AN UNEXPECTED ADVENTURE
HONEY BUNCH’S daddy said that nothing but blackberry shortcake would have made him think of going home. But as soon as he began to think about the shortcake, he discovered that it was half-past five o’clock and in a few minutes they were back in the car and turning around to leave Happydays Park.
“I’m going to open my popcorn now,” said Julie, as soon as they were out on the road.
And though her mother said she thought that ice cream and lemonade ought to be enough for one small girl in an afternoon, Julie was so hungry that she ate all her popcorn. Of course she passed the box, but no one wanted popcorn, and that left it all for Julie.
“Don’t you want any, Honey Bunch?” insisted Julie, shaking the box so that the popcorn rattled.
Honey Bunch said she didn’t want any popcorn and she did not open her own box. Julie thought she was saving it to eat later, but when they reached the house Honey Bunch went straight to the kitchen.
“I brought you some popcorn, Pauline,” she said, peeping in through the kitchen door at Pauline, who was mashing blackberries in cream for the shortcake. “We had the nicest time!”
Pauline was as pleased as pleased could be that Honey Bunch had thought of her, and if it had not been for Honey Bunch’s mother, that little girl might have made herself sick by eating too much shortcake. Every one laughed when Pauline brought in Honey Bunch’s plate—Pauline had cut a piece for her that was three times as large as an ordinary sized piece. Mrs. Morton cut it in half and then cut one of the halves in half again, and that was just right. Honey Bunch ate it, and very good it was.
The next day was Sunday, and Honey Bunch and her daddy and Julie went to Sunday school and then spent the rest of the day on the beach. They had a very quiet, happy time and built a new castle. At sunset, Julie’s mother came down to tell them that they were going to have supper on the beach, and that was just like a picnic.
Monday morning, alas, Daddy Morton had to go home. But he was coming again in a few weeks, and he would bring Uncle Peter with him, so Honey Bunch did not feel so bad as she might have felt.
Now, of course, she was used to her bathing suit. She said she was. And very often Julie and she put on their suits and went down to spend the whole morning on the beach. Dear me, soon Honey Bunch was as brown as Julie—little nose, face, hands and arms and legs—she surely was as “brown as a berry.” Every one said so.
Sometimes Anne came and played with them—that missing pail and shovel were never found—and sometimes Harvey Garrett came and teased them all. He had no sisters of his own, and that may have been the reason he was not more polite to little girls.
The two mothers went in bathing almost every day, and often Julie and Honey Bunch would go out into the water with them. They thought it more fun, though, to dig a little hole, close to the edge of the water, and sit in it and let the water come and fill it up. Oh, how cold it was at first and, when they were used to it, how pleasant!
“Mother,” said Julie one afternoon, when they were sitting on the shady pier, “Honey Bunch hasn’t had a ride on the ponies yet. You said we could take her some afternoon.”
“Yes, I know I did,” replied Mrs. Somerset, smiling. “But you have been such busy little girls there really hasn’t been a spare moment. Are the ponies on the beach to-day, Julie?”
Julie stood up and shaded her eyes with her hand. She looked far up the boardwalk to a place where a little shed was built.
“They’re leading them out now, Mother!” cried Julie. “Honey Bunch ought to go riding to-day, oughtn’t she?”
Honey Bunch looked interested. She had never ridden on a pony.
“I rode one of the horses at Stub’s farm,” she told Julie. “His name was T. Foote, and he was very high from the ground.”
“These ponies are little,” said Julie. “It’s fun to ride on them. Sometimes they just take you up and down inside the fence, but sometimes the men take them down to the beach. It’s heaps more fun down on the beach.”
Julie’s mother folded up her sewing and Honey Bunch’s mother folded up her knitting and they followed Julie, who dragged Honey Bunch along so fast her feet had to run. Julie was afraid the spotted pony wouldn’t be there unless they hurried.
But he was. They found a boy holding him when they reached the beach. The spotted pony was a beautiful little creature, with a soft cream-colored mane and tail and white patches on his cream-colored body.
Julie said he was the nicest pony of all the seven that stood there, and she should have known. She had ridden every one of those ponies.
“I’d like to see you do it,” said Honey Bunch, stepping away from the four little polished feet of the pony.
His hoofs were as black and shining as Honey Bunch’s best patent leather slippers.
“You take a little ride first, Julie,” said Julie’s mother. “Then Honey Bunch will ride the pony.”
Julie scrambled up on the pony’s back and grinned down at Honey Bunch from the saddle.
“He’s the dearest pony,” she cried, taking the reins. “You’ll love him to pieces!”
Julie was so usedto riding a pony that the boy did not lead her up and down. No, she said “gidap!” and sent the pony scampering over the wet sand all by herself.
“There, that’s all you have to do!” she said to Honey Bunch, when she had turned the pony around and had come flying back.
There were chairs on the sand—without legs, Honey Bunch said. She meant, of course, that the chairs had no legs. They were of canvas and very comfortable with high backs. Honey Bunch’s mother and Julie’s mother sat down in two of these chairs and the boy lifted Honey Bunch to the back of the spotted pony.
“I’ll come, too,” said Julie, and she ran alongside, one hand on the saddle, while the boy led the pony.
“What’s your name?” whispered Honey Bunch into the left ear of the pony.
He wiggled his ear, but the boy had to answer for him.
“His name is Callie,” said the boy. “That’s short for ‘Calico.’ Are you comfortable, Miss?”
Honey Bunch said she was comfortable, and indeed she was. Callie was much nearer the ground than T. Foote had been and he picked up his feet so carefully and put them down so gently that any one would have known at once that he was a polite pony.
“Why do you call him ‘Calico’?” asked Honey Bunch, stroking his mane.
“ ’Cause he has those spots,” explained the boy, leading Callie around a deep hole some children had dug in the sand. “They look like pieces of calico.”
Honey Bunch did not think they did. They looked like spots to her, but she did not say so. Instead, she whispered into the pony’s other ear that she hoped he wasn’t tired.
He shook his head at that, and of course that showed he wasn’t tired at all.
They had gone almost to the point where the pony should turn around when a sudden breeze lifted the straw hat the boy wore off his head and sent it spinning along the beach.
“You stay still, Callie—whoa!” cried the boy, and, dropping the halter, he ran back to get his hat.
Honey Bunch always declared that the pony did not hear what the boy said. She was sure he would never have acted as he did had he heard plainly.
For the moment the boy left him and ran up the beach, Callie turned and walked deliberately toward the ocean.
“Stop him!” cried Julie. “Pull on the lines, Honey Bunch!”
Honey Bunch pulled on the lines, but Callie paid no attention. He continued to walk toward the ocean. Julie tried to pull on the lines, too, but she wasn’t very tall and she could hardly reach up to the saddle.
“He’ll go in the ocean!” screamed the frightened Julie. “Make him stop, Honey Bunch!”
It was a lonely strip of sand and there were no other people near. Honey Bunch tugged on the reins and she asked Callie please, please, PLEASE not to go into the water, but that pony acted as though he did not hear her. He went straight toward the water, and when he heard the boy shouting to him, he began to run a little.
Then Julie, who was as brave as a little girl seven years old could be, made up her mind that she wasn’t going to let her cousin go to sea on a pony’s back. What she did was funny and not exactly helpful, but she meant it for the best. She seized Callie’s beautiful, long, wavy tail and she held on with all her strength. But even that didn’t stop the pony.
Splash! There, he had stepped into the water and in a few minutes Honey Bunch felt the spray from the waves. Julie let go the pony’s tail and stood crying on the edge of the creeping waves that went on laughing as they ran up on the beach and back, exactly as though there were no unhappy little girls in the world.
“I’ll get him!” shouted the boy, running past Julie and making more noise than the pony did.
Indeed Callie was picking his way through the waves as carefully as he had walked over the sand. Honey Bunch wasn’t the least bit wet. But she was not very comfortable. No one wants to go riding in the ocean unless it is in a boat or on a surf board. What she wanted most of all—even more than she wanted Callie to go out of the water on to the shore, she thought—was her mother. And Mother was far up the beach, talking comfortably to Aunt Norma.
Callie didn’t want to come out at all—perhaps his feet were hot and the cool water felt good to them. Anyway, he tried to pull back, and at last one of the life guards came running to help, and then, after more pulling and pushing, that obstinate little pony walked out of the sea.
“Well, my goodness, Honey Bunch,” cried the life guard, when she and the pony were safely on land, “are you going sailing on a pony? What won’t you do next!”
Honey Bunch laughed.
“He didn’t sail,” she said. “He didn’t even swim. How could you be so bad?” she added to Callie, who looked ashamed of himself and shook his head a great many times as if to say he didn’t understand it himself.
You may be sure that the boy didn’t drop the halter once on the return ride, and Callie behaved as well as any pony could until Honey Bunch was lifted down from his back. The two mothers had not seen him go into the water, for a turn in the beach had hidden part of the beach from them. Honey Bunch and Julie told them what had happened and they both agreed when Honey Bunch said thoughtfully:
“Lots of things go right on happening to me.”