“Oh, it’s you,” he said, quite simply. He felt so cruelly the hardship of his one unforgiven enemy’s coming upon him just when he had resolved to be good that the tears came into his eyes. Then his rage seemed to swell up in him like the rise of a volcanic flood. “I’m going to kill you!” he, roared, and he launched himself upon Lynde, who stood dazed.
But the murder which Jeff meant was not to be so easily done. Lynde had not grown up in dissolute idleness without acquiring some of the arts of self-defence which are called manly. He met Jeff’s onset with remembered skill and with the strength which he had gained in three months of the wholesome regimen of the Brooker Institute. He had been sent there, not by Dr. Lacy’s judgment, but by his despair, and so far the Cure had cured. He felt strong and fresh, and the hate which filled Jeff at sight of him steeled his shaken nerves and reinforced his feebler muscles, too.
He made a desperate fight where he could not hope for mercy, and kept himself free of his powerful foe, whom he fought round and foiled, if he could not hurt him. Jeff never knew of the blows Lynde got in upon him; he had his own science, too, but he would not employ it. He wanted to crash through Lynde’s defence and lay hold of him and crush the life out of him.
The contest could not have lasted long at the best; but before Lynde was worn out he caught his heel in an old laurel root, and while he whirled to recover his footing Jeff closed in upon him, caught him by the middle, flung him down upon the moss, and was kneeling on his breast with both hands at his throat.
He glared down into his enemy’s face, and suddenly it looked pitifully little and weak, like a girl’s face, a child’s.
Sometimes, afterward, it seemed to him that he forbore because at that instant he saw Jombateeste appear at the edge of the clearing and come running upon them. At other times he had the fancy that his action was purely voluntary, and that, against the logic of his hate and habit of his life, he had mercy upon his enemy. He did not pride himself upon it; he rather humbled himself before the fact, which was accomplished through his will, and not by it, and remained a mystery he did not try to solve.
He took his hands from Lynde’s throat and his knees off his breast. “Get up,” he said; and when Lynde stood trembling on his feet he said to Jombateeste: “Show this man the way to the Brooker Institute. I’ll take your gun home for you,” and it was easy for him to detach the piece from the bewildered Canuck’s grasp. “Go! And if you stop, or even let him look back, I’ll shoot him. Quick!”
The day after Thanksgiving, when Westover was trying to feel well after the turkey and cranberry and cider which a lady had given him at a consciously old-fashioned Thanksgiving dinner, but not making it out sufficiently to be able to work, he was astonished to receive a visit from Whitwell.