Part 5 out of 5
slowly, as they spoke more and more pleasantly to him, it began
to dawn upon him that this trouble was all Roddy's.
And when Mr. Schofield went to take the horn to the house of Mr.
Ethelbert Magsworth Bitts, Penrod sat quietly with his mother.
Mr. Schofield was gone an hour and a half. Upon his solemn return
he reported that Roddy's father had been summoned by telephone to
bring his son to the house of Uncle Ethelbert. Mr. Bitts had
forthwith appeared with Roddy, and, when Mr. Schofield came away,
Roddy was still (after half an hour's previous efforts)
explaining his honourable intentions. Mr. Schofield indicated
that Roddy's condition was agitated, and that he was having a
great deal of difficulty in making his position clear.
Penrod's imagination paused outside the threshold of that room in
Mr. Ethelbert Magsworth Bitts' house, and awe fell upon him when
he thought of it. Roddy seemed to have disappeared within a
shrouding mist where Penrod's mind refused to follow him.
"Well, he got back his ole horn!" said Sam after school the next
afternoon. "I KNEW we had a perfect right to call him whatever we
wanted to! I bet you hated to give up that good ole horn,
But Penrod was serene. He was even a little superior.
"Pshaw!" he said. "I'm goin' to learn to play on sumpthing
better'n any ole horn. It's lots better, because you can carry it
around with you anywhere, and you couldn't a horn."
"What is it?" Sam asked, not too much pleased by Penrod's air of
superiority and high content. "You mean a jew's-harp?"
"I guess not! I mean a flute with all silver on it and
everything. My father's goin' to buy me one."
"I bet he isn't!"
"He is, too," said Penrod; "soon as I'm twenty-one years old."
CHAPTER XXIII. THE PARTY
| Miss Amy Rennsdale |
| At Home |
| Saturday, the twenty-third |
| from three to six |
| R.s.v.p. Dancing |
This little card, delicately engraved, betokened the hospitality
incidental to the ninth birthday anniversary of Baby Rennsdale,
youngest member of the Friday Afternoon Dancing Class, and, by
the same token, it represented the total social activity (during
that season) of a certain limited bachelor set consisting of
Messrs. Penrod Schofield and Samuel Williams. The truth must be
faced: Penrod and Sam were seldom invited to small parties; they
were considered too imaginative. But in the case of so large an
affair as Miss Rennsdale's, the feeling that their parents would
be sensitive outweighed fears of what Penrod and Sam might do at
the party. Reputation is indeed a bubble, but sometimes it is
blown of sticky stuff.
The comrades set out for the fete in company, final maternal
outpourings upon deportment and the duty of dancing with the
hostess evaporating in their freshly cleaned ears. Both boys,
however, were in a state of mind, body, and decoration
appropriate to the gala scene they were approaching. Their
collars were wide and white; inside the pockets of their
overcoats were glistening dancing-pumps, wrapped in
tissue-paper; inside their jacket pockets were pleasant-smelling
new white gloves, and inside their heads solemn timidity
commingled with glittering anticipations. Before them, like a
Christmas tree glimpsed through lace curtains, they beheld joy
shimmering--music, ice-cream, macaroons, tinsel caps, and the
starched ladies of their hearts Penrod and Sam walked demurely
yet almost boundingly; their faces were shining but grave--they
were on their way to the Party!
"Look at there!" said Penrod. "There's Carlie Chitten!"
"Where?" Sam asked.
"'Cross the street. Haven't you got any eyes?"
"Well, whyn't you say he was 'cross the street in the first
place?" Sam returned plaintively. "Besides, he's so little you
can't hardly see him." This was, of course, a violent
exaggeration, though Master Chitten, not yet eleven years old,
was an inch or two short for his age. "He's all dressed up," Sam
added. "I guess he must be invited."
"I bet he does sumpthing," said Penrod.
"I bet he does, too," Sam agreed.
This was the extent of their comment upon the small person across
the street; but, in spite of its non-committal character, the
manner of both commentators seemed to indicate that they had just
exchanged views upon an interesting and even curious subject.
They walked along in silence for several minutes, staring
speculatively at Master Chitten.
His appearance was pleasant and not remarkable. He was a
handsome, dark little boy, with quick eyes and a precociously
reserved expression; his air was "well-bred"; he was exquisitely
neat, and he had a look of manly competence that grown people
found attractive and reassuring. In short, he was a boy of whom a
timid adult stranger would have inquired the way with confidence.
And yet Sam and Penrod had mysterious thoughts about
him--obviously there was something subterranean here.
They continued to look at him for the greater part of block,
when, their progress bringing them in sight of Miss Amy
Rennsdale's place of residence their attention was directed to a
group of men bearing festal burdens--encased violins, a shrouded
harp and other beckoning shapes. There were signs, too, that most
of "those invited" intended to miss no moment of this party;
guests already indoors watched from the windows the approach of
the musicians. Washed boys in black and white, and girls in
tender colours converged from various directions, making gayly
for the thrilling gateway--and the most beautiful little girl in
all the world, Marjorie Jones, of the amber curls, jumped from a
carriage step to the curbstone as Penrod and Sam came up. She
waved to them.
Sam responded heartily; but Penrod, feeling real emotion and
seeking to conceal it, muttered, "'Lo, Marjorie!" gruffly,
offering no further demonstration. Marjorie paused a moment,
expectant, and then, as he did not seize the opportunity to ask
her for the first dance, she tried not to look disappointed and
ran into the house ahead of the two boys. Penrod was scarlet; he
wished to dance the first dance with Marjorie, and the second and
the third and all the other dances, and he strongly desired to
sit with her "at refreshments"; but he had been unable to ask for
a single one of these privileges. It would have been impossible
for him to state why he was thus dumb, although the reason was
simple and wholly complimentary to Marjorie: she had looked so
overpoweringly pretty that she had produced in the bosom of her
admirer a severe case of stage fright. That was "all the matter
with him"; but it was the beginning of his troubles, and he did
not recover until he and Sam reached the "gentlemen's
dressing-room", whither they were directed by a polite coloured
Here they found a cloud of acquaintances getting into pumps and
gloves, and, in a few extreme cases, readjusting hair before a
mirror. Some even went so far--after removing their shoes and
putting on their pumps--as to wash traces of blacking from their
hands in the adjacent bathroom before assuming their gloves.
Penrod, being in a strange mood, was one of these, sharing the
basin with little Maurice Levy.
"Carrie Chitten's here," said Maurice, as they soaped their
"I guess I know it," Penrod returned. "I bet he does sumpthing,
Maurice shook his head ominously. "Well, I'm gettin' tired of it.
I know he was the one stuck that cold fried egg in P'fesser
Bartet's overcoat pocket at dancin'-school, and ole p'fesser
went and blamed it on me. Then, Carlie, he cum up to me, th'
other day, and he says, 'Smell my buttonhole bokay.' He had some
vi'lets stickin' in his buttonhole, and I went to smell 'em and
water squirted on me out of 'em. I guess I've stood about enough,
and if he does another thing I don't like, he better look out!"
Penrod showed some interest, inquiring for details, whereupon
Maurice explained that if Master Chitten displeased him further,
Master Chitten would receive a blow upon one of his features.
Maurice was simple and homely about it, seeking rhetorical vigour
rather than elegance; in fact, what he definitely promised Master
Chitten was "a bang on the snoot."
"Well," said Penrod, "he never bothered ME any. I expect he knows
too much for that!"
A cry of pain was heard from the dressing-room at this juncture,
and, glancing through the doorway, Maurice and Penrod beheld Sam
Williams in the act of sucking his right thumb with vehemence,
the while his brow was contorted and his eyes watered. He came
into the bathroom and held his thumb under a faucet.
"That darn little Carlie Chitten!" he complained. "He ast me to
hold a little tin box he showed me. He told me to hold it
between my thumb and fingers and he'd show me sumpthing. Then he
pushed the lid, and a big needle came out of a hole and stuck me
half through my thumb. That's a NICE way to act, isn't it?"
Carlie Chitten's dark head showed itself cautiously beyond the
casing of the door.
"How's your thumb, Sam?" he asked.
"You wait!" Sam shouted, turning furiously; but the small
prestidigitator was gone. With a smothered laugh, Carlie dashed
through the groups of boys in the dressing-room and made his way
downstairs, his manner reverting to its usual polite gravity
before he entered the drawing-room, where his hostess waited.
Music sounding at about this time, he was followed by the other
boys, who came trooping down, leaving the dressing-room empty.
Penrod, among the tail-enders of the procession, made his
dancing-school bow to Miss Rennsdale and her grown-up
supporters (two maiden aunts and a governess) then he looked
about for Marjorie, discovering her but too easily. Her amber
curls were swaying gently in time to the music; she looked never
more beautiful, and her partner was Master Chitten!
A pang of great penetrative power and equal unexpectedness found
the most vulnerable spot beneath the simple black of Penrod
Schofield's jacket. Straightway he turned his back upon the
crash-covered floors where the dancers were, and moved gloomily
toward the hall. But one of the maiden aunts Rennsdale waylaid
"It's Penrod Schofield, isn't it?" she asked. "Or Sammy Williams?
I'm not sure which. Is it Penrod?"
"Ma'am?" he said. "Yes'm."
"Well, Penrod, I can find a partner for you. There are several
dear little girls over here, if you'll come with me."
"Well--" He paused, shifted from one foot to the other, and
looked enigmatic. "I better not," he said. He meant no offence;
his trouble was only that he had not yet learned how to do as he
pleased at a party and, at the same time, to seem polite about
it. "I guess I don't want to," he added.
"Very well!" And Miss Rennsdale instantly left him to his own
He went to lurk in the wide doorway between the hall and the
drawing-room--under such conditions the universal refuge of his
sex at all ages. There he found several boys of notorious
shyness, and stood with them in a mutually protective group. Now
and then one of them would lean upon another until repelled by
action and a husky "What's matter 'th you? Get off o' me!" They
all twisted their slender necks uneasily against the inner bands
of their collars, at intervals, and sometimes exchanged facetious
blows under cover. In the distance Penrod caught glimpses of
amber curls flashing to and fro, and he knew himself to be among
He remained in this questionable sanctuary during the next dance;
but, edging along the wall to lean more comfortably in a corner,
as the music of the third sounded, he overheard part of a
conversation that somewhat concerned him. The participants were
the governess of his hostess, Miss Lowe, and that one of the
aunts Rennsdale who had offered to provide him with a partner.
These two ladies were standing just in front of him, unconscious
of his nearness.
"I never," Miss Rennsdale said, "never saw a more fascinating
little boy than that Carlie Chitten. There'll be some heartaches
when he grows up; I can't keep my eyes off him."
"Yes; he's a charming boy," Miss Lowe said. "His manners are
"He's a little man of the world," the enthusiastic Miss Rennsdale
went on, "very different from such boys as Penrod Schofield!"
"Oh, PENROD!" Miss Lowe exclaimed. "Good gracious!"
"I don't see why he came. He declines to dance--rudely, too!"
"I don't think the little girls will mind that so much!" Miss
Lowe said. "If you'd come to the dancing class some Friday with
Amy and me, you'd understand why."
They moved away. Penrod heard his name again mentioned between
them as they went, and, though he did not catch the accompanying
remark, he was inclined to think it unfavourable. He remained
where he was, brooding morbidly.
He understood that the government was against him, nor was his
judgment at fault in this conclusion. He was affected, also, by
the conduct of Marjorie, who was now dancing gayly with Maurice
Levy, a former rival of Penrod's. The fact that Penrod had not
gone near her did not make her culpability seem the less; in his
gloomy heart he resolved not to ask her for one single dance. He
would not go near her. He would not go near ANY OF 'EM!
His eyes began to burn, and he swallowed heavily; but he was
never one to succumb piteously to such emotion, and it did not
even enter his head that he was at liberty to return to his own
home. Neither he nor any of his friends had ever left a party
until it was officially concluded. What his sufferings demanded
of him now for their alleviation was not departure but action!
Underneath the surface, nearly all children's parties contain a
group of outlaws who wait only for a leader to hoist the black
flag. The group consists mainly of boys too shy to be at ease
with the girls, but who wish to distinguish themselves in some
way; and there are others, ordinarily well behaved, whom the mere
actuality of a party makes drunken. The effect of music, too,
upon children is incalculable, especially when they do not hear
it often--and both a snare-drum and a bass drum were in the
expensive orchestra at the Rennsdale party.
Nevertheless, the outlawry at any party may remain incipient
unless a chieftain appears; but in Penrod's corner were now
gathering into one anarchical mood all the necessary
qualifications for leadership. Out of that bitter corner there
stepped, not a Penrod Schofield subdued and hoping to win the
lost favour of the Authorities, but a hot-hearted rebel
determined on an uprising.
Smiling a reckless and challenging smile, he returned to the
cluster of boys in the wide doorway and began to push one and
another of them about. They responded hopefully with
counter-pushes, and presently there was a tumultuous surging and
eddying in that quarter, accompanied by noises that began to
compete with the music. Then Penrod allowed himself to be shoved
out among the circling dancers, so that he collided with Marjorie
and Maurice Levy, almost oversetting them.
He made a mock bow and a mock apology, being inspired to invent a
"Excuse me," he said, at the same time making vocal his own
conception of a taunting laugh. "Excuse me, but I must 'a' got
Marjorie looked grieved and turned away with Maurice; but the
boys in the doorway squealed with maniac laughter.
"Gotcher bumpus! Gotcher bumpus!" they shrilled. And they began
to push others of their number against the dancing couples,
shouting, "'Scuse me! Gotcher bumpus!"
It became a contagion and then a game. As the dances went on,
strings of boys, led by Penrod, pursued one another across the
rooms, howling, "Gotcher bumpus!" at the top of their lungs. They
dodged and ducked, and seized upon dancers as shields; they
caromed from one couple into another, and even into the musicians
of the orchestra. Boys who were dancing abandoned their partners
and joined the marauders, shrieking, "Gotcher bumpus!" Potted
plants went down; a slender gilt chair refused to support the
hurled body of Master Roderick Magsworth Bitts, and the sound of
splintering wood mingled with other sounds. Dancing became
impossible; Miss Amy Rennsdale wept in the midst of the riot, and
everybody knew that Penrod Schofield had "started it".
Under instructions, the leader of the orchestra, clapping his
hands for attention, stepped to the centre of the drawing-room,
"A moment silence, if you bleace!"
Slowly the hubbub ceased; the virtuous and the wicked paused
alike in their courses to listen. Miss Amy Rennsdale was borne
away to have her tearful face washed, and Marjorie Jones and
Carlie Chitten and Georgie Bassett came forward consciously,
escorted by Miss Lowe. The musician waited until the return of
the small hostess; then he announced in a loud voice:
"A fency dence called 'Les Papillons', denced by Miss Amy
Rennstul, Miss Chones, Mister Chorch Passett, ant Mister Jitten.
Some young chentlemen haf mate so much noise ant confoosion Miss
Lowe wish me to ask bleace no more such a nonsense. Fency dence,
Thereupon, after formal salutations, Mr. Chitten took Marjorie's
hand, Georgie Bassett took Miss Rennsdale's, and they proceeded
to dance "Les Papillons" in a manner that made up in
conscientiousness whatever it may have lacked in abandon. The
outlaw leader looked on, smiling a smile intended to represent
careless contempt, but in reality he was unpleasantly surprised.
A fancy dance by Georgie Bassett and Baby Rennsdale was customary
at every party attended by members of the Friday Afternoon
Dancing Class; but Marjorie and Carlie Chitten were new
performers, and Penrod had not heard that they had learned to
dance "Les Papillons" together. He was the further embittered.
Carlie made a false step, recovering himself with some
difficulty, whereupon a loud, jeering squawk of laughter was
heard from the insurgent cluster, which had been awed to
temporary quiet but still maintained its base in the
drawing-room doorway. There was a general "SH!" followed by a
shocked whispering, as well as a general turning of eyes toward
Penrod. But it was not Penrod who had laughed, though no one
would have credited him with an alibi. The laughter came from two
throats that breathed as one with such perfect simultaneousness
that only one was credited with the disturbance. These two
throats belonged respectively to Samuel Williams and Maurice
Levy, who were standing in a strikingly
"He got me with his ole tin-box needle, too," Maurice muttered
to Sam. "He was goin' to do it to Marjorie, and I told her to
look out, and he says, 'Here, YOU take it!' all of a sudden, and
he stuck it in my hand so quick I never thought. And then, BIM!
his ole needle shot out and perty near went through my
thumb-bone or sumpthing. He'll be sorry before this day's over!"
"Well," said Sam darkly, "he's goin' to be sorry he stuck ME,
anyway!" Neither Sam nor Maurice had even the vaguest plan for
causing the desired regret in the breast of Master Chitten; but
both derived a little consolation from these prophecies. And
they, too, had aligned themselves with the insurgents. Their
motives were personal--Carlie Chitten had wronged both of them,
and Carlie was conspicuously in high favour with the Authorities.
Naturally Sam and Maurice were against the Authorities.
"Les Papillons" came to a conclusion. Carlie and Georgie bowed;
Marjorie Jones and Baby Rennsdale curtesied, and there was loud
applause. In fact, the demonstration became so uproarious that
some measure of it was open to suspicion, especially as hisses of
reptilian venomousness were commingled with it, and also a hoarse
but vociferous repetition of the dastard words, "Carrie dances
ROTTEN!" Again it was the work of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern;
but the plot was attributed to another.
"SHAME, Penrod Schofield!" said both the aunts Rennsdale
publicly, and Penrod, wholly innocent, became scarlet with
indignant mortification. Carlie Chitten himself, however, marked
the true offenders. A slight flush tinted his cheeks, and then,
in his quiet, self-contained way, he slipped through the crowd
of girls and boys, unnoticed, into the hall, and ran noiselessly
up the stairs and into the "gentlemen's dressing-room", now
inhabited only by hats, caps, overcoats, and the temporarily
discarded shoes of the dancers. Most of the shoes stood in rows
against the wall, and Carlie examined these rows attentively,
after a time discovering a pair of shoes with patent leather
tips. He knew them; they belonged to Maurice Levy, and, picking
them up, he went to a corner of the room where four shoes had
been left together under a chair. Upon the chair were overcoats
and caps that he was able to identify as the property of Penrod
Schofield and Samuel Williams; but, as he was not sure which pair
of shoes belonged to Penrod and which to Sam, he added both pairs
to Maurice's and carried them into the bathroom. Here he set the
plug in the tub, turned the faucets, and, after looking about him
and discovering large supplies of all sorts in a wall cabinet, he
tossed six cakes of green soap into the tub. He let the soap
remain in the water to soften a little, and, returning to the
dressing room, whiled away the time in mixing and mismating pairs
of shoes along the walls, and also in tying the strings of the
mismated shoes together in hard knots.
Throughout all this, his expression was grave and intent; his
bright eyes grew brighter, but he did not smile. Carlie Chitten
was a singular boy, though not unique: he was an "only child",
lived at a hotel, and found life there favourable to the
development of certain peculiarities in his nature. He played a
lone hand, and with what precocious diplomacy he played that
curious hand was attested by the fact that Carlie was brilliantly
esteemed by parents and guardians in general.
It must be said for Carlie that, in one way, his nature was
liberal. For instance, having come upstairs to prepare a
vengeance upon Sam and Maurice in return for their slurs upon his
dancing, he did not confine his efforts to the belongings of
those two alone. He provided every boy in the house with
something to think about later, when shoes should be resumed; and
he was far from stopping at that. Casting about him for some
material that he desired, he opened a door of the dressing-room
and found himself confronting the apartment of Miss Lowe. Upon a
desk he beheld the bottle of mucilage he wanted, and, having
taken possession of it, he allowed his eye the privilege of a
rapid glance into a dressing table drawer, accidentally left
He returned to the dressing-room, five seconds later, carrying
not only the mucilage but a "switch" worn by Miss Lowe when her
hair was dressed in a fashion different from that which she had
favoured for the party. This "switch" he placed in the pocket of
a juvenile overcoat unknown to him, and then he took the mucilage
into the bathroom. There he rescued from the water the six cakes
of soap, placed one in each of the six shoes, pounding it down
securely into the toe of the shoe with the handle of a back
brush. After that, Carlie poured mucilage into all six shoes
impartially until the bottle was empty, then took them back to
their former positions in the dressing-room. Finally, with
careful forethought, he placed his own shoes in the pockets of
his overcoat, and left the overcoat and his cap upon a chair near
the outer door of the room. Then he went quietly downstairs,
having been absent from the festivities a little less than twelve
minutes. He had been energetic--only a boy could have
accomplished so much in so short a time. In fact, Carlie had been
so busy that his forgetting to turn off the faucets in the
bathroom is not at all surprising.
No one had noticed his absence. That infectious pastime, "Gotcher
bumpus", had broken out again, and the general dancing, which had
been resumed upon the conclusion of "Les Papillons", was once
more becoming demoralized. Despairingly the aunts Rennsdale and
Miss Lowe brought forth from the rear of the house a couple of
waiters and commanded them to arrest the ringleaders, whereupon
hilarious terror spread among the outlaw band. Shouting
tauntingly at their pursuers, they fled--and bellowing, trampling
flight swept through every quarter of the house.
Refreshments quelled this outbreak for a time. The orchestra
played a march; Carlie Chitten and Georgie Bassett, with Amy
Rennsdale and Marjorie, formed the head of a procession, while
all the boys who had retained their sense of decorum immediately
sought partners and fell in behind. The outlaws, succumbing to
ice cream hunger, followed suit, one after the other, until all
of the girls were provided with escorts. Then, to the moral
strains of "The Stars and Stripes Forever", the children paraded
out to the dining-room. Two and two they marched, except at the
extreme tail end of the line, where, since there were three more
boys than girls at the party, the three left-over boys were
placed. These three were also the last three outlaws to succumb
and return to civilization from outlying portions of the house
after the pursuit by waiters. They were Messieurs Maurice Levy,
Samuel Williams, and Penrod Schofield.
They took their chairs in the capacious dining-room quietly
enough, though their expressions were eloquent of bravado, and
they jostled one another and their neighbours intentionally, even
in the act of sitting. However, it was not long before delectable
foods engaged their whole attention and Miss Amy Rennsdale's
party relapsed into etiquette for the following twenty minutes.
The refection concluded with the mild explosion of paper
"crackers" that erupted bright-coloured, fantastic headgear, and,
during the snapping of the "crackers", Penrod heard the voice
of Marjorie calling from somewhere behind him, "Carrie and Amy,
will you change chairs with Georgie Bassett and me--just for
fun?" The chairs had been placed in rows, back to back, and
Penrod would not even turn his head to see if Master Chitten and
Miss Rennsdale accepted Marjorie's proposal, though they were
directly behind him and Sam; but he grew red and breathed hard. A
moment later, the liberty-cap that he had set upon his head was
softly removed, and a little crown of silver paper put in its
The whisper was close to his ear, and a gentle breath cooled the
back of his neck.
CHAPTER XXIV. THE HEART OF MARJORIE JONES
"Well, what you want?" Penrod asked, brusquely.
Marjorie's wonderful eyes were dark and mysterious, like still
water at twilight.
"What makes you behave so AWFUL?" she whispered.
"I don't either! I guess I got a right to do the way I want to,
"Well, anyway," said Marjorie, "you ought to quit bumping into
people so it hurts."
"Poh! It wouldn't hurt a fly!"
"Yes, it did. It hurt when you bumped Maurice and me that time."
"It didn't either. WHERE'D it hurt you? Let's see if it--"
"Well, I can't show you, but it did. Penrod, are you going to
Penrod's heart had melted within him; but his reply was pompous
and cold. "I will if I feel like it, and I won't if I feel like
it. You wait and see."
But Marjorie jumped up and ran around to him abandoning her
escort. All the children were leaving their chairs and moving
toward the dancing-rooms; the orchestra was playing dance-music
"Come on, Penrod!" Marjorie cried. "Let's go dance this together.
With seeming reluctance, he suffered her to lead him away. "Well,
I'll go with you; but I won't dance," he said "I wouldn't dance
with the President of the United States"
"Well--because well, I won't DO it!"
"All right. I don't care. I guess I've danced plenty, anyhow.
Let's go in here." She led him into a room too small for dancing,
used ordinarily by Miss Amy Rennsdale's father as his study, and
now vacant. For a while there was silence; but finally Marjorie
pointed to the window and said shyly:
"Look, Penrod, it's getting dark. The party'll be over pretty
soon, and you've never danced one single time!"
"Well, I guess I know that, don't I?"
He was unable to cast aside his outward truculence though it was
but a relic. However, his voice was gentler, and Marjorie seemed
satisfied. From the other rooms came the swinging music, shouts
of "Gotcher bumpus!" sounds of stumbling, of scrambling, of
running, of muffled concus signs and squeals of dismay. Penrod's
followers were renewing the wild work, even in the absence of
"Penrod Schofield, you bad boy," said Marjorie, "you started
every bit of that! You ought to be ashamed of yourself."
"_I_ didn't do anything," he said--and he believed it. "Pick on
me for everything!"
"Well, they wouldn't if you didn't do so much," said Marjorie.
"They would, too."
"They wouldn't, either. Who would?"
"That Miss Lowe," he specified bitterly. "Yes, and Baby
Rennsdale's aunts. If the house'd burn down, I bet they'd say
Penrod Schofield did it! Anybody does anything at ALL, they say,
'Penrod Schofield, shame on you!' When you and Carlie were dan--"
"Penrod, I just hate that little Carlie Chitten. P'fesser Bartet
made me learn that dance with him; but I just hate him."
Penrod was now almost completely mollified; nevertheless, he
continued to set forth his grievance. "Well, they all turned
around to me and they said, 'Why, Penrod Schofield, shame on
you!' And I hadn't done a single thing! I was just standin'
there. They got to blame ME, though!"
Marjorie laughed airily. "Well, if you aren't the foolishest--"
"They would, too," he asserted, with renewed bitterness. "If the
house was to fall down, you'd see! They'd all say--"
Marjorie interrupted him. She put her hand on the top of her
head, looking a little startled.
"What's that?" she said.
"Like rain!" Marjorie cried. "Like it was raining in here! A drop
fell on my--"
"Why, it couldn't--" he began. But at this instant a drop fell
upon his head, too, and, looking up, they beheld a great oozing
splotch upon the ceiling. Drops were gathering upon it and
falling; the tinted plaster was cracking, and a little stream
began to patter down and splash upon the floor. Then there came a
resounding thump upstairs, just above them, and fragments of wet
"The roof must be leaking," said Marjorie, beginning to be
"Couldn't be the roof," said Penrod. "Besides there ain't any
As he spoke, a second slender stream of water began to patter
upon the floor of the hall outside the door.
"Good gracious!" Marjorie cried, while the ceiling above them
shook as with earthquake--or as with boys in numbers jumping, and
a great uproar burst forth overhead.
"I believe the house IS falling down, Penrod!" she quavered.
"Well, they'll blame ME for it!" he said. "Anyways, we better get
out o' here. I guess sumpthing must be the matter."
His guess was accurate, so far as it went. The dance-music had
swung into "Home Sweet Home" some time before, the children were
preparing to leave, and Master Chitten had been the first boy to
ascend to the gentlemen's dressing-room for his cap, overcoat
and shoes, his motive being to avoid by departure any difficulty
in case his earlier activities should cause him to be suspected
by the other boys. But in the doorway he halted, aghast.
The lights had not been turned on; but even the dim windows
showed that the polished floor gave back reflections no
floor-polish had ever equalled. It was a gently steaming lake,
from an eighth to a quarter of an inch deep. And Carlie realized
that he had forgotten to turn off the faucets in the bathroom.
For a moment, his savoir faire deserted him, and he was filled
with ordinary, human-boy panic. Then, at a sound of voices
behind him, he lost his head and rushed into the bathroom. It was
dark, but certain sensations and the splashing of his pumps
warned him that the water was deeper in there. The next instant
the lights were switched on in both bathroom and dressing-room,
and Carlie beheld Sam Williams in the doorway of the former.
"Oh, look, Maurice!" Sam shouted, in frantic excitement.
"Somebody's let the tub run over, and it's about ten feet
deep! Carlie Chitten's sloshin' around in here. Let's hold the
door on him and keep him in!"
Carlie rushed to prevent the execution of this project; but he
slipped and went swishing full length along the floor, creating a
little surf before him as he slid, to the demoniac happiness of
Sam and Maurice. They closed the door, however, and, as other
boys rushed, shouting and splashing, into the flooded
dressing-room, Carlie began to hammer upon the panels. Then the
owners of shoes, striving to rescue them from the increasing
waters, made discoveries.
The most dangerous time to give a large children's party is when
there has not been one for a long period. The Rennsdale party had
that misfortune, and its climax was the complete and convulsive
madness of the gentlemen's dressing-room during those final
moments supposed to be given to quiet preparations, on the part
of guests, for departure.
In the upper hall and upon the stairway, panic-stricken little
girls listened, wild-eyed, to the uproar that went on, while
waiters and maid servants rushed with pails and towels into what
was essentially the worst ward in Bedlam. Boys who had behaved
properly all afternoon now gave way and joined the confraternity
of lunatics. The floors of the house shook to tramplings, rushes,
wrestlings, falls and collisions. The walls resounded to chorused
bellowings and roars. There were pipings of pain and pipings of
joy; there was whistling to pierce the drums of ears; there were
hootings and howlings and bleatings and screechings, while over
all bleated the heathen battle-cry incessantly: "GOTCHER
BUMPUS! GOTCHER BUMPUS!" For the boys had been inspired by
the unusual water to transform Penrod's game of "Gotcher bumpus"
into an aquatic sport, and to induce one another, by means of
superior force, dexterity, or stratagems, either to sit or to lie
at full length in the flood, after the example of Carlie Chitten.
One of the aunts Rennsdale had taken what charge she could of the
deafened and distracted maids and waiters who were working to
stem the tide, while the other of the aunts Rennsdale stood with
her niece and Miss Lowe at the foot of the stairs, trying to say
good-night reassuringly to those of the terrified little girls
who were able to tear themselves away. This latter aunt Rennsdale
marked a dripping figure that came unobtrusively, and yet in a
self-contained and gentlemanly manner, down the stairs.
"Carlie Chitten!" she cried. "You poor dear child, you're
soaking! To think those outrageous little fiends wouldn't even
spare YOU!" As she spoke, another departing male guest came from
behind Carlie and placed in her hand a snakelike article--a thing
that Miss Lowe seized and concealed with one sweeping gesture.
"It's some false hair somebody must of put in my overcoat
pocket," said Roderick Magsworth Bitts. "Well, 'g-night. Thank
you for a very nice time."
"Good-night, Miss Rennsdale," said Master Chitten demurely.
"Thank you for a--"
But Miss Rennsdale detained him. "Carrie," she said earnestly,
"you're a dear boy, and I know you'll tell me something. It was
all Penrod Schofield, wasn't it?"
"You mean he left the--"
"I mean," she said, in a low tone, not altogether devoid of
ferocity. "I mean it was Penrod who left the faucets running, and
Penrod who tied the boys' shoes together, and filled some of them
with soap and mucilage, and put Miss Lowe's hair in Roddy Bitts's
overcoat. No; look me in the eye, Carlie! They were all shouting
that silly thing he started. Didn't he do it?"
Carlie cast down thoughtful eyes. "I wouldn't like to tell, Miss
Rennsdale," he said. "I guess I better be going or I'll catch
cold. Thank you for a very nice time."
"There!" said Miss Rennsdale vehemently, as Carlie went on his
way. "What did I tell you? Carlie Chitten's too manly to say it,
but I just KNOW it was that terrible Penrod Schofield."
Behind her, a low voice, unheard by all except the person to whom
it spoke, repeated a part of this speech: "What did I tell you?"
This voice belonged to one Penrod Schofield.
Penrod and Marjorie had descended by another stairway, and he now
considered it wiser to pass to the rear of the little party at
the foot of the stairs. As he was still in his pumps, his choked
shoes occupying his overcoat pockets, he experienced no
difficulty in reaching the front door, and getting out of it
unobserved, although the noise upstairs was greatly abated.
Marjorie, however, made her curtseys and farewells in a
"There!" Penrod said again, when she rejoined him in the darkness
outside. "What did I tell you? Didn't I say I'd get the blame of
it, no matter if the house went and fell down? I s'pose they
think I put mucilage and soap in my own shoes."
Marjorie delayed at the gate until some eagerly talking little
girls had passed out. The name "Penrod Schofield" was thick and
scandalous among them.
"Well," said Marjorie, "_I_ wouldn't care, Penrod. 'Course, about
soap and mucilage in YOUR shoes, anybody'd know some other boy
must of put 'em there to get even for what you put in his."
"But I DIDN'T!" he cried. "I didn't do ANYTHING! That ole Miss
Rennsdale can say what she wants to, I didn't do--"
"Well, anyway, Penrod," said Marjorie, softly, "they can't ever
PROVE it was you."
He felt himself suffocating in a coil against which no struggle
"But I never DID it!" he wailed, helplessly. "I never did
anything at all!"
She leaned toward him a little, and the lights from her waiting
carriage illumined her dimly, but enough for him to see that her
look was fond and proud, yet almost awed.
"Anyway, Penrod," she whispered, "_I_ don't believe there's any
other boy in the whole world could of done HALF as much!"
And with that, she left him, and ran out to the carriage.
But Penrod remained by the gate to wait for Sam, and the burden
of his sorrows was beginning to lift. In fact, he felt a great
deal better, in spite of his having just discovered why Marjorie