometimes they do," said Daddy Bunker. "And this Bear does all the
time. He is 'Mr. Bear' just the same as my name is 'Mr. Bunker.'"

The tall man lifted off his headdress and handed it to one of the women
who came running to help him. Underneath, his hair was not like an
Indian's at all--at least, not like the Indians whose pictures the
Bunker children had seen. Black Bear's hair was cut pompadour, and if it
had not been for the awful stripes across his face he would not have
looked bad. Even Rose admitted this, in a whisper, to her brother Russ.

It was interesting for the four little Bunkers to watch Black Bear get
rid of the paint with which his face was smeared. He stripped off the
deerskin shirt he wore and squatted down on his heels before a box in
the middle of the tent--a box like a little trunk. When he opened the
cover and braced it up at a slant, the children saw that there was a
mirror fastened in the box lid.

The Indian woman held a lantern, and Black Bear dipped his fingers in a
jar of cold-cream and began to smear his whole face and neck. He looked
all white and lathery in a moment, and he grinned in a funny way up at
Cowboy Jack and Mr. Bunker.

"Makes me think of the time they cast me for the part of the famous
_Pocahontas_ in the college play of 'John Smith,'" said Black Bear.
"That was some time--believe me! We made a barrel of money for the
Athletic Association."

"Oh!" murmured Rose, "he talks--he talks just like Captain Ben--or
anybody!"

"He doesn't talk like an Indian, that's _so_," whispered back Russ,
quite as much amazed.

But Violet could not contain her curiosity politely. She came right out
in the lantern-light and asked:

"Say, Mister Black Bear, are you a real Indian, or just a make-believe?"

"I am just as real an Indian, little girl, as you ever will see,"
replied the young chief, still rubbing the cream into his face and
neck. "I'm a full-blood, sure-enough, honest-Injun Indian! You ask Mr.
Scarbontiskil."

"But you're not savage!" said the amazed Vi. "Not as savage as you all
looked when you were riding down on that cabin to-day. We saw you and we
ran home again. We were scared."

"No. I'm pretty tame. I own an automobile and a talking-machine, and I
sleep in a brass bed when I'm at home. But, you see, I _work_ at being
an Indian, because it pays me better than farming."

"Oh! Oh!" gasped Laddie. "Scalping people, and all that?"

"No. There is a law now against scalping folks," said Mr. Black Bear,
smiling again. And now that he had got the yellow and red paint off his
face his smile was very pleasant. "We all have to obey the law, you
know."

"Oh! Do Indians, too?" gasped Rose.

"Indians are the most law-abiding folks there are," declared the chief
earnestly.

"Then I guess I won't feel afraid of Indians again," confessed Rose
Bunker. "Will you, Russ?"

But Russ did not answer. He felt that there was a trick about all this.
He could not see through it yet; but he meant to. It was worse than one
of Laddie's riddles.

By and by Chief Black Bear got all the paint off his face. Then he
washed the cold-cream off. He pulled on a pleated, white-bosomed shirt,
and buttoned on a collar and tied a butterfly tie in place. Then he went
behind a blanket that was hung up at one side of the wikiup, all the
time talking gaily to Cowboy Jack and Mr. Bunker, and when he reappeared
he was dressed just as Daddy Bunker dressed back home when he went to
the lodge or to a banquet!

The four little Bunkers stared. They could not find voice for any
comment upon this strange transformation in Black Bear's appearance. But
Cowboy Jack was critical.

"Some dog that boy puts on, doesn't he, Charlie?" he said to Mr. Bunker.
"He thinks he's down in New Haven, or somewhere, where he went to
college. Beats me what a little smatter of book-learning will do for
these redskins."

This did not seem to annoy Chief Black Bear at all. He laughed and
slapped the big ranchman on the shoulder.

"Of course I'm a redskin--just as you are a whiteskin. Only I have
improved my opportunities, Jack, while you have allowed yourself to
deteriorate." That last was a pretty hard word, but Russ and Rose
understood that it meant "fall behind." "Probably your grandfather had a
college education, Jack," went on the Indian chief. "But your father and
you did not appreciate education. _My_ father and grandfathers, away
back to the days of LaSalle and even to Cortez's followers who marched
up through Texas, had no educational advantages. I appreciate my chance
the more."

"But a boiled shirt and a Tuxedo coat!" snorted Cowboy Jack.

"Keeps me a 'good Indian,'" laughed Black Bear. "No knowing how savage I
might be if I didn't dress for dinner 'most every night."

Russ knew all this was joking between the chief and the ranchman, and he
saw that Daddy Bunker was very much amused. But the boy did not
understand what the Indians were doing here in Cowboy Jack's ranch, and
why they should dress up like wild savages in the daytime, and then
dress in civilized clothes when evening came.

Russ Bunker had never been more puzzled by anything in his life before.
He felt, of course, that Daddy Bunker would explain if he asked him; but
Russ liked to find out things for himself.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE NEW PONIES


Out of a box Chief Black Bear took certain treasures that he gave to the
four little Bunkers who visited his wikiup. He even sent some
fresh-water mussel shells, polished like mother-of-pearl, to the absent
Margy and Mun Bun, of whom Cowboy Jack told him.

"They are some nice kids," declared the ranchman, who sometimes used
expressions and words that were not altogether polite; but he meant no
harm. "Especially that Mun Bun. _He_ went to sleep in a fence-corner
to-day and got covered up with tumble-weed. But he's an all right boy."

Cowboy Jack seemed to think a great deal of the smallest of the Bunkers.
He was frequently seen admiring Mun Bun. Even the other children noticed
it, and Rose had once asked her mother:

"Why doesn't Mr. Scar--Scar--well, what-ever-it-iskil! Why doesn't he
have children of his own?"

"But, my dear, everybody cannot have children just for the wishing,"
Mother Bunker replied.

"I should think he could," murmured Rose. "See how many children these
Indians and Mexicans have; and they are none of them half as nice as
Mr.--Mr.--well, Mr. Cowboy Jack."

To Russ and Rose and Laddie and Violet, Black Bear gave stone
arrow-heads which may have been used by his forefathers when they roamed
the plains, wild and free, as the young Indian said. But better than
those, he gave Rose and Violet little beaded moccasins that fitted just
as though they were made for the little white girls!

The children went away after that, for it was time for their own supper
at the ranch house and Cowboy Jack always seemed afraid of making Maria
Castrada cross if they were late for meals. But perhaps it was his own
hearty appetite that spurred him to be on time.

At any rate, the Bunkers left Chief Black Bear sitting cross-legged
before a low table on which the Indian women were serving his dinner,
beginning with soup and from that going on through all the courses of a
properly served meal.

"Funny fellow, that Black Bear," said Cowboy Jack to Mr. Bunker. "But
maybe he's got it right. I was brought up pretty nice--silverware and
finger-bowls, and all that sort of do-dads; but part of my life I've
lived pretty rough. Black Bear has set himself a certain standard of
living, and he's not going to slip back. Afraid of being a 'blanket
Indian,' I suppose."

The children--even Russ and Rose--did not understand all this; but they
had been much interested in Chief Black Bear.

"Only, I don't see why he paints up in the daytime and rides such wild
ponies, and all that," grumbled Rose, who, like Russ, did not like to be
mystified.

Whenever they tried to ask the older folks to explain the mystery they
were laughed at. It was Cowboy Jack's mystery, anyway, and Mr. and Mrs.
Bunker did not feel that they had a right to explain to the children all
that they wished to know.

"Figure it out for yourselves," said Daddy Bunker.

"Is it a riddle, then?" demanded Laddie. "It must be a riddle. Why does
Chief Black Bear paint his face, and--and----"

"And take it off with cold cream?" put in Vi. "Why _does_ he?"

"I guess that's the riddle," said her twin. "You answer it, Vi."

But although Vi could ask innumerable questions on all sorts of subjects
she seldom was able to answer one--and certainly not this one Laddie
propounded.

Next morning while the six little Bunkers were at the big breakfast
table in Cowboy Jack's ranch house there again arose a considerable
disturbance outside in front of the house. This time the children were
pretty well over their meal, and they grew so excited that Mother Bunker
allowed them to be excused.

Russ and Rose led the way out upon the veranda. There stood two of the
smiling Mexican houseboys--"cholos," Cowboy Jack called them--and they
bade the Bunker children a very pleasant good morning. Russ and Rose
did not forget their manners, and they replied in kind. But the four
smaller children just whooped when they saw what had brought the
Mexicans to the front of the big house.

One of the men led two saddled ponies while the other held another fat
pony that drew a brightly painted cart with seats in it and a step
behind--just the dearest cart! Rose Bunker said.

"Oh, I know I can learn to drive that dear, dear pony!" Rose added. "And
there is room for every one of you children with me in the cart."

"Huh!" exclaimed Laddie. "I am going to ride pony-back like Russ does.
Which is my pony, Mr. Cowboy Jack?" he asked of the ranchman who had
followed them out of the house to enjoy their amazement and delight.

"The one with the shortest stirrups, I guess," Russ said. "This one
looks as if I could ride him," and he took the bridle handed him by the
Mexican.

"Oh, lift me up! Lift me up!" cried Laddie, running to the other saddle
pony.

Cowboy Jack strode down and did so. Meanwhile Rose and the other
children were scrambling into the pony-cart, while the pony which drew
it tossed its head and looked around as though counting the number of
passengers that were getting aboard.

"Isn't he just cute?" cried Rose again. "Oh, Mr. Cowboy Jack! you are so
good to us."

"Got to be," said the ranchman, laughing. "I haven't any little folks of
my own, so I have to treat those I find around here pretty well, I do
say."

Laddie clung to both the pommel and the bridle-reins at first, for he
did seem so high from the ground at first. But Russ trotted away on his
pony very securely. Russ had ridden quite a little at Uncle Fred's ranch
and had not forgotten how.

Rose decided that she liked better to drive. But Vi must learn to drive,
too, she said. And even Margy and Mun Bun clamored to hold the reins
over the back of the sleepy brown pony. Russ's mount was what Cowboy
Jack called a pinto, but Russ said it was a calico pony. He had seen
them marked that way before--in the circus. Laddie's pony was all white,
with pinkish nose and ears. Right at the start Laddie called him
"Pinky." But the little girls could not agree on a name for the pony
that drew their cart.

There seemed to be so many nice names that just fitted him! Margy wanted
to call him Dinah after her lost doll.

"But that Dinah-doll was black," said Rose, in objection. "And this pony
is brown. Maybe we ought to call him Brownie."

"Oh! I know!" cried Vi. "Let's call him Cute. He's just as cunning as he
can be."

But this name did not appeal to the others, and they were no nearer
finding a name for the brown pony when the ride was over and they all
came back to the ranch house than at first. They had had so much fun,
however, that they had forgotten for the time being the mystery of the
Indians and soldiers whom they had seen the day before.

Laddie had thought up a new riddle--and it was a good one. He knew it
was good and he told everybody about it, he was so excited.

"Listen!" he cried, when he half tumbled out of his saddle by the steps
of the veranda. "This is a good riddle. Listen!"

"We're listening, Son," said Cowboy Jack. "Shoot!"

"What is it," asked Laddie earnestly, "that looks like a horse, has four
legs like a horse, runs like a horse, eats like a horse, but it isn't a
horse?"

"A cow," said his twin promptly.

"No, no! A cow has horns. A horse doesn't," Laddie declared scornfully.

"A colt," guessed Russ.

"No, no!" rejoined the eager Laddie. "A colt is a little horse, so that
could not be the answer, Russ Bunker."

"A giraffe," suggested Vi again.

"I wish you wouldn't, Vi," complained the riddle-maker. "Does a giraffe
look like any horse you ever saw?"

"A carpenter's horse," said Rose.

"Pooh! That's made of wood. Can a wooden horse _run_?" cried Laddie.

"I guess that _is_ a pretty good riddle," said Russ soberly. "What is
the answer, Laddie?"

"Do you all give it up?" asked the smaller boy, his eyes shining.

"You got us thrown and tied," declared Cowboy Jack solemnly. "I couldn't
guess that riddle in a thousand years."

"But you wouldn't want to wait that long to know what it is," Laddie
said delightedly. "Now, would you?"

"You'd better tell us now, Laddie," said Daddy Bunker smilingly. "You
know a thousand years _is_ a long time to wait."

"Well," said the little fellow proudly, "what looks like a horse, and
has four legs like a horse, and runs like a horse, and eats like a
horse, is----"

"Yes, yes!" exclaimed the impatient Violet.

"What is it, Laddie?"

"Why," said Laddie, with vast satisfaction, "it is a _mule_."

They all cried out in surprise at this answer. But it was a good riddle.

"Only," said Russ thoughtfully, "it's lucky you didn't say anything
about its tail and ears. Then we would have caught you."

The Bunker children had so much fun with the ponies Cowboy Jack had
selected for their use during the next two or three days that they
thought of very little else. The mystery of the Indians and soldiers did
not often trouble their minds. But something else did. Mail came from
the East, and with it was a letter from Captain Ben, and another from
Norah.

"And," said Mother Bunker soberly, reading the letters to the children,
"both say that they have found neither Rose's wrist-watch nor Laddie's
stick-pin. I am afraid, Rose and Laddie, that your carelessness has cost
you both your jewelry. It is too bad. But perhaps it will teach you the
lesson of carefulness with your possessions."

This, however, did not make either Rose or Laddie feel any better in
their minds. They had been very proud of both the lost articles and it
looked now as though they would never see the watch and the pin again.



CHAPTER XIX

RUSS BUNKER GUESSES RIGHT


One morning, while Mother Bunker was amusing the four younger children
in the house (for the twins and Margy and Mun Bun could not always go
where Rose and Russ went) the two older Bunker children rode away from
the big ranch house on that very wagon-trail that had led them into such
a strange adventure the first day of their stay on Cowboy Jack's ranch.
Rose rode on Laddie's pony, Pinky.

Russ and Rose had thought of something the night before, and they had
planned this ride in order to do it. They had remembered Black Bear's
wild Indians and the strange soldiers in blue. The two older Bunker
children decided to try to find those strange people again, and the man
and woman and baby at the brookside.

Just who those "white settlers" could be, and why they were living in
that part of the ranch away from Mr. Cowboy Jack's nice house, neither
Russ nor Rose had been able to make up their minds. Of course, there was
a mystery about it, and a mystery was bound to worry the little Bunkers
a good deal. They were persistent, and Russ, at least, seldom gave up
any problem until he had solved it.

"I saw a picture in a big book at the ranch," said Rose to her brother,
"and in it a frontiersman--that's what the book called him--was dressed
like that man we saw chopping wood--the man with the squirrel-tail on
his cap and his long hair tied in a queue."

"Did you? But that must have been the way they wore their hair a long,
long time ago."

"It said in the book under the picture that trappers and hunters out
West here wore their hair long and tied in queues long after they
stopped doing so anywhere else. Some of the white hunters wore a
scalp-lock like the Indians. I guess maybe that was a scalp-lock," said
Rose.

"Well, those soldiers----"

"They are not dressed like soldiers are now," Rose interrupted. "But in
the book there were pictures of soldiers in the Mexican War--When was
that, Russ?"

Russ had read a little American history in his class the term before and
thought he knew something about the Mexican War. He told Rose it had
been fought long after the Revolution.

"Well, the pictures showed soldiers in the Mexican War dressed like
those we saw the other day. Or, anyway, very much like them."

"Goodness me!" exclaimed Russ, "don't you suppose these soldiers know
_that_ war is over?"

So they had started out without saying anything to the older folks about
their real object. In the first place, Russ and Rose did not like to be
laughed at. And they knew that Cowboy Jack, at least, was very much
amused by the fact that the little Bunkers had not guessed the mystery
of the Indians and soldiers now on his ranch.

The brother and sister rode on through the valley they had traveled
before and up to the top of the ridge from which they had seen the
cabin by the side of the stream. The cabin was now in truth deserted.
There was no fire before it and not a person in sight.

"Maybe those Indians took them captive. The poor little baby!" murmured
Rose.

"Don't be a little dunce, Rose!" exclaimed Russ, with exasperation. "You
know that nice Black Bear would not hurt them. And, anyway, I guess that
baby was only a doll. That is what that soldier said when you told him
about it. He said it was Mr. Props' rag baby."

"Who do you suppose Mr. Props is?" asked Rose. "And Mrs. Props? It must
have been Mrs. Props we saw holding the--er--baby. For maybe it was a
real baby."

Russ saw there was no use in arguing on this point. He urged his calico
pony forward and Pinky followed promptly. The two Bunkers went along the
trail past the cabin and up the next slope. They struck into a woodsy
sort of road then, and by and by the children saw that the trail was
leading them to a ravine between two steep hills. There was much
shrubbery, so they could not see very clearly what was before them, but
as they continued to ride on there came suddenly a lot of noise from
the ravine. Horses whinnied, men shouted, and two or three guns were
discharged.

"Oh! It's a fight, Russ!" shrieked Rose. "Do come away!"

But Russ had seen something that interested him very much. Among the
bushes on one side of the ravine he saw several Indians creeping. They
wore feathers in their scalp-locks, and had bows and arrows and guns. He
did not see Black Bear with this company of Indians, but they were
acting just as though they were fighting somebody down in the bottom of
the ravine.

"It's an--an ambush, Rose!" cried Russ excitedly. "Oh! There's a man
with a machine----"

In fact he saw two men with boxes on tripods, standing side-by-side and
not many yards away in the trail. The men were turning cranks on the
sides of the boxes.

Another man turned and saw the Bunker children apparently riding nearer.
He started back toward them, shouted and waved his arms.

"Oh, dear me!" shrieked Rose. "It's--it's dynamite! They are going to
blow up something! Come, Russ!"

She twitched at Pinky's bridle, and the pony swerved about and plunged
away at such a fast pace that poor Rose could only cling to the bridle
and saddle and cry. But Russ remained where he was. He was greatly
amazed, but slowly a comprehension of the whole thing was forming in the
boy's mind.

"It's--it's only make-believe," Russ Bunker told himself. "They are not
doing anything dangerous. It's a--a play, that's what it is. Why, those
men have got moving picture cameras!

"Oh, I know what the surprise is now--Mr. Cowboy Jack's surprise! It's a
moving picture company!" said Russ Bunker aloud. "They are make-believe
soldiers, even if Black Bear and his people are real Indians. They are
making moving pictures--that is what they are doing, Rose."

But when he turned in his saddle to look for Rose, the girl and Pinky
had completely disappeared.

"My goodness!" said Russ, somewhat alarmed, "she's so frightened that
she has run back home. Maybe she will fall off the pony."

Much as he would have liked to remain to watch the actors and the
Indians make the picture on which they were at work, Russ felt it his
duty to see that Rose was all right. If anything happened to Rose daddy
and mother might blame Russ, because he was the oldest.

The pinto pony cantered away with Russ at quite a fast pace. He kept to
the wagon-trail that led back to Cowboy Jack's ranch house. And at every
turn Russ expected to see Pinky and Rose ahead.

But he did not see his sister on Laddie's pony. He came in sight of the
big house, and even then he did not see her. So, when the pinto stopped
before the big veranda and Mother Bunker and the other children
appeared, Russ could scarcely find voice enough to ask:

"Oh, Mother! have you seen Rose? Did she come back alone?"

"Rose? I have not seen her since you both rode away together. Do you
mean to say----" Then Mother Bunker saw that Russ was having hard work
to keep back the tears and she--wise woman that she was--knew that this
was no time to scold the boy.

"Where did she go? When did you lose her?" his mother cried, running
down the steps.

"Back--back where they are making the moving picture," gasped Russ. "She
was scared by the Indians shooting at the whites. But, of course, they
were only making believe. And--and Rose rode away somewhere
and--and--oh, Mother! I can't find her."



CHAPTER XX

PINKY GOES HOME


Rose had seen men digging and blasting at home in Pineville for the new
sewer system; so when the moving picture man had run back toward her and
Russ to warn them not to get into the field of the camera, Rose had
thought a charge of dynamite was about to be exploded.

Although the man who warned them did not wave a red flag, dynamite was
all Rose could think of. The appearance of the Indians on the hillside,
in any case, frightened her, and she was quite ready to yield to panic.
As we have seen, she twitched Pinky, the pony, around by his
bridle-rein, and the spirited pony proceeded to gallop away.

Rose did not pay any attention to where Pinky was going. And Pinky did
not remain on the trail by which the brother and sister had traveled
from Cowboy Jack's ranch.

Pinky was very anxious to go, but where he went he did not care. He
left the trail almost at once and cantered through a pasture where the
scattered clumps of brush and greasewood soon hid him and his rider from
the sight of anybody on the wagon-trail. At least, they were quite
hidden from Russ Bunker when he rode back to look for his sister.

Rose did not at first worry at all about where she was or where Pinky
was taking her. She listened for the expected "boom!" of the dynamite
explosion. But as minute after minute passed and the explosion did not
come, Rose began to wonder if she had made a mistake.

Pinky kept right on moving, just as though he knew where he was going
and wished to get there shortly. But when Rose looked around she knew
she had never been in this place before. And, too, she discovered that
Russ had not followed her.

This last discovery made Rose pull up the pony and think. It alarmed
her. She was not often frightened when Russ was by, although she had
given way to fright on this particular occasion. But she knew she would
not have been afraid had her brother been right here with her.

As it was, Rose was very much frightened indeed. She did not know where
Russ was, nor did she know where she was. Therefore it was positive that
she was lost!

Now, Pinky was a very intelligent pony, as was afterward proved. You
will read all about it later. But he could not know that Rose wished him
to find his way home unless she told him as much. And that Rose did not
do.

She just burst out crying, and the pony had no idea what that meant. He
turned to look at her, tossed his head and pawed with one dainty hoof.
But he did not understand of course that the girl on his back was crying
because she was lost and was afraid.

Perhaps, too, if Rose had let the bridle-reins alone Pinky would have
remembered the corral and his oats and have started back without being
told that the ranch house was the thing Rose Bunker most wanted to see.
But the little girl thought she had to guide the pony; so she grabbed up
the reins at last and said:

"Come up, Pinky! We have just got to go somewhere. Go on!"

Pinky naturally went on the way he was headed, and that chanced to be in
a direction away from Cowboy Jack's home, where the Bunkers were then
visiting. Nor did the pony bear her toward the place where the moving
picture company was at work.

They went on, and noon came, and both Pinky and the little girl were
hungry and thirsty.

Pinky smelled water--or saw it. He insisted on starting off to one side
of the narrow trail they had been following.

Rose was afraid to leave that trail, for it seemed to her that a path
along which people had ridden enough to make a deep rut in the sward
must be a path that was more or less used all the time. She expected to
meet somebody by sticking to this path, or else come to a house.

But here was a shallow stream, and Pinky insisted on trotting down to it
and wading right in.

The water was cool, and the pony cooled his feet in it as well as his
nose. He had jerked the reins out of Rose's hands when he had sunk his
nose in the water, and she had no way of controlling him.

"You bad, bad Pinky!" cried Rose, leaning down, clinging with one hand
to his mane and reached with the other hand to seize the reins. But she
could not reach them. She lost her stirrups. She slipped forward off the
saddle and upon the pony's neck.

At this Pinky was startled. He tried to scramble out of the brook. He
stepped on a stone that rolled. And then he staggered and half fell and
over his head and right into the middle of the brook flew Rose Bunker!
It was a most astonishing overturn, to say nothing of the danger of it.

Splash went Rose into a pool of water! But worse than getting wet was
the fact that one of her ankles came in contact with a stone, and the
pain of the hurt made Rose scream aloud. Oh, that knock did so hurt the
little girl!

"Now! Now see what--what you've done!" cried Rose, when she could speak.
"You naughty, naughty Pinky!"

Pinky had snorted and run a few steps up the bank. Now he was grazing
contentedly--not trying to run away from the little girl at all, but
quite inconsiderate of her, just the same. He let Rose sit on the edge
of the brook, with her hurt foot in the water, crying as hard as she
could cry, and he acted as though he had no interest in Rose at all!

At least, he acted this way until he had got his fill of grass. Then he
trotted back to the brook for another drink. He did not come very near
Rose, who had crawled up out of the water and sat rocking herself too
and fro and nursing her hurt ankle. It was so badly wrenched that the
little girl could not bear her weight upon that foot. She had tried it
and found out "for sure."

Otherwise she might easily have caught Pinky, for the pony was tame
enough in spite of his being spirited. But she could not walk far enough
to catch the pony; and then she could not have jumped up into the
saddle.

Pinky got tired of looking at her, perhaps. Anyway, after drinking again
he wandered up from the brook and once more fell to grazing. But he was
not hungry now, and he remembered the corral at the ranch house.
Besides, something moved behind a clump of brush and startled him.

The pony threw up his head and snorted. His ears pointed forward and he
looked questioningly at the clump of brush. The creature behind the
bushes moved again, and at that Pinky dashed away, whistling his alarm.
Rose saw him go, but she could not stop him. And fortunately, for the
time being, she did not know what had frightened the pony and sent him
off at so quick a pace. He disappeared, and with his going it seemed to
Rose that her last thread of attachment to the big ranch house and Daddy
and Mother Bunker was broken.

When Pinky was out of sight and sound Rose stopped crying. In fact, she
stood up and did try to hobble a few steps after him. For Rose was wise
enough to see that the pony had probably started for home, and in that
same direction lay her best path too.

But she really could not limp far nor fast. The clumps of brush soon hid
the pony, as we have said. And then poor Rose heard the same sound in
the scrub that Pinky had heard!

"Oh! what is that?" breathed the little girl.

She had not thought of any danger from wild animals before this time,
for it was broad daylight. And what this thing could be----

Then she caught a glimpse of it! It was of a sunburned yellow color, and
it slunk behind a bush and seemed to be crouching there, hiding, quite
as much afraid of Rose as Rose was of it. She saw its dusty tail
flattened out on the ground. But whether it was frightened or was
preparing to charge out upon her, the little Bunker girl could not tell
and was greatly terrified.

She was just as frightened, indeed, as all the people at Cowboy Jack's
ranch house were when Pinky, the runaway pony, cantered into view with
nobody on his back. Cowboy Jack and daddy were already mounted on
ponies, and Russ had refused to remain at home. He wanted to aid in the
search for Rose.

"I can show them just where we were when Rose turned back," he said to
Mother Bunker. "And then Cowboy Jack ought to be able to follow Rose."

"I hope so," agreed his mother.

Then she, as well as the little folks, shouted aloud at the appearance
of the cantering Pinky.

"He's thrown the girl off!" exclaimed the ranchman. "Or else she has
tumbled off. And it was some time ago, too. Come on, Charlie Bunker! I'm
going to get Black Bear and his Injuns to help us look for her."

"Oh, Mr. Scarbontiskil!" murmured Mrs. Bunker, "is there anything out
there in the wilderness to hurt her--by day?"

"Not a thing, Ma'am--not a thing bigger or savager than a jackrabbit,"
declared Cowboy Jack.

"But I wonder where the pony left her?" queried Mr. Bunker.

"Ask him, Daddy--ask him," urged Laddie eagerly. "He's an awful
intelligent pony."

Pinky had been halted before the group at the ranch house. Daddy Bunker
said again:

"I wonder if he could show us where he left Rose?"

And when he spoke Pinky began to nod his head up and down and paw with
one hoof. The children were delighted--even Russ.

"Oh! I believe he is trying to explain," Russ cried. "Ask him another
question, Daddy."

Mr. Bunker laughed rather grimly. "Let Vi ask the pony questions; she
can think of them faster than I can. Or let Laddie ask him a riddle.
There is no time to experiment with ponies now."

He and Cowboy Jack started away from the ranch house, and Russ, for fear
of being left behind, urged his pinto after them.

He felt very much frightened because of Rose's absence. And he felt,
too, as though it might be his fault, although none of the older people
had suggested such a thing. Still, Russ knew that he ought to be beside
his sister right now!



CHAPTER XXI

THE LAME COYOTE


Rose had, of course, heard of coyotes. She had heard them talked about
here at Cowboy Jack's ranch. But she had not caught a glimpse of one
before. Nor did she know this slinking creature behind the bushes was
that animal which ranchmen consider such a pest.

Although coyotes are very cowardly by nature and will seldom attack
human beings, even if starving or enraged, the beasts do kill young
calves and lambs and raid the ranch hen-houses just as foxes do in the
East.

Besides, on the open range, the coyotes howl and whine all night,
keeping everybody in camp awake; so the cowboys have a strong dislike
for Mr. Coyote and have not a single good word to say for him. Indeed,
the coyote seems to possess few good traits.

But Rose Bunker called the creature that had startled her a dog.

"If I could run I know that dog would chase me!" she sobbed. "I wonder
who it belongs to? It must be a runaway dog, to be away out here where
there are no houses. I'm afraid of that dog."

For this Rose was not to be much blamed. This was a strange country to
her, and almost everything she saw was different from what she was used
to back in Pennsylvania. Even the trees and bushes were different. And
she never had seen a dog just like that tawny one that dragged itself
behind the hedge of bushes.

The strange part of it was--the thing that frightened Rose most--was
that the animal seemed trying to hide from her. And yet she felt that it
must be dangerous, for it was big and had long legs. She was quite right
in supposing that if she had undertaken to run, under ordinary
circumstances, the animal could have overtaken her.

But Rose's ankle throbbed and ached, and she cried out whenever she
rested that foot upon the ground. She just couldn't run! So she began
cajoling the supposed dog, hoping that it was not as savage as she
really feared it was. One thing, it did not growl as bad dogs often did,
as Rose Bunker very well knew.

"Come, doggy! Nice doggy!" she cooed. And then she was suddenly afraid
that it really would come! If it had leaped up and started toward Rose
the little girl would have fallen right down--she knew she would!

But the yellow-looking creature only tried to creep farther under the
scrubby bushes. Rose began to think that maybe it was more afraid of her
than she was of it.

"Poor doggy!" she said, hobbling around the end of the hedge of scrubby
bushes.

There she saw its head and forepaws. And it was not until then that she
discovered what was the matter with the coyote. Its right fore paw was
fast in a steel trap. A chain hung from the trap. It had broken the
chain and hobbled away with the trap--no knowing how far it had come.

"The poor thing!" Rose said again, at once pitying the coyote more than
she was afraid of it.

Yet when it saw the little girl looking at him it clashed its great jaws
and grinned at her most wickedly. It was not a pleasant thing to look
at.

"But he is hurt, and 'fraid, I suppose," Rose murmured. "Why! he's just
as lame as I am. I guess his foot hurts him in that awful trap a good
deal more than my ankle hurts me. The poor thing!"

The coyote was evidently quite exhausted. It probably had come a good
way with that trap fastened to its paw. But it showed Rose all its
teeth, and they did look very sharp to the little girl.

"I would not want him to snap at me," thought Rose. "And if I went near
enough I guess he would snap. I'll keep away from the poor dog, for I
would not dare try to get the trap off his foot."

She moved away; but she kept the crouching coyote in sight. She did not
like to feel that it was following her without her seeing it do so. And
the coyote seemed to feel that it wanted to keep her in sight. For it
raised its head and watched her with unwinking eyes.

This incident had given Rose something to think about besides her own
lost state and her lame ankle. The latter was not paining as badly as
at first. Still, she did not feel that she could hobble far. And she was
not quite sure now in which direction Pinky, the pony, had run. She
really did not know which way to go.

"It is funny Russ didn't come after me," thought the little girl. "Maybe
those Indians got him. But, then, there was the white man. I thought he
was setting off dynamite. But there wasn't any explosion. I guess I ran
away too quick. But Russ might have followed me, I should think."

She could not quite bring herself to blame her difficulties on Russ,
however, for she very well knew that her own panic had brought her here.
Russ had been brave enough to stay. Russ was always brave. And then, she
had blindly ridden off the trail and come to this place.

"I guess I won't say Russ did it," she decided. "It wouldn't be so. And
I expect right now he is hunting for me, and is worried 'most to death
about where I am. And daddy--and Mother Bunker! I guess they will want
to know where I've got to. This--this is just dreadful. Maybe I shall
have to stay here days and days! And what shall I ever eat, if I do?
And I haven't even any bed out here!"

The lost girl felt pretty bad. It seemed to her, now that she thought
more about it, that she was very ill used. Russ did not usually desert
her when she was in trouble. And Rose Bunker felt that she was in very
serious trouble now.

She sat down again in plain view of the lame coyote and cried a few more
tears. But what was the use of crying when there was nobody here to
care? The lame coyote had its own troubles, and although it watched her,
it did not care a thing about her.

"He is only afraid I might do something to hurt him," thought Rose. "And
I wouldn't do a thing to hurt the poor doggy. I wonder if he is
thirsty?"

The stream of water into which Rose had tumbled from Pinky's back was
only a few yards away, and perhaps the wounded coyote had been trying to
get to it before the little girl and the pony came to this place. But
the animal was too wary to go down to drink while Rose was in sight. And
fortunately there was nothing Rose could take water to the coyote in.
For she certainly would have tried to do that, if she could. She was
just that tender-hearted.

But it would have been unwise, for the coyote's teeth were as sharp as
they looked to be, and it would not have understood that the little girl
merely wished to help.

Rose sat and watched the beast, and the lame coyote crouched under the
bushes and watched her, and it grew into mid-afternoon. Rose felt very
sad indeed. She did not see how she could walk back to the ranch house,
even if she knew the way. And she could not understand why Russ did not
come for her.

Meanwhile Russ was urging his pinto pony as fast as he could after
Cowboy Jack and Daddy Bunker. They followed the regular wagon-track
through the valley and over the ridge which had now become quite
familiar to the little boy. They passed the cabin by the stream and then
came to the knoll from which that morning Russ and Rose had seen the
moving picture cameras.

But neither those machines nor the men who worked them nor the Indians
on the hillside were now in sight. Cowboy Jack, however, seemed to know
just where to find the moving picture company, for he kept right on
into the ravine.

"I reckon this is about where you saw the Indians and the camera men,
Son?" the ranchman said to Russ.

"Yes, sir," said Russ. "But Rose left me right on this hill. I thought
she went back----"

"I didn't notice any place where she left the trail," interposed Cowboy
Jack. "But I reckon Black Bear can find where she went. You have to hand
it to those Injuns. They can see trailmarks that a white man wouldn't
notice. And going to college didn't spoil Black Bear for a
trail-hunter."

"He is quite a wonderful young man," Daddy Bunker said.

But Russ was only thinking about his sister. He wondered where she could
have gone and what had happened to her. Pinky's coming back to the ranch
alone made Russ believe that something very terrible had happened to his
sister.

He urged his pinto pony on after the ranchman and daddy, however, and
they all entered the ravine. It was a very wild place--just the sort of
place, Russ thought, where savage Indians might have lain in wait for
unfortunate white people. He was very glad that Black Bear's people were
quite tame. At least, they could not be accused of having run away with
Rose.

In a few minutes Cowboy Jack had led them up through the ravine and out
upon what he called a mesa. There were patches of woods, plenty of grass
that was not much frost-bitten, and a big spring near which a number of
ponies were picketed. There was a traveling kitchen, such as the Army
used in the World War. Men in white caps and jackets were very busy
about the kitchen helping the moving picture company to hot food.

And the actors and Indians were all squatting very pleasantly side by
side eating and talking. The Indians wore their war-paint, but they had
drawn on their shirts or else had blankets around their shoulders. Russ
saw Black Bear almost at once. He stood talking with some of the white
men--notably with the one who was the commander of the soldiers, the man
with the plume in his hat.

But it seemed that a little man sitting on a campchair off to one side
and talking to a man who had a lot of papers in his hands was the most
important person in view. It was to this man that Cowboy Jack led the
way.

"That is Mr. Habback, the director," Russ heard the ranchman tell daddy.
"We must get him to let us have Black Bear, or somebody."

The next moment he hailed the moving picture director.

"Can you spare some of your Injuns for an hour?" asked Cowboy Jack.
"There's a little girl lost, and I reckon an Injun can find her trail
better than any of my cholos or punchers. How about Black Bear?"

The young Indian whose name he had mentioned came towards the group at
once. Mr. Habback looked up at Chief Black Bear.

"Hear what this Texas longhorn says, Chief?" he said to the Indian. "A
little girl lost somewhere."

"I can show you about where she left the trail," explained the ranchman
earnestly.

"Was she over at my wikiup the other evening?" asked Black Bear, with
interest.

"She--she's my sister," broke in Russ anxiously. "And she was scared by
your Indian play, and the pony must have run away with her."

"Hullo!" said Chief Black Bear. "I remember you, too, youngster. So your
sister is lost?"

"Well, we can't find her," said Russ Bunker.

"I will go along with them, Mr. Habback," said the Indian chief,
glancing down at the director. "I'll take Little Elk with me. You won't
need us for a couple of hours, will you?"

"It's all right," said the director. "Go ahead. We can't afford to lose
a little girl around here, that is sure."

"You bet we can't," put in Cowboy Jack. "Little girls are scarce in this
part of the country."

Black Bear spoke to one of his men, who hurried to get two ponies. The
Indians leaped upon the bare backs of the ponies and rode them just as
safely as the white people rode in their saddles. This interested Russ a
great deal, and he wondered if Black Bear would teach him how to ride
Indian style.

But this was not the time to speak of such a thing. Rose must be found.
For all they knew the little girl might be in serious trouble--she
might be needing them right then!

The two Indians and the ranchman and Daddy Bunker started back through
the ravine. None of them was more worried over Rose's disappearance than
was Russ. He urged his pinto pony after the older people at the very
fastest pace he could ride.



CHAPTER XXII

A PICNIC


Rose had now been so long alone that she was beginning to fear she never
would see Mother Bunker and daddy and her brothers and sisters again.
And this was an awful thought.

But she had already cried so much that it was an effort for her to
squeeze out another tear. So she just sat on a stump and sniffed,
watching the lame coyote.

Rose pitied that coyote. If he was as thirsty as she was hungry, the
little girl feared the poor animal must be suffering greatly. For it was
long past noon and breakfast at the ranch house was served early.

"I guess I'll have to begin to eat leaves and grass," murmured Rose
Bunker. "I suppose I can wash them down with water, and there is plenty
of water in the brook. Only the poor, doggy can't get to it."

While she was thinking these things, and feeling very miserable indeed,
she suddenly heard the ring of horses' hoofs on the stones in the brook.
Rose sprang up in great excitement, for she did not know what this new
trouble might be.

Then----

"Oh, Daddy Bunker! Russ!" she shrieked, and began to hobble toward the
cavalcade that had ridden down from the other side of the stream of
water.

"Rose!" cried daddy. "Are you hurt, child?"

"Well, I _was_ hurt. But my foot's pretty near well now. Only Pinky ran
away and left me after I tumbled out of the saddle--Oh! Wait! Look out
and don't scare off the poor lame doggy."

This last she cried when she looked back at the coyote trying to
scramble farther into the bushes. But the chain hitched to the trap had
caught over a stub, and the poor brute could not get far. Cowboy Jack
drew from his saddle holster the pistol he usually carried when he was
out on the range; but Rose screamed out again when she saw that.

"Don't hurt the poor doggy, Mr. Cowboy Jack! He can't get away."

"Jumping grasshoppers!" muttered the ranchman, "does she think that
coyote is a dog?"

"She evidently does," Black Bear replied. "He can't get away. I'll tell
Little Elk to stay back and fix him. No use scaring the child. Lucky the
brute was fast in that trap. He might have done her harm."

Rose did not hear this, but Russ did. And he was quite old enough to
understand his sister had been in danger while she remained here near
the coyote. Besides, it would have been cruel to have left the wounded
animal to die miserably alone. He could not be cured, so he would have
to be shot.

This incident of the coyote made a deeper impression upon the mind of
Russ than it did on his sister's. He quite understood that, had the
animal been more savage or had it been free of the trap, it might have
seriously injured Rose. There were perils out here on the open ranges
that they must never lose sight of--possibilities of getting into
trouble that at first Russ Bunker had not dreamed about. It made Russ
feel as though never again would he let any of the younger children go
anywhere alone while they remained at Cowboy Jack's.

Rose prattled a good deal to Daddy Bunker about the "lame dog" as they
all rode back to the ranch house. But Russ was more interested in
hearing about the moving picture company's camp and what they were
doing. Black Bear told the little boy some things he wished to know,
including the fact that the Indians and the other actors were making a
picture about olden times on the plains, and that it was called "A
Romance of the Santa Fé Trail."

"I should think it would be a lot of fun to make pictures," Russ said.
"Do you think we Bunkers could get a chance to act in it, Chief Black
Bear?"

"I don't know about that," laughed the Indian. "I shall have to ask Mr.
Habback, the director. Maybe he can use you children in the scene at the
old fort where the soldiers and frontiersmen are hemmed in by the
Indians. Of course, there were children in the fort at the time of the
attack."

"It--it isn't going to be a real fight, is it?" asked Russ, rather more
doubtfully.

"It has got to look like a real fight, or Mr. Habback will not be
satisfied, I can tell you."

"But suppose--suppose," stammered Russ, "your Indians should forget and
really turn savage?"

"Not a chance of that," laughed Black Bear. "I have hard enough work
making them take their parts seriously. They are more likely to think it
is funny and spoil the shot."

"Then they don't ever feel like turning savage and fighting the white
folks in earnest?" asked Russ.

"You don't feel like turning savage and fighting red men do you?" asked
Black Bear, with a serious face.

"Oh, no!" cried Russ, shaking his head.

"Then, why should we red people want to fight you? You will be perfectly
safe if you come down to see us make the fort scene," the Indian chief
assured him.

So Russ got back to the ranch house full to the lips with the idea of
acting in the moving picture. Rose's ankle had only been twisted a
little, and she was perfectly able to walk the next day. But Mother
Bunker would not hear to the children going far from the house after
that without daddy or herself being with them.

"I believe our six little Bunkers can get into more adventures than any
other hundred children," she said earnestly. "To think of that coyote
being there with Rose for hours!"

"If he had not been in the trap he would have run away from her fast
enough," returned Daddy Bunker.

Just the same he, too, felt that the children would better not get far
out of their sight. They could play with the ponies about the house, for
the fields were mostly unfenced. And the ponies were certainly great
play-fellows. Laddie was sure that Pinky was a most intelligent horse.

"If we had known just how to talk to him," declared Laddie, "I am sure
he would have told us all about Rose and where he had left her that
day."

"Maybe he would," said Rose, though she spoke rather doubtfully. "But I
slipped right out of that saddle, and I am not going to ride him any
more. I would rather drive Brownie hitched to the cart."

"You mean Dinah, don't you?" asked Margy.

"I guess she means Cute," said Vi.

"Oh, no! Oh, no!" cried Mun Bun. "Let _me_ name that pony. I want to
call him Jerry. I want to call him after our Jerry Simms at home in
Pineville."

And this was finally agreed upon. All the Bunker children liked Jerry
Simms, who had been the very first person to tell them stories about the
army and about this great West that they had come to.

"I guess Jerry Simms would have known all about this moving picture the
soldiers and Mr. Black Bear's Indians are making," Russ remarked. "And
mayn't we all go and act in it, Daddy?"

Russ talked so much about this that finally Mrs. Bunker agreed to go
with the children to see the representation of the Indian attack on the
fort. The six little Bunkers looked forward to this exciting proposal
for several days, and when Mr. Habback sent word that the scene was
ready to "shoot," as he called it, the children could scarcely contain
themselves until the party started from the ranch house.

It was to be a grand picnic, for they took cooked food and a tent for
Mother Bunker and the children to sleep in. Russ and Laddie rode their
ponies, and all the rest of the party crowded into one of Cowboy Jack's
big blue automobiles when they set out for a distant part of the ranch.

"I know we'll have just a bully time," declared Russ Bunker. "It will be
the best adventure we've ever had."

But even Russ did not dream of all the exciting things that were to
happen on that picnic.



CHAPTER XXIII

MOVING PICTURE MAGIC


It was rather rough going for the big car, and the little Bunkers were
jounced about a good bit. Russ and Laddie trotted along on their ponies
quite contentedly, however, and did not complain of the pace. But Vi
began to ask questions, as usually was the case when she was disturbed
either in mind or body.

"Daddy, why do we jump up and down so when the car bumps?" she wanted to
know. "You and mother don't bounce the way Mun Bun and Margy and Rose
and I do. Why do we?"

"Because you are not as heavy as your mother and I. Therefore you cannot
resist the jar of the car so well."

"But why does the car bump at all? Our car at home doesn't bump--unless
we run into something. Why does this car of Mr. Cowboy Jack's bump?"

"The road is not smooth. That is why," said her father, trying to
satisfy that thirst for knowledge which sometimes made Violet a good
deal of a nuisance.

"Why isn't this road smooth?" promptly demanded the little girl.

"Jumping grasshoppers!" ejaculated the ranchman, greatly amused, "can't
that young one ask 'em, though?"

At once Vi's active attention was drawn to another subject.

"Mr. Cowboy Jack," she demanded, "why do grasshoppers jump?"

"Fine!" exclaimed Daddy Bunker. "You brought it on yourself, Jack.
Answer her if you can."

"That's an easy one," declared the much amused ranchman.

"Well, why do they jump?" asked the impatient Vi.

"I'll tell you," returned Cowboy Jack seriously. "They jump because
their legs are so long that, when they try to walk, they tumble over
their own feet. Do you see how that is?"

"No-o, I don't," said Vi slowly. "But if it is so, why don't they have
shorter legs?"

"Jump--Never mind!" ejaculated Cowboy Jack. "You got me that time. I
reckon I'll let your daddy do the answering. You fixed me, first off."

So Vi never did find out why grasshoppers had such long legs that they
had to jump instead of walk. It puzzled her a good deal. She asked
everybody in the car, and nobody seemed able to explain--not even Daddy
Bunker himself.

"Well," murmured Vi at last, "I never _did_ hear of such--such
iggerance. There doesn't seem to be anybody knows anything."

"I should think you'd know a few things yourself, Vi, so as not to be
always asking," criticized her twin.

Daddy Bunker was much amused by this. But the next moment the wheels on
one side of the car jumped high over a clod of hard earth, and daddy had
to grab quick at Mun Bun or he might have been jounced completely out of
the car.

"What are you trying to do, Mun Bun?" demanded daddy sharply.

"I'm flying my kite," answered the little fellow calmly. "But I 'most
lost it that time, Daddy."

Before getting into the automobile Mun Bun had found a large piece of
stiff brown paper and had tied a string of some length to it. Although
there was no framework to this "kite," the wind caused by the rapid
movement of the automobile helped to fly the piece of paper at the end
of the string.

"Look out you don't go overboard," advised Daddy Bunker.

"You hold on to me, Daddy--p'ease," said the smallest Bunker. "You see,
this kite pulls pretty hard."

Russ and Laddie were riding close behind the motor-car, but on the other
side of the trail. The minute after Mun Bun had made his request, a gust
of wind took the kite over to that side of the car and it almost blew
into the face and eyes of Russ Bunker's pony.

[Illustration: MUN BUNS' "KITE" FRIGHTENED THE PINTO.

_Six Little Bunkers at Cowboy Jack's._ (_Page 218_)]

The pinto was very well behaved; but this paper startled him. He shied
and wheeled suddenly to get away from the annoying kite. Instantly Russ
shot over the pony's head and came down asprawl on the ground!

As he flew out of the saddle Russ uttered a shout of alarm, and Pinky,
Laddie's mount, was likewise frightened. Pinky started ahead at a
gallop, and Laddie was dreadfully shaken up. He squealed as loud as he
could, but he managed to pull Pinky down to a stop very soon.

"Wha--what are you doing, Russ Bunker?" Laddie wanted to know. "Is that
the right way to get off a pony?"

Russ had not lost his grip of the bridle-reins, and he scrambled up and
held his snorting pony.

"You know I don't get off that way if I can help it," said Russ
indignantly.

"But you did," said Laddie.

"Well, I didn't mean to. My goodness! but my knee is scratched."

The automobile had stopped, and Mother Bunker called to Russ to ask if
he was much hurt.

"Not much, Mother," he replied. "But make Mun Bun fly his kite somewhere
else. My pony doesn't like it."

"Mun Bun," said Daddy Bunker seriously, "I think you will have to
postpone the flying of that kite until later."

"He'd better," chuckled Cowboy Jack, starting the car again. "First he
knows he'll scare me, and then maybe I'll run the car off the track."

Of course that was one of Cowboy Jack's jokes. He was always joking, it
seemed.

At last they came in sight of the place where the several big scenes of
the moving picture were going to be photographed. A river that the
little Bunkers had not before seen flowed here in a great curve which
Cowboy Jack spoke of as the Oxbow Bend. It was a grassy, gently sloping
field, with not a tree in sight save along the edge of the water.

Nevertheless, many trees had been brought here and a good-sized
stockade, or "fort," had been erected. The structure was in imitation of
those forts, or posts, of the United States Army that marked the advance
of the pioneers into this vast Western country a good deal more than
half a century ago.

Daddy Bunker had told the children something about the development of
this part of the United States the evening before, and Russ and Rose, at
least, had understood and remembered. But just now they were all more
interested in the people they found here at the Oxbow Bend and in what
they were doing.

In one place were several covered wagons and the traveling kitchen. Here
the white members of the moving picture company lived. At the other side
was the encampment of Black Bear and his people. The Indian camp had
been brought to this place from the spot where the little Bunkers had
first visited it.

Black Bear and Little Elk and the other Indians welcomed the little
Bunkers very kindly. And on this occasion the Eastern children became
acquainted with the little Indians who had come down from the Indian
reservation in Oklahoma with their parents to work for the moving
picture company.

Rose and Russ felt they knew these Indian boys and girls already. You
see, they had seen more of the Indians than the other Bunker children
had. They found that Indian boys and girls played a good deal like white
children. At least, the dark-faced little girls had dolls made of
corncobs and wood, with painted faces, and they wrapped them in tiny
blankets. One little girl showed Rose her "best" doll which she had
carefully hidden away in a tent. This doll was a rosy-cheeked beauty
that could open and shut her eyes, and must have cost a good deal of
money. She told Rose that Chief Black Bear had given the doll to her for
learning Sunday-school texts.

The boys took Russ and Laddie down to the edge of the river and sailed
several toy canoes that the men of the tribe had fashioned for them. The
canoes were just like big Indian canoes, with high prows and sterns and
painted with targets. Besides these toys the Indian boys had bows and
arrows that were modeled much better than the bows and arrows Russ and
Laddie owned, and could shoot much farther.

When Russ tried the Indians' bow and arrows he was surprised at the
distance he could drive the arrow and how accurately he sent it.

"I guess you boys know how to make 'em right," he told Joshua Little
Elk, one of the Indian lads and a son of the big Little Elk who had
helped find Rose when she was lost. "Laddie and I have only got boughten
bow-arrows, and the arrows don't fly very good."

"My papa made this bow for me," said Joshua, who was a very polite
little boy with jet-black hair. "And he scraped the arrows and found
the heads."

The heads were of flint, just such arrow-heads as the ancient Indians
used to make. But the modern Indians, if they used arrows at all in
hunting, have steel arrow-heads which they buy from the white traders.

These things and a lot more Russ and Laddie learned while they were with
the Indians. But there was not time for play all of the day. By and by
Mr. Habback, the moving picture director, shouted through his megaphone,
and everybody gathered at the stockade, or fort, and he explained what
was to be done. Some of the pictures were to be taken that day; but the
bigger fight would be made the day following.

However, the Bunker children were not altogether disappointed at this
time. There was a run made by one of the covered wagons for the fort,
and the little Bunkers, dressed in odds and ends of calico and
sunbonnets and old-time straw hats, sat in the back of the wagon and
screamed as they were told to while the six mules that drew the wagon
raced for the fort with the Indians chasing behind on horseback.

Mun Bun might have fallen out had not both Russ and Rose clung to him.
And the little fellow did not like it much after all.

"My hair wasn't parted, Muvver," he said afterward to Mother Bunker.
"And I didn't have my new blouse on--or my wed tie. I don't think that
will be a good picture of me. Not near so good as the one we had taken
before in the man's shop that takes reg'lar pictures."

But although Mun Bun did not care much for the picture making, the other
little Bunkers continued to be vastly amused and interested. They
watched Black Bear and the commander of the soldiers smoke the pipe of
peace in the Indian encampment. Mr. Habback allowed Russ to dress up
like a little Indian boy to appear with Joshua Little Elk in this
picture, because they were about the same size. They brought the
ornamented pipe to the chief after it had been filled by the old Indian
woman, Mary.

It was a very interesting affair, and if Mun Bun was bored by it, he
fell asleep anyway, so it did not matter. But the next day the big fight
was staged, and that was bound to be exciting enough to keep even Mun
Bun awake. The fight was about to start and the call was made for all
the children to gather inside the stockade.

The Bunkers were all to be there. But suddenly there was a great outcry
around the tent that had been set up for the use of Mother Bunker and
the six little Bunkers.

Mun Bun was not to be found. They sent the other children scurrying
everywhere--to the soldiers' camp, to the Indian encampment, and all
around. Nobody had seen Mun Bun for an hour. And in an hour, as you and
I know, a good deal can happen to a little Bunker!



CHAPTER XXIV

MUN BUN IN TROUBLE


"Why does he do it, Daddy?" asked Vi.

"Why does he do what?" returned her father, who was too excited and
anxious to wish to be bothered by Vi's questions.

"Mun Bun. Why does he?"

"Don't bother me now," said her father. "It is bad enough to have Mun
Bun disappear in this mysterious way----"

"But why does he disappear--and everything?" Vi wanted to know. "He's
the littlest of all of us Bunkers, but he makes the most trouble. Why
does he?"

"I'm sure," said Mother Bunker, who had overheard Vi, "you may be right.
But I can't answer your question and neither can daddy. Now, don't
bother us, Vi. If you can't find your little brother, let us look for
him."

The whole party at the Oxbow Bend was roused by this time, and men,
women and children were looking for the little lost boy. Some of the
cowboys who were working with the moving picture people scurried all
around the neighborhood on pony back; but they could see nothing of Mun
Bun.

Russ and Rose had searched everywhere they could think of. Mun Bun had
not been in their care at the time he was lost, and for that fact Russ
and Rose were very thankful. This only relieved them of personal
responsibility, however; the older brother and sister were very much
troubled about Mun Bun's absence.

The smallest Bunker really had succeeded in getting everybody at Oxbow
Bend very much stirred up. Even the usually stolid Indians went about
seeking the little white boy. And Mun Bun was nearer the Indians just
then than he was to anybody else!

The little fellow had gone wandering off after breakfast while almost
everybody else was down at the fort listening to Mr. Habback's final
instructions about the big scene that was to be shot. Mun Bun had
already expressed himself as disapproving of the picture. He knew he
would not look nice in it.

He came to the Indian encampment, and the only person about was an old
squaw who was doing something at the cooking fire. She gave Mun Bun no
attention, and he looked only once at her. She did not interest the
little boy at all.

But there was something here he was curious about. He had seen it
before, and he wanted to see in it--to learn what the Indians kept in
it. It was a big box, bigger than Mother Bunker's biggest trunk, and now
the lid was propped up.

Mun Bun did not ask the old woman if he could look in it. Maybe he did
not think to ask. At any rate, there was a pile of blankets beside the
box and he climbed upon them and then stood up and looked down into the
big box.

It was half filled with a multitude of things--beaded clothing, gaily
colored blankets, feather headdresses, and other articles of Indian
apparel. And although there was so much packed in the box, there was
still plenty of room.

"It would make a nice cubby-house to play in," thought Mun Bun. "I
wonder what that is."

"That" was something that glittered down in one corner. Mun Bun stooped
over the edge of the box and tried to reach the glittering object. At
first he did not succeed; then he reached farther--and he got it! But in
doing this he slipped right over the edge of the box and dived headfirst
into it.

Mun Bun cried out; but that cry was involuntary. Then he remembered that
he was where he had no business to be, and he kept very still. He even
lost interest in the thing he had tried to reach and which had caused
his downfall.

Of a sudden he heard talking outside. It was talking that Mun Bun could
not understand. He was always alarmed when he heard the Indians speaking
their own tongue, for he did not know what they said. So Mun Bun kept
very still, crouching down there in the box. He would not try to get out
until these people he heard went away.

Just then, and before Mun Bun could change his mind if he wanted to,
somebody came along and slammed down the lid of that box!

Poor little Mun Bun was much frightened then. At first he did not cry
out or try to make himself heard. But he heard the person outside lock
the box and then go away. After that he heard nothing at all for a long
time.

Perhaps Mun Bun sobbed himself to sleep. At least, it seemed to him when
he next aroused that he had been in the box a long, long time. He knew
he was hungry, and being hungry is not at all a pleasant experience.

Meanwhile the search for the smallest Bunker was carried on all about
the Oxbow Bend. In the brush and along the river's edge where the
cottonwoods stood, and in every little coulee, or hollow, back of the
camps.

"I don't see," complained Rose, "why we Bunkers have to be losing things
all the time. There was my wrist-watch and Laddie's pin. Next came Vi
and Laddie. Then Mun Bun was lost in the tumble-weed. Then I got lost
myself. Now it's Mun Bun again. Somehow, Russ, it does seem as though we
must be awful careless."

"You speak for yourself, Rose Bunker!" returned her brother quite
sharply. "I know _I_ wasn't careless about Mun Bun. I didn't even know
he needed watching--not when daddy and mother were around."

Nobody seemed more disturbed over Mun Bun's disappearance than Cowboy
Jack. The ranchman had set everybody about the place to work hunting for
the little boy, and privately he had begun to offer a reward for the
discovery of the lost one.

To Cowboy Jack came one of the older Indian men. He was not a modern,
up-to-date Indian, like Chief Black Bear. He still tied his hair in a
scalp-lock, and if he was not actually a "blanket Indian" (that is, one
of the old kind that wore blankets instead of regular shirts and
jackets), this Indian was one that had not been to school. Russ and Rose
were standing with Cowboy Jack when the old Indian came to the ranchman.

"Wuh! Heap trouble in camp," said the old Indian in his deep voice.

"And there's going to be more trouble if we don't find that little
fellow pretty soon," declared the ranchman vigorously.

"Bad spirits here. Bad medicine," grunted the old Indian.

"What's that? You mean to say one of those bootleggers that sell you
reds bad whisky is around?"

"No. No firewater. Heap worse," said the Indian.

"Can't be anything worse than whisky," declared Cowboy Jack
emphatically.

"Bad spirits," said the Indian stubbornly. "In box. Make knocking. White
chief come see--come hear."

He called Cowboy Jack a "chief" because the white man owned the big
ranch. Rose and Russ listened very earnestly to what the Indian said,
and they urged Cowboy Jack to go to the Indian encampment and see what
it meant.

"What's a spirit, Russ?" asked his sister.

"Alcohol," declared Russ, proud of his knowledge. "But I don't see how
alcohol could knock on a box. It's a liquid--like water, you know."

They trotted after Cowboy Jack and the old Indian and came to the big
box that had been locked in preparation for shipping back to the
reservation when the Indians got through their job here with the picture
company. It looked to be a perfectly innocent box, and at first the
children and Cowboy Jack heard nothing remarkable from within it.

"I reckon you were hearing things in your mind, old fellow," said the
ranchman to the Indian.

The latter grunted suddenly and pointed to the box. There was a sound
that seemed to come from inside. Something made a rat, tat, tat on the
cover of the box.

"Goodness me!" murmured Rose, quite startled.

"That's a real knocking," admitted Russ.

Cowboy Jack sprang forward and tried to open the box.

"Hey!" he exclaimed. "It's locked. Where's the key? When did you lock
this box?"

"Black Bear--him lock it. Got key," said the old Indian, keeping well
away from the box.

"You go and get that key in a hurry. Somebody is in that box, sure as
you live!" cried the ranchman.

"I know! I know!" shouted Russ excitedly. "It's Mun Bun! They have
locked him in that box!"

"Oh, poor little Mun Bun!" wailed Rose. "Do--do you suppose the Indians
were trying to steal him?"

"Of course not," returned Russ disdainfully. "Mr. Black Bear wouldn't
steal anybody. He just didn't know Mun Bun was in there. I guess Mun Bun
crawled in by himself."

Then he went close to the big box and shouted Mun Bun's name, and they
all heard the little boy reply--but his voice came to them very faintly.

"We'd better get him out in a hurry," said Cowboy Jack anxiously. "The
little fellow might easily smother inside that box."



CHAPTER XXV

SOMETHING THAT WAS NOT EXPECTED


There was great excitement at the Indian camp during the next few
minutes. Everybody came running to the spot when they heard that Mun Bun
was found but could not be got at. Everybody but Chief Black Bear. He
had gone off to a place at some distance from the camp, and a man on
pony-back had to go to get him, for Black Bear had the key of the big
box.

Daddy Bunker and mother came with the other Bunker children, and Vi
began to ask questions as usual. But nobody paid much attention to her
questions. Laddie said he thought he could make up a riddle about Mun
Bun in the box, but before he managed to do this the chief arrived with
the key.

When the lid of the box was lifted the first person Mun Bun saw was
Daddy Bunker, and he put up his arms to him and cried:

"Daddy! Daddy! Mun Bun don't want to stay in this place. Mun Bun wants
to go home."

"And I must say," said Mother Bunker, who had been much worried, "that
home will be the very best place in the world after this. I will not let
Mun Bun out of my reach again. How does he manage to get into so much
trouble?"

"Why, Muvver!" sobbed the littlest Bunker, "I just tumble in. I tumbled
into this box and then they locked me in."

"How does he tumble into trouble?" demanded Vi, staring at Mun Bun.

"I _know_ there is a riddle about it," said Laddie thoughtfully. "Only I
can't just make it out yet."

They were all very glad that Mun Bun was not hurt. But it did seem that
he would have to be watched very closely or he might disappear again.

"He's just like a drop of quicksilver," said Cowboy Jack. "When you try
to put your finger on him, he isn't there."

Just then the great horn blew to call everybody to the fort, for Mr.
Habback was ready for the big scene of the picture. The little
Bunkers--at least, all but Mun Bun--were eager to respond, for they
wanted to be in the picture. Mother, however, kept the little boy with
her, and they only watched the picture when it was made. That satisfied
Mun Bun just as well, for he did not believe that he looked nice enough
to go to a photographer just then.

"I guess I'll have my picture taken when I get back to Pineville,
Muvver," he said. "I'll like it better."

But the rest of the party would never forget that exciting day. The
Indians led by Black Bear attacked the fort, and there was much shooting
and shouting and riding back and forth. The shooting was with blank
cartridges, of course, so that nobody was hurt.

But even the ponies seemed to be excited, and Russ told Rose he was
quite sure Pinky and his pinto, who were both in the picture, enjoyed
the play just as much as anybody!

"Only, they will never see the picture when it is on the screen. And
daddy says we will, if nothing happens. When the picture comes to
Pineville we can take all the children we know at school and show 'em
how we worked for the picture company and helped make 'A Romance of the
Santa Fé Trail!'"

This, later, they did. But, of course, you will have to read about that
in another story about the Six Little Bunkers.

Mr. Habback thanked the Bunkers when the work was done, and in the
middle of the afternoon Cowboy Jack took them all back to the ranch
house again in his big blue car, one of his cowboys leading in Pinky and
the pinto pony later.

On the way to the ranch Russ and Rose heard daddy tell mother that he
had managed to fix up Mr. Golden's business for him and that it would
soon be time to start East.

"I don't care--much," Rose said, when she heard this. "We have had a
very exciting time, Russ. And I guess I want to go to school again. They
must have coal in Pineville. I should think they would have some by
now."

"I hate to lose my pinto pony," said Russ.

"Can't we take him and Pinky with us?" Laddie asked. "I do wish we
could."

"Can't do that," said daddy seriously. "We have enough pets now for
Jerry Simms to look after."

"I tell you what," said Cowboy Jack heartily. "I'll take good care of
the ponies, little folks, so that when you come out to see me again they
will be all ready for you to use."

"And Jerry, too?" cried Mun Bun. "I like that pony. He doesn't run so
fast."

"And Jerry, too," agreed the ranchman.

So the little Bunkers were contented with this promise.

When they got to the ranch house everybody there seemed very glad to see
them, and Maria, the Mexican cook, had a very nice supper ready for the
six little Bunkers. She seemed to know that she would not cook for the
visitors much longer, and she tried to please them particularly with
this meal. There were waffles again, and all the little Bunkers were
fond of those delectable dainties. Only Mother Bunker would not always
let them eat as many as they wanted to.

But there was something at the ranch besides supper that evening that
interested the children very much. There was some more mail from the
East, and among it a little package that had been registered and sent to
Mother Bunker by Captain Ben from Grand View.

"I guess he has sent Mother Bunker a nice present," declared Rose
eagerly. "Captain Ben likes mother."

"Don't we all like her?" demanded Vi. "I like her very much. Can't I
give her a present too?"

"You are always picking flowers and finding pretty things for me," said
Mrs. Bunker kindly. "I appreciate them just as much as any present
Captain Ben could give me."

"But what is it, Mother?" asked Rose, quite as excited as Vi and the
others.

"We shall have to open it and see," her mother said.

But she would not open the little package until after supper. Perhaps
that is why the little Bunkers were willing to eat fewer of Maria's nice
waffles. They were all eager to see what was in the package. Even daddy
claimed to be curious.

So, when the lamps were lit in the big living room and everybody was
more than ready, as Russ complained, Mother Bunker began to untie the
string which fastened the package from Captain Ben.

"I guess it is a diamond necklace," declared Rose earnestly.

"Oh, maybe it is a pretty pearl brooch," said Russ.

"What do you suppose it is, Daddy?" asked Mother Bunker, busy with the
string and seals and smiling at Mr. Bunker knowingly.

"It isn't a white elephant, I am sure," chuckled Daddy Bunker.

"Oh! Now he is making fun," cried Rose. "It is something pretty, of
course, for mother."

"I know! I know!" cried Laddie suddenly. "I know what it is."

"If you know so much," returned his twin "tell us."

"It's a riddle," declared Laddie.

"I guess it must be," laughed his mother. "'Riddle-me-ree! What do I
see?'" and she opened the outside wrapper and displayed a little box
with a letter wrapped about it.

"From Captain Ben to be sure," she said, unfolding the letter and
beginning to read it.

"And it is a riddle!" repeated Laddie with conviction.

Mother Bunker began to laugh. She nodded and smiled at them.

"It certainly is a riddle," she said. "It is almost as good a riddle as
that one Laddie told about the splinter."

"I know! I know!" cried the little boy. "'I went out to the woodpile and
got it.' I remember that one. But--but that isn't a splinter he has sent
you, is it, Mother?"

"It is something that Captain Ben looked for and could not find. But all
the time he had it. What is it?"

The little Bunkers stared at each other. Laddie murmured:

"That is a riddle! What can it be?"

Suddenly Rose uttered a little squeal and clasped her hands.

"Oh, Mother!" she cried. "Is it--is it my _watch_?"

At that Laddie began fairly to dance up and down. He was so excited he
could scarcely speak.

"Is it my pin?" he wanted to know. "My stick-pin that I left at Grand
View, Mother? Is it?"

There certainly was great excitement in the room until Mother Bunker
opened the box. And there lay in cotton-wool the missing watch and
stick-pin. Captain Ben had hunted a second time for the lost treasures
the little Bunkers had so carelessly left behind, and had found the
watch and pin.

Rose and Laddie were so delighted that they could only laugh and dance
about for a few minutes. But Vi was rather disappointed that it was not,
after all, a present for Mother Bunker.

It was quite late before the little Bunkers could get settled in their
beds that night. That is, all but Mun Bun. He fell asleep in Mother
Bunker's lap and did not know much about what went on.

Rose and Laddie promised not to lose their treasures again. And, of
course, they had not meant to leave the watch and pin behind at Grand
View. But daddy told them that thoughtlessness always bred trouble and
disappointment.

"Like Mun Bun getting into the Indian's trunk," said Vi seriously. "He
made us a lot of trouble to-day."

Mun Bun made them no more trouble while they remained on the ranch, for
Mother Bunker and Rose were especially careful in watching him. The
little boy did not mean to get lost; but Cowboy Jack laughingly said
that Mun Bun seemed to have that habit.

"Some day you folks are going to mislay that boy and won't find him so
easily. I tell you, he is a regular drop of quicksilver."

But after that, although the six little Bunkers had plenty of fun at
Cowboy Jack's, they had no dangerous adventure. They rode and drove the
ponies, and played with the dogs, and watched the cowboys herd the
cattle and some of the men train horses to saddle-work that had never
been ridden before and did not seem to like the idea at all of carrying
people on their backs.

"It is lucky Pinky and your calico pony don't mind carrying us," Laddie
remarked on one occasion to Russ. "I guess if they pitched like those
big horses do, they would throw us right over their heads on to the
ground."

"Well, my pinto threw me once," said Russ rather proudly. "But it only
shook me up a little. And, of course, accidents are apt to happen
anywhere and to anybody."

But Laddie did not think he would care to be thrown over Pinky's head.
Rose had told him it was not a nice experience at all!

In a few days the Bunkers packed their trunks and bags and the big blue
automobiles came around to the door, and they bade everybody at Cowboy
Jack's ranch good-bye. They had had a lovely time--all of them.

"And I've had the best time of all having you here," declared the
ranchman. "I hate to have you little Bunkers go. I don't see, Charlie,
why you can't spare two or three of them and let 'em stay with me."

"I guess not!" exclaimed Daddy Bunker. "We have just enough children. We
couldn't really stand another one, but we can't spare one of these we
have. Could we, Mother?"

Mother Bunker quite agreed. She "counted noses" when the six little
Bunkers were packed into the cars with the baggage. You see, after all,
it was quite a task to keep account of so many children at one time. And
especially if they chanced to be as lively as were the six little
Bunkers, who never remained--any of them--in one spot for long at a
time. That made them particularly hard to count.

Russ and Rose and Laddie and Violet and Margy and Mun Bun all told
Cowboy Jack that they had had a good time, and they hoped to see him
again. If they do ever go to Cowboy Jack's ranch again I hope I shall
know about it. And if I do, I will surely tell you all that happens to
the Six Little Bunkers.


THE END



SIX LITTLE BUNKERS SERIES

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of The Bobbsey Twins Books, The Bunny Brown Series, The
Make-Believe Series, Etc.

       *       *       *       *       *

=Durably Bound. Illustrated. Uniform Style of Binding.=

=Every Volume Complete in Itself.=

       *       *       *       *       *

          Delightful stories for little boys and girls which
          sprung into immediate popularity. To know the six
          little Bunkers is to take them at once to your
          heart, they are so intensely human, so full of fun
          and cute sayings. Each story has a little plot of
          its own--one that can be easily followed--and all
          are written in Miss Hope's most entertaining
          manner. Clean, wholesome volumes which ought to be
          on the bookshelf of every child in the land.

          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
          SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT CAPTAIN BEN'S
          SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT COWBOY JACK'S
          SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT MAMMY JUNE'S
          SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT FARMER JOEL'S
          SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT MILLER NED'S

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE BOBBSEY TWINS BOOKS

For Little Men and Women

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of "The Bunny Brown Series," Etc.

       *       *       *       *       *

=Durably Bound. Illustrated. Uniform Style of Binding.=

=Every Volume Complete in Itself.=

       *       *       *       *       *

          These books for boys and girls between the ages of
          three and ten stand among children and their
          parents of this generation where the books of
          Louisa May Alcott stood in former days. The haps
          and mishaps of this inimitable pair of twins,
          their many adventures and experiences are a source
          of keen delight to imaginative children
          everywhere.

          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 BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE GREAT WEST
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT CEDAR CAMP
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE COUNTY FAIR
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS CAMPING OUT
          THE BOBBSEY TWINS AND BABY MAY

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK.



THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of the Popular "Bobbsey Twins" Books, Etc.

       *       *       *       *       *

=Durably Bound. Illustrated. Uniform Style of Binding.=

=Every Volume Complete in Itself.=

       *       *       *       *       *

          These stories by the author of the "Bobbsey Twins"
          Books are eagerly welcomed by the little folks
          from about five to ten years of age. Their eyes
          fairly dance with delight at the lively doings of
          inquisitive little Bunny Brown and his cunning,
          trustful sister Sue.

          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 CAMP REST-A-WHILE
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT AUNT LU'S CITY HOME
          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
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE GIVING A SHOW
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CHRISTMAS TREE COVE
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE SUNNY SOUTH
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE KEEPING STORE
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AND THEIR TRICK DOG
          BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT A SUGAR CAMP

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE HONEY BUNCH BOOKS

By HELEN LOUISE THORNDYKE

       *       *       *       *       *

=Individual Colored Wrappers and Text Illustrations Drawn by=

=WALTER S. ROGERS=

       *       *       *       *       *

A new line of fascinating tales for little girls. Honey Bunch is a
dainty, thoughtful little girl, and to know her is to take her to your
heart at once.


HONEY BUNCH: JUST A LITTLE GIRL

          Happy days at home, helping mamma and the
          washerlady. And Honey Bunch helped the house
          painters too--or thought she did.


HONEY BUNCH: HER FIRST VISIT TO THE CITY

          What wonderful sights Honey Bunch saw when she
          went to visit her cousins in New York! And she got
          lost in a big hotel and wandered into a men's
          convention!


HONEY BUNCH: HER FIRST DAYS ON THE FARM

          Can you remember how the farm looked the first
          time you visited it? How big the cows and horses
          were, and what a roomy place to play in the barn
          proved to be?


HONEY BUNCH: HER FIRST VISIT TO THE SEASHORE

          Honey Bunch soon got used to the big waves and
          thought playing in the sand great fun. And she
          visited a merry-go-round, and took part in a
          sea-side pageant.


HONEY BUNCH: HER FIRST LITTLE GARDEN

          It was great sport to dig and to plant with one's
          own little garden tools. But best of all was when
          Honey Bunch won a prize at the flower show.


HONEY BUNCH: HER FIRST DAYS IN CAMP

          It was a great adventure for Honey Bunch when she
          journeyed to Camp Snapdragon. It was wonderful to
          watch the men erect the tent, and more wonderful
          to live in it and have good times on the shore and
          in the water.

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE FLYAWAYS STORIES

By ALICE DALE HARDY

Author of The Riddle Club Books

       *       *       *       *       *

=Individual Colored Jackets and Colored Illustrations by=

=WALTER S. ROGERS=

       *       *       *       *       *

A splendid new line of interesting tales for the little ones,
introducing many of the well known characters of fairyland in a series
of novel adventures. The Flyaways are a happy family and every little
girl and boy will want to know all about them.


THE FLYAWAYS AND CINDERELLA

          How the Flyaways went to visit Cinderella only to
          find that Cinderella's Prince had been carried off
          by the Three Robbers, Rumbo, Hibo and Jobo. "I'll
          rescue him!" cried Pa Flyaway and then set out for
          the stronghold of the robbers. A splendid
          continuation of the original story of Cinderella.


THE FLYAWAYS AND LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD

          On their way to visit Little Red Riding Hood the
          Flyaways fell in with Tommy Tucker and The Old
          Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. They told Tommy about
          the Magic Button on Red Riding Hood's cloak. How
          the wicked Wolf stole the Magic Button and how the
          wolves plotted to eat up Little Red Riding Hood
          and all her family, and how the Flyaways and King
          Cole sent the wolves flying, makes a story no
          children will want to miss.


THE FLYAWAYS AND GOLDILOCKS

          The Flyaways wanted to see not only Goldilocks but
          also the Three Bears and they took a remarkable
          journey through the air to do so. Tommy even rode
          on a Rocket and met the monstrous Blue Frog. When
          they arrived at Goldilocks' house they found that
          the Three Bears had been there before them and
          mussed everything up, much to Goldilocks' despair.
          "We must drive those bears out of the country!"
          said Pa Flyaway. Then they journeyed underground
          to the Yellow Palace, and oh! so many things
          happened after that!

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE BLYTHE GIRLS BOOKS

By LAURA LEE HOPE

       *       *       *       *       *

=Individual Colored Wrappers and Text Illustrations by=

=THELMA GOOCH=

=Every Volume Complete in Itself=

       *       *       *       *       *

The Blythe girls, three in number, were left alone in New York City.
Helen, who went in for art and music, kept the little flat uptown, while
Margy just out of a business school, obtained a position as a private
secretary and Rose, plain-spoken and businesslike, took what she called
a "job" in a department store.


          THE BLYTHE GIRLS: HELEN, MARGY AND ROSE;
          Or, Facing the Great World.

A fascinating tale of real happenings in the great metropolis.


          THE BLYTHE GIRLS: MARGY'S QUEER INHERITANCE;
          Or, The Worth of a Name.

The girls had a peculiar old aunt and when she died she left an unusual
inheritance. This tale continues the struggles of all the girls for
existence.


          THE BLYTHE GIRLS; ROSE'S GREAT PROBLEM;
          Or, Face to Face With a Crisis.

Rose still at work in the big department store, is one day faced with
the greatest problem of her life. A tale of mystery as well as exciting
girlish happenings.


          THE BLYTHE GIRLS: HELEN'S STRANGE BOARDER;
          Or, The Girl From Bronx Park.

Helen, out sketching, goes to the assistance of a strange girl, whose
real identity is a puzzle to all the Blythe girls. Who the girl really
was comes as a tremendous surprise.


          THE BLYTHE GIRLS: THREE ON A VACATION;
          Or, The Mystery at Peach Farm.

The girls close their flat and go to the country for two weeks--and fall
in with all sorts of curious and exciting happenings. How they came to
the assistance of Joe Morris, and solved a queer mystery, is well
related.

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Table of Contents, page 172 changed to page 177 to reflect text.

Page 66, "althought" changed to "although". (although at first)

Page 96, "nonplused" changed to "nonplussed". (was nonplussed by)

Page 127, "is" changed to "it". (Is it a good)

Page 134, "once" changed to "one". (At one place)

Bobbsey Twins advertisement, "stands" changed to "stand". (stand among
children)

Flyaways and Goldilocks advertisement, "Goldilock's" changed to
"Goldilocks'" twice.

One instance each of Castrada and Castrado was retained.





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