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Her First Visit to the City, Chapter XIV
CHAPTER XIVThe man who had lifted Honey Bunch to the table made her think of her daddy. He took her coat out of her arms and smoothed down her skirts and seemed to know just what to do to make little girls comfortable.
"Sh!" he whispered. "We mustn't talk out loud. Mr. Hubert is going to talk now. Would you like some cake?"
"I had some cake," whispered Honey Bunch. "But I could eat another one. I don't b'lieve Aunt Julia will care."
The man nodded to a waiter who brought Honey Bunch a plate with a slice of white cake on it and a fork to eat it with.
"I'm Mr. Cary," whispered her new friend.
"What is your name?"
"Honey Bunch," said the little girl. "What does that mean?"
She leaned forward and touched the silver badge on Mr. Cary's coat. All the men in the room wore silver badges like it.
"That shows I'm a member," explained Mr. Cary, talking in a low tone. "A member of the Hardware Dealers' Association. This is our convention."
Honey Bunch didn't know what a convention was, but she thought it would not be polite to ask any more questions, so she didn't. She ate her cake quietly and listened to Mr. Hubert's speech, though she didn't know what he was talking about. Every one clapped when he sat down.
"I suppose they're glad he's through," said Honey Bunch.
Mr. Cary laughed and the man sitting next to him, who had heard, laughed, too. The party was evidently over, for the men stood up and began to walk around the room. Honey Bunch tried to get down from the table.
"I think I'd better go," she said, and Mr. Cary lifted her down to the floor.
"I'll have to tell Mr. Hubert what you said about him," he said, still laughing. And before Honey Bunch could say a word, he had shouted across the room, "Oh, Hubert, come over here a minute, will you?"
Mr. Hubert came over and Mr. Cary stood Honey Bunch on a chair and asked her to shake hands.
"Honey Bunch, this is our president, Mr. Hubert," he said, and Honey Bunch shook hands with the man who had made the speech.
Then Mr. Cary whispered something to him, and how Mr. Hubert laughed!
"Were you glad when I had finished speaking, Honey Bunch?" the president asked her, smiling.
"I liked to hear you," said Honey Bunch gravely. "But I didn't know what you were saying. But when I grow up, I will."
"Of course," answered Mr. Hubert, and he took the white flower out of his buttonhole and gave it to her.
Then Honey Bunch said good-bye to Mr. Cary and to the others who asked her to shake hands with them, and Mr. Cary gave her her coat and opened the door for her.
"Are you sure you know where to go?" he asked her, and Honey Bunch said she was sure she knew.
She went up the corridor and turned around and before she had gone far she met Aunt Julia, who was looking for her. All the way home Honey Bunch told Tess and Bobby about the "convention" she had seen and Bobby said that his daddy went to one every year.
That night it snowed, the first big snowstorm of the winter. No one was more surprised than the children when they woke up to find the streets covered inches deep with a white blanket and little white mountains drifted up against the windows.
"But it wasn't snowing a drop when we went to bed!" said Honey Bunch.
"Snow likes to surprise us, I think," replied, Uncle Paul. "And this time a whole city has been caught. I don't believe Bobby and Tess ought to try to go to school this morning, Mother," he said to Aunt Julia. "The streets are pretty well filled and they'd have trouble getting through the drifts."
This suited Bobby and Tess exactly. They didn't want to go to school; but they were sure there wasn't one inch too much snow for them to go out and play in. They wanted to go to Maudie Gray's house and play in her back yard.
"If you can walk to Maudie's house, you can certainly get to school," said Aunt Julia firmly. "I don't want you to go out and flounder through the snow until some of the walks are cleaned."
So the children followed Teresa from room to room as she brushed the snow off the window sills with a whisk broom and they stood at the front windows and watched to see if any of the walks were being cleaned. The janitor was shoveling off the pavement before the apartment house and Dorry was helping him.
"Look at Lester Morris!" said Bobby suddenly. "Look, he's going to throw a snowball at Dorry!"
Sure enough, there was Lester, hiding down beside one of the pine trees and aiming at Dorry with a large snowball. As the children watched, he threw it, but it missed Dorry and fell into the gutter.
Lester started to run, but Dorry was too quick for him. The elevator boy caught him and paying no attention to Lester's cries, carried him over to the pile of snow he had shoveled from the steps.
"He's going to wash his face for him!" said Bobby.
That was exactly what Dorry meant to do, and he did it thoroughly. When Dorry had finished scrubbing Lester's face with the snow, he carried him up the steps and he must have left him in the hall, for he came down without him.
"I wish we could go out and make snowballs," sighed Bobby. "Well, bundle up and run along," Aunt Julia said. "Take care of Honey Bunch and don't throw snowballs at any one—remember, Bobby, not a single ball at any one! Some of the snow has been cleared away by this time I am sure."
Mrs. Morton had brought Honey Bunch's leggings in the trunk and she put them on for her and brought out her rubbers and a pair of fuzzy brown mittens instead of the brown gloves.
"Did you know it would snow, Mother?" asked Honey Bunch, trying to button her coat and missing all the buttons because she was so excited.
"I thought it might," admitted Mrs. Morton. "There now, little daughter, I think you're cozy. Don't stay out long if you feel cold."
Bobby and Tess and Honey Bunch walked down the stairs, for Aunt Julia said the snow had made extra work for Dorry, and they must wait on themselves as much as they could. But Dorry had finished shoveling snow when they reached the street and they met him coming up the steps, blowing on his hands to warm them.
"Right cold out," he said cheerfully. "If you want to see the new street cleaners, Bobby, you-all want to walk over to the avenue."
"Let's go over," said Bobby. "It isn't far. Walk fast, Honey Bunch, and you won't be cold."
Honey Bunch wasn't cold. Her cheeks were red, but her fingers and toes were quite warm and cozy. The snow was piled up on each side of the walk, and some places were slippery because all the snow had not been shoveled off.
"Hear the snow plow?" cried Bobby as they neared the avenue. "Look out, Honey Bunch—don't let it blow in your eyes!"
The great snow plow was running up and down the trolley tracks, clearing the snow away. It was a machine with the largest and stiffest brush Honey Bunch had ever seen—the scrubbing brush Mrs. Miller used was never half as stiff as this brush. It made the snow fly in clouds, and if you didn't stand well back on the sidewalk and close your eyes when it went past, some of the snow was pretty sure to blow in them.
"The wagons are working, too," said Bobby, pointing to a line of horses and wagons standing in the deep snow. "The men shovel off that snow, Honey Bunch, and take it away."
"Where?" asked Honey Bunch.
She thought perhaps they took the snow somewhere for children to play in and build snow forts and snow men. But no, Bobby said, the snow was taken off and dumped in the river.
"They have to get it out of the way," he explained. "Daddy told me. If it stayed in the streets, another snowstorm might come and then another one and by and by no milk wagons could bring us milk and no cars could run and we might starve."
"Come on and let's run on top of the snow banks," said Tess, who didn't like to stand still and look at anything long, no matter how interesting it might be. "The snow's packed hard enough, Bobby, let's climb up."
Running along the top of the snow banks was exciting, and Honey Bunch fell off only once. That didn't hurt her, for she fell in the soft snow, but when Tess fell off and hit her knee on the curbstone, she decided that she had played long enough in the snow and wanted to go home.
When Mr. Turner came home to dinner that night he said it was much colder out He said there would surely be skating.
"Can't we take Honey Bunch to Central Park and let her see the lake?" asked Tess, whose knee had stopped hurting as soon as she was in the warm house.
"And she hasn't seen the monkeys," added Bobby. "I think she ought to see the monkeys, Mother."
His mother laughed and so did Mrs. Morton. Honey Bunch did not laugh. She was busy remembering that Kitty Williams had asked her to bring home a little monkey if they gave them away in New York. Perhaps she could get a little monkey in Central Park. She would ask Tess about it before she went to bed.
"I suppose Central Park is a place Honey Bunch must see," said Bobby's mother. "I cannot go with you to-morow, but I think your Aunt Edith will. She and Honey Bunch can meet you at the Park to-morrow after school. You won't have to come home, and that will give you a nice, long afternoon."
So Honey Bunch and her mother went to Central Park the next afternoon to meet Bobby and Tess. There was enough snow for all the children in the world—at least Honey Bunch thought there was—in Central Park. It was very white and beautiful and no one had walked on it, except where the walks had been cleared off.
"Isn't it cold!" cried Tess, running up to them. "Let's go in the monkey house first and get warm. Bobby and I nearly froze walking in."
Honey Bunch had remembered to ask Tess about the little monkey as they were getting ready for bed and Tess had told her that she was sure no monkeys were ever given away.
"Anyway," said Tess sensibly, "you wait till you see the monkeys and then you'll know that you couldn't carry one back to Barham. Monkeys won't keep still a minute. I guess," added Tess, "that is why Daddy calls me a monkey."
But even Tess couldn't wriggle and squirm and climb and chatter as constantly as those monkeys did. Honey Bunch stood and stared at them as they twisted and jumped about in the cages. There was one cunning little one that would have been nice for Kitty, but Honey Bunch knew as soon as she saw him that he wouldn't be good on the train. He was the kind of monkey who couldn't keep out of mischief. He was teasing another monkey even then.
"It is cute, but I guess I couldn't get it home to Kitty, even if the man gave it to me," said Honey Bunch. "What do you think Bobby?"
"You could not!" was Bobby's very decided answer.
"Now let's go down to the lake," said Tess.
"I'm all warm, aren't you? Are you warm, Aunt Edith?"
Honey Bunch's mother said she was quite warm and they started to walk down to the lake. A cold wind blew in their faces, but the skaters didn't seem to mind the wind. The lake was filled and they were darting back and forth and making circles and fancy figures, and of course they wouldn't be cold when they were having such an interesting time.