The boy still held Jan’s slate on high, and with a derisive “haw! haw!” he brought it down heavily above Jan’s head. But Jan’s eye was quick, and very true. He dodged the blow, which fell on the boy’s own knees, and then flew at him like a kitten in a tiger fury.
They were both small and easily knocked over, and in an instant they were sprawling on the road, and cuffing, and pulling, and kicking, and punching with about equal success, except that the bigger boy prudently roared and howled all the time, in the hope of securing some assistance in his favor.
“Dame Datchett! Missus! Murder! Yah! Boohoo! The little varment be a throttling I.”
But Mrs. Datchett was deaf. Also, she not unnaturally considered that, in looking after “the young varments” in school-hours, she fully earned their weekly pence, and was by no means bound to disturb herself because they squabbled in the street.
Meanwhile Jan gradually got the upper hand of his lubberly and far from courageous opponent, whose smock he had nearly torn off his back. He had not spent any of his breath in calling for aid, but now, in reply to the boy’s cries for mercy and release, he shouted, “What be my name, now, thee big gawney? Speak, or I’ll drottle ’ee.”
“Jan Lake,” said his vanquished foe. “Let me go! Yah! yah!”
“Whose son be I?” asked the remorseless Jan.
“Abel Lake’s, the miller! Boohoo, boohoo!” sobbed the boy.
“And what be this, then, Willum Smith?” was Jan’s final question, as he brought his thumb close to his enemy’s eye.
“It be the miller’s thumb thee’s got, Jan Lake,” was the satisfactory answer.
Willum gives Jan some advice.—The clock face.—The hornet and the dame.—Jan draws pigs.—Jan and his patrons.—Kitty Chuter.—The fight.—Master Chuter’s prediction.
Jan went back to school. Though his foster-mother was indignant, and ready to do battle both with Dame Datchett and with William Smith’s aunt (with whom, in lieu of parents, the boy lived), and though Abel expressed his anxiety to go down and “teach Willum to vight one of his own zize,” Jan steadily rejected their help, and said manfully, “Jan bean’t feared of un. I whopped un, I did.”
So Mrs. Lake doctored his bruises, and sent him off to school again. She yielded the more readily that she felt certain that the windmiller would not take the child’s part against the Dame.
No further misfortune befell him. William, if loutish and a bit of a bully on occasion, was not an ill-natured child; and, having a turn for humor of a broad, unintellectual sort, he and Jan became rather friendly on the common, but reprehensible ground of playing pranks, which kept the school in a titter and the Dame in doubt. And, if detected, they did not think a dose of the strap by any means too high a price to pay for their fun.