“If you touch her again, there will be trouble.”
“What will you do?”
“I’ll give you the worst thrashing you ever had in your life.”
“Two can play at that game.”
“There will be only one in this game.”
“Do you want to fight me?”
“I am perfectly willing,” responded Dick recklessly. His anger was deep at that moment.
“All right then, come on!” howled Baxter savagely, and, squaring off, he aimed a blow at Dick’s face.
The attack was so sudden that Dick could scarcely prepare for it, and though he dodged, Baxter’s fist landed glancingly on his cheek.
“There you are, and here’s another!” cried the bully, and his other fist shot out, catching Dick on the shoulder.
But now the oldest Rover was on his guard, and in a twinkle he let drive, taking Dan Baxter in the eye. It was a staggering blow, and made the bully gasp with pain. Then Dick followed it up by a crashing blow on the chin, which sent the bully reeling into the low water on the beach.
“Don’t—don’t run me into the ocean!” he spluttered, and, watching his chance, ran out of the water and up the beach.
But Dick was now thoroughly aroused, and he made after Baxter. When he got close enough, he put out his foot and sent the bully sprawling. Baxter came down on some rough sea-shells, cutting his face and hands in several places.
“Oh! oh!” he howled. “Stop it!”
“I will not stop it, Dan Baxter, until you promise to let Dora Stanhope and the other girls alone in the future. They want nothing to do with you, and you must keep your distance.”
“I—I didn’t hurt anybody.”
“Do you promise to let them alone?”
Without replying, the bully staggered to his feet. The blood was running from his nose and from a cut on his chin, and both of his hands were also bleeding.
“Do you want to kill me, Dick Rover?”
“I want you to behave yourself. Come, now, are you going to promise?”
“What if I don’t?”
“Then I’ll give you the thrashing I promised.”
“All right, I’m cornered, and can’t help myself.”
“Will you let the girls alone in the future?”
“Yes. If they don’t want to be friends, I’m sure I can get along without them,” answered Baxter sulkily.
“Very well; now see that you keep your promise. If you don’t, I’ll run you out of camp and never let you come near us again.”
With these words Dick turned on his heel and walked away, leaving Baxter to wash his cuts and bruises in the ocean and otherwise care for them as best he could.
THE MATE TRIES TO TAKE COMMAND
The fight had taken place around a bend of the shore, so that it was not observed by old Jerry and the girls. But when Dick got back to camp Dora at once noticed that something unusual had happened.