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

Chapter III


HONEY BUNCH thought her garden was going to be lovely, too. She was out on the front step waiting for her daddy when he came home that afternoon. Under his arm he had a package.

“That’s for you,” he said, kissing Honey Bunch. “Are you ready to make a garden?”

“Oh, my, yes,” answered Honey Bunch. “I’ve been ready ever so long. Is this a keep-till-after-dinner bundle, Daddy, or a now one?”

Honey Bunch always divided the packages Daddy brought her into two kinds—the ones she must put away and keep till after dinner —they were usually candy—and the ones she might open at once.

“It’s to open now,” said Mr. Morton.

 “We’ll go in the house and let Mother see, too. And then we’ll go to work.”

Honey Bunch opened the package as soon as she was in the house. In it she found something dark blue with strings and funny little pockets stitched in a row across the bottom.

“What is it, Daddy?” she asked, puzzled.

“It’s a garden apron, sweetheart,” her daddy explained. “I wanted to get you overalls to wear while you were grubbing in the dirt, but Mother said no, she didn’t want her little girl turned into a little boy, even for make-believe. So I bought you this. You tie it over your dress so,” and Daddy Morton slipped the apron over Honey Bunch’s yellow head and tied it twice, once at the back of her neck and once at the waist.

“Now there you are, with your clean dress all covered up,” he said. “And in this pocket you put a ball of string—like that; little scissors for cutting the string go in this pocket; and in this one a pencil and paper, to write down the seeds and plants we want to get; and in this fourth pocket we put the tape measure, to tell us when we have a bed long or wide enough—there!”

As Mr. Morton showed Honey Bunch the pockets and told what they were for, he put the string and the scissors and the pencil and paper and tape measure in their places so that, when he had finished, Honey Bunch looked like a real little gardener.

“I’ll make you a sunbonnet, Honey Bunch,” said her mother. “You won’t need it now, for the sun isn’t hot. But this summer you shall have one to wear when you are pulling weeds.”

Honey Bunch and her daddy went out into the garden and Mother and Mrs. Miller came and sat on the side steps to watch them.

“I can’t stay but a minute,” Mrs. Miller said; “but while I am waiting for the clothes to dampen down, I’ll just look at your garden.”

There was another interested friend watching Honey Bunch. This was Norman Clark.

He sat on his fence and dangled his feet over and whistled.

“I must ask Norman what his favorite flower is,” said Honey Bunch, who had not forgotten for one minute what kind of garden she wanted hers to be.

“Norman,” she called, going closer to the fence, “Norman, what is your favorite flower? I’ll plant it in my garden for you.”

“I don’t believe you will,” said Norman gloomily. “I don’t like stylish flowers. Never did.”

Honey Bunch laughed merrily.

“What are stylish flowers?” she asked, stooping down to pat Lady Clare, who was rubbing against her.

“Stylish flowers,” explained Norman, “are those your mother plants to look pretty and you can’t pick one without first asking.”

“Oh!” said Honey Bunch. “Well, of course, my mother has some flowers she doesn’t want me to pick—but she told me about those. Most of them she says are to grow and look beautiful for every one to see and then, by and by, she saves the seed. You can’t pick flowers and save the seed, too. Didn’t you know that, Norman? But my mother always gives me part of her flowers for my own. And you can pick your favorite flower in my garden—if it grows.”

“Well, if I can have the kind of flower I like and if I can pick it, that’s different,” said Norman, looking more pleasant. “I like sunflowers, Honey Bunch—they’re my favorite flowers.”

“All right, I’ll plant sunflowers specially for you,” Honey Bunch promised him, and then she ran off to help her daddy, who was waiting.

Goodness, Honey Bunch had no idea there was so much to do to make a garden. First her daddy took a large spade—not the little shining one that belonged to the set of tools Uncle Peter had sent Honey Bunch, but one three times as large and heavy—and he spaded up the strip of ground that lay between the fence and the house. This fence was not a high board one, like the one Norman Clark “lived on” (as Mrs. Miller said), but it was rather a pretty fence, of open iron work. You could see through it into Mrs. Farriday’s yard. She had rambler roses growing on her side of the fence.

Honey Bunch tried to help her daddy spade, but she found the ground was too hard to move—that was what she said, and it was true. The ground was hard to move and turn over. Daddy Morton said that was one reason little girls had to have their daddies help them make a garden.

After all the earth was spaded up, then Honey Bunch could help. She took her little rake and Daddy took the big rake and they went over every bit of that ground and raked it till it was smooth and brown. Mrs. Miller had to go back to her ironing and Honey Bunch’s mother went in to get dinner before they had finished raking. But Norman did not go in—he sat on the fence and watched them and whistled. Lady Clare, too, stayed. She seemed to be wondering what they were doing.

When the garden plot was spaded and raked, Honey Bunch and her daddy had to go in and wash their hands and get ready for dinner. But they were as busy as they could be, after dinner, up to the minute when Honey Bunch had to go to bed. Honey Bunch sat on the floor and looked at pictures in the seed catalogues her daddy had brought home and her daddy sat on the floor, on the rug beside her, and whittled out pegs to hold the strings which were to mark the different flower beds.

“To-morrow,” Daddy said, kissing Honey Bunch good-night when at last she really had to go to bed, “we shall go downtown and shop for seeds.”

The stores in Barham, where Honey Bunch lived, were “downtown.” Downtown was where her daddy went every day, to his office, but Honey Bunch did not. She went so seldom that when she did go it always seemed exciting. She was sure to have a shopping trip around Christmas time and perhaps when she and Mother wanted to buy new summer clothes, or a coat for winter, but the rest of the time Honey Bunch knew very little about what was going on in the shops and stores.

“This is the very first time I ever went shopping for seeds, Daddy,” she said, the next afternoon as they went downtown on the trolley car.

Daddy Morton had come home early again from the office, to take his little girl seed shopping. He liked to go seed-shopping, too. He said so.

“This is the first time you ever made a garden, dear,” he told Honey Bunch, lifting her down from the car.

They went into a store so big that at first Honey Bunch thought it went right on and never stopped at all. It was wide, but it was long, too, and you could see straight through it, from one end to the other. Honey Bunch was staring down the aisle and wondering how far it went when she saw, far, far away, a little girl staring back at her. This little girl wore a blue hat and a blue sweater and a dress with little pink flowers sprinkled over it.

“Why, it’s me!” said Honey Bunch aloud.

The clerk who was coming to wait on them, heard her and laughed.

“That’s a mirror back there,” he explained. “You’re not the first one who has been surprised. What can I do for you to-day?”

Mr. Morton lifted Honey Bunch up and sat her on the counter. This was much better, because when she was on the floor she couldn’t see over the counter at all. She saw only the big sacks and bags that were standing against the walls of the store.

“We are going to have a garden,” explained Mr. Morton seriously, “and we need seeds to plant in it.”

“Yes, sir,” replied the clerk. “And you’ve come to the right place. Have you a list?”

Honey Bunch put her hand in her sweater pocket and pulled out the list her daddy had written for her.

“Here it is,” she said.

The clerk took it and read it aloud, looking very much interested as he read.

“A cabbage rose, for Mrs. Miller,” he read. “Heliotrope for Mother and some nasturtiums for her to have pretty soon so she won’t have to wait; red poppies for Ida Camp—the reddest ones there are; sunflowers for Norman Clark, because he doesn’t like stylish flowers. Uncle Peter’s favorite flowers are pansies— Mother said so. Don’t forget Mrs. Miller wants a cabbage rose. And please, some clove pinks for Daddy.”

“Well, I never!” said the clerk, when he had finished reading the list. “I should say this was going to be a garden worth having. But hasn’t the gardener forgotten something?” “Oh, no—did I?” asked Honey Bunch, in alarm. “What did I leave out? Tell me.” “You haven’t said anything about your own favorite flower,” replied the clerk, smiling a little. “How about that?”

“I don’t want any—not the first time,” answered Honey Bunch.

She had said the same thing to her daddy and mother when they had asked her what flower she wanted to plant for herself. To tell the truth, Honey Bunch thought all flowers beautiful and she had no favorite because she loved them all.

The clerk helped them find the seeds they wanted, but they had to wait for Uncle Peter’s pansies and Mrs. Miller’s cabbage rose bush.

“We’ll have pansy plants in next week,” the clerk said, tying up the little envelopes of seeds. “You have to have plants, if you want flowers this summer. In August you can get the seeds and plant them and they’ll bear blossoms next year. And our rose bush stock isn’t in yet—that ought to be along next week, too.”

“We’re not going to plant the seeds right away,” Honey Bunch explained gravely, taking the parcel the clerk handed her. “We have to wait because Jack Frost may come back and spoil them.”

“I see you are going to be a wise gardener,” the clerk told her, shaking hands with her before Daddy lifted her down from the counter. “I should like to see your garden some day.”

“Ask him to come and see it when your flowers have a good start, Honey Bunch,” said Mr. Morton.

So Honey Bunch, a little shyly, invited the seed store clerk to come and see her garden “after a while,” and he said he would with pleasure.

There were a great many interesting things in the store to look at, and Honey Bunch and her daddy looked at them all. There were baby chickens in one corner, and Honey Bunch was eager to have little chickens in her garden until she learned that the little chickens would soon grow into big chickens and eat the garden up. Then she thought she would rather just raise flowers.

“My goodness, look at Lady Clare!” said Honey Bunch, as she and her daddy peeped in at the garden on their way to their front door. “She’s sleeping in the middle of the garden!”

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