They paused on the frontier of Joe’s domain in the rear of the big bank building which fronted on Main Street. Here was the makeshift sidewalk of barrel staves whence the alley derived its name. “You have to be, kind of, you have to be a sort of a—kind of wild and reckless to join the scouts,” Pee-wee pleaded. “Maybe you’re kind of scared on account of thinking that you have to be civilized, but you don’t; you don’t even eat off plates,” he added with sudden inspiration. “We cook potatoes just like tramps do, right out in the woods; we hold them on sticks over the fire. So now will you join? If you will you’ll be elected patrol leader because there’s only one to vote for you and I’m the one and I’m a majority. See? So if you come in right now you’ll be sure to have a majority and I’ll buy some Eskimo pies, too.”
“Der yez swipe de pertaters?” Joe asked.
“We don’t exactly kind of what you would call swipe them,” Pee-wee was forced to confess. “But we get them in ways that are just as good. They taste just as good as if they were swiped, honest they do,” he hastened to add. “So will you come down by the river with me? That old railroad car down there is our meeting place and it’s got a stove in it and everything and there won’t be any one there to-day except just you and me and we’ll have an election and I’ll vote for you and you can vote for yourself and so you’ll be sure to be elected patrol leader. And after that I’ll show you what you have to do and most of it is eating and things like that. So will you say yes?”
Keekie Joe was not to be lured by promises of “eats,” though he was curious about the old railroad car. His answer to Pee-wee was characteristic of him. “I woudn’ join ’em, because they’re a lot of sissies,” he said, “but yer needn’ be ascared ter come down here because I woudn’ leave no guy hurt yer; I woudn’ leave ’em guy yer because yer a Boy Scout. If any of ’em starts guyen yer he’ll get an upper cut, see?”
Pee-wee went on his way thoroughly disappointed and disheartened. His thought was not that he had made a friend, but that he had lost a possible recruit. He had cherished no thought of reforming the wicked and uplifting the lowly in his effort to enlist this outlandish denizen of the slums. He was not the goody-goody little scout propagandist that we sometimes read about. He had simply been desperate and had lost all sense of discrimination. Anything would do if he could only start a patrol. What this sturdy little scout failed to understand was that in this particular enterprise the Boy Scouts had lost out but that Pee-wee Harris had won.
APPLE BLOSSOM TIME
Pee-wee stopped in Bennett’s Fresh Confectionery and regaled his drooping spirit with a chocolate soda. Then he continued his stroll up Main Street. He had always advertised his conviction that things invariably came his way but nothing came his way on this lonely Saturday morning.