JOE SHOWS HIS MUSCLE.
All unconscious that he was being followed, our hero went on his errand to a wholesale provision house that supplied the Grandon Hotel with meats and poultry. He felt in good spirits and so whistled lightly as he walked.
Arriving at the place of business he transacted his errand as speedily as possible and then started to return to the hotel.
He was just passing the entrance to a factory yard when he felt a hand on his shoulder, and wheeling around found himself confronted by Jack Sagger, Nick Sammel, and half a dozen others, who had gathered to see their leader “polish off” the country boy.
“What do you want?” demanded Joe, sharply.
“You know well enough wot I want, country!” exclaimed Jack Sagger.
“I do not.”
“You took my job away from me, an’ I’m goin’ to pay you fer doing it.”
“Mr. Drew had a perfect right to discharge you, Jack Sagger. He said you were impudent and he didn’t want you around any more.”
“You can’t preach to me, country! Do you know wot I’m goin’ ter do?”
“I’m going to make you promise to leave dat job. Will yer promise?”
“Den you have got to fight,” and Jack Sagger began to pull up his rather dirty coat sleeves.
“Supposing I don’t want to fight?” went on our hero, as calmly as he could.
“Yer got ter do it, country—or else make dat promise.”
“I’ll make no promise to you.”
“Den take dat!”
As Jack Sagger uttered the last words he launched a blow at Joe’s nose. But our hero ducked and the blow went wide of its mark.
“Give it to him, Jack!”
“Show him what you can do!”
“Keep off,” came from Joe. “If you don’t, you’ll get hurt!”
“Hear dat now! Jack, pitch in, quick, before anybody comes!”
Thus urged Jack Sagger struck out once more, landing on Joe’s chest. Then our hero drew back and sent in a blow with all his force. It took the other boy squarely on the chin and sent him staggering against a friend.
If ever there was a surprised boy that boy was Jack Sagger. He had expected that to “polish off” Joe would be easy and he had not anticipated such a defense as had been made. He righted himself and gazed stupidly at our hero.
“Wot did yer hit me fer?” he gasped.
“You keep off or I’ll hit you again,” answered Joe.
There was a pause and Sagger sprang forward, trying to catch Joe around the arms. But our hero was too quick for him and ducked once more. Then he hit the bully in the ear and gave him another blow in the left eye.
“Ouch!” roared Jack Sagger. “Don’t! Oh, my eye!”
“Have you had enough?” demanded Joe, who was commencing to warm up.
“Pitch in, fellers!” came from Jack Sagger. “Throw him down!”