CHAPTER XII Tess and Bobby thought the afternoon was never going to come. To make the time before lunch go faster—for their mother said she didn't want them to go out and play or Honey Bunch might get tired—the twins told Honey Bunch about the theater.
THE FAIRY PLAY
"It's all light when you go in," said Bobby. "And you sit down and the music plays. Then, all of a sudden, the lights go out and it's pitch dark."
"Then the great, big curtain rolls up," said Tess, "and"
"Who rolls it up?" interrupted Honey Bunch excitedly.
"Oh, some one," said Tess. "Men back of the stage, I guess. Anyway, it goes up and you see the stage and people walk on it and talk and that's the play. Some of the girls go to the theater every week, but Mother won't let us. We haven't been once since last winter."
Tess's mother heard her and smiled.
"If you went every week, Tess dear," she said, "you'd soon find out that you can get tired of the theater, like everything else. When you are grown up and have a little girl of your own I don't believe you will want her to go to a matinee every Saturday."
Well, they had lunch at last and then Honey Bunch put on her new blue linen dress Aunt Julia had given her and her pretty coat and hat and Tess put on her velvet dress and her best coat and hat, too, and Bobby brushed his hair again. He already had on his best suit, and he looked very nice indeed.
"Now we're going," said Honey Bunch, as her mother and Aunt Julia came out into the hall where the three children were prancing around the elevator door.
Mrs. Morton laughed and pressed the button.
"I don't know whether I should let you go without being tied to me, Honey Bunch," she said. "You're so excited you might float up into the air, and then how should I get you down?"
Dorry, who had brought the elevator up, grinned cheerfully.
"Shall I get a piece of string, Miz Morton?" he asked. "You could tie Miss Honey Bunch to your coat button."
Honey Bunch looked down at her small shoes. Then she stood on tiptoe.
"I won't float, Mother," she said earnestly. "I can hold on by my toes."
But Bobby and Tess, when they were out on the street, put Honey Bunch between them and Bobby held one hand and Tess the other. They didn't believe their little cousin was going to float away like a kite, but they thought it would be safer to help hold her down.
They took the surface car—that opened in the middle, as Honey Bunch said—to reach the theater, and, though she looked around carefully, Honey Bunch could not see Lester Morris. She had been afraid he would sit near them and perhaps make faces at her all through the play.
"See the lights?" whispered Tess, as soon as they were inside and their coats were off and they were seated in a row.
Honey Bunch sat next to her mother and Aunt Julia sat next to Mrs. Morton with Bobby on one side of her. Tess was on the other side of Honey Bunch.
The theater was blazing with bright lights and people were rustling in, laughing and talking. Honey Bunch saw little boys and girls and their grandmas and mothers and aunties. Everyone seemed to be having a beautiful time.
"Like the music?" whispered Bobby, leaning across his mother so that Honey Bunch could hear him.
Honey Bunch nodded. She liked it all, the lights and music and people, the noise and laughter. The big fire curtain on the stage rolled up, up, out of sight. Suddenly the lights went out. Honey Bunch felt for Mother's hand.
"It's all right, darling," whispered Mother. "Watch the curtain. See, it is going up!"
The beautiful red velvet curtain was being pulled back. And then every child in the house said "Ah!" for the handsome prince, "Gold Heart," was on the stage and his sword clinked as he walked over to the window and flung it wide open.
It was a fairy play and Tess had told Honey Bunch that most anything could happen in a fairy play. So Honey Bunch wasn't surprised to see an old fairy come hobbling in through the window; that is, she was an old, old woman because she didn't want everyone to know that she was a fairy. She told Gold Heart that she had heard all about him and how he wanted to kill the wicked giant who frightened and hurt his people.
"Would you like me to help you?" asked the fairy.
Gold Heart thought she was an old woman who couldn't help anyone, but he was polite and said yes.
"Take this gold cap, then," said the old woman, "and wear it. Nothing can hurt you as long as you have it on."
So she gave the prince a cap of solid gold and he put it on and it fitted him perfectly. The old woman fairy went away and the prince sat down to read a book by the open window.
"Look!" whispered Tess, giving Honey Bunch such a poke that she nearly pushed her off her seat "Look! Somebody's coming in at the window!"
Goodness! Honey Bunch was as excited as Tess. The prince had his back to the window, and there, climbing in over the yellow roses that grew around the sill, was the ugliest little dwarf you ever saw!
Bobby leaned across his mother's lap to whisper to Honey Bunch.
"I'll bet he wants to steal that gold cap," he said.
That was just what that dwarf wanted to do! He crept in so carefully that the prince didn't hear him at all. Down to the floor he jumped and crept softly around the table. He put up his hand to take the cap and still the prince went on reading.
"He's got it!" shrieked Honey Bunch. "He's got the cap! Stop him, quick! I saw him steal it!"
The dwarf jumped up and leaped through the window with the precious cap, the curtain came down with a soft thud, and the lights shone again. All around Honey Bunch people were laughing, but she was so excited that she was still jumping up and down and begging someone to stop the dwarf.
"It's only a play, dear," said Mrs. Morton. "Don't bounce around like that. It's make-believe. You mustn't spoil the play by making such a noise."
"That prince will get his cap back all right—you'll see," said the wise Bobby.
And the prince did. Honey Bunch was dreadfully worried for fear the dwarf would run off and hide and the gold cap would never be found. But in the very next act the prince was out in the woods and he met an elf who gave him a bag and told him what to say when he met the dwarf. All the prince had to do then was to say these magic words when he found the dwarf, take his gold cap, and tie the bad dwarf up in the bag and leave him in the woods. And in the third and last act, the prince wore his cap of gold and found the giant who was making all his people unhappy.
The prince and the giant met on a high cliff and you could hear the ocean roaring down below the cliff although you could not see it. Of course the giant couldn't hurt the prince when he wore his gold cap, and Gold Heart took his sword and knocked that wicked giant over backward, down, down into the ocean.
"Hear him splash!" cried Honey Bunch in great glee, as the giant landed in the water.
That was the end of the play and everyone got ready to go home. There were so many people in the aisles that no one could walk fast and Honey Bunch was so pushed and pulled that she stepped on some one's foot before she could help it. She turned around to say, "Excuse me," and there was Lester Morris, the boy who liked to make faces.
"Did you see the prince knock the giant down into the ocean?" asked Honey Bunch, who was still thinking about the play.
"Huh, that's nothing!" said Lester. "I could knock that giant down all by myself. I don't think he was much of a giant."
"Why, the idea!" sputtered Honey Bunch. "You couldn't, either! I don't believe anyone could knock a giant down unless the fairies told him how to do it."
"You couldn't knock a fly down, Lester!" said Bobby. "I'd like to see you try to punch a giant He would pick you up and throw you into his dungeon and you'd never get out."
"You show me a giant and I'll let you see whether I can knock him down or not," retorted Lester, but of course Bobby didn't know where there was a giant. Neither did Lester, for that matter. Lester was with another boy and an older cousin and they went off before Bobby and Honey Bunch and Tess had their coats fastened. Bobby could hardly wait to show his cousin the subway.
"Let me put the money in, Mother," he begged, and Mrs. Turner gave him the change and let him go down the long stairs first.
"You go through," said Bobby to his mother, when they were in the station.
Honey Bunch stared at the funny little arms which made a rattling noise when people pushed past them. Bobby dropped nickels in the slot; clank, clank, went those queer wooden arms; and they all stood on the other side, on a cement platform.
Honey Bunch stared about her. There were no windows anywhere, just electric lights. Aunt Julia held Bobby back from the edge of the platform, but he pointed out to Honey Bunch different colored lights, red and blue and green, that winked.
"Here comes the train!" cried Tess, as they heard a rumbling noise. A long string of cars rushed by them without any engine. At least Honey Bunch didn't see any engine, but Bobby told her that the engineer was in the first car and that he didn't need an engine because it was an electric train.
At first Honey Bunch thought the train was not going to stop to take them on. But it did before all the cars had gone past the spot where they stood on the platform.
Bobby wanted to go into the first car and look at the tracks through the glass door, but the train was so crowded his mother said she thought they had better stay where they were. A man gave Mrs. Morton his seat and Aunt Julia stood up with the children beside the sliding door to see that Bobby didn't let them get off at the wrong station, she said.
"It's dark," said Honey Bunch, as the train left the station and she found she couldn't see anything. "We're under the ground, dear," explained Aunt Julia. "Away down under the pavements and buildings, you know. All the subways are built underground. See how fast we are going!"
The train made so much noise that it was hard to talk, but Honey Bunch stood on her tiptoes and shouted a question.
"Is it named for Mr. Subways?" she cried. "He came to see us at Barham."
Aunt Julia smiled and shook her head. That meant no. Honey Bunch was puzzled, but then there were lots of queer things in New York. She stared out at the lighted stations they passed and watched the people get on and off at the stations where the train stopped. In a few minutes Bobby said it was their turn to get off and they all squeezed through the door, went through the funny little arms—only this time no one had to put any money in the slot—and up the stairs out into the street.
Honey Bunch stopped and looked back down the iron stairs.
"Well, dearie," said her mother, "what do you think of riding on the subway? Did you like it?"
Honey Bunch nodded.
"I like it, Mother," she said. "But I didn't see any potatoes."
Bobby stared at her. The others, too, for that matter.