I don’t know how it was done—by some ‘devilish cantrip slight.’ A smack was heard, and the Captain lay on his back on the ground, with his mouth full of blood.
‘How do ye like the taste o’ that?’ roared Dickon, from his post of observation.
In an instant Captain Oakley was on his feet again, hatless, looking quite frantic, and striking out at Dudley, who was ducking and dipping quite coolly, and again the same horrid sound, only this time it was double, like a quick postman’s knock, and Captain Oakley was on the grass again.
‘Tapped his smeller, by—!’ thundered Dickon, with a roar of laughter.
‘Come away, Milly—I’m growing ill,’ said I.
‘Drop it, Dudley, I tell ye; you’ll kill him,’ screamed Milly.
But the devoted Captain, whose nose, and mouth, and shirt-front formed now but one great patch of blood, and who was bleeding beside over one eye, dashed at him again.
I turned away. I felt quite faint, and on the point of crying, with mere horror.
‘Hammer away at his knocker,’ bellowed Dickon, in a frenzy of delight.
‘He’ll break it now, if it ain’t already,’ cried Milly, alluding, as I afterwards understood, to the Captain’s Grecian nose.
‘Brayvo, little un!’ The Captain was considerably the taller.
Another smack, and, I suppose, Captain Oakley fell once more.
‘Hooray! the dinner-service again, by ——,’ roared Dickon. ’Stick to that. Over the same ground—subsoil, I say. He han’t enough yet.’
In a perfect tremor of disgust, I was making as quick a retreat as I could, and as I did, I heard Captain Oakley shriek hoarsely—
‘You’re a d—— prizefighter; I can’t box you.’
‘I told ye I’d lick ye to fits,’ hooted Dudley.
’But you’re the son of a gentleman, and by —— you shall fight me as a gentleman.’
A yell of hooting laughter from Dudley and Dickon followed this sally.
‘Gi’e my love to the Colonel, and think o’ me when ye look in the glass—won’t ye? An’ so you’re goin’ arter all; well, follow what’s left o’ yer nose. Ye forgot some o’ yer ivories, didn’t ye, on th’ grass?’
These and many similar jibes followed the mangled Captain in his retreat.
DOCTOR BRYERLY REAPPEARS
No one who has not experienced it can imagine the nervous disgust and horror which such a spectacle as we had been forced in part to witness leaves upon the mind of a young person of my peculiar temperament.
It affected ever after my involuntary estimate of the principal actors in it. An exhibition of such thorough inferiority, accompanied by such a shock to the feminine sense of elegance, is not forgotten by any woman. Captain Oakley had been severely beaten by a smaller man. It was pitiable, but also undignified; and Milly’s anxieties about his teeth and nose, though in a certain sense horrible, had also a painful suspicion of the absurd.