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Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Fourth Man - Chapter 18


Winning Respect
 

James the punching bag

It was time for James to start his training at the military school Billy had attended.

Billy debated as to whether he should clue him in on what it was going to be like. He figured he should at least let him know what he could expect from the upper classmen.

Billy told him he could expect to be roughed up for that was the way it went until you put a stop to it some way.  In Billy’s case Jim taught him how to fight dirty like the older classmen did and after him trouncing a couple of them pretty good they left him alone.

James said, he would like to just shoot a couple of the thugs and it would be the end of it.

Billy had to straighten him out on that subject explaining it was different in the city and he would be put in the prison should he shoot someone.

With that in mind James wasn’t too anxious to go to school but Sarah insisted on him going.

Since he was no longer going to be under Rene’s tutoring and she knew what he was going to face largely in part because the way he talked.

She realized he was going to be ridiculed because he drawled when speaking. No one here ever thought anything about it for everybody spoke the same way on the ranch, but in New England things were going to be different.

In the months before he was to leave she spent time with James getting him familiar with the accents of the area he was going to live in.

He thought it was a bunch of foolishness but once he arrived at school he understood why she went to all that trouble.

After he was situated he fell back on her help in phrasing words as near as he could in the way people spoke in his new surroundings.

Boys who were from the south or west had a more difficult time adjusting.

Naturally he had to give up his guns and knives so he was on his own so to speak.

Before he left Jim had made him something like a pair of brass knuckles. He made them to fit his hands and told him to only use them in a case where he was being beaten very badly.

For instance if you’re having to fight more than one other fighter.  Jim had toughen James up and taught him how to defend himself. He was a lot better prepared than Billy had been.

James meets Alf

James was bunking with a boy from Boston named Alf.  He was a slight build, thin and on the weakly side.  James thought he wouldn’t be much help in a fight.

As it turned out the boy’s father was a ship’s captain and on one of his trips he brought an oriental man back from Japan.  This man was supposed to be a house boy but he had been trained in several fight disciplines.

Over the first six months Alf had been put upon by several upper classmates and had defeated each of them. The last day of school a half dozen of the seniors attacked Alf and James.

James slipped his hand into his knucks in his pocket and with each blow he put a guy away with a broken rib or worse.  

When they left for home James said he was looking forward to next year and hoped Alf would be his roommate next year. Alf said he didn’t know how it would work out for he was going to take summer classes and try to skip a grade.  He showed James his books for the summer and said James could buy them from the book store if he wanted to do as he was going to do.

James thought he had other plans for the next six months but the more he thought about it he decided it wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and buy the text books.

James moves in with Billy and Mamie

Rene’e was glad to see James and after he greeted everyone she checked his grades and was proud of his accomplishments.  He showed her the books he bought and she said she would help him with his studies and he could be tested to skip the next grade.

During the school year Slim, the foreman on Billy’s ranch had begun courting Rene’e and soon they were married.

Billy liked Slim and built them a house near where the ranch house was. James thought that was a good move for Slim for he needed a wife. Slim wasn’t as near educated as she was but that didn’t seem to make any difference to them.

James decided to move in with Billy so he could study with Rene’e when they had time together.

He said it felt good to have his guns on and a knife in a scabbard on his hip. After a few practices he could draw and shoot as good as ever. He was surprised at how rusty you get after not wearing them during the school term.

During the summer, James worked on Billy’s ranch for the most part but helped out on his dad, Les’s place when necessary.
 
James goes courting

While at school James met several girls at the school dances.  None of them perked his interest and he was wanting to see Betsy. They had kept in touch by mail while he was gone.

When he first saw her he kissed her in a way that embarrassed her mother. Usually they would hide from her mother when kissing but this time he didn’t care who saw them. Betsy was surprised at his boldness but kissed him right back.

He told her to come on and go for a ride with him and she was all for it. Her mother pulled her aside and told her; “Now listen to me. This boy is about grown up and he might want you to do things you shouldn’t do. I don’t want you to get all het up and carried away you hear me.”

Betsy smiled and said; “I’ll try not get too het up Maw.”

For some reason that didn’t reassure her mother very much.

They rode out to one of their favorite spots and spent some time telling each other how glad they were to be together again.

Getting familiar

She said, “Now listen; ma told me not to let you get too familiar with me so I told her I wouldn’t.”

James laughed at that and said, “You might have to lie to your ma if she asks what I done.” 

Betsy said; “James you got to behave or I will have to be walking home.”

He said, “I’m just kidding you for I always behave myself besides you ain’t a woman yet.”

She jumped on him and they wrestled around in the dirt till both were dirty.

James said, “How you are going to explain this to your ma. You’re covered with dirt.”

She said, “I’m going to let you explain it and it better be good for pa has a shot gun all loaded up.”

He said, “I’m not quite ready for the shotgun but I’m going to skip a grade and the next year will be my last and then no shotgun will be necessary.”

Betsy smiled at that and said; “Do you want to marry me?”

He said, “Yes as soon as we are ready.”

She said, “Then we better tell ma for she is going to worry herself to death thinking what she is thinking.”

James said, “Now what would that be?”

She said; “You know that you are having familiar fun with me with no intentions.”

He said, “I have intentions and familiar fun is going to be a part of it, you can tell her that.”

She came back and said, “You need to keep it simple. Just tell her our plans and our time table. That will take all the worry from her for she believes you are honest and will always tell the truth.”

 

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