He turned to his rescuers with an air more of condescension than gratitude. “Gentlemen, I owe you my thanks, although I should have got the better of those scoundrels in a moment. Can you assist me in identifying them?”
“Oh! it is Mayor Quinlin, I believe,” said Farnham, recognizing that functionary more by his voice than by his rumpled visage. “No, I do not know who they were. What was the occasion of this assault?”
“A most cowardly and infamous outrage, sir,” said the Mayor. “I was walking along the sidewalk to me home, and I came upon this gang of ruffians at your door. Impatient at being delayed,—for my time is much occupied,—I rebuked them for being in me way. One of them turned to me and insolently inquired, ’Do you own this street, or have you just got a lien on it?’ which unendurable insult was greeted with a loud laugh from the other ruffians. I called them by some properly severe name, and raised me cane to force a passage,—and the rest you know. Now, gentlemen, is there anything I can do?”
Farnham did not scruple to strike while the iron was hot. He said: “Yes, there is one thing your Honor may do, not so much for us as for the cause of order and good government, violated to-night in your own person. Knowing the insufficiency of the means at your disposal, a few of us propose to raise a subsidiary night-patrol for the protection of life and property during the present excitement. We would like you to give it your official sanction.”
“Do I understand it will be without expense to my—to the city government?” Mr. Quinlin was anxious to make a show of economy in his annual message.
“Entirely,” Farnham assured him.
“It is done, sir. Come to-morrow morning and get what papers you want. The sperrit of disorder must be met and put down with a bold and defiant hand. Now, gentlemen, if there is a back door to this establishment, I will use it to make me way home.”
Farnham showed him the rear entrance, and saw him walking homeward up the quiet street; and, coming back, found Bolty and Kendall writhing with merriment.
“Well, that beats all,” said Kendall. “I guess I’ll write home like the fellow did from Iowa to his daddy, ’Come out here quick. Mighty mean men gits office in this country.’”
“Yes,” assented Bolty. “Dot burgermeister ish better as a circus mit a drick mule.”
“Don’t speak disrespectfully of dignitaries,” said Farnham. “It’s a bad habit in soldiers.”
When they went out on the sidewalk the crowd had dispersed. Farnham bade his recruits good night and went up the avenue. They waited until he was a hundred yards away, and then, without a word to each other, followed him at that distance till they saw him enter his own gate.
A BUSY SUNDAY FOR THE MATCHINS.