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   Chapter 5 MARGY'S CRAWL

Six Little Bunkers at Cousin Tom's By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 9398

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03


Mother Bunker looked at the strange little boy. And the strange little boy looked at Mother Bunker.

"Where did you come from?" asked Mr. Bunker.

"Over there, and I'm hungry!" said the little fellow. "I'm terrible hungry, 'cause I didn't have no breakfast yet. Has you got any breakfast?" and he looked at each plate in turn, for the waiter had put plates in front of each of the Bunkers. "No, you hasn't anything to eat, either. I guess I'll go back," and he started to slip down from his chair. He was sitting between Violet and Margy.

"Wait a minute, my little man," said Daddy Bunker with a smile. "Don't run away so fast. You might get lost. Who are you and where do you live?"

"I live away far off," answered the strange boy. "My name is Tommie, and I come in a ship and I'm going out West, and I'm hungry!"

"Oh, maybe he's lost!" exclaimed Russ.

"I'm sure Mun Bun is!" said Mrs. Bunker. "Oh, where can he be? He was in his chair a minute ago, and then I looked to see what else I wanted to order to eat, but when I looked up there was this strange boy, and Mun Bun was gone. Oh, I hope he hasn't gone into the street!" and she looked toward the door of the restaurant.

Mun Bun was not in sight, and Mr. Bunker got up from his chair to make a search. The strange boy who had said his name was Tommie, looked about hungrily.

Just as Mrs. Bunker was going to call a waiter, and ask about Mun Bun, there came a cry from another table at the far end of the restaurant. It was the voice of a woman, and she said:

"Oh, that isn't Tommie! Where is he? Where is Tommie?"

"I guess that explains the mystery," said Mr. Bunker with a smile. "The two boys are mixed up. We have Tommie-whatever his other name is-at our table, and Mun Bun must have gone down there," and he pointed to the table where the woman had called for Tommie. There were five children at this table, waiting for breakfast as the six little Bunkers were waiting, and one of them was Mun Bun, as his mother could see. She ran down the long room.

"Oh, Mun Bun!" cried Mrs. Bunker. "What made you go away? Why did you come over here?" And she hurried to his chair and took him in her arms.

At the same time the boy who had called himself Tommie, slipped out of his chair and hurried with Mrs. Bunker back to the table where the woman who had called him sat.

"Now I guess the mix-up is straightened out," said Daddy Bunker with a laugh. "Mun Bun slipped away, when we were not looking, and went to the wrong table. At the same time a little boy from that table came to ours. They just traded places."

"Like puss-in-the-corner," said Rose, who had followed her mother and father to the other end of the room.

"That's it," agreed Daddy Bunker. "I'm sorry you were frightened about your little boy," he went on to Tommie's mother. "We didn't know we had him."

"And I didn't know I had yours," she said with a smile. "I have five children, all girls but this one, and when I didn't see Tommie in his place, but saw, instead, this strange little chap, I didn't know what had happened."

"That's just the way I felt," said Mrs. Bunker. "I have six, and when we travel it keeps me and their father busy looking after them."

"My husband isn't with me now," said the woman, who gave her name as Mrs. Wilson. "But I expect to meet him at the station. We are going to Asbury Park for the rest of the summer."

"We are going to Seaview," said Mrs. Bunker. "Perhaps we may meet you at the shore."

"I hope so," said Mrs. Wilson, as Tommie slipped into the seat out of which Mun Bun slid. "Now here comes your breakfast, children."

"Yes, and the waiter is bringing ours," said Mr. Bunker with a look over toward his own table. "Come, Mother, and Mun Bun. You, too, Rose."

They said good-bye to Mrs. Wilson, and soon the six little Bunkers at one table were eating waffles and maple syrup, and at the other table the five little Wilsons were enjoying their meal.

"What made you go away, Mun Bun?" asked his mother, as she buttered another waffle for him.

"I wanted to see if they had any shortcake down there," he explained. "I wanted some like Vi did, and I went to another table to see. But there wasn't have any," he added, getting rather mixed up in his talk. "And when I wanted to come back I didn't know the way and I sat down and you weren't there, Mother, and I was afraid and--"

"But you're all right now," said Mrs. Bunker, as she saw Mun Bun's chin begin to quiver as it always did just before he cried. "You're all right now, and not lost any more. Finish your waffle, and we'll soon be ready to go on the boat to Cousin Tom's."

The children were eating heartily, fo

r they were hungry after their night trip from Fall River. Laddie, who had had several helpings of waffles, at last seemed satisfied. He leaned back in his chair and said:

"I know another riddle. When is Mun Bun not Mun Bun?"

"He's always Mun Bun, 'ceptin' when Mother calls him Munroe Ford Bunker, when he's got himself all dirt," said Vi. "I don't call that a riddle."

"It is a riddle," insisted Laddie. "When is Mun Bun not Mun Bun?"

"Is it when he's asleep?" asked Russ, taking a guess just to please his small brother.

"Nope! That isn't it," went on the small boy. "It's awful hard, and you'd never guess it, so I'll tell you. Mun Bun isn't Mun Bun when he's Tommie Wilson. Isn't that a good riddle?" he asked. "Mun Bun isn't Mun Bun when he's Tommie Wilson."

"Yes, that is pretty good," said Mr. Bunker. "But now we had better hurry, or we may be late for the Atlantic Highlands boat. Are you all through?"

They were; all but Mun Bun, who saw a little pool of maple syrup on his plate, and wanted to get that up with a spoon before he left the table. Then once more the six little Bunkers were on their way.

The Atlantic Highlands boat left from a pier near one of the New Jersey Central Railroad ferry slips on West street in New York City, and it was quite a long walk from the shore end of the pier to the end that was out in the Hudson River. It was at the river end that the boat stopped, coming down from a pier farther up the stream.

"Now are we all here?" asked Mother Bunker, as she and her husband started down West street. "I don't want Mun Bun to change into some one else after we get started on the boat, for then it will be too late to change him back. Are we all here?"

They were, it seemed, and down West street they hurried. The way was lined with out-door stands, where it seemed that nearly everything from bananas and oranges to pocketbooks and shoes, were sold. West street is along the river front, where many boats land, and there are sailors, and other persons, who have no time to go shopping for things up town, or farther inland in the city of New York. So the stands on West street are very useful. You can buy things to eat, as well as things to wear, without going into a store. A big shed over the top keeps off the rain.

As the Bunker family hastened on, Margy, who had been walking with Rose, let go of her sister's hand and cried:

"Oh, look at the little kittie! I want to rub the little kittie!"

A small cat had crawled out from under one stand and was walking along the street. Margy saw it, and, being very fond of animals, she wanted to pet it.

But the cat, young as it was, seemed to be afraid. As Margy ran from Rose's side and trotted after the furry animal, it gave a sudden scamper under another stand.

But Margy had chased kittens before, and she knew that once they got under something they generally stayed near the front edge, hoping they would not be seen. By stooping down, and reaching, she had often pulled her own kitten out from under her mother's dresser.

"I can get you! I can get you!" laughed the little girl.

Paying no attention to her clean, white stockings, which her mother had put on her only that morning, Margy knelt down on the sidewalk, and stretched her arms under the fruit stand, beneath which the half-frightened kitten had crawled.

If the little cat had known that Margy only wanted to stroke it softly and pet it I am sure it would not have run away. But that is what it did, and that is what caused all the trouble. For there was trouble. I'll tell you about it.

"Come on out, kittie!" called Margy. "Come on out! I won't hurt you! I like kitties, I do! Come on out and let me rub you!"

She stooped lower down to see under the edge of the fruit stand. By this time Mrs. Bunker had seen what had happened, and she called:

"Margaret Bunker, get right up off your knees this instant. You'll spoil your clean white stockings! Get up! We'll miss the boat!"

But Margy paid no heed. She could see the kitten now, back in a dark corner under the stand, and she wanted to get it out.

"Come on, kittie!" called the little girl. "Come on out, and I'll take you to Cousin Tom's with us and you can play in the sand! Come on, I'll rub you nice and soft!"

"Mew! Mew!" said the kitten, but it did not come out.

And then Margy did a very queer thing.

With a sudden wiggle and a twist she crawled all the way under the fruit stand, her little legs, in the white stockings, being the last to disappear.

"Oh, catch her! Quick! Catch her!" cried Mrs. Bunker. But it was too late. Margy was out of sight under the fruit stand after the little kitten.

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