Ragged Dick, or, Street Life in New York. Chapter 18, 19, 20, 21, 22
MICKY MAGUIRE’S SECOND DEFEAT
Dick was no coward. Nor was he in the habit of submitting passively to an insult. When, therefore, he recognized Micky as his assailant, he instantly turned and gave chase. Micky anticipated pursuit, and ran at his utmost speed. It is doubtful if Dick would have overtaken him, but Micky had the ill luck to trip just as he had entered a narrow alley, and, falling with some violence, received a sharp blow from the hard stones, which made him scream with pain.
“Ow!” he whined. “Don’t you hit a feller when he’s down.”
“What made you fire that stone at me?” demanded our hero, looking down at the fallen bully.
“Just for fun,” said Micky.
“It would have been a very agreeable s’prise if it had hit me,” said Dick. “S’posin’ I fire a rock at you jest for fun.”
“Don’t!” exclaimed Micky, in alarm.
“It seems you don’t like agreeable s’prises,” said Dick, “any more’n the man did what got hooked by a cow one mornin’, before breakfast. It didn’t improve his appetite much.”
“I’ve most broke my arm,” said Micky, ruefully, rubbing the affected limb.
“If it’s broke you can’t fire no more stones, which is a very cheerin’ reflection,” said Dick. “Ef you haven’t money enough to buy a wooden one I’ll lend you a quarter. There’s one good thing about wooden ones, they ain’t liable to get cold in winter, which is another cheerin’ reflection.”
“I don’t want none of yer cheerin’ reflections,” said Micky, sullenly. “Yer company ain’t wanted here.”
“Thank you for your polite invitation to leave,” said Dick, bowing ceremoniously. “I’m willin’ to go, but ef you throw any more stones at me, Micky Maguire, I’ll hurt you worse than the stones did.”
The only answer made to this warning was a scowl from his fallen opponent. It was quite evident that Dick had the best of it, and he thought it prudent to say nothing.
“As I’ve got a friend waitin’ outside, I shall have to tear myself away,” said Dick. “You’d better not throw any more stones, Micky Maguire, for it don’t seem to agree with your constitution.”
Micky muttered something which Dick did not stay to hear. He backed out of the alley, keeping a watchful eye on his fallen foe, and rejoined Henry Fosdick, who was awaiting his return.
“Who was it, Dick?” he asked.
“A partic’lar friend of mine, Micky Maguire,” said Dick. “He playfully fired a rock at my head as a mark of his ‘fection. He loves me like a brother, Micky does.”
“Rather a dangerous kind of a friend, I should think,” said Fosdick. “He might have killed you.”
“I’ve warned him not to be so ‘fectionate another time,” said Dick.
“I know him,” said Henry Fosdick. “He’s at the head of a gang of boys living at the Five-Points. He threatened to whip me once because a gentleman employed me to black his boots instead of him.”
“He’s been at the Island two or three times for stealing,” said Dick. “I guess he won’t touch me again. He’d rather get hold of small boys. If he ever does anything to you, Fosdick, just let me know, and I’ll give him a thrashing.”
Dick was right. Micky Maguire was a bully, and like most bullies did not fancy tackling boys whose strength was equal or superior to his own. Although he hated Dick more than ever, because he thought our hero was putting on airs, he had too lively a remembrance of his strength and courage to venture upon another open attack. He contented himself, therefore, whenever he met Dick, with scowling at him. Dick took this very philosophically, remarking that, “if it was soothin’ to Micky’s feelings, he might go ahead, as it didn’t hurt him much.”
It will not be necessary to chronicle the events of the next few weeks. A new life had commenced for Dick. He no longer haunted the gallery of the Old Bowery; and even Tony Pastor’s hospitable doors had lost their old attractions. He spent two hours every evening in study. His progress was astonishingly rapid. He was gifted with a natural quickness; and he was stimulated by the desire to acquire a fair education as a means of “growin’ up ‘spectable,” as he termed it. Much was due also to the patience and perseverance of Henry Fosdick, who made a capital teacher.