He did not wait for any answer, but swung back his two iron arms and then brought them forward with a sweep on to the back of the necks of the two policemen. They went down and forward as if a lamp-post had fallen on them, but were up again in a second. But before they could rise Hefty set his teeth, and with a gurgle of joy butted his iron helmet into McCluire’s back and sent him flying forward into a snow-bank. Then he threw himself on him and buried him under three hundred pounds of iron and flesh and blood, and beat him with his mailed hand over the head and choked the snow and ice down into his throat and nostrils.
“You’ll club me again, will you?” he cried. “You’ll send me to the Island?” The two policemen were pounding him with their night-sticks as effectually as though they were rapping on a door-step; and the crowd, seeing this, fell on them from behind, led by Stuff McGovern with his whip, and rolled them in the snow and tried to tear off their coat-tails, which means money out of the policeman’s own pocket for repairs, and hurts more than broken ribs, as the Police Benefit Society pays for them.
“Now then, boys, get me into a cab,” cried Hefty. They lifted him in and obligingly blew out the lights so that the police could not see its number, and Stuff drove Hefty proudly home. “I guess I’m even with that cop now,” said Hefty as he stood at the door of the studio building perspiring and happy; “but if them cops ever find out who the Black Knight was, I’ll go away for six months on the Island. I guess,” he added, thoughtfully, “I’ll have to give them two prizes up.”
It was about ten o’clock on the night before Christmas, and very cold. Christmas Eve is a very-much-occupied evening everywhere, in a newspaper office especially so, and all of the twenty and odd reporters were out that night on assignments, and Conway and Bronson were the only two remaining in the local room. They were the very best of friends, in the office and out of it; but as the city editor had given Conway the Christmas-eve story to write instead of Bronson, the latter was jealous, and their relations were strained. I use the word “story” in the newspaper sense, where everything written for the paper is a story, whether it is an obituary, or a reading notice, or a dramatic criticism, or a descriptive account of the crowded streets and the lighted shop-windows of a Christmas Eve. Conway had finished his story quite half an hour before, and should have sent it out to be mutilated by the blue pencil of a copy editor; but as the city editor had twice appeared at the door of the local room, as though looking for some one to send out on another assignment, both Conway and Bronson kept on steadily writing against time, to keep him off until some one else came in. Conway had written his concluding paragraph a dozen times, and Bronson had conscientiously polished and repolished a three-line “personal” he was writing, concerning a gentleman unknown to fame, and who would remain unknown to fame until that paragraph appeared in print.