“The rye bread,” said Billy.
“And if this land,” Pee-wee continued, “that used to be a peninsula and stuck out over the river from your field and trespassed on the scow when it didn’t have any right to because it wasn’t friends with the dredge men—if this land wants to stay here it can.”
“What do you say, Mr. Trimmer?” Townsend laughed. “If you want to tow this whole business back up to your place we’ll help you shovel the land off the scow. We don’t want to camp on an island that violates the law. But you haven’t got anything to do with this scow. I’m not asking you how it got alongside your field or why the dredging people didn’t take it away when they took the dredge away; that’s your business,” he added rather significantly. “We’ll admit the land is yours——”
“No, we won’t!” said Pee-wee.
“Yes, we will,” said Townsend quietly. “Now what do you want to do about this property? Shall we wrap it up for you or shall we send it? Our dealings are with the steam dredge people. Now what do you say? By the way, will you have a cruller?”
It was perfectly evident that Townsend Ripley, with rather more quiet shrewdness than any of them had given him credit for, had gently stabbed Mr. Trimmer in a weak spot. It was the scow that old Trimmer wanted. How he had come by it had been only faintly suggested by Townsend. How it had chanced to be moored in that secluded spot under the projecting land after the big dredge had gone away, was not discussed and is not a part of this story. It seemed evident that old Trimmer was rather disturbed at the thought of the boys getting in touch with the dredge people.
“Go ahead n’ camp on it then,” he said in sulky surrender; “and don’t make a nuisance of yourselves writin’ letters to the dredging company. Them men has got something else ter do besides bothering with a crew of crazy youngsters.”
“But you know what you said about trespassing, Mr. Trimmer,” said Townsend. “You have taught us that we shouldn’t trespass and we thank you for the lesson. We’ll have to drop Mr. Steam a line. How about a cruller, Mr. Trimmer? They were just stolen from our small friend’s kitchen. Don’t care for stolen fruit, hey? You’re too particular, Mr. Trimmer.”
LIFE ON THE UNKNOWN SHORE
Seldom has there been a surrender so complete and unconditional. There were no banners to celebrate the triumph (for which Pee-wee took all the credit) but as old Trimmer started up the river Pee-wee turned the sign so that the word GO faced the departing voyager like a commanding finger to order the vanquished from his victorious presence.
“Do you think he had some treasure in the scow?” Pee-wee asked. “Maybe if we dig we’ll find some gold nuggets.”
“Let’s try some of those cocoanut nuggets,” said Townsend.