"It's not something this smurf
likes to watch for an entertainment on a regular basis, Tapper," Empath said
as he took a glass of sarsaparilla ale to drink. "But Hefty's
determination to prove himself in any kind of physical activity, whether it
would be in work or a sport, remains a fascinating study nonetheless."
He took a sip of the ale as he continued to watch.
"You should watch Duncan McSmurf arm-wrestling Hefty sometime if you're interested in a 'fascinating study', my friend," Tapper said. "Those matches will really last a long time since the both of them are equally strong." He then moved on to continue serving his ale.
Jokey, who was standing near the outside of the crowd and not saying anything, approached Empath. "Gee, doesn't Hefty ever get tired of this contest?" he exclaimed.
"How many times does Hefty win, Jokey?" asked Empath,
taking another sip of his ale.
"Maybe more times than I smurf my surprises on anybody," Jokey replied. "He's so strong, I don't think any Smurf can ever beat him...except maybe for you..." His voice trailed off as he just thought of something, then he exclaimed, "Hey, Empath, why don't you go smurf old muscle-brains a run for his smurf in arm-wrestling?"
Empath didn't like the idea. "This smurf doesn't feel like this smurf should..." he fumbled in his protest.
Hefty won the round again, surrounded by more hurrahs as Tuffy carried himself away. "Is there any other Smurf who wants to challenge the undesmurfable Hefty?" he called out.
"I've got a challenger for you, Hefty," Jokey responded from behind the crowd. "Let's see you take on Empath!"
Empath looked at Jokey in shock as if he had just been betrayed.
The crowd fell silent as they looked at Jokey and Empath in astonishment. So did Hefty, who was now thinking Jokey must be going out of his mind.
Hefty didn't appreciate matching himself physically with Empath very much, not even the idea. He remembered that time he showed Empath how strong he was by lifting a big heavy rock high over his head with both hands. It felt straining, but at the moment he was just about to proudly say, "Now let's see you smurf this same rock with your hands," Empath picked up Hefty by the ankles and effortlessly lifted him and the rock above his head. Hefty was stupefied and humbled by the experience.
Now Hefty wasn't so convinced that Empath was really that physically strong. He had seen Empath lift larger things than that rock above his head, and sometimes saw him carrying these objects even when flying. Hefty knew that Empath had special abilities, but he was more apt to believe that much of Empath's strength came more from his mind than from his hands.
But before Hefty or Empath could protest, the crowd of Smurfs started encouraging Empath to accept the challenge. Empath slowly and reluctantly made his way inside the ring of onlookers, uneasy about the whole idea. Most of the crowd cheered for him.
"I have only one thing to say, Empath," Hefty grunted as Empath sat down at the table. "No smurfing your mind to make you strong, got that?"
One time Empath thought that Hefty's tattoos were what made him strong. But he had known better long ago.
"This smurf agrees," replied Empath.
He locked his arm with Hefty. Someone called "Ready...set...smurf!" And both Hefty and Empath exerted strength into their arms as they strained to push the other's arm down onto the table.
At first there wasn't any movement, but after almost a minute, the locked arms began to move slowly one way and then the other. The Smurfs watched both contestants and rooted for either of them. It was any Smurf's match at this point.
Hefty flexed and strained the muscles in his face, gritting his teeth and sweating as he pushed against Empath's arm. Empath, however, remained cool, composed, and focused. Hefty felt like was up against the impossible, but he would give it his all to show every Smurf that Empath was a fraud when it comes to strength.
Another minute passed, and both arms were moving only slightly in either direction. The crowd was getting more anxious for a winner. More of them were rooting for Empath.
The Smurflings, who were busy practicing their jugband music, saw and heard the crowd nearby. They dropped their instruments and went over to watch, sitting on Puppy's back to get a better view of the arm-wrestling contest.
"Jumping junebugs...that's Empath in a match with Hefty!" Sassette shouted. The other Smurflings cheered, knowing Hefty was in for a real challenge.
The crowd got bigger as more Smurfs saw Empath and Hefty arm-wrestling. Papa Smurf had left his lab talking over things with Brainy about new rules for using the lab when they came near the crowd and heard what was going on. They put aside their talk and watched, Papa Smurf remaining silent. Smurfette joined up with Papa Smurf carrying Baby Smurf along. Like Grouchy, Smurfette wasn't interested in watching arm-wrestling, but seeing Empath in the middle of it all made her stay to watch until it was all over, so she could talk to Empath in private again.
Yet another minute passed. Hefty felt his arm getting sore, his strength draining, and his confidence in besting Empath slowly giving way to defeat. Empath still looked as if he hasn't yet broken a sweat. The neutral expression on his face hardly changed at all. It was like arm-wrestling a living statue.
The shouting became more intense. Nearly every Smurf was now rooting for Empath, for his arm was now pushing Hefty's closer to the table. But Hefty wasn't giving up.
After four minutes, Hefty's arm started getting limp until, suddenly, Empath slammed it hard against the table.
The crowd gathered around Empath and applauded their new champion, patting him on the back and congratulating him in their own ways. Empath didn't know if he could take any pleasure in defeating Hefty in a contest he didn't want any part of, but he smiled and let himself be taken in by the crowd nevertheless.
Hefty, who felt the bitter hurtful sting of being shown up by Empath yet again, scowled at him and left the table cradling his limp arm.