He did it, too, and the awfulness of it got into his throat; for the Doctor lives farther away from David’s house than China is. It is almost at the end of things, and the little boy did not know whether he could find it. What was even worse, he presently did not know whether he could get back home again. He had crept through the fence and run and run, and then walked and walked, and now he had decided that he didn’t care much about going on. Some other time would do as well; to-morrow would be all right. This did not feel like a lucky day; some other day would be luckier.
David felt very virtuous. It seemed to him that he had not meant to run away at all. He was not a bad little boy; he was a good little boy, but he soon began to feel annoyed; for the way home didn’t have any straightness to it; the way home began to get more and more crooked, and the houses began to seem strange and unfriendly; they stared at him rudely, and none of them looked either like home or like the Doctor’s house.
The sad thing was that he had only one way to tell which was the Doctor’s house, and that was a wrong way. He was looking for a yellow dog that scratched his head with his toenails and knocked his elbow on the board-walk when he did it. Such a dog once lay in front of the Doctor’s house. So now, as David kept going and going on, he was looking out for a yellow dog that should knock with his elbow when he scratched his head with his toenails. Once a black dog did it, but that was stupid of him; he needn’t try to fool David.
After a long, long while a great tiredness came upon the little boy, and there was such a grinding ache in him that he knew hungry-time had come. He passed a bakeshop that breathed out a warm, steamy fragrance, and in the window there was a great pan of red-brown doughnuts dusted over with powdered sugar. As the smell was like the smell of the bakeshop near home, and as the doughnuts looked the same, David instantly plucked up courage. He hurried on, confident that he would soon be climbing up into Mother’s lap. It was some time, though, before he found a house with a white paling, and he was distrustful of the house; it had no curtains, and it scowled so. He decided to experiment first with the fence-post. Maybe the house would look more reasonable, and maybe things would feel different if he were to climb up on the fence-post. So presently, when he was perched above the gate, he closed his eyes and began kicking his heels as he did when at home.
This was another experiment; for every boy knows that you cannot hope to see any fairies or any fairy godmothers unless you take them by surprise. David, for his part, frequently gave them to understand that he wasn’t looking. He would shut his eyes tight and kick his feet to prove that he was minding his own business. If they saw him like that, maybe they wouldn’t care if he was so close to them. After convincing them that his intentions were honorable, he would suddenly pop open his eyes to catch them at their tricks.