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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSix Little Bunkers At Cowboy Jack's - Chapter 15. A Profound Mystery
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Six Little Bunkers At Cowboy Jack's - Chapter 15. A Profound Mystery Post by :stevesandman Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :1315

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Six Little Bunkers At Cowboy Jack's - Chapter 15. A Profound Mystery

CHAPTER XV. A PROFOUND MYSTERY

Russ Bunker was a sensible chap, and it did not seem to him that the Indians could really mean to harm the people living in the old cabin. Cowboy Jack would not have let the children wander away from the ranch house unwarned had wild Indians been in the neighborhood.

At least, so Russ tried to believe. But the other little Bunkers were much frightened, and when the redmen began to hurry their horses down toward the cabin at the side of the stream, and began to whoop and yell and wave their be-feathered spears, even Rose turned back and began to run toward the ranch house.

"Come on, Russ! Come on!" she cried to her older brother. "That poor little baby!"

"Aw, I don't believe the Indians are really going to hurt those folks," objected Russ.

Nevertheless, he soon caught up with his sister and the others. Russ did not remain to see the outcome of the Indians' attack upon the cabin.

The younger children did not altogether understand what the excitement was all about. But they caught some fear from Russ and Rose and were willing to hurry along the wagon track without making objection at the pace the older children made them travel.

And here came another astonishing thing. Out of a woody place appeared a cavalcade of horsemen--and they were not cowboys! In fact, for a minute Russ and Rose were just as frightened as they had been by the charging Indians. Then Russ exclaimed, with a deal of relief:

"Oh, Rose! I know those men. They are soldiers!"

"All in blue clothes?" questioned Rose in doubt. "Soldiers don't wear blue clothes. They are dressed in khaki or olive-drab. Like Captain Ben was when he first came to our house."

"Those are soldiers. They have got swords and guns," repeated Russ confidently. "And I guess they are American soldiers, too."

"Well, they are not Indians, anyway," agreed Rose. "I guess they won't hurt us, anyway. We can go by 'em. Don't be afraid, Mun Bun."

"Not 'fwaid," declared the littlest Bunker. "But I want to see muvver and daddy."

"Sure you do," agreed Russ kindly. "Guess we all do. Come on. I'm going to tell that man riding ahead what the Indians are doing to those folks at the cabin."

They could still hear faintly the yells of the supposed savages behind the hill, down which the little Bunkers had just run. This noise did not seem to disturb the men in blue, who trotted their horses along the wagon track in a most leisurely manner.

The six little Bunkers stood off the track as the soldiers rode nearer. The chains on the horses' bits jangled, and the sun flashed from the barrels of the short guns and from the sword hilts. The men wore broad-brimmed hats with yellow cords around them, and one of the men riding ahead, who was an officer, wore a plume on the side of his hat.

"It's more than Indians that wear feather headdresses," whispered Vi to Rose. "So why _do they?"

Like a number of Vi's other questions, this one remained unanswered. When the head of the procession came up Russ began to speak quite excitedly to the man leading it:

"Please, Mister Officer! There are Indians over that hill. Don't you hear them? And they are going to hurt some white people I guess."

"There's a baby," added Rose earnestly. "I wouldn't want the baby to be scalped."

"Hi!" exclaimed the leader of the soldiers, "it will be pretty tough if Props' rag baby gets scalped, that's a fact. Come on! Shack along, boys! They are looking for us now, I bet."

This seemed rather a strange way to command a troop of cavalry, and even Russ Bunker was puzzled by it. But as the soldiers in blue rode on at a faster pace Rose called after them:

"Please save the baby! Look out for the baby!"

"We'll do that little thing, girlie," promised one of the soldiers riding in the rear. "Don't you fear. We'll save the baby and the whole bunch!"

This was quite reassuring to Rose's troubled mind. But Russ was greatly puzzled. These soldiers did not look like the soldiers he had seen, nor did they act or speak like soldiers. He stared after them with great curiosity as they disappeared over the hill. But the other little Bunkers were so anxious to get back to the ranch house that Russ could not remain any longer to satisfy his curiosity.

Rose and the smaller children told the story about the Indians and the people at the cabin and about the soldiers in a very excited way to Mother Bunker. But Russ went to find Cowboy Jack. He felt that the ranchman should know all about what was going on in that valley, and about both the Indians and the soldiers in blue.

Mother reassured the younger Bunkers. There was nothing really to be afraid of, she told them. But she did seem mysterious and smiled a good deal while she was telling the children not to fear any of the strange things they might see about Cowboy Jack's ranch.

"It isn't anything like Uncle Fred's ranch," declared Laddie. "Why! it's a regular riddle here at Cowboy Jack's. I guess I can think how to ask that riddle in a minute--or maybe an hour. Let's see."

So Laddie--or the others--was not by when Russ propounded his question to Cowboy Jack, the big ranchman.

"Those Indians? I told you they were part of the surprise I had for you little Bunkers," declared Cowboy Jack, laughing very heartily.

"And the soldiers?" murmured the puzzled Russ.

"Part of the same surprise," answered the ranchman.

"We--ell, we _were surprised. But I don't just understand how you come to have wild Indians and soldiers--and they don't look just like _our soldiers back East--here on your ranch. And how about that baby?"

"I promise you," said Cowboy Jack quite seriously, "that the baby will not be scalped--or any of the white folks at all. Those Indians are not so savage as they seem. To-night, after the day's work is over, I'll take you over to the redskins' camp and you can get acquainted with them."

Russ was rather startled by this suggestion. He wanted to be grateful for anything that Cowboy Jack said he would do; but--but----

"Will Daddy Bunker go too?" asked Russ, suddenly.

"Sure. We'll take your daddy along with us," agreed Cowboy Jack.

"Then I'll go," said Russ Bunker, with a sigh.

He would go anywhere daddy went, although the matter of the wild Indians did seem to be a profound mystery.

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