It was not long before I had a confirmation of my mistake in judgment. A week passed, a week of alternate joys and depressions for Jerry, during which he spoke little to me of the girl. The night after the dinner at the Manor he had upbraided me for telling Marcia the story of his bout with Sagorski. He had not cared to tell her of that event, he said, because he thought it too brutal for the ears of a girl of her delicate and sensitive nature. The next night he spoke of it again, but this time without reserve. It seemed that Marcia was very much interested in his feats of physical strength and hoped that Jerry would permit her to watch him when he sparred. Of course, he didn’t see why she shouldn’t watch him when he sparred if she was really interested in that sort of thing, but it was curious how he had misjudged her tastes; she seemed so ethereal, so devoted to the gentler things of life, that he had not thought it possible she could care for the rugged art he loved, which at times, as I knew, verged upon the brutal. I mentioned with a smile that there remained in all of us, women as well as men, some relics of the age of stone.
“Of course,” he assented cheerfully, “I knew she wasn’t namby-pamby. It’s rather nice of her, I think, to take so much interest.”
A few days after that Jerry left me and I knew that Briar Hills was closed again.
The events which were to follow came upon me with startling unexpectedness. Scarcely two weeks had passed since Jerry’s departure and I had hardly settled back into my routine at the Manor, where I was trying again to take up the lost threads of my work, when a message came over the wire from Jack Ballard asking me to come down to New York to visit him for a few days. I inferred from what he said that he wanted to see me about Jerry, and, of course, I lost no time in getting to the city and to his apartment, where I found him before his mirror, tying his cravat.
“Pope, my boy, I knew you’d come. Just itching for an excuse anyway, weren’t you? But you needn’t look so alarmed. Jerry’s all right. He hasn’t even run off; with a chorus lady or founded a home for non-swearing truckmen.”
“Well what has he done?” I asked.
“Not much—merely engaged to become one of the principals in a prize fight in Madison Square Garden.”
“Jerry! I can’t believe you.”
“It’s quite true. Sit down, my boy. Have you break-fasted yet?”
“Hours ago at the Manor.”
“Just reproach! But the early worm gets caught by the bird, you know. I never get up—”
“Tell me,” I broke in impatiently, “where you heard this extravagant tomfoolery?”
“From the extravagant tomfool himself. Jerry told me yesterday. I’m afraid there’s no doubt about the matter. The articles of agreement are signed, the money, five thousand a side, is in the hands of the stakeholder—one Mike Finnegan, a friend of Flynn’s, who keeps a saloon upon the Bowery.”