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

Chapter XV


“I THINK it is a funny name for a flower,” declared Norman Clark, balancing himself on the fence. “Honey Bunch Snapdragon! Who ever heard of a flower with a name like that?”

“Huh, Norman Clark, I guess you wouldn’t think it was funny if some one named a sunflower after you,” retorted Ida Camp. “You’d think it was pretty nice if there was a sunflower picture in a catalogue with ‘Norman Clark Sunflower’ printed under it.”

Honey Bunch, Ida and Norman were out in the yard together. Ida and Norman were watching Honey Bunch, who was busy. She was planting the pansy seed that next year would bloom with pansies for Uncle Peter. It was August now, and the flower show had been over for weeks. Mrs. Lancaster had gone to the Barham hospital where she was “getting better every day,” as she wrote Honey Bunch. She would not let any one come to see her. She said that she did not want her friends to see her while she was being made over, but that as soon as she was home again, she would be glad to have them come to see her.

Mr. Anderson had bought the snapdragon seed and paid so much money for it that Honey Bunch was sure she could have gone to college at once, if she had been old enough. Half the money Mr. Morton gave to Mrs. Lancaster and half the amount written on the check Mr. Anderson had given Honey Bunch for the Grand Prize.

“All you have to do now,” Uncle Peter wrote to Honey Bunch, when he heard the wonderful news, “is to grow as fast as you can and be ready to go to college when you are eighteen. I’ve shown your picture to the man who grows the finest roses in England, and he thinks you had better come over here and raise flowers instead of going to college; but

I tell him you can’t do that because I expect to stay in the United States, once I get back, and of course you are never going to live very far from your Uncle Peter, are you?”

“Of course not,” said Honey Bunch, when her mother read this letter aloud to her. “I am going to keep house for Uncle Peter when I grow up; he said I could. And we are going to have ice cream every night for dinner.” Uncle Peter was coming home in September and Honey Bunch was anxious to have her pansy seed in before he came. As soon as her daddy said it was time to sow it, she had gone down to the seed store and told Mr. Fredericks what she wanted. She knew every one in the store now, and if Mr. Anderson was in his little glass office, she would go in and speak to him. He always asked her about her garden and one day he showed her some sheets of paper. He said they were proofs of his catalogue for the next year. On one page it read “Honey Bunch Snapdragon,” and that, Mr. Anderson said, was the snapdragon seed which had been named for her

This afternoon Honey Bunch had started to sow her pansy seed and Ida Camp had seen her from her porch and come over to ask what she was doing. Norman, too, had asked the same question. Honey Bunch was used to answering questions and did not mind. She had told them about the page in the catalogue also.

“I ought to spade up all this dirt,” said Honey Bunch, frowning at the ground around Mrs. Miller’s rose bush. “It’s baked so hard —Daddy says we need rain.”

“Why don’t you rake it?” suggested Norman, who liked to give advice.

“Well, I could,” agreed Honey Bunch. “Hand me the rake, please, Ida; it is back of you—there on the grass.”

Ida handed Honey Bunch the rake and went on watching an ant that was trying to climb over a blade of grass.

“Ants don’t know much, do they?” said Ida. “This one can’t see far or he’d go around to the other end.”

“Maybe he wants to go the way he is going,” argued Norman. “Are you hot, Honey Bunch?”

Honey Bunch mopped her little red face with her handkerchief.

“I’m a little hot,” she admitted, “but not much.”

“Wait till to-morrow, why don’t you?” said Norman. “It may rain to-night; once Mother asked me to water her flowers and I didn’t and it poured that night. If I had carried water out to them, it would have been wasted.”

“This dirt ought to be raked, anyway,” declared Honey Bunch firmly. “Daddy says that when the ground gets baked and cracks like this, the water can’t go down through it easily; it would have to rain maybe two days before it would help this rose bush much.”

“What a lot you know about gardens, don’t you, Honey Bunch?” said Norman respectfully. “Next year will you tell me what to do when I plant mine?”

“She’s going to tell me what to do when I plant mine,” said Ida Camp. “You mustn’t ask her to help you—you’re going to tell me, aren’t you, Honey Bunch? I asked first.”

“I’ll tell you both,” promised Honey Bunch, afraid Ida and Norman would be quarreling in another minute.

Ida put her face down close to the grass to watch the ant and when Honey Bunch gave a little cry it startled her so she lost her balance.

"I fell right down on that ant and killed him!” said Ida, looking at Honey Bunch as though she blamed her. “He’s a mashed ant now and it’s all your fault!”

“I’m sorry,” apologized Honey Bunch. “I didn’t mean to make you fall down on the ant, Ida. Maybe he isn’t dead. Ants are so little they can run away and you don’t see them.”

“I guess I can see a dead ant!” said the inlignant Ida. “He’s dead, I tell you—I mashed him flat.”

“Serves you right for being such a fat girl,” declared Norman. “If you were as little as Honey Bunch, Ida, you wouldn’t have mashed him flat. I’ll bet Honey Bunch could step on an ant and not hurt him a bit.”

Ida was not a fat girl at all. She was rather thin and tall, in fact, for her age. But Norman liked to tease her and he knew she would not like to be called a fat girl.

All this time Honey Bunch had been down on her knees looking at something in the dirt. She had brushed the dirt off the something and rubbed it on her garden apron and now she called to Ida and Norman.

“Look what I’ve found!” she cried, holding the something up in her fingers for them to see.

Ida looked and so did Norman. They ran over to Honey Bunch and took another look.

“Why—why—” stuttered Ida. “It isn’t!

"How can it be—”

“It is Anna Martin’s aunt’s pencil!” shouted Norman. “It is! Did you find it, Honey Bunch? Where was it? Let’s go tell Anna this minute. The fuss she made over that pencil and now we’ve found it!”

Norman was excited and that may account for his odd remarks. If he had stopped to think, he would have known that it was natural for Anna to make a “fuss” about the pencil—it wasn’t hers and it was a valuable pencil, besides. And if Norman had stopped to think again, he never would have used that little word “we.” He had not helped to find the pencil at all—indeed, after the first week or two, he had never looked for it again.

However, Honey Bunch did not mind the “we.” She was the happiest of happy little girls to think she had found the pencil. And when Norman happened to say that he wished she had found her locket and chain, instead of the pencil, Honey Bunch looked quite shocked.

“Oh, no!” she said. “I would rather find Anna’s pencil. Her aunt scolded her because she took it. My mother didn’t scold me because I lost my locket. She said she was sorry, but she knew I couldn’t help it.”

“Where did you find the pencil?” asked Norman again. “Perhaps you will find your locket, too, Honey Bunch. And it would be nice if you could find Fannie’s beads. Though she doesn’t mind so much. She has new beads now.”

Apparently Norman thought that Honey Bunch had only to hunt around a little, to discover all the missing treasure.

“I was raking along by the fence,” explained Honey Bunch, “and I saw something sticking up out of the dirt. Just like—why, Norman—look!”

Norman looked and Ida looked. She almost pushed him over, so anxious was she to see. Something round and black lay on the heap of dirt Honey Bunch had just turned over—something round and black and attached to a little narrow black chain.

“You’ve found the locket!” shouted Norman. “It’s dirty and green in spots, Honey Bunch, but it must be your locket. Yes—it opens—see, there’s your Uncle Peter’s picture. Say, do you think your mother can make it shiny again for you? Do you, Honey Bunch? I hope it isn’t spoiled!”

They ran into the house, all three of them, to show Mrs. Morton the locket. As soon as she saw it, she said it wasn’t hurt a bit and she washed it and the chain in warm water with soap in it. Then she polished it very long and carefully on a flannel cloth, and there the locket and chain were as bright as new. Honey Bunch put them on at once.

“I wonder if we’ll ever have such ’citement again,” she said.

She did not know it, of course, but soon she was to have a lot more. The story is called “Her First Days in Camp.”

“Poor Fannie’s beads are lost forever,” said Honey Bunch.

“I think the string probably broke while Teddy Gray was running or climbing the fence,” said Mr. Morton, when he came home. “The beads would scatter then, you see, and it would be impossible to find them. The pencil and the locket must have been dropped when the boys scrambled over the fence and as the ground was moist and soft then, they sank in. Perhaps while you hunted for them your feet were pressing them deeper into the earth.

This dry weather has made the ground hard and crumbly, and when you raked it over, you brought up the jewelry. It is lucky the boys lost their treasure before they reached the street, otherwise you might never have found it.”

Anna Martin was very glad to get her aunt’s pencil back and she said she hoped that Norman would not play pirates again “for a long time.”

“I never saw such a girl,” grumbled Norman. “Here I take her aunt’s pencil back— and your mother made it shiny for her and it isn’t hurt a bit—and she knows we haven’t played pirates since we lost the treasure. And she doesn’t even say ‘thank you.’ ”

Mrs. Miller was in the yard and heard what Norman said. She had brought out a great dishpan of soap suds to throw over her cabbage rose bush. There were no bugs on it, but Mrs. Miller said you never could tell when there might be and she didn’t propose to be taken unawares. Lady Clare always ran and jumped on the fence when she saw

Mrs. Miller coming with a pan of soap suds. Once half the soapy water had splashed on the cat’s soft fur, and Lady Clare hated water.

“Norman,” said Mrs. Miller, putting down her pan to get her breath, “if half the people who ought to, said ‘thank you’ at the right time, we’d have Thanksgiving every day in the week.”

“Flowers always say ‘thank you,’ ” declared Honey Bunch, stopping to pick a bluebell. “They say thank you for everything you do for them. At least those in my garden do.”



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