“A gentleman,” he sneered. “I hear of a lot of things a gentleman must not do. Perhaps I don’t know what the word means. In New York a gentleman can get drunk at dances, swear, treat people impolitely, and as long as he comes of a good family or has money back of him nobody questions him. So long as I treat people decently and do no one any harm I’m willing to take my chances with God Almighty. With Sailor Clancy fighting is a business. With me it’s a sport. He hasn’t had many good matches. I’ve given him a chance to make five thousand dollars and gate receipts. Who am I hurting? Surely not Clancy. Not Flynn. His gym is so full of people we’ve had to get special training quarters. I’ve hired a lot of people to look after me, rubbers, assistants—why, old Sagorski worships the very ground I walk on. Who am I hurting?” he urged again.
“Yourself,” I persisted sternly.
He laughed up at the ceiling.
“Good old Roger! You haven’t much opinion of my moral fiber, after all, have you? My poor old morals! They’d all be shot to shreds by now if you had your way. I don’t drink, steal, cheat, lie—”
I rose, shrugging my shoulders, and walked past him.
“I’ll say no more except that I hope you know I think you’re a fool.”
“I do, Roger,” he laughed. “You’ve indicated it clearly.”
At the fireplace I turned, laying my trap for him skillfully.
“You’ve told Marcia?” I asked carelessly.
“Yes,” he said. “You see, Marcia—” he bit his lip, reddened and came to a full stop, searching my face with a quick glance, but he found me elaborately removing a speck of lint from my coat sleeve.
“Yes, Jerry. Marcia—?” I encouraged innocently.
For a fraction of a minute he paused and then went on, blurting the whole thing in his old boyish way.
“You see, Marcia’s very broad-gauge, Roger. She’s really very much interested in the whole thing. It was a good deal of a surprise to me. It began when she heard about my bout with Sagorski. She was awfully keen about my gym work—you remember—at the Manor that night. She thought every man ought to develop his body to its fullest capability. I had Flynn out one night at Briar Hills. I didn’t tell you about that—thought you mightn’t understand—and we sparred six fast rounds. She kept the time and thought it was great. It was like going to a vaudeville show, she said, only a thousand times more exciting. She tried to make Lloyd do a turn, but he wouldn’t, though I’d have liked to have mussed him up a bit. Well, one thing led to another and we had a lot of talks about education—you know, the Greek idea. It seemed that my work with you was just in line with her whole philosophy of life.” (God bless his innocence—her philosophy and mine!) “The whole scheme of modern life was lopsided, she said, all the upper classes going to brains and no body and all the lower classes all to body and no brains. Conflict in the end was inevitable. The unnatural way of living was weakening the fiber of the governing powers the people of which intermarried and brought into the world children of weak muscular tissue. She doesn’t believe in marriage unless both the man and the woman have passed rigid physical tests as to their fitness.”