Let’s pass over the immediate events. I don’t remember much about them anyhow. I slept until the middle of the next afternoon, and I know the only thing that dragged me out of the bed where the dip had dumped me was the knowledge that the Sea Girl sailed that night and that Raquel La Costa probably would be waiting for the victor–me.
Outside the joint where I first met her, who should I come upon but Bat Slade!
“Huh!” says I, giving him the once over. “Are you able to be out?”
“You ain’t no beauty yourself,” he retorted.
I admit it. My right was in a sling, both eyes was black, and I was generally cut and bruised. Still, Slade had no right to give himself airs. His left was all bandaged, he too had a black eye, and moreover his features was about as battered as mine. I hope it hurt him as much to move as it did me. But he had the edge on me in one way–he hadn’t rubbed as much hide off against the walls.
“Where’s that two hundred we bet?” I snarled.
“Heh, heh!” sneered he. “Try and get it! They told me I wasn’t counted out officially. The referee didn’t count me out. You didn’t whip me.”
“Let the money go, you dirty, yellow crook,” I snarled, “but I whipped you, and I can prove it by thirty men. What you doin’ here, anyway?”
“I come to see my girl.”
“Your girl? What was we fightin’ about last night?”
“Just because you had the sap’s luck to knock me stiff don’t mean Raquel chooses you,” he answered savagely. “This time, she names the man she likes, see? And when she does, I want you to get out!”
“All right,” I snarled. “I whipped you fair and can prove it. Come in here; she’ll get a chance to choose between us, and if she don’t pick the best man, why, I can whip you all over again. Come on, you–”
Saying no more, we kicked the door open and went on in. We swept the interior with a eagle glance, and then sighted Raquel sitting at a table, leaning on her elbows and gazing soulfully into the eyes of a handsome bird in the uniform of a Spanish naval officer.
We barged across the room and come to a halt at her table. She glanced up in some surprise, but she could not have been blamed had she failed to recognize us.
“Raquel,” said I, “we went forth and fought for your fair hand just like you said. As might be expected, I won. Still, this incomprehensible bezark thinks that you might still have some lurkin’ fondness for him, and he requires to hear from your own rosy lips that you love another–meanin’ me, of course. Say the word and I toss him out. My ship sails tonight, and I got a lot to say to you.”
“Santa Maria!” said Raquel. “What ees theese? What kind of a bizness is theese, you two tramps coming looking like theese and talking gibberish? Am I to blame eef two great tramps go pound each other’s maps, ha? What ees that to me?”
“But you said–” I began, completely at sea, “you said, go fight and the best man–”
“I say, may the best man win! Bah! Did I geeve any promise? What do I care about Yankee tramps what make the fist-fight? Bah! Go home and beefsteak the eye. You insult me, talking to me in public with the punch’ nose and bung’ up face.”
“Then you don’t love either of us?” said Bat.
“Me love two gorillas? Bah! Here is my man–Don Jose y Balsa Santa Maria Gonzales.”
She then gave a screech, for at that moment Bat and me hit Don Jose y Balsa Santa Maria Gonzales simultaneous, him with the right and me with the left. And then, turning our backs on the dumfounded Raquel, we linked arms and, stepping over the fallen lover, strode haughtily to the door and vanished from her life.
“And,” said I, as we leaned upon the bar…