“You mean it’s covered by the island,” Brownie said.
“Well, we seem to be standing still now, anyway,” said Townsend; “it’s a relief to know that when we wake up to-morrow morning we won’t be floating in the water. Who’s got a match? Let’s start a fire and begin moving toward the hunter’s stew.”
“We don’t need matches,” Pee-wee said with a condescending sneer. “Do you think scouts use matches? They light fires by rubbing sticks. Matches are civilized.”
Whereupon Pee-wee gave a demonstration of not getting a light by the approved old Indian fashion of rubbing sticks and striking sparks from stones and so on.
“Here comes a man down the river in a motorboat,” said Nuts; “turn the stop sign that way and we’ll ask him for a match.”
Pee-wee, somewhat subdued by his failure, confronted the approaching boat with the red panel which said STOP, and held his hand up like a traffic officer.
But there was no need of requiring the approaching voyager to pause. For he had every intention of pausing. Neither would there have been any use of asking him for a match. For he never gave away matches.
Old Trimmer never gave away anything. He would not even give away a secret, he was so stingy. To get a match from old Trimmer you would have had to give him chloroform. It was said that he would not look at his watch to see what time it was for fear of wearing it out, and that he looked over the top of his spectacles to save the lenses. At all events he was so economical that he seldom wasted any words, and the words that he did waste were not worth saving; they were not very nice words.
Old Trimmer chugged up to the edge of the island in the shabbiest, leakiest little motor dory on the river, and grasped a little tuft of greensward to keep his boat from drifting.
“Well, now, what’s all this?” he began. “What you youngsters been doin’ up the river, eh?”
“This used to be your land before it was an island,” said Pee-wee diplomatically. “I bet you’ll say it’s funny how it used to be your apple tree and everything. But it broke away and kind of fell down and now it’s an island and we discovered it. It can’t—one thing—it can’t ever be a peninsula again, that’s sure. Islands, they’re discovered and then you own them, that’s the way it is. Findings is keepings with islands.”
“Is that so?” said old Trimmer, half-interested and examining what might be called the underpinning of the island with keen preoccupation.
[Illustration: The boys hold the island in spite of old Trimmer’s protest.]
“Well, you’ll just clear off’n this here property double quick. Pile in here and I’ll set you ashore.”
“Don’t you go,” urged Pee-wee; “we’ve got a right here; we’re going to camp on this island.”