Chapter XX. The Dog-Cart
 

Mrs. Bunker saw Grandma Bell hurrying down toward the barn, halfway between which and the house, was the well, and at once the children's mother began to fear that something was wrong.

"Has anything happened?" asked Mrs. Bunker.

"I'm afraid there has," answered Grandma Bell. "Russ came running up to the house, and said something about a doll having fallen into the well. Then he grabbed up the rake and ran back before I could ask him what he meant."

"Oh, I do hope none of the children will try to get it out!" cried Mrs. Bunker.

Then Grandma Bell and Mother Bunker ran down to the well. There they saw Mr. Bunker with the long-handled rake fishing down in the round hole, at the bottom of which was deep water.

"What has happened?" demanded Mrs. Bunker.

"It's all right--don't be frightened," her husband told her, as he looked around. "It's only a doll that has fallen into the well. I'm trying to get it out with the rake."

"Only a doll--that isn't so bad," said Mrs. Bunker. "Whose doll is it?"

"Mine," answered Rose. She and the other children now stood about the well house. "Margy took it, Russ says, and dropped it into the water."

"I was givin' the dollie a bath," Margy explained. "The other dolls had a ride on Laddie's boat, and they felled in the water and had a nice swim, but this doll didn't have any and I was givin' her one."

"Oh, but you shouldn't have done that without asking mother," said Mrs. Bunker. "And besides, I've told you to keep away from the well. You might fall in."

"Oh, I didn't go very near," said Margy. "I--I just throwed the dollie in. I stood 'way back and I throwed her in 'cause I wanted her to have a swim like the other dolls."

"Can you get it out?" asked Mrs. Bunker.

"I think so," answered her husband. "The doll is caught on one of the buckets, halfway down the well. I sent Russ up to get the rake, for I'm afraid If I pull up the bucket the doll will drop off and fall to the bottom of the well."

All watched Daddy fishing for the doll. The rake was not quite long enough, but by fastening a stick onto the handle it could be reached down far enough so the iron teeth caught in the doll's dress, and up she came.

"Why--why!" exclaimed Margy, "she isn't wet at all."

"No," said Daddy Bunker, "she didn't get down to the water. If she had I don't believe I could have gotten her up, as the well is very deep. But don't do it again, Margy."

Rose took the doll, whose dress had been torn a little by the rake.

"I'll make believe she's had a terrible time and been sick," said the little girl, "and I'll give her bread pills."

The rake was carried back to the kitchen garden, Daddy Bunker put on his coat, which he had taken off to get the doll up from the well, and then Grandma Bell brought some pails and baskets from the kitchen.

"What are we going to do?" asked Russ.

"We are going after berries," his mother told him.

"Strawberries?" cried Laddie.

"Not this time," said Grandma Bell. "This time we are going to gather huckleberries."

"Then you must be going to bake huckleberry pies!" exclaimed Daddy Bunker.

"Well, I'll bake some if the children don't eat more berries than they put in the pails and baskets," said Grandma Bell, with a funny twinkle in her eyes.

"We won't eat very many," promised Russ. "We'll pick a lot of berries for the pies, won't we, Laddie?"

"Sure we will!"

Off to the place where the huckleberries grew went the six little Bunkers, with their mother and their grandmother.

"And I'm coming, too," said Daddy Bunker. "I'm too fond of huckleberry pie to risk having all the berries go into the children's mouths. I'll go along and pick some myself, then I'll be sure of one pie at least."

But the six little Bunkers were really very good. Of course, I'm not saying they didn't eat some berries. You'd do that yourself, when they grew on bushes all around you. But the children put into the pails and baskets so many that Grandma Bell said there would be a big pie for daddy, and several smaller ones for the children.

As the little party of berry pickers came back from the fields late that afternoon, Russ and Laddie, walking ahead, saw Zip, the dog, dragging along a piece of rope, fastened to a heavy bit of log.

"He's terrible strong, Zip is," said Laddie. "Look at him pull that log."

"Yes, he is strong," agreed Russ. And then he suddenly cried: "Oh, I know what we can do!"

"What?" asked Laddie, always ready for anything.

"We can make a cart and have Zip pull us in it. If grandma had a pony I guess she'd have a pony-cart, but she hasn't, so we can make a dog-cart."

"How can we do it?" asked Laddie.

"Well, you just take an old box--we saw some of the kind I want down at the grocery store--and you put wheels on it."

"Where are you going to get the wheels?" asked Laddie.

Russ had to stop and think about that part. Then he happened to remember that he had seen two wheels from an old baby carriage out in the barn. Grandma Bell had once had a woman working for her who had a little baby, and this woman had kept the carriage at the Bell farmhouse. But after a while it broke, or wore out, and when the woman and her baby went away there were only two wheels of the carriage left.

"We can take them," said Russ, "and maybe we can find two more somewhere. We'll ask daddy or grandma."

"Say, it'll be lots of fun if we can make a dog-cart!" cried Laddie. "Could we really ride in it, do you s'pose?"

"Why, yes!" answered Russ. "Zip is strong enough to pull us both. Look at him pull that log. Feel how hard he pulls on the rope!"

The boys took hold of the rope and tried to hold back on it. But Zip was so strong that he dragged them along a little way, as well as the log. And Zip growled and snarled, pretending he was very angry.

"Look out!" cried Mother Bunker. "He might bite you!"

"Zip is only playing," said Grandma Bell. "He never bites. But what are you doing?" she asked Russ and Laddie.

"We're trying how hard Zip can pull, to see if he can pull us when we make a dog-cart," explained Russ.

"Please, Grandma, may we?" asked Laddie. "And may we have the two old baby carriage wheels out in the barn?"

"Yes, certainly," his grandmother said. "But I don't know where there are any more wheels. You'll have to get along with two."

"Well, we could do that," Russ said. "But four would be better. Oh, Laddie! We'll have a lot of fun making the dog-cart!"

"That's what we will!" said the smaller boy.