A smashed nose and a cauliflower ear may not be the hallmarks of erudition; but then again, there may be something besides bone behind them, at that.
HE WAS fifteen years old, and, to his of futility on stilts, when all at once he became aware of himself, and knew that among the stars there was a hitching-place for his own particular wagon. From that moment, he was determined to go to college and be a mining-engineer, but when he told his father about it, he got no responsive paean of congratulation.
His father was a man who wore white washable ties, and never missed a prayer-meeting, but he suffered from too many beliefs. He believed, for example, that a college is an establishment where long-haired youths, clad in sweaters and cigarettes, occupy themselves by playing poker, stealing barber-poles, and explaining to each other in song precisely where the gang is, how dry they are, and that they would like to have their Bonnie shipped back from overseas by first available transport.
He also believed that just as an apprentice learns to be a locomotiveengineer by working around locomotives, so could a willing pupil best learn to be a mining-engineer by working in a few mines. Lastly, he disapproved of mines anyway: for mines, he said, conduce to gambling in the stock market, which is sin.
“Now, don’t you be a fool, Artie,” he said. “You get them dude notions right straight out of your noodle.
College? Why, Artie, if college didn’t only cost a nickel a term, I’d rather put you in Reform School than spend the nickel!”
So that Artie, with jaundice in his soul, flung himself out of the house; and while steeped in the problem of getting a technical education on a cash capital of a dollar and eight cents, was bumped off the sidewalk by a butcher’s-boy, half a head taller and many pounds heavier—and the only witness of the massacre was a personage called One-Round Lanigan, who had been doing a little mild road-work out of town.
Lanigan persuaded the butcher’s-boy that he wasn’t killed, sent him on his lugubrious way, and turned to the winner.
“Lookit, Kid,” he said paternally, “how about pickin’ up a nice piece o’ change—dead easy?”
Artie stared at him. “What’s the big idea?”
“Oh, nothin’—on’y I know another kid about your size kind of needs to be took down, see? Well, I seen you fight, so I kind of hunch you could lick him—and I got ten iron men says I’m right. See?”
Artie stiffened. “ What?”
“Y’heard me. Ten bones if I’m right. See?”
And his voice was the voice of Melody, descending from a throne.
Artie Carroll could hardly clear the mist from his senses. Ten dollars! It was a dividend from the skies. The cornerstone of his castle in Spain had come tumbling upon him as unexpectedly as halfa-brick might have tumbled from the scaffold of a new building. And how could his father ever suspect the source thereof, and claim the booty?
His eyes were bulging. “Is that on the level, mister?” he managed. “This kid ain’t too big for me?”
“Y’heard me say he’s your same size, didn’ you? Now, lookit, kid. Me and some more like me wants to see this four-flusher licked, see? If you put it acrost, you cop the ten beans. That goes as it lays.”
“Where is he?” demanded Artie, impetuously.
When he actually met that other kid, however—but
this wasn’t until Saturday night, and after much diplomacy on Lanigan’s part—Artie was frightened. He wasn’t afraid of bruises, but he was utterly demoralized by his own presence in the Lakeside Athletic Club. He was sitting under sizzling arc-lights, clothed in half a bathingsuit, and there was no place to hide. He was hypnotized
by rows of disembodied faces, which peered up at him through a curtain of cigar smoke. His heart sounded to him like the one-lung gas-engine which ran the pump at the next-door neighbor’s. If his father ever knew! His mother! His sister! His teachers! But there was ten dollars in it—if he won.
Artie glanced at the kid in the opposite corner. That other kid didn’t look as though he or his father or, for that matter, anybody of his acquaintance had ever attended many prayer meetings. And he was so cool, so evidently experienced, as he leaned against the ropes, and grinned at a friend in the audience. the first the evenin’s entertainment is
“Gents, the first event on the evenin’s entertainment is a four-round exhibition o’ boxin’— Abey Greenberg o’ West Toronto, in this corner—Kid Arthur o’ North Toronto in this corner. Four rounds.” Clangl
They had told him to shake with Abey, first, and he meant to do it, but as he extended his hand, Abey slapped it, and simultaneously banged in his left to the jaw. Artie staggered back, pained and disillusioned, but from that instant, he forgot the crowd, he forgot his father, he forgot even the purse. He was out to get square with Abey.
His left hand went up before him, and rocked back and forth, pushing the air away by gentle degrees. His right stayed low, and menacing. Abey came in with a rush: Artie
stopped him with a straight left, and ducked away from the counter. Abey led cautiously, and Artie, feinting with his left, tied Abey into a bow-knot, set himself, and hit from where his right hand was . . . And Abey, who had thought to put one over on him, was lying on his back, as flat as any turtle, and people were applauding, and laughing immoderately. The first event of the evening’s entertainment had lasted twenty seconds.
It was'Lanigan, the club matchmaker, who helped Artie Carroll, half-dazed and trembling with nervous excitement, into the mouldy dressing-room. Attaboy! Quickest K.O. I ever see. You’re in ten beans, an’ Abey’s in the soup, see? No more jobs for Abey at the Lakeside. Now next Sat-day night, nine o’clock. Youse'll go on wit’ Young Kraus, see? He won’t be such a pipe. But you stick to the game, kid, and youse 11 draw down a big hunk o’ jack. See?”
Artie went home without a scratch, and stayed awake until dawn, rolling Lanigan’s prophecy under his tongue. What on earth could be simpler than to scrap for a few minutes, now and then, and to go to college on the proceeds? Why, over in back of school, one scrapped for nothing. It would be necessary, of course, to keep it dark from Father—but Artie thought that this could be arranged.
AND so, for the next two winters slim-waisted youngster whose fighting on a slightly lower plane went into action once or twice a mi down in the city: Mr. Carroll's circl circle were as China to Peru; and if, oo acquired a black eye or a split lip, it cost groan from bis father, and the gloomy forecast that any lad who would parade the streets at night, and engage in broils with his school-fellows, would come to no good end.
In the beginning, he got ten dollars if he won and not even car fare if he lost, but since he generally contrived to in, or at the worst, draw, the market presently strengthened to fifteen, to twenty, and to twenty-five. On the day that he graduated from High School, he was so sick of punching and being punched that even the sound of a trolley-gong produced goose-flesh on him. but he had saved more than a thousand dollars, and cannily distributed it among nine savings-banks His college career was underwritten, and there remained only the ordeal of breaking the new, to father It wasn't going to be pleasant, but he reflected that if a man wants to collect eggs, But he ha In': - nerve when suddenly his father fell ill and died died innocent, bankrupt, and till full of beliefs Fhere was only one thing for Artie to a nfeesion he turned his fortune over to bis mother and sister who were atei agreed that the taint proba! > wa went down to the School of Mines, anyhow, and lived in town. He was in excellent condition, and he was also a w nly university man in the ring, and it, he was competent. The sporting’> nicknamed him Kid Highbrow, and that Noah has had After that e cartoonists fell upon him, and drew him with a protuberant forehead, and huge spectacles, sitting between rounds on a set of Gibbon's Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, and reading Ibsen, while his seconds m w ith parchments labelled "Plato" and “Emerson " It was good advertising, but frequently he felt as as Mutt and Jeff. Into the bargain, his classmates regarded him with a lious eye. It was common enough for a poor and r ugl college by nourishing furnaces, spanking carpets and even by exercising Pomeranians; but heretofore no gentleman had ever olunteered to earn his education by the sole means of -king some other gentleman’s block off. So that the same individual who, in the ring, was called a highbrow, was called a roughneck on the campus.
ACCORDING to all moral precedents, of course, this t «cate of affairs shouldn't have lasted beyond the ‘cond semester. By that time, a pure and,high-minded u Something, should have recognized true merit where he saw it. taken Carroll under his wing and hatched him into a pet of society. Unfortunately, wever, th rats continued to regard Carroll as a roughneck, just as Carroll continued to value them in tum as a bunch of sweet-scented geraniums who looked as they had died on the stalk. The only Van Anything he was really interested in was vanadium steel. In the meantime, he was attending lectures and plow-g it tex’ - s for nine hours a day, keeping fit in the fighting once a fortnight, for which, on the metropolitan scale, he was paid an average of a hundred dollars. Despite his father's forebodings, he let the barber-poles severely alone, and permitted Bonnie to languish wherever she might happen to be at the time. But his mother and sister, in acknowledging the checks he sen: them, rarely failed to imply that he had taken serre as the devil's valet. He sometimes wondered, with ‘he smile of a persimmon-eater, what better reference they would give him if he broke his hand on somebody’s dome, one of these nights, and had to cut down their
friend was the manager of the University Billiard Parlor; and from time to time, i an earful. time I pull on those mitts, I get the shivers els like a wash-board. I sat in this game for that's how I’m sittin’ in it now. I got to make my expe mses, I'm sendin' my family more’n the old ked in with—and I got to slip somethin’ d sock. Bu* ba-iccre me, boy, they’s a limit, All I want ¡3 nine or ten thou, and when I see it, you couldn't get a glove on me again with a hydraulic ram.” mmented his friend. “That’s like Jeffries
"Well, that's one of the differences between he and I.” "Betcher million dollars you don't never quit ’till they make you quit,” said his friend, invitingly, but Carroll didn't cover the bet. At the end oí his he had been elected
At the end oí his sophomore year he had been elected to no fraternity, but Diamond Jim Kelly, the czar of the Ward, called him by his first name, which was fully as flattering, and imposed no dues nor initiation fee. The aristocrats still gave him the cold and haughty, but he stood thirty-first in a class of two hundred and he had paid off the mortgage on hi3 mother’s house. In the
In the spring of his third year, he was thought ripe enough to fight a semi-final at the Kenwood, where he won from a very good man, on points. “My slice was three-fifty,” he said to his friend in the billiard parlor, "and that makes an even three thou, in the old bank-roll. I got a job in Cobalt promised me, soon’s I get my dip.—r. hundred to start. Well, boy, by then I’ll have a biz enough stake so’s I can lay off this game for good.”
"Yeah," said his friend with indulgent scorn. “Lay off it like Adelaide Patti and Sarah Heartburn done. Five-star final farewell preformanee every two weeks.”
That summer, he toured the least, plucked several lemons, and came back with eighteen hundred seeds. In November, he was matched with one who bore the modest rtow-ih -guerre of The Toledo Thunderbolt , and Artie took all the electricity out of him in seven rounds. In January, he not only passed his mid-year examinations with credit, but he also beat an imported British lightweight at the Arena. In another month, he went close to the head of his division, went South and brought back a triumph and a thin check for a fat amount from Jersey City.
"And that,” he said to his friend, jubilantly, “boosts the roll to nine and a half grand and l’mfaffcinjjtoyou boy, I’m through."
"Through your hat,” said his friend.
"Think so? Well, 1 got six bids in yesterday’s mail, and
I didn’t even put ’em on ice. They was cold turkey before they got to me. No, sir. Here’s where I walk out on the show. Lord! It feels like I just took a bath!”
II T11EN Easter came, he treated himself to the first * » vacation in his life, and went to Atlantic City. His
hotel was on the pitcher-and-bowd circuit, and no matter whether he rang three times or thirty, the chambermaid never came up with the towels; but it was here that Carroll met the Inevitable She, from Toronto, at that, and fell in love with her.
It was a whirlwind campaign. At noon, she sat next him at table, and began their intimacy by asking if he would mind kindly passing her the butter. At five o’clock, lie had bought her a pound of salt-water taffy, and she had given him the enamelled sleeve-links which she had won at Japanese ping-pong. At ten, on the board-walk, he was confiding in her.
"Why, I can't hardly believe," she said to him, “you could have went and done all that! It’s perfectly thrilling. But do you know' the most, wonderful part of it?”
Carroll, who consisted exclusively of heart, feet and hands, shook his head. “No. What is it?”
“Why, it’s to be nervy enough to stop—when you’d got to where you could write your own ticket, as the boys say. Oh, I can see how fierce it must have been for you, in with cheap-skates and bruisers like that, but just the same—to have nerve enough to quit, when everthin’ was cornin’ your way—” Here, she had looked thoughtful. “But I’m awful glad you did it, before I and you ever made an acquaintance.”
“Well, I like to know you have done all that, but if I knew' to-morrow or next week sometime, you had another fight on—I’d feel different. I couldn’t help it. I think prize-fights are just awful."
"That’s funny. I’m the same man I was before I quit, ain’t I?”
"Oh, you are to you, of course, but you wouldn’t be to me. I can’t tell you how I’d squirm if you was still in that line. Maybe you think I’m awful unreasonable, but—” Here she had smiled. “When we ladies are reasonable, you men don’t always like us so much.”
In his own room, he rehearsed that dialogue several times. The personal flavor was delightful. Also, as he visualized the lady, he told himself that she was certainly the classiest wren he had ever encountered. Pretty? Like a picture, and when she had been little she had lisped, and her mouth always looked as though she were just going to resume practice. Stylish? She was the last word, the period, and the end of the sentence. Bright? Well she was twenty-one, and already a departmental-chief buyer in one of the biggest mail-order houses in Ontario.
On the following day, he bought flowers for her, and more salt-water taffy, and took her to dance on the Pier, where he was so light on his feet that she felt like a dreadnought.
“That step? . . . Why, nothin’ special. It’s how I’d shake my dogs if the other guy led with his left, and I—”
“Aw, do you have to keep remindin’ me of it? I got to give you credit, but I hate to think of you like that—
“Well, I see where I got to treat you like you belonged in my own family,” said Carroll, with ready tolerance. “Allright. Let’s forget it. I’m a minin’-engineer.”
HER own holiday was at an end: but when he put her on the train, she told him to be sure and call, sometime, when he happened to be in her neighborhood at home. This was on Sunday night, and by Tuesday he had decided that Atlantic City was a pretty nobby dump, all right, but too lonesome . . . Also, he really ought to go back to Toronto and do a little studying . . .
So that on Thursday, he happened to be in her neighborhood, and called, and when she let him in, she cried: “Why, stranger! Check your hat on the first chair you see, and come right-in!"
She had evidently told her parents something about him, and they received him kindly enough, but their kindness had the trade-mark of Missouri on it. Mr. Barton, who taught penmanship in the public-schools, tried to put him at his ease by talking shop, but not
much came of it, inasmuch as Mr. Barton’s knowledge of the ring was bounded by the dim impression that John L. Sullivan was still champion. Mrs. Barton, plump and white-haired, said little, but she regarded Carroll as though he had been the Wild-Man of Borneo, out on probation.
“I guess 1 didn’t make too much of a hit with your folks,” he said to Edith, afterwards. “They kind of give me the raspberry; didn’t they?”
“Oh, no—but they’re both choosy, kind of, if you know what I mean—it’s just they never made anybody’s acquaintance like you before.”
“Well, are they goin’ to put up a roar if I take you out somewheres, say once every coupla years?”
Her smile increased his temperature by a half-degree. “Well, I’ll certainly put up one if you don't," she said.
AND so, in spite of the fact that her parents put up a very audible roar indeed, he took her to musicalcomedy, and he took her to a feature film, where, in the darkness he ventured to put his hand over hers
On the way home, there was much silence. Presently, Carroll cleared his throat. “Like the filium, Edie? I did. It sure did put me down for the count.”
“It was ger-rand. Only won't you stop pulling that coarse language, Artie? You don’t know how it aggravates me, you ever mixing in with those kind of people, and beating up other boys for a living.”
A block later, he said abruptly: “But if anybody thinks, because 1 did have to make a livin’ that way, once, I ain’t goin’ to be a pretty fair engineer—why, they got another think cornin’, that’s all. I’m goin’ to make good.”
say you are. I know it, too.”
They found the apartment deserted: Mr. and Mrs. Barton were on their evening pilgrimage around the block. When Carroll put his arm around her, he was as frightened as he had been on that night, six years ago, when he had knocked out Abey Greenberg. “Edie—you know I’m nuts about you—don’t you?”
There was a little pause. “Yes. I do.”
“Well, is they any chance for me, baby?”
At last, just above a whisper she said: “Oh, my dear— my dear!”
From the doorway, her father exclaimed: “Edith!" And over his shoulder, still more loudly and agonizedly: "Mother!"
For sheer warmth and difference of opinion, the next few minutes would have made Dublin seem chilly by comparison. Then and there they impeached Carroll for his youth, his inexperience, and above all, for his past associations; to which he responded stoutly that youth is always cursed by the calendar, that a man who had made a living in the ring for six years needed no correspondence-school lessons in taking care of himself, and that boxing was now a dead issue in his life, anyway.
They turned to Edith: suppose that engineering didn’t pay, and Carroll were tempted to backslide: would she care to go through life as Mrs. K. Highbrow? And everything else aside, did she know the risk she was running if she married a man who wasn’t on her own plane, socially?
She was a girl of spirit, and she ran true to feminine form. On the spot she promoted Carroll from hero to martyr, and within a week, she not only wore a solitaire, but she was also selecting her trousseau. “He’s promised he won’t never fight again,” she said, stubbornly, “and he’s a perfect gentleman—and no matter who says he ain’t, he is! We’re going to be married the last week in June, and go up to Cobait.”
IT WAS still May, however, and Carroll was preparing to submerge himself in his final examinations, when Fate chose the moment to sandbag him. Fate was ery quiet about it, but also very efficient. One morning, the Gibraltar Bank simply didn’t open its doors. And every penny of Carroll’s wealth had been lying peacefully in the Gibraltar Bank.
He came to Edith, and stood gazing at her with a cracked smile. “Well, baby,” he said, subdued. “They’ve went and knocked me for another goal.”
She clung to him. “Oh, Artie! Oh, Artie! What are we ever goin’ to do?"
His expression was new to her. “Well, I got forty on me—and outside of that, I’m shot. They say us depositors’ll get somethin' back—sometime— but I got the folks at home—and 1 got you—and—
She drew back a little, and her eyes were even wider. Intuition was strong. "Artie!" she said, under her breath.
“Listen, baby. Now don’t fall apart—but this comes pretty close to bein’ a life-saver. Listen. A coupla days ago I got a wire offerin’ me seventy-five hundred, win, lose, or draw, to fight this Ted Wells from the Coast, the First o’ July, in the Arena. He wants a match for the title, but White won’t meet him unless he beats me first. See? An’ they know me; they know my word’s good; they’ll advance my trainin' expenses when I sign. Baby—”
Her eyes looked as though they had been starched. “Artie, if you went and did that—after all I said—after you promised . . “For the love of Mike, baby! Do you think I want this scrap? I tell you I’m flat: I tell you the folks have got to have some coin! Sure I promised. I don’t want to fight. But will you kindly tell me how we’re goin’ to be married if I don't?”
Her breath was coming faster. “And do you think I’d marry you if you did? They told me; didn’t they say you’d fall for it, sometime?”
Carroll wet his lips. “Be reasonable, Edie. I’m goin’ to hate it just like you are. More. Sure I promised. But they’s two other women besides you in this; that’s why—” She came to him swiftly. “Oh, Artie! Please, darling, don’t you get me? I’d wait for you, I’d work for you, I wouldn’t care how long it was! But if you go fight again— now—you wouldn’t never be the same man to me. Never again. I couldn’t stand it, Artie. I couldn't!”
“They’s two other women besides you in this,” he said, doggedly. “That’s why I wired back this mornin’ that I’m on . . Edie, for God’s sake, be reasonable.”
She gasped. “And you—you took ’em up before you so much as talked to me?"
“Edie, I had to. I—”
She was stripping the solitaire from her finger. “I can’t stand it, Artie. I told you. And when on top of it, you could go make a deal before you so much as spoke to me . . You better take this back.”
“No, Edie. I—”
She swallowed repeatedly. “Take it! I mean it. If that’s the kind of a man you are—if that's all your promises mean—I made*a big mistake!”
There was a deep silence. Carroll sighed heavily. “Well, they’s no sense makin’ a fuss about it. ’Long’s you feel like you do . . . Well, if here’s where I get the gate, I’d kind of like two things to remember, Edie. Would you mind if I kissed you good-bye—and would you mind wishin’ me luck? This bird Wells is a bear-cat.” She was hysterical. “Luck? Arthur Carroll, if after all I said to you, all I been to you, all the row I put up with
over you, you go in that fight, I hope that fellow hands you the worst lickin’ a man ever got! I do! Go on away from here! Go on! I hope I never see you again! L'nless it was to see he—he darn near spoils you! That’s all! I mean it!”
He went, without another word. And how could he have guessed that Mr. Barton observed gravely to his wife, that night: “Edie says she made a mistake . . . But I wouldn’t be too sure you and I didn’t. When a boy thinks that much of his folkswhy, he’s got somethin’.”
In another day or two, there were interesting paragraphs in the papers.
“Now that Kid Highbrow has put his John Hancock to the documents, and will meet Ted Wells on the First of July, another myth has blown up with a bang. Some day there may be a fighter who will quit before he ceased to be a drawing-card, but this will be the day of the millennium.
“As to the mill, we see only one result. To be sure, this is Wells’ first appearance east of the Rockies, but from all charts of form, Ted will undoubtedly oblige the educated mauler from the Heights with a swift knockout, which will give Wells his match for the title next fall. The Kid is clever, but Wells is bigger, faster and stronger . . .
The odds are three to one on Wells, and two to one that the bout doesn’t go the limit.”
CARROLL was training listlessly. Sleep had deserted him, and he had no appetite. His examinations were safely over, but his mother and sister were writing him letters which deserved asbestos stationery. Well, that made it unanimous. He had gone back into this game, which he loathed, for the sake of three women, and his sacrifice had cost him his sweetheart, and two predictions of hell-fire. So that when his friend the billiard-manager criticised him for his lethargy, Carroll nearly bit him.
“You’re the kind of a guy,” he said, “that wants to eat rat-poison on toast. Just because a bank busted on me, why, you think you called the turn. You go wipe off your chin.”
And then it was July First. When he awoke, he was tired and joyless: and at the weighing-in that afternoon, he was six pounds under normal. Wells was there, too; an unhandsome youth with all the gold of El Dorado in his grin. They shook hands, formally.
“I see you somewhere before, Ted, didn’t I?”
“Well, I ain’t been east of Calgary since I was in short pants, Kid.”
“Well, I never been west of the ’Peg.’ ” His practised eye told him that Wells was in beautiful condition. “Well, see you later, Ted.”
“You said it, Kid.”
And so presently, the Kid, in a chaste blue dressinggown, pushed down a long aisle, and clambered up under the ropes to the canvas flooring. There, restless and unhappy, he waited for Wells to put in his appearance; but his mind wasn’t on business: it was going out on too many errands, a few of them home, but the great majority to Tenth Street.
And now, at last, WTells, in an acutely purple bathrobe, was bounding into the ring, followed by a dozen hangerson from his stable. Cheers. Prolonged whistling from the galleries. Wells had never fought a single round before this house, and yet was a prompt favorite. Carroll had a little twinge of jealousy. Of course, it was because W'ells was known to be a fighter of the hurricane type: the fans like that. Funny, too, he had never seen WTells before this afternoon, but there was something vaguely familiar about him. But it was too much trouble to try to think.
Announcements. Some unknown from Truro challenges the winner. Catcalls. Somebody else, in evening clothes, would fight anybody in the world. Applause. Sailor Murphy, who had beaten nothing but his boardbill these last five seasons, challenged Georges Carpenter. And now the ring was being cleared of all the rubbish of hangerson. Gloves. The Kid flinched as though he had been rasped with a file. Discussion about bandages. Carroll wondered what was going on at Tenth Street. She had never sent him a peep. Not one. She hoped he’d lose. Well, that was all right. He probably would. Wells was going to eat him alive.
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Continued from page 9
Now there was a lull. A suggestive lull. And a cold torpor creeping over him. A deadly indifference. To the middle of the ring. Instructions—the same old bunk. Again, a hush. A handshake. Like a whiplash across his senses—the gong.
Out in the box-office, a young man answered the telephone, and presently smiled. “Why no, ma’am, you couldn’t possibly speak to the Kid—the main bout’s on, right now . . . Sorry.”
In the Arena, Mr. Wells and Mr. Carroll were sparring briskly.
NOW by disposition, the Kid was only a boxer, and for six years he had boxed for the same reason that other men teach Latin, write novels, or play in a saxophone orchestra. He had a gift for it, and it supported him. But Wells was a fighter—and he wanted to be champion of the world.
They sparred, and Wells whipped over a hook to the Kid’s jaw. It hurt. As soon as that, it hurt. Automatically, the Kid clinched; and on the breakway, Wells landed again, and again the Kid was hurt. As soon as that, the world became unreal to him—as though, still asleep, he were trying to interpret a nightmare.
Down below, the sport-writers were busy.
“Wells shakes the Kid with another left hook. The Kid tries to clinch, but Wells gets away. The Kid hasn’t put a glove on Wells yet. Wells lands another over the heart. Wells ducks out of a clinch and gets in another to the head. Wells is handing the Kid an awful beating. The Kid misses a right swing by six inches, and Wells knocks him through the ropes with a left to the jaw. Wells lands right and left to the body as the gong rings. This fight won’t go far.”
In his corner, the Kid was panting wildly. He was seeing visions, which glittered and danced before him. Up home somebody was writing him another letter, and telling him that he was doing the devil’s business, and asking for another cheque. Up at Tenth Street, somebody was too refined for him; and beside him, somebody was annoying him excessively with towels and talk. The bell!
“Second Round: Wells is out of his corner with a rush, and the Kid clinches. The Kid takes two heavy rights to the head. Wells drives him around the ring, and hands him a terrible lacing. The Kid is taking awful punishment at the gong.”
In the chair again, more towelling, more visions, water, and a whiff of ammonia. So desperately soon, that strident gong. He doesn’t know why he has to get up—but he knows that he does have to.
“Third Round: Wells drives the Kid through the ropes with a terrific smash to the jaw. The Kid is almost out. Wells knocks the Kid down for the count of seven. The Kid is up, but Wells floors him again with a right to the jaw. The Kid is up, very groggy. He clinches. Wells is talking to him in the clinch. Wells puts him down for the third time, but the gong saves him.”
HE HAD heard a confused roaring like the waves of the sea, and then the lights had gone out . . . He had returned through velvet darkness, shot with flame. His brain was attached to his body by a scarlet thread of pain, and the thread had snapped with the buzzing of a million bees. He was in the chair, whispering to himself: “Well, she gets her hope. She gets her hope.”
And then came rushing over him the memory of what Wells had said to him in that last clinch, just before the Kid went down. A vivid, numbing memory; which suddenly acted on the Kid like another whiff of ammonia. For Wells had said in his ear vindictively, jocosely, imperially:
“Makes us square, Kid . . . Couldn’t ya place me? Doncher remember Ahey Greenberg — Toronto — Lakeside A.C.? Well—I’m him.”
Abey Greenberg! How easy Abey had been, that night. So easy that Lanigan had canned him, and he had disappeared. So this was Abey. No wonder he had looked familiar. And Abey had gone to the Coast, and learned how to fight. You bet he had.
And now the Kid was arctic cold. He was remembering how Abey had tried to put one over on him, that night. In his addled consciousness, the injury was fresh and vital. The Kid forgot his condition, his apathy, his family, Edith. He was out once more to get square.
“If I can stay with him to the tenth,” he said, aloud, “I’ll knock him out.” His seconds thought he was raving. Stay to the tenth? He was doomed at every instant.
The would-be champion came flying from his corner, but the Kid ducked away. Ducked away—and ran— and for the first time on record, a crowd hissed him. But the Kid was saying to himself that if he could stay away from Abey, and last ten rounds, he could win— he knew it—and therefore he ran. He was knocked down once, that round, and again in the next, but his brain was clearing and he was a trifle stronger; he resisted all temptation, and stayed away, stayed away. Even when he perceived, with unholy joy, that Abey had slowed up a bit, that Abey was tiring of the chase, the Kid wouldn’t come to close-quarters; he stayed away, and took the hisses and the jeers without flinching. Even his seconds despised him •—-and Abey was unprintable — but the Kid’s foot-work was improving minute by minute—and he stayed away.
Another round, and the crowd was howling for his blood, but the Kid smiled grimly, and stayed away. The seventh— he was stronger yet, and Abey was mad to end it; the Kid watched his openings, and boxed a little. Outclassed, hopelessly outclassed, he waited. The eighth—could he survive it? He was sure of it, now. Beaten by a thousand miles on points, he made Abey chase him, and then boxed flashily, and ran away again. He was very tired, but so was Abey; it was somewhat easier to keep him off. One more? Yes, if he could only avoid those terrible swings which Abey lashed at him, two to the minute. They were wild, but if one ever landed . . . or if Abey ever got too close . . .
At the beginning of the final round of an important fight, the men generally shake hands. Abey made a bluff at it, now, and simultaneously started a wicked left swing. But the Kid had reckoned accurately. His judgment had been sound. This was precisely what he had waited for. Already, he was set for it; • and with the last ounce of his strength, he hit straight through that imitation hand shake and knocked out Abey Greenberg for the second time—because Abey had tried to put one over on him.
IT WAS half-past twelve when the Kid arrived in a taxicab at Tenth Street, got wearily to the sidewalk, and gazed up at a certain window. Yes, there were lights in it, unmistakably, so that he paid the chauffeur, forgot his change, and limped over to the doorway.
The elevator had stopped running; it was a climb of four flights, and the Kid was heady and weak. But at last he came to the landing and rang the bell, and when the door was opened he was standing there and swaying a little, and smiling.
That smile was peculiarly distorted. His mouth had been cut, and Abey had played for it: and Abey had also done some workmanlike sharpshooting for the right eye.
“I just dropped in,” he said, with an effort, “so you could see me again—like you wanted to. He darn near spoiled me, didn't he? I’ll say so. Only you didn’t get all your hope, Edie. I put him aw'ay in the tenth.”
Her lips had parted: one hand was over her heart. “You—won?"
“Uh-huh.” Again, he swayed. He was exhausted. “Just dropped in—so you could see. I’m leavin’ for Cobalt, Monday. Pretty? But I put him aw'ay.”
. Through the dusk which enveloped him, he could feel her arms. He could feel her lips. He was on the divan, between the windows, and she was crying over him. “You won!—you won! . . . Oh, my dear, wonderful boy! . . . oh, I’m so proud of you! ... 1 tried all afternoon to ’phone you, dear . . . Did you see the papers, honey? Did you? And you won!”
His arm was lead, but he succeeded in lifting it to touch her face. “Sure. What papers? Knocked him cold. So I just dropped in—I’m leavin’ Monday—”
At her elbow were three late-edition newspapers which related in detail exactly how and when the Gibraltar depositors were going to get their money back. Not for months, to be sure, but they would get it. But she saw that Carroll was in no mood for statistics.
"Yes, dear. Y’es, Artie, dear . . .Are you too much all in just to tell me what time the train leaves—that we’re goin’ on? You’re only a man-thing—but I’m a lady ... I got to get me some clothes, darling!’’