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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSix Little Bunkers At Cowboy Jack's - Chapter 6. The Coal Strike
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Six Little Bunkers At Cowboy Jack's - Chapter 6. The Coal Strike Post by :stevesandman Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :3279

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Six Little Bunkers At Cowboy Jack's - Chapter 6. The Coal Strike


Mother, of course, took Mun Bun and Margy back to Pineville by train. It was much too long a journey for them in an automobile. Mr. Bunker, with the four bigger little Bunkers (doesn't that sound funny?) drove in a motor-car and spent one night's sleep on the way at a very pleasant country inn.

They did not have quite so much excitement here as they had at the farmhouse on their way down to the shore. But Rose and Vi had a room all to themselves, and felt themselves quite grown-up travelers. Russ and Laddie were in a second bed in Mr. Bunker's room, and in the night Laddie must have had a very exciting dream because he began to kick about and thrash with his arms and woke up Russ very suddenly.

"Get off me!" cried Russ. "Stop!"

Then he became wide awake, sat up, and saw that it was not a dog jumping all over him, as he had supposed, but his brother.

"Why, Laddie!" he exclaimed, shaking the younger boy. "If you don't stop I'll have to get out and sleep on the floor."

"Oh!" gasped Laddie. "Am I sleeping?"

"Well, you're not now, I guess. But you were sleeping--and kicking, too."

"Oh!" said Laddie again. "I thought that old calf was pulling me down into the mud to take a bath. That--that must be a riddle, Russ."

"What's a riddle?" asked his brother, yawning.

"When is a dream not a dream?" asked Laddie promptly.

"I--ow!--don't know," yawned Russ.

"When you wake up," declared Laddie with conviction.

But Russ did not answer. He had snuggled down into his pillow and was asleep again.

"Well--anyway," muttered Laddie, "I guess that wasn't a very good riddle after all."

They got home to Pineville the next day, and as the automobile rolled into the Bunker yard mother and Norah, the cook, besides Mun Bun and Margy, were in the doorway. The two little folks at once ran screaming into the yard.

"There's a strike!" cried out Margy.

"You tan't go to school!" added Mun Bun.

"What do you mean--strike?" asked Russ wonderingly.

"That old thunder struck us. That's enough," said Rose, harking back to their exciting time in the old house at the seashore.

"Who got struck?" asked Violet. "Did it hurt them--like it did Mun Bun and me when the tree fell on us?"

"It's a coal strike," said Margy. "And the school can't have any coal."

Neither Rose nor Russ just understood this. What had a coal strike to do with their going to school?

But they found out all about it after a time. Something quite exciting had happened in Pineville while they had been down at Grand View. Of course, it happened in quite a number of other places at the same time; but only as the coal strike affected their home town did it matter at all to the six little Bunkers.

Daddy Bunker had plenty of coal in the cellar against the coming of cold weather when the furnace should be started. But everybody was not as fortunate--or as wise--as Daddy Bunker.

And in the school bins no coal had been placed early in the season. Suddenly the delivery of coal in cars to Pineville was stopped. The coal dealers in the town had no coal to deliver, although they had sold a great deal of it for delivery.

Frost had come. Indeed, the flowers and plants in the gardens were already blackened by the touch of Jack Frost's scepter. That meant that soon it would be so cold that little boys and girls could not sit in the big rooms of the schoolhouse unless there were warm fires to send the steam humming through the pipes and radiators.

"Here we are, three weeks late for school already, and no likelihood of coal coming into the town for another month. Of course there will be no school," Mother Bunker said decidedly. "I should not dare let the children go in any case unless the fires were built."

"Quite right," said Daddy Bunker. "And I presume the other people will feel the same about their children. School must be postponed again."

"Oh, bully!" cried Russ.

He shouted it out so loud that the older folks, as well as the children, looked at him in some amazement.

"What is bully?" asked Vi. "Do you mean a coal strike is bully? Why can't we have coal to burn? Who has got our coal?"

Nobody gave her questions much attention, which of course was not unusual. But Daddy Bunker began to laugh.

"I can see what is working in Russ's mind," he said. "You reason from the cause of a lack of coal, to an effect that you need not go to school?"

"I--I don't mind going to school," Rose said, a little doubtfully but looking at her elder brother.

"And I don't mind, either," said Russ promptly. "Only daddy is going to that Cowboy Jack's. And if we can't go to school for a month, why can't we go with daddy? We might as well."

"Oh! Oh!" cried the other children in chorus, seeing very plainly now what Russ had meant by saying the coal strike was "bully."

"Perhaps you are taking too much for granted," Mother Bunker said soberly. "Still, Charles, maybe I had better not unpack our trunks quite yet?"

"I'll see what the outlook is to-morrow morning," said Daddy Bunker quite soberly. "Anyway, I shall not start for the Southwest until day after to-morrow. Will that give you time, if----?"

"Oh, yes," said Mother Bunker, who had become by this time an expert in making quick preparations for leaving home. "Norah and Jerry will get on quite well here."

This was enough to set the six little Bunkers in a ferment. At least, to put their minds in a ferment. They were so excited and so much interested in the possibility of going away again that they could not "settle," as Norah said, to their ordinary pursuits.

Even Rose had by this time decided that she would be able perhaps to pronounce the name of the man Daddy Bunker was going to see--Mr. John Scarbontiskil.

"And, anyway," she told Russ, "maybe I won't have to talk to him much."

"You needn't mind that," said Russ kindly. "Daddy says everybody calls him Cowboy Jack. Daddy has met him and likes him, and he told me that Cowboy Jack likes children, although he has none of his own."

"Why hasn't he?" demanded Vi. "Don't they have little boys and girls down there on the ranch where he lives?"

"He hasn't got any," said Russ. "So he likes other people's children."


_Six Little Bunkers at Cowboy Jack's. (_Page 54_))

Russ and Laddie were very busy getting out their cowboy and Indian suits and having Norah mend them. Of course they would want to dress like other people did in the Southwest.

The coal strike in western Pennsylvania really did send the six little Bunkers off to the Southwest almost as soon as they had returned from the seashore and their visit to Captain Ben.

Daddy came home the next noon and said that coal enough to supply the Pineville school might not arrive before November. At least, there would be four full weeks before school could safely open.

"We might as well make a long holiday of it, Charles," said Mother Bunker, quite complacently.

For she, too, liked to travel, and had, by now, got used to journeying about with the children. Russ and Rose were so helpful, too, that a trip to Cavallo did not seem such a huge undertaking after all.

"Shall we take our bathing suits, Mother?" asked Rose.

"No bathing suits this time, for we are not going to the seashore," declared Mother Bunker.

But in repacking what few things had been unpacked there were two things forgotten. The children really did not have time to "count up" and see if they had all their most precious possessions with them.

It was after they were on the train the following morning, and Pineville station, with Norah and Jerry waving good-bye on the platform, was out of sight, that Rose suddenly discovered a lack that made her cry out in earnest.

"Oh! Oh! I've lost it!" she said.

"What you lost?" asked Vi.

"My watch!" gasped Rose.

"Oh, dear me! Your nice new wrist watch?" asked Mother Bunker admonishingly.

"Yes, ma'am," sighed Rose. "I--I haven't got it."

"Oh, my!" cried Laddie suddenly.

He was fumbling at his scarf and trying to look at it by pulling it out to its full length and squinting down his nose at its pretty pattern.

"And what's the matter with you, Laddie?" asked Daddy Bunker. "What have you lost?"

"Oh, my!" said Laddie, quite as dolefully as Rose had spoken. "I--I don't see my new stick-pin. It isn't here. I--I just guess I have lost it, too."

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