“I—I might as well eat some things, hey?” me lone voyager called. “Because it’s past time for refreshments anyway and the tide won’t carry me off for more than two hours and everybody’ll be going home then and the ice cream is starting to melt, the lemon ice is getting all soft, so will it be all right to start eating the chicken salad and the sandwiches and things? I only kind of sort of tested them so far.”
Warde Hollister stopped up his ears in an agony of torture while a dozen famishing boys flopped this way and that in attitudes of suffering despair.
“Yes, it will be all right,” called poor Minerva in a kind of desperation. “It’s the only thing, you might as well.” She seemed resigned if not reconciled. “You might as well eat the ice cream anyway, it will only melt.”
“And the chicken salad?” called the merciless hero, “and the sandwiches, too?”
“Oh, this is too much,” moaned Connie Bennett.
“It isn’t so much as you might think,” shouted Pee-wee.
“He must be hollow from head to foot,” said Margaret.
“Yes, eat everything,” wailed Minerva in the final spirit of utter resignation.
“Yum—yum,” called Pee-wee. “Oh, boy, it’s good.”
And still the man in the moon winked down, and smiled his merry scout smile upon Scout Harris.
THE DREAM OF KEEKIE JOE
On that night, in the back yard of Billy Gilson’s tire repair shop, Keekie Joe, the sentinel of Barrel Alley, sat upon a pile of old Ford radiators, untangling a complicated mass of fishing-line. He was trying to follow a selected strand through the various fastnesses of the labyrinth.
The involved mass was really not a fishing-line but, in its untangled state, an apparatus for confounding and enraging pedestrians. Stretched across the sidewalk between two tin cans its function was to catch in the feet of passersby, thus pulling the clamorous cans about the ankles of the victim. Keekie Joe had always found this game diverting and he was wont to vary its surprises by filling the cans with muddy water.
But on this eventful night he was driven to dismantle the apparatus and consecrate it to a new use. For Keekie Joe was hungry and he dared not go home; so he was going fishing.
The hours following the crap game had not been golden hours for the sentinel of Barrel Alley. When he emerged from the tenement and rejoined Pee-wee after the episode of the crap game, he had ten cents that his father had given him with which to buy a package of cigarettes.
Keekie Joe was never able to consider consequences at a distance of more than ten minutes into the future. When he played hooky from school on Thursday it never occurred to him that he would be answerable to the powers that be on Friday. Notwithstanding that he was a sentinel he could never look ahead. And when Keekie Joe smoked several of his father’s cigarettes on the way home, it never occurred to him that he would have to remain away from home through supper time, and until his father had retired for the night.