We are reading The Pushcart War, by Jean Merrill.
It was at this moment that Frank the Flower became a hero. He looked the Police Commissioner in the eye.
"Okay, I admit it," he said. "I shot them all."
"All of them!" said the Police Commissioner....
Frank smiled apologetically. "Maybe a few more or less. I lose track...."
"All 18,991!" said the Police Commissioner. Frank the Flower nodded....if he confessed to shooting down only seventeen or eighteen, the police would go on looking for whoever had shot down the rest. If that happened, all his friends might be arrested, too, and that would be the end of the Pea Shooter Campaign....
"But what did you do it for?" asked the Police Commissioner. "Have you got something against the trucks?"
Frank the Flower shrugged. "I am a crackpot," he said.
"I thought so," said the Police Commissioner.