Chapter IX. Rose's Doll
 

Daddy Bunker, who had started to "count noses," to make sure all his family was together, ready to start in the automobile with Jerry Simms for the depot, stopped suddenly when he found that little Margy was not with the other children. At the same time Mother Bunker also saw that one of her little girls was missing.

"Where did Margy go?" asked Mrs. Bunker. "I told her not to run back into the house."

"She didn't," said Norah. "I was standing right by the door all the while, and she didn't go in."

"Maybe she went in the back way," said Russ.

"The back door is locked," returned Norah. "She must have run down the street to say good-bye to some of her playmates while the expressman was loading in the trunks."

"I'll go and look," offered Russ.

"And you look in the back and side yards, Rose," said Mr. Bunker.

Rose ran around to the back yard. A hasty look showed her that her little sister was not there, and she hurried around to the front porch to tell her father and mother.

At the same time Russ came back from his trip down the street.

"I didn't see her anywhere," he reported, "and I called, but she didn't answer."

"Where can the child be?" cried Mrs. Bunker. "Norah, are you sure she isn't in the house?"

"Positive. But I'll take a look."

Just then Russ cried:

"Here comes the expressman back again. Maybe he forgot some of the trunks!"

"No, he took them all," said Mr. Bunker. "I don't see----"

The express auto stopped in front of the Bunker house.

"Did you miss anything?" asked the man, laughing.

"Miss anything?" repeated the children's father.

"Oh! Margy! We missed her!" said Mrs. Bunker.

"Well, I guess I've got her here on my truck," went on the expressman, laughing some more.

"You have my little girl?" cried Mrs. Bunker, "How did she get into your auto?"

"That I don't know," the expressman said, "but here she is," and he lifted out the big bundle loosely wrapped in an old blanket. The bundle had in it the things that wouldn't go in the trunks. It was open at both ends, and tied with straps and ropes.

Out of one end stuck the dark, and now tangled, curls of Margy Bunker, and Margy was laughing.

"Oh, what a girl you are!" cried her mother. "How did you get in there, Margy?"

"I--I wiggled in," was the answer, as the expressman carried the bundle, little Bunker and all, to the porch. "I wanted to get my rubber ball that was inside so I just wiggled in, I did."

"Did you really find her in that bundle?" asked Mr. Bunker, as the expressman put it down on the porch, and Margy, with the help of her mother, "wiggled" out.

"Yes, she was in there," was the man's answer. "I loaded that bundle on last, I remember, because it was soft and I didn't want to crush it with the heavy trunks. It's a good thing I did, though I didn't know there was a little girl inside."

"How did you find out she was in there?" asked Mrs. Bunker.

"Well, I stopped my machine when I got down the street a way, to take on some more packages," answered the expressman, "and I heard a funny sound. It was like a sneeze."

"I did sneeze," said Margy, while Norah was busy smoothing the wrinkles out of her dress. "Some dust got up my nose and I sneezed."

"First I thought it was a little puppy dog, or a cat--sometimes people send animals by express," explained the driver. "But when I looked back I saw a little girl's head sticking out of the bundle, and I knew right away where she belonged. I thought you didn't want to ship her as baggage or by express, so I brought her back as fast as I could."

"I'm glad you did," said Mrs. Bunker. "We couldn't imagine where she had gone."

"What did you do, Margy?" asked Russ.

"I--I just crawled inside the bundle," replied the little girl "I 'membered I put my rubber ball inside, and I wanted it, so I wiggled inside. And when I got there I was so tired I went to sleep, I guess."

And that is just what happened. Margy had wiggled herself all the way inside the bundle, which was not wrapped very tightly. It was big enough to hold her, and neither her feet nor her head stuck out of either end.

The bundle had been put on the porch with the trunks, and Margy found it easy to crawl into it after her ball, which, with other toys of the children, had been put in the bundle at the last minute.

"Well, now we'll start off again," said Daddy Bunker. "Don't any of you children crawl into any bundles, or shut yourselves up in trunks! We all want to go to Grandma Bell's together."

The expressman once more carried the bundle to his auto truck, and found it a little lighter this time, for Margy was not snuggled up inside it. Then, after "counting noses," Mr. Bunker, his wife and the children got into the auto with Jerry Simms, and started for the depot.

"Now I guess we're all right," said the children's father, as he saw that the baggage was safely put on the train, including the bundle into which Margy had "wiggled" herself. "All aboard!"

"That's what you called when we were playing steamboat," said Rose to Russ, as they got into the passenger car.

"Yes. We had lots of fun that day, didn't we?" he asked.

"Yes. And we'll have a lot of fun at Grandma Bell's," said his sister.

As the six little Bunkers were to stay on the train all the rest of that day and night, as well as part of the next day, they did not go in an ordinary day coach. They went in one that had big, deep seats, which, when the time came, could be turned into beds, with sheets, pillow cases, and curtains hanging in front. But, until the beds were needed, the seats were used by the passengers, some riding backward and some forward.

As there were eight Bunkers, including the father and mother, they needed several beds for sleeping at night. Daddy would take Mun Bun in with him, and Margy would be tucked in with her mother.

Russ and Laddie said they wanted to sleep together, while Rose and Violet were to share a berth between them, and thus they would be as comfortable as possible on the trip.

"But it will be quite a while before the berths are made up," said Mr. Bunker to the children. "So sit beside the windows and look out."

It was lots of fun riding in the train to Grandma Bell's. The smaller children had not traveled much, and everything was new to them. Rose and Russ had been on little trips, though, so they did not so much marvel at the things they saw. But every time the train passed cows or horses in a field, went under a bridge or over one, or through a tunnel, it was something for the other four little Bunkers to wonder at and say:

"Oh!" and "Ah!"

After a while, though, they grew less excited, and sat in the big, deep seats more quietly, looking at the trees and telegraph poles that seemed to rush by so swiftly. There were a few other passengers in the sleeping-car--that is, it would be a sleeping-car when the berths were made up--and for a time the children looked at the men and women who were traveling.

"I wonder if they have any Grandma Bell to go to?" asked Vi of her mother.

"Oh, yes, I suppose so," was the answer, for Mrs. Bunker was busy reading, and hardly knew what she said.

"Are they going to our Grandma Bell's?" asked Vi quickly.

"To our Grandma Bell's? No, I don't suppose that!" exclaimed Mrs. Bunker, realizing that Vi was surprised. "But they have some place to go."

"I don't believe they have any place as nice as our Grandma Bell's house," went on Vi. "When'll we get there, Mother? Do you know?"

"Oh, not for a long while. Now please don't ask so many questions, Vi. I want to read. Look out of the window."

Vi did for a little while. Then she turned to her father and asked:

"How many telegraph poles are there?"

"Oh, I don't know," he answered. Then, knowing that once Vi started to ask questions she would never stop, he bought her a picture book from the train boy.

"I want a book, too," demanded Laddie.

"So do I," said Margy.

"Here! Give 'em each one!" exclaimed Mr. Bunker with a laugh. "Maybe that will keep 'em quiet until bedtime."

"I don't want a book now, thank you," said Rose. "I'm going to get my doll to sleep." She had brought with her the largest doll she owned, almost as large, it was, as herself, and this she held in her arms as she sat in the seat away from the others, as the car was not crowded.

Five little Bunkers sat looking at the picture books Daddy Bunker had bought them. Mr. and Mrs. Bunker were reading papers and Rose was getting her doll to "sleep." The doll did really shut its eyes, so Rose did not have to pretend very hard that her pet was soon in slumberland.

"Now I'm going to put her to bed," she whispered, and, walking down to the end of the car ("where it'll be quiet," the little girl said to herself), she laid the doll, wrapped in a shawl, down in the deep corner of the seat.

The afternoon wore on. The little Bunkers looked at their picture books--taking turns--and again gazed out of the window. Rose thought her doll had slept long enough, so she walked down to the end of the car to get her pet.

The little girl came back with a bundle in her arms, and, sitting down beside her mother, began unwrapping the shawl.

And then something very queer happened. There was a tiny little cry, and the bundle in Rose's arms moved! The little girl cried:

"Oh, Mother, look! Look, Mother! My dollie has come alive! It has turned into a real, live baby! Look! Oh, Mother!"