“Better than ever, I hope, Paul. I’ve had my lesson. It will never happen again, I promise you,” she answered, pressing his arm as she spoke.
So Paul saw her safely to her door, and then said good-night; but Arline insisted upon shaking hands with him; and the tingle of his fingers as he walked down the street made him laugh with joy.
“What luck!” he kept saying to himself, as he made out to shake his own hand; “and what a mess of it Ward made of his chances. He thought to have the laugh on me if we met, and here the shoe is on the other foot. Oh! I’m not complaining a little bit. Everything’s coming my way now.”
Nothing further happened on his way home. But when he reached the house his father met him with the announcement that Jack was holding the wire, and waiting for him.
“On deck there!” he said, briskly, and heard an exclamation of relief.
“How is it, Paul? Anything doing? Seemed to me I heard an awful racket over your way; but the nine-forty train was just coming in at the station, and drowned it out. Did they tackle you, son?” demanded Jack, eagerly.
“Did they? Well, I guess some! Ask Ted,” chuckled the one addressed.
“You’re laughing, and that tells me you enjoyed the circus. What did you do to poor old Ted and his cronies, Paul?” entreated the other.
“I could tell you easier what I didn’t do to ’em, Jack. I gave the boys about every style of punch and jab I could think of, and with my home-run bat too. Oh! make up your mind they’re going to be a sore lot in the morning. And if you run up against Ted, just sniff the air for arnica. My word for it, he’ll empty the bottle to-night on his bruises.”
“Bully! bully! and again bully! I would have rushed to assist you only you made me promise to keep my hands off; and you’re my superior officer, you see. Besides, I reckoned that with such a hunky-dory bat you’d be able to give just pie, which you did, Paul.”
“But the half hasn’t been told yet,” went on the narrator.
“What! do you mean there’s a sequel to this story?” asked Jack, burning with eagerness apparently, to hear.
“I guess that’s what it is. Listen. Ward was just taking a young lady home. He chose to pass along our street, though now he wishes he hadn’t; for they arrived just when Ted and his backers jumped out of the bushes. She screamed, and her escort sprinted down the street for help. After I had punched and pounded the three Hallowe’en left-overs from last year until they faded away, I had the pleasure of seeing the young lady to her door, yum! yum!”
“Hurrah! and I bet all differences are patched up again between you!” cried Jack.
“Everything is lovely, and the goose hangs high,” sang Paul.
“Meaning poor old blundering Ward. He showed himself for a coward to the girl he’s sweet on. Oh! my, oh! me, how is the mighty fallen. Congratulations, good friend, and then more of them. So the clouds have disappeared along your horizon, just as they did on mine. I only wish I’d had a hand in clearing your skies.”