To see him soberly going through with some adventure which the sprightly genius of his associates had conceived was as good as a circus. Naturally such a fellow was called “old” and they called him Old Rip and Good Old Rip and Doctor Rip and Professor Rip. His name was Townsend Ripley.
Townsend began at the very beginning to take the irrepressible ex-Raven very soberly indeed, and the more preposterous Pee-wee’s schemes the more in favor of them Townsend seemed to be. No doubt he got a great deal of amusement out of Pee-wee. But Pee-wee never knew it.
It was quite characteristic of Townsend Ripley that he did not ask Roly Poly anything about his extraordinary adventure. Amid the chorus of exclamations and inquiries he preserved a quiet, whimsical demeanor, glancing about as if rather interested in this desert island. There it was, and that was enough for him.
“If this island is going to keep moving you’ll have to put a license plate on it, Roly,” he drawled. “First thing you know you’ll have the inland waterway inspectors after you. You’re blocking up the channel too. Why didn’t you drift down as far as Southbridge where the taxes aren’t so high?”
“I was—I was thinking about it,” Pee-wee suddenly burst forth like a cyclone, “and there are a lot of things we can do—I’ve got a lot of ideas—there are seven things and we can do any one of them!”
“Why not do them all?” Ripley asked.
“That’s just what I say,” Pee-wee shouted.
“Or we can each do a different thing,” Ripley suggested. “There are just seven of us. Anything suits me.”
“Do you want to know how I discovered it?” Pee-wee said excitedly.
“No, as long as we know it’s discovered, that’s enough,” said Ripley.
“I discovered it, then he discovered me,” said Pee-wee, “but I’m the discoverer because it wasn’t an island when he got on it, see. Anyway, that man can’t take it, can he? So will you start a patent combination patrol? And I vote for you to be the leader!”
“Let’s see if we can’t start the island,” suggested Ripley.
“We don’t want to start a Bridgeboro patrol and then find that we’re in Southbridge!” said one of the boys whom the others called Nuts.
“Oh, I don’t see why not,” drawled Townsend; “trouble is,” he added, glancing casually about, “we can’t go on any hikes. If we start skirting the coast we’ll get dizzy.”
“I know what we can do,” said Pee-wee, “because, gee whiz, we’ve got to have exercise, that’s one sure thing. If we can make the island go round why then we can keep walking like a—like a—you know—like a horse on a treadmill—hey? And we won’t get dizzy at all, because it’ll be the island that goes round, see?”
“That’s a very good suggestion,” said Townsend, “but suppose on one of our long hikes we want to stop and camp. As soon as we stop hiking we’ll start going round backward with the island.”