Then, as the bully struck out straight from the shoulder, intending to lay Hoki out with one blow, something surprising happened. The j.a.p sidestepped, linked his arm around the bully's neck, and sent him hurtling over his shoulder into the roadway, where he lay, white and still.
"You've killed him!" cried one of the other boys.
"No, kill," said j.a.p, grimly. "Could kill, but don't want to kill-this time. Tell him it my pleasure is that he avoid me in future."
And with that Hoki started on up the road.
"Here, here," cried one of the boys; "you can't go yet. Wait till we find how badly he's hurt."
"He only stunned," Hoki replied. "Should you wish me, it would me great pleasure give to entertain you at the mansion of Mr. Duncan."
Then Hoki went on, while the boys a.s.sisted Carter Dane to his feet.
Carter and the other boys started immediately for the Duncan residence, bent on vengeance, followed by several villagers who had seen the affair.
By the time they arrived, Hoki had told his story, and Chot, Tom and Fleet, with the j.a.p, were out in the yard, ready to receive them.
"Chot Duncan, you've got to give us that j.a.p," said Carter Dane.
"What do you want with the j.a.p?" Chot calmly asked.
"He played me a dirty trick down there, and we're going to beat him."
"What about the trick you played him, Dane?"
"I played him no trick."
"He says you stopped him in the road and threatened him, telling him not to talk to his betters, and from what I know of your reputation, I'm inclined to believe him."
"Of course you'll take his word before mine, but these boys saw the affair."
Several of the boys nodded, but they did not seem at all anxious to confirm Dane's statements.
"I saw it, too," said one of the villagers, "and the j.a.p was in no way to blame. Dane confronted him and made him fight, and then got mad because the j.a.p threw him over his shoulder into the road. The j.a.p's got pluck and I admire him for it."
"That's right," said several of the others.
"Now, listen to me, Dane," said Chot. "Hoki is under our protection. I brought him to Mortonville as my guest. When you insult him you insult me. I want you to beg his pardon right now, or you'll have me to settle with."
"Very well." Chot rolled up his sleeves and leaped quickly over the fence into the road. "You and I had it once before, about two years ago, Dane, and you know what happened. Will you beg his pardon?"
"Aw, I don't want to fight you," growled the bully. "I didn't mean anything. It was only a joke as far as I was concerned."
"Then let's call it a joke. It reacted on you, that's all. Do you beg his pardon?"
"Yes; I beg his pardon."
"All right. The next time I bring anyone to Mortonville as my guest, you either be civil to him or leave him alone. Understand?"
But Carter Dane's only response was a growl, as he slunk off down the road.
Hoki rose even in the estimation of the Comrades by his thrashing of the bully, and when a letter arrived the following day from Commandant Cullum, telling them that he would be glad to receive the j.a.p at Winton, and overlook some deficiencies in his education, everyone was delighted, Hoki most of all.
The same mail brought a letter from Lucy. It was a big official-looking envelope, and when Chot opened it, he saw besides the letter the certificate of stock. The letter read, in part, as follows:
"I am sending the mining stock as you request. Do as you wish with it. As I told you before, the matter is entirely in your hands. I know that whatever you do will be right. Have been staying with my aunt since leaving Mortonville. Hope to see you again before the fall term of school opens. I shall be at Professor Pinchum's Academy as usual."
There were several other things in the letter which Chot did not read aloud to Tom and Fleet. But he saw the wink that pa.s.sed between them, and seizing a couple of the sofa pillows from a couch in his den, sent them hurtling at the heads of his chums.
The certificate was shown to Mr. Duncan and Mr. Kenby, a check was made out for one thousand dollars in favor of Lucy, and another in favor of Luther Pendleton. In case the mine never amounted to anything, Lucy would have her thousand. Mr. Kenby insisted on this, and the boys knew that his generous heart was overflowing with kindness toward the girl who had been placed in such an unfortunate position.
"Someday we shall perhaps be able to do more for her," said he.
"If the mine pans out, you three boys and Lucy shall divide your three-fifths share among you, and something seems to tell me that Pendleton is not fooling his time away out there for nothing," said Mr.
So with that the matter was allowed to rest, and the time was now approaching when the boys would go back to Winton. They could not foresee the incidents to be recorded in "Winton Hall Cadets," the next book of this series, and went enthusiastically about the preparations for their leave taking.
The opening date for the fall term was September 7, and three days before they left they received a letter from Pod, another from Truem Wright, and still another from Bert Creighton, telling the days they were starting for school. The day before leaving letters came from Wilkes Davis, Randy Denton and Dan Kirlicks, with the information that they, too, were leaving at once for Winton.
"Looks like it's going to be a grand reunion," said Fleet, "and I'll bet you fellows won't jolly me any more about not being a poet."
As he spoke he held up triumphantly a letter he had just received from a New York publishing house. Then the truth of Fleet's secret work in his den dawned upon Chot and Tom.
"They accepted the ma.n.u.script I sent them, and will use one of my nature poems," Fleet continued. "Now congratulate me, you lobsters, and I'll forgive what you said to me on the trip that night."
Of course they congratulated him. They had known all along that he was destined to make his mark and if their criticism had been at times severe, they felt that it was now bearing results, though, of course, they did not tell Fleet that.
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