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

Chapter X


NO ONE wanted to take the consequences— they were not quite sure what “consequences” might be, but Norman made it sound as though it were something to be avoided—so obediently they handed over the treasure the pirate chief demanded.

Honey Bunch had a little forget-me-not locket on a gold chain and a tiny gold ring set with a blue stone, and she gave up these. She could not unfasten the chain, and Norman obligingly helped her with the catch. Ida Camp wore a ring with a red stone, Grace Winters had a gold pin like Cora’s and Mary and Fannie Graham, who always dressed exactly alike, each wore a chain of pink beads.  They gave these to the pirates. Kitty Williams, Cora’s sister, gave them her make-believe wrist watch—it wasn’t a real watch, but it looked like one and Kitty loved to wear it. As for Anna Martin, she had happened to wear her aunt’s gold pencil on a black silk cord around her neck, and as she had taken it without asking, she said that the pirates must not have it—if they lost it, what could she say to her aunt?

“We won’t lose it,” argued Norman. “We’re not going to lose anything. Let me have the pencil, Anna, and I’ll give it back to you the first thing.”

So Anna let him take the pencil.

“Now we drop over the side of the ship,” Norman said, when he had the pencil—he put the cord around his neck and let the pencil dangle—“and we must escape before you can call for help. Over the side, men!” he shouted.

The pirates, holding their treasure carefully in their hands, made a dash for the fence. They had reached it and some were half way over and the rest just beginning to scramble up, when loud and clear and shrill they heard the noise of the fire engines!

Now, making believe to be pirates was all right, as a game, but it could never be as exciting as going to a real fire. The boys forgot they were pirates the moment the first engine clattered down the street. Those who were over the fence went on, climbing the fences between Norman’s house and the next street. The boys who had not yet started to climb, dashed for the gate in Honey Bunch’s yard.

“Fire!” they shrieked. “Come on—fire! I’ll bet it’s near here!”

Norman said that every time the fire engines went past and he never failed to follow them, though usually the fire was so far away that he met the engines coming back before he could find out where the fire was.

“Let’s go!” cried Cora Williams. “Perhaps it is near here.”

“Honey Bunch!” Mrs. Miller put up the window she was cleaning and leaned out— it was the second story hall window, Honey Bunch noticed.

“Honey Bunch,” called Mrs. Miller, “don’t you go chasing after those engines.

Like as not the fire is a mile or two off. You’ll see them coming back before long.”

“We’ll go out and sit on the front steps and watch,” suggested Honey Bunch.

But Cora wanted to go to the fire, and she and her sister Kitty and Grace Winters started to run after the apparatus that was whirling up the street, one motor after another so fast that you could hardly see the firemen struggling into their coats.

The other little girls sat down with Honey Bunch and watched. It was exciting, just to do that. The sun was hot, but people ran past the house trying to run as fast as the fire engines. Of course they couldn’t, but they could try. They saw fat men running, wiping their red faces with their handkerchiefs as they ran. They saw little boys, like Norman Clark, running, their dogs following them. Big girls and little girls and “grown-up women,” as Honey Bunch said, hurried by. One and all, they were eager to find out where the fire was and see what was burning.

“Suppose your house got on fire,” said Ida Camp to Honey Bunch. “What would you do?”

“I’d tell Daddy,” answered Honey Bunch.

“But he wouldn’t be home—he isn’t home now,” said Ida. “If your house was on fire now, you couldn’t tell him, because he wouldn’t be here.”

“I could telephone him,” persisted Honey Bunch.

“Well—maybe,” admitted Ida. “But maybe he wouldn’t like it. If our house got on fire, do you know what I’d do?”

“No,” said Honey Bunch. “What would you?”

“I’d tell my brother,” declared Ida. “He could put a fire out, just as easy. Once there was a brush fire on a vacant lot and he put it out.”

Honey Bunch wanted to remind Ida that her brother might not be at home when the house was on fire, but she didn’t. Honey Bunch seldom argued.

“Huh, your brother might not be home, Ida,” said Anna Martin, who didn’t mind arguing. “What would you do then?”

“He would too be home,” declared Ida.

And nothing they could say would make her change her mind. She knew that if ever her house was on fire her brother would be there to put it out. That was all there was to it.

“How silly you are!” said Anna, losing patience at last. “Anyway, here the engines are coming back. I don’t believe it was much of a fire.”

And it wasn’t. They found that out before the boys and Cora and Kitty and Grace came straggling back, warm and tired from their long run. A man riding past the house on a bicycle told them that it had been a “brush fire.”

“Nothing but some trash burning,” reported Kitty Williams, when she came back. “It was out before we got there. But there was a crowd and the hook and ladder was out. You missed it.”

Honey Bunch didn’t mind missing the brush fire, and she was glad she had not gone. Kitty was tired and cross, and so were Cora and Grace.

“I have to go home and put on a clean dress now,” said Grace. “My Uncle John is coming to dinner to-night. Where’s my gold pin, Teddy?”

Teddy Gray was the pirate who had taken Grace’s pin.

“Yes, and give me back my gold pencil,” said Anna Martin. “It’s time for me to go home. You took my pencil, Norman.”

Norman felt in all his pockets.

“That’s funny,” he said. “I don’t know where I put it.”

Teddy gave Grace her pin and Lester Fox, another one of the pirates, handed Kitty Williams her make-believe wrist watch. But Paul Niles couldn’t find the string of pink beads he had taken from Fannie Graham and Norman couldn’t find the gold pencil.

“I don’t know what I’ve done with your locket, either, Honey Bunch,” he said, looking worried. “Here’s your ring in my pocket all right. But the locket and chain—I don’t know how I could lose them.”

Dear me, those pirates were uncomfortable. Albert Barnes gave the string of pink beads he had taken from Mary Graham back to her and he gave Ida Camp her ring with the red stone in it. But the gold pencil that belonged to Anna’s aunt and Honey Bunch’s forget-me-not locket and chain and the pink beads that were Fannie Graham’s, seemed to be lost.

“Perhaps you dropped them in the yard,” suggested Honey Bunch. “Let’s go look.” They went back into the yard and looked carefully—in the grass where the girls had been sitting when the pirates attacked them and along the fence where the pirates had scrambled up to leap over the side of the ship. But no gold pencil and no locket and no chain of pink beads could they find.

“I knew it!” scolded Anna Martin. “I knew you’d lose my pencil if I let you have it. And my Aunt Margaret will be so cross.

She didn’t know I was going to wear it today.”

“My lovely pink beads!” cried Fannie Graham, bursting into tears. “Daddy gave them to me for my birthday, and they’re just like Mary’s. Oh, dear, I don’t see how you ever thought of such a silly game!” she added, forgetting to cry and looking at Norman as though she thought him a very foolish boy indeed.

“I didn’t mean to lose them—and Paul didn’t mean to, either,” said Norman uncomfortably. “Perhaps we dropped them going to the fire. I’ll go look and I’ll ask every one I meet if they saw a pencil or a locket or a chain of beads.”

He did go, but though he went all the way to the lot where the brush fire had been and though he stopped each person he met and asked him about the pencil and locket and beads, no one had seen any of the three missing things. The girls went home, except Anna Martin, who stayed to look again in the yard, and the pirates went home, too. They didn’t feel like playing any more that day.

“I wouldn’t mind so much, if it was my pencil,” said Anna, down on her hands and knees among Norman’s sunflowers. “But I think it’s mean when I just borrowed Aunt Margaret’s pencil and cord to wear a little while that you had to go and lose it.”

“I’ll buy her another one,” promised Norman. “Only she’ll have to wait till I save some money. I have eight cents in my tin soldier bank now. How much do gold pencils cost?”

Anna didn’t know, but she thought they must cost a great deal.

“I’ll have to buy Honey Bunch a locket and chain first,” said Norman firmly. “I guess she doesn’t like it because I lost her locket, but she doesn’t make a fuss. I don’t see any use making a fuss when something is lost. If it’s lost, it’s lost and you can’t help it.”

“If you had lost your aunt’s gold pencil, Norman Clark, you’d make a fuss,” said Anna, and she was probably right.

It does make a difference, you know, whether we lose something that we have borrowed or something that some one else has borrowed.

Anna finally went home, mourning the loss of her aunt’s pencil, and Norman went into his house to count the pennies in his bank again. Honey Bunch sat on the side porch and stared at her garden.

“I wish I had my locket,” she said to herself. “Norman had it in his hand before the fire engines went by, I know he did; I saw it. He must have dropped it.”

Mr. and Mrs. Morton came home just before dinner time that evening and there was so much to tell Honey Bunch about Glenhaven and about Aunt Norma and Julie and Uncle Peter and Uncle Fred, Julie’s daddy, and the messages they had sent Honey Bunch that the little girl forgot about her lost locket.

She remembered it, though, when she was going to bed and she told her mother about the pirate game and what had happened that afternoon.

“Oh, dear, I’m so sorry,” said Mrs. Morton when she heard the story. “That was the first locket Daddy bought for you, Honey Bunch; he gave it to you when you were a tiny baby. And I’m sorry for Anna and Fannie, too. Norman must be a very careless little boy. Did you look carefully in the yard to make sure that he didn’t drop your locket in the grass or among the flowers?”

Honey Bunch said, yes, they had all looked carefully and her daddy said he would go out early the next morning and look again. He did, but he could not find any of the lost treasures.

“I think it would be better if the pirates used make-believe treasure next time,” said Mr. Morton at breakfast. “And I’d recommend a make-believe fence in the bargain. Norman’s father and I will have to put up a brace or two on the fence we have now or it will come down suddenly some day, I’m afraid.”

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