The consummation of his career

“Where are you going?” Stubener demanded in surprise, looking at
his watch.

Pat, with his hand on the door-knob, paused and turned around.

“To the Academy of Sciences,” he said. “There’s a professor who’s
going to give a lecture there on Browning to-night, and Browning
is the sort of writer you need assistance with. Sometimes I think I
ought to go to night school.”

“But great Scott, man!” exclaimed the horrified manager. “You’re on
with the Flying Dutchman to-night.”

“I know it. But I won’t enter the ring a moment before half past nine
or quarter to ten. The lecture will be over at nine fifteen. If you
want to make sure, come around and pick me up in your machine.”

Stubener shrugged his shoulders helplessly.

“You’ve got no kick coming,” Pat assured him. “Dad used to tell me a
man’s worst time was in the hours just before a fight, and that many a
fight was lost by a man’s breaking down right there, with nothing to
do but think and be anxious. Well, you’ll never need to worry about
me that way. You ought to be glad I can go off to a lecture.”

And later that night, in the course of watching fifteen splendid
rounds, Stubener chuckled to himself more than once at the idea
of what that audience of sports would think, did it know that this
magnificent young prize-fighter had come to the ring directly from
a Browning lecture.

The Flying Dutchman was a young Swede who possessed an unwonted
willingness to fight and who was blessed with phenomenal endurance. He
never rested, was always on the offensive, and rushed and fought from
gong to gong. In the out-fighting his arms whirled about like flails,
in the in-fighting he was forever shouldering or half-wrestling and
starting blows whenever he could get a hand free. From start to finish
he was a whirlwind, hence his name. His failing was lack of judgment
in time and distance. Nevertheless he had won many fights by virtue of
landing one in each dozen or so of the unending fusillades of punches
he delivered. Pat, with strong upon him the caution that he must not
put his opponent out, was kept busy. Nor, though he escaped vital
damage, could he avoid entirely those eternal flying gloves. But it
was good training, and in a mild way he enjoyed the contest.

“Could you get him now?” Stubener whispered in his ear during the
minute rest at the end of the fifth round.

“Sure,” was Pat’s answer.

“You know he’s never yet been knocked out by any one,” Stubener warned
a couple of rounds later.

“Then I’m afraid I’ll have to break my knuckles,” Pat smiled. “I know
the punch I’ve got in me, and when I land it something’s got to go. If
he won’t, my knuckles will.”

“Do you think you could get him now?” Stubener asked at the end of
the thirteenth round.

“Anytime, I tell you.”

“Well, then, Pat, let him run to the fifteenth.”

In the fourteenth round the Flying Dutchman exceeded himself. At the
stroke of the gong he rushed clear across the ring to the opposite
corner where Pat was leisurely getting to his feet. The house cheered,
for it knew the Flying Dutchman had cut loose. Pat, catching the
fun of it, whimsically decided to meet the terrific onslaught with
a wholly passive defense and not to strike a blow. Nor did he strike
a blow, nor feint a blow, during the three minutes of whirlwind that
followed. He gave a rare exhibition of stalling, sometimes hugging his
bowed face with his left arm, his abdomen with his right; at other
times, changing as the point of attack changed, so that both gloves
were held on either side his face, or both elbows and forearms guarded
his mid-section; and all the time moving about, clumsily shouldering,
or half-falling forward against his opponent and clogging his efforts;
himself never striking nor threatening to strike, the while rocking
with the impacts of the storming blows that beat upon his various
guards the devil’s own tattoo.

Those close at the ringside saw and appreciated, but the rest of
the audience, fooled, arose to its feet and roared its applause in
the mistaken notion that Pat, helpless, was receiving a terrible
beating. With the end of the round, the audience, dumbfounded, sank
back into its seats as Pat walked steadily to his corner. It was not
understandable. He should have been beaten to a pulp, and yet nothing
had happened to him.

“Now are you going to get him?” Stubener queried anxiously.

“Inside ten seconds,” was Pat’s confident assertion. “Watch me.”

There was no trick about it. When the gong struck and Pat bounded
to his feet, he advertised it unmistakably that for the first
time in the fight he was starting after his man. Not one onlooker
misunderstood. The Flying Dutchman read the advertisement, too, and for
the first time in his career, as they met in the center of the ring,
visibly hesitated. For the fraction of a second they faced each other
in position. Then the Flying Dutchman leaped forward upon his man,
and Pat, with a timed right-cross, dropped him cold as he leaped.

It was after this battle that Pat Glendon started on his upward rush
to fame. The sports and the sporting writers took him up. For the first
time the Flying Dutchman had been knocked out. His conqueror had proved
a wizard of defense. His previous victories had not been flukes. He had
a kick in both his hands. Giant that he was, he would go far. The time
was already past, the writers asserted, for him to waste himself on the
third-raters and chopping blocks. Where were Ben Menzies, Rege Rede,
Bill Tarwater, and Ernest Lawson? It was time for them to meet this
young cub that had suddenly shown himself a fighter of quality. Where
was his manager anyway, that he was not issuing the challenges?

And then fame came in a day; for Stubener divulged the secret that
his man was none other than the son of Pat Glendon, Old Pat, the
old-time ring hero. “Young” Pat Glendon, he was promptly christened,
and sports and writers flocked about him to admire him, and back him,
and write him up.

Beginning with Ben Menzies and finishing with Bill Tarwater, he
challenged, fought, and knocked out the four second-raters. To do this,
he was compelled to travel, the battles taking place in Goldfield,
Denver, Texas, and New York. To accomplish it required months, for
the bigger fights were not easily arranged, and the men themselves
demanded more time for training.

The second year saw him running to cover and disposing of the
half-dozen big fighters that clustered just beneath the top of
the heavyweight ladder. On this top, firmly planted, stood “Big”
Jim Hanford, the undefeated world champion. Here, on the top rungs,
progress was slower, though Stubener was indefatigable in issuing
challenges and in promoting sporting opinion to force the man to
fight. Will King was disposed of in England, and Glendon pursued
Tom Harrison half way around the world to defeat him on Boxing Day
in Australia.

But the purses grew larger and larger. In place of a hundred dollars,
such as his first battles had earned him, he was now receiving
from twenty to thirty thousand dollars a fight, as well as equally
large sums from the moving picture men. Stubener took his manager’s
percentage of all this, according to the terms of the contract old Pat
had drawn up, and both he and Glendon, despite their heavy expenses,
were waxing rich. This was due, more than anything else, to the clean
lives they lived. They were not wasters.

Stubener was attracted to real estate, and his holdings in San
Francisco, consisting of building flats and apartment houses, were
bigger than Glendon ever dreamed. There was a secret syndicate of
bettors, however, which could have made an accurate guess at the
size of Stubener’s holdings, while heavy bonus after heavy bonus,
of which Glendon never heard, was paid over to his manager by the
moving picture men.

Stubener’s most serious task was in maintaining the innocence of
his young gladiator. Nor did he find it difficult. Glendon, who had
nothing to do with the business end, was little interested. Besides,
wherever his travels took him, he spent his spare time in hunting
and fishing. He rarely mingled with those of the sporting world,
was notoriously shy and secluded, and preferred art galleries and
books of verse to sporting gossip. Also, his trainers and sparring
partners were rigorously instructed by the manager to keep their
tongues away from the slightest hints of ring rottenness. In every
way Stubener intervened between Glendon and the world. He was never
even interviewed save in Stubener’s presence.

Only once was Glendon approached. It was just prior to his battle
with Henderson, and an offer of a hundred thousand was made to him
to throw the fight. It was made hurriedly, in swift whispers, in a
hotel corridor, and it was fortunate for the man that Pat controlled
his temper and shouldered past him without reply. He brought the tale
of it to Stubener, who said:

“It’s only con, Pat. They were trying to josh you.” He noted the blue
eyes blaze. “And maybe worse than that. If they could have got you
to fall for it, there might have been a big sensation in the papers
that would have finished you. But I doubt it. Such things don’t happen
any more. It’s a myth, that’s what it is, that has come down from the
middle history of the ring. There has been rottenness in the past,
but no fighter or manager of reputation would dare anything of the
sort to-day. Why, Pat, the men in the game are as clean and straight
as those in professional baseball, than which there is nothing cleaner
or straighter.”

And all the while he talked, Stubener knew in his heart that the
forthcoming fight with Henderson was not to be shorter than twelve
rounds–this for the moving pictures–and not longer than the
fourteenth round. And he knew, furthermore, so big were the stakes
involved, that Henderson himself was pledged not to last beyond
the fourteenth.

And Glendon, never approached again, dismissed the matter from his mind
and went out to spend the afternoon in taking color photographs. The
camera had become his latest hobby. Loving pictures, yet unable to
paint, he had compromised by taking up photography. In his hand baggage
was one grip packed with books on the subject, and he spent long hours
in the dark room, realizing for himself the various processes. Never
had there been a great fighter who was as aloof from the fighting world
as he. Because he had little to say with those he encountered, he was
called sullen and unsocial, and out of this a newspaper reputation
took form that was not an exaggeration so much as it was an entire
misconception. Boiled down, his character in print was that of an
ox-muscled and dumbly stupid brute, and one callow sporting writer
dubbed him the “abysmal brute.” The name stuck. The rest of the
fraternity hailed it with delight, and thereafter Glendon’s name never
appeared in print unconnected with it. Often, in a headline or under
a photograph, “The Abysmal Brute,” capitalized and without quotation
marks, appeared alone. All the world knew who was this brute. This
made him draw into himself closer than ever, while it developed a
bitter prejudice against newspaper folk.

Regarding fighting itself, his earlier mild interest grew stronger. The
men he now fought were anything but dubs, and victory did not come
so easily. They were picked men, experienced ring generals, and each
battle was a problem. There were occasions when he found it impossible
to put them out in any designated later round of a fight. Thus, with
Sulzberger, the gigantic German, try as he would in the eighteenth
round, he failed to get him, in the nineteenth it was the same story,
and not till the twentieth did he manage to break through the baffling
guard and drop him. Glendon’s increasing enjoyment of the game was
accompanied by severer and prolonged training. Never dissipating,
spending much of his time on hunting trips in the hills, he was
practically always in the pink of condition, and, unlike his father,
no unfortunate accidents marred his career. He never broke a bone,
nor injured so much as a knuckle. One thing that Stubener noted with
secret glee was that his young fighter no longer talked of going
permanently back to his mountains when he had won the championship
away from Jim Hanford.

The consummation of his career was rapidly approaching. The great
champion had even publicly intimated his readiness to take on Glendon
as soon as the latter had disposed of the three or four aspirants for
the championship who intervened. In six months Pat managed to put away
Kid McGrath and Philadelphia Jack McBride, and there remained only Nat
Powers and Tom Cannam. And all would have been well had not a certain
society girl gone adventuring into journalism, and had not Stubener
agreed to an interview with the woman reporter of the San Francisco
“Courier-Journal.”

Her work was always published over the name of Maud Sangster, which,
by the way, was her own name. The Sangsters were a notoriously
wealthy family. The founder, old Jacob Sangster, had packed his
blankets and worked as a farm-hand in the West. He had discovered an
inexhaustible borax deposit in Nevada, and, from hauling it out by
mule-teams, had built a railroad to do the freighting. Following that,
he had poured the profits of borax into the purchase of hundreds and
thousands of square miles of timber lands in California, Oregon, and
Washington. Still later, he had combined politics with business, bought
statesmen, judges, and machines, and become a captain of complicated
industry. And after that he had died, full of honor and pessimism,
leaving his name a muddy blot for future historians to smudge,
and also leaving a matter of a couple of hundreds of millions for
his four sons to squabble over. The legal, industrial, and political
battles that followed, vexed and amused California for a generation,
and culminated in deadly hatred and unspeaking terms between the four
sons. The youngest, Theodore, in middle life experienced a change of
heart, sold out his stock farms and racing stables, and plunged into
a fight with all the corrupt powers of his native state, including
most of its millionaires, in a quixotic attempt to purge it of the
infamy which had been implanted by old Jacob Sangster.

Maud Sangster was Theodore’s oldest daughter. The Sangster stock
uniformly bred fighters among the men and beauties among the women. Nor
was Maud an exception. Also, she must have inherited some of the virus
of adventure from the Sangster breed, for she had come to womanhood
and done a multitude of things of which no woman in her position should
have been guilty. A match in ten thousand, she remained unmarried. She
had sojourned in Europe without bringing home a nobleman for spouse,
and had declined a goodly portion of her own set at home. She had
gone in for outdoor sports, won the tennis championship of the state,
kept the society weeklies agog with her unconventionalities, walked
from San Mateo to Santa Cruz against time on a wager, and once caused
a sensation by playing polo in a men’s team at a private Burlingame
practice game. Incidentally, she had gone in for art, and maintained
a studio in San Francisco’s Latin Quarter.

All this had been of little moment until her father’s reform attack
became acute. Passionately independent, never yet having met the man
to whom she could gladly submit, and bored by those who had aspired,
she resented her father’s interference with her way of life and put the
climax on all her social misdeeds by leaving home and going to work on
the “Courier-Journal.” Beginning at twenty dollars a week, her salary
had swiftly risen to fifty. Her work was principally musical, dramatic,
and art criticism, though she was not above mere journalistic stunts if
they promised to be sufficiently interesting. Thus she scooped the big
interview with Morgan at a time when he was being futilely trailed by a
dozen New York star journalists, went down to the bottom of the Golden
Gate in a diver’s suit, and flew with Rood, the bird man, when he
broke all records of continuous flight by reaching as far as Riverside.

Now it must not be imagined that Maud Sangster was a hard-bitten
Amazon. On the contrary, she was a gray-eyed, slender young woman,
of three or four and twenty, of medium stature, and possessing
uncommonly small hands and feet for an outdoor woman or any other
kind of a woman. Also, far in excess of most outdoor women, she knew
how to be daintily feminine.

It was on her own suggestion that she received the editor’s commission
to interview Pat Glendon. With the exception of having caught a
glimpse, once, of Bob Fitzsimmons in evening dress at the Palace
Grill, she had never seen a prizefighter in her life. Nor was she
curious to see one–at least she had not been curious until Young
Pat Glendon came to San Francisco to train for his fight with Nat
Powers. Then his newspaper reputation had aroused her. The Abysmal
Brute!–it certainly must be worth seeing. From what she read of him
she gleaned that he was a man-monster, profoundly stupid and with
the sullenness and ferocity of a jungle beast. True, his published
photographs did not show all that, but they did show the hugeness of
brawn that might be expected to go with it. And so, accompanied by
a staff photographer, she went out to the training quarters at the
Cliff House at the hour appointed by Stubener.

That real estate owner was having trouble. Pat was rebellious. He sat,
one big leg dangling over the side of the arm chair and Shakespeare’s
Sonnets face downward on his knee, orating against the new woman.

“What do they want to come butting into the game for?” he
demanded. “It’s not their place. What do they know about it anyway? The
men are bad enough as it is. I’m not a holy show. This woman’s coming
here to make me one. I never have stood for women around the training
quarters, and I don’t care if she is a reporter.”

“But she’s not an ordinary reporter,” Stubener interposed. “You’ve
heard of the Sangsters?–the millionaires?”

Pat nodded.

“Well, she’s one of them. She’s high society and all that stuff. She
could be running with the Blingum crowd now if she wanted to instead
of working for wages. Her old man’s worth fifty millions if he’s
worth a cent.”

“Then what’s she working on a paper for?–keeping some poor devil
out of a job.”

“She and the old man fell out, had a tiff or something, about
the time he started to clean up San Francisco. She quit. That’s
all–left home and got a job. And let me tell you one thing, Pat:
she can everlastingly sling English. There isn’t a pen-pusher on the
Coast can touch her when she gets going.”

Pat began to show interest, and Stubener hurried on.

“She writes poetry, too–the regular la-de-dah stuff, just like
you. Only I guess hers is better, because she published a whole book
of it once. And she writes up the shows. She interviews every big
actor that hits this burg.”

“I’ve seen her name in the papers,” Pat commented.

“Sure you have. And you’re honored, Pat, by her coming to interview
you. It won’t bother you any. I’ll stick right by and give her most
of the dope myself. You know I’ve always done that.”

Pat looked his gratitude.

“And another thing, Pat: don’t forget you’ve got to put up with this
interviewing. It’s part of your business. It’s big advertising, and it
comes free. We can’t buy it. It interests people, draws the crowds, and
it’s crowds that pile up the gate receipts.” He stopped and listened,
then looked at his watch. “I think that’s her now. I’ll go and get her
and bring her in. I’ll tip it off to her to cut it short, you know,
and it won’t take long.” He turned in the doorway. “And be decent,
Pat. Don’t shut up like a clam. Talk a bit to her when she asks
you questions.”

Pat put the Sonnets on the table, took up a newspaper, and was
apparently deep in its contents when the two entered the room and he
stood up. The meeting was a mutual shock. When blue eyes met gray,
it was almost as if the man and the woman shouted triumphantly to
each other, as if each had found something sought and unexpected. But
this was for the instant only. Each had anticipated in the other
something so totally different that the next moment the clear cry of
recognition gave way to confusion. As is the way of women, she was
the first to achieve control, and she did it without having given
any outward sign that she had ever lost it. She advanced most of the
distance across the floor to meet Glendon. As for him, he scarcely
knew how he stumbled through the introduction. Here was a woman,
a WOMAN. He had not known that such a creature could exist. The few
women he had noticed had never prefigured this. He wondered what Old
Pat’s judgment would have been of her, if she was the sort he had
recommended to hang on to with both his hands. He discovered that
in some way he was holding her hand. He looked at it, curious and
fascinated, marveling at its fragility.

She, on the other hand, had proceeded to obliterate the echoes of that
first clear call. It had been a peculiar experience, that was all,
this sudden out-rush of her toward this strange man. For was not he
the abysmal brute of the prize-ring, the great, fighting, stupid bulk
of a male animal who hammered up his fellow males of the same stupid
order? She smiled at the way he continued to hold her hand.

“I’ll have it back, please, Mr. Glendon,” she said. “I … I really
need it, you know.”

He looked at her blankly, followed her gaze to her imprisoned hand,
and dropped it in a rush of awkwardness that sent the blood in a
manifest blush to his face.

She noted the blush, and the thought came to her that he did not seem
quite the uncouth brute she had pictured. She could not conceive of a
brute blushing at anything. And also, she found herself pleased with
the fact that he lacked the easy glibness to murmur an apology. But
the way he devoured her with his eyes was disconcerting. He stared
at her as if in a trance, while his cheeks flushed even more redly.

Stubener by this time had fetched a chair for her, and Glendon
automatically sank down into his.

“He’s in fine shape, Miss Sangster, in fine shape,” the manager was
saying. “That’s right, isn’t it, Pat? Never felt better in your life?”

Glendon was bothered by this. His brows contracted in a troubled way,
and he made no reply.

“I’ve wanted to meet you for a long time, Mr. Glendon,” Miss Sangster
said. “I never interviewed a pugilist before, so if I don’t go about
it expertly you’ll forgive me, I am sure.”

“Maybe you’d better start in by seeing him in action,” was the
manager’s suggestion. “While he’s getting into his fighting togs I
can tell you a lot about him–fresh stuff, too. We’ll call in Walsh,
Pat, and go a couple of rounds.”

“We’ll do nothing of the sort,” Glendon growled roughly, in just the
way an abysmal brute should. “Go ahead with the interview.”

The business went ahead unsatisfactorily. Stubener did most of the
talking and suggesting, which was sufficient to irritate Maud Sangster,
while Pat volunteered nothing. She studied his fine countenance, the
eyes clear blue and wide apart, the well-modeled, almost aquiline,
nose, the firm, chaste lips that were sweet in a masculine way in
their curl at the corners and that gave no hint of any sullenness. It
was a baffling personality, she concluded, if what the papers said
of him was so. In vain she sought for earmarks of the brute. And in
vain she attempted to establish contacts. For one thing, she knew too
little about prize-fighters and the ring, and whenever she opened up a
lead it was promptly snatched away by the information-oozing Stubener.

“It must be most interesting, this life of a pugilist,” she said
once, adding with a sigh, “I wish I knew more about it. Tell me:
why do you fight?–Oh, aside from money reasons.” (This latter to
forestall Stubener). “Do you enjoy fighting? Are you stirred by it,
by pitting yourself against other men? I hardly know how to express
what I mean, so you must be patient with me.”

Pat and Stubener began speaking together, but for once Pat bore his
manager down.

“I didn’t care for it at first–”

“You see, it was too dead easy for him,” Stubener interrupted.

“But later,” Pat went on, “when I encountered the better fighters,
the real big clever ones, where I was more–”

“On your mettle?” she suggested.

“Yes; that’s it, more on my mettle, I found I did care for it … a
great deal, in fact. But still, it’s not so absorbing to me as it might
be. You see, while each battle is a sort of problem which I must work
out with my wits and muscle, yet to me the issue is never in doubt–”

“He’s never had a fight go to a decision,” Stubener proclaimed. “He’s
won every battle by the knock-out route.”

“And it’s this certainty of the outcome that robs it of what I imagine
must be its finest thrills,” Pat concluded.

“Maybe you’ll get some of them thrills when you go up against Jim
Hanford,” said the manager.

Pat smiled, but did not speak.

“Tell me some more,” she urged, “more about the way you feel when
you are fighting.”

And then Pat amazed his manager, Miss Sangster, and himself, by
blurting out:

“It seems to me I don’t want to talk with you on such things. It’s as
if there are things more important for you and me to talk about. I–”

He stopped abruptly, aware of what he was saying but unaware of why
he was saying it.

“Yes,” she cried eagerly. “That’s it. That is what makes a good
interview–the real personality, you know.”

But Pat remained tongue-tied, and Stubener wandered away on a
statistical comparison of his champion’s weights, measurements, and
expansions with those of Sandow, the Terrible Turk, Jeffries, and the
other modern strong men. This was of little interest to Maud Sangster,
and she showed that she was bored. Her eyes chanced to rest on the
Sonnets. She picked the book up and glanced inquiringly at Stubener.

“That’s Pat’s,” he said. “He goes in for that kind of stuff, and color
photography, and art exhibits, and such things. But for heaven’s sake
don’t publish anything about it. It would ruin his reputation.”

She looked accusingly at Glendon, who immediately became awkward. To
her it was delicious. A shy young man, with the body of a giant,
who was one of the kings of bruisers, and who read poetry, and went
to art exhibits, and experimented with color photography! Of a surety
there was no abysmal brute here. His very shyness she divined now was
due to sensitiveness and not stupidity. Shakespeare’s Sonnets! This
was a phase that would bear investigation. But Stubener stole the
opportunity away and was back chanting his everlasting statistics.

A few minutes later, and most unwittingly, she opened up the biggest
lead of all. That first sharp attraction toward him had begun to stir
again after the discovery of the Sonnets. The magnificent frame of his,
the handsome face, the chaste lips, the clear-looking eyes, the fine
forehead which the short crop of blond hair did not hide, the aura
of physical well-being and cleanness which he seemed to emanate–all
this, and more that she sensed, drew her as she had never been drawn
by any man, and yet through her mind kept running the nasty rumors
that she had heard only the day before at the “Courier-Journal” office.

“You were right,” she said. “There is something more important to
talk about. There is something in my mind I want you to reconcile
for me. Do you mind?”

Pat shook his head.

“If I am frank?–abominably frank? I’ve heard the men, sometimes,
talking of particular fights and of the betting odds, and, while I
gave no heed to it at the time, it seemed to me it was firmly agreed
that there was a great deal of trickery and cheating connected with
the sport. Now, when I look at you, for instance, I find it hard to
understand how you can be a party to such cheating. I can understand
your liking the sport for a sport, as well as for the money it brings
you, but I can’t understand–”

“There’s nothing to understand,” Stubener broke in, while Pat’s lips
were wreathed in a gentle, tolerant smile. “It’s all fairy tales,
this talk about faking, about fixed fights, and all that rot. There’s
nothing to it, Miss Sangster, I assure you. And now let me tell
you about how I discovered Mr. Glendon. It was a letter I got from
his father–”

But Maud Sangster refused to be side-tracked, and addressed herself
to Pat.

“Listen. I remember one case particularly. It was some fight that
took place several months ago–I forget the contestants. One of
the editors of the “Courier-Journal” told me he intended to make a
good winning. He didn’t hope; he said he intended. He said he was on
the inside and was betting on the number of rounds. He told me the
fight would end in the nineteenth. This was the night before. And
the next day he triumphantly called my attention to the fact that it
had ended in that very round. I didn’t think anything of it one way
or the other. I was not interested in prize-fighting then. But I am
now. At the time it seemed quite in accord with the vague conception
I had about fighting. So you see, it isn’t all fairy tales, is it?”

“I know that fight,” Glendon said. “It was Owen and Murgweather. And
it did end in the nineteenth round, Sam. And she said she heard that
round named the day before. How do you account for it, Sam?”

“How do you account for a man picking a lucky lottery ticket?” the
manager evaded, while getting his wits together to answer. “That’s
the very point. Men who study form and condition and seconds and
rules and such things often pick the number of rounds, just as
men have been known to pick hundred-to-one shots in the races. And
don’t forget one thing: for every man that wins, there’s another
that loses, there’s another that didn’t pick right. Miss Sangster,
I assure you, on my honor, that faking and fixing in the fight game
is … is non-existent.”

“What is your opinion, Mr. Glendon?” she asked.

“The same as mine,” Stubener snatched the answer. “He knows what I say
is true, every word of it. He’s never fought anything but a straight
fight in his life. Isn’t that right, Pat?”

“Yes; it’s right,” Pat affirmed, and the peculiar thing to Maud
Sangster was that she was convinced he spoke the truth.

She brushed her forehead with her hand, as if to rid herself of the
bepuzzlement that clouded her brain.

“Listen,” she said. “Last night the same editor told me that your
forthcoming fight was arranged to the very round in which it would
end.”

Stubener was verging on a panic, but Pat’s speech saved him from
replying.

“Then the editor lies,” Pat’s voice boomed now for the first time.

“He did not lie before, about that other fight,” she challenged.

“What round did he say my fight with Nat Powers would end in?”

Before she could answer, the manager was into the thick of it.

“Oh, rats, Pat!” he cried. “Shut up. It’s only the regular run of
ring rumors. Let’s get on with this interview.”

He was ignored by Glendon, whose eyes, bent on hers, were no longer
mildly blue, but harsh and imperative. She was sure now that she had
stumbled on something tremendous, something that would explain all
that had baffled her. At the same time she thrilled to the mastery
of his voice and gaze. Here was a male man who would take hold of
life and shake out of it what he wanted.

“What round did the editor say?” Glendon reiterated his demand.

“For the love of Mike, Pat, stop this foolishness,” Stubener broke in.

“I wish you would give me a chance to answer,” Maud Sangster said.

“I guess I’m able to talk with Miss Sangster,” Glendon added. “You
get out, Sam. Go off and take care of that photographer.”

They looked at each other for a tense, silent moment, then the manager
moved slowly to the door, opened it, and turned his head to listen.

“And now what round did he say?”

“I hope I haven’t made a mistake,” she said tremulously, “but I am
very sure that he said the sixteenth round.”

She saw surprise and anger leap into Glendon’s face, and the anger
and accusation in the glance he cast at his manager, and she knew
the blow had driven home.

And there was reason for his anger. He knew he had talked it over
with Stubener, and they had reached a decision to give the audience
a good run for its money without unnecessarily prolonging the fight,
and to end it in the sixteenth. And here was a woman, from a newspaper
office, naming the very round.

Stubener, in the doorway, looked limp and pale, and it was evident
he was holding himself together by an effort.

“I’ll see you later,” Pat told him. “Shut the door behind you.”

The door closed, and the two were left alone. Glendon did not
speak. The expression on his face was frankly one of trouble and
perplexity.

“Well?” she asked.

He got up and towered above her, then sat down again, moistening his
lips with his tongue.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” he finally said “The fight won’t end in
the sixteenth round.”

She did not speak, but her unconvinced and quizzical smile hurt him.

“You wait and see, Miss Sangster, and you’ll see that editor man
is mistaken.”

“You mean the program is to be changed?” she queried audaciously.

He quivered to the cut of her words.

“I am not accustomed to lying,” he said stiffly, “even to women.”

“Neither have you to me, nor have you denied the program is to be
changed. Perhaps, Mr. Glendon, I am stupid, but I fail to see the
difference in what number the final round occurs so long as it is
predetermined and known.”

“I’ll tell you that round, and not another soul shall know.”

She shrugged her shoulders and smiled.

“It sounds to me very much like a racing tip. They are always given
that way, you know. Furthermore, I am not quite stupid, and I know
there is something wrong here. Why were you made angry by my naming
the round? Why were you angry with your manager? Why did you send
him from the room?”

For reply, Glendon walked over to the window, as if to look out,
where he changed his mind and partly turned, and she knew, without
seeing, that he was studying her face. He came back and sat down.

“You’ve said I haven’t lied to you, Miss Sangster, and you were
right. I haven’t.” He paused, groping painfully for a correct statement
of the situation. “Now do you think you can believe what I am going
to tell you? Will you take the word of a … prize-fighter?”

She nodded gravely, looking him straight in the eyes and certain that
what he was about to tell was the truth.

“I’ve always fought straight and square. I’ve never touched a piece
of dirty money in my life, nor attempted a dirty trick. Now I can
go on from that. You’ve shaken me up pretty badly by what you told
me. I don’t know what to make of it. I can’t pass a snap judgment
on it. I don’t know. But it looks bad. That’s what troubles me. For
see you, Stubener and I have talked this fight over, and it was
understood between us that I would end the fight in the sixteenth
round. Now you bring the same word. How did that editor know? Not from
me. Stubener must have let it out … unless….” He stopped to debate
the problem. “Unless that editor is a lucky guesser. I can’t make up my
mind about it. I’ll have to keep my eyes open and wait and learn. Every
word I’ve given you is straight, and there’s my hand on it.”

Again he towered out of his chair and over to her. Her small hand was
gripped in his big one as she arose to meet him, and after a fair,
straight look into the eyes between them, both glanced unconsciously
at the clasped hands. She felt that she had never been more aware
that she was a woman. The sex emphasis of those two hands–the
soft and fragile feminine and the heavy, muscular masculine–was
startling. Glendon was the first to speak.

“You could be hurt so easily,” he said; and at the same time she felt
the firmness of his grip almost caressingly relax.

She remembered the old Prussian king’s love for giants, and laughed
at the incongruity of the thought-association as she withdrew her hand.

“I am glad you came here to-day,” he said, then hurried on awkwardly
to make an explanation which the warm light of admiration in his eyes
belied. “I mean because maybe you have opened my eyes to the crooked
dealing that has been going on.”

“You have surprised me,” she urged. “It seemed to me that it is so
generally understood that prize-fighting is full of crookedness, that
I cannot understand how you, one of its chief exponents, could be
ignorant of it. I thought as a matter of course that you would know
all about it, and now you have convinced me that you never dreamed
of it. You must be different from other fighters.”

He nodded his head.

“That explains it, I guess. And that’s what comes of keeping away from
it–from the other fighters, and promoters, and sports. It was easy
to pull the wool over my eyes. Yet it remains to be seen whether it
has really been pulled over or not. You see, I am going to find out
for myself.”

“And change it?” she queried, rather breathlessly, convinced somehow
that he could do anything he set out to accomplish.

“No; quit it,” was his answer. “If it isn’t straight I won’t have
anything more to do with it. And one thing is certain: this coming
fight with Nat Powers won’t end in the sixteenth round. If there is
any truth in that editor’s tip, they’ll all be fooled. Instead of
putting him out in the sixteenth, I’ll let the fight run on into the
twenties. You wait and see.”

“And I’m not to tell the editor?”

She was on her feet now, preparing to go.

“Certainly not. If he is only guessing, let him take his chances. And
if there’s anything rotten about it he deserves to lose all he
bets. This is to be a little secret between you and me. I’ll tell
you what I’ll do. I’ll name the round to you. I won’t run it into
the twenties. I’ll stop Nat Powers in the eighteenth.”

“And I’ll not whisper it,” she assured him.

“I’d like to ask you a favor,” he said tentatively. “Maybe it’s a
big favor.”

She showed her acquiescence in her face, as if it were already granted,
and he went on:

“Of course, I know you won’t use this faking in the interview. But
I want more than that. I don’t want you to publish anything at all.”

She gave him a quick look with her searching gray eyes, then surprised
herself by her answer.

“Certainly,” she said. “It will not be published. I won’t write a
line of it.”

“I knew it,” he said simply.

For the moment she was disappointed by the lack of thanks, and the
next moment she was glad that he had not thanked her. She sensed the
different foundation he was building under this meeting of an hour
with her, and she became daringly explorative.

“How did you know it?” she asked.

“I don’t know.” He shook his head. “I can’t explain it. I knew it
as a matter of course. Somehow it seems to me I know a lot about you
and me.”

“But why not publish the interview? As your manager says, it is
good advertising.”

“I know it,” he answered slowly. “But I don’t want to know you that
way. I think it would hurt if you should publish it. I don’t want to
think that I knew you professionally. I’d like to remember our talk
here as a talk between a man and a woman. I don’t know whether you
understand what I’m driving at. But it’s the way I feel. I want to
remember this just as a man and a woman.”

As he spoke, in his eyes was all the expression with which a man
looks at a woman. She felt the force and beat of him, and she felt
strangely tongue-tied and awkward before this man who had been reputed
tongue-tied and awkward. He could certainly talk straighter to the
point and more convincingly than most men, and what struck her most
forcibly was her own inborn certainty that it was mere naïve and
simple frankness on his part and not a practised artfulness.

He saw her into her machine, and gave her another thrill when he said
good-by. Once again their hands were clasped as he said:

“Some day I’ll see you again. I want to see you again. Somehow I have
a feeling that the last word has not been said between us.”

And as the machine rolled away she was aware of a similar feeling. She
had not seen the last of this very disquieting Pat Glendon, king of
the bruisers and abysmal brute.

Back in the training quarters, Glendon encountered his perturbed
manager.

“What did you fire me out for?” Stubener demanded. “We’re finished. A
hell of a mess you’ve made. You’ve never stood for meeting a reporter
alone before, and now you’ll see when that interview comes out.”

Glendon, who had been regarding him with cool amusement, made as if
to turn and pass on, and then changed his mind.

“It won’t come out,” he said.

Stubener looked up sharply.

“I asked her not to,” Glendon explained.

Then Stubener exploded.

“As if she’d kill a juicy thing like that.”

Glendon became very cold and his voice was harsh and grating.

“It won’t be published. She told me so. And to doubt it is to call
her a liar.”

The Irish flame was in his eyes, and by that, and by the unconscious
clenching of his passion-wrought hands, Stubener, who knew the strength
of them, and of the man he faced, no longer dared to doubt.