Many adventures awaited this redoubtable young scout but one terrible ordeal he escaped. In this he was, as he had said, lucky. For the very next picture on the screen after he had made his half-conscious exit, showed a lot of children in Europe being fed out of the munificent hand of Uncle Sam. And Pee-wee could never have stayed in his seat and quietly watched that tormenting performance.
Scout Harris never knew exactly when he passed out of the realm of dreams into the realm of wakefulness, for in both conditions pistols played a leading part. He was aware of a boy scout holding Secretary Hoover at bay with two pistols and Mr. Ellsworth, his scoutmaster, rescuing the statesman with several more pistols. And then he was very distinctly aware of someone saying,
“How many pistols have you got?”
“Twenty-seven,” another voice answered.
“I’ve got forty-three and two blackjacks,” said the first voice.
“You’re wrong,” said the other.
“I jotted them down,” the first voice replied.
“We should worry,” the other one laughed.
At this appalling revelation of seventy pistols between them, to say nothing of two blackjacks, there seemed indeed very little for the speakers to worry about. But for Scout Harris, whose whole stock of ammunition consisted of a remnant of sandwich and the almost naked core of an apple, there seemed much to worry about.
Pee-wee realized now that he was awake and being borne along at an excessive rate of speed. He knew that he was in Bartlett’s big Hunkajunk car and that the dark figures with all the firearms on the front seat were not Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett.
Trembling, he spread the robe so as the more completely to cover his small form including his head. For a moment he had a wild impulse to cast this covering off and scream, or at least, to jump from the speeding car. But a peek from underneath the robe convinced him of the folly of this. To jump would be to lose his life; to scream—well, what chance would he have with two bloodthirsty robbers armed with seventy pistols and two blackjacks? There were few boy scouts who could despatch an apple core with such accuracy of aim as W. Harris, but of what avail is an apple core against seventy pistols?
He could not hear all that was said on the front seat but the fragments of talk that he did hear were alarming in the last degree.
“—best way to handle them,” said one of those dark figures.
“I’ve got a couple of dead ones to worry about,” said the other.
Pee-wee curled up smaller under the robe and hardly breathed. Indeed two dead ones was something to worry about. Suppose—suppose he should be the third!
“One for me, but I’m not worrying about him,” said the other.
“We’ll get away with it,” his companion commented.