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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 6. A Battle
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The Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 6. A Battle Post by :grimmbot Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Eggleston Date :May 2012 Read :3233

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The Hoosier Schoolboy - Chapter 6. A Battle


One morning, when Jack proposed to play a game of ball with the boys, Riley and Pewee came up and entered the game, and objected.

"It isn't interesting to play with greenhorns," said Will. "If Jack plays, little Christopher Columbus Andsoforth will want to play, too; and then there'll be two babies to teach. I can't be always helping babies. Let Jack play two-hole cat or Anthony-over with the little fellows." To which answer Pewee assented, of course.

That day at noon Riley came to Jack, with a most gentle tone and winning manner, and whiningly begged Jack to show him how to divide 770 by 14.

"It isn't interesting to show greenhorns," said Jack, mimicking Riley's tone on the playground that morning. "If I show you, Pewee Rose will want me to show him; then there'll be two babies to teach. I can't be always helping babies. Go and play two-hole cat with the First-Reader boys."

That afternoon, Mr. Ball had the satisfaction of using his new beech switches on both Riley and Pewee, though indeed Pewee did not deserve to be punished for not getting his lesson. It was Nature's doing that his head, like a goat's, was made for butting and not for thinking.

But if he had to take whippings from the master and his father, he made it a rule to get satisfaction out of somebody else. If Jack had helped him he wouldn't have missed. If he had not missed his lesson badly, Mr. Ball would not have whipped him. It would be inconvenient to whip Mr. Ball in return, but Jack would be easy to manage, and as somebody must be whipped, it fell to Jack's lot to take it.

King Pewee did not fall upon his victim at the school-house door; this would have insured him another beating from the master. Nor did he attack Jack while Bob Holliday was with him. Bob was big and strong--a great fellow of sixteen. But after Jack had passed the gate of Bob's house, and was walking on toward home alone, Pewee came out from behind an alley fence, accompanied by Ben Berry and Will Riley.

"I'm going to settle with you now," said King Pewee, sidling up to Jack like an angry bull-dog.

It was not a bright prospect for Jack, and he cast about him for a chance to escape a brutal encounter with such a bully, and yet avoid actually running away.

"Well," said Jack, "if I must fight, I must. But I suppose you won't let Riley and Berry help you."

"No, I'll fight fair." And Pewee threw off his coat, while Jack did the same.

"You'll quit when I say 'enough,' won't you?" said Jack.

"Yes, I'll fight fair, and hold up when you've got enough."

"Well, then, for that matter, I've got enough now. I'll take the will for the deed and just say 'enough' before you begin," and he turned to pick up his coat.

"No, you don't get off that way," said Pewee. "You've got to stand up and see who is the best man, or I'll kick you all the way home."

"Didn't you ever hear about Davy Crockett's 'coon?" said Jack. "When the 'coon saw him taking aim, it said: 'Is that you, Crockett? Well, don't fire--I'll come down anyway. I know you'll hit anything you shoot at.' Now, I'm that 'coon. If it was anybody but you, I'd fight. But as it's you, Pewee, I might just as well come down before you begin."

Pewee was flattered by this way of putting the question. Had he been alone, Jack would have escaped. But Will Riley, remembering all he had endured from Jack's retorts, said:

"Oh, give it to him, Pewee; he's always making trouble."

At which Pewee squared himself off, doubled up his fists, and came at the slenderer Jack. The latter prepared to meet him, but, after all, it was hard for Pewee to beat so good-humored a fellow as Jack. The king's heart failed him, and suddenly he backed off, saying:

"If you'll agree to help Riley and me out with our lessons hereafter, I'll let you off. If you don't, I'll thrash you within an inch of your life." And Pewee stood ready to begin.

Jack wanted to escape the merciless beating that Pewee had in store for him. But it was quite impossible for him to submit under a threat. So he answered:

"If you and Riley will treat me as you ought to, I'll help you when you ask me, as I always have. But even if you pound me into jelly I won't agree to help you, unless you treat me right. I won't be bullied into helping you."

"Give it to him, Pewee," said Ben Berry; "he's too sassy."

Pewee was a rather good-natured dog--he had to be set on. He now began to strike at Jack. Whether he was to be killed or not, Jack did not know, but he was resolved not to submit to the bully. Yet he could not do much at defence against Pewee's hard fists. However, Jack was active and had long limbs; he soon saw that he must do something more than stand up to be beaten. So, when King Pewee, fighting in the irregular Western fashion, and hoping to get a decided advantage at once, rushed upon Jack and pulled his head forward, Jack stooped lower than his enemy expected, and, thrusting his head between Pewee's knees, shoved his legs from under him, and by using all his strength threw Pewee over his own back, so that the king's nose and eyes fell into the dust of the village street.

"I'll pay you for that," growled Pewee, as he recovered himself, now thoroughly infuriated; and with a single blow he sent Jack flat on his back, and then proceeded to pound him. Jack could do nothing now but shelter his eyes from Pewee's blows.

Joanna Merwin had seen the beginning of the battle from her father's house, and feeling sure that Jack would be killed, she had run swiftly down the garden walk to the back gate, through which she slipped into the alley; and then she hurried on, as fast as her feet would carry her, to the blacksmith-shop of Pewee Rose's father.

"Oh, please, Mr. Rose, come quick! Pewee's just killing a boy in the street."

"Vitin' ag'in," said Mr. Rose, who was a Pennsylvanian from the limestone country, and spoke English with difficulty. "He ees a leetle ruffen, dat poy. I'll see apout him right avay a'ready, may be."

And without waiting to put off his leathern apron, he walked briskly in the direction indicated by Joanna. Pewee was hammering Jack without pity, when suddenly he was caught by the collar and lifted sharply to his feet.

"Wot you doin' down dare in de dirt wunst a'ready? Hey?" said Mr. Rose, as he shook his son with the full force of his right arm, and cuffed him with his left hand. "Didn't I dells you I'd gill you some day if you didn't gwit vitin' mit oder poys, a'ready?"

"He commenced it," whimpered Pewee.

"You dells a pig lie a'ready, I beleefs, Peter, and I'll whip you fur lyin' besides wunst more. Fellers like _him_," pointing to Jack, who was brushing the dust off his clothes,--"fellers like him don't gommence on such a poy as you. You're such anoder viter I never seed." And he shook Pewee savagely.

"I won't do it no more," begged Pewee--"'pon my word and honor I won't."

"Oh, you don't gits off dat away no more, a'ready. You know what I'll giff you when I git you home, you leedle ruffen. I shows you how to vite, a'ready."

And the king disappeared down the street, begging like a spaniel, and vowing that he "wouldn't do it no more." But he got a severe whipping, I fear;--it is doubtful if such beatings ever do any good. The next morning Jack appeared at school with a black eye, and Pewee had some scratches, so the master whipped them both for fighting.

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