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Six Little Bunkers at Aunt Jo's By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 10474

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

Parker was a good cook, but she did not know much about children. She liked them though, and was kind to them. So when she heard Margy's voice calling, she could not imagine what had happened, nor did she know what to do.

If it had been Mrs. Bunker, or even Daddy Bunker, they would have at once found out what the matter was. But then they were used to things happening to children.

"Oh, where are you?" cried Parker, as Margy kept on screaming.

"I don't know what you call it, but I'm in it," said the little girl, in that queer, faraway voice.

"But where is it?" asked Parker, for, somehow, the voice seemed to come from somewhere between the laundry and the kitchen.

"It's that thing you pull up and down with soap and starch and clothes on," said Margy. "I got in it to have a ride, but my leg is stuck and I can't get out and, oh, dear! I want my mother!"

"Yes, and I guess I want her, too!" exclaimed Parker. "Oh, my! This is worse than having the chimney on fire. I'll go and call your mother, child," she went on, "for I can't see a blessed hair of your head. Though you must be somewhere around, and maybe hiding to fool me."

"Oh, no, I'm not hiding," answered Margy, who, it seems, could hear Parker very well. "I'm in the pull-up-and-let-down-thing, and I want to get out!"

But Parker did not stay to listen. She ran out to the side porch, where Aunt Jo and Mrs. Bunker were sewing, and cried:

"Oh, come quick! The poor child's caught and can't get out and I can't see her!"

"Where is she? What happened?" asked Aunt Jo and Mrs. Bunker.

"She's somewhere between the laundry and the kitchen," said the maid. "I can't see her, though I can hear her and--"

Mrs. Bunker and her sister-in-law did not stop to listen to any more. To the kitchen they hurried, and there they, too, heard the voice of Margy crying:

"Take me out! Take me out! I'm in the puller-up-and-down-thing!"

Aunt Jo knew right away what Margy meant.

"She must be stuck in the dumbwaiter-that we pull up and down between the kitchen and the laundry," she said. "Are you there, Margy?" she asked as she opened a door in the side wall of the kitchen.

And then, up the shaft, came the voice of the little girl:

"Yes, I'm in here and I can't go down and I can't get up. Oh, dear!"

"Now don't cry! Mother is here," said Mrs. Bunker. "And so is Aunt Jo. We'll get you up in a minute. Don't be afraid."

Aunt Jo ran downstairs and looked up the dumbwaiter shaft. She could see the box-like waiter stuck halfway up, but of course she could not see Margy. A dumbwaiter is like a little elevator, except that, as a rule, no one rides in it. It is used to pull things up and down between two rooms, when a person does not want to use the stairs.

"I see what's the matter," said Aunt Jo, as she looked up the shaft once more. "Margy's foot stuck out over the edge of the box, in which she climbed to have a ride, and the waiter can't slide up and down. Her foot wedges it fast."

"Can we get it loose?" asked Mother Bunker.

"Oh, yes, easily, I think. Get me my long-handled parasol, Parker. I'll reach that up the shaft and push Margy's foot loose. Then the dumbwaiter, with her in it, will slide down."

And that is just what happened. With the end of the parasol, not pushing so hard as to hurt, Aunt Jo shoved loose Margy's foot. Then the dumbwaiter, which was a sort of open box, slid down on the rope that ran over a pulley-wheel, and Margy was lifted out. She had been crying and was frightened, but she felt all right when her mother took her in her arms and kissed her.

"How did you come to do it?" asked Mrs. Bunker.

"I came down to the laundry to dry my rubber doll after I'd washed her," said Margy, "and I put her by the fire. One day I saw Parker give a lot of bars of soap a ride on the go-up-and-down-thing."

"Yes, I do use the dumbwaiter for that," said the cook.

"Then I thought I could get a ride if the soap got a ride," went on Margy. "So, when Parker was out by the garage I went up in the kitchen, and I stood on a chair, I did, and I crawled into the go-up-and-down-thing, and it went down with me. But it didn't go all the way down. It stuck and I couldn't have a nice ride."

"I should say not!" cried Mrs. Bunker. "And you mustn't do such a thing again. You might have been hurt when you got your foot caught."

"It does hurt a little," said Margy, rubbing it.

So that's how it happened. Margy had crawled from the chair in the kitchen into the box of the dumbwaiter. It had run down with her until her foot, sticking over the edge, wedged the waiter fast, halfway down the shaft. Then the door in the wall blew shut, and when Margy cried Parker was so "flustered," as she said afterward, that she never stopped to think where the voice came from.

"But don't do it again," warned Aunt Jo.

"I won't," promised Margy.

From out in the yard of Aunt Jo's house came joyous shouts and laughter. Russ could be heard calling:

"Oh, it works! It works all right! Now we can all have rides."

"Well, whatever it is, I hope it isn't a dumbwaiter they're riding in," said Mother Bunker.

She and Aunt Jo looked from the window. They saw that Russ and Laddie ha

d finally managed to make a harness for the dog Alexis, out of stronger pieces of cord than they used at first. The dog was tied with the cords to the express wagon, and seated in it were Laddie and Mun Bun. Russ was walking alongside, guiding Alexis by strings tied around his neck.

"Make him go fast!" cried Mun Bun. "I want to ride fast!"

"Oh, if he runs too fast I can't keep up with him," said Russ. "Alexis can run a lot faster than I can, and if he goes too fast I'll lose hold of him."

"Let me drive a little," begged Laddie. So Russ let his smaller brother take the strings that answered for reins. But Russ stayed near the head of the big dog, with his hand on his collar. For Russ was a careful boy, and did not want the dog to run away and, perhaps, spill the little boys out of the wagon.

"Oh, I want a ride in that!" cried Margy, when she saw what her brothers were doing. "That's nicer than the up-and-down-thing I was in."

"Yes, and a little safer," said her mother. "You may go out and Russ will give you a ride. Russ, Margy is coming out," she called. "Take care of her!"

"I will," promised the largest Bunker boy.

Then such fun as the six children had riding behind Alexis, for Violet awakened from her sleep and came out to enjoy the sport. Russ and Laddie had tied so many ropes on Alexis, fastening them to the cart, that William said it would take an hour to loosen the knots. But Alexis did not seem to mind. He walked along, pulling the cart, with two or three children in it, as easily as though he were dragging along a tin can tied to his tail, and much more sedately.

Only nobody had ever tied a tin can to the tail of Alexis. He wasn't the kind of dog one could do that to. You might have dared try when he was a little puppy, but not after he grew up to be almost as big as a small Shetland pony.

"Oh, this is lots of fun!" cried Rose, when it was her turn to have a ride. "I wish my doll Lily was here to like it."

"She had a good ride in the airship," remarked Russ.

"Oh! Oh!" suddenly cried Laddie.

"What's the matter?" asked Russ. "Did a bee sting you?"

"No. I just thought of a nice riddle. It's about the balloon airship Rose made and the dumbwaiter Margy had a ride in."

"What's the riddle?" asked Vi.

"It's like this," went on Laddie, thinking hard to get it just right. "What's the difference between Rose's airship and the dumbwaiter Margy rode in? What's the difference?"

"A whole lot!" said Rose. "They're not alike at all."

"Well, that's the riddle-what makes 'em different!" asked Laddie.

"Because they both have a basket," said Russ. "Rose tied the balloons to a basket, and the clothes basket rides on the dumbwaiter."

"Nope! That isn't it," said Laddie, shaking his head. "You see Rose's airship went up, and wouldn't come down, and the dumbwaiter, with Margy in it, went down and wouldn't come up."

"Huh! That's pretty good," said Russ. "But I guess those balloons are down by this time."

"And my doll, too," added Rose. "I wish I could find her."

"Well, part of the riddle is right, anyhow," said Laddie.

"Yes, it's pretty good," agreed Russ. "And now we'll have some more rides."

Around Aunt Jo's house, up and down the lawn and on the paths Alexis pulled the six little Bunkers in the express wagon, with the string harness, and they had lots of fun. Even the big dog seemed to enjoy it, and he didn't get tired.

It was two days after this, during which time the children had lots of fun, that something else happened. Mun Bun was the unlucky one; or lucky, whichever way you look at it.

Sometimes, even in the fashionable Back Bay section of Boston, rag peddlers came to buy odds and ends from the homes of the people. The chauffeurs or the furnace men usually attended to the selling of this, being allowed to keep whatever money they got for themselves.

One of the wagons, with bags and all sorts of things in it, stopped, one day, in front of Aunt Jo's house. The ragman knew William, who often sold him old newspapers or junk, and this time he had quite a few things to sell.

"Rags! Rags! Bottles and rags!" cried the junkman as he went back to the garage with a bag over his shoulder.

As it happened, Mun Bun was out, watching William pump air into a new tire, and when the chauffeur went into the cellar with the junkman to get the papers, Mun Bun wandered out in front to where the junkman's horse and wagon was standing.

"If I could get up into that wagon now," thought Mun Bun to himself, "I could have a better ride than with Alexis. I guess I will."

How he managed to climb up I don't know, but he did. The wagon was not very high, and there was a step near the front, and of course there were wheels. Somehow, Mun Bun scrambled up, and the horse, luckily for him, did not move while the boy was climbing. Right up on the seat got Mun Bun. He picked up the real reins, as he had seen Russ do with the make-believe ones on Alexis, and then Mun Bun called:


And, just as easily as you please, the horse started off as natural as anything, with Mun Bun driving. Down the street he slowly walked, much to the delight of Mun Bun.

But what would happen next?

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