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Just a Little Girl
IN THE GARDEN“THERE, there, don’t cry, dearie,” said Mother quickly. “I have more dough and there are plenty of apples. Cooks often have to do their work over, you know. I’ll help you, Honey Bunch, and you’ll have another pie made and baked before you know it.
Daddy Morton felt almost as bad about the pie as his little girl did. He had to hurry back to his office, but while Mother was brushing and scraping the flour and dough off him, he put his arm around Honey Bunch and whispered that he would bring her something nice that night.
He hurried off, and then Honey Bunch and Mother set to work to make another pie, and you may be sure this second one was not left on a chair where it might be sat upon. Honey Bunch would hardly let go of it long enough for Mother to put it in the oven.
And when it was taken out a little later, a beautiful brown and smelling so perfectly delicious, well, maybe Honey Bunch wasn’t proud of her pie! Mother said she had never seen a finer looking pie and Mother had seen a great many pies—she had made ’most a hundred herself, Honey Bunch thought.
When Daddy Morton came home to dinner that night, the pie was sitting at his place and he was as pleased as though he had made it himself. He said that now his daughter could cook, he wasn’t afraid of ever being hungry in his own house.
“Any time Mother wants to go away for a little vacation, we can keep house, can’t we, Honey Bunch?” said Daddy, smiling. “You’ll do the cooking and I’ll sweep and dust.” That made Honey Bunch laugh, because when Daddy swept she had noticed that a great many things fell down. Mother had noticed it, too. Once he had swept the front porch for her and all the plants on the railing had fallen off and some of the pots had broken.
“Here’s something for the champion pie baker,” said Daddy, after he had admired the pie.
He took a little parcel out of his pocket and passed it across the table to Honey Bunch. She untied the pink string and opened the paper and there was the cunningest little cooking set you ever saw. There was a little mixing board and a tiny rolling pin and a little wooden bowl to chop things in and a wooden spoon to stir them with. Honey Bunch wanted to go right out into the kitchen and use the little set, but Mother said no, it should be put away for the next baking day.
“I shall expect another pie next week,” said Daddy seriously. “I hope to have all the pie I want now that I have two girls who can bake them.”
And Mother and Honey Bunch promised to keep him supplied with pie and then Daddy said, if that was the case, he’d eat a second piece of the pie Honey Bunch had made. That, of course, was a sign that it was an extra good pie; no one ever wants a second piece of a pie that isn’t extra good. Honey Bunch knew that.
But you are not to think that Honey Bunch made a pie every day after she learned how. Dear no, not even Mother did that. She had one baking day a week in summer (in winter she baked good things twice a week), and then Honey Bunch loved to be in the kitchen. But other days there were just as pleasant things to do and as nice a place as the kitchen was. The garden, in summer, was even nicer.
Honey Bunch loved the garden. It wasn’t a very large place, but it was filled with flowers, for Mother could make things grow “just by smiling at them,” Daddy said. There was a lawn large enough for the croquet set, there were two trees, between which the hammock was swung, and all the rest was flowers.
If any one had asked Honey Bunch which were her favorite flowers, she would have answered, “Sweet peas and ’turtiums.” She meant nasturtiums. And the reason Honey Bunch liked these flowers best was a very good reason.
“My mother lets me pick the sweet peas and the ’turtiums,” she explained to Ida Camp. “The more you pick ’em, the better they grow.”
This is true, and perhaps other little girls have found it out and love the pretty sweet peas and the bright-colored nasturtiums for this reason.
Honey Bunch loved all the flowers, of course, the pansies and the tall slender larkspur and all the little, low border flowers that marked the flower beds. She helped Mother keep the naughty weeds pulled and they often worked together mornings in the garden.
One morning, though, Honey Bunch felt very important. Daddy had asked her for a bouquet, and Mother had said she might pick it all herself and take as many flowers as she pleased.
“Only do not pick the yellow roses,” said Mother.
The roses were Mother’s favorite flowers and she had so many that in June many people came just to see her flowers. It was not June now and the yellow rose bush was almost the only rose in bloom just then. No wonder Mother wanted to save the blossoms a little longer. Honey Bunch liked roses, but she did not like to pick them; they pricked her, as she said.
“I have to make a nice bouquet for my Daddy,” said Honey Bunch to a butterfly who sat listening on a larkspur stalk.
Daddy did not often ask for flowers, so Honey Bunch was especially eager to pick a beautiful bouquet for him. He wanted to take it to a little lame boy whose window he passed every morning. He said the boy always waved to him and that he wanted to have something to toss up to him the next time he passed.
“Why doesn’t the little boy go and pick flowers in his garden?” Honey Bunch asked. “Can’t lame people pick flowers?”
“The little boy has no garden,” replied Daddy Morton. “He lives in a house where twenty other families live and there is no yard—just a space on the roof where clothes can be hung to dry.”
“I’ll get you the nicest flowers for the little boy, Daddy,” Honey Bunch said, her blue eyes looking sorry for any one who had no pretty yard.
Lady Clare followed Honey Bunch out into the garden. She usually slept on the fence, and Honey Bunch thought that was a very queer place to sleep. She didn’t understand how Lady Clare could be comfortable. To tell the truth, Honey Bunch, after watching the cat one afternoon, had decided to see how it felt to sleep on the fence, and the experiment had not been a happy one.
Mother was not at home when Honey Bunch made up her mind to sleep on the fence, but Mrs. Miller was ironing in the laundry. Honey Bunch took a chair from the kitchen, carried it out to the fence and climbed up. Lady Clare was sleeping on the narrow top rail and Honey Bunch tried to curl up beside her. She tucked her feet under her dress, put her hands in her lap, closed her eyes and— fell off! She screamed as she felt herself going and Mrs. Miller rushed out. So did Mrs. Perkins, who lived next door. They found poor Honey Bunch in a little heap on the ground, crying. Lady Clare was nowhere to be seen.
“I was trying to sleep on the fence,” wept poor Honey Bunch, as Mrs. Miller picked her up and held her tightly in her arms. “The fence wobbled!” Mrs. Perkins gave her a red apple and Mrs. Miller carried her into the house and gave her a little saucer of the good soup that was cooking on the back of the stove for dinner. Honey Bunch didn’t know why things to eat made her feel better, but they did, and by the time she had finished the soup and eaten the apple she had almost forgotten the black and blue spot on her elbow.
“Cats are made different from little girls,” Mrs. Miller told her. “A cat can climb a tree, you know, much better than we can. Why, Honey Bunch, a cat eats mice! You wouldn’t want to eat a mouse, would you?”
And Honey Bunch said no, she wouldn’t, and then she saw that she couldn’t expect to do the same things Lady Clare did, because a little girl and a cat are not at all alike.
So this morning when Lady Clare followed her out into the garden and climbed up on the fence, Honey Bunch did not try to climb the fence too. Instead, she trotted down the path to the shady, cool spot near the back porch where the green ferns grew.
“I’ll put ferns all around the bouquet,” said Honey Bunch, talking to herself, as she often did. “And sweet peas in the middle and then 'turtiums and maybe some of the little white flowers.”
The little white flowers were very sweet, but they had such a long name that Honey Bunch never tried to say it.
Up and down among the flower beds went Honey Bunch with her little, blunt-pointed scissors, and snip! snip! went the scissors. The ferns Honey Bunch spread out on the grass and as fast as she cut a flower she put it down. She knew they would keep fresh longer if laid on the cool, moist earth and not carried in her warm hands.
“Good morning, Mr. Redbreast!” said Honey Bunch politely, speaking to a fat robin who was hunting for worms under the rose bushes.
He was a very stout little robin, and his vest was just as red as a vest could be. His black eyes were very bright. He looked at Honey Bunch as though he wanted to say, “Good morning,” too.
“Ida would dig up a worm for you, but she isn’t here,” said Honey Bunch. “And I would rather not, if you don’t mind.”
Ida Camp dug up worms for the robins to eat. She liked to turn over the earth with her little garden spade and then see the birds snatch the worms that came wriggling out. But Honey Bunch, although she did not like the wriggling worms and thought them very ugly indeed, could not dig up a worm for a robin to eat. She would have felt sorry for the worm long after he had been eaten.
Mr. Redbreast, however, seemed able to get his own worms that morning, and Honey Bunch was so interested in seeing him pull up a long worm, bracing his little body and pulling with all his might, that she quite forgot Lady Clare sunning herself on the fence.
Suddenly there was a flash of something black through the garden as the cat sprang down from the fence and seemed to sail across the flower beds, straight for Mr. Redbreast. With one frightened cry, the bird flew away. Lady Clare sat down, looking rather foolish.
“You’re a bad, wicked cat!” scolded Honey Bunch. “Now Mr. Redbreast didn’t get his breakfast. The worm went back into the hole. I should think you’d be ashamed of yourself, scaring a little bird, Lady Clare.”
Lady Clare half closed her green eyes. She was sorry she had not caught the robin, but perhaps she thought she might have better luck the next time.
“I s’pose you can’t help it,” said Honey Bunch, more kindly. “Daddy says it is natural for you to try to catch birds. ’Scuse me, Lady Clare, if I hurt your feelings.” And Honey Bunch stroked the cat who purred loudly.
“Where is my bouquet?” called Daddy Morton, coming out on the back porch with his hat on and his brief case in one hand. He was all ready to go down to the office. “I thought I was to have a bunch of flowers this morning for my little lame friend.”