BIRTHDAY SURPRISES“WHEN did Daddy put Lady Clare in the rag bag?” asked Honey Bunch thoughtfully, tasting her good oatmeal.
It was the morning of her birthday and she was five years old. Mother and Daddy had each kissed her five times before breakfast and here she was at the table eating oatmeal from a brand new blue bowl that, Mother said, was a present from Mrs.
“I put Lady Clare in the rag bag? Never!” said Daddy Morton, looking puzzled. “Is the cat lost, Honey Bunch?”
Honey Bunch shook her head.
“No-o, Lady Clare isn’t lost,” she answered. “But—but Mother said you let the cat out of the bag. Didn’t you, Mother?”
“I said he usually did and sometimes you helped,” said Mrs. Morton, laughing. “Only, Honey Bunch, Mother wasn’t speaking of rag bags; I meant that you and Daddy like to tell secrets before the right time.”
Honey Bunch didn’t see what secrets had to do with cats in bags, but she wisely decided not to think about that any longer. It was much more exciting to think about her birthday and the surprises that were going to happen. Mother had said there would be surprises.
“Now, Honey Bunch,” said Mother when breakfast was over, “Daddy and I decided that you would have a better time if you didn’t have your presents all at once. They are hidden around the house and I think you’ll find them without much trouble. And this noon Ida’s mother has asked you to have lunch with them.”
Honey Bunch kissed Daddy good-by, her mind filled with thoughts of presents in tissue paper. Then, too, it would be fun to go to Ida’s house for lunch. Last year Ida had come to Honey Bunch’s house on her birthday and they had had a party supper together.
“Now I’m five years old, I’m big enough to go visiting, I guess,” said Honey Bunch to herself.
“Honey Bunch,” called Mrs. Morton from the kitchen, “will you run upstairs and get me a clean handkerchief? You know where I keep them—in that little box in my top drawer.”
Honey Bunch ran upstairs and into her mother’s room. She found the handkerchief box in the top drawer of the bureau, but there was something in the box besides handkerchiefs. The something was a little white package, tied with pink ribbon and with a little card tied to the ribbon.
“Oh—my!” said Honey Bunch softly. “That’s a birthday present! I just know it’s a birthday present!”
She did not forget to take a handkerchief for Mother, but how fast she ran downstairs! She burst into the kitchen waving the little white box. “Mother!” she cried. “Mother! Look! Is it a birthday present? And it’s for me, isn’t it, Mother?” Mrs. Morton looked at the card on the box.
“Why, dear, this is printed and you can read it,” she said. “See, Daddy has made the letters very plain: ‘To Honey Bunch with dear love from her daddy.’ What do you suppose is inside?”
Honey Bunch sat down on the floor to open the package. Inside the white tissue paper she found a little white box. And inside the box, on a nest of pink cotton, was a small gold locket and chain.
“Oh, Mother!” Honey Bunch held up the locket for her mother to see. “Look what Daddy gave me! I can wear it to Ida’s house, can’t I, Mother?”
Mother said she might wear the locket and chain and then she offered to fasten the clasp around Honey Bunch’s neck and, turning the locket over, the little girl found that her initials were engraved on one side of the locket— G. M. M.—and on the other side was a little flower, a blue flower that her mother said was a forget-me-not.
Honey Bunch was very proud of her new locket, and when the postman rang the doorbell, she danced to the door to show it to him.
“Well, well, that is a pretty locket,” said the postman. “You don’t mean to tell me you have a birthday to-day? How old are you?”
“I’m five years old,” said Honey Bunch. “And I’m going to have five candles on my birthday cake.”
“I didn’t know you were five years old, but if you are, I think I have a parcel for you,” said the postman. “It’s for a girl who is five years old to-day and as you’re the first little girl I’ve seen who has a birthday this morning, I think I’ll give this to you,” and the jolly postman held out a flat brown package to Honey Bunch.
“Mother!” shouted Honey Bunch, tumbling upstairs, for she knew her mother was making the beds now. “Mother! The postman brought me something because I’m five years old!”
“Well, you are having an exciting morning,” said Mrs. Morton. “Let me cut the string for you, dear. There—you dropped the card, Honey Bunch. That will tell you who sent the present. Why, it is from Miss Anna and Miss Bertha and Miss Mary!”
They were the three old ladies, you remember, who lived in the Old Ladies’ Home and who came to Honey Bunch’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Miss Anna had knit the little girl a pretty blue sweater. Miss Bertha had made a smaller sweater for her doll. Miss Mary had knitted a round cap for the doll.
“Aren’t they lovely, Honey Bunch, to do all that work for you?” said Honey Bunch’s mother. “It takes a good many hours to make a sweater, and those dear old ladies must have knitted pretty steadily to finish this gift in time for your birthday. I remember they asked me Thanksgiving Day when you would be five years old.”
Honey Bunch liked her sweater very much indeed and she said she would wear it to Ida’s house and also take Eleanor, in her new sweater and cap, with her to show Ida.
“That will be all right, won’t it, Mother?” asked Honey Bunch. “Because this is my birthday.”
And Mother kissed her and said that people could do almost as they pleased on their birthdays and she thought it would be very nice for Honey Bunch and Eleanor to wear their new sweaters.
“I wonder if you’ll have time to dust the hall table for me, Honey Bunch?” said Mother. “I’d like the house to look tidy on your birthday. Be sure you dust the lower shelf, dearie.”
Honey Bunch loved to be useful, and she trotted downstairs and took the silk duster out of the bag in the back hall where it was always kept. Then she dusted off the top of the hall table very carefully and put the velvet runner exactly in the center.
Some little girls I know do not dust the lower shelves of the tables in their houses. They think that no one can see the dust there. But Honey Bunch was not like that. She began to dust the lower shelf of the hall table quite as carefully as she had dusted the top.
Away back, in the corner of the shelf, near the wall, her dust cloth hit something hard. It was a box!
Honey Bunch reached under and pulled out the box. Dear me, it was another birthday present!
Honey Bunch threw the duster down and started for the stairs. Her mother was just coming down.
“Mother!” cried Honey Bunch. “Look! Another present!”
She and Mother sat down on the stairs and opened the box right away. Inside there was a slip of paper that read “To my Honey Bunch with love from Mother.”
Honey Bunch had to stop then and kiss Mother and then she went on to open the box.
Inside was a trunk, a doll’s trunk, and inside the trunk was a small doll and “enough clothes to last her a year,” as Daddy said when he saw them that night. Honey Bunch had wanted a “little doll” for a long time, and she was so pleased with this gift that she hugged Mother again and named the doll “Edith” right on the spot. She already had three dolls named for her mother but, as she explained, she could change their names easily.
Before it was time for Honey Bunch to go to Ida’s she had found three more gifts; a set of dolls’ furniture in the box where her best shoes were kept; new hair-ribbons in her own handkerchief box; and a glass jar of candy standing on the shelf where the toothpaste was in the bathroom.
“Daddy did that,” said Mrs. Morton, when Honey Bunch called her to come and see. “He said he thought if you found some candy on that shelf you might remember more easily to brush your teeth.”
When Honey Bunch was dressed in her pretty blue and white challis dress, with Miss Anna’s sweater over it and her locket and chain around her neck, she looked just like a birthday girl. Her mother said so.
“I’d like to take Edith, but she’s so small she couldn’t sit at the table,” said Honey Bunch. “And then Eleanor knows Mrs. Camp and Edith doesn’t.”
So the Eleanor doll in her new sweater and cap went to Ida’s house for lunch with her little mother and the new doll stayed at home.
Ida was very glad to see Honey Bunch. So was Mrs. Camp. There were only the two little girls and Ida’s mother at the luncheon table, for Ned did not come home from school at noon. Eleanor had a seat next to Honey Bunch, and though she did not say a word she smiled all the time, and no one can find fault with a doll who always smiles.
Mrs. Camp said that as it was Honey Bunch’s birthday, she thought she would have pink roses for the center of her table, and very beautiful the flowers looked. Honey Bunch thought they did not look exactly like the pink roses she remembered in her garden in summer, but she was too polite to ask questions.
“We have creamed chicken, ’cause this is your birthday,” said Ida, when they sat down at the table.
They had little baskets of candy, chocolate drops in spun sugar baskets, at each place and a pretty paper doll with “Honey Bunch” and “Ida” written in gold letters on the skirts. And from each place a pink ribbon streamer ran back to the bunch of roses.
“When will it be time for me to give Honey Bunch her present, Mother?” Ida asked, when the maid had brought in the vanilla ice-cream and the round, pink-iced cakes that went with it.
“I think you might give it to her now,” said Mrs. Camp.
So Ida slipped off her chair and went into the parlor and came back in a moment with a bundle which she gave to Honey Bunch, a little shyly.
“I wish you many happy returns of the day,” she said politely.
Honey Bunch let her ice-cream melt while she opened the bundle. In it was a rag dog, a rag cat and two rag puppies and two rag kittens. They were stuffed with soft cotton and painted and they looked very real indeed.
“Lady Clare won’t mind that kind, will she?” said Ida.
Honey Bunch was so happy she could hardly talk. Ida had a set of rag animals like this and she had played with them often. She had wished she could have rag dogs of her own, and now here they were, and exactly the kind Ida had.
“I love you very much, Ida,” said Honey Bunch. And there is no better way to say “thank you” for a birthday gift, or any other kind of gift, is there?
“Don’t forget to pull your ribbons,” said Mrs. Camp, smiling at the two little friends.
Then Honey Bunch learned she was supposed to pull the pink ribbon at her place. The bouquet of roses fell apart—they were make-believe flowers—and tied to the other end of the ribbons were little favors. Honey Bunch had a set of celluloid animals that would float and Ida had a soap bubble set.
“And now let’s play,” suggested Ida, at though she had been anxious to play with Honey Bunch for several minutes.
They were having a grand time with the soap bubble set and the rag animals, to say nothing of floating the celluloid ducks in the bathtub, when Mrs. Camp came upstairs and said it was time for Honey Bunch to go home.
“I hate to break up your fun, dear,” she said, “but I promised your mother you would be home at three o’clock. And it is five minutes of, now.”
“Oh, Mother!” cried Ida, “we’re just beginning to have a good time. Couldn’t you telephone Mrs. Morton that Honey Bunch will be home at four o’clock?”
“I couldn’t,” said Mrs. Camp, shaking her head. “I promised this little girl should be at home at three o’clock, and home she must be when the clock strikes three.”
So Honey Bunch took off the oilcloth apron Mrs. Camp had tied over her frock to keep it dry, and she put the ducks back in the box and wrapped up the rag animals and took her candy basket in one hand and shook hands with Mrs. Camp with the other. Then she picked up Eleanor and started downstairs.
“I’ve had a lovely time,” said Honey Bunch.
Then she kissed Ida and trotted across the street to her own house. The clock on the mantel struck three just as Honey Bunch stepped up on the porch. Some one inside opened the door for her.