“And he’s going to school Monday,” said Pee-wee; “because I met his teacher in the—the—eh—the store.”
“How did you know?” Pee-wee gasped.
“Just an inspiration,” said Townsend.
“And I told her he’s going to school every single day after this,” said Pee-wee. “So are you?” he demanded of Keekie Joe.
“Posilutely he is, if not more so,” said Townsend. “Every day except Saturday. He’s even willing to eat hunter’s stew and a fellow that will do that doesn’t mind school; he can stand anything. How about that, Joe?”
“I gotta do what you sez,” said Joe.
“There you are,” said Townsend. “What more do you want? We’re all going to school because the school won’t come to us. So now let’s tell riddles till we get tired of hearing each other talk and then we’ll turn in. And we’ll camp here all day to-morrow and to-morrow night, and the next day-school.”
“I know a riddle,” shouted Pee-wee. “Why is a stu——”
“Stop!” shouted Townsend.
“I was going to ask a riddle about a stu——”
A chorus of protest drowned his voice.
“A stu—” he roared, “debaker. It’s a riddle about a Studebaker car!”
“Let’s tell Ford stories!” shouted Brownie.
“I know a lot of them!” shouted Pee-wee.
“Why is this island like a Ford car?” Townsend asked.
“What’s the answer?”
“Because there are a lot of nuts on it,”
said Townsend. “Why is Scout
Harris like a Ford? Because he’s small but makes a lot of noise.
Horrible! Here’s a better one. Why is——”
“I know one! I know one!” shouted Pee-wee.
“Let’s see if we can catch some eels,” said Townsend.
On Sunday night they turned in for their last sleep on the island. That the island had proved a quitter on two momentous occasions had not prejudiced them against it. With all its faults they loved it still. The only thing they had against it was that it would not remain still.
Though it was small and of an unromantic squareness, it seemed the center of a vast empire during the week which was now ending and they were sorry at the thought of leaving it. But at least the Alligator Patrol was started and, like the island itself, nothing could stop it.
The night was chilly so they slept in the tent. So profound was their sleep that they did not hear the dipping oars of an approaching boat which came down the river after midnight. This boat was dilapidated and leaky but it was a vision of beauty compared to its occupants. These were none other than Slats Corbett, imperial head of Barrel Alley, and his official staff, consisting of Skinny Mattenburg and Spider McCurren. Such nocturnal excursions were not uncommon with them.