In one bound William leaped through the open door. Two seconds sufficed for his passage through the hall to his mother’s bedroom—and there, neatly spread upon the lace coverlet and brighter than coronation robes, fairer than Joseph’s holy coat, It lay!
YOUTH AND MR. PARCHER
As a hurried worldling, in almost perfectly fitting evening clothes, passed out of his father’s gateway and hurried toward the place whence faintly came the sound of dance-music, a child’s voice called sweetly from an unidentified window of the darkened house behind him:
“Well, anyway, you try and have a good time, Willie!”
William made no reply; he paused not in his stride. Jane’s farewell injunction, though obviously not ill-intended, seemed in poor taste, and a reply might have encouraged her to believe that, in some measure at least, he condescended to discuss his inner life with her. He departed rapidly, but with hauteur. The moon was up, but shade-trees were thick along the sidewalk, and the hauteur was invisible to any human eye; nevertheless, William considered it necessary.
Jane’s friendly but ill-chosen “Anyway” had touched doubts already annoying him. He was certain to be late to the party—so late, indeed, that it might prove difficult to obtain a proper number of dances with the sacred girl in whose honor the celebration was being held. Too many were steeped in a sense of her sacredness, well he wot! and he was unable to find room in his apprehensive mind for any doubt that these others would be accursedly diligent.
But as he hastened onward his spirits rose, and he did reply to Jane, after all, though he had placed a hundred yards between them.
“Yes, and you can bet your bottom dollar I will, too!” he muttered, between his determined teeth.
The very utterance of the words increased the firmness of his decision, and at the same time cheered him. His apprehensions fell away, and a glamorous excitement took their place, as he turned a corner and the music burst more loudly upon his tingling ear. For there, not half-way to the next street, the fairy scene lay spread before him.