"He's a friend of mine," said the Colonel. "You must let him come with me."
"A friend, is he?" said an amateur attendant. The policeman, who had remembered the cruel onslaught made on his comrade, looked very grave, and still held Tom tight by the arms. "A very hugly sort of friend," said the amateur. Tom only stretched himself still higher, but remained speechless.
"Tringle," said the Colonel, "this was very foolish, you know -- a most absurd thing to do! Come with me, and we will talk it all over."
"He must come along with us to the watch-house just at present," said the policeman. "And you, Sir, if you can, had better please to come with us. It ain't far across to Vine Street, but of course you can have a cab if you like it." This was ended by two policemen walking off with Tom between them, and by the Colonel following in a cab, after having administered divers shillings to the amateur attendants. Though the journey in the cab did not occupy above five minutes, it sufficed him to determine what step he should take when he found himself before the night officers of the watch. When he found himself in the presence of the night officer he had considerable difficulty in carrying out his purpose. That Tom should be locked up for the night, and be brought before the police magistrate next morning to answer for the outrage he had committed, seemed to the officers to be a matter of course. It was long before the Colonel could persuade the officer that this little matter between him and Mr Tringle was a private affair, of which he at least wished to take no further notice. "No doubt," he said, "he had received a blow on his chest, but it had not hurt him in the least."
"'E 'it the gen'leman with all his might and main," said the policeman.
"It is quite a private affair," said the Colonel. "My name is Colonel Stubbs; here is my card. Sir -- is a particular friend of mine." He named a pundit of the peace, very high in the estimation of all policemen. "If you will let the gentleman come away with me I will be responsible for him tomorrow, if it should be necessary to take any further step in the matter." This he said very eagerly, and with all the authority which he knew how to use. Tom, in the meantime, stood perfectly motionless, with his arms folded akimbo on his breast, wet through, muddy, still tipsy, a sight miserable to behold.
The card and the Colonel's own name, and the name of the pundit of the peace together, had their effect, and after a while. Tom was dismissed in the Colonel's care. The conclusion of the evening's affair was, for the moment, one which Tom found very hard to bear. It would have been better for him to have been dragged off to a cell, and there to have been left to his miserable solitude. But as he went down through the narrow ways leading from the police office out into the main street he felt that he was altogether debarred from making any further attack upon his protector. He could not strike him again, as he might have done had he escaped from the police by his own resources. His own enemy had saved him from durance, and he could not, therefore, turn again upon his enemy.
"In heaven's name, my dear fellow," said the Colonel, "what good do you expect to get by that? You have hit me a blow when you knew that I was unprepared, and, therefore, unarmed. Was that manly?" To this Tom made no reply. "I suppose you have been drinking?" And Stubbs, as he asked this question, looked into his companion's face. "I see you have been drinking. What a fool you are making of yourself!"