“Noble Dill!” she exclaimed.
As for Noble, his dry throat refused its office; he felt that he might never be able to speak to Julia again, even if he tried.
“Where in the world have you been all evening?” she cried.
“Why, Jew-Julia!” he quavered. “Did you notice that I was gone?”
“Did I ’notice’!” she said. “You never came near me all evening after the first dance! Not even at supper!”
“You wouldn’t—you didn’t——” he faltered. “You wouldn’t do anything all evening except dance with that old Clairdyce and listen to him trying to sing.”
But Julia would let no one suffer if she could help it; and she could always help Noble. She made her eyes mysterious and used a voice of honey and roses. “You don’t think I’d rather have danced with him, do you, Noble?”
Immediately sparks seemed to crackle about his head. He started.
“What?” he said.
The scent of heliotrope enveloped him; she laughed her silver harp-strings laugh, and lifted her arms toward the dazzled young man. “It’s the last dance,” she said. “Don’t you want to dance it with me?”
Then to the spectators it seemed that Noble Dill went hopping upon a waxed floor and upon Julia’s little slippers; he was bumped and bumping everywhere; but in reality he floated in Elysian ether, immeasurably distant from earth, his hand just touching the bodice of an angelic doll.
Then, on his way home, a little later, with his new hat on the back of his head, his stick swinging from his hand, and a semi-fragrant Orduma between his lips, his condition was precisely as sweet as the condition in which he had walked to the party.
No echoes of “The Sunshine of Your Smile” cursed his memory—that lover’s little memory fresh washed in heliotrope—and when his mother came to his door, after he got home, and asked him if he’d had “a nice time at the party,” he said:
“Just glorious!” and believed it.
It was a pretty morning, two weeks after Julia’s Dance; and blue and lavender shadows, frayed with mid-summer sunshine, waggled gayly across the grass beneath the trees of the tiny orchard, but trembled with timidity as they hurried over the abnormal surfaces of Mrs. Silver as she sat upon the steps of the “back porch.” Her right hand held in security one end of a leather leash; the other end of the leash was fastened to a new collar about the neck of an odd and fascinating dog. Seated upon the brick walk at her feet, he was regarding her with a gravity that seemed to discomfort her. She was unable to meet his gaze, and constantly averted her own whenever it furtively descended to his. In fact, her expression and manner were singular, denoting embarrassment, personal hatred, and a subtle bedazzlement. She could not look at him, yet could not keep herself from looking at him. There was something here that arose out of the depths of natural character; it was intrinsic in the two personalities, that is to say; and was in addition to the bitterness consequent upon a public experience, just past, which had been brought upon Mrs. Silver partly by the dog’s appearance (in particular the style and colour of his hair) and partly by his unprecedented actions in her company upon the highway.