Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/187

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THE TIE THAT BINDS

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“We may as well finish it ’ere,” he remarked with a sort of sad patience.

Next minute the two were at it, hammer and tongs. Several members of the party tried to separate them and restore peace. Whang! They got what the peacemaker usually gets and promptly joined the fracas. In no time at all they had resumed the debate at the point where they broke off in the cabaret.

The landlord fled at the first blow. He fled as fast as he could leg it to the nearest square, where he encountered an American patrol of six men under a gunnery officer, sent ashore to round up the liberty party. They hardly needed his guidance—the noise of the row was echoing from the hills.

“Cheese it!” shouted one of the combatants as the officer reached the door.

They went from there any way they could—out the back way, through windows, down cellar. Hardtack and Wally managed to gain the backyard, whence they streaked down an alley. But several of the gobs fell into the hands of the patrol.

“This is a fine business, isn’t it?” roared the gunnery officer. “You men ought to be ashamed of yourselves.”

No response.

“Fighting in a foreign port and giving the Navy a bad name!”

Still no reply.

“Well, I hope they gave you a damned good licking. You look like it.”

The gobs did not utter a word.

“Did they? Don’t stand there like a lot of dumb-bells! Who licked?”

Meanwhile Hardtack and Wally had hailed a cab and given orders that they should be conveyed to the station without pause. There they caught a train for Pireus and an hour later a boatman rowed them out to their steamer.

“Well,” said Hardtack as they set foot on deck, “we sure were lucky to git out of that.”

“But we never did get to see the Parthenon!”

“Shucks, what does that matter?”

“I promised my sister——”

“You can send her a picture post card, can’t you?”