“With a fried egg on your head?”
“No-o-o. I’ll show you how to make a thing to get olives out of the bottom of a bottle too; it’s better than a hatpin, but a hatpin is good to catch pollywogs with. There’s a Pollywog Patrol that comes to Temple Camp. Gee, I never knew that silver cup was in the car with me all the time.”
“Well, we expect you to walk away with that,” said Scoutmaster Ned. “You rode away with it once. So now we expect you to walk away with it.”
“It’s won already,” said Charlie Norris. “Nick’s the one.”
“Gee whiz, I wish I had seen that signal,” said Pee-wee, “but anyway I have to admit it was a stunt sending it. Gee, I guess you’ll get the cup all right.”
It was characteristic of Pee-wee that his thoughts did not recur to his lonely adversary at Piper’s Crossroads. His thoughts were always of the moment and aroused by the present company. He was just as ready to shout for others as he was to shout for himself, and that is saying a great deal. It was immaterial to him who he shouted for so long as he could shout.
Nick Vernon was the nearest and likeliest, so he was all for Nick’s stunt. And he was not in the least curious about the things said by that lonely boy with wide eyes who had stopped the car. He was thinking of other things now.
SCOUTMASTER NED DOESN’T SEE
But Scoutmaster Ned was curious and when they reached the little cottage he jumped out and, taking the can of gasoline he had brought, he bade the others go on their way, saying that he would follow when he got his car started.
“Well sir, you haven’t been sitting here all this time, I hope?” he said to Peter. “Nice brisk morning, hey? The kind of weather to give you an appetite.”
“Wouldn’t they wait for you?” Peter asked.
“I’m glad to get rid of them,” said Scoutmaster Ned in a way of friendly confidence; “they make a noise like an earthquake; that little fellow’s the worst of the lot; he ought to have a muffler.”
“Is he a real scout?” Peter ventured.
“Oh, he’s two or three scouts. What d’you think of them? Crazy bunch, hey?”
“They’re all real scouts—are they?” Peter asked hesitatingly.
“They think they are. Now look here,” he added, sitting down on the running board in a companionable way beside Peter, “I want you to tell me what made you say that road was closed. There was a light in the sky; you saw that? Big, tall light?”
“That—that fellow—named Nick—he made it.”
“Yes, and what made you close the road? Somebody tell you the light meant something?”
“There isn’t anybody around here,” said Peter, growing more at ease as everyone did with Scoutmaster Ned, “except Aunt Sarah Wickett and she’s crazy. There’s nobody in this house but my mother.”
“How about Mr. Fee? No? Well then, who told you to close the road? Come now, you and I are pals and you have to tell me.”