“Klara seized the keys joyfully and ran all the long way back to the great door. It had two locks. She put one key in the upper lock, turned it—a great bolt jarred. She put the other key into the second lock, turned it—a great bolt jarred. The door swung open.
“‘I’m sorry,’ Klara whispered to herself. ‘I’ll never do so again.’
“She had a feeling that as long as she said those magic words, everything would go well with her.
“Extending out from the door was the Wake of Gold. Klara bounded through the opening and ran. She turned back after a few moments and there was the old lady with her cat and her broomstick standing in the doorway. But the old lady’s face had grown very gentle and kind.
“Klara did not look long. She ran as fast as she could pelt across the golden path, whispering, ’I’m sorry. I will never do so again. I’m sorry. I will never do so again. I’m sorry. I will never do so again.’
“And as she ran all the little mer-people came to the surface of the water to encourage her. The little mer-maidens flashed their mirrors at her. The little mer-boys played wonderful music on their harps. The mer-king gave her a jolly smile and the mer-queen blew her a kiss. All the little mer-princesses and all the little mer-princes held up their pets to her. Even the mer-baby clapped her dimpled hands.
“And farther on all the little sea horses with the sea urchins on their backs assembled in bobbing groups. And farther on all the little rainbow fishes gathered in shining files. As she ran all the scratches and gashes in her flesh healed up.
“After a while she reached her own window. Opening it, she jumped in. Turning to pull it down she saw the old lady disappear from the doorway of the moon, saw the door close upon her, saw the Wake of Gold melt and fall into the sea where it lay in a million gleaming spangles, saw the moon float up into the sky, growing smaller and smaller and paler and paler until it was no larger than a silver plate. And now it was the moon no longer—it was the sun. Its rays were shining hot on her face. She was back in her little bed. Her mother’s arms were about her and Klara was saying, ’I’m SORRY. I WILL NEVER DO SO AGAIN.’”
For a long time after Billy finished the room was very quiet. Then suddenly Rosie jumped to her feet. “That was a lovely story, Billy,” she said. “But I guess I don’t want to hear any more now. I think I’ll go home.”
It was still raining when Maida got up the next day. It rained all the morning. She listened carefully at a quarter to twelve for the one-session bell but it did not ring. Just before school began in the afternoon Rosie came into the shop. Maida saw at once that something had happened to her. Rosie’s face looked strange and she dragged across the room instead of pattering with her usual quick, light step.