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

On the Train



            There was a crowd of people who wanted to get on the train, and most of them seemed to want to get on at the same time. A nice old gentleman in a blue uniform stood beside the steps of one car and he said, "Easy, easy, don't push!" But the people went right on pushing.
            Suddenly the old gentleman put out his arm and held back a fat little man who carried a large suitcase and who was rushing for the steps.
            "Just a minute," said the man in the blue uniform.
            Then he picked up the bag Mother held and Mr. Morton took Honey Bunch in his arms and lifted her right up over all the steps at once and landed her on the platform of the car. He helped Mother up the steps next, and then the old gentleman with the twinkly eyes put the bag on the platform and there Honey Bunch and Mother were, on the train!
            "Who was he?" whispered Honey Bunch, as she followed Mother into the car.
            "Here's a seat for us," said Mrs. Morton. "See, Honey Bunch, there is Daddy on the platform. Wave to him, dear!"
            The train began to move just then and Honey Bunch and Mother waved to Daddy and he took off his hat and waved to them and even ran beside the car a little way. But the train could go much faster than he could run and soon it was past the station and they could not see Daddy at all.
            "Who was he?" asked Honey Bunch again. "The man with white hair, Mother, who looked like Santa Claus?"
            "That was the conductor," answered Mrs. Morton. "You'll see him again, dear, when he comes through the train for our tickets."
            Honey Bunch had the seat next to the window, and when her mother said she had better take off her coat she stood so that she need not miss the flying houses outside as she wriggled out of both her hat and coat. Honey Bunch wanted to see everything that was happening as the train ran all those miles to New York.
            "Tickets from Barham!" called someone. "Tickets from Barham!"
            "Mother, we live in Barham!" cried Honey Bunch, looking at her mother. "We live there."
            "Yes, dearest; and the conductor wants our tickets," replied Mrs. Morton, opening her purse and taking out the tickets.
            The white-haired conductor had a punch in his hand and he snipped a little hole in each ticket and gave them back to Honey Bunch's mother. Then he pretended to snip Honey Bunch's nose, and that made her laugh.
            "Well, Miss Blue Eyes," said the conductor, smiling so that his own eyes crinkled, "aren't you afraid you will get lost in New York?"
            "How did you know?" cried Honey Bunch. "Did Mother tell you we were going to New York?"
            "It's magic," said the conductor. "I know magic and that tells me where every one on this train is going."
            "Fairies?" asked Honey Bunch doubtfully. "Are there fairies on the train?"
            The conductor laughed and snipped the ticket the lady in the seat behind Mrs. Morton held out to him.
            "Little girls are the only fairies I believe in," he said. "Your ticket told me you were going to New York. I have a little granddaughter who lives there. I should say she was about as old as you are."
            "I'm five," said Honey Bunch. "Does your little granddaughter ride on the train with you?"
            "Not very often," replied the conductor. "She has to stay at home and go to school, you see. She is seven years old."
            Then he went on to snip more tickets, and Honey Bunch settled down to watch the towns and stations and fields she could see from the window. By and by she grew tired of staring out at the flying telegraph poles and her foot felt prickly.
            "Stand in the aisle a moment, dear," said Mrs. Morton, who was reading a magazine. "Hold on to the arm of my seat and you won't fall."
            Honey Bunch thought it was great fun to stand in the aisle and sway a little forward and a little back, as the train moved. She didn't want to fall down, but she didn't mind tipping a little; she liked that.
            "Mother," she whispered, "look at that funny lady."
            Mrs. Morton looked up, nodded, and put her finger on her lip to tell Honey Bunch she mustn't laugh. Then she went on with her reading.
            Honey Bunch couldn't help looking at the lady again. She was fast asleep and her hat was tilted over her eyes. She had been knitting and her ball of wool was rolling nearer and nearer the edge of her lap.
            "It'll roll off in a minute," said Honey Bunch to herself. "I just know it will roll off."
            Every time the train jerked the ball rolled almost to the edge of the lady's lap and then it rolled back again.
            "Why does she go to sleep in the day time?" whispered Honey Bunch to Mother.
            "She may have been traveling all night," said Mrs. Morton. "Sometimes the motion of the train makes people sleepy."
            Honey Bunch looked again at the lady who was asleep. Suddenly the train tilted so much to one side that Honey Bunch thought it was going to tip over. Then it tipped back again, but not before the ball rolled out of the sleepy lady's lap and down the aisle all the way to Honey Bunch's feet.
            Several people laughed, Honey Bunch stared, and the sleepy lady woke up and clutched her knitting.
            "Pick it up, dear, and take it back to her," said Mrs. Morton.
            Honey Bunch picked up the ball of wool—it was bright blue—and walked up the aisle, rolling up the wool as she walked. When she reached the lady who had dropped it, there it was all nicely wound up again.
            "Thank you very much," said the lady, with a smile. "I won't go to sleep again." And she sat up very straight and began to knit as though she intended to keep herself wide awake.

            Slowly and carefully Honey Bunch went back to where Mother sat. If you have ever walked down the aisle of a train when it is going, you know how hard it is to walk straight and not bump into people in the seats. Honey Bunch managed to do it, but she could not walk fast.
            She squeezed in past her mother and then she saw a boy a few seats ahead of her. Honey Bunch saw him looking at her and she smiled. But the boy made an awful face at her and stuck out his tongue. He even got up on the seat and leaned over the back and made another face.
            Honey Bunch scrambled up beside Mother and sat down. She meant to look out of the window. But every few minutes she found herself peeping at the boy. And every time he made a face and each face was homelier than the first one.
            He wasn't a good-looking boy, even when he wasn't making faces. He seemed to be always scowling and that, you know, isn't becoming to any boy or girl. This boy was short and chubby and he wore a necktie that was always coming untied. It seemed to Honey Bunch that his mother tied that tie for him a dozen times. She would jerk it and knot it and then, the moment she had finished, the boy would look back and if he saw Honey Bunch watching him he would make a face at her.
            The boy had a cap, too, and he was always putting that on his head and then his mother would take it off. Honey Bunch saw her take it off three times and in a few moments the boy had it back on his head.
            "Honey Bunch, what are you looking at?" asked her mother, when she saw that Honey Bunch was not looking out of the window, but over the backs of the seats.
            "There's a boy down there," answered Honey Bunch. "He's making faces at me, Mother."
            Mrs. Morton looked, but the boy ducked down beside his mother and kept very still.
            "I wouldn't look at him, if I were you," Mrs. Morton said. "He is trying to tease you. Some boys like to try to tease little girls. Don't let him see that you notice him at all."
            "He puts his hat on and his mother takes it off," said Honey Bunch.
            "He must be a bad boy if he doesn't mind his mother," Mrs. Morton told her.
            "Wouldn't you like to go and get Mother a drink of water, dear?"
            Honey Bunch was very glad to go. She liked to do anything different and she was beginning to get the least bit tired of the train. She had not thought that New York could be so far away.
            "Take this paper cup and be careful not to fill it too full. Then you won't spill it," said Mrs. Morton. "You can't reach the cups by the cooler. I know they are out of your reach."
            Honey Bunch felt very important as she started out. She knew where the water was for she had watched people going to get a drink. But when she reached the shiny faucet and the little brass mat where you stood while you filled your cup, there was that bad boy ahead of her!
            "Hello!" he said. "What do you want?"
            "A drink of water for Mother," replied Honey Bunch, holding out her paper cup. She thought the boy would fill it for her. She was used to having people help her and be nice to her.
            "You'll have to wait," said the boy, acting as though he did not see her cup. "I was here first and you'll just have to wait."
            So Honey Bunch waited politely. The boy had a glass in his hand and he filled it, then emptied the water out and filled the glass again. He let the glass brim over and emptied it the second time. Honey Bunch wondered if he would ever be through.
            He was letting the water run slowly into the glass again when the car door slammed. A brakeman came into the car.
            "Now you kids want to quit playing in that water," he said gruffly. "That's good ice water and you mustn't waste it."
            He went on down the car and never even noticed that poor Honey Bunch had no water in her cup. He thought she was playing with the boy.
            "I guess it's cold enough now," said the boy, sticking out his tongue at Honey Bunch and shutting off the faucet.
            His glass was so full that it dripped as he took it out. Honey Bunch stepped up to the little brass mat and the boy brushed against her. Down trickled the water from his glass, splashed against her sleeve, soaking the white pique to the little arm underneath, and on down, making ugly stains on the new tan shoes Honey Bunch wore.
            "There now, see what you've done!" exclaimed the boy, just as if Honey Bunch was to blame.
            "Oh, my!" sighed Honey Bunch sadly, standing on tiptoe to reach the shiny faucet. "What a bad boy you are!"
            She managed to fill her cup and went back to find her mother waiting for her a bit anxiously.

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