“What’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” he returned, striding to the open window and looking out. “Go on.”
“Oh,” she moaned, “it must be kept from Clara—and I’ll never hold up my head again if John Farry ever hears of it!”
“Hears of what?”
“Well, I just couldn’t stand it, I got so curious; and I thought of course if Miss Spence had become a little unbalanced it was my duty to know it, as Penrod’s mother and she his teacher; so I thought I would just call on her at her apartment after school and have a chat and see and I did and—oh——”
“I’ve just come from there, and she told me—she told me! Oh, I’ve never known anything like this!”
“What did she tell you?”
Mrs. Schofield, making a great effort, managed to assume a temporary appearance of calm. “Henry,” she said solemnly, “bear this in mind: whatever you do to Penrod, it must be done in some place when Clara won’t hear it. But the first thing to do is to find him.”
Within view of the window from which Mr. Schofield was gazing was the closed door of the storeroom in the stable, and just outside this door Duke was performing a most engaging trick.
His young master had taught Duke to “sit up and beg” when he wanted anything, and if that didn’t get it, to “speak.” Duke was facing the closed door and sitting up and begging, and now he also spoke—in a loud, clear bark.
There was an open transom over the door, and from this descended—hurled by an unseen agency—a can half filled with old paint.
It caught the small besieger of the door on his thoroughly surprised right ear, encouraged him to some remarkable acrobatics, and turned large portions of him a dull blue. Allowing only a moment to perplexity, and deciding, after a single and evidently unappetizing experiment, not to cleanse himself of paint, the loyal animal resumed his quaint, upright posture.
Mr. Schofield seated himself on the window-sill, whence he could keep in view that pathetic picture of unrequited love.
“Go on with your story, mamma,” he said. “I think I can find Penrod when we want him.”
And a few minutes later he added, “And I think I know the place to do it in.”
Again the faithful voice of Duke was heard, pleading outside the bolted door.
“One-two-three; one-two-three—glide!” said Professor Bartet, emphasizing his instructions by a brisk collision of his palms at “glide.” “One-two-three; one-two-three—glide!”
The school week was over, at last, but Penrod’s troubles were not.
Round and round the ballroom went the seventeen struggling little couples of the Friday Afternoon Dancing Class. Round and round went their reflections with them, swimming rhythmically in the polished, dark floor—white and blue and pink for the girls; black, with dabs of white, for the white-collared, white-gloved boys; and sparks and slivers of high light everywhere as the glistening pumps flickered along the surface like a school of flying fish. Every small pink face—with one exception—was painstaking and set for duty. It was a conscientious little merry-go-round.