“That’s some argument,” Detective Slippett said, half smiling.
“I know even better arguments than that,” Pee-wee boasted.
“Well,” said Detective Spotson rather more gruffly, “you’d better look out how you try to interfere with the law, young feller, ’cause first thing you know you’ll find yourself in jail. And you’d better keep away from this outfit down here, too. Now you chase yourself back to where you belong—see?”
“You thought you were going to scare me, didn’t you?” Pee-wee said.
Pee-wee retraced his steps back across the field feeling righteous and triumphant. To him the interests of the Boy Scouts of America superseded every other interest and like the true missionary he did not scruple overmuch as to means employed.
As he emerged Into the alley, Keekie Joe, looking frightened and apprehensive, appeared out of the surrounding squalor. It was a characteristic of Keekie Joe that he always appeared without warning. A long habit of sneaking had given him this uncanny quality. Suddenly Pee-wee, in the full blush of his heroic triumph, was aware of the poor wretch shuffling along beside him.
“Wot’d they say ter yer? Wot’d yer tell ’em?” he asked fearfully.
“I didn’t tell them anything,” Pee-wee said. “As long as the fellers got away they won’t blame you. Anyway, if you’d have been there they’d have been caught, because you didn’t know those detectives because they’re strangers around here.”
“How’d you know them?” Keekie Joe inquired.
“Gee, scouts are supposed to know everything,” Pee-wee informed him.
Keekie Joe gave a side glance at Pee-wee as he shuffled along at his side. He was rather interested in a class of boys who knew all officials on sight; here indeed was something worth knowing. “Yer spotted ’em?” he asked incredulously.
“Sure I did,” said Pee-wee with great alacrity; “because scouts are supposed to be observant, see? I saw them in Northvale once. But, believe me, I didn’t holla. Oh, no! I ran over and told the fellers and they all got away, so as long as you didn’t leave them in the lurch it was all right. So now will you join the scouts? They always carry licorice jaw-breakers in their pockets,” he added as a supplementary inducement; “anyway I do—lemon ones too, and strawberry ones.”
“How many is in your gang?” Joe asked.
“Nobody yet,” said Pee-wee, “because I haven’t got it started. But if you’ll join in with me we’ll start one. You’re supposed to hike and run a lot but if you want to run after fire engines and ambulances it’s all right.” He said this because of the favorite outdoor sport of Barrel Alley of trailing fire engines and ambulances. “So will you join?” he added.