“Had enough?” asked his conqueror, simply.
And Jake, lying in the dust at his feet, sobbing, and trying to pull himself together, stammered out, “Yes!”
“All right! Get up, and go over there by the side of the road and sit down. And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay there, too, or else turn around and go where you came from. If you follow us you’ll get into trouble—more than you’re in now, and that seems to be about all you can handle, judging from the looks of you.”
Then he turned away contemptuously, and went back to Dolly and Bessie, who were watching him admiringly.
“Isn’t he splendid—so brave and strong?” cried Dolly.
“It’s a good thing for us he came along,” said Bessie. “Jake is strong enough to hurt us or do anything he likes to us, but I always knew that he couldn’t do anything against a boy his own size. I wish they hadn’t had to fight, but in a case like this it’s all right, because it’s the only thing to do.”
“Well, I like a boy who can fight when he has to,” said Dolly, stoutly. “I haven’t any use for sissies, and I think that’s all Jake really is, for all his bluster.”
“Well, I guess he won’t bother you much more,” said their champion, when he returned to the surrey. “I’m only going as far as Tecumseh, but I’ll be glad to give you a ride that far if you want to go.”
“We do indeed,” said Bessie. “And we’re ever so much obliged to you for saving us from that fellow and for offering us the ride too. Do you know when we can get a train at Tecumseh for Deer Crossing?”
“Right soon now,” said the boy. “It’s due most any minute but I’ll get you there in time. That’s the train I’m going to meet—got to take some summer boarders from the city out to pop’s place. My name’s Bill Burns. My pop’s got a farm over that way”—he pointed with his whip—“about two miles.”
Bessie and Dolly told him their names then, and he asked where they were staying at Deer Crossing.
“Mercer Farm, huh?” he said, when they had told him. “I got a cousin works over there—fellow by the name of Walter Stubbs. Do you know him?”
“Yes, indeed,” said Bessie, with a smiling look at Dolly. “We saw him this morning. Dolly thinks a lot of him.”
“Oh, is that so?” said Bill Burns. He looked at Dolly, then bent over and whispered to Bessie, “He’s welcome to her.” Then he spoke aloud again. “I may be running over to see Walt one of these days. He and I are pretty good friends—for cousins. Seems to me he told me somethin’ about an ice-cream festival over there at the Methodist Church. I might run over to that.”
“I wish you would,” said Bessie, laughing. “All the girls are going, I’m sure—all our Camp Fire Girls.”
“What, more of you girls!” said Bill, seeming to be surprised.
“Yes, indeed. There are a whole lot over at the farm. They’ll be glad to see you, especially when we tell them how good you were to us, and how you saved us from that nasty Jake Hoover.”