“Do you want to stop and look at the tire marks yourself?” asked Norton. “It was that new Goodyear that I was tracking, the one that’s all crisscross.”
“You tracked it past the East road? So they didn’t turn down there? Sure?”
“That’s enough. Let’s see her step, Jim.”
Jim “soaked it to her” and she stepped. Not a bit of fuss did she make over it. Just stepped. A silent, fleet step, like the step of a deer. And the spectral trees on either side seemed to glide the other way, and east road seemed like a piece of string across their path, and Oppie’s mill was but a transient speck and Valesboro was brushed aside like a particle of dust.
The car of a thousand delights could not do that....
Pee-wee, the irrepressible, was subdued at last. In gaping amazement he watched the Justice cross from the ’phone to the table, sit down, and begin to write. The demeanor of the Justice was anything but dramatic; he was calm, matter of fact, as if this were no more than he had expected.
“What do you mean, it’s—in—his garage?” Pee-wee stammered. He was not at all defiant now. “Are you—were you talking—are you sure it was him?”
There was a note of sincerity, of honest surprise, in his voice which the Justice did not miss. And as for Peter Piper, his heart went out to this poor, shabby, little misguided fellow, whoever and whatever he was. He was so much at a disadvantage now, that Peter felt sorry for him.
“Now, sonny,” said Justice Fee, breaking the tense silence, “I’m going to hold you till we get to the bottom of this. Mr. Sanders, who’s constable, is going to look after you (Pee-wee gulped and fingered his cap nervously) till we can overhaul that pal of yours. You’re more to be pitied than blamed I reckon. There’s altogether too much of this using small boys in criminal enterprises. I know,” he added, holding up a warning finger, “he told you just what to say if you were caught, and you needn’t say it, because, you see, I can’t believe you.”
Pee-wee was visibly sobbing now; he knew what “being taken care of” meant. He was afraid, yes, and bewildered at being caught in this cruel web of circumstance. But most of all he was incensed and shamed by this indignity. He could not trust himself to speak, he would break down. Something was wrong, everything was wrong, fate was against him, he could not grapple with the situation. If he spoke, he would say too much and lose his temper in that solemn hall of justice. And what would happen to him then?
His hands played nervously with his old cap, he bit his lips, and tried to repress the torrent that was surging in him. The outlandish old gray sweater with its rolling collar bulging up around his small, jerking throat, did not seem comical now. It made him the picture of pathos. He did not dare try to explain; that wonderful old man would only catch him in another trap and perhaps send him to state prison. His breath came quick and fast; he could no more speak than he could escape. He wished that Roy Blakeley were there, and Tom Slade, who knew how to talk to grown-up men and....