Jacob Eaton, cont’d

The streets of Oxford were still strange to Jacob Eaton.  He’d been there two weeks, waiting for the start of term, the beginning of his experience as a Rhodes Scholar.  He had settled at least somewhat into his rooms on the quad in Corpus Christie College and was beginning to get used to the food.  Heavy, grilled breakfasts: eggs, sausage, grilled tomato, toast and tea.  And plowman’s lunches of cheese, onion, and fresh bread and a brown sauce they called “pickle,” which he liked from the first bite.

But he was an early arrival on campus.  The bulk of the student body would not arrive till the first of October for the Michaelmas term and so his days there, so far, had been solitary, almost wordless. 

And in the evenings, that were coming earlier now, and were cooler with each passing day, he left the empty college and walked into the city among the townspeople and past the restaurants and bars and stores.

It was on such a cool evening that he turned the corner at Catte and Holywell Streets, and saw, half a block ahead of him, a street mugging that would change his life.

Two men had accosted a couple and one of the attackers was now holding the girl, kicking and screaming, in a headlock while the other was pushing and screaming at the young man.  Jacob began to trot, hiding behind a car that was moving slowly toward the scene and as the car approached the foursome, he darted from behind and wrapped his arm around the neck of the man holding the girl and cut off his breath.  The man immediately released the girl, slipped Jacob’s hold and turned to face him in a boxer’s stance.  This, as he would immediately learn, was a big mistake.  Before the man could react, Jacob had jabbed him three times in the face and then landed his right cross – now famous in certain communities back home – on the attacker’s jaw.  Just like the VMI Keydet some six months before, he dropped.

While the other of the two attackers was distracted by Jacob’s surprise attack, the young man yelled at the girl to run for the police and she did.  The young man then grabbed at the other man and the two of them fell to the pavement, struggling.  When Jacob’s foe passed out, he left him lying and jumped onto the other man, pinning his head to the pavement with his knee.  The bobbies arrived in minutes.  Jacob heard only bits of the conversation between the officers and the young man, but it was clear to him that the officers knew the two downed men as members of Oxford’s usual suspects, and that the young man, likewise, was known to the officers.

When the bobbies secured the two attackers and marched them into the paddy wagon, Jacob heard his first greetings from an Oxford classmate.

“It’s a good job, that.” The young man said as he extended a hand to Jacob.  “Where did you learn that?”

“Boxed a little in college.”

“Ah.  You’re an American. Of course. Why here in Oxford?”

“Rhodes scholar.”

“What college, man?”

“Corpus Christie.”

“Splendid. We are colleagues. And I owe you a drink.  At least one drink. Where shall we go?”

“You know the town, not me.  Just tell me where.”

“Alright.  The Eagle and the Child.  Three blocks down and one block left.  I’ve got to collect Jane down at the precinct and get her back to her college.  Meet you there in an hour.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s