“Going to heaven!” Georgie bellowed. “Going to heaven! Going to heaven, my Lord! Going to heaven, heaven, heaven!”
He tried to climb higher, but began to slip downward, his exertions causing damage to his apparel. A button flew into the air, and his knickerbockers and his waistband severed relations.
“Devil’s got my coat-tails, sinners! Old devil’s got my coat-tails!” he announced appropriately. Then he began to slide.
He relaxed his clasp of the tree and slid to the ground.
“Going to hell!” shrieked Georgie, reaching a high pitch of enthusiasm in this great climax. “Going to hell! Going to hell! I’m gone to hell, hell, hell!”
With a loud scream, Mrs. Bassett threw herself out of the window, alighting by some miracle upon her feet with ankles unsprained.
Mr. Kinosling, feeling that his presence as spiritual adviser was demanded in the yard, followed with greater dignity through the front door. At the corner of the house a small departing figure collided with him violently. It was Penrod, tactfully withdrawing from what promised to be a family scene of unusual painfulness.
Mr. Kinosling seized him by the shoulders and, giving way to emotion, shook him viciously.
“You horrible boy!” exclaimed Mr. Kinosling. “You ruffianly creature! Do you know what’s going to happen to you when you grow up? Do you realize what you’re going to be!”
With flashing eyes, the indignant boy made know his unshaken purpose. He shouted the reply:
This busy globe which spawns us is as incapable of flattery and as intent upon its own affair, whatever that is, as a gyroscope; it keeps steadily whirling along its lawful track, and, thus far seeming to hold a right of way, spins doggedly on, with no perceptible diminution of speed to mark the most gigantic human events—it did not pause to pant and recuperate even when what seemed to Penrod its principal purpose was accomplished, and an enormous shadow, vanishing westward over its surface, marked the dawn of his twelfth birthday.
To be twelve is an attainment worth the struggle. A boy, just twelve, is like a Frenchman just elected to the Academy.
Distinction and honour wait upon him. Younger boys show deference to a person of twelve: his experience is guaranteed, his judgment, therefore, mellow; consequently, his influence is profound. Eleven is not quite satisfactory: it is only an approach. Eleven has the disadvantage of six, of nineteen, of forty-four, and of sixty-nine. But, like twelve, seven is an honourable age, and the ambition to attain it is laudable. People look forward to being seven. Similarly, twenty is worthy, and so, arbitrarily, is twenty-one; forty-five has great solidity; seventy is most commendable and each year thereafter an increasing honour. Thirteen is embarrassed by the beginnings of a new colthood; the child becomes a youth. But twelve is the very top of boyhood.