“Shouldn’t wonder,” said Scoutmaster Ned, a little puzzled, but apparently satisfied. “Didn’t you say something about a signal? To that little codger? Or was he dreaming? Or am I dreaming?” He scrutinized Peter very curiously but seeing no sign of the scout about him, he dismissed the receiving end of this business with Peter’s rather awkward explanation, and let it go at that.
As for what Pee-wee had said, that did not worry Scoutmaster Ned. Pee-wee’s dream and experiences seemed to be all mixed up together like the things in a hunter’s stew. Scoutmaster Ned went by the signs, which scouts do, and the signs were a funny ticking shirt and a pair of pantaloons like stove pipes. No hint of scouting there.
For you see the scout was inside of Peter Piper of Piper’s Crossroads. That was why he was for Nick Vernon. It was inside him, and “disguised” (as Pee-wee would have said) as a checker-board shirt. And that was why Scoutmaster Ned couldn’t see it....
And so Peter Piper, of Piper’s Crossroads, proved too much for Scoutmaster Ned. He kept his secret. But he had a very narrow escape from being a hero.
Scoutmaster Ned had his way, too. “So you think you’d like to have a pike at that camp, eh?” he said.
Scoutmaster Ned’s theory about camping was to keep open house. If he lacked discipline (which it is to be feared he did) he made up in pep, and the surprises that he was forever springing on the camp were a perpetual joy. I suspect that he was not well versed in his scoutmasters’ handbook. He was a sort of human north wind. He adopted the pose of being driven to distraction by “those kids” and he denounced them roundly and said there were too many of them and that he was going to pick out one and drown the rest. Then he would show up with a new one. He was a sort of free-lance scoutmaster and I wonder how he ever drifted into the movement. Probably he didn’t drift in, but blew in. Scoutmaster Safety First (Bill) was his balance-wheel.
“Where is she? I’ll talk to her,” he said to Peter.
So he talked with Mrs. Piper while Peter stood by. He sat down in the kitchen and drank a glass of milk and ate a piece of pie and told her that it was the first real piece of pie he had ever eaten in his life. Would he have another? Well, he’d say he would! Mrs. Piper thought he was about the finest “young gent” she had ever seen.
He told her all about his adventures of the night as if she were a pal and when she said she had slept through all the rumpus outside, he said, “Well, you’ve got West Ketchem, where I come from, beaten twenty ways. Could I have just one little sliver—no, not as much as that—well, all right. That town, why you couldn’t wake it up, Mrs. Piper, not with an earthquake. It would just fall down through the crack in the earth and go right on sleeping—no I couldn’t eat another speck. We must be off.”