“What did you say about ham?” Pee-wee shouted down at him.
“Ham Sanders,” Peter called back defiantly.
“I though you said ham sandwich,” Pee-wee retorted.
“He can—he’s even—he can even handle a bull,” shouted Peter, carried away by excitement. “All the—the—gasoline is gone—it is—because now I can hear it stop dripping—so—now—now what are you going to do? So?”
Mr. Swiper lost no time upon hearing Peter’s startling announcement. Rushing to the back of the car he confirmed the information by a frantically hurried inspection, keeping up a running fire of curses the while. For a manual training teacher he was singularly profane.
Nor did he tarry to administer any corporeal rebukes, more than to send poor Peter reeling as he brushed him aside with imprecations in his flight. Since the auto had been so generously handed to him by a kind boy scout, perhaps the loss of it was not such a shock as it might otherwise have been. There were other autos.
Mr. Swiper saved himself and that was his chief concern. He was not going to take any chances with Ham Sanders. In the last few miles of their inglorious journey, Pee-wee had been trouble enough to him and how to get rid of that redoubtable youngster had been a question. So Mr. Swiper paused not to make an issue of Peter Piper’s audacious act. He withdrew into the shelter of the woods and in the fullness of time to the more secure shelter of an Illinois penitentiary where he was entered under the name of Chick Swiper, alias Chick the Speeder, alias Chick the Gent, alias the Car King, alias Jack Skidder—perhaps because he was so slippery.
In his official pedigree there was nothing about his being a manual training teacher, though he must have had some knowledge of the use of tools for he removed the bars from his cell window with praiseworthy skill, and was later caught in Michigan, I think.
So there sat Pee-wee glaring down upon Peter, still frightened at himself for the stir that he had made in the great world.
“You foiled him,” said Pee-wee. “Do you know what? He was a thief; he was stealing this auto.”
“Yes, and you’re a thief too,” said Peter, removing the lantern from the rope and holding it up toward the auto. He was quite brave and collected now. “And if you want to run you’d better do it before anybody comes, that’s what I’ll tell you. You’re—you’re dressed up just like a thief; I can tell. Anyway, you can’t take the auto.”
“Do you call me a thief?” shouted Pee-wee. “That shows how much you know; I’m a boy scout. Do you think scouts steal things? That shows how much you know about logic.”
“You’re a thief, you can’t fool me,” Peter retorted courageously. “Look at the way you look. I’m not scared of you, either—or him either.”