CHAPTER XIII "Potatoes?" Bobby cried. "Who said anything about potatoes? Aren't you silly, Honey Bunch!"
Miss Dorothy's Party
"I am not silly!" declared Honey Bunch.
"I guess I know that potatoes and cabbages and things like that are in cellars, Bobby Turner! And Aunt Julia said we went right under the buildings—right through people's cellars. I was watching to see their potatoes and cabbages. We have potatoes in our cellar at home."
Bobby and Tess laughed, but Aunt Julia patted Honey Bunch's cheek.
"Don't mind these silly children, Honey Bunch," she said. "They laugh at everything. I daresay you would have seen potatoes and cabbages in the cellars if the subway hadn't a little tunnel of its own to go through. You see, dear, when they built the subway for the cars to run in, they made a tunnel for the tracks. No one can see outside the tunnel walls. Ask Uncle Paul about it. He will explain better than I can."
But Honey Bunch forgot about the subway and Bobby and Tess forgot to laugh at her when they reached the apartment and found that the postman had left three blue letters for them. Honey Bunch was sure hers must be from her daddy.
"No, it isn't," cried Tess, opening her letter and pulling out the little blue card in it so hurriedly that she tore the corner. "'Tisn't from your daddy, Honey Bunch. It's dancing school and we're going to have a party Wednesday afternoon. Miss Dorothy said so."
Honey Bunch couldn't read her card, but her mother read it to her. Sure enough, Miss Dorothy had invited her to the party Wednesday afternoon.
"How did she know I was here?" asked Honey Bunch, much astonished. "She didn't see me come."
Uncle Paul, who had reached home ahead of them, pulled Honey Bunch into his lap.
"I suspect that Miss Dorothy knows all about you, Honey Bunch," he said. "Bobby and Tess have been talking about your visit ever since Christmas. I hope you will bring me home a cake; I never get asked to these parties. I like pink icing best, remember."
"Now, Paul," said Honey Bunch's mother, "don't tell Honey Bunch things like that. How can I teach her that it isn't polite to bring home cake from a party when you ask for it?"
But Uncle Paul only laughed and kissed Honey Bunch and tickled Tess till she doubled up on the sofa. Then he went off to read his paper till dinner was ready.
The children talked about the party from that Saturday night till Wednesday morning. Kenneth Evans was going and so, alas! was Lester Morris.
"He's as bad as he can be in dancing class!" scolded Tess. "I don't see why he comes to the party. He doesn't like girls—he said so."
"Well, Tess, I wouldn't fret, if I were you," said Aunt Julia. "I'm sure Lester likes to go to a party as much as you do. Perhaps if you think more kindly of him, he'll behave better."
"No, Mother," said Bobby seriously, "he's only going because he heard Miss Dorothy say there would be two kinds of ice-cream. He doesn't like parties, only the ice-cream part."
Bobby himself was more interested in the ice-cream than in the party, though he didn't say so. He went to dancing school because his daddy said all boys should know how to dance. Bobby usually danced with Tess unless Miss Dorothy made him ask some other little girl. Then he said he didn't like dancing school.
This party was the most exciting one Honey Bunch had ever been invited to. She knew it was as soon as Tess told her that it was to be in a hotel and that her mother was going to take them in a taxicab.
"We can't go in the subway, because it is too far to walk," said Tess. "Anyway, I'll have on my new slippers."
"I have new slippers," said Honey Bunch. "Mother bought them."
Honey Bunch's slippers were pink kid and she had a pink dress and pink silk socks. Dear me, how dressed up she did feel Wednesday afternoon! Tess did, too. Tess wore a white dress with blue slippers and socks. She sat in a chair as soon as she was dressed and wouldn't move.
"Something 'most always happens to me," said Tess. "But it won't this time."
She meant that she raced around so and was so careless that she usually tore her best clothes or spilled water on her best shoes and slippers or lost her handkerchief, before she started for a party. Poor Tess had made up her mind that nothing was going to happen to her before she went to Miss Dorothy's party.
Honey Bunch's mother was not going with them. She had promised to do something for Daddy that afternoon and she had to go downtown. But she waited till the taxicab came and the children went down and climbed into it with Aunt Julia. Dorry told Honey Bunch she looked like a sweet pea.
"Yes'm," he said, "just like a sweet pea. That's the sweetest flower they is, the way I think about it."
Honey Bunch liked riding in the taxicab, but they reached the hotel before she and Tess had found out how to sit in the corner of the leather seat so they would not bounce around. There was a man in uniform to open the taxi cab door for them and lift them down. Bobby went on ahead as though he often went to a party in a hotel, but Honey Bunch and Tess kept close to Aunt Julia.
They walked up wide gray stone steps covered with a soft gray carpet and into an elevator that took them upstairs to the floor where Miss Dorothy was giving her party. Bobby went off into one little room and Aunt Julia and the two little girls were taken into another room.
Such laughing and chattering and running around as there was in this room! There were many mothers and dozens of little girls in the prettiest dresses and with the perkiest hair-ribbons! Some little girls had long curls and some had bobbed straight hair and some had blue eyes and some had brown. But they were all talking at once, so each little girl had the same kind of tongue—that much was certain.
"Now you look very nice and we must go in and speak to Miss Dorothy," said Aunt Julia, when she had made Tess's hair-ribbon stand up and had fixed Honey Bunch's sash so that it would stand out.
They went into a large room with a slippery floor and found Miss Dorothy in the center of more little girls. There were boys, too, as many little boys as girls. Miss Dorothy was a little woman with dark eyes and hair and she smiled at Honey Bunch and said she was very glad to see her.
"Isn't it nice you could come to our party?" said Miss Dorothy. "Tess and Bobby have told me so much about you. Why, I've heard about Honey Bunch ever since I can remember!"
It was a lovely party. Honey Bunch thought it was quite the nicest party she had ever been to. They danced and played games. Bobby showed Honey Bunch how to dance and Kenneth Evans told her how to play the games she did not know. Then when the ice-cream came in—well, no wonder Lester Morris and Bobby had been interested in the ice-cream part of the party, for there were chocolate lions and tigers and vanilla roses and four leaf clovers and plates of the most beautiful little cakes you ever saw. Honey Bunch had a chocolate tiger and Tess had a vanilla rose and Bobby had a lion and Kenneth Evans had a four leaf clover.
Honey Bunch had forgotten about Uncle Paul who liked pink icing till she saw the cakes. Miss Dorothy said that each child should have as many as he liked, but Aunt Julia told Bobby and Tess that they must not eat more than two, so of course Honey Bunch took only two also. One little cake was covered with pink icing.
"I'm going to save that for Uncle Paul," said Honey Bunch to herself.
She held it in her hand till she had eaten her ice-cream. The waiter came in and took her dish and then, as everyone had finished, Miss Dorothy blew her whistle for another game.
"Now I'll go put it in my coat pocket," whispered Honey Bunch, slipping down from her chair and running around behind the empty chairs till she came to the little room where she had left her coat and hat.
No one missed her, for Aunt Julia thought she was playing the game with the others and Bobby and Tess were too excited to know whether she was one of the players or not.
There was no one in the room—the maid had gone to get some of the cake and ice-cream—and Honey Bunch was stuffing her cake into her coat pocket when she looked up and there stood Lester Morris in the doorway.
"Whose coat is that?" he asked, making a face at her.
"It's my coat," said Honey Bunch. "I'm saving something."
"I don't believe a word you say," cried the bad boy, Lester. "That coat belongs to a little girl in this hotel. I'm going to take it back to her!"
Before Honey Bunch knew what he was doing, he had grabbed her coat and darted out into the corridor. Honey Bunch ran after him, but Lester could run faster than she could.
"You're a bad, bad boy!" cried Honey Bunch. "You give me my coat. I'll tell my mother!"
Lester was running so fast that he did not see a man coming toward him. He ran into him and Honey Bunch ran into them both.
"Give me my coat!" she cried, pounding Lester on his back as hard as she could, which wasn't very hard.
"Aren't you ashamed to tease your little sister?" said the man sternly. "Give her the coat at once!"
Without a word Lester handed the coat to Honey Bunch, who was very glad to have it back.
"Now you run along, Sister," said the man kindly. "I'll hold your brother till you are around the corner. I've known boys to be bad again as soon as they thought no one was watching them."
Honey Bunch didn't stop to tell the man that Lester wasn't her brother. Hugging her coat in her arms, she ran, as fast as her little feet could take her, down to the end of the corridor and turned the corner. She kept on running till she had turned another corner.
Then she looked back. No Lester was chasing her.
"Somebody," said Honey Bunch, listening a moment, "is talking."
The voice came from a room opposite her. The door was partly open. Honey Bunch pushed it gently and it opened wide enough for her to look in. There were small round tables all about the room and men seated at them. One man was standing up and talking. He saw Honey Bunch and stopped. Every one turned and looked at the door. They all saw Honey Bunch.
"Hello!" said the man who had been talking, smiling.
"Hello!" said Honey Bunch, smiling back at him. "Are you having a party, too?"
"It's a party now you've come," said another man, reaching down and lifting her to a table.