BRAVE STUBEVERY time Honey Bunch went into the living room she looked up at the sun and moon clock. She thought she might see the photograph of Walter and George, Liny’s brothers, but she never did.
“I don’t see how a picture could get lost,” said Honey Bunch thoughtfully.
She was standing by the window, waiting for Stub. She often had to wait for Stub, who was constantly getting into accidents and needing clean frocks and dry shoes. This time Stub had caught her dress on a nail and her mother had sent her upstairs to put on another.
Uncle Rand sat at the flat-topped desk in the living room, writing. Honey Bunch wondered if he were busy.
“What are you thinking about, chicken?” he asked her, putting down his pen and sealing an envelope with a splotch of red sealing wax.
“About Mrs. Miller,” answered Honey Bunch. “She washes our clothes, you know. I told the poetry to her.”
“What poetry?” Uncle Rand asked, hunting in his little brass box where he kept postage stamps.
“The poetry you made up for Stub to say when she stubs her toe,” replied Honey Bunch. “Could you make up some for Mrs. Miller, Uncle Rand? I told her perhaps you could.”
“Well, now, I don’t know what kind of poetry Mrs. Miller likes or needs,” said Uncle Rand slowly. “It is very important, you know, Honey Bunch, to know that.”
“I know!” cried Honey Bunch eagerly. “I know just the kind. She needs some to say when she burns her thumb! She burns her thumb as much as Stub falls down! She said so, Uncle Rand.”
“All right, Mrs. Miller shall have a verse,” declared Uncle Rand. “Let me think a moment.”
He leaned back in his chair and Honey Bunch sat as still as a little mouse. She wondered what the poetry would be like.
“Aha, I have it!” said Uncle Rand, sitting up straight and smiling. “How will this do, Honey Bunch?”
And looking at Honey Bunch with twinkling eyes, Uncle Rand said this:
“I do not mind my thumb at all,
I might have burned my pointer tall.”
“Will Mrs. Miller like that?” asked Honey Bunch.
“Oh, my, yes,” replied Uncle Rand. “She’ll be so glad to be reminded that she didn’t burn her pointer finger that she’ll forget her thumb. The pointer finger, you know, Honey Bunch, is a very important finger. You can’t point out things to people if you burn that finger.”
“Mother won’t let me point, anyway,” answered Honey Bunch. “But maybe Mrs. Miller’s mother doesn’t mind. Anyway, I’ll tell Mother and she will write it down for me to send to Mrs. Miller. It makes me feel nice to say it, Uncle Rand.”
Uncle Rand’s eyes were twinkling more than ever and Honey Bunch wondered if he could be laughing at her. She didn’t mind, because when Uncle Rand laughed you always felt like laughing, too.
“Here is Stub at last,” said Uncle Rand, as that small girl, in a spandy clean dress came running in. “I’ll write down the rhyme for you, Honey Bunch, so run away and don’t bother your head over burned thumbs. Where are you going?”
“Down to the pasture,” called Stub, as she took Honey Bunch’s hand and pulled her after her.
Honey Bunch told her cousin about Mrs. Miller as they ran and the verse Uncle Rand had made up for her, and Stub, who was used to her daddy’s rhymes, shouted:
“I do not mind my thumb at all, I might have burned my pointer tall,” all the way to the pasture. The cows looked surprised at her, but Stub didn’t care.
“Won’t they bite?” asked Honey Bunch, when they reached the pasture gate.
There were eight or nine cows standing in the pasture, enjoying the soft grass and gently switching their tails as they ate. Honey Bunch did not feel that she was exactly acquainted with so many cows.
“No, of course they won’t bite,” answered Stub. “Come on, we can wiggle through the gate. It’s too heavy to lift down.”
Honey Bunch watched Stub crawl through the bars and then she followed her.
“Why do they keep looking at us?” she asked Stub, as the cows stopped eating and stared at the two little girls.
“Oh, I suppose they want to see who we are,” answered Stub. “Let’s go down by the brook. Aunt Edith likes wild flowers so much. Perhaps we can find some for her.” Honey Bunch knew that her mother loved wild flowers dearly and she was eager to pick a bouquet for her. Still, she couldn’t help wishing that the cows would go on eating grass and not look at them.
“Don’t you fall into the water,” said Stub. “I’m going down to the edge to look for flowers, but you’d better be careful.”
Stub felt that she ought to take great care of Honey Bunch, not only because she was her visitor, but because she was a whole year younger.
Honey Bunch did not want to fall into the water, so she let Stub go ahead and the next time she looked up, there stood a cow directly in her path.
“It looked as big as—as big as—a mountain!” Honey Bunch told Liny that afternoon.
Of course the cow was no larger than any ordinary cow, but when you are only five years old an ordinary cow looks pretty tall if it is close beside you.
“Stub!” screamed Honey Bunch. “Stub, come get the cow!”
Honey Bunch was sure her cousin would not be afraid of a cow. Stub, she knew, was a brave little girl. Sure enough, she scrambled up the bank and dashed toward the cow the moment she heard Honey Bunch call.
“Go away, Daisy!” cried Stub. “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”
But Daisy stood quietly and Stub explained that she wanted to be petted.
“Mother and Liny always pet her,” explained Stub. “Daisy gives more milk than any other cow we have. Scratch her nose, Honey Bunch, and tell her she is nice, and then she will walk away.”
Honey Bunch put out her little hand and scratched Daisy’s nose, and Stub did, too.
“You are a very nice cow,” said Honey Bunch politely. “I like the rich milk you give me to drink. Please, will you go away now?”
And after Stub had patted her and told her she was a nice cow, Daisy did turn and walk away.
“My, Stub, how brave you are!” said Honey Bunch, trotting along beside her cousin. “You’re not afraid of anything, are you?”
“Well, no, hardly anything,” answered Stub. “Of course, Honey Bunch, I live in the country and I’m used to cows. But I don’t believe anything can really scare me.” And just as she said that, Stub shouted “Ow!” and jumped up into the air so high that Honey Bunch was frightened nearly out of her wits.
“Stub!” she cried. “Oh, Stub, what is it? Did you step on a pin?”
“I saw a snake!” gasped Stub. “A horrid snake! Right over there in the grass! Come on, let’s go home.”
“But we haven’t got the flowers for Mother,” said Honey Bunch. “And there are lots of them down there by the water—blue ones. Snakes won’t bite, will they, Stub?” Now Stub was really a sensible little girl. She knew why she was afraid, and that is more than some grown-up people can explain.
“No, none of the snakes we have around here bite,” she said to Honey Bunch. “Daddy and Michael both know and they say there are none but harmless water snakes about. I jump when I see even a tiny snake, because I don’t like them; they make me shiver, Honey Bunch.”
“Well, if they don’t bite, I don’t care,” answered Honey Bunch. “Snakes won’t make me shiver, and I want some blue flowers for Mother. Where was that snake you saw, Stub? I’ll chase it and then you can come and pick flowers, too.”
Stub looked at Honey Bunch in surprise. Here was a girl who was afraid of cows and who was not afraid of snakes. Stub liked cows and she did not like snakes.
“It was right over there,” she said, pointing to a patch of long grass. “I saw it, just as plain. But don’t go near it, Honey Bunch. We can walk the other way.”
“I’ll chase it,” said Honey Bunch. “I would like to see a snake run.”
She tiptoed over to the patch of grass and looked around carefully.
“Oh, ho, you funny Stub!” she called. “Look!” And she stooped down and picked up something long and dark that dangled.
“It’s only rope!” cried Honey Bunch. “Just an old piece of rope! It never was a snake.”
Well, of course, it never was a snake. Even Stub could see that, though she had been so sure. She laughed good-naturedly and then she and Honey Bunch picked the little blue flowers—they were violets—till they each had a nice, large bunch to take home.
“Something splashed me,” said Honey Bunch, tying her bunch with a grass stem, as Stub showed her.
“It’s raining,” declared Stub. “We’ll have to run if we don’t want to get wet. It hasn’t rained since you’ve been here, has it, Honey Bunch?”
Liny said the same thing and so did Michael. Honey Bunch and Stub found them both on the back porch. Liny was peeling potatoes for dinner and Michael was storing little new plants under the porch out of the wet. He said that he would set them out in the garden after supper that night.
“I think the rain has been holding off till you had a chance to see the farm, Honey Bunch,” said Liny. “And now it has to make up for the delay.”
“I would rather,” said Honey Bunch, “not have it rain. I like to play outdoors with Stub.”
“My garden needs rain,” Michael told her, smilingly. “All the thirsty vegetables will get a cool drink.”
“And we can play in the barn, Honey Bunch,” said Stub. “I’ll show you how to slide down the hay. You need to practice that.”
It was raining hard by dinner time, and after dinner Aunt Carol brought out two old water-proof capes and gave them to Honey Bunch and Stub.
“Now run between the drops and have a grand time in the barn,” she said, kissing each little girl.
“That’s what Mr. Popover said—to run between the drops,” called Honey Bunch, as she and Stub raced out to the big, dry barn.
Stub had heard all about Mr. and Mrs. Popover and she thought they must be very nice indeed.
“Let’s do something exciting,” suggested Stub, when they had climbed into the haymow. “Oh, there’s Buffy—he followed us out. We can bring him up here and play with him.”
Buffy wasn’t a very young dog and he was fat. He didn’t know how to climb a ladder and he didn’t care much about learning. But Stub was determined to get him into the haymow, and she pushed him and Honey Bunch pulled him, and, with much work and tugging, they finally managed to haul the poor dog up the ladder into the mow.
“Now we can play,” said Stub, trying not to see where she had stepped on her dress and pulled a big piece out of the hem.