SUNDAY SCHOOL“I’M co-old!” roared Stub. “I’m so co-old! I want to go ho-ome!”
“Here, you, stop laughing,” said the fat man to Bobby. “You wouldn’t think it was funny if you had fallen head-first into that cold water. Run up to the wagon and get the blankets out from under the seat.”
“All right, I w-will!” stuttered Bobby, his teeth chattering. “It is c-cold, isn’t it?” Bobby had been in the water, too, you see, and though he was not as wet as Stub, still he was beginning to shake and shiver as she did.
“We’ll get the blankets!” said Honey Bunch quickly. “Hurry up, Tess. I saw them under the seat.”
The two little girls ran up to the fence where the horse and wagon were tied. Sure enough, there were two heavy blankets folded under the seat. Honey Bunch dragged them out, but Stub and Uncle Rand and Bobby had reached the wagon almost as soon as she and Tess had and she did not have to carry them down to the brook.
“There, there, Stub, you’re all right,” said Uncle Rand, wrapping one of the blankets around Stub. “Now let me bundle up Bobby, and we’ll be home before you can say Jack Robinson.”
Bobby was wrapped in the other blanket and put on the back seat. Then Uncle Rand lifted in Stub, who was still crying, and made Honey Bunch sit next to her so that she would not fall off the seat. Stub was so bundled up she looked like a package more than she did like a little girl.
Tess sat on the back seat with Bobby and T. Foote went home with them all as fast as he could.
“Is anything the matter?” asked Aunt Carol, coming down the steps when the wagon drove up and stopped. “Has anything happened?”
Well, you may be sure when the three mothers heard what had happened there was a great scurrying to and fro. Stub and Bobby were rubbed dry and put to bed and fed hot soup and every one waited on them and tried to keep them warm and contented, because Uncle Rand said he thought they should stay in bed till supper time. And neither of them took the tiniest bit of a cold from their tumbles and they had forgotten about the cold water before breakfast the next morning.
The next day was Sunday, and Stub felt very important because she had three cousins to take to Sunday school.
“We have to go to church first,” said Stub. “Sunday school is after that. Do you go to Sunday school in New York, Bobby?”
“Of course we do,” said Tess, answering for Bobby. “Only we have Sunday school at half-past nine in the morning, before church begins.”
Uncle Rand took them all to church in a comfortable, cushioned carriage and Honey Bunch liked the square white-painted church as soon as she saw it. She thought it would have been nicer to have the service outdoors under the weeping willow trees, and it would certainly have been cooler.
“You can go to sleep after the long prayer,” whispered Stub. “It isn’t wrong. It’s only wrong to whisper and laugh in church.”
“I won’t go to sleep,” whispered Bobby who had overheard. “I never go to sleep in church. I always listen.”
Honey Bunch decided that she would not go to sleep, either. She liked the music and the singing and when the tall, thin minister stood up and began to preach, she sat up very straight and listened.
“Isn’t it funny—” she thought to herself, “isn’t it funny—how—the sun turns—red— and—green—and yellow.”
Honey Bunch was looking at the stained glass window and without knowing it she went to sleep, leaning against her mother. A loud noise woke her up.
“What was that?” she said aloud.
“Hush, dear!” whispered her mother.
“Bobby went to sleep and fell off the seat. Uncle Rand has picked him up.”
There were a few people who were smiling and one man in the pew ahead of them laughed outright. Bobby’s face was very red, but Uncle Rand did not smile. He acted as though he was quite used to seeing people fall off their seats in church. This made Bobby feel better—he hated to be laughed at.
Honey Bunch did not go to sleep again, and after the service had ended she and Stub and Bobby and Tess went into the Sunday-school room which was back of the church.
“How do you do, Mary?” said a young lady to Stub.
Honey Bunch did not know at first that she was speaking to Stub. “Mary” sounded as though she must mean some other little girl, though, of course, that was Stub’s real name.
“Miss Carter,” said Stub, “these are my cousins Honey Bunch—she lives in Barham. And Bobby and Tess Turner—they live in New York.”
“I am very glad to know you,” said Miss Carter. “You may sit with Mary in that third row. Willy, stop teasing your sister, or I shall have to send you to the platform.”
“Where’s the platform?” whispered Honey Bunch.
“Up there, where the man sits,” Stub whispered back. “He’s the superintendent. If the boys are bad, they have to go and sit on the edge of the platform. One Sunday there was a row of ’em all the way round the three sides.”
There was a piano in one corner of the room, and Miss Carter sat down at that and played a hymn while the whole school rose and sang. Then the superintendent read the Scripture lesson and said the Lord’s prayer and then it was time to teach the lesson. Each class did not have a separate room, as they did in the twins’ Sunday school. But instead each class made a little circle around its teacher and listened while she taught them.
“Where’s Mother?” Honey Bunch whispered, as Miss Carter was giving out little lesson books. “Did she and Aunt Carol and Aunt Julia go home?”
“No, they’re in the church,” Stub explained “The grown-up people have Bible classes in the church. They have to wait for us, and they can have a class while they’re waiting, you see.”
Honey Bunch listened and heard the organ and the sound of singing. She thought it was nice for every one to go to Sunday school at the same time.
“Mary, will you ask your cousin to read the first verse of our lesson?” said Miss Carter.
“Tess can read, but Honey Bunch can’t,” said Stub. “She’s only five years old. Go on, Tess.”
Tess read a verse so fast that no one could understand a word of what she was saying, but Miss Carter did not ask her to read it again. Perhaps she thought it would not be polite.
Stub could not read very well, but Miss Carter helped her with the hard words, and then a little girl, named Fannie Morgan, read a verse. Then it was Bobby’s turn, but he was too shy. The idea of reading before so many strange people did not suit him at all.
“I can’t read,” he said when Miss Carter looked at him.
“Why, you can, too,” said his sister. “Can’t he, Stub?”
“Of course he can. He’s eight years old, and any one can read when he’s eight,” declared Stub, as though that settled it.
“I tell you I can’t read,” protested Bobby.
He really meant that he couldn’t read unless he felt comfortable and at home. If he stood up in this strange place and tried to read a verse from a strange lesson paper, he knew his face would get red and his hands shake and, worst of all, perhaps his voice might sound shaky, too. And he could see that there were ever so many long Bible names he couldn’t say.
“I think you ought to read a verse, if you can, Bobby,” said Miss Carter. “We should take a part in Sunday school whenever we can, you know.”
“Well, I can’t read—that’s all,” muttered Bobby, wishing he had never come to Sunday school.
Honey Bunch felt sorry for him. She knew how she would feel if Miss Carter spoke to her like that. She knew Bobby wasn’t happy, and Honey Bunch couldn’t be happy herself if she saw some one else having what Mrs. Miller called a “worrying spell.”
“Bobby can find places on the map, Miss Carter,” explained Honey Bunch. “He can read names, but he can’t say ’em.”
Bobby looked at his little cousin gratefully. That was exactly what he could do. He could not pronounce the names of the old cities, but he loved to find them on the Bible maps and he and Tess had spent many a happy Sunday afternoon sticking pins in the names of the towns and cities that had been mentioned in their morning Sunday-school lesson. Honey Bunch knew Bobby liked to do this, for she had seen him do it when she visited the twins in New York.
“That is nice to know,” said Miss Carter more kindly. “Suppose you take your lesson paper, Bobby, and this map and box of pins, and put a pin on every city you find mentioned in the lesson.”
This pleased Bobby very much and he set to work at once, while Miss Carter went around the circle, asking each one to read a verse. By the time they had finished reading the lesson, Bobby had the map covered with black-headed pins, and when Miss Carter looked at it she said he had not missed a single town or city.
“Look at the boys,” whispered Stub to Honey Bunch, as Miss Carter began to teach.
Honey Bunch looked. There on the platform sat five or six boys who had been sent from their classes because they had whispered or teased other boys or had, in some way, interfered with the lesson.
The lesson Miss Carter was teaching them this Sunday was about the heathen, and she told them all about the good missionaries who went far away to teach sick and ignorant and unhappy people who had no church and Sunday schools.
“Perhaps when you grow up, you’ll be a missionary, Mary,” said Miss Carter to Stub.
“Well, perhaps,” said Stub, but she did not seem at all sure about it.
Afterward she told Honey Bunch that she wouldn’t mind being a missionary if she could stay at home and be one.
When Sunday school was over, they found the three mothers and Uncle Rand waiting for them. Uncle Rand asked Honey Bunch what she had learned.
“About heathen,” she said, waiting for him to lift her into the carriage.
“But, dear, you have your money in your hand,” said her mother. “Why didn’t you put it in the collection box.”
Honey Bunch shook her head.
“I don’t want the heathen to have it,” she said seriously. “I’m saving it for the bad boys.”
She meant the boys who had been sent to sit on the edge of the platform. Stub said she didn’t see why Honey Bunch should want to give her money to them.
“They’re not heathen,” said Stub.
“Yes, I think they are heathen,” laughed Uncle Rand. “Only I don’t believe that is why Honey Bunch wants to give them her money. Why is it, dear? Can’t you tell us? We won’t laugh.”
“Well, the reason is,” said Honey Bunch, “I found it. They hid it under the edge of the carpet and I went and took it out.”
In spite of his promise, Uncle Rand laughed.
“They thought they’d save their Sunday- school money and buy lollypops on the way home,” he chuckled. “But they didn’t know a little squirrel had come to Sunday school. What will you do next, Honey Bunch?”
“She must find the boys and give the money back to them,” said Honey Bunch’s mother. “It belongs to them.”