Once Aboard the Lugger Part 30

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The impulse thus given more than countered the greater bulk and reach that should have told in Bob's scale. Bob felt his wits and his courage simultaneously deserting him before the pell-mell of blows that came raining against his guard. Whensoever he effected a savage smash that momentarily checked the fury, it served but to bring back this seemingly demented young man with a new rush and ardour.

Bob gave step by step, struck short-arm, felt the faint saltness of blood upon his lips, staggered back before a tremendous. .h.i.t between the eyes, stumbled, tripped, fell.

"Get up!" George bellowed; waited till Bob came rus.h.i.+ng, and sent him reeling again with a broken tooth that cut the brown knuckles.

Bob lacked not courage and had proved it, for he was sorely battered.

But the pluck in him was whipped and now venom alone bade him make what hurt he could.

His heavy stick was leaning against the seat. He seized it; swung it high; crashed a blow that must have split the head it aimed.

George slipped aside; the blow missed. He poised himself as Bob, following the impulse, went staggering by; put all his weight behind a cras.h.i.+ng hit and sent him spinning p.r.o.ne with a blow that was fittingly final to the exhibition of l.u.s.ty knocks.

Bob propped himself on one arm, rose to his feet; glared; hesitated-- then fell to brus.h.i.+ng his knees.

It was a masterly white flag.

"Had enough?" George panted. "Had enough? Are you whipped, you swine?"

Bob a.s.siduously brushed.

"When you're better, let me know," George cried; turned and hurried up the path whither Mary had disappeared.

The forced draught of fury, pain, and exertion sent Bob's breath roaring in and out in noisy blasts--now long and laboured, now spasmodic quick.

He examined his bill of health and damage. Face everywhere tender to the touch; clothes dust-covered and torn; both knees of trousers rent; silk hat stove in when in a backward rush he had set his foot upon it.

His tongue discovered a broken tooth, his handkerchief a bleeding nose, his fingers blood upon his chin, trickling to his s.h.i.+rt front.

So well as might be he brushed his person; straightened his hat; clapped handkerchief to his mouth; past staring eyes, grinning faces, hurried out of the Park to bury himself in a cab.

V.

From a window Mrs. Chater saw the bruised figure of her darling boy alight; with palpitating heart rushed to greet him.

"Bob! My boy! My boy! What has happened?"

Her boy brushed past; bounded to his room. Laboriously, sick with fear, the devoted mother toiled in pursuit--found him in his room tearing off his coat.

"My boy! My boy!"

Her boy bellowed: "_Hot water!_"

Can a mother's tender care cease towards the child she bare?

Oh! needless to ask such a question, you for whom is pictured this devoted woman plunging at breakneck speed for the bathroom, screaming as she runs: "Susan! Kate! Jane! Jane! Kate! Susan!"

Doors slammed, cries echoed, stairs shook, as trembling servants rushed responsive.

Cras.h.i.+ng of cans, rus.h.i.+ng of water, called them to the bathroom.

"Oh, m'am! What is it?"

Water flew in sprays as the agonised mother tested its temperature with her hands; cans rattled as she kicked them from where, in dragging one from the shelf, the others had clattered about her feet.

Jane, Kate, and Susan cl.u.s.tered in alarm about the door: "Oh, m'am!

M'am! Whatever is it?"

Mrs. Chater gave no reply. Her can full, she plunged through them.

This way and that they dodged to give her pa.s.sage; dodge for dodge, demented, hysterical, she gave them--slopping boiling water on to agonised toes; bursting through at last; thundering up the stairs.

The three plunged after her: "Oh, m'am! M'am! Whatever is it?"

The devoted woman paused at the head of the stairs; screamed down orders: "Sticking-plaster! Lint! Cotton-wool! Mr. Bob has had an accident! Hot-water bottles! Ice! Doctor! Go for the doctor, one of you!"

A figure with battered face above vest and pants bounded from its room. "No!" Bob roared. "No!"

"No!" Mrs. Chater echoed, not knowing to what the negative applied, but hysterically commanding it.

"No!" screamed the agitated servants, one to another.

"No! no doctor!" bellowed Bob; grabbed the can from his mother; shot back to his room.

"No doctor!" Mrs. Chater screamed to the white-faced pack upon the stairs; fled after him.

"My boy! Tell me!"

Her boy raised his dripping face from the basin. "For G.o.d's sake shut the door!" he roared.

She did. "Tell me!" she trembled.

"It's that d.a.m.ned girl."

"That girl?"

"Miss Humfray!"

"Miss Humfray! Done that to you! Oh, your poor face! Your poor face!"

"No!--no! Do be quiet, mother! Some infernal man she goes about with in the Park! I spoke to him and he set on me!"

"The infamous creature! The wicked, infamous girl! A bad girl, I knew it!--"

Agitated tapping at the door: "The cotton-wool m'am." "Sticking- plaster, m'am." "'Ot bottle, m'am."

"Go away!" roared Bob. "Go away! O-oo, my face!" He hopped in wrath and pain. "Send those d.a.m.ned women away!"

Mrs. Chater rushed to the door. Pa.s.sing, she for the first time caught full sight of her son's face now that the hot water had exposed its wreck. "Oh, your eyes! Your poor eyes! They're closing up!"

Once Aboard the Lugger Part 30

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Once Aboard the Lugger Part 30 summary

You're reading Once Aboard the Lugger Part 30. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson already has 184 views.

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