writing on his sixty-fifth birthday to a complaining neighbor, the author of boys' stories admits his softness for some impish neighborhood boys who congregate on his front steps. "I know I ought to respect my duty & perform it, but I am weak & faithless where boys are concerned, & I can't help secretly approving pretty bad & noisy ones, though I do object to the kind that ring door-bells." In allowing the children to sit on his steps, he indulges himself in a brief moment of juvenile defiance against standard decorum, which he attributes to the infirmity of old age: "My family try to get me to stop the boys from holding conventions on the front steps, but I basely shirk out of it, because I think the boys enjoy it. And I believe I enjoy it a little, too, because it pesters the family. My wife has been complaining to me this evening about the boys on the front steps, & under compulsion I have made some promises. But I am very forgetful, now that I am old & my sense of duty getting spongy."
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