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

Chapter XI


          THE painters painted the back steps all one color—a pretty gray—and the next day they took their ropes and ladders and went away. They told Honey Bunch they were going out into the country to paint a farmhouse and three big barns.
          Honey Bunch thought the house looked very beautiful. It was cream color and the blinds were green. Mrs. Miller came and washed all the windows, for the paint had spattered on some of them, and she and Mrs. Morton hung up clean, frilly white curtains at the clean windows. Everything looked very nice and cozy and Daddy said he thought they must be ready for winter.
          “Well, we are,” Honey Bunch’s mother told him. “I like to get all the fall work done before it is time to get ready for Thanksgiving.”
          And of course Honey Bunch wanted to know when it would be Thanksgiving.
          “I’ll show you,” said her daddy, picking her up and carrying her over to the large calendar that hung in the kitchen. “Now this is today, Honey Bunch,” he said, putting her finger on one of the big blocks. “Count from to-day—one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight—Thanksgiving is eight days from today.”
          They had had a fire in the furnace ever since the painters had finished the house. Every morning seemed a little colder. First Honey Bunch put on a warmer dress, then a heavier coat, and at last Mother brought her her mittens. Then Honey Bunch knew it was winter.
          “Is eight days a long time, Mother?” asked Honey Bunch when Daddy had gone to the office.
          “No, indeed! It is a very short time,” answered Mother. “Why, Honey Bunch, you and I have so much to do, we’ll have to be as busy as two bees.”
          Honey Bunch loved to help Mother and this sounded pleasant.
          “What do we have to do, Mother?” she asked eagerly.
          “We have to go to market and tell the butcher to save us a good turkey,” explained Mother. “We have to make at least three kinds of pies, mince and pumpkin and apple. We have to get Daddy to crack nuts for us and polish red apples. We have to see that our prettiest silver and china is all ready for the table. We have to fix a dinner for the birds—why, Honey Bunch, just think of all the things we have to do and all in eight days!”
          “Let’s begin right away!” cried Honey Bunch. “Oh, Mother, suppose Thanksgiving came ’fore we were all fixed!”
          She and Mother began that very day to get ready for Thanksgiving. They went to market together and Mother told the butcher what kind of turkey she wanted and he promised to send her a nice one the day before Thanksgiving. Then Mother and Honey
Bunch bought nuts and raisins and cranberries and apples and oranges and a great yellow pumpkin that Honey Bunch thought was too pretty to cook. They stopped at the grocery store and bought eggs and sugar and butter and so many other good things that the little girl began to wonder where all the things were going; she was sure their pantry wouldn’t hold them all.
          “Are we thankful Thanksgiving because we have so much to eat?” she asked her mother, when they were on their way home.
          So Mother told her a little about Thanksgiving, as much as a little girl not yet five years old could understand; about the Pilgrims who made the first Thanksgiving because they had a good harvest and were very grateful for food to carry them through the winter. Honey Bunch asked so many questions about the Pilgrims that they were home before Mother had answered them all.
          “Honey Bunch,” said Daddy Morton that night, “are you going to be too busy to help me a little?”
          “My, no,” said the willing little Honey Bunch, who was always ready to help every one. “What do you want me to do, Daddy?” “I’ll tell you,” answered Daddy. “You remember the little lame boy I carried the bouquet to this summer? You picked the flowers for me, you know, and he was so pleased he nearly cried. I want to take him a Thanksgiving basket and I thought perhaps you would help me pack it.”
Honey Bunch was delighted to help, and the next night Daddy Morton brought home a pretty round basket with a long handle. Such fun as he and Honey Bunch had packing it! They put in little packages of figs, wrapped in tinfoil paper. They put in dates and candy, wrapped in goldfoil paper. They polished apples, and tied a bow of ribbon on a large bunch of grapes, and tried to make everything look as pretty as they could. Wherever there was a little chink left, they stuffed in raisins and nuts.
          “Why are you cracking the nuts, Daddy?” asked
          Honey Bunch, when her daddy began to open several English walnuts carefully with his knife.
          “This is a secret, but I’ll tell you,” he said, smiling. “You watch and see what happens, Honey Bunch.”
          So Honey Bunch watched, and she saw her daddy take out the nut meats and slip a bright new dime into the shells. Then he glued the two halves together again and really and truly you could not tell those nuts had ever been opened. He did this to a number of nuts and then scattered them around the basket. Honey Bunch stared and stared, but she could not tell which nuts had money in and which had not been opened.
          “How will the little boy tell where the money is, Daddy?” she asked anxiously.
          “He can’t tell,” said her daddy. “That is what makes the surprise. He’ll crack a nut and it will be good to eat; he’ll crack another nut and it will be good to spend. And the basket will amuse him till the last nut is gone.”
          Honey Bunch thought this was a very nice plan and she thought about it till bedtime. Then, when Mother came to kiss her goodnight and put out the light, another thought popped into her head.
          “Mother,” she said, “why didn’t the Lulu- man put his card inside a nut shell? Then it wouldn’t get lost and Daddy could have it.”
         “What made you think of that?” asked Mother. “I thought you had forgotten the card long ago. Daddy has, I am quite sure.” But Honey Bunch went to sleep thinking what a nice little cardcase a nut shell would make. She dreamed that she went to see the little lame boy with Daddy and when he opened the nut shells there was no money in them, but cunning little cards and every card said “Lulu.”
          Honey Bunch and her mother were very busy till Thanksgiving Day. Mother said she didn’t know what she should do if it wasn’t for Honey Bunch, and Mrs. Miller, who came the day before Thanksgiving to help, and on Thanksgiving Day, too, to wash the dishes, said she knew that Honey Bunch was going to grow up and be a famous housekeeper.
          Just as Honey Bunch had decided that the calendar was wrong and that Thanksgiving was still a week away, it came! The pies Honey Bunch had helped to make were ready, the table was set with the best tablecloth and napkins, and the silver was beautifully polished. There were grapes and apples and oranges all piled into the glass fruit bowl in the middle of the table. Honey Bunch wore her best brown velvet dress and Mother wore her best silk dress and Daddy had on his new tie. It was Thanksgiving Day and no mistake!
          Daddy went off to take the little lame boy his basket in the morning while Mother and Honey Bunch stuffed the turkey. Mother sewed him up with a needle and thread, just as if he had been a dress she was making. Honey Bunch said she thought he ought to be stitched on the sewing machine because Mrs. Miller had once told her that sewing machine stitching was very strong indeed; but Mother said that turkeys were never stitched up on the machine, so of course it wouldn’t do for their turkey.
          When the turkey was in the oven, Mrs. Miller came and then Honey Bunch and Mother went into the parlor to watch for Daddy.
          “I shouldn’t be surprised if it snowed today,” said Mother, pinning back one of the curtains so they could see out into the street.
          “Oh, goody!” cried Honey Bunch, clapping her hands. “I wish it would snow. I wish it would snow so much that it would be up to the roofs of the houses!”
          “Why, Honey Bunch, you wouldn’t like that at all,” said her mother. “You couldn’t go out for weeks and weeks if that should happen.”
          “Why couldn’t I?” asked Honey Bunch, pressing her nose flat against the cold window pane. “Why couldn’t I go out, Mother?”
          “Because, if the snow was up to the roofs of the houses, think how deep it would be,” said Mother. “It would be weeks and weeks be- fore men could shovel paths through for the trolley cars and the automobiles and for grown-up people to walk. Little children would be buried in snow the moment they put their small feet outdoors.”
          “Well, then,” said Honey Bunch, “I wish it would snow just up to the windows. There comes Daddy!”
She flew to the door to meet him and to ask him if the little lame boy liked his basket.
          “Don’t tell me I smell turkey!” cried Daddy Morton, wrinkling his nose. “Honey Bunch, do you know whether we are going to have turkey for dinner to-day?”
Honey Bunch giggled and nodded.
          “Yes, we are,” she answered. “I helped Mother fix it, Daddy. He is all sewed up with a needle and thread. Did the little lame boy like his basket?”
          “To be sure he did,” said Daddy Morton. “I left him eating grapes and looking at the rest of the things when I came away. And if you’ll look inside this parcel, Edith,” he added, handing a long package to Honey Bunch’s mother, “you’ll find something for yourself.”
          Honey Bunch came close to Mother to watch her open the parcel. Inside were great, beautiful yellow chrysanthemums, raggedy, handsome flowers whose smell reminded Honey Bunch of the woods where she had gone one Saturday afternoon with Daddy.
          “Oh, David, how lovely!” cried Mrs. Morton. “We’ll have them on the table. Honey Bunch, aren’t they beautiful?”
          Honey Bunch spent the morning trotting back and forth between the parlor and the kitchen. She saw Mrs. Miller “baste” the turkey, which had nothing to do with needle and thread. Honey Bunch had seen Mother baste her dresses, often, but when Mrs. Miller basted the turkey, she poured spoonfuls of gravy over it. Honey Bunch helped Mother fill the little candy and salted nut dishes and tasted a candy and a nut or two. She tied an orange ribbon on Lady Clare. And then, finally, dinner was ready.
          Every year Mrs. Morton invited three old ladies who lived in an old ladies’ home to come to Thanksgiving dinner. They were sisters and their names were Miss Anna, Miss Mary and Miss Bertha Anderson. Mother told Honey Bunch that they were not exactly poor and they were not hungry; they were well taken care of in the home.
          “But they are lonely, for they have no one of their own to love them,” she said. “No nice daddy, no little girl. I like them to come and be happy with us, and Daddy does, too.”
          Honey Bunch did not talk very much during dinner. Miss Mary talked a great deal and Miss Anna and Miss Bertha talked, too. They seemed to be hungry and they liked the dinner. Honey Bunch was sure they did. It was a very good dinner and Daddy gave Honey Bunch the wishbone of the turkey. She put it away to dry and then she intended to make a wish with it.

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