... Later, that evening, Florence and Herbert remembered the c’lection; so they came for it, a mistake. Discovering the fragments upon the veranda, they made the much more important mistake of entering the house to demand an explanation, which they received immediately. It was delivered with so much vigour, indeed, that Florence was surprised and hurt. And yet, the most important of her dreamy wishes of the afternoon had been fulfilled: the c’lection had been useful to Noble Dill, for Mr. Atwater had smelled the smell of an Orduma cigarette and was just on the point of coming out to say some harsh things, when the c’lection interfered. And as Florence was really responsible for its having been in a position to interfere, so to say, she had actually in a manner protected her protege and also shown some of that power of which she had boasted when she told him that sometimes she made members of her family “step around pretty lively.”
Another of her wishes appeared to be on the way to fulfilment, too. She had hoped that something memorable might be done with the c’lection, and the interview with her grandfather, her Aunt Julia, and Kitty Silver seemed to leave this beyond doubt.
Now August came, that florid lazy month when mid-summer dawdles along in trailing greeneries, and the day is like some jocund pagan, all flushed and asleep, with dripping beard rosy in a wine bowl of fat vine leaves. Yet, in this languorous time there may befall a brisker night, cool and lively as an intrusive boy—a night made for dancing. On such a night a hasty thought might put it as desirable that all the world should be twenty-two years old and in love, like Noble Dill.
Upon the white bed in his room, as he dressed, lay the flat black silhouettes of his short evening coat and trousers, side by side, trim from new pressing; and whenever he looked at them Noble felt rich, tall, distinguished, and dramatic. It is a mistake, as most literary legends are mistakes, to assume that girls are the only people subject to before-the-party exhilaration. At such times a girl is often in the anxious yet determined mood of a runner before a foot race, or she may be merely hopeful; some are merry and some are grim, but arithmetical calculation of some sort, whether glorious or uneasy, is busy in their eyes as they pin and pat before their mirrors. To behold romance gone light-headed, turn to the humbler sort of man-creature under twenty-three. Alone in his room, he may enact for you scenes of flowery grace and most capricious gallantry, rehearsals as unconscious as the curtsies of field daisies in a breeze. He has neither doubt nor certainty of his charm; he has no arithmetic at all, and is often so free of calculation that he does not even pull down the shades at his windows.