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

Lester Morris



            Honey Bunch stopped running when she saw this someone. She backed away. She would have run back to her mother, only she didn't exactly want to run away. The someone ringing the elevator bell was the boy on the train who had made faces at her!
            He made a face the minute he saw Honey Bunch now, a dreadful face. He stuck out his tongue and rolled his eyes and looked as bad as he possibly could.
            "Hello!" he said. "What are you doing here, missy?"
            "I'm—I'm visiting my cousins," replied Honey Bunch.
            "I'm sorry for 'em, then," said this bad boy, giving the bell another deep push.
            "Dorry doesn't like you to ring the bell too much," Honey Bunch said gravely. "He can't hurry when he's at the top of the house. He said so."
            "He'd better hurry, if he knows what's good for him," declared the bad boy, making another face at Honey Bunch. "My father will have him discharged if he doesn't hurry when I ring this bell."
            "Does your father own this house?" asked Honey Bunch, wishing Dorry would hurry. She didn't think the boy would make faces at her if there was someone else there to see how he behaved.
            "My father wouldn't own this house," said the boy, ringing the bell again. "We live on the fifth floor, and if we don't get what we want we move and then the owner has to find someone else to rent his old apartment."
            "Well, if you-all don't quit ringing that bell, you-all will have to rent another apartment," cried the angry Dorry, flinging open the iron gate and staring at the bad boy crossly.
            "Guess you think you-all is the only person in the whole house, don't you?"
            "I'm in a hurry. I have to get my roller skates," said the bad boy, trying to push past Dorry and get into the elevator. "Get out of the way, Dorry, I have to hurry—the boys are waiting for me."
            "I don't care nothing 'bout boys," said Dorry, putting his arm across the door so that the boy could not get in. "I'm only taking ladies this trip. Come on, Miss Honey Bunch, you-all want to go up?"
            He stood aside to let Honey Bunch in the car then slipped in after her and closed the gate with a bang so sharply that it almost nipped the nose of the bad boy.
            "I'll fix you!" cried the boy. "You'll be sorry. I'll tell the superintendent we never get any service in this place."
            "You might just use the stairs if you want those roller skates," said Dorry calmly, starting the car.
            The bad boy made a terrific face at them through the iron grating before they lost sight of him.
            "Don't pay no attention to that Lester Morris," said Dorry to Honey Bunch. "He makes a lot of noise, but he can't do anything. He's just disagreeable, that's all."
            Honey Bunch got off at the fourth floor and Dorry, instead of going back for Lester, went on up. Honey Bunch found Tess and Bobby waiting for her, but although they had a fine game of train with the chairs for the cars, Honey Bunch couldn't stop thinking about the bad boy, Lester.
            "I wish he didn't live here," she said to Mother that night, when she was being undressed for bed. "I don't see why he has to live here!"
            "Why, my dear little girl," said Mrs. Morton, with a kiss, "don't let that bad boy worry you. You won't have to see him often, and he doesn't play with Bobby and Tess. I think he must be older than they are. You may not even hear of him again before we go home. Don't think of unpleasant things, darling; think of all the happy things you know have happened and are going to happen."
            "All right, I will," said Honey Bunch, like the sensible little girl she really was. "I'll think about to-morrow."
            Honey Bunch knew that she and Mother and Aunt Julia were going shopping the next day again and that the day after that would be Saturday and she and Bobby and Tess were going to a matinee. Surely that was enough for any little girl to think about, and Honey Bunch was thinking as fast as she could when she fell asleep and never thought about anything at all till the next morning.
            "We're going to a store for little girls and boys this morning," said Aunt Julia, when she and Mother and Honey Bunch were in the bus.
            Honey Bunch could wave to the busses now and make them stop. She wasn't quite so afraid to cross a street as she had been at first. She liked to ride in elevators.
            "We'll make a New Yorker of you yet," said Uncle Paul, when he wanted to tease her.
            The store for little boys and girls was a wonderful and lovely place. There was everything there that a little boy or girl could ever wear and things for the tiny, tiny baby to wear, too. There were a great many fat little boys and girls there with their mothers, trying on coats and dresses and shoes. Honey Bunch liked to watch them, especially one little boy who wouldn't go away from the long mirror. He liked to stand and stare at himself so much that he wouldn't move when his mother wanted him to try on another coat. The clerk had to take it off and put another one on while the little boy stood and stared into the glass.
            Honey Bunch watched him till his mother said he must go home with her. Then that little boy cried and hung on to the mirror and had to be dragged away. Everyone laughed and said what a vain little boy he must be.
            Upstairs there were charming dresses for little girls and Honey Bunch tried on some while Mother and Aunt Julia watched her. The very prettiest of all was a blue linen, just the color of Honey Bunch's blue eyes. It was made with a little round white yoke which was hemstitched to the dress and the hem was hemstitched, too. Just above the hem were embroidered white daisies.
            "Do you like that dress, dearie?" asked Aunt Julia, putting her arm around Honey Bunch.
            "It's the nicest dress!" said Honey Bunch. "It has a black velvet tie in back."
            "So it has," agreed Aunt Julia. "I think it is a pretty dress, too—much too pretty to go away and leave. I think I'll have to buy it for a dear little girl I know—a little girl I love very much."
            Honey Bunch looked a little puzzled.
            "It's a present from Auntie, dear," explained Aunt Julia. "With my love."
            Then Honey Bunch knew that Aunt Julia was buying the dress for her and she kissed her and thanked her and told her how much she loved her. The clerk took off the pretty dress and they had it sent to the apartment, because Aunt Julia said they wouldn't want to carry even a pretty dress around with them.
            "Now I'm as sorry as I can be, but I must go to a meeting," said Aunt Julia, when the dress had been put in a box and the clerk was told where to send it. "I'd much rather be with you two, but it can't be helped."
            "Honey Bunch and I are going to take a walk," said Mrs. Morton. "We haven't had a real walk in a week. It isn't cold to-day and we'll enjoy a little fresh air."
            So at the corner Aunt Julia left them and Honey Bunch and Mother went down one of the long, narrow streets for their walk.
            They saw ever so many things to interest them in the windows. There was one window filled with little queer carvings from China, and another with ribbons and silks, the gayest colors Honey Bunch had ever seen.
            "Oh, Mother, look across the street!" she cried, pointing to a window. "Birds, Mother! And they're alive!"
            The birds were as bright-colored as the ribbons and twice as interesting. There were red birds and green birds and black and white ones. Some hopped cheerfully about, some sat on their perches and looked solemn, and some stood huddled in a corner of their cages and never moved a feather.
            "I wish I could let them out, Mother," said kind little Honey Bunch. "I don't believe they have one bit good time. They would rather be out on the trees, even if it is winter. I think it must be hot to be in a little cage on top of another cage."
            "Well, dear, I wouldn't put any bird in a cage, either," replied Mrs. Morton. "But these little birds are used to it now and they couldn't live out in the streets. Cats would catch them. I think they are happier in the window, sweetheart."
            But Honey Bunch still felt sorry for the birds. She thought they were homesick for the trees and the outdoors, even the winter outdoors. The cages were small, and if a bird didn't want people to stare at it, it couldn't help it. Honey Bunch thought, there ought to be a lace curtain or something, for bird houses. They had curtains at home in Barham. Her mother said she did not like strangers to look into the house through the front windows.
            "Look in this window, dear," said Mrs. Morton.
            That other window made Honey Bunch forget the birds, for it was filled with fat, happy puppies who rolled about and played and bit each other and had a beautiful time. One came up to the window and looked at Honey Bunch through the glass. When she tapped her finger, the puppy tried to bite it and fell over backward.
            "Oh, Mother, what dear little dogs!" cried Honey Bunch. "Look at that one in the corner—and that brown one asleep in the basket—and the spotted one biting his brother. Is that his brother, Mother?"
            Mrs. Morton said she thought it was the puppy's brother and she and Honey Bunch stood and watched the puppies till it was time to think of lunch. They had a nice lunch together and they went home, and while her mother wrote to her daddy, Honey Bunch played outdoors with Tess and Bobby and Kenneth Evans, who were home from school by that time.
            "Give my love to Daddy and tell him to take some to Lady Clare," said Honey Bunch before she went out to play. "And tell him we saw the puppies in the window."
            "Hurrah, it's Saturday!" shouted Bobby the next morning at the breakfast table. He was so excited that he upset the cream jug and Uncle Paul said if it hadn't been Saturday he would have had to leave the table.
            "I suppose this is a great day and we have to make excuses," Uncle Paul said, while Bobby looked sorry. "What are you children going to do?"
            "Going to see 'Gold Heart,' Daddy," said Bobby. "It's at the Lyon Theater and Honey Bunch has never been to the theater. And we're coming home on the subway."
            "Well, I hope the two mothers can stand the fun," said Uncle Paul, patting Honey Bunch on the head. She sat next to him. "I should say that taking three children to see a play was an undertaking."
            "Lester Morris is going, too," declared Bobby. "He told me so last night. I met him in the elevator."
            Honey Bunch was sorry to hear this, but she didn't think about Lester long. She thought about the theater instead. That was pleasanter.


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