“You’re a thief and I don’t care what you say,” said Peter, his agitation rising with his anger, “and it’s miles and miles to a village and there’s nothing but woods—”
“Scouts can eat moss, they can,” Pee-wee interrupted.
“And you can’t fool me,” Peter continued.
“I’ll go scout pace for you,” Pee-wee said with a sudden inspiration—
“Yes, you’ll go scout pacing away—”
“Will you let me speak?” Pee-wee fairly screeched.
“No, I won’t. You’re a robber and now you’re caught and it serves you right because you didn’t find out about the scouts and join them and have fun that way and then you wouldn’t have to go to jail for stealing.”
W. Harris, mascot of the Raven Patrol, First Bridgeboro Troop, looked down with withering scorn upon this shabby advocate of scouting. And Peter Piper returned the look fearfully, yet bravely. After the tremendous thing he had done he was not going to be fooled by this hoodlum crook who seemed to have haphazard knowledge of those wonderful, far-off beings in natty khaki and shining things hanging from their belts. He would not even discuss those misty, unknown comrades with this lawbreaker. Anybody might learn a little about the scouts, even a thief.
“You don’t know anything about them,” he said, holding up his head as if proudly claiming brotherhood with those distant heroes in their rich, wonderful attire; “I won’t talk about them. Because I know about them even—even if they don’t know me. They sent me a message; they didn’t know, but they did it just the same. So I belong too. You can make believe you have a uniform—you can. You can be miles and miles and miles and miles—”
He paused and listened. Down the road, in the still night, sounded the gentle melody of clanking milk cans mingled with the pensive strains of loose and squeaking wheels. It was the melodious orchestra which always heralded the approach of Ham Sanders who was so strong that he could handle a bull.
“Do you think I’m scared?” said Pee-wee.
Evidently he was not.
That Pee-wee Harris, the only original boy scout, positively guaranteed, should be pronounced not a scout! Why that was like saying that water was not wet or (to use a more fitting comparison) that mince pie was not good.
To say that Pee-wee Harris was in the scouts would not be saying enough. Rather should it be said that the scouts were all in Pee-wee Harris. The Scout movement had not swallowed him, he had swallowed it, the same as he swallowed everything else. He had swallowed it whole. He was the boy scout just as much as Uncle Sam is the United States, except that he was much greater and more terrible than Uncle Sam. Oh, much. He was just as much a boy scout as the Fourth of July is a noise. Except that he was more of a noise.