Pete took note of Maggie.
“Say, Mag, I’m stuck on yer shape. It’s outa sight,” he said, parenthetically, with an affable grin.
As he became aware that she was listening closely, he grew still more eloquent in his descriptions of various happenings in his career. It appeared that he was invincible in fights.
“Why,” he said, referring to a man with whom he had had a misunderstanding, “dat mug scrapped like a damn dago. Dat’s right. He was dead easy. See? He tau’t he was a scrapper. But he foun’ out diff’ent! Hully gee.”
He walked to and fro in the small room, which seemed then to grow even smaller and unfit to hold his dignity, the attribute of a supreme warrior. That swing of the shoulders that had frozen the timid when he was but a lad had increased with his growth and education at the ratio of ten to one. It, combined with the sneer upon his mouth, told mankind that there was nothing in space which could appall him. Maggie marvelled at him and surrounded him with greatness. She vaguely tried to calculate the altitude of the pinnacle from which he must have looked down upon her.
“I met a chump deh odder day way up in deh city,” he said. “I was goin’ teh see a frien’ of mine. When I was a-crossin’ deh street deh chump runned plump inteh me, an’ den he turns aroun’ an’ says, ‘Yer insolen’ ruffin,’ he says, like dat. ‘Oh, gee,’ I says, ‘oh, gee, go teh hell and git off deh eart’,’ I says, like dat. See? ‘Go teh hell an’ git off deh eart’,’ like dat. Den deh blokie he got wild. He says I was a contempt’ble scoun’el, er somet’ing like dat, an’ he says I was doom’ teh everlastin’ pe’dition an’ all like dat. ‘Gee,’ I says, ‘gee! Deh hell I am,’ I says. ‘Deh hell I am,’ like dat. An’ den I slugged ’im. See?”
With Jimmie in his company, Pete departed in a sort of a blaze of glory from the Johnson home. Maggie, leaning from the window, watched him as he walked down the street.
Here was a formidable man who disdained the strength of a world full of fists. Here was one who had contempt for brass-clothed power; one whose knuckles could defiantly ring against the granite of law. He was a knight.
The two men went from under the glimmering street-lamp and passed into shadows.
Turning, Maggie contemplated the dark, dust-stained walls, and the scant and crude furniture of her home. A clock, in a splintered and battered oblong box of varnished wood, she suddenly regarded as an abomination. She noted that it ticked raspingly. The almost vanished flowers in the carpet-pattern, she conceived to be newly hideous. Some faint attempts she had made with blue ribbon, to freshen the appearance of a dingy curtain, she now saw to be piteous.
She wondered what Pete dined on.
She reflected upon the collar and cuff factory. It began to appear to her mind as a dreary place of endless grinding. Pete’s elegant occupation brought him, no doubt, into contact with people who had money and manners. It was probable that he had a large acquaintance of pretty girls. He must have great sums of money to spend.