Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Penrod by Booth Tarkington

Part 3 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

plenty of trouble on our hands without hearing THAT again!"

Singularly enough, Mrs. Williams did not look troubled; she
looked as if she were trying to look troubled. Mrs. Schofield
wore a similar expression. So did Mr. Schofield. So did Mr.
Williams.

"What did she say when she called YOU up?" Mrs. Schofield
inquired breathlessly of Mrs. Williams.

"She could hardly speak at first, and then when she did talk,
she talked so fast I couldn't understand most of it, and----"

"It was just the same when she tried to talk to me," said
Mrs. Schofield, nodding.

"I never did hear any one in such a state before," continued
Mrs. Williams. "So furious----"

"Quite justly, of course," said Mrs. Schofield.

"Of course. And she said Penrod and Sam had enticed Roderick
away from home--usually he's not allowed to go outside the yard
except with his tutor or a servant--and had told him to say that
horrible creature was his aunt----"

"How in the world do you suppose Sam and Penrod ever thought
of such a thing as THAT!" exclaimed Mrs. Schofield. "It must
have been made up just for their `show.' Della says there were
just STREAMS going in and out all day. Of course it wouldn't
have happened, but this was the day Margaret and I spend every
month in the country with Aunt Sarah, and I didn't DREAM----"

"She said one thing I thought rather tactless," interrupted
Mrs. Williams. "Of course we must allow for her being dreadfully
excited and wrought up, but I do think it wasn't quite delicate
in her, and she's usually the very soul of delicacy. She said
that Roderick had NEVER been allowed to associate with--
common boys----"

"Meaning Sam and Penrod," said Mrs. Schofield. "Yes, she
said that to me, too."

"She said that the most awful thing about it," Mrs. Williams
went on, "was that, though she's going to prosecute the
newspapers, many people would always believe the story, and----"

"Yes, I imagine they will," said Mrs. Schofield musingly.
"Of course you and I and everybody who really knows the Bitts and
Magsworth families understand the perfect absurdity of it; but I
suppose there are ever so many who'll believe it, no matter what
the Bittses and Magsworths say."

"Hundreds and hundreds!" said Mrs. Williams. "I'm afraid it
will be a great come-down for them."

"I'm afraid so," said Mrs. Schofield gently. "A very great
one--yes, a very, very great one."

"Well," observed Mrs. Williams, after a thoughtful pause,
"there's only one thing to be done, and I suppose it had better
be done right away."

She glanced toward the two gentlemen.

"Certainly," Mr. Schofield agreed. "But where ARE they?"

"Have you looked in the stable?" asked his wife.

"I searched it. They've probably started for the far West."

"Did you look in the sawdust-box?"

"No, I didn't."

"Then that's where they are."

Thus, in the early twilight, the now historic stable was
approached by two fathers charged to do the only thing to be
done. They entered the storeroom.

"Penrod!" said Mr. Schofield.

"Sam!" said Mr. Williams.

Nothing disturbed the twilight hush.

But by means of a ladder, brought from the carriage-house,
Mr. Schofield mounted to the top of the sawdust-box. He looked
within, and discerned the dim outlines of three quiet figures,
the third being that of a small dog.

The two boys rose, upon command, descended the ladder after
Mr. Schofield, bringing Duke with them, and stood before the
authors of their being, who bent upon them sinister and
threatening brows. With hanging heads and despondent
countenances, each still ornamented with a moustache and an
imperial, Penrod and Sam awaited sentence.

This is a boy's lot: anything he does, anything whatever, may
afterward turn out to have been a crime--he never knows.

And punishment and clemency are alike inexplicable.

Mr. Williams took his son by the ear.

"You march home!" he commanded.

Sam marched, not looking back, and his father followed the
small figure implacably.

"You goin' to whip me?" quavered Penrod, alone with Justice.

"Wash your face at that hydrant," said his father sternly.

About fifteen minutes later, Penrod, hurriedly entering the
corner drug store, two blocks distant, was astonished to perceive
a familiar form at the soda counter.

"Yay, Penrod," said Sam Williams. "Want some sody? Come on.

He didn't lick me. He didn't do anything to me at all. He gave
me a quarter."

"So'd mine," said Penrod.

CHAPTER XVIII
MUSIC

Boyhood is the longest time in life for a boy. The last term of
the school-year is made of decades, not of weeks, and living
through them is like waiting for the millennium. But they do
pass, somehow, and at last there came a day when Penrod was one
of a group that capered out from the gravelled yard of "Ward
School, Nomber Seventh," carolling a leave-taking of the
institution, of their instructress, and not even forgetting Mr.
Capps, the janitor.

"Good-bye, teacher! Good-bye, school!
Good-bye, Cappsie, dern ole fool!"

Penrod sang the loudest. For every boy, there is an age when
he "finds his voice." Penrod's had not "changed," but he had
found it. Inevitably that thing had come upon his family and the
neighbours; and his father, a somewhat dyspeptic man, quoted
frequently the expressive words of the "Lady of Shalott," but
there were others whose sufferings were as poignant.

Vacation-time warmed the young of the world to pleasant
languor; and a morning came that was like a brightly coloured
picture in a child's fairy story. Miss Margaret Schofield,
reclining in a hammock upon the front porch, was beautiful in the
eyes of a newly made senior, well favoured and in fair raiment,
beside her. A guitar rested lightly upon his knee, and he was
trying to play--a matter of some difficulty, as the floor of the
porch also seemed inclined to be musical. From directly under
his feet came a voice of song, shrill, loud, incredibly piercing
and incredibly flat, dwelling upon each syllable with
incomprehensible reluctance to leave it.

"I have lands and earthly pow-wur.
I'd give all for a now-wur,
Whi-ilst setting at MY-Y-Y dear old mother's knee-ee,
So-o-o rem-mem-bur whilst you're young----"

Miss Schofield stamped heartily upon the musical floor.

"It's Penrod," she explained. "The lattice at the end of the
porch is loose, and he crawls under and comes out all bugs.
He's been having a dreadful singing fit lately--running away to
picture shows and vaudeville, I suppose."

Mr. Robert Williams looked upon her yearningly. He touched a
thrilling chord on his guitar and leaned nearer. "But you said
you have missed me," he began. I----"

The voice of Penrod drowned all other sounds.

"So-o-o rem-mem-bur, whi-i-ilst you're young,
That the day-a-ys to you will come,
When you're o-o-old and only in the way,
Do not scoff at them BEE-cause----"

"PENROD!" Miss Schofield stamped again.

"You DID say you'd missed me," said Mr. Robert Williams,
seizing hurriedly upon the silence. "Didn't you say----"

A livelier tune rose upward.

"Oh, you talk about your fascinating beauties,
Of your dem-O-zells, your belles,
But the littil dame I met, while in the city,
She's par excellaws the queen of all the swells.
She's sweeter far----"

Margaret rose and jumped up and down repeatedly in a well-
calculated area, whereupon the voice of Penrod cried chokedly,
"QUIT that!" and there were subterranean coughings and
sneezings.

"You want to choke a person to death?" he inquired severely,
appearing at the end of the porch, a cobweb upon his brow. And,
continuing, he put into practice a newly acquired phrase,
"You better learn to be more considerick of other people's
comfort."

Slowly and grievedly he withdrew, passed to the sunny side of
the house, reclined in the warm grass beside his wistful Duke,
and presently sang again.

"She's sweeter far than the flower I named her after,
And the memery of her smile it haunts me YET!
When in after years the moon is soffly beamun'
And at eve I smell the smell of mignonette
I will re-CALL that----"

"Pen-ROD!"

Mr. Schofield appeared at an open window upstairs, a book in
his hand.

"Stop it!" he commanded. "Can't I stay home with a headache
ONE morning from the office without having to listen to--I
never DID hear such squawking!" He retired from the window,
having too impulsively called upon his Maker. Penrod, shocked
and injured, entered the house, but presently his voice was again
audible as far as the front porch. He was holding converse with
his mother, somewhere in the interior.

"Well, what of it? Sam Williams told me his mother said if
Bob ever did think of getting married to Margaret, his mother
said she'd like to know what in the name o' goodness they expect
to----"

Bang! Margaret thought it better to close the front door.

The next minute Penrod opened it. "I suppose you want the
whole family to get a sunstroke," he said reprovingly. "Keepin'
every breath of air out o' the house on a day like this!"

And he sat down implacably in the doorway.

The serious poetry of all languages has omitted the little
brother; and yet he is one of the great trials of love--the
immemorial burden of courtship. Tragedy should have found place
for him, but he has been left to the haphazard vignettist of Grub
Street. He is the grave and real menace of lovers; his head is
sacred and terrible, his power illimitable. There is one way--
only one--to deal with him; but Robert Williams, having a brother
of Penrod's age, understood that way.

Robert had one dollar in the world. He gave it to Penrod
immediately.

Enslaved forever, the new Rockefeller rose and went forth
upon the highway, an overflowing heart bursting the floodgates of
song.

"In her eyes the light of love was soffly gleamun',
So sweetlay,
So neatlay.
On the banks the moon's soff light was brightly streamun',
Words of love I then spoke TO her.
She was purest of the PEW-er:
`Littil sweetheart, do not sigh,
Do not weep and do not cry.
I will build a littil cottige just for yew-EW-EW and I.'"

In fairness, it must be called to mind that boys older than
Penrod have these wellings of pent melody; a wife can never tell
when she is to undergo a musical morning, and even the golden
wedding brings her no security, a man of ninety is liable to
bust-loose in song, any time.

Invalids murmured pitifully as Penrod came within hearing;
and people trying to think cursed the day that they were born,
when he went shrilling by. His hands in his pockets, his shining
face uplifted to the sky of June, he passed down the street,
singing his way into the heart's deepest hatred of all who heard
him.

"One evuning I was sturow-ling
Midst the city of the DEAD,
I viewed where all a-round me
Their PEACE-full graves was SPREAD.
But that which touched me mostlay----"

He had reached his journey's end, a junk-dealer's shop
wherein lay the long-desired treasure of his soul--an accordion
which might have possessed a high quality of interest for an
antiquarian, being unquestionably a ruin, beautiful in decay, and
quite beyond the sacrilegious reach of the restorer. But it was
still able to disgorge sounds--loud, strange, compelling sounds,
which could be heard for a remarkable distance in all directions;
and it had one rich calf-like tone that had gone to Penrod's
heart. He obtained the instrument for twenty-two cents, a
price long since agreed upon with the junk-dealer, who
falsely claimed a loss of profit, Shylock that he was! He had
found the wreck in an alley.

With this purchase suspended from his shoulder by a faded
green cord, Penrod set out in a somewhat homeward direction, but
not by the route he had just travelled, though his motive for the
change was not humanitarian. It was his desire to display
himself thus troubadouring to the gaze of Marjorie Jones.
Heralding his advance by continuous experiments in the music of
the future, he pranced upon his blithesome way, the faithful Duke
at his heels. (It was easier for Duke than it would have been
for a younger dog, because, with advancing age, he had begun to
grow a little deaf.)

Turning the corner nearest to the glamoured mansion of the
Joneses, the boy jongleur came suddenly face to face with
Marjorie, and, in the delicious surprise of the encounter, ceased
to play, his hands, in agitation, falling from the instrument.

Bareheaded, the sunshine glorious upon her amber curls,
Marjorie was strolling hand-in-hand with her baby brother,
Mitchell, four years old. She wore pink that day--unforgettable
pink, with a broad, black patent-leather belt, shimmering
reflections dancing upon its surface. How beautiful she was!
How sacred the sweet little baby brother, whose privilege it was
to cling to that small hand, delicately powdered with freckles.

"Hello, Marjorie," said Penrod, affecting carelessness.

"Hello!" said Marjorie, with unexpected cordiality. She
bent over her baby brother with motherly affectations. "Say
`howdy' to the gentymuns, Mitchy-Mitch," she urged sweetly,
turning him to face Penrod.

"WON'T!" said Mitchy-Mitch, and, to emphasize his
refusal, kicked the gentymuns upon the shin.

Penrod's feelings underwent instant change, and in the sole
occupation of disliking Mitchy-Mitch, he wasted precious seconds
which might have been better employed in philosophic
consideration of the startling example, just afforded, of how a
given law operates throughout the universe in precisely the same
manner perpetually. Mr. Robert Williams would have understood
this, easily.

"Oh, oh!" Marjorie cried, and put Mitchy-Mitch behind her
with too much sweetness. "Maurice Levy's gone to Atlantic City
with his mamma," she remarked conversationally, as if the kicking
incident were quite closed.

"That's nothin'," returned Penrod, keeping his eye uneasily
upon Mitchy-Mitch. "I know plenty people been better places than
that--Chicago and everywhere."

There was unconscious ingratitude in his low rating of
Atlantic City, for it was largely to the attractions of that
resort he owed Miss Jones' present attitude of friendliness.

Of course, too, she was curious about the accordion. It would be
dastardly to hint that she had noticed a paper bag which bulged
the pocket of Penrod's coat, and yet this bag was undeniably
conspicuous--"and children are very like grown people sometimes!"

Penrod brought forth the bag, purchased on the way at a drug
store, and till this moment UNOPENED, which expresses in a
word the depth of his sentiment for Marjorie. It contained an
abundant fifteen-cents' worth of lemon drops, jaw-breakers,
licorice sticks, cinnamon drops, and shopworn choclate creams.

"Take all you want," he said, with off-hand generosity.

"Why, Penrod Schofield," exclaimed the wholly thawed damsel,
"you nice boy!"

"Oh, that's nothin'," he returned airily. "I got a good deal
of money, nowadays."

"Where from?"

"Oh--just around." With a cautious gesture he offered a jaw-
breaker to Mitchy-Mitch, who snatched it indignantly and set
about its absorption without delay.

"Can you play on that?" asked Marjorie, with some difficulty,
her cheeks being rather too hilly for conversation.

"Want to hear me?"

She nodded, her eyes sweet with anticipation.

This was what he had come for. He threw back his head,
lifted his eyes dreamily, as he had seen real musicians lift
theirs, and distended the accordion preparing to produce the
wonderful calf-like noise which was the instrument's great charm.

But the distention evoked a long wail which was at once drowned
in another one.

"Ow! Owowaoh! Wowohah! WaowWOW!" shrieked Mitchy-Mitch
and the accordion together.

Mitchy-Mitch, to emphasize his disapproval of the accordion,
opening his mouth still wider, lost therefrom the jaw-breaker,
which rolled in the dust. Weeping, he stooped to retrieve it,
and Marjorie, to prevent him, hastily set her foot upon it.
Penrod offered another jaw-breaker; but Mitchy-Mitch struck it
from his hand, desiring the former, which had convinced him of
its sweetness.

Marjorie moved inadvertently; whereupon Mitchy-Mitch pounced
upon the remains of his jaw-breaker and restored them, with
accretions, to his mouth. His sister, uttering a cry of horror,
sprang to the rescue, assisted by Penrod, whom she prevailed upon
to hold Mitchy-Mitch's mouth open while she excavated. This
operation being completed, and Penrod's right thumb severely
bitten, Mitchy-Mitch closed his eyes tightly, stamped, squealed,
bellowed, wrung his hands, and then, unexpectedly, kicked Penrod
again.

Penrod put a hand in his pocket and drew forth a copper
two-cent piece, large, round, and fairly bright.

He gave it to Mitchy-Mitch.

Mitchy-Mitch immediately stopped crying and gazed upon his
benefactor with the eyes of a dog.

This world!

Thereafter did Penrod--with complete approval from Mitchy-
Mitch--play the accordion for his lady to his heart's content,
and hers. Never had he so won upon her; never had she let him
feel so close to her before. They strolled up and down upon the
sidewalk, eating, one thought between them, and soon she had
learned to play the accordion almost as well as he. So passed a
happy hour, which the Good King Rene of Anjou would have envied
them, while Mitchy-Mitch made friends with Duke, romped about his
sister and her swain, and clung to the hand of the latter, at
intervals, with fondest affection and trust.

The noon whistles failed to disturb this little Arcady; only
the sound of Mrs. Jones' voice for the third time summoning
Marjorie and Mitchy-Mitch to lunch--sent Penrod on his way.

"I could come back this afternoon, I guess," he said, in
parting.

"I'm not goin' to be here. I'm goin' to Baby Rennsdale's
party."

Penrod looked blank, as she intended he should. Having thus
satisfied herself, she added:

"There aren't goin' to be any boys there."

He was instantly radiant again.

"Marjorie----"

"Hum?"

"Do you wish I was goin' to be there?"

She looked shy, and turned away her head.

"MARJORIE JONES!" (This was a voice from home.) "HOW
MANY MORE TIMES SHALL I HAVE TO CALL YOU?"

Marjorie moved away, her face still hidden from Penrod.

"Do you?" he urged.

At the gate, she turned quickly toward him, and said over her
shoulder, all in a breath: "Yes! Come again to-morrow morning
and I'll be on the corner. Bring your 'cordion!"

And she ran into the house, Mitchy-Mitch waving a loving hand
to the boy on the sidewalk until the front door closed.

CHAPTER XIX
THE INNER BOY

Penrod went home in splendour, pretending that he and Duke were a
long procession; and he made enough noise to render the auricular
part of the illusion perfect. His own family were already at the
lunch-table when he arrived, and the parade halted only at the
door of the dining-room.

"Oh SOMETHING!" shouted Mr. Schofield, clasping his
bilious brow with both hands. "Stop that noise! Isn't it awful
enough for you to SING? Sit DOWN! Not with that thing
on! Take that green rope off your shoulder! Now take that thing
out of the dining-room and throw it in the ash-can!
Where did you get it?"

"Where did I get what, papa?" asked Penrod meekly, depositing
the accordion in the hall just outside the dining-room door.

"That da--that third-hand concertina."

"It's a 'cordian," said Penrod, taking his place at the
table, and noticing that both Margaret and Mr. Robert Williams
(who happened to be a guest) were growing red.

"I don't care what you call it," said Mr. Schofield
irritably. "I want to know where you got it."

Penrod's eyes met Margaret's: hers had a strained expression.

She very slightly shook her head. Penrod sent Mr. Williams a
grateful look, and might have been startled if he could have seen
himself in a mirror at that moment; for he regarded Mitchy-Mitch
with concealed but vigorous aversion and the resemblance would
have horrified him.

"A man gave it to me," he answered gently, and was rewarded
by the visibly regained ease of his patron's manner, while
Margaret leaned back in her chair and looked at her brother with
real devotion.

"I should think he'd have been glad to," said Mr. Schofield.
"Who was he?"

"Sir?" In spite of the candy which he had consumed in
company with Marjorie and Mitchy-Mitch, Penrod had begun to
eat lobster croquettes earnestly.

"Who WAS he?"

"Who do you mean, papa?"

"The man that gave you that ghastly Thing!"

"Yessir. A man gave it to me."

"I say, Who WAS he?" shouted Mr. Schofield.

"Well, I was just walking along, and the man came up to me--it
was right down in front of Colgate's, where most of the paint's
rubbed off the fence----"

"Penrod!" The father used his most dangerous tone.

"Sir?"

"Who was the man that gave you the concertina?"

"I don't know. I was walking along----"

"You never saw him before?"

"No, sir. I was just walk----"

"That will do," said Mr. Schofield, rising. "I suppose every
family has its secret enemies and this was one of ours. I must
ask to be excused!"

With that, he went out crossly, stopping in the hall a moment
before passing beyond hearing. And, after lunch, Penrod sought
in vain for his accordion; he even searched the library where his
father sat reading, though, upon inquiry, Penrod explained that
he was looking for a misplaced schoolbook. He thought he ought
to study a little every day, he said, even during vacation-time.
Much pleased, Mr. Schofield rose and joined the search,
finding the missing work on mathematics with singular ease--which
cost him precisely the price of the book the following September.

Penrod departed to study in the backyard. There, after a
cautious survey of the neighbourhood, he managed to dislodge the
iron cover of the cistern, and dropped the arithmetic within. A
fine splash rewarded his listening ear. Thus assured that when
he looked for that book again no one would find it for him, he
replaced the cover, and betook himself pensively to the highway,
discouraging Duke from following by repeated volleys of stones,
some imaginary and others all too real.

Distant strains of brazen horns and the throbbing of drums
were borne to him upon the kind breeze, reminding him that the
world was made for joy, and that the Barzee and Potter Dog and
Pony Show was exhibiting in a banlieue not far away. So, thither
he bent his steps--the plentiful funds in his pocket burning hot
holes all the way. He had paid twenty-two cents for the
accordion, and fifteen for candy; he had bought the mercenary
heart of Mitchy-Mitch for two: it certainly follows that there
remained to him of his dollar, sixty-one cents--a fair fortune,
and most unusual.

Arrived upon the populous and festive scene of the Dog and
Pony Show, he first turned his attention to the brightly
decorated booths which surrounded the tent. The cries of
the peanut vendors, of the popcorn men, of the toy-balloon
sellers, the stirring music of the band, playing before the
performance to attract a crowd, the shouting of excited children
and the barking of the dogs within the tent, all sounded
exhilaratingly in Penrod's ears and set his blood a-tingle.
Nevertheless, he did not squander his money or fling it to the
winds in one grand splurge. Instead, he began cautiously with
the purchase of an extraordinarily large pickle, which he
obtained from an aged negress for his odd cent, too obvious a
bargain to be missed. At an adjacent stand he bought a glass of
raspberry lemonade (so alleged) and sipped it as he ate the
pickle. He left nothing of either.

Next, he entered a small restaurant-tent and for a modest
nickel was supplied with a fork and a box of sardines, previously
opened, it is true, but more than half full. He consumed the
sardines utterly, but left the tin box and the fork, after which
he indulged in an inexpensive half-pint of lukewarm cider, at one
of the open booths. Mug in hand, a gentle glow radiating toward
his surface from various centres of activity deep inside him, he
paused for breath--and the cool, sweet cadences of the watermelon
man fell delectably upon his ear:

"Ice-cole WATER-melon; ice-cole water-MELON; the
biggest slice of ICE-cole, ripe, red, ICE-cole, rich an'
rare; the biggest slice of ice-cole watermelon ever cut by
the hand of man! BUY our ICE-cole water-melon?"

Penrod, having drained the last drop of cider, complied with
the watermelon man's luscious entreaty, and received a round
slice of the fruit, magnificent in circumference and something
over an inch in thickness. Leaving only the really dangerous
part of the rind behind him, he wandered away from the vicinity
of the watermelon man and supplied himself with a bag of peanuts,
which, with the expenditure of a dime for admission, left a
quarter still warm in his pocket. However, he managed to "break"
the coin at a stand inside the tent, where a large, oblong paper
box of popcorn was handed him, with twenty cents change. The box
was too large to go into his pocket, but, having seated himself
among some wistful Polack children, he placed it in his lap and
devoured the contents at leisure during the performance. The
popcorn was heavily larded with partially boiled molasses, and
Penrod sandwiched mouthfuls of peanuts with gobs of this mass
until the peanuts were all gone. After that, he ate with less
avidity; a sense almost of satiety beginning to manifest itself
to him, and it was not until the close of the performance that he
disposed of the last morsel.

He descended a little heavily to the outflowing crowd in the
arena, and bought a caterwauling toy balloon, but showed no great
enthusiasm in manipulating it. Near the exit, as he came
out, was a hot-waffle stand which he had overlooked, and a sense
of duty obliged him to consume the three waffles, thickly
powdered with sugar, which the waffle man cooked for him upon
command.

They left a hottish taste in his mouth; they had not been
quite up to his anticipation, indeed, and it was with a sense of
relief that he turned to the "hokey-pokey" cart which stood close
at hand, laden with square slabs of "Neapolitan ice-cream"
wrapped in paper. He thought the ice-cream would be cooling, but
somehow it fell short of the desired effect, and left a peculiar
savour in his throat.

He walked away, too languid to blow his balloon, and passed a
fresh-taffy booth with strange indifference. A bare-armed man
was manipulating the taffy over a hook, pulling a great white
mass to the desired stage of "candying," but Penrod did not pause
to watch the operation; in fact, he averted his eyes (which were
slightly glazed) in passing. He did not analyze his motives:
simply, he was conscious that he preferred not to look at the
mass of taffy.

For some reason, he put a considerable distance between
himself and the taffy-stand, but before long halted in the
presence of a red-faced man who flourished a long fork over a
small cooking apparatus and shouted jovially: "Winnies!
HERE'S your hot winnies! Hot winny-WURST! Food for the
over-worked brain, nourishing for the weak stummick,
entertaining for the tired business man! HERE'S your hot
winnies, three for a nickel, a half-a-dime, the twentieth-pot-of-
a-dollah!"

This, above all nectar and ambrosia, was the favourite dish
of Penrod Schofield. Nothing inside him now craved it--on the
contrary! But memory is the great hypnotist; his mind argued
against his inwards that opportunity knocked at his door: "winny-
wurst" was rigidly forbidden by the home authorities. Besides,
there was a last nickel in his pocket; and nature protested
against its survival. Also, the redfaced man had himself
proclaimed his wares nourishing for the weak stummick.

Penrod placed the nickel in the red hand of the red-faced
man.

He ate two of the three greasy, cigarlike shapes cordially
pressed upon him in return. The first bite convinced him that he
had made a mistake; these winnies seemed of a very inferior
flavour, almost unpleasant, in fact. But he felt obliged to
conceal his poor opinion of them, for fear of offending the red-
faced man. He ate without haste or eagerness--so slowly, indeed,
that he began to think the redfaced man might dislike him, as a
deterrent of trade. Perhaps Penrod's mind was not working well,
for he failed to remember that no law compelled him to remain
under the eye of the red-faced man, but the virulent repulsion
excited by his attempt to take a bite of the third sausage
inspired him with at least an excuse for postponement.

"Mighty good," he murmured feebly, placing the sausage in the
pocket of his jacket with a shaking hand. "Guess I'll save this
one to eat at home, after--after dinner."

He moved sluggishly away, wishing he had not thought of
dinner. A side-show, undiscovered until now, failed to arouse
his interest, not even exciting a wish that he had known of its
existence when he had money. For a time he stared without
attraction; the weather-worn colours conveying no meaning to
comprehension at a huge canvas poster depicting the chief his
torpid eye. Then, little by little, the poster became more vivid
to his consciousness. There was a greenish-tinted person in the
tent, it seemed, who thrived upon a reptilian diet.

Suddenly, Penrod decided that it was time to go home.

CHAPTER XX
BROTHERS OF ANGELS

"Indeed, doctor," said Mrs. Schofield, with agitation and
profound conviction, just after eight o'clock that evening, "I
shall ALWAYS believe in mustard plasters--mustard plasters and
hot--water bags. If it hadn't been for them I don't believed
he'd have LIVED till you got here--I do NOT!"

"Margaret," called Mr. Schofield from the open door of a
bedroom, "Margaret, where did you put that aromatic ammonia?
Where's Margaret?"

But he had to find the aromatic spirits of ammonia himself,
for Margaret was not in the house. She stood in the shadow
beneath a maple tree near the street corner, a guitar-
case in her hand; and she scanned with anxiety a briskly
approaching figure. The arc light, swinging above, revealed this
figure as that of him she awaited. He was passing toward the
gate without seeing her, when she arrested him with a fateful
whisper.

"BOB!"

Mr. Robert Williams swung about hastily. "Why, Margaret!"

"Here, take your guitar," she whispered hurriedly. "I was
afraid if father happened to find it he'd break it all to
pieces!"

"What for?" asked the startled Robert.

"Because I'm sure he knows it's yours." "But what----"

"Oh, Bob," she moaned, "I was waiting here to tell you. I
was so afraid you'd try to come in----"

"TRY!" exclaimed the unfortunate young man, quite
dumfounded. "TRY to come----"

"Yes, before I warned you. I've been waiting here to tell
you, Bob, you mustn't come near the house if I were you I'd stay
away from even this neighbourhood--far away! For a while I don't
think it would be actually SAFE for----"

"Margaret, will you please----"

"It's all on account of that dollar you gave Penrod this
morning," she walled. "First, he bought that horrible concertina
that made papa so furious "But Penrod didn't tell that
I----"

"Oh, wait!" she cried lamentably. "Listen! He didn't tell
at lunch, but he got home about dinner-time in the most--well!
I've seen pale people before, but nothing like Penrod. Nobody
could IMAGINE it--not unless they'd seen him! And he looked,
so STRANGE, and kept making such unnatural faces, and at
first all he would say was that he'd eaten a little piece of
apple and thought it must have some microbes on it. But he got
sicker and sicker, and we put him to bed--and then we all thought
he was going to die--and, of COURSE, no little piece of apple
would have--well, and he kept getting worse and then he said he'd
had a dollar. He said he'd spent it for the concertina, and
watermelon, and chocolate-creams, and licorice sticks, and lemon-
drops, and peanuts, and jaw-breakers, and sardines, and raspberry
lemonade, and pickles, and popcorn, and ice-cream, and cider, and
sausage--there was sausage in his pocket, and mamma says his
jacket is ruined--and cinnamon drops--and waffles--and he ate
four or five lobster croquettes at lunch--and papa said, `Who
gave you that dollar?' Only he didn't say `WHO'--he said
something horrible, Bob! And Penrod thought he was going to die,
and he said you gave it to him, and oh! it was just pitiful to
hear the poor child, Bob, because he thought he was dying, you
see, and he blamed you for the whole thing. He said if you'd
only let him alone and not given it to him, he'd have grown
up to be a good man--and now he couldn't! I never heard anything
so heart-rending--he was so weak he could hardly whisper, but he
kept trying to talk, telling us over and over it was all your
fault."

In the darkness Mr. Williams' facial expression could not be
seen, but his voice sounded hopeful.

"Is he--is he still in a great deal of pain?"

"They say the crisis is past," said Margaret, "but the
doctor's still up there. He said it was the acutest case of
indigestion he had ever treated in the whole course of his
professional practice."

"Of course _I_ didn't know what he'd do with the dollar,"
said Robert.

She did not reply.

He began plaintively, "Margaret, you don't----"

"I've never seen papa and mamma so upset about anything," she
said, rather primly.

"You mean they're upset about ME?"

"We ARE all very much upset," returned Margaret, more
starch in her tone as she remembered not only Penrod's sufferings
but a duty she had vowed herself to perform.

"Margaret! YOU don't----"

"Robert," she said firmly and, also, with a rhetorical
complexity which breeds a suspicion of pre-rehearsal--"Robert,
for the present I can only look at it in one way: when you gave
that money to Penrod you put into the hands of an unthinking
little child a weapon which might be, and, indeed was, the means
of his undoing. Boys are not respon----"

"But you saw me give him the dollar, and you didn't----"

"Robert!" she checked him with increasing severity. "I am
only a woman and not accustomed to thinking everything out on the
spur of the moment; but I cannot change my mind. Not now, at
least."

"And you think I'd better not come in to-night?"

"To-night!" she gasped. "Not for WEEKS! Papa would----"

"But Margaret," he urged plaintively, "how can you blame me
for----"

"I have not used the word `blame,'" she interrupted. "But I
must insist that for your carelessness to--to wreak such havoc--
cannot fail to--to lessen my confidence in your powers of
judgment. I cannot change my convictions in this matter--not to-
night--and I cannot remain here another instant. The poor child
may need me. Robert, good-night."

With chill dignity she withdrew, entered the house, and
returned to the sick-room, leaving the young man in outer
darkness to brood upon his crime--and upon Penrod.

That sincere invalid became convalescent upon the third day;
and a week elapsed, then, before he found an opportunity to
leave the house unaccompanied--save by Duke. But at last he set
forth and approached the Jones neighbourhood in high spirits,
pleasantly conscious of his pallor, hollow cheeks, and other
perquisites of illness provocative of interest.

One thought troubled him a little because it gave him a sense
of inferiority to a rival. He believed, against his will, that
Maurice Levy could have successfully eaten chocolate-creams,
licorice sticks, lemon-drops, jaw-breakers, peanuts, waffles,
lobster croquettes, sardines, cinnamon-drops, watermelon,
pickles, popcorn, ice-cream and sausage with raspberry lemonade
and cider. Penrod had admitted to himself that Maurice could do
it and afterward attend to business, or pleasure, without the
slightest discomfort; and this was probably no more than a fair
estimate of one of the great constitutions of all time. As a
digester, Maurice Levy would have disappointed a Borgia.

Fortunately, Maurice was still at Atlantic City--and now the
convalescent's heart leaped. In the distance he saw Marjorie
coming--in pink again, with a ravishing little parasol over her
head. And alone! No Mitchy-Mitch was to mar this meeting.

Penrod increased the feebleness of his steps, now and then
leaning upon the fence as if for support.

"How do you do, Marjorie?" he said, in his best sick-room
voice, as she came near.

To his pained amazement, she proceeded on her way, her nose
at a celebrated elevation--an icy nose.

She cut him dead.

He threw his invalid's airs to the winds, and hastened after
her.

"Marjorie," he pleaded, "what's the matter? Are you mad?
Honest, that day you said to come back next morning, and you'd be
on the corner, I was sick. Honest, I was AWFUL sick,
Marjorie! I had to have the doctor----"

"DOCTOR!" She whirled upon him, her lovely eyes blazing.

"I guess WE'VE had to have the doctor enough at OUR
house, thanks to you, Mister Penrod Schofield. Papa says you
haven't got NEAR sense enough to come in out of the rain,
after what you did to poor little Mitchy-Mitch----"

"What?"

"Yes, and he's sick in bed YET!" Marjorie went on, with
unabated fury. "And papa says if he ever catches you in this
part of town----"

"WHAT'D I do to Mitchy-Mitch?" gasped Penrod.

"You know well enough what you did to Mitchy-Mitch!" she
cried. "You gave him that great, big, nasty two-cent piece!"

"Well, what of it?"

"Mitchy-Mitch swallowed it!"

"What!"

"And papa says if he ever just lays eyes on you, once, in
this neighbourhood----"

But Penrod had started for home.

In his embittered heart there was increasing a critical
disapproval of the Creator's methods. When He made pretty girls,
thought Penrod, why couldn't He have left out their little
brothers!

CHAPTER XXI
RUPE COLLINS

For several days after this, Penrod thought of growing up to be a
monk, and engaged in good works so far as to carry some kittens
(that otherwise would have been drowned) and a pair of Margaret's
outworn dancing-slippers to a poor, ungrateful old man sojourning
in a shed up the alley. And although Mr. Robert Williams, after
a very short interval, began to leave his guitar on the front
porch again, exactly as if he thought nothing had happened,
Penrod, with his younger vision of a father's mood, remained
coldly distant from the Jones neighbourhood. With his own family
his manner was gentle, proud and sad, but not for long
enough to frighten them. The change came with mystifying
abruptness at the end of the week.

It was Duke who brought it about.

Duke could chase a much bigger dog out of the Schofields'
yard and far down the street. This might be thought to indicate
unusual valour on the part of Duke and cowardice on that of the
bigger dogs whom he undoubtedly put to rout. On the contrary,
all such flights were founded in mere superstition, for dogs are
even more superstitious than boys and coloured people; and the
most firmly established of all dog superstitions is that any
dog--be he the smallest and feeblest in the world--can whip any
trespasser whatsoever.

A rat-terrier believes that on his home grounds he can whip
an elephant. It follows, of course, that a big dog, away from
his own home, will run from a little dog in the little dog's
neighbourhood. Otherwise, the big dog must face a charge of
inconsistency, and dogs are as consistent as they are
superstitious. A dog believes in war, but he is convinced that
there are times when it is moral to run; and the thoughtful
physiognomist, seeing a big dog fleeing out of a little dog's
yard, must observe that the expression of the big dog's face is
more conscientious than alarmed: it is the expression of a person
performing a duty to himself.

Penrod understood these matters perfectly; he knew that
the gaunt brown hound Duke chased up the alley had fled only out
of deference to a custom, yet Penrod could not refrain from
bragging of Duke to the hound's owner, a fat-faced stranger of
twelve or thirteen, who had wandered into the neighbourhood.

"You better keep that ole yellow dog o' yours back," said
Penrod ominously, as he climbed the fence. "You better catch him
and hold him till I get mine inside the yard again. Duke's
chewed up some pretty bad bulldogs around here."

The fat-faced boy gave Penrod a fishy stare. "You'd oughta
learn him not to do that," he said. "It'll make him sick."

"What will?"

The stranger laughed raspingly and gazed up the alley, where
the hound, having come to a halt, now coolly sat down, and, with
an expression of roguish benevolence, patronizingly watched the
tempered fury of Duke, whose assaults and barkings were becoming
perfunctory.

"What'll make Duke sick?" Penrod demanded.

"Eatin' dead bulldogs people leave around here."

This was not improvisation but formula, adapted from other
occasions to the present encounter; nevertheless, it was new to
Penrod, and he was so taken with it that resentment lost itself
in admiration. Hastily committing the gem to memory for use upon
a dog-owning friend, he inquired in a sociable tone:

"What's your dog's name?"

"Dan. You better call your ole pup, 'cause Dan eats LIVE
dogs."

Dan's actions poorly supported his master's assertion, for,
upon Duke's ceasing to bark, Dan rose and showed the most
courteous interest in making the little, old dog's acquaintance.
Dan had a great deal of manner, and it became plain that Duke was
impressed favourably in spite of former prejudice, so that
presently the two trotted amicably back to their masters and sat
down with the harmonious but indifferent air of having known each
other intimately for years.

They were received without comment, though both boys looked
at them reflectively for a time. It was Penrod who spoke first.

"What number you go to?" (In an "oral lesson in English,"
Penrod had been instructed to put this question in another form:
"May I ask which of our public schools you attend?")

"Me? What number do I go to?" said the stranger,
contemptuously. "I don't go to NO number in vacation!"

"I mean when it ain't."

"Third," returned the fat-faced boy. "I got 'em ALL
scared in THAT school."

"What of?" innocently asked Penrod, to whom "the Third"--in a
distant part of town--was undiscovered country.

"What of? I guess you'd soon see what of, if you ever
was in that school about one day. You'd be lucky if you got out
alive!"

"Are the teachers mean?"

The other boy frowned with bitter scorn. "Teachers!
Teachers don't order ME around, I can tell you! They're
mighty careful how they try to run over Rupe Collins."

"Who's Rupe Collins?"

"Who is he?" echoed the fat-faced boy incredulously. "Say,
ain't you got ANY sense?"

"What?"

"Say, wouldn't you be just as happy if you had SOME
sense?"

"Ye-es." Penrod's answer, like the look he lifted to the
impressive stranger, was meek and placative. "Rupe Collins is
the principal at your school, guess."

The other yelled with jeering laughter, and mocked Penrod's
manner and voice. "`Rupe Collins is the principal at your
school, I guess!'" He laughed harshly again, then suddenly
showed truculence. "Say, 'bo, whyn't you learn enough to go in
the house when it rains? What's the matter of you, anyhow?"

"Well," urged Penrod timidly, "nobody ever TOLD me who
Rupe Collins is: I got a RIGHT to think he's the principal,
haven't I?"

The fat-faced boy shook his head disgustedly. "Honest, you
make me sick!"

Penrod's expression became one of despair. Well, who IS
he?" he cried.

"`Who IS he?'" mocked the other, with a scorn that
withered. "`Who IS he?' ME!"

"Oh!" Penrod was humiliated but relieved: he felt that he had
proved himself criminally ignorant, yet a peril seemed to have
passed. "Rupe Collins is your name, then, I guess. I kind of
thought it was, all the time."

The fat-faced boy still appeared embittered, burlesquing this
speech in a hateful falsetto. "`Rupe Collins is YOUR name,
then, I guess!' Oh, you `kind of thought it was, all the time,'
did you?" Suddenly concentrating his brow into a histrionic
scowl he thrust his face within an inch of Penrod's. "Yes,
sonny, Rupe Collins is my name, and you better look out what you
say when he's around or you'll get in big trouble! YOU
UNDERSTAND THAT, 'BO?"

Penrod was cowed but fascinated: he felt that there was
something dangerous and dashing about this newcomer.

"Yes," he said, feebly, drawing back. "My name's Penrod
Schofield."

"Then I reckon your father and mother ain't got good sense,"
said Mr. Collins promptly, this also being formula.

"Why?"

"'Cause if they had they'd of give you a good name!" And the
agreeable youth instantly rewarded himself for the wit with
another yell of rasping laughter, after which he pointed suddenly
at Penrod's right hand.

"Where'd you get that wart on your finger?" he demanded
severely.

"Which finger?" asked the mystified Penrod, extending his
hand.

"The middle one."

"Where?"

"There!" exclaimed Rupe Collins, seizing and vigorously
twisting the wartless finger naively offered for his inspection.

"Quit!" shouted Penrod in agony. "QUEE-yut!"

"Say your prayers!" commanded Rupe, and continued to twist
the luckless finger until Penrod writhed to his knees.

"OW!" The victim, released, looked grievously upon the
still painful finger.

At this Rupe's scornful expression altered to one of
contrition. "Well, I declare!" he exclaimed remorsefully. "I
didn't s'pose it would hurt. Turn about's fair play; so now you
do that to me."

He extended the middle finger of his left hand and Penrod
promptly seized it, but did not twist it, for he was instantly
swung round with his back to his amiable new acquaintance: Rupe's
right hand operated upon the back of Penrod's slender neck;
Rupe's knee tortured the small of Penrod's back.

"OW!" Penrod bent far forward involuntarily and went to
his knees again.

"Lick dirt," commanded Rupe, forcing the captive's face to
the sidewalk; and the suffering Penrod completed this ceremony.

Mr. Collins evinced satisfaction by means of his horse laugh.

"You'd last jest about one day up at the Third!" he said. "You'd
come runnin' home, yellin' `MOM-MUH, MOM-muh,' before recess
was over!"

"No, I wouldn't," Penrod protested rather weakly, dusting his
knees.

"You would, too!"

"No, I w----

"Looky here," said the fat-faced boy, darkly, "what you mean,
counterdicking me?"

He advanced a step and Penrod hastily qualified his
contradiction.

"I mean, I don't THINK I would. I----"

"You better look out!" Rupe moved closer, and unexpectedly
grasped the back of Penrod's neck again. "Say, `I WOULD run
home yellin' "MOM-muh!"

"Ow! I WOULD run home yellin' `Mom-muh.'"

"There!" said Rupe, giving the helpless nape a final squeeze.
"That's the way we do up at the Third."

Penrod rubbed his neck and asked meekly:

"Can you do that to any boy up at the Third?"

"See here now," said Rupe, in the tone of one goaded beyond
all endurance, "YOU say if I can! You better say it quick,
or----"

"I knew you could," Penrod interposed hastily, with the
pathetic semblance of a laugh. "I only said that in fun."

"In `fun'!" repeated Rupe stormily. "You better look out how
you----"

"Well, I SAID I wasn't in earnest!" Penrod retreated a
few steps. "_I_ knew you could, all the time. I expect _I_
could do it to some of the boys up at the Third, myself.
Couldn't I?"

"No, you couldn't."

"Well, there must be SOME boy up there that I could----"

"No, they ain't! You better----"

"I expect not, then," said Penrod, quickly.

"You BETTER `expect not.' Didn't I tell you once you'd
never get back alive if you ever tried to come up around the
Third? You want me to SHOW you how we do up there, 'bo?"

He began a slow and deadly advance, whereupon Penrod timidly
offered a diversion:

"Say, Rupe, I got a box of rats in our stable under a glass
cover, so you can watch 'em jump around when you hammer on the
box. Come on and look at 'em."

"All right," said the fat-faced boy, slightly mollified.
"We'll let Dan kill 'em."

"No, SIR! I'm goin' to keep 'em. They're kind of pets;
I've had 'em all summer--I got names for em, and----"

"Looky here, 'bo. Did you hear me say we'll let `Dan kill
'em?"

"Yes, but I won't----"

"WHAT won't you?" Rupe became sinister immediately. "It
seems to me you're gettin' pretty fresh around here."

"Well, I don't want----"

Mr. Collins once more brought into play the dreadful eye-to-
eye scowl as practised "up at the Third," and, sometimes, also by
young leading men upon the stage. Frowning appallingly, and
thrusting forward his underlip, he placed his nose almost in
contact with the nose of Penrod, whose eyes naturally became
crossed.

"Dan kills the rats. See?" hissed the fat-faced boy,
maintaining the horrible juxtaposition.

"Well, all right," said Penrod, swallowing. "I don't want
'em much." And when the pose had been relaxed, he stared at his
new friend for a moment, almost with reverence. Then he
brightened.

"Come on, Rupe!" he cried enthusiastically, as he climbed the
fence. "We'll give our dogs a little live meat--'bo!"

CHAPTER XXII
THE IMITATOR

At the dinner-table, that evening, Penrod Surprised his family by
remarking, in a voice they had never heard him attempt--a law-
giving voice of intentional gruffness:

"Any man that's makin' a hunderd dollars a month is makin'
good money."

"What?" asked Mr. Schofield, staring, for the previous
conversation had concerned the illness of an infant relative in
Council Bluffs.

"Any man that's makin' a hunderd dollars a month is makin'
good money."

"What IS he talking about!" Margaret appealed to the
invisible.

"Well," said Penrod, frowning, "that's what foremen at the
ladder works get."

"How in the world do you know?" asked his mother.

"Well, I KNOW it! A hunderd dollars a month is good
money, I tell you!"

"Well, what of it?" said the father, impatiently.

"Nothin'. I only said it was good money."

Mr. Schofield shook his head, dismissing the subject; and
here he made a mistake: he should have followed up his son's
singular contribution to the conversation. That would have
revealed the fact that there was a certain Rupe Collins whose
father was a foreman at the ladder works. All clues are
important when a boy makes his first remark in a new key.

"`Good money'?" repeated Margaret, curiously. "What is
`good' money?"

Penrod turned upon her a stern glance. "Say, wouldn't you be
just as happy if you had SOME sense?"

"Penrod!" shouted his father. But Penrod's mother gazed with
dismay at her son: he had never before spoken like that to his
sister.

Mrs. Schofield might have been more dismayed than she was, if
she had realized that it was the beginning of an epoch. After
dinner, Penrod was slightly scalded in the back as the result of
telling Della, the cook, that there was a wart on the middle
finger of her right hand. Della thus proving poor material for
his new manner to work upon, he approached Duke, in the backyard,
and, bending double, seized the lowly animal by the forepaws.

"I let you know my name's Penrod Schofield," hissed the boy.
He protruded his underlip ferociously, scowled, and thrust
forward his head until his nose touched the dog's. "And you
better look out when Penrod Schofield's around, or you'll get in
big trouble! YOU UNDERSTAN' THAT, 'BO?"

The next day, and the next, the increasing change in Penrod
puzzled and distressed his family, who had no idea of its source.

How might they guess that hero-worship takes such forms? They
were vaguely conscious that a rather shabby boy, not of the
neighbourhood, came to "play" with Penrod several times; but they
failed to connect this circumstance with the peculiar behaviour
of the son of the house, whose ideals (his father remarked)
seemed to have suddenly become identical with those of Gyp the
Blood.

Meanwhile, for Penrod himself, "life had taken on new
meaning, new richness." He had become a fighting man--in
conversation at least. "Do you want to know how I do when they
try to slip up on me from behind?" he asked Della. And he
enacted for her unappreciative eye a scene of fistic manoeuvres
wherein he held an imaginary antagonist helpless in a net of
stratagems.

Frequently, when he was alone, he would outwit, and pummel
this same enemy, and, after a cunning feint, land a dolorous
stroke full upon a face of air. "There! I guess you'll know
better next time. That's the way we do up at the Third!"

Sometimes, in solitary pantomime, he encountered more than
one opponent at a time, for numbers were apt to come upon him
treacherously, especially at a little after his rising hour, when
he might be caught at a disadvantage--perhaps standing on one leg
to encase the other in his knickerbockers. Like lightning, he
would hurl the trapping garment from him, and, ducking and
pivoting, deal great sweeping blows among the circle of sneaking
devils. (That was how he broke the clock in his bedroom.) And
while these battles were occupying his attention, it was a waste
of voice to call him to breakfast, though if his mother, losing
patience, came to his room, she would find him seated on the bed
pulling at a stocking. "Well, ain't I coming fast as I CAN?"

At the table and about the house generally he was bumptious,
loud with fatuous misinformation, and assumed a domineering tone,
which neither satire nor reproof seemed able to reduce: but it
was among his own intimates that his new superiority was most
outrageous. He twisted the fingers and squeezed the necks of all
the boys of the neighbourhood, meeting their indignation with a
hoarse and rasping laugh he had acquired after short practice in
the stable, where he jeered and taunted the lawn-mower, the
garden-scythe and the wheelbarrow quite out of countenance.

Likewise he bragged to the other boys by the hour, Rupe
Collins being the chief subject of encomium--next to Penrod
himself. "That's the way we do up at the Third," became staple
explanation of violence, for Penrod, like Tartarin, was plastic
in the hands of his own imagination, and at times convinced
himself that he really was one of those dark and murderous
spirits exclusively of whom "the Third" was composed--according
to Rupe Collins.

Then, when Penrod had exhausted himself repeating to nausea
accounts of the prowess of himself and his great friend, he would
turn to two other subjects for vainglory. These were his father
and Duke.

Mothers must accept the fact that between babyhood and
manhood their sons do not boast of them. The boy, with boys, is
a Choctaw; and either the influence or the protection of women is
shameful. "Your mother won't let you," is an insult. But, "My
father won't let me," is a dignified explanation and cannot be
hooted. A boy is ruined among his fellows if he talks much of
his mother or sisters; and he must recognize it as his duty to
offer at least the appearance of persecution to all things ranked
as female, such as cats and every species of fowl. But he must
champion his father and his dog, and, ever, ready to pit
either against any challenger, must picture both as ravening for
battle and absolutely unconquerable.

Penrod, of course, had always talked by the code, but, under
the new stimulus, Duke was represented virtually as a cross
between Bob, Son of Battle, and a South American vampire; and
this in spite of the fact that Duke himself often sat close by, a
living lie, with the hope of peace in his heart. As for Penrod's
father, that gladiator was painted as of sentiments and
dimensions suitable to a super-demon composed of equal parts of
Goliath, Jack Johnson and the Emperor Nero.

Even Penrod's walk was affected; he adopted a gait which was
a kind of taunting swagger; and, when he passed other children on
the street, he practised the habit of feinting a blow; then, as
the victim dodged, he rasped the triumphant horse laugh which he
gradually mastered to horrible perfection. He did this to
Marjorie Jones--ay! this was their next meeting, and such is
Eros, young! What was even worse, in Marjorie's opinion, he went
on his way without explanation, and left her standing on the
corner talking about it, long after he was out of hearing.

Within five days from his first encounter with Rupe Collins,
Penrod had become unbearable. He even almost alienated Sam
Williams, who for a time submitted to finger twisting and neck
squeezing and the new style of conversation, but finally
declared that Penrod made him "sick." He made the statement with
fervour, one sultry afternoon, in Mr. Schofield's stable, in the
presence of Herman and Verman.

"You better look out, 'bo," said Penrod, threateningly.
"I'll show you a little how we do up at the Third."

"Up at the Third!" Sam repeated with scorn. "You haven't
ever been up there."

"I haven't?" cried Penrod. "I HAVEN'T?"

"No, you haven't!"

"Looky here!" Penrod, darkly argumentative, prepared to
perform the eye-to-eye business. "When haven't I been up there?"

"You haven't NEVER been up there!" In spite of Penrod's
closely approaching nose Sam maintained his ground, and appealed
for confirmation. "Has he, Herman?"

"I don' reckon so," said Herman, laughing.

"WHAT!" Penrod transferred his nose to the immediate
vicinity of Herman's nose. "You don't reckon so, 'bo, don't you?
You better look out how you reckon around here! YOU
UNDERSTAN' THAT, 'BO?"

Herman bore the eye-to-eye very well; indeed, it seemed to
please him, for he continued to laugh while Verman chuckled
delightedly. The brothers had been in the country picking
berries for a week, and it happened that this was their
first experience of the new manifestation of Penrod.

"HAVEN'T I been up at the Third?" the sinister Penrod
demanded.

"I don' reckon so. How come you ast ME?"

"Didn't you just hear me SAY I been up there?"

"Well," said Herman mischievously, "hearin' ain't believin'!"

Penrod clutched him by the back of the neck, but Herman,
laughing loudly, ducked and released himself at once, retreating
to the wall.

"You take that back!" Penrod shouted, striking out wildly.

"Don' git mad," begged the small darky, while a number of
blows falling upon his warding arms failed to abate his
amusement, and a sound one upon the cheek only made him laugh the
more unrestrainedly. He behaved exactly as if Penrod were
tickling him, and his brother, Verman, rolled with joy in a
wheelbarrow. Penrod pummelled till he was tired, and produced no
greater effect.

"There!" he panted, desisting finally. "NOW I reckon you
know whether I been up there or not!"

Herman rubbed his smitten cheek. "Pow!" he exclaimed. "Pow-
ee! You cert'ny did lan' me good one NAT time! Oo-ee! she
HURT!"

"You'll get hurt worse'n that," Penrod assured him, "if you
stay around here much. Rupe Collins is comin' this afternoon, he
said. We're goin' to make some policemen's billies out of
the rake handle."

"You go' spoil new rake you' pa bought?"

"What do WE care? I and Rupe got to have billies,
haven't we?"

"How you make 'em?"

"Melt lead and pour in a hole we're goin' to make in the end
of 'em. Then we're goin' to carry 'em in our pockets, and if
anybody says anything to us--OH, oh! look out! They won't
get a crack on the head--OH, no!"

"When's Rupe Collins coming?" Sam Williams inquired rather
uneasily. He had heard a great deal too much of this personage,
but as yet the pleasure of actual acquaintance had been denied
him.

"He's liable to be here any time," answered Penrod. "You
better look out. You'll be lucky if you get home alive, if you
stay till HE comes."

"I ain't afraid of him," Sam returned, conventionally.

"You are, too!" (There was some truth in the retort.)
"There ain't any boy in this part of town but me that wouldn't be
afraid of him. You'd be afraid to talk to him. You wouldn't get
a word out of your mouth before old Rupie'd have you where you'd
wished you never come around HIM, lettin' on like you was so
much! YOU wouldn't run home yellin' `Mom-muh' or nothin'!
OH, no!"

"Who Rupe Collins?" asked Herman.

"`Who Rupe Collins?'" Penrod mocked, and used his rasping
laugh, but, instead of showing fright, Herman appeared to think
he was meant to laugh, too; and so he did, echoed by Verman.
"You just hang around here a little while longer," Penrod added,
grimly, "and you'll find out who Rupe Collins is, and I pity
YOU when you do!"

"What he go' do?"

"You'll see; that's all! You just wait and----"

At this moment a brown hound ran into the stable through the
alley door, wagged a greeting to Penrod, and fraternized with
Duke. The fat-faced boy appeared upon the threshold and gazed
coldly about the little company in the carriage-house, whereupon
the coloured brethren, ceasing from merriment, were instantly
impassive, and Sam Williams moved a little nearer the door
leading into the yard.

Obviously, Sam regarded the newcomer as a redoubtable if not
ominous figure. He was a head taller than either Sam or Penrod;
head and shoulders taller than Herman, who was short for his age;
and Verman could hardly be used for purposes of comparison at
all, being a mere squat brown spot, not yet quite nine years on
this planet. And to Sam's mind, the aspect of Mr. Collins
realized Penrod's portentous foreshadowings. Upon the fat face
there was an expression of truculent intolerance which had been
cultivated by careful habit to such perfection that Sam's heart
sank at sight of it. A somewhat enfeebled twin to this
expression had of late often decorated the visage of Penrod, and
appeared upon that ingenuous surface now, as he advanced to
welcome the eminent visitor.

The host swaggered toward the door with a great deal of
shoulder movement, carelessly feinting a slap at Verman in
passing, and creating by various means the atmosphere of a man
who has contemptuously amused himself with underlings while
awaiting an equal.

"Hello, 'bo!" Penrod said in the deepest voice possible to
him.

"Who you callin' 'bo?" was the ungracious response,
accompanied by immediate action of a similar nature. Rupe held
Penrod's head in the crook of an elbow and massaged his temples
with a hard-pressing knuckle.

"I was only in fun, Rupie," pleaded the sufferer, and then,
being set free, "Come here, Sam," he said.

"What for?"

Penrod laughed pityingly. "Pshaw, I ain't goin' to hurt you.
Come on." Sam, maintaining his position near the other door,
Penrod went to him and caught him round the neck.

"Watch me, Rupie!" Penrod called, and performed upon Sam the
knuckle operation which he had himself just undergone, Sam
submitting mechanically, his eyes fixed with increasing
uneasiness upon Rupe Collins. Sam had a premonition that
something even more painful than Penrod's knuckle was going
to be inflicted upon him.

"THAT don' hurt," said Penrod, pushing him away.

"Yes, it does, too!" Sam rubbed his temple.

"Puh! It didn't hurt me, did it, Rupie? Come on in, Rupe:
show this baby where he's got a wart on his finger."

"You showed me that trick," Sam objected. "You already did
that to me. You tried it twice this afternoon and I don't know
how many times before, only you weren't strong enough after the
first time. Anyway, I know what it is, and I don't----"

"Come on, Rupe," said Penrod. "Make the baby lick dirt."

At this bidding, Rupe approached, while Sam, still
protesting, moved to the threshold of the outer door; but Penrod
seized him by the shoulders and swung him indoors with a shout.

"Little baby wants to run home to its Mom-muh! Here he is,
Rupie."

Thereupon was Penrod's treachery to an old comrade properly
rewarded, for as the two struggled, Rupe caught each by the back
of the neck, simultaneously, and, with creditable impartiality,
forced both boys to their knees.

"Lick dirt!" he commanded, forcing them still forward, until
their faces were close to the stable floor.

At this moment he received a real surprise. With a loud
whack something struck the back of his head, and, turning, he
beheld Verman in the act of lifting a piece of lath to strike
again.

"Em moys ome!" said Verman, the Giant Killer.

"He tongue-tie'," Herman explained. "He say, let 'em boys
alone."

Rupe addressed his host briefly:

"Chase them nigs out o' here!"

"Don' call me nig," said Herman. "I mine my own biznuss.
You let 'em boys alone."

Rupe strode across the still prostrate Sam, stepped upon
Penrod, and, equipping his countenance with the terrifying scowl
and protruded jaw, lowered his head to the level of Herman's.

"Nig, you'll be lucky if you leave here alive!" And he
leaned forward till his nose was within less than an inch of
Herman's nose.

It could be felt that something awful was about to happen,
and Penrod, as he rose from the floor, suffered an unexpected
twinge of apprehension and remorse: he hoped that Rupe wouldn't
REALLY hurt Herman. A sudden dislike of Rupe and Rupe's ways
rose within him, as he looked at the big boy overwhelming the
little darky with that ferocious scowl. Penrod, all at once,
felt sorry about something indefinable; and, with equal
vagueness, he felt foolish. "Come on, Rupe," he suggested,
feebly, "let Herman go, and let's us make our billies out of the
rake handle."

The rake handle, however, was not available, if Rupe had
inclined to favour the suggestion. Verman had discarded his lath
for the rake, which he was at this moment lifting in the air.

"You ole black nigger," the fat-faced boy said venomously to
Herman, "I'm agoin' to----"

But he had allowed his nose to remain too long near Herman's.

Penrod's familiar nose had been as close with only a ticklish
spinal effect upon the not very remote descendant of Congo man-
eaters. The result produced by the glare of Rupe's unfamiliar
eyes, and by the dreadfully suggestive proximity of Rupe's
unfamiliar nose, was altogether different. Herman's and Verman's
Bangala great-grandfathers never considered people of their own
jungle neighbourhood proper material for a meal, but they looked
upon strangers especially truculent strangers--as distinctly
edible.

Penrod and Sam heard Rupe suddenly squawk and bellow; saw him
writhe and twist and fling out his arms like flails, though
without removing his face from its juxtaposition; indeed, for a
moment, the two heads seemed even closer.

Then they separated--and battle was on!

CHAPTER XXIII
COLOURED TROOPS IN ACTION

How neat and pure is the task of the chronicler who has the tale
to tell of a "good rousing fight" between boys or men who fight
in the "good old English way," according to a model set for
fights in books long before Tom Brown went to Rugby. There are
seconds and rounds and rules of fair-play, and always there is
great good feeling in the end--though sometimes, to vary the
model, "the Butcher" defeats the hero--and the chronicler who
stencils this fine old pattern on his page is certain of applause
as the stirrer of "red blood." There is no surer recipe.

But when Herman and Verman set to 't the record must be no
more than a few fragments left by the expurgator. It has been
perhaps sufficiently suggested that the altercation in Mr.
Schofield's stable opened with mayhem in respect to the
aggressor's nose. Expressing vocally his indignation and the
extremity of his pained surprise, Mr. Collins stepped backward,
holding his left hand over his nose, and striking at Herman with
his right. Then Verman hit him with the rake.

Verman struck from behind. He struck as hard as he could.
And he struck with the tines down--For, in his simple, direct
African way he wished to kill his enemy, and he wished to kill
him as soon as possible. That was his single, earnest purpose.

On this account, Rupe Collins was peculiarly unfortunate. He
was plucky and he enjoyed conflict, but neither his ambitions nor
his anticipations had ever included murder. He had not learned
that an habitually aggressive person runs the danger of colliding
with beings in one of those lower stages of evolution wherein
theories about "hitting below the belt" have not yet made their
appearance.

The rake glanced from the back of Rupe's head to his
shoulder, but it felled him. Both darkies jumped full upon him
instantly, and the three rolled and twisted upon the stable-
floor, unloosing upon the air sincere maledictions closely
connected with complaints of cruel and unusual treatment; while
certain expressions of feeling presently emanating from
Herman and Verman indicated that Rupe Collins, in this extremity,
was proving himself not too slavishly addicted to fighting by
rule. Dan and Duke, mistaking all for mirth, barked gayly.

From the panting, pounding, yelling heap issued words and
phrases hitherto quite unknown to Penrod and Sam; also, a hoarse
repetition in the voice of Rupe concerning his ear left it not to
be doubted that additional mayhem was taking place. Appalled,
the two spectators retreated to the doorway nearest the yard,
where they stood dumbly watching the cataclysm.

The struggle increased in primitive simplicity: time and
again the howling Rupe got to his knees only to go down again as
the earnest brothers, in their own way, assisted him to a more
reclining position. Primal forces operated here, and the two
blanched, slightly higher products of evolution, Sam and Penrod,
no more thought of interfering than they would have thought of
interfering with an earthquake.

At last, out of the ruck rose Verman, disfigured and
maniacal. With a wild eye he looked about him for his trusty
rake; but Penrod, in horror, had long since thrown the rake out
into the yard. Naturally, it had not seemed necessary to remove
the lawn-mower.

The frantic eye of Verman fell upon the lawn-mower, and
instantly he leaped to its handle. Shrilling a wordless war-cry,
he charged, propelling the whirling, deafening knives straight
upon the prone legs of Rupe Collins. The lawn-mower was
sincerely intended to pass longitudinally over the body of Mr.
Collins from heel to head; and it was the time for a death-song.
Black Valkyrie hovered in the shrieking air.

"Cut his gizzud out!" shrieked Herman, urging on the whirling
knives.

They touched and lacerated the shin of Rupe, as, with the
supreme agony of effort a creature in mortal peril puts forth
before succumbing, he tore himself free of Herman and got upon
his feet.

Herman was up as quickly. He leaped to the wall and seized
the garden-scythe that hung there.

"I'm go to cut you' gizzud out," he announced definitely,
"an' eat it!"

Rupe Collins had never run from anybody (except his father)
in his life; he was not a coward; but the present situation was
very, very unusual. He was already in a badly dismantled
condition, and yet Herman and Verman seemed discontented with
their work: Verman was swinging the grass-cutter about for a new
charge, apparently still wishing to mow him, and Herman had made
a quite plausible statement about what he intended to do with the
scythe.

Rupe paused but for an extremely condensed survey of the
horrible advance of the brothers, and then, uttering a
blood-curdled scream of fear, ran out of the stable and up the
alley at a speed he had never before attained, so that even Dan
had hard work to keep within barking distance. And a
'cross-shoulder glance, at the corner, revealing Verman and
Herman in pursuit, the latter waving his scythe overhead, Mr.
Collins slackened not his gait, but, rather, out of great
anguish, increased it; the while a rapidly developing purpose
became firm in his mind--and ever after so remained--not only to
refrain from visiting that neighbourhood again, but never by any
chance to come within a mile of it.

From the alley door, Penrod and Sam watched the flight, and
were without words. When the pursuit rounded the corner, the two
looked wanly at each other, but neither spoke until the return of
the brothers from the chase.

Herman and Verman came back, laughing and chuckling.

"Hiyi!" cackled Herman to Verman, as they came, "See 'at ole
boy run!"

"Who-ee!" Verman shouted in ecstasy.

"Nev' did see boy run so fas'!" Herman continued, tossing the
scythe into the wheelbarrow. "I bet he home in bed by viss
time!"

Verman roared with delight, appearing to be wholly
unconscious that the lids of his right eye were swollen shut and
that his attire, not too finical before the struggle, now
entitled him to unquestioned rank as a sansculotte.
Herman was a similar ruin, and gave as little heed to his
condition.

Penrod looked dazedly from Herman to Verman and back again.
So did Sam Williams.

"Herman," said Penrod, in a weak voice, "you wouldn't
HONEST of cut his gizzard out, would you?"

"Who? Me? I don' know. He mighty mean ole boy!" Herman
shook his head gravely, and then, observing that Verman was again
convulsed with unctuous merriment, joined laughter with his
brother. "Sho'! I guess I uz dess TALKIN' whens I said 'at!
Reckon he thought I meant it, f'm de way he tuck an' run. Hiyi!
Reckon he thought ole Herman bad man! No, suh! I uz dess
talkin', 'cause I nev' would cut NObody! I ain' tryin' git
in no jail--NO, suh!"

Penrod looked at the scythe: he looked at Herman. He looked
at the lawn-mower, and he looked at Verman. Then he looked out
in the yard at the rake. So did Sam Williams.

"Come on, Verman," said Herman. "We ain' go' 'at stove-wood
f' supper yit."

Giggling reminiscently, the brothers disappeared leaving
silence behind them in the carriage-house. Penrod and Sam
retired slowly into the shadowy interior, each glancing, now and
then, with a preoccupied air, at the open, empty doorway where
the late afternoon sunshine was growing ruddy. At intervals one
or the other scraped the floor reflectively with the side of
his shoe. Finally, still without either having made any effort
at conversation, they went out into the yard and stood,
continuing their silence.

"Well," said Sam, at last, "I guess it's time I better be
gettin' home. So long, Penrod!"

"So long, Sam," said Penrod, feebly.

With a solemn gaze he watched his friend out of sight. Then
he went slowly into the house, and after an interval occupied in
a unique manner, appeared in the library, holding a pair of
brilliantly gleaming shoes in his hand.

Mr. Schofield, reading the evening paper, glanced frowningly
over it at his offspring.

"Look, papa," said Penrod. "I found your shoes where you'd
taken 'em off in your room, to put on your slippers, and they
were all dusty. So I took 'em out on the back porch and gave 'em
a good blacking. They shine up fine, don't they?"

"Well, I'll be d-dud-dummed!" said the startled Mr.
Schofield.

Penrod was zigzagging back to normal.

CHAPTER XXIV
"LITTLE GENTLEMAN"

The midsummer sun was stinging hot outside the little barber-shop
next to the corner drug store and Penrod, undergoing a toilette
preliminary to his very slowly approaching twelfth birthday, was
adhesive enough to retain upon his face much hair as it fell from
the shears. There is a mystery here: the tonsorial processes are
not unagreeable to manhood; in truth, they are soothing; but the
hairs detached from a boy's head get into his eyes, his ears, his
nose, his mouth, and down his neck, and he does everywhere itch
excruciatingly. Wherefore he blinks, winks, weeps, twitches,
condenses his countenance, and squirms; and perchance
the barber's scissors clip more than intended--belike an outlying
flange of ear.

"Um--muh--OW!" said Penrod, this thing having happened.

"D' I touch y' up a little?" inquired the barber, smiling
falsely.

"Ooh--UH!" The boy in the chair offered inarticulate
protest, as the wound was rubbed with alum.

"THAT don't hurt!" said the barber. "You WILL get
it, though, if you don't sit stiller," he continued, nipping in
the bud any attempt on the part of his patient to think that he
already had "it."

"Pfuff!" said Penrod, meaning no disrespect, but endeavoring
to dislodge a temporary moustache from his lip.

"You ought to see how still that little Georgie Bassett
sits," the barber went on, reprovingly. "I hear everybody says
he's the best boy in town."

"Pfuff! PHIRR!" There was a touch of intentional
contempt in this.

"I haven't heard nobody around the neighbourhood makin' no
such remarks," added the barber, "about nobody of the name of
Penrod Schofield."

"Well," said Penrod, clearing his mouth after a struggle,
"who wants 'em to? Ouch!"

"I hear they call Georgie Bassett the `little gentleman,'"
ventured the barber, provocatively, meeting with instant success.

"They better not call ME that," returned Penrod
truculently. "I'd like to hear anybody try. Just once, that's
all! I bet they'd never try it ag---- OUCH!"

"Why? What'd you do to 'em?"

"It's all right what I'd DO! I bet they wouldn't want to
call me that again long as they lived!"

"What'd you do if it was a little girl? You wouldn't hit
her, would you?"

"Well, I'd---- Ouch!"

"You wouldn't hit a little girl, would you?" the barber
persisted, gathering into his powerful fingers a mop of hair from
the top of Penrod's head and pulling that suffering head into an
unnatural position. "Doesn't the Bible say it ain't never right
to hit the weak sex?"

"Ow! SAY, look OUT!"

"So you'd go and punch a pore, weak, little girl, would you?"
said the barber, reprovingly.

"Well, who said I'd hit her?" demanded the chivalrous Penrod. "I
bet I'd FIX her though, all right. She'd see!"

"You wouldn't call her names, would you?"

"No, I wouldn't! What hurt is it to call anybody names?"

"Is that SO!" exclaimed the barber. "Then you was
intending what I heard you hollering at Fisher's grocery delivery
wagon driver fer a favour, the other day when I was goin' by your
house, was you? I reckon I better tell him, because he says
to me after-WERDS if he ever lays eyes on you when you ain't
in your own yard, he's goin' to do a whole lot o' things you
ain't goin' to like! Yessir, that's what he says to ME!"

"He better catch me first, I guess, before he talks so much."

"Well," resumed the barber, "that ain't sayin' what you'd do
if a young lady ever walked up and called you a little gentleman.
_I_ want to hear what you'd do to her. I guess I know,
though--come to think of it."

"What?" demanded Penrod.

"You'd sick that pore ole dog of yours on her cat, if she had
one, I expect," guessed the barber derisively.

"No, I would not!"

"Well, what WOULD you do?"

"I'd do enough. Don't worry about that!"

"Well, suppose it was a boy, then: what'd you do if a boy
come up to you and says, `Hello, little gentleman'?"

"He'd be lucky," said Penrod, with a sinister frown, "if he
got home alive."

"Suppose it was a boy twice your size?"

"Just let him try," said Penrod ominously. "You just let him
try. He'd never see daylight again; that's all!"

The barber dug ten active fingers into the helpless
scalp before him and did his best to displace it, while the
anguished Penrod, becoming instantly a seething crucible of
emotion, misdirected his natural resentment into maddened
brooding upon what he would do to a boy "twice his size" who
should dare to call him "little gentleman." The barber shook him
as his father had never shaken him; the barber buffeted him,
rocked him frantically to and fro; the barber seemed to be trying
to wring his neck; and Penrod saw himself in staggering zigzag
pictures, destroying large, screaming, fragmentary boys who had
insulted him.

The torture stopped suddenly; and clenched, weeping eyes
began to see again, while the barber applied cooling lotions
which made Penrod smell like a coloured housemaid's ideal.

"Now what," asked the barber, combing the reeking locks

Book of the day: