“Lucky for Clancy that Jerry mixed it. Could ’a cut the Sailor to pieces.”
“The best in years. The boy’s a wonder.”
All this from hardened followers of the ring. The door to the dressing-room was jammed and a force of policemen was keeping back the people. Our anxious queries were passed along to the doorway.
“He’s coming around all right,” said the sergeant. “Now move along there, gents. No admittance here.”
But Jack and I awaited our chance and when Sagorski poked his head out of the door he saw us and the sergeant let us through.
It was a very crestfallen group that greeted us. Flynn and the negro, Monroe, were working over Jerry, who lay on a cot-bed near the window. He had recovered consciousness and even as we entered he raised his head wearily and looked around. His face was battered and bruised, and his smile as he greeted us partook of the character of his injuries. But he was whole and I hoped not badly hurt. Youth and strength, the best of medicines, were already reviving him.
“Well, Roger,” he muttered dully, “I’m licked.”
“Luck,” I said laconically. Jack Ballard had clasped his big congested hand, “Proud of you, Jerry, old boy! You ought to have won. Why the Devil did you let him coax you into close quarters?”
“I thought—I could stand—what he could,” grunted Jerry.
“Not the lucky blow. He had it. If you’d stood him off—”
“I came here to fight—” said Jerry sinking back on his mattress wearily.
I think his mind was beginning to work slowly around to the real meaning of his defeat, not the mere failure of his science and skill, but the failure of his body and mind as against the mind and body of a trained brute, whom he had set his heart on conquering. I knew as no one else there knew what the victory meant to him, and the memory of the brief glimpse I had had of the Van Wyck girl’s face when he lay in the ring inflamed me anew. I know not what—some vestige of my thought reached him, for he drew me toward him and when I bent my head he whispered in my ear,
He made no sound, and submitted silently to the ministrations of his trainers.
Flynn was philosophical.
“The fortunes of war, Misther Canby. ‘T’was a gran’ fight, as fine a mill as you’ll see in a loife time—wid the best man losin’—’S a shame, sor; but Masther Jerry w’u’d have his way—bad cess to ’m. You can’t swap swipes wid a gorilla, sor. It ain’t done.”
“He beat me fairly,” said Jerry sitting up.
“Who? Clancy? I’ll match you agin him tomorrow, Masther Jerry,” and he grinned cheerfully, “if ye’ll but take advice.”
“Advice!” sighed Jerry. “You were right Flynn—I—I was wrong.”
“I wudden’t mind if it wasn’t for thinkin’ of that fifteen thousand.”