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Title: Six little Bunkers at farmer Joel's

Author: Laura Lee Hope

Illustrator: Walter S. Rogers

Release date: October 3, 2023 [eBook #71791]

Language: English

Original publication: New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1923

Credits: Bob Taylor, David Edwards and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at



Six Little Bunkers at Farmer Joel’s.

Frontispiece—(Page 152)



Author of “Six Little Bunkers at Grandma Bell’s,”
“Six Little Bunkers at Mammy June’s,” “The
Bobbsey Twins Series,” “The Bunny Brown
Series,” “The Make Believe Series,” Etc.



Made in the United States of America


12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.






(Sixteen Titles)


(Twelve Titles)


(Thirteen Titles)


Copyright, 1923, by

Six Little Bunkers at Farmer Joel’s


I. Russ in Danger 1
II. A Load of Flowers 13
III. The Secret 24
IV. Where is Laddie? 36
V. Off to the Farm 44
VI. Something in the Straw 54
VII. At Farmer Joel’s 64
VIII. In the Hay 74
IX. When the Cows Came Home 85
X. Buzzing Bees 97
XI. Mun Bun’s Garden 106
XII. A Strawberry Shortcake 118
XIII. The Shoe-Lace Boy 128
XIV. The Shortcake Comes Back 136
XV. An Exciting Ride 147
XVI. Off on a Picnic 155
XVII. The Ice Cave 163
XVIII. A Big Splash 172
XIX. A Fight 184
XX. Yellow and White 192
XXI. A Mad Bull 201
XXII. After Wild Flowers 208
XXIII. A Mean Boy 220
XXIV. Stung 229
XXV. The Honey Tree 236

[Pg 1



“Margy, will you look out on the porch and see if she’s there?”

“Yes, Vi, I will. But you ought to say please to me, ’cause mother says——”

“All right then. Please look and see if she’s there,” begged Vi, otherwise Violet Bunker. There were six of the little Bunkers. The other four will be out presently.

Margy, who had been looking at picture books with her year-older sister in a room off the porch, kindly dropped her book and started for the door.

“If she’s there bring her in—please.” Violet laughed a little as she added the last word.[Pg 2] She remembered what Margy had started to say about politeness.

Violet was piling up the books, for she had just thought of something new to play, when Margy came hurrying back into the room.

“She isn’t there!” gasped the smaller Bunker girl.

“She isn’t?” Violet fairly gasped out the words, and you could easily tell that she was very much excited. “Are you sure, Margy?”

“No, she isn’t there, Vi! Maybe a tramp has taken her!”

“Oh!” cried Violet, in such a loud voice that Mrs. Bunker, having heard part of the talk, came quickly from the room where she had been sewing.

“Who’s gone?” demanded the mother of the six little Bunkers. “Don’t tell me Mun Bun is lost again!”

Mun Bun was the youngest of the six little Bunkers. His real name was Munroe Ford Bunker, but that was entirely too long for the little fellow, so he was called “Mun Bun.” It was a name he had made up for himself.

“Where is Mun Bun? Is he lost again?” asked Mrs. Bunker, starting to take off her[Pg 3] apron to go in search of the “little tyke,” as she often called him, for he certainly did get into mischief very many times.

“Mun Bun isn’t lost,” answered Violet, as she hurried out on the porch with Margy. “He’s out in the yard with Laddie, digging a hole.”

“An’ he says he’s going to dig down to China,” added Margy.

“And I just put clean bloomers on him!” sighed Mrs. Bunker. “But who is gone?” she asked again. “It can’t be Rose or Russ—they’re too old to be taken by a tramp!”

There, now you have heard the names of all six of the little Bunkers, though Russ, being nearly ten, I think, wouldn’t like to be called “little.”

“No, it isn’t Russ or Rose,” said Margy. “I saw them going down the street. Maybe they’re going to daddy’s office to ask him for some money to buy candy.”

“Oh, they mustn’t do that!” exclaimed Mrs. Bunker. “This is the first of the month and daddy is very busy. They shouldn’t have gone there. Are you sure, Margy?”

“Oh, they didn’t zactly say they were going[Pg 4] there,” announced Margy. “But I thought maybe——”

“You mustn’t tell things you aren’t sure of,” said her mother. “But who is——”

“Mother, why is daddy so busy the first of the month?” asked Vi, forgetting for the moment all about what she had sent Margy to look for. Violet Bunker was, as her father said, “a great girl for asking questions.” Her mother knew this, and, fearing that Vi would get started on a list of inquiries that would take some time to answer, Mrs. Bunker said:

“Now don’t begin that, Vi, dear. I’ll answer just this one question, but not any more. Your father is busy the first of the month more than at other times because tenants pay their rents then, and he collects the rents for a large number of people. That’s one thing a real estate dealer, like your father, does. Now, don’t ask another question!” she commanded, for she saw that Vi was getting ready, as Russ would say, “to spring another.”

“I wasn’t going to ask a question,” said Vi, looking a little hurt in her feelings. “I was going to say——”

[Pg 5]

“Wait until I find out what’s happened first,” broke in Mrs. Bunker. “Who is missing? It can’t be any of you, for you’re all present or accounted for, as they say in the army. Who is——”

“It’s Esmeralda!” exclaimed Violet. “I had her out on the porch playing with Margy. Then we went in to look at the picture books, and I forgot about Esmeralda and——”

“Russ says her name ought to be Measles ’cause she’s all spotted,” put in Margy, with a shake of her dark, tousled hair. “But it’s only spots of dirt.”

“Come on,” demanded Vi of Margy, taking her younger sister by the hand. “We’ve got to find Esmeralda!”

“Oh, it’s your doll!” remarked Mrs. Bunker, with a sigh of relief. “I thought one of you children was missing. I had quite a start. It’s only your doll. That’s different.”

“Esmeralda is my child, even if she is only a doll,” and Vi marched away with Margy, her head held up proudly.

“Oh, my dear, I didn’t mean that you shouldn’t want to find your missing play child,” called Mrs. Bunker quickly, for she[Pg 6] realized that a little girl’s feelings might be hurt by a slighting remark about even a dirty and spotted doll. “I only meant that I was glad none of you children was missing. I’ll help you look for Esmeralda.”

“She isn’t out on the porch. I looked,” said Margy.

“We left her there, didn’t we?” asked Vi, for sometimes there was so much going on at the Bunker house that to remember where one of the many dolls or other playthings was left became a task.

“Yes, we left Esmeralda out on the porch,” agreed Margy. “But she isn’t there now. I looked. She’s—she’s gone!”

Margy felt almost as sad over the loss as did Vi, though Esmeralda, or “Measles,” as Russ called her, belonged particularly to Violet.

“Do you s’pose a tramp would take my doll, Mother?” asked Violet, for Mrs. Bunker was now walking toward the side porch with her two little girls.

“No, my dear, I don’t believe so,” was the answer. “What would a tramp want with a doll?”

[Pg 7]

This puzzled Vi for a moment, but she quickly had ready a reply.

“He—he might want to give her to his little girl,” Vi said.

“Tramps, as a rule, don’t have little girls,” remarked Mrs. Bunker. “If they had they wouldn’t be tramps.”

This gave Vi a chance to ask another question. Eagerly she had it ready.

“Why don’t tramps have little girls?” she inquired of her mother. “Do they run away? I mean do the little girls run away?”

“No, that isn’t the reason,” and Mrs. Bunker tried not to smile at Vi’s eagerness. “I’ll tell you about it some other time. But show me where you left your doll,” she added, as they reached the shady side porch. “Esmeralda certainly isn’t here,” for a look around showed no doll in sight.

“Oh, where can she be?” gasped Vi, now on the verge of tears. Margy, seeing how her sister was affected, was also getting ready to weep, but just then a merry whistle was heard around the corner of the house. It was the merry whistle of a happy boy.

“Here comes Russ!” exclaimed Violet, for[Pg 8] she knew her oldest brother’s habit of being tuneful. “He’ll help me look for Esmeralda.”

“Maybe he took her,” suggested Margy.

“No. If he did he wouldn’t be coming back whistling,” decided Vi.

Russ Bunker, next to his father the “man” of the family, swung around the path at the side of the house. Following him was Rose, his sister, a year younger, a pretty girl, with light, fluffy hair. And, very often, Rose had a merry song on her lips. But as Russ was now whistling Rose could not sing. She always said Russ whistled “out of tune,” but Russ declared it was her singing that was off key.

“Oh, Russ!” exclaimed his mother, “you didn’t go to daddy’s office and bother him to-day, did you, when it’s the first of the month? And he is so busy——”

“No, Mother, I wasn’t at daddy’s office,” Russ answered. “Rose and I just went to the store for some nails. I’m making a seesaw, and——”

“Oh, can I be on it?” begged Margy. “I[Pg 9] love to teeter-totter! Please, Russ, can’t I——”

“I want a ride, too!” put in Vi.

“All right! All right!” agreed Russ, with a laugh. “You can all have rides—Mun Bun and Laddie too—as soon as I get it made. But it’s a lot of work and it’s got to be done right and——”

Russ paused. He could see that something was wrong, as he said afterward. Russ was a quick thinker. Also he was always making things about the house. These were mostly things with which to play and have a good time, though once he built a bench for his mother. The only trouble was that he didn’t make the legs strong enough, and when Norah O’Grady, the cook, set a tub of water on the bench the legs caved in and there was a “mess” in the kitchen.

“Has anything happened?” asked Russ, for he could see that his mother and his two small sisters had come out on the porch with some special idea in mind.

“Violet’s doll is gone,” explained Mrs. Bunker. “She left it on the porch, and she[Pg 10] feels sad over losing it. If you know anything about it, Russ——”

“You mean that old Measles doll?” asked the oldest Bunker boy, laughing.

“She hasn’t the measles at all—so there!” and Violet stamped her foot on the porch.

“Well, she looks so—all spotted,” added Russ, with another laugh. Then, as he saw that Violet was ready to cry and that Margy was going to follow with tears, Russ added: “I guess I know where your doll is. Henry Miller just told me——”

“Oh, did he take her?” cried Violet. “If he did I’ll never speak to him again and——”

“Now, wait a minute!” advised Russ. “You girls always get so excited! I didn’t say Henry took your doll. I just met him and he said he saw a dog running out of our yard with something in his mouth. Maybe it was the dog that took your doll, Violet.”

“Oh! Oh!” cried the little girl, and she was now sobbing in real earnest.

“Oh, the dog will eat up Esmeralda!” and Margy added her tears to those of Violet.

“I’ll go down the street and look for her,” quickly offered Russ. He was a kind boy[Pg 11] that way. Of course he didn’t care for dolls, and he was anxious to start making the seesaw, nails for which he and Rose had gone after. But Russ was willing to give up his own pleasure to help his little sister.

“I’ll get your doll,” he said. “I guess that dog wouldn’t carry her far after he found out she wasn’t a bone or something good to eat.”

“She—she—she’s a nice doll, anyhow, so there!” sobbed Violet. “An’—an’ I—I want her!”

“I guess I can find her,” offered Russ. “Here, Rose, you hold the nails.”

Russ started on a run toward the front gate. Mrs. Bunker and the three girls followed. As yet Laddie and Mun Bun had not heard the excitement over the missing doll, for they were still in the back yard, “digging down to China.”

Russ reached the gate, looked down the road in the direction Henry Miller had told him the dog had run with something in its mouth, and then Russ cried:

“I see her! I see your doll, Vi! The dog dropped her in the street! I’ll get her for you.”

[Pg 12]

Russ started on the run toward a small object lying in the dust of the road. Before Russ could reach the doll a big automobile truck swung around the corner and came straight for poor Esmeralda.

“Oh, she’ll be run over!” screamed Violet. “My child!”

But Russ had also seen the truck and, knowing there would be little left of the doll if one of the heavy wheels went over her, he ran a little faster and darted directly in front of the big lumbering, thundering automobile.

“Russ! Russ! Be careful!” called his mother.

“Look out there, youngster!” yelled the man who was driving the truck.

On came the heavy automobile, bearing down on Russ who was now in the middle of the street, stooping over to pick up Esmeralda.

[Pg 13]


Three of the six little Bunkers—Rose, Margy and Violet—stood grouped around their mother, looking with anxious eyes toward Russ, who had made up his mind that he was going to get Vi’s doll and snatch it out of danger before the big truck reached it. But, in doing this, Russ was also in danger himself.

“Russ! Russ! Come back!” cried his mother, darting forward.

“It’s going to run right over him!” screamed Margy.

“He’ll be smashed!” and Violet covered her eyes with her hands.

“Let the old doll go!” shouted Rose.

But Russ did not heed. Straight across the street, directly in front of the truck he ran, and toward Vi’s doll Esmeralda that was lying[Pg 14] in the highway, where she had been dropped by the stray dog.

The man driving the big truck, after giving one call of warning, had ceased, and was now doing his best either to steer out of the way, so he would not run over Russ, or else to put on the brakes. This last was not so easy to do as the street just there was down hill and the truck was a heavy one.

Russ reached the doll before the truck got to it. The Bunker boy picked up Vi’s plaything and started to run out of danger, but he slipped on a stone and down he fell in the dust of the road.

“Oh! Oh!” cried his mother. “Oh, Russ!”

Russ was down, but, as he said afterward, he was not “out.” He rolled to one side, out of the way of the thundering big wheels of the truck. A moment later he was on his feet, dirty and dusty, but holding proudly aloft the doll he had rescued.

By this time the man had brought his truck to a stop, a little distance from the place where Russ had fallen and where the doll had been lying.

“That was a narrow escape for you, youngster!”[Pg 15] exclaimed the man rather sternly. “You ought not to do things like that!”

“I didn’t want Vi’s doll run over,” explained Russ, as his mother and sisters hurried toward him.

And while Russ is brushing the dust from his clothing and while Vi is looking over her doll, to make sure it is all right, I shall take a moment to let you know who the Bunkers are. And I shall also speak of the other books in this series telling about them. I think it is much better to read about people after you know who they are and what they have done.

The first book introducing the children is called “Six Little Bunkers at Grandma Bell’s.” At the opening of that story you find the Bunkers living in Pineville, a Pennsylvania town.

Bunker was the family name, and as there were six children, none of them very large, it was the most natural thing in the world to speak of them as the “six little Bunkers.” Of course there was a father and mother Bunker. Mr. Bunker’s name was Charles, and he was in the real estate business. His wife was named Amy, and there were a number of relatives,[Pg 16] all of whom loved the six little Bunkers and all of whom the six little Bunkers loved.

As for the children the eldest was Russ—the one who was just in such danger. Russ seemed destined to become an inventor, for he was always making new things—make-believe houses, engines, automobiles, steamboats and the like. And as he worked he whistled merrily.

Rose might be called a “little mother,” for she was very helpful about the house, and Mrs. Bunker often said:

“I don’t know what I’d do without Rose to help look after the younger children.”

Violet and Laddie, who were twins, needed much looking after. They were both rather peculiar. That is, Violet was given to asking questions. Her father said she could ask more in an hour than could be rightly answered in a week. As for Laddie, he was fond of asking riddles such as:

“You can have a house full and a hole full but you can’t keep a bowl full. What is it?” The answer, of course, is “smoke,” but nothing gave Laddie more pleasure than to find some one who couldn’t answer that or some[Pg 17] other riddle he asked. Sometimes he made up riddles himself, or he might ask one that came out of a book. A queer little chap was Laddie.

Then there was Margy, who was seldom called by her real name of Margaret, and Mun Bun, otherwise known as Munroe Ford, as I have mentioned.

Now you have met all the six little Bunkers and I hope you will like them. As for their aunts, their uncles, their cousins and their other relatives—well, there are books telling about these different characters. The children often went to visit their cousins and aunts and had many adventures.

For instance there is the time they stayed for a while at Aunt Jo’s, or the occasion of their visit to Cousin Tom’s. They had fun at both these places, but no more than at Grandpa Ford’s or Uncle Fred’s. When they spent several weeks at Captain Ben’s the six little Bunkers had delightful times, and Russ thought there never was such a chap as Cowboy Jack, at whose ranch they spent some time. The other children liked Cowboy Jack, too.

Just before the events I am going to tell[Pg 18] you about in this book took place, the children had been down South. You may find out all that happened by reading the volume, “Six Little Bunkers at Mammy June’s.” The family was now at home again in Pineville, ready for more adventures.

“You certainly gave me a fright, boy,” said the truck driver, as he got down off his high seat and looked at Russ. “Why did you run out into the road like that?”

“I wanted to get my sister’s doll,” answered Russ, still brushing the dust from his clothes.

“Um! Well, don’t do it again—that’s all I ask!” begged the man. “I was afraid I was going to run right over you!”

“Yes, it was a very dangerous thing for him to do,” said Mrs. Bunker. “He shouldn’t have tried it. I’m sorry he caused you trouble.”

“Oh, it wasn’t exactly trouble,” said the man, and he smiled a little. “I was going to stop around here, anyhow. I’m looking for a family named Bunker. Do you know if they live around here?”

“We’re the Bunkers!” quickly answered Russ. “Anyhow, we’re the most of ’em,” he[Pg 19] added, laughing. “All but daddy and——”

“Oh!” murmured the driver of the truck. “Are there more of you?”

“It is rather a large family,” said Mrs. Bunker. “I have two more boys.”

“My daddy’s in his office,” volunteered Violet, who was now satisfied that her doll, Esmeralda, was all right except for a little dirt.

“And Laddie and Mun Bun are digging a hole to China,” added Margy.

“Oh,” and again the man smiled.

“Are you looking for a Mr. Charles Bunker?” asked Mrs. Bunker.

“That’s the name, yes, ma’am,” the truck driver replied, glancing at a slip of paper in his hand. “I have a load of flowers for him.”

“Oh, flowers! Is that what’s on your auto?” cried Rose, for the sides of the truck were covered with canvas and it could not be seen what it was laden with. Without waiting for an answer, Rose hurried around to the rear. There she saw a number of pots of flowers and plants, and, being very fond of them, she reached up to pull nearer to her the pot closest to the end of the truck.

Perhaps the sudden stopping of the vehicle[Pg 20] had made the pot unsteady, for, as Rose touched it, the pot was upset and rolled out of the truck toward the little girl.

“Oh! Oh!” cried Rose.

“What is the matter now?” asked Mrs. Bunker, going around to the rear of the truck. She was just in time to see a shower of brown earth from the pot splattering around Rose. The pot fell to the ground and was broken, the flower in it being knocked out.

“Not much damage done as long as the little girl isn’t harmed,” said the driver. “I’ve got some extra pots on the truck and I can easily plant this flower again,” and he picked up the geranium, which was a pink one in full blossom.

“Let me ’mell!” begged Mun Bun who, with Laddie, had now come out in the street to see why his mother and the other little Bunkers were gathered there.

“There isn’t much smell to that geranium,” laughed the driver. “But I have other flowers that do smell.”

“Are all these for us?” asked Mrs. Bunker, as she saw the mass of blossoms inside. “Rose, dear, are you sure you aren’t hurt?”

[Pg 21]

“Yes, Mother, I’m all right,” was the answer. “But, oh, where did all the pretty flowers come from?”

“They’re from Mr. Joel Todd,” answered the driver.

“Farmer Joel?” asked Mrs. Bunker.

“Yes, some folks call him that,” was the reply, and Mrs. Bunker remembered a rather odd character whom her husband knew. Mr. Bunker had often spoken of “Farmer Joel,” but had said nothing about a load of flowers coming from him.

“Did my husband order these?” asked Mrs. Bunker.

“No, I don’t know that he did, exactly,” the driver answered. “Farmer Joel had more plants than he could use, so he told me to bring these in to you, as I had to come this way anyhow with a load of produce.”

“Mother, who is Farmer Joel?” asked Rose, in a whisper.

“He has a farm about forty miles from here,” answered Mrs. Bunker. “Your father and I were there some years ago. Farmer Joel has orchards, bees, flowers, chickens, cows, and horses.”

[Pg 22]

“Oh, what a lovely place that would be to go to for the rest of the summer!” exclaimed Rose.

“Could we go there, Mother?” begged Vi.

“I—now—I know a riddle about a horse,” spoke up Laddie. “When is a boy a little horse?”

“We haven’t time for riddles now, dear,” said his mother. “I must tell this man where to leave the flowers that Farmer Joel was so kind as to send us.”

“Well, then I’ll tell you when a boy is a little horse,” went on Laddie. “It’s when he has a cold.”

“Pooh! Being hoarse when you have a cold isn’t being a horse on a farm,” declared Rose.

“It’s good enough for a riddle,” replied Laddie. “Oh, I want a ride!” he cried, as he saw the driver climbing up on his seat after Mrs. Bunker had pointed out her house.

“No, Laddie! Keep off the truck,” his mother warned him.

“Farmer Joel!” said Russ, in a musing tone as they all turned to go back home. “I wonder if we could go there?”

[Pg 23]

“Maybe you’ll have the chance,” his mother said, smiling.

“Oh! Oh! Oh!” cried the six little Bunkers in delight.

“But I can’t tell you any more now,” Mrs. Bunker went on. “It’s a secret!”

[Pg 24]


Mrs. Bunker could not have said anything more exciting than the word “secret” if she had tried for a week. Hearing it, the six little Bunkers fairly jumped for joy.

“Oh, ho! A secret!” cried Russ.

“Let me guess what it is!” begged Laddie, acting as though he thought it a riddle.

“Oh, tell me!” cried Rose. “I won’t tell the others, Mother.”

“No, no!” laughed Mrs. Bunker. “When it is time to tell the secret you shall all know it at once.”

“Is it about us?” asked Violet, with what she thought a cunning air, hoping she might surprise something of the secret from her mother.

“Yes, it’s about all of you,” was the answer.

“Is it good to eat?” was what Mun Bun wanted to know.

[Pg 25]

“Yes, the secret is good to eat,” answered Mrs. Bunker, with laughing eyes, as she looked at Farmer Joel’s truck driver.

“Is it good to play with?” was the question Margy asked.

“Yes, it’s good to play with, too,” said her mother.

This set all the six little Bunkers to guessing, and they named first one thing and then another, but Mrs. Bunker only shook her head, laughed, and told them they would have to wait to find out about the secret.

“You’ve got your hands full with those youngsters, I can see that,” chuckled the truck driver, who had said his name was Adam North. “They must keep you busy.”

“They do. But they are good children,” Mrs. Bunker said, while Rose was murmuring:

“I can’t think what kind of a secret it can be that you can eat and play with. Can you, Russ?”

“Not unless it’s a candy cane—the kind we used to get for Christmas,” he answered.

“Oh, it couldn’t be that!” quickly declared Rose. “Mother wouldn’t make a secret about[Pg 26] a candy cane. I think it must have something to do with this Farmer Joel.”

“Maybe,” agreed Russ. “But I have to go into the house and brush my clothes. I didn’t think they were so dusty. It’s like sliding for first base when you’re playing ball.”

By this time the six little Bunkers in charge of their mother were ready to walk back toward their house. They made a pretty picture as they stood in the street, Mun Bun and Margy were first, side by side, and holding hands as the two youngest generally did. Then came the twins, Violet and Laddie, next largest in size, and back of them were Rose and Russ, while Mrs. Bunker came behind the two oldest, smiling at her “brood,” as she sometimes called them, pretending they were hungry chickens.

“Well, we’re generally hungry all right,” Russ would say with a laugh when his mother spoke thus.

“I suppose we look like a procession, don’t we?” asked Mrs. Bunker of Adam North, as he prepared to start his truckload of flowers.

“Well, a little, yes,” he agreed, with a laugh. “But it’s a mighty nice procession. I[Pg 27] guess Farmer Joel wishes he had one like it.”

“That’s so, he has no children, has he?” remarked Mrs. Bunker. “It’s been some time since I have seen him, and I thought perhaps he might have married.”

“No,” went on Mr. North, while the six little Bunkers listened to the talk, wondering, the while, what the wonderful secret might be. “Farmer Joel is still a bachelor. He lives with his sister Miss Lavina. She keeps house for him, you know.”

“Oh, yes, I know Lavina Todd very well,” said Mrs. Bunker. “She and I were old chums. We went to school together when we lived in the same country town as girls. But that was quite a number of years ago, and I thought Farmer Joel might have married in all that time.”

“No—old bachelor,” replied Adam North. “But he’s the kindest, jolliest soul you’d want to meet and he loves children. That’s why I say he’d like a procession like yours. Now then, where do you want these flowers? I’ve got quite a load of ’em.”

“Indeed you have a wonderful load of blossoms,” said Mrs. Bunker. “It was very[Pg 28] kind of Farmer Joel to send them. But I’m afraid I can’t set them out all alone.”

“Oh, I’ll stay and help you plant the flowers,” offered Adam North, who was something of a farmer and gardener himself. “Mr. Todd said I was to do that. I’ve got to stay, anyhow, to see Mr. Bunker. He’ll be home soon, I expect.”

“Yes, he’ll come home to supper,” replied Mrs. Bunker. “I hope you can stay and have a meal with us,” she added.

“Well, I might—yes,” was the slow answer. “In fact, I was going to stay over at the hotel all night, as it’s a long ride back to Cedarhurst, and I don’t like to drive the truck after dark if I can help it.”

“Oh, then you can stay at our house,” quickly said Mrs. Bunker. “We’d be delighted to have you. There is plenty of room.”

“And you can tell us about the farm,” added Rose.

“And about the bees,” added Mun Bun. “Does they sting?”

“Sometimes,” laughed Mr. North.


Six Little Bunkers at Farmer Joel’s.

(Page 31)

“And tell us about the cows and chickens,” [Pg 29]begged Laddie. “I know a riddle about—now—about a cow, only I can’t think of it.”

“Maybe it’s the cow that jumped over the moon,” joked Mr. North.

“No, it isn’t that,” Laddie answered. “Maybe I’ll think of it after a while.”

“I’d like to hear about the horses,” suggested Violet. “How many horses does Farmer Joel have and do they ever run away and did they ever run away with you and did you get hurt and are there any little horses? I don’t believe they’d run away, would they? And if a horse runs away does he run back again and——”

“Violet! Violet!” cried her mother. But the little girl had stopped herself, for she was out of breath.

“Does she often get spells like that?” asked Adam North, with a laughing look at Mrs. Bunker.

“Sometimes,” was the smiling answer. “But generally she asks her questions one at a time. I don’t know what made her take such a streak. But come, children, I want to get these flowers set out before daddy comes home. Come along.”

[Pg 30]

“We can plant some in the hole we dug,” said Laddie.

“No! No!” cried Mun Bun. “That’s a hole to China and we don’t want any flowers in it!”

“Easy, Mun Bun! Don’t get so excited,” soothed Russ. “Maybe the people in China would like some of these flowers.”

“Oh, all right. I give some flowers to Chiweeze,” agreed Mun Bun.

By this time the truck had rolled into the driveway of the Bunker home, and the family of children and their mother soon followed. The doll, which had been the cause of so much excitement, and not a little trouble, was put in the house where no wandering dog could carry her off again. Then Adam North began unloading the pots of flowers, some of which needed to be set out in the ground to make them grow better.

It was toward the end of spring, with summer in prospect and just the time to start making a flower garden, Mr. North said. Farmer Joel raised many kinds of plants and blossoms, his sister Miss Lavina Todd helping[Pg 31] him. They had so many that it had been decided to send some to Mr. Bunker.

“But I never thought he could spare all these,” remarked Mrs. Bunker, when she saw the geraniums, the begonias, the four-o’clocks, the petunias, the zinnias, the marigolds and many other kinds of “posy-trees,” as Mun Bun called them.

“Oh, yes, we have more flowers at Cedarhurst than we know what to do with,” said Adam North, as he began setting out the blossoms.

The children and Mrs. Bunker helped as much as they could, but except for what Russ, Rose and Mrs. Bunker did there was really not much help. For Violet, Margy, Mun Bun and Laddie would start to dig a hole in which to set out a plant, then they would forget all about it in running to see a new kind of blossom that was taken from the truck.

So it was that there were a number of half-dug holes about the garden, with nothing planted in them. But Adam North knew his business well, and soon he had turned the formerly dull Bunker yard into a veritable[Pg 32] flower-show, with bright blossoms here and there.

“Now if you’ll just give ’em a little wetting down with the hose so they won’t wilt, they’ll come up fresh and strong by morning,” he said, when the last plant was set out.

“I’ll use the hose!” offered Russ.

“I’ll help!” said Rose.

“So will I!” cried the other four little Bunkers. Using the hose was something they all delighted to do.

“No, my dears,” said Mrs. Bunker firmly. “Russ will do the sprinkling and all the others must come in and get washed ready for supper. Daddy will soon be home and then——”

“Will you tell us the secret?” asked Rose.

“I think so—yes,” was the reply, and this gave the smaller children something to think about so they did not mind not being allowed to use the hose.

“I wouldn’t dare let them take turns wetting the new plants,” said Mrs. Bunker to Adam. “Russ is all right, but the others would shower every one passing in the street.”

“I reckon so, and wash out all the new plants besides,” chuckled Farmer Joel’s hired[Pg 33] man. “And now,” he went on, “since you have been so kind as to ask me to stay to supper and remain all night, I’d like to wash up myself. I’m pretty dirty,” he added, with a laugh, as he looked at his grimy hands, for he had been delving in the dirt to set out the flowers.

“Come with me,” said Mrs. Bunker. “And, Russ,” she added, “be careful about the hose. Don’t spray on any people who may be passing.”

“I’ll be careful,” he promised.

Ordinarily when Russ used the hose all the other little Bunkers stood around anxiously waiting for their turn. But now, with the prospect of hearing a secret, they went willingly to the bathroom and soon were as shining as soap and water could make them.

Adam, as the children soon began to call him, for he was very friendly, ran the big truck up alongside the garage, as there was not room for it inside. Then, after he had washed and prepared for supper, he went out to see that Russ did not spray too much water on the newly set out plants.

Norah, the cook, had supper almost ready[Pg 34] and Adam had told Russ enough water had been used when the boy, looking down the street, saw his father approaching.

“Here comes daddy!” he cried.

Mr. Bunker waved his newspaper and as he reached the gate and saw the visitor a pleasant smile came over his face and he cried:

“Well, Adam North! Glad to see you! How’s Farmer Joel?”

“Right hearty! I brought you those flowers.”

“That’s good! Hello, Russ! How’s everything here?”

“All right, Daddy!”

“Daddy! Daddy!” came in a chorus from the other little Bunkers, and their father was overwhelmed in a joyous rush.

“What’s the secret?”

“Tell us the secret!”

“Can Mother tell us the secret now?”

These were only a few of the words Mr. Bunker heard as he was hugged and kissed.

“Secret?” he exclaimed, looking at Adam. “What secret?”

[Pg 35]

“Oh, you know!” laughed Rose. “It must be about Farmer Joel!”

“Oh, that!” chuckled Mr. Bunker. “Yes, the secret is about him,” he admitted. “But how did you all know it?”

“There’s been a lot of excitement in the last hour,” said Adam. “I nearly ran over a doll, just missed smashing Russ, and there’s a secret in the air. Oh, nobody’s hurt,” he quickly added, for he saw that Mr. Bunker looked a little alarmed at the mention of what had so nearly been an accident.

“That’s good,” said Daddy Bunker.

“The secret! The secret!” begged the children.

“All right. Come into the house and I’ll tell you the secret,” he promised.

With whoops of delight, in trooped the six little Bunkers.

[Pg 36]


“Supper is all ready, Daddy! We’ll sit right down,” called Mother Bunker, as the happy crowd entered. “I see you have already met Farmer Joel’s man,” she added, nodding and smiling.

“Oh, yes, Adam and I are old friends,” Mr. Bunker said. “And I’m glad supper is ready, for I’m hungry. Let me see now——”

“The secret! The secret!”

“You promised to tell us the secret!”

“Tell us now!”

“Don’t wait until after supper!”

Thus cried the six little Bunkers.

“Quiet, children! Please be quiet!” begged their mother. “What will Adam North think of you?”

“Oh, let ’em go on! I like it!” chuckled the truck driver.

[Pg 37]

“I think perhaps I had better tell the secret,” said Mr. Bunker. “It is the only way we shall have any peace and quiet. Now all of you sit down to the table,” he ordered, “and when you can compose yourselves I will tell you what I have to say.”

It took some little time for all of the six little Bunkers to get quiet, but finally each one was sitting nicely in his or her chair, with their father at one end of the table and their mother at the other, Adam having a place next to Mr. Bunker.

“Now,” said Mr. Bunker, when all was quiet, “in order that you will not eat too fast, to get through supper quickly to hear the secret, I am going to tell it to you now.”

“Oh, I can hardly wait!” murmured Rose.

“What is it?” asked Violet.

Then came a moment of eager, anxious waiting.

“We are all going to spend the summer at Farmer Joel’s,” said Mr. Bunker suddenly.

“Oh! Oh! Oh!” came the murmurs of delight. Mrs. Bunker, with laughter shining in her eyes, looked at the happy faces around her.

[Pg 38]

“They sure will have fun out there!” said Adam.

“Do you really mean it?” asked Russ. “Are we going?”

“Surely,” said his father. “Farmer Joel’s sister, who has been keeping house for him, is going away on a visit. When he told me this he said he didn’t know what he was going to do, as he didn’t want a strange woman coming in to look after the place. Then I said I would bring my six little Bunkers up there and they would keep house for him.”

“Did you really say that, Daddy?” Rose asked eagerly.

“I surely did.”

“Well, I can keep house a little bit,” Rose went on. “But to cook for a farmer——”

Rose began to look worried, so her mother said:

“You won’t have to do it all alone. I am going with you, and so is Norah, and we’ll see that Farmer Joel doesn’t get hungry.”

“Oh, if mother is coming it will be all right,” said Violet.

“Fine! Yes!” cried the other little Bunkers.[Pg 39] You can see they thought a great deal of their mother.

“So that is how it came about,” went on Mr. Bunker. “Farmer Joel’s sister is going away on a long visit—to remain all summer. We are going up there to live on his farm.”

“And can I help get in the crops?” asked Russ, who liked to be busy.

“Yes, we’ll all help,” his father promised. “I think you need a lot of help on a farm in summer, don’t you, Adam?” he asked.

“That’s right,” answered Farmer Joel’s hired man. “The more help we have the better. I’m pretty well rushed myself in the summer.”

“And can we see the horses?” asked Violet.

“And the cows?” came from Laddie.

“And the sheep?” Mun Bun wanted to know.

“And the apple trees?” asked Margy.

“I’d like to see the bees make honey,” remarked Rose, who, herself, was often as busy as any bee.

“You shall see everything there is to see,” promised Daddy Bunker. “There! Now you know the secret. We are going off to[Pg 40] Farmer Joel’s for the summer, and I think we shall have a fine time. Now eat your suppers!”

And the six little Bunkers did.

After supper there was more talk about going to the farm, and Mr. Bunker said:

“I have been talking with Adam, and this seems the best way to go. Cedarhurst, where Farmer Joel lives, is about forty miles from here. It is not on any railroad, so we shall need to go in the automobile. As our car is hardly large enough to take us all and the trunks we shall need this is what we can do.

“Adam and I will ride to Cedarhurst in the big auto truck that brought the flowers. In that we can also take the baggage—the trunks of clothes and the like. The children can also ride in the truck with me. We’ll fill it full of straw.”

“Oh, that will be fun!” cried Russ.

“A regular straw ride!” added Rose.

“But what about mother?” asked Violet. “Is she going in the truck with us?”

“Your mother and Norah will drive up in our own touring car,” said Mr. Bunker.

“When can we go?” asked Russ.

[Pg 41]

“In a few days,” his father answered.

“Then I won’t bother to make the seesaw here,” went on Russ. “I’ll save the nails and take them to Farmer Joel’s.”

“That’s a good idea,” agreed Rose. “We can make a lovely teeter-totter up there, and have lots of fun.”

In the early evening, after supper, not much was talked of by the six little Bunkers but the coming visit to Farmer Joel’s. Mrs. Bunker, who had been to the farm some years before with her husband, told the children about it. There were many places where they could have fun, she said.

The evening was passing. Mun Bun and Margy, in spite of their hard work to keep awake, were fast falling asleep, their little heads nodding from side to side and their eyes closing.

“It’s time they were in bed!” cried Mrs. Bunker, when she finally noticed them. “It’s long past their hour. And Laddie and Vi, too! They must go to bed!”

“I’ll carry up Mun Bun,” offered Mr. Bunker.

“And I’ll take Margy,” said Adam, for[Pg 42] both the smallest children were now asleep.

“Come, Vi,” suggested her mother. “You and Laddie can go up by yourselves.”

“Laddie isn’t here,” said Violet.

“He isn’t? Where is he?” asked her mother. “Perhaps he has fallen asleep in a corner of the porch,” for they were sitting out on the piazza talking over the coming visit to Farmer Joel’s.

“No, he isn’t here,” went on Violet. “He got up and walked off a little while ago.”

“Then I guess he went up to bed by himself,” said Mr. Bunker, as he went into the house carrying Mun Bun, while Adam followed with Margy. “I’ll see if he’s in his room,” he added to his wife.

But a little later, when Mr. Bunker called down: “Laddie isn’t up here!” there was some excitement.

“Where can he be?” asked Mrs. Bunker.

“Maybe he’s out in the yard trying to catch lightning bugs,” suggested Rose, for she and Russ were to be allowed to remain up a little later than the smaller children.

“It’s too early for lightning bugs,” replied Mrs. Bunker. “Where can the child have[Pg 43] gone? Laddie! Laddie!” she called, raising her voice. “Where are you?”

But the only sound was the singing of the frogs down in the pond—that is, if you call the noise the frogs make “singing.” There was no answer from Laddie.

“He may have wandered down into the garden, to look at some of the flowers you set out,” suggested Mr. Bunker.

“He couldn’t see flowers in the dark,” objected Mrs. Bunker.

“He might if he took a flashlight,” said Russ. “Maybe that’s what he did. I’ll go and look for him.”

“I’ll come and help you,” offered Adam.

But a search through the garden and more calling of Laddie’s name brought no answer from the little fellow.

“Where can he have gone?” exclaimed Mrs. Bunker. “I’m afraid he’s lost.”

[Pg 44]


Mr. Bunker saw that his wife was growing a little alarmed over Laddie’s absence, so he said:

“Now don’t worry, we’ll find Laddie.”

“I’ll help you look for him,” said Adam. “He can’t have gone very far.”

“Maybe he fell asleep in the summer-house,” suggested Russ, for at the end of the garden was a rustic summer-house, or pavilion, in which the children sometimes played. But Laddie was not there.

“Could he have fallen into the brook?” asked Rose.

“If he did, all that could happen would be that he got wet,” her father answered, with a laugh.

“And if Laddie fell into the brook I guess he’d yell and we would hear him,” Rose said, nodding her head.

[Pg 45]

“’Tisn’t very deep, anyhow,” added Russ.

They looked farther in the garden for Laddie and called his name, but there was no answer. Mr. Bunker was just beginning to get worried when the telephone in the house suddenly rang.

“Maybe that’s some news of him!” exclaimed the mother of the missing little fellow. She started toward the telephone, but Laddie’s father reached it first.

“Hello! Hello!” called Mr. Bunker into the telephone.

The others listened to what he had to say.

“Yes! Yes,” he went on. “Oh, then he’s all right. I’m glad of that. Thank you! Yes, I’ll be right down after him.”

“Evidently it’s about Laddie?” said Mrs. Bunker in a questioning voice.

“Yes,” answered her husband, as he hung up the receiver. “Laddie is in the police station.”

“The police station!” cried Russ.

“Is he arrested? What for?” Rose queried wonderingly.

Daddy Bunker laughed, which let them all know it could not be very serious.

[Pg 46]

“What is it?” asked his wife.

“As nearly as I can make out,” said Mr. Bunker, “Laddie wandered away from here and went to the police station about some riddle.”

“A riddle!” cried Adam North. “Good gasoline! That boy must dream of riddles!”

“I sometimes think he does,” sighed his mother. “But what sort of riddle is it this time?” she asked her husband.

“The officer at the police station didn’t just know,” was Mr. Bunker’s answer. “He said they had Laddie there and asked me to come and get him, as they didn’t want to send him home with a policeman for fear the neighbors would think something had happened. As nearly as I can make out, Laddie must have thought of a riddle and have gone to the police station to see if any one could guess it.”

“Why didn’t he ask one of us?” his mother wanted to know. “He generally does ask us first.”

“We’ll find out all about it when I bring him home,” replied Mr. Bunker. “I’ll go right after him.”

[Pg 47]

“Will you take the car?” asked Mrs. Bunker.

“Yes, I think I’d better. Laddie may have fallen asleep, and he’s pretty heavy to carry.”

“I’ll go with you,” offered Adam, and soon they were at the police station.

There they found Laddie wide awake, sitting in the assembly room of the station house, while several officers, who were on reserve duty, were laughing and joking with him.

“He’s far from being asleep,” said Mr. North.

“I should say so!” agreed Mr. Bunker. “Laddie boy, what in the world are you doing down here?” he asked the little fellow.

“I came down to find out about a riddle,” he answered.

“And he’s had us all guessing riddles ever since he walked in here about an hour ago,” chuckled the police sergeant in charge of the station. “He’s a great boy!”

“I didn’t perzactly come down here to ask riddles,” said Laddie. “But I wanted to make up a riddle about a policeman to ask Farmer Joel when I got to the farm, and I had to see a police station inside to make up the riddle.”

[Pg 48]

“Well, did you make the riddle up?” asked the sergeant, with another laugh. Life at the station was very often dull, and the men on duty welcomed any little change.

“Yes, I got a riddle,” Laddie announced. “’Tisn’t very good, but maybe I can think of a better one after a while. This is it. Why is a police station like a candy shop?”

“Ha! Ha!” laughed the sergeant. “That may be a riddle, but I can’t see it. Nothing could be more different than a candy store and this police station.”

“Yes, there’s something alike in each of them,” went on Laddie. “Do you all give up?” he asked. “Can you tell why a police station is like a candy shop?”

“Is it because when people are brought here they have to stick?” asked Adam.

“Ha! Ha! That’s pretty good!” laughed the sergeant. “I’d never think of that myself! Pretty good! A police station is like a candy shop because people have to stick here! And it’s true! They do have to stick if we arrest them and put them in a cell. And if there’s sticky candy on the floor of a candy shop they’d stick there. Pretty good!”

[Pg 49]

“No, that isn’t the reason,” said Laddie. “Listen. I’ll tell you. A police station is like a candy shop because it’s full of sticks. Sticks, you know—the policemen’s clubs. They’re like sticks of candy, you know!”

“Ha! Ha!” laughed the sergeant again. “That’s pretty good! I must remember that to tell the captain. Well, good night to you,” he added, as Mr. Bunker led Laddie out, thanking the sergeant and his men for having entertained and kept the little boy.

On the way home in the automobile Mr. Bunker said Laddie should not have slipped off and gone down the street to the police station without telling some one about it.

“We were all worried, Laddie,” went on his father.

“I’m sorry,” the little fellow said. “I won’t do it again. But I got to thinking I could make up a good riddle about a policeman, and I thought it would be better if I could see one before I made the riddle, so I just went.”

“Well, it’s a pretty good riddle—I’ll say that,” chuckled Adam North. “Maybe you can make up some about the farm when you[Pg 50] get there. Farmer Joel likes jokes and riddles.”

“I’ll make up a lot of them for him,” kindly offered Laddie, as if he had a stock of riddles constantly on hand and could turn them out at a moment’s notice.

“Oh, Laddie, you bad boy, where have you been?” asked his mother when he reached home.

When they told her his riddle about the police station and candy shop, she could not help laughing.

A few days after this everything was ready for the start to Farmer Joel’s. Mr. Bunker had arranged to leave his real estate business in charge of his men at the office, and Mrs. Bunker prepared to close the house, taking Norah with her to cook at the farm.

The children’s clothing had been packed in valises and trunks, and piled in the big auto truck which was filled with straw to make a comfortable resting place for the six little Bunkers on their forty-mile trip.

As I have told you, the children and their father would ride in the big truck with Adam, and Mrs. Bunker would follow with Norah[Pg 51] in the touring car, the children’s mother doing the driving.

All was one grand excitement in the home of the six little Bunkers when the morning came on which they were to leave for the farm. Every one seemed to be talking at once, and certainly the children, Violet especially, never seemed to have asked so many questions before.

Laddie, too, was on the alert. He was working on a new riddle. He spoke of it to Russ.

“It’s about a tree,” said Laddie.

“Oh, I know that old riddle,” Russ said. “You mean why is a tree like a dog? Because it has a bark.”

“No, it isn’t that one,” Laddie said eagerly. “This is a new riddle. Now I have it! What’s the difference between a tree and a bird? Can you answer that?”

“Let me see now,” murmured Russ, who wanted to please his little brother. “The difference between a bird and a tree. Well, one flies and the other doesn’t.”

“Nope!” cried Laddie. “I’ll tell you. A tree leaves in the spring and a bird leaves in[Pg 52] the fall. See what I mean? A tree leaves in the spring—the leaves come out. But a bird leaves in the fall. The bird leaves the North and flies down South where it’s warm.”

“I don’t think that’s a very good riddle,” said Russ.

“Well, maybe I can think of a better one after a while,” Laddie remarked cheerfully. He certainly was good-natured.

Now that the time of going to the farm had arrived, Violet was eager to find out all about the animals. She fairly pestered Adam with wanting to know things. She asked:

“How many chickens are there? How many cows? Did you ever count the bees?”

“Count the bees? Good land, no!” laughed Adam. “There’s millions of ’em and they never keep still long enough to be counted. Besides, if I tried they might sting me.”

“Well,” said Vi, “are there any——”

“Violet, get in the truck and sit still,” ordered her mother firmly, and Violet obeyed.

Everything was ready for the start. Mr. Bunker was counting the children and the trunks and the satchels, to make sure none was missing, when Rose asked:

[Pg 53]

“Where’s Margy?”

“Here she comes,” said Russ, as he noticed his little sister appearing around the corner of the house.

“What in the world is she carrying?” asked Mr. Bunker.

And well might he inquire. For Margy was half dragging half carrying a large pasteboard box which seemed alive, for it swayed from side to side and seemed about to leap away.

“Margy, what have you there?” called her father.

Before she could answer the box gave a sudden lurch to one side, Margy lost her balance, and down she went on the path in a heap, the box tumbling over and over as if it had suddenly come to life. What could it be?

[Pg 54]


Five little Bunkers, with their father, their mother, Norah, and Adam North looked at one little Bunker in a queer plight. That one little Bunker was Margy.

After her fall Margy rolled along the path a short distance, for she was a round little girl, quite chubby and, as her father often said, “about as broad as she was long.”

As Margy rolled along, the box she had been carrying also rolled.

There was nothing very strange in Margy’s rolling over and over after a tumble. She often did that. So did the other little Bunkers. So, also, do you if you are little and fat.

There was also nothing very strange in the box, which Margy had been carrying, rolling over. That is, there would not have been[Pg 55] anything strange if the box had just rolled in one direction.

But it did not. It rolled this way and that way and the other way and then it rolled this way again, in such a strange manner that Russ cried:

“What in the world can be in that box to make it go that way?”

“It’s just as if it was alive!” said Rose.

“Maybe it’s a riddle!” suggested Laddie.

Mrs. Bunker had gone to Margy to pick her up. Beyond a scratch or two and some bruises, together with some dust on her dress, Margy was unharmed. She was used to cuts and bruises, so these did not much matter. Nor did the dust.

Russ ran to pick up the queer, rolling box, calling out:

“What’s in it, Margy?”

Before she could answer there came from within the box, the cover of which was fitted tightly on, a little yipping whine and bark.

“Oh, it’s a dog!” cried Mun Bun. “I want to see the dog!”

“Dog!” exclaimed Violet. “It must be a terribly little dog to be in a box like that.”

[Pg 56]

“Margy, what have you in the box?” asked her father, as Russ was trying to take off the cover.

“It’s a—now—a puppy!” answered Margy.

“A puppy!” cried the other five little Bunkers, while Margy’s mother asked:

“Where did you get the puppy, Margy?”

“I went over to Tommy Baker’s house. His dog has some little puppies, and I took one and put it in this box ’cause I want to take a puppy with me to the farm,” Margy answered.

The others laughed.

By this time Russ had managed to get the cover off the box, and a cute little puppy stuck his head out, and, with his tongue, began licking Russ’s hands. I suppose that was the puppy’s way of telling how glad he was to get out of the box.

“Oh, isn’t he sweet!” cried Rose.

“Could we keep him?” begged Violet.

“I love him an’ he’s my puppy!” announced Margy.

“Well, the next time you love a puppy don’t shut him up in a box without any air, and don’t drop him so the box rolls and he turns[Pg 57] somersaults,” advised Daddy Bunker. “Russ, you run back to Mr. Baker’s with the little dog, and tell him Margy didn’t really mean to take it.”

“Oh, Daddy! can’t I keep it?” begged Margy.

“No, dear. It belongs to Tommy Baker. You’ll find animals enough out at Farmer Joel’s, anyway,” said her mother, as Russ started back with the puppy in his arms.

For a moment it seemed as if Margy would cry, but Mun Bun kept her tears back by saying:

“It was awful funny when he did roll over and over in the box. I like a puppy to do that!” And when the others laughed at Mun Bun’s funny way of saying this, Margy also laughed.

Russ came running back, having left the puppy with the others, a last look was taken around the house to see that all was in good order, and then Mrs. Bunker and Norah started off in the touring car and Daddy and Adam North started in the big straw-filled truck with the six little Bunkers.

“Oh, this is great! It’s going to be lots of[Pg 58] fun!” exclaimed Russ, as they rumbled along.

“I hope there’s a big, old-fashioned kitchen at Farmer Joel’s,” said Rose. “Mother said I might help her with the baking of cake and pies.”

“Well, I’ll help with the eating,” laughed Russ. “I hope there’s a brook on the farm. I want to make a water wheel and build a little toy mill that the water wheel will turn.”

“I’ll help you,” offered Laddie, as Russ whistled merrily.

The way to Cedarhurst where Farmer Joel lived was along a pleasant road, and the children, sitting on the straw in the big truck, enjoyed looking out through openings in the canvas sides.

“Did we bring anything to eat?” asked Vi, after a few miles had been journeyed.

“No, daddy said we were going to stop in Westfield for our lunch,” explained Rose. “We are going to meet mother there and all eat together in a restaurant.”

“Oh, that’ll be fun!” declared Vi.

“It would be more fun if we could camp beside the road, make a fire and cook something,” suggested Russ.

[Pg 59]

“If I had a gun I could shoot something and we could cook that,” cried Laddie.

“Pooh! What could you shoot? A bear?” asked his twin sister.

“No,” he drawled. “But maybe I could shoot a chicken.”

“If you did the farmer that owned it would have you arrested,” declared Russ. “I guess it will be better for us to eat in the restaurant.”

Adam North, who sat up in the front seat with Daddy Bunker, suddenly turned the truck off to one side of the road and brought the big machine to a stop.

“Oh, are we there already?” cried Rose, leaping up from the straw where she had been sitting beside Russ.

“Are we at Farmer Joel’s?” asked Violet eagerly.

“I want to wide on a horsie!” demanded Mun Bun.

“No, we aren’t there yet,” answered Adam. “But I need some water in the radiator of the auto, so I’ll just stop here and get some. There’s a farmer here whom I know.”

“May we get out?” asked Russ, for he[Pg 60] thought perhaps they might not stop long enough for this.

“Oh, yes, get out and stretch your legs,” his father told him.

“I’ll wait here five or ten minutes and cool down the engine,” added Adam.

With whoops and shouts of delight the six little Bunkers piled out of the truck and ran up and down the road. The machine had come to a stop with the open rear end close to a wooden platform, which was just as high as the floor of the big car. From the platform a flight of steps led to the ground, and the Bunker children got out on this platform and so descended.

“What’s this for?” asked Violet, with her usual way of starting questions.

“This,” her father told her, “is a milk platform.”

“What’s a milk——” began Vi, but her father held up his hand.

“I’ll tell you all about it, and then you won’t have to ask any more questions,” he said, with a smile. “This platform is built for the farmer to set his cans of milk on. It is made high, so it is easy to roll the cans of milk[Pg 61] from the platform into the wagon. The milk is collected by a big wagon, or auto truck, from the cheese factory. Many farmers around here sell their milk and cream to the cheese factory, and these platforms are built to make the work easier.”

“Oh,” murmured Violet. She had never had so many questions answered before without her asking any, and she was in rather a daze.

“Now run along and play with the others,” her father told her, for the five little Bunkers were wandering about, looking at things around the farmhouse.

Mr. Armstrong owned the place, and he came out to shake hands with Mr. Bunker and Adam North, telling the latter to take as much water as he needed for the thirsty automobile.

Mrs. Armstrong invited the children in and gave them some cookies and glasses of milk.

“Aren’t you afraid you’ll spoil your appetites for dinner by eating now?” asked Daddy Bunker. “It’s eleven o’clock, and we’ll have lunch about noon.”

“I guess I can eat again,” said Russ.

“So can I.” “And I!” cried the others.

[Pg 62]

“Bless their hearts!” laughed the motherly Mrs. Armstrong.

While the auto engine was cooling the children ran about and played tag. Rose thought perhaps her mother and Norah might come past in the touring car, but Adam said they had probably taken a shorter way, over a back road.

“I couldn’t go that way because the truck is so heavy,” he explained. “I have to stick to the hard highways. But we’ll meet your mother in Westfield.”

“Oh, come on out and see what I found!” cried Margy, running around the corner of the house.

“What is it?” asked Mun Bun.

“A lot of little pigs in a pen, and they squeal like anything!” Margy answered.

“Oh, I want to see the pigs! Maybe I can make up a riddle about ’em!” cried Laddie.

There was a rush for the pen, and the children had fun watching the little pigs stumble about, rooting with their pink noses in the dirt of their pen for something to eat.

But now the engine was cool enough to travel on, and Mr. Bunker called the children[Pg 63] to come back. Russ was the first to reach the machine, running up the platform steps ready to help his smaller brothers and sisters if they needed it.

He peered inside the truck, thinking perhaps the straw would need spreading out again in a smooth layer, and, as he did so, he started back in surprise.

“What’s the matter?” asked Rose, who had followed him.

“There’s something in there—in the straw,” whispered Russ.

“You mean one of the children?” asked Rose, for thus she often spoke of her smaller brothers and sister.

“No, it—it looks like some animal,” said Russ. “Look!”

Rose looked and saw a dark object—clearly an animal—moving about in the straw.

“Oh, maybe it’s a bear!” she cried.

[Pg 64]


Four other little Bunkers were hurrying up the platform steps to get into the auto truck when Rose and Russ made this discovery of a strange animal in the straw.

The first impulse of Rose was to run from the animal that, she half thought, might be a bear that had wandered in from the woods not far away and had found the warm straw a good place in which to sleep. The next thought Rose had was for her smaller brothers and sisters.

Daddy Bunker and Adam North were up near the front of the truck, getting ready to take their seats, for the engine was now cool and the radiator filled with fresh water.

Russ had the same idea as had Rose—the desire to save his brothers and sisters from harm. Seeing them coming up the platform steps he cried:

[Pg 65]

“Keep back! Keep back! Don’t come up here!”

“What’s the matter?” asked Laddie.

“There’s something in the straw,” Russ answered.

“It’s an animal!” added Rose. “A big animal!”

“Oh, I want to see it!” cried Mun Bun. “I like animals! Maybe we can have a circus—this is like a circus wagon!”

The big truck certainly was. But Rose did not intend to have Mun Bun or the other small ones rush into danger. She stood on the milk platform at the top of the steps, holding out her hands.

“You mustn’t go in there where the animal is!” cried Rose. “Russ, can’t you do something?” and her voice was shrill with excitement.

“I’ll get a stick—a stone—something——” panted Russ.

Just then from inside the truck came a stamping sound, as if the animal were kicking about. At the same time a loud cry echoed.

“What’s the matter?” asked Daddy Bunker, coming back from the front end of the truck.

[Pg 66]

At the same time Mr. Armstrong, the farmer, hurried out of a side gate, calling:

“Did any of you see a little colt? He got out of the pasture, and I don’t want him to run away. He’s valuable and he may get hurt.”

Before any one could answer the sound of neighing came from inside the truck, and then Russ knew it was made by the animal he and Rose had seen standing in the straw.

“Ha! That sounds like my colt!” said Farmer Armstrong.

“It is!” shouted Russ, with a laugh. “He’s in the auto. I’ll get him out.”

The oldest Bunker boy started to go inside the auto truck, whence came the neighing, stamping sound of the little horse. But Mr. Armstrong called out:

“No, lad, don’t go in there. He might kick you. Not that he’s ugly, but he’s in a strange place, and if you go in he might think you meant to harm him. Better let me do it. I know how to handle that colt.”

The six little Bunkers, with their father and Adam North, stood at one side to allow Mr.[Pg 67] Armstrong to enter the truck. In he went, speaking soothing words to the little colt.

“Oh, ho, Bonnie Boy! So you thought you’d hide away and go with the six little Bunkers, did you? None of that! We want you to stay on our farm! So you tried to hide in the straw, did you, Bonnie Boy? Well, come out and I’ll give you a lump of sugar.”

And out of the truck, onto the milk platform, walked Mr. Armstrong, leading by his halter the colt Bonnie Boy, as he was named.

“Oh, isn’t he sweet?” cried Violet. “How old is he and where is his mother and has he any brothers and sisters and——”

“Careful, Vi!” laughingly called her father. “Mr. Armstrong isn’t used to having so many questions fired at him at once.”

“Oh, I don’t mind,” laughed the good-natured farmer. “But this is the only little colt I have, and his mother is down in the south pasture. Now you can pet him if you want to,” he added to the children. “He won’t kick when he’s outside here where he can see who is near him.”

Up on the platform, around Bonnie Boy,[Pg 68] crowded the six little Bunkers, and the colt rubbed his velvet-like nose against them and whinnied softly.

“And to think I took him for a bear!” laughed Rose, as she stroked the glossy neck of the colt.

“Well, he did look like one,” declared Russ.

“Did he walk up the steps?” asked Violet. “I don’t see how he could.”

“Oh, he’s a great little colt,” said Mr. Armstrong proudly. “He does all sorts of tricks. One day he got out of the pasture and walked right into the kitchen where my wife was making a cake. She thought I was coming in with my big boots on, so she didn’t turn around, and the colt put his nose on the back of her neck. She—Ha! Ha! She thought I was kissing her. Oh, ho! ho!” and the farmer laughed heartily.

Then he led Bonnie Boy down the steps, the little colt making no trouble at all about treading on them. He was taken back to the pasture where his mother was waiting for him, doubtless wondering what had become of him. It was found that there was a break in the[Pg 69] fence, just large enough for the colt to squeeze through, but not large enough for his mother, or she would have followed him.

The colt had wandered about, coming up to the rear of the house, and had then made his way to the front, going up the steps of the milk platform, and so into the big straw-filled truck, which, perhaps, he thought was a new kind of barn.

“Well, now we’d better be traveling,” said Mr. Bunker, when the little colt was taken away. “We don’t want to be late in meeting mother in Westfield.”

Once again the six little Bunkers were on their way.

They were soon at Westfield, a small country town, and when the big truck drew up in front of the only restaurant in the place there was the touring car, with Mrs. Bunker and Norah sitting in it, waiting.

“We got here first, and we would have been here before but I had a puncture and we had to change a tire,” said Mrs. Bunker.

“That’s too bad,” remarked her husband.

“Did you have any adventures?” asked Mrs. Bunker.

[Pg 70]

“Oh, I should say we did!” cried Violet “There was——”

“The cutest little colt!” broke in Rose, “and he——”

“Was in the straw,” continued Russ, “and when Rose saw him she——”

“Thought he was a bear,” said Laddie.

Thus several of the little Bunkers had a turn in telling what had happened.

“That was quite an adventure!” laughed Mrs. Bunker, when she had been told all that had taken place at the Armstrong farm.

“I’m trying to make up a riddle about the colt, but I haven’t got very far yet,” said Laddie. “It’s something about straw and a horseshoe and—oh, well, maybe I’ll think of it after a while,” he said hopefully.

They had a delightful time, lunching in the restaurant, and nothing much happened except that Mun Bun spilled a glass of water in his lap and got wet. But as it was a warm day it didn’t matter.

Margy discovered a little kitten wandering about the eating place, and she insisted on giving pussy some of her milk. The result was, Margy’s hands not being very steady,[Pg 71] that she upset a glass of milk on the floor.

But, as the restaurant keeper said, it didn’t matter, for the floor needed mopping anyhow.

Once more the little party started off in the two automobiles, Mrs. Bunker and Norah in the touring car taking the lead. In about an hour more they were at Cedarhurst. Then very soon, turning down a quiet country road, the six little Bunkers saw in the distance a white farmhouse in the middle of broad fields—a farmhouse with barns and other buildings around it.

“That’s a dandy place!” exclaimed Russ.

“Lovely,” murmured Rose.

“Is that where we’re going to stay?” asked Violet.

“Yes, that is Farmer Joel’s,” her father answered.

A little later the little Bunkers were fairly tumbling out of the auto truck in their eagerness to see all the sights. Mrs. Bunker and Norah were already at the place.

“My, but I’m glad to see you all!” cried Farmer Joel, and the six little Bunkers needed but one look at him to make sure they would love him, for Mr. Todd was a kindly man.[Pg 72] And his sister, Miss Lavina, was just as loving and kind.

“Well, I’m glad you’re here,” said Miss Todd. “Now that I see so many lovely children it makes me want to stay and play with you. But brother Joel says I need a vacation, so I’m going off on a visit.”

The big farm was the most delightful place in the world at which to spend a vacation. As Adam North had said, there were broad fields—some green pastures, and others where hay and grain were growing. There were two orchards, one of apple trees and another of peach trees.

“And don’t eat apples yet, for they aren’t ripe,” warned Farmer Joel as the children, putting on their old clothes, started out to explore things.

“I want to see some horses!” cried Laddie.

“I want to go where the sheep are,” Mun Bun said.

“So do I,” chimed in Margy.

“I’ll go to the kitchen to help mother,” offered Rose, but her mother said:

“No, you run out and play now. Norah[Pg 73] and I can manage the work all right. Later on if you want to help you may.”

So Rose went out with Russ and the others.

“There’s a brook, Russ!” called Violet, as she caught sight of the sparkle of a little stream.

“That’s good. Then I’ll make a water wheel and a mill,” said Russ.

He and Laddie were looking at the brook, poking in sticks to find out how deep it was and making ready to build the dam for the water wheel, when suddenly they heard the voice of Rose crying:

“Oh, drive him away! Make him go away! Oh! Oh! Oh!”

“What’s that?” asked Russ, looking up.

“It was Rose,” answered Laddie. “I guess——”

The loud barking of a dog interrupted him, and Rose cried again:

“Oh, Russ, come and drive him away!”

[Pg 74]


Russ looked up from the dam he was making for the water wheel. He could not see Rose. Nor could Laddie, who was helping his brother make the little mill pond. But Rose kept on yelling and the dog kept on barking.

“Oh, somebody please come!” cried Rose.

“I’m coming!” shouted Russ.

He leaped up, followed by Laddie, and, as they turned around a clump of bushes and looked down the brook they saw Rose standing with her back against a big tree while in front of her, leaping about and barking loudly, was a large brown dog.

“Oh, Russ! Russ!” begged his sister, as she caught sight of him and Laddie. “Come and drive this dog away! He wants to bite me!”

“I’ll drive him away!” declared Russ.

[Pg 75]

“And I’ll help,” added Laddie. “He’s a bad dog!”

Before the two brothers could reach their sister there came running toward Rose another boy. This boy had a freckled face and red hair.

“Don’t hit my dog!” cried this red-haired boy. “He won’t hurt you. Hi, Jimsie!” called this new boy, “behave yourself! Down! Quiet! Quit your barking!”

The dog looked around at the voice, wagged his tail to show that he was friendly, and stopped barking. Just then up rushed Russ and Laddie with sticks in their hands. Rose also had a stick which she had raised toward the dog, but she had not hit him.

“Don’t beat my dog Jimsie!” begged the strange boy. “He didn’t mean any harm.”

“What did he try to bite my sister for?” demanded Russ, who was angry.

“Oh, he didn’t exactly try to bite me,” said Rose. “He just barked a lot and he wouldn’t let me get away, and I was afraid he’d bite me.”

“Jimsie wouldn’t bite anybody,” said the boy, whose name was Ralph Watson. He[Pg 76] lived on the farm next to that of Mr. Todd.

“Well, then, what made him bark at my sister?” asked Russ.

“’Cause she had a stick,” answered Ralph.

“Does he bark at everybody who has a stick?” asked Laddie. “If he does why doesn’t he bark at Russ and me—we have sticks?”

“I guess he will bark at you as soon as he sees you have sticks,” Ralph answered. “I’ll try him.” He moved around until he stood beside Russ and Laddie, and as the dog’s eyes followed his young master Jimsie caught sight of the two Bunker boys and the sticks they held. At once Jimsie began to bark, greatly excited.

“There! I told you!” cried Ralph.

“What makes him bark so just because he sees a stick?” asked Russ. “Does he think we’re going to hit him with ’em? I wouldn’t hit any dog, unless he was going to bite somebody.”

“No, Jimsie doesn’t think he’s going to be hit,” explained Ralph. “He just wants you to throw the sticks in the brook so he can jump in and bring ’em out. Always when he sees[Pg 77] any one with a stick he thinks they’re going to play with him and throw the stick into the water. I guess he thought you were going to play with him,” said Ralph to Rose, “and when you didn’t—why, he just barked.”

“Oh, I see!” exclaimed Rose, with a laugh, for she was over her fright now. “That was his way of asking me to throw the stick in the water.”

“Yes,” answered Ralph with a smile that lighted up his jolly, freckled face. “Sometimes he barks like anything when I take a stick and don’t throw it in for him to bring out.”

And, indeed, Jimsie seemed very much excited now because Russ and Laddie would not toss their sticks into the brook. And at last, to please the dog, Russ tossed his stick in.

Instantly Jimsie plunged in after it, swimming out and bringing the stick back to shore, dropping it at the feet of Russ as if asking that it be thrown in again.

“Oh, isn’t he cute!” exclaimed Rose.

“He’s a good dog!” declared Russ.

“Will he bring out a stick for me?” asked Laddie.

[Pg 78]

“He’ll do it for anybody,” answered Ralph.

“I’ll try it,” said Laddie.

In he tossed his stick, and in plunged Jimsie after it, bringing it back to shore, which made Laddie laugh. Then Jimsie gave himself a shake, sending a shower of drops all over Rose, who was near him.

“Oh!” cried the little Bunker girl in surprise.

“Jimsie, don’t you know any better than that?” cried Ralph, in a scolding voice. “Shame on you!”

“Oh, I don’t mind,” said Rose quickly. “This is an old dress and water won’t spot it. There, go in and get my stick!” she ordered, as she tossed hers into the brook. “You wanted me to throw it before, but I didn’t know what you meant by your barking. Now get the stick.”

Jimsie quickly brought the stick to shore for Rose. Then Ralph tossed one in and his dog got that. Russ and Laddie wanted to try their sticks over again, but Rose said:

“Oh, the poor dog will get tired! Don’t make him do so much.”

“He likes it,” Ralph said. “He’d chase[Pg 79] sticks all day, I guess, if you’d throw ’em for him. But maybe it’s time he quit. I have to go after the cows, anyhow.”

“Where are they? Could we go with you?” asked Laddie eagerly.

“Do you live around here?” Russ wanted to know.

Ralph Watson told his name and where he lived, but he said it was a long distance to the cow pasture where he had to go, and he added that the mother of the Bunker children might not let them go.

“I’ll take you to-morrow if you want to come, though,” Ralph promised.

“Then we’ll go,” said Rose.

Then, in answer to a question, she told the others that she had been walking along the brook looking for watercress, of which Daddy Bunker was very fond. Rose was using the stick to poke aside the bushes on the edge of the brook when suddenly Jimsie had sprung out at her, driving her back against the tree, where she had stood, afraid to move while the dog barked so furiously.

“If I had only known he wanted to play I’d have played with him,” finished Rose, with a[Pg 80] laugh. “But I thought he was a savage dog.”

“Oh, Jimsie is never ugly,” said Ralph. “He barks a lot, but I guess that’s because he has to do it when he helps me drive the cows. Well, I’ll see you again,” he added, as he started away with his dog.

“He’s a nice boy,” said Rose, when he was out of sight.

“I’d like to have that dog,” remarked Russ.

“I think—now maybe—I guess I have a riddle about a dog,” began Laddie, but before he could ask it, or even before he could think what it was, yells and screams came from another part of the brook.

“That’s Mun Bun!” exclaimed Rose.

“Sounded like Margy, too,” said Russ.

“Maybe they’ve fallen into the water,” suggested Laddie.

Just then Violet was heard asking:

“Oh, what did you want to go and do that for? Now you have gone and done it! Are your feet wet? Did you get hurt, Mun Bun?”

“Gosh!” laughed Russ, as he and the others started on a run for the place whence the voices sounded. “I guess Vi would ask questions if the house was on fire.”

[Pg 81]

“Sounds as if Margy and Mun Bun had fallen into the brook,” said Rose.

And that’s just what had happened. The three older Bunkers came upon Violet, Margy and Mun Bun a few seconds later. It was at a place where a small plank was laid across the brook as a bridge.

Standing in the water on one side of the plank was Mun Bun. In the water up to her knees on the other side of the plank, was Margy. Both children were in the middle of the brook, and Violet was on one shore.

“I guess Mun Bun’s feet are wet, and Margy’s, too!” chuckled Russ. “What’s the matter, Vi?” he asked. “What happened?”

“Oh, these children started to cross the little bridge, and Margy wanted to go first and Mun Bun wanted to go first, and they pushed and shoved and———”

“Which one went into the water first?” asked Rose, with a laugh, for, after all, the accident was not a bad one.

“I fell in first!” cried Mun Bun, as if this was something to be proud of.

“No, I did!” declared Margy.

“Well, you’d both better come out,” advised[Pg 82] Rose. “You’ll have to go up to the house and get on dry shoes and stockings.”

“I’m going to ask mother if I can’t go barefoot,” said Mun Bun.

“So’m I,” declared Margy.

Their mother let them go barefoot after scolding them a little for getting their shoes and stockings wet. She said they should have been more polite and not have tried one to get ahead of the other in crossing the plank.

“Well, I guess you’ll have to expect such things as wet feet and muddy clothes if the children play about the farm,” said Farmer Joel’s sister, who was getting ready to go off on her vacation.

“Oh, I don’t mind as long as the children aren’t hurt,” said their mother, with a laugh. “They’ll get used to the place after a while and know how to have fun without getting into too much trouble. Don’t go far away now,” she added. “Supper will soon be ready.”

“I’ll stay and help set the table,” offered Rose. And as Miss Todd would be busy with her own affairs and as Norah had the cooking[Pg 83] to look after, Mrs. Bunker was glad of Rose’s help.

Russ and Laddie went back to where they had been building the water wheel when Rose was frightened by the dog, and Violet, Mun Bun and Margy said they would go with Adam North, who started out to the barn to gather the eggs.

“Where do the hens lay their eggs?” asked Violet, starting some of her usual questions.

“Oh, in different places,” answered the hired man. “Sometimes away under the barn, and I have to crawl under the beams to get them out.”

“We could do that for you,” offered Violet. “We’re small and we could easy fit under the barn.”

“Yes, I do have trouble there,” replied Adam. “Once I got stuck under the barn floor.”

“Did you have to stay there a long time?” Violet asked.

“I did until they could take up some boards in the floor and let me crawl out that way,” laughed Adam.

Violet watched him go about in different[Pg 84] places in the barn to gather the eggs. She saw Margy and Mun Bun climbing about in the haymow, and then she forgot about her little brother and sister for a few moments, as Adam found a nest with more than a dozen eggs in it and called Violet to look at them.

When she returned to the middle of the barn she could not see either Mun Bun or Margy.

“Where are you?” she called.

Back came the answer, but in queer, muffled voices.

“We’re in the hay,” roared Mun Bun.

“And we can’t get out and it’s dark!” wailed Margy.

“What has happened to them?” Violet asked Adam North.

[Pg 85]


The hired man carefully set down the basket of eggs he had gathered from different places in the barn. Then he looked up toward the haymow. This mow was where the hay was piled in the barn to be kept dry so it could be fed to the horses.

“Were Margy and Mun Bun up there?” asked Adam of Violet.

“Yes, they went up there to slide down. Hay’s slippery, you know,” answered Violet. “Course it isn’t as slippery as snow or ice, but you can slide down hill on a pile of hay.”

“I know,” chuckled Adam. “I often used to do it when I was a boy on the farm. But I don’t see the children now.”

“You can hear them—listen!” advised Violet.

Again came the voices of Mun Bun and Margy.

[Pg 86]

“We’re in the dark! We’re in the dark!” wailed Margy, who did not like dark places.

“An’ the hay tickles me, it does!” howled Mun Bun. “I don’t like the hay to tickle me! Vi! Vi! Come and get me!”

Violet climbed up a little ladder that led from the floor of the barn to the top of the haymow. The ladder went all the way to the roof of the barn, for in winter the haymow was piled that full. But now there was only a little hay in the mow. It rose a few feet over the head of Adam as he stood on the barn floor, and Violet did not have to climb up many rungs of the ladder to see over the top of the pile of hay.

“They aren’t here!” she called down to Adam. “I can’t see Margy or Mun Bun anywhere, but I can hear them. And I hear a hen cackling.”

“I guess a hen has her nest up there,” said the hired man.

“Maybe the hen bit Margy and Mun Bun,” suggested Violet.

“I shouldn’t wonder but what she might peck at ’em if they tried to move her off her nest,” chuckled the hired man. “But she[Pg 87] couldn’t hurt ’em much. Let me get up there, Violet. I think I can find Margy and Mun Bun.”

Violet climbed up higher on the ladder until she could step off upon the soft, springing pile of hay. Adam North followed her, and then, going to one corner of the mow, the hired man called:

“Here they are! I’ve found ’em!”

“Where were they?” asked Vi. “Were they hiding?”

“Well, sort of,” answered Adam, with a smile, as he reached down in the hay and lifted up first Margy and then Mun Bun. “But I guess they didn’t hide on purpose. They slipped down into the feed chute.”

“What’s that?” asked Vi.

“It’s the place where we push hay down to the horses in their stalls,” explained the hired man. “If you don’t know the feed chutes are here it’s easy to slip in ’em and fall down to the stalls.”

“Oh, would you get killed?” asked Violet, with widely opened eyes.

“No,” answered Adam. “All that would happen would be that you’d fall into the horse[Pg 88] manger, and if the horse was there you might scare it a bit. But there aren’t any horses in the barn just now.”

Mun Bun and Margy, both of whom had been crying, now stopped, and Violet looked at the place where they had been lost in the hay. At the rear of the mow were several long wooden places, like chimneys, made of smooth boards. Down these “chimneys,” or chutes, hay could be pushed, dropping into the mangers of the horses stabled below.

Margy and Mun Bun had been running and sliding about on the pile of hay and, without knowing it, had come too near the feed chute. Into it they both slipped at the same time, carrying with them some wads of the dried grass.

As both children slid into the upright chute at the same time, they became wedged fast, together with some hay, and this stopped them from sliding all the way down to the manger. And there they had remained, caught fast, until Adam pulled them out.

“Are you hurt?” asked the hired man, as he helped the little ones down the ladder.

[Pg 89]

“No,” answered Margy. “But it was awful dark!”

“And the hay tickled the back of my neck,” added Mun Bun. “I sneezed.”

“And when he sneezed he made me bump my nose and I—now, I cried,” confessed Margy.

“Well, you’re all right now,” said Violet consolingly. “And maybe you can find some eggs.”

“Oh, I’d like to find eggs!” exclaimed Margy, quickly drying her tears.

“So would I,” added her brother, rubbing his eyes with his fists.

“All right, come on!” said Adam North. “I haven’t gathered all the eggs yet—not half, I guess.”

So the children had a good time looking for the nests in the different places the hens had hidden them. A hen, you know, likes to “steal her nest,” as the farmers call it. That is, she likes to sneak away in some quiet place and lay her eggs. Each day, or every other day, she will lay an egg in the same place. And, if the nest is not found for a week or more, sometimes there may be a dozen eggs in it, for[Pg 90] often two or more hens may lay eggs in the same nest, taking turns.

And, when there are a dozen, or perhaps thirteen, eggs in the nest, some hen will begin to “set” on them—hovering over them for three weeks until little chickens hatch out of the eggs. The warm body and feathers on the mother hen bring the little chickens to life inside the egg, and with their beaks they pick open the shell and come out.

It is because a hen does not like to be disturbed when she is hatching out her eggs that she steals away to make her nest in as quiet and as dark a place as she can find. But farmers who raise eggs to sell do not always want them hatched out into chickens, so that is why it is needful to hunt for these hidden nests to take away the eggs.

“There’s a nest away back in there,” said Adam, who had looked under a low part of the barn. “I see some eggs, but I can’t reach them.”

“Let me crawl in an’ get ’em!” begged Mun Bun.

“Yes, I guess you’ll have to. I’m too big to get under there,” said the hired man.

[Pg 91]

“I want to get half the eggs,” said Margy.

But it was decided that it would be best for Mun Bun only to crawl under the low place in the barn, and soon he was wiggling and crawling his way there, toward the hen’s nest.

“If the old hen is on won’t she pick him?” asked Violet.

“There’s no hen on. If there had been I should have seen her,” Adam North answered. “Mun Bun will be all right if he doesn’t get stuck fast under the barn as I once was.”

But nothing like this happened, and Mun Bun brought out four eggs, one at a time, from the hidden nest. He was a proud little boy when he crawled out with the last egg, not having broken one.

“I like egg-hunting,” he said, with a laugh.

Back to Farmer Joel’s house went Margy, Mun Bun, and Violet with Adam, who was carrying the eggs. Every one laughed when they all heard how Margy and Mun Bun had been stuck in the feed chute.

It was now almost supper time, and Mother Bunker told the children to wash and get ready for the meal. Mr. Todd’s sister was going[Pg 92] to leave on her journey soon after supper.

The meal was a merry one, for Farmer Joel was jolly and made a lot of jokes. He even started Laddie’s trick of asking riddles, and he asked many funny ones—riddles to which there was no answer.

Then, after supper, Farmer Joel drove his sister over to the railroad station, where she was to take a train to visit some relatives in the West.

The six little Bunkers were so tired after their day of travel and their afternoon of fun on the farm that they went to bed early. There was plenty of room in Farmer Joel’s house.

Sleeping in strange beds did not keep the children awake, and they were soon sound asleep. Mrs. Bunker lay awake, however, making plans for the next day, and she was somewhat surprised when, after she had been in bed an hour, she saw a ghostly white little figure coming into her room.

“Who is it? What do you want?” she asked.

“I’ve got to find the eggs!” murmured the[Pg 93] voice of Margy. “I’ve got to crawl under and get the eggs!”

For a moment Mrs. Bunker did not know what to think as she saw Margy get down on her hands and knees and begin to crawl under the bed. Then, as Mrs. Bunker picked up her little daughter, she saw that Margy’s eyes were staring in a strange fashion.

“She’s walking and talking in her sleep!” she exclaimed to Daddy Bunker. “Wake up, Margy! Wake up!” she called, giving Margy a gentle shake.

“What’s the matter? Is it morning?” asked Margy, in a sleepy voice, and then she blinked her eyes and looked around in surprise. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “What’s the matter?”

“You were thinking so hard about hunting eggs that you got up in your sleep and began to search for some under my bed,” said Mrs. Bunker gently, as she carried Margy back to her own room. “Go to sleep now.”

Margy did. Nothing else happened that night, and the children were up bright and early the next morning. The day was filled[Pg 94] with fun. Russ and Laddie finished their water wheel, about which I shall tell you more later.

Rose, after helping her mother, went down to the brook to gather watercress for her father, Farmer Joel having told her where to find some, and Margy, Violet and Mun Bun had a little picnic by themselves under the trees in the orchard.

It was toward the close of the afternoon that the barking of a dog was heard in front of the farmhouse. The six little Bunkers were in the back yard having some bread and jam that Norah had brought out to them.

“Maybe that is Ralph come to take us after the cows!” cried Russ.

So it proved, but when all six little Bunkers wanted to go to the distant pasture to help Ralph gather up his herd, Mrs. Bunker said:

“It’s too far for Margy and Mun Bun. But you four may go if you wish.” She knew where the cow pasture was.

Mun Bun and Margy began to cry, as they wanted to go also, but Farmer Joel said they could go egg-hunting with Adam, and this[Pg 95] pleased the smaller children so that smiles drove away their tears.

The path to the cow pasture lay through pleasant fields, and half way to the place was a clear, sparkling spring of water at which the children stopped for a drink.

Then they climbed a hill, went down in a little valley, and as they reached a broad field, Ralph said:

“Here’s where we pasture our cows. But I don’t see all of them—the two black ones are missing.” There were ten cows in the pasture where there should have been twelve.

“Do you think anybody stole those two cows?” asked Russ.

“Oh, no,” answered Ralph. “I guess they just wandered away. They do, sometimes.”

“What do you have to do?” Violet wanted to know.

“Have to hunt ’em,” Ralph answered. “Jimsie helps me. There are lots of places where cows can hide in this pasture—lots of low places, and bushes and trees. Sometimes it takes me an hour to find the lost cows.”

“Why don’t you yell for ’em?” asked Laddie.

[Pg 96]

“I will,” said Ralph. “Co, boss! Co, boss! Co, boss!” he called loudly, the hills echoing his voice.

Then the other children called:

“Co, boss! Co, boss! Co, boss!”

But the missing cows did not come out of the cool, shady places where, doubtless, they had gone to keep out of the sun.

“We’ll have to scatter and look for ’em,” said Ralph. He and his dog Jimsie went one way, Rose and Russ went another way, and Laddie and Violet a third way. Soon the three searching parties were some distance apart.

Then, suddenly, from a part of the pasture where there was a dense clump of bushes, came shrieks from Violet.

“Oh, we’ve found the cows! We’ve found them, but they’re going to hook us!” she yelled. “Russ! Russ! The cows are going to hook us!”

[Pg 97]


Russ and Rose, who had been walking along the shores of a little brook looking for the missing cows, heard Violet’s yells. A moment later they heard shouts from Laddie. He was saying:

“Get back there, you old cows! Get back there! Don’t you dare hook my sister!”

Then Violet’s voice sounded again:

“Oh, but Laddie, they are going to hook me! Oh! Oh!”

“Come on!” called Russ to his sister Rose, and together they rushed up out of the little glen where the stream ran and hastened toward the clump of trees and bushes whence came the voices of Laddie and Violet. Ralph and his dog were not in sight.

“Do you suppose the cows are trying to hook Laddie and Violet with their horns?” asked Rose.

[Pg 98]

“I don’t think cows would,” panted Russ as he ran on followed by Rose, who could not go quite so fast. “Cows don’t hook you, I guess, but bulls do, though I didn’t hear Ralph say there were any bulls in this pasture.”

“Is a bull worse than a cow?” Rose asked.

“For hooking you a bull is the worst there is,” Russ answered. “But I don’t suppose it’s a bull. Maybe the cows are only shaking their heads at Violet and she thinks they’re trying to hook her.”

And this is just what had happened. Laddie and Violet had found the lost cows. The two black animals were standing peacefully in a shady place, chewing their cud. Perhaps they were day-dreaming, if cows ever do such things. At any rate the cows paid no attention to the “co, boss” called by the children.

Laddie had fairly stumbled upon the hiding place of the cows, and as Russ and Rose reached the place they saw Laddie and his twin sister standing with their backs against a big tree, as Rose had stood when Jimsie barked at her.

In front of Laddie and Violet were the two[Pg 99] cows, chewing their cud, as I have said. But as Russ looked he could see no signs that the cows were going to “hook” Violet, as she had shouted they were about to do.

However, just as Russ and Rose reached the place one of the cows shook her head violently and Vi screamed:

“There! Look! The old thing wants to hook me! Oh, Russ! Oh, Rose! Laddie! Why don’t you do something!”

“Don’t be silly!” exclaimed Russ, who had little patience with Violet sometimes. “She isn’t going to hook you!”

“But what makes her shake her head?” demanded Violet, half crying.

“She’s doing it to shake off the flies that are biting her,” answered Russ, for he observed that when the cow shook her head a cloud of flies rose from behind her ears. “She’s only doing it to get rid of the flies, Vi,” said Russ.

“That’s what I told her, but she wouldn’t believe me,” remarked Laddie. “I said the cows wouldn’t hook her.”

“Well, they looked as if they were going to hook me, anyhow,” said Violet, who was[Pg 100] not frightened now that her older brother and sister were there with her.

“I’m glad we found the cows, anyhow,” said Rose. “Now we can drive ’em out with the others and we can call Ralph and his dog and go home.”

The two black cows that had wandered away from the rest of the herd seemed gentle enough when the children urged them out of the shady bushes and into the open pasture. The other ten cows were gathered down near the pasture bars, waiting for them to be opened.

Ralph and Jimsie came slowly up the hill from another part of the pasture, where they had gone to search for the missing animals.

“Oh, you found them! That’s good!” cried the farm boy, as he saw Rose and Laddie with Violet and Russ slowly driving the black cows. “You were pretty lucky,” he added. “Sometimes I’ve hunted an hour for lost cows.”

“I guess Vi thinks she’s lucky they didn’t hook her,” said Russ, with a laugh.

“What do you mean—hook her?” inquired Ralph.


Six Little Bunkers at Farmer Joel’s.

(Page 97)

And when they told him he laughed and said:

“Our cows never hook anybody—they’re very gentle. But we have a bull in the barn that’d hook you if he could get out. And Mr. Todd’s got a bull, too.”

“Why can’t he get out?” Violet wanted to know.

“Because he’s chained fast to a ring in his nose,” answered Ralph. “He dassn’t pull too hard on the chain ’cause it hurts his nose. So he has to be good. But if he got loose he’d hook you all right.”

“He couldn’t hook me! I’d throw stones at him,” boasted Laddie.

“You’d better not try it if he ever does get loose,” warned Ralph. “He wouldn’t mind stones any more than if you chucked soft mud at him. He’s awful strong.”

“Well, if I saw him coming I’d run,” went on Laddie.

“That wouldn’t do much good,” said Ralph. “That bull can run faster than you. If you ever do see him and he’s loose, keep away from him or get on the other side of the fence as fast as you can. Once he nearly[Pg 102] hooked me, but I got to the fence first. He ran right into the fence with his head down and he bellowed like thunder.”

“Did it hurt him when he bunked into the fence?” asked Vi.

“I guess maybe he didn’t feel it any more than he’d feel a mosquito bite,” Ralph replied. “He’s tough, our bull is.”

“Goodness! I hope he never gets out,” murmured Rose, looking over her shoulder as if she feared, even then, the bull might be roaming somewhere about the pasture.

But he was not in sight and soon the children were quietly driving the cows along the road toward their barn on the farm of Ralph’s father. In the barn the cows would be milked and some of the milk would be sent to the cheese factory.

“Well, did you have a good time?” asked Mrs. Bunker, when her four children arrived at Farmer Joel’s house after having gone for the cows.

“Yes, it was fun. We had a little adventure,” said Rose, and she told about the missing cows.

Margy and Mun Bun listened with widely[Pg 103] opened eyes to the tale, and when it was over, Mun Bun exclaimed:

“I wish I’d been there!”

“Why?” asked his mother.

“Oh, I would give the cows some salt and they would love me,” he answered.

“Salt!” cried Russ. “Who ever heard of giving cows salt?”

“It would make their milk salty!” declared Laddie.

“Well, it didn’t,” said Margy. “’Cause when we went after eggs with Farmer Joel he gave his cows some salt and when he milked them he gave Mun Bun and me some of the milk and it wasn’t salty at all, so there!”

“Wasn’t it, Mother?” asked Rose, who seemed to share Laddie’s idea.

“No, of course not, child,” said Mrs. Bunker. “The farmers often give salt to their cows, sheep and horses. Animals are very fond of a small bit of salt. And while you were gone Farmer Joel gave his cows some lumps of rock salt which they licked with their tongues, and seemed very fond of.”

“Hum!” remarked Laddie. “That’s the first time I ever knew cows liked salt.” But[Pg 104] later when he saw how horses in the pasture followed Adam North about when he went to “salt” them, and when the little boy watched the sheep eagerly licking the salt in their field, then he knew that his mother was right.

Happy days at Farmer Joel’s followed one after another. The six little Bunkers never had such delightful times. There seemed to be something new to do all the while. They roamed about the fields and woods, they gathered eggs, they fed the chickens, and sometimes they had picnics. They waded in the brook and, once or twice, fell in and got muddy. But this was expected.

One place that the children stayed away from was the part of the farm where Mr. Todd kept several hives of bees. The children knew that bees stung and they did not want this to happen to them.

About a week after the Bunkers had come to stay at Farmer Joel’s, Russ and Laddie were going to the brook to play with their water wheel when suddenly they heard a loud buzzing, humming sound in the air. At first they thought it was a distant aeroplane, but, looking up, they could see none. However,[Pg 105] over in the direction of the bee orchard Russ saw a dark cloud in the air. The buzzing sound seemed to come from this dark cloud.

Then Russ knew what it was—a flight of bees.

“Oh, they’re running away!” he cried. “We must tell Farmer Joel!”

He and Laddie hastened toward the house and told the news. Mr. Todd ran out. As soon as he heard the buzzing sound and saw the moving dark cloud he cried:

“They’re swarming! I don’t want to lose them! I must try to get them back!” Into the house he hurried, to come out with a queer, smoking machine in his hand. Over his head Farmer Joel wore a broad-brimmed straw hat with a veil of mosquito netting coming down over his shoulders.

[Pg 106]


The six little Bunkers, never having been at Farmer Joel’s before and not knowing much about bees, did not understand just what was going to happen. In a general way the Bunker children knew that bees made honey, but how they did it, how the insects lived in hives, with a queen bee who ruled over her subjects almost like a real queen—of all this the six little Bunkers knew nothing.

“What’s that thing he’s got on his head?” asked Violet, pointing to the mosquito netting veil that was draped over Farmer Joel’s hat. “And what’s that tin funnel full of smoke he carries?” For the machine in the farmer’s hand was like a kitchen funnel, turned on one side, and from the small end poured a cloud of white smoke.

“I’m going to try to get back that swarm[Pg 107] of bees,” called Mr. Todd as he hurried out toward the trees under which were many hives of the honey-making insects. “That queen alone is worth fifty dollars. If she gets away it will be a bad loss for me.”

Away he hurried, followed by a cloud of smoke, and Rose asked:

“How in the world is he going to pick out a queen bee from the million or more that must be in the swarm?”

“I don’t know,” answered Russ.

“Let’s go out and see how he does it,” proposed Laddie, always ready to do something. “Maybe I could think of a riddle about bees if I went out there.”

“Most likely you’d be thinking about their stings if you went out there,” laughed Mr. Bunker. “You children stay here where you can watch Farmer Joel, and I’ll tell you what he is doing and how he can, perhaps, get back his fifty dollar queen, and I’ll tell you a little about how bees make honey.”

By this time Farmer Joel was out among his bees. The dark cloud of the swarming hive was right over his head, moving slowly along like some great bubble—only it was a[Pg 108] bubble full of life. In the middle of the swarm was the queen bee and all her court was following, going wherever she went.

“How is he going to catch them?” asked Russ.

“He ought to have a butterfly net, or something like that,” said Rose.

“Farmer Joel isn’t exactly going to catch the bees,” explained Daddy Bunker. “All he can do is to follow them until the queen bee lights on a tree branch, or some place like that. When she does, all the other bees will cluster around her, as thickly as possible. Then, if Farmer Joel is lucky enough to find them, he can take an empty hive, put it on the ground under the queen bee and the bunch of worker bees, jar them off into the hive, clap the cover on, and bring it back to his apiary.”

“What’s an ap—an ap—ap—?” began Violet.

“An apiary means a place where bees are kept,” explained Mr. Bunker. “It comes from the Latin word apis, which means bee. Now while we are waiting to see what happens I’ll tell you a little about bees and why they swarm.”

[Pg 109]

The six little Bunkers looked at Farmer Joel, with his smoking machine and his mosquito netting hat, still following the slowly moving swarm of bees toward the woods, and then they turned to their father who had promised to tell them something better than a story.

“Bees are of three kinds,” said Mr. Bunker. “There is the worker bee, of which there are thousands in every swarm, or hive. The drones are the father bees, and, I am sorry to say, they are a lazy lot. They never work, and they eat lots of honey, and sometimes, when too many drones, or father bees, get into a hive, the worker bees sting them to death, for they can’t afford to feed too many lazy bees that won’t work. Then, most important of all, is the queen bee.”

“How can you or Farmer Joel tell one bee from another?” inquired Violet, and this time the other children were glad she had asked the question, for this was something they wanted to know.

“The queen bee is larger and longer than any of the others,” answered Mr. Bunker, “and even you, not knowing anything about[Pg 110] bees, could easily pick her out of hundreds of others. The drones are a little larger than the workers, and the queer thing about the drones is that they never sting. They have no stings and cannot harm you. The queen can sting, but she never does, or hardly ever; for once a bee stings, it leaves the stinger in a person or an animal, and that means the bee dies. And it wouldn’t do to have the queen bee die.”

“What would happen if she should die?” asked Russ.

“That is taken care of by the worker bees,” said Mr. Bunker. “In the cells, or little holes in the wax honeycomb, are many eggs that after a while will hatch out into other bees, mostly workers or drones. The queen bee lays the eggs that hatch into other bees. But if it should happen that the queen should die, the worker bees at once begin to feed to some of the half-hatched little bees a peculiar kind of food gathered from the flowers. It is a sort of mixture of honey and juices from the bees’ bodies. This is called royal food, royal honey or queen bread. And when the half-hatched little bees eat this strange food they[Pg 111] are changed from ordinary bees into queen bees.

“But as there can be but one queen in a hive, if more hatch out all but one are killed, and so the life in the hive goes on. The new queen begins laying eggs, and more drones, workers and perhaps more queens are hatched. The workers fly off to the fields to gather honey from the flowers, and they also gather something else.”

“I know!” cried Russ. “Our teacher in school told us! They gather yellow stuff. It is called——”

“Pollen!” exclaimed Rose. “I know that.”

“Yes,” her father answered, “the bees gather pollen, or the yellow dust from the flowers, and by mixing this yellow dust with some juices from their bodies they make beeswax, from which the cells are built to hold the sweet honey juice.”

“But I thought you said only one queen bee could live in a swarm,” said Violet. “And if the queen bee lays eggs and other queens hatch out I should think——”

Mr. Bunker pointed to Farmer Joel, who was still chasing after his runaway swarm.

[Pg 112]

“That’s what happens when two queens get in a hive,” said Daddy Bunker. “One queen leaves, taking with her perhaps half the worker bees and some drones. They fly away to start a new hive, swarm, or colony, as it is sometimes called.

“But not always do bees swarm because there are two queens in a hive. Often the queen may take a notion that she would like a new home, so out she flies and with her go her faithful subjects, just as in real life the subjects of a human king or queen follow them.”

“Where do you think these bees will go?” asked Rose.

“It is hard to say,” answered their father. “It looks now as though they would go to the woods,” for they could see the dark cloud of insects near the edge of the forest. “They may pick out some hollow tree and set up housekeeping there, making a wax framework to hold the honey juices they will later gather from the flowers.”

“Then couldn’t Farmer Joel go to that hollow tree and get the honey if he wanted to?” asked Laddie.

[Pg 113]

“Yes, that is sometimes done,” his father replied. “And he might even get his swarm of bees back, if he could find the right hollow tree. But that isn’t easy. In the olden days, before men knew how to build little houses, or hives, for the bees to live in, all the honey was stored in hollow trees. But men studied the ways of bees, they learned the manner in which queens ruled and how swarming came about, and they built hives in which it is easier for the bees to store their honey, and from which it is also easier to take it.”

“What about that smoke?” asked Rose. “I didn’t know bees liked smoke.”

She was speaking of the queer machine that Farmer Joel carried. They could see smoke coming from it now in a cloud.

Later, when they had time to look at the smoke machine, the six little Bunkers saw that it was like a funnel with a bellows, or blower, beneath it. A fire of rags or rotten wood could be built in the larger part of the tin funnel, and when the bellows was pressed this blew out a cloud of smoke.

“Bees don’t like smoke,” said Daddy Bunker. “But when a cloud of it is blown on[Pg 114] them it makes them rather stupid—it calms and quiets them so they are less likely to sting whoever is working around them. And a little smoke does them no harm; though, of course, if they had too much of it they would die.

“So when a man works in his apiary he puts a mosquito veil over his head and takes his smoker. A few puffs from that down in a hive of bees will so quiet the insects that he can, with his bare hands, pick them up and they will not sting him. In this way he can also pick out the queen from among her thousands of workers and put her in another hive. If he can do this in time he will stop the swarm from dividing, part of it flying away, as just happened.”

“Bees are queer,” said Russ.

“Indeed, they are! But I like to hear about them,” said Rose.

By this time Farmer Joel was out of sight in the woods, where his runaway swarm had gone, and as the children had not been allowed to follow they played about, waiting for Mr. Todd to return.

[Pg 115]

“Will he bring the bees back with him?” asked Russ.

“Oh, no, though he could if he had taken a box with him,” said Mr. Bunker. “All he will do, very likely, is to notice where they light on a tree, perhaps. Then he may go back this evening and shake them into a hive.”

It was late that afternoon when Farmer Joel came back, very tired and looking rather discouraged.

“Did you find the bees?” asked Russ.

“No,” answered Mr. Todd. “They got away, and they took with them a queen worth fifty dollars. I wish I could have seen where they went, for then I might get them. But they are lost, I guess.”

“Don’t you think you’ll ever find them again?” Rose wanted to know.

“I’m afraid not,” answered Farmer Joel. “I’ve lost one of my best swarms and a fine queen bee. Yes, I’d give even more than fifty dollars for her if I could get her back. Well, it can’t be helped, I suppose.”

The six little Bunkers felt sorry for Farmer Joel, and they wished they might help him,[Pg 116] but they did not see how they could go after a queen and a swarm of stinging bees.

“Come to supper!” called Mrs. Bunker, a little later, when Russ and Laddie were working over their water wheel and mill, and when Rose was swinging Margy and Violet under the apple tree.

“Where’s Mun Bun?” asked his mother, as the other little Bunkers came hurrying to the house at her call.

“I saw him a little while ago,” answered Violet. “He had a shovel and he was going toward the garden.”

“I guess he was going to dig worms so he could go fishing,” suggested Laddie. “He asked me if there were fish in the brook.”

“See if you can find him, Russ,” begged his mother.

Russ went toward the garden where he soon saw Mun Bun busy making a hole, tossing the dirt about with a small shovel.

“Hi there, Mun Bun!” called Russ. “You shouldn’t dig in the garden. You might spoil something that’s planted there.”

“Nuffin planted here,” said Mun Bun, as he kept on digging. “I did ast Adam, an’ he[Pg 117] said taters was here but he digged ’em all up. Nuffin planted here, so I plant somethin’.”

“What are you going to plant?” asked Russ, with a smile, while Rose and the other children drew near.

“I goin’ to plant bones,” answered Mun Bun, hardly looking up, so busy was he with the shovel.

“Bones!” cried Russ. “You’re going to plant bones?”

“Yes,” answered Mun Bun solemnly, “I plant bones. Look out—you’re steppin’ on my bones!” he cried, and he pointed to the ground where lay a pile of chicken bones that Norah had thrown out from dinner.

“Well, what kind of a garden are you making, anyhow?” asked Russ. “Planting bones!”

“Yes, I plant bones!” declared Mun Bun, the youngest of the Bunkers, while the other children looked on in wonder.

[Pg 118]


Mrs. Bunker, seeing the group of children gathered about Mun Bun, hurried across the garden to see what it was all about.

“I hope nothing has happened to him,” she said.

“Probably the worst that has happened is that he’s dirty and you’ll have to scrub him before he can come to the supper table,” chuckled Daddy Bunker.

“That wouldn’t be so bad,” replied his wife. “I’m used to dirt, and I expect the children to get grimy. That will wash off.”

“I’ll walk over with you and see what it’s about. Something is going on, that’s sure!” said Mr. Bunker.

Mr. and Mrs. Bunker found five little Bunkers grouped about the sixth, and youngest, little Bunker.

[Pg 119]

“Oh, Mother, look what Mun Bun’s doing!” cried Violet.

“What is he doing?”

“He’s making the funniest kind of a bed in the garden!” laughed Rose.

“A bed!” cried Mr. Bunker. “I hope he isn’t going to sleep out here!”

“No, it’s a bed like a flower bed or a cabbage bed,” explained Russ. “Only he’s planting——”

“Bones!” burst out Laddie. “Oh, I could make a funny riddle about it if I could think of it.”

“Mun Bun, what in the world are you doing with those bones?” asked his mother.

“Plantin’ ’em,” answered the little fellow coolly, as he dropped some of the chicken bones into the hole he had dug and covered them with earth.

“Why in the world are you planting bones?” asked his father.

“So more bones will grow,” answered Mun Bun, in a matter-of-fact way. “Farmer man plants seeds to make things grow, an’ I plant bones so more bones will grow.”

“Who for?” asked Russ.

[Pg 120]

“For Jimsie, the dog,” answered the little fellow. “Ralph said his dog never had enough bones, so I’m going to plant bones and then more bones will grow, an’ Jimsie can come over here an’ pick off the bones when they’re ripe an’——”

“Oh, you dear, foolish little boy!” cried his mother, gathering him up in her arms and kissing and hugging him, dirty as he was. “Don’t you know bones don’t grow?” she asked.

“Oh, don’t they?” asked Mun Bun, in surprise.

“Of course not!” chimed in Russ. “Only seeds grow.”

“Um,” remarked Mun Bun, his face all rosy where his mother had kissed him. “Den I plant to-morrer some bird seed.”

“Why bird seed?” asked Daddy Bunker.

“So some birds will grow,” Mun Bun answered.

Then how the other Bunkers laughed, especially Daddy and Mother Bunker and Rose and Russ, for they saw what a mistake Mun Bun was making! Margy, Laddie and Violet[Pg 121] laughed also, but more because the others did. And then Mun Bun laughed himself.

“I’m hungry!” he announced.

“Maybe if you plant a knife and fork and plate you’ll get something to eat!” chuckled Russ.

They had many a good laugh over the queer garden bed Mun Bun made when he thought that if you planted bones a plant would spring up with more bones on for Jimsie, the dog. Then they all went in to supper.

“To-morrer,” said Mun Bun, as he was taken off to bed later in the evening, “I’ll plant some flowers for Jimsie to smell.”

Early the next day Mrs. Bunker was seen in the kitchen with a sunbonnet on, while on the table near her were a number of small baskets.

“Are we going on a picnic?” asked Russ, who came in to get a string to fix something on the water wheel that he and Laddie were constantly “fussing over,” as Norah called it.

“A sort of picnic,” answered his mother. “Farmer Joel told me about a wild strawberry patch beyond his south meadow, and I[Pg 122] thought we could all go there and pick the berries. There is a basket for each of us except daddy, who isn’t going, and if we get enough berries——”

“I’ll make a strawberry shortcake!” cried Rose. “Excuse me for interrupting you, Mother,” she went on, for it was impolite to do that. “But I just couldn’t wait. May I make a shortcake if we get any berries?”

“Yes, I think so,” answered Mrs. Bunker. “Come, children,” she called to the others who flocked into the kitchen, “we’ll have a good time picking strawberries.”

“We’ll have a better time when we eat the shortcake,” laughed Russ.

“I know a riddle about a shortcake,” said Laddie, wrinkling up his forehead. “I mean I just made it up. Here it is. How can you make a strawberry shortcake last the longest?”

“That isn’t a very good riddle,” objected Rose.

“Well, let’s see you answer it,” challenged her small brother. “How can you make a strawberry shortcake last longest?”

“Put it away in a safe,” guessed Violet.

“Nope!” answered Laddie, and before any[Pg 123] one else could make a guess he cried: “Don’t eat it. That’s how to make a strawberry shortcake last longest—don’t eat it!”

“Well, if I made a cake I wouldn’t want it to last very long,” laughed Rose. “I should want people to eat it and tell me how good it was.”

“I’ll eat some,” offered Mun Bun.

“So will I!” added Margy.

“That’s very kind of you!” laughed Rose again, and then the six little Bunkers and their mother started for the strawberry patch. The berries grew wild on a warm, sunny hillside, and soon little fingers were busy turning over the green leaves to find the scarlet fruit beneath.

Into the baskets the berries were dropped one at a time. Wild strawberries are much smaller than the cultivated variety you buy in the market, and it takes longer to fill a basket with the wild ones. But gradually the bottom of the basket Mrs. Bunker carried was covered with a layer of the delicious fruit. Then she looked into the baskets of Margy and Mun Bun.

“Is that all you’ve picked?” she asked, in[Pg 124] surprise, for Margy had three berries in her basket and Mun Bun had two in his, and yet they had been in the berry patch half an hour. “Don’t you know how to find the berries, my dears?” asked their mother. “See, you must turn over the leaves——”

“Excuse me, Mother,” broke in Rose, first asking pardon for interrupting, “but I guess Margy and Mun Bun eat the berries as fast as they pick them. That’s what they’ve been doing—eating the berries, I saw them put only a few in their baskets.”

“Oh, well,” said Mrs. Bunker, “we don’t expect them to pick many. We older ones will have to get you enough for your cake, Rose.”

“I ate only about forty-’leven berries,” confessed Margy.

“An’ I ate six-fourteen,” admitted Mun Bun. “They is awful good, these berries is, an’ maybe Rose wouldn’t make a cake, anyhow, an’——”

“I see!” laughed Russ. “They were afraid they wouldn’t get their share of berries if they waited, so they’re taking them now.”

“It’s all right, my dears,” said their mother,[Pg 125] for Margy and Mun Bun did not like to be laughed at. “Eat as many berries as you wish. They are ripe and fresh and very tempting. We’ll get enough for Rose’s cake, I think.”

So while the younger ones ate the lovely fruit, the older ones dropped the berries they picked into the baskets until they had a sufficient quantity—more than two quarts.

Once, while they were picking, the six little Bunkers heard a roaring, bellowing sound off behind a second hill.

“Oh, maybe that’s the old bull who has gotten loose—Ralph’s bull!” cried Violet, as she ran toward her mother.

“I hardly think so,” Mrs. Bunker answered. But the noise sounded again, very much like the bellow of a bull.

“Russ, get a club and some stones!” cried Rose. “There isn’t any fence here to jump over. Get a stick and drive away the bull!” Russ caught up a short club—not a very heavy one if it was to be used against a bull. Mrs. Bunker stood up and looked around. Then she laughed.

“Don’t be afraid, children,” she said. “It isn’t a bull at all. It’s the whistle of an engine[Pg 126] on a distant train. There it goes!” and she pointed to the railroad, about a mile off over the hill. A train was going along, very slowly, it seemed, but probably it was speeding faster than it appeared to be. And as the Bunkers looked they saw a puff of white steam from the locomotive. A little later they heard the whistle. When they had been stooping down the whistle had sounded like the distant bellow of a bull.

“I’m glad it wasn’t,” said Rose.

“If it had ‘a’ been I’d ‘a’ hit it with a club,” boasted Russ.

“An’ I could throw a stone!” declared Mun Bun.

“Mother, did you notice how funny the whistle was?” asked Rose. “First we saw the smoke puff up, and then we heard the sound. Why was that?”

“Because light, or sight, travels faster than sound,” said Mrs. Bunker. “You can see something much quicker than you can hear it. If you should ever stand far off and see a gun shot off, you would first see the flash and the smoke, and, some seconds later, you would hear the report. Sight and sound travel in[Pg 127] what are called waves, almost like the waves of the ocean, except that the sound waves are made of air instead of water. Light waves are different from air or water waves, and travel much faster—almost as fast as electricity.”

“And electricity is terribly fast,” said Russ. “Once I took hold of a battery and as soon as I touched the handles I felt a shock.”

After this the picking of strawberries went on until enough had been gathered. Then they all ate some and went home, and Rose made the shortcake, Norah helping her.

“I’ll set the shortcake in the back pantry to cool for supper,” said Norah, when Rose had finished making it, and very proud the little girl was.

The shortcake was put away and the little Bunkers were wondering how next they could have some fun when there came a knock on the kitchen door.

“I wonder who that can be?” said Norah.

[Pg 128]


Russ, who was nearest the door, went to open it. Afterward Violet said she thought it might be some of the neighbors coming to ask for a piece of Rose’s strawberry shortcake. Laddie said later that he thought it might be Ralph come on the same sort of errand.

Well, it was a boy who had knocked on the door, but it was not Ralph, the master of Jimsie, the dog, nor was it any boy the Bunker children had ever seen around Farmer Joel’s place.

It was a “peddler boy,” as Violet called him—a boy with dark hair, dark complexion, and deep brown eyes, and he carried a pack on his back and a box slung by a strap in front of him.

“Shoe laces, collar buttons, suspenders, needles, pins—anything to-day?” asked the peddler boy, rattling out the words so quickly[Pg 129] that Russ could hardly tell one from another.

“Wha—what’s that?” asked the bewildered Russ.

“Want any shoe laces? Any collar buttons—needles—pins—suspenders—hooks and eyes—court plaster—pocket knives—any——”

“No, we don’t want anything to-day,” said Norah, advancing to the door and looking out over Russ’s head.

“How do you know you don’t want anything, Lady?” asked the peddler boy with a pert and rather smart manner. “I haven’t told you all I carry yet. I have——”

“But I tell you we don’t want anything!” insisted Norah. “I know what you have—notions—and we don’t want any because we’re only visiting here and——”

“I have baggage tags!” interrupted the boy. “If you are only visiting you’ll want to send your trunks back and you’d better put a tag on. I’ll show you!” Quickly he opened the box he carried, slung by a strap about his neck. The other Bunker children, crowding to the door, saw in the box many of the things the boy had named—pins, needles, some combs and brushes, and other things.

[Pg 130]

The boy took out a package of baggage tags, each tag having a short piece of cord attached to it. These he held out to Norah, at the same time saying:

“Use these and you never lose any baggage.”

“We take our baggage in the automobile,” said Rose.

“Well, maybe a piece might fall out and if it had a tag on it you wouldn’t lose it,” said the boy, who spoke in rather a strange manner, like a foreigner who had recently learned English.

“I tell you we don’t want anything,” said Norah, speaking a little more sharply.

“What about some letter paper and envelopes?” persisted the boy. “You could write, couldn’t you, and I sell ’em cheap——”

“No! No! We don’t want a thing, I tell you!” and Norah spoke very sharply and began to close the door.

“Huh, I guess it wouldn’t be much good to sell you letter paper,” sneered the boy. “You’re so mean you haven’t any friends that’d want you to write!”

The door was closed but the words came through.

[Pg 131]

“Say,” cried Russ, as he struggled to open the door again, “if you talk like that to our Norah——”

“Never mind,” laughed the good-natured cook. “Such peddlers aren’t worth answering. He’s angry because we didn’t buy something. If he had been polite about it I might, but he was too——”

“Too smart! That’s what he was!” finished Rose, and that about described the shoe-lace peddler.

In the kitchen Norah and the six little Bunkers could hear him muttering to himself as he walked away, but as Daddy Bunker just then called the children to give them some picture papers that had come by mail, they forgot all about the impolite lad.

The Bunker children had fun looking through the illustrated magazine and they were rather glad to sit down and do this, for picking the strawberries on the distant hill had been rather tiring.

“I wish supper would soon be ready. I want some of Rose’s shortcake,” remarked Violet.

“It looked good,” returned Russ. “If it[Pg 132] tastes half as good as it looks, it will be great!”

“I hope it will be good,” said Rose modestly.

Six hungry little Bunkers sat down to the supper table, and pretty soon there were no more six hungry little Bunkers, for they ate so many of the good things Norah cooked for them that they were no longer hungry. But there was still six little Bunkers, and they were anxious to try Rose’s strawberry shortcake.

“I’ll bring it in to the table and Rose can cut it,” said Norah.

She went to the pantry, but in less than half a minute she came hurrying back with a strange look on her face.

“What’s the matter?” asked Daddy Bunker. “Did you see a ghost, Norah?”

“No, sir. But—but—didn’t we put the strawberry shortcake in the pantry?” she asked Mrs. Bunker.

“Yes, surely,” was the answer. “I saw you put it there to cool.”

“Well, it isn’t there now!” exclaimed Norah.

[Pg 133]

“Oh, did some one take my lovely strawberry shortcake?” sighed Rose.

“Russ, you aren’t playing any of your jokes, are you?” asked his father, somewhat sternly. “Did you take Rose’s shortcake and hide it, just for fun?”

“No, sir! I never touched her shortcake. I didn’t see it after Norah put it away!”

“I’ll take a look,” said Mrs. Bunker. “Perhaps Farmer Joel went in and set it on a higher shelf.”

“No, indeed!” declared Mr. Todd. “I never go into the pantry. That isn’t my part of the house. And Adam didn’t touch the shortcake, I’m sure. Did you?” he asked.

Mr. North shook his head.

“I like strawberry shortcake,” he said, “but I’d never think of playing a joke with the one Rose baked.”

By this time Mrs. Bunker came back from the pantry whither she had gone to make a search.

“The shortcake isn’t there,” she said.

“Who could have taken it?” asked Norah.

“Maybe Jimsie!” suggested Russ.

[Pg 134]

“No dog could reach up to the high sill of the pantry window,” said Mrs. Bunker. “I can see where the cake was placed on the sill, for a little of the red juice ran out and made a stain. The cake was lifted out of the window, perhaps by some one from the outside.”

“I’ll have a look!” exclaimed Mr. Bunker.

He hurried outside to the pantry window at the back of the house, followed by Russ, Rose and the others. Supper was over except for the dessert, and this finish of the meal was to have been the shortcake. With this gone—well, there wasn’t any dessert, that’s all!

Mr. Bunker looked carefully under the window, motioning to the others to keep back so they would not trample in any footprints that might remain in the soft ground. Carefully Mr. Bunker looked and then he said:

“Some boy went there, reached in and took the cake.”

“What makes you think it was a boy?” asked Farmer Joel.

“Because of the size of the footprints. They are not much larger than those Russ would make.”

[Pg 135]

“I wonder if Ralph was here?” murmured Rose.

“No, I saw Ralph and his Jimsie dog going over to Woodport right after dinner,” remarked Adam North. “He said he was going to be gone all day. Ralph didn’t take the cake, nor did his dog Jimsie. Of that I’m sure.”

“Then I know who it was!” suddenly exclaimed Russ.

“Who?” they all asked.

“That peddler, the shoe-lace boy!” Russ answered. “He was mad because we wouldn’t buy anything, and he sneaked around and took Rose’s shortcake off the window sill.”

Russ started toward the road.

“Where are you going?” asked his father.

“I’m going to chase after that shoe-lace boy and make him give back the strawberry shortcake!” cried Russ.

[Pg 136]


Before his father could stop him Russ had run out on the porch. Laddie, too, left his seat and started after his brother.

“Charles!” exclaimed Mrs. Bunker, “are you going to let them go after that boy? He’s big and might hurt them!”

“I guess Russ and Laddie together are a match for that mean little peddler,” answered Mr. Bunker. “But perhaps I’d better trail along after them to see that they don’t get hurt,” he added, getting up. “I hardly believe, however, that they can catch that peddler. He must be a long way off by this time.”

The two oldest Bunker boys were already out in the road, looking up and down for a sight of the shoe-lace peddler.

“Which way do you think he went, Russ?” asked Laddie.

[Pg 137]

“I don’t know,” was the answer, for the boy who it was thought had taken Rose’s strawberry shortcake was not in sight. “But here comes a man driving a team,” Russ went on. “We’ll ask him if he saw this peddler down the road.”

A neighboring farmer who was known to Russ and Laddie just then approached Farmer Joel’s house. Mr. Bunker, who was slowly following his two sons, heard Russ ask:

“Did you see anything of a shoe-lace peddler down the road, Mr. Harper?”

“A shoe-lace peddler?” repeated Mr. Harper. “Um, let me see now. Yes, I did pass a boy with a pack on his back down by the white bridge,” he answered.

“That’s the fellow!” exclaimed Russ. “Come on, Laddie!”

“Charles,” said Mrs. Bunker, following her husband out to the front gate, the other little Bunkers trailing along behind, “do you really think you ought to let them go?”

“I don’t see any harm in it,” he answered. “In the first place, I don’t believe Russ and Laddie will catch that boy. But if they do,[Pg 138] I’ll follow along to see that he doesn’t harm them.”

“And if you need help call on us!” chuckled Farmer Joel, as he and Adam North began to do the night chores around the place. Farmer Joel called it “doing his chores,” when he locked the barn, saw that the hen-house was fastened, and got in kindling for the morning fire.

“Oh, I guess there’ll be no trouble,” said Mr. Bunker.

Rose came hurrying out toward the front gate, running ahead of her father.

“Where are you going, Rose?” he asked her. “I’m going with Russ and Laddie,” she answered.

“Oh, no, Rose,” said Mrs. Bunker. “I don’t believe I would.”

“Yes, please!” pleaded Rose. “It was my shortcake that peddler boy took, and I want to bring it back. Please let me go!”

She seemed so much in earnest about it, and looked so disappointed when her mother had spoken of keeping her back, that Daddy Bunker said:

“All right, run along. But don’t get hurt.[Pg 139] Your mother and I will come along after you.”

So it was that Russ, Laddie, and Rose hurried down the country road after the peddler who it was suspected had taken the cake. Trailing after them, but coming more slowly, were Mr. and Mrs. Bunker and the other little Bunkers.

“What shall we do to him, Russ, when we catch him?” asked Rose, as she jogged along beside her older brother.

“I’ll ask him for the cake, that’s what I’ll do.”

“And if he doesn’t give it up?”

“Then—then—I—I’ll thump him!” exclaimed Russ, doubling up his fists.

“And I’ll help,” offered Laddie excitedly.

“We-ell, perhaps,” said Rose doubtfully. It sounded to her a little too boastful.

The white bridge which Mr. Harper had spoken of was about half a mile down the road from Farmer Joel’s place, and soon after making a turn in the highway Russ, Rose, and Laddie saw the structure.

“I see some one fishing off the bridge,” remarked Russ. “Maybe it’s that boy.”

[Pg 140]

As the three Bunkers came nearer they could see a boy sitting on the bridge railing, holding a pole from which a line was dangling in the water that flowed under the bridge. And when the children drew a little nearer they could make out that the fisher was the shoe-lace peddler boy.

Almost at the same time that they recognized him, the boy knew them, and he sprang down from the bridge railing, began winding up his line and started to pick up his box and basket.

“Here, you! Wait a minute!” ordered Russ.

“I don’t have to wait!” sneered the peddler. “There’s no fish here, so why should I wait?”

“You’ve got something that we want!” went on Rose, drawing nearer with Russ, while Laddie began looking about for a club or a stone.

“You said you didn’t want anything,” grumbled the peddler. “I was up by your house, and you wouldn’t buy any shoe laces nor collar buttons yet, so why should it be you come running after me now?”

[Pg 141]

“Because you have my shortcake!” burst out Rose indignantly. “You took my strawberry shortcake and I want it back.”

“I should have taken your shortcake, little girl?” cried the boy, as if greatly surprised. “You are mistaken! Why should you say I have your shortcake?”

“Because you were the only one around the house after the shortcake was set in the pantry window to cool,” said Russ boldly. “And my father saw your footprints under the window.”

“And my father’s coming, and so is my mother, and if you don’t give my sister back her cake they’ll have you arrested!” threatened Laddie.

“Oh, your father and mother—they is coming, are they?” asked the boy, who did not speak very good English. He was not quite so bold and defiant as at first.

“Yes, they’re coming,” said Russ, looking over his shoulder down the road. “But if you give up the shortcake there won’t be any trouble.”

“Why should I have your cake?” cried the[Pg 142] boy. “Look you and see—it is not in mine pockets!” He turned one or two pockets inside out as he stood on the bridge.

“Pooh! Just as if you could put my big strawberry shortcake in your pocket!” scoffed Rose.

“It’s in your box or your basket, that’s where it is!” declared Laddie. And then another thought came to him as he added: “Unless you’ve eaten it!”

“Oh!” cried Rose, in distress at the thought of her good strawberry shortcake having been eaten by the shoe-lace peddler.

“I should eat your cake? No! No!” cried the boy, raising his hand in the air over his head.

“Well, I’m going to have a look in your basket!” threatened Russ, walking toward the place on the bridge where the peddler boy had set down the things in which he carried his wares.

“Don’t you touch my basket!” yelled the peddler. “If you open it I shall a blow give you on the nose!”

He said it in such a funny, excited way that Rose had to laugh, and Russ said:

[Pg 143]

“I can give you a hit on the nose, too!”

“You don’t dast!” sneered the peddler.

“Yes, I dare!” insisted Russ.

“And I’ll help him!” added Laddie, who had found a stick.

The peddler boy, who was almost a head taller than Russ, closed his fists and was walking toward the three Bunker children. Rose felt her heart beating very fast. She looked back down the road and saw her father and mother coming, followed by Margy, Mun Bun, and Violet.

“Oh, here come daddy and mother!” cried Rose.

Instantly a change came over the peddler boy. His fists unclenched and he smiled in a sickly, frightened sort of way.

“Oh, well, maybe your shortcake did get in my box by mistake,” he said. “I takes me a look and see.”

Quickly he opened his box, and there, wrapped in a clean paper, was the strawberry shortcake Rose had made.

“Oh!” cried the little girl, in delight. “Oh, my shortcake has come back!”

“Huh! I thought you said you didn’t have[Pg 144] it!” exclaimed Russ, as the peddler lad lifted out the cake and handed it to Rose.

“Well, maybe I make a mistake and forget,” said the other.

“Huh, I guess you forgot on purpose!” declared Laddie.

By this time Mr. and Mrs. Bunker had come up. They saw that Rose had her shortcake again.

“Look here, young man,” said Mr. Bunker sternly to the peddler, “you mustn’t go about the country stealing things, you know! You may land in jail if you try that again.”

“It was all a mistake, I tell you!” said the shoe-lace peddler, who was really older in experience than a boy of his years should have been. “It was a mistake.”

“What do you mean—a mistake?” asked Mr. Bunker.

“Well, I saw the shortcake on the window, and I thought maybe it was to be thrown away, so I picked it up. I didn’t know anybody wanted it.”

“Well, you know now,” said Mr. Bunker grimly. “And you had better not try any[Pg 145] more tricks like that. Are you sure you didn’t take anything more by mistake?”

“No, I take nothing more,” answered the boy sullenly, as he fastened his box again, and, slinging that and his basket of wares over his shoulder, away he walked. He was quite angry at being caught, it appeared.

“Oh, I’m so glad I got my shortcake back!” cried Rose. “Now we can eat it when we get back to the house.”

“Do you think it was kept clean?” asked her mother.

But they need not have worried on that score. Whatever else he was, the peddler boy seemed clean, and he had wrapped a clean paper about the short cake before putting it in his box. To be sure some of the strawberries on top were crushed and a little of their red juice had run down the sides of the cake.

“But that doesn’t matter, ’cause we got to smash it a lot more when we eat it,” said Laddie.

Which, of course, was perfectly true.

So Rose’s shortcake came back to Farmer Joel’s and they sat down to the table again and[Pg 146] ate it. Dessert was a little late that evening, but it was liked none the less.

“Busy day to-morrow, children!” said Farmer Joel, as the six little Bunkers went up to bed.

“What doing?” asked Russ.

“Getting in the hay!” was the answer. “Those who can’t help can ride on the hay wagon.”

There were whoops of delight from the six little Bunkers.

“Could I drive the horses?” asked Russ.

“Well, we’ll see about that,” answered Farmer Joel slowly.

“I want to ride on the rake that makes the hay into heaps like Eskimo houses,” announced Laddie.

“You’d better not do that,” his mother said. “You might fall off and get raked up with the hay.”

“I’ll look after them, and so will Adam North!” chuckled Farmer Joel. “So to bed now, all of you. Up bright and early! We must get the hay in before it rains!”

[Pg 147]


Very seldom did the six little Bunkers need any one to call them to get them out of bed. Generally they were up before any one else in Farmer Joel’s house. The morning when the hay was to be gotten in was no exception.

Almost as soon as Norah had the fire started and breakfast on the way, Russ, Rose and the others were impatient to start for the hay field.

“Why does he have to get the hay in before it rains?” asked Violet of her father, remembering what Farmer Joel had said the night before.

“Because rain spoils hay after it has been cut and is lying in the field ready to be brought in,” answered Mr. Todd, who heard Vi’s question. “Once hay is dried, it should be brought in and stored away in the barn as soon as possible.

[Pg 148]

“After it is raked up and made into cocks, or Eskimo houses, as Laddie calls them, if it should rain we’d have to scatter the hay all over again to dry it out. For if it were to be put away in the haymow when wet the hay would get mouldy and sour, and the horses would not eat it.”

“Also if the hay gets rained on after it is cut and dried, and while it is still scattered about the field, it must be turned over so the wet part will dry in the hot sun before it can be hauled in. We have had several days of hot weather and my hay is fine and dry now. That’s why I am anxious to get it into the barn in a hurry.”

“Yes, I think we had better hurry,” said Adam North who, with a couple of other hired men, was to help get in Farmer Joel’s hay. “We’re likely to have thunder showers this afternoon.”

“Then we must all move fast!” exclaimed Daddy Bunker, who liked to work on the farm almost as much as did Adam and Mr. Todd.

The day before the hay had been raked into long rows by Adam, who rode a large two-wheeled[Pg 149] rake drawn by a horse. The rake had long curved prongs, or teeth, which dragged on the ground pulling the hay with them. When a large enough pile of hay had been gathered, Adam would press on a spring with one foot and the teeth of the rake would lift up over the long row of dried grass. This was kept up until the field was filled with many rows of hay, like the waves on the seashore.

Then men went about piling the hay into cocks, or cone-shaped piles, which, as Laddie said, looked like the igloos of the Eskimos. Now all that remained to be done was to load the hay on a big, broad wagon and cart it to the barn.

Laddie was a bit disappointed because all the hay was raked up, for he wanted to ride on the big machine which did this work. But Farmer Joel said:

“We always have a second raking after we draw in the hay, for a lot of fodder falls off and is scattered about. You shall ride on the rake when we go over the field for the second time.”

So Laddie felt better, and he was as jolly[Pg 150] as any of the six little Bunkers when they rode out to the field on the empty wagon. Once the field was reached there was a busy time. There was little the children could do, for loading hay is hard work, fit only for big, strong men.

But Russ, Rose and the others watched Adam, Farmer Joel, their father, and the two hired men dig their shiny pitchforks deep into a hay cock. Sometimes two men, each with a fork, would lift almost a whole cock up on the wagon at once. When one man did it alone he took about half the cock at a time.

As the hay was loaded on the wagon, which was fitted with a rick, going over the wheels, the pile of dried grass on the vehicle became higher and higher. So high it was, at last, that the men could hardly pitch hay up on it.

“I guess we’ll call this a load,” said Farmer Joel, as he looked up at the sky. “The road is a bit rough and if we put on too much we’ll have an upset. Adam, I think you’re right,” he went on. “We’ll have thunder showers this afternoon. Have to hustle, boys, to get the hay in!”

When the horses were ready to haul the first[Pg 151] load back to the barn, to be stored away in the mow, the six little Bunkers were put up on top of the load to ride.

“Oh, this is lovely!” cried Rose.

“Like being on a hundred feather beds!” added Russ.

“And you don’t feel the jounces at all!” added Laddie, for as the wagon went over rough places in the field the children were only gently bounced up and down, and not shaken about as they would have been had there been no hay on the wagon.

But the rough field caused one little accident which, however, harmed no one.

The first load of hay was almost out of the field when, as it approached the bars, Mun Bun suddenly yelled:

“I’m slippin’! I’m slippin’!”

And Margy followed with a like cry.

“Oh, I’m fallin’ off!” she shouted.

And, surely enough, Russ and Rose also felt the top of the load of hay beginning to slip to one side. Adam North was riding with the children, Farmer Joel and Daddy Bunker having remained in the field, while one hired man drove the team of horses.

[Pg 152]

“I guess they didn’t load this hay evenly,” said Adam. “Part of it is going to slip off. But don’t be frightened, children,” he said kindly. “You can’t get hurt falling with a load of hay.”

Just as Adam finished speaking part of the top of the load slid off the wagon and fell into the field, and with it fell the six little Bunkers and Adam himself.

“Oh! Oh!” screamed Margy and Mun Bun.

“Keep still!” ordered Russ. “You won’t get hurt!”

“Look out for the pitchforks—they’re sharp!” warned Rose.

Laddie and Violet laughed with glee as they felt themselves sliding.

Down in a heap went the hay, the six little Bunkers and Adam. The hay was so soft it was like falling in a bed of feathers. The man sitting in front to drive the horses did not slide off.

“All over! No damage!” cried Adam, with a laugh, as he leaped up and picked the smallest of the little Bunkers from the pile of hay. “But we’ll have to load the hay back on the wagon.”

[Pg 153]

This was soon done, and once more the merry party started for the barn, which was reached without further accident.

Farmer Joel had many things on his place to save work. Among these was a hay fork which could pick up almost half a load of hay at once and raise it to the mow.

A hay fork, at least one kind, looks like a big letter U turned upside down. The two arms are made of iron, and from their lower ends prongs come out to hold the hay from slipping off the arms.

A rope, running through a pulley is fastened to the curved part of the U, and a horse, pulling on the ground end of the rope, hoists into the air a big mass of hay.

The wagon was driven under the high barn window and from a beam overhead the hay fork was lowered. Adam North plunged the two sharp arms deep into the springy, dried grass.

All but Russ had gotten down off the load of hay to wait for the ride back to the field. But Russ remained there. He wanted to see how the hay fork worked.

So when Adam plunged the arms into the[Pg 154] fodder Russ was near by. Adam pulled on the handle that shot the prongs out from the arms to hold the hay from slipping off as the fork was raised.

Then, suddenly, Russ did a daring thing. Seeing the mass of hay rising in the air, pulled by the horse on the ground below, the boy made a grab for the bunch of dried grass. He caught it, clung to it and up in the air he went, on an exciting and dangerous ride.

“Oh, look at Russ! Look at Russ!” cried Rose.

“Hi there, youngster, what are you doing?” shouted Adam.

“I—I’m getting a ride!” Russ answered. But his voice had a frightened tone in it as he swung about and looked down below. He began to feel dizzy.

[Pg 155]


While Russ swung to and fro in the mass of hay lifted by the hay fork and was kept over the load itself there was little danger. If he fell he would land on the hay in the wagon.

But the hay fork had to swing to one side, when high up in the air, so the hay could be placed in the window opening into the storage mow. And it was this part of Russ’s ride that was dangerous.

The man on the ground, who had charge of the horse that was hitched to the pulley rope, knew nothing of what was going on above him, for the load of hay was so large that it hid Russ and the fork from sight. But this man heard the shout of Adam, and he called up:

“Is anything the matter?”

“No! No!” quickly answered Adam, for[Pg 156] he feared if the horse stopped the shock might throw Russ from his hold. “Keep on, Jake!” he called to the hired man. “You’ll have to hoist a boy up as well as a fork full of hay. Hold on tight there, Russ!” Adam warned the Bunker lad.

“I will,” Russ answered. He was beginning to wish that he had not taken this dangerous ride. It was done on the impulse of the moment. He had seen the mass of hay being lifted with the fork and he felt a desire to go up with it—to get a ride in the air. So he made a grab almost before he thought.

Up and up went the fork full of hay with Russ on it. Now he was swung out and away from the wagon, and was directly over the bare ground, thirty or forty feet below. In the barn window of the mow overhead a man looked out.

“What’s this you’re sending me?” called this man to Adam.

“It’s Russ! Grab him when he gets near enough to you,” Adam answered.

“I will,” said the man who was “mowing away,” as the work of storing the hay in the barn is called.


Six Little Bunkers at Farmer Joel’s.

(Page 160)

Higher and higher up went Russ, while Rose and the other little Bunkers on the ground below gazed at him in mingled fright and envy.

“Will he fall and be killed?” asked Vi.

“No, I guess not. Oh, no! Of course not!” exclaimed Rose.

A moment later the fork load of hay with Russ clinging to it, one hand on the lifting rope, swung within reach of the man in the mow window. Russ was caught, pulled inside to safety, and as he sank down on the pile of hay within the barn the man said:

“You’d better not do that again!”

“I won’t!” promised Russ, with a little shiver of fear and excitement.

Rose and the other children breathed more easily now, and Adam North, wiping the sweat from his forehead, murmured:

“You never know what these youngsters are going to do next!”

Back to the hay field went the empty wagon, the six little Bunkers riding on it. The trip back was not as comfortable as the one on the load of hay had been. For the wagon was rickety and the road was rough and jolty. But[Pg 158] the six little Bunkers had a jolly time, just the same.

The men were working fast now, and Daddy Bunker was helping them, for dark clouds in the west and distant muttering of thunder seemed to tell of a coming storm, and Farmer Joel did not want his hay to get wet.

Another big load was taken to the barn, no upset happening this time. And you may be sure Adam made certain that Russ did not cling to the hay fork.

After three loads had been put away most of the hay was in. Scattered about the field, however, were little piles and wisps of the fodder—perhaps half a load in all—and this must be raked up by the big horse rake.

“Oh, may I have a ride?” cried Laddie, when he saw the machine being brought out from a corner of the rail fence where it had been standing.

“Yes, I’ll give you each a ride in turn,” kindly offered Adam North, who was to drive the horse hitched to the big rake. And as Laddie had asked first he was given the first ride, sitting on the seat beside Adam.

The curved iron teeth of the rake gathered[Pg 159] up a mass of hay until they could hold no more. Then Adam “tripped” it, as the operation is called. The teeth rose in the air and passed over the mass of hay which was left on the ground.

Working in this way, more hay was raked up until there were several windrows and cocks to be loaded upon the wagon. As a special favor Russ and Rose were allowed to pitch small forkfuls of the hay on the wagon. And when all the dried grass had been gathered up the children piled on and rode to the barn for the last time.

“Hurray! Hurray! Hurray for the hay!” they sang most merrily.

“And it’s a good thing we got it in to-day,” said Farmer Joel, with a chuckle, as the last forkful was raised to the mow. “For here comes the rain!”

And down pelted the big drops. There was not much thunder and lightning, but the rain was very hard and the storm pelted and rumbled all night.

“It’s a good thing I got in my hay,” said Farmer Joel, as he went to bed that night. “Now I can sleep in peace.”

[Pg 160]

For there is nothing more worrying to a farmer than to hear it rain, knowing it is spoiling his hay. Hay, once wet, is never quite so good as that which has not been soaked.

Though it rained all night, the sun came out the next day, and the six little Bunkers could play about and have fun. Russ and Laddie were glad of the storm, for the rain had made the brook higher, and water was now for the first time running over the little dam they had made so their water wheel could be turned.

“She’ll splash like anything now!” cried Laddie, as he and his brother hastened down to the brook.

The water wheel was made of some flat pieces of wood fastened together and set in a frame work. The water, spouting over the dam, fell on the blades of the paddle wheel and turned it. On the axle of the wheel was a small, round pulley, and around this there was a string, or a belt, running to a small mill that the boys had made. It had taken them quite a while to do this.

“Now watch her whizz!” cried Russ to his[Pg 161] brothers and sisters, who had gathered on the bank of the brook.

The water wheel was shoved back so the overflow from the dam would strike the paddles. Around they went, turning the pulley, moving the string belt, and also turning the wheel of the “mill.”

“Oh, isn’t that fine!” exclaimed Rose.

“Could I have a ride on it?” Mun Bun wanted to know.

“Hardly!” laughed Russ. “If you sat on it the wheel would break.”

“And you’d get all wet!” added Rose.

The six little Bunkers had much fun that day, and more good times were ahead of them, for that evening when they made ready for bed, tired but happy, their mother said:

“To-morrow we are going on a picnic to the woods.”

“A really, truly picnic?” Vi wanted to know.

“Of course.”

“With things to eat?” asked Russ.

“Surely,” said his mother. “Now off to bed with you! Up early, and we’ll have a fine picnic in the woods.”

[Pg 162]

You may be sure that not one of the six little Bunkers overslept the next day. Bright and early they were up, and soon they started for the picnic grounds in the big hay wagon, on which some straw had been scattered to make soft seats.

“I wonder if anything will happen to-day?” said Rose to Russ, as they rode off with their lunches.

“What do you mean?” he inquired.

“I mean anything like an adventure.”

“Oh, maybe we’ll find a—snake!” and Russ laughed as he saw his sister jump, for Rose did not like snakes.

“You’re a horrid boy!” she murmured.

But an adventure quite different from finding a snake happened to the six little Bunkers.

[Pg 163]


Along the road, through pleasant fields, and into the woods rumbled the big farm hay wagon, driven by Adam North. In the wagon sat the six little Bunkers with their father and mother and Farmer Joel. For Farmer Joel had decided that, after the haymaking, he was entitled to a holiday. So he stopped work and went on the picnic with the six little Bunkers.

“How much farther is it to the picnic grounds?” asked Vi, after they had ridden for perhaps half an hour.

“Not very far now,” answered Farmer Joel.

“Is it a nice picnic grounds?” went on the little girl who always asked questions. “And is there——”

“Now, Vi,” interrupted her mother, “suppose you wait until we get there and you can[Pg 164] see what there is to see. You mustn’t tire Farmer Joel by asking so many questions.”

“Well, I only wanted to ask just one thing more,” begged Vi.

“Go ahead. What is it?” chuckled the good-natured farmer.

“Is there a swing in the picnic woods?” asked Vi, after a moment’s pause to decide which question was the most important.

“Well, if there isn’t we can put one up, for I brought a rope along,” answered Adam North. He liked to see the six little Bunkers have fun as much as the children loved to play.

“Oh, a swing! Goodie!” cried Violet.

“I want to swing in it!” exclaimed Mun Bun.

“So do I!” added Margy.

“I can see where there’s going to be trouble, with only one swing,” murmured Daddy Bunker, smiling at his wife.

“Oh, they can take turns,” she said.

The wagon was now going through the woods. On either side were green trees with low-hanging branches, some of which met in an arch overhead, drooping down so far that[Pg 165] the children could reach up and touch the leaves with their hands.

“Oh, it’s just lovely here,” murmured Rose, who liked beautiful scenery.

“I see something that’s lovelier,” said Russ.

“What?” asked Rose. “I don’t see anything. You can’t get much of a view down here under the trees, but it’s beautiful just the same.”

“Here’s the view I was looking at,” said Russ, with a laugh, and he pointed to the piles of lunch boxes and baskets in the front part of the hay wagon. “That’s a better view than just trees, Rose.”

“Oh, you funny boy!” she laughed. “Always thinking of something to eat! Don’t you ever think of something else?”

“Yes, right after I’ve had something to eat I think of when it’s going to be time to eat again,” chuckled Russ.

Deeper into the woods went the picnic wagon. The six little Bunkers were talking and laughing among themselves, and Farmer Joel was speaking to Mr. and Mrs. Bunker and Adam about something that had happened in the village that day.

[Pg 166]

Suddenly there was a cry from the children, who were in the rear of the wagon, sprawled about in the straw.

“Laddie’s gone!” exclaimed Rose.

“Did he fall out?” asked Mrs. Bunker.

“No, it looks more as if he fell up!” shouted Russ.

And that, indeed, is almost what happened. For, looking back, Mr. and Mrs. Bunker, saw Laddie hanging by his hands to the branch of a tree he had grasped as the wagon passed beneath it. The little fellow was swinging over the roadway, the wagon having passed from beneath him.

“Hold on, Laddie! I’ll come back and get you!” shouted Mr. Bunker.

“In mischief again!” murmured Russ.

“Whoa!” called Adam, bringing the horses to a halt.

“Hold on, Laddie! I’ll come and get you!” called Mr. Bunker again, as he leaped from the hay wagon.

“I—I can’t hold on!” gasped Laddie. “My—my hands are slipping!”

The green branch was slowly bending over[Pg 167] and Laddie’s hands were slipping from it. Then, when he could keep his grasp no longer, he let go, and down to the ground he fell, feet first.

Luckily Laddie was only a short distance above the ground when he slipped from the branch, so he did not have far to fall. He was only jarred and shaken a little bit—not hurt at all.

“Laddie, why did you do that?” his father asked him, when he had reached the little fellow and picked him up. As Mr. Bunker carried Laddie back to the waiting wagon Russ remarked:

“I guess he thought maybe he could pull a tree up by the roots when he caught hold of the branch like that.”

“I did not!” exclaimed Laddie. “I just wanted to pull off a whip for Mun Bun to play horse with. But when I got hold of the branch I forgot to let go and it lifted me right out of the wagon.”

“It’s a mercy you weren’t hurt!” exclaimed his mother.

“I should say so!” added Farmer Joel.[Pg 168] “It’s safer for you to think up riddles, Laddie, than it is to do such tricks as that. Come now, sit quietly in the wagon and think of a riddle.”

“All right,” agreed Laddie, as again he took his place in the straw with the other little Bunkers. But he did not ask any riddles for a long time. Perhaps he had been too startled. For surely it was rather a startling thing to find himself dangling on a tree branch, the wagon having gone out from under him.

However, in about fifteen minutes more Laddie suddenly cried:

“Oh, now I know a riddle! Why is a basket——”

But before he could say any more the other children broke into cries of:

“There’s the picnic ground! There’s the picnic ground!”

And, surely enough, they had reached the grove in the woods where lunch was to be eaten and games played.

It was a beautiful day of sunshine, warm and pleasant. Too warm, in fact, for Mrs. Bunker had to call to the children several times:

[Pg 169]

“Don’t run around too much and get overheated. It is very warm, and seems to be getting warmer.”

“Yes,” agreed Farmer Joel, as he looked at the sky. “I think we’ll have a thunder shower before the day is over.”

“We didn’t bring any umbrellas,” said Mrs. Bunker.

“If it rains very hard we can take shelter in a cave not far from here that I know of,” said Mr. Todd.

“Oh, a cave! Where is it?” asked Russ, who was lying down in the shade, having helped put up the swing. “Could we go and see it?” he inquired.

“After a while, maybe,” promised Farmer Joel.

Rose helped her mother spread out the good things to eat. They found some flat stumps which answered very well for tables, and after Mun Bun and Margy and Laddie and Violet had swung as much as was good for them, and when they had raced about, playing tag, hide-and-seek, and other games, the children were tired enough to sit down in the shade.

[Pg 170]

“We’ll eat lunch after you rest a bit,” said Mrs. Bunker.

“Ah, now comes the best part of the day!” murmured Russ.

“Silly! Always thinking of something to eat!” chided Rose. But she smiled pleasantly at her brother.

How good the things eaten in the picnic woods tasted! Even plain bread and butter was almost as fine as cake, Laddie said. He was trying to think of a riddle about this—a riddle in which he was to ask when it was that bread and butter was as good as cake—when suddenly there came a low rumbling sound.

“What’s that?” asked Margy.

“Thunder, I think,” was the answer.

Mun Bun, who was playing a little distance away, came running in.

“I saw it lighten,” he whispered.

“Yes, I think we’re in for a storm,” said Farmer Joel.

The thunder became louder. The sun was hidden behind dark clouds. The picnic things were picked up. Mrs. Bunker was glad lunch was over.

Then down pelted the rain.

[Pg 171]

“Come on!” cried Farmer Joel. “We’ll take shelter in the cave!”

He led the way along a path through the woods. The others followed, Mr. Bunker carrying Mun Bun and Adam North catching up Margy. The trees were so thick overhead that not much rain fell on the picnic party.

“Here’s the cave!” cried Farmer Joel, pushing aside some bushes. He showed a dark opening among some rocks. In they rushed, for it was a welcome shelter from the storm.

“Oh, but how cool it is in here,” said Rose.

“Yes,” answered Farmer Joel. “This is an ice cave.”

“An ice cave!” exclaimed Russ. “Is there really ice in here in the middle of summer?”

Before Farmer Joel could answer a terrific crash of thunder seemed to shake the whole earth.

[Pg 172]


There was silence in the dark cave of ice following that big noise from the sky. Then came a steady roar of sound.

“It’s raining cats and dogs outside,” said Farmer Joel. “We got here just in time.”

Suddenly Margy began to whimper and then she began to cry.

“What’s the matter, my dear?” asked her mother.

“I—I don’t like it in here!” sobbed Margy.

“I—I don’t, either, an’—an’ I’m goin’ to cry, too!” snuffled Mun Bun.

“Oh, come, children!” exclaimed Mr. Bunker, with a laugh. “Don’t be babies! Why don’t you like it in here?”

“I—I’m ’fraid maybe we’ll be struck by lightning,” whimpered Margy.

“Oh, nonsense!” replied her mother.

[Pg 173]

“No lightning ever comes in here,” said Farmer Joel. “Why, if lightning came in there couldn’t be any ice. The lightning would melt the ice, and it hasn’t done that. I’ll show you a big pile of it back in the cave. Of course no lightning ever comes in here! Don’t be afraid.”

The thunder was not so loud now, and as no lightning could be seen because the Bunkers were far back in the dark cave, the two smallest children stopped their crying.

“Is there really ice in here?” asked Russ.

“It feels so,” said Rose, with a little shiver.

“Yes, there’s ice here,” went on the farmer. “It comes every year, and stays until after the Fourth of July. Come, I’ll show you.”

Lighting a match and setting ablaze a stick he picked up from the dry floor of the cave in the rocks, Farmer Joel led the way toward the back of the dark hole. The blazing stick gave light like a torch.

It grew colder and colder the deeper they went into the cave, and Mrs. Bunker, with a little shiver, exclaimed:

“It is cold in here!”

“We won’t stay very long,” said Mr. Todd.[Pg 174] “I’ll just show the children the pile of ice and then we’ll go back to the front part of the cave where the air is warmer. This shower will soon be over and we can go outside again.”

They walked on a little farther and suddenly Rose cried:

“Oh, I see it! I see a big pile of ice!”

The light from Farmer Joel’s blazing stick glittered on a sparkling mass of ice and snow in the deepest, darkest part of the cave.

“Is it real?” asked Mun Bun.

“Touch it and see,” advised his father.

Mun Bun put his little hand on the sparkling pile. He drew it quickly back with a murmur of wonder.

“Oh, it’s terribly cold!” he exclaimed.

“It’s real ice, all right,” laughed Farmer Joel.

“How does it get in here?” Russ asked.

“There is a hole in the roof of the cave—the roof that is made of rocks,” explained the farmer. “You can see where some water is pouring in now from the rain.” The children looked and saw drops falling on top of the pile of ice.

“Not as much water comes in here in the[Pg 175] summer as in winter,” explained Farmer Joel; “for now the holes in the rocky roof are filled with bushes and leaves. But in the winter, when the leaves dry out, there is quite an opening. Rain and melted snow runs in and it is so cold here that a big, solid chunk of ice is frozen.”

“But what makes it stay here when summer comes?” asked Rose.

“Because the warm sun cannot shine inside the cave to melt the ice,” explained her father.

“That’s right,” added Farmer Joel. “Some years we can come here even in the middle of August and chop out chunks of ice.”

“I should think you could make ice cream,” said Russ.

“Sometimes we do,” replied Mr. Todd.

“Oh, could we do that now?” cried Rose eagerly.

“We haven’t any freezer nor the things to make ice cream with,” objected her mother.

“Couldn’t we take some of the ice home in the wagon?” Russ wanted to know.

“Yes, you could do that,” said Farmer Joel kindly.

For a few minutes longer the six little[Pg 176] Bunkers remained looking at the big mass of ice—ice in the middle of summer. Then as the torch was burning out and as it was chilly after the warm outdoors, Mrs. Bunker told the children to go to the front of the cave.

“But we’ll come back and get some of the ice to make ice cream,” stated Russ.

“Yes,” agreed Farmer Joel.

As he had said, the storm did not last long. Soon the black clouds rolled away, the thunder and lightning ceased, and the sun came out, warmer than before. Out of the ice cave rushed the children, merrily shouting and laughing.

“Be careful now!” called their mother. “The woods are very wet!”

But dry places were found under thick evergreen trees, and there the six little Bunkers played until it was time to go home.

“And now for the ice!” cried Russ, as the wagon was driven up close to the entrance to the cave.

“I want to break off a chunk!” cried Mun Bun.

But it was decided best not to let the smaller children go into the ice cave while pieces were[Pg 177] being broken off to take to the farmhouse for ice cream. So Russ and Rose were the only ones allowed to see Farmer Joel, Daddy Bunker, and Adam North break off pieces of ice with heavy sticks of wood. Out to the wagon the chunks were carried. There they were covered with straw to keep them from melting too much.

“Now for some ice cream!” cried Russ, as they drove home. “I don’t believe you could find ice in the summer time in many places, could you?” he asked.

“Well, no,” his father told him. “Not every place has an ice cave, though they are not as rare as you might suppose. Sometimes, in deep, rocky glens where the sun seldom shines, I have seen ice as late as the end of May. But I never saw a real ice cave before.”

“A polar bear could live in that cave, couldn’t he?” asked Mun Bun on the way home.

“Yes, it might for a little while,” said Farmer Joel, “but I guess it would miss the ocean. Polar bears need salt water to swim in, as well as ice chunks to keep them cool.”

[Pg 178]

“I hope no polar bear comes to live in that cave while we’re here,” remarked Margy.

“Don’t worry, darling!” laughed her mother. “None will.”

There was plenty of the ice left when the farmhouse was reached. Russ and Laddie took it from the wagon and cracked it in burlap bags, while Farmer Joel brought out some coarse salt with which to mix it. Salt always causes ice to melt faster, and it is only when ice melts and gives out the cold locked up in it that ice cream can be made.

Norah soon had the freezer full of a mixture of sugar, cream and some sliced bananas, since the children liked that flavor, and in a little while Russ and Laddie were turning the handle.

By supper time the ice cream was frozen, and for dessert they had a dainty dish made from ice brought in the middle of summer from the dark cave. The six little Bunkers thought it quite wonderful.

The next day Rose saw Farmer Joel carrying what seemed to be a pail of thick, yellow sour cream out of the kitchen.

[Pg 179]

“What are you going to do with that?” asked Rose. “Are you going to feed it to the pigs?” For she had often seen sour milk taken to the pen of the big and little squealers.

“Give this to the pigs? I guess not!” laughed Farmer Joel. “This is rich, sour cream, and if my sister were here she would churn it into butter. But as she is gone I’m taking it to my neighbor, Mr. Ecker. His wife will churn it for me.”

“Oh, couldn’t I churn?” asked Rose. “I’d love to!”

Farmer Joel set the pail of cream down on a chair and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

“Churning is hard work,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a long while before the butter comes. Of course we have a churn, but——”

“Oh, I’ll get Russ to help me and we’ll take turns churning!” cried Rose. “Please let me.”

And Farmer Joel did. He brought up the dasher churn from the cellar. Norah scalded it out with hot water, and when it was cool the sour cream was put in it and the cover made fast. Then Rose took hold of the handle of the dasher, which was like the handle[Pg 180] of a broom, and moved it up and down through a hole in the cover, as Farmer Joel told her to.

Chug! Chug! Ker-chug! went the churn dasher, splashing up and down in the thick, yellow cream. Some of it, in little golden balls, came up on the handle of the dasher, above the cover.

“That’s butter,” Rose told Mun Bun and Margy, who were watching her.

Margy put out a chubby finger, got a yellow dab and tasted it.

“’Tisn’t a bit like butter!” she said, disappointedly.

“It will be when it is salted,” her mother told her.

When Rose grew tired Russ took a turn, and so did Laddie and Violet, and soon the dasher was so heavy that none of the children could lift it.

“I guess the butter has come,” said Farmer Joel. “Yes, there it is. Look!” he added as he took off the cover, and the children saw big golden yellow lumps floating about in what was now white buttermilk, for all the cream had been changed into butter.

[Pg 181]

“How are you going to get it out?” asked Rose.

“I’ll show you,” answered Farmer Joel, who had often watched his sister do this work. He moved the flat dasher up and down, slowly turning it the while, and in a minute or two there was gathered on the top of the dasher all the floating lumps of butter.

These were lifted out and put in a wooden bowl and Norah “worked out” the buttermilk, leaving, finally, a firm, yellow lump of butter.

“There you are!” cried Farmer Joel. “When it is salted you may eat some on your bread for supper.”

And the six little Bunkers did, saying it was the best they had ever tasted. Daddy Bunker and his wife drank some of the buttermilk left in the churn after the butter was taken out. But when Russ tasted it he made a funny face and cried:

“Sour! Ugh! Sour!”

“Of course!” laughed his mother. “Buttermilk is always sour. But it is good for you, and I like the taste of it.”

“You can have all of mine,” said Russ.

[Pg 182]

“And I don’t want any, either,” Rose made haste to say.

Thus it was that butter was made, and it came out well except that, almost at the last minute, Mun Bun took the plug out of the bottom of the churn and let some of the buttermilk run over the floor. But Norah soon wiped it up.

The next day Russ decided that he would make a larger mill for his water wheel in the brook to turn, and Laddie offered to help him. The two boys went down to the stream with bits of wood, a hammer and nails, and they were busy for some time. Mrs. Bunker had taken the other children for a walk in the forest not far away.

While Russ was working at the new mill Laddie piled up stones and bits of sod on top of the dam already built, to make it higher so the water back of it would be deeper.

“The deeper the water is and the higher we have the dam,” Russ explained to Laddie, “the faster the wheel will turn.”

“Yes, it’ll be fine,” agreed Laddie, tugging at a big stone to get it on top of the dam.

Russ was putting the new play mill in place[Pg 183] and was getting ready to connect it to the water wheel when suddenly he heard a big splash up at the dam, which he could not see plainly because a bush was in the way.

“What happened, Laddie?” asked Russ. “Did you drop something in the water?”

“I—I dropped—my—myself—in!” gasped Laddie. “Oh, Russ, I’m all the way—in! I—I’m all—the—way—in!”

[Pg 184]


Russ sprang to his feet, knocking aside the pieces of his mill in doing so, and rushed around the bush to see what had happened to Laddie. It was just as the smaller boy had said—he had fallen in the deepest part of the water back of the dam.

But, after all, it was not very deep, for the brook was a small one. The water would not have been over Laddie’s head if he stood upright. But the trouble was that Laddie had slipped as he was about to lift a heavy stone on top of the dam, and had gone down sideways.

“I’m coming! I’m coming!” Russ shouted, as he saw Laddie floundering and struggling in the water.

“I—I guess—blub—blub—glub-ub!” was what Laddie answered.

[Pg 185]

He started to say that he guessed he could get out by himself, when his foot slipped on some mud at the bottom of the brook and his face went under water.

“Oh, Laddie!” cried Russ in alarm.

But he need not have been worried, for Laddie managed to get up on his feet again, and by this time Russ was beside him, holding out his hands to his small brother to help him to shore.

“Are you hurt?” Russ asked, as Laddie, gasping for breath and with water dripping from every part of him, stood on the bank of the brook.

“No, I—I’m not exactly hurt,” Laddie answered. Then he smiled and said: “But I’m awful wet!”

“I should say you were! And muddy, too!” chuckled Russ. “It’s a good thing you had your old clothes on. I guess mother won’t scold much. She expects us to fall in once or twice. I heard her tell Farmer Joel that. How did it happen, Laddie?”

“Oh, I guess that stone was too heavy for me. I almost had it where I wanted it and it began to slip away from me. I made a[Pg 186] grab for it and I slipped and I went down—and in!”

“Yes, you went in all right,” laughed Russ. “Well, come on up to the house and get on dry things.”

“No,” objected Laddie.

“Why not?” asked his brother. “Are you afraid mother will scold?”

“No, I guess not. But what’s the use of getting dry clothes on when maybe I’ll get all wet again fixing the dam? As long as I’m wet I might as well finish the dam, and then we can work the water wheel.”

“Well, maybe that is the best way,” agreed Russ. “It won’t take long to fix the dam now, and you might fall in again.”

And Laddie did. Once more, as he was lifting a stone to the top of the dam, he slipped and fell in, but this time he only laughed and kept right on working. And when the dam was finally built higher, so that more water poured over to turn the wheel, Laddie went to the house and put on dry clothes.

His mother, who had come back from the woods, did not scold him when he told her what had happened, but she made him wash[Pg 187] the mud from his clothes and hang them out to dry, since she said it was only right that he should do this to save Norah work.

Laddie and Russ had much fun playing at the water wheel and with the new and larger mill. Rose and the other children went to look at the splashing mill wheel and thought it very fine indeed.

“If I see that boy sneaking around here, and if he throws stones at your mill, shall I drive him off?” asked Mun Bun.

“What boy?” Russ wanted to know.

“That peddler boy who took Rose’s strawberry shortcake,” Mun Bun replied.

“Why, have you seen him again?” asked Mrs. Bunker, in surprise.

“Yes, I saw him going along the road yesterday,” Mun Bun said. “But he didn’t come in and try to sell any shoe laces.”

“He’d better not come around here again!” declared Russ, with flashing eyes as he clenched his fists. “If he comes I—I’ll hit him!”

“You mustn’t fight, Russ,” his mother said. “But I hardly believe it is the same boy. He[Pg 188] wouldn’t stay around here after being so bold as to take Rose’s shortcake the way he did. It must have been some other peddler, Mun Bun.”

“No, it was the same one,” insisted the little fellow, and later they found out that he was right.

Two days after this a little girl who lived down the road from Farmer Joel’s house invited Rose, Violet, and Margy to come to a party.

“It’s funny she didn’t invite us,” said Russ.

“She isn’t going to have any boys this time,” Rose explained. “But maybe she will next time, and then you can go.”

“Maybe next time we won’t want to!” answered Russ. “Anyhow, we’re going fishing now. Come on, Laddie!”

“All right,” agreed the other. “Fishing is more fun, anyhow, than parties.”

“Can I come fishing?” asked Mun Bun.

As Russ and Laddie promised to look after him, Mun Bun’s mother allowed the little fellow to go with the other two boys. There was a small stream, larger than the brook, about half a mile away across Farmer Joel’s[Pg 189] fields, and toward that place Russ, Laddie, and Mun Bun went in the afternoon.

“Now be careful, Russ, that your brothers don’t fall in and don’t let them get fish hooks in their hands,” warned Mr. Bunker, for, to his delight, Mun Bun was allowed to fish with a real hook and not with a bent pin, with which he never had any luck. This was to be a real fishing party.

“I’ll take care of them,” promised Russ.

Away went the boys over the fields toward the little river, Russ merrily whistling. On a shady, grassy bank, under a big buttonwood tree, the boys sat down and cast their baited hooks into the deep water of an eddy, where, in the quiet pool, there were said to be large fish.

Presently the cork on the line attached to Russ’s pole began to bob up and down. Then it went under water.

“You have a bite, Russ!” excitedly called Laddie.

“I know I have! Keep still or you’ll scare it away!”

Russ waited a moment longer. The cork went away under.

[Pg 190]

“Now I have him!” cried Russ.

He pulled up his line. On the hook was a good-sized fish which Russ landed back of him on the grass.

“Oh, I wish I could get one!” sighed Laddie enviously.

“Look at my cork! Look!” suddenly cried Mun Bun.

“He’s got a bite, too!” cried Laddie. “Pull in, Mun Bun! Pull in! I’ll help you!”

Laddie pulled out the little fellow’s line, and, surely enough, Mun Bun had caught a fish, not as large as the one Russ had landed, but still Mun Bun was much delighted.

“I wonder if I’ll get one?” sighed Laddie.

He did a little later. Then Russ caught a second one, and after a while Laddie said he would go farther downstream to another “hole” he knew of.

“The fish are biting good to-day,” Russ said, as he baited his hook and threw it in again.

A little later a shadow fell on the grass behind Russ and Mun Bun. Russ turned around and saw—that ugly peddler boy who had taken the shortcake Rose had baked!

“Huh!” sneered the peddler, as he walked[Pg 191] up with a pole in his hands. “What right you fellows got to fish here?”

“This is Farmer Joel’s land, and we’re staying at his house,” said Russ. “Course we have a right to fish here!”

“You have not!” cried the peddler. “And you’d better get away before I make you. I’ll punch you—that’s what I’ll do!”

Russ leaped to his feet and started toward the peddler lad, who was larger than Russ.

“Oh! Oh!” cried Mun Bun.

Then suddenly the peddler drew back his fist and struck Russ, knocking him down.

[Pg 192]


Mun Bun felt like bursting into tears. To see his beloved big brother, Russ, knocked down in this fashion was enough to make any small boy cry. It was almost like the time when Russ was so nearly run over by the truck.

But suddenly it came to Mun Bun that he must be brave. If Russ were badly hurt Mun Bun must do something about it—just what, of course, Mun Bun did not know. But he felt he must not cry.

So he “squeezed back” the tears, as he said later, and then he did what perhaps was not just right, but what, I think, most children would have done had the boy who started the fight been a big boy, as was the peddler lad.

Mun Bun caught up a stone and threw it at the peddler boy.

“You let my brother alone!” cried Mun[Pg 193] Bun angrily. “I’ll throw another stone at you if you don’t. And I’ll call my father! I’ll go get my father now—and Farmer Joel and Adam! That’s what I’ll do!”

Usually Mun Bun was not a very straight shot with a stone or a baseball. Generally, when Mun Bun threw, Russ would laugh and say the safest place was right in front of the little fellow. For Mun Bun seldom hit the thing he aimed at.

However, this time, as luck would have it, the stone he threw struck the peddler boy on the shoulder. And then the peddler boy ran away, leaving Russ lying there. I think the peddler boy ran more because of what Mun Bun said about Mr. Bunker being called than because of the stone, for it was a small one and could not have hurt him much.

“There! He’s gone, Russ!” cried Mun Bun, as he ran to his brother. “You needn’t be ’fraid any more!”

“Pooh! I’m not afraid!” boasted Russ, as he arose. He had been stunned by the blow and the fall, and really was not much hurt. “I was going to get up and punch him,” went on Russ. “He hit me too sudden, or he[Pg 194] wouldn’t have knocked me down. I was just getting up to hit him.”

“He ran away. I made him run!” cried Mun Bun. “I hit him with a stone and he ran away!”

“Good for you!” exclaimed Russ, and then Laddie came back from down the stream where he had gone to fish.

“What’s the matter?” asked Laddie.

“Oh, that mean peddler boy was around again,” said Russ. “He hit me and knocked me down. He hit me before I had a chance to fight him.”

Laddie dropped his pole and line.

“Where is he?” cried the little fellow. “I’ll fix him!”

“Mun Bun fixed him,” chuckled Russ, telling what had happened.

“I wonder what’s the matter with that fellow, anyhow?” asked Laddie, when he had looked around among the bushes and made sure the ugly peddler chap was not to be seen. “What’s the matter with him, stealing things and knocking folks down?”

“I don’t know,” answered Russ, with a shake of his head. “That’s like one of your[Pg 195] riddles, Laddie, only it isn’t so easy to answer. He didn’t have any good reason for hitting me.”

“We’ll tell Farmer Joel on him,” said Mun Bun.

And this was done when the boys went back to the house after each catching a few more fish. They really did very well, and Mrs. Bunker said they had enough for what Norah called a “mess,” meaning enough to cook so all would have some to eat.

“That boy is a rascal,” said Farmer Joel, when he heard what had happened. “I’ll tell the constable about him, and if he finds out where the peddler is staying I’ll have him arrested.”

“And if I find him,” threatened Adam North, “I’ll set him out among the beehives and let him get stung three or four times. That will cure him of wanting to knock people down.”

“Speaking of bees,” said Mr. Bunker to Farmer Joel, “did you ever find that swarm that got away?”

“No, I didn’t,” answered Farmer Joel. “But I wish I could, for that was a valuable[Pg 196] queen. I guess they’re somewhere in the woods, but I’m afraid I’ll never get them back.”

Russ had a little bruise on his chin where the peddler boy had struck him, and Mother Bunker bathed the sore spot with witch hazel, which made it feel better.

Aside from this little happening and small accidents that occurred from day to day, the six little Bunkers had wonderfully good times at Farmer Joel’s. They played all day long out of doors when it did not rain, and when it showered there was the big barn.

As the summer passed many good things to eat ripened on the trees in the farmer’s orchard. There were apples, plums, peaches, and pears, and Mrs. Bunker had a hard time to keep the children from eating so much fruit that it would make them ill.

One day they were all out in the orchard helping gather the apples. Farmer Joel, Adam, another hired man and Mr. Bunker were picking the apples and packing them in boxes and baskets to be sent away. Care was used in picking the apples not to let them fall, for if they were bruised they soon rotted.[Pg 197] Apples that fell to the ground were not packed and shipped away with the best fruit. Farmer Joel was very particular with his apples.

I said the six little Bunkers were helping pick the apples, but of course the four smaller ones could not do much more than pick up those that fell to the ground when the tree was shaken by the men climbing up in it. To their great delight, Russ and Rose were allowed to climb up some of the low trees.

Mun Bun was running about in the orchard, laughing and having a good time, when he suddenly gave a howl, calling:

“Oh, that boy hit me! That peddler boy hit me on the head with a stone! Look out for the peddler boy!”

“What’s that?” cried Farmer Joel. “Is that rascal here?”

Mun Bun sat down on the ground, and this time he cried real tears.

“That boy hit me on the head with a stone!” he sobbed.

For a time there was some excitement, the men coming down out of the trees to look for the peddler boy. But a moment later along[Pg 198] came Ralph Watson from the next farm, and with him was his dog Jimsie.

“Did you see anything of a peddler boy?” Ralph was asked.

“No,” he answered.

“I don’t believe Mun Bun was hit by a stone at all!” suddenly exclaimed Mrs. Bunker, looking at Mun Bun’s head. “I don’t believe that peddler boy has been here, either.”

“But something hit me, Mother!” insisted Mun Bun.

“Yes, but it was an apple falling from one of the trees,” his mother said. “Look, here is an apple leaf in your hair, Mun Bun. It was an apple that hit you.”

And, surely enough, when they looked, there on the ground beside Mun Bun was an apple. They were more sure it was a bit of fruit that had hit him a moment or two lately for suddenly Jimsie, the dog, let out a howl, and they all saw an apple fall and hit the dog on the head.

This made Mun Bun laugh, and he said:

“Jimsie got hit just like me, didn’t he?”

“And he howled pretty nearly as loudly,” chuckled Russ.

[Pg 199]

“Perhaps I’d better take the smaller children in from the orchard,” said Mrs. Bunker, after a while. “A lot of apples are falling, and some are so large and hard that little heads might be hurt.”

“I think it’s as well,” agreed Mr. Bunker.

“You may gather the eggs, if you wish,” said Farmer Joel. “It’s about time.”

“Oh, that’ll be fun!” cried Violet.

“An’ I want a basket all by myself!” insisted Margy.

“So do I,” said Mun Bun, forgetting all about being hit by a falling apple.

So off to the barn went Mrs. Bunker, with Margy and Mun Bun, Laddie and Violet, while Russ, Rose, and Ralph remained in the orchard to help pick the apples.

Most of the hens laid in nests in the big hen-house built for them, but there were some of the chickens that “stole their nests,” as Farmer Joel said, going in the barn, or even under it.

The children had been around long enough now to know where most of these hidden nests were, and they scattered and began looking for the eggs.

[Pg 200]

Mrs. Bunker had the basket with the most of the eggs in, for she did not dare trust them to the children. She was coming out of the hen-house with Laddie and Violet when Mun Bun, who had gone into the barn with Margy, came running up to his mother.

“Oh! Oh!” cried the little fellow. “You ought to see her!”

“See whom?” asked Mrs. Bunker.

“Margy!” gasped Mun Bun. “She’s all yellow and white!”

[Pg 201]


Violet almost dropped her basket of eggs, she was so excited.

“Oh! Oh!” she cried. “Maybe Margy’s getting the chicken pox or something like that. All yellow and white! Oh, dear!”

“It isn’t chicken pox,” said Mrs. Bunker, trying not to laugh. “Though I think it has something to do with chickens—and eggs. You say Margy is all yellow and white, Mun Bun?” she asked.

“Yes’m, but the yellow shows most. It’s all over her face and her dress——”

“The poor thing!” murmured Violet.

“I’ll go and help her,” offered Laddie, not stopping to make a riddle this time, though he said later that he had one about a chicken and an egg if he could only think of it.

[Pg 202]

“She’s right around here—under the barn,” went on Mun Bun, leading the way from the hen-house.

“Under the barn?” asked Mrs. Bunker. “Is she caught fast there?”

“No, Mother,” replied Mun Bun. “She’s just all whites and yellows. She crawled under the barn to get some eggs, and when she came out with ’em in her dress, why—now—she—she slipped and she fell down and—and—the eggs all busted and——”

“There she is now!” interrupted Violet, as they came within sight of the unfortunate Margy. Well might Violet murmur: “Poor dear!”

Margy seemed covered with the whites and yellows of broken eggs from her head to her feet. And, as Mun Bun said, the “yellow showed the most.”

“Oh, you poor child!” exclaimed Mrs. Bunker, trying not to laugh. “Come to the house and I’ll wash you clean. Poor Margy! Never mind, dear!” for Margy was crying.

“I—I didn’t—mean—to break the—the—eggs!” she sobbed. “You s’pose Farmer Joel—you s’pose he’ll be very mad?”

[Pg 203]

“Of course not!” Mrs. Bunker hastened to say. “He doesn’t mind a few eggs. The hens will lay more.”

“If she’d had on a rubber apron it would have been all right,” said Laddie, as they went on toward the house.

“How do you mean?” Violet, as usual, asked a question.

“Why, if Margy had had on a rubber apron the whites and yellows of the eggs wouldn’t ‘a’ soaked out and she could carry ’em to the kitchen and Norah could make a cake. She says broken eggs are just as good for cakes as other eggs.”

“Yes,” agreed Violet. “’Cause you have to break eggs, anyhow, to get them into a cake. But even if Margy had these in a rubber apron, there’d be a lot of shells.”

“That’s so,” agreed Laddie. “I guess even a rubber apron wouldn’t be much good. The best way is not to break eggs. Now I’m going to make a riddle about them.” And he did. He himself said afterward it wasn’t a very good riddle. Laddie would ask:

“How can you get an egg out of the shell without breaking it?”

[Pg 204]

And after every one had given up he would answer:

“You can’t.”

Sometimes Laddie made up better riddles than that.

Margy was washed and a clean dress was put on her, and by this time the men and Russ and Rose came in from the apple orchard and it was almost time for supper.

Norah had cooked a good meal, and it was well that she had, for every one had a hearty appetite. Working in the apple orchard and gathering eggs made them all hungry.

It was several days after this that, when Mrs. Bunker was taking the four smaller children for a walk through the fields, a distant rumbling sound was heard.

“Is that thunder?” asked Violet, looking toward the sky.

“I think not,” her mother answered. “If it is, the storm is a distant one and will not break until we get home.”

“It isn’t thunder,” announced Laddie, after the rumbling sound was heard again.

“What is it?” Mun Bun wanted to know.

“It’s Farmer Joel’s bull,” said Laddie. “I[Pg 205] can see him down in that field,” and he pointed to a distant pasture in which, all alone, was the big bull, roaming around, pawing the ground, shaking his head, and now and then uttering the low, rumbling bellow, which sounded like distant thunder.

“Oh, so it is the bull,” remarked Mrs. Bunker, when, from a distant hill, they had watched the powerful animal running about.

“I hope the fence is good and strong so he can’t get loose,” said Violet.

“I guess Farmer Joel wouldn’t turn the bull into a field unless the fence was good and strong,” replied Mrs. Bunker.

“Mother, what would we do if the bull got loose and chased us?” Margy asked.

“The best thing to do, I suppose,” said Mother Bunker, “would be to run and get on the other side of a strong fence, if it could be done. Or climb a tree. Bulls can’t go up trees.”

“But after you got up into the tree he might hit the tree with his head and knock you out and hook you, mightn’t he?” asked Violet.

“Well, he might,” replied her mother. “Perhaps it would be best not to go anywhere[Pg 206] near the bull. But if he should come after you—run away somewhere or get behind a fence or something.”

“He’s terrible strong, isn’t he?” observed Mun Bun, as he watched the bull hitting his head against the fence as if trying to knock it over.

“He is, indeed. Bulls are very strong,” said his mother. “I should think Farmer Joel would be afraid this one would knock the fence down. But perhaps it is all right.”

However, the fence was not all right, or else the bull was stronger than was supposed, for a few days later something very alarming took place.

Russ and Rose had been left in charge of the four smaller Bunkers while their father and mother went visiting a distant farmer whom Mr. Bunker had known some years before.

“Let’s go down and look at the water wheel,” suggested Russ, for Laddie, Violet, Mun Bun and Margy never seemed to tire of this.

“Will that old peddler boy come and hit you again?” Mun Bun wanted to know.

[Pg 207]

“No, I guess he’s gone away,” answered Russ.

Down to the brook they went, a merry, happy group of children. They threw stones into the water, set little bits of wood afloat, pretending they were boats, and had a good time watching the splashing water wheel.

Suddenly Laddie, who had wandered off a little way to gather some brown cattails growing in a swampy place, came running back, fear showing on his face.

“He—he’s coming!” gasped Laddie.

“Who? That peddler boy?” demanded Russ, clenching his fists.

“No! The mad bull! He’s coming! Look out!” shouted Laddie.

[Pg 208]


For a moment or two Russ did not know whether or not Laddie was joking. The little fellow often played tricks, and this might be one of these times. But when Russ looked at Laddie’s face the older Bunker boy felt sure there must be something wrong.

Still, before getting excited about it, and, perhaps, unnecessarily frightening Rose, Margy, Mun Bun and Violet, it might be well to make sure. So Russ asked:

“Which way is he coming, Laddie?”

“Right across the lots,” was the answer. “I saw him when I was after cattails. He’s coming right this way!”

“Then we’d better hide behind a fence,” advised Violet. “The other day, when we saw the old mad bull pawing in his field and making a noise like thunder, mother said we should hide behind a fence.”

[Pg 209]

“There isn’t any fence here to hide behind,” said Mun Bun, who was beginning to understand what it was all about.

“Did you hear the bull make a noise like thunder?” asked Violet. You might be sure she would put in a question or two, no matter what was happening.

Before Laddie could answer, and while Russ and Rose were thinking what was best to do to get their younger brothers and sisters out of the way of the powerful beast, there came from the near-by meadow a rumbling sound.

“There he goes!” cried Laddie. “I mean here he comes, and he’s bellowing like thunder!”

Certainly it was a fearsome sound.

“I want my mamma!” wailed Margy.

“So do I!” joined in Mun Bun.

“We’ll take care of you!” quickly said Rose, putting her arms around the two younger children. “Oh, Russ!” she whispered, “what are we going to do?”

“We ought to have something red to shake at the bull!” cried Violet. “Red makes bulls go away.”

[Pg 210]

“It does not!” declared Laddie. “It’s just different. Red makes ’em run at you! Has anybody got any red on?” he asked anxiously.

He looked quickly at the others. To his relief no red was to be seen, and Laddie was glad. As yet the bull was not in sight, for the children were on one side of the brook and on either bank was a fringe of bushes and cattails, and these hid the oncoming animal. But if he was not seen he was heard, and once more his loud bellow sounded.

“Come on! Run!” screamed Violet.

“Yes, we’d better get away from here,” agreed Russ, looking about for a safe place.

Laddie, who had picked up a stone, perhaps intending to throw it and, maybe, hit the bull on the nose, dropped the rock. Rose had started on ahead with Mun Bun and Margy, and Russ now took the hands of Violet and Laddie, for he felt he could help them run faster this way. Then Rose, who was a little distance ahead, cried out:

“Oh, there’s a good place to hide!”

“Where?” asked Russ.

“In the old hen-house! We can go in there and lock ourselves in. Come on!”

[Pg 211]

She pointed to an old and rather ramshackle sort of building that had been used as a hen-house by Farmer Joel before he built a better one nearer the barn. This old hen-house was down near the bank of the brook, and the children had often played in it. Now it seemed just the refuge they needed.

“The old bull can knock that house down!” said Laddie. “It’s almost falling, anyhow.”

“It’s better than nothing,” Russ declared. “And there isn’t any fence to hide behind. Come on to the hen-house, everybody!”

Behind them came the bellowing bull. They could hear him “roaring,” as Mun Bun called it, and, as he looked back over his shoulder, Russ saw the powerful animal splashing his way across the brook.

“He’s surely coming after us!” the boy thought. He had hoped that perhaps the bull might wander off somewhere else.

“Oh! Oh!” screamed Margy. “He’ll hook us!”

I do not really believe the bull at first had any notion of running after the children. He had merely gotten out of his pasture and was[Pg 212] wandering about when Laddie saw him. He came to the brook to get a drink.

Then, after splashing into the water and quenching his thirst, he saw the six little Bunkers and actually ran toward them. But they had a good start and hastened toward the hen-house.

With a bellow the bull took after them, his tail out stiff in the air, his head down and his hoofs making the dirt fly. There were, perhaps, more reasons than one why the bull chased the children. He might have thought they had salt to give him, for often Farmer Joel and his men gave this dainty to the bull and the cows in the fields. Or the bull may have been just playful. Or perhaps his temper was just ugly. It is hard to tell sometimes the difference between playfulness and temper. Bulls are strong and like to show off their strength, sometimes butting their heads against a fence just for fun, it seems.

At any rate on came this bull after the children, and Russ and Rose hastened with their younger brothers and sisters toward the open door of the hen-house.

They reached it some little distance ahead[Pg 213] of the charging animal. In they ran. Russ closed the door and placed against it a strong stick he found on the floor. The hen-house was deserted except for one chicken that had strayed in to lay an egg, and she flew off the nest, cackling in surprise, as the children entered.

Mun Bun and Margy laughed at this, and Rose was glad, for she did not want them to be too frightened. She and Russ expected every moment to hear the bull dash against the hen-house door. The boy was afraid, if this happened, that the shaky door would be broken so the bull could get in.

But, to his surprise, a moment later Laddie cried:

“Look! He ran right past here!”

And that is just what happened. The bull, charging head down, had carried himself well past the hen-house, but could be seen to one side rushing around.

That is one difference between a bull and a cow. A bull charges with his head down and cannot well see where he is going, so that if one is very active he can leap out of the way. But a cow rushes at you with head up[Pg 214] and “takes better aim,” as Laddie expressed it.

So this is how it happened that the bull rushed past the hen-house without doing any damage. Rose breathed a sigh of relief, and she said:

“Now don’t make any noise and maybe he won’t know we’re here. Keep still!”

And you may be sure the four small little Bunkers did—very still.

Through the window the children watched the bull. He stopped running and looked about. He bellowed, he pawed the earth, and he seemed puzzled. Perhaps he was wondering where those children went to, and how thankful they all were that they were in the hen-house!

“But if he bumps into it he’ll knock it over,” whispered Laddie.

However, the bull did nothing of the sort. Perhaps he thought the hen-house was a barn, and may have imagined if he “bumped into it” he would have to stay in, and he would rather be out in the fields. So he wandered about the hen-house, muttering and bellowing, as if daring any one to do anything to him.

Of course the children dared not come out[Pg 215] while the bull was there, and they did not know what to do. But they were glad of one thing, and this was that the animal did not try to come in after them.

“But maybe he will come,” suggested Laddie, in a whisper, when Rose and Russ talked about how lucky it was that the bull hadn’t tried to butt down the old hen-house.

“No, I don’t believe he’ll come in now,” said Russ.

“Shall we have to stay here all night?” Violet wanted to know, when they had been in the hen-house nearly ten minutes and the bull had shown no likelihood of going away soon.

“I don’t like it here. I want to go out and play!” said Mun Bun, but he was careful not to speak above a whisper, for he could see the bull through the dirty windows of the place.

Perhaps it was well that the windows were dirty, for the bull could not look in through them and see the children.

“No, I don’t believe we’ll have to stay here all night,” said Russ, though he had no idea how they would get away nor how soon.

However, help was on the way. Adam[Pg 216] North, walking down toward the brook, heard the low, muttering bellows of the bull, and then saw him moving about the old hen-house.

“Hello, my fine fellow, how did you get out of your pasture?” asked Adam, speaking to the bull as one might to a dog. “You’ve been up to some mischief, I’m sure. I wonder——Bless my stars! The children!” cried Adam North. “Have you been chasing the six little Bunkers?”

Adam looked about but could see no sign of the boys and girls, so he felt pretty sure they were safe, wherever they were. But he knew the bull must be shut up in his pasture or he might do some damage. Calling another hired man, and each of them taking a sharp pitchfork, of which the bull was much afraid, they drove him away from the hen-house, back across the brook, and into his pasture, where the broken fence was made secure.

Then, when Adam and his helper came back after having driven away the bull, out of the hen-house rushed the six little Bunkers. They had watched Adam and the other man drive away the animal, but had not dared come out until everything was all right.

[Pg 217]

“Were you in there all the while?” asked Adam North.

“Yes,” answered Russ. “We ran in there when the bull chased us.”

“Well, it was the best thing you could have done. My! I’m glad nothing happened to you. The old bull may have intended just to play with you, but even to be tossed in fun on a bull’s horns is no joke.”

“I should say not!” agreed Russ.

So that happening ended safely.

“People talk about the quiet life on a farm!” Mrs. Bunker said to her husband when she came home that evening and heard what had taken place. “This far our vacation has been anything but quiet.”

“The children seem to enjoy it, though,” said Mr. Bunker. “Even being chased by a bull appears to agree with them. I never saw them with such appetites,” for this talk took place at the supper table.

“Oh, they can always eat,” laughed Mrs. Bunker. “I’m glad of that.”

Farmer Joel made sure the next day that the bull’s fence was made so strong that he could not again get out, and all the hired men[Pg 218] were told to be very careful if they opened the gate to make positive that it was fastened.

“What are you children going to do to-day?” asked Farmer Joel at the breakfast table the next morning. “Are you going to chase any more bulls?”

“Oh! Why, we didn’t chase him! He chased us!” exclaimed Violet, looking at her mother in surprise.

“Farmer Joel is only joking, my dear,” said her mother, and then Violet saw the twinkle in his eyes.

“If you have nothing special to do,” went on Mr. Todd, “you might gather some wild flowers. There’s going to be a church sociable, and my sister generally gathers flowers to decorate. But as she isn’t here now——”

“We’ll get the flowers for you,” quickly offered Mrs. Bunker. “Come, children, we’ll go to the woods and get flowers for the church.”

They were soon on their way to a place where, Farmer Joel said, many kinds of wild flowers grew. All six of the little Bunkers went with their mother.

They strolled through the field, and in a[Pg 219] distant pasture saw the old bull that had chased them. But he seemed good-natured now, for he was lying under a tree asleep.

“Oh, I have a riddle!” suddenly cried Laddie. “When is a bad bull a good bull?”

“After he gets whipped, maybe,” suggested Russ.

“After they give him salt,” said Rose, when Laddie had said Russ was wrong.

“No, that isn’t it,” the riddle-giver replied. “A bad bull is a good bull when he’s asleep.”

“He’s like some children I know,” said Mrs. Bunker, with a smile.

Then they reached the place where the wild flowers grew and began to pick them. There were many and beautiful blossoms. Rose was reaching over to gather a red bloom when suddenly she heard a queer sound near her.

“Oh, Russ!” she cried. “It’s a rattlesnake!”

[Pg 220]


Rose dropped her bunch of wild flowers and ran toward her brother. As for Russ, he hardly knew what to do. He, also, had heard the buzzing, rattling sound and he had heard stories of how poisonous rattlesnakes are.

“Don’t let him get me! Don’t let the snake bite me!” Rose cried.

“I don’t see any snake,” Russ answered, looking down in the grass. His mother and the other children were some distance off.

“I don’t see it, but I heard it,” Rose exclaimed, very much excited.

Then Russ heard again the queer sound and at once it came to his mind what it was. He had often heard it before, back in Pineville on hot, summer days—just such a day as this was—toward the end of the season.

[Pg 221]

“That isn’t a rattlesnake, Rose,” said Russ. “Don’t be a baby!”

“What was it then?” she asked. “It sounded just like a rattlesnake. I mean like I think one would sound, for I never saw any.”

“It was a locust,” answered Russ. “I guess it’s on this tree,” and he pointed to one near which they had been gathering flowers. “Yes, it’s on this tree, I see it!” he added, as the sound came again. “Come and watch how funny it does it, Rose. It jiggles itself all over.”

“Are you sure it isn’t a snake?” she asked.

“Of course I am!” said Russ. “Why, I’m looking right now at the locust. It’s low down. I never saw one so low. Most always when they sing out like that they’re high in the trees. Come quick, before it flies away.”

Rose came over to Russ’s side. She looked to where he pointed and saw a curious winged insect that, just as Rose arrived, began to give forth its queer song. And, as Russ said, the locust seemed to “jiggle” all over. Its wings and legs trembled with the force of the noise it made.

[Pg 222]

“Will it bite?” asked Rose.

“I don’t know,” Russ answered. “I’m not going to put my finger near enough to find out. I heard Farmer Joel say the locusts ate up most of his garden one year, so I guess they must bite some things. Anyhow, it isn’t a rattlesnake.”

“I’m glad of it,” answered Rose, with a breath of relief, as she picked up her scattered wild flowers.

“Is anything the matter over there?” called Mrs. Bunker, as she saw Rose and Russ moving about the tree.

“Rose thought she heard a rattlesnake, but it wasn’t,” Russ laughed.

“What was it?” Violet wanted to know.

“A locust,” Russ replied, and then all the children wanted to see the insect, watching it vibrate itself on a tree and make that queer sound.

“I wonder what he would do if I tickled him?” said Laddie. And when he tried it, gently pushing the locust with a small twig, the insect quickly flew away.

“I guess there are no rattlesnakes around here,” said Mrs. Bunker, when the excitement[Pg 223] had died away. “Now go on with your flower-gathering, children. We must get some fine bouquets for Farmer Joel.”

The wild flowers made a grand display in the Sunday-school room of the church, which was decorated with them for the annual festival. The six little Bunkers attended for a short time and had lots of fun.

Mun Bun spilled his dish of ice cream in the lap of a lady next to whom he was sitting, and Margy tipped over her glass of lemonade, letting it run down the neck of her dress. This so excited her that she cried:

“Oh, I’m getting drowned! I’m getting drowned!” But of course she wasn’t. It made some excitement, though.

The lady in whose lap Mun Bun spilled the ice cream was very kind about it. She said it was a last year’s dress, anyhow, and now she would have a good reason for getting a new one.

When the six little Bunkers went home from the church festival Laddie tried to make up a riddle about Margy’s getting wet with the lemonade.

“I want to make a riddle about her but I[Pg 224] can’t think just how to do it,” said the little fellow to Russ.

“Why not ask, When is Margy like a goldfish?” Russ suggested.

“What would the answer be?” inquired Laddie.

“Oh, you could say when she tried to swim in lemonade,” replied Russ.

“I guess I will,” decided Laddie, and he had that for a new riddle, though it was not as clever as some he had thought up all by himself.

There were many happy days spent in the woods and fields about Farmer Joel’s by the six little Bunkers. Every morning when the children arose there was the prospect of happy times ahead of them. And nearly always these happy expectations came true. Even when it rained, as I have said, the children could play in the big barn on the pile of fragrant hay they had helped put in.

One fine day when Farmer Joel drove into town with Mr. and Mrs. Bunker, who wanted to do some shopping, the six little Bunkers were left in charge of Norah and Adam North.

[Pg 225]

Russ, Rose and the others played about the house and yard for a while, Russ putting some “improvements” as he called them, on his water wheel, and Rose helping Norah bake a cake.

Then Laddie and Violet, who had been playing with Mun Bun and Margy in the swing under the tree, came to the house asking:

“Can’t we go to the woods and have a picnic?”

“Oh, we couldn’t have a picnic without mother,” objected Rose.

“Just a little one,” begged Violet. “Couldn’t you give us a few cookies, or something like that, Norah? We could go off to the woods, near the place where we picked the wild flowers, and eat there.”

“Yes, you may do that,” Norah agreed, for she liked the children to have fun. “You had better go with them, though, Rose and Russ,” said the faithful cook.

“Oh, yes, we’ll go,” promised Rose.

A little later, with small boxes and baskets of a simple lunch, the six little Bunkers set off for the woods once more. They were[Pg 226] laughing, singing, and shouting, having a fine time, and they had no idea that there would be trouble.

Russ found a place where a little spring bubbled up, and it was decided they would eat their lunch there when the time came, as, from past experience, Russ knew the children would be thirsty as soon as they had eaten. And nothing so spoils a picnic in the woods as not being able to get a drink of water when you need it.

Rose and Russ put the lunch away on top of a stump and then the smaller children began playing about under the trees. Rose had brought along a partly finished dress for one of her dolls, and she was sewing on this, while Russ cut a stick and began to make a whistle.

“Though I’m not sure I can make it,” he said, puckering up his own lips to send forth a shrill tune.

“Why not?” asked Laddie.

“Well, the bark doesn’t peel off so well now as it does in the spring,” Russ answered. “But maybe if I pound it long enough I can slip it off.”

An hour or more passed pleasantly, the children[Pg 227] busy at their different means of having fun, and then Mun Bun came toward Rose, saying:

“I’m hungry now. I want to eat.”

“So do I!” added Margy, who generally wanted to do whatever she heard Mun Bun say he wanted to do.

“Well, I think we can have lunch,” decided Rose. “Ho, Russ!” she called.

A loud whistle answered her, for Russ had succeeded in stripping the bark from a tree branch and had whittled out a whistle that was louder than the one formed by his lips.

“Come, we’re going to eat!” called Rose, and soon all six little Bunkers were walking toward the stump where the lunch had been left.

But when they reached it—the lunch was gone!

“Who took it?” demanded Rose.

“I didn’t! You needn’t look at me!” declared Laddie quickly. He sometimes did play jokes like this—if you call them jokes.

“Are you sure we left it on this stump?” asked Russ.

“Of course I’m sure,” said Rose. “Look,[Pg 228] you can see some of the crumbs. Oh, Russ, some one has eaten the lunch!”

“Maybe it was a bear!” suggested Violet, with a little shiver of mixed delight and fear.

“There are no bears here,” Russ replied impatiently.

“Then maybe it was a squirrel,” suggested Laddie.

“A squirrel couldn’t carry away the boxes, baskets, and everything!” declared Rose.

Suddenly, from behind the bushes, came a chuckle in a boy’s voice. At first Russ thought perhaps Ralph Watson and his dog Jimsie had come along, and that Ralph had hidden the lunch for fun. But a moment later the ugly face of the peddler boy looked out from the bushes.

“I took your lunch!” he said. “I ate it! I ate it all up!”

[Pg 229]


For a moment or two the six little Bunkers could hardly believe this dreadful news. In fact the two youngest did not quite understand what the peddler boy said. Then Rose exclaimed:

“Oh, you couldn’t! You couldn’t eat all our lunch!”

“Ha! Ha!” chuckled the mean peddler boy. “Yes, I did! I was terribly hungry, and I ate it all! You took your strawberry shortcake away from me, but you can’t take this lunch away, because I ate it all up! Ha! Ha!”

“You horrid boy!” cried Rose. She said afterward she just couldn’t help calling him that name, even though it was not very polite. But, then, he wasn’t polite himself, that peddler boy wasn’t.

[Pg 230]

“You—you——” began Laddie, spluttering somewhat, which he often did when he was excited. “Did you take my apples?” For Laddie had put up in the lunch a special little basket of apples.

“I have the apples in my pocket!” boasted the shoe-lace boy. “I ate one of ’em, and I’ll eat the others when I get home. But I ate all the rest of your lunch. I haven’t any of that in my pockets.”

“Look here, you—you rascal!” cried Russ. He didn’t know what the peddler’s name was, but “rascal,” seemed the right thing to call him. “I’m going to tell my father and Farmer Joel on you, and they’ll have you arrested!” threatened Russ.

“Pooh! I’m not afraid!” boasted the peddler, though he had run once before when told that this would happen to him.

Russ did not know what to do. The shoe-lace boy was larger and stronger. Once Russ had been knocked down by the lad, and Russ did not want this to happen again.

Still Russ was no coward. He never would have gone after Violet’s doll that day when the truck was about to run over it if he were[Pg 231] a coward. So Russ made up his mind he must do something.

He couldn’t get the lunch back—he knew that—but he might punish the lad who had taken it. So Russ doubled up his fists, and Laddie, seeing him, did the same, for Laddie had an idea.

“If we both go at him at once we can fight him, Russ!” whispered Laddie. “You go at him on one side and I’ll go at him on the other.”

Of course this was the proper way for two small boys to fight one large one. But Russ did not like to fight—especially when Rose and the other children were there.

“You’re a mean coward, that’s what you are!” cried Russ. “You sneaked up and took our lunch when we weren’t there. You wouldn’t dare take it when we were around.”

And this was true. The peddler boy was a coward, and he had watched his chance to sneak up to the lunch when the six little Bunkers were some distance from it.

“Pooh! I don’t care! I got your lunch, anyhow, and it tasted good and you can’t get it back!” boasted the boy.

[Pg 232]

“Oh, dear!” sighed Mun Bun, who didn’t quite understand what it was all about. “I’m hungry!”

“So’m I,” wailed Margy.

“I’m sorry,” said Rose, “but the mean boy ate up all the lunch.”

At last Laddie seemed unable to stand it any longer. He felt that he must do something.

“Come on, Russ!” he cried. “Let’s fight him!” And Laddie, all alone, rushed toward the boy, who was standing on the edge of the woods.

Russ knew it would not be wise to let Laddie get near the bigger boy. Laddie might be knocked down as Russ was, so Russ started after Laddie. This looked to the peddler as though he were going to be attacked. And though he boasted of not being afraid, he was. He felt that if Russ and Laddie, to say nothing of Violet and Rose, all went at him together, big and strong as he was, he would be knocked down and beaten.

“Ho! Ho! You can’t catch me!” he cried, turning to run. “I ate all your lunch! Ho! Ho! I ate all your lunch!”

[Pg 233]

Away he ran, toward the woods.

“Coward! You’re a coward!” shrieked Violet tauntingly.

“Come on! Let’s run after him!” begged Laddie.

Russ looked toward the fleeing boy.

“No, Laddie,” he said, “it wouldn’t be any good chasing after him. He’d get away. But he’s a coward just the same.”

“He’s horrid mean—that’s what I say!” declared Rose. “To take our nice picnic lunch! Now we’ll have to go home.”

“I’m going to tell Farmer Joel about him,” announced Russ.

“Maybe he’ll have him arrested,” suggested Violet.

Suddenly Laddie pointed to the boy and exclaimed:

“Look how funny he’s acting!”

“What makes him do that?” asked Vi.

“Oh, listen to him yell!” ejaculated Russ.

Indeed, the peddler lad was acting strangely. He was in the woods now and he was jumping up and down, waving his arms about, slapping his hands on his head and legs, and at the same time crying aloud.

[Pg 234]

“What’s he saying?” asked Rose.

“Hark!” advised Russ.

They all listened, and from the jumping boy came the words:

“Oh, I’m stung! I’m stung! Take ’em away, somebody! Take ’em away! I’m stung!”

Then Rose cried:

“Bees! Bees! A lot of bees are after him!”

“Yes, and there are some buzzing around here!” said Russ quickly. “He must have run into a hornet’s nest or something, and some of ’em are flying around here. I heard ’em buzz!”

“So did I!” added Violet.

“But they aren’t hornets,” said Laddie. “Look! There’s one,” and he pointed to a yellow-banded insect lazily flying in the air above them. “That’s a honey bee, like those Farmer Joel has.”

“And look at the lot of ’em around that boy!” cried Rose. “Oh, what a lot of bees!”

She pointed to the woods where the rascally lad was still leaping about, slapping himself[Pg 235] with his hands, and now and then lying down in the dried leaves to roll about.

“Come on! We’d better run!” advised Russ. “These are honey bees all right, but they sting as badly as hornets. A swarm must have gotten away from Farmer Joel’s and this boy ran right into ’em. Come on, we’ll go before they get after us.”

As yet only one or two bees had flown toward the six little Bunkers, but they started away, nevertheless, for there was no fun remaining at a picnic if they had no lunch to eat.

“Oh, look! There he goes, running!” cried Laddie, pointing toward the peddler boy who was darting away into the woods as fast as he could go, followed by the cloud of bees.

[Pg 236]


The six little Bunkers paused a moment before leaving the picnic grounds, where so sad a happening as losing their lunch had occurred, and looked toward the peddler boy. He was certainly running as hard as he could to get away from the stinging insects.

“It serves him right for taking our lunch!” declared Rose, though perhaps she shouldn’t have said it.

“Do you s’pose the bees knew he took our things? And did they sting him because they like us and because Farmer Joel has bees like these bees?” asked Violet, looking at a honey insect perched on a flower. Violet seemed to think it best to ask as many questions at once as possible.

But no one took the trouble to answer them. Russ and Rose were anxious to get the smaller children out of the way of the bees.

[Pg 237]

“Come, children! We’ve got to hurry, just as Russ says,” said Rose.

“Is it goin’ to rain?” asked Mun Bun. Generally when there was a shower coming up he knew the need of haste.

“No, it isn’t going to rain,” said Russ. “If it did it would send the bees into shelter and they wouldn’t take after that boy.”

“Do you think they stung him much?” asked Rose.

“From the way he yelled I should say they stung him pretty hard,” Russ answered. “I’m glad they didn’t come our way.”

By this time they were some distance from their picnic ground, and no bees were buzzing around them.

“Do you think they were Farmer Joel’s bees?” asked Rose of Russ, as they walked on toward the house.

“I’m pretty sure of it,” was his reply. “No one else around here keeps honey bees.”

“Are there any other kinds of bees except honey bees?” Vi wanted to know.

“Oh, yes,” answered Rose. “Ask mother about them—or daddy.”

“What’s the matter, children, didn’t you[Pg 238] have fun at your picnic?” Norah wanted to know, when the six little Bunkers came straggling back, some hours before she expected them. Farmer Joel and Mr. and Mrs. Bunker were still in town.

“Yes, we had some fun,” answered Rose. “But we had to come back to get more lunch,” for she had decided, as it was not yet late, they could go back to the woods.

“You want more lunch!” cried the good-natured cook. “Bless and save us, my dears! But if you ate all that, and want more—oh, I wouldn’t dare give it to you! Your mother wouldn’t like it. You’d get sick.”

“But we didn’t eat it!” cried Laddie.

“You didn’t? Who did?”

“The peddler boy!”

And then the story was told—about the bees and everything. Norah laughed when she heard how the bad boy had been sent howling into the woods by the stings of the honey insects, and she quickly put up another lunch for the children.

“But if you go back to the same place to eat it,” she said, “that same peddler boy may take it again.”

[Pg 239]

“No, he won’t!” cried Russ. “If he does—I’ll take a big club along this time.”

“And we’ll hide the lunch where he can’t find it,” added Laddie.

“I guess we’ll be so hungry we’ll eat it as soon as we get to the woods and then there won’t be anything left for him to take,” observed Violet. And this was voted the best idea of all.

“But maybe the bees might sting you,” said Norah. “Perhaps you had better stay around here and eat.”

“No, thank you,” answered Russ. “We’ll go just a little way into the woods—not as far as before, and then the bees won’t come. But did any swarm get away from here, Norah? It was a swarm of bees we saw in the woods chasing that peddler boy.”

“No, I didn’t hear of any swarm getting away from here,” said Norah. “But then I don’t know much about bees. Better ask Adam.”

Before starting off on their second picnic Russ found the hired man and inquired about the swarm of bees.

“No, they didn’t come from here,” said[Pg 240] Adam. “I’ve been around the orchard all day and I’ve seen no bees starting out to take an excursion with the queen. They must be from somewhere else, but I don’t know of any one who has bees around here except Farmer Joel.”

The children gave little more thought to the bees, because they were hungry and wanted to have fun off in the woods eating the second lunch that Norah had put up for them.

This time no bad boy took the good things, and the six little Bunkers had the cakes and sandwiches for themselves. It was while they were walking along the road on their way home later in the afternoon that the carriage of Dr. Snow passed them.

The six little Bunkers had met Dr. Snow a few weeks before, when one of Farmer Joel’s hired men had cut his foot with an axe. The doctor had called at the farmhouse several times and now knew every one from Mun Bun to Russ. Seeing the doctor driving past in a hurry and knowing that by this time Mr. and Mrs. Bunker must be at home, Russ began to wonder if an accident had happened.

[Pg 241]

“Is any one sick at Farmer Joel’s?” called Russ, as the doctor’s carriage drove past.

“No, my little man. No, I’m glad to say,” answered Dr. Snow, pulling his horses to a stop. “I’m not going to stop at Farmer Joel’s. I’m on my way to see a peddler boy who lives on the other side of the valley. They telephoned me to come to see him. He has been badly stung by bees.”

“Oh, that must be our boy!” cried Rose.

“Your boy?” exclaimed the doctor.

“I mean the one who took our lunch,” and Rose related the story.

“Yes, very likely it’s the same boy,” said the physician, with a smile. “Well, I’ll do the best I can for him. But I think this will be a lesson to him.”

The doctor drove on and the six little Bunkers hurried to the house and soon were telling their father and mother all that had happened during the day.

“What’s that?” asked Farmer Joel, when he heard the tale. “Some bees came out of the woods and stung the boy, you say?”

“You should have heard him yell!” remarked Russ.

[Pg 242]

“Well, I don’t like to see any one hurt,” went on Farmer Joel. “But this story of bees in the woods is a strange one. No swarms have left my hives lately and—say, wait—I have an idea!” he suddenly cried.

“Did you see a hollow tree anywhere near the place the bees swarmed out on the boy and stung him?” asked the farmer of Russ.

“No,” was the answer. “We weren’t close enough to see a hollow tree. But we could see the bees.”

“And we could see the boy dance,” added Laddie.

“Hum!” mused Farmer Joel. “It’s just possible now,” he proceeded, “that these bees are the same swarm that went away with my fifty-dollar queen soon after you six little Bunkers arrived. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’re my bees, but I’m going to find out for certain. That’s what I’m going to do!”

“How can you?” asked Mr. Bunker.

“I’ll get your children to show me as nearly as they can the place the bees stung this peddler boy, and I’ll look around there for my missing swarm and the queen. They must have made a home for themselves in some hollow[Pg 243] tree, those bees must, and when the boy wandered too near it they swarmed out and stung him, for they thought he was after the honey they had stored there.”

“But if the runaway bees rushed out and stung the boy, won’t they come out and sting you if you try to get them back?” asked Mrs. Bunker.

“I’ll wait until cold weather, until the bees are asleep in the tree, and then, if I find them, I can safely bring them in without getting stung,” said Farmer Joel. “It would be strange if your children should be the means of me finding my lost queen. I’d be very glad to get her back.”

“Maybe the peddler boy could tell where the bee tree is,” suggested Adam North.

“I guess he won’t want to talk about bees for a long while,” chuckled Farmer Joel. Dr. Snow had stopped at the farmhouse on his way home after visiting the lad, and had said the boy was badly stung.

“His face is swelled up like a balloon,” said the physician, “and he can’t see out of his eyes. If you want to find that honey tree, Joel, you’ll have to look for it yourself.”

[Pg 244]

And this Mr. Todd did the next day. As there might be considerable walking to do, only the four older children went along with their father and Farmer Joel.

They reached the first picnic ground and Rose pointed out the flat stump where the lunch had been left before the peddler lad took it. Then, as nearly as they could remember, the children pointed out where in the woods they saw the leaping, slapping peddler boy. For it was there that the bees began to sting him.

“And as so many came out at once it must have been near their honey tree that it happened,” said the farmer.

Laddie and Russ and the two girls followed their father and Mr. Todd over into the woods. It was very still and pleasant, the sun shining down through the green leaves.

“I see some bees!” suddenly cried Laddie. “There’s a whole procession of them.”

He pointed off to one side and there, flitting through the sunlight and shadows of the forest could be seen a number of bees—dark bees with yellow stripes, or bands, on their bodies.

[Pg 245]

“That’s my kind of bees—the Italian sort,” said Farmer Joel when he had observed two or three near at hand gathering honey from wild flowers.

“But where do they have their nest—I mean their hive?” asked Russ.

“Oh, somewhere around here,” answered Farmer Joel. “We must look for a hollow tree. But move carefully. I don’t want any of you to get stung, though I brought my smoke machine. Guess I’ll start it going.”

He built a smudge fire inside the tin funnel with the bellows beneath it, and soon smoke was being puffed out into the air. This kept the bees away from the searchers for the honey tree.

Suddenly Russ exclaimed:

“I hear a humming sound. It’s like the humming your bees make in their hives, Mr. Joel.”

“I hear it, too,” said Violet.

They looked and listened, and then, off to one side, they saw many bees flying in through the hole in a tree. It was a hollow tree, that was evident, and it was a dead one.

“Keep back, all of you,” said Farmer Joel,[Pg 246] “and I’ll soon find out if there are bees in there.”

While the others moved back he tossed a stick against the tree. It struck with a hollow sound, and instantly a cloud of bees flew out.

“There they are! My bees!” cried Farmer Joel. “The queen must be with them, for the bees wouldn’t stay and make honey without a queen. Well, now that I know where they are, I’ll mark this tree and when cold weather comes I’ll come here and take my bees back again—my bees and the fifty dollar queen.”

“Are you glad we helped you find them?” asked Laddie.

“Indeed I am, little man! Thank you!” said Farmer Joel. “And to-night you shall have hot biscuits and honey for supper.”

Marking the location of the tree, so it could easily be found again, Farmer Joel returned to the house with Mr. Bunker, Russ and Laddie and the two girls. They had found what they set out to find, and later on, after the six little Bunkers returned home, there came a letter from Mr. Todd, saying he had gotten his queen and swarm of bees back and that[Pg 247] also in the hollow tree was found fifty pounds of good honey.

“My bees kept on working for me, even if they ran away from home,” he said in the letter.

With the finding of the lost swarm, the most exciting adventures of the six little Bunkers at Farmer Joel’s came to a close. They did not return home at once, for summer was not over and Miss Todd was not ready to come home. But the peddler boy did not again bother them.

From Dr. Snow it was learned that the shoe-lace chap went back to the city to sell things after his bee stings were cured. And I think he never again took the picnic lunch of any little boys and girls.

“Well, Mother, and children, we must soon begin to think of getting back home,” said Daddy Bunker, one day after a pleasant trip in the woods and fields.

“Oh, it’s too soon to go home yet!” sighed Russ. “I want to stay until the pumpkins are large enough to make into a jack-o’-lantern.”

“I wanted to gather some popcorn,” said Rose.

[Pg 248]

“Couldn’t we stay until chestnuts are ripe?” asked Laddie.

“I’m afraid not,” said his father. “I must get back to my real estate business, and you children must get ready for school.”

But at least one wish came true, for a few days later Farmer Joel brought into the house a big yellow pumpkin that had ripened faster than any of the others. Out of this Russ made a jack-o’-lantern, and he and the children had a jolly parade around the house that evening.

And so the summer of the six little Bunkers at Farmer Joel’s came to an end, and they all said it was one of the happiest times they had ever spent.




Author of “The Bobbsey Twins Books,”
“The Bunny Brown Series,”
“The Make-Believe Series,” Etc.

Durably Bound. Illustrated. Uniform Style of Binding

Delightful stories for little boys and girls which sprung into immediate popularity. To know the six little Bunkers is to take them at once to your heart, they are so intensely human, so full of fun and cute sayings. Each story has a little plot of its own—one that can be easily followed—and all are written in Miss Hope’s most entertaining manner. Clean, wholesome volumes which ought to be on the bookshelf of every child in the land.



For Little Men and Women


Author of “The Bunny Brown” Series, Etc.


Copyright publications which cannot be obtained elsewhere. Books that charm the hearts of the little ones, and of which they never tire.




Author of the Popular “Bobbsey Twins” Books

Wrapper and text illustrations drawn by


These stories by the author of the “Bobbsey Twins” Books are eagerly welcomed by the little folks from about five to ten years of age. Their eyes fairly dance with delight at the lively doings of inquisitive little Bunny Brown and his cunning, trustful sister Sue.

Bunny was a lively little boy, very inquisitive. When he did anything, Sue followed his leadership. They had many adventures, some comical in the extreme.



(Trademark Registered.)



Colored Wrappers and Illustrations by HARRY L. SMITH

In this fascinating line of books Miss Hope has the various toys come to life “when nobody is looking” and she puts them through a series of adventures as interesting as can possibly be imagined.


How the toys held a party at the Toy Counter; how the Sawdust Doll was taken to the home of a nice little girl, and what happened to her there.


He was a bold charger and a man purchased him for his son’s birthday. Once the Horse had to go to the Toy Hospital, and my! what sights he saw there.


She was a dainty creature and a sailor bought her and took her to a little girl relative and she had a great time.


He was Captain of the Company and marched up and down in the store at night. Then he went to live with a little boy and had the time of his life.


He was continually in danger of losing his life by being eaten up. But he had plenty of fun, and often saw his many friends from the Toy Counter.


He was mighty lively and could do many tricks. The boy who owned him gave a show, and many of the Monkey’s friends were among the actors.


He was a truly comical chap and all the other toys loved him greatly.


He made happy the life of a little lame boy and did lots of other good deeds.


The Cat had many adventures, but enjoyed herself most of the time.


This fellow came from the North Pole, stopped for a while at the toy store, and was then taken to the seashore by his little master.


He was a wise looking animal and had a great variety of adventures.

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York

Transcriber’s Notes