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The Young Acrobat of the Great North American Circus, a fiction by Horatio Alger

Chapter 33. Dick Hayden Meets With Retribution

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Dick Hayden and Bob Stubbs, large and strong men as they were, looked puny, compared with the giant who towered beside them, his face kindling with righteous indignation.

"What are you going to do to the boy?" he demanded, sternly.

"I was going to flog him," answered Hayden in a surly tone.

"And you were helping him?" went on Achilles, turning to Stubbs.

"No, sir," answered Stubbs eagerly, for, big as he was, he was a coward. "I didn't want Dick to do it."

"You coward!" exclaimed Hayden, contemptuously. "You're as deep in it as I am."

"Is that true, Kit?" asked Achilles.

"He isn't as bad as the other," said Kit. "That man Hayden thought of killing me, but his friend protested against it."

"It shall be remembered to his credit. Why did you wish to flog the boy?" he asked of Hayden.

"On account of what happened at the circus."

"The boy didn't touch you."

"He brought you on me."

"Then I was the one to punish."

"I couldn't get at you."

"Here I am, at your service."

Dick Harden measured the giant with a vindictive eye, but there was something in the sight of the mighty thews and sinews of the huge man that quelled his warlike ardor.

"It wouldn't be a fair contest," he said sullenly.

"There are two of you, as you said just before I came."

"No, there are not," interposed Stubbs, hastily. "I hain't any grudge against you, Mr. Giant."

"You are willing to help me?"


"Then untie that boy."

Stubbs unloosed the cord that bound Kit to the tree, while Achilles Henderson watched Hayden narrowly, for he had no mind to let him go free.

"Are you that man's slave?" asked Hayden.

"I am willing to oblige him," said Stubbs, meekly.

Kit straightened up on being released, and breathed a sigh of relief.

"Come along, Stubbs," said Hayden, with an ugly look at Kit and his protector. "Our business is through."

"Not quite," said Achilles, quietly, as he laid his broad hand with a detaining grasp on the shoulder of the ruffian. "I am not through with you."

"What do you want?" asked Dick Hayden with assumed bravado, but with an uneasy look on his lowering face.

"I am going to give you a lesson. I gave you one at the circus ground, but you need another."

"Touch me if you dare!" said Hayden, defiantly.

For answer, Achilles hurled him to the ground with less effort than Hayden would have needed to serve Kit in the same way. Then with the cowhide uplifted he struck the prostrate wretch three sharp blows that made him howl with rage and pain. Stubbs looked on with pale face, thinking that his turn might come next.

"Hit him, Stubbs! Kill him!" screamed Dick Hayden. "Would you stand by and see me murdered?"

"I can't help you," said Stubbs. "What can I do?"

Having administered justice to the chief ruffian, Achilles turned to Stubbs.

"Now," he said, "what have you to say for yourself? Why shouldn't I serve you in the same way?"

"Spare me!" whined Stubbs, panic stricken. "I am the boy's friend. It was Hayden who wanted to hurt him."

"My friend, I put very little confidence in what you say. Still I don't think you are as bad as this brute here. I will spare you on one condition."

"What is it? Indeed, I will do anything you ask."

"Then take this cowhide and give your companion a taste of its quality."

Stubbs looked alarmed.

"Don't ask me to do that," he said. "Me and Dick are pals."

"Just as I supposed. In that case you require a dose of the same medicine," and Achilles made a threatening demonstration with the rawhide.

"Don't do it," cried Stubbs, affrighted.

"Then will you do as I say?"

"Yes, yes."

"Will you lay it on well?"

"Yes," answered Stubbs, who, forced to choose between his own skin and Hayden's, was influenced by a regard for his own person.

Dick Hayden listened to this conference with lowering brow. He did not think Stubbs would dare to hit him. But he was destined to find himself unpleasantly surprised.

Stubbs took the hide from the hands of the giant, and anxious to conciliate his powerful antagonist laid it with emphasis on Hayden, already smarting from his former castigation.

"I'll kill you for that, Bob Stubbs!" he yelled, almost frothing at the mouth with rage.

"I had to do it, Dick!" said Stubbs, apologetically. "You heard what he said."

"I don't care what he said. To spare your own miserable carcass, you struck your friend. But I am your friend no longer. I'll have it out of you!"

"Come, Kit, you are revenged," said the giant. "Now let us hurry on to the circus. There's a team in the road below. I think I can make a bargain with Mr. Stover to carry us all the way."

They found Mr. Stover waiting for them.

"Well," he said, "how did you make out?"

"Suppose you look back and see!"

Stover did look, and to his amazement he saw Dick Hayden and Bob Stubbs rolling on the ground, each holding the other in a fierce embrace. Hayden had attacked Stubbs, and though the latter tried hard to avoid a combat he was forced into it. Then, finding himself pushed, he fought as well as he could. Fortune favored him, for Dick Hayden tripped, and in so doing sprained his ankle. He fell with a groan, and Stubbs, glad to escape, left him in haste, and made the best of his way home.

It was not until several hours afterwards that Hayden was found by another party, and carried home, where he was confined for a fortnight. This was fortunate for Kit and the giant, for he had intended to make a formal complaint before a justice of the peace which might have resulted in the arrest and detention of one or both. But his sprained ankle gave him so much pain that it drove all other thoughts out of his head for the time being.

Mr. Stover was induced by an unusually liberal offer to convey the two friends to the next town, where they found their circus friends wondering what had become of them. Kit was none the worse for his experience, though it had been far from pleasant, and performed that afternoon and evening with his usual spirit and success.

He told Achilles how he had been rescued by Janet Hayden, and the latter said with emphasis: "The girl's a trump! She has probably saved your life! That brute, her father, wouldn't shrink from any violence, no matter how great. You ought to make her some acknowledgment, Kit."

"I wouldn't dare to," answered the young acrobat. "If her father should find out what she did for me, I am afraid her life would not be safe." _

Read next: Chapter 34. Some Important Information

Read previous: Chapter 32. Kit's Danger

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