The Sweet Public Domain: Celebrating Copyright Expiration with the Honey Bunch Series

Chapter XIV


     “Maybe they’re looking for them now,” she said.
     “They probably are,” declared Uncle Rand. “We’ll go back in the Sunday-school room and look.”
     The others stayed in the carriage while he and Honey Bunch went into the room back of the church. There on their hands and knees on the floor were six very uncomfortable boys, searching for something. Their Sunday-school teacher, a severe-looking woman with spectacles, stood by, holding a wooden box in her hands.
     “If you put any money there, it must be there now,” she said. “And if you have spent your collection money this week again, I’ll tell your mothers and you’ll be kept home from the picnic.”
     “Here’s the money,” said Honey Bunch.
     Red and tumbled, the boys stood up. Their teacher looked surprised. She asked Honey Bunch if she were sure the money belonged to them, and Honey Bunch said she was sure.
     “Then give it to them,” said the teacher, “and I’ll see that each one puts his penny in the box.”
     “Will the heathen get it?” asked Honey Bunch.
     “The heathen will,” replied the teacher grimly. “Though if the heathen in foreign lands are any worse than those I teach every Sunday, I’m ashamed to say I don’t think the money will do them much good.”
     As Honey Bunch and her uncle walked back to the carriage, he asked her why she had picked up the pennies from under the carpet.
     “I just wanted to make those boys surprised,” said Honey Bunch, and she laughed a gay little giggle.
     Uncle Rand laughed, too. He and Honey Bunch could always see a joke, and that was the reason she thought he was so much like her daddy.
     “Where’s the picnic?” asked Bobby, as soon as Honey Bunch told them what the Sunday- school teacher had said.
     They were driving home, and Honey Bunch stood up on the floor of the carriage to talk to Bobby and Tess, who were riding in front.
     “It’s the big Grange picnic,” said Stub. “It’s Thursday, isn’t it, Mother? And we’re all going. Every single person in our house.”
     “Are Liny and Michael going?” asked the twins, both of them.
     “Yes, they always go,” explained Stub. “And the picnic is in Holder’s grove and we go right after breakfast and stay till milking time.”
     That was all the children talked about after that—the big picnic. Liny was the busiest person on the farm, or she said she was. She had chickens to dress and cook and sandwiches and cake to make and boxes to pack and her new pink lawn dress to iron. The three mothers were busy, too, and Michael washed and polished the buggy and the carriage till they shone. He oiled the harness, too, and then, the day before the picnic, he brushed and combed T. Foote and his mate, W. Vane, because T. Foote was to take the family in the carriage and W. Vane was to take Michael and Liny in the buggy to the picnic.
     “What does W. Vane mean?” repeated Michael, when Honey Bunch once questioned him. “Why, I’ll tell you. That stands for Weather Vane, because that horse is as changeable as the weather. But we shorten it because we don’t like to hurt his feelings.”
     “I’m so tired I could cry,” said Liny, ironing her pink lawn dress when Honey Bunch peeped into the kitchen the afternoon before the picnic. “I counted on Michael bringing in the turkeys for me, and now he tells me he’s going to drive Mrs. Turner and your mother over to town. I don’t care if those turkeys never come back. I’m not going to chase after them.”
     Honey Bunch looked at Liny. She sounded cross, and yet Liny was never cross. And the flock of young turkeys were the pride of her heart. Not many people raised turkeys around Elmville, and Liny said it was because they didn’t have the patience. It took lots of patience, she once explained to Honey Bunch.
     “Turkeys can’t live if you shut them up close like chickens,” said Liny. “And yet if you let them out you have to go after them and bring them in every time because they never know enough to come home. And a heavy dew will kill them if they stay out in it before they get grown.”
     Honey Bunch had often seen Liny hunting her turkeys, and now she knew there must be something very wrong indeed if Liny didn’t care whether they never came back.
     “I’ll go after them for her,” said Honey Bunch to herself.
     The twins had gone with Uncle Rand to see the baby pigs on the Phillips farm, but Honey Bunch had not cared to go with them. She thought baby pigs were rather homely.
     Stub and Aunt Carol had gone to another
     neighbor’s to take a loaf cake for their picnic basket and, as Michael had driven Honey Bunch’s mother and Aunt Julia over to town, Honey Bunch found herself alone.
     “I’ll go get the turkeys,” she said again.
     She knew that they were usually found in one of the large grass fields, but Honey Bunch had never been in a grass field, and when she climbed through the bars she found the grass was almost as high as her head.
     “It’s like wading in the water,” she whispered, for somehow it was so still and quiet in the big field she did not want to speak loudly.
     It was like wading, and Honey Bunch went in deeper and deeper. Then she heard a rustle and saw a bronze wing. It was a turkey.
     “Liny goes all around and shoos ’em up,” said Honey Bunch, remembering.
     It was hard work, “going around” the turkeys, for they scattered and ran through the tall grass at every chance. Honey Bunch did not know that Liny usually waited till a little later in the afternoon when the turkeys would come out of the grass to hunt for their supper. Then she could see them easily and drive them in with less trouble.
     “It is—a—little hot!” said poor Honey Bunch, chasing a saucy turkey who seemed to like to go in the opposite direction.
     The tall grass was hot and by the time the little girl had shooed every turkey out and into the pasture, her face was red from the heat and her yellow hair was wet with perspiration.
     Honey Bunch never thought of stopping now she had the turkeys as far as the pasture. From side to side she went, gently waving the skirt of her dress as she had seen Liny wave her apron, to drive the turkeys toward the barnyard. Back and forth Honey Bunch trudged, waiting patiently while the turkeys stopped on one side of the fence, slowly hopped down on the other side and began a still slower march to the house.
     Liny was just coming out of the kitchen, warm and tired from her ironing, to start after her turkeys when she saw the flock coming up the road, Honey Bunch behind them.
     “I found them!” cried Honey Bunch. “Are they all there, Liny?”
     “Two—four—six—twelve—sixteen —twenty—” counted Liny rapidly. “Twenty-six—thirty! Every single one, Honey Bunch, you blessed lamb! But how could you do it all yourself? And you look so tired!”
     “They were kind of silly,” replied Honey Bunch, dropping down on the grass under the horse-chestnut tree. “They kept going back.”
     Liny scattered corn in the yard and shut the big gate. She said she would shut the turkeys in the barn an hour later.
     “In three more weeks they can roost out-doors,” she said. “Now you come in, Honey Bunch, and I’ll make you the nicest lemonade you ever tasted to pay you for all that hard work.”
     The next day was the picnic, and every one woke early and smiling.
     Holder’s grove, where the picnic was held, was several miles from Uncle Rand’s farm, and it seemed to Honey Bunch that it couldn’t possibly be a large enough place to hold all
     the people who started for it. There were carriages and automobiles, filled with people and lunch boxes, and boys on bicycles and young men on motorcycles and some young people on horseback, all traveling the roads that lead to the grove. Liny and Michael drove away in the buggy and looked very bright and happy.
     Then, when they reached the grove, there seemed to be plenty of room. There were board tables under the trees for the luncheons and swings for the children and a little brook to wade in. There were shady places for the horses to stand and a whole field for the automobiles who didn’t care if the sun did pour down on their tops.
     There were dozens of children, and Stub knew most of them. Such games of tag they had! Stub tripped over a pine cone and fell down, but she wasn’t hurt, and though, a little later, she fell over a stone sunk in the ground, she wasn’t hurt that time either, for she fell on a pile of soft leaves.
     “Here’s the tintype man!” cried one of the boys, after lunch, pointing down the road. “He’ll take our pictures.”
     Uncle Rand said the four cousins must be taken together, and that reminded Honey Bunch again of the picture of Walter and George, Liny’s brothers, which had been so strangely lost.
     “I put it on top of the sun and moon clock," said Honey Bunch. “I know I did.”
     Bobby and Tess had not heard of the photo-graph, so Honey Bunch told them about it. Bobby said a wind must have blown it out of the kitchen and Tess was sure the vacuum cleaner had sucked it up.
     “Aunt Carol hasn’t a vacuum cleaner,” said Honey Bunch. “And there wasn’t a wind. Besides, it wasn’t in the kitchen. I put it in the living-room and there was a screen in every window.”
     “Well, then,” said Bobby, “where did it go?"
     Honey Bunch, of course, could not tell him. The tintype man came and set up his little tent at the edge of the grove and for several hours was very busy taking pictures. He printed them and gave them to the picnic folk right there, so when it came time to go home Honey Bunch and Stub and Bobby and Tess each had a picture to put in his or her pocket.
     “It was the nicest picnic,” said Honey Bunch a little sleepily, at the end of the day when Uncle Rand lifted her into the seat beside him.
     “Yes, wasn’t it?” agreed the twins, trying not to yawn.
     Playing all day in the open air has a way of making small people sleepy, you know. Stub could hardly keep her eyes open.
     “I thought we left Buffy in the barn with the door closed, so he couldn’t follow us,” said Stub, sitting up straight as they turned into the road that led to the house. “Look, Daddy, there’s Buffy on the porch.”
     “Perhaps Michael and Liny came home the shorter way and got here before we did,” said Stub’s mother. “That certainly is Buffy on the porch, and some one is with him.”
     The some one stood up and waved his hat to them, and then Honey Bunch knew who it was.
     “Daddy!” she shouted. “Oh, Daddy, you missed the picnic!”
     Mr. Morton came down to the gate and Honey Bunch jumped into his arms almost before Uncle Rand had stopped the horse.
     “Surprised you, didn’t I?” Mr. Morton said, smiling. “I could get a week off if I took it at once, so I came. I found the place deserted and the dog whining for company in the bam. I knew you’d be home soon, so I waited.”
     “My goodness, Daddy,” whispered Honey Bunch, “s’pose you hadn’t!”

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