“Ha, ha,” sneered the Hero, and from that moment Kernel Cob disliked him.
“But you haven’t told me how you got into the water,” persisted the Villain.
“We came on a sea-horse from Cuba,” said Sweetclover.
“That must have been an exciting adventure,” said the Villain. “Tell me all of it.”
And Kernel Cob told him how they had been to the Moon on a parasol and all that. When he had finished, he asked the Villain to tell them some of his adventures.
But the Villain was a modest sort of fellow and would say nothing but that he was very unhappy, leading a wicked life. What annoyed him most, he said, was that nearly everybody thought he was bad.
“It only goes to show,” he said, “that you can never go by anybody’s looks.”
“You’re right,” said Kernel Cob, and gave a sharp glance at the Hero. “Many a kind heart beats beneath an ugly face.”
And then the row-boat landed at the dock, and the showman, taking the Villain and the Hero under one arm and Kernel Cob and Sweetclover under the other, got out and walked away.
Through the town they went and everywhere children ran after them, and wondered at the strange puppets. And after a while they came to a little theatre and were thrown down among a lot of other puppets.
“I don’t intend to stay here,” said Kernel Cob. “I’m going to run away. I’ve got to find Jackie and Peggs’ motheranfather.”
“I don’t think you’ll be able to get away,” said the Villain.
“Well, at least I’ll try,” answered Kernel Cob. “Wouldn’t you like to come with us?”
“You bet,” said the Villain, for he had taken a great fancy to Kernel Cob and especially to Sweetclover, whose gentle manners appealed very strongly to him. “But how are you going to do it?”
“Let me think,” said Kernel Cob and they were very quiet for a long while.
“I tell you what,” said the Villain, “When I am going to play I’ll run off the stage and as soon as you see the Showman run after me, you must be ready to run and before he catches me, you’ll be safe away.”
“But you won’t be able to come with us, then,” said Sweetclover, “and you’ll be beaten.”
“Well, as long as you and Kernel Cob get away, it won’t matter what happens to me,” said the Villain.
“That’s very noble of you, I’m sure,” said Kernel Cob, “and I see that you are a very friendly Villain, but I think I can find a better plan than that.”
While they were talking, the Showman came and tied some strings on Kernel Cob and Sweetclover.
“What’s that for?” asked Kernel Cob.
“I guess you are going to play in the show,” explained the Villain. “That’s the way he works us.”
“Now we will never be able to get away,” sighed Sweetclover.