Rilla of Ingleside
IV. The Piper Pipes
Rilla's first party was a triumph--or so it seemed at first. She had so many partners that
she had to split her dances. Her silver slippers seemed verily to dance of themselves
and though they continued to pinch her toes and blister her heels that did not interfere
with her enjoyment in the least. Ethel Reese gave her a bad ten minutes by beckoning
her mysteriously out of the pavilion and whispering, with a Reese-like smirk, that her
dress gaped behind and that there was a stain on the flounce. Rilla rushed miserably to
the room in the lighthouse which was fitted up for a temporary ladies' dressing-room,
and discovered that the stain was merely a tiny grass smear and that the gap was
equally tiny where a hook had pulled loose. Irene Howard fastened it up for her and
gave her some over-sweet, condescending compliments. Rilla felt flattered by Irene's
condescension. She was an Upper Glen girl of nineteen who seemed to like the society
of the younger girls--spiteful friends said because she could queen it over them without
rivalry. But Rilla thought Irene quite wonderful and loved her for her patronage. Irene
was pretty and stylish; she sang divinely and spent every winter in Charlottetown taking
music lessons. She had an aunt in Montreal who sent her wonderful things to wear; she
was reported to have had a sad love affair--nobody knew just what, but its very mystery
allured. Rilla felt that Irene's compliments crowned her evening. She ran gaily back to
the pavilion and lingered for a moment in the glow of the lanterns at the entrance
looking at the dancers. A momentary break in the whirling throng gave her a glimpse of
Kenneth Ford standing at the other side.
Rilla's heart skipped a beat--or, if that be a physiological impossibility, she thought it did.
So he was here, after all. She had concluded he was not coming--not that it mattered in
the least. Would he see her? Would he take any notice of her? Of course, he wouldn't
ask her to dance--that couldn't be hoped for. He thought her just a mere child. He had
called her "Spider" not three weeks ago when he had been at Ingleside one evening.
She had cried about it upstairs afterwards and hated him. But her heart skipped a beat
when she saw that he was edging his way round the side of the pavilion towards her.
Was he coming to her --was he?--was he?--yes, he was! He was looking for her--he
was here beside her--he was gazing down at her with something in his dark grey eyes
that Rilla had never seen in them. Oh, it was almost too much to bear! and everything
was going on as before--the dancers were spinning round, the boys who couldn't get
partners were hanging about the pavilion, canoodling couples were sitting out on the
rocks--nobody seemed to realize what a stupendous thing had happened.
Kenneth was a tall lad, very good looking, with a certain careless grace of bearing that
somehow made all the other boys seem stiff and awkward by contrast. He was reported