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
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-
"PENROD!" Miss Schofield stamped again.
“You DID say you’d missed me,” said Mr. Robert
Williams, seizing hurriedly upon the silence. “Didn’t
A livelier tune rose upward.
“Oh, you talk about your
Of your dem-O-zells,
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
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
I will re-CALL that——”
Mr. Schofield appeared at an open window upstairs, a book in
“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...
By Booth Tarkington