Chapter XVI. Mun Bun Sees Something
 

"Here, Zip! Ho, Zip! Come here!" called Russ, and he whistled to the dog, which was swimming along with the stick in his mouth.

The dog heard, and, turning toward the shore of the lake, made his way to Russ, who was standing on the little sandy beach. And, as Zip swam along, and pulled on the clothesline, which was fast to the stick in his mouth, and also fast to the raft on which stood Laddie Bunker, the little boy was given a ride.

Zip was a strong dog, and as the raft was light, and as Laddie was not heavy, the swimming animal had no trouble in pulling the queer boat after him.

"Oh, I'm having a fine ride!" shouted Laddie, as he stood in his bare feet on the raft, over which the water washed. "Come on, Russ! You can have a ride after I do."

"Will your raft hold me?" asked his brother.

"We can put some more boards on and make it," Laddie answered. "Oh, we'll have lots of fun!"

"Come on, Zip! Come on! That's a good dog!" called Russ, and the dog, which was used to swimming out into the lake and bringing back sticks that the children threw, swam on toward shore with the round piece of wood to which the clothesline was fastened still in his mouth. And of course as Zip pulled on the line he also pulled the raft along, and so gave Laddie a ride.

"Oh, it was lots of fun!" shouted the little boy, as the raft came into shallow water where it would no longer float. For Zip had reached shore by this time, and had dropped the stick at the feet of Russ. Then Zip stood there, wagging his tail, and shaking the water off his shaggy coat, waiting for Russ to toss the stick into the water again.

"Here you go, Zip! Bring it back!" cried Russ. "Bring the stick back again!" and, once more, he tossed it into the water.

"Don't you want him to give you a ride?" asked Laddie.

"Wait till we see if he gives you another one," suggested Russ.

And Zip did. Out he swam to where the piece of wood floated, still tied to the clothesline that was fast to the raft. And when Zip swam along, of course he pulled the raft after him.

"Oh, he does it! He does it again!" cried Laddie, capering up and down on the raft. "Now we'll make the boat bigger, Russ, and you can have a ride, and so can----"

But then, all of a sudden, something happened. Laddie was doing too much capering about on the raft. Before he knew it he stepped off with one foot, and, though he tried to get back on, he couldn't.

Off he fell, right into the water, splashing down with his clothes on. Zip pulled the raft along without the little boy on it.

"Hi! What are you doing?" asked Russ.

"I--I didn't mean to! I slipped off!" answered Laddie. "But the water isn't cold."

"You're all wet, though," Russ said. "Oh, you'll get it!"

"These are my old clothes," answered the smaller boy. "Mother said it wouldn't hurt to get 'em wet."

"Did she say you could fall in with 'em on?" asked Russ.

"No," answered Laddie slowly, "I didn't know I was going to fall in, so I couldn't ask her. But I'm glad I did, 'cause it feels so nice, and he kicked around in the water. The bottom being of clean sand, there was no mud, and, as Laddie had said, he wore old clothes."

"Say, Zip is a regular steamboat engine!" exclaimed Russ, as the dog kept on pulling the raft, though Laddie had fallen off. "We'll make it bigger, Laddie, and then I can ride on it."

"Maybe we both can," said Laddie, who got up out of the water, and waded to shore.

"No, I guess the two of us would be too heavy for Zip to pull. We'll take turns," said Russ. "Come on, we'll make a bigger raft. There's lots of wood out by the barn."

And so the boys did. Russ was stronger than Laddie, and could handle bigger boards and pieces of wood. Soon the raft was made big enough so that Russ could stand up on it and not have it sink to the bottom of the lake near the shore.

"Do you like it? asked Laddie.

"It's lots of fun," answered Russ. "I'm glad you thought of this."

"I was trying to think of a riddle," said Laddie. "It was something about what makes the lake wet when it rains, and then I saw some pieces of board floating along and I thought of a raft and I made one."

"And I'm glad you thought of it instead of the riddle," said Russ with a laugh. "You can't ride on a riddle."

"You could if a riddle was a train or a boat," Laddie said. "And I made up a riddle about the conductor punching the tickets and they didn't get mad. Don't you 'member?"

"Oh, yes, I remember," said Russ. "But come on, we'll have some more rides."

So the boys took turns having Zip pull them along on the raft until the dog, much as he liked to go into the water after sticks, grew tired and would not splash out any more.

"Well, we'll play it to-morrow," said Laddie.

"Or this afternoon, maybe," said his brother.

They tied the raft to a tree near shore, leaving the stick fast to the rope, ready for more fun.

"Mercy, Laddie, what happened to you?" asked Mrs. Bunker, as she saw the two boys come through the garden up to Grandma Bell's house. "Did you fall into the water?"

"I--I sorter--sorter--stepped in--off the raft," answered the little boy. "Oh, it was lots of fun!"

"But you must be more careful," said his mother. "Was the water deep?"

"No, Mother. It was near shore," explained Russ, and he told how Zip had given them rides.

"Well, come into the house, and get on dry clothes," said Grandma Bell. "And, to make sure you won't catch cold--though I don't see how you can on such a hot day--I'll give you some bread and jam!"

"Oh, goody!" cried Laddie, for he knew how nice the bread and jam made by Grandma Bell tasted.

"I wish I'd fallen in," said Russ.

"Well, you may have some bread and jam also," said his grandmother, laughing. "And we'll call one, two, three, four more little Bunkers, and they may have bread and jam, too."

That afternoon and the next day the other little Bunkers had rides on the raft pulled by Zip. And when the dog got tired of splashing out in the water to bring back the stick and tow the raft, Laddie and Russ, in their bare feet, pulled it themselves, giving Rose, Vi, Margy and Mun Bun rides along the shore.

They had lots of fun, and thought Lake Sagatook the nicest place in all the world to spend part of their vacation.

Daddy Bunker and Mother Bunker liked it, too. They took long walks in the woods, and also went for rows in the boat Daddy Bunker hired.

For the children's father did as he had promised, and got a large, safe rowboat, in which they went for trips on the lake, and also went fishing. Mrs. Bunker did not care to fish, but she went along to hold the smaller children and keep them from falling out of the boat.

Several times Laddie, Russ or the other children saw Mr. Hurd, the red-haired fisherman. Each time they asked him if he had seen the tramp lumberman with the papers Mr. Bunker wished so much to get back, and each time the fisherman had to say that he had not seen the man wanted.

Once Mr. Hurd came in his boat and showed Daddy Bunker a good place to fish. Russ and Laddie went along also, and Russ caught two fishes. Laddie got only one, but as it was bigger than either of those his brother caught, Laddie felt very proud.

One day, when Laddie and Russ had gone with their father for a row in the boat, Mrs. Bunker, who was in the house with Grandma Bell helping her sew, said to Rose:

"You might take the smaller children down to the woods by the lake and play there. It's cool and shady, and you may take some cookies, or other little lunch with you, and have a sort of picnic."

"And may we take Muffin?" asked Vi.

"Yes, take Muffin," said Grandma Bell, for the maltese cat liked to be with the children as much as they liked to have her. Zip, the dog, had gone off with Tom Hardy.

Grandma Bell put up a lunch for the children, and then Rose led them down to the shady shore of the lake, where they were to have some fun.

"I'm going to make a dress out of green leaves for my doll," said Vi.

"And I'm going to make a new bathing suit for my rubber doll," said Rose. "What are you two going to do?" and she looked at Margy and Mun Bun, who were toddling along hand-in-hand.

"We's goin' in swimming'," said Mun Bun.

"He means wading with his shoes and stockings off," said Vi. "He asked mother if he could, and she said yes."

"Did she say Margy could, too?" asked Rose.

"Yes. Both of 'em."

Soon the two smaller children were paddling about in the water near the shore of the lake, while Rose and Vi sat under the shade of trees, not far away, and sewed.

The two older girls were trying on their dolls' dresses when, all of a sudden, Mun Bun came running up from the lake, his eyes big with wonder, and after him ran Margy.

"Oh, I saw it! I saw it!" cried Mun Bun. "It's a great big bear! He came right up out of the lake! Oh, come and look, Rose!" and he ran to take his sister's hand, while Margy hid behind Violet.

"What is it, Mun Bun?" asked Rose.

"Oh, I saw something big--an animal--I--I guess it's a bear--come up out of the lake!" cried the little fellow. "Come and look!"