On a corner a glass-fronted
building shed a yellow glare
upon the pavements. The open
mouth of a saloon called seductively
to passengers to enter and annihilate
sorrow or create rage.
The interior of the place was
papered in olive and bronze tints
of imitation leather. A shining
bar of counterfeit massiveness
extended down the side of the
room. Behind it a great mahogany-appearing
sideboard reached the ceiling.
Upon its shelves rested pyramids
of shimmering glasses that were
never disturbed. Mirrors set
in the face of the sideboard
multiplied them. Lemons, oranges
and paper napkins, arranged with
mathematical precision, sat among
the glasses. Many-hued decanters
of liquor perched at regular
intervals on the lower shelves.
A nickel-plated cash register
occupied a position in the exact
centre of the general effect.
The elementary senses of it all
seemed to be opulence and geometrical
Across from the bar a smaller
counter held a collection of
plates upon which swarmed frayed
fragments of crackers, slices
of boiled ham, dishevelled bits
of cheese, and pickles swimming
in vinegar. An odor of grasping,
begrimed hands and munching mouths
Pete, in a
white jacket, was behind the
bar bending expectantly
toward a quiet stranger. "A beeh," said
the man. Pete drew a foam-topped
glassful and set it dripping
upon the bar.
At this moment the light bamboo
doors at the entrance swung open
and crashed against the siding.
Jimmie and a companion entered.
They swaggered unsteadily but
belligerently toward the bar
and looked at Pete with bleared
and blinking eyes.
Pete slid a bottle and two
glasses along the bar. He bended
his head sideways as he assiduously
polished away with a napkin at
the gleaming wood. He had a look
of watchfulness upon his features.
Jimmie and his companion kept
their eyes upon the bartender
and conversed loudly in tones
"He's a dindy masher, ain't
he, by Gawd?" laughed Jimmie.
"Oh, hell, yes," said the companion,
sneering widely. "He's great,
he is. Git onto deh mug on deh
blokie. Dat's enough to make
a feller turn hand-springs in
The quiet stranger moved himself
and his glass a trifle further
away and maintained an attitude
he hot stuff!"
"Git onto his
shape! Great Gawd!"
Jimmie, in tones of command.
Pete came along slowly,
with a sullen dropping of the
"Well," he growled, "what's
As Pete confronted them with
the bottle and the glasses, they
laughed in his face. Jimmie's
companion, evidently overcome
with merriment, pointed a grimy
forefinger in Pete's direction.
"Say, Jimmie," demanded he, "what
deh hell is dat behind deh bar?"
"Damned if I knows," replied
Jimmie. They laughed loudly.
Pete put down a bottle with a
bang and turned a formidable
face toward them. He disclosed
his teeth and his shoulders heaved
"You fellers can't guy me," he
said. "Drink yer stuff an' git
out an' don' make no trouble."
Instantly the laughter faded
from the faces of the two men
and expressions of offended dignity
"Who deh hell has said anyt'ing
teh you," cried they in the same
The quiet stranger looked at
the door calculatingly.
"Ah, come off," said Pete to
the two men. "Don't pick me up
for no jay. Drink yer rum an'
git out an' don' make no trouble."
"Oh, deh hell," airily
"Oh, deh hell," airily
repeated his companion.
"We goes when we git ready!
See!" continued Jimmie.
"Well," said Pete in a threatening
voice, "don' make no trouble."
Jimmie suddenly leaned forward
with his head on one side. He
snarled like a wild animal.
"Well, what if we does? See?" said
Dark blood flushed into Pete's
face, and he shot a lurid glance
"Well, den we'll see whose
deh bes' man, you or me," he
The quiet stranger moved modestly
toward the door.
Jimmie began to swell with
me up fer no tenderfoot. When
yeh tackles me yeh tackles
one of deh bes' men in deh city.
See? I'm a scrapper, I am. Ain't
dat right, Billie?"
"Sure, Mike," responded
his companion in tones of conviction.
"Oh, hell," said Pete, easily. "Go
fall on yerself."
The two men again began to
"What deh hell is dat talkin'?" cried
"Damned if I knows," replied
Jimmie with exaggerated contempt.
Pete made a
furious gesture. "Git
outa here now, an' don' make
no trouble. See? Youse fellers
er lookin' fer a scrap an' it's
damn likely yeh'll fin' one if
yeh keeps on shootin' off yer
mout's. I know yehs! See? I kin
lick better men dan yehs ever
saw in yer lifes. Dat's right!
See? Don' pick me up fer no stuff
er yeh might be jolted out in
deh street before yeh knows where
yeh is. When I comes from behind
dis bar, I t'rows yehs bote inteh
deh street. See?"
"Oh, hell," cried
the two men in chorus.
The glare of
a panther came into Pete's
eyes. "Dat's what
I said! Unnerstan'?"
He came through a passage at
the end of the bar and swelled
down upon the two men. They stepped
promptly forward and crowded
close to him.
They bristled like three roosters.
They moved their heads pugnaciously
and kept their shoulders braced.
The nervous muscles about each
mouth twitched with a forced
smile of mockery.
"Well, what deh hell yer goin'
teh do?" gritted Jimmie.
Pete stepped warily back, waving
his hands before him to keep
the men from coming too near.
"Well, what deh hell yer goin'
teh do?" repeated Jimmie's ally.
They kept close to him, taunting
and leering. They strove to make
him attempt the initial blow.
"Keep back, now! Don' crowd
me," ominously said Pete.
chorused in contempt. "Oh,
In a small, tossing group,
the three men edged for positions
like frigates contemplating battle.
"Well, why deh hell don' yeh
try teh t'row us out?" cried
Jimmie and his ally with copious
The bravery of bull-dogs sat
upon the faces of the men. Their
clenched fists moved like eager
The allied two jostled the
bartender's elbows, glaring at
him with feverish eyes and forcing
him toward the wall.
Suddenly Pete swore redly.
The flash of action gleamed from
his eyes. He threw back his arm
and aimed a tremendous, lightning-
like blow at Jimmie's face. His
foot swung a step forward and
the weight of his body was behind
his fist. Jimmie ducked his head,
Bowery-like, with the quickness
of a cat. The fierce, answering
blows of him and his ally crushed
on Pete's bowed head.
The quiet stranger vanished.
The arms of the combatants
whirled in the air like flails.
The faces of the men, at first
flushed to flame-colored anger,
now began to fade to the pallor
of warriors in the blood and
heat of a battle. Their lips
curled back and stretched tightly
over the gums in ghoul-like grins.
Through their white, gripped
teeth struggled hoarse whisperings
of oaths. Their eyes glittered
with murderous fire.
Each head was huddled between
its owner's shoulders, and arms
were swinging with marvelous
rapidity. Feet scraped to and
fro with a loud scratching sound
upon the sanded floor. Blows
left crimson blotches upon pale
skin. The curses of the first
quarter minute of the fight died
away. The breaths of the fighters
came wheezingly from their lips
and the three chests were straining
and heaving. Pete at intervals
gave vent to low, labored hisses,
that sounded like a desire to
kill. Jimmie's ally gibbered
at times like a wounded maniac.
Jimmie was silent, fighting with
the face of a sacrificial priest.
The rage of fear shone in all
their eyes and their blood-colored
At a tottering moment a blow
from Pete's hand struck the ally
and he crashed to the floor.
He wriggled instantly to his
feet and grasping the quiet stranger's
beer glass from the bar, hurled
it at Pete's head.
High on the wall it burst like
a bomb, shivering fragments flying
in all directions. Then missiles
came to every man's hand. The
place had heretofore appeared
free of things to throw, but
suddenly glass and bottles went
singing through the air. They
were thrown point blank at bobbing
heads. The pyramid of shimmering
glasses, that had never been
disturbed, changed to cascades
as heavy bottles were flung into
them. Mirrors splintered to nothing.
The three frothing creatures
on the floor buried themselves
in a frenzy for blood. There
followed in the wake of missiles
and fists some unknown prayers,
perhaps for death.
The quiet stranger had sprawled
very pyrotechnically out on the
sidewalk. A laugh ran up and
down the avenue for the half
of a block.
a bloke inteh deh street."
People heard the sound of breaking
glass and shuffling feet within
the saloon and came running.
A small group, bending down to
look under the bamboo doors,
watching the fall of glass, and
three pairs of violent legs,
changed in a moment to a crowd.
A policeman came charging down
the sidewalk and bounced through
the doors into the saloon. The
crowd bended and surged in absorbing
anxiety to see.
Jimmie caught first sight of
the on-coming interruption. On
his feet he had the same regard
for a policeman that, when on
his truck, he had for a fire
engine. He howled and ran for
the side door.
The officer made a terrific
advance, club in hand. One comprehensive
sweep of the long night stick
threw the ally to the floor and
forced Pete to a corner. With
his disengaged hand he made a
furious effort at Jimmie's coat-tails.
Then he regained his balance
you are a pair of pictures.
What in hell yeh
been up to?"
Jimmie, with his face drenched
in blood, escaped up a side street,
pursued a short distance by some
of the more law-loving, or excited
individuals of the crowd.
Later, from a corner safely
dark, he saw the policeman, the
ally and the bartender emerge
from the saloon. Pete locked
the doors and then followed up
the avenue in the rear of the
crowd- encompassed policeman
and his charge.
On first thoughts Jimmie, with
his heart throbbing at battle
heat, started to go desperately
to the rescue of his friend,
but he halted.
"Ah, what deh hell?" he
demanded of himself.