“Well, I didn’t like it, if you want to know,” said Dickey. “And I don’t care a continental who heard what I said.”
“Does he still want to fight with his hands?” demanded Kapolski, now cool and ironical. There was an infuriating attempt on his part to speak as if he were addressing a small, pouting child.
“Anything—anything! The only point is, you’ll have to fight to-night—right now. I’ve two or three friends here who’ll see that I get fair play.” said Dickey, discretion flying to the wind.
“You shall fight and here!” exclaimed the Russian. “But you shall fight like a gentleman for once in your life. I will not claw and scratch with you, like the women do, but with any weapon you name.”
Dickey’s valor did not fade, but his discretion came to the surface with a suddenness that took his breath away. He turned to speak to Quentin and the millionaire. Phil’s face was deathly white, and there was a pleading look in his eyes. The millionaire was trembling like a leaf.
“I guess I’ll take pistols,” said Dickey, slowly. “I can’t hit the side of a barn, but he can’t bluff me, damn him.”
“Great Scott, Dickey! Don’t do it, don’t do it!” whispered Quentin. “This is my fight, you know it is, and I won’t let you—”
“You can’t help it, old boy. He’ll probably get me, but I may be lucky enough to have a bullet land in him. My only chance is to aim anywhere but at him, shut my eyes, and trust to luck.” Then turning to Kapolski he said, deliberately: “Pistols, and here, if the prince does not object.”
“Cannot this affair be postponed—” began Ugo, desperately.
“Not unless your friend forgets that I punched his head. It is now or never with me,” said Dickey.
“I insist that it is my right to fight this man!” exclaimed Quentin, standing forth. “I first expressed the opinion which Mr. Savage merely echoed and to which Prince Kapolski took exception.”
“But you did not strike me. In any event, you shall come next, Mr. Quentin; I shall take you on immediately after I have disposed of your cockadoodle friend,” said Kapolski, throwing aside his coat. “You have pistols here, Prince Ravorelli?”
“This is murder,” cried the millionaire, “and I shall take it before the United States government.”
“Dickey! Dickey!” cried Phil, helplessly, as Savage began to remove his coat.
“I have weapons, if you insist, gentlemen,” said Ugo. At his words intense excitement prevailed, for now there could be no doubt as to the result of the quarrel. Count Sallaconi hurried away for the pistols, smiling significantly as he passed his prince. His smile said that Kapolski would kill two men that night.
“For God’s sake, Dickey, be careful, if you must fight. Take deliberate aim and don’t lose your nerve,” cried Quentin, grasping him by the arms. “You are as cold as ice.”
“I haven’t fired a pistol more than a dozen times in my life,” said Dickey, smiling faintly.