“This is a shine country, and you’re in wrong, little girl,” said Mr. Pike, in a kindly tone. “Why don’t you duck?”
“Leave here and hunt up some of the red spots on the map. You know what I mean—away to the bright lights! I don’t like to knock your native land but, honestly, Morovenia is a bad boy. I’ve struck towns around here where you couldn’t buy illustrated post-cards. They take in the sidewalks at nine o’clock every night. That orchestra down at the hotel handed me a new coon song last night—Bill Bailey! Can you beat that? As long as you stay here you are hooked up with a funeral.”
Kalora, with wrinkled brow, had been striving to follow him in his figurative flights.
“Strange,” she murmured. “You are the second person I have met to-day who advises me to go away—to the west.”
“That’s the tip!” he exclaimed with fervor. “Go west and when you start, keep on going. You come to America and bring along the papers to show that you’re a real live princess and you’ll own both sides of the street. We’ll show you more real excitement in two weeks than you’ll see around here if you live to be a hundred.”
“I should like to go, but—Look! Hurry, please! You must go!”
She pointed, and young Mr. Pike turned to see two guards in baggy uniforms bearing down upon him, their eyes bulging with amazement.
“Shall I try to put up a bluff, or fight it out?” he asked, as he stood up to meet them.
“You can not explain,” gasped Kalora. “Run! Run! They know you have no right here. This means going to prison—perhaps worse.”
“Does it?” he asked, between his set teeth. “If those two brunettes get me, they’ll have to go some.”
When the two pounced upon him he made no resistance and they captured him. He stood between them, each of them clutching an arm and breathing heavily, not only from exertion, but also out of a sense of triumph.
And now, in order to give a key to the surprising performances of Alexander H. Pike, it will be necessary to call up certain biographical data.
When he was in the Hill School he won the pole vault, but later, in his real collegiate days, he never could come within two inches of ’varsity form, and therefore failed to make the track-team.
While attending the Institute of Technology he worked one whole autumn to perfect an offensive play which was to be used against “Buff” Rodigan, of the semi-professional athletic-club team. This play was known as “giving the shoulder,” with the solar plexus as the point of attack. The purpose of the play was not to kill the opposing player, but to induce him to relinquish all interest in the contest.
Furthermore, Mr. Pike, while spending a month or more at a time in New York City, during his post-graduate days, had worked with Mr. Mike Donovan, in order to keep down to weight. Mr. Donovan had illustrated many tricks to him, one of the best being a low feint with the left, followed by a right cross to the point of the jaw.