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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSix Little Bunkers At Mammy June's - Chapter 10. Charleston And The Fleet
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Six Little Bunkers At Mammy June's - Chapter 10. Charleston And The Fleet Post by :Tony123 Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :1777

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Six Little Bunkers At Mammy June's - Chapter 10. Charleston And The Fleet


A boy hates to tell on another person if he is the right kind of boy. And Russ was the right kind of boy.

Daddy Bunker knew this; so he did not scold. He just said quietly:

"Very well, my boy. If you are mixed up in something of which you cannot tell your father, but which you are sure is all right, then go ahead. I am always ready to advise and help you, but if you are sure you do not need my advice, go ahead."

He turned quietly away. But these words and his cheerful acceptance of Russ' way of thinking rather startled the boy, used as he was to Daddy Bunker's ways. He called after him:

"Daddy! I don't know whether I am right or wrong. Only--only I know somebody that needs this bread and meat because he is hungry. He's _real hungry. Can't I give it to him?"

"I think that hunger should be appeased first. Go ahead," said Mr. Bunker, but still quite seriously. "Then if you feel that you can come and tell me about it, all right."

At that Russ hurried away, much relieved. Rose came into sight and would have run after him, but Daddy Bunker stopped her.

"Don't chase him now. He has something particular to do, Rose."

"I think that's real mean!" exclaimed Rose. "He's hiding something from me!"

"My!" said Daddy, "do you think your brother should tell you everything he knows or does?"

"Why not?" retorted Rose. "I'm sure, Daddy, he is welcome to know everything I know."

"Are you sure? Moreover, perhaps he does not care to know all your secrets," said Mr. Bunker.

"Anyhow, you must learn, Rose, that other people have a right to their own private mysteries; you must not be inquisitive. Russ has got something on his mind, it is true; but without doubt we shall all know what it is by and by."

"Well!" exclaimed Rose, with almost a gasp. She could not quite understand her father's reasoning.

Russ Bunker appeared after a while, looking still very grave indeed for a boy of his age. Daddy kept from saying or doing anything to suggest that he was curious; but Rose found it hard not to tease her brother to explain his taking food from the table and hiding it in his pockets.

"Of course he can't eat it," she whispered to herself. "And he doesn't give it to the eagle. Who ever heard of an eagle eating pound cake with raisins and citron in it? And I saw Russ take a piece of that.

"But he didn't eat much himself. I wonder if he is sick and is hiding it from Mother and Daddy?"

She watched her brother very closely. After a time he seemed more cheerful, and they ran races on the open deck. They knew many of the passengers by this time to speak to. And there were some few other children of about their own ages, too. They talked with these other boys and girls, found out where they lived when they were at home, and learned where they were going to, when they left the _Kammerboy at Charleston or Savannah.

Just the same Rose knew that her brother was disturbed in his mind. Daddy Bunker's words to her had been sufficient, and Rose said nothing. But she began to believe that she should sympathize with Russ instead of being vexed with him. He did look so serious when he was not talking.

The evening wore on. The moon rose and silvered the almost pond-like sea through which the _Kammerboy steamed. Even the children were impressed by the beauty of the seascape. Far, far away against the rising moon appeared a fairylike ship sailing across its face, each spar and mast pricked out as black as jet.

"Just like those silhouettes Aunt Jo cut out for us," declared Rose. "Did you ever see anything so cute?"

Russ didn't have much to say about it. He was very grave again. Bedtime came, and the brother and sister went below. The little folks, Margy and Mun Bun, were in the first stateroom with Mother. Already the twins were fast asleep in the second stateroom. Rose was going to sleep with Vi in the lower berth and Russ was to crawl in beside Laddie in the upper.

But Russ did not seem in a hurry to undress and go to bed. Mother brushed Rose's hair for her and the girl got ready for bed in the larger stateroom. When she went into the other room there was Russ sitting on the stool with only his jacket off.

"Why, Russ Bunker! aren't you going to bed to-night?" demanded Rose.

"I suppose so," admitted Russ.

"Well, you'd better hurry. I want you to put out the light. How do you suppose we can sleep?"

Russ reached up and snapped out the electric bulb as Rose threw aside her bath-gown and hopped into bed beside her sister.

"You can't see to undress in the dark, Russ," scolded Rose.

Russ did not say a word. He got up and walked into his mother's and father's stateroom, and greatly to his sister's vexation he closed the door between the two rooms.

Daddy Bunker had just come in.

"Why, Russ," said he, "haven't you gone to bed yet?"

"No, sir," said Russ. "And I guess I can't. I've got to talk to you first. I guess I can't go to sleep till I've told you something."

Daddy smiled at Mother Bunker but nodded to Russ.

"All right," he said. "We will go out on deck again and take a turn up and down and you shall tell me all about it."

Mother made no objection, although the hour was getting late, and she smiled, too, when she saw Russ slip into his jacket again and follow his father out of the stateroom. On the deck Russ burst out with:

"I promised I wouldn't tell anybody. But when I gave him his supper I told him I'd just have to tell my father, I was afraid; and he said he didn't have any father and he didn't know whether fathers wouldn't 'snitch,' and I said my father wouldn't."

"I see," said Mr. Bunker gravely. "You recommended me as being a safe person to trust a secret with. I am glad you did so."

"Yes, sir. For you see he's got to be fed until we get to Charleston."

"Do you mind telling me who this new friend of yours is, and where he is, and why he must be fed?"

"He's a sailor boy. He belongs on a destroyer and got left at Boston when his ship started for Charleston two days ago."

"He is in the Navy?" exclaimed Mr. Bunker, in surprise.

"Yes, sir. And he spent all his money and did not know how to get down there where the fleet will be in winter quarters, he says, unless he went secretly on one of these steamers."

"He is stealing his passage, then?" asked Daddy Bunker.

"I suppose he is, Daddy," said Russ, ruefully enough. "He is in a boat, all covered up with canvas. Up there on the deck. I can show you. I found him quite by myself, and I was sorry for him, 'specially when he said he didn't have anything to eat. And he said, would I keep still about it? And at first I said I would."

"I see," said Daddy Bunker, smiling. "Then you thought that you ought not to keep the secret from me?"

"That's it, Daddy."

"Quite right," rejoined Mr. Bunker encouragingly. "It is not good policy to keep secrets from your mother and father. What do you want to do about it now?"

"Why--why, I want you to tell me," confessed Russ. "I got him some food."

"I see you did," returned his father, smiling. "At your own cost, Russ."

"We-ell, yes, I could have eaten more if I hadn't taken what I did for the sailor boy."

"We'll have to see about that----"

"I don't mind--much. I'm not very hungry," said Russ hurriedly. "It wasn't that made me tell you."

"I know it wasn't, Russ," said Daddy Bunker, with a pride that the little boy did not understand, and he dropped an approving hand upon Russ' shoulder. "Now, I will tell you what we will do. This sailor boy shall have his chance to rejoin his ship without getting into any more trouble than is necessary. He is probably very young and foolish."

"He isn't very old, I guess," said Russ. "He has been in the Navy only a little while, and it was his first 'shore leave,' he called it, in Boston. He had some cousins there. They begged him to stay longer than he should have. And so he got left."

"I'll fix it if I can," promised Daddy Bunker. "Of course, the first thing to do is to pay his fare and then he can come out of the lifeboat and have his proper meals. I will see the purser, and the captain if it is necessary, and you go to bed, Russ."

"That will be nice!" cried the boy, greatly relieved. "Of course I ought to have told you right at first. You always do know how to straighten things out, Daddy!"

"That is what fathers and mothers are for," replied Mr. Bunker. "Go down and go to sleep, Son, and I will do my best for this young deserter."

When Mr. Bunker entered the stateroom an hour later Mother Bunker wanted to know all about it, of course. And if Russ had known just what they both said of him he would certainly have been proud.

"He's a manly boy," said Daddy Bunker in conclusion. "I am glad he is our son."

The trouble about it all was, in Rose's opinion, that she never quite understood it. If Russ had done anything to be punished for, he certainly didn't seem to mind the punishment! And Daddy and Mother seemed to have a little secret between them, as well as Russ.

"I don't like secrets," she complained the next day, on thinking it all over.

"Oh, I do!" cried Laddie. "'Specially now that Christmas is coming."

But Rose knew this was not a Christmas secret. She wondered where the nice, pleasant-faced sailor boy came from who seemed to know Russ and Daddy Bunker so well. She had not seen him before. And that was another mystery that nobody seemed willing to explain to her.

They all had so many good times on the _Kammerboy_, however, that Rose really could not be vexed for long. It proved, as had been announced in Boston, that the ship sailed into summer seas. There was scarcely a cloud in sight for the entire voyage, and certainly the steamship did not roll.

At length, late one afternoon, the children were taken up on the hurricane deck to see the islands of Charleston Harbor ahead. Many warships, and of all sizes, lay in the roadstead, but they did not see much of these vessels save their lights that evening.

The _Kammerboy was docked to discharge freight and some of her passengers. Daddy Bunker arranged for the boy lost from the destroyer to be put aboard his ship. Russ hoped that he would not be punished very sorely for being left behind.

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