ON THE SHORE ROAD
THE day after the tea party every one in Honey Bunch’s house was up early. There were ever so many things to be done before they would be ready to start for Glenhaven, where Julie lived. Mrs. Miller came before breakfast to help and she packed a lunch for them because Mrs. Morton said that they might feel hungry when they were miles away from a town or that they might not want to take time to stop somewhere and eat when noon came.
Daddy Morton was to drive Honey Bunch and her mother to Glenhaven in his car, and he could stay one night. But, like so many busy daddies, he could not stay at the seashore all the time. He said he must come back to Barham and work in his office. But he would, he told Honey Bunch, come down to the seashore before it was time for her to come home and stay a few days—perhaps he and Uncle Peter would come down together.
“Well, anyway, you are going to go with us in the car, Daddy, aren’t you?” said Honey Bunch.
She could see a pleasant thought in every plan, and wasn’t it sensible of her to see only the pleasant part and not worry and fret over the rest? Oh, Honey Bunch was a wise little girl, if she was only five years old.
She helped all morning long. She found ways to help her mother and Mrs. Miller and they both said they never knew how useful a little girl could be. Ida Camp came over, and she and Honey Bunch carried bundles out to the car—the trunks had gone on the train—and ran upstairs and down to get the things that Honey Bunch’s mother or Mrs. Miller wanted.
At last all the window shades were down and all the doors locked—except the front one, and of course they had to go out that way—and Honey Bunch was dressed in her pongee dress and coat and hat that matched and Mrs. Morton was ready, too, and it was time to go. At the very last minute—when no one was looking—Honey Bunch ran back into the parlor and dragged a chair up to the mantelpiece. She hopped up from the floor and took something from the mantel, slipping it into her coat pocket. Then she ran out and was ready to get in the car.
Daddy Morton said he liked company when he was driving, so Mrs. Morton sat in front beside him and Honey Bunch sat on her lap. The lunch box and the toys Uncle Peter had given Honey Bunch and some other bundles that would not go in the trunks were on the back seat.
“Good-bye, Honey Bunch!” called Mrs. Miller and Ida. “Good-bye.”
“Good-bye, Honey Bunch!” shouted Norman Clark, dashing around the corner just as the car started. “Bring me a starfish to hang on the wall! Will you bring me a starfish, Honey Bunch?”
Honey Bunch leaned out of the car to wave to her friends.
“I’ll bring one, if I can find it,” she promised Norman. “Good-bye, Mrs. Miller! “Good-bye, Ida!”
Honey Bunch thought about the seashore as the car rolled through the Barham streets. She pretended they were near the ocean, though really they were many miles from the salt water.
“Daddy,” said Honey Bunch, when they had to stop for the street traffic to go another way.
“Yes, dear,” answered Daddy Morton, watching a little boy who stood on the curb and who looked as though he might be the kind of little boy who dashes across the street without thinking about the automobiles that may be coming toward him. “What is it, Honey Bunch?”
“Could we ride right through the ocean?” asked Honey Bunch.
“Well, not directly through the middle of the ocean,” replied Daddy Morton, smiling.
“It would be too deep. We could go along the edge of the sea, but never out among the breakers. It would be too deep for us.”
The traffic policeman blew his whistle just then and they shot across before the little boy could jump from the curb. Honey Bunch looked back and saw him start to cross. The policeman came over and took hold of his hand to make him wait.
“Well,” said Honey Bunch, “if we can’t go through the ocean, can we cross a river, Daddy?”
“If the river isn’t too deep,” replied Daddy Morton. “Sometimes automobiles do cross rivers, but usually at places where the water is shallow. You don’t mind if we go over the Haverstraw river on the bridge, do you, Honey Bunch?”
“Oh, no,” said Honey Bunch contentedly. “I never went over a river on anything—did I, Mother? It will be fun to see a bridge.”
“Why, dearest, those were bridges we crossed on the way to Broad Acres when we went to see Stub,” Mrs. Morton explained.
“To be sure, there were only little brooks to be crossed, but bridges were built over them. You remember, dear; you liked to hear the boards rattle when we went over them.”
“I know what Honey Bunch means,” said Daddy Morton, smiling at his little girl. “She wants to see a high bridge—one she can tell Ida Camp about when she goes home. I think Honey Bunch has been looking at the big geography book in my bookcase.”
Honey Bunch nodded. She had seen pictures of bridges and she knew they did not look like the little flat platforms they had crossed on their way to see Stub.
“When we get to the Haverstraw bridge, I’ll stop,” promised her daddy, “and you shall get out and look down at the river from the rail of the bridge. But we won’t come to the river for several hours yet, so don’t expect to see it too soon.”
In spite of the breeze, it was warm riding and Honey Bunch soon took off her hat. Then she decided she would be more comfortable without her coat.
“What on earth is this in your pocket, Honey Bunch?” asked her mother, as she helped her slip off the pretty silk coat. “It is pulling your pocket out of shape.”
“Keys,” said Honey Bunch wisely.
“Keys?” echoed Mrs. Morton, puzzled.
“Why, what in the world—”
She put her hand in the pocket of Honey Bunch’s coat and pulled out half a dozen keys.
“Where did you get these, dear?” she asked. “Are they our keys? And what are you doing with them in your pocket?”
“I saved them for Daddy,” said Honey Bunch seriously. “To go on his round ring.” “But where did you get them?” asked her daddy. “Looks to me like a clock key—that brass one.”
“That’s the parlor clock key,” explained Honey Bunch. “I found it underneath. We almost forgot it, Daddy.”
Mr. and Mrs. Morton had to laugh, though Honey Bunch could not see what there was to laugh at. She and Ida had gone carefully over the house and taken all the keys left in the door locks—the keys that are seldom used, like bedroom and closet keys. Then, at the very last moment, Honey Bunch had remembered the fat brass key that was always kept under the clock on the parlor mantelpiece and she had run back and taken that. She was sure her daddy would be glad to find she had remembered to bring all the keys he had forgotten. Honey Bunch thought he would put them on the “round ring” he carried in his pocket. This was a key ring and Honey Bunch thought it must be fine to be grown up and carry a bunch of keys that rattled cheerfully every time one was to be used.
“I’ll put these keys away in an envelope, Honey Bunch,” said her daddy, “and Mother will keep them till you go home. I could not carry them all—dear me, there wouldn’t be room in my pocket for any pennies for a little girl I know if I carried all those keys. But it was very nice of you, dear, to try to help daddy when you knew he had so many things to remember.”
They had left Barham about half-past ten o’clock and they were out in the open country, far from any houses, when Daddy Morton’s watch said it was noon.
“Shall we keep on till we come to a town and perhaps a hotel?” he asked. “Or would you rather stop now and have lunch under a tree?”
Both Honey Bunch and her mother said they thought it would be much nicer to eat the lunch Mrs. Miller had packed for them, and they could pretend they were having a picnic.
So Mr. Morton ran the car to one side of the road, near a large tree, and they had lunch under this tree, which was on the other side of a wire fence. It wasn’t very easy to get through the fence without tearing your clothes, unless some one was there to hold the wires apart.
“I wish,” said Honey Bunch, eating a sandwich comfortably in the shade, “I had something to take to Julie that she never saw before.”
And my goodness, in a moment or two she found it! Something moved near her foot, and there was the cunningest little turtle you could wish for!
“Julie’s present!” cried Honey Bunch excitedly. “Julie’s present! I don’t b’lieve she has a turtle! Has she a turtle, Mother?”
Both Mother and Daddy were quite sure that Julie had no turtle, and Daddy took the box that had held one kind of sandwiches and punched holes in the lid for breathing spaces and put the turtle in the box. Honey Bunch put in some grass to make him a soft bed, and then she and Daddy tied on the lid, and there was Julie’s present all ready to take to her.
“I just wished for something and there it was,” said Honey Bunch, as they went back to the car. “Maybe this is a fairy place, Mother. Do wishes come true if the fairies are listening?”
“Yes, I think they do,” answered Mrs. Morton, smiling. “Don’t they, Daddy?”
“I hope the fairies will listen while I make a wish then,” said Mr. Morton. “I wish that I knew some one who was hungry—Mrs. Miller made too many sandwiches and we can not throw away good food. Mother says it is wasteful.”
“Well, it is,” declared Mrs. Morton, laughing as she put the second box of sandwiches back in the car. “Never mind, Daddy, your wish may come true and we’ll meet some one who will ask us for something good to eat.”
Honey Bunch sat in her mother’s lap, holding her turtle box in her hands, for she was afraid the turtle would be “jiggled” if she put him on the back seat. However, when her daddy told her presently that she might begin to look for the bridge they were to cross, she did consent to put the box down carefully on a pair of blankets on the floor of the car.
“Look ahead and you’ll see where we are going, Honey Bunch,” said Daddy Morton, as the car turned into a beautiful smooth white boulevard.
Honey Bunch stood up and looked. The road went straight up, up and ahead of her she saw great stone pillars standing like monuments on either side of the road.
In a few minutes they had driven on the bridge and wherever Honey Bunch looked there was nothing but a soft blue haze. Mr. Morton stopped the car—the road was wide and there were not many driving at that time of day—and lifted Honey Bunch out so that she stood on the stone coping.