Pee-wee’s pride was as great as his voice and his appetite, and he would not sponge on the patrols which had a full membership and were busy with their own concerns. The rock on which he had stood all winter had split in three and there was no place for him on any of the pieces.
On Saturday morning the Silver Foxes went into the city to buy some camping things and to see a movie show in the afternoon. The Ravens went off for a hike. A Saturday spent alone was more than the soul of Pee-wee could endure, so he conquered his foolish pride and went up to Connie Bennett’s house to find out what the Elks were going to do. He would not join in with the Elks, he told himself, but he would pal with any single Elk, or even with two or three. That would be all right as long as he did not foist himself upon a whole patrol. “Eight’s a company, nine’s a crowd, gee whiz, I have to admit that,” he said to himself. “It’s all right for me to go with one feller even if he’s a scout but a patrol’s different.”
It was a wistful and rather pathetic little figure that Mrs. Bennett discovered upon the porch.
“Connie? Oh gracious, he’s been gone an hour, dear,” she said. “They all went away with Mr. Collins in his auto. I told him he must be back for supper. How is it you’re not with them, Walter?”
“I—I ain’t in that patrol,” said Pee-wee; “it goes by patrols. Anyway I’m sorry I troubled you.”
He turned and went down the steps and picking up a stick drew it across the slats of a fence as he went up the street. The outlandish noise seemed to act as a balm to his disappointment and to keep him company.
CASTLES IN THE AIR
The lonesomeness of Robinson Crusoe on his desert island was nothing compared to the lonesomeness of Pee-wee on that Saturday morning. He might have attached himself to any of the three patrols and had a day’s pleasure, but his pride had stood in the way.
He had always been something of a free lance in the troop and been regarded as a troop institution. But there had always been his official place among the Ravens waiting for him whenever it suited his wanton fancy to return like a prodigal to the fold. Now, in the pleasant springtime with the troop divided for the summer rivalries, he found himself quite isolated.
No one was to blame for this; a scout must be in one patrol or another, and if all patrols are full then he must make himself the nucleus of a new one. That is what Mr. Ellsworth had told Pee-wee.
“Gee whiz, nucleuses aren’t so easy to be, that’s one thing,” Pee-wee muttered to himself as he bent his aimless way in the direction of Barrel Alley. “Maybe he thinks it’s easy to be a nucleus. Nucleuses are hard to be, I’ll tell the world. Anyway I can be a pioneer scout, that’s one thing. You don’t have to be a nucleus or anything to be one of those. They don’t have to bother with patrols, they don’t, they’re lucky.”