“One thing first,” said Dewey, holding up his hand. “If I come off best in this encounter, you’ll all agree to let this Chinaman go free? Is that agreed?”
“Yes, yes, it is agreed!”
Ki Sing stood trembling with fear while these preliminaries were being settled. He would have escaped from the crowd, but his first movement was checked.
“No, Cy King, we can’t let you go jest yet,” said Taylor. “We’re goin’ to see this thing through first.”
O’Reilly was not in the least daunted by the contest in which he was to engage. Indeed, he felt a good deal of satisfaction at the prospect of being engaged in a scrimmage. Of course, he expected to come off a victor. He was a considerably larger man than Richard Dewey, with arms like flails and flats like sledge-hammers, and he had no sort of doubt that he could settle his smaller antagonist in less than five minutes.
But there was one thing of which he was not aware. Though slender, Dewey had trained and hardened his muscles by exercise in a gymnasium, and, moreover, he had taken a course of lessons in the manly art of self-defense. He had done this, not because he expected to be called upon to defend himself at any time, but because he thought it conducive to keeping up his health and strength. He awaited O’Reilly’s onset with watchful calmness.
O’Reilly advanced with a whoop, flinging about his powerful arms somewhat like a windmill, and prepared to upset his antagonist at the first onset.
What was his surprise to find his own blows neatly parried, and to meet a tremendous blow from his opponent which set his nose to bleeding.
Astonished, but not panic-stricken, he pluckily advanced to a second round, and tried to grasp Dewey round the waist. But instead of doing this, he received another knock-down blow, which stretched him on the ground.
He was up again, and renewed the attack, but with even less chance of victory than before, for the blood was streaming down his face, and he could not see distinctly where to hit. Dewey contented himself with keeping on guard and parrying the blows of his demoralized adversary.
“It’s no use, O’Reilly!” exclaimed two or three. “Dewey’s the better man.”
“Let me get at him! I’ll show him what I can do,” said O’Reilly doggedly.
“As long as you like, O’Reilly,” said Richard Dewey coolly; “but you may as well give it up.”
“Troth and I won’t. I’m stronger than you are any day.”
“Perhaps you are; but I understand fighting, and you don’t.”
“An O’Reilly not know how to fight!” exclaimed the Irishman hotly. “I could fight when I was six years old.”
“Perhaps so; but you can’t box.”
One or two more attacks, and O’Reilly was dragged away by two of his friends, and Dewey remained master of the field.
The miners came up and shook hands with him cordially. They regarded him with new respect, now that it was found he had overpowered the powerful O’Reilly.