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   Chapter 4 A MIX-UP

Six Little Bunkers at Cousin Tom's By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 7557

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03

"That isn't lightning," said Russ, who had come to the window of the stateroom to stand beside his brother and look out.

"'Tis, too!" insisted Laddie, as another flash came. "It's lightning, and maybe it'll set our boat on fire, and then we can't go to Cousin Tom's an' dig for gold! So there!"

Mr. Bunker, who was opening a valise in one corner of the room, getting out the boys' pajamas for the night, had not seen the light shining in the window, but had seen the glare of it on the wall.

"'Tisn't lightning at all!" declared Russ again.

"How do you know it isn't?" asked Laddie.

"'Cause lightning flashes are a different color," said Russ. "And, besides, they don't stay still so long. Look, Daddy, this one is peeping right in our window like a light from Aunt Jo's automobile!"

Mr. Bunker turned in time to see the bright flash of light come in through the window, and then it seemed to stay in the room, making it much brighter than the light from the electric lamps on the wall.

"Of course that isn't lightning!" said Mr. Bunker. "That's a search-light from some ship. Come on out on deck, boys, and we'll see it."

The bright glare was still in the room, but it did not flare up as lightning would have done, and there were no loud claps of thunder.

"Well, if it isn't a storm I'll come out on deck and look," Laddie said. "But if it rains I'm coming in!"

"It won't," said Daddy Bunker with a laugh. "We'll go out for a few minutes, and then we'll come in and go to bed. To-morrow we'll be at Cousin Tom's."

Out on the deck of the big Fall River boat they went, and, surely enough, the light did come from the search-lantern of a big ship not far away. It was a United States warship, the boys' father told them, and it was probably kept near Newport, where there is a station at which young sailors are trained. The warship flashed the light all about the water, lighting up other boats.

"I thought it was lightning," said Laddie.

"It is a kind of lightning," said Daddy Bunker. "For the light is made by electricity, and lightning and electricity are the same thing, though no one has yet been able to use lightning to read by."

Mrs. Bunker, who had left Rose in charge of Margy and Mun Bun, came out on deck with Violet, and met her husband and the two boys. She was told about Laddie's thinking the light was from a storm, and laughed with him over it.

"I'm going to make up a riddle about the search-light to-morrow," said the little fellow eagerly.

They stayed out on deck a while longer, while the boat steamed ahead, watching the various lights on shore and on other vessels, and occasionally seeing the glare of the search-beam from the warship. Then, as it was getting late and the children were tired, Mother Bunker said they had better go to their beds.

This they did, and they slept soundly all night.

The morning was bright and fair, and the day promised to be a fine one for the rest of the trip to Cousin Tom's. As I have mentioned, they were to take a boat from New York City to Atlantic Highlands, and from there a train would take them down the New Jersey coast to Seaview, and to Mr. Thomas Bunker's house on the beach.

"Are we going to have breakfast on the boat?" asked Russ, as he helped his father gather up the baggage, whistling meanwhile a merry tune.

"No, I think we will go to a restaurant on shore," said Mr. Bunker. "I want to telegraph to Cousin Tom, and let him know we are coming, and I think we shall all enjoy a meal on shore more than on the boat after it has tied up at the dock."

So on shore they all went, and Daddy Bunker, after leaving the hand baggage at the dock where they were to take the Atlantic Highlands boat later in the day, took them to a restaurant.

"Shall we have good things to eat?" asked Violet, as she walked along by her mother's side.

"Of course, my dear," was the answer. "That is what restaurants are for."

"Will they have as good things as we had at Aunt Jo's?"

"Well, yes, I think so."

"Will they have strawberry shortcake?"

"You don't want that for breakfast!" laughed Daddy Bunker, turning around, for he was walking ahead with Russ.

"I like strawberry shortcake," went on Violet. "It's good and mother said they had good things in a rest'ant. I want strawberry shortcake."

"Well, you shall have some if we can get it," promised Mother Bunker, for Violet was talking quite loudly, and several persons on the street, hearing her, looked down at the little girl and smiled.

"All right," said Vi. "I'm glad I'm going to get strawberry shortcake in the rest'ant. What makes 'em call it a rest'ant, Daddy? Does an ant rest there? And why doesn't Aunt Jo come to one an' rest?"

"I'll tell you about it when we get there," said her father.

The restaurant was not far from where they were to take the boat for Atlantic Highlands, and, though it was rather early in the morning, quite a number of persons were at breakfast.

There was a smell of many things being cooked, and the rattle of dishes, and of knives, forks and spoons made such a clatter that it sounded as though every one was in a great hurry.

"Are all these people going down to the seashore like us?" asked Violet, who seemed to have many questions to ask that day.

"Oh, no," answered her father. "They are just hungry, and they want their breakfast. Perhaps some of them have been traveling all night, as we were. But come, we must find a table large enough for all of us. I don't believe they often have a whole family, the size of ours, at breakfast here."

A waiter, who had seen the Bunkers come in, motioned them to follow him, and he led them to a quiet corner where there was a table with just eight chairs about it.

"Ho! I guess this was made specially for us," said Russ with a laugh, as he slid into his seat.

"Yes, it just seems to fit," agreed Mr. Bunker. "Now, Mother," and he looked over at his wife, "you order for some of the children, and I'll order for the others. In that way we'll be through sooner."

"Have they got any strawberry shortcake?" asked Vi. "I want some."

"I don't see it down on the bill of fare for breakfast," replied her father, "but I'll ask the waiter."

One of the men, of whom there were many hurrying to and fro with big trays heaped high with dishes of food, came over to the Bunkers' table.

"No, the strawberry shortcake isn't ready until lunch," he said. "But you can have hot waffles and maple syrup."

"Oh, I like them!" and Violet clapped her hands. "I like them better than strawberry shortcake."

"Then you may bring some," said Mr. Bunker. It took a little time to get just what each child wanted, and sometimes, after the order was given, one or the other of the youngsters would change. But finally the waiter had gone back to the kitchen, to get the different things for the six little Bunkers and their father and mother.

"And now we can sit back and draw our breaths," said Mrs. Bunker. "My, I never saw such a hungry lot of children! Now sit still, all of you, until I 'count noses.' I want to see if you're really all here."

She began at Russ, and went to Rose, to Violet, to Laddie, and to Margy, and then Mrs. Bunker suddenly cried:

"Why, you're not Mun Bun! Where is Mun Bun? You are not my little boy!"

And, surely enough, there was a mix-up. For in the seat where Mun Bun had been sitting was a strange little boy. He was about as big as Mun Bun, but he was not one of the six little Bunkers.

Where was Mun Bun?

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