NIGGER, STOP DAT FIGHT

ARCHIE P. McKISHNIE April 15 1921

NIGGER, STOP DAT FIGHT

ARCHIE P. McKISHNIE April 15 1921

NIGGER, STOP DAT FIGHT

ARCHIE P. McKISHNIE

WANTED:—Phaeton buggy. One with sidelamps preferred. Apply to Lenix Ballister, Town Constable, Chatville East.

BUD HAWKINS, the Bridgetown Yellow Hope, read this item in the Echo, as he loafed in the steam-heated rotunda of the Mansion

House, a smile of derision on his lantern-jawed face. Outside, the street stretched emptily towards sweeping common, mantled in newly-fallen snow. Inside, the aroma of fried fish mingled soothingly with that of the cigar between Bud’s teeth. Save for himself and the short-sighted clerk adding figures behind the office counter, the rotunda was empty of life; but from the long bar off the room where kickless temperance drinks were dispensed to the common herd, and drinks not so kickless to the chosen few, a murmur of voices bespoke the early morning gathering together of kindred spirits.

Through the green baize swinging doors of that bar a big negro came soundlessly into view, just as Bud had folded up the paper and placed it in the pocket of his trench overcoat. His frowning eyes took in the Yellow Hope in minute scrutiny, detailing plaid golf cap, red sweater, checked suit, overcoat, and finally, the black cigar which Bud was so enjoying. Then, with the mien of a general who has caught a subordinate recklessly breaking army rules, he strode forward, and snatching the black cigar from the boxer’s mouth, threw it into the cuspidor.

“Lisn’ yo’, Bud,” he said angrily, checking the sullen protest of the yellow negro by pushing him violently back into his chair. “Ef yo’ all insists on breakin’ trainin’ dis way, same’s yo’ been doin’, yo’ll have ter get anudder manager. I’s plum rick r.b tryin’ ter work yo’ back inter condition. Hayr we are wif de fight only two weeks off, an’ yo all behavin’ like a Jim Jeffries er a Jack Johnson. Swill an’ dope don’ go han’ in han’, nohow, wif boxin’, an’ yo’s goin’ ter fin’ it out, same as udders have.”

“But lookyo’, Ben,” remonstrated Bud, gazing longingly after his banished cheroot. “Yo’ knows yo’ own se’f dat I don’ hab ter train bery hard ter put dat HomeHudson ter mat fer de count. He’s a ‘Has Been’ wif mos’ ob der ‘has’ wore off; dat’s what he is. Yo’ knows dat well’s I

“Eben so, Bud, but I also knows dat coon carries a wallop in bofe fists dat’s put more’n one know-it-ail pug ter his knees. Look how dat nigger fooled Jim Larkspur an’ Bill, de Wil’-cat—not so long ago eder. Dat Homer didn’ earn no championship wifout knowin’ how, so don’ fool yo’rself.”

“Dat’s all hunky, but dis hayr fight’s fixed,” said Bud in low, guarded tones. “Yo’ all orter know dat. Aint yo’ de feller done fix it? Aint I goter lay down to dat Homer anyhow? Whyso, den, mus’ I gib up my smokes an’ do road work, an’ box fo’ hours er day? Answer up dat.” “Ans’er up I will, Bud. Yo’s goter train, käse I say train. Jes’ so long as I’s doin’ de trainin’ you’s goin’ ter do as I say, so dat ends it. Now if dat’s firmly fixed in yor fertile min’, sposin’ us go up ter yo’r room an’ look dat contrae’ ober ag’in. Dere’s one er two fings I’m not quite clear on.”

DUD picked up his coat and led the way up two flights of stairs to a back bedroom. His manager sniffed the air of the cluttered room suspiciously as they entered. Several empty bottles were piled in a comer; a tray heaped with cigar butts rested on the table beside a pack of cards; pink pages torn from sporting supplements showing prize-fighters in all the distorted and unnatural postures fighters will assume when posing for the camera adorned the smoke-stained walls. Between them a large portrait of Bud’s mother smiled urbanely above the fixed, set faces of those man-eating pugs like the queen of all the pugilistic

The trainer’s eyes dwelt for but a fleeting second on these pictures. They dwelt longer on the mute evidences of the “night before.” However, he took the chair Bud pushed towards him without comment, and from an inner pocket produced the contract.

“Now, Bud, us’ll read dis ober togedder,” he said, as he spread the sheet on the table.

It read: Contract of Agreement between Homer Hudson, Champion heavyweight of Kent County, and Bud Hawkins, Challenger of same.

Stipulation No. 1 :—Challenger to deposit five hundred dollars guarantee of good faith at time articles are signed, said deposit to divert to the challenged person, to wit, Homer Hudson, in case challenger, to wit, Bud Hawkins, fails to meet him in battle on the appointed night.

Stipulation No. 2:—The fight to be a no-limit one, with four-ounce gloves.

Stipulation No. 3:—The choice of referee to be agreed upon between champion and challenger.

Stipulation No. I,:—'The purse to be $100.00 a side and half the gate receipts. Winner take all.

Stipulation No. 5:—Place of battle: White’s Skating Rink, Chatville East.

Time: Night of December 10th, 19—.

Price of Admission: Good seats $1.00; Rush Seats, 50cts. To all and singly of which the undersigned agree.

Signed: Homer Hudson (Champion).

Bud Hawkins (Challenger).

In the presence of Abe White (X, his mark)

Champion’s Manager.

Ben Jones,

Challenger’s Manager.

“See anyfing in dat contrac’ not quite clear teryo’, Bud?” asked Jones, the perusal through.

“Why it looks all right ter me, Ben,” returned Hawkins. “Yo’ see anyfing wrong dar yo’ own se’f?”

“Noo-o, not ’xactly,” frowned the trainer. “I’se finkin’ still dat we was jes’ a li’l hasty in puttin’ up dat guarantee money, dough.”

BUT, Ben, dat Abe White, he sneer like he fink I was a flunker,” cried Hawkins. “Yo’ all heerd what dat nigger say ’bout a rooster crowin’ hard till come time ter fight, den not bein’ nowhar ter be seen. Dat Abe ’sinuated dat I was a runnin’ a bluff, an’ I had ter show him co’se I don’ min’, käse I gets dat five hunner back agin all hunky.”

“Yo’ means yo’ gets a part ob it, Bud. Mem’er I helped make up dat deposit an’ it make me scrape deep ter do it. If us didn’t hab ter put up dat guarantee, us ud_had lot more coin ter bet,

“Shucks! Ben, I kin borrie five hunner’ dollars, so dat needn’t worry yo’ none;

’sides, I aims ter sell dat phaeton buggy I got in raffle.” “How so? Nobuddy want dat ole buggy, nohow.”

“Jes’ yo’ wait and see. Look yo’, Ben. See dis hayr advertisement in paper? Who all yo’ fink wanter buy a phaeton? Look yo’, read.”

Bud had plucked the paper from his pocket and was pointing to the item that had caught his attention earlier.

Jones read it now, with knitted brows, failing somehow to echo the yellow negro’s elation.

“Didn’ dat Len Ballister know yo' win dat phaeton?” he asked, looking hard at Bud.

“Mebee so. Why, Ben?”

“Oh. nullin’, nullin' at all.”

Jones folded tiie paper and passed it back to Bud. “Only it seen: odd dat he advertise fer phaeton buggy, knowin’ dat yo’ hab one fer sale, dat’s all.”

Lordy, Ben! What yo’ suspicionin’ now?” flared Bud. “I do declar’ yo’s de most suspicious coon I eber met.”

“Dat’s all right,” returned Jones placidly. “But jes’ yo’ pl’ase ter remember I knows dis same Len right an’ plenty, an’ dat coon kin histe yo’ ter high hebin wif his sof’ words an’ pick de fillin’ out yo’ teef wif his nimble fin’ers at same time. Oh, I knows what Us articulatin’ all hunky. Howcome he advertise in Bridgetown paper?” he asked, suddenly. “Whyfer he don’ advertise in Chatville one?”

“Well, how does us know he didn’, Ben? Mebee so he advertise in dat paper too.”

“Well,” Jones rose and buttoned his overcoat. “Sell him dat contraption yo’ calls a phaeton if yo’ kin’, only ’member yo’ got a prize-fight cornin’ off, an’ jes ’member too dat yo’ beat dat Len up once. I’m advisin’ dat yo’ keeps dese fings in min’. Now den,” he spoke from the door, “Use off ter trainin’ quarters, an’ yo’ peel dem glad duds an’ get down dar in half an hour. Ef I don’ sweat de booze an nicotine dat yo’ imbined las’ night outin’ yo’re system befo’ nightfall, I’ll won’er why.” And he went out, slamming the door behind him.

TT WAS late at night, at least for the village of Chatville

East—almost ten o’clock. A full moon flooded the white world with radiance; big stars swung low above the lightless negro homes; few sounds broke the stillness—a dog’s bark in the far distance, the faint tinkle of a banjo, and a negro’s voice in song, the opening and shutting of the door of Abe White’s pool room, as the tardiest of the hangers-on took his departure.

Chatville East lay wrapped in peaceful, law-abiding repose. One would scarcely have recognized in her the wild and devil-may-care place of two short weeks ago, when yellow lights had been wont to blink from many of those dark windows until the glow of dawn shamed them

into smoky insignificance. No midnight roisterers made night hideous with ribald song now. No stalking, stealthy forms cleaved the morning mists on their way to make explanations as best they could to wives who had long since ceased to believe that marriages were made in heaven. No! All this was over and done. The new constable of Chatville East had seen to this and had seen to it pretty thoroughly, as could be proven by the filled police-dockets of Greater Chatville. Constable Lenix Ballister had broken all records in Kent County capital for one week’s arrests and convictions. Not since the time of the Wagon Works strike had so many black and yellow faces turned supplicatingly towards the aged and overworked Judge McDool during a single police-court session, and pleaded for leniency.

“Len,” the old judge said at the close of the first week of the new constable’s endeavor. “You’re doing a great work, my boy. Keep it up. Keep it up.”

“Jedge, I sure aims ter do dat. same,” Len answered, “but Use goin’ ter lose a heap ob good frien’s adoin’ my duty, sure am. Come ’long later on, when us had dem bad niggers eatin’ outin our lian’, so’s ter speak, would yo’ all be willin’ ter ’low dem a lil’ jamborie like a lil’ boxin’match, fer instance, jes' miff, Jedge, ter

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Anti with is It ind~col. The iwhcccs uu cut cc a l5'Yotid all 111151 lIt T o-Nl(;hl'l' L,ttcx sat isbn hits lire inn anti shirt sites, Pittston t tclgt' 1 tflicc' on his v,s' tacit! ii w. iti d rttnr:iul clouds if smoke from its otis ui, pipe. He was well satisfied wit ft the world in general. Occasionally his eyes strayed through the window to the sleeping cottages beneath the hazy sheen of the moon, and his breast swelled with Pardon able pride in realizing that he hail been the puny instru

ment to bring this wonderful change about. Enemies he may have made; hut duty, though stern, has its compensations. Tearful-eyed wives had wrung his hand and thanked him. Fathers of wild sons who had been checked suddenly in the sowing of their wild oats by Lenix’s advice had blessed him. The Baptist elder had referred to him in Ids sermon-os the saviour of a modern Sodom. He had heard that a new milling company of Chatville West intended naming a brand of flour after him, but this was merely

“It wouldn't s’prise me any if at de end of do year I was ast to run fer mayor,” Lenix mused as inassiduously polished his badge and mentally calculated his earnings through fines imposed by the judge on culprits he had led to judgment. In all cases, it is true, those tines had been light, consequently the constable s share must be correspondingly light. Eighteen dollars and sixty cents, however, was not bad, and this amount represented what Lenix had gathered in during his first ten days of office. He still retained his job as cutter at the stave-mill, and taken all in all the weekly amount; of money he was making was “right tolerable.”

“Come two weeks from now, when dat prize fight am on, I’ll hab lots ob money ter bet on Homer,” Lenix ruminated. "If only 1 kin keep dat Jane Ann from guessin’ dat I’se a moneyed man. If her ebber gets ter know bout me gettin' half dem fines, gollies! dey mought as well neber be no prize fight, case dis nigger won’t hab no funds ter bet wif, nohow.”

He arose, knocked the ashes from his pipe, and hung up his vest on the towel peg. Then he picked up a copy of the Bridgetown Echo from the table and read the advertisement he had had inserted in its want column.

“I won’er now,” he murmured, "if my seeds done fall on fertile groun’, er if dey fall on rock, an’ de birds ob de air devour ’em up. I gotter take chance on dat. If dat nigger fighter, Bud Hawkins, done see dis an—”

A knock, so muffled as to be next to inaudible, fell on the

HE CHECKED his approach so suddenly that his socked feet carried him several inches further than he desired to go. Not until the “bull-dog” revolver, empty but sufficiently viciouslooking to command respect, was transferred from hippocket to shaking hand, did he proceed cautiously to the door and in hushed voice demand “Who’s dar?”

“I’se har,” came an answering voice, “An’ I’se plum stiff wif de col’. Please let me

Lenix’s right eye twitched and his knees trembled.

“Yo’s goin’ ter be a sight .sZiffer if yo’ all don’ sneak back an’ tell rest oh your Ku Klux Klan dat yo’ didn’ fin’ no we’sel sleepin’. Hear me?

Mosey ’long right sma’t er I open de do’ an fire six shots quick.” Lenix cocked the revolver and back lashed the hound pup under the stove again, thereby robbing that canine of all desire to take part in the conversation.

“Now den, nigger Ku Klux,

I’se goin’ ter count five an

door. Lenix glanced hastily at the bedroom, from which came his wife’s peaceful snores and from the bedroom to Orinoco, the pup, sprawled in a slumber beside the wood

“Sumbody in trouble, huntin’ constable,” he thought, moving towards the door.

“Er mebee sumbody huntin’ constable fer trouble.”

“Lor’ sake, Len, I aint no Klux,” pleaded the one outside. “I’se Jim Williams, frum Bridgetown. I got phaeton buggy out hayr ter show yo’ all.”

Len, holding the revolver at presentation, opened the door a crack and peered carefully out into the moonlight.

“Why, so yo’ is Jim Williams fer sure,” he said, putting up his gun. “Come ’long in, Jim, an’ tread light, kase Jane Ann aint jes’ squared ’way fer de night yit. Set down ’side de fire an’ smoke quiet til’ come her snores two long an’ one short, den us kin talk loud as we likes.”

Jim, a thin lanky negro with a nose that rested so flat

against his face that it could scarcely be designated an organ, took the seat; Lenix pushed forward and placing his coon cap on his knee, spread his hands out to the grateful glow of the fire.

“Seed yo’r advertisement in de paper, Len, an’ reckoned I bes’ lose no time bringing my phaeton buggy ober. Hainl bo’t one yit, I hope?”

“No, yo’s in plenty time, aint bo’t one yit, but been lookin’ at seberal. What make oh phaeton buggy yo’ got, Jim?”

“Armstrong Carriage Works. Name’s on silber plate on

"Dat so? How long it been runnin', dat phaeton buggy?”

“Les’ den year. I take it in part pay of debt fer timber, frum Virgil Smiff, lum’er-dealer in Highgate. Aint got no use fer it, an’ wants ter sell.”

“Fer how much money?”

“Firty-free dollars.”

“Cash money, I means.”

“Twenty-free, an’ mighty cheap rig it am at dat price,

“Maybee so; but I’ll hab ter see it fust befo’ I’ll be able ter judge. Come ’long out an’ put yo’r hoss in barn. I’ll take lantern ’long an’ look dat phaeton buggy ober.”

Lenix lit the lantern and they went out into the moonflooded night. “Jim, yo’ jes’ go an’ drive up ter stable, I open doors so yo’ kin dribe dat phaeton-buggy right inside, an’ us kin ’xamine wifout freezin’ ter deff.”

TEN minutes later Jim’s horse was munching hay in a warm stall, and Lenix was examining the phaeton by the lantern’s light, Jim at his elbow dilating on its good points at every available opportunity.

“How yo’ aim ter get back ter Bridgetown, ’sposin’ I buy dis rig?” Lenix asked, as he straightened up from his survey.

“Why ride my hoss back of course,” Jim answered.

Lenix picked up a spear of timothy and chewed on it

thoughtfully. “I sorter feels like keepin’ dat phaeton buggy, Jim; but cou’se I gotter know howit rides, fust off.” “Yo’ all kin try it when I hitch up ag’in,” Jim suggested

eagerly.

“What I means to say, Jim, I gotter know if it rides ter suit Jane Ann; it’s her I’se gettin’ a rig fer.”

Williams pondered on this for a time. “I 'spose I kin dribe it ober hayr ag’in tomorrie?” he said thoughtfully. “Why, Jim, yo’ might as well leab it hayr ter night, now

it’s hayr,” Lenix suggested. “I’se pretty sure ter keep it anyways, so what use ob dribin’ ober twice?”

“Can’t leab it hayr, nohow,” exclaimed Jim. “Bud might raise de berry debil wif me—”

“Bud?” asked Lenix innocently, “what dat coon gotter say ’bout it all?”

“Nuffin; nuffin’ ’tall,” cried Williams. “Dat jes’ slip out, don’ know why. Reckon us bein’ togedder like, sumhow made me t’ink oh dat Bud. ’Member was wif yo’ de day he bought dat mooley cow from yo’ an’ gib yo’ his note in pay? Aint been togedder since dat time— so like I got finkin’ ’bout him.”

“Why, I kin see how dat happen easy ’nuff,” Lenix reassured him. “Gollies! Didn’ dat fightin’ nigger fleece me easy, dough? Jes’ like takin’ a all-day-sucker frum a baby wif gum-bile. I got dat note yit. Bud he jes larf when I try ter collect. I tell him I get even wif him some day, an he larf all de harder.”

Lenix slapped his knee and chuckled so gleefully at the recollection that Jim began to breathe freely again.

“Dat Bud am a awful cute nigger,” he said admiringly. “Nobuddy ebber been able to get eben wif him, nohow.” “Dat so?”

LENIX turned for further inspection of the phaeton, whistling softly as he examined its coal-oil lights and red plush upholstering.

“Jim, come ’long inter house, an’ we have bite ter eat, an talk dis fing ober.” Lenix picked up the lantern and led the way from the stable.

An hour later Jim Williams rode away from Chatville East. He had succumbed to Lenix’s persuasions and left the phaeton behind in the latter’s stable.

“Pshaw!” he muttered. “Dat ole rig’s good as sold ter dat easy mark, Len, anyhow, so whyfer should Bud raise rumpus? He won’t; he’ll be right glad ter know he’s pannin’ dat old cripple off on Len; sure will. Anyhow, he needn’ know I lef’ it. Cayn’t I slip back ter Chatville East early tomorrie ’fore dat Bud has his nose outer his piller?

Quite so!”

Then, placing the note in an envelope and addressing same to Bud, he put on his cap and overcoat and went down to

the post-box.

“Dat Bud been a long time payin’,” he ruminated, as he dropped the letter in, “but I knowed he pay sum time.”

THE Mansion House clock was wheezing, protesting, the fact that it was ten o’clock as Bud Hawkins stole down the stair, pausing to peer over

Lenix having seen the wellfed and smoking Jim safely away down the white road, turned back into his warm cottage and, standing on a chair, lifted down a tin box from the top of the cupboard. This he carried to the table and opened. After rummaging a time, he drew out that which he sought—a timestained, musty slip of paper, which he carefully smoothed free of wrinkles and spread before him on the table. Then he read, softly aloud, what was plainly written on that paper:

“One month after date, I promise to pay, for value received, to Lenix Ballister, Twenty Three Dollars.” (Signed): B. HAWKINS.”

Twice Lenix read the note through, then with a smile on his face he turned it over and with a stump of a lead-pencil laboriously wrote:

“Rec’d in full payment, I faton buggy; with thanks.

L. BALLISTER.”

the banister before issuing into the rotunda. He approached the office with that important “sure of myself” air which a man high in public favor has a right to assume, and placing his trench coat and cap on the counter, touched the shortsighted and harassed clerk, who was poring over the register on the counter.

“Joe, Ben Jones been in yit?” he asked.

“Yes; twice he’s been an’ gone. Tole him yo’ was out on road-jog like you tole me ter.”

“Dat’s right. Le’s have ci-gar; smoke one yo’self.” Again Bud’s eyes searched the room. “Jim Williams

was ter meet me hayr dis mawnin’. See him any time?” he asked casually, as he bit the end off the cheroot.

‘‘No, Tim aint been hayr dis mornin’.”

“Dat’s queer.” Bud picked up coat and cap and turned to go.

“Bud, aint yo’ forgettin’ sumfin?” The clerk tapped the cheroot box on the counter. “Dis aint ’lection day; us am sellin' ci-gars, not giben ’em away.”

“Oh, jes charge dese ci-gars up ’long wif my board bill,” Bud took a step toward the door.

“Jes a minnit, if yo’ please.”

Bud turned back, impatiently. “Now, Joe,” he said. “I done tole yo’ plenty times already dat when I was reddy ter gib yo’ tip on de fight, I’d do so. I aint nowise ready yit.”

“I aint wantin’ no tip on de fight,” returned Joe. “What I want’s a tip on how soon yo’ all intends settlin’ up dis bo’rd bill ob yourn. De boss, he’s gettin’ af’er me fer lettin’ it run so long.”

“Oh, is dat all?” Bud looked relief he was far from feeling. “Why, Joe, I aim ter wipe dat bill off terday sumtime. Dat’s fer why I been ’spectir.g Jim Williams ’long. Jim’s sellin’ a phaeton buggy belongin’ ter me, an’ he’ll be ober wif de money mos’ any time.”

“Perhaps he mail dat money ter yo’, Bud. Letter come fer yo’ half hour ago. Here it am. Maybe so dat Jim send de money.”

“Why, wouldn’ won’er but yo’r right, Joe. I clean fergot dat Jim’s teamin’ freight at station; les hab dat epis’le.”

He took the letter the clerk tossed to him, and with an air of importance ripped it open. A slip of time-stained paper dropped out and fluttered to the counter. The clerk picked it up, read it, turned it over, read the pencilled words on its other side, and handed it back to Bud.

“Joe, is it money-order?” asked that negro, eagerly, as his long fingers clutched it.

“Reckon it am iff a way, but it’s wrong kind fer yo’, Bud.” The clerk turned again to his books. Bud went across to a chair and sat down; then he looked the slip of paper over, read both sides of it, folded it, and put it in his vest pocket. There was not one sign on his hatchet face, not one glint in his little, shifting eyes to tell of the hot, murderous anger which had been kindled in his bosom, as calmly puffing his cheroot he went out into the winter’s day to seek his training quarters.

DUT the fact that during the succeeding hour there he ■*-* knocked out three of his sparring partners and threatened to do the same with Ben Jones for interfering went to show that his feelings had been stirred mightily to wrath, the cause cf which taxed all his clever trainer’s powers of tact and persuasion to determine.

“An’ when I catches dat twitchin’-eyes Len out in freefer-all country, I’se gein’ ter do more den black his eye,” Bud promised, as at the conclusion of the recital of his woes, he and Jones sat alone among the littered paraphernalia of the gymnasium.

“Yo’ can’t do dat, Bud, kase he’s an orsifer now, an’ it’ll mean jail fer yo’,” Ben reasoned. “Bes’ call it quits wjf dat Len. Yo’ got his moolie an’ he got yo’r phaeton buggy. Nuff done an’ sed.”

“Oh, is dat so? Well, yo’ watch me,” retorted Bud, moodily. “If I don’ make dat cheap smoke wiggle like a pup wif clinker in his eye, I miss my calculations, dat’s all; an dere’U be a new nigger dribin’ Jim Williams’ drayteam right soon, too. Dat Jim’s due fer long lay-up in hospital.”

In vain Jones tried to reason, to soothe. The more Bud thought on bis injury the more sullen he became, the more determined to revenge himself on Lenix.

“He’s a foxy oT coon, dat Len,” Jones warned him, after vainly striving to bring Hawkins to a reasonable frame of mind. “It’s re’lly him what’s managin’ Homer Hudson’s end ob de fight, but he’s too cute ter let on. Wouldn’t do fer constable ter promote prize-fight, so he done make dat Abe White his cat’s-paw.”

Hawkins jumped up from his stool so suddenly that Ben ducked, by force of habit. “Yo’ means ter tell me dat Len Ballister am behin’ dis mill on Homer’s end?” asked the boxer excitedly.

“Sures’ fing yo’ know, he is, only he ain’ showin’ his

UD sat down again and folded his long arms.

“Den he’ll be gettin’ his share ob de winnin’s, I ’spose?”

“Xaetly, he won’t be strivin’ fer de pleasure, altogedder,” Jones assured him.

“Den lis’n yo’, Ben, an’ lis’n close,” said Bud quietly. “Dis fight aint cornin’ off ’ccordin’ to arrangements made an’ decided on ’tween yo’ an’ Abe White. As I understand it, dis am a fixed fight. I’se s’posed ter hold dat Homer off fer a time an’ den lay down ter him, an’ we split de winnin’s. Yo’ lays a lot ob quiet money on Homer ter win an’ us collect. Dat right?”

“Dat’s corree’, Bud, but fer lub of heben, don’ shout de fac’ so de whole town kin hear yo’.”

“Den Homer an’ Abe an’ Len, dey’ll be aimin’ ter lay heap ob coin on Homer too, dat right ag’in?”

“Why, shore dey will. Dat’s de ’greement. Dem an’

us simply play de fans fer suckers, an’ eollec’.

Nobuddy ebber goin’ ter catch on. 'Taint nuffin outer regular.

It’s done of’en. Aint no fair prize-fights no

“Dat Len’ll likely be bettin’ pretty heaby, yo’ fink?” Bud inquired.

“Sure will, dat nigger-man’ll be bettin’ his house an’ lot an’ his gallowses, ef he kin fin’ taker, Bud.”

Hawkins reached over and tapped his trainer’s knee.

“Well,’ ’ he said quietly. “I want yo' ter wire Buffalo fer Bonnie Luke ter sen’ down speediest sparrer he kin git. Here’s where I go inter trainin’ right.”

“What yo’ mean?”

“Dat I’se goin’ ter fool dat cheap bunch ob sports. I’se goin’ ter double-cross Homer an make dat schemin’ Len an outcas’ pauper; all yo’ gotter do now is bet our money on me ter win.”

Ben chewed silently on this intelligence.

“But ’sposin’,” he asked at length,

“sposin’ dat Homer gets in one ob his haymakers ter point ob yo’r jaw? what den?”

“No fear,” sneered Hawkins. “Homer aint trainin’ none; finks de fight’s fixed.

Besides, he’ll be off guard. Don’ yo’ worry bout de finish.

I’ll put dat big fish ter mat fer count an’ put him dar right.”

Ben got up and pulled on his overcoat.

“Den I reckon we best lose no more time, Bud. I’ll go get dat wire off right speedy.”

Most of the world’s great events are ushered in unheralded. Destiny shapes her course silently, making monarchies or wiping them into oblivion.

A LTHOUGH the Hudson-Hawkins bout for the championship had been advertised in no way, evening found every inch of seating and standing room in Abe White’s big rink sold. The stave mill quit work an hour earlier than usual, and on his way home Lenix Ballister met Abe White, the champion’s manager, quite by accident it would appear.

“Eberyfing’s fixed, Len,” said Abe. “Saw Ben Jones dis mawnin’ an’ him an’ his crowd got all dere money planted on Homer to win.”

“An’ yo’ all managed ter get all ourn up, Abe?” asked Lenix. a trifle anxiously.

“Ebery cent, mos’ ob it eben money, too. Dat was good idea ob yourn ter hab Homer funk trainin’. Mos’ de sports know he’s in pore shape, an’ am eager ter put dere coin on Hawkins.”

Lenix frowned, then catching the glint of his constable’s badge, hurriedly buttoned his coat across it. He wanted to talk and feel like a plain citizen, not town constable.

“Abe, dey tell me dat Bud’s been a-trainin’ right hard; whyso, I’se wonderin’?”

“Why, so Ben White an’ his ringers kin get odds on Homer, I spec’,” Abe answered. “Better Bud look ter win, better odds, don’ yo’ see?”

“Dat’s so, dat’s quite so,” Lenix seemed satisfied. “I reckon our share ob receipts should ’mount ter free fo’ hun’red, Abe, outside what we clean up in bets!”

“Easy dat, Len. Yo’ll be down ter rink early, I spose?” “No. I aint aimin’ ter come.”

“What?” Abe stared incredulously into the pensive face turned to his.

Len unbuttoned his '•oat and pointed to his badge.

“I bes’ lay low, Abe. Dere might be some roughhousin’ down dar, an’ I hab ter do my duty. Aint wantin’ none ter spoil de boys’ good time, nohow, af’er all I’ve did ter gib ’em dis blow-out.”

Abe whistled sympathetically. “Gollies, dat’s so; it’s too bad, Len; ’tis so. Tell yo’ what,” he cried. “Why can’t you hide in Homer’s dressin’ room? Won’t be nobudy dere but jes’ free er fo’ ob us, an’ yo’ all kin see de fight fro’ de curtains.”

Lenix brightened. “Why ,1 kin shore do dat; nebber tho’t oh it. I’ll sneak down ter rink right early, an’ get

With this understanding they parted. As Lenix shuffled around the curve in the path, he came face to face with Jim Williams. He had not seen that Bridgetown negro since the night he had prevailed on him to leave the phaeton in his stable over night, and as that phaeton was still in his stable it is little wonder that the sudden appearance of the big dray-driver gave him something of a start.

“Well, I do declar’, is it yo', Jim?” I on extended a hand genially. Jim took it solemnly. Lenix nut's! that his flat nose was swollen into almost a distinct n ature, his lip cut and both eyes discolored as though hv contact with bony knuckles.

“Has dat Bud been actin’ nasty. Jim?” he said, his scrutiny over.

“Beat me up black and blue,” returned Williams miserably. “Wouldn’ listen to no explanations 'tall. Sed I done tole yo’ it was hi.» phaeton buggy.”

“Which yo’ didn’ nowise do," said Lenix. "I knowed it was his phaeton buggy as soon as I seed it. Wasn’ I Continued on page 51

Continued from page 13

settin’ up awaitin’ fer it,'when you bringed it?”

“But howcome you knowed dat Bud sen’ it, Len?” asked Jim, wonderingly.

“Simple ’nuff, I knowed he had a phaeton buggy, an’ I knowed he wanted money right bad. Owin’ me fer a note, I knowed dat smooth coon woul’n show his han’ any, so I aimed he’s sen’ sumbuddy else ober wif dat rig ter try an’ sell ter me.”

“But howcome he knowed y o’ wanted rig?”

“I put ad in Bridgetown Echo," explained Lenix. “It all work out as I hoped for, I’se right sorry, dough, ter get yo’ in wrong, Jim, sure am.”

Williams touched his swollen features tenderly. “I kept outin’ his road till day ’fore yested’y,” he said sadly, “but course I knowed he’d get me, same’s he aims ter get yo’ all.”

“Eh? What yo’ mean get me all?”

“Len, I sneak ober here ter gib yo’ warnin’ ob crooked work,” returned Jim, lowering his voice and casting a quick glance about him.

“Crooked work? Den dat concern’s de law. Jim, not anudder word here. Come on up ter my office where us kin talk in secret.” Lenix tapped his badge and shuffled forward, the lank Williams following meekly behind. Arrived at his stable, Lenix inserted a key in the padlock which had adorned the door ever since his acquisition of the phaeton, and motioned Jim inside.

“Dis hyar’s my office when Jane Ann happen ter be hum,” he explained to Jim’s look of surprise. “Us kin talk wif freedom hayr, so say what yo’ gotter say quick, den us go long up ter supper.”

Jim lost no time in saying what he had to say, and when he got through, Lenix was leaning weakly against the sorrel mare’s stall, fairly stunned with the terrible significance of the intelligence just imparted to him. The hand that gripped Williams’ sleeve and led him out into the wintry twilight shook so that Jim was stirred to inquire if its owner’s heart was “an’ywise weak.” Lenix shook his head, gazing back into the teamster’s frightened eyes like a dumb stricken thing. “Heart’s strong enuff, Jim. It’s my faith in man dat’s weak, an’ gettin’ weaker all time,” he said. “Now, come’long up ter house an’ eat silent, so’s ter gib me chance ter fink. I’se got heap ob finkin’ ter do, I tells yo’.”

UMGHT o’clock found Abe White’s skating rink packed with eager-faced negroes, impatiently awaiting the opening of the night’s fistic entertainment. An improvised orchestra consisting of a violin and, three bass viols quarreled among themselves like a boarding house mistress and the male boarders with colds, the wailing crescendo of thé fiddle rising high above the bellow of the other pieces, with effeminate determination to have the last say-so. Rivalling the weirdness of the music, the ghostly glow from the long string of Chinese

anterns shifted down and spread above dodging woolly pates. The sonorous cries of peanut vendors floated above the murmur of voices growing each instant more excited.

Suddenly the orchestra quit quarreling; the voices of the vendors became hushed; the hollow boom of many voices thinned to silence. Into the squared circle at the rink’s far end had stepped an impressive and imposing personage in a swallow-tail coat and linen that matched the wearer’s gleaming teeth in whiteness. Everybody present knew this to be Tom Fortune, the noted referee, who had been brought from Detroit for the occasion, and no sooner had his patent leathers touched the sawdust than a cheer went up to fairly knock splinters off the rafters.

The referee acknowledged his ovation with a still wider smile and a low bow. Then he held up a hand, on which glittered a huge diamond, for silence.

“Gents,” he said, “I’m going to ask you to please cease smoking.”

Again came applause, and the diving of black fingers into vest pockets.

The referee spoke again: “Before calling the main event of the night we will have a few preliminary bouts between local boxers. The first will be a four round contest between Spider Teetzel, of Highgate, and Georgie Baker, the Chatville terror.” A little negro, so thin that his ribs showed, bounced into the ring. “Gents, the Spider!” roared the referee.

Followed the introduction of the local boxer who was met with a roar of applause. “And his opponent, whose name is already a household word among all you good sports,” grinned the referee, dragging forward a smiling little negro who acknowledged the roar that went up with a quick bob of his head.

Followed one of those rapid-action boxing battles composed largely of blocks, side-steps and breakaways. Other bouts by local fame-seekers followed and were indifferently applauded. Interest hung on the big event of the evening. At precisely nine-thirty o’clock the referee again advanced to the rope and held up his hand.

“Gents,” he said, “before callin’ the main bout of the evening, I wish to state a few brief words by way of explanation. This fight between Homer Hudson, champion of the country, and Bud Hawkins, challenger, is for one hundred dollars a side, half the gate receipts and the championship belt. Winner take all. It’s to be a no-limit battle, Marquis of Queensbury rules to govern.”

Almost simultaneously with his words, the curtains of two dressing-rooms parted, and champion Homer Hudson and Challenger Bud Hawkins stepped into the ring and took their respective corners, a much be-sweatered attendant, with pail, sponge and bottle, following each.

IT DID not require the eye of an expert to tell which of the boxers was in the better condition. Homer’s black flesh glittered fat and flabby above his spangled trunks; Bud’s lean form showed something of condition. The challenger was younger than the champion, too. Undoubtedly Homer was the stronger of the two, but in every other way the challenger outclassed him, and looked the sure winner.

He was, too, for the matter of that; he knew it, and a sarcastic smile curved his hatchet face as, in response to the referee, Homer stood up and bowed to the audience amid a deafening clapping of hands and cheers.

“Gents, Homer Hudson, champion.” Again the applause, and again Homer acknowledged it. “I’ll be champion still, af’erdis fight,” he murmured, his gold tooth gleaming in a smile as he went back to his corner.

Hawkins was then introduced to the audience. There was some applause; not a great deal; but he, too, was smiling as he took his seat.

The gloves were examined, bandages closely scrutinized, and the two boxers met in the centre of the ring, shook hands and returned again to their corners.

Over the ropes climbed Ben Jones, Hawkins’ trainer. “Lis’n, Bud,” he whispered, his lips close to the challenger’s ear, “Bes’ let him go a few rounds, and while he’s goin’, keep off from him. Play on his wind. He’ll start ter blow up ’bout fifth roun’—den go in an’ get him. ’Member, Bud, we stan’ ter make er lose pile ob good money.”

“I’ll get him, no fear,” Bud promised. “Time,” called the referee, and Homer

and Hawkins advanced slowly towards each other, crouching, slowly circling.

“Stop!”

Shouldering his way through the excited standers near the door, band uplifted in authority, came Lenix Ballister, the Chatville East constable, his metal badge glittering in the rays of the Chinese lanterns.

Silence, deep and awful, fell suddenly. The referee motioned the boxers to their corners. Then he leaned forward and spoke respectfully to the man who had commanded a cessation of the big battle, now standing stern-faced and stern-eyed close to the ring.

“By what authority do you say stop, might I ask, sir?” he questioned civilly.

“By order ob de law. Dat’s my authority.” Lenix climbed up beside the referee and displayed his constable’s badge. “Law aint goin’ ter stan’ fer no prize fight in dis here town. Five roun’ boxin’ contes’, why dat’s all right. But so I understan’ dis here am no-roun’ limit affair; am it?”

' I 'HE referee bowed. “That’s what it was to have been,” he said cheerfully.

“Well, it kayn’t be, dat’s all. Yo’ gotta call dis fight off.”

“Off nuffin!” Ben Jones was beside Lenix now, shaking his-big fist under the constable’s nose. “Dis fight’s goin’ ter be fit. Don’ I know yo’re game, Len? Aint yo’ behind dat Homer? You’se scared he’ll get licked, dat’s fer why yo’ all brings in de law. Law or no law, dis fight am goin’ froo.” He nodded to the referee. “Call time,” he ordered. “Dis constable-coon’s crazy.”

The referee stood by uncertainly. Len prepared to crawl out between the ropes. Half way through, he twisted about and held up a warning finger.

“Lis’en yo’, Homer, an’ yo’ too, Abe; fight if yo’ wanter, but jes’ as sure as yo’ do, I’ll hab yo’ bofe pinched. Needer one ob yo’ niggers hab a record’ll stan’ dat, but it’s yo’r funeral. Go to it, if yo’ so will, but ’member, Use got lots ob help outside.”

“I won’t fight,” cried Bud suddenly, holding out his gloved hands to his atten-

“Yo’ will fight, yo’ yaller h’arted for’flusher,” cried Jones, dancing about the ring. “If yo’ don’, they’re goin’ to gadder in our deposit guarantee. The articles done say dat. It’s forfeit ter dem if yo’ don’ fight Hudson ter night.”

“I can’t help dat dere. I’se not goin’ ter fight an’ get ’rested ternight.”

Bud shot through the ropes and dived into his dressing-room. Jones looked after him, made a movement as though he would follow, then with a snort of disgust leaped from the ring and elbowed his way to the door.

Homer, clutching the ropes, was listening to a whispered word or two from Abe White, his manager. He nodded and as the cheated fans began to murmur, hiss and hoot, walked across the square and raised his hand.

Immediately silence fell again.

“Boys,” spoke Homer. “I’se powerful sorry de law done step in an’ keep me from ashowin’ yo’ all who was bes’ man ter night. Yo’ boys hab all stood by me right loyal, an’ I’se goin’ ter ast yo’ to stan’ by me till yo’ hears what I gotter say.

“None ob us kin blame constable Ballister fer doin’ his duty. Dat’s what he’s gotter do. Use been requested by my manager ter tell yo’ dat if de sports in de fifty cents seats’ll please ter stay dere till de dollar seats sports file out, eberybody’ll get his admission money back. We’s sorry us couldn’ gib yo’ a fight on account ob my opponent turnin’ yaller, but us, at least, aims ter play fair.”

HOMER bowed, flashed his gold tooth, and retired to his dressing-room amid cheers.

Three-quarters of an hour later, their admission money once more back in their pockets, the disappointed fans went their respective ways.

Over beside White’s pool room, pacing slowly up and down in the glow from its window, Lenix Ballister, constable, watched the Bridgetown negroes pass sullenly by. One of them, a big burly man, detached himself from the line and came over to stand over Lenix threateningly.

“Yo’re pretty cute, all right,” he growled as he chewed hard on an unlighted cigar. “But if yo’ done fink yo’r crooked pals kin double-cross me—”

“Hole up dar, Ben,” spoke Lenix softly. “Jes’ spose like we put it dis hayr way. De nex’ time yo’ all tries ter double-cross me an my pals, Mista Jones, make sure firs’ off yo’s clever ’nuff ter carry it froo.”

Jones looked startled, then slowly his bullying attitude gave place to one of hopeless reconciliation. Head bent and shoulders sagging he turned slowly up the

Lenix watched him, a thoughtful expression on his face.

“What I cayn’t jes’ un’erstan’,” he murmured, “is why any nigger wanter play crooked anyways. He orter know it doesn’ pay, nohow.”