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HOME > Inspiring Novel > A Son of Courage > CHAPTER XI EDUCATING THE NEW BOY
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 As Billy rounded a curve in the road he met the cattle. Anson was driving them. "You needn't mind turnin' back, Bill," he said. "I don't mind waterin' 'em fer you."  
Billy whistled. "Gosh! you're gettin' kind all at once, Anse," he exclaimed.
"I don't mind doin' it," Anse repeated. He kept his face averted. Billy, scenting mystery, walked over to him and swung him about. Anson's lip was swollen and one eye was partly closed and his freckled face bore the marks of recent conflict.
"Gee whitticker!" gasped Billy, "you must been havin' an argument with a mule. Who give you that black eye an' split lip, Anse?"
His brother hung his head. "You needn't go to rubbin' it in," he whined; "I didn't have no chance with him. He piled on me from behind, when I wasn't lookin'."
"Who piled on you from behind?"
"That new boy; his name's Jim Scroggie. His dad's rented the Stanley house on the hill."
"Likely story that about his pilin' on you from behind," scoffed Billy. "You met him on the path an' tried to get gay with him, more like, an' he pasted you a few. You shouldn't hunt trouble, Anse; you can't fight, an' you know it. What's this new boy like?" he asked curiously.
"Oh, you'll find that out soon enough," promised Anson. "He told me to tell you that he would do the same thing to you first chance he got."
"Oh, no, he didn't neither," laughed Billy. "He can't be that foolish."
"You wait till you size him up," said Anson. "He's taller'n you are an' heavier, too. Oh, you'll have your hands full when he tackles you, Mister Scrapper-Bill."
Billy pinched off a fox-tail stock and chewed it thoughtfully. "Maybe," he said, cheerfully. "He certainly tapped you some, but then you're always huntin' trouble, an' it serves you right."
"Listen to me!" Anson cried. "He made all the trouble, I tell you. All I did was tell him not to throw clubs at Ringdo—"
"What! Was he throwin' clubs at my coon?" Billy shouted.
"You bet he was. Had Ringdo up a tree an' was doin' his best to knock him out."
Billy spit out the fox-tail. "Where's this feller Scroggie now?" he asked, in a business-like tone.
"I dunno. I s'pose he's prowlin' 'round the beech grove, up there. He said he intended lickin' every boy in this settlement on sight. You best not go lookin' fer him, Bill. I don't want'a see you get beat up on my account."
"Well you needn't worry; if I get beat up it won't be on your account, I kin tell you that. I don't aim to let anybody throw clubs at my pets, though. You drive the cattle on down; I'm goin' up to the grove."
A gleam of satisfaction lit Anson's shifty eyes. "All right," he said shortly, and went off after the herd.
Billy climbed the rail fence and crossed the basswood swale to the highland. He approached the beech grove cautiously and peered about him. Seated on a log at the lower end of a grassy glade was a boy about his own age, a boy with round, bullet head poised on a thick neck set between square shoulders.
Billy, taking his measure with one fleeting glance, stepped out from the trees. Simultaneously the strange boy rose slowly, head lowered, fists clenched. There was nothing antagonistic in Billy's attitude as he surveyed the new boy with serious grey eyes. That expression had fooled more than one competitor in fistic combat, and it fooled Jim Scroggie now. "He's scared stiff," was the new boy's thought, as he swaggered forward to where Billy stood.
"I've been waitin' for you and now I'm goin' to lick you," he said.
Billy eyed him appraisingly. He did look like a tough proposition, no doubt about that. His face was round, flat, small-featured. "That face'll stand a lot of pummelin'," Billy told himself, and as he noted the heavy chin, thrust antagonistically forward, "no use bruisin' my knuckles on that," he decided.
"You heard what I said, didn't you?" growled the challenger. "I'm goin' to lick you."
Billy grinned. He had caught the gasp at the end of the speaker's words; now he knew where lay the stranger's weak spot—his wind!
"But I ain't wantin' to fight," Billy returned gently.
"Why? scared?"
"Nice boys don't fight." Billy shifted his feet uneasily, the movement bringing him a step or two closer to the other.
"Bah! mommie's baby boy won't fight?" taunted the eager one. "But by gollies! I'm goin' to make you," he added, scowling fiercely.
Billy wanted to laugh, but he was too good a ring-general to give way to his feelings. Instead, he shifted his feet again, thereby getting within reaching distance of the one so anxious for battle.
"Now, then," declared Scroggie, tossing his hat on the sward and drying his moist palms on his trouser-legs, "I'm goin' to black your eyes and pummel the nose off your face."
The last word was drowned in a resounding "smack." Billy had delivered one of his lightning, straight-arm punches fair on the sneering lips of the new boy. Scroggie staggered back, recovered his balance, and threw himself on the defensive in time to block Billy's well-aimed right to the neck.
"So that's your game, is it?" he grunted. "Here's a new one for you then." That "new one" was a veritable "hay-maker." Had it landed where it was intended to land the fight must have ended then and there. But it didn't. Billy saw it coming and ducked.
Scroggie rushed, managing to get in a stiff jab to Billy's body and receiving in return one which promptly closed one of his small optics. He struck out wildly, but Billy was prancing six feet away. Scroggie's swollen and bleeding mouth twisted in a grin. "Oh, I'll get you," he promised. "Stall if you want'a, it's all one to me. You won't find me sleepin' again, I promise you."
Billy advanced in a crouching attitude. His eyes were on Scroggie's uninjured eye and Scroggie, now grown wary, read that look as Billy intended he should. Older fighters have made the same mistake that Scroggie made. As Billy leaped in Scroggie raised his guard to his face and Billy's right and left thudded home to the flabby stomach of his adversary.
With a gasp Scroggie went to earth, where he lay writhing. After a time he struggled to a sitting posture.
"Got enough?" asked Billy pleasantly.
The vanquished one nodded. He had not as yet recovered his breath sufficiently to speak. When at last he was able to draw a full breath, he said: "Say, you trimmed me all right, all right."
Billy grinned.
"Who are you, anyway?" asked Scroggie as he got groggily to his feet.
"I'm the feller that owns the coon you tried to club to death," Billy answered.
Scroggie's mouth fell open in surprise. "I didn't try to kill any coon," he denied. "I saw one but it wasn't me that clubbed it; it was a tall, sandy-haired feller with a squint eye. I asked him what he was tryin' to do and he told me to dry up and mind my own business. I had to give him a lickin'. He went off blubberin'; said if I wasn't too scared to stick around he'd send a feller over who would fix me. So I stayed."
"I wish you had licked him harder 'n you did," frowned Billy.
"Know him?"
"Well, I do—an' I don't. He's my half-brother an' a sneak if ever there was one. He lied about you to me—so's I'd fight you."
"And what's your name?"
"Billy Wilson."
Scroggie stared. "I've heard of you," he said, "an' the feller who told me you could lick your weight in wildcats wasn't far wrong. You had me fooled, though," he laughed. "I swallowed what you said about nice boys not fightin', swallowed it whole. Oh, Moses!"
Billy sat down on a stump. "I don't bear no grudge, do you?" he asked.
"No, I'm willin' to shake." Scroggie extended his hand.
"Your name's Scroggie, ain't it?" Billy asked.
"Yep, Jim Scroggie."
"Your Dad's goin' to cut down the Scroggie woods, I hear?"
"Yep, if he can get his price for the timber."
Billy sat looking away. His grey eyes had grown somber. "See here," he said suddenly, "do you know that old man Scroggie left a will?"
"Dad says not," the other boy replied.
"Well, then, he did; an' in that will he left his woods an' money to Mr. Stanhope, my teacher."
"If that's so, Dad has no right to that woods," said Jim.
"But supposin' the will can't be found?" Billy looked the other boy in the face and waited for the answer.
"Why, I can't see that that ought'a make any difference," Scroggie replied. "If you folks down here know that Un............
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