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   Chapter 4 THORNE'S REVENGE.

Frank and Fearless; or, The Fortunes of Jasper Kent By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 7024

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

The unexpected communication which Thorne had received from his mother influenced his treatment of Jasper. Under ordinary circumstances he would have resented bitterly the humiliating defeat he had received at the hands of the "new boy." Now, however, he felt sure of ultimate revenge, and was willing to "bide his time."

"Just wait till his father is dead, and mother is his guardian!" he said to himself. "Then, my young gentleman, your pride'll be taken down, see if it ain't!"

His politic forbearance surprised the other boys, who did not understand the secret cause.

"Ain't you goin' to lick that new boy?" asked Tower, a sycophantic follower of Thorne.

"What for?" asked Nicholas.

"Because he licked you the other day."

"Who says he licked me?" demanded the young tyrant, with a frown.

"Why, all the boys say so," stammered Tower.

"Do you say so?" demanded Nicholas, savagely.

"N-no," said Tower, timidly.

"Lucky you don't," said Thorne, significantly. "I'll lick any boy that tells such a lie about me."

Tower was silent.

"The fact is," he continued, in a milder tone, "we were stopped in the middle of the fight. I was called to see a lady visitor. But for that I should have licked him in the end."

"I guess you can lick him," said the young sycophant.

"Of course I can," said Nicholas, loftily.

"Are you going to try it?"

"Why should I? I haven't anything against him. We came out even. What's the use of bearing malice?"

Tower was astonished to hear such sentiments from Thorne. It did not sound at all like him. He was about the last boy who would be singled out for forbearance or forgiveness of injuries. So the younger boy concluded that his leader was afraid of Jasper. But here he did him wrong. Thorne had learned to respect his adversary's strength and skill, but he would have hazarded a second encounter but for the prudential reasons already suggested. For the present he thought it best to keep quiet.

Jasper also had made a discovery, though, as we know, the information he had received was not correct. He supposed Thorne to be a nephew of his father's governess, whereas she was his mother.

"Does Thorne know this?" he asked himself.

He could not feel quite satisfied on this point, nor could he determine precisely how far his feelings were affected by this discovery. He felt a dislike toward Thorne on account of his tyrannical disposition and ill-treatment of younger boys. He cherished a dislike for the governess, the cause of which he could not as well define. Now, it appeared that these two were allied to each other. I beg to say that Jasper was too sensible and gentlemanly to dislike the governess simply because she was poor. That he knew very well had nothing to do with the substantial worth of a person. But he could not rid himself of the feeling that Miss Thorne's residence in his father's family portended misfortune to the parent whom he loved so well.

So a week passed without any new disturbance or outbreak between the two boys. Jasper had been on the lookout, fearing that Thorne would take some opportunity to wreak vengeance on young Cameron when he was not present. But his fears were gradually allayed. Thorne seemed usually peaceable-so much so that his school-mates, who knew him well, thought he had turned over a new leaf, and speculated as to what had produced the change. But neither boys nor men change suddenly and completely, though policy and self-interest may for a time lead them to

suppress the manifestation of their characteristic traits.

Nine days after the fight recorded in my first chapter, as Jasper was walking in the school-yard, Davies came up hurriedly.

"Kent," he said, "you're wanted."

"Who wants me?" asked Jasper. "Is it Dr. Benton?"

"No, the doctor's absent."

"Who wants me, then?"

"Little Cameron."

"What! is Thorne at him again?" asked Jasper, stopping short and looking toward the house.

"Yes, Thorne's at his old business, bullying him. He took the opportunity when he thought you were out of hearing."

"I must stop it," said Jasper. "Where are they?"

"In the back yard."

"I suppose I shall have to fight him again," said Kent, regretfully.

"You needn't be afraid to try it. You are a match for him."

"I think I am. That is not my reason."

"What then?"

"I don't like fighting-it's brutal. Besides, I have another reason, which I don't care to mention."

By this time they had reached the scene of the difficulty, Little Cameron was half-crying, and Thorne stood over him with upraised arm.

"Do as I tell you, you little blackguard!" he was just saying, when a voice he well knew was heard, calm and resolute:

"Thorne, are you bullying that boy again?"

Nicholas turned and saw his old antagonist. He was sorry to see him, but he could not well withdraw now.

"It's none of your business," he answered, sullenly.

"I shall make it my business to protect the weak," said Jasper, quietly.

"You may need to protect yourself," sneered Thorne.

"If necessary, I feel competent to do so. Cameron, come here."

"Don't you go!" said Thorne, menacingly.

The little boy looked in terror from one to the other. Evidently he dreaded that the immediate result of his obeying Kent would be to precipitate a blow from the bully.

Jasper saw the little boy's quandary, and he quickly advanced to the rescue. Throwing one arm protectingly round Cameron's waist, he regarded Nicholas firmly.

"Well," he said, "what do you propose to do?"

Thorne had had time to think. He hated Jasper worse than ever, but he knew that our hero did not care for blows. Moreover, he was likely to give back better than he received. There was another way of wounding him, which prudence would have led him to hold in reserve. But he was too angry to be prudent. Moreover, he had had a note two days before from his mother, from which he learned that the wedding was to be solemnized on that very day. Probably at that moment his mother was Mrs. Kent.

"I won't fight," he said, with an unpleasant smile, "seeing we're relations."

"Relations!" repeated Jasper, with a look of surprise and inquiry. "I don't know what you mean."

"You'll know soon enough," said Thorne, mockingly.

A suspicion of the truth entered Jasper's mind. He turned pale, and said:

"Will you step aside with me, Thorne, and tell me what you mean!"

"If you like," said Thorne, indifferently.

"Now," said Jasper, when they had withdrawn a few rods from the other boys.

"It appears you haven't heard the news," said Thorne, with malicious enjoyment. "Your father has married my mother. That makes us step-brothers, doesn't it?"

"My father married again!" said Jasper, recoiling as if he had received a blow.

"Yes. Strange you wasn't invited to the wedding, isn't it?"

An hour later Jasper, having obtained special permission from Dr. Benton, was on his way home, sick with apprehension lest this threatened misfortune should prove real.

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