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

Chapter XIV


JULIE said that Honey Bunch talked about Jane and Sarah in her sleep. She didn’t really. That is, not more than once, and that was the time she had a dream about them. She dreamed that Jane was running the trolley car and Honey Bunch got on it to take a ride. The car, instead of running on the trolley tracks, went off into a field of wild flowers and there was Sarah picking them as fast as she could.

“Sarah!” called Honey Bunch in her dream. “Sarah! Wait a minute till Jane stops the car and I’ll come and help you.”

Then Honey Bunch’s mother heard her calling and came and woke her up and told her she had been dreaming. That was the only time she talked about Jane and Sarah in her sleep.

Honey Bunch and Julie did not see much of the two girls after they started to work in Glenhaven. They went home as soon as supper was over and were busy all during the day. But they did come to call one Sunday afternoon, dressed in new clothes from head to foot, and they told Honey Bunch and Julie that they were “as happy as larks.”

“Maybe next summer Ma won’t have to take in washing,” said Jane proudly. “Your aunt thinks we can live in Glenhaven this winter and go to school; work after school for our board, you know. And next summer we’ll earn more money and take care of Ma. Soon as we get the roof mended, we’re going to get a pump in the house so we can have water without going out to the well for it.”

The very first thing Honey Bunch told her daddy, when he came down to see them, bringing Uncle Peter with him, was that Sarah and Jane had had their roof mended.

“Well, I’m glad to hear that!” cried Uncle Peter, putting down his bag and swinging

Honey Bunch up on his shoulder. “Who fixed the roof—Jane?”

Honey Bunch laughed. She knew her uncle was teasing her. He had never seen Jane or Sarah.

“Will you build us a bridge, Uncle Peter?” asked Julie, trying to lift the heavy bag and failing. “Will you build us a bridge on the sand?”

“Anything you want,” said this obliging uncle, putting down Honey Bunch and picking up his bag. “Anything you want, Julie. But don’t you live somewhere? Perhaps there will be supper at your house to-night.”

Julie laughed this time, and she and Honey Bunch walked on ahead to show Mr. Morton and Uncle Peter the way.

The summer had been a very happy one for Honey Bunch, but she told her mother it was “nicer” with her daddy and Uncle Peter to play with her and Julie.

“There’s such a lot to do,” explained Honey Bunch, “and Daddy likes to do it and so does Uncle Peter.”

The two mothers decided one fine morning that they would go to the city and shop, because Honey Bunch and her cousin would not be left alone now.

“We’re going fishing from the end of the pier,” said Uncle Peter, when the plan was explained to him, “and I don’t see any reason why girls shouldn’t go fishing as well as boys.”

This suited Honey Bunch and Julie exactly, and down to the pier the four went. There were several men already hard at work fishing from the end of the pier when they reached there. Honey Bunch knew they were working hard, because they were not talking much and they stared so hard at the water.

“Is that how they know they have a fish?” Honey Bunch whispered to her daddy, who was fixing her line. “If they weren’t looking, they wouldn’t see the fish, would they?”

“No, you must watch your line,” answered Mr. Morton. “Here you are now, Honey Bunch; I’ll cast for you and then you stand right where you are and hold the line till you get a nibble.”

Uncle Peter had a line fixed for Julie by this time, and he let it down into the water and then gave it to her to hold. He and Daddy Morton had little wheels on their rods. Neither Honey Bunch nor Julie had a little wheel, but they didn’t mind. Not every one had a wheel—indeed, the man next to Honey Bunch had none.

“Fish are biting good to-day,” he said, when he saw Honey Bunch’s blue eyes looking at him. “You’ll probably get a bite.”

“You mustn’t talk, though,” Uncle Peter warned her. “Keep perfectly still and we’ll see what happens.”

Well, nothing happened for several minutes. That may seem like a long time when you are standing in the sun and waiting for a fish to bite. Julie stood first on one foot and then on the other. She looked at the sky. Then she looked at the other people fishing. She yawned.

“I don’t call this much fun,” she complained.

Honey Bunch held her finger up to her lips.

“I think,” she whispered cautiously, “I think I have a bite.”

Uncle Peter heard her. He fastened his rod between the pickets of the fence—have I told you that there was a fence around the pier just like the white picket fence around many of the gardens in Barham where Honey Bunch lived? This fence, of course, kept people from tumbling over into the ocean. Uncle Peter fastened his rod and came to Honey Bunch’s rod and line. He pulled in on it, gently.

“No, dear, you haven’t a bite,” he said at once. “Are you tired? Do you want to stop and go play in the sand?”

Honey Bunch shook her head.

“I’ll fish some more,” she declared, taking hold of her rod, with both hands this time.

The noise of the bathers, shouting and laughing, came out to them from the beach. The breakers dashed against the pier, making it shake and sending white foam high into the air. Every now and then water would spatter over the picket fence, some of it to fall on the people fishing. They did not care. They all wore their old clothes. Honey Bunch and Julie had on old dresses and their second-best sandals. When you go fishing, you do not want to have to be careful of your clothes.

Honey Bunch was staring at the water, watching her line where it disappeared into the green water. The ocean was green this morning, not blue; it was as green as Honey Bunch’s green dress, though not as green as the grass.

“I have a bite!” cried Honey Bunch, forgetting to whisper. “Daddy, I know I have a bite! Come feel! Uncle Peter, come and feel!”

Uncle Peter hurried to her to “feel” her line.

“Well, you certainly have hooked something,” he agreed. “Let me have your rod and I’ll pull in for you; but I don’t think it is a fish, Honey Bunch.”

Honey Bunch was sure it was a fish. What else could it be? Hadn’t Daddy put the same kind of bait on her hook that he used on his own hook—he had taken it out of the same pail—and besides, what else could you catch in the ocean?

Several of the people on the pier crowded around to see what kind of fish Honey Bunch had caught, and Julie was so excited that if Mr. Morton had not kept a tight hold on her blouse sleeve, she would certainly have climbed up on the fence and perhaps have tumbled off.

“I’ll ask Pauline to cook my fish,” Honey Bunch was saying, and just as she said that her line flew high in the air and something landed with a splash on the floor of the pier.

“Why!” cried Honey Bunch, in great surprise. “Why, it’s a pail!

The man who had stood next to Honey Bunch while she fished laughed. He thought it was a funny kind of fish. But Honey Bunch did not laugh. She stared at the pail.

“Julie, that’s Anne Wade’s pail!” she almost shouted. “The one she lost! Don’t you remember hers was blue?”

Well, it did seem strange that Honey Bunch should have fished Anne’s lost pail out of the ocean, but apparently she had. She wanted to stay and fish for the shovel, but her daddy explained that she probably could not hook that. The reason she had found the pail, he said, was because her fish hook had caught the wire handle.

“Let’s take it to Anne now,” suggested Honey Bunch, when she understood that she couldn’t depend on hooking the shovel. “Won’t she be surprised!”

The two girls left Daddy Morton and Uncle Peter fishing and trotted off to find Anne. She usually played every morning at the foot of the boardwalk near the street where she lived, so it was not hard to find her.

“Anne!” called Honey Bunch, as soon as she saw the fat little girl. “Anne, what do you think we found? I fished it out of the ocean!”

“A string of pearl beads?” asked Anne hopefully. “A lady lost her necklace yesterday afternoon.”

“No-o, I didn’t find that,” replied Honey

Bunch. “But maybe if I go back and fish some more, I might. Look, Anne, I found your pail!”

Anne was like some grown-ups. One way she was like them was that she never did what you expected her to do. Both Honey Bunch and Julie thought she would be pleased and astonished to have her lost pail brought to her—“and it wasn’t hurt a bit,” Honey Bunch told her mother that night—but all she said was:

“That old thing? I’d forgotten all about it!”

But the reason Anne did not say more about her pail was because she was interested in something else. She could not talk about the pail because she wanted to talk about the pageant.

“I’m going to be in it,” she said. “I’m going to ride on a float and wear a white dress and maybe a silver cornet.”

Anne meant a coronet which, you know, is not an instrument to make music, but something that looks like a crown.

“I was in the pageant last year,” said Julie. “I won a prize.”

“Well, I have to go uptown with my mother now to get the material for my dress,” announced Anne. “My mother is taking a lot of trouble with my float. She’d like to have me win the first prize.”

And Anne walked away, thinking so hard about her dress for the pageant that she left the pail Honey Bunch had brought to her lying in the sand.

“I guess she doesn’t want it any more,” said Honey Bunch, stooping to pick it up. “What is the pageant, Julie?”

“It’s like a big parade,” explained Julie. “It’s miles and miles long and there are babies and children and floats and ponies and go- carts in it—and everything! Folks sit along the boardwalk to watch and there are prizes. Last year I won a silver bowl—the one Mother keeps oranges in.”

Honey Bunch and Julie went back to the pier and found that Daddy Morton had caught three fish and Uncle Peter four.

“Anne didn’t want her pail,” said Honey Bunch sadly. “She’s going in the pageant.”

Then Daddy Morton looked at Uncle Peter and smiled and Uncle Peter said something that surprised Honey Bunch and Julie very much.

“Well, so are you!” he said. “And so is Julie. That’s the reason your mothers went shopping to-day. You are both going to be in the pageant next week.”

“Will you sit on the boardwalk and watch?” asked Honey Bunch eagerly.

“You couldn’t keep me away,” answered Uncle Peter.

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