" said Tom, "nay, then come and take it."
The long and the short of it was that Tom killed two of the rogues and grieviously wounded the other two, and took all their money, which was as much as two hundred pounds. And when he came home he made his old mother laugh with the story of how he served the football players and the four thieves.
But you shall see that Tom sometimes met his match. In wandering one day in the forest he met a lusty tinker that had a good staff on his shoulder, and a great dog to carry his bag and tools.
"Whence come you and whither are you going?" said Tom, "this is no highway."
"What's that to you?" said the tinker; "fools must needs be meddling."
"I'll make you know," said Tom, "before you and I part, what it is to me."
"Well," said the tinker, "I'm ready for a bout with any man, and I hear there is one Tom Hickathrift in the country of whom great things are told. I'd fain see him to have a turn with him."
"Ay," said Tom, "methinks he might be master with you. Anyhow, I am the man; what have you to say to me?"
"Why, verily, I'm glad we are so happily met."
"Sure, you do but jest," said Tom.
"Marry, I'm in earnest," said the tinker. "A match?" "'T is done." "Let me first get a twig," said Tom. "Ay," said the tinker, "hang him that would fight a man unarmed."
So Tom took a gate-rail for his staff, and at it they fell, the tinker at Tom, and Tom at the tinker, like two giants they laid on at each other. The tinker had a leathern coat on, and at every blow Tom gave the tinker his coat roared again, yet the tinker did not give way one inch. At last Tom gave him a blow on the side of his head which felled him.
"Now tinker where are you?" said Tom.
But the tinker being a nimble fellow, leapt up again, gave Tom a blow that made him reel again, and followed his blow with one on the other side that made Tom's neck crack again. So Tom flung down his weapon and yielded the tinker the better on it, took him home to his house, where they nursed their bruises and from that day forth there was no stauncher pair of friends than they two.