Andrew was a foot taller than the Professor, but awkward, loosely knit, and unmuscular, while the little Redbeard was wiry as a cat. Also Andrew was so furious that he was quite beside himself, and Mifflin was in the cold anger that always wins. Andrew landed a couple of flailing blows on the other man’s chest and shoulders, but in thirty seconds he got another punch on the chin followed by one on the nose that tumbled him over backward.
Andrew sat in the road fishing for a handkerchief, and Mifflin stood glaring at him, but looking very ill at ease. Neither of them said a word. Bock broke away from me and capered and danced about Mifflin’s feet as if it were all a game. It was an extraordinary scene.
Andrew got up, mopping his bleeding nose.
“Upon my soul,” he said, “I almost respect you for that punch. But by Jove I’ll have the law on you for kidnapping my sister. You’re a fine kind of a pirate.”
Mifflin said nothing.
“Don’t be a fool, Andrew” I said. “Can’t you see that I want a little adventure of my own? Go home and bake six thousand loaves of bread, and by the time they’re done I’ll be back again. I think two men of your age ought to be ashamed of yourselves. I’m going off to sell books.” And with that I climbed up to the seat and clucked to Pegasus. Andrew and Mifflin and Bock remained standing in the road.
I was mad all the way through. I was mad at both men for behaving like schoolboys. I was mad at Andrew for being so unreasonable, yet in a way I admired him for it; I was mad at Mifflin for giving Andrew a bloody nose, and yet I appreciated the spirit in which it was done. I was mad at myself for causing all the trouble, and I was mad at Parnassus. If there had been a convenient cliff handy I would have pushed the old thing over it. But now I was in for it, and just had to go on. Slowly I rolled up a long grade, and then saw Port Vigor lying ahead and the broad blue stretches of the Sound.
Parnassus rumbled on with its pleasant creak, and the mellow sun and sweep of the air soon soothed me. I began to taste salt in the wind, and above the meadows two or three seagulls were circling. Like all women, my angry mood melted into a reaction of exaggerated tenderness and I began to praise both Andrew and Mifflin in my heart. How fine to have a brother so solicitous of his sister’s welfare and reputation! And yet, how splendid the little, scrawny Professor had been! How quick to resent an insult and how bold to avenge it! His absurd little tweed cap was lying on the seat, and I picked it up almost sentimentally. The lining was frayed and torn. From my suit case in the van I got out a small sewing kit, and hanging the reins on a hook I began to stitch up the rents as Peg jogged along. I thought with amusement of the quaint life Mr. Mifflin had led in his “caravan of culture.” I imagined him addressing the audience of Whitman disciples in Camden, and wondered