Part 2 out of 5
club, because most of them were so anxious to have him, and he is
sure he would have a good influence over them. He really did
speak of it in quite a touching way, Mrs. Williams. Of course, we
mothers mustn't brag of our sons too much, but Georgie REALLY
isn't like other boys. He is so sensitive, you can't think how
this little affair has hurt him, and I felt that it might even
make him ill. You see, I HAD to respect his reason for wanting to
join the club. And if I AM his mother"--she gave a deprecating
little laugh--"I must say that it seems noble to want to join not
really for his own sake but for the good that he felt his
influence would have over the other boys. Don't you think so,
Mrs. Williams said that she did, indeed. And the result of this
interview was another, which took place between Sam and his
father that evening, for Mrs. Williams, after talking to Sam
herself, felt that the matter needed a man to deal with it. The
man did it man-fashion.
"You either invite Georgie Bassett to play in the shack all he
wants to," the man said, "or the shack comes down."
"Take your choice. I'm not going to have neighbourhood quarrels
"That's enough! You said yourself you haven't anything against
"You said you didn't like him, but you couldn't tell why. You
couldn't state a single instance of bad behaviour against him.
You couldn't mention anything he ever did which wasn't what a
gentleman should have done. It's no use, I tell you. Either you
invite Georgie to play in the shack as much as he likes next
Saturday, or the shack comes down."
"I'm not going to talk any more about it. If you want the shack
pulled down and hauled away, you and your friends continue to
tantalize this inoffensive little boy the way you have been. If
you want to keep it, be polite and invite him in."
"That's ALL, I said!"
Sam was crushed.
Next day he communicated the bitter substance of the edict to the
other members, and gloom became unanimous. So serious an aspect
did the affair present that it was felt necessary to call a
special meeting of the order after school. The entire membership
was in attendance; the door was closed, the window covered with a
board, and the candle lighted. Then all of the brothers--except
one--began to express their sorrowful apprehensions. The whole
thing was spoiled, they agreed, if Georgie Bassett had to be
taken in. On the other hand, if they didn't take him in, "there
wouldn't be anything left." The one brother who failed to express
any opinion was little Verman. He was otherwise occupied.
Verman had been the official paddler during the initiations of
Roddy Bitts and Maurice Levy; his work had been conscientious,
and it seemed to be taken by consent that he was to continue in
office. An old shingle from the woodshed roof had been used for
the exercise of his function in the cases of Roddy and Maurice;
but this afternoon he had brought with him a new one that he had
picked up somewhere. It was broader and thicker than the old one
and, during the melancholy prophecies of his fellows, he whittled
the lesser end of it to the likeness of a handle. Thus engaged,
he bore no appearance of despondency; on the contrary, his eyes,
shining brightly in the candlelight, indicated that eager
thoughts possessed him, while from time to time the sound of a
chuckle issued from his simple African throat. Gradually the
other brothers began to notice his preoccupation, and one by one
they fell silent, regarding him thoughtfully. Slowly the darkness
of their countenances lifted a little; something happier and
brighter began to glimmer from each boyish face. All eyes
remained fascinated upon Verman.
"Well, anyway," said Penrod, in a tone that was almost cheerful,
"this is only Tuesday. We got pretty near all week to fix up the
'nishiation for Saturday."
And Saturday brought sunshine to make the occasion more tolerable
for both the candidate and the society. Mrs. Williams, going to
the window to watch Sam when he left the house after lunch,
marked with pleasure that his look and manner were sprightly as
he skipped down the walk to the front gate. There he paused and
yodelled for a time. An answering yodel came presently; Penrod
Schofield appeared, and by his side walked Georgie Bassett.
Georgie was always neat; but Mrs. Williams noticed that he
exhibited unusual gloss and polish to-day. As for his expression,
it was a shade too complacent under the circumstances, though,
for that matter, perfect tact avoids an air of triumph under any
circumstances. Mrs. Williams was pleased to observe that Sam and
Penrod betrayed no resentment whatever; they seemed to have
accepted defeat in a good spirit and to be inclined to make the
best of Georgie. Indeed, they appeared to be genuinely excited
about him--it was evident that their cordiality was eager and
The three boys conferred for a few moments; then Sam disappeared
round the house and returned, waving his hand and nodding. Upon
that, Penrod took Georgie's left arm, Sam took his right, and the
three marched off to the backyard in a companionable way that
made Mrs. Williams feel it had been an excellent thing to
interfere a little in Georgie's interest.
Experiencing the benevolent warmth that comes of assisting in a
good action, she ascended to an apartment upstairs, and, for a
couple of hours, employed herself with needle and thread in
sartorial repairs on behalf of her husband and Sam. Then she was
interrupted by the advent of a coloured serving-maid.
"Miz Williams, I reckon the house goin' fall down!" this
pessimist said, arriving out of breath. "That s'iety o' Mist'
Sam's suttenly tryin' to pull the roof down on ow haids!"
"The roof?" Mrs. Williams inquired mildly. "They aren't in the
attic, are they?"
"No'm; they in the celluh, but they REACHIN' fer the roof! I nev'
did hear no sech a rumpus an' squawkin' an' squawlin' an' fallin'
an' whoopin' an' whackin' an' bangin'! They troop down by the
outside celluh do', n'en--bang!--they bus' loose, an' been goin'
on ev' since, wuss'n Bedlun! Ef they anything down celluh ain'
broke by this time, it cain' be only jes' the foundashum, an' I
bet THAT ain' goin' stan' much longer! I'd gone down an' stop
'em, but I'm 'fraid to. Hones', Miz Williams, I'm 'fraid o' my
life go down there, all that Bedlun goin' on. I thought I come
see what you say."
Mrs. Williams laughed.
"We have to stand a little noise in the house sometimes, Fanny,
when there are boys. They're just playing, and a lot of noise is
usually a pretty safe sign."
"Yes'm," Fanny said. "It's yo' house, Miz Williams, not mine. You
want 'em tear it down, I'm willin'."
She departed, and Mrs. Williams continued to sew. The days were
growing short, and at five o'clock she was obliged to put the
work aside, as her eyes did not permit her to continue it by
artificial light. Descending to the lower floor, she found the
house silent, and when she opened the front door to see if the
evening paper had come, she beheld Sam, Penrod and Maurice Levy
standing near the gate engaged in quiet conversation. Penrod and
Maurice departed while she was looking for the paper, and Sam
came thoughtfully up the walk.
"Well, Sam," she said, "it wasn't such a bad thing, after all, to
show a little politeness to Georgie Bassett, was it?"
Sam gave her a non-committal look--expression of every kind had
been wiped from his countenance. He presented a blank surface.
"No'm," he said meekly.
"Everything was just a little pleasanter because you'd been
friendly, wasn't it?"
"Has Georgie gone home?"
"I hear you made enough noise in the cellar--Did Georgie have a
"Did Georgie Bassett have a good time?"
"Well"--Sam now had the air of a person trying to remember
details with absolute accuracy--"well, he didn't say he did, and
he didn't say he didn't."
"Didn't he thank the boys?"
"Didn't he even thank you?"
"Why, that's queer," she said. "He's always so polite. He SEEMED
to be having a good time, didn't he, Sam?"
"Didn't Georgie seem to be enjoying himself?"
This question, apparently so simple, was not answered with
promptness. Sam looked at his mother in a puzzled way, and then
he found it necessary to rub each of his shins in turn with the
palm of his right hand.
"I stumbled," he said apologetically. "I stumbled on the cellar
"Did you hurt yourself?" she asked quickly.
"No'm; but I guess maybe I better rub some arnica--"
"I'll get it," she said. "Come up to your father's bathroom, Sam.
Does it hurt much?"
"No'm," he answered truthfully, "it hardly hurts at all."
And having followed her to the bathroom, he insisted, with
unusual gentleness, that he be left to apply the arnica to the
alleged injuries himself. He was so persuasive that she yielded,
and descended to the library, where she found her husband once
more at home after his day's work.
"Well?" he said. "Did Georgie show up, and were they decent to
"Oh, yes; it's all right. Sam and Penrod were good as gold. I saw
them being actually cordial to him."
"That's well," Mr. Williams said, settling into a chair with his
paper. "I was a little apprehensive, but I suppose I was
mistaken. I walked home, and just now, as I passed Mrs.
Bassett's, I saw Doctor Venny's car in front, and that barber
from the corner shop on Second Street was going in the door. I
couldn't think what a widow would need a barber and a doctor
for--especially at the same time. I couldn't think what Georgie'd
need such a combination for either, and then I got afraid that
Mrs. Williams laughed. "Oh, no; it hasn't anything to do with his
having been over here. I'm sure they were very nice to him."
"Well, I'm glad of that."
"Yes, indeed--" Mrs. Williams began, when Fanny appeared,
summoning her to the telephone.
It is pathetically true that Mrs. Williams went to the telephone
humming a little song. She was detained at the instrument not
more than five minutes; then she made a plunging return into the
library, a blanched and stricken woman. She made strange,
sinister gestures at her husband.
He sprang up, miserably prophetic. "Mrs. Bassett?"
"Go to the telephone," Mrs. Williams said hoarsely "She wants to
talk to you, too. She CAN'T talk much--she's hysterical. She says
they lured Georgie into the cellar and had him beaten by negroes!
That's not all--"
Mr. Williams was already on his way.
"You find Sam!" he commanded, over his shoulder.
Mrs. Williams stepped into the front hall. "Sam!" she called,
addressing the upper reaches of the stairway. "Sam!"
Not even echo answered.
A faint clearing of somebody's throat was heard behind her, a
sound so modest and unobtrusive it was no more than just audible,
and, turning, the mother beheld her son sitting upon the floor in
the shadow of the stairs and gazing meditatively at the hatrack.
His manner indicated that he wished to produce the impression
that he had been sitting there, in this somewhat unusual place
and occupation, for a considerable time, but without overhearing
anything that went on in the library so close by.
"Sam," she cried, "what have you DONE?"
"Well--I guess my legs are all right," he said gently. "I got the
arnica on, so probably they won't hurt any m--"
"Stand up!" she said.
"March into the library!"
Sam marched--slow-time. In fact, no funeral march has been
composed in a time so slow as to suit this march of Sam's. One
might have suspected that he was in a state of apprehension.
Mr. Williams entered at one door as his son crossed the threshold
of the other, and this encounter was a piteous sight. After one
glance at his father's face, Sam turned desperately, as if to
flee outright. But Mrs. Williams stood in the doorway behind him.
"You come here!" And the father's voice was as terrible as his
face. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO GEORGIE BASSETT?"
"Nothin'," Sam gulped; "nothin' at all."
"We just--we just 'nishiated him."
Mr. Williams turned abruptly, walked to the fireplace, and there
turned again, facing the wretched Sam. "That's all you did?"
"Georgie Bassett's mother has just told me over the telephone,"
Mr. Williams said, deliberately, "that you and Penrod Schofield
and Roderick Bitts and Maurice Levy LURED GEORGIE INTO THE CELLAR
AND HAD HIM BEATEN BY NEGROES!"
At this, Sam was able to hold up his head a little and to summon
a rather feeble indignation.
"It ain't so," he declared. "We didn't any such thing lower him
into the cellar. We weren't goin' NEAR the cellar with him. We
never THOUGHT of goin' down cellar. He went down there himself,
"So! I suppose he was running away from you, poor thing! Trying
to escape from you, wasn't he?"
"He wasn't," Sam said doggedly. "We weren't chasin' him--or
anything at all."
"Then why did he go in the cellar?"
"Well, he didn't exactly GO in the cellar," Sam said reluctantly.
"Well, how did he GET in the cellar, then?"
"He--he fell in," said Sam.
"HOW did he fall in?"
"Well, the door was open, and--well, he kept walkin' around
there, and we hollered at him to keep away, but just then he kind
of--well, the first _I_ noticed was I couldn't SEE him, and so we
went and looked down the steps, and he was sitting down there on
the bottom step and kind of shouting, and--"
"See here!" Mr. Williams interrupted. "You're going to make a
clean breast of this whole affair and take the consequences.
You're going to tell it and tell it ALL. Do you understand that?"
"Then you tell me how Georgie Bassett fell down the cellar
steps--and tell me quick!"
"He--he was blindfolded."
"Aha! NOW we're getting at it. You begin at the beginning and
tell me just what you did to him from the time he got here.
"Go on, then!"
"Well, I'm goin' to," Sam protested. "We never hurt him at all.
He wasn't even hurt when he fell down cellar. There's a lot of
mud down there, because the cellar door leaks, and--"
"Sam!" Mr. Williams's tone was deadly. "Did you hear me tell you
to begin at the beginning?"
Sam made a great effort and was able to obey.
"Well, we had everything ready for the 'nishiation before lunch,"
he said. "We wanted it all to be nice, because you said we had to
have him, papa, and after lunch Penrod went to guard him--that's
a new part in the rixual--and he brought him over, and we took
him out to the shack and blindfolded him, and--well, he got kind
of mad because we wanted him to lay down on his stummick and be
tied up, and he said he wouldn't, because the floor was a little
bit wet in there and he could feel it sort of squashy under his
shoes, and he said his mother didn't want him ever to get dirty
and he just wouldn't do it; and we all kept telling him he had
to, or else how could there be any 'nishiation; and he kept
gettin' madder and said he wanted to have the 'nishiation
outdoors where it wasn't wet and he wasn't goin' to lay down on
his stummick, anyway." Sam paused for wind, then got under way
again: "Well, some of the boys were tryin' to get him to lay down
on his stummick, and he kind of fell up against the door and it
came open and he ran out in the yard. He was tryin' to get the
blindfold off his eyes, but he couldn't because it was a towel in
a pretty hard knot; and he went tearin' all around the backyard,
and we didn't chase him, or anything. All we did was just watch
him--and that's when he fell in the cellar. Well, it didn't hurt
him any. It didn't hurt him at all; but he was muddier than what
he would of been if he'd just had sense enough to lay down in the
shack. Well, so we thought, long as he was down in the cellar
anyway, we might as well have the rest of the 'nishiation down
there. So we brought the things down and--and 'nishiated him--and
that's all. That's every bit we did to him."
"Yes," Mr. Williams said sardonically; "I see. What were the
details of the initiation?"
"I want to know what else you did to him? What was the
"It's--it's secret," Sam murmured piteously.
"Not any longer, I assure you! The society is a thing of the past
and you'll find your friend Penrod's parents agree with me in
that. Mrs. Bassett had already telephoned them when she called us
up. You go on with your story!"
Sam sighed deeply, and yet it may have been a consolation to know
that his present misery was not altogether without its
counterpart. Through the falling dusk his spirit may have crossed
the intervening distance to catch a glimpse of his friend
suffering simultaneously and standing within the same peril. And
if Sam's spirit did thus behold Penrod in jeopardy, it was a true
"Go on!" Mr. Williams said.
"Well, there wasn't any fire in the furnace because it's too warm
yet, and we weren't goin' to do anything'd HURT him, so we put
him in there--"
"In the FURNACE?"
"It was cold," Sam protested. "There hadn't been any fire there
since last spring. Course we told him there was fire in it. We
HAD to do that," he continued earnestly, "because that was part
of the 'nishiation. We only kept him in it a little while and
kind of hammered on the outside a little and then we took him out
and got him to lay down on his stummick, because he was all muddy
anyway, where he fell down the cellar; and how could it matter to
anybody that had any sense at all? Well, then we had the rixual,
and--and--why, the teeny little paddlin' he got wouldn't hurt a
flea! It was that little coloured boy lives in the alley did
it--he isn't anyways near HALF Georgie's size but Georgie got mad
and said he didn't want any ole nigger to paddle him. That's what
he said, and it was his own foolishness, because Verman won't let
ANYBODY call him 'nigger', and if Georgie was goin' to call him
that he ought to had sense enough not to do it when he was layin'
down that way and Verman all ready to be the paddler. And he
needn't of been so mad at the rest of us, either, because it took
us about twenty minutes to get the paddle away from Verman after
that, and we had to lock Verman up in the laundry-room and not
let him out till it was all over. Well, and then things were kind
of spoiled, anyway; so we didn't do but just a little more--and
"Go on! What was the 'just a little more?'"
"Well--we got him to swaller a little teeny bit of asafidity that
Penrod used to have to wear in a bag around his neck. It wasn't
enough to even make a person sneeze--it wasn't much more'n a half
a spoonful--it wasn't hardly a QUARTER of a spoonf--"
"Ha!" said Mr. Williams. "That accounts for the doctor. What
"Well--we--we had some paint left over from our flag, and we put
just a little teeny bit of it on his hair and--"
"Ha!" said Mr. Williams. "That accounts for the barber. What
"That's all," Sam said, swallowing. "Then he got mad and went
Mr. Williams walked to the door, and sternly motioned to the
culprit to precede him through it. But just before the pair
passed from her sight, Mrs. Williams gave way to an
"Sam," she asked, "what does 'In-Or-In' stand for?"
The unfortunate boy had begun to sniffle.
"It--it means--Innapenent Order of Infadelaty," he moaned--and
plodded onward to his doom.
Not his alone: at that very moment Master Roderick Magsworth
Bitts, Junior, was suffering also, consequent upon telephoning on
the part of Mrs. Bassett, though Roderick's punishment was
administered less on the ground of Georgie's troubles and more on
that of Roddy's having affiliated with an order consisting so
largely of Herman and Verman. As for Maurice Levy, he was no whit
less unhappy. He fared as ill.
Simultaneously, two ex-members of the In-Or-In were finding their
lot fortunate. Something had prompted them to linger in the alley
in the vicinity of the shack, and it was to this fated edifice
that Mr. Williams, with demoniac justice, brought Sam for the
deed he had in mind.
Herman and Verman listened--awe-stricken--to what went on within
the shack. Then, before it was over, they crept away and down the
alley toward their own home. This was directly across the alley
from the Schofields' stable, and they were horrified at the
sounds that issued from the interior of the stable store-room. It
was the St. Bartholomew's Eve of that neighbourhood.
"Man, man!" said Herman, shaking his head. "Glad I ain' no white
Verman seemed gloomily to assent.
CHAPTER VII. WHITEY
Penrod and Sam made a gloomy discovery one morning in
mid-October. All the week had seen amiable breezes and fair skies
until Saturday, when, about breakfast-time, the dome of heaven
filled solidly with gray vapour and began to drip. The boys'
discovery was that there is no justice about the weather.
They sat in the carriage-house of the Schofields' empty stable;
the doors upon the alley were open, and Sam and Penrod stared
torpidly at the thin but implacable drizzle that was the more
irritating because there was barely enough of it to interfere
with a number of things they had planned to do.
"Yes; this is NICE!" Sam said, in a tone of plaintive sarcasm.
"This is a PERTY way to do!" (He was alluding to the personal
spitefulness of the elements.) "I'd like to know what's the sense
of it--ole sun pourin' down every day in the week when nobody
needs it, then cloud up and rain all Saturday! My father said
it's goin' to be a three days' rain."
"Well, nobody with any sense cares if it rains Sunday and
Monday," Penrod said. "I wouldn't care if it rained every Sunday
as long I lived; but I just like to know what's the reason it had
to go and rain to-day. Got all the days o' the week to choose
from and goes and picks on Saturday. That's a fine biz'nuss!"
"Well, in vacation--" Sam began; but at a sound from a source
invisible to him he paused. "What's that?" he said, somewhat
It was a curious sound, loud and hollow and unhuman, yet it
seemed to be a cough. Both boys rose, and Penrod asked uneasily:
"Where'd that noise come from?"
"It's in the alley," said Sam.
Perhaps if the day had been bright, both of them would have
stepped immediately to the alley doors to investigate; but their
actual procedure was to move a little distance in the opposite
direction. The strange cough sounded again.
"SAY!" Penrod quavered. "What IS that?"
Then both boys uttered smothered exclamations and jumped, for the
long, gaunt head that appeared in the doorway was entirely
unexpected. It was the cavernous and melancholy head of an
incredibly thin, old, whitish horse. This head waggled slowly
from side to side; the nostrils vibrated; the mouth opened, and
the hollow cough sounded again.
Recovering themselves, Penrod and Sam underwent the customary
human reaction from alarm to indignation.
"What you want, you ole horse, you?" Penrod shouted. "Don't you
come coughin' around ME!"
And Sam, seizing a stick, hurled it at the intruder.
"Get out o' here!" he roared.
The aged horse nervously withdrew his head, turned tail, and made
a rickety flight up the alley, while Sam and Penrod, perfectly
obedient to inherited impulse, ran out into the drizzle and
uproariously pursued. They were but automatons of instinct,
meaning no evil. Certainly they did not know the singular and
pathetic history of the old horse who wandered into the alley and
ventured to look through the open door.
This horse, about twice the age of either Penrod or Sam, had
lived to find himself in a unique position. He was nude,
possessing neither harness nor halter; all he had was a name,
Whitey, and he would have answered to it by a slight change of
expression if any one had thus properly addressed him. So forlorn
was Whitey's case, he was actually an independent horse; he had
not even an owner. For two days and a half he had been his own
Previous to that period he had been the property of one Abalene
Morris, a person of colour, who would have explained himself as
engaged in the hauling business. On the contrary, the hauling
business was an insignificant side line with Mr. Morris, for he
had long ago given himself, as utterly as fortune permitted, to
the talent that early in youth he had recognized as the greatest
of all those surging in his bosom. In his waking thoughts and in
his dreams, in health and in sickness, Abalene Morris was the
dashing and emotional practitioner of an art probably more than
Roman in antiquity. Abalene was a crap-shooter. The hauling
business was a disguise.
A concentration of events had brought it about that, at one and
the same time, Abalene, after a dazzling run of the dice, found
the hauling business an actual danger to the preservation of his
liberty. He won seventeen dollars and sixty cents, and within the
hour found himself in trouble with an officer of the Humane
Society on account of an altercation with Whitey. Abalene had
been offered four dollars for Whitey some ten days earlier;
wherefore he at once drove to the shop of the junk-dealer who had
made the offer and announced his acquiescence in the sacrifice.
"No, suh!" the junk-dealer said, with emphasis, "I awready done
got me a good mule fer my deliv'ry hoss, 'n'at ole Whitey hoss
ain' wuff no fo' dollah nohow! I 'uz a fool when I talk 'bout
th'owin' money roun' that a-way. _I_ know what YOU up to,
Abalene. Man come by here li'l bit ago tole me all 'bout white
man try to 'rest you, ovah on the avvynoo. Yessuh; he say white
man goin' to git you yit an' th'ow you in jail 'count o' Whitey.
White man tryin' to fine out who you IS. He say, nemmine, he'll
know Whitey ag'in, even if he don' know you! He say he ketch you
by the hoss; so you come roun' tryin' fix me up with Whitey so
white man grab me, th'ow ME in 'at jail. G'on 'way f'um hyuh, you
Abalene! You cain' sell an' you cain' give Whitey to no cullud
man 'n 'is town. You go an' drowned 'at ole hoss, 'cause you
sutny goin' to jail if you git ketched drivin' him."
The substance of this advice seemed good to Abalene, especially
as the seventeen dollars and sixty cents in his pocket lent sweet
colours to life out of jail at this time. At dusk he led Whitey
to a broad common at the edge of town, and spoke to him finally.
"G'on 'bout you biz'nis," said Abalene; "you ain' MY hoss. Don'
look roun'at me, 'cause _I_ ain't got no 'quaintance wif you. I'm
a man o' money, an' I got my own frien's; I'm a-lookin' fer
bigger cities, hoss. You got you biz'nis an' I got mine. Mista'
Whitey found a little frosted grass upon the common and remained
there all night. In the morning he sought the shed where Abalene
had kept him; but that was across the large and busy town, and
Whitey was hopelessly lost. He had but one eye, a feeble one, and
his legs were not to be depended upon; but he managed to cover a
great deal of ground, to have many painful little adventures, and
to get monstrously hungry and thirsty before he happened to look
in upon Penrod and Sam.
When the two boys chased him up the alley they had no intention
to cause pain; they had no intention at all. They were no more
cruel than Duke, Penrod's little old dog, who followed his own
instincts, and, making his appearance hastily through a hole in
the back fence, joined the pursuit with sound and fury. A boy
will nearly always run after anything that is running, and his
first impulse is to throw a stone at it. This is a survival of
primeval man, who must take every chance to get his dinner. So,
when Penrod and Sam drove the hapless Whitey up the alley, they
were really responding to an impulse thousands and thousands of
years old--an impulse founded upon the primordial observation
that whatever runs is likely to prove edible. Penrod and Sam were
not "bad"; they were never that. They were something that was not
their fault; they were historic.
At the next corner Whitey turned to the right into the
cross-street; thence, turning to the right again and still
warmly pursued, he zigzagged down a main thoroughfare until he
reached another cross-street, which ran alongside the
Schofields' yard and brought him to the foot of the alley he had
left behind in his flight. He entered the alley, and there his
dim eye fell upon the open door he had previously investigated.
No memory of it remained; but the place had a look associated in
his mind with hay, and, as Sam and Penrod turned the corner of
the alley in panting yet still vociferous pursuit, Whitey
stumbled up the inclined platform before the open doors,
staggered thunderously across the carriage-house and through
another open door into a stall, an apartment vacant since the
occupancy of Mr. Schofield's last horse, now several years
CHAPTER VIII. SALVAGE
The two boys shrieked with excitement as they beheld the
coincidence of this strange return. They burst into the stable,
making almost as much noise as Duke, who had become frantic at
the invasion. Sam laid hands upon a rake.
"You get out o' there, you ole horse, you!" he bellowed. "I ain't
afraid to drive him out. I--"
"WAIT a minute!" Penrod shouted. "Wait till I--"
Sam was manfully preparing to enter the stall.
"You hold the doors open," he commanded, "so's they won't blow
shut and keep him in here. I'm goin' to hit him--"
"Quee-YUT!" Penrod shouted, grasping the handle of the rake so
that Sam could not use it. "Wait a MINUTE, can't you?" He turned
with ferocious voice and gestures upon Duke. "DUKE!" And Duke, in
spite of his excitement, was so impressed that he prostrated
himself in silence, and then unobtrusively withdrew from the
stable. Penrod ran to the alley doors and closed them.
"My gracious!" Sam protested. "What you goin' to do?"
"I'm goin' to keep this horse," said Penrod, whose face showed
the strain of a great idea.
"For the reward," said Penrod simply.
Sam sat down in the wheelbarrow and stared at his friend almost
"My gracious," he said, "I never thought o' that! How--how much
do you think we'll get, Penrod?"
Sam's thus admitting himself to a full partnership in the
enterprise met no objection from Penrod, who was absorbed in the
contemplation of Whitey.
"Well," he said judicially, "we might get more and we might get
Sam rose and joined his friend in the doorway opening upon the
two stalls. Whitey had preempted the nearer, and was hungrily
nuzzling the old frayed hollows in the manger.
"Maybe a hunderd dollars--or sumpthing?" Sam asked in a low
Penrod maintained his composure and repeated the newfound
expression that had sounded well to him a moment before. He
recognized it as a symbol of the non--committal attitude that
makes people looked up to. "Well"--he made it slow, and
frowned--"we might get more and we might get less."
"More'n a hunderd DOLLARS?" Sam gasped.
"Well," said Penrod, "we might get more and we might get less."
This time, however, he felt the need of adding something. He put
a question in an indulgent tone, as though he were inquiring, not
to add to his own information but to discover the extent of
Sam's. "How much do you think horses are worth, anyway?"
"I don't know," Sam said frankly, and, unconsciously, he added,
"They might be more and they might be less."
"Well, when our ole horse died," Penrod said, "Papa said he
wouldn't taken five hunderd dollars for him. That's how much
HORSES are worth!"
"My gracious!" Sam exclaimed. Then he had a practical
afterthought. "But maybe he was a better horse than this'n. What
colour was he?"
"He was bay. Looky here, Sam"--and now Penrod's manner changed
from the superior to the eager--"you look what kind of horses
they have in a circus, and you bet a circus has the BEST horses,
don't it? Well, what kind of horses do they have in a circus?
They have some black and white ones; but the best they have are
white all over. Well, what kind of a horse is this we got here?
He's perty near white right now, and I bet if we washed him off
and got him fixed up nice he WOULD be white. Well, a bay horse is
worth five hunderd dollars, because that's what Papa said, and
Sam interrupted rather timidly.
"He--he's awful bony, Penrod. You don't guess they'd make any--"
Penrod laughed contemptuously.
"Bony! All he needs is a little food and he'll fill right up and
look good as ever. You don't know much about horses, Sam, I
expect. Why, OUR ole horse--"
"Do you expect he's hungry now?" asked Sam, staring at Whitey.
"Let's try him," said Penrod. "Horses like hay and oats the best;
but they'll eat most anything."
"I guess they will. He's tryin' to eat that manger up right now,
and I bet it ain't good for him."
"Come on," said Penrod, closing the door that gave entrance to
the stalls. "We got to get this horse some drinkin'-water and
some good food."
They tried Whitey's appetite first with an autumnal branch that
they wrenched from a hardy maple in the yard. They had seen
horses nibble leaves, and they expected Whitey to nibble the
leaves of this branch; but his ravenous condition did not allow
him time for cool discriminations. Sam poked the branch at him
from the passageway, and Whitey, after one backward movement of
alarm, seized it venomously.
"Here! You stop that!" Sam shouted. "You stop that, you ole
"What's the matter?" called Penrod from the hydrant, where he was
filling a bucket. "What's he doin' now?"
"Doin'! He's eatin' the wood part, too! He's chewin' up sticks as
big as baseball bats! He's crazy!"
Penrod rushed to see this sight, and stood aghast.
"Take it away from him, Sam!" he commanded sharply.
"Go on, take it away from him yourself!" was the prompt retort of
"You had no biz'nuss to give it to him," said Penrod. "Anybody
with any sense ought to know it'd make him sick. What'd you want
to go and give it to him for?"
"Well, you didn't say not to."
"Well, what if I didn't? I never said I did, did I? You go on in
that stall and take it away from him."
"YES, I will!" Sam returned bitterly. Then, as Whitey had dragged
the remains of the branch from the manger to the floor of the
stall, Sam scrambled to the top of the manger and looked over.
"There ain't much left to TAKE away! He's swallered it all except
some splinters. Better give him the water to try and wash it down
with." And, as Penrod complied, "My gracious, look at that horse
They gave Whitey four buckets of water, and then debated the
question of nourishment. Obviously, this horse could not be
trusted with branches, and, after getting their knees black and
their backs sodden, they gave up trying to pull enough grass to
sustain him. Then Penrod remembered that horses like apples, both
"cooking-apples" and "eating-apples", and Sam mentioned the fact
that every autumn his father received a barrel of
"cooking-apples" from a cousin who owned a farm. That barrel was
in the Williams' cellar now, and the cellar was providentially
supplied with "outside doors," so that it could be visited
without going through the house. Sam and Penrod set forth for the
They returned to the stable bulging, and, after a discussion of
Whitey's digestion (Sam claiming that eating the core and seeds,
as Whitey did, would grow trees in his inside) they went back to
the cellar for supplies again--and again. They made six trips,
carrying each time a capacity cargo of apples, and still Whitey
ate in a famished manner. They were afraid to take more apples
from the barrel, which began to show conspicuously the result of
their raids, wherefore Penrod made an unostentatious visit to the
cellar of his own house. From the inside he opened a window and
passed vegetables out to Sam, who placed them in a bucket and
carried them hurriedly to the stable, while Penrod returned in a
casual manner through the house. Of his sang-froid under a great
strain it is sufficient to relate that, in the kitchen, he said
suddenly to Della, the cook, "Oh, look behind you!" and by the
time Della discovered that there was nothing unusual behind her,
Penrod was gone, and a loaf of bread from the kitchen table was
gone with him.
Whitey now ate nine turnips, two heads of lettuce, one cabbage,
eleven raw potatoes and the loaf of bread. He ate the loaf of
bread last and he was a long time about it; so the boys came to a
not unreasonable conclusion.
"Well, sir, I guess we got him filled up at last!" said Penrod.
"I bet he wouldn't eat a saucer of ice-cream now, if we'd give it
"He looks better to me," said Sam, staring critically at Whitey.
"I think he's kind of begun to fill out some. I expect he must
like us, Penrod; we been doin' a good deal for this horse."
"Well, we got to keep it up," Penrod insisted rather pompously.
"Long as _I_ got charge o' this horse, he's goin' to get good
"What we better do now, Penrod?"
Penrod took on the outward signs of deep thought.
"Well, there's plenty to DO, all right. I got to think."
Sam made several suggestions, which Penrod--maintaining his air
of preoccupation--dismissed with mere gestures.
"Oh, _I_ know!" Sam cried finally. "We ought to wash him so's
he'll look whiter'n what he does now. We can turn the hose on him
across the manger."
"No; not yet," Penrod said. "It's too soon after his meal. You
ought to know that yourself. What we got to do is to make up a
bed for him--if he wants to lay down or anything."
"Make up a what for him?" Sam echoed, dumfounded. "What you
talkin' about? How can--"
"Sawdust," Penrod said. "That's the way the horse we used to have
used to have it. We'll make this horse's bed in the other stall,
and then he can go in there and lay down whenever he wants to."
"How we goin' to do it?"
"Look, Sam; there's the hole into the sawdust-box! All you got to
do is walk in there with the shovel, stick the shovel in the hole
till it gets full of sawdust, and then sprinkle it around on the
"All _I_ got to do!" Sam cried. "What are you goin' to do?"
"I'm goin' to be right here," Penrod answered reassuringly. "He
won't kick or anything, and it isn't goin' to take you half a
second to slip around behind him to the other stall."
"What makes you think he won't kick?"
"Well, I KNOW he won't, and, besides, you could hit him with the
shovel if he tried to. Anyhow, I'll be right here, won't I?"
"I don't care where you are," Sam said earnestly. "What
difference would that make if he ki--"
"Why, you were goin' right in the stall," Penrod reminded him.
"When he first came in, you were goin' to take the rake and--"
"I don't care if I was," Sam declared. "I was excited then."
"Well, you can get excited now, can't you?" his friend urged.
"You can just as easy get--"
He was interrupted by a shout from Sam, who was keeping his eye
upon Whitey throughout the discussion.
"Look! Looky there!" And undoubtedly renewing his excitement, Sam
pointed at the long, gaunt head beyond the manger. It was
disappearing from view. "Look!" Sam shouted. "He's layin' down!"
"Well, then," said Penrod, "I guess he's goin' to take a nap. If
he wants to lay down without waitin' for us to get the sawdust
fixed for him, that's his lookout, not ours."
On the contrary, Sam perceived a favourable opportunity for
"I just as soon go and make his bed up while he's layin' down,"
he volunteered. "You climb up on the manger and watch him,
Penrod, and I'll sneak in the other stall and fix it all up nice
for him, so's he can go in there any time when he wakes up, and
lay down again, or anything; and if he starts to get up, you
holler and I'll jump out over the other manger."
Accordingly, Penrod established himself in a position to observe
the recumbent figure. Whitey's breathing was rather laboured but
regular, and, as Sam remarked, he looked "better", even in his
slumber. It is not to be doubted that although Whitey was
suffering from a light attack of colic his feelings were in the
main those of contentment. After trouble, he was solaced; after
exposure, he was sheltered; after hunger and thirst, he was fed
and watered. He slept.
The noon whistles blew before Sam's task was finished; but by the
time he departed for lunch there was made a bed of such quality
that Whitey must needs have been a born fault-finder if he
complained of it. The friends parted, each urging the other to be
prompt in returning; but Penrod got into threatening difficulties
as soon as he entered the house.
CHAPTER IX. REWARD OF MERIT
"Penrod," said his mother, "what did you do with that loaf of
bread Della says you took from the table?"
"Ma'am? WHAT loaf o' bread?"
"I believe I can't let you go outdoors this afternoon," Mrs.
Schofield said severely. "If you were hungry, you know perfectly
well all you had to do was to--"
"But I wasn't hungry; I--"
"You can explain later," Mrs. Schofield said. "You'll have all
Penrod's heart grew cold.
"I CAN'T stay in," he protested. "I've asked Sam Williams to come
"I'll telephone Mrs. Williams."
"Mamma!" Penrod's voice became agonized. "I HAD to give that
bread to a--to a poor ole man. He was starving and so were his
children and his wife. They were all just STARVING--and they
couldn't wait while I took time to come and ask you, Mamma. I got
to GO outdoors this afternoon. I GOT to! Sam's--"
In the carriage-house, half an hour later, Penrod gave an
account of the episode.
"Where'd we been, I'd just like to know," he concluded, "if I
hadn't got out here this afternoon?"
"Well, I guess I could managed him all right," Sam said. "I was
in the passageway, a minute ago, takin' a look at him. He's
standin' up again. I expect he wants more to eat."
"Well, we got to fix about that," said Penrod. "But what I
mean--if I'd had to stay in the house, where would we been about
the most important thing in the whole biz'nuss?"
"What you talkin' about?"
"Well, why can't you wait till I tell you?" Penrod's tone had
become peevish. For that matter, so had Sam's; they were
developing one of the little differences, or quarrels, that
composed the very texture of their friendship.
"Well, why don't you tell me, then?"
"Well, how can I?" Penrod demanded. "You keep talkin' every
"I'm not talkin' NOW, am I?" Sam protested. "You can tell me
NOW, can't you? I'm not talk--"
"You are, too!" Penrod shouted. "You talk all the time! You--"
He was interrupted by Whitey's peculiar cough. Both boys jumped
and forgot their argument.
"He means he wants some more to eat, I bet," said Sam.
"Well, if he does, he's got to wait," Penrod declared. "We got to
get the most important thing of all fixed up first."
"What's that, Penrod?"
"The reward," said Penrod mildly. "That's what I was tryin' to
tell you about, Sam, if you'd ever give me half a chance."
"Well, I DID give you a chance. I kept TELLIN' you to tell me,
"You never! You kept sayin'--"
They renewed this discussion, protracting it indefinitely; but as
each persisted in clinging to his own interpretation of the
facts, the question still remains unsettled. It was abandoned, or
rather, it merged into another during the later stages of the
debate, this other being concerned with which of the debaters had
the least "sense." Each made the plain statement that if he were
more deficient than his opponent in that regard, self-destruction
would be his only refuge. Each declared that he would "rather die
than be talked to death"; and then, as the two approached a point
bluntly recriminative, Whitey coughed again, whereupon they were
miraculously silent, and went into the passageway in a perfectly
"I got to have a good look at him, for once," Penrod said, as he
stared frowningly at Whitey. "We got to fix up about that
"I want to take a good ole look at him myself," Sam said.
After supplying Whitey with another bucket of water, they
returned to the carriage-house and seated themselves
thoughtfully. In truth, they were something a shade more than
thoughtful; the adventure to which they had committed themselves
was beginning to be a little overpowering. If Whitey had been a
dog, a goat, a fowl, or even a stray calf, they would have felt
equal to him; but now that the earlier glow of their wild daring
had disappeared, vague apprehensions stirred. Their "good look"
at Whitey had not reassured them--he seemed large, Gothic and
Whisperings within them began to urge that for boys to undertake
an enterprise connected with so huge an animal as an actual horse
was perilous. Beneath the surface of their musings, dim but
ominous prophecies moved; both boys began to have the feeling
that, somehow, this affair was going to get beyond them and that
they would be in heavy trouble before it was over--they knew not
why. They knew why no more than they knew why they felt it
imperative to keep the fact of Whitey's presence in the stable a
secret from their respective families; but they did begin to
realize that keeping a secret of that size was going to be
attended with some difficulty. In brief, their sensations were
becoming comparable to those of the man who stole a house.
Nevertheless, after a short period given to unspoken misgivings,
they returned to the subject of the reward. The money-value of
bay horses, as compared to white, was again discussed, and each
announced his certainty that nothing less than "a good ole
hunderd dollars" would be offered for the return of Whitey.
But immediately after so speaking they fell into another silence,
due to sinking feelings. They had spoken loudly and confidently,
and yet they knew, somehow, that such things were not to be.
According to their knowledge, it was perfectly reasonable to
suppose that they would receive this fortune; but they frightened
themselves in speaking of it. They knew that they COULD not have
a hundred dollars for their own. An oppression, as from something
awful and criminal, descended upon them at intervals.
Presently, however, they were warmed to a little cheerfulness
again by Penrod's suggestion that they should put a notice in the
paper. Neither of them had the slightest idea how to get it
there; but such details as that were beyond the horizon; they
occupied themselves with the question of what their advertisement
ought to "say". Finding that they differed irreconcilably, Penrod
went to his cache in the sawdust-box and brought two pencils and
a supply of paper. He gave one of the pencils and several sheets
to Sam; then both boys bent themselves in silence to the labour
of practical composition. Penrod produced the briefer paragraph.
(See Fig. I.) Sam's was more ample. (See Fig. II.)
[Transcribed from handwritten illustration for Project
White horse in Schofields ally finders got him in Schofields
stable and will let him taken away by by (crossed out: pay)
paying for good food he has aten while (crossed out: wat w) while
(crossed out: wat) waiting and Reward of (crossed out: $100 $20
$15 $5) $10.
Horse on Saturday morning owner can get him by (crossed through
word, unreadable) replying at stable bhind Mr. Schofield. You
will have to proof he is your horse he is whit with hind of brown
(crossed out: spec) speks and worout (crossed out: tail) tale, he
is geting good care and food, reword (crossed out: $100 $20)
sevntyfive cents to each one or we will keep him lokked up.
Neither Sam nor Penrod showed any interest in what the other had
written; but both felt that something praiseworthy had been
accomplished. Penrod exhaled a sigh, as of relief, and, in a
manner he had observed his father use sometimes, he said:
"Thank goodness, THAT'S off my mind, anyway!"
"What we goin' do next, Penrod?" Sam asked deferentially, the
borrowed manner having some effect upon him.
"I don't know what YOU'RE goin' to do," Penrod returned, picking
up the old cigarbox that had contained the paper and pencils.
"I'M goin' to put mine in here, so's it'll come in handy when I
haf to get at it."
"Well, I guess I'll keep mine there, too," Sam said. Thereupon he
deposited his scribbled slip beside Penrod's in the cigarbox, and
the box was solemnly returned to the secret place whence it had
"There, THAT'S 'tended to!" Sam said, and, unconsciously
imitating his friend's imitation, he gave forth audibly a breath
of satisfaction and relief.
Both boys felt that the financial side of their great affair had
been conscientiously looked to, that the question of the reward
was settled, and that everything was proceeding in a businesslike
manner. Therefore, they were able to turn their attention to
This was the question of Whitey's next meal. After their exploits
of the morning, and the consequent imperilment of Penrod, they
decided that nothing more was to be done in apples, vegetables or
bread; it was evident that Whitey must be fed from the bosom of
"We couldn't pull enough o' that frostbit ole grass in the yard
to feed him," Penrod said gloomily. "We could work a week and not
get enough to make him swaller more'n about twice. All we got
this morning, he blew most of it away. He'd try to scoop it in
toward his teeth with his lip, and then he'd haf to kind of blow
out his breath, and after that all the grass that'd be left was
just some wet pieces stickin' to the outsides of his face. Well,
and you know how he acted about that maple branch. We can't trust
him with branches."
Sam jumped up.
"_I_ know!" he cried. "There's lots of leaves left on the
branches. We can give them to him."
"I just said--"
"I don't mean the branches," Sam explained. "We'll leave the
branches on the trees, but just pull the leaves off the branches
and put 'em in the bucket and feed 'em to him out of the bucket."
Penrod thought this plan worth trying, and for three-quarters of
an hour the two boys were busy with the lower branches of various
trees in the yard. Thus they managed to supply Whitey with a fair
quantity of wet leaves, which he ate in a perfunctory way,
displaying little of his earlier enthusiasm. And the work of his
purveyors might have been more tedious if it had been less damp,
for a boy is seldom bored by anything that involves his
staying-out in the rain without protection. The drizzle had
thickened; the leaves were heavy with water, and at every jerk
the branches sent fat drops over the two collectors. They
attained a noteworthy state of sogginess.
Finally, they were brought to the attention of the authorities
indoors, and Della appeared upon the back porch.
"Musther Penrod," she called, "y'r mamma says ye'll c'm in the
house this minute an' change y'r shoes an' stockin's an'
everythun' else ye got on! D'ye hear me?"
Penrod, taken by surprise and unpleasantly alarmed, darted away
from the tree he was depleting and ran for the stable.
"You tell her I'm dry as toast!" he shouted over his shoulder.
Della withdrew, wearing the air of a person gratuitously
insulted; and a moment later she issued from the kitchen,
carrying an umbrella. She opened it and walked resolutely to the
"She says I'm to bring ye in the house," said Della, "an' I'm
goin' to bring ye!"
Sam had joined Penrod in the carriage-house, and, with the
beginnings of an unnamed terror, the two beheld this grim
advance. But they did not stay for its culmination. Without a
word to each other they hurriedly tiptoed up the stairs to the
gloomy loft, and there they paused, listening.
They heard Della's steps upon the carriage-house floor.
"Ah, there's plenty places t'hide in," they heard her say; "but
I'll show ye! She tole me to bring ye, and I'm--"
She was interrupted by a peculiar sound--loud, chilling, dismal,
and unmistakably not of human origin. The boys knew it for
Whitey's cough; but Della had not their experience. A smothered
shriek reached their ears; there was a scurrying noise, and then,
with horror, they heard Della's footsteps in the passageway that
ran by Whitey's manger. Immediately there came a louder shriek,
and even in the anguish of knowing their secret discovered, they
were shocked to hear distinctly the words, "O Lard in hivvin!" in
the well-known voice of Della. She shrieked again, and they
heard the rush of her footfalls across the carriage-house floor.
Wild words came from the outer air, and the kitchen door slammed
violently. It was all over. She had gone to "tell".
Penrod and Sam plunged down the stairs and out of the stable.
They climbed the back fence and fled up the alley. They turned
into Sam's yard, and, without consultation, headed for the cellar
doors, nor paused till they found themselves in the farthest,
darkest and gloomiest recess of the cellar. There, perspiring,
stricken with fear, they sank down upon the earthen floor, with
their moist backs against the stone wall.
Thus with boys. The vague apprehensions that had been creeping
upon Penrod and Sam all afternoon had become monstrous; the
unknown was before them. How great their crime would turn out
to be (now that it was in the hands of grown people) they did not
know; but, since it concerned a horse, it would undoubtedly be
considered of terrible dimensions.
Their plans for a reward, and all the things that had seemed both
innocent and practical in the morning, now staggered their minds
as manifestations of criminal folly. A new and terrible light
seemed to play upon the day's exploits; they had chased a horse
belonging to strangers, and it would be said that they
deliberately drove him into the stable and there concealed him.
They had, in truth, virtually stolen him, and they had stolen
food for him. The waning light through the small window above
them warned Penrod that his inroads upon the vegetables in his
own cellar must soon be discovered. Della, that Nemesis, would
seek them in order to prepare them for dinner, and she would find
them not. But she would recall his excursion to the cellar, for
she had seen him when he came up; and also the truth would be
known concerning the loaf of bread. Altogether, Penrod felt that
his case was worse than Sam's--until Sam offered a suggestion
that roused such horrible possibilities concerning the principal
item of their offense that all thought of the smaller indictments
"Listen, Penrod," Sam quavered: "What--what if that--what if
that ole horse maybe b'longed to a--policeman!" Sam's imagination
was not of the comforting kind. "What'd they--do to us, Penrod,
if it turned out he was some policeman's horse?"
Penrod was able only to shake his head. He did not reply in
words; but both boys thenceforth considered it almost inevitable
that Whitey had belonged to a policeman, and, in their sense of
so ultimate a disaster, they ceased for a time to brood upon
what their parents would probably do to them. The penalty for
stealing a policeman's horse would be only a step short of
capital, they were sure. They would not be hanged; but vague,
looming sketches of something called the penitentiary began to
flicker before them.
It grew darker in the cellar, so that finally they could not see
"I guess they're huntin' for us by now," Sam said huskily. "I
don't--I don't like it much down here, Penrod."
Penrod's hoarse whisper came from the profound gloom: "Well, who
ever said you did?"
"Well--" Sam paused; then he said plaintively, "I wish we'd never
SEEN that dern ole horse."
"It was every bit his fault," said Penrod. "We didn't do
anything. If he hadn't come stickin' his ole head in our stable,
it'd never happened at all. Ole fool!" He rose. "I'm goin' to get
out of here; I guess I've stood about enough for one day."
"Where--where you goin', Penrod? You aren't goin' HOME, are you?"
"No; I'm not! What you take me for? You think I'm crazy?"
"Well, where CAN we go?"
How far Penrod's desperation actually would have led him is
doubtful; but he made this statement: "I don't know where YOU'RE
goin', but I'M goin' to walk straight out in the country till I
come to a farmhouse and say my name's George and live there!"
"I'll do it, too," Sam whispered eagerly. "I'll say my name's
"Well, we better get started," said the executive Penrod. "We got
to get away from here, anyway."
But when they came to ascend the steps leading to the "outside
doors", they found that those doors had been closed and locked
for the night.
"It's no use," Sam lamented, "and we can't bust 'em, cause I
tried to, once before. Fanny always locks 'em about five
o'clock--I forgot. We got to go up the stairway and try to sneak
out through the house."
They tiptoed back, and up the inner stairs. They paused at the
top, then breathlessly stepped out into a hall that was entirely
dark. Sam touched Penrod's sleeve in warning and bent to listen
at a door.
Immediately that door opened, revealing the bright library, where
sat Penrod's mother and Sam's father.
It was Sam's mother who had opened the door. "Come into the
library, boys," she said. "Mrs. Schofield is just telling us
And as the two comrades moved dumbly into the lighted room,
Penrod's mother rose, and, taking him by the shoulder, urged him
close to the fire.
"You stand there and try to dry off a little, while I finish
telling Mr. and Mrs. Williams about you and Sam," she said.
"You'd better make Sam keep near the fire, too, Mrs. Williams,
because they both got wringing wet. Think of their running off
just when most people would have wanted to stay! Well, I'll go on
with the story, then. Della told me all about it, and what the
cook next door said SHE'D seen, how they'd been trying to pull
grass and leaves for the poor old thing all day--and all about
the apples they carried from YOUR cellar, and getting wet and
working in the rain as hard as they could--and they'd given him a
loaf of bread! Shame on you, Penrod!" She paused to laugh; but
there was a little moisture about her eyes, even before she
laughed. "And they'd fed him on potatoes and lettuce and cabbage
and turnips out of OUR cellar! And I wish you'd see the sawdust
bed they made for him! Well, when I'd telephoned, and the Humane
Society man got there, he said it was the most touching thing he
ever knew. It seems he KNEW this horse, and had been looking for
him. He said ninety-nine boys out of a hundred would have chased
the poor old thing away, and he was going to see to it that this
case didn't go unnoticed, because the local branch of the society
gives little silver medals for special acts like this. And the
last thing he said was that he was sure Penrod and Sam each would
be awarded one at the meeting of the society next Thursday
. . . On the following Saturday a yodel sounded from the sunny
sidewalk in front of the Schofields' house, and Penrod, issuing
forth, beheld the familiar figure of Samuel Williams waiting.
Upon Sam's breast there glittered a round bit of silver suspended
by a white ribbon from a bar of the same metal. Upon the breast
of Penrod was a decoration precisely similar.
"'Lo, Penrod," said Sam. "What are you goin' to do?"
"I got mine on," said Sam.
"I have, too," said Penrod. "I wouldn't take a hunderd dollars
"I wouldn't take two hunderd for mine," said Sam.
Each glanced pleasantly at the other's medal. They faced each
other without shame. Neither had the slightest sense of hypocrisy
in himself or in his comrade. On the contrary!
Penrod's eyes went from Sam's medal back to his own; thence they
wandered, with perhaps a little disappointment, to the lifeless
street and to the empty yards and spectatorless windows of the
neighbourhood. Then he looked southward toward the busy heart of
the town, where multitudes were.
"Let's go down and see what time it is by the court-house-clock,"
CHAPTER X. CONSCIENCE
Mrs. Schofield had been away for three days, visiting her sister
in Dayton, Illinois, and on the train, coming back, she fell into
a reverie. Little dramas of memory were reenacted in her pensive
mind, and through all of them moved the figure of Penrod as a
principal figure, or star. These little dramas did not present
Penrod as he really was, much less did they glow with the
uncertain but glamorous light in which Penrod saw himself. No;
Mrs. Schofield had indulged herself in absence from her family
merely for her own pleasure, and, now that she was homeward
bound, her conscience was asserting itself; the fact that she had
enjoyed her visit began to take on the aspect of a crime.
She had heard from her family only once during the three
days--the message "All well don't worry enjoy yourself"
telegraphed by Mr. Schofield, and she had followed his
suggestions to a reasonable extent. Of course she had
worried--but only at times; wherefore she now suffered more and
more poignant pangs of shame because she had not worried
constantly. Naturally, the figure of Penrod, in her railway
reverie, was that of an invalid.
She recalled all the illnesses of his babyhood and all those of
his boyhood. She reconstructed scene after scene, with the hero
always prostrate and the family physician opening the black case
of phials. She emphatically renewed her recollection of
accidental misfortunes to the body of Penrod Schofield, omitting
neither the considerable nor the inconsiderable, forgetting no
strain, sprain, cut, bruise or dislocation of which she had
knowledge. And running this film in a sequence unrelieved by
brighter interludes, she produced a biographical picture of such
consistent and unremittent gloom that Penrod's past appeared to
justify disturbing thoughts about his present and future.
She became less and less at ease, reproaching herself for having
gone away, wondering how she had brought herself to do such a
crazy thing, for it seemed to her that the members of her family
were almost helpless without her guidance; they were apt to do
anything--anything at all--or to catch anything. The more she
thought about her having left these irresponsible harebrains
unprotected and undirected for three days, the less she was able
to account for her action. It seemed to her that she must have
been a little flighty; but, shaking her head grimly, she decided
that flightiness was not a good excuse. And she made up her mind
that if, upon her arrival, she found poor little neglected Penrod
(and Margaret and Mr. Schofield) spared to her, safe and sound,
she would make up to them--especially to Penrod--for all her lack
of care in the past, and for this present wild folly of spending
three whole days and nights with her sister, far away in Dayton,
Illinois. Consequently, when Mrs. Schofield descended from that
train, she wore the hurried but determined expression that was
always the effect upon her of a guilty conscience.
"You're SURE Penrod is well now?" she repeated, after Mr.
Schofield had seated himself at her side in a vehicle known to
its driver as a "deepoe hack".
"'Well NOW?'" he said. "He's been well all the time. I've told
you twice that he's all right."
"Men can't always see." She shook her head impatiently. "I
haven't been a bit sure he was well lately. I don't think he's
been really well for two or three months. How has he seemed
"In fair health," Mr. Schofield replied thoughtfully. "Della
called me up at the office to tell me that one of the
telephone-men had come into the house to say that if that durn
boy didn't quit climbing their poles they'd have him arrested.
They said he--"
"That's it!" Mrs. Schofield interrupted quickly. "He's nervous.
It's some nervous trouble makes him act like that. He's not like
himself at all."
"Sometimes," Mr. Schofield said, "I wish he weren't."
"When he's himself," Mrs. Schofield went on anxiously, "he's very
quiet and good; he doesn't go climbing telegraph-poles and
reckless things like that. And I noticed before I went away that
he was growing twitchy, and seemed to be getting the habit of
making unpleasant little noises in his throat."
"Don't fret about that," her husband said. "He was trying to
learn Sam Williams's imitation of a bullfrog's croak. I used to
do that myself when I was a boy. Gl-glump, gallump! No; I can't
do it now. But nearly all boys feel obliged to learn it."
"You're entirely mistaken, Henry," she returned a little sharply.
"That isn't the way he goes in his throat. Penrod is getting to
be a VERY nervous boy, and he makes noises because he can't help
it. He works part of his face, too, sometimes, so much that I've
been afraid it would interfere with his looks."
"Interfere with his what?" For the moment, Mr. Schofield seemed
to be dazed.
"When he's himself," she returned crisply, "he's quite a handsome
"Handsomer than the average, anyhow," Mrs. Schofield said firmly.
"No wonder you don't see it--when we've let his system get all
run down like this!"
"Good heavens!" the mystified Mr. Schofield murmured. "Penrod's
system hasn't been running down; it's just the same as it always
was. He's absolutely all right."
"Indeed he is not!" she said severely. "We've got to take better
care of him than we have been."
"Why, how could--"
"I know what I'm talking about," she interrupted. "Penrod is
anything but a strong boy, and it's all our fault. We haven't
been watchful enough of his health; that's what's the matter with
him and makes him so nervous."
Thus she continued, and, as she talked on, Mr. Schofield began,
by imperceptible processes, to adopt her views. As for Mrs.
Schofield herself, these views became substantial by becoming
vocal. This is to say, with all deference, that as soon as she
heard herself stating them she was convinced that they accurately
represented facts. And the determined look in her eyes deepened
when the "deepoe hack" turned the familiar corner and she saw
Penrod running to the gate, followed by Duke.
Never had Penrod been so glad to greet his mother. Never was he
more boisterous in the expression of happiness of that kind. And
the tokens of his appetite at dinner, a little later, were
extraordinary. Mr. Schofield began to feel reassured in spite of
himself; but Mrs. Schofield shook her head.
"Don't you see? It's abnormal!" she said, in a low, decisive
That night Penrod awoke from a sweet, conscienceless slumber--or,
rather, he was awakened. A wrappered form lurked over him in the
"Uff--ow--" he muttered, and turned his face from the dim light
that shone through the doorway. He sighed and sought the depths
of sleep again.
"Penrod," his mother said softly, and, while he resisted feebly,
she turned him over to face her.
"Gawn lea' me 'lone," he muttered.
Then, as a little sphere touched his lips, he jerked his head
Mrs. Schofield replied in tones honeysweet and coaxing: "It's
just a nice little pill, Penrod."
"Doe waw 'ny!" he protested, keeping his eyes shut, clinging to
the sleep from which he was being riven.
"Be a good boy, Penrod," she whispered. "Here's a glass of nice
cool water to swallow it down with. Come, dear; it's going to do
you lots of good."
And again the little pill was placed suggestively against his
lips; but his head jerked backward, and his hand struck out in
blind, instinctive self-defense.
"I'll BUST that ole pill," he muttered, still with closed eyes.
"Lemme get my han's on it an' I will!"
"PLEASE go on away, mamma!"
"I will, just as soon as you take this little pill."
"I did," Penrod insisted plaintively. "You made me take it just
before I went to bed."
"Oh, yes; THAT one. But, dearie," Mrs. Schofield explained, "I
got to thinking about it after I went to bed, and I decided you'd
better have another."
"I don't WANT another."
"Please go 'way and let me sleep."
"Not till you've taken the little pill, dear."
"Oh, GOLLY!" Groaning, he propped himself upon an elbow and
allowed the pill to pass between his lips. (He would have allowed
anything whatever to pass between them, if that passing permitted
his return to slumber.) Then, detaining the pill in his mouth, he
swallowed half a glass of water, and again was recumbent.
"Good-night, dearie. Sleep well."
After her departure Penrod drowsily enjoyed the sugar coating of
the pill; but this was indeed a brief pleasure. A bitterness that
was like a pang suddenly made itself known to his sense of taste,
and he realized that he had dallied too confidingly with the
product of a manufacturing chemist who should have been indicted
for criminal economy. The medicinal portion of the little pill
struck the wall with a faint tap, then dropped noiselessly to the
floor, and, after a time, Penrod slept.
Some hours later he began to dream; he dreamed that his feet and
legs were becoming uncomfortable as a result of Sam Williams's
activities with a red-hot poker.
"You QUIT that!" he said aloud, and awoke indignantly. Again a
dark, wrappered figure hovered over the bed.
"It's only a hot-water bag, dear," Mrs. Schofield said, still
labouring under the covers with an extended arm. "You mustn't
hunch yourself up that way, Penrod. Put your feet down on it."
And, as he continued to hunch himself, she moved the bag in the
direction of his withdrawal.
"Ow, murder!" he exclaimed convulsively. "What you tryin' to do?
Scald me to death?"
"My goodness, Mamma," he wailed; "can't you let me sleep a
"It's very bad for you to let your feet get cold, dear."
"They WEREN'T cold. I don't want any ole hot-wat--"
"Penrod," she said firmly, "you must put your feet against the
bag. It isn't too hot."
"Oh, isn't it?" he retorted. "I don't s'pose you'd care if I
burned my feet right off! Mamma, won't you please, pul-LEEZE let
me get some sleep?"
"Not till you--"
She was interrupted by a groan that seemed to come from an abyss.
"All right, I'll do it! Let 'em burn, then!" Thus spake the
desperate Penrod; and Mrs. Schofield was able to ascertain that
one heel had been placed in light contact with the bag.
"No; both feet, Penrod."
With a tragic shiver he obeyed.
"THAT'S right, dear! Now, keep them that way. It's good for you.
The door closed softly behind her, and the body of Penrod, from
the hips upward, rose invisibly in the complete darkness of the
bedchamber. A moment later the hot-water bag reached the floor in
as noiseless a manner as that previously adopted by the remains
of the little pill, and Penrod once more bespread his soul with
poppies. This time he slept until the breakfast-bell rang.
He was late to school, and at once found himself in difficulties.
Government demanded an explanation of the tardiness; but Penrod
made no reply of any kind. Taciturnity is seldom more strikingly
out of place than under such circumstances, and the penalties
imposed took account not only of Penrod's tardiness but of his
supposititious defiance of authority in declining to speak. The
truth was that Penrod did not know why he was tardy, and, with
mind still lethargic, found it impossible to think of an excuse
his continuing silence being due merely to the persistence of his
efforts to invent one. Thus were his meek searchings
misinterpreted, and the unloved hours of improvement in science
and the arts made odious.
"They'll SEE!" he whispered sorely to himself, as he bent low
over his desk, a little later. Some day he would "show 'em". The
picture in his mind was of a vast, vague assembly of people
headed by Miss Spence and the superior pupils who were never
tardy, and these multitudes, representing persecution and
government in general, were all cringing before a Penrod
Schofield who rode a grim black horse up and down their miserable
ranks, and gave curt orders.
"Make 'em step back there!" he commanded his myrmidons savagely.
"Fix it so's your horses'll step on their feet if they don't do
what I say!" Then, from his shining saddle, he watched the
throngs slinking away. "I guess they know who I am NOW!"
CHAPTER XI. THE TONIC
These broodings helped a little; but it was a severe morning, and
on his way home at noon he did not recover heart enough to
practice the bullfrog's croak, the craft that Sam Williams had
lately mastered to inspiring perfection. This sonorous
accomplishment Penrod had determined to make his own. At once
guttural and resonant, impudent yet plaintive, with a barbaric
twang like the plucked string of a Congo war-fiddle, the sound
had fascinated him. It is made in the throat by processes utterly
impossible to describe in human words, and no alphabet as yet
produced by civilized man affords the symbols to vocalize it to
the ear of imagination. "Gunk" is the poor makeshift that must be
employed to indicate it.
Penrod uttered one half-hearted "Gunk" as he turned in at his own
gate. However, this stimulated him, and he paused to practice.
"Gunk!" he croaked. "Gunk-gunk-gunk-gunk!"
Mrs. Schofield leaned out of an open window upstairs.
"Don't do that, Penrod," she said anxiously. "Please don't do
"Why not?" Penrod asked, and, feeling encouraged by his progress
in the new art, he continued: "Gunk--gunk-gunk! Gunk-gunk--"
"Please try not to do it," she urged pleadingly. "You CAN stop it
if you try. Won't you, dear?"
But Penrod felt that he was almost upon the point of attaining a
mastery equal to Sam Williams's. He had just managed to do
something in his throat that he had never done before, and he
felt that unless he kept on doing it at this time, his new-born
facility might evade him later. "Gunk!" he croaked. "Gunk--gunk-
gunk!" And he continued to croak, persevering monotonously, his
expression indicating the depth of his preoccupation.
His mother looked down solicitously, murmured in a melancholy
undertone, shook her head; then disappeared from the window, and,
after a moment or two, opened the front door.
"Come in, dear," she said; "I've got something for you."
Penrod's look of preoccupation vanished; he brightened and ceased
to croak. His mother had already given him a small leather
pocketbook with a nickel in it, as a souvenir of her journey.
Evidently she had brought another gift as well, delaying its
presentation until now. "I've got something for you!" These were
"What is it, Mamma?" he asked, and, as she smiled tenderly upon
him, his gayety increased. "Yay!" he shouted. "Mamma, is it that
reg'lar carpenter's tool chest I told you about?"
"No," she said. "But I'll show you, Penrod. Come on, dear."
He followed her with alacrity to the dining-room, and the bright
anticipation in his eyes grew more brilliant--until she opened
the door of the china-closet, simultaneously with that action
"It's something that's going to do you lots of good, Penrod."
He was instantly chilled, for experience had taught him that when
predictions of this character were made, nothing pleasant need be
expected. Two seconds later his last hope departed as she turned
from the closet and he beheld in her hands a quart bottle
containing what appeared to be a section of grassy swamp immersed
in a cloudy brown liquor. He stepped back, grave suspicion in his
"What IS that?" he asked, in a hard voice.
Mrs. Schofield smiled upon him. "It's nothing," she said. "That
is, it's nothing you'll mind at all. It's just so you won't be so
"I'm not nervous."
"You don't think so, of course, dear," she returned, and, as she
spoke, she poured some of the brown liquor into a tablespoon.
"People often can't tell when they're nervous themselves; but
your Papa and I have been getting a little anxious about you,
dear, and so I got this medicine for you."
"WHERE'D you get it?" he demanded.
Mrs. Schofield set the bottle down and moved toward him,
insinuatingly extending the full tablespoon.
"Here, dear," she said; "just take this little spoonful, like a
"I want to know where it came from," he insisted darkly, again
"Where?" she echoed absently, watching to see that nothing was
spilled from the spoon as she continued to move toward him. "Why,
I was talking to old Mrs. Wottaw at market this morning, and she
said her son Clark used to have nervous trouble, and she told me
about this medicine and how to have it made at the drug store.
She told me it cured Clark, and--"
"I don't want to be cured," Penrod said, adding inconsistently,
"I haven't got anything to be cured of."
"Now, dear," Mrs. Schofield began, "you don't want your papa and
me to keep on worrying about--"
"I don't care whether you worry or not," the heartless boy
interrupted. "I don't want to take any horrable ole medicine.
What's that grass and weeds in the bottle for?"
Mrs. Schofield looked grieved. "There isn't any grass and there
aren't any weeds; those are healthful herbs."
"I bet they'll make me sick."
She sighed. "Penrod, we're trying to make you well."
"But I AM well, I tell you!"
"No, dear; your papa's been very much troubled about you. Come,
Penrod; swallow this down and don't make such a fuss about it.
It's just for your own good."
And she advanced upon him again, the spoon extended toward his
lips. It almost touched them, for he had retreated until his back
was against the wall-paper. He could go no farther; but he
evinced his unshaken repugnance by averting his face.
"What's it taste like?" he demanded.
"It's not unpleasant at all," she answered, poking the spoon at
his mouth. "Mrs. Wottaw said Clark used to be very fond of it. It
doesn't taste like ordinary medicine at all,' she said."
"How often I got to take it?" Penrod mumbled, as the persistent
spoon sought to enter his mouth. "Just this once?"
"No, dear; three times a day."
"I won't do it!"
"Penrod!" She spoke sharply. "You swallow this down and stop
making such a fuss. I can't be all day. Hurry."
She inserted the spoon between his lips, so that its rim touched
his clenched teeth; he was still reluctant. Moreover, is
reluctance was natural and characteristic, for a boy's sense of
taste is as simple and as peculiar as a dog's, though, of course,
altogether different from a dog's. A boy, passing through the
experimental age, may eat and drink astonishing things; but they
must be of his own choosing. His palate is tender, and, in one
sense, might be called fastidious; nothing is more sensitive or
more easily shocked. A boy tastes things much more than grown
people taste them: what is merely unpleasant to a man is sheer
broth of hell to a boy. Therefore, not knowing what might be
encountered, Penrod continued to be reluctant.
"Penrod," his mother exclaimed, losing patience, "I'll call your
papa to make you take it, if you don't swallow it right down!
Open your mouth, Penrod! It isn't going to taste bad at all. Open
The reluctant jaw relaxed at last, and Mrs. Schofield dexterously
elevated the handle of the spoon so that the brown liquor was
deposited within her son.
"There!" she repeated triumphantly. "It wasn't so bad after all,
Penrod did not reply. His expression had become odd, and the
oddity of his manner was equal to that of his expression.
Uttering no sound, he seemed to distend, as if he had suddenly
become a pneumatic boy under dangerous pressure. Meanwhile, his
reddening eyes, fixed awfully upon his mother, grew unbearable.
"Now, it wasn't such a bad taste," Mrs. Schofield said rather
nervously. "Don't go acting THAT way, Penrod!"
But Penrod could not help himself. In truth, even a grown person
hardened to all manner of flavours, and able to eat caviar or
liquid Camembert, would have found the cloudy brown liquor
virulently repulsive. It contained in solution, with other
things, the vital element of surprise, for it was comparatively
odourless, and, unlike the chivalrous rattlesnake, gave no
warning of what it was about to do. In the case of Penrod, the
surprise was complete and its effect visibly shocking.
The distention by which he began to express his emotion appeared
to be increasing; his slender throat swelled as his cheeks
puffed. His shoulders rose toward his ears; he lifted his right
leg in an unnatural way and held it rigidly in the air.
"Stop that, Penrod!" Mrs. Schofield commanded. "You stop it!"
He found his voice.
"Uff! OOOFF!" he said thickly, and collapsed--a mere, ordinary,
every-day convulsion taking the place of his pneumatic symptoms.
He began to writhe, at the same time opening and closing his
mouth rapidly and repeatedly, waving his arms, stamping on the
"Ow! Ow-ow-OW!" he vociferated.
Reassured by these normal demonstrations, of a type with which
she was familiar, Mrs. Schofield resumed her fond smile.
"YOU'RE all right, little boysie!" she said heartily. Then,
picking up the bottle, she replenished the tablespoon, and told
Penrod something she had considered it undiplomatic to mention
"Here's the other one," she said sweetly.
"Uuf!" he sputtered. "Other--uh--what?"
"Two tablespoons before each meal," she informed him.
Instantly Penrod made the first of a series of passionate efforts
to leave the room. His determination was so intense and the
manifestations of it were so ruthless, that Mrs. Schofield,
exhausted, found herself obliged to call for the official head of
the house--in fact, she found herself obliged to shriek for him;
and Mr. Schofield, hastily entering the room, beheld his wife
apparently in the act of sawing his son back and forth across the
sill of an open window.
Penrod made a frantic effort to reach the good green earth, even
after his mother's clutch upon his ankle had been reenforced by
his father's. Nor was the lad's revolt subdued when he was
deposited upon the floor and the window closed. Indeed, it may be
said that he actually never gave up, though it is a fact that the
second potion was successfully placed inside him. But by the time
this feat was finally accomplished, Mr. Schofield had proved
that, in spite of middle age, he was entitled to substantial
claims and honours both as athlete and orator--his oratory being
founded less upon the school of Webster and more upon that of
So the thing was done, and the double dose put within the person
of Penrod Schofield. It proved not ineffective there, and
presently, as its new owner sat morosely at table, he began to
feel slightly dizzy and his eyes refused him perfect service.
This was natural, because two tablespoons of the cloudy brown
liquor contained about the amount of alcohol to be found in an
ordinary cocktail. Now a boy does not enjoy the effects of
intoxication; enjoyment of that kind is obtained only by studious
application. Therefore, Penrod spoke of his symptoms
complainingly, and even showed himself so vindictive as to
attribute them to the new medicine.
His mother made no reply. Instead, she nodded her head as if some
inner conviction had proven well founded.
"BILIOUS, TOO," she whispered to her husband.
That evening, during the half-hour preceding dinner, the
dining-room was the scene of another struggle, only a little less
desperate than that which had been the prelude to lunch, and
again an appeal to the head of the house was found necessary.