ON THE BEACH
THE little girl on the boardwalk laughed when she heard Honey Bunch talk about the sand in her shoes and saw her emptying it out in two little heaps.
“I’m coming down to play with you,” she called, and they saw her run toward the flight of wooden steps that led from the boardwalk to the sand.
“Hello!” she said, coming up to them. “What are you going to play, Julie?”
“This is my cousin, Honey Bunch Morton, Anne,” said Julie primly. “And, Honey Bunch, this is Anne Wade. She lives in the Hatfield cottage.”
Anne Wade laughed again. She laughed most all the time, Honey Bunch was soon to discover. She was a fat little girl and so cheerful!
“What a funny name—Honey Bunch!” she giggled. “I never heard a name like that before.”
“Oh, Honey Bunch has another name! She is Gertrude Marion Morton,” explained Julie. “But everybody calls her Honey Bunch.”
Anne stared at Honey Bunch, who was putting on her sandals.
“Doesn’t she ever talk?” Anne demanded. Poor Honey Bunch blushed.
“Of course I talk,” she said indignantly. “Don’t I, Julie? I talk ever so much.”
“Some people talk too much,” said Julie crossly. “You don’t do that.”
Anne only laughed and picked up the sand toys Uncle Peter had given Honey Bunch.
“I know how this works,” she announced, turning the little crank that made the buckets go up and down. “Come on, let’s play.”
Julie looked as though she would be happier if Anne didn’t play with them, but she said nothing, only began to scoop up sand to fill the buckets.
“You get the sand,” directed Anne, “and I’ll fill the thing and make it go.”
She sat down and took Honey Bunch’s two toys between her knees.
“Let Honey Bunch turn it,” said Julie. “It’s her toy, and she never played in the sand before—did you, Honey Bunch?”
“Well, not here,” replied the honest Honey Bunch. “But Stub has a sand box and I’ve played in that.”
“You can take my bucket,” said Anne, pointing to the small tin bucket and shovel she carried. “You can take my bucket and fill it with sand, Honey Bunch, and pour it in; then I’ll show you how to make this go round.”
Honey Bunch took the bucket and was shoveling sand into it when the little black and white dog came bounding past her.
“Here’s Anne Wide!” shouted a boy who was chasing the dog. “Oh, look! Here’s Anne Wide!”
Anne scrambled to her feet, her eyes flashing angrily.
“Don’t you call me that, Harvey Garrett!” she scolded. “Don’t you dare call me that!”
“Anne Wide!” chanted Harvey. “Anne
Wide! She cannot run—just think of that—and why? Because she is too fat!”
“I’ll show you whether I can run!” screamed Anne, and she started after Harvey, who ran up the beach shouting: “Anne Wide! Anne Wide!” and running as fast as he could, because Anne really could run fast herself.
“I hope she doesn’t come back!” exclaimed Julie, her brown face looking happier. “We can have lots more fun without her.”
Honey Bunch thought so, too, and she and Julie took turns filling the buckets with sand and making them go up and down on the chain. Then they filled the little car with sand and watched it run down and dump its load and scurry back.
“Uncle Peter would like to play in the sand,” said Honey Bunch. “I know he would. And so would Daddy.”
“My daddy would take us in the water, if he were here,” Julie said. “But he has to work most all the time. I guess your daddy does, too. Does Uncle Peter have to work all summer, Honey Bunch?”
“I don’t know,” replied Honey Bunch. “I don’t b’lieve so. Anyway, he isn’t working now. He’s gone camping with somebody he knows. Look, Julie, that girl is something like Sarah, only Sarah isn’t as tall as that.”
Julie looked up from her sand heap and saw a girl in a ragged dress walking along the beach.
“I guess she came in with vegetables this morning,” said Julie. “She has a basket and she looks like the girl who brings stuff in to sell to the boarding houses.”
“Where is she going now?” asked Honey Bunch interestedly.
“Home, I suppose,” answered Julie. “She likes to go home the beach way because she hasn’t any shoes or stockings on and she can wade in the water and pick up things.”
“What kind of things?” asked Honey Bunch.
“Oh, shells and seaweed. Some of the people back in the pines make pin cushions out of shells,” explained Julie. “They sell them. There—I expect she’s found a shell now.” Honey Bunch wanted to run and ask the girl if she had found a shell, but Julie said no, she mustn’t.
You don’t know her, and besides she’ll be half way up the beach before you get to her,” said this wise little cousin. “I’ll show you how to build a castle now, Honey Bunch.” Building a castle was great fun, Honey Bunch thought. She and Julie used Anne Wade’s pail and shovel—she had forgotten to take them with her when she chased after Harvey—and they filled it full of damp sand which would, Julie said, stay in shape longer than the dry. They made a large, square wall first and then inside the wall they built a castle and put a flag at the top. It was a brown flag because the only piece of paper they could find was a wrapper from a bar of chocolate, but it made a nice looking flag even if they didn’t know what country it represented.
“It must be eleven o’clock,” said Julie, when the castle was finished.
“Is it?” asked Honey Bunch, who had not thought of time. “Why is it eleven, Julie?”
“See everybody going in to bathe?” said Julie, pointing to the water. “It’s high tide at eleven this morning—Pauline said so. And the crowd always goes in at high tide. Let’s go nearer and watch them, Honey Bunch; it is lots of fun.”
They could hear the bathers from where they sat. They were laughing and screaming and splashing each other. Honey Bunch had never seen so many people having a good time together at once. That is, she had never seen so many people playing in the sunshine—she had seen crowds in New York, when she visited the Turner twins, but they had not been laughing and playing, they had all been going somewhere as fast as they could hurry; and in the theater and restaurants she had seen people enjoying themselves and laughing, but not like this.
“Look, Julie!” cried Honey Bunch. “Look! What is she doing?”
Honey Bunch pointed to a pretty girl who was wading out into the w
ater, carrying a large board in her arms.
“It’s a surf board,” said Julie. “Watch and you’ll see her ride in on it. I wish Daddy would let me have a surf board.”
Honey Bunch watched, staring so hard that she screwed her blue eyes into little holes. She saw the girl turn around in the water and scramble on the board. Then she stood up and a wave lifted the board. “My goodness, she was riding along on top of the water! The breaker carried her in, almost to shore, and then, swish! she tumbled off into the water and in a moment Honey Bunch saw her laughing and shaking the water out of her eyes.
“You can’t do that till you’re grown up,” said Julie sadly. “They won’t let you have a surf board, or even an inner tire, till you are big.”
Julie meant the inner tires that Honey Bunch saw later floating in the water with people floating in them as though they were life preservers.
“Who’s the man in the high chair?” said Honey Bunch suddenly.
She didn’t see what made Julie laugh, because the man was certainly sitting in a high chair. Honey Bunch had often seen the Winters baby in Barham sitting in a chair very much like this one, except that the Winters baby chair was not quite so high. The man in this chair was up so high that all Honey Bunch could see of him was his feet. His head was hidden by a large canvas umbrella. There he sat, in his high chair, facing the ocean. Honey Bunch thought the Winters baby would like to have his chair face the ocean, too, instead of the back yard which was all he could see from his nursery.
“That man,” announced Julie kindly, “is the life guard. He sits there and watches to see that nobody drowns. He makes folks come in, if they swim too far out, and on rough days he warns every one who goes in. Lots of people are foolish when they’re in the water,” remarked the little seaside girl, in a very grown-up manner. “And if they aren’t careful or aren’t watched they drown. If you were drowning, the life guard would swim out and get you.”
Honey Bunch said she didn’t want to drown, though she would not mind sitting in the high chair and watching to see that no one else did.
“I used to think it would be lots of fun, too,” said Julie. “But Daddy says it is hot and tiresome to sit there for hours and stare out over the water. And rowing a boat around is even harder.”
“He’s getting in the boat now,” said Honey Bunch.
Sure enough, the life guard had climbed down from his high chair and was pushing a rowboat down the sand to the water. Several men in bathing suits helped him push. The life guard wore a bathing suit, Honey Bunch saw now, and a flopping straw hat. He climbed into the boat as it touched the water and picked up the oars.
“Where is he going?” asked Honey Bunch curiously.
“He’ll row out beyond the breakers and stay there a little while,” said Julie. “See the other man in the boat with him? That’s the other guard. They take turns watching and rowing.”
Honey Bunch had not seen the other guard climb into the boat, but there he sat, looking exactly like the first life guard. The two little girls watched till the boat had bounced up and down, over the breakers, and reached a smooth place some distance beyond the bathers. Then it turned sideways and one of the guards stood up and waved his arm.
“Is he waving to us?” asked Honey Bunch, wondering if she should wave back.
“He’s telling that girl to come in,” said Julie, who had lived so long at the seashore she knew all about the bathing rules. “She is going too far out by herself. See; now she is swimming in.”
They saw the floating red cap of the girl move slowly toward a group of other bathers, and then the guard sat down. Honey Bunch and Julie watched a little longer, and then a maid in a blue dress and white apron came down close to the water and called: “Jim-ee! Jim-ee! You have to come out now—it’s quarter of twelve!”
“We’d better go home, too,” said Julie, “for Pauline will have lunch ready at twelve. My goodness, Honey Bunch, you just ought to see your nose!”