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   Chapter 6 AT COUSIN TOM'S

Six Little Bunkers at Cousin Tom's By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 10323

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03

When Mr. Bunker heard his wife calling as she did, he stopped and looked back, for he was walking on ahead with Russ and Laddie. Then all the other Bunkers stopped, too, and gathered around the fruit stand. All except Mr. Bunker and the two boys knew what had happened, for they had seen Margy crawl under.

The man who owned the stand, who had gone away from it a moment to talk to the man who kept a socks-and-suspender stand next to him, had not seen the kitten crawl under his pile of fruit, nor had he seen Margy go after it. But when he saw the seven Bunkers gathered in a group he at once thought they wanted to buy some apples, pears, or oranges.

"Nice fruit! Nice fruit!" said the man, who was an Italian. "Very nice good fruit and cheap."

"No, we don't want any fruit now," said Mrs. Bunker. "I want my little girl."

"Lil' girl? Lil' girl!" exclaimed the Italian.

"No got lil' girls. Only got fruit, banan', orange, apple! You want to buy? Good nice fruit cheap!"

"No, I want Margy!" cried Mrs. Bunker.

"Where is she?" asked Mr. Bunker, who, as I have told you, had not seen where Margy went.

"She's under the stand," explained his wife.

"She went to get a kitten," added Rose.

"No got kittens nor cats needer," said the Italian. "Only got fruit. Nice fruit, cheap!"

Mr. Bunker stooped down to look under the stand.

"No fruit there!" the owner said. "All fruit on top. Nice fruit, cheap!"

"I am looking for my little girl," explained Mr. Bunker. "She crawled under there-under your stand-after a kitten."

And just then could be heard a loud:

"Mew! Mew! Mew!"

"Oh, she's caught it! Margy's caught the kittie," cried Mun Bun. "I can hear him holler."

Certainly something seemed to have happened to the kitten, for it was mewing very loudly. Mr. Bunker reached in under the fruit stand, and made a grab for something. He gave a pull and out came-Margy!

And as Margy came into view, being pulled by one leg by her father, who found that was the only way he could reach her, it was seen that the little girl held, clasped in her arms, the kitten after which she had crawled.

"I got it! I got it!" cried Margy, as she sat down on the sidewalk in front of the fruit stand.

The kitten was a soft, furry one, but it was rather mussed and bedraggled now, from the way Margy had mauled it. And the little Bunker girl was rather tousled herself, for there was not much room underneath the stand where she had crawled.

"Oh, my dear Margy!" cried Mrs. Bunker. "You are such a sight!"

"But I got my kittie!" said the little girl.

By this time quite a crowd had gathered around the six little Bunkers and their father and mother. Margy still sat on the sidewalk, with the kitten in her lap, petting and rubbing it.

"Come! We must hurry!" exclaimed Mr. Bunker. "We may miss the boat. Get up, Margy. Rose, you help your mother dust Margy off, and then we must hurry."

"Can't I take the kittie?" asked the little girl.

"No, dear," answered her mother. "It isn't yours. And besides, we never could take it to Cousin Tom's with us. Put it down, Margy, my dear!"

"Oh, oh, I don't want to!" cried the little girl, and real tears came into her eyes. "I got this kittie out of a dark corner, and it loves me and I love it! I want it."

"But you can't take it," said Daddy Bunker. "The kittie must stay here. It belongs to the fruit stand. It's your cat, isn't it?" he asked the Italian.

"My keeten? No. I have no keeten. I sell banan', orange, apple! You buy some I give you keetie. Me no want!"

"No, and we don't want it, either," said Mrs. Bunker. "I was hoping it was yours so you could say you had to keep it here to drive the mice away. If Margy thought it was yours she wouldn't want to take it away."

"Ah, I see!" exclaimed the Italian with a smile. "All right, I keep the keeten," and he said the name in a funny way.

"There, Margy!" exclaimed her father. "You see you'll have to leave the kitten here to keep the mice away from the oranges."

"Can't I take it to Cousin Tom's with me?"

"No. And you must put it down quickly, and hurry, or we shall miss the boat."

Margy started to cry, but the Italian, who seemed to understand children, quickly offered her a big, yellow orange. Then Margy let go of the kitten, and the fruit man quickly picked it up and put it down in a little box out of sight.

"She no see-she no want," he whispered to Mrs. Bunker.

"I want an orange!" exclaimed Mun Bun, seeing Margy beginning to eat hers. "I likes oranges!"

"All right, we'll all have some," said Mr. Bunker. It seemed like disappointing the stand-owner to go away without buying some, after all that had gone on at his place of business.

So Mr. Bunker bought a large bag of oranges, telling his wife they could eat them on the boat. Margy forgot about the kitten, and, being dusted, for she was dirty from her crawl under the stand, the six little Bunkers once more started off. This time their father and mother watched each one of the boys and girls to see that none of them did anything to cause further delays. Russ and Rose and Laddie and Violet were not so v

enturesome this way as were Margy and Mun Bun.

"Now here we are at the dock, and all we have to do is to walk straight out to the end of the pier and get on the boat when it comes," said Mr. Bunker. "It is nearly time for it. I don't believe anything more can happen."

And nothing did. There was a long walk, or platform, elevated at one side of the covered pier, and along this the children hurried with their father and mother. A whistle sounded out on the Hudson River, which flowed past the far end of the dock.

"Is that our boat?" asked Russ.

"I hope not," his father answered. "If it is, we may miss it yet. But I do not think it is. There are many boats on the river, and they all have whistles."

A little later they were in the waiting-room at the end of the dock, where there were a number of other passengers, and soon a big white boat, with the name "Asbury Park" painted on one side, was seen steering toward the dock.

"Here she is!" cried Mr. Bunker, and, a little later, they were all on board and steaming down New York Bay.

They steamed on down past the Statue of Liberty, that gift from the French, past the forts at the Narrows, and so on down the bay. Off to the left, Daddy Bunker told the children, was Coney Island, where so many persons from New York go on hot days and nights to get cooled off near the ocean.

"Is Seaview like Coney Island?" asked Vi.

"Well, it may be a little like it," her father answered; "though there will not be so many merry-go-rounds there or other things to make fun for you. But I think you will have a good time all the same."

"We're going to dig for gold, like Sammie Brown's father," declared Laddie. "If we find a lot of it we can buy a ticket for Coney Island."

"What makes them call it Coney Island?" asked Vi. "Did they find some coneys there?"

"I don't know," her father replied.

"What's a coney, anyhow?" went on the little girl.

"I don't know the answer to that question, either," said Mr. Bunker. "You'll have to ask me something else, Vi."

"Maybe it's an ice-cream cone they meant," said Russ, "and they changed it to coney."

"Did they, Daddy?" Vi wanted to know.

"Well, you have a questioning streak on to-day," laughed her father. "I'm sorry I can't tell you how Coney Island got its name."

So the children looked, first on one side of the boat and then on the other as they steamed along. Now and then Vi asked questions. Russ whistled and thought of many things he would make when he reached Cousin Tom's. Laddie tried to think up a riddle about why the smoke from the steamer did not stack up in a pile, instead of blowing away, but he couldn't seem to think of a good answer. And, as he said:

"A riddle without an answer isn't any fun, 'cause you don't know when people guess it wrong or right."

Finally the boat turned toward land and, a little later, Daddy Bunker said they were near Atlantic Highlands. Then the steamer slowly swung up to a big pier, the gangplank was run out, and the six little Bunkers, with their father and mother and the other passengers, got off, their tickets being taken up as they left the boat.

A train was waiting at the pier, and soon, with the Bunkers in one of the coaches, it was puffing down the track, along the edge of the water. Above the train towered the high hills which gave Atlantic Highlands its name.

On the heights, at a station called "Highlands," are two big lighthouses.

The Highland light is as bright as ninety-five million candles, and on a clear night can be seen flashing for many miles.

"Could we come down and see the light some night?" asked Russ, as his father told him about it.

"Yes, I think so," was the answer. "But get ready now. We shall soon be at Cousin Tom's place."

The train rumbled over a bridge across the Shrewsbury river, which flows into Sandy Hook Bay, and then, after passing a few more stations, the brakeman cried:

"Seaview! Seaview! All out for Seaview!"

"Oh, now we're at Cousin Tom's!" cried Rose. "Won't we have fun?"

"Lots!" agreed Russ.

"And don't forget about digging for gold!" added Laddie.

They got off the train, and Cousin Tom, who was waiting for them, hurried up, all smiles. Behind him came his pretty wife.

"Oh, I'm so glad to see you!" said Cousin Ruth.

"Are all the six little Bunkers here?" Cousin Tom wanted to know, with a grin.

"Every one!" answered Mother Bunker. "But we nearly lost Margy. She crawled under a fruit stand after a kitten. Where is she now? Margy, come back!" she called, for she saw the little girl running toward the train. "Don't get on the cars!" cried Mrs. Bunker. The train was beginning to move. "Come back, Margy! Oh, get her, some one!"

But Margy was not going near the train. Suddenly she stooped over and caught up in her arms a little, white, woolly poodle dog.

"Look what I found!" she cried. "If I can't have a kittie cat, I can have a dog. He is a nice dog and he jumped off the train 'cause he likes me!"

And, just as Margy picked up the dog in her arms, a woman thrust her head out of one of the windows of the moving train and screamed.

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