THE CAGE OF GLORY
A novelette complete in this issue
This story anticipates a little the conditions in the Canadian tennis world. Canada has not yet won the Davis Cup, though this Dominion's representatives were semi-finalists in 1913. No Canadian has—yet—won the championship of the world. The vital problem here presented in fascinating fictional form by Mr. Scott has not—yet—faced Canadian tennis champions. But it is a big problem in England, France, Australia and the United States, and doubtless will be one with which young Canadian athletes will be confronted ere long. In other fields of athletic endeavor Lionel Conacher, Harry Batstone and others even to-day are feeling the bars of the “Cage of Glory."—J.V.M.
What a Racket Can Unlock
IT WAS a great discovery! Soit seemed to Jerry as Oakport confirmed and emphasized the truth to him. A thrilling discovery!
His discovery concerned tennis.
Not the ordinary, easy tennis as it is enjoyably played by its hundreds of thousands of devotees, in Canada and the United States, but the intensified and glorified modern tennis as it is played by the champions, the near-champions, the notquite-so-near champions, who make the rounds of the famous tournaments and electrify the galleries by the miracles of their rackets. That discovery had been coming upon Jerry bit by bit all during this, his first season of big tournament play; at the tournaments at Montreal,
Toronto, Ottawa, where he and the other players had been welcomed into the great summer homes of the fashionable and the rich. But it was Oakport—richest and most fashionable—Oakport and the Final Tournament that put the seal of definite truth upon his great discovery.
This great discovery—Jerry was later to make a second great discovery—was as follows: tennis is a game of amateurs, and amateurs •only; and the tennis of the great tournaments is the tennis ■of the greatest amateurs. Tennis is also a game of “gentlemen,” not applying that word in its misused and ■snobbish sense. If one had a game of big tournament calibre and did not have impossible manners, why these rich people, these powerful people, these prominent people, took you to them as one of themselves. A crack tennis game was an open sesame to the best society. The way these fine people were good to him, Jerry McAllister, an embarrassed, blushing nobody!
And a crack tennis game was not only a great social asset. It was also a great business asset. It created for one the opportunity of meeting men of affairs during their
A tennis story of thrills—and one you'll enjoy even if you don't know a racket from a mas hie.
hours of relaxation when they were inclined to enthuse over you and put good things in your way if they could. He knew of several young fellows among the star players who had made great use, or were on the way to making great use, of the social and business opportunities their tennis skill had brought them.
Yes, it was a wonderful discovery!
Being a normal boy with normal ambition. Jerry yearned for the opportunities which mixing with these
fine people would bring to him. But boy though he was, Jerry was a clear thinker and a straight thinker and even as Oakport gave him her conclusive evidence proving the truth of his discovery that could never be of use to him, he realized that these wonderful opportunities could never be his.
The recognition of this fact hurt him—hurt him terribly. But Jerry came of sound stock that knew how to fight, to take hard blows, even defeat, and keep right on going. So Jerry accepted the inevitable with as much philosophy as seventeen can accept a golden dream that never is to come true, and went right aLead, smiling his usual smile.
/^\NE opportunity, one glory, how ever, was not to be denied him. Jerry had won his way through the early rounds at Oakport and one morning toward the end of tournament week he took his place on the opposite side of a tennis net from Arthur Donaldson. That was the highest moment of Jerry’s tennis life. To play against the wonderful and beloved Donaldson—Canada’s greatest player and his own supreme idol—and in a Dominion Championship match! For three years that had been a remote and absurd v and impossible yet enthralling dream, of the sort which boyish minds will cherish despite admitted impossibilities. These last few weeks, however, when he had been playing in the big tournaments, the boyish dream had seemed a possibility; but the luck of the draw had been against him; he and Donaldson always had been in opposite halves of the draw and, of course, Jerry had not reached the finals.
But at last he was facing the world-famous champion!
The match had been assigned to one of the side courts and had been scheduled for an early hour, for the contest between the champion and this young colt had not been considered an important one. The No. 1 court had been reserved for what was judged would prove to be the star match of the day, to begin an hour and a half later. So Jerry and the champion had only a small gallery.
But though Jerry’s every cell was exultant, athrill at the unbelievable honor of meeting the champion, the tennis-playing part of him was not flustered in the least. That was one quality which Jerry had got from his Glengarry forbears—the ability to do his very best, even when his very best might not be quite good enough, and even under the most disturbing circumstances. Donaldson started off with that comparatively easy—for him— quality of tennis with which he was accustomed to win preliminary matches. But the boy got everything—almost—and sent it back to the last square foot of the far
corners or flashing down just within the side lines, or sharply angled “cross court,” or floating to fall dead just over the net; and before the scanty gallery was fully awake to what was happening the first set stood four all.
And then suddenly that apparently easy game of Donaldson’s, which was altogether too hard for most of the players at Oakport, dropped from him as he might have dropped a graceful but encumbering cloak and he became the fiery, flashing “Comet” of world fame. Over the net came that terrific cannon-ball first service; and over came the terrific service with its high-bounding break to Jerry’s backhand. And over came terrific smashes of Jerry’s lobs and terrific forehand drives and tigerish volleying, the ball sharply angled or coming with rifle speed at Jerry’s shoe laces.
Over came all of Donaldson’s best.
And to all of Donaldson’s best—cannonball service, reverse American service, drives, tremendous smashes of lobs, lightninglike volleys—the boy stood up as cool as a veteran star, and almost everything he got his racket on went right back, and much of Donaldson’s best with such speed and such clever placement that even the marvel of anticipation and agility that Donaldson was could not reach it.
Of course the great champion won, and won in straight sets; the player did not breathe who could have beaten the Donaldson of that year. But it had been no one-sided battle.
THE small gallery applauded and then hurried to seats for the star match. As the winning shot flashed down his side line Jerry, making no effort to recover the ungettable ball and not even glancing at it, sprang over the net with hand outstretched for the customary congratulations the vanquished extends the victor. His face was flushed not so much from his recent exertions as from pride and happiness. His words were the first he had ever spoken face to face with the champion.
“I'm ever so much obliged to you,
Mr. Donaldson,” he stammered, showing his first confusion on the court. “It was wonderful luck having a chance to play against you! And I was wonderfully lucky to do as well as I did!”
Donaldson’s freckled face broke into its friendly grin. He was just a bit embarrassed. Famous as he was , he was himself then only a boy of perhaps twenty-four or five.
“Wait a minute, son. Where did you get that mister? Arthur’s my name. Or Donnie, if you like that better.”
“My name’s MacAllister,” said the proud boy, “and if you’d call me Jerry, I’d—I’d be—”
“All right, Jerry,” said Donaldson. “That’s a nice game you played. A mighty nice game.”
“Oh, I was just lucky, Mr.—I mean Donnie. I got most of the breaks. I’ll never forget this match.” Then Jerry repeated one of his first sentences. “It was simply wonderful luck, my having a chance to play against you!” For a moment Donaldson’s candid, puckering-eyes peered thoughtfully into the face of the boy. He saw a face as open, as forthright as his own ; in it was determination and youth’s high confidence but no smallest bit of that dangerous conceit which goes swiftly to the head and swells that member—a condition of self-glorification from which Donaldson never suffered in his day nor Jerry after him.
The brief appraisal over, Donaldson slipped an easy arm around thê boy’s shoulders.
“How old are you, Jerry?”
“Seventeen.” And then Jerry corrected himself: “Almost!”
“When I was about your age—” Donaldson broke off; then went on: "A minute ago you said you were lucky today. Some time you and I will be playing again, Jerry, and when that match comes you’ll be a lot luckier than you were this time. Only it’ll not be luck.”
Jerry blinked. “I don’t think I—I just get you, Donnie.”
Donaldson again flashed on Jerry his magnetic grin— only this time the smile was rather grave.
“Then I’ll try to make myself plain. When we play that match you’ll lick the tar out of me. You’ll blow me off the court.”
Jerry could only gape and stare.
“I could have won those last two sets from you without playing so hard,” Donaldson went on. “I wasn’t just trying to beat you up. I saw you were good and I thought I’d give you my best to make you show your best—to find out just how much you have. You’ve got an awful lot, Jerry. More than I have.”
“Why—why—” gasped Jerry.
“I don’t mean that it’s developed yet. I mean that it’s there and can be developed and that you seem to be developing it in the right way. Fundamentally, you’ve got a better game than I have.”
To Jerry this was amazing heresy. And with Donaldson the heretic—Donaldson of all men!
“I don’t believe it!” exclaimed Jerry. “Nobody could be better than you!”
But notwithstanding such a positive and thoroughly believed declaration, the curious boy could not withhold an amazed question: “Ho—how do you think my game is
“Well, your ground strokes, for instance. Particularly your backhand. You’ll have a great service when you get a bit older and get more experience. The same with all your other strokes. And you’ve got grand footwork; I think that’s your best point, your footwork.”
T'YONALDSON went on. “Yes, Jerry, some day you’ll be blowing me off the court. They’ll be calling you champion— and most likely champion of the world. All you’ve got to do is just keep on going.”
This utter simplicity, this easy outspoken candor of his idol stirred to speech their kind in Jerry.
“Even if it was in me, ever to be as good as you say, Donnie, I’ll never beat you—I’ll never be champion.”
“No? Why not?”
“This match the one we’ve just finished-is the last match i’ll ever play. In a big tournament, I mean.”
Dondaldson stared at him.
“Hello! Seventeen—and a comer—and quitting the game! What’s the answer? Don’t you like tennis?”
“I love tennis! But I’m poor. I’ve got to go to work. And right away.”
“Oh!” Donaldson’s exclamation was packed with understanding. For Donaldson knew what pangs there were in the situation of loving championship tennis and of being poor.
Jerry explained a little further. “My father and mother intended me to go to Varsity and I wanted to go. But my father died two years ago and my mother died a few months later and there was. just enough left to see me through high school.”
Donaldson slowly nodded. “A comer —and already gone!” he murmured. He regarded Jerry thoughtfully for a moment. “Well,” he said, “well—” And then: “Suppose we change our clothes and then see that next match. It ought to be a corker.”
Side by side they crossed the grounds, Donaldson chatting easily, a comradely hand upon Jerry’s shoulder. No eager would-be king in the hour of his coronation ever so thrilled at the first touch of the crown as Jerry thrilled while he crossed the lawn with his idol’s hand thus publicly upon him. And during his shower and while he was dressing Jerry continued to be athrill, dazed, with what the champion had said. The champion had said that he in his turn would be champion. He, Jerry MacAllister, champion of Canada! And even champion of the world! Donaldson had said so!
These dazzling thoughts slowed down Jerry’s dressing and when he at length stepped out he found Donaldson waiting and it was at once evident that he had been waiting several minutes.
“Want you to meet some people, Jerry,” he said, taking Jerry’s arm and leading him to the broad porch of the casino. As Jerry saw toward whom they were headed he experienced an entirely new set of awed thrills. He hardly heard Donaldson’s introduction; he didn’t need to hear it. Every one in tennis knew Mr. Graham. He was ruddy of face and inclined to that portliness which overtakes many athletes in their forties; but back in the ’nineties William Graham—“Billy” they had called him then —had been champion for a year and; thereafter for a dozen years he had continued to play with dimming luster as a. performer in all the important tournaments. But more important than this, ancient court record—in Jerry’s eyes at least—was the fact that Mr. Graham was at present one of the country’s most important figures in the management of tennis affairs: Dominion executive— Davis Cup committeeman—everything. At his elbow was a girl of perhaps fourteen. Jerry had seen her at the round of tournaments practising with various cracks early in the morning when the courts were' not in use or after the day’s matches were ended. Jerry thought she played a corking game—that is, for a girl.
The introductions over, Donaldson said he’d wait for Jerry and drifted away to chat with friends.
“See here, MacAllister, what about this yarn Arthur Donaldson’s been telling me about your quitting tennis?” Mr. Graham had a booming, autocratic, growling voice; but the growl in it was a pleasant, hearty growl.
JERRY repeated the facts as he had just told Donaldson: his desires, his resigned ambitions, his grim necessities.
“You’re going to quit tennis to go to work!” the great man exploded. “Like the mischief you are! Why, dammit—’Lizabeth, you stop listening when your old man loses control of his temper and his language.. In a case like this I’ve got a right to lose control of everything! Dammit, MacAllister, you’re not going to do any such thing! You’re going to do just what I tell you!”
Jerry was taken aback by the blustering vehemence of this outburst. But the girl, who had nice direct blue eyes, informed Jerry by her smile not to be disturbed by her father’s manner.
“Why, sir—I don’t know, sir,” stammered Jerry. “If you’d tell me what you wanted, sir—”
“You just listen to me, MacAllister,” Graham interrupted. “How’s Canada going to take the lead in tennis —how’s she ever going to win the Davis Cup and hold it and win it back when she loses it—if this country of ours doesn’t keep her eyes open for promising young players and develop a promising young player when she
spots one? Canada’s got to do that very thing! I’ve been watching you these last few weeks and I’ve thought you looked mighty good though I didn’t think you had as much in you as Donaldson just told me. Now you’d like to go on playing tennis, wouldn’t you?”
“Of course I would! But—”
“Leave out the ‘buts!’ And you said you wanted to go to Varsity, didn’t you?”
“Dammit—I said leave out the ‘buts’! Listen, MacAllister. Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to go to college. And you’re going to develop the best tennis that’s in you. Money’s the only thing between you and those things. Well—I put up the money.”
As Jerry got the full meaning of this proposition he involuntarily drew himself up-and stiffened.
“I thank you very much, sir. You are most generous and kind. But I could not accept—accept charity.” “What are you, MacAllister—a fool?”
Jerry did not answer. Rather tall, he stood quietly erect and looked respectfully into the exasperated, glaring face. The girl patted her father’s shoulder soothingly and after a moment he reached up and his hand closed upon his daughter’s. His face cleared, then twinkled with a smile.
“Boy, you’ve got enough pride to outfit all the kings of Europe—only they don’t have that sort of pride. But I guess I understand things from your point of view now and I guess I like you all the better for feeling the way you do. Suppose we put the proposition like this; I’ll lend you the money for college; you give me notes, with interest, the notes payable after you graduate. I think your pride will admit that you can earn more with a college education than you can ever learn if you started to work now without one. Also I’ll guarantee to find you a decent job after graduation. There you are—a cold, unemotional, Shylock business proposition.”
There was further discussion then and more discussion in the days that followed, but in its essentials that was the plan that finally was agreed upon.
For Jerry MacAllister that was his day of days.
The Cage of Glory
/_PHE passing years proved Donaldson, tennis player extraordinary, a prophet of just ordinary merit. Regarding Jerry he had made two prophecies. On these prophecies he broke even.
Jerry never blew Donaldson off the court. In fact they never again met in a championship match. Before Jerry had reached his maturity as a player that astounding thing had happened which still mystifies followers of tennis. The year after his match with Jerry,
Donaldson reached the dazzling climax of his brilliant career. Then he began to waver. Thereafter, for a brief period Donaldson shone as a promise or as an ardent hope in the breasts of his million followers; then came the swift, inexplicable collapse, and thereafter the great tournaments knew the flashing Donaldson no longer save as a glorious memory.
But in that part of his prophecy where Donaldson was right, Donaldson was overwhelmingly right. The July following his graduation from Varsity Jerry won the Dominion Championship. He had the fortune to go through the war uninjured and shortly after his discharge he won the title of World’s Champion at Wimbledon, defeating even the U.S. and Australian stars with comparative ease, and thereafter he was regarded asthe greatest player tennis had ever produced.
He had what were Donaldson’s chief assets; speed and more speed, energy and more energy; but these he called upon only as he needed them. And he had that native and developed technique of catgut strung upon a racket that a Kreisler or a Heifetz has of gut strung upon a somewhat differently fashioned bit of wood.
It was only natural that Jerry should become the
Dominion’s tennis idol. There are some great players who are applauded, even worshipped, by the public for their tennis skill, and who are privately detested by their fellow players for their personal faults—selfishness, meanness, vanity. There are other great players who are loved by their bitterest rivals, they are so fair, so generous, so human, so unself-seeking, so unpretentious, so eager to give and praise. Of this latter sort was Arthur Donaldson in his day. And of this sort was Jerry MacAllister. And of this same sort, in his time, was Tommie Gordon.
And now this history comes to the second of the two great discoveries Jerry made about intensified tennis.
It was the day of the finals of the Dominion Championship and Jerry was once again fighting for his title. The stands and the club-house porch were tense with thousands of excited silent player spectators; for a big tennis crowd differs from a big baseball crowd, or a big fight crowd, in that the crowd not only watches the game but also plays it. Across the net from Jerry, the greatest player in the world, was his greatest rival and greatest friend, little Tommie Gordon, the second greatest player in the world. The championship match was in its fifth set; all the way through on both sides of the net, it had been a succession of breath-taking impossibilities; every bitter rally, every point scored, had been worthy of the world’s two greatest.
WHEN Jerry sent the final point whizzing down Tommie’s backhand court line, raising a chalky puff, the great crowd, their tensity at last ended, rose and cheered and clapped their hands.
Little Tommie Gordon came running around the net, his hand held out to Jerry. This was once again the moment which the traditions of tennis have made sacred to the vanquished and his victor.
“Jerry, you old skeezicks,” grinned Tommie, as their hands gripped, “you’ve handed me another lacing. You’re a monopoly, Jerry—a blooming trust. I ought to sick Borden’s Anti-Combine Law onto you and bust your old monopoly wide open!”
“Tommie,” he whispered intensely, “all during the match I was praying for you to come through and beat me out!”
“For the love of Mike, Jerry,” he ejaculated, “are you nutty? What are you driving at?”
But the brief moment sacred to victor and vanquished was already over. Officials and press photographers were bearing down upon the two.
“I’ll tell you to-night when we get to our room after the blow-out,” Jerry whispered rapidly.
Graham, despite his fifty-odd years, came bounding
down the club-house steps and seized Jerry in a bear hug.
“You’ve done it again, Jerry—I knew you would!” his big voice boomed out exultantly, so clear above the general din that all the other high officials on the clubhouse could hear his every word. “Good old Jerry—great old Jerry! Nobody can beat you! Canada can lick the world at tennis so long as she has you! And with your kind of game you’ll lead the procession for a dozen years yet— maybe twenty. You’ll last as long as our distinguished fellow-citizen of the Empire, Norman Brookes! While you last Canada has the tennis world licked!”
The beribboned potentates of tennis on the porch applauded this outburst heartily. The excitable Graham —overexeitable in this instance, for he regarded Jerry as his own prodigy—had indeed spoken the truth. While Jerry’s game lasted Canada’s supremacy was not likely seriously to be menaced and Jerry had the kind of game that might last as long as Graham had said, for it was based chiefly upon an amazing skill and not chiefly upon a furious expenditure of energy which quickly burns a man up, as was the great Donaldson’s.
Graham gave Jerry another hug and joyously repeated himself. “Good old Jerry—great old Jerry! While you last this young cub of the Mother Country has the world licked—and you’ll last for twenty years!”
“Aren’t you forgetting Tommie? He pushed me to the limit, Uncle Billy.” The close relationship between these two had in eight years changed “Mr. Graham” to “Uncle Billy.”
“I’m not forgetting Tommie for one second,” returned Uncle Billy. “That was a grand fight you put up, Tommie—a grand fight! Only you know there’s only one Jerry MacAllister!”
TOURING these last words, Jerry, flushing, had moved forward and taken the hand of Elizabeth Graham who had come eagerly down the steps just behind her father. Her blue eyes were gloriously asparkle; she was now ranked as the third best among Canadian women players and she and Jerry had fought out hundreds of friendly matches.
“You were simply wonderful, Jerry—wonderful!” she cried, and both her hands tightly gripped his.
“Thanks, ’Lizabeth—I was doing my best,” he said, a bit awkwardly. Despite their having practically grown up together these last eight years Jerry was still a trifle embarrassed with ’Lizabeth whenever their relationship towards each other approached the emotional.
“You are simply wonderful, Jerry! And so were you, Tommie.” She started to hold out her hand to Tommie but the hand shifted its direction, went around Tommie’s red neck and she kissed him. “You are both wonderful—and both dears —and I’m proud of you both!”
At her impulsive kiss Tommie flushed through his freckles, then he shot at Jerry a challenging glance of affectionate malice.
There followed an hour or two of further praise for Jerry and Tommie about the club-house; they were the honored figures of that night’s banquet and speech making which topped off the tournament; and at midnight the world’s greatest player and the world’s second greatest player entered the hotel room which they shared together.
Tommie seated himself approximately on the nape of his neck, his customary attitude of relaxation, and opened the proceedings.
“I believe, Jerry, you started to say something upon the court this afternoon, which same you said you wanted to finish when we got home to-night. Do you, or do you not, now wish to finish that?”
“I sure do!”
Tommie mimicked the orotund manner and tone of the man who had umpired their match that afternoon.
“All ready, gentlemen? Play! Mr. MacAllister now serving!”
Mr. MacAllister began to serve.
“Here comes my first ball: as I told you, I’ve got to be
licked and licked square and it’s up to you to lick me!” “Mr. Gordon returns the service for a clean placement. Without asking you the ‘why’ of all this, Jerry, I’ll just ask you the‘how.’ How am I to lick you? Not counting our practice and exhibition matches, we’ve played twelve big tournament matches. Of these twelve I’ve won just one and I won that by default. You’d had a touch of ptomaine, came on the court about fifty per cent, yourself and fainted on the court in the fourth set! I don’t call that a real victory. The best fight I ever made against you I made to-day. I’ll never do better. My point, Mr. MacAllister still serving.”
“But, Tommie—I tell you I’ve got to be licked—and you are the only player in sight who can possibly do it. There’s no use our pulling any false-modesty stuff, Tommie.
We know we’re the two best not only in Canada, and on this whole continent, but in the world. Allerton, that Australian player people think should be put at No. 3 in the world’s ranking, is a corking player all right, and a fine chap—but we’ve both beaten him and we can both beat him if we’re right any time we start against him. That’s the truth, isn’t it, Tommie?”
“It’s the truth—so far.”
“Then don’t you see it’s strictly up to you?”
“And don’t you see I can’t turn the trick?”
“Don’t you want to lick me?”
"There’s nothing I want to do so much in all the world! For four years I’ve been trying my darndest—you’ve been about all that’s stood between me and the championship. I never have quit to you in a match, I’m not quitting now and I’ll not quit if we ever play again.
But you’re too good for me, Jerry. And that’s that.”
“But, Tommie,” the champion insisted desperately, “I tell you you’ve got to lick me!
“And again the echo answers ‘willing.’ And again the echo, getting a little bored, repeats ‘how the devil is it going to be done?’ ”
“I don’t know how! But somehow! We’ve got to find the how!”
“Say, Jerry, this talk is just chasing the cat in the dark. I tell you there is no ‘how’! But I’ve been patient long enough. What’s the ‘why’ of all this? The greatest player in the world asking to be licked—wow, that’s got me all dizzy! Don’t you like tennis any more?
Don’t you like being champion?”
“I’ve got to get out of tennis for my own good. I don’t mean out of playing tennis for fun; there’s no need of my getting out of that sort of tennis. I mean tournament tennis, championship tennis. And the only possible way I can see to get honorably out of championship tennis is to be honestly beaten by a better man. Now do you get my situation?”
“Only partly. You say you’ve got to be honestly beaten by a better man—and we know there is no better man. That much I understand. But why do you want to be beaten?”
AND then Tommie had what he thought was a flash of understanding. “Hello—girl stuff, is that what’s behind all this? ’Lizabeth?”
“That’s part of it—yes.”
“See here, old son, you’re not sore because ’Lizabeth kissed me this afternoon and only shook your hand? ’Lizabeth kissed me because she loves tennis and she didn’t kiss you because she loves you.”
“Whether or not 'Lizabeth loves me,” Jerry said frankly, “I know I love ’Lizabeth. Here’s the trouble there; I can’t talk about love to her—at least I won’t talk about love to her so long as I’m nothing but a tennis champion.”
“You’re getting deeper and deeper! What is eating you? If you want me to understand you’d better shoot the whole works.”
Jerry gazed straight at his loyal old friend; thought intentlyhesitated; then bis manner became determined.
“All right, Tommie. But to shoot the whole works and make you understand I’ve got to go over a lot of things that you know just as well as I do. To go back to the beginning. When I was a kid, playing my first season in the line tournaments, I made a great discovery. This discovery was that a crack tennis game was a great asset; it helped you to mix among big people; it opened the doors of opportunity to you social opportunity, business opportunity.”
Tommie nodded. “I made that same discovery. A year or two after you did.”
"I was poor,” went on Jerry, “and thought that discovery wouldn’t ever mean anything to me. But because 1 had a nice game several people were good to me —especially ‘Uncle Billy’ Graham. Uncle Billy sent me through college and then gave me a job in his office and f I instill working with Uncle Billy—at least I’m supposed
to be working in that confounded office of his.” “Ditto again,” said Tommie. “I was as poor as you were. Substitute Garry Weston for Billy Graham— Garry’s just as big a tennis bug as Billy and I guess is a lot richer—and you have the same story. Clear enough so far. Go ahead.”
“I gave Uncle Billy notes for the money to pay my way through Varsity. I haven’t paid a cent on those notes. Uncle Billy hasn’t pressed me; instead he laughs and tells me to forget them. But I can’t forget them. I’ve been working in Uncle Billy’s office two or three years and my salary, mixing in the company I do and traveling around so much, just covers my personal expenses. I’ve got an office of my own but I don’t get down to it for more than an hour or two a day; and for weeks and months at a stretch I don’t get down at all. I’m now being paid a hundred dollars a week. To the business I’m not worth a hundred cents!”
Once more Tommie nodded. “Carbon copy here. As Garry Weston’s personal secretary my only duty is to play tennis. As secretary I’m not worth a dime and he won’t let me earn the dime.”
Jerry’s intense face now grew more intense; from his soul there poured the things that had long been seeretly festering there.
“Now I come to what is eating me, Tommie. I made a second discovery about tennis—championship tennis. The way modern championship tennis has developed and intensified it’s not possible for a man to be a star player and be anything else. Or much of anything else. The thing’s not humanly possible! Look at that redheaded Buffalo chap, who was U.S. champ, one year— but couldn’t hold the pace because his job demanded real attention. Linlay could have been at the top of the heap
world’s champion—if he hadn’t to pay some real attention to a very real job. The game takes all a man’s energy and most of his time to gain the skill and physical condition and then keep the skill and condition. Could Willie Hoppe have been billiard champion for fifteen years if he’d given billiards a few hours of his leisure a week? or could Sir Herbert Holt have been a champion banker if he’d given to banking his Saturday half holidays and the tail end of an afternoon once or twice a week? Well, being tennis champion and keeping up the business of being tennis champion requires just as much concentration as being billiard champion or banking champion!”
Tommie nodded agreement but did not speak.
“How can a champion be anything else but just a champion?—so long as he’s champion? Take my last year—take my last eighteen months of play, in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Check it up yourself, Tommie; you were with me a lot of the time. Winter before last I had to play in the Southern States, exhibition matches; Kudos for Canada; then I had to play in the N. Y. and Montreal indoor tournaments; then in the beginning of the outdoor season more exhibition matches; then I was sent to France and Belgium, winding up in England with the World’s Championship Tournament at Wimbledon; then back to this side of the water, for the U. S. Championships at Philly and for other big tournaments in New York, Montreal, Toronto and right through to Winnipeg; then the barnstorming trip you and I took to show the tennis fans of Alberta and B.C. how we played; then off with you for Australia for the Davis Cup matches; then back to Canada for our exhibition matches on the Coast en route to the East; then the Eastern Canadian and U. S. Indoor tournaments again—the spring exhibition matches— the big tournaments again—the Davis Cup matches again—and once more the Dominion Championship, ending with our fight to-day. I tell you, Jimmie, no business man, no professional man, has given himself with more concentration and more energy to his affairs than I gave myself during this period to tennis. And all that tremendous effort has not earned me a single dollar. And it has not helped me forward one inch in a real career!”
Once more Tommie nodded. “Go ahead, Jerry—get the rest of it out of your system.” “I’m not knocking the game, Tommie. Nor the people who manage it. Both have done a lot for me and I like both. I’m just telling you the cold facts of the development of modern championship tennis—telling the facts as they affect me personally. I’m not blaming anybody; I’m just saying what’s happened. And the great fact can’t be disputed that a man can’t be a great star and keep on being a great star and be much of anything else. Look over the great stars of the past. Look them over, and how many of them have made good in a really big way, made good on their own efforts?”
Tommie thought a moment. “Mighty few,” he conceded.
“Fewer than that! I tell you the thing’s humanly impossible! It’s like I just said; as if Holt had tried to become banking champion by giving his leisure hours to banking. And think what some of the once-greats in the United States have come to! Canada is a young country and this situation didn’t become acute until just recently. These former champions gave their twenties and part of their thirties to being great at tennis and never really learned a real job. And now—poor fellows! Why, even Uncle Billy -—” Jerry broke off; then went doggedly ahead: “It may seem rotten ingratitude for me to lug in Uncle Billy. But consider a rich man like Uncle Billy. He’s always given his best energies and thoughts to amateur sports. When he was thirty-five his father died and Uncle Billy became the head of the business. He’d never learned much about it—he hadn’t had time—and so he’s let his salaried managers run it for him. I don’t know much about his business either; I likewise haven’t had time; but I’ve learned this much— this is strictly confidential, Tommie—his business isn’t half, perhaps not a quarter, what his father left him and it’s in such a mess that unless some one takes hold who really cares, he’s likely to go on the rocks. I’ve tried to tell him this but he’s laughed at me good-naturedly; he thinks I don’t know anything except tennis—and in that I guess he’s right.”
He paused an instant for breath, then cried out with tragic intensity:
“Don’t you see, Tommie? I love the glory of it all. But all that glory is for me a trap, a cage! I’m caught in the cage of glory! And I’ve got to get out of it! I’ve got to get out! Don’t you see, Tommie?”
' I 'HERE could be no doubting the agonizing earnestness of Jerry, the crisis of soul in which he was struggling. Tommie, who had straightened up, leaned forward and gripped the hand of his chum.
“I think I see it all now, Jerry,” he said simply. “But, of course, I can’t feel it so keenly as you do. You see, I’ve never been champion.”
“Wait till you have been champion—then see!” cried Jerry. “I want to be something more than just a great tennis player, Tommie—or something more than a man who used to be a great tennis player! I want to do something worth while. I want a real career; I want to make something of myself. I want that because I’m Jerry
MacAllister and I want it for Jerry MacAllister. I’m poor and I’ve got my own way to make and I want to make it! I’d want these things for myself, even if there wasn’t ’Lizabeth. But there is ’Lizabeth. And I love her and I think she loves me. But I’ve got too much pride to talk love to ’Lizabeth, no matter what she might say, until I’ve begun to try to make something of myself—until I’ve passed the danger of becoming, in the end, just a welldressed, respectable, popular bum!”
“If you feel the thing so strong as all this,” said Tommie, “why don’t you just walk right out of tennis? Drop the game?”
“You don’t see all of my fix yet, Tommie, or you wouldn’t ask such a question! I can’t just walk out of tennis—drop it. I’d feel myself a traitor. You heard what Uncle Billy said this afternoon; Canada looks to me to maintain Canada’s tennis supremacy. And what Uncle Billy thinks the Canadian tennis public also thinks. I do owe an awful lot to Uncle Billy and to tennis. If I walked out on the game, Uncle Billy would think me a traitor. And the tennis public, part of it, would think me a traitor. And perhaps ’Lizabeth might think the same. You know how they all feel toward me; in their way they all love me and I simply haven’t got the nerve to walk out on them!
. “Now you see it all, Tommie—you surely see it all— how I’m caught in the cage of glory! I’ve got to get out and get out soon or I tell you I’m gone forever!”
“Are you sure Uncle Billy would feel just the way you think he would? Have you put the thing up to him?”
“Not as clearly and fully as I have to you. I haven’t felt that I dared, for he wouldn’t understand. Sport has been his real career; it’s made him pretty happy and he couldn’t see why it shouldn’t make Jerry MacAllister happy. I guess we’re made a bit differently and besides he’s rich and I’m not. But I’ve gone at him indirectly. I’ve begged him to let me give more time to the business so I could take over some of his responsibilities. He took it as a joke. He said he could easily hire ten thousand men, a hundred thousand, who could beat me at office work. But at tennis he said there was only one Jerry MacAllister in the world. He laughed and told me not to talk like a fool and told me not to try to make a fool out of him.
“Then I tackled him from another angle—money. I said I’d like to give more time to the office so I could learn more and be in a position to earn more from the business. He laughed again, and called me a fool and said that if money was what was troubling me and if five thousand a year wasn’t enough he’d make it ten or fifteen or twenty
—just as I said. Of course I refused any such increase: I’m not worth, to the business, one tenth what he’s paying me now. So you see how much help or understanding I can expect from Uncle Billy.”
“Yes,” agreed Tommie, slowly nodding, “and this brings us right back to where we started from. And at the very start I told you my game was not good enough to lick you. Now or ever. And there we are.”
“But, Tommie—” Jerry broke off suddenly, for he had the beginning of an idea; then he went on rapidly, breathlessly. “I’ve got it, Tommie! I’ll take you in hand—show you everything I know—all my tricks—I’ll coach you so you’ll be better than I am!”
“Why, you dear old simp,” Tommie returned affectionately, his eyes glistening at the other, “what d’you think you’ve been doing to me these four years we’ve been playing against each other? You may not know it, but you’ve been coaching me all the time. And at the present moment I know just as much about your game as you know—except how to play it the way you play it. Now if I had your feet—had your footwork—”
“But, Tommie,” the other interrupted desperately, “at least let’s have a try at it! It’s my only way out! You’ll do that much for me, Tommie!”
He paused an instant but before there could be a reply to his appeal he had a further inspiration and his words were again eagerly tumbling forth.
“Here’s what we’ll do, Tommie, if you’ll only say yes. We’re due for a bit of a rest before we start on our exhibition tour of the West. Two weeks at least. Uncle Billy has got a corking court at his place in Muskoka—as good as the championship court of the Toronto Club. Let’s go down there for our two weeks. You know how tickled Uncle Billy will be to have us; I can fix it all up. We’ll lay off for a day or two and then we’ll start in and I’ll coach you. Please, Tommie! As a favor to me!”
THE next greatest player in the world thoughtfully regarded the tense, suppliant face of the greatest player in the world. If Tommie had two supreme desires those desires were these: first, to beat Jerry—second to please Jerry.
“I’ll tell you right now, old saw,” said Tommie, “I don’t think it will do any good. But since you ask it, lead on—I’ll be the goat.”
So they spent a fortnight in the palatial Muskoka country house, with ’Lizabeth usually the only spectator of their games'.
The First Key
BUT Tommie was right—this, it soon became clear, after a fortnight’s arduous experimentation, was not the “way out.” Perhaps a few months, hard practice against B. C. and California “cracks” might give Tommie the added touch required, Jerry hoped.
All that next winter he heard regularly from Tommie and what he did not get from Tommie’s letters he got from the San Francisco, Los Angeles and Victoria newspapers or he filled in with his own knowledge of tennis conditions. Tommie was practising hard, as he had promised. And the great cracks of the Coast were delighted to furnish him as much play as he desired. But in these practice matches Tommie did not need even to extend himself.
At length spring came again and the season for outdoor tennis and presently the big tournaments were at hand. Before the first of these Jerry and Tommie met after their months of separation; met in the hotel room which Jerry had reserved in advance for the two of them.
“Well, old son,” said Tommie, grinning his freckled grin as their hands met, “We’re out for another merry whirl.”
“This is to be your big season, Tommie. You know how’ I’m praying for you to come through!”
“If my playing can answer your prayers, I’ll answer ’em. I’ve been doing my best since I last saw you and I’m in shape to play my best game.”
They clashed in the finals of three tournaments. The matches were bitterly fought, spectacular as were all the matches when these two met. But if Tommie had added anything to his game by his months of concentrated effort, then something had also been miraculously added to Jerry’s game. For Jerry did not go down fighting. He did not go down at all.
. After that an agony of black despair closed in upon Jerry. His great idea had failed. He had worked and waited and hoped for a year—and his great idea had failed! Further, he could now see no possible hope remaining in that idea.
Uncle Billy’s exultant words came back to him, kept ringing and echoing through his brain. “Good for a dozen years—twenty more years!”
He was caught—inescapably caught in the cage of glory! In his desperation Jerry frantically looked out over the tennis world, seeking relief. Relief had only one form, a player who could beat him. His mind’s eyes lighted upon
Allerton, the Australian, No. 3 in the world’s ranking. Allerton was a great player—a splendid man whom he truly liked and admired; they had first met in Paris, when both had been soldiers—a grim-fighting, generous sportsman. But Allerton could not beat him. With both at their best Allerton could not beat Tommie. Besides, when Jerry lost his title he wanted, if that were possible, to lose it to a Canadian. The U.S. and Australia had held the tennis limelight too long, in days not so long gone by.
His mind's eye turned next to Arthur Cameron, that flashy youth whose brilliance had won him ranking in Canada just after himself and Tommie. But for all his flashy brilliance Cameron’s game was not fully developed and was not dependable; and as yet there was no telling whether his game would ever develop dependability. Cameron would not do. There was no one else upon all the tennis horizon. No one.
There followed the blackest hours, the blackest days, that Jerry had ever known or was ever to know. There was no hope. None. And yet through it all Jerry went smilingly about. No one knew of the fear, the desperation, the agony behind Jerry’s smile. No one except Tommie; and even Tommie did not know the half. Not till later— much later.
Presently, as the days passed, the great climax of the season drew on—the Davis Cup matches, to be followed by the Dominion Championships. And then, on his black desperation, a second great idea was born in Jerry’s mind. Here at last was his way out! The idea dazed him. This idea he did not tell even to Tommie. He did not dare. But the idea grew and grew; and Jerry’s hope, struggling up from its despair, grew with it.
The Second Key
TERRY’S great idea was born of two related facts—
more correctly, two sets of facts—concerning that tournament of all tournaments, the Davis Cup Matches. Particularly was it born out of conditions peculiar to that year’s matches.
The first of these facts is capable of simple statement. The championship of the nations is determined, after the elimination rounds which determine the challenging nation, by a series of five matches; four matches of singles, one match of doubles. The winner of three of these matchs is the champion. If it should so happen that the ultimate victor should be so fortunate as to win the first three matches, then the remaining two matches have no bearing whatever on the championship. They are no more than exhibition matches, or “courtesy” matches. In world’s championship baseball these extra games are not played, the series ending with the ending of the deciding game; in tennis these extra games usually are played.
No attempt will here be made to justify Jerry’s reasoning about the foregoing facts. Jerry was not normal, was disordered and desperate, was seeing all things from the angle of and colored by his own personal predicament. His conclusion was that so long as the three necessary matches were won, the other two matches—no matter when played, the first match, the third match, the last match—were nothing more than exhibition matches. They had not the slightest bearing upon the championship of the nations; it was of no real importance whether these two extra matches were won or lost.
The second set of facts, as Jerry saw them, is not so obvious and cannot be so simply stated. These facts grew out of the personnel of the two contesting teams— the Canadian and the Australians who had come through the challenge rounds and were Canada’s challengers: grew out of comparing the proved playing ability of the men. The Canadian team was made up of Tommie and himself who the Canadian Lawn Tennis Committee and all the Canadian followers of tennis supposed of course would each play two of the four singles matches; Moore and Singleton for the doubles, neither an individual star of the first magnitude but through long playing together acquiring a smooth perfection of teamwork against which no two great stars of the world, with conflicting temperaments and the great star’s almost irrepressible instinct to play every ball himself, could hope to compete with success—with the possible sole exception of Tommie and himself; and with young Cameron as the fifth man. Cameron was not expected to play. His selection for membership on the team was in the nature of a decoration, an incentive for possible service to be performed in future matches; it was an indirect tribute and stimulus to the younger players growing up all over the country.
The Australian team was composed of the allowable five men; but it is here only necessary to name two, the great Allerton and the hardly less great Holden. These two were going to do what the famous Brookes and the famous Wilding had often done in earlier years, before Wilding went to his death at Nouve Chapelle—carrying the burden of the entire five matches between them.
To this situation Jerry applied cold mathematics; or so he believed. In the singles he could win his two matches
against Allerton and Holden. And Tommie could win his two matches. And Moore and Singleton could win their doubles match against the two Australians paired. All this was a mathematical certainty. Five matches—a clean sweep of the Davis Cup series.
Five victories. That might be glorious but it was wholly unnecessary. Three victories were plenty. Canadian tennis should feel glory enough in retaining possession of the cup. And the spirit of Canadian sport should not begrudge those splendid sportsmen from the antipodes two victories which Canada did not need.
We now approach the heart, the crux of Jerry’s great and growing idea. At last a situation had arisen where Canada did not need him to maintain her tennis supremacy. Tommie could win his two singles matches. These were already the same as won. Moore and Singleton could win their doubles match. It was already the same as won. Three victories, all mathematical certainties. The cup already won—and won without any real need of his playing.
TTIS matches, if he played them, would therefore have no bearing on the outcome; would be no more than exhibition matches. Yes—at last here was his opportunity! He would not play. He would manage that.
The great thing which Jerry saw was this: If Canada won without him—and Canada certainly would!—then it would have been definitely proved to the Dominion, to Uncle Billy and all the others, that Canadian supremacy did not depend upon him; that Canadian tennis no longer really needed him. This proved to them by the evidence of their own eyes, they would let him go.
Jerry next turned his thoughts to ways and means by which he might bring about his self-elimination. First, he must go to the Cup Committee, argue his case before them as he had argued it before his own mind and ask them to excuse him from playing. But that would be a useless procedure; he knew they would not excuse him. Second, he might feign illness and be relieved on that account. But no—that would not do either; not with Jerry MacAllister, who had not had an ill day in his tennis life except for that time when he had had that touch of ptomaine poisoning; besides there was the danger of a doctor’s examination and the discovery of the hoax. Third, he might pretend to go suddenly off his game; slump so badly that the committee would fear to play him. But, no—that was was no better than the others. Since he had first gained place, years ago, in the ranking list among the first ten, he had not once gone seriously off his game; his game was too soundly founded and too skillfully built for that; and there was again the danger that the committee might suspect, and somehow prove, that his slump was only a pretense. And besides, even if they did honestly believe that he had fallen off, they would play him anyhow, they would bank on the crisis pulling him out of his slump and upon his rising to the crisis’ demands—and Jerry knew that, once actually on the court, he would play his best game. No, that third way probably was even worse than the other two. Fourth—
Ah, at last he had it—that was the way! He would be injured—a real injury—so that the committee would judge him to be in no condition to play. That would settle the thing definitely. Just a minor injury, a temporary injury, merely one that would keep him out of the game for a few weeks but which would not seriously discommode him; that would serve his purpose. A merest trifle, that injury—but bringing what wonderful results! Of course, since no one must ever know or guess the truth, the injury would have to be self-inflicted.
A trifling self-inflicted injury—that was it! That would save him!
AT LAST he determined the exact nature of his injury.
It would be a simple cut on the foot. Not on just any part of the foot, of course; there are parts of the foot on which a simple cut would not seriously affect one’s playing. The ball of the foot, where all the weight is carried, where all the friction is, the part that has to bear the tearing strain of the body’s sudden starts and violent twistings-that was it. Just a simple cut on the ball of a foot.
Jerry next considered the explanation of the cut which he would give the Cup Committee. The explanation had to be most natural, most unsuspicious.
He would tell the committee that he awoke in the night, thirsty; had gone in his pajamas to his bathroom to get a drink. Before he could switch on his bathroom light he had accidentally knocked over his tumbler which had shivered on the tiled floor and in the dark his bare foot had stepped upon a jagged piece of the broken glass. People were always stepping on bits of broken glass in their bare feet. And he could have the shattered tumbler with the bloodstained fragment, to show them as evidence.
That would be his explanation and a most excellent explanation it was. But in actuality how was the cut to be inflicted? Not with a jagged piece of glass. He—well, he shrank from the idea of jabbing a piece of jagged glass into his foot. A razor made the easiest, cleanest, most painless cut; how about making it with a razor? But, no
—a razor’s cut, however deep, was the merest hair line; not in the least like the cut of broken glass.
The big pocketknife he carried to help make his own repairs, if need be, upon his rackets; the largest blade, broad and thick, that would be the very thing.
He now had everything worked out. An easy plan, a simple plan—and, yet like most plans which are based upon simplicity, a perfect plan. There remained now only the plan’s consummation. This would require care, of course; constant watchfulness to see that his every point was plausible.
For the consummation of this simple plan Jerry required a night of assured privacy. He could not do the thing here in the hotel room which he and Tommie were sharing, with Tommie always about him except when on the courts.
Jerry was thinking of pretending a message calling him out of town for a day; that would be sufficient. But in this detail good luck—he considered it good luck—came to his assistance and simplified the affair. On the fourth day before the first of the Davis Matches Garry Weston, who had taken a suite in the hotel across the corridor from his and Tommie’s room, spent the night at the country place of an old friend near Oakville and he insisted on his personal secretary and protege, Tommie, going with him.’
This gave Jerry the hotel room to himself for the night. Things could not have worked out better.
But when the night came on and Jerry in his pajamas got ready for the act he hesitated, shrank away from it. For Jerry, despite his marvelous control of his bodily and mental faculties, was highly strung, supersensitive. The boldest man sickens when the moment comes for premeditated, self-inflicted pain, even though he may laugh at a much greater pain which has come upon him unexpectedly in consequence of an accident.
He had to inflict his injury without any alleviating measures. So, about midnight, he proceeded about the business.
As do many athletes who are in daily or frequent contests Jerry had always with him a small first-aid outfit. In this was a tiny spirit lamp with a pint cup for heating water. This and the other articles he needed he carried into the bathroom. He filled the cup, brought the water to a boil, sterilized his knife’s big blade which previously he had cleansed. Then seated on the bathroom chair, he scrubbed and scrubbed the sole of his left foot with alcohol; he had chosen the left foot for no other reason than, beitig right handed, the left foot was the easier for him to manipulate in carrying out his plan. Then drawing a deep breath, he raised the knife aloft.
And then, for a long moment, the arm remained stiffly upraised. Then it wavered—and then the hand holding the knife sank limply to his side and Jerry sat shivering and staring at his bare foot. He could not go through with the thing! At first he thought his hand was held back by physical repulsion, by the sheer lack of nerve to inflict an injury upon himself. But presently he realized that this had not been his deterring motive. Deep down, the thing had not seemed square to him—that was what had stopped him.
With a sense of defeat Jerry crept into his bed and lay there while despair gripped him and tortured him. He had to play in the matches. He was caught in the cage of glory. Caught inescapably.
How the Key Worked
AN HOUR or two later Jerry woke out of a restless sleep with that dry thirst so common in the hot nights of late August. He drowsily swung out of bed in compliance with his body’s request for a drink and crossed into his bathroom. He switched on the light and reached for the glass above the porcelain washbasin. His sleepheavy eyes blinked in the unaccustomed light; perhaps that was why he fumbled the glass. It slipped from his hands and splintered upon the tiled floor with a sharp report.
Startled, he instinctively took a step backward. The next instant, now suddenly wide awake, he was sitting on the bathroom chair examining the bleeding ball of his left foot which had come down on a dagger-like fragment of thin glass adhering to the tumbler’s base. The rapidity with which the blood poured from his foot alarmed him. In his ignorance of medical matters and especially in his lack of any sure knowledge of anatomy he feared an artery had beén severed. Fortunately he had forgotten to put away the items of his first-aid kit which he had laid out for his intentional accident and he now applied the swabs of gauze, saturated with cold water. Presently the flow of blood subsided. Reassured, he realized that he had cut no important blood vessel.
His first-aid knowledge included some skill at bandaging. He carefully bandaged his left foot.
He decided to let the mess in the bathroom remain to be cleaned up in the morning, as he was for the moment a bit shaken by the accident; so he crept back into his Continued on page 48
The Cage of Glory
Continued, from page 14
bed. Presently, as he lay there resting, a sudden thought flooded and thrilled him.
That injury was exactly in the place he had planned, was exactly of the character he had planned! An accident had saved him. No blame could possibly be attached to a man who was put out of competition by an unpreventable accident.
And then presently something began to change within Jerry’s overwrought brain. Exultation changed to gripping horror. This question seized upon his mind; was that accident after all an accident? Jerry, as have most people of the day, had read a little upon what to him were new phases of psychology; autosuggestion-autohypnosis—the powers of the subconscious—the shaping of events by a subconscious purpose—the control even of material objects by subconscious mental forces.
Conviction now settled upon Jerry. This thing had not been an accident! It had happened exactly as he had premeditated; the time, the location of the wound, its character, everything else had been exactly as he had planned so carefully. The only difference between the plan and the accomplished fact was the slight detail of the substitution of a blade of glass for the blade of a knife. There was only the conclusion—his injury had been the working out of his will, was the result of his volition as certainly as if he had injured himself with a fully conscious intent!
A new fear came on Jerry and he swung out of bed, undid his bandages and examined the cut. It did not look at all like the jagged cut made by a bit of broken glass. It was a clean, straight cut—precisely such a cut as would have been made by his knife.
AFTER a few moments he saw the • solution to this difficulty. At the very start he would tell the committee he was having expert medical attention of his own. He would tell them that immediately after the accident he had called in a doctor; the skillful bandaging he had given his foot would be immediate and conclusive evidence that he was receiving proper care. If they suggested examination by another doctor he could put them oil somehow. And he would have to keep them from seeing his mythical doctor. After they saw that he was definitely out of the Cup series they would not be too insistent, too inquisitive. Of course, he’d have to make Tommie also believe all these fictions; but he could deceive Tommie.
Over the telephone the next morning Jerry, controlling his sense of guilt, told Uncle Billy in a half humorous tone of his absurd little accident of the previous night. Within an hour Uncle Billy and another member of the Cup Committee hurried alarmed into his room and a moment later Tommie and Garry Weston,
returned from their night at Tarrytown, came in behind them. To these four, Jerry, smiling, taking the whole matter" lightly, told of what had happened when he had got out of bed to get a glass of water in the dark and, awkward fool that he was, had knocked over a tumbler; and he showed them the evidence of the bathroom, the splotches and smears of blood, the fragments of glass and the blood-stained bit that had done the ugly business; and, with adroit casualness having them note the trim professional bandaging of his foot, he told of having promptly called in the doctor who was caring for him.
It may be here stated that not then, nor at any later time, did they suggest examination by or consultation with any other doctor. Medically the thing to them was obviously a trifle and Jerry already was obviously receiving adequate treatment.
OF COURSE they asked to see the wound. Jerry unwound his skillful bandages and showed them the gash in the ball of his left foot. As an injury it looked a trifle—most unimportant; but to these four men, at that moment, it looked the most important thing in all the world. They gazed at it in appalled silence. At length Uncle Billy spoke, “To think of such an accident happening! And at just such a time! Think of it! Can you play with your foot like that, Jerry?”
“That’s for you gentlemen to decide.” Tommy groaned. “If the thing had happened to you anywhere else except just there, Jerry, it mightn’t have mattered! But there, on the ball of your left foot! Where all your weight is when you swing your body into your service! Just where your foot twists around, in serving, in putting stuff on the ball! There—of all places! Of all the rotten, rotten luck!”
MacLean’s Magazine in Europe
MACLEAN'S Is now on sale at the undermentioned newsdealers:
Self ridge & Co., Ltd., Oxford St.
Savoy Hotel, Strand.
R. C. Willis. 1 Green St., Leicester f>q. Farnell & Co., 82 Southampton Row, W.C. W. S. Dexter. Fish Street Hill and 6 Bywar
Daw's Agency, 8 Eagle Place, Plcadilly.
Yates Library. T9 Wlgmoro 8t W. H. Smith 8on's, Bookstalls.
W. J. Willie, 87 Bhafte»bury Are
W. H. Smith ii Bon, Rxchamgc 8t. LIVERPOOL—
K. Taylor, Landing Btago.
M. Grant & Son, 8/9 Lord Street Arcade. SCOTLAND—EDINBURGH—
J. Menzlee & Co., Bose St.
J. Menzlee & Co., Wast HUe Bt.
Easen ii Son, 80 Mid Afcfcey Bt.
Mewro». Brenta* O'H, 8T Avniue 4B 1'Gpora.
W. H Smith & Ron. 48 Rue de RITOH
Any newsdealer ln Great Brite kn and Irelrad can now procure MACLEAN'S MABAAJNB
“Think you can play with a foot like that, Jerry?” repeated Uncle Billy.
“That’s for you men on the committee to say,” Jerry again returned.
Uncle Billy turned to Tommie.
“What do you think, Tommie? Could you play with such a foot?”
“I don’t know. The thing couldn’t possibly have happened in a worse place.”
There was silence. Jerry waited for them to see, of their own accord, the inevitable logic of the situation. Presently Garry Weston, who had said nothing up to then, burst out:
“Why risk Jerry?” he exclaimed. “We’ve got the cup won without him!”
“How’s that?” demanded Uncle Billy.
“We’ve been figuring so much on making a clean sweep of all five matches that we’ve just plain forgotten to think that three victories will win for us just as well. And we’ve got the three. Tommie will win his two singles. And Moore and Singleton will win the doubles. We can play Cameron in the other two singles and it won’t hurt us if he drops both. There you are; we’ve got three matches —safe!”
At this Jerry felt a swift glow of triumph. Garry Weston had reasoned it out exactly as Jerry had figured it out.
“I see,” admitted Uncle Billy. “But Jerry, how about the Dominion Championship?”
“Can’t we let that wait till we see how my foot gets on?” countered Jerry.
“Yes, let’s let the Dominion Tournament wait,” agreed Garry Weston. “Plenty of time to worry about that. But the business of Jerry and the Cup Matches—that’s immediate.”
So they discussed Jerry and the Cup Matches. They decided that Jerry should not play.
They also decided upon another thing. They would not let Jerry’s mishap become public and would make no advance announcements that he was not going to play; only those in the room and the two or three other necessary officials should know the situation and Jerry was made to promise to keep the secret.
There is no stating the exact considerations which led to this decision; they were many and were of various weights. One was that sound tactical principle which applies to all struggles, whether of war or peace: it is not wise, just before a great battle, to acquaint your enemy or your friendly opponent with your weakness. A second reason for their deciding upon silence was the possibility —in Unele Billy it was an unyielding hope and he insisted upon its being deferred to—that after all Jerry might be able to play; in which event any announcement would be foolish and misleading.
ANOTHER decision they also reached.
They had named their five players and none other was eligible for the matches; but they would hold back from announcing the names of their entry in each singles event until the last moment allowed under the rules governing the Cup Matches. This in order to enable them to play Jerry should he be in playing condition.
They also determined another matter; their explanation to the tennis public and the press, during the course of the matches, for the playing of young Cameron and the non-playing of Jerry. They would say that they had to keep in mind not only the present championship, but to try to plan ahead and be prepared for future international matches. The only way to develop dependable players for future contests was to season them while young with experience in present matches.
How the Plan Worked
ON THE afternoon of the first matches Jerry, wearing old and specially stretched shoes to accommodate his bandaged foot, sat on the _ clubhouse porch, beside ’Lizabeth. This was the first time Jerry had seen ’Lizabeth since his injury. She, of course, knew nothing of the truth; not even the forged truths her father knew; and Jerry did not limp and his old, large, soft shoes betrayed nothing. ’Lizabeth was indignant and did not hesitate to let Jerry and all on
the clubhouse porch know exactly what she thought.
“The idea of their deciding not to play you, Jerry!” she cried hotly. “You! Dad—all of them—they’re a pack of fools! And what an explanation! To give Arthur Cameron experience for future Cup Matches!”
“Can’t you see their reasons?” Jerry put in not very sincerely. “They’ve really got to plan ahead for the Davis Matches of years to come.”
“Don’t you try to defend them, Jerry, for putting you out! And don’t talk such rot to me! Don’t they realize that what this big tennis crowd bought their tickets for, what they wanted most of all, was to see Jerry play.”
In that first match the brilliant and reliable Tommie did what was expected of him. The match was hard, fast tennis; and though Tommie’s swift energy took him everywhere, and he slashed the ball furiously, he won in four sets with a lot in reserve. He was given a great hand as he left the court, for next to Jerry the crowd loved Tommie.
“Fine playing, Tommie!” cried ’Lizabeth when he came up to them. “But just your regular game—and I knew you’d win.”
“You were right there all the time, Tommie, with all your old stuff!” Jerry said as he caught his friend’s hand. “And you’ll do the same day after tomorrow against Allerton!”
“I sure expect to, old son. But Allerton is a tougher proposition.”
“Sure he is. But all you’ve got to do is to let out another notch or two. The match is yours, all right.”
Tommie nodded with that confidence which comes not from egoism but from proved ability. He pushed through the crowd on the porch which slapped his back and held out hands in congratulation, and on up to the showers; and a few minutes later the match between young Cameron and the great Allerton was under way.
Cameron played surpassing tennis the greater part of the first set, leading at five to three; then he broke and went all to pieces and thereafter was a toy before the big antipodean. ’Lizabeth again was raving, not against Cameron but against her father and the committee.
The second day ’Lizabeth was again beside Jerry on the clubhouse porch and on her other side sat Tommie. On this second day as on the first ’Lizabeth raved against the committee and poured sympathy upon Jerry as the victim of the old committee’s stupidity.
ONCE more Jerry’s calculation was proved correct. The polished teamwork of Moore and Singleton was too much for the individually greater playing ability of Allerton and Holden. Two matches won. All that was now needed was Tommie’s victory over Allerton On the morrow and that victory was certain. And by way of added security Cameron had at least a fifty-fifty chance of beating Holden.
That night Tommie and Jerry before they went to bed—there were twin beds in their room—once more went over the possibilities of the morrow’s matches. Tommie was quietly confident. Both slipped easily into sleep by ten o’clock.
And then Bobbie Burns stepped out of his Ayrshire grave with still further proof that his old saying about best-laid plans was no mere cynical arrangement of words. And the evidence was adduced in this wise and was as follows:
In the middle of the night Jerry was awakened by a stifled groaning and then a tense whistling intake of breath. He switched on the light at the head of his bed and looked across at Tommie. Tommie was all drawn up, his face was strained and beaded with perspiration and there was agony in his eyes.
“Tommie—what’s the matter?” he cried.
“Some garage man—left his damned monkey wrench—inside my works,” gasped Tommie, “and it’s trying to twist my gizzard out. Must be something I ate.”
Jerry did not need a second glance to tell him that something was seriously wrong. The next moment he was at the telephone barking for the house physician and the moment after he was across the corridor pounding on Garry Weston’s door. By the time he had dragged Garry Weston up from the deep slumber of wearied fifty and had dragged him across the corridor the house physician was also
entering Jerry’s door. A few rapid question to Tommie by the physician, a quick examination and from the lips of the doctor came the words that are feared by all athletes during the hot days of summer when they are compelled to travel from place to place and eat all kinds of cooking.
At the verdict Garry Weston was at the phone shouting to Uncle Billy, who during the matches was lodging at a near-by hotel, to come at once; and then Garry Weston was shouting the same command to a doctor friend who lived but a few blocks away. Jerry watched the house physician working over Tommie, himself a silent, stupefied automaton obeying orders; and in an incredibly short time Uncle Billy and the second physician appeared.
During one of the gasping intervals between paroxysms Tommie asked anxiously, still thinking of the game before himself :
“How about it, doctor? Can you fix me up so I can play to-morrow?”
“Heavens, no! You’re in no danger; we got to you in time; you may be as good as ever in a few days. But tomorrow you’ll be lucky if you have the strength to stand alone on your two feet.” Tommie groaned.
All that could be done here these doctors were doing. But there was something to be done elsewhere.
“Come over to my room,” said Garry Weston. “We’ve got to have a chinchin, and quick.”
Jerry and Uncle Billy followed Garry Weston across the hall. Garry Weston closed his door and stared tragically at the two. It was Uncle Billy who gave words to the situation.
“Of all the devilish luck!” he said in an explosive groan. “First we lose Jerry, then we lose Tommie! Our two aces! A week ago and we thought we had all five matches on ice! And now what are we going to do?”
Garry Weston nodded. “Exactly. Who’re we going to put in to play in Tommie’s place? That’s what we’ve got to settle!”
“Cameron and Holden play the first match to-morrow,” suggested Jerry, “and if Cameron wins his match we’ll be all safe.”
“Cameron ought to win, but will he?” demanded Uncle Billy. “You saw how he skidded yesterday. Wq can’t count on him winning. We’ve got to have somebody to play Allerton. No use putting Moore or Singleton in; either would play his best game but against Allerton he’d be beaten before the start.”
UNCLE BILLY and Garry Weston fixed their eyes on Jerry. Again it was Uncle Billy who spoke the thought of both.
“You see the hole we’re in, Jerry. What’s your doctor say about that foot of yours?”
“He says it’s getting on fine,” lied Jerry.
As a matter of fact that foot left had begun to trouble him a bit during the previous, afternoon and at the present moment ' there was distinct discomfort in it; but nothing more, he considered, than that which usually accompanies the healing of an awkward wound. He read what was in the minds of the two and did not wait for it to become a spoken request.
“Of course I’m willing to take on Tommie’s match with Allerton—that is if you want to put me in.”
“You’re the only man we can put in, Jerry, and have a chance to take the match,” said Uncle Billy. “Of course if Cameron does come through and win, that will make a different situation. We may then default your match, if we want to; but we’ll have to leave that till we see what Cameron does. Just now, Jerry, it looks to me as thought Canada’s keeping the cup was likely to be put right up to you.”
“I’ll try to do my best,” said Jerry, trying to reassure them by looking at perfect ease.
The next morning, when locked in his own bathroom, Jerry gave his foot the dressing which was regularly applied by his mythical doctor. There was pain in his foot—feverish, throbbing pain; it was very sore when he cautiously rested the ball upon the floor; and it was slightly inflamed and reddish.
A sudden fear gripped him. Perhaps in his anatomical ignorance he had partially
severed a tendon. Under the terrific strain of a fiercely contested match such a tendon might snap and he would be helpless, hamstrung, and the match would be lost. He knew that severed tendons could be spliced and would in time be as strong as ever. Personally he was running no serious risk. But if that tendon snapped, then Canada—Canada that he felt he had brought to such a crisis—
That tendon must not snap. He saw that his opponents were two: Allerton and that tendon. He must play both with utmost skill, must let neither beat him.
He began to plan the strategy of his play, should he be called upon to play. He must play almost entirely with the head. With the racket of course. But with the feet—his wonderful feet—as little as possible.
His game of the morrow was to be different from any the world had ever seen him play. And the big crowd would not understand why he played in such a manner; not even ’Lizabeth. For there was that pact of silence about his injury.
How Jerry Went Forth to Battle
WHILE Jerry planned the strategy of his game, should he be called upon to play, he was throughout the morning ever hoping with all his being for Cameron to win his match. Victory for Cameron —and Cameron certainly had the mechanical playing ability to win—meant Canadian triumph and his own release from responsibility. Then should the committee decide to play him the outcome would have no bearing upon the Cup Matches. He would not mind personal defeat and it would not then matter if that tendon did snap.
Afternoon came. Whether he played or not he had to be dressed for playing. Here arose another problem. He could not have the usual locker-room circle of admirers around him when he dressed for his match and undressed after it; they would spot his bad foot. So dropping a casual remark about needing quiet for the sake of his nerves, he took a room over in a quiet apartment a few hundred yards from the courts. Secure behind his locked door he changed his clothes while the crowd was pouring into the grounds before the first match. He undid his bandage and looked over his left foot. It seemed more red, more inflamed and much sorer than in the morning. He carefully dressed the foot again. The tennis shoe, when he finally got his foot into it, was infernally tight, but there was no safe remedy for that.
Jerry appeared upon the clubhouse porch just as Cameron and Holden were coming out for their match. He slipped an arm through his team-mate’s.
“Just look on this as an ordinary match, Cammie,” he said easily. “Just play a game as good as you’ve played against me many’s the time—just hold on to your game and if things seem to be breaking bad just remember that things break bad in streaks for everybody and you keep right on playing your game and you’ll win, Cammie! You’ll win, sure!”
Jerry moved over to where, as she had promised, a seat was being held for him by ’Lizabeth. Tommie was with her, looking peaked and white and very weak. ’Lizabeth greeted Jerry with a radiant look that was frank in its exultation.
“Jerry, they’ve had to let you play after all!” she exclaimed. “I can’t tell you how tickled I am! It’s too bad about Tommie here—you know, Tommie, I do really feel awfully bad about you—but since Tommie had to get sick it’s all a mighty good lesson to Dad and the others! The idea—their trying to run a series like this and leave you out!”
There came a hush in ’Lizabeth’s exclamations, for play had been called in the match between Cameron and Holden. In the last year and more Jerry had prayed hard for Tommie to beat him. No less hard did he now pray for Cameron to win and thus render his own playing purposeless. Cameron got away to a brilliant start, playing his flashiest, and took a hard-fought first set. Jerry’s feverish hope ran high. Then Cameron broke before his opponent’s steadiness and began to go to pieces.
Tommie leaned close to Jerry and whispered his verdict, a true verdict, upon Cameron.
“That boy’s got everything. He’s a wonder when nothing’s at stake—say in an exhibition match. But he’s not there when you need him. He’ll never do.” Jerry nodded, only half hearing. A few minutes later and Cameron was on his way to the clubhouse, a badly beaten youth.
JERRY tried not to show what that defeat meant to him. His exterior was exactly the Jerry his hundreds of friends and thousands of admirers knew so well; but within he was grim dismay. It had come, what he had feared—come after all. Two all; everything depending on his match. And to stave off a Canadian defeat the imminence of which he felt he had brought on there was only a most painful foot, a most uncertain tendon. In all this great crowd hardly more than half a dozen knew of his injury and of these few only he himself had any idea of how hampering, if not serious, the injury might be. All the thousands of others were most confident. The great Jerry MacAllister, their idol, had never failed them. He would not fail them now.
Jerry joined Allerton and they moved off the porch together. As Jerry, three rackets under his left arm, in that old familiar red sweater of his, stepped out in sight upon the green turf the three stands rose as one person in a riot of acclamation. Allerton, not jealous in the least, dropped a pace behind, as in the theatre when another player moves aside to let the favorite take the audience’s applause. With no sign of a limp though every step was a separate agony Jerry moved toward the appointed court, flashing his magnetic unspoiled smile in acknowledgment, now toward this stand, now toward that.
That crowd could not have been more relieved, more jubilant. They were about to see their idol play. The cup was safe.
And then the match was on. There have been many thrilling struggles upon the various championship courts of the world, from that famous seventeen-tofifteen first match which McLoughlin took from the mighty Brookes in August, 1914, on down through the years. But none of them—not one—produced tennis quite like Jerry’s and Allerton’s, either in the actual playing or in what happened after play was done.
JERRY won the toss and chose the service. The great crowd, tense, expectant, leaned forward in their seats, knowing exactly what, they were about to see, for they knew their Jerry. His slim, lithe body would swing upward upon the ball, upon the very toes of his left foot, his racket would flash over in an arc of his highest and farthest reach and across the net would go his rifle service whose terrific speed gave his opponent no time to stir from his tracks —the famous “MacAllister service.” Allerton knew Jerry as well as did the public, and he expected what the public expected; and so he stood a good eight feet behind his own base line to receive Jerry’s tremendous shots.
Then came the first surprise of that afternoon. Standing flat-footed just behind his base line, with little movement except of waist and shoulders and arms, Jerry sent over a chop service that skimmed the net, skidded in Allerton’s court without arising a foot from the ground and dropped in its second bound before Allerton could get forward to reach it. A puny shot—but a service ace.
Allerton grinned in appreciation. “Clever work, Jerry!” he called over the net.
The crowd applauded with delight at this first point won by their champion. That was tennis generalship for you! That was doing the unexpected! That was mixing ’em up! Jerry was all there!
Again Allerton poised eight feet behind his base line awaiting the famous MacAllister service and again the great crowd expected to see it go crashing over. And again, instead over went that same chopped service that skidded and caught far out of position.
Again the crowd applauded. Two service aces right off the reel! And aces won by an ordinary service like that! Just wait till Jerry began to send over the big ones!
Allerton, grinning good-naturedly at the way he had been tricked and believing as the crowd believed, moved warily forward and stood on his base line for the third service. The crowd chuckled
I inwardly. Once more Jerry had shown court generalship; he had drawn Allerton into a position in which the latter could not possibly handle his bullet service. This time it would be the bullet service, most likely flicking the middle line, with Allerton lunging vainly after it had flashed past him.
Once again over went that low-bounding service. The crowd was astounded at Jerry’s creating an opportunity and then ignoring it. Allerton was on the ball, there was a sharp back-court exchange and the point was Allerton’s.
Unperturbed, smiling, Jerry went right ahead with that chop service which put the minimum of strain upon his left foot. Those first two service aces were the only aces he secured with that service. And unperturbed, smiling, giving no sign of the pain that seared the left foot, Jerry stuck to his base line in the play that followed. The crowd grew more and more puzzled as they watched these two stars. They were fundamentally net players, both of them.
t)UT if the crowd was bewildered by Jerry’s playing, Allerton was no less puzzled. He knew well the tennis of which Jerry was capable; he knew Jerry was a master of all court strategy and he feared a trick, a trap in Jerry’s method. Jerry undoubtedly had a card up his sleeve. Jerry’s sticking to his base line was such an obvious lure to draw Allerton to the net where Jerry would spring this unknown thing upon him that Allerton decided against being duped into this position and remained in his back court.
Of course Jerry, all that multitude thinking the contrary, was playing his game; exactly the game he had planned —a game, painful though it was, that would least endanger that treacherous tendon—a game that would not reveal his weakness to his opponent nor reveal it to the audience and thereby gain their sympathy which Jerry felt he did not deserve. In the game he was now playing Jerry was using all the skill which was his by birthright and which training and unceasing practice had brought as near to perfection as is possible with human materials. He had those two qualities which in a great baseball pitcher count far more than speed and curves—he had control to its finest degree and he had the ability to mask what he was about to deliver.
All this wizardy of strokes Jerry now used against Allerton. He had need of it all, for Allerton was a splendid player and a wonder at covering ground. Every ball Jerry got his racket cleanly on went back with rifle speed on a clean placement or went back with some trick concealed in it. Jerry did not try to cover much court. Balls that fell just over the net in his forecourt he made no effort to get and when balls shaved his side lines he merely stood in his tracks and called out “nice shooting.’’ His movements were so easy, so effortless, his face was always so pleasant and confident that it seemed that he was giving these points to Allerton and giving them willingly. It seemed as if he felt that he did not really have to exert himself to win. That is what the crowd thought and also what Allerton thought.
Back and forth, back and forth, went the ball in long-drawn-out rallies, backcourt rallies during that first set. The set consumed more time and more energy than the score might indicate; finally, it went to Jerry at seven to five.
Jerry was sure that not once had his face or any bodily movement betrayed the secret of his foot.
A PPARENTLY entirely at ease, all Uv confidence, Jerry took his stand to start service in the second set. But for all his outer ease, within he was intensest concern and suspense. He had played and won that first set exactly as he had planned—his kind of game for that one match—the minimum of strain upon the left foot. If he could only keep Allerton playing this base-line game, why then — But Allerton was not kept at the baseline game. From the very beginning of that second set the play changed its character.
Allerton felt that some clever trick was behind the kind of game Jerry had been playing. So great an all-round player, so great a court strategist as Jerry would not hold back the fire of his big game, obviously would not so limit his action at the beginning of the fray, unless some masterful plan was behind it all.
All during the first set Allerton had tried every back-court device he knew, without being drawn into the trap he thought was set for him at the net, to uncover Jerry’s hidden purpose. But all his experimenting had revealed nothing, the trick was still successfully concealed. Only one way remained to discover Jerry’s trick—and that mystery had to be solved; this Was to walk deliberately into the trap and learn the trick by having it played upon him. After that he would know how to meet it.
With this as his motive, from the very start of the second set Allerton began to rush the net, expecting anything and everything. To his utter bewilderment nothing new or unexpected happened. Jerry remained in the back of his court, shooting them over just as before.
Allerton felt that still he had not discovered the mystery. Undoubtedly the mystery was there, just waiting its time to trap him.
But he continued rushing to the net on every opening, still alert for the sudden discharge against him of that puzzling mystery. The crowd now beheld the spectacle of a great net game against a great back-court game.
It was magnificent base-line tennis. But when a great base-line game meets a great net game in modern tennis there can be but one result, especially when the great base-line player apparently is taking things rather easily and is not even trying for the difficult returns. It was hard tennis, fast tennis, except for the balls Jerry seemed purposely to let go. That set went to Allerton at seven to five.
THE crowd applauded Allerton but not with full spontaneous volume. Undeniably he had won the set but he had not won against Jerry at his best, not against their real Jerry. But why didn’t Jerry wake up? Didn’t he realize that the championship of the nation, the honor of Canadian tennis depended upon his racket? This was no time for practising strokes—for fooling and smiling while he fooled. Why didn’t he play the game? But—
That third set went to Allerton also, six to four.
The stands applauded the Australian as he walked to the clubhouse for the customary seven minutes’ rest and the rub-down at the end of the third set. But it was mechanical applause and the crowd kept their seats in silent stupor or talked among them selves in whispers. This thing they had seen—it was unbelievable.
Jerry had dropped into a chair beside the_ umpire’s stand, there to take his period of rest. He did not dare go into the clubhouse; if he did so nothing he could say would prevent friends from having him stripped and given the usual refreshing rub-down—and they would see his foot! And his shoe, once off, could not be again put on! Right here on the court, in public view, was his only safety. And there he sat, praising Allerton’s great game, in his face and manner no hint of pain or disability— though that left foot was now burning and throbbing with a yet fiercer agony.
Uncle Billy and the two or three others who knew the reason for Jerry’s poor showing made themselves into walls that gave him privacy and shut off questioning and advice. Uncle Billy was pale; he was seeing Canada defeated and the Cup taken from her.
Through the little group of officials that surrounded Jerry ’Lizabeth pushed her way, the weak Tommie at her side and holding her arm. No order from officials on such an occasion could keep ’Lizabeth back. Jerry rose easily from his chair smiling that pleasant, unchanging smile which had grown to be irritating, indeed almost hateful, to thousands of people.
“Jerry, what’s the matter with you?” she demanded sharply, hotly, almost accusingly. “Why do you keep up such fooling? It’s clever, yes—but it’s not winning tennis! Don’t you know you’re not just Jerry MacAllister playing for Jerry MacAllister? You’re Johnny Canuck, playing for the Dominion of Canada! One more set like this and this
country will be--”
She did not finish her sentence. Her snapping it short into silence was the most effective finish she could have given it.
It was hard for Jerry to take ’Lizabeth’s condemnation smiling, but he did.
“Perhaps, I’m wrong, ’Lizabeth,” he said, “but I figured that playing this kind of a game was my best chance to beat Allerton.”
“It’s not and it never will beat him!” she cried. “Cut loose with your service— go to the net—play your Jerry game! That’s the only way to beat him! And for Canada’s sake, go to it!”
SHE stood very straight as she gave this order, quivering slightly, her blue eyes flashing at him. He met her gaze but he trembled at the accusation behind her sharp command. Tommie, however, stepped between the two and saved Jerry the difficulty of finding words with which to reply.
“Jerry’s played more tennis than either of us, ’Lizabeth, and I guess he knows, better than we do how to play his man,” Tommie said quietingly. “And now we’ll have to be getting right back, ’Lizabeth .—they’ll be clearing the court for the next set in a second.”
Jerry had hoped desperately that the terrific pace at which Allerton had gone during the second and third sets would have drawn heavily upon the Australian’s speed and endurance, and that against a tired and slower Allerton the craft of his back-court game might prevail. Despite the sting in what ’Lizabeth had said and what he knew the huge crowd, formerly his worshippers, were thinking, Jerry did not dare change his game. There was the pain, murderous enough as he had been playing, and which would rip him with a shriller agony if he put the strain of a greater effort upon his foot; that pain, however, he could bear. But if he should change his game there was the almost certain consequence that the first added effort would snap the weakened tendon and with the snap of the tendon the match would be instantly gone. No, his only chance was to play just as he had been playing and hope for a sloweddown opponent.
But from the start of the fourth set Jerry saw that this last hope had been all in vain. Allerton had been bodily refreshed by his rest and rub-down; spiritually he had been stimulated by the glorious dream of beating the great Jerry—a thing he had not considered possible, though he had gone into the match to fight his hardest as he always fought. With this vision before him he became a whirlwind, a tornado—a tornado that had also accuracy and finesse. Never before had he played such tennis as in this fourth set—uplifted and magnified and his every ability inspired to do greater than its greatest by the nearing glory of taking for himseif the high throne of world’s champion. Great as was his usual game, he was now playing almost a full fifteen above his best.
JERRY did not crumple—not for one moment—but the fury and accuracy of the super-Allerton made it appear to the vast audience that he had crumpled, even as they had seen Cameron crumple. Down went Jerry—down. Within nine minutes. Allerton was leading at three to nothing. He was making that set— the match set if he was it—a walk-away and a walk-away against the supposedly unbeatable Jerry. Then by a series of marvellous placements along the side lines Jerry took a game. But the next game Allerton went right through him and was leading four to one. Still Jerry held to those same futile tactics, keeping behind the middle of his base-line, still desperately hoping, still fearing that tendon. And on the resistless Allerton swept. Now he led at five to one. And then with Jerry serving and still sending over that chop service which he had been using through all four sets, Allerton, took the first point; then the second point. Game score, love thirty. Allerton’s score five to one, thirty to nothing, and needing only two more points. Two more points, and the set would be Allerton’s, the match Allerton’s, the Cup Australia’s, and the title of world’s champion rightfully if not technically Allerton's. Just two more points and Allerton, the world’s greatest tennis glory in his hands, was playing tennis that apparently could not be resisted or denied.
The huge crowd, while honoring the great Australian, sat sick and appalled. This fourth set had moved so swiftly that they could hardly realize this tragedy which they had witnessed. Their great Jerry—their unbeatable Jerry—was being crushingly defeated, humiliatingly de-
feated. And worst of all, was going down to defeat without putting forth his best efforts.
It was just then, when all was admittedly lost, that the change came, that amazing change; about which so much was made the following morning by all the daily papers of the world.
How a Cage was Opened
JUST what happened can be clearly stated. But that which caused this change—these facts and influences which did not get into the newspapers and which are not yet to be found in the records of tennis—these are not so easily stated.
Of course there was the obvious fact that in this last extremity, even if the weakened tendon did snap, he could not be worse beaten than he already was beaten. Trying to save that tendon and play the only game that seemed a possible winning game—this was of no further avail. The tendon might just as well snap. And then—and this influenced Jerry beyond any measuring—there was ’Lizabeth—how she had stung him—the need of setting himself right with her if possible. And then this great crowd— how it had depended on him—how Canada had depended on him!
The great achievement of the human frame, when injured; the spirit soaring to heights and carrying its disabled habiliment of flesh with it; this is one of the oldest of stories—a story, however, which can never grow old. Here is the supreme might of the spirit; the spirit which, in non-miracles, gives the dead power to pick up his bed and walk.
Such were Jerry’s motives. And being what he was, such was Jerry’s spirit.
After his second soft service, which brought him and his friends and Canada within two points of crushing defeat, Jerry paused the briefest instant before sending over his third service. It seemed natural to the great crowd that a man should pause at such a movement— should hesitate, shrink back from such a precipice before his final plunge. The crowd, hearts sick and bitter but now resigned, dully awaited the swift, inevitable end. Across the net, four feet inside his base line, alert to receive Jerry’s monotonous low-bounding service. Allerton waited, thrillingly intent to bring to a quick finish the glorious victory which was his.
Not once during those four sets had Jerry’s tactics or manner or appearance changed. And now without the slightest warning of change that impotent flatfooted service was gone. Back the lithe body swayed, arched backward as far as balance would permit; then foreward and up it swung upon the agonized ball of his left foot, on up till it felt the added spring and power of muscular toes; and then the racket whistled straight forward at its topmost arc. There was a singing pang—as when a single piano key is struck fortissimo—and a flick of white on Allerton’s centre line and Jerry’s rifle service was past him before he could move from his tracks.
The crowd blinked and sat up sharply. Allerton, taken aback, fearing Jerry might send him over either that shortshort-bounding service or a terrific service like the last, took a compromise stand upon his base line. Again that rifle service came over, not aimed at a corner that might possibly be out of Allerton’s reach hut at the very centre of the Australian’s body. The blinding speed of the ball gave Allerton no time to move to either side so that he might take the shot upon his forehand or backhand. He got his racket on the hall but so awkwardly that the hall angled sharply off and straight at 'Lizabeth on the clubhouse porch.
Thirty all. The startled crowd leaned forward with the desperate hope of the millionth chance. Allerton, now knowing what he had to meet, moved far behind the base line to the position taken by players who hoped to handle the MacAllister service, the greatest service in the world.
But the great Allcrton, greater than himself, victory almost his, was not dismayed. He got his racket on all these tremendous services; of some he made magnificent returns. But Jerry was no longer the base-line player. No longer was he letting difficult shots go by him without the challenge of an effort. On
every service he was now making for the net. His racket was everywhere.
EVEN in that first game of Jerry’s reversal—the seventh of the set— the crowd realized that it was seeing amazing tennis. It might not last more than this one game; certainly, with Allerton having such a lead and playing such a game it could not last long. But so long as it should last it was amazing.
And how Jerry did play! Psychologists tell us that in life’s supremest crisis, when the spirit is most nearly free from earthly or personal considerations, or in periods of unusual relaxation, we may become clairvoyant, clairaudient, may glimpse into the future. Perhaps Jerry’s spirit may have had a brief gift of prescience or something may have whispered to him that this was perhaps his swan song and that while voice lasted he should sing his best. Jerry never had played better than he now played.
Allerton’s shots to the far corners, his sharply angled cross-court shots, his under-cut balls that fell just over the net, the cleverly placed lobs—all these shots that only swift and imperiling movement could recover and which Jerry had been allowing to pass him— all such balls he now tried for and got. It was marvellous racket work! Marvellous!
Details and figures are not here needed. Jerry won the game in which he turned and made his stand. And he won the next, with Allerton fighting brilliantly and stubbornly like the great and gallant player that he was. And Jerry won the next. And the next. Games now five all. The crowd began to see that Jerry, and Canada, had a real chance.
Jerry won that set at eight to six. In its joy the crowd went wild. Two sets each and if Jerry could maintain such playing the Cup would be safe! Marvellous playing—marvellous! But even in this hour of anticipatory jubilation there were many who again criticized Jerry’s playing of the match, for no idol is so great that he is without his critics. He had been hippodroming—grandstanding; handing Allerton this apparently secure lead merely in order that he, Jerry, might flash a melodramatic finish. Great playing, of course, but theatrical. The people who thought this and said this were the people who felt most sick at themselves when they read their papers the following morning.
THE pair went into the fifth and deciding match with the same fury and determination. With both men playing above themselves, it was bitterly fought throughout and was much more close than the figures would indicate. But again, why go into details?—when the details are all correctly set forth elsewhere. Allerton played with unfaltering skill and courage, but what chance had even an Allerton who was greater than Allerton again a Jerry who for a few climacteric moments was greater than Jerry? As all remember, Jerry took the fifth set at six to four and it was only the reward that was justly due his feet that the winning point, the final touch in the great victory, should come because of the infallible magic of his footwork.
Jerry was in his favorite net position just within his service line when Allerton sent up a beautiful deep lob. Jerry’s feet carried him to the exact spot beneath the dropping ball, lifted him in a Mercury’s leap high into the air and thus gave his racket its chance. The racket flashed in its arc—there was that singing pang!—the hall shot down into Allerton’s court, spurted up seemingly a hundred feet into the air and soared over the grand stand!
The great crowd stood up and roared; pounded its hands and roared, shouting Jerry’s name. Victory had been snatched from defeat! The cup was still Canada’s.
For a moment Jerry stood in mid-back court where his feet had uplifted him for his final shot. His face was toward one of the grand stands and to the cheering thousands he returned his magnetic smile; that smile which had not left him at any time during the struggle.
Toward him as he stood there the linesmen came rushing. And the big voice of Uncle Billy boomed out joyously: “Jerry—Jerry! The world can’t beat you! Oh, Jerry!”
Suddenly the onrushing officials halted in their tracks and waited. Again had come that brief moment which tradition
has made sacred to the vanquished and his victor. Around the net came running the big Australian, panting heavily, adrip with sweat. His face glowing with genuine admiration he advanced upon Jerry with hand outheld.
But before he could reach Jerry, Jerry was not there to take that hand of warm congratulation. He was in a loose huddle upon the turf.
When he swam back to consciousness, from what ever far place he had been, Jerry was stretched upon two joined tables in the common room of the clubhouse and there was the burning taste of brandy in his throat and his head and face and neck were dripping with water. But none of these was the first thing his consciousness seized upon. The first thing was the amazing fact that ’Lizabeth was holding him tight in her arms, was kissing him and between her kisses was sobbing out.
“Oh, Jerry—it was awful what I said to you! Forgive me, Jerry! Please do! You were—you were—”
He slipped his right arm about her, drew her convulsively close to him and without a word of reply to her he kissed her—the first time he had ever kissed her.
THEN holding her so, he noted that they were not alone. Close beside him on his right stood Garry Weston; and down near his feet stood his gallant opponent, still in his wet tennis clothes, looking very grave and pale; and seated in a chair at his left was the weakened Tommie—good old Tommie—his thin freckled face quivering with anxiety.
Then Jerry became conscious of that terrible pain in his left foot; then he felt a slashing of his shoe laces, then of the shoe itself, and looking down in that direction he saw that the slasher was Doctor Anthony, a member of the club and a famous surgeon. He felt the shoe pulled off and after the shoe his heavy woollen sock. And then he heard Doctor Anthony catch his breath and exclaim: “Look at that foot, will you! Think of a man playing with such a foot—and think of a man playing such tennis as Jerry played those last two sets and playing it with a foot like that!”
There was awe and amazement in the doctor’s voice. Jerry had caught the anxiety in the bearing of all and now that everything was over and quite all right he wanted to dispel their concern.
“Nothing to worry about, doctor—just a tendon broke on me,” he explained cheerfully, “and you can splice that.” And to the others Jerry explained apologetically: “I knew I had that bad tendon and that it might snap if I put too much strain on it. That’s why I took things so easy the early part of the match._ Lucky for me the tendon didn’t snap till the match was over.”
“Snapped tendon!” almost shouted Doctor Anthony. “This is no such sweet little thing as a snapped tendon! This is a fulminating infection.”
“Fulminating infection?” repeated Jerry. “What’s that mean in ordinary English?”
“Blood poisoning! You must have had it before you went into that match. And your playing—particularly the way you played those last two sets—all that strain and twisting on the very centre of infection—that set the thing to galloping.”
Doctor Anthony turned sharply on his friend, Garry Weston. “Garry get my hospital on the wire, quick. Tell them to rush an ambulance here. I want this foot on an operating table inside half an hour!”
Garry Weston vanished.
“Is it—is it dangerous, doctor?” asked Uncle Billy.
“Dangerous!” cried Doctor Anthony. “Hardly anything more dangerous—or swifter! I’ve seen men die inside of twenty-four hours from a less thing than this foot!” And then he added consolingly with vigorous determination as though committing himself to a promise. “But I’ll save Jerry’s life! And his leg! And his foot, too! That is, some kind of a foot.”
There was a moment of silence at this. Again it was Uncle Billy who first spoke.
“But his tennis, doctor?” breathed Uncle Billy. “Will it affect Jerry’s tennis?”
“Jerry’s tennis! Tennis with such a foot as he’s going to have!” Then the famous surgeon, brusquely snapping out his facts and orders like a general facing an unexpected attack, subsided into the
simple, big-hearted man he was, a lover of tennis, an admirer of Jerry and Jerry’s game; and his big authoritative voice softened to a slow whisper.
“You and I—all of us—have just seen the last tennis Jerry will ever play.”
AS THE full meaning of Doctor Anthony’s verdict came home to Jerry he closed his eyes upon the unbearable agony of it. Never to play again! Never to feel again that artist’s thrill of full mastery of one’s faculties and one’s instruments! Never to feel again that splendid joy of give and take with a worthy and gallant opponent. Never ' again to hear the mighty applause of the great crowds—the crowds he loved and who loved him! Never!
What Jerry suffered while his tennis self lay dying is beyond the limited power of mere words even to suggest.
And then, uncertainly and tremulously at first, another sensation began to press forward through this death agony. This sensation was born of, rather the slow resurrection of, that idea which had been behind all his planning for this last year and more; that idea which had tempted him to cut himself even as chance had willed it that he should be cut by accident. That idea in its resurrection form—a form of which he previously had never, never dreamed—grew and grew and grew. He caught his breath at what his mind was seeing.
He heard Tommie choking out against his shoulder: “Think of it—the greatest the world ever saw—coming to such a finish!”
Holding ’Lizabeth tight to him with his right arm, with his left Jerry gently pushed Tommie who had fought him and shared with him away so that he could look into his old friend’s eyes. His left hand caught and held Tommie’s left.
“It doesn’t matter, Tommie—don’t you see?” he whispered meaningly. “Don’t you see?”
Tommie stared through his blinking tears at Jerry’s face. In Jerry’s face, though still dazed with loss, there was relief, even exultation, even the beginning of a very pale smile. 4
“My Heavens!” breathed the next champion of the world, in awe, convulsively gripping the hand he held. “My Heavens!”
For the next champion of the world understood. He was seeing what Jerry was seeing. He caught his breath in a sharp gasp, in an inward exclamation.
So—Jerry was seeing this as his way out!
DOCTOR ANTHONY was as nearly right as any doctor, however great, is likely to be when he has to make a quick diagnosis of so swift and deadly and treacherous a disease as blood poisoning. Jerry never played tennis again. That is, not championship tennis; not what ’Lizabeth termed his “Jerry tennis.”
But tennis of another variety Jerry does play—on Saturday half holidays and on Wednesday afternoons; but on Wednesday afternoons not earlier than fourthirty. These few hours out of the week are all Jerry can possibly spare for tennis from business; and business takes most of his evenings as well. For after the operation Jerry gave himself as one possessed to Uncle Billy’s business and though but an amateur at business he soon discovered that Uncle Billy’s business was in a far worse way than he had once told Tommie. In fact, just a little longer and Uncle Billy would have had no business.
When you see Jerry on the tennis courts now you almost invariably see him in a match with Mrs. Jerry. For the stiff woman’s game that ’Lizabeth plays is now just about Jerry’s measure, with that left foot of his. For all ordinary purposes of life that left foot is adequate, but on the tennis court that stiff foot is little better than a clever, self-manipulating crutch.
Sometimes Jerry longs for the glorious game that once was his, for the worshipping applause of giant crowds—both now gone forever. But on the whole he is much happier than he had ever dreamed of being. For he has love; he has work, that is a real man’s work; he has friends. And that is far more than the lives of most people total.