“Go in, Micky!” shouted the latter, who was rather a coward on his own account, but liked to see others fight. “Polish him off, that’s a good feller.”
Micky was now boiling over with rage and fury, and required no urging. He was fully determined to make a terrible example of poor Dick. He threw himself upon him, and strove to bear him to the ground; but Dick, avoiding a close hug, in which he might possibly have got the worst of it, by an adroit movement, tripped up his antagonist, and stretched him on the side walk.
“Hit him, Jim!” exclaimed Micky, furiously.
Limpy Jim did not seem inclined to obey orders. There was a quiet strength and coolness about Dick, which alarmed him. He preferred that Micky should incur all the risks of battle, and accordingly set himself to raising his fallen comrade.
“Come, Micky,” said Dick, quietly, “you’d better give it up. I wouldn’t have touched you if you hadn’t hit me first. I don’t want to fight. It’s low business.”
“You’re afraid of hurtin’ your clo’es,” said Micky, with a sneer.
“Maybe I am,” said Dick. “I hope I haven’t hurt yours.”
Micky’s answer to this was another attack, as violent and impetuous as the first. But his fury was in the way. He struck wildly, not measuring his blows, and Dick had no difficulty in turning aside, so that his antagonist’s blow fell upon the empty air, and his momentum was such that he nearly fell forward headlong. Dick might readily have taken advantage of his unsteadiness, and knocked him down; but he was not vindictive, and chose to act on the defensive, except when he could not avoid it.
Recovering himself, Micky saw that Dick was a more formidable antagonist than he had supposed, and was meditating another assault, better planned, which by its impetuosity might bear our hero to the ground. But there was an unlooked-for interference.
“Look out for the ‘copp,’” said Jim, in a low voice.
Micky turned round and saw a tall policeman heading towards him, and thought it might be prudent to suspend hostilities. He accordingly picked up his black-box, and, hitching up his pants, walked off, attended by Limpy Jim.
“What’s that chap been doing?” asked the policeman of Dick.
“He was amoosin’ himself by pitchin’ into me,” replied Dick.
“He didn’t like it ’cause I patronized a different tailor from him.”
“Well, it seems to me you are dressed pretty smart for a boot-black,” said the policeman.
“I wish I wasn’t a boot-black,” said Dick.
“Never mind, my lad. It’s an honest business,” said the policeman, who was a sensible man and a worthy citizen. “It’s an honest business. Stick to it till you get something better.”
“I mean to,” said Dick. “It aint easy to get out of it, as the prisoner remarked, when he was asked how he liked his residence.”