THE JOURNEY BEGINSA FEW days after the new automobile came the deep trunk was brought down from the attic and stood in the upstairs hall. Honey Bunch danced around it, bringing things for her mother to put in it and changing the few toys she was allowed to take three times a day.
“For I might want something else, after I took this,” Honey Bunch explained to her daddy.
“That does happen sometimes,” he said, laughing. “But you won’t need many toys on the farm, dear; you and Stub will be playing outdoors all day long and you’ll find the nicest kind of playthings in the fields and in the brook and right in the front yard.”
“Mother says not to take but three toys,” Honey Bunch explained. “Three to play with in case it rains or I need to be amused. Shall I need to be amused, Daddy?”
“You might,” he answered. “But look here, Honey Bunch—do you see this hole?” They were standing near the trunk while Mrs. Morton sat on the floor beside it, packing clothes in the tray. Honey Bunch leaned over and looked down into the trunk. Her daddy was pointing to a deep hole.
“Do you know what that is for?” asked Mr. Morton seriously.
Honey Bunch shook her head. She didn’t know.
“Do you know, Mother?” asked Mr. Morton, his eyes twinkling now.
“No, I don’t,” said Mrs. Morton, folding up a white dress that belonged to Honey Bunch. “Unless it is to put Lady Clare in.”
“Oh, Mother!” cried Honey Bunch. “You said Lady Clare was going to live with Mrs. Miller till we came back.”
“So she is, darling,” answered Mrs. Morton. “I wanted to tease Daddy, that’s all. I wouldn’t pack our beautiful Lady Clare in a hot, dark trunk. You know I wouldn’t do such a dreadful thing.”
So Honey Bunch kissed Mother and said no, she knew she wouldn’t do that.
“Well, if neither one of you can guess what that hole is for,” said Mr. Morton at last, “I suppose I’ll have to tell you.”
“Yes, please tell, Daddy,” Honey Bunch begged him. “What is it for?”
“For Stub’s present,” said Mr. Morton. “Stub’s present?” said Honey Bunch. “What present?”
“The present you are going to take her,” replied Mr. Morton. “I think it will just go into that hole.”
Honey Bunch stared at him.
“But I haven’t any present to take Stub,” she said. “Have I, Mother?”
“Oh, but we’re going down town now and buy Stub a present,” declared Mr. Morton. “I have the car outside and I came home especially to invite Mother and you to ride down town with me.”
Mrs. Morton laughed and pulled Honey Bunch into her lap, on top of the clean dresses.
“How does Daddy expect us to get packed to go away?” she said. “Shall we go down town and buy Stub a present, Honey Bunch, and finish the packing when we come back?”
“Oh, yes, let’s!” answered Honey Bunch. “And you tell what to buy, Mother, because you know what Stub likes.”
So Mrs. Morton put on her hat and she and Honey Bunch went down and got into the car and rode down town with Daddy Morton. Honey Bunch couldn’t think of a single thing that Stub would like them to bring her, but her mother seemed to know what to buy. She found a ring-toss game that was meant to be played outdoors and a little green watering pot with pink posies on it like the one that Honey Bunch had for her garden.
“These will both go in the trunk,” said Mrs. Morton to Honey Bunch. “And Daddy has bought a croquet set which he will have sent up by express. Stub’s mother wrote me that Stub had lost all the balls of her old set, so I think she will be glad to have a new one to play with.”
Honey Bunch thought so, too, and all the way home she was pretending that she and Stub were playing croquet, Stub with a red ball and mallet and Honey Bunch herself with a blue ball and mallet. Blue was Honey Bunch’s favorite color.
The next day the trunk was packed and locked—the things they had bought for Stub did go into what Honey Bunch called “the empty hole” in the trunk and they fitted exactly—and the expressman came and took it away to go by train.
“We’ll have two suitcases to take in the car, and that is enough,” said Mr. Morton. “We won’t carry the trunk with us, as the snail carries his house on his back.”
Mrs. Miller came the day they were to start for the farm, and she put Lady Clare into a basket. Honey Bunch hugged her cat and said good-by and Mrs. Morton hugged Lady Clare, too, and told Mrs. Miller to take good care of her.
“And don’t let her eat little birds,” said Honey Bunch. “Boiled liver is what she ought to eat.”
Mrs. Miller promised to remember, and she came down the walk to see them get into the car. Honey Bunch was so excited she could not stand still and she bounced around like a rubber ball.
“Good-by, Honey Bunch,” called Ida Camp from her porch.
“Good-by!” cried Honey Bunch, with a little extra skip. “Good-by! I’m going away now.”
“Good-by, Honey Bunch,” called Kitty and Cora Williams. “Send us post cards.”
“If they have them in the country,” called back Honey Bunch, taking two hops this time. “Good-by!”
“All ready, Honey Bunch?” said her daddy, who had been busy packing the two suitcases and the long croquet set in the tonneau. He had decided to carry the set with them, “so you may play croquet as soon as you see Stub, if you want to,” he had said to Honey Bunch.
Mrs. Morton was already in the car and Honey Bunch was lifted in beside her. Then Mr. Morton went around on the other side and got in. Mrs. Miller waved her hand, Ida Camp waved, and Cora and Kitty Williams waved, too, and the car started.
“Good-by! Good-by!” every one called, and Honey Bunch saw Mrs. Miller turn and run into the house.
“She’s afraid Lady Clare will get out of the basket and run and hide,” said Honey Bunch wisely.
And that was just what Mrs. Miller thought, but she reached the basket before Lady Clare could climb out. She took the cat home with her and a very peaceful, pleasant summer Lady Clare had in her new home.
It was a lovely sunny, summer morning when Honey Bunch and her daddy and mother started for “Broad Acres” which was the name of the farm.
“How far do we go—a hundred miles, Daddy?” asked Honey Bunch, snuggling down to be comfortable for a long ride.
“Oh, no, not as far as that,” replied her daddy. “About sixty, I think. Did you bring the road maps, Edith?”
“They’re in the pocket,” said Mrs. Morton, leaning over and patting the leather pocket on the door of the car.
“I don’t need them now, but I may later,” said Mr. Morton.
“Where does Stub live?” asked Honey Bunch next.
“The name of the town is Elmville,” replied Mr. Morton, who was the dearest daddy to answer questions. He liked to answer questions. He said so.
“I suppose you are wondering why Daddy wants a map to tell him where to go,” said Mr. Morton, smiling at Honey Bunch. “You see, dear, your mother and I have always gone to visit Broad Acres by train. This is the first time we have ever followed the road. Would you be surprised if we should get lost?”
“You can’t get lost, Daddy," said Honey Bunch, chuckling. “Anyway, a policeman will find you, if you do.”
But it wasn’t long before they were miles away from a policeman. It didn’t take long to run through Barham, which was not a large city, and then out on to the boulevard which led them into the country.
“No houses at all,” said Honey Bunch, sitting up straight so that she might see everything. “Where do the people live, Mother?”
“They live in houses,” answered Mother. “You can’t see them, because they are built far apart. See that little trail of smoke in the sky Honey Bunch? That means there is a house there around the turn in the road. Some one is cooking in the kitchen of the house.”
“What are they cooking?” Honey Bunch wanted to know.
“Pancakes,” said Mr. Morton, turning the car to pass a wide load of hay.
“Lunch,” said Mrs. Morton. “Are you getting hungry, Honey Bunch?”
“A little,” admitted Honey Bunch. “But shan’t we have to wait till we get to Stub’s house?”
“Oh, no, indeed!” answered her mother.
“We had an early breakfast, and riding in this nice fresh air makes us hungry, too. Daddy will find us a place to eat pretty soon and we’ll stop and have lunch.”
Sure enough, in a short time they came to a pretty little town, with beautiful tall trees growing in rows along the streets. The name of this town was Morgan, Daddy said, and he drove the car up before a building that had a large gold sign across the railing of the front porch.
“This is the Morgan hotel,” said Honey Bunch’s mother, as Mr. Morton stopped the car. “We’ll have lunch here.”
They went into the house and a pleasant looking woman in a pink and white dress came to meet them.
“Dinner is ready now,” she said, smiling. “Would you like to go upstairs first?”
Mrs. Morton said yes, and she and Honey Bunch followed the pink and white dress upstairs. The woman took them into a cool, dark room and said they would find water and soap and towels on the washstand.
“Where’s the washstand?” asked Honey Bunch the moment the door had closed and the woman had gone downstairs.
Mrs. Morton laughed.
“You never saw one, did you, dear?” she said. “Well, it isn’t much to see. Look over in the corner and you’ll see a washstand.”
Honey Bunch looked. She saw a tall white pitcher and a white bowl and a white dish with a cake of pink soap on it. These things were on a table with a pile of clean white towels.
“I’ll pour out the water and then you may wash your hands,” said Mrs. Morton.
She had to help Honey Bunch, because that small girl was so interested in the washstand she forgot to wash her face at all and she let the cake of pink soap melt almost all away while she tried to find out how deep the water was in the pitcher.
“There now, we’re nice and clean and we’ll go down and find Daddy and have lunch,” said Mrs. Morton, at last. “Come, dear.”
Mr. Morton was waiting for them in the hall and they went into the dining room together. There were two long tables and several people sitting at each, already eating. Her daddy lifted Honey Bunch into one of the chairs.
“Oh, Daddy!” she whispered, but not so softly that the man across from her couldn’t hear, “Daddy, did you see the washstand?”