Even he could see that the offer implied his being starred as the paramount attraction of a new order of things. It was obvious that he had swelled out suddenly, in the estimation of the other boys, to that importance which he had been taught to believe his native gift and natural right. The sensation was pleasant. He had often been treated with effusion by grown-up callers and by acquaintances of his mothers and sisters; he had heard ladies speak of him as “charming” and “that delightful child,” and little girls had sometimes shown him deference, but until this moment no boy had ever allowed him, for one moment, to presume even to equality. Now, in a trice, he was not only admitted to comradeship, but patently valued as something rare and sacred to be acclaimed and pedestalled. In fact, the very first thing that Schofield and Williams did was to find a box for him to stand upon.
The misgivings roused in Roderick’s bosom by the subsequent activities of the firm were not bothersome enough to make him forego his prominence as Exhibit A. He was not a “quick-minded” boy, and it was long (and much happened) before he thoroughly comprehended the causes of his new celebrity. He had a shadowy feeling that if the affair came to be heard of at home it might not be liked, but, intoxicated by the glamour and bustle which surround a public character, he made no protest. On the contrary, he entered whole-heartedly into the preparations for the new show. Assuming, with Sam’s assistance, a blue moustache and “side-burns,” he helped in the painting of a new poster, which, supplanting the old one on the wall of the stable facing the cross-street, screamed bloody murder at the passers in that rather populous thoroughfare.
SCHoFiELD & WiLLiAMS new big SHoW RoDERiCK MAGSWoRTH BiTTS Jr only LiViNG nephew oF Rena Magsworth the FAMOS MUDERESS GoiNG To be hung next July KiLED EiGHT people put ARSiNECK iN THiER MiLK also Sherman Herman and Verman the MiCHiGAN rats dog part ALLiGATOR Duke the GENUiNE InDiAN DoG ADMISSioN 1 cent oR 20 pins same as before Do NoT miss this CHANSE to see RoDERICK only LiViNG nephew oF Rena Magsworth the great FAMOS MUDERESS GoiNG To be hung
CHAPTER XVII RETIRING FROM THE SHOW-BUSINESS
Megaphones were constructed out of heavy wrapping-paper, and Penrod, Sam, and Herman set out in different directions, delivering vocally the inflammatory proclamation of the poster to a large section of the residential quarter, and leaving Roderick Magsworth Bitts, Junior, with Verman in the loft, shielded from all deadhead eyes. Upon the return of the heralds, the Schofield and Williams Military Band played deafeningly, and an awakened public once more thronged to fill the coffers of the firm.