A MORE EXCITING PARTYHONEY BUNCH thought hard again, but she couldn’t remember the strange man’s name. She remembered that his little girl was called “Roses” instead of Lulu, but, as Daddy Morton said, that didn’t help him much.
“Well, we won’t fret over what can’t be helped,” he said at last. “If I could get that name I haven’t a doubt it would save me considerable money and more time, which is just as valuable. You don’t think the card is stuck in a book or in any of the desk drawers, do you, Edith?”
Honey Bunch’s pretty mother looked ready to cry. She felt so bad about the lost card.
“I ought to have put it in a safe place,” she said. “But I thought that little tray was a safe place. Mrs. Miller must have thrown out the card when she cleaned. And I don't see how I could forget the name, anyway! I never forget a name!”
“There, there, don’t blame yourself,” Daddy Morton told her. “Perhaps the man has a Chinese name. Here is Honey Bunch who can’t remember it, either. I wonder how it would do if I should advertise for a man who has a little girl named Lulu who is called Roses. That might fetch this mysterious stranger back to us.”
Both Honey Bunch and her mother laughed at the idea of advertising for the stranger that way and Daddy Morton said he was glad they felt more cheerful. But all through the rest of the meal, even when Mother brought in the chocolate pudding dessert, Honey Bunch noticed that her daddy seemed to be thinking. He even had a little “worry frown” between his eyes.
After she had eaten her pudding Honey Bunch went around and sat on Daddy’s knee. She often did that and he liked it very much.
“Maybe the man’s name was Farriday,” said Honey Bunch hopefully. Mr. Farriday lived next door to the Mortons.
“Now stop worrying your head about the name,” ordered Daddy Morton, smiling across the table at Honey Bunch’s mother, who was thinking with a little worry frown between her eyes, too.
“Perhaps you’ll remember it some day, and if you don’t, there is nothing to fret about. The man will come back to see me, if he has anything important to say.”
“Oh, David, he’ll think the next move should come from you,” protested Honey Bunch’s mother. “I’m so sorry I could cry.”
And at that Daddy Morton pushed back his chair and said they wouldn’t wash “any silly dishes,” but instead they would go into the parlor and play the big talking machine until everyone felt like laughing instead of crying.
But Mother said it was time for Honey Bunch to be in bed, and, indeed, as a rule she did not stay up to have dinner with Daddy and Mother. So she kissed Daddy twice on each ear and told him she loved him “bushels” and trotted off upstairs, trying to remember the strange man’s name all the way up.
Daddy Morton said nothing more about the caller and, after Mother had searched the house from garret to cellar and even emptied the barrel of old papers ready for the waste paper cart, to make sure that the card was nowhere to be found, she said nothing about it, either. In a few days Honey Bunch had forgotten the incident entirely.
She had other things to think about, had Honey Bunch. There were the cut-outs, for one thing. She spent several days cutting them out and bending them into shape and playing with them. And then she thought what fun it would be to give a dolls’ party and ask the dolls who lived near to come.
“Give a dolls’ party?” said Mother, when Honey Bunch asked her. “Why, dear, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t give a party. How many little girls and their dolls do you want to invite?”
So Honey Bunch counted and she found there were seven little girls who lived on the same street—Mary and Fannie Graham, Kitty and Cora Williams, Anna Martin, Ida Camp and Grace Winters—whom she would like to ask to come to her party and bring their dolls.
Honey Bunch told Mother what to say and Mother wrote the invitations. They were written on the tiniest of note paper and when they were folded and sealed they were not much larger than two postage stamps.
“Please come to my dolls’ party,” read these invitations. “Bring your good doll with you. The party begins at three o’clock this afternoon.”
Honey Bunch explained that she didn’t want to ask the girls to bring their “best” dolls, because they might think that meant their largest and finest, the doll with the best clothes perhaps.
“I want them to bring their child who acts the best,” said Honey Bunch. “Now there is Esther—I can’t let her come to the party at all. She teased Eleanor and made her cry, so Esther has to stand in the corner all this afternoon and Eleanor is coming to the party.”
Honey Bunch took her invitations around herself and it proved to be a very good plan because she waited while each invited guest opened and read the note—or had Honey Bunch tell her what was in the note—and said whether or not she could come. Every one of the seven asked could come, and when Honey Bunch had left the last note she hurried home to tell Mother that “all the party” would be there.
The porch looked very pretty when it was fixed for the party. The goatskin rug was there, of course; Honey Bunch had seen to that. The little round table was spread with the whitest of white cloths and the blue and white dishes were neatly arranged. There was a little vase of flowers in the center and little peanut parrots at each little girl’s place. Honey Bunch’s mother had made the parrots. She painted the peanuts to look like the birds’ heads and then glued colored tissue paper on to make the tails. Besides the flowers and the dishes and the parrots, there were little brown bread sandwiches, and milk to drink, and a round sponge cake. Oh, no wonder the girls all smiled when they saw that pretty table.
Honey Bunch had six of her dolls ready to receive the guests before the party began. But when she had put a chair between her own chair and the one left for Ida Camp—who was her best friend—she found there would not be room enough for each doll to have a separate chair.
“I guess I’ll have only one of my dolls come,” she said to Mother. “Then all the dolls can sit in one chair; maybe it wouldn’t be polite for me to have six children and the other girls only one.”
So Eleanor, the oldest doll, was chosen to stay and the others were put away. They did not seem to mind it at all and not one pouted or frowned. I do not know of many little girls who would continue to smile if they were sent home from a party, especially after they had seen the cake and the sandwiches on the table, do you?
Promptly at three o’clock the girls came with their dolls. Then such a busy chatter arose on the screened porch! Most of the dolls knew each other, but some had to be introduced and all their clothes had to be admired and compared. Most of the dolls were very pretty, but Cora Williams had brought a rag doll.
“She’s pretty old,” explained Cora, “and she never goes anywhere. I’m sure her feelings are hurt because I haven’t been taking her around with me. I guess she likes to go to parties as much as any one.”
“Of course she does!” agreed kind little Honey Bunch. “She can sit next to Eleanor and I hope she will have a good time.”
The dolls didn’t say much, but their small mothers made up for that. They talked all the time they were eating the sandwiches and drinking the milk; they chattered while they fed their dolls the crumbs of the cake—every one knows that cake crumbs are good for dolls, but that a whole piece of cake is apt to make a doll very sick. The dolls’ mothers talked and laughed and ate and had a very good time indeed and so did the dolls, if their contented smiles told the truth.
“Look at that funny wagon!” cried Cora, peering under the awning as a gaily painted wagon rumbled past the house.
All the girls left the table—everything was eaten up now—and crowded around Cora to look out into the street. Honey Bunch glanced over her shoulder, into her room, and saw a little brown and white dog standing there, wagging his tail.
“Is there any cake left for me?” he seemed to say.
“Whose dog is that?” asked Honey Bunch.
“Oh, goodness, that’s our dog,” said Grace Winters. “He must have followed me here. I wonder who let him in. Teddy, you’re a bad dog!”
Teddy wagged his tail. He thought he was a good dog to find his own way to the party.
“I suppose I’ll have to take him home,” grumbled Grace. “I shut the gate before I left, but he must have jumped the fence. He is always tagging me.”
“Don’t take him home—let him stay,” said Honey Bunch. “Does he know any tricks, Grace?”
Grace was just opening her mouth to say, “No,” when Teddy spied something that pleased him very much. While the girls had been looking at the wagon, the rag doll, whose name was Sarah Jane, had toppled out of the chair where all the dolls sat together and had fallen down on the goatskin rug. Teddy’s sharp eyes saw her at once, and he thought he had found a chance for a game.
He gave a quick jump and landed on poor Sarah Jane. Cora saw him and cried out in alarm. “He’ll kill Sarah Jane!” Cora cried.
Teddy sunk his sharp white teeth into the soft rag doll and shook her quickly. It was his way of playing.
“Drop it. You’re a bad, bad dog!”
Teddy wagged his tail and shook Sarah Jane again. One of her leather shoes came off, and Cora, who was sure her dear doll would be shaken to bits, started after Teddy. He saw her coming and turned and ran.
Downstairs Teddy fled, eight small girls after him. Down the front stairs, through the hall, into the parlor, out through the dining-room, pellmell into the kitchen where Mrs. Miller was cleaning silver, the dog raced, the girls following him. They were all crying, “Drop that, Teddy! Drop it, Teddy!” and the more noise they made, the brighter Teddy’s brown eyes shone and the firmer hold he took on the rag doll. He thought it was great fun.
Just as he shot into the kitchen, for the folding door was fastened back and there was nothing to stop him, the grocery boy knocked at the screen door in the kitchen and Mrs. Miller opened it to let him in. This gave Teddy his chance and he dashed out; through the astonished grocery boy’s legs, and across the side lawn he galloped. Before the grocery boy could get his breath or find out where die dog had come from, eight little girls rushed past him, knocking his basket out of his hand.
Around the side of the house they ran, each one shouting, “Drop it, Teddy! Drop it, Teddy!”
“Is this a lunatic asylum?” asked the grocery boy of Mrs. Miller.
“Land no,” she said, laughing. “Honey Bunch is giving a dolls’ tea party, that’s all.”
And the grocery boy said that was the first time he ever had a dolls’ tea party walk right over him and he thought it was a queer kind of party for any one to be giving. But of course the grocery boy didn’t know about poor Sarah Jane.