Acton took out his watch and assumed the direction of the fight.
“Time!” he shouted out. “You fellow, that’s your corner, and if you stir out of it before I give the word I’ll thrash you within an inch of your life. This will be ours, Bourne.” He strode in between the two, and pushed the yokel among his friends, whilst he dragged Bourne a little apart.
“Thanks awfully, Acton. That beast knocked me off the path into the snow-heap when he saw I was one of the school. I struck him, but he’s a big handful.”
“Don’t talk, Bourne,” said Acton, grimly. “It’s only wasting breath. Keep cool, man, and you will pull it off yet.”
Thanks to Acton’s encouragement, young Bourne worked along ever so much better, so that when time was called he had taken no damage practically, but had scored a little on his own account.
“Sit down on my coat. You’re doing famously. Whatever you do, don’t let him swing you one in the face. You’ll be snuffed out if you do. Keep him out at any cost, and try an upper cut after he swings. Waste no time after he’s missed.”
But although young Bourne scored no end in the next few rounds by following Acton’s advice, his good efforts seemed wasted. The lout’s face was as hard as a butcher’s block. Acton saw that Bourne was visibly tiring, and that it was an almost foregone conclusion that in the end he would be beaten. He could hardly stall off the fellow’s attack.
After the seventh round Acton saw that he must put all to the touch, or Bourne would lose. “Listen carefully, young ’un. You’re jolly game, and that’s a fact, but there’s no good hammering on the fool’s face—he can’t feel. You must try another trick. It’s the last in your box, too, Bourne, so make no mistake. St. Amory’s for ever! When he swings, duck. Don’t try to ward him off—he’ll beat you down. Then, for all you’re worth, drive home with your left on the jaw. On the jaw for all you’re worth. You’ve seen the sergeant do it dozens of times in the gym. Keep cool, and look when you hit—on the very peak. Understand?”
“Rather!” said Jack, coolly but wearily.
The yokel came on in all the pride of his beefy strength, for ha knew that he was going to finish the “swell” this round. He swung. Bourne ducked, and then, quick as lightning, the lad closed in, and, with the last ounce he had in him, drove his left on the jaw. He was true to a hair.
“Habet!” shouted Acton. “Don’t give him time, Jack. Send him down if you can.”
Bourne’s “point” had the usual effect; the lout’s head swam, he felt sick and sorry, and could not even ward off Jack’s blows. He backed, Jack scoring like mad all the time, and when Acton finally called “time!” he dropped on to the ground blubbing. The fellow’s eye was visibly swelling, his lips were cut, and his nose bled villainously.
[Illustration: ACTON THREW HIM INTO THE SNOW-HEAP.]