‘Well,’ thought I, as l looked at Kickums, ignobly cropping up a bit of grass, ‘I have done a very good thing, no doubt, and ought to be thankful to God for the chance. But as for getting away unharmed, with all these scoundrels about me, and only a foundered horse to trust in—good and spiteful as he is—upon the whole, I begin to think that I have made a fool of myself, according to my habit. No wonder Tom said, “Look out for yourself!” I shall look out from a prison window, or perhaps even out of a halter. And then, what will Lorna think of me?’

Being in this wistful mood, I resolved to abide awhile, even where fate had thrown me; for my horse required good rest no doubt, and was taking it even while he cropped, with his hind legs far away stretched out, and his forelegs gathered under him, and his muzzle on the mole-hills; so that he had five supportings from his mother earth. Moreover, the linhay itself was full of very ancient cow dung; than which there is no balmier and more maiden soporific. Hence I resolved, upon the whole, though grieving about breakfast, to light a pipe, and go to sleep; or at least until the hot sun should arouse the flies.

I may have slept three hours, or four, or it might be even five—for I never counted time, while sleeping—when a shaking more rude than the old landlady’s, brought me back to the world again. I looked up, with a mighty yawn; and saw twenty, or so, of foot-soldiers.

‘This linhay is not yours,’ I said, when they had quite aroused me, with tongue, and hand, and even sword-prick: ‘what business have you here, good fellows?’

‘Business bad for you,’ said one, ‘and will lead you to the gallows.’

‘Do you wish to know the way out again?’ I asked, very quietly, as being no braggadocio.

‘We will show thee the way out,’ said one, ‘and the way out of the world,’ said another: ‘but not the way to heaven,’ said one chap, most unlikely to know it: and thereupon they all fell wagging, like a bed of clover leaves in the morning, at their own choice humour.

‘Will you pile your arms outside,’ I said, ‘and try a bit of fair play with me?’

For I disliked these men sincerely, and was fain to teach them a lesson; they were so unchristian in appearance, having faces of a coffee colour, and dirty beards half over them. Moreover their dress was outrageous, and their address still worse. However, I had wiser let them alone, as will appear afterwards. These savage-looking fellows laughed at the idea of my having any chance against some twenty of them: but I knew that the place was in my favour; for my part of it had been fenced off (for weaning a calf most likely), so that only two could come at me at once; and I must be very much out of training, if I could not manage two of them. Therefore I laid aside my carbine, and the two horse-pistols; and they with many coarse jokes at me went a little way outside, and set their weapons against the wall, and turned up their coat sleeves jauntily; and then began to hesitate.

‘Go you first, Bob,’ I heard them say: ‘you are the biggest man of us; and Dick the wrestler along of you. Us will back you up, boy.’

‘I’ll warrant I’ll draw the badger,’ said Bob; ‘and not a tooth will I leave him. But mind, for the honour of Kirke’s lambs, every man stands me a glass of gin.’ Then he, and another man, made a rush, and the others came double-quick-march on their heels. But as Bob ran at me most stupidly, not even knowing how to place his hands, I caught him with my knuckles at the back of his neck, and with all the sway of my right arm sent him over the heads of his comrades. Meanwhile Dick the wrestler had grappled me, expecting to show off his art, of which indeed he had some small knowledge; but being quite of the light- weights, in a second he was flying after his companion Bob.

Now these two men were hurt so badly, the light one having knocked his head against the lintel of the outer gate, that the rest had no desire to encounter the like misfortune. So they hung back whispering; and before they had made up their minds, I rushed into the midst of them. The suddenness and the weight

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