Chapter XXV. "Hurray!"
 

Slowly and sadly Russ and Laddie drove their dog-cart back toward Grandma Bell's house. They went slowly because it was uphill from Green Pond, and Zip was tired. He had chased after a rabbit and a cat, and he had pulled Russ and Laddie all the way. No wonder the dog was tired. So the boys did not try to drive him fast.

And the two boys were sad because, though they had found the right red-haired tramp lumberman--the same one that had Daddy Bunker's ragged coat--still the real estate papers were not in it.

"It's too bad," said Russ, as Zip walked along.

"Yes," agreed Laddie.

"I thought surely we'd get the papers," Russ went on.

"And I didn't ask him any riddle," said Laddie.

"Oh, well, never mind that," went on Russ.

"Maybe I can ask him again, though," said Laddie, brightening up. "We can have daddy take us there, and I can ask him then."

"What would daddy want to take us there for?" asked Russ.

"To see the old coat. Maybe Mr. Gannon has another, and that has the papers in."

"I don't guess so," answered Russ. "Gid-dap, Zip."

Zip didn't "gid-dap" very fast, but he kept on going. And when he came to the top of the hill, and began to trot down toward Lake Sagatook, he went faster. I think he knew he could have a good rest in the barn, and also have some hot supper.

For it was getting near to supper-time. The sun was going down in the west, and in a little while it would be dark. Already the shadows were longer, and it was already a little dark when the boys drove through little patches of wood.

But they did not get lost, for Zip knew the way back, and soon the dog-cart was rattling up the gravel drive of Grandma Bell's house.

"There they come!" cried a voice, and there was a general rush to the porch. Daddy and Mother Bunker, with Grandma Bell, Jane the hired girl, and the four little Bunkers looked at the wanderers.

"Where in the world have you two been?" cried Mother Bunker.

"We were worried about you," said her husband.

"And we were just going to get Tom to hitch up the horse and go to look for you," added Grandma Bell.

"Were you lost?" Rose asked.

"Did the old ram chase you?" Vi wanted to know.

Margy and Mun Bun toddled down the steps to look at Zip, who had stretched out on the grass, still hitched to the cart.

"Oh-oo-o-o! His nose is all scratched," said Margy. "Does it hurt you, Zip?" she asked, gently patting him, and the dog wagged his tail.

"Did some other dog bite him?" asked Mun Bun.

"No, a cat scratched him," answered Russ.

"What cat?" the children's mother wanted to know.

"It was the red-haired lumberman's cat," Russ went on. "We went to his cabin, over at Green Pond, where Mr. Barker lives. His name is Mike Gannon--the tramp lumberman, I mean. Mr. Hurd told us about him, and we went to see him and----"

"I forgot to ask him a riddle!" broke in Laddie.

"Never mind about riddles now, my dear," said Mother Bunker softly. "Let us hear what Russ is saying."

"Did you really find a red-haired tramp lumberman?" asked Mr. Bunker.

"Yes," answered Russ. "And he had your ragged coat, but the papers weren't in it, Daddy. And he was sorry and so were we and I'm hungry!"

"So'm I!" added Laddie, before the words were fairly out of his brother's mouth. "I'm awful hungry!"

"But what does it all mean?" asked Mrs. Bunker. "Have you two boys really been somewhere?"

"We found the red-haired tramp lumberman, I told you," said Russ, "but he didn't have those papers."

"Let me hear all about it once again," begged Daddy Bunker. He seemed as much excited as Russ and Laddie had been when they first saw Mr. Gannon.

"First let me get them something to eat," said Grandma Bell. "We had our supper--an early one," she went on, "but I saved some for you boys. You shall eat first, and then tell us your story."

"I guess Zip wants to eat, too," said Laddie. "He didn't catch the rabbit and the cat scratched him."

"I'll have Jane give Zip a good supper," said Grandma Bell. "And there is strawberry shortcake for you boys."

"Oh, goody!" cried Russ.

Laddie clapped his hands in joy.

And, taking turns, between bites, as it were, when they were eating supper, Russ and Laddie told of having met Mr. Hurd, who had spoken of the red-haired lumberman working at Mr. Barker's place.

"So we went there, and Zip chased his cat," explained Russ. "And we upset, but he was nice and he showed us the ragged coat, only the pockets were full of holes and there weren't any papers."

"Well, that's too bad!" said Daddy Bunker. "You two little boys were very kind to do as much as you did, though."

"Do you suppose, by any chance, this tramp lumberman might know something of your papers, Charles?" asked Grandma Bell.

"I'll go over and see him in the morning," said Mr. Bunker.

"May we go along?" asked Rose. "I'd like to see the cat that scratched Zip."

"He won't scratch him again," Laddie said. "They're good friends now."

"I don't want to see Zip scratched," returned Rose. "I just want to see Green Pond and the red-haired man and the cat."

"I'll tell you what we can do," said Grandma Bell. "We can all go on a picnic to Green Pond to-morrow. We'll go in the carry-all and take our lunch. I know Mr. Barker, and he'll let us eat our lunch in his woods. Then you can ask the red-haired man about the lost papers, Charles."

Mr. Bunker said this would be a good plan, and the next morning, bright and early, after the lunch had been put up, the six little Bunkers, with their father and mother and grandmother, started for Green Pond.

In a little while they were traveling along through the woods, down the same hill on which Zip had chased the rabbit. This time Zip had been left in the barn with Tom Hardy. Daddy Bunker was driving the horse.

"Here's the gate where the man told us about Mr. Gannon," said Russ, pointing out the driveway. The man on guard knew Grandma Bell, and let them go on through. They were soon at the log cabin.

Daddy Bunker knocked on the door, but there was no answer.

"I guess he isn't at home," said Grandma Bell.

"Are you looking for the lumberman--the red-haired man who cuts trees?" asked a gardener, coming along just then.

"Yes, we should like to see him," said Daddy Bunker.

"Well, he's over in the woods, chopping. I'll call him for you."

They all waited at the cabin, and soon there came the sound of some one tramping through the bushes along the shore of the pond. Then the red-haired man came into view.

"Oh, ho!" he exclaimed, as he caught sight of Russ and Laddie. "The two little Bunkers who came to see me yesterday!"

"All of us are here now--the whole of the six little Bunkers," said Russ. "And here is my father, and mother and Grandma Bell, too!"

"Well, I'm sure I'm glad to see you all," said Mr. Gannon, who had an axe over his shoulder.

"We came to see about that ragged coat," explained Daddy Bunker. "I guess my two boys told you why I wanted it. I remember you now. You are the man my clerk gave the coat to, back in Pineville, aren't you?"

"Yes, and I want to thank you. That coat seemed to bring me good luck. I got work right after you gave it to me, and I've been working ever since, though I did tramp a lot."

"Well, I'm glad to hear you had good luck," said Daddy Bunker. "But I'm sorry you didn't find the real estate papers I left in the coat pocket. They must have been in when my clerk let you have it, but perhaps they dropped out."

"I guess they must have," said the lumberman. "I never saw any of them, and I wore the coat right after you gave it to me. I'll get it and let you see for yourself."

He set down his axe outside the log cabin and went in. Pretty soon he came out again with, the ragged coat--the same one he had showed to Laddie and Russ.

"Here it is," said the red-haired tramp lumberman, as he handed the garment to Mr. Bunker, "It's just as I got it from you. I don't wear it much now, as I have another. But you'll find no papers in the pockets."

"Yes, that's the old coat I used to wear around the office," said Mr. Bunker, as he took it from. Mr. Gannon. "And I'm sure I put those papers in the inside pocket, and then I forgot all about them."

As he spoke he reached his hand down in the pocket of the old coat. The pocket must have been pretty deep, for Daddy Bunker's hand went away down. Then a funny look came over the face of the father of the six little Bunkers.

He pulled out his thumb, and his whole hand, and, instead of pulling out a plum, as Little Jack Horner did, Mr. Bunker pulled out--the missing papers!

"Look what I found!" he cried. "Hurray! The very papers I want!"

"Were they in the coat?" asked the red-haired lumberman in amazement.

"They were," said Daddy Bunker. "Away down inside the lining. They slipped through a hole in the pocket. And there they have been all this while--in the lining of the old coat."

"And I never knew it," said Mr. Gannon. "Are you sure they are the papers you want?"

"The very ones," answered Mr. Bunker, glancing at them. "And they are worth a lot of money, too. I am very glad I found them."

"So am I," said the lumberman. "I would hate to think I lost the papers out of the old coat, even though I didn't know they were in the lining. Well, I'm glad you have them back."

"Oh, but this is good luck!" said Grandma Bell.

"And Russ and Laddie brought it to us, for they found out where the coat was," said Mother Bunker.

"But we wouldn't have known if Mr. Hurd hadn't told us," said Russ.

"And maybe we wouldn't have come, only Zip chased the rabbit," added Laddie.

"Well, it was good luck all around, and I have my papers back," said Daddy Bunker. "And now we'll go on with the picnic."

Daddy Bunker gave the lumberman some money, as his share in the good luck, and told him when he was through working for Mr. Barker to come to Pineville.

"I'll give you work there," said the children's father.

"All right, I'll come," promised Mr. Gannon. "And the next time any one gives me an old coat I'll look in the torn lining, as well as in the pockets, and if I find any valuable papers I can give them back right away."

Then he told of having tramped from place to place after leaving Pineville, wearing the old coat, until he reached Green Pond.

"It's just like a story in a book," said Rose.

"Yes, it surely is," agreed Daddy Bunker, as he put the valuable papers into his coat pocket, that had no hole in it.

Then the six little Bunkers and the others went on to a lovely spot on the shore of Green Pond and ate their picnic lunch.

"Oh, it's just lovely here," said Rose, as she gave Mun Bun another small piece of cake.

"I wish we could stay forever," added Laddie. "I like it! I can think up awful good riddles here."

"It's fun to sail boats," said Russ, as he whistled a merry tune.

"And there are so many things to see and do at Grandma Bell's house," added Vi.

"I won't throw any more dollies down the well," promised Margy, who remembered her little trick.

"That's good!" laughed Mother Bunker. "But, nice as it is, we can't stay much longer. We are going somewhere else."

"Where?" asked Russ eagerly.

"Well, we have an invitation from your aunt to spend the last of July and part of August in Boston," said his mother. "Would you like to go?"

"We love Grandma Bell, but we would like to go to Boston," answered Rose.

And what the children saw and did there you may learn by reading the next book in this series, to be called: "Six Little Bunkers at Aunt Jo's."

"We did have such a lovely time!" said Rose on their homeward way. "Didn't we, Russ?"

"Yes. And I'm glad daddy got his papers. Oh, look! There goes a bunny!" and he pointed. "Margy--Mun Bun! Look! There's a bunny like the one Zip chased," and Russ turned to the two small children.

But Mun Bun and Margy were fast asleep on the seat between Mother Bunker and Grandma Bell.

THE END