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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSix Little Bunkers At Uncle Fred's - Chapter 12. Laddie Catches A Riddle
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Six Little Bunkers At Uncle Fred's - Chapter 12. Laddie Catches A Riddle Post by :C0113c70r Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :1388

Click below to download : Six Little Bunkers At Uncle Fred's - Chapter 12. Laddie Catches A Riddle (Format : PDF)

Six Little Bunkers At Uncle Fred's - Chapter 12. Laddie Catches A Riddle

CHAPTER XII. LADDIE CATCHES A RIDDLE

Mrs. Bunker was startled when she did not see Violet with the other little Bunkers.

"Where's Vi?" she asked the other children. "Where did she go?"

"Oh, she just took her doll for a walk," said Russ. "She went away a little while ago, over there," and he pointed to the rolling plains behind the willow trees.

The plain was not flat, like a board. It was rolling land, with hills and hollows here and there. Some of the hills were high enough to hide a man behind them.

"Where did she go?" asked Mrs. Bunker, and now her voice was anxious.

"Just to give her doll a walk," explained Russ. "She got tired of playing sail-a-boat, she said, and she went for a walk, and took her doll."

"Violet! Violet! Where are you?" loudly called Mrs. Bunker.

There was no answer.

Mrs. Bunker ran to the top of the nearest little hill, or knoll, and looked across the plain. The five little Bunkers followed her. There were only five with her, as Violet had gone for a walk with her doll.

"But where can she have gone?" asked Mrs. Bunker, as she did not see her little girl, nor hear her answer the call.

"Maybe she went home," said Russ.

"Oh, yes," agreed Rose, not wanting to think that anything had happened to her sister. "Maybe her doll got tired, and she took her home."

Sometimes the little Bunker girls were so real in their make-believe play that they did things a grown person would have done.

"Would she know the way home alone?" asked Mrs. Bunker.

"It's right over there," said Russ, pointing. "You can see the ranch houses from here."

This was true enough. When they were up on the little hill they could see the buildings on Three Star Ranch.

"If she only went that way she will be all right," said Mother Bunker. "But if she walked the other way----"

"Come on! We'll find her!" called Russ to Laddie.

"All right. Wait till I go back and anchor my ship and I'll come."

"No, you mustn't go!" exclaimed Mother Bunker. "We must all keep together. I don't want any more of you getting lost."

"Is Vi lost, Mother?" asked Rose, and she moved over closer to Mrs. Bunker.

"Well, I don't know that she is lost," was the answer. "Probably not. But she isn't here with us. She has wandered away. I'll call again.

"Vi! Violet, where are you?" called Mrs. Bunker, as loudly as she could. But there was no answer. Only the wind rustled the branches of the willow tree and the tall grass near the creek.

"Maybe she fell asleep, same as you did," suggested Laddie to his mother.

"Well, perhaps she did, and if she were to lie down in the tall grass we couldn't see her," said Mrs. Bunker. "Oh, dear! I wish I hadn't gone to sleep, and that Vi hadn't wandered off."

She called again, but there was no answer.

"We'd better go for Daddy!" exclaimed Russ. Daddy Bunker was the one always wanted when anything happened.

"But we can't get him," said Mrs. Bunker. "He has gone away with Uncle Fred to look for the lost cattle."

"Then we'll go for Captain Roy!" went on Russ. "He used to be a soldier, and he'll know how to find lost people."

"Yes, I guess that's the best thing to do," said Mrs. Bunker. "Though I hate to go away and leave Violet all alone here, wherever she is. But it's the only way to find her. Come, we'll hurry back to the house and get Captain Roy."

So the five little Bunkers and their mother hurried over the plain toward the Three Star Ranch house.

And now I know you are wondering what happened to Violet, so I am going to tell you. For you know a book-writer can be in two places at the same time.

When Violet started out to give her doll a walk the little girl had no notion of going very far. If she had been at home she would have gone just down to the corner of her block and back. But there are no corners or blocks on the open plain, so Violet just walked over the green fields.

"Do you like it here, Su-San?" she asked.

"Oh, you do," she went on, pretending that her doll had spoken. "And you want to go a little farther, don't you?"

Violet made believe listen to what her doll said.

"Oh, you want to pick some flowers. Well, that will be nice," went on the little girl. "We'll pick a nice bouquet and we'll take it to Rose's doll."

There were flowers growing on the plain, and Violet began picking some, making believe her doll helped. Now, you know how it is when you go to pick blossoms. First you see a nice one, then, farther on, you see one that is a little better, and pretty soon you see one that is prettier than all, and you go for that one, and, before you know it, you are a long way from where you started.

That is what happened to Violet. She wandered on and on, down among the little hills and hollows until she was quite a distance from the willow tree and the creek. She could no longer see the tree.

And Violet forgot, or she did not know, that when one is in a big field, down among the hills and hollows, and can't see anything high and tall, like a tree or a building sticking up, that one doesn't know which way to go. All ways look alike then. So it is no wonder that Vi, after she had helped her doll gather a bouquet, went the wrong way. Instead of walking back toward the creek she walked away from it.

And she was walking away from the Three Star Ranch house also. In fact Violet was lost on the plain, and she was getting more and more lost every minute and with each step she took.

Finally she said:

"Oh, Su-San! aren't you tired? I am. I'm going to sit down and rest and let you rest, too."

Of course the doll wasn't tired, as she hadn't done any walking, for Vi had carried her all the way. But Vi pretended that the doll was as weary as was the little girl herself.

So together they sat down in the tall grass, which came over Violet's head now, and rested. Violet didn't know she was lost. But she was, all the same.

After a while she got up and started to walk again. She walked and walked, and, when she couldn't find the creek nor the willow tree nor see her mother nor any of the other little Bunkers, she became frightened and started to cry.

"Oh, Mother!" she called, "where are you? I want you!"

Of course Mrs. Bunker could not hear then, for she was on her way to get Captain Roy to help search for the little girl.

Violet wandered around and around, calling now and then, and crying real tears every once in a while, until, at last, when the sun began to get lower and lower in the west, and the little girl knew it would soon be dark, she sobbed:

"Oh, what shall I do! Oh, where is my mother!"

And just then she heard a horse come trotting along. She could hear the gallop of the hoofs on the ground.

"Oh, maybe it's an Indian!" thought Vi. "We'd better hide, Su-San!"

She clasped the Japanese toy in her arms, and crouched down in the grass. But the trotting came nearer. Then Violet knew it was more than one horse.

"Maybe it's a whole band of Indians!" she whispered. "Oh, Su-San!"

Down in the tall grass she hid, but she kept on crying. And then, suddenly, close to her, a voice said:

"I thought I heard a child crying just now, didn't you, Jim?"

"Sounded like it, but what would a child be doing out here all alone?"

"I don't know, but I sure did hear it!"

Then another voice called:

"What's the matter over there?"

"Oh, Frank thought he heard a child crying," answered some one, and Vi thought it didn't sound like an Indian.

"A child!" cried still another voice. "Oh, I wonder----"

Then Violet didn't hear any more, for standing right over where she crouched in the grass was a big man on a big horse and he was looking right down on her.

"I've found her!" the man cried. "It's one of the six little Bunkers!"

"One of the six little Bunkers!" repeated a voice that Violet well knew. It was her father's.

"Oh, Daddy! Daddy!" she cried. "Here I am! I got lost, and I can't find the creek, nor the willow tree, nor Mother, nor anything. Here I am!"

Violet stood up, and a moment later, her father had ridden his horse over to where she was and, reaching down, took her and the doll up in his arms.

"Well, how in the world did you get here?" he asked in surprise. "Where have you been, Violet?"

Then Violet told, and Uncle Fred, who was with Daddy Bunker and some of the cowboys, said:

"We'd better ride back to the house as fast as we can. Amy is probably wild now about losing her. Hurry back to the house!"

Then how the horses did gallop! And Vi, sitting in front of Daddy on his saddle, had a fine ride and forgot she had been lost.

They got back to the house just as Captain Roy and some cowboys were about to ride away in search of Violet. For Mrs. Bunker and the other little Bunkers had reached the ranch house with the story of the lost one.

"How did you find her?" asked Mrs. Bunker of her husband when Violet had been hugged and kissed.

"We were riding back," said Daddy Bunker, "when one of the cowboys heard a child crying. He found Violet in the grass, and then I took her up. How did she get lost?"

Then Mrs. Bunker told about the trip to the creek and how Vi had wandered away by herself.

"But I'm never going again," said the little girl. "I thought the Indians were after me!"

"And it was only Daddy Bunker!" laughed her father.

"Did you find the lost cattle?" asked his wife, when supper was over and they had ceased talking about Vi being lost.

"No, the men who took them must have hurried away with them. We could not find them at all."

Just as the six little Bunkers were going to bed a cowboy came up to the ranch house to say that the water was coming back into the spring.

"That's good," said Uncle Fred. "But I certainly would like to know what makes it go out, and who takes our cattle."

The next day Russ and Laddie asked if they could go fishing in the creek, if they went to one place and stayed there, so they might not wander away and be lost.

"Yes, I guess so," returned Daddy Bunker. "It isn't far, and if you stay on shore you won't fall in."

"True," chuckled Uncle Fred, but he wouldn't tell Laddie what he was laughing at.

There were some small fish to be caught in the creek, and soon, with hooks, lines, poles and bait Russ and Laddie started for the creek.

"I hope they'll be all right," said their mother.

They had been gone about an hour when Russ came running back to the house, dragging his pole after him, and on the line was a fish, which he had not stopped to take off.

"Oh, Mother! Daddy!" cried Russ. "Laddie--Laddie----"

"Has he fallen in?" cried Mrs. Bunker.

"No, Mother! It isn't that!" said Russ. "But he's caught a riddle, and he doesn't know what to do with it."

"He's caught a _riddle_?" cried Uncle Fred. "What do you mean?"

"Well, he found it, or caught it, I don't know which," said Russ.

"How did he catch a riddle?" asked Daddy Bunker.

"On his hook. It's a funny thing, like a black stone, and it wiggles and sticks its head out, and Laddie doesn't know what it is, and when you don't know what a thing is that's a riddle, isn't it? Come and see!"

And down to the creek went Daddy and Mother Bunker to see the riddle that Laddie had caught.

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