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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSix Little Bunkers At Cowboy Jack's - Chapter 14. An Indian Raid
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Six Little Bunkers At Cowboy Jack's - Chapter 14. An Indian Raid Post by :stevesandman Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :2470

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Six Little Bunkers At Cowboy Jack's - Chapter 14. An Indian Raid


It did seem, however, that the ranchman must have forgotten the surprise he had in store for the six little Bunkers. He was so busy getting his Mexican cook to make waffles for supper and seeing that the rooms had all been made ready by his Mexican house boys for the use of the Bunker family and doing a dozen other pleasant things for the comfort of his guests that he did not say a word about the surprise.

It had been almost dark when the party arrived at the broad, low house in which Cowboy Jack and his household lived. If the surprise was outside the house the children would have been unable to see it.

Mun Bun fell sound asleep over his supper, and Margy had to "prop her eyes open," as daddy declared, before the meal was done. Both these youngest Bunkers made no objection to going off to bed. But Vi and Laddie wanted to stay up as long as Russ and Rose did.

"We're almost as big as they are," declared Laddie, when he was questioned on this point. "And if Rose and Russ would only stop and wait for us a little, Vi and I would catch up to them--so now!"

But Russ and Rose were quite as eager to grow up as were Laddie and Vi; so they were not willing to wait, could they have done so. Daddy pointed out the fact of the "march of time" to the little folks and explained that everybody had to grow older each tiny second.

"Why can't we stop and wait?" demanded Vi. "We can stop an automobile and get out and wait."

"Or get lost from a train," put in Laddie, who was sitting on what Cowboy Jack called a "hassock"--a low seat--and studying a paper he had found. "I ought to make up a riddle about Vi and me being lost from the train that time."

"I'll give you a riddle," said Cowboy Jack, with one of his booming laughs.

"Is it a good one?" asked Vi.

"Please do!" cried Laddie. "I just love riddles."

"Well, here is one," said the ranchman. "'What is it that is black and white, but red all over?'"

"Black--white--and red?" repeated Laddie, puzzled, for if he had ever heard that riddle he had forgotten it.

"I know what is red, white and blue!" cried Vi. "That's the flag."

"Three cheers!" returned Cowboy Jack. "So you do, little girl. You've got the flag quite right. But this isn't the flag I am talking about."

"I don't believe I ever saw anything that was black and white but red, too," confessed Laddie slowly.

"Oh, yes, you have," said their big friend, apparently just as much entertained by the riddle as the little folks.

"I guess you must be mistaken, Mr. Cowboy Jack," said Laddie soberly. "I can't think of a single thing that is black and white, besides being red all over."

"Why, look at what you have in your hand!" exclaimed the ranchman.

"This is a paper," said Laddie.

"And isn't it black and white?"

"Yes, sir. The print is black and the paper is white. But I don't see any red----"

"But lots of us have _read it all over," chuckled Cowboy Jack. "It is black and white, and is _read all over!"

"Oh!" cried Laddie, clapping his hands, "that's another kind of 'red,' isn't it? I think that is a nice riddle. Don't you, Vi?"

But Vi was leaning against her mother's knee and her eyes were fast closed. She had gone to sleep in the middle of the talk about the riddle.

"It's time for all little folks to go to bed," said Mother Bunker.

So none of the six little Bunkers saw the surprise that night. But they had not forgotten it when morning came again. The six little Bunkers never forgot anything that was promised them!

While they were all at breakfast there was a great deal of noise outside--whooping and shouting and the like--that startled the children. But their mother would not let them leave the table to find out about it until breakfast was over. They heard, too, the pounding of ponies' hoofs, and then caught sight through the windows of a company of pony riders galloping by and off across the plain.

"Cowboys!" cried Russ. "I guess we'd better go back and put on our cowboy suits, Laddie."

The smaller boy was just as eager as Russ to get out and see the pony riders. As soon as they could honestly say they had eaten enough, Mother Bunker excused them all. But when they got outside upon the broad veranda at the front of the great house, the cowboys had disappeared.

There was something else in sight, however, that astonished the children more than the cowboys could, for they had expected to see them. Traveling across the plain some distance from the house was a procession that made all the little Bunkers shout aloud.

"What's those?" Rose asked at first sight. Rose almost always saw things first.

Russ gave one glance and fairly whooped: "Indians!"

"Oh, dear me!" gasped Rose, "are they _wild Indians?"

"They are real Indians just the same!" exclaimed Russ, with confidence. "They aren't just the dressed-up kind. Look at them!"

The big Indians riding at the head of the procession wore great feather headdresses. "Feather dusters" Laddie called them. And they did look like feather dusters from that distance.

"We'd better get our guns and bows and arrows, hadn't we, Russ?" the little boy asked.

"The Indians are not coming this way," explained Russ. "I guess we're safe enough."

"See! There are Indian babies, too," cried Rose. "There's one strapped to a board on its mother's back--just like in the pictures."

"Just the same," said Vi, rather soberly for her, "I'm glad they are going the other way."

The Indians were traveling away from the ranch house and soon were out of sight. So before the children could ask any of the older people about them they were gone. And "out of sight out of mind" was almost always the rule with the little Bunkers, as daddy frequently said. Besides, there were so many new and interesting things to see that the matter of the Indians escaped the new-comers' minds.

There were great corrals down behind the big house, as well as bunkhouses in which the cowboys lived, and stables, and a long cook-shed in which three men cooked for the hands, as Cowboy Jack called his employees. Cowboy Jack owned a very large ranch and a great number of steers and horses and mules.

"It's almost like a circus," said Russ. "And all the different kind of dogs, too. _That dog has hardly any hair, and he comes from Mexico, so they say. While that _wolfy looking dog comes from away up in Alaska. Then there are dogs from places all between Alaska and Mexico."

This information he had gained from one of the Mexican boys with whom he became acquainted. They did not think to ask the friendly Mexican about the Indians, and not until the children went back to the house did they think to make inquiry about the procession they had seen right after breakfast. It was then Vi, inquisitive as usual, who broached the subject.

"Why do Indians wear feather dusters in their hair?" she asked.

"For the same reason that ladies wear feathers in their bonnets," declared Daddy Bunker seriously. "Because they think the feathers are ornamental."

"And why do they strap their babies to boards?" demanded Vi.

"Where did you see Indians?" asked Mother Bunker, guessing the source from which Violet's questions were springing.

"Oh!" cried Rose. "There _were Indians--lots of them. We saw their parade go by--just like a Wild West Show parade."

Cowboy Jack began to laugh. And when he laughed his great body shook all over, and the chair in which he sat shook too.

"Are there Indians here, Mr. Scarbontiskil?" asked Mother Bunker.

"That's part of the surprise I told the children about," said Cowboy Jack, nodding to Mother Bunker, but smiling at the interested children. "Those Injuns are a part of it."

But he would not tell them any more--at least, not just then.

"It's a sort of a riddle," said Laddie eagerly, when they were all out of doors again. "I know it's a riddle. And we ought to find the answer."

"Well," scoffed Vi, his twin, "you can sit down and think of your old riddle if you want to. I'm going to pick flowers for mother."

"There must be some nice flowers here," agreed Rose. "I'll go look, too, Vi."

"Me want to pick flowers!" cried Mun Bun eagerly.

He always wanted to do anything the older children did. And picking flowers was one thing Mun Bun could do pretty well, little as he was. Holding a hand each of Rose and Vi he trudged off from the ranch house. Russ and Margy and Laddie came after. Russ and Laddie were still discussing the matter of putting on their cowboy suits so as to help herd the cattle with Cowboy Jack's "other hands." Just at this time, however, they became more interested in picking flowers.

For they did find pretty blossoms along the wagon track they followed. The ranch house was soon out of sight, for the children went over a little ridge and then down into a swale in which were clumps of low trees. It was quite a pretty country, and there was much to interest them.

At one place something jumped out of the shrub and went leaping away along the wagon track with great bounds.

"A rabbit!" cried Laddie. "Oh, such a big rabbit!"

"The very longest legs I ever saw," agreed Russ. "And long ears--like those on the mules in the corral."

"And he thumps the ground just like a horse stamping," said Rose. "There he goes out of sight. I--I believe I would be afraid of that rabbit if he came at me."

"Well, he is going, not coming," remarked Russ. "I want to see where he went."

He and Laddie started on the run to mount the little ridge over which the jackrabbit had disappeared. This ridge crossed the swale, or valley, and divided what lay beyond from the view of the six little Bunkers. When the children climbed the rise and came to the top, they all stopped. Even Russ did not say a word for a full minute; nor did Vi ask a question, so astonished was she by what she saw.

There, on the low land beside a stream of water, was a log cabin. It looked like a dilapidated cabin, for there were no windows and the door was off its leather hinges. There was a bonfire by the doorstep and a black kettle was hung over the fire from the tripod of smoke-blackened sticks.

On the doorstep sat a woman who appeared to be rocking her baby to sleep in her arms. She was watching whatever was cooking in the pot. A man was chopping wood a little way; from the doorstep. He wore a funny fur cap, with the tail of some animal hanging from it down to his shoulder, and his hair was tied in a funny looking queue--the strangest way for a man to dress his hair the little Bunkers had ever seen.

Suddenly Russ pointed behind the cabin--over to another ridge, or knoll, of land.

"Look!" Russ gasped. "Those Indians!"

None of the Bunker children had thought of the Indians they had seen as really wild Indians. But here came riding the Indian men now on active ponies, and with be-feathered spears in their hands. Their headdresses nodded, and, as the redmen rode nearer, the children saw that their faces were broadly striped in red and yellow. The paint made the Indians' faces look frightful.

"Oh!" cried Rose, clinging to Mun Bun, who clung to her in return. "Those Indians are coming right at that woman and her baby--and the man!"

"It's an Indian raid," murmured Russ. "Do you suppose it is _real_, or just make-believe?"

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