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Tom Hickathrift

Off went Tom and four men besides, and when they came to the tree they began to draw it into the cart with pulleys. At last Tom, seeing them unable to lift it, "Stand away, you fools," said he, and taking the tree, set it on one end and laid it in the cart. "Now," said he, "see what a man can do." "Marry, 't is true," said they, and the woodman asked what reward he'd take. "Oh, a stick for my mother's fire," said Tom; and espying a tree bigger than was in the cart, he laid it on his shoulders and went home with it as fast as the cart and six horses could draw it.

Tom now saw that he had more strength than twenty men, and began to be very merry, taking delight in company, in going to fairs and meetings, in seeing sports and pastimes. And at cudgels, wrestling, or throwing the hammer, not a man could stand against him, so that at last none durst go into the ring to wrestle with him, and his fame was spread more and more in the country.

Far and near he would go to any meetings, as football play or the like. And one day in a part of the country where he was a stranger, and none knew him, he stopped to watch the company at football play; rare sport it was; but Tom spoiled it all, for meeting the ball he took it such a kick that away it flew none could tell whither. They were angry with Tom as you may fancy, but got nothing by that as Tom took hold of a big spar, and laid about with a will, so that though the whole country-side was up in arms against him, he cleared his way wherever he came.

It was late in the evening ere he could turn homeward, and on the road there met him four lusty rogues that had been robbing passengers all day. They thought they had a good prize in Tom, who was all alone, and made cocksure of his money.

"Stand and deliver!" said they.

"What should I deliver?" said Tom.

"Your money, sirrah," said they.

"You shall give me better words for it first," said Tom.

"Come, come, no more prating; money we want, and money we'll have before you stir."

"Is it so?

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