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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSix Little Bunkers At Uncle Fred's - Chapter 20. Laddie Is Missing
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Six Little Bunkers At Uncle Fred's - Chapter 20. Laddie Is Missing Post by :MarcusP Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :967

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Six Little Bunkers At Uncle Fred's - Chapter 20. Laddie Is Missing

CHAPTER XX. LADDIE IS MISSING

Mrs. Bunker had Mun Bun in her lap, finishing the buttoning of his shoes, but, when Rose called out about the papoose, her mother quickly set the little fellow down on the floor, and ran to the window from where she could see her daughter on the porch.

"What did you say you had found, Rose?" she called.

"I don't know, for sure," said Rose, "but I guess it's the papoose Red Feather wants. Anyhow it's a little Indian girl, and she's bigger than Russ. Come on down!"

Mrs. Bunker hurried down to the porch, and there she saw Rose standing beside a little girl dressed in rather a ragged calico dress. The little girl was very dark, as though she had lived all her life out in the sun, getting tanned all the while, as the six little Bunkers were tanned at Cousin Tom's.

The little girl had long, straight hair, and it was very black, and, even without this, Mrs. Bunker would have known her to be an Indian.

"Where did you get her, Rose?" asked Mother Bunker.

"I found her out on the plain. She was lost, I guess. I told her to come along, 'cause we had an Indian man at Three Star Ranch. I don't guess she knew what I meant, but she came along with me, and here she is."

"Yes, so I see!" exclaimed the puzzled Mrs. Bunker. "Here she is! But what am I going to do with her?"

The Indian girl smiled, showing her white teeth.

"I'll tell Uncle Fred," said Rose.

"Yes, I guess that's what you'd better do," replied her mother. "Come up and sit down," she said to the Indian girl, but the little maiden Rose had found on the plain did not seem to understand. She looked at the chair which Mrs. Bunker pulled out from against the house, however, and then, with another shy smile, sat down in it.

"Poor thing," said Mrs. Bunker. "Maybe she belongs to Red Feather, and she may be lost. I wish she could talk to me, or that I could speak her language. I wonder----"

But just then Rose came hurrying back, not only with Uncle Fred, but with Daddy Bunker and Red Feather.

"What's all this I hear, about Rose going out in the fields and finding a lost papoose?" asked Uncle Fred.

"Well, here she is!" replied Mother Bunker.

Before any one else could say or do anything, Red Feather sprang forward, as well as he could on his lame foot, and, a moment later, had clasped the Indian girl in his arms. She clung to him, and they talked very fast in their own language.

Then Red Feather turned to Uncle Fred, and, motioning to Rose, said:

"She find lost papoose. Me glad!"

"So that's what he was trying to tell us!" exclaimed Uncle Fred. "Red Feather lost his little girl (his papoose as he calls her, though she isn't a baby), and he set out to find her. Then he hurt his foot and couldn't walk very well, so he came here. And that's what he meant when he tried to ask us if we had another--an Indian child--larger than Russ. This girl is bigger than Russ."

"Oh, I'm so glad she's found her father!" exclaimed Mrs. Bunker.

And that is just what the Indian girl had done. Later they heard the story, and it was just as Uncle Fred had said.

Red Feather and some other Indians, with their squaws, children, and little papooses, had left their reservation and started out to see some friends. On the way Sage Flower, which was the name of the Indian girl, became lost. She wandered away from the camp.

Her father and some of the other Indians started out after her, but did not find her. Then Red Feather, wandering about alone, hurt his foot, and managed to get to the spring when Laddie and Russ were waiting at it.

Red Feather tried to tell those at Three Star Ranch about his little lost girl, but could not make himself understood. Then his foot became so bad that he could not walk and he had to stay. And, all the while, he was wondering what had happened to Sage Flower.

The little Indian girl wandered about the plains, sleeping wherever she could find a little shelter, and eating some food she found at a place where some cowboys had been camping. They had gone off and left some bread and meat behind.

Poor little Sage Flower was very tired and hungry when Rose found her on the plain. The Indian girl did not know her father was at Three Star Ranch. She only knew she might get something to eat there and a place to sleep. So when Rose told her to come along Sage Flower was very glad to do so.

And oh! how glad and surprised she was when she found her own father there waiting for her. Sage Flower cried for joy. Mrs. Bunker then took care of her, seeing that she was washed and combed, and had something to eat.

The Indian girl could not speak her thanks in the language the six little Bunkers talked, but she looked her thanks from her eyes and in her smile.

A few days later Red Feather's foot was well enough to be used, and then he and his daughter were put in one of the ranch wagons and sent to the place where the other Indians were camping. The Redmen were very glad to see Red Feather and Sage Flower come back to them.

"Well, it's a good thing you found Sage Flower," said Daddy Bunker, "or the poor thing might have wandered on and on, and been lost for good. Her father, too, would have felt very bad."

But everything came out all right, you see, and Red Feather, to show how grateful he was to Rose, brought her, a week or so later, a beautiful basket, woven of sweet grass that smelled for a long time like the woods and fields.

With this Rose was immensely pleased.

There were many happy days at Three Star Ranch. The prairies did not get on fire again, and the cattle seemed to quiet down, and not want to stampede to make work for every one.

Russ and Laddie and Rose and Vi had fine fun riding their ponies to and fro, for they were allowed to go out alone, if they did not ride too far.

One day, after breakfast, Russ and Laddie came in to ask if they could go for a long ride all alone.

Rose was helping Bill Johnson in the kitchen, and Vi was busy lining a box in which to bury a dead bird she had found. Later there was to be a formal funeral with willow whistles for a band and as many people as would go in the funeral procession.

"I want to see if I can think of a riddle," said Laddie. "I haven't made up one for a long while."

"And I want to see if I can find that Indian, Red Feather," put in Russ. "Maybe he'll make me a bow and arrow."

"I'd rather you wouldn't go now," said their mother. "Don't you want to come with us?"

"Where are you going?" asked Laddie.

"Off to the woods for a little picnic. Bill Johnson is going to put us up a little lunch, and we will stay all day and have fun in the woods."

"Oh, yes, we'll go!" cried Russ. "We can ride our ponies some other time," he added to his brother.

"All right," Laddie agreed. "Maybe I can think of a riddle in the woods."

"What makes them call it a 'woods,' Mother?" asked Vi later, when the lunch baskets were ready and the picnic party was about to set off. "Why don't they call it a 'trees' insteads of a woods? There's a lot of trees there."

"You may call it that, if you like," said Mother Bunker. "We'll go to the 'trees' and have some fun. Come on all my six little Bunkers!"

And away they went to the woods or the trees, whichever you like. There was a large clump of trees not far from the house on Three Star Ranch, and in that the children had their picnic. They played under the green boughs, had games of tag and ate their lunch. Then they rested and, after a while, Russ called:

"Come on! Let's have a game of hide-and-go-seek! I'll be it, and I'll blind and all the rest of you can hide."

"Oh, that'll be lots of fun!" said Rose.

So they played this game. Russ easily saw where Margy and Mun Bun hid themselves, behind bushes near the tree where he was "blinding," but he let them "in free." Then he caught Rose, and she had to be "it" the next time. Violet came in free, for she had picked out a good hiding-place.

"Now I have to find Laddie!" cried Russ. He hunted all over, but he could not find his little brother.

"Oh, tell him he can come in free!" exclaimed Rose. "Then we can go on with the game."

So Russ called:

"Givie up! Givie up! Come on in free, Laddie!"

But Laddie did not come. Where could he be?

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CHAPTER XIX. WHAT ROSE FOUNDThere 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
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