Inspiration and action were almost simultaneous.
“Penrod!” Mrs. Lora Rewbush stood in the doorway, indignantly gazing upon a Child Sir Lancelot mantled to the heels. “Do you know that you have kept an audience of five hundred people waiting for ten minutes?” She, also, detained the five hundred while she spake further.
“Well,” said Penrod contentedly, as he followed her toward the buzzing stage, “I was just sitting there thinking.”
Two minutes later the curtain rose on a medieval castle hall richly done in the new stage-craft made in Germany and consisting of pink and blue cheesecloth. The Child King Arthur and the Child Queen Guinevere were disclosed upon thrones, with the Child Elaine and many other celebrities in attendance; while about fifteen Child Knights were seated at a dining-room table round, which was covered with a large Oriental rug, and displayed (for the knights’ refreshment) a banquet service of silver loving-cups and trophies, borrowed from the Country Club and some local automobile manufacturers.
In addition to this splendour, potted plants and palms have seldom been more lavishly used in any castle on the stage or off.
The footlights were aided by a “spot-light” from the rear of the hall; and the children were revealed in a blaze of glory.
A hushed, multitudinous “O-oh” of admiration came from the decorous and delighted audience. Then the children sang feebly:
“Chuldrun of the
Lit-tul knights and ladies we.
Let our voy-siz all resound
Faith and hope and charitee!”
The Child King Arthur rose, extended his sceptre with the decisive gesture of a semaphore, and spake:
“Each littul knight
and lady born
Has noble deeds to perform
In Thee child-world of shivullree,
No matter how small his share may be.
Let each advance and tell in turn
What claim has each to knighthood earn.”
The Child Sir Mordred, the villain of this piece, rose in his place at the table round, and piped the only lines ever written by Mrs. Lora Rewbush which Penrod Schofield could have pronounced without loathing. Georgie Bassett, a really angelic boy, had been selected for the role of Mordred. His perfect conduct had earned for him the sardonic sobriquet, “The Little Gentleman,” among his boy acquaintances. (Naturally he had no friends.) Hence the other boys supposed that he had been selected for the wicked Mordred as a reward of virtue. He declaimed serenely:
“I hight Sir Mordred
the Child, and I teach
Lessons of selfishest evil, and reach
Out into darkness. Thoughtless, unkind,
And ruthless is Mordred, and unrefined.”
The Child Mordred was properly rebuked and denied the accolade, though, like the others, he seemed to have assumed the title already. He made a plotter’s exit. Whereupon Maurice Levy rose, bowed, announced that he highted the Child Sir Galahad, and continued with perfect sang-froid: