Chapter 14:. Maurice Levy’s Constitution
“Lo, Sam!” said Maurice cautiously. “What you doin’?”
Penrod at that instant had a singular experience–an intellectual shock like a flash of fire in the brain. Sitting in darkness, a great light flooded him with wild brilliance. He gasped!
“What you doin’?” repeated Mr. Levy.
Penrod sprang to his feet, seized the licorice bottle, shook it with stoppering thumb, and took a long drink with histrionic unction.
“What you doin’?” asked Maurice for the third time, Sam Williams not having decided upon a reply.
It was Penrod who answered.
“Drinkin’ lickrish water,” he said simply, and wiped his mouth with such delicious enjoyment that Sam’s jaded thirst was instantly stimulated. He took the bottle eagerly from Penrod.
“A-a-h!” exclaimed Penrod, smacking his lips. “That was a good un!”
The eyes above the fence glistened.
“Ask him if he don’t want some,” Penrod whispered urgently. “Quit drinkin’ it! It’s no good any more. Ask him!”
“What for?” demanded the practical Sam.
“Go on and ask him!” whispered Penrod fiercely.
“Say, M’rice!” Sam called, waving the bottle. “Want some?”
“Bring it here!” Mr. Levy requested.
“Come on over and get some,” returned Sam, being prompted.
“I can’t. Penrod Schofield’s after me.”
“No, I’m not,” said Penrod reassuringly. “I won’t touch you, M’rice. I made up with you yesterday afternoon–don’t you remember? You’re all right with me, M’rice.”
Maurice looked undecided. But Penrod had the delectable bottle again, and tilting it above his lips, affected to let the cool liquid purl enrichingly into him, while with his right hand he stroked his middle facade ineffably. Maurice’s mouth watered.
“Here!” cried Sam, stirred again by the superb manifestations of his friend. “Gimme that!”
Penrod brought the bottle down, surprisingly full after so much gusto, but withheld it from Sam; and the two scuffled for its possession. Nothing in the world could have so worked upon the desire of the yearning observer beyond the fence.
“Honest, Penrod–you ain’t goin’ to touch me if I come in your yard?” he called. “Honest?”
“Cross my heart!” answered Penrod, holding the bottle away from Sam. “And we’ll let you drink all you want.”
Maurice hastily climbed the fence, and while he was thus occupied Mr. Samuel Williams received a great enlightenment. With startling rapidity Penrod, standing just outside the storeroom door, extended his arm within the room, deposited the licorice water upon the counter of the drug store, seized in its stead the bottle of smallpox medicine, and extended it cordially toward the advancing Maurice.
Genius is like that–great, simple, broad strokes!
Dazzled, Mr. Samuel Williams leaned against the wall. He had the sensations of one who comes suddenly into the presence of a chef-d’oeuvre. Perhaps his first coherent thought was that almost universal one on such huge occasions: “Why couldn’t I have done that!”
Sam might have been even more dazzled had he guessed that he figured not altogether as a spectator in the sweeping and magnificent conception of the new Talleyrand. Sam had no partner for the cotillon. If Maurice was to be absent from that festivity–as it began to seem he might be–Penrod needed a male friend to take care of Miss Rennsdale and he believed he saw his way to compel Mr. Williams to be that male friend. For this he relied largely upon the prospective conduct of Miss Rennsdale when he should get the matter before her–he was inclined to believe she would favour the exchange. As for Talleyrand Penrod himself, he was going to dance that cotillon with Marjorie Jones!
“You can have all you can drink at one pull, M’rice,” said Penrod kindly.
“You said I could have all I want!” protested Maurice, reaching for the bottle.
“No, I didn’t,” returned Penrod quickly, holding it away from the eager hand.
“He did, too! Didn’t he, Sam?”
Sam could not reply; his eyes, fixed upon the bottle, protruded strangely.
“You heard him–didn’t you, Sam?”
“Well, if I did say it I didn’t mean it!” said Penrod hastily, quoting from one of the authorities. “Looky here, M’rice,” he continued, assuming a more placative and reasoning tone, “that wouldn’t be fair to us. I guess we want some of our own lickrish water, don’t we? The bottle ain’t much over two-thirds full anyway. What I meant was, you can have all you can drink at one pull.”
“How do you mean?”
“Why, this way: you can gulp all you want, so long as you keep swallering; but you can’t take the bottle out of your mouth and commence again. Soon’s you quit swallering it’s Sam’s turn.”
“No; you can have next, Penrod,” said Sam.
“Well, anyway, I mean M’rice has to give the bottle up the minute he stops swallering.”
Craft appeared upon the face of Maurice, like a poster pasted on a wall.
“I can drink so long I don’t stop swallering?”
“Yes; that’s it.”
“All right!” he cried. “Gimme the bottle!”
And Penrod placed it in his hand.
“You promise to let me drink until I quit swallering?” Maurice insisted.
“Yes!” said both boys together.
With that, Maurice placed the bottle to his lips and began to drink. Penrod and Sam leaned forward in breathless excitement. They had feared Maurice might smell the contents of the bottle; but that danger was past–this was the crucial moment. Their fondest hope was that he would make his first swallow a voracious one–it was impossible to imagine a second. They expected one big, gulping swallow and then an explosion, with fountain effects.
Little they knew the mettle of their man! Maurice swallowed once; he swallowed twice–and thrice–and he continued to swallow! No Adam’s apple was sculptured on that juvenile throat, but the internal progress of the liquid was not a whit the less visible. His eyes gleamed with cunning and malicious triumph, sidewise, at the stunned conspirators; he was fulfilling the conditions of the draught, not once breaking the thread of that marvelous swallering.
His audience stood petrified. Already Maurice had swallowed more than they had given Duke and still the liquor receded in the uplifted bottle! And now the clear glass gleamed above the dark contents full half the vessel’s length–and Maurice went on drinking! Slowly the clear glass increased in its dimensions–slowly the dark diminished.
Sam Williams made a horrified movement to check him–but Maurice protested passionately with his disengaged arm, and made vehement vocal noises remindful of the contract; whereupon Sam desisted and watched the continuing performance in a state of grisly fascination.
Maurice drank it all! He drained the last drop and threw the bottle in the air, uttering loud ejaculations of triumph and satisfaction.
“Hah!” he cried, blowing out his cheeks, inflating his chest, squaring his shoulders, patting his stomach, and wiping his mouth contentedly. “Hah! Aha! Waha! Wafwah! But that was good!”
The two boys stood looking at him in stupor.
“Well, I gotta say this,” said Maurice graciously: “You stuck to your bargain all right and treated me fair.”
Stricken with a sudden horrible suspicion, Penrod entered the storeroom in one stride and lifted the bottle of licorice water to his nose–then to his lips. It was weak, but good; he had made no mistake. And Maurice had really drained–to the dregs–the bottle of old hair tonics, dead catsups, syrups of undesirable preserves, condemned extracts of vanilla and lemon, decayed chocolate, ex-essence of beef, mixed dental preparations, aromatic spirits of ammonia, spirits of nitre, alcohol, arnica, quinine, ipecac, sal volatile, nux vomica and licorice water–with traces of arsenic, belladonna and strychnine.
Penrod put the licorice water out of sight and turned to face the others. Maurice was seating himself on a box just outside the door and had taken a package of cigarettes from his pocket.
“Nobody can see me from here, can they?” he said, striking a match. “You fellers smoke?”
“No,” said Sam, staring at him haggardly.
“No,” said Penrod in a whisper.
Maurice lit his cigarette and puffed showily.
“Well, sir,” he remarked, “you fellers are certainly square–I gotta say that much. Honest, Penrod, I thought you was after me! I did think so,” he added sunnily; “but now I guess you like me, or else you wouldn’t of stuck to it about lettin’ me drink it all if I kept on swallering.”
He chatted on with complete geniality, smoking his cigarette in content. And as he ran from one topic to another his hearers stared at him in a kind of torpor. Never once did they exchange a glance with each other; their eyes were frozen to Maurice. The cheerful conversationalist made it evident that he was not without gratitude.
“Well,” he said as he finished his cigarette and rose to go, “you fellers have treated me nice and some day you come over to my yard; I’d like to run with you fellers. You’re the kind of fellers I like.”
Penrod’s jaw fell; Sam’s mouth had been open all the time. Neither spoke.
“I gotta go,” observed Maurice, consulting a handsome watch. “Gotta get dressed for the cotillon right after lunch. Come on, Sam. Don’t you have to go, too?”
Sam nodded dazedly.
“Well, good-bye, Penrod,” said Maurice cordially. “I’m glad you like me all right. Come on, Sam.”
Penrod leaned against the doorpost and with fixed and glazing eyes watched the departure of his two visitors. Maurice was talking volubly, with much gesticulation, as they went; but Sam walked mechanically and in silence, staring at his brisk companion and keeping at a little distance from him.
They passed from sight, Maurice still conversing gayly–and Penrod slowly betook himself into the house, his head bowed upon his chest.
Some three hours later, Mr. Samuel Williams, waxen clean and in sweet raiment, made his reappearance in Penrod’s yard, yodelling a code-signal to summon forth his friend. He yodelled loud, long, and frequently, finally securing a faint response from the upper air.
“Where are you?” shouted Mr. Williams, his roving glance searching ambient heights. Another low-spirited yodel reaching his ear, he perceived the head and shoulders of his friend projecting above the roofridge of the stable. The rest of Penrod’s body was concealed from view, reposing upon the opposite slant of the gable and precariously secured by the crooking of his elbows over the ridge.
“Yay! What you doin’ up there?”
“You better be careful!” Sam called. “You’ll slide off and fall down in the alley if you don’t look out. I come pert’ near it last time we was up there. Come on down! Ain’t you goin’ to the cotillon?”
Penrod made no reply. Sam came nearer.
“Say,” he called up in a guarded voice, “I went to our telephone a while ago and ast him how he was feelin’, and he said he felt fine!”
“So did I,” said Penrod. “He told me he felt bully!”
Sam thrust his hands in his pockets and brooded. The opening of the kitchen door caused a diversion. It was Della.
“Mister Penrod,” she bellowed forthwith, “come ahn down fr’m up there! Y’r mamma’s at the dancin’ class waitin’ fer ye, an’ she’s telephoned me they’re goin’ to begin–an’ what’s the matter with ye? Come ahn down fr’m up there!”
“Come on!” urged Sam. “We’ll be late. There go Maurice and Marjorie now.”
A glittering car spun by, disclosing briefly a genre picture of Marjorie Jones in pink, supporting a monstrous sheaf of American Beauty roses. Maurice, sitting shining and joyous beside her, saw both boys and waved them a hearty greeting as the car turned the corner.
Penrod uttered some muffled words and then waved both arms–either in response or as an expression of his condition of mind; it may have been a gesture of despair. How much intention there was in this act–obviously so rash, considering the position he occupied–it is impossible to say. Undeniably there must remain a suspicion of deliberate purpose.
Della screamed and Sam shouted. Penrod had disappeared from view.
The delayed dance was about to begin a most uneven cotillon when Samuel Williams arrived.
Mrs. Schofield hurriedly left the ballroom; while Miss Rennsdale, flushing with sudden happiness, curtsied profoundly to Professor Bartet and obtained his attention.
“I have telled you fifty times,” he informed her passionately ere she spoke, “I cannot make no such changes. If your partner comes you have to dance with him. You are going to drive me crazy, sure! What is it? What now? What you want?”
The damsel curtsied again and handed him the following communication, addressed to herself:
“Dear madam Please excuse me from dancing the cotilon with you this afternoon as I have fell off the barn.
Chapter 15: The Two Families
Penrod entered the schoolroom, Monday picturesquely leaning upon a man’s cane shortened to support a cripple approaching the age of twelve. He arrived about twenty minutes late, limping deeply, his brave young mouth drawn with pain, and the sensation he created must have been a solace to him; the only possible criticism of this entrance being that it was just a shade too heroic. Perhaps for that reason it failed to stagger Miss Spence, a woman so saturated with suspicion that she penalized Penrod for tardiness as promptly and as coldly as if he had been a mere, ordinary, unmutilated boy. Nor would she entertain any discussion of the justice of her ruling. It seemed, almost, that she feared to argue with him.
However, the distinction of cane and limp remained to him, consolations which he protracted far into the week–until Thursday evening, in fact, when Mr. Schofield, observing from a window his son’s pursuit of Duke round and round the backyard, confiscated the cane, with the promise that it should not remain idle if he saw Penrod limping again. Thus, succeeding a depressing Friday, another Saturday brought the necessity for new inventions.
It was a scented morning in apple-blossom time. At about ten of the clock Penrod emerged hastily from the kitchen door. His pockets bulged abnormally; so did his checks, and he swallowed with difficulty. A threatening mop, wielded by a cooklike arm in a checkered sleeve, followed him through the doorway, and he was preceded by a small, hurried, wistful dog with a warm doughnut in his mouth. The kitchen door slammed petulantly, enclosing the sore voice of Della, whereupon Penrod and Duke seated themselves upon the pleasant sward and immediately consumed the spoils of their raid.
From the cross-street which formed the side boundary of the Schofields’ ample yard came a jingle of harness and the cadenced clatter of a pair of trotting horses, and Penrod, looking up, beheld the passing of a fat acquaintance, torpid amid the conservative splendours of a rather old-fashioned victoria. This was Roderick Magsworth Bitts, Junior, a fellow sufferer at the Friday Afternoon Dancing Class, but otherwise not often a companion: a home-sheltered lad, tutored privately and preserved against the coarsening influences of rude comradeship and miscellaneous information. Heavily overgrown in all physical dimensions, virtuous, and placid, this cloistered mutton was wholly uninteresting to Penrod Schofield. Nevertheless, Roderick Magsworth Bitts, Junior, was a personage on account of the importance of the Magsworth Bitts family; and it was Penrod’s destiny to increase Roderick’s celebrity far, far beyond its present aristocratic limitations.
The Magsworth Bittses were important because they were impressive; there was no other reason. And they were impressive because they believed themselves important. The adults of the family were impregnably formal; they dressed with reticent elegance, and wore the same nose and the same expression–an expression which indicated that they knew something exquisite and sacred which other people could never know. Other people, in their presence, were apt to feel mysteriously ignoble and to become secretly uneasy about ancestors, gloves, and pronunciation. The Magsworth Bitts manner was withholding and reserved, though sometimes gracious, granting small smiles as great favours and giving off a chilling kind of preciousness. Naturally, when any citizen of the community did anything unconventional or improper, or made a mistake, or had a relative who went wrong, that citizen’s first and worst fear was that the Magsworth Bittses would hear of it. In fact, this painful family had for years terrorized the community, though the community had never realized that it was terrorized, and invariably spoke of the family as the “most charming circle in town.” By common consent, Mrs. Roderick Magsworth Bitts officiated as the supreme model as well as critic-in-chief of morals and deportment for all the unlucky people prosperous enough to be elevated to her acquaintance.
Magsworth was the important part of the name. Mrs. Roderick Magsworth Bitts was a Magsworth born, herself, and the Magsworth crest decorated not only Mrs. Magsworth Bitts’ note-paper but was on the china, on the table linen, on the chimney-pieces, on the opaque glass of the front door, on the victoria, and on the harness, though omitted from the garden-hose and the lawn-mower.
Naturally, no sensible person dreamed of connecting that illustrious crest with the unfortunate and notorious Rena Magsworth whose name had grown week by week into larger and larger type upon the front pages of newspapers, owing to the gradually increasing public and official belief that she had poisoned a family of eight. However, the statement that no sensible person could have connected the Magsworth Bitts family with the arsenical Rena takes no account of Penrod Schofield.
Penrod never missed a murder, a hanging or an electrocution in the newspapers; he knew almost as much about Rena Magsworth as her jurymen did, though they sat in a court-room two hundred miles away, and he had it in mind–so frank he was–to ask Roderick Magsworth Bitts, Junior, if the murderess happened to be a relative.
The present encounter, being merely one of apathetic greeting, did not afford the opportunity. Penrod took off his cap, and Roderick, seated between his mother and one of his grown-up sisters, nodded sluggishly, but neither Mrs. Magsworth Bitts nor her daughter acknowledged the salutation of the boy in the yard. They disapproved of him as a person of little consequence, and that little, bad. Snubbed, Penrod thoughtfully restored his cap to his head. A boy can be cut as effectually as a man, and this one was chilled to a low temperature. He wondered if they despised him because they had seen a last fragment of doughnut in his hand; then he thought that perhaps it was Duke who had disgraced him. Duke was certainly no fashionable looking dog.
The resilient spirits of youth, however, presently revived, and discovering a spider upon one knee and a beetle simultaneously upon the other, Penrod forgot Mrs. Roderick Magsworth Bitts in the course of some experiments infringing upon the domain of Doctor Carrel. Penrod’s efforts–with the aid of a pin–to effect a transference of living organism were unsuccessful; but he convinced himself forever that a spider cannot walk with a beetle’s legs. Della then enhanced zoological interest by depositing upon the back porch a large rat-trap from the cellar, the prison of four live rats awaiting execution.
Penrod at once took possession, retiring to the empty stable, where he installed the rats in a small wooden box with a sheet of broken window-glass–held down by a brickbat–over the top. Thus the symptoms of their agitation, when the box was shaken or hammered upon, could be studied at leisure. Altogether this Saturday was starting splendidly.
After a time, the student’s attention was withdrawn from his specimens by a peculiar smell, which, being followed up by a system of selective sniffing, proved to be an emanation leaking into the stable from the alley. He opened the back door.
Across the alley was a cottage which a thrifty neighbour had built on the rear line of his lot and rented to Blacks; and the fact that a Black family was now in process of “moving in” was manifested by the presence of a thin mule and a ramshackle wagon, the latter laden with the semblance of a stove and a few other unpretentious household articles.
A very small boy stood near the mule. In his hand was a rusty chain, and at the end of the chain the delighted Penrod perceived the source of the special smell he was tracing–a large raccoon. Duke, who had shown not the slightest interest in the rats, set up a frantic barking and simulated a ravening assault upon the strange animal. It was only a bit of acting, however, for Duke was an old dog, had suffered much, and desired no unnecessary sorrow, wherefore he confined his demonstrations to alarums and excursions, and presently sat down at a distance and expressed himself by intermittent threatenings in a quavering falsetto.
“What’s that ‘coon’s name?” asked Penrod, intending no discourtesy.
“Aim gommo mame,” said the small boy.
“Aim gommo mame.”
The small boy looked annoyed.
“Aim gommo mame, I hell you,” he said impatiently.
Penrod conceived that insult was intended.
“What’s the matter of you?” he demanded advancing. “You get fresh with me, and I’ll—-”
“Hyuh, white boy!” A youth of Penrod’s own age appeared in the doorway of the cottage. “You let ‘at brothuh mine alone. He ain’ do nothin’ to you.”
“Well, why can’t he answer?”
“He can’t. He can’t talk no better’n what he was talkin’. He tongue-tie’.”
“Oh,” said Penrod, mollified. Then, obeying an impulse so universally aroused in the human breast under like circumstances that it has become a quip, he turned to the afflicted one.
“Talk some more,” he begged eagerly.
“I hoe you ackoom aim gommo mame,” was the prompt response, in which a slight ostentation was manifest. Unmistakable tokens of vanity had appeared upon the small, swart countenance.
“What’s he mean?” asked Penrod, enchanted.
“He say he tole you ‘at ‘coon ain’ got no name.”
“What’s your name?”
“I’m name Herman.”
“What’s his name?” Penrod pointed to the tongue-tied boy.
“Verman. Was three us boys in ow fam’ly. Ol’est one name Sherman. ‘N’en come me; I’m Herman. ‘N’en come him; he Verman. Sherman dead. Verman, he de littles’ one.”
“You goin’ to live here?”
“Umhuh. Done move in f’m way outen on a fahm.”
He pointed to the north with his right hand, and Penrod’s eyes opened wide as they followed the gesture. Herman had no forefinger on that hand.
“Look there!” exclaimed Penrod. “You haven’t got any finger!”
“I mum map,” said Verman, with egregious pride.
“He done ‘at,” interpreted Herman, chuckling. “Yessuh; done chop ‘er spang off, long ‘go. He’s a playin’ wif a ax an’ I lay my finguh on de do’-sill an’ I say, ‘Verman, chop ‘er off!’ So Verman he chop ‘er right spang off up to de roots! Yessuh.”
“Jes’ fo’ nothin’.”
“He hoe me hoo,” remarked Verman.
“Yessuh, I tole him to,” said Herman, “an’ he chop ‘er off, an’ ey ain’t airy oth’ one evuh grown on wheres de ole one use to grow. Nosuh!”
“But what’d you tell him to do it for?”
“Nothin’. I ‘es’ said it ‘at way–an’ he jes’ chop er off!”
Both brothers looked pleased and proud. Penrod’s profound interest was flatteringly visible, a tribute to their unusualness.
“Hem bow goy,” suggested Verman eagerly.
“Aw ri’,” said Herman. “Ow sistuh Queenie, she a growed-up woman; she got a goituh.”
“Got a what?”
“Goituh. Swellin’ on her neck–grea’ big swellin’. She heppin’ mammy move in now. You look in de front-room winduh wheres she sweepin’; you kin see it on her.”
Penrod looked in the window and was rewarded by a fine view of Queenie’s goitre. He had never before seen one, and only the lure of further conversation on the part of Verman brought him from the window.
“Verman say tell you ’bout pappy,” explained Herman. “Mammy an’ Queenie move in town an’ go git de house all fix up befo’ pappy git out.”
“Out of where?”
“Jail. Pappy cut a man, an’ de police done kep’ him in jail evuh sense Chris’mus-time; but dey goin’ tuhn him loose ag’in nex’ week.”
“What’d he cut the other man with?”
“Wif a pitchfawk.”
Penrod began to feel that a lifetime spent with this fascinating family were all too short. The brothers, glowing with amiability, were as enraptured as he. For the first time in their lives they moved in the rich glamour of sensationalism. Herman was prodigal of gesture with his right hand; and Verman, chuckling with delight, talked fluently, though somewhat consciously. They cheerfully agreed to keep the raccoon–already beginning to be mentioned as “our ‘coon” by Penrod–in Mr. Schofield’s empty stable, and, when the animal had been chained to the wall near the box of rats and supplied with a pan of fair water, they assented to their new friend’s suggestion (inspired by a fine sense of the artistic harmonies) that the heretofore nameless pet be christened Sherman, in honour of their deceased relative.
At this juncture was heard from the front yard the sound of that yodelling which is the peculiar accomplishment of those whose voices have not “changed.” Penrod yodelled a response; and Mr. Samuel Williams appeared, a large bundle under his arm.
“Yay, Penrod!” was his greeting, casual enough from without; but, having entered, he stopped short and emitted a prodigious whistle. “Ya-a-ay!” he then shouted. “Look at the ‘coon!”
“I guess you better say, ‘Look at the ‘coon!'” Penrod returned proudly. “They’s a good deal more’n him to look at, too. Talk some, Verman.” Verman complied.
Sam was warmly interested. “What’d you say his name was?” he asked.
“How d’you spell it?”
“V-e-r-m-a-n,” replied Penrod, having previously received this information from Herman.
“Oh!” said Sam.
“Point to sumpthing, Herman,” Penrod commanded, and Sam’s excitement, when Herman pointed was sufficient to the occasion.
Penrod, the discoverer, continued his exploitation of the manifold wonders of the Sherman, Herman, and Verman collection. With the air of a proprietor he escorted Sam into the alley for a good look at Queenie (who seemed not to care for her increasing celebrity) and proceeded to a dramatic climax–the recital of the episode of the pitchfork and its consequences.
The cumulative effect was enormous, and could have but one possible result. The normal boy is always at least one half Barnum.
“Let’s get up a show!”
Penrod and Sam both claimed to have said it first, a question left unsettled in the ecstasies of hurried preparation. The bundle under Sam’s arm, brought with no definite purpose, proved to have been an inspiration. It consisted of broad sheets of light yellow wrapping-paper, discarded by Sam’s mother in her spring house-cleaning. There were half-filled cans and buckets of paint in the storeroom adjoining the carriage-house, and presently the side wall of the stable flamed information upon the passer-by from a great and spreading poster.
“Publicity,” primal requisite of all theatrical and amphitheatrical enterprise thus provided, subsequent arrangements proceeded with a fury of energy which transformed the empty hay- loft. True, it is impossible to say just what the hay-loft was transformed into, but history warrantably clings to the statement that it was transformed. Duke and Sherman were secured to the rear wall at a considerable distance from each other, after an exhibition of reluctance on the part of Duke, during which he displayed a nervous energy and agility almost miraculous in so small and middle-aged a dog. Benches were improvised for spectators; the rats were brought up; finally the rafters, corn-crib, and hay-chute were ornamented with flags and strips of bunting from Sam Williams’ attic, Sam returning from the excursion wearing an old silk hat, and accompanied (on account of a rope) by a fine dachshund encountered on the highway. In the matter of personal decoration paint was generously used: an interpretation of the spiral, inclining to whites and greens, becoming brilliantly effective upon the dark facial backgrounds of Herman and Verman; while the countenances of Sam and Penrod were each supplied with the black moustache and imperial, lacking which, no professional showman can be esteemed conscientious.
It was regretfully decided, in council, that no attempt be made to add Queenie to the list of exhibits, her brothers warmly declining to act as ambassadors in that cause. They were certain Queenie would not like the idea, they said, and Herman picturesquely described her activity on occasions when she had been annoyed by too much attention to her appearance. However, Penrod’s disappointment was alleviated by an inspiration which came to him in a moment of pondering upon the dachshund, and the entire party went forth to add an enriching line to the poster.
They found a group of seven, including two adults, already gathered in the street to read and admire this work.
SCHoFiELD & WiLLiAMS BiG SHOW ADMiSSioN 1 CENT oR 20 PiNS MUSUEM oF CURioSiTES Now GoiNG oN SHERMAN HERMAN & VERMAN THiER FATHERS iN JAiL STABED A MAN WiTH A PiTCHFORK SHERMAN THE WiLD ANIMAL CAPTURED iN AFRiCA HERMAN THE ONE FiNGERED TATOOD WILD MAN VERMAN THE SAVAGE TATOOD WILD BoY TALKS ONLY iN HiS NAiTiVE LANGUAGS. Do NoT FAIL TO SEE DUKE THE INDiAN DOG ALSO THE MiCHiGAN TRAiNED RATS
A heated argument took place between Sam and Penrod, the point at issue being settled, finally, by the drawing of straws; whereupon Penrod, with pardonable self-importance–in the presence of an audience now increased to nine–slowly painted the words inspired by the dachshund:
IMPoRTENT Do NoT MISS THE SoUTH AMERiCAN DoG PART ALLIGATOR