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   Chapter 2 UNCLE FRED

Six Little Bunkers at Uncle Fred's By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 8183

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


"Are you hurt? Are any of you hurt? What happened, anyhow? Did part of the house fall on you?"

The man who had run up the attic stairs went on picking up first one and then another of the six little Bunkers. For a time they were so excited over what had happened that they paid no attention to him.

But when the stranger picked Rose up and set her on her feet, the little girl took a good look at him, and, seeing a strange man in the attic, she cried:

"Oh, it's a burglar! It's a burglar! Oh, Mother! Norah! Jerry Simms! It's a burglar!"

"Hush, child! Don't shout like that or you'll have all the neighbors in!" said the man. "Be quiet, and I'll tell you who I am! Don't yell any more!"

Rose stopped yelling, her mouth still wide open, ready for another shout, and looked at the man. He smiled at her and picked up Mun Bun out from under the box from which the croquet balls had fallen.

"Who is you?" asked Mun Bun.

"I'll tell you in just a moment, if you don't make such a racket," said the stranger, smiling kindly.

The six little Bunkers became quiet at once, but before I tell you who the strange man is I want to say just a few words about the children in this story, and relate to you something about the other books in this series.

To begin at the beginning, there were six little Bunkers, as I have told you. There was Russ, aged eight, a great whistler and a boy very fond of making toys, such as scooters and other things.

Next to him was Rose, a year younger.

Then came Violet and Laddie. They both had curly hair and gray eyes, and were six years old each, which makes twelve in all, you see. They were twins, and each one had a funny habit. Vi asked a great many questions, some of which could be answered, some of which could not be answered, and to some of which she didn't wait for an answer.

Laddie was very fond of asking queer little riddles. Some were good, and it took quite a while to think of the answer he wanted. Others didn't seem to have any answer. And some were not really riddles at all. But he had fun asking them.

Next in order was Margy, whose real name was Margaret, just as Laddie's real name was Fillmore Bunker. But he was seldom called that. Margy was aged five. She had dark hair and eyes.

Then there was Mun Bun, or Munroe Ford Bunker, her little brother, who was four years old, and had blue eyes and golden hair.

Now you have met the six little Bunkers. Of course there was Daddy Bunker, whose name was Charles. He was in the real estate business in Pineville, Pennsylvania, and his office was almost a mile from his home, on the main street. Mother Bunker's name was Amy, and before her marriage she had been Miss Amy Bell.

Besides this there were in the Bunker family two others: Norah O'Grady, the cook, and Jerry Simms, an old soldier, who could tell fine stories of the time he was in the army. Now Jerry ran the Bunker automobile, cut the grass, sprinkled the lawn and attended to the furnace in winter.

But the Bunker family had relatives, and it was on visits to some of these that the children had had many adventures. First you may read "Six Little Bunkers at Grandma Bell's." This is the book that begins the series, and tells of the visit the family made at Grandma Bell's at Lake Sagatook in Maine. There they found an old lumberman and he had some papers which Daddy Bunker wanted to get back. And, oh, yes! Grandma Bell was Mrs. Bunker's mother.

After that the children went to visit their father's sister in Boston, and the book which tells all about that, and the strange pocketbook Rose found, is called "Six Little Bunkers at Aunt Jo's."

On leaving Aunt Jo's the family paid a visit to another relative. This was Mr. Thomas Bunker, who was the son of Mr. Ralph Bunker, and Ralph was Daddy Bunker's brother, who had died.

In "Six Little Bunkers at Cousin Tom's" I told you the story of the fun the children had at the seashore, and how a gold locket was lost and strangely found again.

The book just before this one is called "Six Little Bunkers at Grandpa Ford's," an

d there was quite a mystery about a ghost at Great Hedge Estate, in New York State, where Mr. Ford lived.

Grandpa Ford was Daddy Bunker's step-father, but no real father could have been more kind, nor have loved the six little Bunkers any more than he did. The children spent the winter at Great Hedge Estate, and helped find out what made the queer noises. And if you want to find out I suggest that you read the book.

Christmas and New Year's had been celebrated at Grandpa Ford's, and when winter was about to break up the Bunkers had come back home to Pineville. Daddy Bunker said he needed to look after the spring real estate business, for that was the best time of the year for selling and buying houses and lots, and renting places.

So they said good-bye to Grandpa Ford, and took the train back home. The six little Bunkers had been in their own house about a month now, and they were playing in the attic, as I have told you, with the scooter Russ had made, when the accident happened.

Then, as I have told you, up the attic stairs rushed a strange man, who pulled Mun Bun out of the tangle of arms and legs. And Rose thought the strange man was a burglar.

"But I'm not," he said, smiling at the children. "Don't you know who I am?"

Russ shook his head.

"How did you get in here?" asked Violet. As usual, she was first with a question.

"I just walked in," said the man in answer. "I was coming here anyhow, and when I got here I saw the door wide open, so I just walked in."

"Did you come to sell something?" asked Rose. "'Cause if you did I don't believe my mother wants anything. She's got everything she wants."

"Well, she's got a nice lot of children, anyhow," said the man, smiling on each and ever one of the six little Bunkers in turn. "I'll say that. She has a nice lot of children, and I'm very glad none of you is hurt.

"As I said, I was coming here anyhow, and when I got on the porch and saw the door open, I walked right in. Then I heard a terrible racket up here in the attic, and up I rushed. I thought maybe the house was falling down."

"No," said Russ as he pulled his scooter out from between two trunks, "it was this. We slid down the ironing-board hill, Laddie and I, and it went off crooked-the scooter did."

"And it knocked into us," said Violet. "But if you didn't come to sell anything, what did you come for?"

"Well," said the strange man, and he smiled again, "you might say I came to get you children."

"You-you came to get us?" gasped Rose.

"Yes. I'm going to take you away with me."

"Take-take us away with you!" cried Russ. "We won't go! We want to stay with our daddy and mother."

"I'll take them, too," said the man. "I have room for all you six little Bunkers and more too, out on my ranch. I've come to take you all away with me."

What could it mean? Russ and Rose, the oldest, could not understand it. They looked at the man again. They were sure they had never seen him before.

"Yes," the stranger went on, "I saw the door open, so I walked in. I was glad to get out of the rain. It's a cold storm. I hope summer will soon come. And, as I say, I've come to take you away."

If the man had not smiled so nicely the children might have been frightened. But, as it was, they knew everything would be all right.

"And now, as long as none of you is hurt, I think I'd better go downstairs and tell your mother I have come to take you away," went on the man. "I think I hear her coming up."

And, just then, footsteps were heard on the stairs leading to the attic, and Mrs. Bunker appeared.

"Oh, Mother," gasped out Rose, "there's a man here and he says he's going to take us away and--"

Before she finished Mrs. Bunker had run up to the attic. She looked at the strange man, who smiled at her. Then she hurried over to him and kissed him and said:

"Oh, Fred, I'm glad to see you! I didn't expect you until to-morrow, and I was going to surprise the children with you. Oh, but I'm glad to see you! Children," she said, laughing, "this is my brother, your Uncle Fred."

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