“I do!” breathed Fanchon, softly.
She seemed to him a fairy creature from some rosier world than this. So humble is the human heart, it glorifies and makes glamorous almost any poor thing that says to it: “I like you!”
Penrod was enslaved. He swallowed, coughed, scratched the back of his neck, and said, disjointedly:
“Well—I don’t care if you want to. I just as soon.”
“We’ll dance together,” said Fanchon, “at your party.”
“I guess so. I just as soon.”
“Don’t you want to, Penrod?”
“Well, I’m willing to.”
“No. Say you want to!”
He used his toe as a gimlet, boring into the ground, his wide open eyes staring with intense vacancy at a button on his sleeve.
His mother appeared upon the porch in departure, calling farewells over her shoulder to Mrs. Gelbraith, who stood in the doorway.
“Say it!” whispered Fanchon.
“Well, I just as soon.”
She seemed satisfied.
CHAPTER XXX THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
A dancing floor had been laid upon a platform in the yard, when Mrs. Schofield and her son arrived at their own abode; and a white and scarlet striped canopy was in process of erection overhead, to shelter the dancers from the sun. Workmen were busy everywhere under the direction of Margaret, and the smitten heart of Penrod began to beat rapidly. All this was for him; he was Twelve!
After lunch, he underwent an elaborate toilette and murmured not. For the first time in his life he knew the wish to be sand-papered, waxed, and polished to the highest possible degree. And when the operation was over, he stood before the mirror in new bloom, feeling encouraged to hope that his resemblance to his father was not so strong as Aunt Sarah seemed to think.
The white gloves upon his hands had a pleasant smell, he found; and, as he came down the stairs, he had great content in the twinkling of his new dancing slippers. He stepped twice on each step, the better to enjoy their effect and at the same time he deeply inhaled the odour of the gloves. In spite of everything, Penrod had his social capacities. Already it is to be perceived that there were in him the makings of a cotillon leader.
Then came from the yard a sound of tuning instruments, squeak of fiddle, croon of ’cello, a falling triangle ringing and tinkling to the floor; and he turned pale.
Chosen guests began to arrive, while Penrod, suffering from stage-fright and perspiration, stood beside his mother, in the “drawing-room,” to receive them. He greeted unfamiliar acquaintances and intimate fellow-criminals with the same frigidity, murmuring: “’M glad to see y’,” to all alike, largely increasing the embarrassment which always prevails at the beginning of children’s festivities. His unnatural pomp and circumstance