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Six Little Bunkers at Aunt Jo's By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 10384

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

The six little Bunkers, as well as their father and mother, waited while Aunt Jo went to answer the telephone, which kept on ringing as though in a hurry. Vi had asked "Who's ringing?" but of course nobody could tell her until Aunt Jo answered the call.

"Yes! What is it?" asked Aunt Jo into the mouthpiece of the instrument, which stood on a table in the sitting-room. "Oh, it's you, is it, Mr. North?" she went on. "What's that? Did we lose anything? No, not that I know of. One of my little guests found something, but I haven't heard of anything being lost. Wait a minute, though, until I count noses. I'll see if all the six little Bunkers are here. I might have missed one and not know it."

Laughing, Aunt Jo turned from the telephone to look at the children. They were all there, from Russ the oldest to Mun Bun the youngest. Then Aunt Jo spoke again into the instrument.

"No, we haven't lost anything," she said. "Oh, you'll bring it over, will you, Mr. North? Thank you!"

"Was it something about the pocketbook?" asked Rose eagerly.

"No, it was nothing like that," answered her aunt. "The gentleman who telephoned was Mr. North, my next-door neighbor. He says he has something belonging to one of you children, and he is going to bring it right over. Did any of you leave out any of your toys when you were playing in the yard?"

"I didn't," said Russ, and none of his brothers or sisters could think of anything of theirs that was missing. In a few minutes the door bell rang, and when this was answered, Mr. North brought in what seemed to be a bundle of rags.

"Your dog Alexis brought this over and left it on my door mat," he said to Aunt Jo.

"Oh, it's my doll Sue!" cried Rose, as she ran forward to take it. "I forgot all about her. I left her to sleep on the porch in the sun so she would get nice and tanned, as I do when I go to the seashore, and then I went downtown with mother and I forgot all about her."

"Well, I'm glad to bring her back to you," said Mr. North with a smile. "I guess I must have been holding her upside down," and so he had. That was what made Sue look so like a bundle of rags. Really she was a nice doll when she was held right side up.

"It's queer Alexis brought her to your house, instead of in here to me," said Aunt Jo.

"Oh, Alexis and I are great friends," said Mr. North. "He often brings me my paper when the boy leaves it at the front gate instead of walking up to the porch with it, and perhaps your dog might have thought this was a paper, though a very large one," and Mr. North smiled at Rose.

Mr. North had been introduced to the six little Bunkers, and also to Daddy and Mother Bunker, when he entered, and he stayed some little time, talking with them, for he liked children, though all his were grown into big boys and girls now.

"I found a pocketbook," said Rose, when she had got over her first bit of shyness sufficiently to talk to the visitor.

"Did you, indeed? Well, you are lucky!" said Mr. North. Then he was told about the sixty-five dollars, and shown the sad letter in the pocketbook.

"We are going to put an advertisement in the paper," said Aunt Jo. "And if you hear of any poor woman who has lost this sum of money, or read about any in the paper, I wish you would tell us."

"I will," promised Mr. North. "Well, Rose, you have had quite an experience almost as soon as you come to Boston. What are you children going to do the rest of your stay here?"

"I'm afraid I won't know how to provide fun for so many of them," said Aunt Jo. "I want them to have a good time, and remember their visit pleasantly, but I have no toys for girls and boys--"

"That's just what I was going to speak about," said Mr. North. "There is an express wagon in my barn, and an old velocipede, as well as a coaster wagon. They used to belong to my youngsters, but they have outgrown them. If the six little Bunkers would like to play with those toys they are very welcome."

"That will be splendid!" cried Aunt Jo. "I was just wondering what I could do to amuse Russ and the others, for I haven't any things that children like, and we can't go on sight-seeing trips or excursions all the while, though we will go on some. The toys you have, Mr. North, will be just the thing."

And indeed they did prove so. The next day Russ and his brothers and sisters went over to Mr. North's barn. It was an old-fashioned one, the kind horses and carriages used to be kept in before there were automobiles. Mr. North also had a garage for his cars, but the old barn stood far back in his yard, which was a large one next to Aunt Jo's, and in it were the velocipede, the express wagon, a coaster wagon and other things with which to have fun.

"Oh, we can have jolly good times now!" cried Russ.

"And I can give my doll a ride, after Alexis carried her in his teeth," put in Rose.

"Can't we have rides, too?" asked Vi.

"'Course you can," answered Russ. "I'll give you a nice ride."

And then, while Aunt Jo and Mother Bunker went to a Red Cross meeting and while Daddy Bunker went downtown to put an advertisement in the paper about the pocketbook Rose had found, the children played aro

und Mr. North's barn and Aunt Jo's yard.

"Will it be all right to leave them while we go out?" asked Aunt Jo of Mrs. Bunker.

"Oh, yes, as long as your man, William, and your cook, Parker, and your housemaid, Anne, are around to sort of look after them. I often leave them with our Norah and Jerry Simms."

So the six little Bunkers were left to themselves. And you can easily imagine that they had all sorts of good times. There was a stone walk around Aunt Jo's house, as well as around Mr. North's, and there Russ and his brothers and sisters rode in the express wagon, on the velocipede and on the coaster. They laughed and shouted, and every now and then there would be an upset, but no one was hurt and they all seemed to like it.

Now and then Parker or William or Anne would come out from the house or the garage to look and see that the six little Bunkers were coming to no harm, and when they found the children were all right they smiled, for it was fun to watch them play.

"I know what we can do," said Russ to Laddie, after they had taken turns riding on the velocipede and coaster. Just at this time Margy and Mun Bun had the coaster and were playing steam-car with it.

"What can we do?" asked Laddie, always ready to have fun with his older brother.

"We can make a harness for Alexis, and hitch him to the express wagon," went on Russ.

"Oh, that'll be lots of fun!" cried Laddie. "But what'll we make a harness of? Aunt Jo hasn't any horses and Mr. North hasn't either."

"We can make it of string," said Russ. "It doesn't need to be very strong, for we aren't very heavy to pull."

So Russ and Laddie begged pieces of string from Parker, not telling what they were going to make.

"If it's a cat's cradle you have cord enough for a dozen," said the good-natured cook, as she handed out the pieces of string she had saved from the grocery packages.

"No, we're not going to make cats' cradles," answered Russ. "You can see it when we get finished."

It was no very hard matter to catch Alexis and fasten a lot of pieces of string around him, as nearly like a harness as the two little boys could manage. The dog loved children, and asked nothing better than to be with them. So he stood very still, just hanging his tongue out of his mouth, as the day was hot, while Laddie and Russ tied the cord around him. Then they fastened the ends to the express wagon, tying a number of knots.

"We've got to have lines to drive him with," said Laddie. "Else we can't guide him the way we want him to go."

"Yes, I'll make some lines," said Russ. He tied two strings around the neck of Alexis, one for the left-hand side and the other for the right.

"I can't put a bit in his mouth, as I could if he was a horse," said Russ, "'cause Alexis holds his mouth open so much, to cool off his tongue, that the bit would fall out."

"That's right," said Laddie. "Anyhow, we don't want a bit. Now can we have a ride?"

"I guess so," said Russ.

There was quite a collection of strings tied around Alexis and made fast to the little express wagon.

"We'll get in now," said Russ, when he had the cord reins in his hands, "and we'll drive around the walk where Rose and Vi are playing with their dolls," for the two girls were having a party, with cookies and sugar water, which had been given to them by Parker.

Into the wagon got Russ and Laddie. Alexis, harnessed to the little wagon, turned his head to look at them, as if to make sure they were all right.

"Gid-dap!" called Russ, as he would to a horse.

"Bow-wow!" barked the dog, meaning, perhaps: "I will!"

Then he started to walk off.

Now, when I tell you that Alexis was a big, strong dog, and that Laddie and Russ in the express wagon made quite a heavy load, and when I say that the string harness was not very strong, you can easily imagine what happened. Alexis had not taken more than two steps before--

Snap! went the string harness, and it broke in several places.

"Whoa! Whoa!" called Russ. "Whoa there, Alexis!"

But Alexis never "whoaed" a bit. He kept on walking, and he walked right off with the bits of the string harness clinging to him, leaving the express wagon with the two little boys in it on the walk at the side of the house.

"Come on back and give us a ride!" called Laddie.

"I guess we'll have to make a stronger harness," said Russ with a laugh.

"I guess so, too," agreed Laddie.

Anyhow, Alexis didn't come back. Just outside Aunt Jo's fence he saw another dog which he knew, and he ran up to have a "talk" with him, in bow-wow language, of course.

"Well, we didn't get a ride," said Laddie.

"No," agreed Russ, "we didn't. But I know what else we can do."

"What?" asked Laddie.

Russ did not answer for a moment. He was looking at a shovel lying in the back part of the yard, where William had been spading for a late flower bed. Then Russ saw the hose with which the man had been washing the automobile.

"We can make a fountain, Laddie!" exclaimed Russ.

"A fountain! How?"

"Come on, I'll show you!" said Russ.

Then he and his brother began to make a fountain. And I suppose you wonder how they did it.

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