The two men were sizing him up.
“Feinheimer can you?” asked one of them. Jimmy nodded affirmatively. “Got anything else in view?”
“No,” said Jimmy.
“How’d you like a job as one of Brophy’s sparring partners?”
“I wouldn’t mind,” said Jimmy. “What is there in it?”
They named a figure that was entirely satisfactory to Jimmy.
“Come over the day after Christmas,” he was told, “and we’ll give you a trial.”
“I wonder,” thought Jimmy as he started for home, “if I have gone up a notch in the social scale or down a notch? From the view-point of the underworld a pug occupies a more exalted position than a waiter; but— oh, well, a job’s a job, and at least I won’t have to look at that greasy Feinheimer all day.”
At ten o’clock Monday Jimmy was at Young Brophy’s training quarters, for, although he had not forgotten Harriet Holden’s invitation, he had never seriously considered availing himself of her offer to help him to a better position. While he had not found it difficult to accept the rough friendship and assistance of the Lizard, the idea of becoming an object of “charity,” as he considered it, at the hands of a girl in the same walk of life as that to which he belonged was intolerable.
Young Brophy’s manager, whom Jimmy discovered to be one of the men who had accosted him in Feinheimer’s after his trouble with Murray, took him into a private office and talked with him confidentially for a half-hour before he was definitely employed.
It seemed that one of the principal requisites of the position was a willingness to take punishment without attempting to inflict too much upon Young Brophy. The manager did not go into specific details as to the reason for this restriction, and Jimmy, badly in need of a job, felt no particular inclination to search too deeply for the root of the matter.
“What I don’t know,” he soliloquized, “won’t hurt me any.” But he had not been there many days before the piecing together of chance remarks and the gossip of the hangers-on and other sparring partners made it very apparent why Brophy should not be badly man-handled. As it finally revealed itself to Jimmy it was very simple indeed. Brophy was to be pitted against a man whom he had already out-pointed in a former bout. He was the ruling favorite in the betting, and it was the intention to keep him so while he and his backers quietly placed all their money on the other man.
One of the sparring partners who seemed to harbor a petty grudge against Brophy finally explained the whole plan to Jimmy. Everything was to be done to carry the impression to the public through the newspapers, who were usually well represented at the training quarters, that Brophy was in the pink of condition; that he was training hard; that it was impossible to find men who could stand up to him on account of the terrific punishment he inflicted upon his sparring partners; and that the result of the fight was already a foregone conclusion; and then in the third round Young Brophy was to lie down and by reclining peacefully on his stomach for ten seconds make more money than several years of hard and conscientious work earnestly performed could ever net him.