“The second prize,” said the judges, “goes to the gent calling himself the Black Knight—him in the iron leggings—and the other prize for the most original costume goes to him, too.” Half the crowd cheered at this, and only one man hissed. Hefty, filled with joy and with the anticipation of the elegance the ice-pitcher would lend to his flat when he married Miss Casey, and how conveniently he could fill it, turned on this gentleman and told him that only geese hissed.
The gentleman, who had spent much time on his costume, and who had been assured by each judge on each occasion that evening when he had treated him to beer that he would get the prize, told Hefty to go lie down. It has never been explained just what horrible insult lies back of this advice, but it is a very dangerous thing to tell a gentleman to do. Hefty lifted one foot heavily and bore down on the disappointed masker like an ironclad in a heavy sea. But before he could reach him Policeman McCluire, mindful of the insult put upon him by this stranger, sprang between them and said: “Here, now, no scrapping here; get out of this,” and shoved Hefty back with his hand. Hefty uttered a mighty howl of wrath and long-cherished anger, and lurched forward, but before he could reach his old-time enemy three policemen had him around the arms and by the leg, and he was as effectually stopped as though he had been chained to the floor.
“Let go o’ me,” said Hefty, wildly. “You’re smotherin’ me. Give me a fair chance at him.”
But they would not give him any sort of a chance. They rushed him down the steep stairs, and while McCluire ran ahead two more pushed back the crowd that had surged uncertainly forward to the rescue. If Hefty had declared his identity the police would have had a very sad time of it; but that he must not get Mr. Carstairs’s two-thousand-franc suit into trouble was all that filled Hefty’s mind, and all that he wanted was to escape. Three policemen walked with him down the street. They said they knew where he lived, and that they were only going to take him home. They said this because they were afraid the crowd would interfere if it imagined Hefty was being led to the precinct station-house.
But Hefty knew where he was going as soon as he turned the next corner and was started off in the direction of the station-house. There was still quite a small crowd at his heels, and Stuff McGovern was driving along at the side anxious to help, but fearful to do anything, as Hefty had told him not to let any one know who his fare had been and that his incognito must be preserved.
The blood rushed to Hefty’s head like hot liquor. To be arrested for nothing, and by that thing McCluire, and to have the noble coat-of-mail of the Marquis de Neuville locked up in a dirty cell and probably ruined, and to lose his position with Carstairs, who had always treated him so well, it was terrible! It could not be! He looked through his visor; to the right and to the left a policeman walked on each side of him with his hand on his iron sleeve, and McCluire marched proudly before. The dim lamps of McGovern’s night-hawk shone at the side of the procession and showed the crowd trailing on behind. Suddenly Hefty threw up his visor “Stuff,” he cried, “are youse with me?”