It was a dismal thing to appear at a “party” (and that his own) in “last summer’s suit,” but when he had hastily put it on and faced the mirror, he felt a little better—for three or four seconds. Then he turned to see how the back of it looked.
And collapsed in a chair, moaning.
TIME DOES FLY
He remembered now what he had been too hurried to remember earlier. He had worn these clothes on the previous Saturday, and, returning from a glorified walk with Miss Pratt, he had demonstrated a fact to which his near-demolition of the wafers, this afternoon, was additional testimony. This fact, roughly stated, is that a person of seventeen, in love, is liable to sit down anywhere. William had dreamily seated himself upon a tabouret in the library, without noticing that Jane had left her open paint-box there. Jane had just been painting sunsets; naturally all the little blocks of color were wet, and the effect upon William’s pale-gray trousers was marvelous—far beyond the capacity of his coat to conceal. Collar-buttons and children’s paint-boxes—those are the trolls that lie in wait!
The gray clothes and the flannel trousers had been destined for the professional cleaner, and William, rousing himself from a brief stupor, made a piteous effort to substitute himself for that expert so far as the gray trousers were concerned. He divested himself of them and brought water, towels, bath-soap, and a rubber bath-sponge to the bright light of his window; and; there, with touching courage and persistence, he tried to scrub the paint out of the cloth. He obtained cloud studies and marines which would have interested a Post-Impressionist, but upon trousers they seemed out of place.
There came one seeking and calling him again; raps sounded upon the door, which he had not forgotten to lock.
“Willie,” said a serious voice, “mamma wants to know what in mercy’s name is the matter! She wants to know if you know for mercy’s name what time it is! She wants to know what in mercy’s name you think they’re all goin’ to think! She says—”
“Well, she said I had to find out what in mercy’s name you’re doin’, Willie.”
“You tell her,” he shouted, hoarsely—“tell her I’m playin’ dominoes! What’s she think I’m doin’?”
“I guess”—Jane paused, evidently to complete the swallowing of something—“I guess she thinks you’re goin’ crazy. I don’t like Miss Pratt, but she lets me play with that little dog. It’s name’s Flopit!”
“You go ’way from that door and stop bothering me,” said William. “I got enough on my mind!”
“Mamma looks at Miss Pratt,” Jane remarked. “Miss Pratt puts cakes in that Mr. Bullitt’s mouth and Johnnie Watson’s mouth, too. She’s awful.”
William made it plain that these bulletins from the party found no favor with him. He bellowed, “If you don’t get away from that door—”