He began calmly. The orator always reserves his telling apostrophes till that time when it is necessary to smite palm with fist. He spoke of Jefferson, the simplicity of his life, the firmness of his purpose, the height of his ideals. He forgot, as political speakers generally forget who emulate their historic political forebears, that progress rearranges principles and constitutions, that what passed as good statesmanship in Jefferson’s time is out of order in the present. Mr. Rudolph paused in the middle of a metaphor. There was a sudden commotion in the rear of the hall. Men were surging to and fro.
“Stand back!” cried a firm, resonant voice, full of anger.
The uproar increased. Those in the forward chairs craned their necks. Some stood up to learn what the matter might be. Others mounted their seats. A thousand absurd conjectures passed from mouth to mouth.
“Somebody’s dropped dead!”
“Sit down in front! Sit down!”
“What’s the matter?”
“Where are the police?”
“Put him out!”
Blue helmets moved toward the scene of action slowly. Mr. Rudolph still paused and moistened his lips impatiently. Men can give and take away popularity in the same breath, but a dog fight is arranged by occult forces, and must, like opportunity, be taken when it comes. We are educated to accept oratory, but we need no education in the matter of a dog fight. This red corpuscle was transmitted to us from the Stone Age, and the primordial pleasures alone resist enlightenment.
Two bulldogs, one tan, the other white, were fighting desperately, near the exits. In between human legs, under chairs, this way and that, snarling, snapping, dragging. Men called out, kicked, tried to use canes and umbrellas, and some burned matches. The dogs were impervious. Now the white dog was atop, now the tan. So many interfered that there was no interference.
It was Warrington who had cried out. He had been listening to the orator; and Jove, smelling his enemy from afar, slyly crept out of his master’s reach. The white dog had also been on the watch. In the drop of an eyelid the battle was on. Warrington instantly comprehended the situation, when he saw McQuade, who had every confidence in his dog, clear a circle. He pushed his way through the swaying wall of men and commanded those in front to stand back. He was furious. He had no objections to human beings fighting, but he detested these bloody conflicts between dumb brutes. He called to Jove, but Jove was past hearing; he had tasted his enemy’s blood. Once Warrington succeeded in parting the dogs, but the crush prevented his making the separation complete. Instantly they were at it again. The police made superhuman efforts to arrive before it was all over. The fight, however, came to an end as suddenly as it had begun. Jove found his grip. But for the broad collar on McQuade’s dog the animal would have been throttled then and there.