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|Ragged Dick||Horatio Alger|
A Battle And A Victory
|Page 1 of 4||
"What's that for?" demanded Dick, turning round to see who had struck him.
"You're gettin' mighty fine!" said Micky Maguire, surveying Dick's new clothes with a scornful air.
There was something in his words and tone, which Dick, who was disposed to stand up for his dignity, did not at all relish.
"Well, what's the odds if I am?" he retorted. "Does it hurt you any?"
"See him put on airs, Jim," said Micky, turning to his companion. "Where'd you get them clo'es?"
"Never mind where I got 'em. Maybe the Prince of Wales gave 'em to me."
"Hear him, now, Jim," said Micky. "Most likely he stole 'em."
"Stealin' aint in my line."
It might have been unconscious the emphasis which Dick placed on the word "my." At any rate Micky chose to take offence.
"Do you mean to say I steal?" he demanded, doubling up his fist, and advancing towards Dick in a threatening manner.
"I don't say anything about it," answered Dick, by no means alarmed at this hostile demonstration. "I know you've been to the Island twice. P'r'aps 'twas to make a visit along of the Mayor and Aldermen. Maybe you was a innocent victim of oppression. I aint a goin' to say."
Micky's freckled face grew red with wrath, for Dick had only stated the truth.
"Do you mean to insult me?" he demanded shaking the fist already doubled up in Dick's face. "Maybe you want a lickin'?"
"I aint partic'larly anxious to get one," said Dick, coolly. "They don't agree with my constitution which is nat'rally delicate. I'd rather have a good dinner than a lickin' any time."
"You're afraid," sneered Micky. "Isn't he, Jim?"
"In course he is."
"P'r'aps I am," said Dick, composedly, "but it don't trouble me much."
"Do you want to fight?" demanded Micky, encouraged by Dick's quietness, fancying he was afraid to encounter him.
"No, I don't," said Dick. "I aint fond of fightin'. It's a very poor amusement, and very bad for the complexion, 'specially for the eyes and nose, which is apt to turn red, white, and blue."
Micky misunderstood Dick, and judged from the tenor of his speech that he would be an easy victim. As he knew, Dick very seldom was concerned in any street fight,--not from cowardice, as he imagined, but because he had too much good sense to do so. Being quarrelsome, like all bullies, and supposing that he was more than a match for our hero, being about two inches taller, he could no longer resist an inclination to assault him, and tried to plant a blow in Dick's face which would have hurt him considerably if he had not drawn back just in time.
Now, though Dick was far from quarrelsome, he was ready to defend himself on all occasions, and it was too much to expect that he would stand quiet and allow himself to be beaten.
He dropped his blacking-box on the instant, and returned Micky's blow with such good effect that the young bully staggered back, and would have fallen, if he had not been propped up by his confederate, Limpy Jim.
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