But now Dolly, seeing Bessie treated so roughly, seemed to turn into a little wildcat. With a furious cry she sprang at Jake, and began hitting him with her fists, scratching him, pulling his hair and attacking him so vigorously that he cried out with surprise and pain. He dropped Bessie and turned to protect himself, and Dolly drew off at once.
“Run, Bessie, run! He’ll never catch you!” she cried. And as Jake darted off in pursuit of Bessie, who seized the chance to escape, Dolly picked up a stone and smashed the bicycle with it.
“There, now! He’ll never catch us on foot, and he can’t ride any more,” she cried. “Come on, Bessie!”
THE ENEMY CHECKMATED
Bessie had eluded the furious Jake easily enough. Amazed by Dolly’s onslaught, he had been too surprised to move quickly in any case, and, when he saw her trying to ruin his bicycle, he was diverted from Bessie and, shouting furiously, ran toward her with the idea of saving his wheel. So it was no trick at all for the two girls, light on their feet and graceful in their movements, to avoid the shambling, ungainly, overgrown boy, who, smarting from the pain of the scratches Dolly had inflicted, ran after them blindly.
Moreover, they had not gone very far when a farmer’s boy came along, driving a surrey. He was laughing at the antics of Jake, and when he saw the two girls, he stopped his horses.
“Say, is that big lout trying to catch you two?” he asked.
“He certainly is!” said Dolly. “Are you going to let him do it?”
“You bet your life I’m not!” said the boy, getting down from the surrey quickly. “Just you watch those horses, and you’ll see what I do to him. We don’t think much of fellers who hit girls in these parts.”
Jake was coming along puffing and blowing, and when he saw the two girls he gave a cry of triumph. But the farmer’s boy checked that quickly, and gave him something else to shout about.
“Here, you big bully, what are you trying to do?” he demanded, setting himself squarely in Jake’s path.
“Get outer my way!” stormed Jake. “That young one there smashed my wheel, and the other one is wanted—she’s wanted by the officers—she stole a automobile and set my pop’s barn on fire—”
“That’s a likely story—I don’t think!” sneered the farmer’s boy. “Get back now! Leave them alone, do you hear? If you try to touch them again, I’ll knock you into the middle of next week—”
But Jake was too enraged to be afraid, as in his sober senses he certainly would have been. And rashly he made a quick leap forward, and tried to get out of the way of the big young fellow who was between him and the girls. There wasn’t any fight; it would not be fair to dignify what followed with such a name. Jake was knocked down by the first blow; he tried to get up, and was promptly knocked down again. That brought him to his senses.