THE FLOWER SHOW
Honey Bunch could not talk of anything now but the flower show. She had not a very clear idea what a flower show was like, but she wanted to be “in” it and she wanted to show the snapdragons and the sunflowers.
“For pity’s sake, Honey Bunch,” said Mrs. Miller when she heard this, “what do you want to take common old sunflowers to a flower show for? Don’t you know people will have their nicest flowers on exhibit? The snapdragons are nice, but they don’t compare in my mind to the bluebells. I’d show those if I were you.”
Next to her cabbage rose bush—which would not bloom till the next year—Mrs. Miller admired the bluebells in Honey Bunch’s garden. Indeed, it was odd, but every one who heard that Honey Bunch was talking about being an exhibitor in the flower show wanted her to show the flowers she had planted for them.
“Those red poppies are much the prettiest flowers you have, Honey Bunch,” urged Ida Camp. “Show those.”
Stub wrote to say she hoped her sweet peas would win a prize and Julie sent a postal card from Glenhaven to ask that her scarlet sage be taken to the exhibit. The Turner twins did not hear about the show, or they would surely have written to Honey Bunch and asked her to take their marigolds.
Honey Bunch was worried a little, for she liked to please every one, but her daddy laughed.
“I’ll get your blanks at the seed store, dear,” he promised, when it was really decided that Honey Bunch should go in the flower show and compete with older and more experienced gardeners. “The snapdragon is your choice, isn’t it? Very well then, snapdragon it shall be.”
But when Mr. Morton came home that night he was laughing again. He told Honey Bunch that he had filled out the entry blanks for her and that she had nothing more to do till the morning of the day the show opened.
“I’ll take you and your flowers down in the car then,” he said, “and Mother and I will arrange your exhibit for you. But, Honey Bunch, Norman is going to have his wish and you are going to show his sunflowers.”
“How nice!” beamed Honey Bunch. “Norman will be as glad—as glad as anything! He says they are the largest sunflowers that ever grew.”
“I don’t know about that,” said Mr. Morton, still smiling. “But the flower show has what is called a ‘novelty class’; that means people may enter flowers that are odd and unusual, instead of lovely or fragrant or perfect in size. I filled out a blank for you for that class and you may take the sunflowers down for your entry.”
When Honey Bunch told Mrs. Lancaster that she was going to show the snapdragons at the flower show, the old lady seemed pleased.
“And you’ll come to see them, won’t you?” coaxed Honey Bunch. “Daddy says he will take you in the car and you won’t have to walk a bit. Please, Mrs. Lancaster, you like flowers so much!”
Mrs. Lancaster shook her head firmly.
“No, indeed,” she said. “I wouldn’t think of such a thing. I wouldn’t be caught in a chattering crowd like that, even if I was to get the first prize for being there. You can tell me all about the show, Honey Bunch, and that will do just as well. In the town where my husband and I used to live, many is the show I’ve been to.”
Honey Bunch was disappointed, but she tried not to show it. She made up her mind to take the best of care of her flowers so that they would be in perfect condition to show. She gave them very little water now, for they did not need it; the roots were strong and had reached down so far into the earth that they had found moist dirt and could get along nicely, even if it did not rain for days at a time.
Norman was so anxious about his sunflowers that he came and looked at them twice a day. He refused to be put out even when Anna Martin found him smoothing out the crumpled green leaves under the big heavy flowers and laughed at him. Anna never saw Norman now that she did not ask him if he had found her aunt’s gold pencil. Honey Bunch wished she would not do that. Fannie Graham did not say anything about her beads, but that, Anna said, was because she had another string to wear.
“My aunt hasn’t another pencil,” insisted Anna.
“But if Norman found the pencil, he would tell you,” said Honey Bunch. “I don’t think it is exactly polite to ask him about it, Anna.”
“It wasn’t polite to lose it,” retorted Anna.
The morning of the day the flower show was to open, Honey Bunch was awake and dressed a whole hour earlier than usual. She said she felt as though it were Christmas.
“That is, I feel that way inside of me,” she explained. “I know it isn’t Christmas—it is summer time and it can’t be Christmas in summer. Isn’t it time to go yet, Mother?” Although she rather hated to do it, Honey Bunch cut nearly all her beautiful snapdragons to go to the show and all but one of the sunflowers. Her daddy put the flowers into a large pan with water in it and took Honey Bunch and her mother and the pan and the posies all in the car down to the big brick hall where the show was to be held.
You would have thought you were in a garden the moment you stepped inside that hall. There were masses of flowers everywhere and little green trees growing in tubs and it smelled like all the lovely gardens of the earth rolled into one.
“Oh! Oh!” cried Honey Bunch, wrinkling her nose in delight. “Smell, Mother!”
Mrs. Morton laughed and asked Mr. Morton to put the flowers they had brought down on a square table. This was to be Honey Bunch’s place, and she and her mother worked busily the rest of the morning, just as every one else in that hall was working.
“You see, Honey Bunch,” said Mrs. Morton, who often talked to her little girl seriously, “the flowers are what we wish to show —it isn’t like a fair where each one tries to make her table look attractive. So I think we’ll try to make the snapdragons look as they do when they grow in your garden—as nearly as we can, I mean.”
And when they had finished you would have thought that the snapdragons were really growing and not just standing in dishes of water to keep them fresh. The lovely flowers glowed against the green of the leaves and the holders did not show at all. There was a little card tacked to the table which said that this exhibit was shown by Miss Gertrude Marion Morton. There were figures and names on the card, too, which told people what class the exhibit was in and what the Latin name of the snapdragon is—Antirrhinum it is, and Honey Bunch couldn’t say it at all and I don’t believe you can, either—and her entry blank number, which was number 94.
Norman’s sunflowers—Honey Bunch always called them his flowers and never spoke of them as her own—were on another table, among a collection of funny looking flowers, most of which Honey Bunch had never seen growing anywhere before.
“Are you in the children’s class, dear?” asked a lady, as Honey Bunch and her mother were putting on their hats to go and get some lunch.
“Why, no, I believe she has entered in the regular class,” said Mrs. Morton.
“Well, I’m going to register her in the children’s class, too,” answered the lady, copying down on a pad she carried the information that was on the card tacked to the table of snapdragons. “She is eligible, and may be in the regular class at the same time. Then,” she added in a lower voice, but Honey Bunch heard her, “she will stand more chance of winning a prize; I do hate to see a child disappointed.”
“Do you think I’ll win a prize, Mother?” asked Honey Bunch, as they found their places at a table in a restaurant crowded with people who had been working to get ready for the flower show.
Mr. Morton was to come and meet them at half-past two o’clock, for when they went back to the hall the judges would have completed their task and the prizes would be awarded. Then for three days the public might come and see the flowers and hear who had won the prizes. Then the flower show would be over for another year.
“Why, dearie, I don’t want you to get your heart set on winning a prize,” said Mrs. Morton earnestly. “The very best and most experienced gardeners in Barham have exhibits in this show. You may win one of the little prizes, perhaps, for you are entered in three different classes now, thanks to Mrs. Ketcham, who put you down for the children’s class. But, Honey Bunch, it is ever so much more important to raise beautiful flowers than to win a prize for them—the prizes are only given to encourage us to go on year after year and try to raise lovelier flowers every time we plant.”
Mr. Morton came for them before they had quite finished their luncheon, and afterward they took a little walk. Honey Bunch couldn’t help thinking about the flower show—which was natural—and she wanted to know how the judges judged the flowers.
“You are too little yet to understand it all, Honey Bunch,” said her daddy, “but they look at the flowers and because they know them and have studied and read about them and cultivated them themselves, the judges see much more than we do when we look at a flower. They can see when they are perfectly shaped, if one is more exquisitely colored than another—oh, there are a hundred points that no one but an expert can tell. But we must turn here,” he said, glancing at his watch, “if we are to be back at the hall by half-past two.”
They turned around and walked back to the hall and did exactly what every one else did who had flowers on exhibition—went to Honey Bunch’s table. That is, they tried to get to it, but the crowd blocked the way.
Suddenly some one spoke to them.
“Mr. Anderson has been looking everywhere for you, Mr. Morton,” said Mr. Fredericks, the seed store clerk. “He wants to see your little girl.”
Then, pushing gently and asking politely, Mr. Fredericks managed to lead Mr. and Mrs. Morton and Honey Bunch through the crowd, up to Mr. Anderson, the president of the flower show. He was a tall, white-haired gentleman with twinkling eyes, and he knew Mr. Morton at once.
“I want to see Miss Gertrude Marion Morton,” he said, smiling down at the little girl. “Is that your name?”
“I’m Honey Bunch,” said Honey Bunch clearly, “but I am Gertrude Marion Morton, too.”