HIDE-AND-SEEKTHE next morning Stub announced that they must have all the fun they could because she had to go home that afternoon. Tess and Bobby and Julie were going home, too. They all attended school, and when you go to school it is very important not to miss a single day. Stub said it was lucky Honey Bunch had her birthday on Friday, because she had to miss only the part of school that “didn’t count.”
“Fridays, in the morning we go walking for flowers and plants and things,” explained Stub. “And afternoons we recite; so it doesn’t matter if you do miss Friday at school.” “How can you look for plants when it’s winter?” asked Tess, who was a city girl. “Nothing grows in the winter time.”
“Some things do,” said Stub. “And our teacher makes us tell the different kinds of trees from the bark. I guess you can’t tell a maple tree when it hasn’t any leaves on, just by looking at the bark, can you?”
“I don’t know a maple tree, anyway,” replied Tess. “But I know all about the pictures in the Art Museum. I’ll bet you don’t.” They might have gone on talking about their schools all the morning if Bobby, who didn’t see any sense in talking of school when there was something else to do, had not suggested that they play some game.
“I thought we were going to play hide-and- seek,” he said. “Aunt Edith said we could make all the noise we wanted to.”
Bobby liked to make a noise. Sometimes his daddy said he could make more noise than any boy on the block.
“All right, let’s play hide-and-seek,” agreed Honey Bunch. She loved to hear the children talk about school, but she was an unselfish little girl and always tried to do as she thought her friends wanted her to. If Bobby wanted to play, she was willing.
The little girls would have liked to play with the dolls, but of course dolls didn’t interest Bobby. He had suggested, at breakfast, that Honey Bunch let him see if he could hit the birds who came to the yard to eat the bread Mother threw out for them with the rag animals Ida had given Honey Bunch.
“They’re so soft they won’t hurt a bird,” argued Bobby. “I’d like to see if I could hit a sparrow at long range.”
But Honey Bunch wouldn’t hear of this, so there was nothing left for Bobby to do but play games.
“I’ll be ‘It’ the first time,” said Tess good- naturedly. “We’ll go upstairs, and it’s no fair hiding anywhere off the second floor. Hurry up.”
The five children ran upstairs, Honey Bunch with cheeks as pink as roses. She had not known what fun it was to have four cousins to play with. She was used to amusing herself, and this having company, she thought, was about the nicest thing that had ever happened to her.
Upstairs, Tess hid her face in the soft pillow on Mrs. Morton’s bed and the other children tiptoed away to hide Bobby crawled under a couch, Stub climbed into the clothes hamper in the hall, Julie hid behind a chair in the sewing room, and Honey Bunch wrapped herself in the curtain that hung between her own room and her daddy’s and mother’s room.
“One-two-three-four-five—” began Tess, counting aloud. She counted up to ten. Then she opened her eyes and started to look for the others.
While she was exploring the hall Julie and Bobbie ran “home” safe, and when she was poking the couch pillows in the guest room Stub climbed out of the hamper and ran into Mrs. Morton’s room without being seen. But Honey Bunch, who didn’t know how to play as well as the others, waited till she heard Tess walking past her and then jumped out and said “Boo!”
Tess had to laugh, and the others laughed, too, and Honey Bunch laughed with them, though she didn’t know what they were laughing about.
“Now you have to be ‘It,’ ” said Tess to her little cousin. “You mustn’t let the one who is ‘It’ see you before you get home, Honey Bunch.
Come on, we’ll hide. Honey Bunch is ‘It.' ”
“She didn’t understand, so I don’t think it’s fair to make her be ‘It,’ ’’ said Bobby sturdily. “You give her another chance, Tess.”
“I’d like to be ‘It,’ ” cried Honey Bunch. “I’d like it just as much! You go hide.”
So Honey Bunch buried her head in the pillow on her mother’s bed and counted as she had heard Tess do. Every one got home safe except Bobby. He really let Honey Bunch find him, because he didn’t want her to have to be “It” again.
“Hide all over the house,” said Bobby generously. “I don’t care where you hide. I’ll find you or tag you before you get in. And I’ll count twenty-five, too, so you’ll have all the time you want to hide.”
This was most exciting, and the children scattered as Bobby began to count.
“Let’s hide together—you and me,” whispered Tess to Honey Bunch. “Where is a good place?
Some place Bobby will never think to look.”
“In the back hall there’s a closet where Mother keeps the brooms and dust cloths,” said Honey Bunch.
“All right, we’ll hide there—come on,” answered Tess, pulling Honey Bunch along by the hand.
They reached the closet. It was large and deep. There were brooms and dust cloths and a dust pan hanging in neat little racks against the wall and several pails and mops. Mrs. Miller did not like to have to go down to the kitchen to get a pail when she wanted to wipe up the second-story floors.
“This is a good place,” said Tess, pulling the door close after them. “I don’t believe Bobby will ever look here.”
The back hall was a little shut off from the rest of the house by an archway and you did not see the closet door at all when you looked through the arch.
“There, he’s begun to hunt,” said Tess, peeping through the small crack she had left. “Oh, my, he’s coming this way!”
She pulled the door shut. There was a little click. It was perfectly dark in the closet and rather warm.
“Where is he now?” whispered Honey Bunch, holding fast to Tess’s hand.
“Sh!” whispered back Tess. “He’s out in the other hall. I hear him opening and shutting doors.”
The two little girls sat very still for what seemed a long time to Honey Bunch. Once or twice they thought they heard laughter, as though Bobby had found the hiding place of some one. Then it was quite still again.
“Do you know what I think?” said Tess, “I think he’s sitting out there in the hall, near the stairs. Then he can see every one who tries to come up or down. Well, he won’t catch us that way.”
“No, he won’t catch us that way,” repeated Honey Bunch.
By and by Tess said she thought they might venture out.
“We can go down the back stairs and up the other way,” she said. “Even if we’re tagged, I’d rather be ‘It’ than stay in this hot closet any longer.”
“Yes, let’s go,” said Honey Bunch.
Tess fumbled with the door a few minutes.
“Why, Honey Bunch, where’s the knob on this door?” she asked in surprise.
“It’s there,” answered Honey Bunch. “I’ll open it for you.”
But though Honey Bunch passed her little hands all over the place where the door knob ought to be, she couldn’t find it.
“Hasn’t it any door knob?” asked Tess crossly. “All our doors at home have door knobs.”
“Course we have door knobs,” said Honey Bunch. “I’ll find it in a minute.”
But the more she tried to find it, the more it seemed that she must have made a mistake.
“I’m so hot that I don’t know what to do,” declared Tess. “Suppose we never get out of here, Honey Bunch? I don’t believe we ever shall!”
Honey Bunch felt like crying. She was hot, too, and she certainly didn’t want to stay in that dark closet all the rest of her life.
“I’ll kick on the door,” she said hopefully. “Mother will come and get us.”
But though she kicked and Tess helped her kick, no one came.
“Doesn’t any one ever come to this closet?” asked Tess.
“Mrs. Miller does,” replied Honey Bunch. “She comes Fridays to clean and she uses the mops that are in here.”
“Then we’ll have to stay here till Friday,” said Tess, who was not feeling very cheerful that morning. “To-day is Saturday. We’ll have to stay in here a week and my mother won’t know where I am and your mother won’t know where you are.”
Two tears rolled down Honey Bunch’s cheeks.
“I’ll kick some more,” she said bravely. “We could kick it down, maybe.”
“I think we’d better yell,” said Tess. “Your mother might not like us to kick the door down.”
So both together, they shouted. In a few moments they heard Bobby shouting, too, and he was screaming: “Where are you? Where are you?”
“In the closet!” cried Tess and Honey Bunch. “In the hall closet!”
Then Bobby and Julie and Stub came running into the back hall and the girls in the closet heard them fumbling at the door. It opened and the rush of light made Honey Bunch blink her eyes.
“Why didn’t you open the door?” asked Bobby. “We waited and waited for you and then I heard you making a heap of noise.”
“We couldn’t find the door knob,” explained Tess.
Bobby looked at the door. It had a spring catch on the outside, but the inside was perfectly smooth.
“Gee, I suppose you shut the door and it locked,” said Bobby, who understood about doors and locks and bolts, as most boys do. “Then, of course, you couldn’t open it from inside there.”
“But where’s the door knob?” asked Tess, and Honey Bunch stared at the door as though she would like to see the door knob, too.
“There isn’t any,” said Bobby. “Nothing but this catch.”
“What a silly door to have!” exclaimed Tess. This wasn’t very polite, but then being shut up in a dark closet might have made her forget her manners. “We don’t have doors like that in our house. When you come to see us in New York, Honey Bunch, you won’t get fastened in a closet without any door knob.”
“No, but you can’t play hide-and-seek all over the house, either,” declared Bobby. “Because we live in an apartment.”
Honey Bunch didn’t know whether she wanted to go to see Bobby and Tess in New York or not. She was having a very good time in her own house. But when she did go to visit her cousins she had a good time, too, and saw much stranger things than doors without door knobs. What these things were, and what happened to Honey Bunch in the great city of New York you’ll have to read in another book about her, to be called, “Honey Bunch: Her First Visit to the City.” It will take a whole book to tell you, so you may know Honey Bunch had an exciting time.
“Stop talking about doors,” said Bobby now, very sensibly, “and come on and play. Let’s go out and play tag. It isn’t a bit cold.”
And we’ll leave the five little cousins getting ready for their game of tag, with Honey Bunch wondering if they played tag in New York.