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

Chapter XIV


Mr. Anderson leaned down and lifted Honey Bunch to the table. She stood there among the snapdragons and smiled at the crowd of people who filled the hall. Apparently they all wanted to get as close to the table as possible.

“Do you know what this is?” asked Mr. Anderson of Honey Bunch, holding out a broad blue ribbon with many silver letters on it.

She shook her head. No, she did not know what it was.

“We call it the blue ribbon,” said Mr. Anderson. “It means that your flowers have won the first prize in the amateur garden class.”

The amateur garden class, her mother had explained to Honey Bunch, meant those who had worked in their gardens without the help of paid gardeners.

“Oh, Mother!” cried Honey Bunch, leaning over to look down at her mother. “I won a first prize.”

“You’ve another first prize,’’ said Mr. Anderson, taking another ribbon from the table. “This is the blue ribbon for the children’s class. Your sunflowers have also won a ribbon for you in the novelty class. And here,’’ he added, taking a box from his pocket, “are the gold pieces that go with the ribbons.”

Honey Bunch opened the box. Inside was pink cotton and on the pink cotton were three gold pieces. Honey Bunch knew they were gold pieces, for her uncle Peter sent her one every Christmas. Her mother put them in the bank for her and Honey Bunch was going to save them till some day she had enough to take her to college. She wanted to go to the same college that Uncle Peter went to, but if they wouldn’t have girls there, she said she would go to her mother’s college.

How the crowd did clap for Honey Bunch!

They were glad she had won the prizes and they whistled and cheered and stamped their feet to tell her so. While they were still making a noise, Mr. Anderson raised his hand.

“I have another announcement to make,” he said gravely. “The Grand Prize of the Annual Flower Show of Barham has been awarded to Miss Gertrude Marion Morton for her superb display of an entirely new strain of snapdragon. On behalf of the judges, I present her herewith the check for the prize which is yearly offered from the endowment fund.”

Dear me, if the people had made a noise before, you should have heard them then! They laughed and clapped and cheered and all of them tried to shake hands with Honey Bunch at once. She was a little frightened and clung tightly to Mr. Anderson’s coat with one hand while in her other she held the slip of pink paper he had given her. She had not understood what he had been saying very well, but she had heard the words “the Grand Prize.”

“Did I win first prize, Mother?” she kept asking, shaking hands with one person after another who reached up to her, because Mr. Anderson said to shake hands, but keeping her eyes on her mother all the time.

Well, by and by the crowd moved away a little and walked around to look at the other flowers. Honey Bunch was lifted down from the table and her daddy brought her a cool drink of water. Being excited, Honey Bunch found, made her thirsty.

“Is Honey Bunch still here?” asked Mr. Anderson, coming back with Mr. Fredericks and two strange young men. “These are reporters from the Standard and they want to take her picture. And you must tell them about your garden, too, Honey Bunch.”

Honey Bunch smiled at the two strangers, though she did not see why any one should want to take her picture. However she patiently did as they asked her and they asked her to do a good deal that afternoon.

First she stood on the table and was photographed among her flowers; then she stood all alone on a box, her ribbons pinned to her dress and her gold pieces and the cheque in her hand. Then she had to be photographed with the sunflowers. After that the two reporters went home with her and her daddy and mother and saw Honey Bunch’s garden. They took a picture of her in the garden, too, and a picture of Spot and even a picture of Lady Clare. And Honey Bunch told them all about her garden and explained how she had planted the favorite flowers of the friends she loved. She showed them Mrs. Miller’s cabbage rose bush and she picked a little bouquet for each reporter. When they went away they shook hands with Honey Bunch and told her they had had the pleasantest afternoon they had ever known.

“I knew it!” cried Norman, when Honey Bunch told him the sunflowers had won a first prize. “Now aren’t you glad you took them?”

As soon as the evening papers came out every one in Barham knew that Honey Bunch had carried off nearly all the honors of the flower show. Almost as many people came the next day to see her and her garden as went to the flower show, for the Standard, a morning paper, had pictures of Honey Bunch and of her garden spread across two pages. It was most exciting, for the story with the pictures described the garden, and Julie’s name and Ida’s and Norman’s were spelled right out in print.

“I want to send it to Julie,” said Honey Bunch, as soon as her mother had finished reading the story to her. “And I want to send it to Stub and to Bobby and Tess. And Uncle Peter—Uncle Peter said if I went in the flower show maybe I would win a prize.”

Mrs. Morton promised to send a copy of the paper to all the cousins and to Uncle Peter. She put one away, too, for Honey Bunch to have when she had a little girl of her own. That little girl, Mrs. Morton said, would like to read about the garden her mother had when she was a little girl.

“And I have to show it to Mrs. Lancaster,” said Honey Bunch anxiously. “She won’t go to the flower show, but she can read about it.”

Mrs. Lancaster was delighted when she heard that the snapdragons had won the Grand Prize. Her cheeks got as pink as roses and her black eyes snapped.

“You’re a natural-born gardener, Honey Bunch!” she told the little girl. “Not many children would have the patience to take care of a garden as you have. I don’t believe you’ve let a day go by that you haven’t been out there, working away. Perseverance pays, Honey Bunch.”

Before the flower show closed, Mr. Morton took Ida and Fannie and Mary and Anna and Grace and Cora and Kitty and Norman (and Honey Bunch, of course) in his car to the hall. They saw the prize exhibits and all the other flowers and had ice cream afterward. Norman said he meant to have a garden the next year and the little girls said they meant to have gardens, too.

“That is just why the flower show is held,”

Mr. Morton told them. “When people see how beautiful flowers can be, they plan to plant some for themselves.”

“Honey Bunch,” said Mr. Morton, the day after he had taken the children to the flower show, “I had a letter to-day and I want to talk to you about it. Suppose you sit on my lap and we’ll be businesslike and have a conference. We’ll need you, too, Mother.”

Mrs. Morton laughed and said she didn’t think it was very businesslike for three people to sit in a hammock which might come down any minute. They were on the back porch, which was always cool after sunset.

“Mother and I have been talking about the money you received for the Grand Prize at the flower show, Honey Bunch,” said Mr. Morton, “and we think that at least half of it should go to Mrs. Lancaster. She gave you the seed, and from what she has told you, we know her husband had spent many years perfecting it before he died. You would like to give Mrs. Lancaster half the prize, wouldn’t you, dear?”

“Oh, yes, Daddy,” answered Honey Bunch earnestly. “The seeds were all hers and she showed me how to plant them and told me how to make them grow. The snapdragons are all hers, really they are.”

“You were the gardener, dear,” her daddy reminded her, giving her a kiss. “The seeds would not have grown without much loving care. Now about this letter—Mr. Anderson has written to me, offering a large sum of money for the seed of this wonderful flower. He wants his firm to have the exclusive control of it. He says that other seed firms will probably write and ask for the seed, and he offers to double any offer they may make because he wants a Barham firm to distribute the seed. The flowers were first grown here, he says, and he wants the city to share in the fame.”

“Why does he want the snapdragon seed, Daddy?” asked Honey Bunch, much puzzled.

“To put into little brown envelopes and sell to other people who will plant it in their gardens, dear,” said her daddy. “Mr. Anderson has acres and acres of ground where flowers are raised for their seeds. That is where the seeds we bought there came from—the poppy and the sunflower and the clove pinks, you know.”

“But I should think it would take a lot of seed,” said Honey Bunch thoughtfully, “if every one wants to plant it in gardens, Daddy.” “So it will, sweetheart,” replied Mr. Morton. “But Mr. Anderson will take the seed you have this year and plant it on his flower farm—it is called a nursery and I must take you and Mother there some day to let you see how acres of flowers look. When the snapdragon has bloomed again next year and gone to seed that seed will be saved, some of it; each year it will be planted and saved, planted and saved. And by and by there will be seed enough for every one who wishes it.”

“Are you going to let Mr. Anderson have the seed, David?” asked Honey Bunch’s mother quickly.

“That is what I wanted to ask Honey Bunch,” said Mr. Morton. “Do you want to sell the snapdragon seed to Mr. Anderson, dear?”

Honey Bunch did not reply for a minute. She was thinking so hard that she couldn’t find the words she wanted. Her blue eyes grew larger and larger and she almost fell out of the hammock. She was excited.

“Daddy!” she cried. “Daddy! Make him give the money to Mrs. Lancaster! Then she can go and get mended and her feet will walk. And she will come to the flower show next year.”

Well, that is just what they did do. Mr. Morton went to see Mrs. Lancaster, and though at first the old lady declared that she wouldn’t touch the money and was really angry at the suggestion, by and by she changed her mind.

“I gave those seeds to Honey Bunch, and they are hers,” she said at first. “She made them grow—I hadn’t a thing to do with it. My husband spent his life raising flowers and he never won a prize. You see, it is all because Honey Bunch was the gardener.”

But after Mr. Morton had talked to her a little longer and explained that he was not willing for his little girl to keep all the Grand Prize money or to take any of the money offered for the seed unless Mrs. Lancaster would accept half for herself, she consented.

“I won’t say I don’t need money, for I do,” she said. “I can have those electrical treatments my doctor wants me to try and they may cure my lameness; and I can pay Miss Hastings my board, though she always says she won’t take a cent because I’m her relative. But I’ll take this money, Mr. Morton, on just one condition.”

“And what is that?” asked Honey Bunch’s daddy, smiling.

“That the seed is named, and the name registered,” announced Mrs. Lancaster, smiling. “And it must be known as ‘Honey Bunch Snapdragon.’ ”

This page has paths: