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Produced by Ken Smidge


By Booth Tarkington


I. Penrod and Sam
II. The Bonded Prisoner
III. The Militarist
IV. Bingism
V. The In-Or-In
VI. Georgie Becomes a Member
VII. Whitey
VIII. Salvage
IX. Reward of Merit
X. Conscience
XI. The Tonic
XII. Gipsy
XIII. Concerning Trousers
XIV. Camera Work in the Jungle
XV. A Model Letter to a Friend
XVI. Wednesday Madness
XVII. Penrod's Busy Day
XVIII. On Account of the Weather
XIX. Creative Art
XX. The Departing Guest
XXI. Yearnings
XXII. The Horn of Fame
XXIII. The Party
XXIV. The Heart of Marjorie Jones


During the daylight hours of several autumn Saturdays there had been
severe outbreaks of cavalry in the Schofield neighbourhood. The sabres
were of wood; the steeds were imaginary, and both were employed in a
game called "bonded pris'ner" by its inventors, Masters Penrod Schofield
and Samuel Williams. The pastime was not intricate. When two enemies
met, they fenced spectacularly until the person of one or the other was
touched by the opposing weapon; then, when the ensuing claims of foul
play had been disallowed and the subsequent argument settled, the
combatant touched was considered to be a prisoner until such time as
he might be touched by the hilt of a sword belonging to one of his own
party, which effected his release and restored to him the full enjoyment
of hostile activity. Pending such rescue, however, he was obliged to
accompany the forces of his captor whithersoever their strategical
necessities led them, which included many strange places. For the game
was exciting, and, at its highest pitch, would sweep out of an alley
into a stable, out of that stable and into a yard, out of that yard and
into a house, and through that house with the sound (and effect upon
furniture) of trampling herds. In fact, this very similarity must have
been in the mind of the distressed coloured woman in Mrs. Williams's
kitchen, when she declared that she might "jes' as well try to cook
right spang in the middle o' the stock-yards."

All up and down the neighbourhood the campaigns were waged, accompanied
by the martial clashing of wood upon wood and by many clamorous

"You're a pris'ner, Roddy Bitts!"

"I am not!"

"You are, too! I touched you."

"Where, I'd like to know!"

"On the sleeve."

"You did not! I never felt it. I guess I'd 'a' felt it, wouldn't I?"

"What if you didn't? I touched you, and you're bonded. I leave it to Sam

"Yah! Course you would! He's on your side! _I_ leave it to Herman."

"No, you won't! If you can't show any SENSE about it, we'll do it over,
and I guess you'll see whether you feel it or not! There! NOW, I guess
you - "

"Aw, squash!"

Strangely enough, the undoubted champion proved to be the youngest and
darkest of all the combatants, one Verman, coloured, brother to Herman,
and substantially under the size to which his nine years entitled him.
Verman was unfortunately tongue-tied, but he was valiant beyond all
others, and, in spite of every handicap, he became at once the chief
support of his own party and the despair of the opposition.

On the third Saturday this opposition had been worn down by the
successive captures of Maurice Levy and Georgie Bassett until it
consisted of only Sam Williams and Penrod. Hence, it behooved these
two to be wary, lest they be wiped out altogether; and Sam was dismayed
indeed, upon cautiously scouting round a corner of his own stable, to
find himself face to face with the valorous and skilful Verman, who was
acting as an outpost, or picket, of the enemy.

Verman immediately fell upon Sam, horse and foot, and Sam would
have fled but dared not, for fear he might be touched from the rear.
Therefore, he defended himself as best he could, and there followed a
lusty whacking, in the course of which Verman's hat, a relic and too
large, fell from his head, touching Sam's weapon in falling.

"There!" panted Sam, desisting immediately. "That counts! You're bonded,

"Aim meewer!" Verman protested.

Interpreting this as "Ain't neither", Sam invented a law to suit the
occasion. "Yes, you are; that's the rule, Verman. I touched your hat
with my sword, and your hat's just the same as you."

"Imm mop!" Verman insisted.

"Yes, it is," said Sam, already warmly convinced (by his own statement)
that he was in the right. "Listen here! If I hit you on the shoe, it
would be the same as hitting YOU, wouldn't it? I guess it'd count if I
hit you on the shoe, wouldn't it? Well, a hat's just the same as shoes.
Honest, that's the rule, Verman, and you're a pris'ner."

Now, in the arguing part of the game, Verman's impediment cooperated
with a native amiability to render him far less effective than in the
actual combat. He chuckled, and ceded the point.

"Aw wi," he said, and cheerfully followed his captor to a hidden place
among some bushes in the front yard, where Penrod lurked.

"Looky what _I_ got!" Sam said importantly, pushing his captive into
this retreat. "NOW, I guess you won't say I'm not so much use any more!
Squat down, Verman, so's they can't see you if they're huntin' for us.
That's one o' the rules - honest. You got to squat when we tell you to."

Verman was agreeable. He squatted, and then began to laugh uproariously.

"Stop that noise!" Penrod commanded. "You want to betray us? What you
laughin' at?"

"Ep mack im mimmup," Verman giggled.

"What's he mean?" Sam asked.

Penrod was more familiar with Verman's utterance, and he interpreted.

"He says they'll get him back in a minute."

"No, they won't. I'd just like to see - "

"Yes, they will, too," Penrod said. "They'll get him back for the main
and simple reason we can't stay here all day, can we? And they'd find us
anyhow, if we tried to. There's so many of 'em against just us two, they
can run in and touch him soon as they get up to us - and then HE'LL be
after us again and - "

"Listen here!" Sam interrupted. "Why can't we put some REAL bonds on
him? We could put bonds on his wrists and around his legs - we could put
'em all over him, easy as nothin'. Then we could gag him - "

"No, we can't," said Penrod. "We can't, for the main and simple reason
we haven't got any rope or anything to make the bonds with, have we? I
wish we had some o' that stuff they give sick people. THEN, I bet they
wouldn't get him back so soon!"

"Sick people?" Sam repeated, not comprehending.

"It makes 'em go to sleep, no matter what you do to 'em," Penrod
explained. "That's the main and simple reason they can't wake up, and
you can cut off their ole legs - or their arms, or anything you want to."

"Hoy!" exclaimed Verman, in a serious tone. His laughter ceased
instantly, and he began to utter a protest sufficiently intelligible.

"You needn't worry," Penrod said gloomily. "We haven't got any o' that
stuff; so we can't do it."

"Well, we got to do sumpthing," Sam said.

His comrade agreed, and there was a thoughtful silence; but presently
Penrod's countenance brightened.

"I know!" he exclaimed. "_I_ know what we'll do with him. Why, I thought
of it just as EASY! I can most always think of things like that, for the
main and simple reason - well, I thought of it just as soon - "

"Well, what is it?" Sam demanded crossly. Penrod's reiteration of his
new-found phrase, "for the main and simple reason", had been growing
more and more irksome to his friend all day, though Sam was not
definitely aware that the phrase was the cause of his annoyance. "WHAT
are we goin' to do with him, you know so much?"

Penrod rose and peered over the tops of the bushes, shading his eyes
with his hand, a gesture that was unnecessary but had a good appearance.
He looked all round about him in this manner, finally vouchsafing a
report to the impatient Sam.

"No enemies in sight - just for the main and simple reason I expect
they're all in the alley and in Georgie Bassett's backyard."

"I bet they're not!" Sam said scornfully, his irritation much increased.
"How do YOU know so much about it?"

"Just for the main and simple reason," Penrod replied, with dignified

And at that, Sam felt a powerful impulse to do violence upon the person
of his comrade-in-arms. The emotion that prompted this impulse was so
primitive and straightforward that it almost resulted in action; but Sam
had a vague sense that he must control it as long as he could.

"Bugs!" he said.

Penrod was sensitive, and this cold word hurt him. However, he was
under the domination of his strategic idea, and he subordinated private
grievance to the common weal. "Get up!" he commanded. "You get up, too,
Verman. You got to - it's the rule. Now here I'll SHOW you what we're
goin' to do. Stoop over, and both o' you do just exackly like _I_ do.
You watch ME, because this biz'nuss has got to be done RIGHT!"

Sam muttered something; he was becoming more insurgent every moment, but
he obeyed. Likewise, Verman rose to his feet, ducked his head between
his shoulders, and trotted out to the sidewalk at Sam's heels, both
following Penrod and assuming a stooping position in imitation of him.
Verman was delighted with this phase of the game, and, also, he was
profoundly amused by Penrod's pomposity. Something dim and deep within
him perceived it to be cause for such merriment that he had ado to
master himself, and was forced to bottle and cork his laughter with both
hands. They proved insufficient; sputterings burst forth between his

"You stop that!" Penrod said, looking back darkly upon the prisoner.

Verman endeavoured to oblige, though giggles continued to leak from him
at intervals, and the three boys stole along the fence in single file,
proceeding in this fashion until they reached Penrod's own front gate.
Here the leader ascertained, by a reconnaissance as far as the
corner, that the hostile forces were still looking for them in another
direction. He returned in a stealthy but important manner to his
disgruntled follower and the hilarious captive.

"Well," said Sam impatiently, "I guess I'm not goin' to stand around
here all day, I guess! You got anything you want to do, why'n't you go
on and DO it?"

Penrod's brow was already contorted to present the appearance of
detached and lofty concentration - a histrionic failure, since it did not
deceive the audience. He raised a hushing hand.

"SH!" he murmured. "I got to think."

"Bugs!" the impolite Mr. Williams said again.

Verman bent double, squealing and sputtering; indeed, he was ultimately
forced to sit upon the ground, so exhausting was the mirth to which he
now gave way. Penrod's composure was somewhat affected and he showed

"Oh, I guess you won't laugh quite so much about minute from now, ole
Mister Verman!" he said severely. "You get up from there and do like I
tell you."

"Well, why'n't you TELL him why he won't laugh so much, then?" Sam
demanded, as Verman rose. "Why'n't you do sumpthing and quit talkin' so
much about it?"

Penrod haughtily led the way into the yard.

"You follow me," he said, "and I guess you'll learn a little sense!"

Then, abandoning his hauteur for an air of mystery equally irritating
to Sam, he stole up the steps of the porch, and, after a moment's
manipulation of the knob of the big front door, contrived to operate the
fastenings, and pushed the door open.

"Come on," he whispered, beckoning. And the three boys mounted the
stairs to the floor above in silence - save for a belated giggle on
the part of Verman, which was restrained upon a terrible gesture from
Penrod. Verman buried his mouth as deeply as possible in a ragged
sleeve, and confined his demonstrations to a heaving of the stomach and

Penrod led the way into the dainty room of his nineteen-year-old sister,
Margaret, and closed the door.

"There," he said, in a low and husky voice, "I expect you'll see what
I'm goin' to do now!"

"Well, what?" the skeptical Sam asked. "If we stay here very long your
mother'll come and send us downstairs. What's the good of - "

"WAIT, can't you?" Penrod wailed, in a whisper. "My goodness!" And going
to an inner door, he threw it open, disclosing a clothes-closet hung
with pretty garments of many kinds, while upon its floor were two rows
of shoes and slippers of great variety and charm.

A significant thing is to be remarked concerning the door of this
somewhat intimate treasury: there was no knob or latch upon the inner
side, so that, when the door was closed, it could be opened only from
the outside.

"There!" said Penrod. "You get in there, Verman, and I'll bet they won't
get to touch you back out o' bein' our pris'ner very soon, NOW! Oh, I
guess not!"

"Pshaw!" said Sam. "Is that all you were goin' to do? Why, your
mother'll come and make him get out the first - "

"No, she won't. She and Margaret have gone to my aunt's in the country,
and aren't goin' to be back till dark. And even if he made a lot o'
noise, it's kind of hard to hear anything from in there, anyway, when
the door's shut. Besides, he's got to keep quiet - that's the rule,
Verman. You're a pris'ner, and it's the rule you can't holler or
nothin'. You unnerstand that, Verman?"

"Aw wi," said Verman.

"Then go on in there. Hurry!"

The obedient Verman marched into the closet and sat down among the shoes
and slippers, where he presented an interesting effect of contrast. He
was still subject to hilarity - though endeavouring to suppress it by
means of a patent-leather slipper - when Penrod closed the door.

"There!" said Penrod, leading the way from the room. "I guess NOW you

Sam said nothing, and they came out to the open air and reached their
retreat in the Williams' yard again, without his having acknowledged
Penrod's service to their mutual cause.

"I thought of that just as easy!" Penrod remarked, probably prompted
to this odious bit of complacency by Sam's withholding the praise that
might naturally have been expected. And he was moved to add, "I guess
it'd of been a pretty long while if we'd had to wait for you to think of
something as good as that, Sam."

"Why would it?" Sam asked. "Why would it of been such a long while?"

"Oh," Penrod responded airily, "just for the main and simple reason!"

Sam could bear it no longer. "Oh, hush up!" he shouted.

Penrod was stung. "Do you mean ME?" he demanded.

"Yes, I do!" the goaded Sam replied.

"Did you tell ME to hush up?"

"Yes, I did!"

"I guess you don't know who you're talkin' to," Penrod said ominously.
"I guess I just better show you who you're talkin' to like that. I guess
you need a little sumpthing, for the main and simple - "

Sam uttered an uncontrollable howl and sprang upon Penrod, catching him
round the waist. Simultaneously with this impact, the wooden swords spun
through the air and were presently trodden underfoot as the two boys
wrestled to and fro.

Penrod was not altogether surprised by the onset of his friend. He had
been aware of Sam's increasing irritation (though neither boy could
have clearly stated its cause) and that very irritation produced a
corresponding emotion in the bosom of the irritator. Mentally, Penrod
was quite ready for the conflict - nay, he welcomed it - though, for the
first few moments, Sam had the physical advantage.

However, it is proper that a neat distinction be drawn here. This was
a conflict; but neither technically nor in the intention of the
contestants was it a fight. Penrod and Sam were both in a state of high
exasperation, and there was great bitterness; but no blows fell and no
tears. They strained, they wrenched, they twisted, and they panted and
muttered: "Oh, no, you don't!" "Oh, I guess I do!" "Oh, you will, will
you?" "You'll see what you get in about a minute!" "I guess you'll learn
some sense this time!"

Streaks and blotches began to appear upon the two faces, where colour
had been heightened by the ardent application of a cloth sleeve or
shoulder, while ankles and insteps were scraped and toes were trampled.
Turf and shrubberies suffered, also, as the struggle went on, until
finally the wrestlers pitched headlong into a young lilac bush, and came
to earth together, among its crushed and sprawling branches.

"OOCH!" and "WUF!" were the two exclamations which marked this episode,
and then, with no further comment, the struggle was energetically
continued upon a horizontal plane. Now Penrod was on top, now Sam; they
rolled, they squirmed, they suffered. And this contest endured. It went
on and on, and it was impossible to imagine its coming to a definite
termination. It went on so long that to both the participants it seemed
to be a permanent thing, a condition that had always existed and that
must always exist perpetually.

And thus they were discovered by a foray of the hostile party, headed
by Roddy Bitts and Herman (older brother to Verman) and followed by the
bonded prisoners, Maurice Levy and Georgie Bassett. These and others
caught sight of the writhing figures, and charged down upon them with
loud cries of triumph.

"Pris'ner! Pris'ner! Bonded pris'ner!" shrieked Roddy Bitts, and touched
Penrod and Sam, each in turn, with his sabre. Then, seeing that they
paid no attention and that they were at his mercy, he recalled the fact
that several times, during earlier stages of the game, both of them had
been unnecessarily vigorous in "touching" his own rather plump person.
Therefore, the opportunity being excellent, he raised his weapon again,
and, repeating the words "bonded pris'ner" as ample explanation of his
deed, brought into play the full strength of his good right arm. He used
the flat of the sabre.

WHACK! WHACK! Roddy was perfectly impartial. It was a cold-blooded
performance and even more effective than he anticipated. For one thing,
it ended the civil war instantly. Sam and Penrod leaped to their feet,
shrieking and bloodthirsty, while Maurice Levy capered with joy, Herman
was so overcome that he rolled upon the ground, and Georgie Bassett
remarked virtuously:

"It serves them right for fighting."

But Roddy Bitts foresaw that something not within the rules of the game
was about to happen.

"Here! You keep away from me!" he quavered, retreating. "I was just
takin' you pris'ners. I guess I had a right to TOUCH you, didn't I?"

Alas! Neither Sam nor Penrod was able to see the matter in that light.
They had retrieved their own weapons, and they advanced upon Roddy with
a purposefulness that seemed horrible to him.

"Here! You keep away from me!" he said, in great alarm. "I'm goin'

He did go home - but only subsequently. What took place before his
departure had the singular solidity and completeness of systematic
violence; also, it bore the moral beauty of all actions that lead to
peace and friendship, for, when it was over, and the final vocalizations
of Roderick Magsworth Bitts, Junior, were growing faint with increasing
distance, Sam and Penrod had forgotten their differences and felt well
disposed toward each other once more. All their animosity was exhausted,
and they were in a glow of good feeling, though probably they were not
conscious of any direct gratitude to Roddy, whose thoughtful opportunism
was really the cause of this happy result.


After such rigorous events, every one comprehended that the game of
bonded prisoner was over, and there was no suggestion that it should or
might be resumed. The fashion of its conclusion had been so consummately
enjoyed by all parties (with the natural exception of Roddy Bitts) that
a renewal would have been tame; hence, the various minds of the company
turned to other matters and became restless. Georgie Bassett withdrew
first, remembering that if he expected to be as wonderful as usual,
to-morrow, in Sunday-school, it was time to prepare himself, though
this was not included in the statement he made alleging the cause of
his departure. Being detained bodily and pressed for explanation, he
desperately said that he had to go home to tease the cook - which had
the rakehelly air he thought would insure his release, but was not
considered plausible. However, he was finally allowed to go, and, as
first hints of evening were already cooling and darkening the air,
the party broke up, its members setting forth, whistling, toward their
several homes, though Penrod lingered with Sam. Herman was the last to
go from them.

"Well, I got git 'at stove-wood f' suppuh," he said, rising and
stretching himself. "I got git 'at lil' soap-box wagon, an' go on ovuh
wheres 'at new house buil'in' on Secon' Street; pick up few shingles an'
blocks layin' roun'."

He went through the yard toward the alley, and, at the alley gate,
remembering something, he paused and called to them. The lot was a
deep one, and they were too far away to catch his meaning. Sam shouted,
"Can't HEAR you!" and Herman replied, but still unintelligibly; then,
upon Sam's repetition of "Can't HEAR you!" Herman waved his arm in
farewell, implying that the matter was of little significance, and
vanished. But if they had understood him, Penrod and Sam might have
considered his inquiry of instant importance, for Herman's last shout
was to ask if either of them had noticed "where Verman went."

Verman and Verman's whereabouts were, at this hour, of no more concern
to Sam and Penrod than was the other side of the moon. That unfortunate
bonded prisoner had been long since utterly effaced from their fields
of consciousness, and the dark secret of their Bastille troubled them
not - for the main and simple reason that they had forgotten it.

They drifted indoors, and found Sam's mother's white cat drowsing on
a desk in the library, the which coincidence obviously inspired the
experiment of ascertaining how successfully ink could be used in making
a clean white cat look like a coach-dog. There was neither malice
nor mischief in their idea; simply, a problem presented itself to the
biological and artistic questionings beginning to stir within them.
They did not mean to do the cat the slightest injury or to cause her any
pain. They were above teasing cats, and they merely detained this one
and made her feel a little wet - at considerable cost to themselves from
both the ink and the cat. However, at the conclusion of their efforts,
it was thought safer to drop the cat out of the window before anybody
came, and, after some hasty work with blotters, the desk was moved to
cover certain sections of the rug, and the two boys repaired to the
bathroom for hot water and soap. They knew they had done nothing wrong;
but they felt easier when the only traces remaining upon them were the
less prominent ones upon their garments.

These precautions taken, it was time for them to make their appearance
at Penrod's house for dinner, for it had been arranged, upon petition
earlier in the day, that Sam should be his friend's guest for the
evening meal. Clean to the elbows and with light hearts, they set forth.
They marched, whistling - though not producing a distinctly musical
effect, since neither had any particular air in mind - and they found
nothing wrong with the world; they had not a care. Arrived at their
adjacent destination, they found Miss Margaret Schofield just entering
the front door.

"Hurry, boys!" she said. "Mamma came home long before I did, and I'm
sure dinner is waiting. Run on out to the dining-room and tell them I'll
be right down."

And, as they obeyed, she mounted the stairs, humming a little tune and
unfastening the clasp of the long, light-blue military cape she wore.
She went to her own quiet room, lit the gas, removed her hat and placed
it and the cape upon the bed; after which she gave her hair a push,
subsequent to her scrutiny of a mirror; then, turning out the light, she
went as far as the door. Being an orderly girl, she returned to the bed
and took the cape and the hat to her clothes-closet. She opened the
door of this sanctuary, and, in the dark, hung her cape upon a hook and
placed her hat upon the shelf. Then she closed the door again, having
noted nothing unusual, though she had an impression that the place
needed airing. She descended to the dinner table.

The other members of the family were already occupied with the meal, and
the visitor was replying politely, in his non-masticatory intervals, to
inquiries concerning the health of his relatives. So sweet and assured
was the condition of Sam and Penrod that Margaret's arrival from her

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