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

Chapter IV


IT was easy enough to wake Lady Clare up and bring her into the house, but it did seem as though the cat thought Honey Bunch had planned the garden especially for her. Lady Clare took naps in the middle of the garden nearly every morning; she went to sleep on Honey Bunch’s garden apron, if it wasn’t hung up on the nail in the laundry; and Lady Clare even knocked down the garden tools when she found them standing on the side porch. But that, Honey Bunch admitted, might have been an accident.

When the time came to plant the seeds that Honey Bunch and her daddy had bought in the seed store, Lady Clare sat on the fence with Norman Clark and was as interested as he was. And Norman was very much interested. He asked every other minute when Honey Bunch was going to plant his sunflower seeds.

“I have to measure things first,” Honey Bunch told him, feeling in the pocket of her apron for the tape measure. “I have to measure off places to plant the seeds in; don’t I, Daddy?”

“Yes, indeed,” answered Mr. Morton. “And we mustn’t forget the paths. I knew a little girl once who planted her flower garden so closely that when it was finished she had no place to walk; and she couldn’t weed it, unless she stepped on some of the things she had planted.”

“I guess her daddy didn’t help her,” said Honey Bunch wisely.

“What is that board for?” asked Norman, pointing to a flat board leaning against the fence.

“You’ll see by and by,” replied Mr. Morton. “Come, Honey Bunch, you hold the tape measure while Daddy finds out where to put the pegs.”

So Honey Bunch held one end of the tape measure and her daddy held the other end and together they measured a space to plant the clove pinks in. Then Mr. Morton put a peg down and tied a string to that and ran the string along to another peg. And he and Honey Bunch did this three times, once for the nasturtiums and once for heliotrope—which was Mrs. Morton’s favorite flower.

“Now you take your spade, Honey Bunch,” Mr. Morton said, when the little pegs were in and the strings tied. “See if you can dig in a straight line, directly under these strings.”

Honey Bunch took her shining new spade and began to dig. She was so excited she stuck out her pink tongue and Norman and Lady Clare almost fell off the fence, trying to see what she was doing. Her daddy had to show her just at first, but after that she did it nicely all by herself—a little trench under each white string.

“Now the seeds go in that,” explained Mr. Morton, cutting the tops of the seed envelopes with his knife. “Put them in carefully, Honey Bunch, not more than two or three in a place; and leave plenty of space between for the roots to grow.”

Honey Bunch opened one of the envelopes and looked in.

“Oh, Daddy,” she cried, “these aren’t any good—they’re too little!”

“No, indeed, those are very fine seeds,” said Mr. Morton, smiling. “You’ll see them grow into sturdy plants and beautiful flowers. Look out, dear—you don’t want to mix the seeds—you want your flowers to grow in separate rows.”

Then Honey Bunch knelt down and very slowly and very carefully dropped the tiny seeds into the warm, brown earth, patting the dirt over them as Daddy showed her. She planted the heliotrope first, then the clove pinks, then the red poppies for Ida Camp, and then the nasturtiums.

“And now,” said Mr. Morton, when these seeds were planted, “we’ll plant the sunflowers !”

“Hurrah!” cried Norman, raising his arm to wave it as he had seen boys do in parades.

But his arm hit Lady Clare and knocked her over backward into his yard. Norman was very sorry and jumped down and explained to the cat that he had not meant to knock her over. Then he lifted her back on the fence and climbed up beside her and they were good friends again.

Mr. Morton said the sunflowers would grow best near the fence, so he and Honey Bunch dug a trench for the seeds, but they did not need any string to help them make a straight row, for the fence was a guide. Honey Bunch dropped in the seeds and then Norman found out what the board was for. Mr. Morton put it over the place where the seeds were planted and told Honey Bunch to press down on it. This, he said, would prevent the seeds from being washed out if a rain should come before they were well started.

“I have a lot of garden left over,” said Honey Bunch, looking at the ground where nothing was planted.

“Oh, no one plants a whole garden in a single day, Honey Bunch,” her daddy answered. “Monday we’ll plant the sweet peas for Stub and the marigolds for Bobby and Tess, and then, when we go to get the pansy plants for Uncle Peter and the cabbage rose for Mrs. Miller, I think we’ll be able to get the scarlet sage plants to please Julie.”

This was Saturday afternoon—that was the reason Honey Bunch’s daddy could help her plant her garden. And during the few days they had waited, since buying the seeds, Mrs. Morton had written to Honey Bunch’s cousins to tell them that Honey Bunch was planting a garden and wanted to know their favorite flowers so that she could plant some seeds especially to please them. Stub had asked for sweet peas and the Turner twins wrote they liked marigolds and Julie “loved scarlet sage” her letter said.

“What is your favorite flower?” asked Norman, jumping down from the fence to help Honey Bunch carry away her tools. “Where are you going to plant your favorite flower?”

“I—I haven’t any,” said Honey Bunch, just as she had told the seed clerk.

After dinner that night Honey Bunch and her mother went out to look at the garden and they found Lady Clare lying asleep on the place where the clove pinks were planted. Honey Bunch carried her into the house and scolded her a little, but Lady Clare only blinked her green eyes and looked very wise.

“To-morrow you can’t go out of the house at all,” said Honey Bunch severely. “You’ll have to stay in the house till you promise to be a good cat.”

Honey Bunch had heard Ida Camp’s mother say that to her.

But Sunday morning Honey Bunch woke up to see rain dashing against the window and she knew that Lady Clare wouldn’t want to sleep on the flower seeds. If there was one thing Lady Clare did not like, it was to be forced to stay out in the rain; she wanted to keep her beautiful, silky hair shining and dry.

“Oh, dear,” sighed Honey Bunch at breakfast, “I thought I’d show Ida Camp my garden to-day. She wasn’t at home when I was planting it.”

“Plenty of time to-morrow, dear,” said Mrs. Morton cheerfully. “Why don’t you make a book garden? If you take pains we’ll send it to some little girl who has to stay in the hospital and can’t have any garden at all.”

“A book garden, Mother?” asked Honey Bunch. “I never made a book garden. Could I?”

“Certainly,” Mrs. Morton answered. “I’ll show you how just as soon as I clear the table.” Honey Bunch helped her mother clear the breakfast table and she helped so much that in a very short time they were ready to begin the book garden, on which they worked all day long, except for the time they were at Sunday-school and church, and while, of course, they were at their meals.

“We’ll need ever so many things,” said Mrs. Morton, smiling, “and you may collect them. We’ll call them our garden tools.”

“Aprons, too, Mother?” urged Honey Bunch. “We need aprons to garden in.” “Yes, aprons, too,” agreed Mrs. Morton “I think aprons will be a big help, because we shall use paste, and a little girl I know sometimes forgets and wipes her sticky hands on her dress when she uses paste.”

A little pink blush showed in Honey Bunch’s round cheeks. She was the little girl who sometimes forgot.

“The aprons are in the second drawer in the kitchen,” said Mrs. Morton, who knew how Honey Bunch liked to trot around the house and find things. “Bring two—one for you and one for me.”

Honey Bunch went to the drawer in the kitchen cabinet and chose a pink apron for Mother and a blue one for herself and brought them back to the library where her daddy was reading and her mother was making room on one end of the long library table for them to work.

“Now we’ll need the blunt pointed scissors and a bottle of library paste,” said Mrs. Morton, tying on her apron. “The scissors are upstairs while the paste is here in this table drawer.”

Upstairs after the scissors went Honey Bunch, and then she found the seed catalogues on the shelf in the hall closet, and after that she had to look in Mother’s desk for an old blankbook and in Daddy’s coat pocket for a pencil.

“How do we make a book garden?” Honey Bunch asked after each trip, and each time Mother said:

“You’ll see.”

Perhaps you don’t know how to make a book garden, either, so I’ll tell you how Honey Bunch and her mother went about it.

The seed catalogues were old ones—last year’s—and they had a great many beautifully colored pictures of flowers in them. Vegetables, too. Mr. Morton said he hoped they wouldn’t ask him to look at the vegetables—it made him hungry just to see the pictures of corn and beans and tomatoes.

For the cover of her garden book, Honey Bunch cut out a great purple pansy. She remembered that Uncle Peter’s favorite flowers were pansies, and, as she told her mother, Uncle Peter was her favorite uncle, so wasn’t that all right? Mrs. Morton said she thought it was.

Then, on the pages of the blankbook, Honey Bunch pasted pictures of the flowers she cut from the catalogues. Of course they were not all colored, but she had a box of crayons— they were in the drawer with the library paste so she did not have to make an extra trip for them. Honey Bunch could color pictures very nicely, and she did these with much care. She wanted them to be good enough to go to the little girl who was in the hospital.

In the back of the catalogues were pictures of garden tools, and Honey Bunch cut these out. She couldn’t print well enough—that is, she couldn’t print small enough letters—to go under these pictures, but her mother did that for her. When Honey Bunch tried to print, she needed plenty of room and sometimes it took a whole page for her to print “Dear Daddy.”

At the top of the page of tools Honey Bunch insisted on putting pictures of a rake and a hoe and a spade—for those were her own garden tools. And on the back cover of the blankbook she pasted the picture of a pink rose.

“There!” said Honey Bunch, when all the pictures were pasted in. “I think that is a nice book garden, Mother. Is it nice enough to go to the little hospital girl?”

“Yes, indeed; and I’ll send it off in the morning,” promised Mrs. Morton, who often sent packages of things to the children’s ward of the Barham Hospital. “It is a lovely garden book, dearest.”

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