“That was Jack Morgan, wasn’t it?” he said.
“Yes,” said Ethel absently and went into the house.
The look, the long handclasp, the words lingered in William’s memory. They must be jolly fond of each other, like people are when they’re engaged, but he knew they weren’t engaged. P’raps they were too proud to let each other know how fond they were of each other—like the man and girl at the pictures. Ethel wanted a brother like the one in the pictures to let the man know she was fond of him. Then a light came suddenly into William’s mind and he stood, deep in thought.
Inside the drawing-room, Ethel was talking to her mother.
“He’s going to propose to her next Sunday. He told me about it because I’m her best friend, and he wanted to ask me if I thought he’d any chance. I said I thought he had, and I said I’d try and prepare her a little and put in a good word for him if I could. Isn’t it thrilling?”
“Yes, dear. By the way, did you see William anywhere? I do hope he’s not in mischief.”
“He was in the front garden a minute ago.” She went to the window. “He’s not there now, though.”
William had just arrived at Mr. Morgan’s house.
The maid showed him into Mr. Morgan’s sitting-room.
“Mr. Brown,” she announced.
The young man rose to receive his guest with politeness not unmixed with bewilderment. His acquaintance with William was of the slightest.
“Good afternoon,” said William. “I’ve come from Ethel.”
“Yes.” William fumbled in his pocket and at last drew forth a rosebud, slightly crushed by its close confinement in the company of the Gooseberry Eyes, a penknife, a top and a piece of putty.
“She sent you this,” said William gravely.
Mr. Morgan gazed at it with the air of one who is sleep-walking.