Although the many hours spent frolicking gaily in the meadow took it's toll on all of the van Pennyman kids' schoolwork, it was most evident with Henry. By the time he was twelve, he had already repeated 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade (twice). As a result, young Henry was relentlessly teased by his classmates who, at this point, were several years younger than him. Soon, due to Henry's scholastic struggles, the entire van Pennyman family became the butt of jokes throughout the village.
One day, Henry's sister, who on numerous occasions had been caught frolicking gaily behind the windmill with a local gypsy woman who smelled of goat's milk, sat her brother down and explained to him the embarrassment he had brought to the van Pennyman name.
This was difficult for Henry to accept and, although his school records and the opinions of all who knew him proved otherwise, he was no idiot. Henry knew what needed to be done.
The next day, Henry was the first child at school--arriving before it even opened. He sat patiently in front of the small brick building, resisting the urge to skip out to the meadow and frolic, determined to change the course of his young life. He even opened his books and pretended to read them. It should be no surprise that, having failed every grade at least once, Henry could scarcely read. In fact, had his sister not been such close friends with the old schoolmarm, it's likely Henry would still be in the first grade.
Henry waited and waited and waited for his teacher and classmates to arrive. By noon, still not realizing it was Saturday and school was closed, he decided to give up his wait and head over to the meadow to frolic.
The following Monday, back in school, Henry sat at his desk with as much studiousness as he could muster while the teacher collected the students' homework assignments. Henry, of course, had not done his. Knowing the embarrassment he had already brought upon the van Pennyman name, he panicked. Unwilling to miss yet another assignment, he carefully pulled a written paper from the notebook of the boy who sat in front of him, put his name on it, and handed it in.
The next day proved to be a turning point in young Henry's life. The paper he had turned in was, his teacher declared, the finest piece of writing she had ever seen by a fourteen-year-old third grader. Word of Henry's literary genius spread quickly. Henry had restored honor to the van Pennyman name. More importantly, he now knew the path he must take in life. Henry was going to be a writer--essays, novels, poetry, anything and everything.
Over the next few years, Henry's celebrity grew as the legend of Henry the brilliant writer spread from his small village to neighboring towns and cities throughout the countryside. The van Pennyman name became synonymous with high-society. Now, when Henry frolicked in the meadow, he did so wearing a top hat and cape.
Yet, by the time he turned 18, he had still not produced a single word aside from his stolen paper, and the townspeople began to question if Henry had really written his original brilliant piece of work. Once again, Henry knew what needed to be done.
He visited the boy that he had stolen the homework assignment from, confessed his act, and offered to pay the boy 50 guilders to write something, anything, that Henry could put his name on. But the boy, being much brighter than Henry, made a counter offer: pay 100 guilders or he would tell everyone that Henry was a fraud.
That night, Henry quietly rummaged through his family members' belongings in an effort to gather 100 guildings, but could only find 40. He brought the money to the boy, offering his top hat to make up the difference. Enraged, the boy squeezed Henry's nuts so hard that Henry's screams echoed throughout the village. Then, the boy took Henry's top hat and 40 guildings, and proceeded to tell everyone that Henry was a thief, a fraud, and very possibly mentally retarded.
Henry had once again dishonored his family's name. They were mocked wherever they went and, eventually, the van Pennyman's were forced to leave the village they had called home for generations. They came to America, without Henry, dropped the "van" from their name in order to disassociate themselves from him, and started life anew.
But Henry van Pennyman's legacy lives on.
To this day, in the village from which he hailed, when it thunders, residents say that it is the sound of Henry roaring as his nuts are being squeezed. And when the storm passes and the sun comes out, it is Henry frolicking gaily in the meadows of heaven.
Here in America, the Pennyman's have vowed to honor Henry's fleeting love affair with writing, and to do so while mocking those would-be nut squeezers, top hat thieves, and bullies. To that end, they bring you... The Pennyman Post.