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Our narrator wants adventures and the kind of "wild sensations" you can't get at school or in the neighborhood (An Encounter.8). Oh, yeah, he's been reading chapter books about the Wild West, so that has a lot to do with it.
Skipping school and going out to the Pigeon House sounds like a real adventure, so he and two friends agree on a plan to do it the next day.
One lousy friend drops out, so the narrator and his pal Mahony set out together. They play "Indian" as they head out of town. It's kind of a disorganized trip already.
Wandering around alongside the River Liffey, they end up in a field in a suburb called Ringsend; they never make it as far as the Pigeon House. Oh well. GPS wasn't really available.
A very strange-looking man walks by the guys in the field and then starts walking in circles around them, all creepy-like. If you've predicted that he starts up a little convo with our mischievous adventurers, you're right.
Everything's fine until Mahony runs off and leaves the narrator alone with this "queer old josser," or "strange old fool," who just can't stop talking. (An Encounter.33). Hey, whatever happened to the buddy system?
It's boring and he's talking about whipping little boys for having girlfriends, so basically our narrator figures he better get outta Dodge. Fast.
And okay, don't tell anyone, but he's getting a little scared. He yells for Mahony (and uses a classic tactic, calling him by a fake name they had agreed upon earlier), and Mahony comes to the rescue.
All this leaves our little guy blushing hard-core because Mahony wasn't ever really his friend, but now he's totally relying on him. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Stranger danger is no joke.