“Now we’ll take care of you, Captain,” he taunted. “Never mind his guns, Mike; there’s not a load in either of them. Give the guy what he is looking for. Come on you terriers!”
But West did not wait. There was only one chance, and he took it—to carry the fighting to them. He had no doubt of the emptiness of his guns, and hurled one straight at Hobart’s head, leaping forward with the other clutched in his hand straight at Mike, who had scarcely time to fling up one hand in defence. The thrown weapon missed its mark by a narrow inch, striking the wall behind, and falling clattering to the floor, but the other broke through the big saloon-keeper’s guard, and sent him reeling to his knees, a gush of blood reddening his hair. Again and again West struck him, driving him prone to the floor before the other two dragged him away, wrestled the weapon from his hand, and closed with him in a desperate death grapple.
What followed he never could relate. He was mad with fury of the fight. A mere animal defending life with every means at hand, caring nothing for either wound or hurt so that he won out in the end. Mike was out of it, but the two grappling him fought like wild cats, rough barroom fighters, resorting to any tactics to disable their opponent. Yet it was this that saved him. Crazed as he was, madly as his brain whirled in the fierce struggle, his long training held supreme—he knew how to fight, remembered instinctively every trick and guard. Again and again his clinched fist reached its mark, and slowly he broke away from clutching hands, and regained his feet. It was a terrific struggle, but luck, as well as skill, was with him. The next he knew, out of the red ruck, was that he had Hobart by the throat, jammed against the wall, with fingers clinched in the throat. Then he saw the other coming, a dim, shapeless thing, that he kicked at viciously. The boot must have landed, for he was suddenly free to strike the purple face fronting him, and fling the helpless rocking body in a huddled mass on the floor.
By God, it was over with; he had won breathing space, a chance to see what was about him. Yet that was all. The fellow he had kicked was already up, doubled from the pain of the blow, but with mad eyes glaring at him. Hobart had struggled to his knees, cursing fiercely as he swept the blood out of his eyes. They would both be on him again in a minute, more desperate than ever, and the door was locked—there was no chance there. The window! Ay! there was the window. Death either way, yet a chance; and he was man enough to take it. He leaped on the chair, and clambered up; he heard Hobart swear, and felt the grip of a hand on his dangling leg; kicked himself free, and was on the ledge. He never looked below, or took time to poise for the leap. Heedless, desperate, scarcely realizing what he was doing, he flung his body out over the edge, and fell.