At this, Ramsey made a motion as if to rise and pursue, whereupon Wesley fled, wailing back over his shoulder as he ran, “You wait till I ketch you out alone on the public streets and I’ll—”
His voice was lost in an outburst of hooting from his former friends, who sympathetically surrounded the wounded Ramsey. But in a measure, at least, the chivalrous fugitive had won his point. He was routed and outdone, yet what survived the day was a rumour, which became a sort of tenuous legend among those interested. There had been a fight over Dora Yocum, it appeared, and Ramsey Milholland had attempted to maintain something derogatory to the lady, while Wesley defended her as a knightly youth should. The something derogatory was left vague; nobody attempted to say just what it was, and the effects of the legend divided the schoolroom strictly according to gender.
The boys, unmindful of proper gallantry, supported Ramsey on account of the way he had persisted in lickin’ the stuffin’ out of Wesley Bender after receiving that preliminary wallop from Wesley’s blackjack bundle of books. The girls petted and championed Wesley; they talked outrageously of his conqueror, fiercely declaring that he ought to be arrested; and for weeks they maintained a new manner toward him. They kept their facial expressions hostile, but perhaps this was more for one another’s benefit than for Ramsey’s; and several of them went so far out of their way to find even private opportunities for reproving him that an alert observer might have suspected them to have been less indignant than they seemed—but not Ramsey. He thought they all hated him, and said he was glad of it.
Dora was a non-partisan. The little prig was so diligent at her books she gave never the slightest sign of comprehending that there had been a fight about her. Having no real cognizance of Messrs. Bender and Milholland except as impediments to the advance of learning, she did not even look demure.
With Wesley Bender, Ramsey was again upon fair terms before the winter had run its course; the two were neighbours and, moreover, were drawn together by a community of interests which made their reconciliation a necessity. Ramsey played the guitar and Wesley played the mandolin.
All ill feeling between them died with the first duet of spring, yet the twinkling they made had no charm to soothe the savage breast of Ramsey whenever the Teacher’s Pet came into his thoughts. He daydreamed a thousand ways of putting her in her place, but was unable to carry out any of them, and had but a cobwebby satisfaction in imagining discomfitures for her which remained imaginary. With a yearning so poignant that it hurt, he yearned and yearned to show her what she really was. “Just once!” he said to Fred Mitchell. “That’s all I ask, just once. Just gimme one chance to show that girl what she really is. I guess if