“It’s lovely,” she murmured. “I hope they don’t play ’Home, Sweet Home’ very early at parties in this town. I could keep on like this all night!”
To the gasping William it seemed that she already had kept on like this all night, and he expressed himself in one great, frank, agonized moan of relief when the music stopped. “I sh’ think those musicians ’d be dead!” he said, as he wiped his brow. And then discovering that May Parcher stood at his elbow, he spoke hastily to her. “M’av the next ’thyou?”
But Miss Parcher had begun to applaud the musicians for an encore. She shook her head. “Next’s the third extra,” she said. “And, anyhow, this one’s going to be encored now. You can have the twenty-second—if there is any!” William threw a wild glance about him, looking for other girls, but the tireless orchestra began to play the encore, and Miss Boke, who had been applauding, instantly cast herself upon his bosom. “Come on!” she cried. “Don’t let’s miss a second of it; It’s just glorious!”
When the encore was finished she seized William’s arm, and, mentioning that she’d left her fan upon the chair under the maple-tree, added, “Come on! Let’s go get it quick!”
Under the maple-tree she fanned herself and talked of her love for dancing until the music sounded again. “Come on!” she cried, then. “Don’t let’s miss a second of it! It’s just glorious!”
And grasping his arm, she propelled him toward the platform with a merry little rush.
So passed five dances. Long, long dances.
Likewise five encores. Long encores.
At every possible opportunity William hailed other girls with a hasty “M’av the next ’thyou?” but he was indeed unfortunate to have arrived so late.
The best he got was a promise of “the nineteenth—if there is any!”
After each dance Miss Boke conducted him back to the maple-tree, aloof from the general throng, and William found the intermissions almost equal to his martyrdoms upon the platform. But, as there was a barely perceptible balance in their favor, he collected some fragments of his broken spirit, when Miss Boke would have borne him to the platform for the sixth time, and begged to “sit this one out,” alleging that he had “kind of turned his ankle, or something,” he believed.
The cordial girl at once placed him upon the chair and gallantly procured another for herself. In her solicitude she sat close to him, looking fondly at his face, while William, though now and then rubbing his ankle for plausibility’s sake, gazed at the platform with an expression which Gustave Dore would gratefully have found suggestive. William was conscious of a voice continually in action near him, but not of what it said. Miss Boke was telling him of the dancing “up at the lake” where she had spent the summer, and how much she had loved it, but William missed all that. Upon the many-colored platform the ineffable One drifted to and fro, back and forth; her little blonde head, in a golden net, glinting here and there like a bit of tinsel blowing across a flower-garden.