For a moment Law paused and raised his point, whether in query or in salute the onlookers scarce could tell. Sure it was that Wilson was the first to fall into the assault. Scarce pausing in his stride, he came on blindly, and, raising his own point, lunged straight for his opponent’s breast. Sad enough was the fate which impelled him to do this thing.
It was over in an instant. It could not be said that there was an actual encounter. The side step of the young Highlander was soft as that of a panther, as quick, and yet as full of savagery. The whipping over of his wrist, the gliding, twining, clinging of his blade against that of his enemy was so swift that eye could scarce have followed it. The eye of Beau Wilson was too slow to catch it or to guard. He never stopped the riposte, and indeed was too late to attempt any guard. Pierced through the body, Wilson staggered back, clapping his hands against his chest. Over his face there swept a swift series of changes. Anger faded to chagrin, that to surprise, surprise to fright, and that to gentleness.
“Sir,” said he, “you’ve hit me fair, and very hard. I pray you, some friend, give me an arm.”
And so they led him to his carriage, and took him home a corpse. Once more the code of the time had found its victim.
Law turned away from the coach of his smitten opponent, turned away with a face stern and full of trouble. Many things revolved themselves in his mind as he stepped slowly towards the carriage, in which his brother still sat wringing his hands in an agony of perturbation.
“Jack, Jack!” cried Will Law, “Oh, heavens! You have killed him! You have killed a man! What shall we do?”
Law Raised his head and looked his brother in the face, but seemed scarce to hear him. Half mechanically he was fumbling in the side pocket of his coat. He drew forth from it now a peculiar object, at which he gazed intently and half in curiosity, It was the little beaded shoe of the Indian woman, the very object over which this ill-fated quarrel had arisen, and which now seemed so curiously to intermingle itself with his affairs.
“’Twas a slight shield enough,” he said slowly to himself, “yet it served. But for this little piece of hide, methinks there might be two of us going home to-day to take somewhat of rest.”
Late in the afternoon of the day following the encounter in Bloomsbury Square, a little group of excited loiterers filled the entrance and passage way at 59 Bradwell Street, the former lodgings of the two young gentlemen from Scotland. The motley assemblage seemed for the most part to make merry at the expense of a certain messenger boy, who bore a long wicker box, which presently he shifted from his shoulder to a more convenient resting place on the curb.
“Do ’ee but look at un,” said one ancient dame. “He! he! Hath a parcel of fine clothes for the tall gentleman was up in third floor! He! he! Clothes for Mr. Law, indeed!”