The armor was a never-ending source of amazement and bewilderment to Hefty. He could not understand why a man would wear such a suit, and especially when he went out to fight. It was the last thing in the world he would individually have selected in which to make war.
“Ef I was goin’ to scrap wid anybody,” he said to Mr. Carstairs, “I’d as lief tie meself up wid dumb-bells as take to carry all this stuff on me. A man wid a baseball bat and swimmin’ tights on could dance all around youse and knock spots out of one of these things. The other lad wouldn’t be in it. Why, before he could lift his legs or get his hands up you cud hit him on his helmet, and he wouldn’t know what killed him. They must hev sat down to fight in them days.”
Mr. Carstairs painted on in silence and smiled grimly.
“I’d like to have seen a go with the parties fixed out in a pair of these things,” continued Hefty. “I’d bet on the lad that got in the first whack. He wouldn’t have to do nothing but shove the other one over on his back and fall on him. Why, I guess this weighs half a ton if it weighs an ounce!”
For all his contempt, Hefty had a secret admiration for the ancient marquis who had worn this suit, and had been strong enough to carry its weight and demolish his enemies besides. The marks on the armor interested him greatly, and he was very much impressed one day when he found what he declared to be blood-stains on the lining of the helmet.
“I guess the old feller that wore this was a sport, eh?” he said, proudly, shaking the pieces on his arms until they rattled. “I guess he done ’em up pretty well for all these handicaps. I’ll bet when he got to falling around on ’em and butting ’em with this fire helmet he made ’em purty tired. Don’t youse think so?”
Young Carstairs said he didn’t doubt it for a moment.
The Small Hours Social Club was to give a prize masquerade ball at the Palace Garden on New Year’s Night, and Hefty had decided to go. Every gentleman dancer was to get a white silk badge with a gold tassel, and every committeeman received a blue badge with “Committee” written across it in brass letters. It cost three dollars to be a committeeman, but only one dollar “for self and lady.” There were three prizes. One of a silver water-pitcher for the “handsomest-costumed lady dancer,” an accordion for the “best-dressed gent,” and a cake for the most original idea in costume, whether worn by “gent or lady.” Hefty, as well as many others, made up his mind to get the accordion, if it cost him as much as seven dollars, which was half of his week’s wages. It wasn’t the prize he wanted so much, but he thought of the impression it would make on Miss Casey, whose father was the well-known janitor of that name. They had been engaged for some time, but the engagement hung fire, and Hefty thought that a becoming and appropriate costume might hasten matters a little. He was undecided as to whether he should go as an Indian