Pee-Wee Harris Adrift
by Percy Keese Fitzhugh
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"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."



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.

"Didn't I know how to handle him?" said Pee-wee. "Now the island is ours, isn't it?"

"I think before we have supper," said Townsend, "we'll write a line to the dredging people. What do you say?"

"We'll write it on bark from the tree on account of our being wild and uncivilized," said Pee-wee. "I can make ink out of prune juice and we can write with a stick like hunters do when they get lost."

"Do they carry prune juice with them?" Billy asked.

"Sometimes they use blood," said Pee-wee. "I can make ink from onions too—invisible ink. Shall I make some?"

"I thought you were going to make a hunter's stew," said Brownie.

"Go ahead," said Roly Poly, "you make the hunter's stew—it won't be invisible, will it?"

"It will when we get through with it," said Billy.

"And while you're making the stew, Rip will write the letter and the first one of us that goes ashore will mail it."

The letter which Townsend Ripley wrote to the dredging company asking permission to use the old scow surmounted by a luxurious desert island was very funny, but it was not nearly as funny as the hunter's stew which Pee-wee made.

Their minds now free as to their rights (at least, for the time being) they sprawled about under the little tree as the afternoon sunlight waned and partook of the weird concoction which Pee-wee cooked in the dishpan over the rough fireplace which they had constructed. And if Pee-wee was not the equal of his friend Roy Blakeley in the matter of cooking, he was at least vastly superior to him in the matter of eating, and as he himself observed, "Gee whiz, eating is more important than cooking anyway."

It was pleasant sitting about on this new and original desert island which combined all the attractions of wild life with substantial safety. Only its overlapping edges could wash away and as these melted and disappeared the island gradually assumed a square and orderly conformation; its bleak and lonely coast formed a tidy square and looked like some truant back yard off on a holiday. What it lost in rugged grandeur it made up in modern neatness and seemed indeed a desert Island with all improvements.

Nestling within its stalwart and water-tight timbers it presented a scene of varied beauty. Grasshoppers disported gayly upon its rugged surface, occasionally leaping inadvertently into the surrounding surf and kicking their ungainly legs in the sparkling water.

A pair of adventurous robins that had refused to desert the fugitive peninsula were chirping in the little blossom-laden tree and one of them came down and perched upon the traffic sign to prune his feathers before retiring. Savage beetles roamed wild over the isle, and wild angleworms, disturbed by the late upheaval, squirmed about in quest of new homes.

The vegetation on the island appeared in gay profusion, reminding one of the Utopian scenes of fragrant beauty which delighted the eyes of the bold explorers who first landed on the shores of Florida.

Yellow dandelions dotted the greensward, purple violets peeped up through the overgrown grass, and a rusty tin can, memento of some prehistoric fisherman perhaps, lay near the shore. Not even the geometrical perfection of the island detracted from its primitive and rugged beauty.

True, it had no bays or wooded coves where pirates might have lurked, and it was fickle to any one spot. But wheresoever its wanton fancy took it the dying sunlight flickered down through the little tree and glazed the spotless blossoms so full of promise that clustered above the little band of hardy adventurers.

Before they had finished their repast—a repast as strange and surprising as the island itself—they had drifted half a mile upstream with the incoming tide. Here the sturdy underpinning of the desert isle caught upon a tiny reef and the island swung slowly around like a sleepy carrousel and rested from its travels.



Meanwhile we must return to the mother country, to take note of important happenings there. While our doughty explorers were eating their hunter's stew in this strange land and sprawling beneath their tree in the gathering twilight surrounded by unknown perils, the gay Silver Fox Patrol returned from New York after a day spent in shopping and sightseeing.

They proceeded at once to their railroad car down by the river where they found the Ravens, who had just returned from a hike. Soon the Elks, returning from an auto ride, joined their comrades and a lively discussion occurred. It pertained to the lawn party to be given that evening at the home of Miss Minerva Skybrow of the Camp-fire Girls.

"What time do you have supper at your house?" Doc Carson asked Roy Blakeley.

"We have it about eight o'clock on Saturdays," said Roy. "My father's playing golf."

"Same here," said Artie Van Arlen; "my father has to stay late so as to beat your father."

"If he stays at the links long enough to do that you'll never see him again," said Roy. "What time is this racket supposed to be, anyway?"

"Eight sharp," said Grove Bronson.

"Are we going to go all separated together or all separated at once?" Roy asked.

"Positively," said Warde Hollister.

"Positively what?" asked Connie Bennett.

"It's all the same to me, only different," said Roy. "Only this is what I was thinking. We all have supper at different times except Pee-wee and he has supper all the time. As Abraham Lincoln said at the battle of Marne, 'Some people are half hungry all the time, some people are all hungry half the time, but Pee-wee is all hungry all the time.' I wonder where he is anyway?"

"Down in Bennett's having a soda, I guess," said Westy Martin.

"Is he going to the party?" Tom Warner asked.

"Search me," said Westy. "I guess not, he doesn't dance. I heard somebody say he was with some fellows up the river."

"Starting a new bunch of patrols, I suppose," said Roy.

"Bentley's gardener saw him somewhere," said Wig Weigand.

"It's just possible he was somewhere," said Roy. "I've often known him to go there. Let's talk of something pleasant. What do you say we get a light supper down here. Anybody that wants to go home and dress can do it only he has to hustle. She wants us to wear our scout suits anyway, she said so. I say let's get a few eats down here and then wash up and all hike it up there together. United we stand——"

"What are we going to eat?" Grove Bronson asked. "I don't see anything here but some fishhooks and a package of tacks."

"Listen to the voice from Pee-wee's old patrol!" said Roy. "Eats! I'll fry some killies. Haven't we got some milk chocolate and Ulika biscuits? I bet there's a large crowd of peanuts and other junk in Pee-wee's locker. Can't you wait till you get to Minerva's? She'll have chicken salad and ice cream and sandwiches and cake and lemonade and paper napkins and souvenirs and everything. We'll feel more like eating a little later. What do you all say? If each of us goes home we'll never get together again; we'll all straggle in there one by two."

"Suppose she doesn't have anything but a couple of fancy boxes of bonbons; you know how girls are," said Doc Carson. "Safety first, that's what I say."

"I haven't had anything to eat since lunch time," said Ralph Warner.

"Minerva wouldn't wish anything like that on us," said Connie.

"You said it," said Roy; "they're not passing around famines up at her house. Where do you think we're going? To Russia? Minerva's got the Sandwich Islands green with envy. What's the use of spoiling refreshments by eating now? You fellows are worse than the children of Armenia! I say, let's have a swim; the tide is nice and high, and then rest up and eat some crackers and hike up to the party. They'll be throwing chocolate cake at us up there.

"My patrol all have their good suits on; most of the rest of you have some Christmas tree regalia in your lockers, and the others can beat it home and hurry up back. What do you say? Aye, aye, aye, aye, aye, aye, aye, aye!" Roy shouted. "Carried by a large majority! Come on, let's go in for a swim while the tide's up. That will help to give us an appetite."

"What do you mean, 'help to give us one?" asked Artie Van Arlen. "Haven't I got four already?"

"Well, when you come out of the water you'll have five," said Roy.

"Suppose—suppose," said Dorry Benton, who was ever cautious, "suppose, just suppose they should only have lady fingers and grape juice, or something like that." He stood uncertain, dangling his bathing suit. "Suppose they should have afternoon tea crackers. Did you ever eat those?"

"They're more likely to have roast turkey," said Roy. "Don't I go up there every couple of days and play tennis? I can't play the game even because they're always pushing a chunk of cake into my left hand."

"I know, Roy," said Warde Hollister. He also was a far-sighted and thoughtful boy who did his homework in the afternoon and started on New Year's saving up for next Christmas. "But this is a lawn-party—Japanese napkins and lettuce and things like that. We're taking an awful chance, Roy. We may get salted almonds——"

"You should worry," said Roy; "here's your bathing suit. Come on, we've only got about an hour. Think of the poor children of Europe. Minerva Skybrow is positively guaranteed. I never saw such a bunch, you're always worrying about something."

And with that, by way of starting things, he pushed Connie Bennett into the water . . .



In history we read that while the hardy pioneers toiled and suffered in the New England forest the gay votaries of fashion danced and made merry in the royal courts of Europe. And history repeats itself, for while Minerva Skybrow and her girl companions decked the Skybrow lawn with lanterns of many colors, and frilled their hair, and festooned the rustic summer-house with streamers, the sturdy adventurers who swore allegiance to the martial traffic sign of Pee-wee Harris were suffering as no hardy pioneer had ever suffered before as they loyally partook of the hunter's stew which their leader had prepared in the dishpan. If, indeed, this novel concoction was the favorite fare of hunters, it is no wonder that the race of hunters is becoming extinct. But our business is not with the explorers.

The spacious lawn of the Skybrow home was bathed in the soft light of many paper lanterns depending from cords strung from tree to tree. Other lanterns nestled in the spreading trees like jewels in a setting of foliage.

On that night the genial moon smiled down upon the Camp-fire Girls and sent his myriad of rays like a serenading party to enliven the festive scene. The place looked like some enchanted grove. A platform had been built for the dancing, several little khaki-colored tents that had done service in the North Woods (north of Bridgeboro) dotted the lawn, the emblem of the Camp-fire Girls waved above the summer-house, bathed in the glow of a small search-light, and, glory of glories, a small tent nestling under a spreading elm near the moonlit river contained a table which looked like a snowy monument reared in tribute to the god of food.

Yes, Roy was right; the Skybrows did not do these things by halves. Here indeed was a haven for the famished; here rescue awaited the starving scout. In the center stood a pyramid of triangular sandwiches, rivalling in magnitude the pyramids of Egypt. This was flanked by two gorgeous icing cakes, one white and one brown. A bowl of chicken salad overflowed its cut glass confines, the same as Pee-wee's island had overflowed its trusty scow.

It is true that the much feared salted almonds were there but they crouched in shame under the spreading sides of a wooden hash-bowl camouflaged with crepe paper and piled with jellied doughnuts. If there were any lady fingers they did not show their faces (if lady fingers have faces) but the jovial raspberry tart was there in all its glory a hundred strong.

"Oh, I think everything is perfectly scrumptious," said Minerva Skybrow, completing a tour of inspection at this culinary paradise and allowing herself an olive or two.

"Goodness gracious, let them alone or there won't be any left," said Miss Dora Dane Daring.

"Silly!" said Minerva. "There are oceans of them. Doesn't the river look perfectly lovely in the moonlight?"

"Oh, I think everything is perfectly adorable," said another friend; "and the weather is just heavenly. For goodness' sakes, let the candy alone; that's the fourth piece you took."

"Listen," said Minerva. "I'm not going to let a single one of them come out here till they have all arrived. We're going to have the concert in the house first and they've just got to listen to Mrs. Wild speak about the Camp-fire movement, because she's just perfectly wonderful. Do you know, I wish I had put the refreshments in the summer house. No, I don't either—yes, I do. It would have been more romantic—rustic."

"Oh, I think this tent is perfect," said another girl, slyly helping herself to a salted almond.

"I know," said Minerva, her hand stealing unconsciously toward a box of marsh mallows, "I know, but what I wanted was something unusual—symbolic. A rustic platform in one of the big trees would have been nice; it would have been sort of—sort of scoutish. I want to have things different. That's why boys always make fun of the Camp-fire Girls, they think we're tame. Think how Roy Blakeley and his friends actually camped in that adorable old railroad car while it was traveling, goodness knows where. When I went to the Aero Club reception with Harold Fall they had the refreshments in a great balloon; we had to go up to it on a ladder—shh, listen! Did you hear a noise?"

A chorus of excited whisperings followed her startled query.

"No, where?"

"What was it?"

"Was it a voice?"

"You mean on the river?"

"Shh, listen," said Minerva; "look, do you see a light—right there among the bushes? Shh. Don't run."

There was indeed a light shining through the dark foliage alongshore and presently a voice was to be heard, a voice speaking words to strike terror to the stoutest Camp-fire Girl heart.

"I watched for the cops," it said, "and as soon as I saw them I beat it across the field and told the gang and every one got away but it was a narrow escape. One detective had me by the collar. This is going to be easy though."

"Bandits!" whispered Minerva.

"They're going to rob the house while we're on the lawn," breathed Margaret Timerson.

"They're crouching on the shore just behind those bushes," said another girl.

"Leave it to me," said the mysterious voice. "I'll handle them."



We left Merry-go-round Island revolving gracefully upon a tiny reef whence it was borne by the rising tide. We are now to take up our narrative at the point where the island ceased spinning and was carried slowly on upstream by the incoming waters. When the tide reached flood, the island hesitated upon the still water, then like some obedient and clumsy ox, moved slowly downstream again upon the ebb. And meanwhile, the day departed and darkness fell upon the winding river and the hardy adventurers lit their lanterns.

"I was hoping we might stick in some pleasant spot," said Townsend, "where the fishing is good. I forgot how a floating island might act in a tidal river. I wish this island would make up its mind to something. Just when I want to explore the western coast I find it's the eastern coast. I don't know where I'm at——"

"You don't have to know where you're at to have fun," said Pee-wee.

"I know it," said Townsend; "but when I hike fifteen or twenty feet to the north coast of the island and then the island swings around and I find I'm on the south coast, I've got to hike all the way across the island again to get to the north coast and when I get there I find I'm on the west coast. Then I cross to the east coast and in about a minute I find I'm on the southern shore.

"No matter where I go I'm somewhere else; it's discouraging. I've walked forty-eleven miles since supper trying to keep on the western coast and here I am on the north—wait a minute—the eastern coast. If this Island won't stay still I can't explore it."

"I tell you what we can do," said Pee-wee; "we can penetrate the interior, then we'll always be in the same place."

So they penetrated the interior and sprawled on the ground and chatted.

"When we find another member," said Pee-wee, "we'll have a full patrol and then we'll have to start a scout record and write down a description of the island and everything we see, because scouts have to do that because they have to be observant and they have to be accurate when they describe things."

"Would you say that this little tree is near the west coast of the island?" Townsend asked. "I've followed it around for the last half hour and I don't know where it is except it's here."

"Here isn't a place," said Roly Poly.

"Sure it is," shouted Pee-wee; "here is just as much a place as there."

"More," said Townsend. "There are three places—here, there, and everywhere; I've often heard them spoken of."

"That's just where this island is," said Brownie.

"Absolutely," said Townsend, "only it won't stay there. Is there anything more we can eat? Anything more that you don't have to make? My long tramp in search of the west coast has made me hungry again."

"I can make flapjacks," said Pee-wee; "I've got eight pounds of Indian meal."

"How far would I have to hike to digest them?" Townsend asked.

"You'd need a bigger island than this," said Brownie. "You couldn't digest a flapjack on anything smaller than South America."

"Give me a piece of chocolate," said Townsend, "and a couple of prunes."

"It looks nice up the river in the moonlight, doesn't it?" Brownie asked.

"You mean down the river," said Townsend.

"I'm facing——"

"Don't try to find out where you're facing," said Townsend. "Here, eat a prune."

"I'm going to turn in pretty soon," said Nuts.

"That's a new place to turn," said Townsend. "We've turned everywhere but in. In the morning we'll turn out; then we will have turned everywhere."

"We're flopping downstream pretty fast," said Brownie; "that's one sure thing."

"I'm glad there's something sure," said Townsend. It was as good as a circus to see him sitting against the tree with his knees drawn up, glancing this way and that with a funny look of patient resignation on his face.

"What do you say we put the tent up in the heart of the interior? Then we'll be able to find it in the morning. The unknown heart of the interior seems to be the only place we can be sure of. At least it always stays inside. Hand me that grocery box from the extreme southern shore, will you? And another prune? The heart of my interior demands another prune. Do you know, Discoverer, what I think? I think I see a settlement. I don't know where it is because I don't know which way I'm facing, but I'm certainly facing a settlement—or at least I was a second ago. There it is again. I think we're nearing the coast of Japan; I see a Japanese lantern. That's funny. Did we pass the Philippines?"

"I don't know," said Brownie. "We passed Corbett's Lumber Yard."

"The Philippines are farther along," said Townsend; "they're the second turn to our left. If this island hits Japan they'll grab it; I have a feeling that they'll grab it like the island of Yap."

"I've got an inspiration! I've got an inspiration!" shouted Pee-wee in a voice of thunder. "I know where we're at. That's Mr. Skybrow's place down there. He owns a lot of railroads and things! They're having a lawn party there to-night!"

"Are they having anything to eat?" Townsend asked quietly.

"Yum, yum—m-m-m!" said Pee-wee. "They have everything. Once I went to Minerva's birthday party and I couldn't go to school all next week, that's how much they have to eat there. Get the clothes-sticks. Get the clothes-sticks! Let's pole the island to shore. I bet she'll like you because you're big—I'll introduce you to her—all my old troop is going to be there—hurry up—push—keep pushing!"

"Reach over to the west coast and hand me that pole from the north coast before it goes over to the east coast," said Townsend quietly.

"Get up! Get up!" shouted Pee-wee, all excitement. "Aren't you going to get up?"

"Positively," said Townsend, dragging himself to his feet.

"Shh!" said Pee-wee, "let's surprise them."

"You're the only one that's making any noise," said Townsend.

"I mean myself, too," said Pee-wee. "Shhhh."

"He's telling himself to keep still," Brownie, unable to control his laughter.

"I mean all of us—me too," said Pee-wee. "Shh."

It was during the long and rather difficult process of poling the island to shore that Pee-wee, unable to impose more than comparative quiet upon himself, edified his companions with an account of his recent adventure in Barrel Alley.

And it was his seemingly ominous mention of "cops" and fugitives which Minerva Skybrow and her friends, lingering at the little refreshment tent near the river, overheard. At that moment the desert island was bobbing against the thick rhododendron bushes at the edge of the lawn.



"I don't care who it is or what it is," said Dora Dane Daring; "I'm not afraid of the biggest bandit that ever lived. I'm going to find out what those men are doing lurking about here."

Without another word she strode forward, parted the rhododendron bushes, and confronted the marauders.

"Well, I—never—in—all my life," she cried. "It's little Walter Harris! What on earth are you doing here?"

"I discovered this island," said Pee-wee; "we're exploring it. One of these fellers is a native because he was on it before it was an island."

"Look out you don't get your feet wet on the stern and rock-bound coast," said Townsend. "Hold the lantern, Brownie."

"Did you ever see such a thing!" said Minerva Skybrow, emerging through the bushes, accompanied by her official staff. "Walter Harris, what in goodness' name are you doing here? I thought you were robbers. What in all creation are you up to? And how did you happen to get here?"

"We've been going around quite a little lately," said Townsend quietly.

"This is Townsend Ripley," said Pee-wee; "he's a friend of mine; these fellers are all friends of mine. We're exploring."

"We're very glad to meet you, Mr. Ripley," said Minerva, while Miss Daring whispered in the ear of Miss Timerson, "Isn't he nice? So tall."

"We thought we'd come to the party," said Pee-wee.

"Have you any parking space for islands?" Townsend asked.

"Oh, indeed we have," said Minerva, "and you're going to be the star guests. May we step on the island?"

"Yes, indeed, it's very steady," said Townsend, helping them one after another onto the frowning coast while Brownie held the lantern. "Wherever we go we take our island with us; it's like ivory soap, it floats. Will you have a piece of wild chocolate, out of the heart of the interior?"

"Isn't he just lovely," whispered Miss Daring.

"So can we stay?" asked Pee-wee.

"Stay? I wouldn't let you go for anything," said Minerva. "Listen, girls, I've got an inspiration——"

"I have lots of those," said Pee-wee.

"They grow wild here," said Townsend.

"Listen," said Minerva, "I have a perfectly marvellous idea."

She sat down on the grocery box and in her joy and excitement fairly drowned out Pee-wee who was struggling with a vehement running narrative of the day's adventures.

"Oh, it will be simply divine," said Minerva. "Listen—don't interrupt me—I'm going to have the refreshments served on this island. I'm going to have the old painter's scaffold for a gang-plank leading to it——"

"There are refreshments then?" Townsend asked quietly.

"Refreshments? Aren't you perfectly terrible! Of course there are—oceans of them."

"No more oceans for me," said Townsend. "Hereafter I'm going to live on shore. My sailing—flopping—days are over."

"You're too funny for anything," said Minerva. "Listen, do you see that little tent? The refreshments are all in there. There's just time before the guests all come to move everything over here. I want you boys to help me. We're going to call it the dessert island instead of the desert island. Isn't that adorable? Isn't it odd? Everyone will go into raptures over it, you see if they don't. You'll let us use your island, won't you?"

"We'll make you a present of it," said Townsend.

"My idea," said Miss Timerson, "would be to tie it to these bushes that stick out over the water. It ought to be far enough away from the—the mainland—to be romantic. How far away do you think it should be, Mr. Ripley?"

"The way I feel about it I think it should be at least two thousand miles off."

"Silly!" said Miss Daring. "Please be serious. Do you think about three yards would be romantic?"

"I never measured romance by the yard," said Townsend, "but I should think about three yards and a half of romance would be enough. If we have any left over we can give it to the discoverer. He eats it alive."

"And I'll tell you what I'll do," shouted Pee-wee; "it's an inspiration."

"Another?" Townsend asked.

"I'll—I'll—I'll stay on the island——"

"I thought so," said Townsend.

"And—and—I'll stand right here by the traffic sign and after somebody that's eating has had enough, I'll turn the sign so it says STOP; I'll turn it so it's facing him."

"Did you ever hear anything so absurd?" said Minerva.

"I think it would be picturesque," said Dora.

"And sensible, too," said Margaret, "because some of those scouts will just stay here and gorge themselves and won't dance at all."

"I think it's a very good idea," said Townsend; "it will relieve congestion here. A food traffic cop."

"I'll be it," shouted Pee-wee.

"Where is this romantic scaffold?" Townsend asked.

"The painters left it in the cellar," said Minerva. "Let's hurry, I'll show you where it is."

There was, indeed, just time enough to arrange this novel life-saving station with its picturesque gang-plank before the guests began to arrive.

"And this is the end of our wild adventures on a foreign shore," said Townsend, as he carried one end of the old scaffold across the dim-lighted lawn accompanied by the group of excited maidens; "we wind up at a lawn party. This is what the discoverer has brought us to."

"Don't you think he's just killing?" Minerva asked.

"More than that," said Townsend; "his hunter's stew is more than killing. Did you ever try any of it?"

"Never mind, you're going to have some delicious chicken salad," said Minerva.

The boys, under Minerva's enthusiastic supervision, tied the island about six feet from shore. The romantic gang-plank kept it from drifting closer in while two clothes-poles driven into the bottom of the river just below it prevented it from drifting with the ebbing tide. Pee-wee's trusty clothesline was stretched between the little apple tree and the overhanging rhododendron bushes as an auxiliary mooring and to hold the island steady.

Thus secured and free from the prosaic shore, the romantic isle presented an inviting scene, with the little tent upon it and Japanese lanterns shedding a mellow light from the bushes and the securing clothesline. The rippling water flickered with a gentle and undulating glow and inverted paper lanterns could be seen reflected beneath the surface, as if indeed the beholder could look down and see romantic and picturesque Japan on the opposite side of the earth.

The scaffold, forgetting its prosy usage, was resplendent in a winding robe of bunting and on its railing where cans of white lead and linseed oil had disported hung lanterns of every color in the rainbow. To this enchanted isle would stroll dance-weary couples and famishing scouts to regale themselves in this dim, detached, earthly paradise.

"Wait a minute, oh, just wait a minute!" cried Minerva in the spell of such an inspiration as comes only once in a lifetime. "Oh, just wait one minute."

She hurried across the lawn, returning presently with a huge, spotless apron with strings of goodly dimension which, in a very glow of inspired joy, she tied around the waist of Pee-wee Harris. It was necessary to shorten it by a series of pokes and pushes by which it was tucked up under its own strings and lifted clear of the adventurous feet of the scout. Nor was that all, for somewhere out of the mysterious depths of the house, Minerva had brought a starched and snowy chef's cap with which she crowned our hero.

"You be right here when they begin coming down," Minerva said, "and stand close to the traffic sign and if any boy stays here too long turn the STOP sign on him."

"And turn it on yourself if necessary," said Townsend.

"I won't let anybody eat more than about—about—five helpings. That'll be enough for them, hey?" said Pee-wee.

"Goodness gracious, yes," said Dora Dane Daring.

"You're the steward, remember," said Minerva. "Do you know what a steward is?"

"He's—he's named after a stew," said Pee-wee, hitching up his spreading apron. "You leave the people to me, I'll handle them."



The steward (or the stew, as Townsend thenceforth called him) did not attend the party. A preliminary tour of the grounds convinced him that adventures of his particular kind were not to be found there. Dancing was not in his line. Music (except the clamorous music of his own voice) he did not care for. And he did not care to hear what Mrs. Wild had to say about the Camp-fire movement.

To him the crucial part of the whole party was the eats and he lingered near them like a faithful sentinel. The artistic quality of these saved them from devastation. Those pyramids of luscious beauty could not be denied by human hands without showing the indubitable signs of vandalism. Their very splendor saved them.

It is true that he skilfully extracted an olive from the symmetrical mound of chicken salad and took an almond and a macaroon and other detached dainties that were not made sacred and secure by their own architecture. But for the most part Pee-wee was faithful to his trust. He knew his time would come. And then, oh, then, that proud tower of interlaced sandwiches would look like Rheims Cathedral.

Thus an hour passed and the merry throng emerged upon the lawn and made a direct assault upon the dancing platform, lured by strains of irresistible music. Some strolled about but none out of the radius of that melodious magnetism, and Pee-wee remained undisturbed on the romantic isle of eats.

He sat upon the edge of the island, the extreme western coast, fishing for eels, with a string, a bent pin and a salted almond. It seemed that the eels did not care for salted almonds, so Pee-wee endeavored to tempt them with a chocolate bonbon but the bonbon dissolved on the pin, forming a sort of subterranean chocolate sundae, and the eels ignored it.

"I bet I know what's the matter," said Pee-wee; "they're afraid to come near the island on account of the lights." At all events the eels appeared to shun the neighborhood of the party; they were not in society.

Just then Pee-wee had an inspiration. In the light of its consequences it was probably the most momentous inspiration that he ever had. "I know what I'll do," he said. "I'll use a long, long stick that'll reach way, way, way out." And he glanced about him in quest of a "long, long stick" with which to beguile the bashful eels. His inquiring eye lit upon one of the long clothes-line supporters which Townsend had driven into the river bottom to help hold the island in position.

It is necessary to understand the strategical position of this prospective fishing rod. These two poles had been forced down into the muddy bottom just south of the island and the southern edge of the island lay against them and was thus prevented from drifting down with the ebbing tide. The makeshift gang-plank, gay with bunting, held the island off shore and the ropes between the island and the bushes steadied it. This crude engineering was quite sufficient. BUT——

There is a church somewhere in Europe of which it is said that if a certain brick were removed the whole edifice would fall in ruins. Pee-wee was not even an amateur engineer. That world-stirring consequences could flow from an act so casual and trivial as securing a fishing rod never entered his innocent and pre-occupied mind. He did not know that in the hasty calculations of Townsend all the component parts of this system of props and fetters were necessary one to another. He removed the brick and the cathedral fell and there followed a catastrophe compared to which the World War is a mere incident. If he had pulled the north pole out of the earth the sequel could hardly have been more momentous.

Sublimely innocent of the fact that he was unhinging the universe, Pee-wee arose, advanced to the outer pole and began tugging on it. It did not come up easily for the force of the rapidly ebbing tide caused the island to press against it like a brake. But he succeeded at last and as he dragged the muddy pole across the grass, the island turned slowly cornerwise to the shore.

In his preoccupation, Pee-wee did not notice this. He tied his fishline to the end of the pole, bent another pin and provisioned it with a stuffed olive, requisitioned from a cutglass dish nearby. How he intended to support this lengthy pole so that its end might reach the neighborhood of the coy eels is not a part of this narrative for Pee-wee's angling enterprise never reached that point.

He was presently startled by a splash and looking around he saw that the end of the scaffold had slipped off the island. He was now aroused to the imminent peril of the Isle of Desserts and to the terrible responsibility which fell to the clothesline and the bushes.

As the island turned slowly outward the clothes-line strained but held fast. But the rhododendron bushes had not the same heroic quality. For a few moments they resisted, but the island, now at the mercy of the ebb, tugged and tugged, and presently a mass of bush gave up the struggle and came away, rope and all. The earthly paradise with its luscious store of cake and chicken salad, its commanding pyramid of sandwiches flanked by icing cakes, its plates of dates and olives and candy of every variety, its mound of jellied doughnuts, and a mammoth freezer full of ice cream, floated majestically down the moonlit river, trailing a huge clump of rhododendron bush after it like the tail of a comet.



And now out of the still and moonlit night arose peal after peal of thunder imparting a note of terror to this world catastrophe. Never before had the thunderous voice of our hero rent the heavens as it did now.

"Help! Help! I'm floating away with the eats."

It is no wonder that the man in the moon smiled at what he saw on the river that night. Seeing the laden board, the pyramid of sandwiches rearing its luscious pinnacle toward heaven, he seemed to wink at Pee-wee—with what purport who shall say? Sufficient that our hero saw him not.

"He-e-e-elp! I'm drifting downstream with the refreshments," he called. "He-e-elp!"

They heard him amid their revels. Townsend Ripley who had suffered the assaults of the hunter's stew heard him. The scouts who had eaten a "light supper" heard him. Warde Hollister who had pled with Roy for a safety first policy heard him. Minerva Skybrow heard him and paused aghast in the midst of a two-step. For what was a two-step now compared to the one-step which Pee-wee had taken? Roly Poly and Brownie, also victims of the hunter's stew, heard him as they waited patiently, and were struck dumb with terror. Only the man in the moon smiled, and winked at Pee-wee.

"He-e-e-e-e-e-el-l-l-p! I'm floating away with the eats!"

But did he really need any help?

They rushed to the shore pell-mell and some hurried to the barn for the only means of rescue—an old disused skiff and a leaky, discarded canoe. Others gazed in wistful silence out upon the glinting water.

"Hurry! Hurry!" cried Minerva. "I can see it! Don't you see the lanterns down there?"

"He's on the flats, I think," said Warde.

"He's on the table," shouted Roy.

"He's in the channel!"

"He's in the ice cream!"

"Listen, he's calling!"

"His mouth is full, I can't hear him."

"Hurry! Hurry! Oh, hurry!" cried Minerva.

"I'll tell you what let's do," Roy said.

"You told us once," said Warde; "that's enough."

"I saved the ice cream freezer from rolling off," shouted Pee-wee.

"A lot of good that does us," shouted Doc Carson.

"Put it where it will be safe," shouted Townsend.

"All right, I will," shouted Pee-wee.

"Gracious goodness, he isn't going to eat it, is he?" Margaret Timerson asked.

"He'll have to finish whatever else he's eating first," said Doc Carson. "Push that boat off, we have only a minute to act in."

"How long does it usually take him to finish a sandwich?" Minerva asked.

"Three-tenths of a second," said Roy.

"He'll be too frightened to eat," said Dora Daring.

"He's never too frightened to eat," said Connie Bennett.

"He consumes pie while he's consumed with fear," Roy said.

"He consumes everything," said Warde.

"Oh, what will we ever do?" Minerva walled, wringing her arms in desperation.

"The thing to do is to reach him before he gets really started," said Doc Carson, who was ever thoughtful and far-sighted. "When he starts he works fast. I don't think he's really begun yet. He believes in fair play and he wouldn't start before ten o'clock—that's refreshment time, isn't it?"

"It was to be," said Minerva.

"That's the time we were waiting for," said Brownie.

"Has he a watch?" Margaret asked.

"Yes, it's usually about twenty minutes fast," said Roy.

"Oh, isn't that perfectly terrible!" said Dora.

"He'll make terrible inroads on it," said Connie Bennett.

"Inroads!" said Roy. "You mean turnpikes and highways."

"Well, then, why don't you boys hurry?" Minerva asked excitedly. "It isn't too late. Oh, do hurry!"

"We can never tow that island back against the tide," said Dorry Benton.

"We can remove the stuff to the boat though," said Artie Van Arlen.

"I'm going to 'phone to Mr. Speeder to get his motor-boat and go after him; he can tow it back."

"Listen—shh—he's calling," said Townsend.



From down the river, a little farther than before, came a voice spent by the distance. "I'm on the flats, I'm stuck."

"Thank goodness!" said Minerva. "Now we can reach him."

"Are you going around?" Townsend shouted.

"The sandwiches are all falling down," called the voice. "The doughnuts are rolling out."

"Save them," shouted Roy.

"All right, I will," screamed Pee-wee.

"Oh, such a relief," said Minerva. "Do you think he's stuck fast?"

"We can only hope," said Townsend. "Come on, let's hustle."

Words cannot describe the haste and excitement with which the skiff was launched and manned by a little band of doughty pioneers. Roy, Warde Hollister and Townsend Ripley were the crew, two rowing while the other steered.

"Can we help ourselves?" Warde asked, as they glided out on the river.

"Yes, yes, yes, help yourselves to anything," called Minerva, "only bring them back—pile them in the boat—it doesn't make any difference how—only hurry, he may drift off again."

"Now you see," said Roy, addressing Warde, "the harder you work and the longer you wait the hungrier you'll be. Everything is working out fine, thanks to me."

"Oh, sure," said Warde, already breathless from his strenuous rowing, "they give you roast turkey up at Skybrows; they give you chicken salad and sandwiches and—only try to get it. I'm so hungry I could eat the island, thanks to you. I could eat a whisk-broom. Follow you and I'll starve."

"Did you ever eat any of that kid's hunter's stew?" Townsend asked as he rowed.

"Did we?" said Roy. "It's the best thing I know of if you want to stay home from school."

"It's kind of queer," said Townsend.

"Oh, yes, mysterious," said Warde.

"Let's talk of something pleasant," said Roy.

"Well, I'm pretty hungry, too," said Townsend.

"We'll soon be there," said Warde. "We had something of a scare, didn't we?"

"All's well that ends well," said Townsend.

"Oh, sure," said Roy, "only you don't end so well after eating hunter's stew. We should worry, we'll have all the stuff pretty soon now. Narrow escape, hey? Oh, boy, it would have been terrible to lose all that stuff. It looked like an altar, didn't it?"

"It'll look like a vacuum when we get through with it," said Warde.

"Do you think we can get it all in the boat?"

"If we can't, we'll tow the icing cakes behind," said Roy. "What I'm thinking fond thoughts about is the ice cream."

"Same here," said Townsend.

"Same here," said Warde.

And meanwhile the man in the moon winked down at Pee-wee.



Now the tide is a funny thing, especially in a small suburban river. The banks of a river being for the most part sloping, the river bed is narrower at the bottom than at the top. You don't have to wear glasses to see that. That is why the tide, as it recedes, runs faster and faster; because during the last hour or two of its recession it flows in narrower confines. This has been the settled policy of nature for many centuries, and it was so ordered for the benefit of Pee-wee Harris.

When the Merry-go-round Island floated leisurely against the Skybrow lawn the tide had been flowing out for about an hour. When this same rechristened island broke loose disguised as an earthly paradise, the tide was in a great hurry. And when the earthly paradise caught upon the flats the little remaining water was running as if it were going to catch a train.

Rapidly, ever so rapidly, the water slid down off the flats to join the hurrying water in the channel. And, presto, all of a sudden there was the Isle of Desserts high and dry surrounded by an ocean of oozy mud while the river, narrowed to a mere brook, rushed in its channel some fifty feet distant. And there you are.

That is why the man in the moon (who knows all about the tides) winked at Pee-wee. At least, I suppose that is why he winked.

You could not have reached the Isle of Desserts with a boat or with snow-shoes or with stilts or with anything except an airplane. Swimming to it was out of the question. Shouting and screaming to it was feasible, of course. Radio operations were conceivable. But reach it no one could. The adventurer would have been swallowed in mud. This safe isolation would continue for a couple of hours and then the playful water would come rippling in again spreading a glinting coverlet over the flats once more and lifting the island upon its swelling bosom.

Down the narrowing river rowed our rescuing crew, and as they rowed the river narrowed. Soon the lantern light on the island was abreast of them, some forty or fifty feet distant.

"Hello, over there," called Warde.

"I'm pretty well," called Pee-wee.

"What are we going to do?" asked Townsend. "The tide has beat us to it. He's safe enough."

"Oh, he couldn't be safer," said Warde. "Our name is mud. All our rowing for nothing."

"How about the eats over there, Kid?" Warde called.

"They're all right," called Pee-wee, "only the ice cream is starting to melt. I stuck my finger in through the ice and the cream is kind of oozing out. Maybe I better eat it, hey? It won't hold out till the tide comes in. I ate a sandwich and that made me thirsty and I didn't want to be drinking the lemonade so I ate a piece of ice out of the freezer and that made me more thirsty so I drank some lemonade anyway and that made me hungry again and I'm going to eat a sardine sandwich only I'm afraid that'll make me thirsty and——"

"This is horrible," said Townsend; "it's like an endless chain. Where will the end be?"

"Do you think it would be all right for me to eat some chicken salad?" Pee-wee shouted. "The tide won't be high enough to float this island for two hours."

"Don't!" called Warde, stopping up his ears. "Have a heart."

"Have a what?" called Pee-wee.

"Have a doughnut," shouted Roy.

"All right," called Pee-wee. "There's some dandy cheese here in a kind of a little jar—yum—yum!"

"Don't!" shrieked Warde.

"Doughnut?" called Pee-wee.

"No, I said 'don't'," called Warde. "You'll have me eating one of the oarlocks in a minute."

Soon a faint chugging could be heard; it ceased, presumably at the Skybrow lawn, then started again. Nearer and nearer it came until presently the racing boat of Dashway Speeder came to a stop alongside them. Half a dozen girls and as many hungry male guests of the party were in it clamoring for news.

"This is terrible!" said Minerva. "I never dreamed of such a thing as this. Why, he's marooned!"

"I'm all safe," shouted Pee-wee, "don't you worry."

"Safe! I should think he is," said Dora. "If he had the British navy all around him he couldn't be safer."

"The world is at his feet," said Townsend.

"You mean at his mouth," said Roy.

"I never heard of such a thing in all my born days," said Margaret.

"He's cornered the food market," said another hungry guest.

"For goodness' sake turn your search-light on him, Dashway," said Minerva, "and let's see what he looks like. This is simply tragic."

Dashway Speeder turned the search-light of his launch across the fiats and there amid the surrounding mud, still bubbling from the effects of the departing tide, was presented a scene like unto a picture on a movie screen. There, bathed in light amid the surrounding gloom, like a film star in a disk of brightness, sat Scout Harris upon a grocery box surrounded by fallen sandwiches and with a goodly bowl securely held between his diminutive knees. It was a superb and mouth-watering close-up, to use the film phrase.

"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.



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.

Thus it was that at nine o'clock or thereabouts, Keekie Joe realized that he was hungry and that four cigarettes stood between him and home, effectually barring the way. He measured the licking that he would get against the supper that he would get, and he decided to go fishing. No doubt his choice was well considered for the supper that he would get might not be a good one whereas the licking that he would get would be nothing short of magnificent.

Keekie Joe had not the slightest idea how to cook a fish and he could not think so far ahead as that. But food he must have. So he had dug some worms and put them in one of his trick cans and then proceeded to untangle the line. Having secured an unknotted length of five or six feet he equipped this with a fish-hook of his own manufacture and sallied forth toward the river. He was not only hungry, but sleepy, and it never occurred to him that this was the exorbitant price of four cigarettes.

Hunger and sleep vied with each other in the shuffling body of Keekie Joe as he crossed Main Street and cut across the fields toward the marshes.

Down by the river was a little shanty in which was a mass of fishing seine. It stood hospitably open, for the hinges of the door were all rusted away and the dried and shrunken boards lay on the marshy ground before the entrance. Keekie Joe had intended to make sure that there was nothing to eat in the shanty before casting his line in the neighboring water. For there was the barest chance that a petrified crust of bread, ancient remnant of some fisherman's lunch, might be in the place.

Once Keekie Joe had found such a crust there. But the place was bare now of everything except deserted spider-webs, black and heavy with dust. These and the mass of net upon the ground were all that Keekie Joe could see in the light of the genial moonbeams which shone through the open doorway and wriggled in through the cracks in the weather-beaten boards.

And now again Keekie Joe had to make a choice. He was hungry, oh, so hungry. But he was sleepy, too, to the point of blinking half-consciousness. The eyes which had so often watched for "cops," and which had won for Keekie Joe his nickname, were half closed and he could hardly stand. Such a price for four cigarettes!

The eyes which had been so faithful to a doubtful trust and won the pay of an apple core, could not be trusted now to stay open while he sat, a ragged, lonely figure, on the shore dangling his line in quest of a morsel to eat. It was funny how these eyes, which had served others so well, seemed about to go back on their owner now. But so it was. And then, in a moment, a very strange thing happened.

As Keekie Joe leaned against the doorway blinking his eyes, he happened to look up at the moon and it seemed (probably because his eyes were blinking), it seemed as if the man in the moon winked at him, in a way shrewdly significant as if he might have something up his sleeve. Anyway, he could not keep his eyes open; sleep, for a little while at least, had triumphed over hunger and the faithful little sentinel of Barrel Alley stumbled over to the pile of net and sank down, exhausted, upon it.

And Keekie Joe dreamed a dream. A most outlandish dream. He dreamed that the licorice jaw-breaker which that strange boy had thrown at him was the size of a brick, and that as it fell upon the ground it broke into a thousand luscious fragments like the pane of plate-glass through which Keekie Joe had lately thrown a rock. He picked up the fragments and ate them, and there before him stood the strange, small boy, who threw a sponge cake directly at his head and hit him with it plunk. "Wotcher chuckin' dem at me fer?" Keekie Joe demanded menacingly.

But the small, strange boy (apparently without either fear or manners) scaled a pumpkin pie at him and said, "Do you think I'm scared of you?" He then squirted powdered sugar at him like poison gas and Keekie Joe toppled backward off the fence and could not watch for cops, because his eyes were full of powdered sugar. "Quit dat, d'yer hear!" he screamed. But the small, strange boy threw a ham straight at him and it fell on the ground with a thunderous crash and broke into a million thin slices with mustard on them.

The noise of this falling meteor awoke Keekie Joe and he sat up, holding the two sides of his head, startled and dizzy from hunger. And shining through the doorway of the shack he saw a light. It was not the moonlight, but another light, and he crept, light-headed and fearful, toward the opening, ready to run in case it was a cop . . .



What Keekie Joe beheld caused him to rub his eyes and concentrate his gaze with more intensity than ever he had shown while at his official post. There, bumping against the shore, was somebody or other's grass-plot with a tree on it and a little tent. The frightened natives who had witnessed the arrival of Columbus could not have been more astonished than Keekie Joe.

He glanced out upon the river to see if any lawns or groves or back yards were floating around. Then his gaze returned to the miraculous scene before him. There was the small boy he had known in the morning, "the rich kid" who had been willing to sit as sentinel on the fence.

He was now sitting on an inverted ice cream freezer and all about him on the grass were sandwiches, hundreds of them. The tower had fallen and its ruins lay about Pee-wee's feet. A lantern hung in the tent and through the opening Keekie Joe caught a glimpse of a board covered with spotless white cloth and piled with such things as he had seen in the windows of bakeries. The laden board looked as if a cyclone had struck it but in the tumbled chaos his quick and startled glance could distinguish proud and lofty cakes rolled over on their brown or icy superstructures, and doughnuts looking indeed like the cannon-balls which might have laid low these beauteous edifices.

Keekie Joe gazed upon this scene of mouth-watering ruin with eyes spellbound. Before him lay a miniature Pompeii buried under a kind of lava of whipped cream and custard and chicken salad, amid which toppled cakes and a frowning fortress of gingerbread lay sideways and upside down. Bananas and oranges and nuts and raisins and olives littered the scene of toothsome devastation. An empty square ice cream can, disinterred from its quiet grave of ice, lay upon the ground. Another was in Pee-wee's lap and our hero was armed with a deadly spoon.

"I know who you are," he said, as he annihilated a cocoanut macaroon. "You're the feller I saw this morning. Didn't I tell you if you got to be a scout you'd have all you want to eat? Now you see!"

Keekie Joe did see but he was too astounded to speak. He knew from experience that this strange race of scouts carried jaw-breakers in their pockets, and that they had a deadly aim. But he had not supposed that they travelled in fairy barques which rivalled the windows of bakery shops in their sumptuous appointments. He had not pictured them as travelling on their private islands surrounded by mammoth icing cakes five stories high, and towers of chocolate. He had not fancied them sitting on ice cream freezers and tossing the emptied receptacles from them.

Pee-wee had told his friend of the morning that they would both vote for Keekie Joe and that Keekie Joe should be the patrol leader. If this was the way an ordinary scout travelled, what would be the proper equipment of a patrol leader? It staggered poor Keekie Joe just to think of this. And a scoutmaster!

"Didn't I tell you how it was with scouts?" Pee-wee demanded. "Now you see!"

Keekie Joe rubbed his eyes to make sure he was awake and scrutinized Pee-wee shrewdly. For our hero was somewhat disguised by a villainous moustache of chocolate which reached almost to his ear on one side and made him look like a pirate.

"Do you like sardine sandwiches?" our hero asked at random, for he hardly knew what to use for bait amid such crowding variety. "I was stuck on the flats for over an hour and then the tide took me off. It's coming in now. I'm going to stay on here all night and to-morrow and all next week. So do you want to join? Only you have to be a scout if you want to come on here. There are six other fellers but they're at the party. They said I wouldn't have any fun at the party because I can't dance, but I'm having more fun than any of them. I foiled them. They're all dancing but they're good and hungry. Maybe they look happy but they're not."

"Do dey all go round in dem things?" Keekie Joe ventured to inquire.

"No, but I'm lucky," said Pee-wee.

It seemed to Keekie Joe that Pee-wee was very lucky.

"I've got the best part of the party here," said Pee-wee, holding onto a tree alongshore to keep the island from drifting. "You better hurry up because I can't hold it here; I can only hold it here about—about—seven seconds. Only you can't come on unless you join because we need one more feller. So will you join? If you will you can have all the ice cream you want, because I got a right to all these things. And there's cake goes with it too, and everything. It includes chicken salad and sandwiches and everything. So will you join? I'm the boss of all these things, I am, you can ask Minerva Skybrow. I'm the boss of the olives and—and—everything."

"Did yer swipe 'em?" Keekie Joe asked, looking furtively around as if he thought that Pee-wee might be shadowed while in possession of such boundless wealth.

"I got them on account of being lucky," Pee-wee said. "I pulled a stick out of the ground and it was a dandy mistake so that shows you'd better stick to me, because I make lots of dandy mistakes. I make them every day; sometimes I make two in one day and I've got nine ideas for next week and all these eats besides. You needn't be afraid to get on," he added, "because it'll drift up the river now and it won't go past Bridgeboro on account of Waring's reef. There's where I want it to stick because if it sticks there it'll stay there, you can bet. Come on, don't you be scared."

Then, with sudden inspiration, he added, "This is a peachy place to lay keekie for cops, because you can see all around you away, way off. And when all this food is gone there'll be apples getting ripe on this tree and you won't have to speak for cores either, because you can have whole apples, all you want of them. That's what scouts do, they eat and they stay out all night and they're wild, kind of. And they don't care what happens, and anyway the ice cream is melting all the time, so will you join?"

Keekie Joe, still hesitating in profound astonishment, and a little fearful of this strange apparition with its presiding genius saw that if he were going to act he must act quickly for though Pee-wee was king of the island he seemed not able to govern its capricious fancy. Clutch the tree as he would, the gap between scout and hoodlum persistently widened, and the island seemed bent on hurrying upon its wanton career.

Keekie Joe, not altogether easy in his mind, still found it impossible to resist these enumerated benefits of scouting. Being wild and staying out all night and eating and eating and eating forever and forever under a profusion of blossoms which gave new promise, was too much for the sentinel of Barrel Alley to ignore.

So he ran away to sea as so many other boys had done before him and sailed out upon the briny deep in the good barque Merry-go-round. And he ate such a supper that night as he had never eaten in his life before. Pee-wee had already eaten his fill but he wished to be companionable and make his guest feel at home so he ate another supper with his new friend in accordance with the requirements of good manners.

A scout is polite.



The lawn party was over, two score or more of famished guests had gone to their homes, the lights in the Skybrow house were out, the sputtering candles in the Japanese lanterns were dying one by one, the grounds were still and dark except for the merry moon which smiled down upon the scene of revelry and tragedy.

At the edge of the lawn where the Isle of Desserts had been, six figures sat in the darkness. They sat in a row, their legs drawn up and held by their clasped hands. They sat waiting and watching in the silent night.

"The river is going to eat the edge of this lawn all away if they don't face it with stone," said Roly Poly.

"Will you please stop talking about eating?" said Brownie.

"I know, but you'd think a rich man like Mr. Skybrow would make provision for a thing like that," said a boy they called Shorty.

"Will you please stop talking about provisions?" said Townsend.

"I know, but Nuts was saying——"

"Will you please stop talking about nuts?" said Townsend.

"Well, what shall I talk about then?" Brownie asked.

"Talk about the rhododendron bushes," said Billy. "Look where a big clump was pulled away. Look at that one—all broken. These bushes will have to be all pruned."

"Will you please stop talking about prunes?" said Townsend.

"I know, but seven or eight——"

"Will you please not mention the word ate?" said Townsend. "They ought to be thankful he left the lawn."

"What did his father say over the 'phone?" one asked.

"Oh, he didn't seem to worry," said Townsend. "He knows that the island is on a scow and that the river is small and that his son always lands right side up; that's what he said. I told him the island would come up with the tide and that we'd wait here and row out when he came in sight. He said there was no danger, that the discoverer is always lucky."

"Oh, he's lucky," said Brownie.

"Nothing short of an earthquake can capsize the island," Townsend said.

"He's a whole earthquake in himself," said Billy.

"More than that," said Shorty. "If I owned a restaurant I wouldn't leave it around, not unless there were buildings on both sides of it."

"And a weight on the top," said Brownie.

"Oh, that goes without saying," said Shorty.

"The blamed thing can't sink, can it?" Billy asked.

"I don't know how heavy his nine ideas are," said Townsend. "They would be the only thing that could sink it."

"We'll reach him easy as pie——"

"Please don't say that word," Townsend pled.

"I think I see the lantern now," said Billy.

"I was afraid he might have eaten that——"

"I could eat it myself," said Roly Poly.

"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."



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.

Keekie Joe liked Townsend and felt at home with him. He admired and trusted him because in the beginning Townsend made a point of calling the fellows blokes and guys and talking about "dem t'ings."

"If yez want a guy ter lay keekie, I'll do it fer yez," Keekie Joe said.

"If we see any cops coming," said Townsend, "we'll turn the traffic sign on them and make them stop."

On Sunday morning, Townsend rowed ashore with Keekie Joe and invaded the tenement in Barrel Alley. He took a brand new package of cigarettes to Mr. Keekie Joe, Senior, and Keekie Joe, Junior, was struck dumb with awe at the familiar and persuasive way in which Townsend talked to his parent. The result of the interview was that Keekie Joe returned to the island on a week's furlough from his squalid home. The Barrel Alley gang, which was mobilized in front of Billy Gilson's tire repair shop, made catcalls at the stranger as the pair passed along and when they were some yards distant, several of them summoned Keekie Joe to their loitering conference.

"Hey, Keekie, come 'ere, I want ter tell yer sup'm," one called.

Keekie Joe hesitated and turned. It was a crucial moment in the history of the new patrol.

"Come on back, Keekie," another shouted.

Then it was that Slats Corbett, imperial head of the gang, did a good turn for the scouting movement. He picked up a half dry sponge which was lying in an auto wash pail and hurled it at Townsend Ripley. Without even turning, Townsend raised his hand, caught it, dipped it in the mud at his feet, and walking briskly back, smeared the face and head of the big ungainly bully, leaving him furious and dripping. Keekie Joe trembled at this rash exploit of his new friend and waited in fearful suspense for the sequel. It was not long in coming. With a roar of obscene invectives, Slats Corbett rushed upon the smiling, slim, quiet stranger, and then in the space of two seconds, there was Slats Corbett lying flat in the mud. In a kind of trance Keekie Joe heard a brisk, pleasant voice.

"Any of the rest of you want any? All right, come along, Joe."

And that really was the ceremony that made Keekie Joe a scout. It is true that they had a kind of formal initiation under the apple tree on Merry-go-round Island and gave him a badge and had him take the oath and so on and so on. And had him hold up his hand—you know how. But it was not when his hand went up that he became a scout. It was when Slats Corbett went down. That was the clincher.



And now the wandering career of Merry-go-round Island seemed at last to have ended and it roamed no more over the face of the waters. On the contrary, it settled down to a life of respectable retirement on Waring's reef.

Waring's reef was dry land at low tide, and even at high tide was close enough to the surface to support the trusty foundation of the fugitive isle. It stood exactly in the middle of the river at a spot where the stream was straight and comparatively wide, and commanded a fine view of the boat-house a mile or so downstream. There was more or less life down there during the ensuing week for the high school pupils made the place their own in the brief Easter vacation.

It was on Wednesday that a couple of high school boys chugged up in a little launch and were about to land when Pee-wee forbade them by turning the traffic sign upon them just as they were about to set foot on the island. The island had been on its good behavior now for four days and had not so much as turned an inch. It seemed to have found a satisfactory home at last.

"What do you call this thing, anyway?" one of the visitors asked.

"It's a desert island," said Pee-wee. "Can't you see what it is? Don't you know a desert island when you see one? Gee whiz, you're in high school, you ought to know a desert island when you see one. I know you," he added, addressing one of the visitors; "you're on the basket-ball team, your name is Chase, your first name is Wingate and you're all the time going around with Grove Bronson's sister and he's in the troop that I'm not in any more."

In the face of these unquestionable facts Wingate Chase was helpless; he could not do otherwise than admit his identity.

"We're going to have some events on Saturday," he said. "This fellow with me is from the Edgemere High School and——"

"He's going to get beaten," shouted Pee-wee; "because Bridgeboro High School can lick all the high schools around here, in athletics and debates and everything."

"That's all right, Kiddo," said the fellow from Edgemere High School.

"You bet it's all right," said Pee-wee.

"We were thinking we'd like to use your island," said Wingate Chase.

"You don't want to take it to Edgemere, do you?" Townsend Ripley asked. "We don't allow it to be taken from the premises. You may use it here if you care to."

"Find out what they want to use it for," shouted Pee-wee.

"What do you want to use it for?" Townsend asked.

"Tell them they'll have to pay for any damage they do to it," Pee-wee said.

"We just want to put a flag on it," Wingate Chase said.

"You mean you want to take possession of it?" Pee-wee demanded. "You mean you want to discover it? I'm the discoverer of this desert island."

The fellow from Edgemere seemed rather amused at Pee-wee. "All we want to do," he said, "is to use it to beat the Bridgeboro High School in the rowing match. We just want to row around it. The two crews will start from the boat-house and race upstream and around this island and back. Now that won't hurt the island any, will it? In a few minutes it will be all over except the shouting."

"Shall we let them do it?" Pee-wee whispered to Townsend.

"Of course we'll want one of our referees to stay on the island during the races," said Wingate, "but he won't hurt anything. There'll be several races, a rowing race, a canoe race, a swimming race and so on; we haven't made up the program yet."

"Are you going to have any refreshments?" Pee-wee demanded.

"We don't allow refreshments on the island," said Townsend.

"Shall we let them do it?" Pee-wee asked.

"Positively," said Townsend; "I don't see how we can stop them, as long as they keep outside of the three mile limit. The referee won't do any harm. All he does is to see that the racing is fair as they round the limit."

"We're the limit, hey?" vociferated Pee-wee.

"You said it," laughed the fellow from Edgemere.

"All right," said Pee-wee, "you can do it."

It was not until the Alligator Patrol sat around their camp-fire that night that the possibilities of this participation in the athletic events began to unfold in the seething mind of our hero. He had stood somewhat upon his dignity with the committee because he did not want to hold the island too cheap in their eyes.

Moreover, though he was for Bridgeboro, once, last and always, his attitude was uniformly combative toward older boys, high school boys in particular, and toward high schools generally. He would be chary of the privileges he granted to these "big fellers" whom he knew so well how to "handle." But in the light of the camp-fire he saw visions of huge war profits in these impending combats. While Edgemere and Bridgeboro fought he would become a war millionaire. The little island, retired from its wild career at last and with a secure and fixed abode would still play an important part in world affairs.

"I tell you what we'll do," said Pee-wee; "we'll sell seats for people to see the races from the island. We'll build a couple of benches out of this old refreshment board—we'll drive stakes in the ground—and one of us will go to town—I mean the mainland—with a big sign telling people they can buy seats for ten cents—because in the boat races when Sir Thomas Lipton's yacht got beaten lots of people paid to go out on excursion steamers and this island is better than an excursion steamer, because they'll go right around the edge of it—right around the coast and everybody'll get a dandy view."

Thus it was that on Thursday and Friday there; appeared in the Bridgeboro Evening Record an advertisement which read:

See the High School events on the river from Alligator Island, seats ten cents. Fine view of the races. Free transportation both ways. Alligator Island belongs to the boy scouts and is in the middle of the river, commanding a fine view because the boats go around it. Boat goes back and forth from Gilroy's field. Absolutely safe. Take the beautiful ride to Alligator Island and see the races for only ten cents. Children in arms if not accompanied by parents have to pay five cents.

It will be observed from the advertisement that Merry-go-round Island, alias the Isle of Desserts, was now masquerading under a new name, which had been given it in the hope of obliterating all memories of its wandering past.

Being now a respectable stay-at-home island, stuck fast with each part of its coast true to its proper compass point, what more natural than that its roving youth should be treated as a closed book by its owners? There it sat in the middle of the glinting river, its sturdy understructure reposing upon Waring's reef.

Even at low ride the shallow water rippled about it. At high tide the coy reef withdrew entirely within the briny deep, so that the unromantic and unsightly scow was not visible and the island stood in all its wild and floral beauty, a vision of picturesque delight for three or four hours each day at full tide. From the mainland (some thirty feet distant according to a piece of string) the yellow dandelions could be seen dotting its geometric coast and occasionally some drowsy turtle, with neck extended, was visible, sleeping in the sun.

The only historic memento of Minerva Skybrow's lawn party to be found upon the island now was the refreshment board, quite empty. It is true that an explorer, delving among the rocks and crevices, might have found some fugitive stuffed olive or perchance a lost nut or raisin here and there. But the feast of Dessert Isle was now a part of history. Minerva's little tent had been delivered to her (for Pee-wee could not eat that) and only the makeshift table which had supported the absconding repast remained.

This was now made into two long benches, supported by sticks driven into the ground. It was intended that the overflow from this grandstand should sit on the grass. These preparations completed, our hero, accompanied by Brownie and Billy, went ashore on Friday afternoon and edified the people on Main Street with an imposing display.

They paraded up and down the sidewalk wearing large placards, the most striking of which was the one that almost completely obscured the diminutive form of our hero. It was appropriately in the form of a sandwich of which he himself was the center, his head and legs protruding from it like the head and legs of a turtle. Its glaring announcement seemed to suggest the literary style of Townsend Ripley.








On Friday night it rained and the Alligators were driven into their tent. It rained all night and was still raining when the momentous Saturday dawned. They were compelled to eat breakfast in their tent, the top of which was plastered with apple blossoms so that the khaki-colored fabric looked not unlike a brown wall paper with a floral design.

The tide being out, the rain pattered down on the surrounding mud and shallow places, and the members of the patrol sat in the open doorway of their cozy little shelter wistfully gazing at the downpour, and watching the little holes that the raindrops made in the mud.

Each drop, like a bullet, drove a little hole in the oozy bottom, which slowly closed up again. Schools of darting killies hurried this way and that frantically seeking an avenue into the deeper places where puddles would afford them a haven during the lowest ebb. Rain, rain, rain.

On the porch of the boat-house a mile or so down-stream was gathered a group of young fellows, also watching wistfully. Through the intervening space of rain they seemed like pictures of spectres, misty and unsubstantial.

"The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide," said Townsend cheerily. "I think when it comes in it's going to stop raining, that's what I think. It's going to clear up and be warm this afternoon, you see. Rain before seven, clear before eleven. What do you say we catch some of those killies and fry them?"

"That's what you call an inspiration," said Roly Poly.

They caught some killies with a bent pin and fried them and they were not half bad.

Along about eleven o'clock the tide began running up, the killies which had not been lured to their undoing, disappeared in the swelling water, and soon the ripples danced up over the mud, submerging it entirely. The river began to be attractive again. And then the sun came out.

"This is going to be some peach of a tide for races," said Townsend; "it will be good and full after such an all night rain."

At two o'clock, when the river was about half full, a launch came chugging up from the boat club bringing a flag and the young fellow who was to be posted at the turning point. He planted the flag on its tall standard near the shore and settled down to mind his own business. Pee-wee received him as if he were a foreign ambassador.

Our hero was now so intent upon his commercial enterprise that he forgot all about the races except in their commercial aspect. The island was but the turning point for the contestants and seemed detached from the excitement and preparations which prevailed down at the club house.

Soon, along the shore, there began to be visible little groups of boys sprawling on the grass, waiting. The boat-house porch and the adjacent float were filled with high school pupils. They made a great racket, and from all the noise and bustle thereabouts the little island seemed removed, as if a part of the events and yet not a part.

Presently a little group of girls appeared at the edge of Gilroy's Field, which was the nearest point on the mainland to Alligator Island. They seemed to be looking about in a bewildered, inquiring sort of way. Evidently the advertising was bringing results. It seemed as if they might have banded together (as girls will) for the cut rate cruise which they had seen advertised. At all events they seemed to be strangers. Whoever they were, it spoke well for their adventurous spirit that they should wish to book passage to an unknown shore, when there were no others in sight who seemed the least interested in the voyage.

"Is that Alligator Island?" one of them called.

"It certainly is," Townsend answered. "I'll come over and get you; the boat is leaving right away."

"Have your fares ready," Pee-wee called in a voice of thunder.

As Townsend approached the mainland there was much whispering and giggling among the girls. "We came from Edgemere," said one of them; "we're in the Edgemere High School and we came over on the trolley to see the Bridgeboro High School beaten. We saw a small boy in the street with a sign——"

"That was me," shouted Pee-wee; "I saw you on Main Street. Have your fares ready and he'll bring you over. All aboard! All aboard to Alligator Island with its tropic vegetarians and boat races!" And, in his excitement and enthusiasm he added, "Step this way! Step right this way!"

"Did you ever hear of such a thing," laughed one girl.

"He means after you step out of the boat," said Townsend.

You would have thought that Pee-wee was selling desert islands out of a basket. He stood on the extreme edge nearest to the field, shouting, "Here you are, this way for your desert isle! See the tropic variations——"

"He means vegetation," said Townsend.

"He means fresh vegetables," called Brownie.

"Here you are for your fresh vegetables," Pee-wee shouted, hardly knowing what he said at this actual prospect of business which he saw before his very eyes. "The races encircle this island. Here you are for your best seats! Come early and avoid the rush!"

"That's the wild man of the island," Townsend said; "he's perfectly harmless: step right in the boat."

They were rowed over and escorted to seats, where they did not have to wait long, for scarcely were they settled on one long bench when a chorus of shouts arose down at the boat-house, as out into the river shot two canoes.

"Oh, they're coming! They're coming!" the girls carolled in great excitement and anticipation.

"Oh, look! Do look!" one of them said, clutching the shoulder of her neighbor. "He's in the red canoe! It's Willie Dawdle, and he's ahead! Hurrah for Edgemere! Oh, he's coming, he's coming! I knew we'd annihilate them, I just knew it! Oh, it's simply glorious!"

"Hurrah for Bridgeboro!" shouted Pee-wee.

"Hurrah for Edgemere!" shouted the girls.

The two canoes, with Edgemere a little ahead as well as they could see, came gliding up the river, two streaks, red and green, in the sunshine . . .



The canoe race, which was the first of the events, was also the best—as well as the last. Never was there wilder excitement on Pee-wee's island than when the green and red canoes glided northward, approaching the turning point.

The red canoe skilfully paddled by the Edgemere champion, Willie Dawdle, was some ahead and gaining rapidly and the girls from Edgemere High School could not contain themselves for joy. Among the Alligator Patrol, too, the excitement ran high and shout upon shout for Bridgeboro arose as Wingate Chase spurted to get the inner turn about the island. He gained fast now and as the distance between the two canoes shortened the air was rent with deafening yells for Bridgeboro.

The two contestants were abreast when suddenly amid the uproar could be heard a voice, a voice singularly matter-of-fact and sensible, uttering words which if not of excitement seemed at least pertinent to the occasion, "How are they going to go around that blamed thing when it's sailing up the river?"

Alas, it was too true. The most unusual development which could possibly complicate an athletic event had occurred; the turning point had deserted the race and was sailing majestically up the river. It had already sailed a hundred feet or so before the watchers on the mainland discovered the fact.

As for the striving contestants they were too intent upon the race to perceive the strange turn of affairs until the wild mirth upon the "mainland" apprised them of it. They must have looked funny enough from the shore frantically pursuing the fugitive turning post, and the unhallowed joy of the spectators was only increased by Pee-wee's heroic efforts in the emergency as with a long pole he strove to stay the progress of the recreant island. Failing in these herculean efforts, he still tried to save the day by shouting to the racers.

"Keep up! Keep up!" he yelled. "You can go around it. You're going faster than the island is. Don't give up! It makes it all the more exciting. It's like—like—like—kind of—like running up an escalator! Don't stop! Keep it up, it's an escalator race!"

It certainly made it "all the more exciting." As for the inhabitants of the island, they were carried away in more than one sense. Townsend lay flat upon the ground in a spasm of silent laughter. Several others of the new Alligator Patrol sat on the edge of the stern and rock-bound coast, their legs dangling in the water, and seemed in danger of falling in, so gymnastic was their merriment. As for the occupants or the grandstand, they probably thought (if they were able to think at all) that ten cents was a small price to pay for such an exciting race.

Only one occupant of the fleeing island was up and about and fully conscious. With his companions lying flat or doubled up and screaming so that the woods along shore echoed with their insane mirth, our hero stood amid the chaos, shouting to the racers at the top of his voice. They were almost abreast of him now, and laughing themselves, for the race had become a farce.

"Come on! Keep it up!" he shouted. "You can go around it while it's sailing just as good as if it were standing still! The race kind of stretches out like an elastic—it's an extensible race. Keep it up! Keep it up!"

"Don't," moaned Townsend from his place on the ground. "This is too much——"

"It isn't enough!" Pee-wee shouted. "The race is better because it's longer—it stretches out—it's an extensible race—I invented it——"

"What on earth is the cause of it?" laughed one of the girls.

"Extra—extra—ex—ex—ex—extra high tide caused by the r—r—rain," shrieked Townsend, hardly able to get the words out. "This is the cli—cli—climax of Eas—Eas—Easter vac—c—c—c—c—cation!"

Amid screams and catcalls from the shore an official launch came chugging up the course. By that time the two canoeists had given themselves up to laughter and sat shaking as their canoes drifted. Only the island continued merrily upon the flood tide.

"Called off?" somebody called from the shore.

"Certainly it's called off," said the official in the launch. "This was supposed to be a race, not a game of tag."

"Come on! Come on!" screamed Pee-wee from the departing isle. "Hurrah for Bridgeboro High! Come on, you can go around us! If a man can—listen, I've got a dandy argument—if a man can shoot a bird on the wing a race like that is just as good—you can encircle an island on the wing too! Come on! Come on! It's a new kind of a race! A lot of girls paid ten cents to see it! Come on, go around us!"

"Oh, gracious, goodness, we've had our money's worth," moaned one of the girls; "we're not complaining."

"It's like a movie play," screamed another.

"It's a very move—m—moving drama," stammered Townsend.

"And all for ten cents," said one of the girls.

"They're not coming!" Pee-wee shouted. "We won the race! We weren't in it but we won it anyway. That feller in the launch is crazy! It was a chase and a race all in one—it was a chase race—I invented it and he went and spoiled it all."

Time and tide wait for no man. Up the swelling river, out of the voice range of the hooting throng, farther and still farther from the madding crowd, sailed Turning Post Island, alias Merry-go-round Island, alias Isle of Desserts, alias Alligator Isle, alias The Earthly Paradise.

Other motor-boats, manned by astonished officials and bearing committees, chugged up to where the island had been and a flotilla of rowboats and canoes hovered thereabouts while their occupants inspected curiously the place where the official turning point with its crowded grandstand had been. But the official turning point had vanished, though the voice of our hero could still be beard up beyond Collison's bend.

And still Townsend Ripley lay prone and laughed and laughed and laughed.

"Your money will be refunded, of course," he managed to say to the several occupants of the grandstand. "You see we had a heavy rain all night and——"

"Oh, don't speak of returning our money," one of the girls laughed. "We really ought to pay you more."

"We can't take any more," Pee-wee shouted. "You—you get the ride for nothing—it's thrown in—because I said free transportation and a scout has to keep his word. Even if we float miles and miles we can't take another cent——"

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