“Well,” said Sam, at last, “I guess it’s time I better be gettin’ home. So long, Penrod!”
“So long, Sam,” said Penrod, feebly.
With a solemn gaze he watched his friend out of sight. Then he went slowly into the house, and after an interval occupied in a unique manner, appeared in the library, holding a pair of brilliantly gleaming shoes in his hand.
Mr. Schofield, reading the evening paper, glanced frowningly over it at his offspring.
“Look, papa,” said Penrod. “I found your shoes where you’d taken ’em off in your room, to put on your slippers, and they were all dusty. So I took ’em out on the back porch and gave ’em a good blacking. They shine up fine, don’t they?”
“Well, I’ll be d-dud-dummed!” said the startled Mr. Schofield.
Penrod was zigzagging back to normal.
The midsummer sun was stinging hot outside the little barber-shop next to the corner drug store and Penrod, undergoing a toilette preliminary to his very slowly approaching twelfth birthday, was adhesive enough to retain upon his face much hair as it fell from the shears. There is a mystery here: the tonsorial processes are not unagreeable to manhood; in truth, they are soothing; but the hairs detached from a boy’s head get into his eyes, his ears, his nose, his mouth, and down his neck, and he does everywhere itch excruciatingly. Wherefore he blinks, winks, weeps, twitches, condenses his countenance, and squirms; and perchance the barber’s scissors clip more than intended—belike an outlying flange of ear.
“Um—muh—ow!” said Penrod, this thing having happened.
“D’ I touch y’ up a little?” inquired the barber, smiling falsely.
“Ooh—uh!” The boy in the chair offered inarticulate protest, as the wound was rubbed with alum.
“That don’t hurt!” said the barber. “You will get it, though, if you don’t sit stiller,” he continued, nipping in the bud any attempt on the part of his patient to think that he already had “it.”
“Pfuff!” said Penrod, meaning no disrespect, but endeavoring to dislodge a temporary moustache from his lip.
“You ought to see how still that little Georgie Bassett sits,” the barber went on, reprovingly. “I hear everybody says he’s the best boy in town.”
“Pfuff! PHIRR!” There was a touch of intentional contempt in this.
“I haven’t heard nobody around the neighbourhood makin’ no such remarks,” added the barber, “about nobody of the name of Penrod Schofield.”
“Well,” said Penrod, clearing his mouth after a struggle, “who wants ’em to? Ouch!”
“I hear they call Georgie Bassett the ‘little gentleman,’” ventured the barber, provocatively, meeting with instant success.
“They better not call me that,” returned Penrod truculently. “I’d like to hear anybody try. Just once, that’s all! I bet they’d never try it ag——Ouch!”