HONEY BUNCH began to tell her Uncle Peter all the good times she had had. She found so many to remember that she herself was surprised. She had been visiting, you see, since Uncle Peter had been to see them, and no wonder she had a great deal to tell him.
“And now you’re going away again!” he said, when she had finished.
“To the seashore!” replied Honey Bunch, nodding her head. “To see Julie! Friday!”
“My, my!” said Uncle Peter. “I’m lucky for once.”
Honey Bunch looked puzzled.
“Why are you lucky?” she asked.
“I wanted to bring you a present,” Uncle Peter explained. “You’ll find it down on the hall table. And perhaps it will be the kind of present a little girl who is going to the seashore will use.”
Honey Bunch thought this sounded delightful. Uncle Peter never came to see her without bringing her something nice. She wondered what it would be this time.
“Suppose you run downstairs and get that flat box on the table,” said Uncle Peter, smiling. “Bring it up and I’ll help you open it.”
Away ran Honey Bunch. She was back in a minute. Her cheeks were pink and she was quite out of breath.
“Let Uncle Peter cut the string for you, dear,” said her mother, handing Uncle Peter the scissors. “Then you may unwrap it and open the box.”
Honey Bunch sat down on the floor and held the box in her lap. Uncle Peter went Snip! Snip! with the shining scisssors and the string was unfastened.
“Why, there are more boxes!” cried Honey Bunch, when she lifted up the cover of the large box.
Sure enough, there were three boxes inside, each one carefully wrapped in paper and tied with string. Honey Bunch was so excited she almost stuttered when she tried to talk.
“It’s like Christmas,” she said. “Cut quick, Uncle Peter.”
Uncle Peter snipped the strings on the three boxes and Honey Bunch tumbled them over till she had the paper off and the lids lifted. In one box she found what looked like a set of tin cooking dishes, only they were not like any dishes she or Ida Camp had for their dolls; these were queer dishes, shaped like fish and stars and four-leaf clovers.
The second box held a toy—four little buckets on a chain and they went up and down, up and down, if you turned a small handle at the side. And the third box was also packed with a toy—it looked like a little coal car that ran up and down a track.
“They’re sand toys, Honey Bunch,” said Mrs. Morton. “Julie will show you how to play with them on the beach. And you can make sand tarts and pies in those dishes.”
“Oh!” said Honey Bunch, gathering her new toys up in her arms. “Oh, Mother! I wish I could go and play on the beach this minute.”
“You won’t have long to wait,” Uncle Peter told her, folding up the paper and picking up the pieces of string scattered about on the rug. “Perhaps I’ll run down to Glenhaven while you’re there, Edie.”
“If you ever saw Honey Bunch in the blue bathing suit I’ve bought for her, you couldn’t stay away,” declared Mrs. Morton. “Do come, Peter; come down with David and we’ll all drive home together.”
Uncle Peter said he would “think about it.” He then made Honey Bunch run and get her bathing suit and show it to him. He said that if he came down to the seashore, he would take her and Julie out beyond the breakers and perhaps teach them both to swim.
“I can’t get any work done while you two chatterboxes are here,” said Mrs. Morton, when Uncle Peter tried to show Honey Bunch how to swim on the rug and they laughed so much they had to give up the lesson. “It is almost time for Daddy to come, Honey Bunch; you and Uncle Peter go down and sit on the steps and wait for him. I’ll start dinner.”
“We’ll help you, Edie,” offered Uncle Peter, putting his arm around his sister.
But Mrs. Morton thanked him and said no. She thought she could get dinner better if he and Honey Bunch sat quietly on the front steps. Perhaps she could. Uncle Peter might have tried to teach Honey Bunch to swim while he was carrying in the bread and butter, and that would never have done at all. You can see that.
So Honey Bunch, in her pongee dress, and Uncle Peter went out and sat on the front steps to wait for Daddy Morton. And now I must stop just a minute and tell you about this little girl, if you do not already know her.
Of course, if you have read the first book in this series, called “Honey Bunch: Just a Little Girl,” you
do know her. You know, then, that her truly name was Gertrude Marion Morton and that she lived in the town of Barham with her mother and her daddy and Lady Clare, the black cat who wore a collar of white ermine fur around her pretty throat. Gertrude Marion was a name for a grown-up daughter, Daddy Morton said, so he called his little girl “Honey Bunch” because while she was just a small girl, five years old she was, she was all that was lovely and good and sweet.
Honey Bunch had cousins—the Turner twins, Bobby and Tess. They lived in New York, and Honey Bunch and her mother went to see them. That was one of the things she had to tell Uncle Peter. The story of Honey Bunch’s visit to the twins is told in the second book about her, “Honey Bunch: Her First Visit to the City.” New York is a wonderful place, and to a little girl five years old it is an amazing place. She went shopping and rode on the subway and made new friends and might have remembered enough to tell Uncle Peter till bed time, if it had not been for the visit to the farm. Honey Bunch had as much to tell about her visit to the farm as about New York.
You see, Stub Morton was another cousin. Stub lived on a farm, “Broad Acres,” and Daddy Morton took Honey Bunch and her mother in their new car to visit Stub and her mother and daddy. Long, happy, sunshiny days Honey Bunch spent with Stub, sliding down the hay, climbing trees in the orchard, talking to Michael and Liny who helped to make the farm work move smoothly. All the fun that Honey Bunch had on Uncle Rand’s farm is told in the book called, “Honey Bunch: Her First Days on the Farm.” Perhaps it would have been harder for cheerful and loving little Honey Bunch to leave Stub if she had not known about the seashore visit.
For Honey Bunch had still another cousin —wasn’t she a lucky little girl? This cousin of hers who lived at the seashore was Julie Somerset. Julie’s mother was Honey Bunch’s Aunt Norma and she was a sister of Mrs. Morton’s and of Uncle Peter’s. Honey Bunch had never been to see her, so it is no wonder that when she came home from the farm and Mother said it was time to plan for a visit to Julie, Honey Bunch forgot to be sorry that her stay at Broad Acres was over. You cannot be sorry and happy at the same time—no, indeed.
Now that you are acquainted with Honey Bunch, we’ll go out and see how she and Uncle Peter are getting along on the front steps.
“There’s Daddy!” cried Honey Bunch, spying a tall, familiar figure just turning the corner of their street.
She ran down the steps and flew toward him, and Uncle Peter ran after her. They both reached Mr. Morton at the same time and he held up his hands.
“I surrender!” he cried. “Take my newspaper and my bundles, but spare me the box of blackberries; they’re soft now.”
Uncle Peter laughed, and he and Daddy Morton shook hands. Then Honey Bunch took a hand of each and they walked more quietly to the house.
“How long can you stay, Peter?” asked Mr. Morton at the dinner table that night.
“Just one night,” replied Uncle Peter. “I’m to get out of Barham on the eleven-thirty train. Nelson Rainey is to meet me. We’re going camping on one of the islands his father owns.”
“But you’re coming down to the seashore, aren’t you, Uncle Peter?” asked Honey Bunch eagerly. “Come while we’re there and take Julie and me swimming.”
“I’ll try to come,” answered Uncle Peter. “I think I can manage it at the end of the season.”
Soon after dinner it was time for Honey Bunch to go to bed, and to her delight Uncle Peter said he would put her to bed. He often did this while he was visiting them, and though Mrs. Morton said she never could see why he and Honey Bunch called it they were “getting her ready for bed,” Honey Bunch and her uncle were sure that was exactly what they did.
They usually giggled a great deal and there was sure to be a pillow fight or two. This evening Uncle Peter tried to teach Honey Bunch to swim, using the bolster as an ocean, and they made so much noise that Mrs. Morton had to come up and scold them both. After that Uncle Peter said they must be very good, and he sat down close beside Honey Bunch in her little white bed and told her a story about a little mermaid who lived in the sea. Honey Bunch went to sleep in the middle of the story and woke up to find that morning had come.
As soon as she was dressed she trotted downstairs, and there in the kitchen she found good Mrs. Miller and the beautiful Lady Clare. Mrs. Miller had washed and ironed pretty dresses for Honey Bunch ever since the little girl could remember, and she had taken Lady Clare, the cat, to stay with her while Honey Bunch and her mother were visiting at the farm. She meant to take care of Lady Clare while Honey Bunch went to see Julie, too, but she thought the little girl would like to see her pet “in between visits,” she said.
Honey Bunch hugged Mrs. Miller—who was so large that you could hug only parts of her at a time—and she hugged Lady Clare. She took the cat in to breakfast with her, and Uncle Peter insisted that she must sit in a chair and wear a napkin. He asked Lady Clare all kinds of funny questions, too, that made Honey Bunch laugh—whether she had fried mice at Mrs. Miller’s house and if she liked creamed canary birds to eat.
“I don’t know what I should do if you were a part of our household, Peter,” said Mrs. Morton, shaking her head at her brother. “After you had lived with us a month or two I’m afraid I should expect Honey Bunch and her daddy to sing at their meals.”
Honey Bunch’s blue eyes were staring at Uncle Peter over the rim of her silver mug. She thought he was very dear and funny.
“I’ll behave better next year,” Uncle Peter promised, getting up from his seat and going to sit on the arm of Mrs. Morton’s chair, where he poured himself another cup of coffee, kissed his sister and went back to his place, carrying the coffee carefully so as not to spill it.
“When I am good—next year—you’ll love me more, won’t you, Honey Bunch?” asked Uncle Peter.
“Oh, no,” said Honey Bunch gravely. “I love you now. Just the way you are, Uncle Peter.”
At this Uncle Peter jumped up again from his place and hugged her so hard she almost dropped the silver mug of milk she held in her hand.