“Gentlemen, I’ve known our host of this evening almost since he was born. I have watched with solicitude the rearing of this infant. I am his fairy godfather. I got Canby. Thanks to my wisdom, Jerry has now safely emerged from the baby diseases, and confronts the world in a boiled shirt. He has kindly consented, I think, against the advice of his tutor, to permit me to put the finishing touches on his education.
“Jerry has already been proposed at three excellent clubs, to two of which he has been elected today. I have warned him against the insidious cocktail and the deadly cigarette” (here Jack puffed at one vigorously) “and have advised him that ladies were designed by their Maker for purely ornamental purposes. I am not sure that he has taken my word for it and will probably propose to verify my statement according to his reading of aesthetics. I wish him all success in the purely scientific side of his investigations.
“As to his career, gentlemen, I warn you that he will choose it for himself. If you don’t believe me, I will ask you carefully to examine the breadth and squareness of his chin. In proposing Jerry Benham’s health, a superfluous proceeding at the best, I don’t think I can pay him a higher tribute than in saying that in addition to being both a scholar and a gentleman, he is also the best heavyweight boxer I have ever seen, in the ring or out of it, and that anyone who expects to make him do anything he does not want to do, will be a subject for commiseration—or the coroner. Gentlemen, Jerry Benham!”
Having discharged this bombshell into the ranks of the plutocrats, Jack sat down. Of course, everybody laughed, and while they were laughing Flynn awkwardly got up, perspiring profusely, first shooting his cuffs and then fingering at his neckband. “Misther Ballard’s right, gents. He’s right. I don’t know much about books, but if Masther Jerry’s as good at edjication as he is wid his fists, then all I’ve got to say is that he’s some perfessor. I’ve been workin’ wid him on an’ off these four year an’ all I’d loike to say to you, gents, is just this: Don’t crowd him, don’t crowd him, gents, because he’s got an uppercut like a ton o’ coal.”
Flynn sat down amid applause and Jerry rose, flushing happily. I think what Flynn had said pleased him more than all that had preceded it.
“My friends,” he said quietly, “I am glad to see you here and hope that I may prove worthy of your good opinions. I’m grateful to you and Mr. Ballard, Mr. Stewardson, Mr. da Costa, Mr. Walsenberg, Mr. Wrenn and Mr. Duhring for all that you’ve done for me in here, but I want you all to know that it’s to Roger Canby that I owe my greatest debt, to Roger Canby, my tutor, brother, mother, father,—friend.”
They wanted me to speak. I could not. But Jerry understood.
In the library after dinner I overheard part of a conversation between Ballard the elder and Mr. Duhring.