So he decided to postpone it, and contented himself with warding and dodging his furious lunges and rushes, and gave him no blow in return. Until, at last, after one or two heavy falls of his own occasioning, Tom gave it up, spluttered a final commination on his opponent, and turned to go home.
He went blunderingly down into the hollow way, and Gard stood watching him in doubt.
It seemed hardly possible he could cross the Coupee in that state, and he felt a sort of moral responsibility towards him. Much as he detested him, he had no wish to see him go reeling over into Coupee bay.
So he set off after him to see him safely across, and Tom, hearing him coming, groped in the crumbling side wall till he found a rock of size, and sent it hurling up the path with another curse.
Then he blundered on, and Gard followed. And Tom stopped again by one of the pinnacles and sought another rock, and flung it, and it dropped slowly from point to point till it landed on the shingle three hundred feet below.
He stood there in the dim light, cursing volubly in patois and shaking his fist at Gard; but at last, to Gard’s great relief, he humped his back and stumbled away up the cutting on the further side.
And Gard, very sick of it all, and with an aching head and a very tender nose, but withal with a warm glow at the heart which no aches or pains could damp down, turned and went home to bed.
HOW ONE FELL OVER
Gard’s first waking thoughts next morning were of Nance entirely.
He would see her at dinner-time. How would he find her? Last night the disturbance of her feelings had shaken her out of herself somewhat, and shown her to him in new and delightful lights.
If, this morning, she should be to some extent withdrawn again into her natural modest shell, he would not be surprised; and he made up his mind, then and there, to be in no wise disappointed. Last night was a fact, a delightful fact, on which to build the rosy future.
It was a long time to wait till dinner-time to see her. What if he went round that way, before going to work, just to inquire if Tom got home all right.
And then the feeling of discomfort in his eye and nose, as though the one had shrunk to the size of a pin-point and the other had grown to the bulk of a turnip—brought back the whole matter, and on further consideration he decided not to go to the farm till the proper time. If he came across Tom, the fray would inevitably be resumed at once, and his right eye, at the moment, showed a decided disinclination to open to its usual extent, or to perform any of the functions properly demanded of a right eye contemplating battle.
He must get up at once and bathe it and bring it to reason.
Raw beef, he believed, was the correct treatment under the circumstances. But raw beef was almost as obtainable as raw moon, and even raw mutton he did not know where he could procure, nor whether it would answer the purpose.