Jack had ventured out to brave the storm and I sat quietly, scarcely daring to hope that I had heard correctly.
“I’m done, Roger,” he repeated. “No more fights for me. I staked everything on science and head-work. I failed. He got me—somewhere that hurt like the devil—and I saw red. I don’t remember much after that except that I was as much of a brute as he was. I failed, Roger, failed miserably. The fellow that can’t hold his temper has no business in the ring.”
His voice was heavy, like his manner, weary, disappointed, and as he threw off his dressing gown I saw that his left arm was hideously discolored from wrist to shoulder.
“Does it hurt?” I asked.
“What? Oh, my arm. No. But I’m sore inside of me Roger, my mind I mean. To do a thing like that, and fail—that’s what hurts. Because I hadn’t will enough—”
“You’re in earnest, then,” I asked, “about not fighting again?”
“Yes. I’m through—for good.” And then boyishly, “But I didn’t quit, Roger, did I?”
“I think any unprejudiced observer will admit that you didn’t quit,” I said. “Clancy, I’m sure, knows better than anybody.”
“Good old Clancy. He was a sight—but he squared things. I saw that knockout coming, but I couldn’t move for the life of me. My arms wouldn’t come up. By George—that was a wallop! Oh well,” he sighed, “the better man won. I’m satisfied.”
I helped him into his clothes and we went down to breakfast. He examined his letters quickly and put them aside with an air of disappointment, and then asked if there had been any telephone calls, seeming much put out when I told him my reasons for disconnecting the instrument.
“Oh, it doesn’t matter—Beastly nuisance, those reporters—” He looked over at me and grinned sheepishly. “Nice morning reading for Ballard, Senior! It was a rotten trick to play on him, though. He didn’t deserve all this. I wouldn’t wonder if he didn’t speak to me now. I deserve that, I think. He cost me ten thousand cold. I’m in disgrace. I’ll never be able to square myself—never.”
When he got up from the breakfast table he caught a glimpse of his face in a mirror. “I am a sight. The lip is going down nicely, but the eye! Looks like an overripe tomato against a wall. Pretty sort of a phiz to go calling on a lady with.”
“You’re going visiting?”
“Yes, Marcia and I are going up to the country together. You’ll have to go along.”
“Thanks,” I said, “but I’ve some matters to attend to here.”
“I say, Roger,” he went on quickly examining himself anew in the mirror; “I’ve got to get hold of Flynn. There’s a chap in the Bowery who makes a business of painting eyes.” And he went off to the telephone where I heard him making the arrangement.
With Jerry restored to partial sanity my duty at the town house was ended. Reporters still came to the door, but were turned away, and, seeing that I could be of no further use, I made my adieux and took my way downtown.