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

Chapter XIV


          HONEY BUNCH tried to look behind the door. She thought perhaps her daddy had come home and was hiding from her. But it was not Daddy Morton back of the front door.
          “Boo!” cried some one, and her cousin, Bobby Turner, jumped out at her.
          “Hello!” he said, laughing at Honey Bunch who was so surprised she couldn’t think of a word to say.
          “Hello!” “Hello!” “Hello!” three little voices cried, and three little girls came running out of the parlor.
          They were cousins, too, Tess, Bobby’s twin sister, Julie Somerset, and Mary Morton who was always called “Stub.” Her nickname had been given her because she was a little girl who stubbed her toes very often when she walked. She never minded it, either being called “Stub” or stubbing her toes, and she was so good-natured that she made “Stub” seem a jolly kind of name for a girl to have.
          “Are you surprised?” asked Stub, giving Honey Bunch a kiss.
          “Of course I’m s’prised,” said Honey Bunch. “Isn’t it nice? Does Mother know you’ve come?”
          “She invited us,” laughed Bobby. “We all came on the two-thirty train. Say, Honey Bunch, we thought you were never coming home.”
          The cousins were the surprise Mother and Daddy had planned for Honey Bunch on her birthday. Daddy had almost told her, but Mother had stopped him in time.
          “That’s why Mother told Mrs. Camp I just come home at three o’clock,” thought Honey Bunch, following the cousins back into the parlor where her mother was.
          Truth to tell, Honey Bunch felt the least bit shy with these four cousins. They did not live near and she saw them only “once in a while,” as Bobby said. Stub was nearest her age, and Stub was six years old. She lived Honey Bunch knew, on a large farm in the country, a farm where Honey Bunch’s father had often gone when he was a little boy.
          Julie Somerset was a little brown girl, about seven years old. She had blue eyes, but her skin was brown because she played on the beach so much. Julie lived at the seashore and she could tell you all about shells and little sand crabs and when she grew up she meant to have a sailboat of her own and go fishing every day.
          The twins were the oldest of the cousins. They were eight, going on nine, and they, of course, went to school and knew a great deal about arithmetic and geography. They knew about other things, too, for they lived in New York City and crossed two car tracks to go to school every morning. Bobby took care of Tess, who was careless, and when he wasn’t laughing at her he was helping her with her lessons or mending something for her. Tess broke the toys and Bobby mended them and that was surely a very good plan.
          “What’s in the bundle?” asked Stub, pointing to the package Honey Bunch carried.
          “Those are my rag animals,” explained the birthday girl, unwrapping the parcel. “Ida Camp gave them to me.”
          She showed them the things she bad brought home from Ida’s and her locket and chain and the other gifts she had found around the house that morning. Before she had finished showing and explaining, all five cousins were chattering away as though they had always lived in the same house.
          “Did you have any snow Thanksgiving?” asked Stub. “We went coasting in the afternoon and I steered right into a tree.”
          “Gee, we had only a few flakes in New York,” said Bobby. “Anyway, when it does snow, they shovel it off the streets so fast we can’t have any fun. I’d like to see a real snowstorm just once and build a fort.”
          Julie said it had rained at the seashore over the holiday, and she added that she didn’t like snow.
          “I like to play in it,” said Honey Bunch. “I wished it would snow up to the roof of the houses on Thanksgiving, but Mother said the trolley cars couldn’t run if it was as deep as that.”
          “The deepest snow there ever was wouldn’t bother New York,” boasted Bobby.
          But before the others could ask him what he meant, Daddy Morton came in and Mother with him.
          “Let’s have a fire so we can see how these cousins realty look,” said Daddy Morton, smiling. “I like to see faces in the glow of a wood fire. How about it, Bobby?”
          “I’ll help you build a fire, Uncle David,” cried Bobby eagerly, and he went down cellar with his uncle and helped him bring up some wood and the kindling to start the fire.
          “I’ll sit down a little while and enjoy the fire before I begin to get supper,” said Mrs. Morton, dropping down on the divan and taking Honey Bunch in her lap. Stub sat on one side of her and Julie on the other and Tess and Bobby sat on either arm of Daddy Morton’s big arm chair.
          “Now that’s what I call a good blaze!” said Daddy Morton, as the flames roared up the chimney. “Stub knows what a wood fire is, don’t you, Stubbie?”
Stub smiled and nodded.
          “When it snows, or is very cold, Daddy keeps the fireplace going all night,” she said. “He puts in a big back log and it will smolder all night and start a fire in the morning.”
          “Oh, Bobby!” Honey Bunch sat up straight so suddenly she almost bumped Mother’s chin. “Bobby, you said the biggest snow there ever was wouldn’t bother New York. Why wouldn’t it?”
          “Bobby, are you boasting about New York already?” asked Daddy Morton, laughing at Bobby, who turned a little red but looked determined.
          “Well, Honey Bunch said if the snow came up to the roofs here the trolley cars wouldn’t run,” he said.
          “Can the trolley cars run when the snow is up to the roofs in New York?” asked Stub. “I don’t believe it.”
          “I didn’t say they could,” said Bobby. “I never saw snow up to the roof. But if it did snow and snow and snow, you could still ride on the subways; snow wouldn’t stop them.”
          Honey Bunch was so excited her hair- ribbon stood straight up. Her cheeks were as red as the heart of the fire.
          “Subways!” she cried in amazement. “Oh, Bobby, how can you ride on him?”
          Tess laughed and Bobby stared at his little cousin.
          “Him?” he repeated. “Who said anything about him? What are you talking about, Honey Bunch? I said subways, not him."
          “But that’s a him,” persisted Honey Bunch. “He’s a man. You can’t ride on a man, Bobby Turner. I don’t believe you can, even in New York.”
          Daddy and Mother Morton looked at each other smiling. The other children looked at Honey
Bunch. Every one thought the little girl did not understand what Bobby was saying.
          “Now you listen, Honey Bunch Morton,” said Bobby slowly, the way he spoke when he was explaining an arithmetic lesson to his sister, Tess. “The subway is a railroad; they run all about New York, deep down in the ground. No matter how much it snows or rains up in the streets, none of it gets into the subways. They’re always warm and dry. When you come to see us, Mother will take us all riding on them, won’t she, Tess?”
          “I guess I know!” cried Honey Bunch, very much in earnest. “Mr. Subways was a man. He isn’t any old railroad under the ground. He came to see Daddy and Daddy wasn’t home—he’d gone to Washington. So there!”
          This time it was Mrs. Morton who sat up very straight. Her cheeks were almost as red as those of Honey Bunch.
          “David! That was the name of the man who came to see you!” she said eagerly. “Mr.
Subways—of course! I remember it now! And it was such an odd name I thought I’d be sure to remember it always!”
          “He was a man, wasn’t he, Mother?” said Honey Bunch.
          “I should say he was!” answered Daddy Morton, looking pleased. “I know who he is perfectly well. I’ll send him a night letter after supper. That case has taken a turn again to-day, Edith,” he added to Honey Bunch’s mother, “and I think Mr. Subways and I can probably save several thousand dollars.”
          Honey Bunch was so glad she had remembered the name of the man that she was willing to let Bobby insist that subways were really a system of railroads that ran underground. Honey Bunch did not really think a railroad could run underground, and Julie and Stub were inclined to agree with her. But Tess and Bobby said that every one rode on the subways in New York.
          “Wait till you come to see us and we’ll show you,” promised Bobby.
          “Maybe I won’t want to ride under the ground,” said Honey Bunch.
          But she did—oh, my, yes, she did, of course—when she went to the big city of New York to visit Bobby and Tess. When she went visiting and what happened to her in that great city I’ll tell you by and by.
          Mrs. Morton had gone out to get supper ready while the children talked, and in a few minutes she came back to ask them to come out into the dining-room.
          “Oh—ah!” every one cried, and no wonder.
          In the middle of the table was a beautiful white birthday cake with five pink candles blazing merrily. "Honey Bunch—5 years old" was written on the top of the cake in chocolate icing. There was a red “cracker” at each child’s plate and two platters of sandwiches and a cup of cocoa for each one with whipped cream floating on the top.
          “Make your wishes, Honey Bunch,” said her daddy, lifting her up to stand on her chair. “Make your wishes and blow out the candles.”
Honey Bunch shut her eyes very tight and made four wishes. She couldn’t think of another, so she opened her eyes and blew. Four candles sputtered and died out and Daddy blew on the fifth and that stopped burning.
          “Only four of your wishes will come true,” said Bobby, as they sat down.
          “I made only four,” answered Honey Bunch. “One was that it would snow and one was that Lady Clare could sleep on my bed and one was that I could have all the candy I want and the other was Daddy would stay home and play with me all day.”
          They all laughed, and Daddy Morton said that she wouldn’t need him now she had four cousins to play with.
          “They’ll be here all day to-morrow, Honey Bunch,” he said, “and you must play every game you can think of. You don’t often have four playfellows, do you?”
          “Let’s play hide-and-seek,” suggested Stub. “This would be a dandy house for a game like that.”
          “How do you know?” asked Bobby. “You never saw this house before.”
          “Yes, I have,” said Stub. “Haven’t I been here before, Aunt Edith? Once when I was six months old, Mother brought me. She told me so.”
          “I don’t believe you can remember much about the house,” grumbled Bobby, but it was decided that the next day the five cousins should have a grand game of hide-and-seek.
          “Make as much noise as you want,” said Honey Bunch’s mother. “I don’t mind noise at all.”

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