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   Chapter 3 ON THE BOAT

Six Little Bunkers at Aunt Jo's By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 9242

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

From Grandma Bell's home, near Lake Sagatook, the six little Bunkers, with their father and mother, were taken to the railroad station in a big automobile. As the children looked back, waving their hands to their dear grandmother, who had made their visit such a pleasant one, Russ said:

"Oh, dear!"

"What's the matter?" asked his father. "You seem sad."

"I wish we could take that nice lake with us," explained Russ. "We had such fun there."

"And the boat, too," added Rose. "Can we have a boat at Aunt Jo's, Daddy?"

"I hardly think so," answered Mr. Bunker with a smile. "Aunt Jo lives in the city-in Boston, in the Back Bay section, and I hardly think there is a place there where you can paddle a raft."

"Can we go wadin'?" asked Laddie.

"Not unless there is a little lake in some park near by," his father answered.

"Couldn't we wait for it to rain and make a mud puddle?" asked Vi. "We could wade in that! We do when we're home!"

"But Boston isn't home. And you can't do in a big city the things you can do at home in Pineville," said Mrs. Bunker, as the automobile chugged along through the woods.

"Can't we have any fun?" asked Russ.

"Oh, yes, lots of fun," his father replied. "Aunt Jo wouldn't ask us to spend two weeks or more at her house, if she didn't know you children could have fun, even if she does live in a city. Don't worry about that-you'll have fun."

"But we can't have a boat," sighed Rose. She and the other children loved the water, and, living so near Rainbow River as they did, they were used to paddling about, playing with make-believe boats and toys like that.

"Well, if you can't have a boat at Aunt Jo's in Boston, you are going to ride on one before you get to her house," said Mother Bunker with a smile.

"Are we?" cried Russ and Rose together.

"Yes. Didn't I tell you about that?" asked Daddy Bunker. "We are going to Boston by boat, instead of by train. That is, we are going most of the way by boat."

"Where is there any water for a boat?" asked Vi, looking around in the woods through which they were riding. "You can't make a boat go lessen you have water."

"Oh, I know. Yes, you can! Yes, you can!" suddenly cried Laddie.

"How can you?" asked Russ. "You can't sail a boat without water."

"Yes, you can!" said Laddie again, and he was laughing now. "I just thought of a riddle. This is it. What kind of a boat can you sail without water? It's a riddle!"

"Huh! I should say it was! Nobody could answer a riddle like that!" declared Russ.

"Yes, they can!" insisted Laddie. "It's a riddle! And I made it up all by myself. Nobody told me, and I know the answer."

"Well, that's more than I do," said Mrs. Bunker with a laugh. "Suppose you tell us, Laddie."

"And then Daddy can tell us about the boat we're going to ride on to Aunt Jo's," suggested Rose.

"Yes, I'll do that," said Mr. Bunker. "Go on, Laddie. What is the riddle you thought of?"

"What kind of a boat don't have to go in water?" asked the little boy, his eyes shining, for he loved to make up riddles.

"Well, go on. Tell us the answer," said his mother.

"It's a gravy boat!" laughed Laddie. "You know, a gravy boat. It's the kind of a dish we have on the table, with gravy in it, for your bread. You don't have to put that kind of a boat in water."

"That's right! You don't," said Mr. Bunker. "That was a good riddle, Laddie."

"And maybe I could think up another one," went on the little boy. "I almost got one. It's about what makes bread always fall with the butter-side down. But I haven't thought of the answer yet."

"Well, don't tell us any more riddles now," said Russ. "We want to hear about the boat we're going to ride on to Aunt Jo's. Tell us, Daddy."

"All right, I will," promised the children's father.

Then he went on to tell that, by taking a train to a station on the coast, they could get a boat that would take them to Boston.

"We shall have to travel all night though, just as we did in the sleeping-car," said Mr. Bunker.

"Why?" asked Vi.

"Because it will take that long to reach Boston," explained her father.

Rose had quite a large doll, her best one, which she carried with her in her arms whenever the family went traveling. Rose had brought her doll to Grandma Bell's and something funny had happened to the doll in the sleeping-car. You may read about it in the book before this one.

"I must see if my doll is asleep," said Rose.

She had put her toy in a cosy corner of the auto seat, and covered her with a blanket. But when Rose went to look for Sue, as she called her doll, Sue wa

s not to be found.

"Oh! Sue's gone! Sue's gone!" cried Rose. "Somebody has taken my Sue!"

"Who did?" asked Vi.

"Are you sure she hasn't fallen to the floor of the car?" asked Mrs. Bunker.

"No, she isn't here at all," wailed Rose.

"Maybe you didn't bring her. Perhaps you left her at Grandma Bell's," said Mr. Bunker.

"Oh, no! I'm sure I had her," sobbed Rose. "Don't you all 'member that I held her up and wiggled her hand at grandma to say good-bye?"

"Yes, I do remember that," said Mrs. Bunker. "Rose surely had her doll when we started. Have any of you children seen Sue?" she asked.

None of them had, and then Daddy Bunker called to the man driving the auto to stop.

"What are you going to do?" asked Mrs. Bunker.

"I thought I'd walk back a little way and see if Sue had not dropped out along the road," answered her husband.

"Have we got time for that? Won't the train go?"

"Well, we've got a little time," said the driver. "I'll get out and help you look, Mr. Bunker."

"Why'd you lose Sue, Rose?" asked Vi.

"Why, Vi Bunker, I didn't mean to lose her!" exclaimed Rose.

Rose was still searching among the blankets, hoping that, somehow or other, the doll might be found, and her father and Mr. Mead, the auto driver, were getting out, when they heard a shout behind them.

"That's some one calling," said Mrs. Bunker.

They looked and saw riding toward them a boy on a bicycle. He had something in one hand, and clung to the steering bars with the other.

"Oh, he has my doll! He has my doll! I can see Sue!" cried Rose, clapping her hands in joy. "He found her!"

"I do believe he has the child's doll," said Mother Bunker.

"But where did he get her?" asked Vi.

"He must have picked her up along the road after she slipped out of the auto," answered Mrs. Bunker.

By this time the boy on the bicycle had caught up to the auto, which had stopped in a shady place.

"This doll dropped out of your car in front of our house," panted the bicycle boy. "I saw it fall, and I picked it up and rode after you. But I had hard work to catch you."

"I'm glad you did catch us," said Mr. Bunker, taking the doll from the boy's hand. "You had quite a ride. Aren't you tired?"

"Oh, I'm a little tired, but not much," said the boy. "The doll is all right. She had a little dust on her, but I brushed it off."

"I'm ever so much obliged to you," said Mr. Bunker.

"Thank you-a whole lot!" murmured Rose. "I was 'fraid my doll was lost forever."

"And here is something for your trouble," said Mr. Bunker, giving the boy a silver quarter.

"Oh, I don't want to take it!" he said, backing away.

"Of course you must take it!" insisted Rose's father. "You had a hard ride to bring the doll back to us, and you saved us a long walk to look for her. Take the money and get yourself something with it."

"All right. Thank you," said the boy, blushing a little under his tan. "I'll get me a new knife. I want a knife a lot. My old one's no good."

Then the boy told of having seen the doll bounce out of the automobile as it went past his house. He had called, but the machine made such a noise, and the six little Bunkers were probably talking so much, that no one heard the lad.

So he picked up Sue from the road and hurried on after the car.

"And I never want to lose you again," said Rose, as she hugged her doll close in her arms.

Mr. Bunker and Mr. Mead got back into the auto, and they set off again, Rose and the children waving good-bye to the boy, who stood near his bicycle, looking at the silver quarter in his hand.

"Why'd you give the boy a quarter, Daddy?" asked Vi. But that was one question too many from Vi, and her father did not explain.

A little later the Bunkers reached the railroad station, without losing anything more, and they were soon on their way to take the boat for Boston.

They had had much fun in Maine, at Lake Sagatook, but just as good times were ahead of them, they all felt.

It was evening when they went aboard the big steamer that was to take them to Boston. The children were rather tired from the day's journey in automobile and train.

"I guess we'll all be glad to get into our little beds," said Mother Bunker, as they went to their staterooms, there being two, one next to the other. "Now let me count noses, to make sure you're all here," she went on. "Russ, Rose, Laddie, Vi, Mun Bun-Where is Margy?" she suddenly cried, as she missed the little girl. "Margy isn't here! Where is she?"

It was true. Margy wasn't with the other little Bunkers. There were only five in sight!

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