“It’s probably all you get,” said Townsend.
Pee-wee’s surprising coup had not indeed caused any real anxiety in any quarter. It is true that his mother, answering Townsend’s thoughtful ’phone call from the Skybrow home, had expressed concern at his being cast up with no companion but a banquet, but no one, not even his parents, feared for his safety.
The river was too tame and narrow, and the island altogether too secure upon its vast scow to introduce the smallest element of peril into his exploit. The tide would have to come up and upon its expanding bosom the gorged hero would return to his native land. Roy and his friends, knowing that Pee-wee’s new victims were to rejoin him, went to their several homes to rifle kitchens and turn pantries inside out.
“Yes, that’s his light, all right,” said Billy.
“That you, Discoverer?” Townsend called, as the light bobbed gayly nearer and nearer. It was coming up the channel.
“Sure,” called Pee-wee. “I’ve got something new! I’ve got a big surprise for you!”
“Another?” said Townsend.
“It’s alive,” Pee-wee shouted. “Is the party all over?”
“Oh, absolutely,” Townsend called; “you closed it up. Have you got two or three salted almonds over there?”
“Sure,” Pee-wee shouted reassuringly, “six or seven.”
It was funny with what an air of humorous resignation Townsend Ripley stepped into the skiff and the mock air of ebbing vitality which the others showed was as good as a circus.
“You don’t suppose it’s some new kind of hunter’s stew, do you?” said Townsend resignedly as he languidly took a pair of oars.
“You needn’t think I’m coming ashore,” called Pee-wee, “because I’m not. Now we’ve got a full patrol and we’re going to live here. There’s going to be a boat race next Saturday and I’ve got two new ideas besides the ones I told you about and I bet I had more fun than you did dancing and somebody’s got to go ashore to-morrow and see this feller’s mother and father and tell them he’s joined the scouts, because he can’t go home on account of not having four cigarettes.”
Then the boys in the approaching boat could hear Pee-wee saying in a lowered voice to Keekie Joe, “Don’t you be scared of them because they won’t hurt you.”
SHORT AND TO THE POINT
Thus began the famous Alligator Patrol, so named because its home was on the water as well as on the land, and also on the mud. Under its flaunting traffic sign many adventures occurred that summer, but the present narrative must be confined to the surprising events which befell during Easter vacation. Later, in the good old summer time, we shall visit the island again if we can find it.
It was a fortunate thing for Keekie Joe that Townsend Ripley was chosen leader of the new patrol. And it was a fortunate thing for everybody that Pee-wee was defeated by a large majority in the election of a camp cook. It is true that every voice was raised for Pee-wee in this stirring campaign when suddenly Townsend turned the traffic sign so it said STOP and that was the end of Pee-wee’s chances. “Safety first,” said Townsend.