But the madness of the moment had gotten into my blood and Jack’s. The fight was going to take place. We were glad of it. We felt the magnetism of the crowd, the pulse of its excitement, and, as impatient as those around us, eagerly awaited developments. The seconds and trainers had hardly clambered into Clancy’s corner when Clancy himself, followed by Terry Riley, appeared and leaped into the ring. The crowd roared approval and he bowed right and left, waving his hands and nodding to acquaintances whom he recognized at the ring-side. He wore a pale blue dressing-gown and though broad of shoulder seemed not even so tall as Sagorski, but he had a bullet head which at the cerebellum joined his thick neck, without indentation, in a straight line and his arms reached almost to his knees—gorilla of a man—a superbrute. I caught a glimpse of Marcia watching him intently, and tried to read her thoughts. She examined him with the critical gaze which she might have given a hackney at a horse show.
Jerry’s appearance with Flynn a moment later was the signal for another outburst from the crowd—not so long a greeting nor so prolonged a one as that which had greeted Clancy, but warm enough to make the boy feel that he was not without friends in the house. His face was a little pale but he smiled cheerfully enough when he reached the ring. He shook hands with Gannon, whom he had met at Finnegan’s, and then, with a show of real enjoyment, with Clancy—conversing with a composure that left nothing to be desired.
The crowd, like Jack and me, was comparing them. Jerry’s six feet two topped the sailor by more than two inches, though I believe the latter would have a few pounds of extra weight.
“Big rascal, ain’t he?” the sportsman in the adjoining box commented.
“Yep,” grunted the stolid one. “But too leggy. Clancy’ll eat him alive—eat him alive,” he repeated with more unction than before.
“Maybe,” said the other, “but I want to be shown. There was another leggy feller—the freckled one.”
“Fitz—but Fitz was a fighter.”
“Well, I like his looks—good-lookin’ feller, ain’t he?”
“Aw! This ain’t no beauty parlor. He’s got a glass jaw, I’ll bet. ’S a goldfish, I tell you. The sea lion will eat him alive—eat him alive!”
I don’t know why the reiteration of this phrase of the fat man irritated me, but it did exceedingly, and I turned around and glared at him, a sharp retort on the tip of my tongue. Ballard’s fingers closed on my arm and I was silent. But the fat man’s glances and mine had met and held each other.
“What’s the matter, perfessor?” he asked testily. “Friend of yours, eh? Oh, well—no harm done. But if you’d like to back your judgment with a little something—say fifty—”
But I had already turned my back on the fellow.