A very little boy stood upon
a heap of gravel for the honor
of Rum Alley. He was throwing
stones at howling urchins from
Devil's Row who were circling
madly about the heap and pelting
His infantile countenance was
livid with fury. His small body
was writhing in the delivery
of great, crimson oaths.
"Run, Jimmie, run! Dey'll get
yehs," screamed a retreating
Rum Alley child.
"Naw," responded Jimmie with
a valiant roar, "dese micks can't
make me run."
Howls of renewed wrath went
up from Devil's Row throats.
Tattered gamins on the right
made a furious assault on the
gravel heap. On their small,
convulsed faces there shone the
grins of true assassins. As they
charged, they threw stones and
cursed in shrill chorus.
The little champion of Rum
Alley stumbled precipitately
down the other side. His coat
had been torn to shreds in a
scuffle, and his hat was gone.
He had bruises on twenty parts
of his body, and blood was dripping
from a cut in his head. His wan
features wore a look of a tiny,
On the ground, children from
Devil's Row closed in on their
antagonist. He crooked his left
arm defensively about his head
and fought with cursing fury.
The little boys ran to and fro,
dodging, hurling stones and swearing
in barbaric trebles.
From a window of an apartment
house that upreared its form
from amid squat, ignorant stables,
there leaned a curious woman.
Some laborers, unloading a scow
at a dock at the river, paused
for a moment and regarded the
fight. The engineer of a passive
tugboat hung lazily to a railing
and watched. Over on the Island,
a worm building and crawled slowly
along the river's bank.
A stone had smashed into Jimmie's
mouth. Blood was bubbling over
his chin and down upon his ragged
shirt. Tears made furrows on
his dirt-stained cheeks. His
thin legs had begun to tremble
and turn weak, causing his small
body to reel. His roaring curses
of the first part of the fight
had changed to a blasphemous
In the yells of the whirling
mob of Devil's Row children there
were notes of joy like songs
of triumphant savagery. The little
boys seemed to leer gloatingly
at the blood upon the other child's
Down the avenue came boastfully
sauntering a lad of sixteen years,
although the chronic sneer of
an ideal manhood already sat
upon his lips. His hat was tipped
with an air of challenge over
his eye. Between his teeth, a
cigar stump was tilted at the
angle of defiance. He walked
with a certain swing of the shoulders
which appalled the timid. He
glanced over into the vacant
lot in which the little raving
boys from Devil's Row seethed
about the shrieking and tearful
child from Rum Alley.
"Gee!" he murmured with interest. "A
He strode over to the cursing
circle, swinging his shoulders
in a manner which denoted that
he held victory in his fists.
He approached at the back of
one of the most deeply engaged
of the Devil's Row children.
"Ah, what deh hell," he
said, and smote the deeply-engaged
one on the back of the head.
The little boy fell to the ground
and gave a hoarse, tremendous
howl. He scrambled to his feet,
and perceiving, evidently, the
size of his assailant, ran quickly
off, shouting alarms. The entire
Devil's Row party followed him.
They came to a stand a short
distance away and yelled taunting
oaths at the boy with the chronic
sneer. The latter, momentarily,
paid no attention to them.
"What deh hell, Jimmie?" he
asked of the small champion.
Jimmie wiped his blood-wet
features with his sleeve.
"Well, it was
dis way, Pete, see! I was goin'
teh lick dat
Riley kid and dey all pitched
Some Rum Alley children now
came forward. The party stood
for a moment exchanging vainglorious
remarks with Devil's Row. A few
stones were thrown at long distances,
and words of challenge passed
between small warriors. Then
the Rum Alley contingent turned
slowly in the direction of their
home street. They began to give,
each to each, distorted versions
of the fight. Causes of retreat
in particular cases were magnified.
Blows dealt in the fight were
enlarged to catapultian power,
and stones thrown were alleged
to have hurtled with infinite
accuracy. Valor grew strong again,
and the little boys began to
swear with great spirit.
"Ah, we blokies kin lick deh
hull damn Row," said a child,
Little Jimmie was striving
to stanch the flow of blood from
his cut lips. Scowling, he turned
upon the speaker.
"Ah, where deh hell was yeh
when I was doin' all deh fightin?" he
demanded. "Youse kids makes me
"Ah, go ahn," replied
the other argumentatively.
with heavy contempt. "Ah,
youse can't fight, Blue Billie!
I kin lick yeh wid one han'."
"Ah, go ahn," replied
the other in the same tone.
They struck at each other,
clinched, and rolled over on
the cobble stones.
"Smash 'im, Jimmie, kick deh
damn guts out of 'im," yelled
Pete, the lad with the chronic
sneer, in tones of delight.
The small combatants pounded
and kicked, scratched and tore.
They began to weep and their
curses struggled in their throats
with sobs. The other little boys
clasped their hands and wriggled
their legs in excitement. They
formed a bobbing circle about
A tiny spectator was suddenly
"Cheese it, Jimmie, cheese
it! Here comes yer fader," he
The circle of little boys instantly
parted. They drew away and waited
in ecstatic awe for that which
was about to happen. The two
little boys fighting in the modes
of four thousand years ago, did
not hear the warning.
Up the avenue there plodded
slowly a man with sullen eyes.
He was carrying a dinner pail
and smoking an apple-wood pipe.
As he neared the spot where
the little boys strove, he regarded
them listlessly. But suddenly
he roared an oath and advanced
upon the rolling fighters.
Jim, git up, now, while I belt
yer life out, you
damned disorderly brat."
He began to kick into the chaotic
mass on the ground. The boy Billie
felt a heavy boot strike his
head. He made a furious effort
and disentangled himself from
Jimmie. He tottered away, damning.
painfully from the ground and
father, began to curse him. His
parent kicked him. "Come home,
now," he cried, "an' stop yer
jawin', er I'll lam the everlasting
head off yehs."
They departed. The man paced
placidly along with the apple-
wood emblem of serenity between
his teeth. The boy followed a
dozen feet in the rear. He swore
luridly, for he felt that it
was degradation for one who aimed
to be some vague soldier, or
a man of blood with a sort of
sublime license, to be taken
home by a father.