ROCKET'S RAG DOLL
"I wish-" said Tess, as they were going down in the elevator, "I wish that I had roller skates!"
"So do I," said Bobby.
"So do I," said Honey Bunch, though she had never thought of roller skates till that minute.
"The day you-all gets roller skates," said Dorry, opening the gate for them, "I leaves."
Tess only laughed and jumped down the three stone steps in one jump. Honey Bunch could only hop one step at a time, but Bobby and Tess were eight years old and Honey Bunch was just five.
Bobby and Tess were twins, you see, and what one didn't think of to do, the other did. That was what their daddy said. To-day Bobby suggested that they go and see Kenneth Evans.
"Oh, no," cried Tess. "Let's take Honey Bunch to see Maudie Gray. She has a see-saw in her yard and that's lots of fun."
"But Kenneth has a dog," said Bobby. "His name is Rocket, Honey Bunch, and we have fun playing with him."
Honey Bunch looked anxious. She remembered how Bobby had pulled off her hat and Tess had nearly pulled out her coat sleeve. She was afraid Bobby might try to take her to see Kenneth Evans' dog and Tess try to take her to the girl with the seesaw at the same time. Honey Bunch knew that the twins did not always agree.
"All right, let's go and see Kenneth," said Tess suddenly. "Last time I fell off Maudie's seesaw I hurt my elbow."
Honey Bunch was glad that Tess had decided to do as Bobby wanted to. She walked between the twins and was so happy that she hummed a little song.
Kenneth Evans lived on the next block, Bobby said, and as soon as they had turned the corner and crossed a street, Honey Bunch saw the dog.
"Why, he's just like Teddy!" she cried. "Tess, he's just like the dog Grace Winter has at home."
Kenneth was sitting on his front steps and there were several girls and boys with him. He was a freckled-faced boy with merry eyes and when Bobby said, "this is my cousin, Honey Bunch," Kenneth pulled off his cap and put out his hand.
"Hello," he said. "You going to live here?"
"No, she's visiting us," said Tess. "Does Rocket know any new tricks, Kenneth?"
Rocket, the dog, did look like the Teddy who belonged to Grace Winters. Teddy was the bad little dog that had run off with the rag doll at Honey Bunch's tea party, and it wasn't likely that she would forget him. Rocket was brown and white, like Teddy, but he had much better manners.
"Shake hands, Rocket," said Kenneth, and Rocket held up a white paw for Honey Bunch to shake.
"Make him do it to me, Kenneth!" cried Tess, and Rocket obligingly shook hands with all the boys and girls.
Then Honey Bunch told them about Teddy and how he had treated the rag doll, and Kenneth wanted Laura Bennett, one of the little girls, to lend him her rag doll right away.
"I want to see if Rocket will run away with it," said Kenneth.
"He won't run away with my rag doll," said Laura hastily, "because I won't let him touch it."
"He won't hurt a rag doll," urged Tess, who didn't care much for dolls.
"Yes, he would," said Honey Bunch. "Don't let him have your doll. I guess rag dolls have feelings, same as other dolls."
But Kenneth was interested in the story of Teddy, and as he was a determined small boy he soon thought of a way to get a doll.
"I'll make one," he said. "Lend me your handkerchiefs, and I'll make a rag doll. Then we'll see what Rocket will do."
Honey Bunch had a gay little pink lawn handkerchief, a new one, and Tess and Laura had blue ones. Carol Mason, another little girl, had no handkerchief, for she had lost it in school that morning, but she took off her black silk middy tie and Kenneth said that was better than a handkerchief. He liked it so much that Tess gave him her red silk tie and the boys—Bobby and Harold Brown and Dick Alverson and Kenneth—all took off their neckties and Kenneth used them and their handkerchiefs, too.
"Now I guess that looks like a doll!" he said, when he had knotted and tied all these things together. "Look, Rocket! Want to play catch?"
The ties and handkerchiefs did make a fat bundle, and it looked like a rag doll except that it didn't have any face or arms or legs.
"But Rocket won't know the difference," said Kenneth, when Tess told him this.
Rocket wasn't at all fussy about the kind of plaything he had. The moment Kenneth let him take the doll in his mouth he began to toss it up in the air and let it fall. Kenneth threw it a little way up the street and Rocket ran after it and brought it back.
"Why doesn't he take it and run and let us chase him?" asked Tess. She liked to run and she could run fast.
"I'll tie it on a string and then we'll run and let him chase it," said Kenneth, patting Rocket, whose red tongue hung out as he panted after his last dash.
So Kenneth tied the rag doll he had made to a piece of string—which he had in his pocket—and then, dragging the doll after him, started to run up the street, Rocket and the children after him.
"Run faster!" cried Tess to Honey Bunch. "Come on, run faster; they'll all get ahead of us!"
Honey Bunch was running as fast as she could. She looked back over her shoulder to see if Rocket had grabbed the rag doll and then she saw something that made her stop and stare.
A boy put out his foot and stepped on the string. The string broke, he picked up the little bundle of ties and handkerchiefs, dirty now from dragging in the dust, and away he ran, around the corner, as fast as his feet could carry him. That was pretty fast, too, because he was a large boy, taller than Kenneth or Bobby or even Harold Brown, who was eleven.
"Bobby!" cried Honey Bunch. "Oh, Bobby! Come back here!"
The children came running back, Kenneth still trailing the broken string.
"A boy took the rag doll!" cried Honey Bunch. "He ran off with it! There, around the corner!"
"I thought Rocket grabbed it," said Kenneth. "Come on, let's chase the fellow who took it."
But though they ran around the corner and down two blocks, not a sign of the boy could they see.
"It's four o'clock and I have to go in," said Kenneth, when they had walked slowly back to his house. "I'm sorry about the handkerchiefs. Mine was new Christmas."
All the middy ties were new, too, and some of the children didn't feel exactly comfortable about losing them.
"Where is your tie, Bobby?" asked Mrs. Turner, as soon as she saw her little son.
Bobby told what had happened and his mother looked as though she didn't know whether to laugh or scold.
"Next time, don't take off anything," she said. "I remember the day you and Tess used your brand-new rubbers for ships and let them sail down the sewer. I wish, lambies, that after this you would try to remember not to take off anything you may have on—gloves, overshoes or ties—without first asking Mother. Can you remember that?"
The twins said they thought they could and then Mrs. Turner found a pink handkerchief in her handkerchief box which she insisted on giving to Honey Bunch because she had lost hers.
"But if I hadn't told Kenneth about Teddy, he wouldn't have made the rag doll," said Honey Bunch. "I did it, Aunt Julia."
"You mean you think you put the idea in Kenneth's head?" said her aunt. "Well, dear, I don't see that you are to blame at all. When you know Kenneth Evans as long as I have, you'll know that he doesn't keep out of mischief or let his friends stay out very long."
"It's snowing!" cried Bobby, who didn't want his mother to talk any more about lost ties and handkerchiefs. "Oh, gee, it's really snowing!"
The three children rushed to the windows. Sure enough, beautiful little feathery flakes were beginning to whirl softly through the air. Some landed on the stone window sill and lay there a moment, then melted away and left little wet spots. Honey Bunch wished they would last longer.
"Let us go out, Mother?" begged Bobby and Tess. "Just a little while, Mother? We won't stay out long. Honey Bunch never saw it snow in New York! Did you, Honey Bunch?"
Honey Bunch shook her head. No, she said, but she had seen it snow in Barham.
"And snow is snow, whether in New York or Barham," said Mrs. Turner, smiling. "I want Tess to practice her half hour now, and, Bobby, you think of something nice to do to please Honey Bunch."
Tess had begun to take music lessons and she was very proud of the book filled with skippy little black notes. She couldn't read many of them yet, but some day she would know the whole book. She washed her hands and climbed up on the piano bench while Bobby went off to get his paper soldiers to show Honey Bunch.
They were playing soldiers together when Mr. Turner came in and his overcoat was flecked with snow. He said that he thought the snow would last all night and that there might be some left over in the morning.
"If" too many children don't go out and scuffle in it to-night," he said, his kind eyes twinkling across the dinner table at Bobby.
Bobby, who had been teasing his mother to let him go out and play, "just a little," in the snow, laughed good-naturedly.
"What isn't scuffled off, the street cleaners will cart away," he answered.
"Not in the park along Riverside Drive," said his daddy. "You can go over there."
"I wish there would be a blizzard," Bobby said. "I never had enough snow to play in yet. Did you, Tess?"
"No, I never did," said Tess. "I wish we lived at the North Pole!"
Honey Bunch laughed, and that night, when she was cozily tucked in bed, she laughed some more. For she heard Tess and Bobby complaining because Teresa came into their rooms and raised the windows and shut off the steam heat.
"I freeze to pieces every morning!" grumbled Tess. "Leave the window down."
"Plenty of fresh air is good for you!" said Teresa. "I thought you wanted to live at the North Pole!"
Honey Bunch snuggled down under the covers. Mother had put up the window in her room and had gone away to visit with. Aunt Julia and Uncle Paul. Honey Bunch could feel the sweet, cold winter air coming in and she liked it.
"Aren't Tess and Bobby funny!" she giggled. "But they're nice."