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

Uncle Paul's Honor Guest



            "Now hold fast to my hand," said Mother, as they came to a busy street.
            Honey Bunch was quite sure they would never get across that street. An express wagon went rattling past, the two large gray horses running, the driver flourishing his whip and a little black dog, high up on the seat beside him, barking so hard that Honey Bunch was afraid he would bark himself right off the seat.
            But when two automobiles turned, she saw a tall policeman standing in the middle of the street.
            "He'll make them stop," she said comfortably.
            Sure enough, in a few minutes his whistle sounded and the automobiles and wagons stopped. Mother and Aunt Julia and Honey Bunch walked across the street and found themselves at the door of the building where Aunt Julia said Uncle Paul had his office.
            "And nothing ran over us," said Honey, Bunch, with a little sigh of relief.
            She liked this big city of New York, oh, very much. But she told Mother as they went into the elevator in Uncle Paul's building that she liked to cross the streets in Barham better.
            "I feel bigger at home," she explained. "And there's more room for me."
            Aunt Julia laughed and said there wasn't much room for any one in New York. But she must have meant in the streets, for the big elevator in which they were slowly going up was large enough for twenty little girls like Honey Bunch.
            Up, up, they went slowly; and Honey Bunch thought the elevator seemed tired because it had so far to go. She whispered this to Mother, but the elevator man heard her and smiled.
            "If I shot you up to the twenty-first floor, Miss," he said, "you'd be sick and dizzy and out of breath. It's safer and better to go sailing through the air than to go shooting—you take my word for it."
            "I will," Honey Bunch promised him gravely. "I don't like shooting anyway. I always close my eyes."
            They had reached the twenty-first floor now and the elevator man stopped the car and opened the iron grating for them.
            "We go down to the end of the corridor," said Aunt Julia leading them down to a glass door with a great many black letters on it.
            When she opened the door for a minute Honey Bunch blinked her eyes. She was looking directly into the strong sunshine which came through four great windows. There were several young women in the room and their typewriters were making a clicking noise.
            "Good morning," said Aunt Julia to the pretty girl who came forward to speak to her.
            "I believe Mr. Turner expects us."
            The typewriters went on clicking, but Honey Bunch found that every one was looking at her. She smiled and pressed closer to the railing, which was like a little fence with a gate in the middle. The pretty girl had come through this gate to see Aunt Julia.
            "What's your name, dear?" asked the young woman whose desk was nearest to her.
            "Honey Bunch," said Honey Bunch politely. "Well, I have something good for you," said the young woman opening her top drawer and taking out two caramels. "Do you like candy?"
            "Thank you," said Honey Bunch, making her little curtsey. "But I have to ask Mother 'fore I eat things."
            She turned around and Mother and Aunt Julia were not there!
            "They went down into Mr. Turner's offices," said the young woman who had offered Honey Bunch the caramels. "Here comes Miss Hunter after you."
            "Your mother is waiting for you," said Miss Hunter, coming up to Honey Bunch. "I'll show you where she is."
            Honey Bunch called "Good-bye," and the girls at the typewriters waved to her. Then she trotted after Miss Hunter down a little hall and into a handsome office where her mother and Aunt Julia were sitting in two large leather-covered chairs.
            "We'll have to wait a few minutes for Uncle," said Aunt Julia.
            Miss Hunter went away and Honey Bunch kneeled on a chair and looked at the pictures in a magazine which was on the long table. She found a picture of a little girl who looked like Tess, she thought, and as she was looking at it suddenly two hands were put tightly over her eyes.
            "Guess who it is," said a kind, laughing voice.
            "Uncle Paul!" cried Honey Bunch.
            It was Uncle Paul and he lifted her down from the chair and said he was very glad to see her.
            "I think we're all very hungry," said Aunt Julia, smiling.
            "I want to show Edith and Honey Bunch the view from my window and then we'll go out to lunch at once," answered Uncle Paul.
            "Come, chicken, tell me what you think of New York from here."
            They all followed Uncle Paul into a large square room and over to the window that filled almost one side of it. Honey Bunch looked down and away, away, far below her, she saw little black things scurrying about.
            "People!" cried Honey Bunch. "Are they people, Uncle Paul?"
            "Yes, dear," he said. "People and horses and automobiles down in the streets. You couldn't hear a man shout from here, and he couldn't hear you if you called to im."
            "Mother, look way down," urged Honey Bunch.
            "I am looking, dear," said her mother. "Think of the men who could build a tall building like this!"
            Honey Bunch stood quietly at the window a little while, looking at the street so far below her and at the red and green and rusty looking roofs of buildings which were not as tall as the one she was in. Pigeons were flying about these roofs and Uncle Paul told her that many of the birds lived in houses on the roofs.
            "I should think they'd rather live in the country," said Honey Bunch. "I don't think a pigeon has much fun on the roof. There isn't any garden for him to play in."
            "Well, if we are going to lunch, let's go," said Uncle Paul, putting a heavy block of glass on the papers he had been looking at while Honey Bunch looked out of the window. "Honey Bunch, where would you like to go? You are my honor guest to day."
            This sounded very nice and it was even nicer to see Uncle Paul say it. His eyes crinkled up and he patted the little hand Honey Bunch slipped into his as though he was very proud to have an honor guest in his office.
            He didn't give Honey Bunch time to answer, though, because he took a key out of his pocket and opened a door that led out into the hall opposite another elevator, not the one they had come up in, and another elevator man stopped to take them on.
            "Oh, oh!" said Honey Bunch, as the car started. "I guess he must be shooting. I would rather sail!"
            She felt so queer that she hid her face in Mother's coat, but it wasn't long before they were on the ground floor and Honey Bunch found the queer feeling had gone. Mother told her that very often grown-up people felt a little queer when they went down in an elevator.
            Honey Bunch walked with Uncle Paul, and Mother and Aunt Julia walked together. They had not far to go till they came to a restaurant and Uncle Paul held open the door and they all went in. A waiter came up to them, a nice waiter with white hair, and he was so smiling and he bowed so politely that Honey Bunch made him a little curtsey.
            There were a good many people seated at the tables, eating, and they laughed, but it did not sound as though they were laughing at Honey Bunch. She smiled back at them and some one threw her a lovely soft pink rose. Uncle Paul picked it up for her and she trotted after him and the waiter over to a beautiful round table set in the window where she could see the people walking in the street.
            "I'll attend to this young lady," said the white-haired waiter when two others came hurrying up.
            And he did. He told the other waiters what to do for Mother and Aunt Julia and Uncle Paul, but he pulled out a chair for Honey Bunch himself and he lifted her into it and he helped her take off her coat and tie a napkin over her dress so that nothing should spot it.
            The chair wasn't quite high enough, and he found another chair for her. Then, when she was all nicely settled, he went away and later the tall thin waiter who had been bringing water and menu cards and helping Mother and Aunt Julia with their coats, brought them the good things to eat that Uncle Paul ordered.
            Everywhere Honey Bunch looked, she saw smiling faces. Presently soft music began somewhere. Honey Bunch looked and looked and by and by she saw the piano back of green palms and a man with a violin playing. It was very lovely.
            "What would you rather have for dessert, Honey Bunch?" asked Uncle Paul when dessert time came.
            "Ice-cream, please," said Honey Bunch promptly.
            "What kind?" he asked her seriously. There was a silver vase on the table filled with pink roses. Honey Bunch knew what kind of ice-cream she wanted when she looked at them.
            "Pink, please," she said.
            They had pink ice-cream and little cakes with pink icing and when that was all gone it was time to go. The white-haired waiter came up to their table when he saw them getting ready to leave. He took the pretty pink roses out of their silver vase, dried the stems on a napkin and handed them to Honey Bunch.
            "You're very kind to us," said Uncle Paul, smiling.
            "The little lady can have anything in this place," said the waiter, looking at Honey Bunch, who was hugging her pink roses close to her brown coat.
            "Thank you for the flowers," said Honey Bunch clearly. "And if you ever come to Barham you can have some of the roses in our garden—can't he, Mother?"
            Mrs. Morton said yes indeed, and then they walked down the strip of green carpet that led them straight to the front door.
            "I must go back, for there's a conference at three," said Uncle Paul to Aunt Julia.
            "Are you going straight home?"
            "Straight home," answered Aunt Julia. "And we'll walk over and take the bus. I don't dare take Honey Bunch on the subway till the children are with us. They made me promise."
            So Honey Bunch had another ride on the bus, which she liked very much, and when they reached the apartment house Aunt Julia remembered that she wanted to get a head of lettuce for dinner.
            "You run in, Honey Bunch, because I am sure Tess and Bobby are at home," said Aunt Julia, "and your mother and I will walk over to the avenue grocery store. We won't be gone long and you children can play till we come back."
            Honey Bunch ran into the hall, ready to ask Dorry to take her up. But someone else was ringing the elevator bell. Someone she remembered, though she didn't know his name.

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