Read CHAPTER IX - PLEBE PRESCOTT’S FIRST FIGHT of Dick Prescott First Year at West Point, free online book, by H. Irving Hancock, on ReadCentral.com.

“We’d better get on hand early,” advised Greg.  “You want to take plenty of time about stripping for the fight.  It would be throwing some of your chances away, Dick, for you to strip and prepare hurriedly, and step into the ring all flustered.”

“You think I’m going to lose, don’t you, Greg?” demanded Prescott grimly.

“Oh, I hope not,” protested Cadet Holmes staunchly.

“But you think so, just the same,” smiled Dick.  “Now, Greg, do you remember the old Gridley High School spirit?  Do you remember that our coaches told us to enter every battle on gridiron or diamond with the firm conviction that we couldn’t be beaten?  That’s the old Grid. spirit that has been stealing over me the last few hours.”

“It’s a mighty good spirit to take into a fight,” nodded Anstey.

Yet he, too, felt grave doubts that Prescott could come out of the approaching fight anything but a mass of pounded pulp.  Mr. Spurlock was one of the highly accredited fighters of the yearling class.

“Well, we’d better be moving,” nodded Greg.  When they reached the unused room on the top floor of the next subdivision of plebes, they found Cadet Lieutenant Edwards and Mr. Jennison, both of the first class, already on hand.  Mr. Devine, of the yearling class, who was to be one of Spurlock’s seconds, was also in the room.  There were two buckets of water, with sponges, and a supply of rough towels.

Almost immediately after Mr. Spurlock and Mr. Kramer came in.

Both of the principals now began to strip.  Each had chosen the same fighting costume, consisting of old gray flannel trousers, belt, rubber soled shoes and sleeveless sweater.

As Spurlock stood forth, arrayed for the battle, it was seen that he was a man of magnificent build for one of his years.  His chest expansion was splendid.  Over his chest and between his shoulders formidable muscles stood well out.  His arms were not fat, but rather bulky with muscles.  He made one think of a blacksmith.

Dick Prescott, being much lighter, did not make such an imposing appearance.  Yet he did not strip to look like a weakling.  His chest was fine, the muscles between his shoulder blades stood up well, while his arms, far smaller than Spurlock’s, displayed the long, well-knit muscles of the Indian.

Two first class men had volunteered to act as the officials of the fight, since, in a cadet fight, none of the officials can ever be of the class represented by either combatant.

“Are you ready, gentlemen?” inquired Mr. Edwards, while Mr. Jennison drew out a watch that had served at many a cadet fight.

“Ready, sir,” replied Spurlock.  “Ready, sir,” added Prescott.  “This fight,” announced the referee, “is to be to a finish.  The rounds will last two minutes each, with a minute’s rest between.  Queensbury rules will be followed as far as they can be made to apply.  This being a bare-knuckle fight for a matter of principle, the combatants will not shake hands.”

There was an impressive pause, the referee turning to look at each fighter in turn.

Spurlock stood at ease, his arms folded over his chest, a grin on his face.

Plebe Prescott looked less confident.  He stood with his fists clenched at his sides.

“Time!” called Mr. Edwards.

Spurlock unfolded his arms, throwing them in an attitude of semi-defense, as he coolly looked his opponent over.

Dick Prescott, on the other hand, threw his left foot forward, planting it firmly though lightly.  His left arm raked outward, while his right fist came to a guard over his heart region.

“I suppose I’ve got to start this, as well as end it,” jeered Mr. Spurlock.  He made a sudden leap forward, throwing his offense low.  Dick’s left shot out to counter.  Then Spurlock drove in, but Prescott got away by nimble dodging.  Each man had now turned; the seconds jumped nimbly around, the referee following, while Jennison, his gaze mostly on the watch, jumped nimbly into a corner that he judged would not be used by the fighters.

“This isn’t a sprint,” sneered Spurlock, as he followed nimble Plebe Prescott around, Dick doing some saving dodging, ducking and sidestepping.

Nearly a dozen of Spurlock’s blows Prescott succeeded in escaping, though the plebe was kept so busily on the defensive that he could not get back with anything to count.

“Stand up, you jumping-jack!” hissed Spurlock.

He did get in a short-arm jab on Dick’s right lower ribs that made the plebe gasp audibly.

Spurlock now started in to take advantage of this by getting the plebe going.  Dick, however, dodged less and countered better.  He took two nasty blows, then Mr. Jennison called.

“Time!”

“You’re standing him off a heap better than I thought you could,” whispered Anstey, as he and Greg sponged the plebe fighter off quickly and then began to knead his muscles.  While this was still going on the referee again summoned the fighters forward.

The second round started.  As before, Prescott kept mainly on the defensive, though always watching his chance to come back at his more powerful opponent.  Spurlock began to press his man hard, when, of a sudden, Prescott got in low under the other’s guard, came up and landed a blow on the Spurlock nose that brought the first blood of the fight.

With an angry growl Spurlock leaped in now, to chase and wind up his younger opponent.

But Dick did some nimble dodging, devoting his attention largely to defending his eyes from assault.

Then, in turning, suddenly, Dick let one leg drag an instant behind him.  Spurlock, following like lightning, aimed a blow, but it fell short, for he tripped over Dick’s leg and fell sprawling.

Referee, time-keeper and plebe principals laughed.  Spurlock’s seconds scowled.

But Dick generously drew back five or six feet, standing on the defensive until Mr. Spurlock leaped to his feet, ready to renew the combat.

Spurlock, however, had hurt one of his knees, in going down, just enough to interfere with his nimbleness of pursuit during the rest of the round.  Time-keep Jennison soon ended that round.

“Mister,” growled Yearling Kramer, turning around while Dick sat between his seconds being sponged and kneaded, “don’t be so much of a coward!  Don’t run away and delay the finish.  Stand up as if you had some manhood!”

“Thank you, sir,” replied Dick coldly.  “I’m managing my end of this fight.”

“You b.j. little poltroon,” snarled Kramer.  “I’ll call you out myself if you have the nerve to talk back!” hissed Kramer.

“Is licking cowards your specialty?” demanded Prescott coolly.

But that settled it, making a coming fight with Kramer an absolute necessity, now.

“Mr. Kramer,” interrupted Mr. Edwards sternly, “this has gone far enough.  You must stop hectoring that plebe, sir.  He has all he can attend to as it is.”

Kramer stopped, with a snap of the jaws.  He didn’t want to.  But a hint, on a matter of etiquette, or the code, from the first class man, was as valid as a command.  And Mr. Edwards had spoken in a tone that was authoritative enough.

“You run all you want,” whispered Greg indignantly.  “You have a right to.  This room is smaller than a Queensbury ring.”

“I shan’t stop my footwork unless the referee orders it,” replied Prescott, in an under-tone.

“You’re doing just right,” nodded Anstey.  “If you weren’t Mr. Edwards would stop it.  He’s running this fight on the fair-and-square.  If I have a fight I hope it will be my luck to have Mr. Edwards running the job.”

“How do you feel?” asked Anstey, in an undertone.

“All right,” returned Dick.  “But I had to trust to footwork to save myself.  Mr. Spurlock got nearly all my wind in that other round.”

“Is your wind in again?” asked Greg anxiously.

“Yes; I think I feel as fine as my man does,” replied Dick, stepping up from the care of his handlers to await the command.

“Isn’t Mr. Kramer the brute?” whispered Anstey indignantly.

“I’m not going to think of him, now,” answered Plebe Prescott over his shoulder.  “I have all I can attend to at present.”

“I’ll get him now, Kramer,” muttered Spurlock, as he rose.  “Watch me reduce that b.j. plebe to powder!  I hope they have a spare cot for him over at hospital.”

Again the referee set them at it.

Mr. Spurlock encountered a mild surprise, for now Dick seemed less inclined to trust to his nimble feet.  He put up a stand-up front, though several of Spurlock’s sledge-hammer blows passed over Dick’s falling head.

Then the yearling began to fight lower.

The plebe put up a good series of counters, though he took another bit of punishment in the short ribs, and began to back away.

Across the room, Mr. Spurlock began driving his victim, slowly but systematically.

Dick retreated, putting up the best guard he could, dodging when he had to.

But the yearling, full of the grim spirit of the thing, pursued without undue haste, driving the plebe, a foot at a time, clean across the room toward the opposite wall.

At last Spurlock had his victim all but leaning against the wall, sorely pressed.  Then, with a sudden tensing of his muscles, the yearling let his left drive to “paste” the plebe’s head against the hard wall.