The innocence of that remark made the people laugh, and the bully, seeing that their sympathy was on his side, was encouraged to continue his teasing. Taking a few dancing steps across the floor, he managed to touch Bonnyboy's nose with the toe of his boot, which feat again was rewarded with a burst of laughter. The poor lad quietly blew his nose, wiped the perspiration off his brow with a red handkerchief, and said, "Don't make me mad, Ola, or I might hurt you."
This speech struck the company as being immensely funny, and they laughed till the tears ran down their cheeks. At this moment Grim entered, and perceived at once that Ola Klemmerud was amusing the company at his son's expense. He grew hot about his ears, clinched his teeth, and stared challengingly at the bully. The latter began to feel uncomfortable, but he could not stop at this point without turning the laugh against himself, and that he had not the courage to do. So in order to avoid rousing the father's wrath, and yet preserving his own dignity, he went over to Bonnyboy, rumpled his hair with both his hands, and tweaked his nose. This appeared such innocent sport, according to his notion, that no rational creature could take offence at it. But Grim, whose sense of humor was probably defective, failed to see it in that light.
"Let the boy alone," he thundered.
"Well, don't bite my head off, old man," replied Ola. "I haven't hurt your fool of a boy. I have only been joking with him."
"I don't think you are troubled with overmuch wit yourself, judging by the style of your jokes," was Grim's cool retort.
The company, who plainly saw that Ola was trying to wriggle out of his difficulty, but were anxious not to lose an exciting scene, screamed with laughter again; but this time at the bully's expense. The blood mounted to his head, and his anger got the better of his natural cowardice. Instead of sneaking off, as he had intended, he wheeled about on his heel and stood for a moment irresolute, clinching his fist in his pocket.
"Why don't you take your lunkhead of a son home to his mother, if he isn't bright enough to understand fun!" he shouted.
"Now let me see if you are bright enough to understand the same kind of fun," cried Grim. Whereupon he knocked off Ola's cap, rumpled his hair, and gave his nose such a pull that it was a wonder it did not come off.