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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSix Little Bunkers At Uncle Fred's - Chapter 19. What Rose Found
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Six Little Bunkers At Uncle Fred's - Chapter 19. What Rose Found Post by :C0113c70r Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :3249

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Six Little Bunkers At Uncle Fred's - Chapter 19. What Rose Found

CHAPTER XIX. WHAT ROSE FOUND

There was no doubt about it. Standing in front of Laddie and Russ was an Indian. He was a tall man, with dark skin.

The Indian had a blanket wrapped around him, and on his feet were what seemed to be slippers, made of soft skin. Later the boys learned that these were moccasins.

In his hair the Indian had stuck two or three brightly-colored feathers. He was not a nice-looking man, but he smiled, in what he most likely meant to be a kind way, at the boys, and, pointing to the spring, said:

"Water? Indian get drink water?"

For a moment Russ or Laddie did not know what to think. The coming of an Indian was so sudden that it surprised them. They were all alone, too, for Uncle Fred and their father had gone back to the house to get shovels and picks to dig up the rocks back of the spring.

"Water? Indian get drink water?" asked the Redman again.

"Oh, he is a real Indian!" whispered Russ to his brother. "I see the feathers."

"Yes, and he's got a blanket on, same as the Indians have in the picture Mother showed us," added Laddie.

"Indian get drink!" went on the Redman, as he opened his blanket. The boys saw that he wore a pair of old and rather dirty trousers and a red shirt without a collar. Aside from the blanket and the feathers in his hair, he was not dressed much like an Indian, so the boys decided.

"There isn't much water here," said Russ, "but I guess you can get a drink. The spring has gone dry."

"Spring gone dry? That funny--plenty rain," said the Indian.

He stooped down and dipped the cocoanut shell in what little water was in the bottom of the spring.

However the Indian managed to get enough to drink, and then he seemed to feel better. He sat down on the ground near the two boys and pulled a package from inside his shirt. It was wrapped in paper and, opening it, the Indian took out some bread and what seemed to be pieces of dried meat. Then he began to eat, paying no attention to the boys.

(Illustration: RUSS AND LADDIE WATCHED THE INDIAN WITH WIDE-OPEN EYES.)

Russ and Laddie watched the Indian with wide-open eyes. This was the first one they had ever seen outside of a circus or a Wild-West show, and he was not like the Indians there. They all wore gaily-colored suits, and had many more feathers on their heads than this man did. But that he was a real Indian, Russ and Laddie never doubted.

Having finished his meal, and taken another drink of water, the Indian looked at the boys again and said:

"You live here?" and he waved his hand in a circle.

"Not--not zactly," stammered Laddie.

"We're staying with our Uncle Fred at Three Star Ranch," said Russ.

"Oh, Three Star Ranch. Huh! Me know! Good place. Bill Johnson him cook!"

"That's right!" exclaimed Laddie. "He knows Uncle Fred's cook. He must be a good Indian, Russ."

"I guess he is. Maybe he wants to see Uncle Fred."

"Here they come back," remarked Laddie, and he pointed to his father and Uncle Fred, who could now be seen coming toward the spring, carrying picks and shovels over their shoulders.

"You got papoose your house?" asked the Indian, pointing in the direction of the ranch houses. "You got little papoose?"

"What's a papoose?" asked Russ.

Laddie didn't know, and the Indian was trying to explain what he meant when Uncle Fred came along.

"Hello! You boys have company, I see," said the ranchman. "Where did the Indian come from?" and he looked at the Redman, as Indians are sometimes called.

"He just walked here," explained Russ. "He was thirsty and he ate some bread he had in his shirt, and now he asked us if we had a papoose at our house."

"He means small children," said Uncle Fred. "Papoose is the Indian word for baby--that is, it is with some Indians. They don't all speak the same language.

"Where are you from, and what do you want?" Uncle Fred asked the Indian. "What's your name?"

"Me Red Feather," answered the Indian, at the same time touching a red feather in his black hair. "Me look for papoose. You got?"

"We haven't got any for you," said Uncle Fred with a laugh. "I guess none of the six little Bunkers would want to go to live with you, though you may be a good Indian. But where are you from, and what do you want?"

The Indian began to talk in his own language, but Uncle Fred shook his head.

"I don't know what you're saying," he said. "If you're lost, and hungry, go back there and they'll feed you."

"Bill Johnson?" asked the Indian.

"So you know my ranch cook, do you?" asked Uncle Fred quickly. "I suppose some one told you to ask for him. Well, he'll give you a meal, and maybe he can understand your talk. I can't. Go back there!" and he pointed to the ranch house.

The Indian got up, and as he walked away he was seen to limp.

"What's the matter? Hurt your foot?" asked Daddy Bunker.

"Much hurt--yes," was the answer, but the Indian did not stop. He kept on his limping way to the ranch houses.

"Is it all right for him to wander around over your ranch this way?" asked Daddy Bunker of Uncle Fred. "Won't he take some of your horses or cattle?"

"Oh, no, the cowboys will be on the watch. I guess Red Feather is all right, though I never saw him before. The Indians often get tired of staying on the reservation and wander off. They go visiting. They stop here now and then, and Bill Johnson feeds 'em. He sort of likes the Indians. I suppose one he fed some time ago has told the others, so Bill has a good name among the Indians. Well, now we'll dig, and see what we can find out about this queer spring."

"Could we go to see the Indian eat?" asked Russ.

"I like him--he talks so funny," said Laddie. "Maybe he knows some new riddles."

"Maybe he does," laughed Daddy Bunker. "You can try him if you like. Yes, go along to the house, if you wish, and if Bill Johnson asks you why, say Uncle Fred sent Red Feather to be fed."

"Come on!" called Russ to Laddie. "We'll go back to the house and talk some more to the Indian."

Laddie and Russ reached the house just as Red Feather arrived, for he walked slowly.

"So you're hungry, eh?" asked Bill Johnson, when the Indian had spoken to him. "Well, I guess I can feed you. Where did you come from, and where are you going?"

The Indian waved his hand toward the west, as if to say he had come from that direction, but where he was going he did not tell. Bill tried to talk to him in two or three different Indian dialects, but Red Feather shook his head.

He knew a little English, and his own talk, and that was all. But, every now and then, as he ate, he looked up at Laddie and Russ, who sat near, and said:

"You got more papoose?"

"I guess he wants to see the rest of you little Bunkers!" said Bill Johnson. "Maybe he heard there were several children here, and he wants to see all of you. Some Indians like children more than others. Yes, we have more papooses, Red Feather, though these are the biggest," and he pointed to Russ and Laddie.

"No got um so high?" asked the Indian, and he held his hand about a foot over the head of Russ. "Got papoose so big?"

"No, none of the six little Bunkers is as big as that," explained Bill Johnson. "Russ is the biggest. But what's the matter with your foot?" he asked Red Feather, for the Indian limped badly when he walked.

The Indian spoke something in his own language and pointed to his foot.

"It's swelled," said Bill. "Reckon you must have cut it on a stone. Well, you sit down in the shade, and when Hank Nelson comes in I'll have him look at it. Hank's a sort of doctor among the cowboys," Bill explained to Laddie and Russ.

While the Indian was resting in the shade, Laddie and Russ ran to tell their mother and the other little Bunkers about him.

"Is he a _real_, wild Indian?" asked Rose.

"He's _real_, but he isn't _wild_," Russ answered. "I like him. He likes children, too, 'cause he's always talking about a papoose. Papoose is Indian for baby," he told his sister.

The other little Bunkers gathered around Red Feather, as he sat outside the cook-house, and he smiled at the children. He seemed to want to tell them something as he looked eagerly at them, but all he could make them, or the men at the ranch, understand, was that he wanted to see a "papoose" who was larger than Russ.

"Maybe he wants a boy to go along with him and help him 'cause he's lame," suggested Laddie.

"No, it isn't that," said Uncle Fred, who, with Daddy Bunker, had come back from the spring. "He's worrying about something, but I can't make out what it is. Maybe some of the other cowboys can talk his language. We'll wait until they come in."

Hank Nelson, the cowboy who "doctored" the others, came riding in, and he agreed to look at the Indian's lame foot. Hank said it was badly cut, and he put some salve and a clean bandage on it, for which Red Feather seemed very grateful.

"No can walk good," he said, when his foot was wrapped up. "I go sleep out there!" and he pointed to the tall grass of the plain.

"Oh, no, I guess we can fix you up a place to sleep," said Uncle Fred kindly. "There are some bunks in the barn where the extra cowboys used to sleep. You can stay there until your foot gets well, and Bill Johnson can give you something to eat now and then."

"Oh, I'll feed him all right," said the cook. "He seems like a good Indian. I wish I knew what he meant by that 'papoose' he's always talking about."

But Red Feather could not tell, though he tried hard, and none of the cowboys spoke his kind of language. So he went to sleep in the barn, on a pile of clean straw, and seemed very thankful to all who had helped him.

"Did you find out anything about the queer spring?" asked Mrs. Bunker of her husband and Uncle Fred that night, when the children had gone to bed.

"No, nothing. We dug up back of the rocks, but found nothing that would show where the water runs away to."

"And did you hear of any more of your cattle being taken away?" asked Captain Roy, who had been visiting his son at the nearest army post. This son was also Captain Robert Roy, for he was named Robert for his father, and was now a captain in the regular army. Captain Roy, the father, had just come back.

"Yes, a few were driven off, as almost always happens when the spring goes dry," said the ranchman in answer to Captain Roy's question. "It is a puzzle--beats Laddie's riddles all to pieces."

"I suppose he'll be getting up some new ones about the Indian to-morrow," said Captain Roy.

"If the Indian doesn't run off in the night with one of the ponies," said Daddy Bunker.

"Oh, he won't go," declared Uncle Fred. "He's being treated too nicely here. He'll stay until his foot gets better."

And, surely enough, Red Feather was on hand for his breakfast the next morning. The six little Bunkers ran out to see him. He looked eagerly and anxiously at them, as if seeking for the "papoose" who was a little larger than Russ.

It was that afternoon, when the children had been having fun playing different games around the house, corrals and barn, that Rose walked off by herself to gather some flowers for the table, as she often did.

"Don't go too far!" her mother called to her.

"I won't," Rose promised.

A little later Mrs. Bunker, who was washing Mun Bun and Margy, and putting clean clothes on them, heard Rose calling from the side porch.

"Oh, Mother! Come here! Look what I found!"

"What is it?" asked Mrs. Bunker. "I can't come now. Tell me what it is, Rose."

"It's the papoose Red Feather was looking for, I guess!" was the answer of Rose Bunker.

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