“Mr. Swiper,” said the stranger, rather thoughtfully; “let’s go and look it over.”
He was certainly considering the proposition and Pee-wee accompanied him back to the lake, keeping up a running fire of enthusiastic encouragement and representing to him the delight and self-satisfaction of circumventing a pair of scoundrels. “They’ve got pistols and everything,” he said as a clincher, “and if they’d steal a car they’d kill somebody, wouldn’t they?”
“Seventy pistols is a good many,” said Mr. Swiper, incredulously.
“Sure it is,” said Pee-wee excitedly; “it’s more than Jesse James had. I guess they belong to a big band of thieves, hey? Maybe they’ve got a—a—a haunt on the other side of that lake, hay? Now you can see it’s good to go to the movies, hey? Because we could never circum—foil them if I hadn’t, hey? They drove it right away from in front of the theater. Anyway,” he added excitedly as he trotted along, “I’m glad I met you because now I don’t have to wake up the police or anything, hey? And I bet Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett will be surprised when they see us bringing it back, won’t they? I’ll show you where we have our meetings.”
Mr. Swiper was not carried off his feet by Pee-wee’s excited talk. He was thoughtful and preoccupied.
“That’s one thing I have no use for—thieves,” Pee-wee said. “Gee whiz, I never took a ride with thieves before. But anyway it’s going to be all right now. We’ll just toot the horn in front of the house when we get there, hey? And I’ll say—I’ll say—’Here’s your car Mr. Bartlett.’ And then I’ll introduce you to him, hey? And I bet he’ll—anyway, you wouldn’t take anything, would you? Money or anything like that?”
“Don’t insult me,” said Mr. Swiper.
“I didn’t mean it,” Pee-wee said apologetically; “scouts are like that, they won’t take anything for a service, but eats don’t count, you can take eats. But I mean money——”
“Don’t speak of money again,” said Mr. Swiper.
Thanks to Pee-wee, the door of the rustic lakeside garage stood invitingly open.
“I won’t—I won’t say anything about money; gee whiz, you needn’t have any fear,” Pee-wee said, making a play for his companion’s good-will; “gee, I wouldn’t do that—I wouldn’t. But you could take a medal, couldn’t you? A scout good-will medal?” he added anxiously.
“Maybe,” said Mr. Swiper.
“Gee, you’ll have to take it,” said Pee-wee; “our scoutmaster will make you.”
Before entering the building, Mr. Swiper made an inspection of the lonely neighborhood, and looked out across the still, dark lake.
“That’s where they went?” he asked.
“Sure, they won’t see us,” Pee-wee said reassuringly.
But the manual training teacher was not going to take any chances with a crew of ruffians—not he.