“What are they doing?” gasped Mrs. Williams, blushing deeply. “What is it? What is it?”
“What is it?” Mrs. Gelbraith echoed in a frightened whisper. “What——”
“They’re Tangoing!” cried Margaret Schofield. “Or Bunny Hugging or Grizzly Bearing, or——”
“They’re only Turkey Trotting,” said Robert Williams.
With fearful outcries the mothers, aunts, and sisters rushed upon the pavilion.
“Of course it was dreadful,” said Mrs. Schofield, an hour later, rendering her lord an account of the day, “but it was every bit the fault of that one extraordinary child. And of all the quiet, demur little things—that is, I mean, when she first came. We all spoke of how exquisite she seemed—so well trained, so finished! Eleven years old! I never saw anything like her in my life!”
“I suppose it’s the New Child,” her husband grunted.
“And to think of her saying there ought to have been champagne in the lemonade!”
“Probably she’d forgotten to bring her pocket flask,” he suggested musingly.
“But aren’t you proud of Penrod?” cried Penrod’s mother. “It was just as I told you: he was standing clear outside the pavilion——”
“I never thought to see the day! And Penrod was the only boy not doing it, the only one to refuse? All the others were——”
“Every one!” she returned triumphantly. “Even Georgie Bassett!”
“Well,” said Mr. Schofield, patting her on the shoulder. “I guess we can hold up our heads at last.”
Penrod was out in the yard, staring at the empty marquee. The sun was on the horizon line, so far behind the back fence, and a western window of the house blazed in gold unbearable to the eye: his day was nearly over. He sighed, and took from the inside pocket of his new jacket the “sling-shot” aunt Sarah Crim had given him that morning.
He snapped the rubbers absently. They held fast; and his next impulse was entirely irresistible. He found a shapely stone, fitted it to the leather, and drew back the ancient catapult for a shot. A sparrow hopped upon a branch between him and the house, and he aimed at the sparrow, but the reflection from the dazzling window struck in his eyes as he loosed the leather.
He missed the sparrow, but not the window. There was a loud crash, and to his horror he caught a glimpse of his father, stricken in mid-shaving, ducking a shower of broken glass, glittering razor flourishing wildly. Words crashed with the glass, stentorian words, fragmentary but collossal.
Penrod stood petrified, a broken sling in his hand. He could hear his parent’s booming descent of the back stairs, instant and furious; and then, red-hot above white lather, Mr. Schofield burst out of the kitchen door and hurtled forth upon his son.