Kipling Said

Prize-Winning Short Story

by Albert Morehead

TERRY had always — somewhat proudly — considered himself cynical. He knew there were no flowers along the road to success. He knew that every friendly face denoted no pillar of honesty. He knew as only those of long and suffering experience know that every pretty face was no indication of virtue. He knew it—and he knew he knew it. Yes, he had always considered himself worldly wise. That is, until he met Betty.

Terry was the kind of boy who loved to discourage his amorous friends. For hours he could sit and lecture to Sammy Brener, and Kayo O’Connor, and others of Tom Mahery’s stable, of the dangers of Lover’s Lane; of the perilous road from the altar of the little red church to a championship; of the dismal failures of beshrewed gentlemen of his acquaintance. It was his pet subject; he could wax eloquent about love, and the joys of bachelorship, and the fact that all women were different.

But Betty couldn’t be considered in the same class as others of her sex. Great facts applicable to sweethearts of Sammy Brener, and Kayo O’Connor, and the rest of the crowd of happy-go-lucky pugilists weren’t true of Betty. She was so soft, and so friendly, and so noticeable despite her darkness, and so—well, so different!

Terry first admitted that he was in love one day after his morning sprint, when Tom Mahery was giving him the regular rub-down. Despite the fact that Tom was most painful on this particular morning, the little welterweight endured the jabbing in silence for several minutes. Then, as suddenly, as though inspired, he sat upright on the table and warded off Tom’s action until the trainer heeded the signal and let his arms drop.

“Tom,” said 'Ferry dramatically, “I’m in love.”

Tom failed to register the expected surprise. Instead, in a matter-of-fact manner, he remonstrated rather mildly. “Now, son,” said Tom,” you know that ain’t any state of mind for a promising 22-year-old leading aspirant for the welterweight championship to be packing around with him. Ain’t no married men get to be good boxers; and besides, didn’t I hear you say with your own mouth yesterday that——”

“But I didn’t meet Betty till last night. And there never was a good rule that didn’t have an exception.”

“Well, boy, all I can say is, you better lay off the wimmin till you get done with the Dutchman, and then some. By the time you’re getting to be twenty-five, and got a championship tucked in secure, you can run along and get married.” And old Tom Mahery, too indignant to finish the rub-down, even though Terry was overweight and had to scale down ten pounds to fight the Dutchman, stalked out of the shower room.

Terry had met Betty at a dance. It was his first dance in at least five years. In the latter part of his 22-year life, Terry had been much too occupied with hanging around the gymnasiums to think of anything except not eating too much sugar, or drinking too little water, or touching tobacco in any form. And so when, in distinguished-looking Tuxedo and unusually well-combed hair, he entered the ball room, accompanied by his brother, whose crowd was the high-brow crowd, and who was amusedly tolerant of his brother’s association with the prize fighters, and who expected him to settle down very soon to a refined society life—when he entered the ball room he was naturally rather ill at ease.

And Betty was the girl who put him at ease again. Betty liked Terry. She liked him because his eyes were a beautiful grey and his hair was a more beautiful brown; because his every feature was well shaped, and his chest was broad, and his hips narrow and his clothes well fitting and his bearing that of a cultured gentleman. And Terry liked Betty because she was Betty, and because she was pretty and vivacious and interesting and lacked the bored expression which most girls have and which she had discarded after her debut the previous winter.

The few times that evening when Terry remembered the steps well enough to dance he danced with Betty. And when he couldn’t dance, he would stroll around with Betty on his arm, and wonder what to say next, and what he had been doing all the rest of his life, and thank God that he had not fought for six months and that his face was unscarred.

And he forgot training, and the necessity for sleep, and asked to be allowed to call, and received permission, and set the date, and sat and talked and talked—and Terry had fallen in love.

Tom Mahery was only slightly worried. He knew that such affairs pass quickly. But he likewise knew that there are, even as Terry had said, exceptions to every rule, and it was on this ground that Tom was worried.

For only Tom knew what heights Terry gave promise of achieving. He had promise as a fighter because he was quick and had a strong defense and a stronger punch and because he loved the game. He had promise as a drawing card because he came from one of Jersey City’s leading families, and had forsworn all social pleasures for the ring and was the black sheep of his family. He had promise as a financial asset for Tom himself because all such news makes excellent publicity and because Tom and Terry had a five-year contract which gave Tom fifty per cent of all receipts and because Terry would be the welterweight champion of the world within a year. And to fight the champion, Terry would first have to defeat the Dutchman; and a man in love is worth little in the prize ring.

And so Tom began, slowly but systematically, to tear down Terry’s affection. He planned bis campaign well and opened it well and it proceeded well, except that it had about as much chance with Terry as raindrops have with the Rock of Gibraltar. That is, until after the first night Terry called on Betty.

For Betty had a decided antipathy to prizefighters. It was a disgrace to enter the ring half naked before several thousand roughnecks, and she would be displeased very much if Terry persisted in his intention to continue in the game. And so a heart-broken young man parted company with his young lady friend early that evening. Forever.

Tom was overjoyed at first, but he soon became aware that the Dutchman must he fought the next night, and that if Terry continued to sulk as he was doing that morning he couldn’t beat a Chinaman. Besides which, a fighter who is tired of life is at any time quite likely to become irresponsible, and make himself exceptionally scarce, which in Terry’s case would leave Tom not only minus one-half of a four thousand dollar purse, but also lacking a twenty-five hundred dollar forfeit.

So Tom was again overjoyed when Terry called up the young lady at noon that day, begged her forgiveness, asked to see her again, and was allowed to consider himself engaged for the evening.

The said evening was a steady succession of arguments. There was no winner. In fact, it was a purely no-decision affair—with the result that they again parted rather bitterly. And in parting Betty laid down the ultimatum.

“You are due,” she announced as they stood at the door, “to fight tomorrow night at 8 o’clock. If you really care for me, as you say, prove it by coming here instead of to the ring at that time. Otherwise I will leave on the 8:30 steamer to accompany my father on a tour abroad.”

Terry, shivering violently, could feel the door slam shut in his face. The cold wind shook him, dazed him. It was five minutes before he turned and tottered down the street toward his rooming house.

It was not Terry’s fault that he should happen to hear Tom Mahery talking to Bill Snyder the next day. The time was 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Terry had dozed off close to a half-open door which led to Tom’s office. Inside the two were in earnest consultation. The subject changed from the next heavyweight fight to the opening of a big athletic club, and finally to fighters and their prospects.

Bill Snyder was manager of the heavyweight champion of the world. He was known to be the greatest judge of prizefighters in the game. And it was Bill who was saying:

“This little welterweight of yours, Terry Harrison, is a prize. Where’d you pick him up?”

“Hanging around the gym—and I wouldn’t sell my half share of what he’s going to earn for a quarter million.”

“No, in less than a year he’ll be the champ. In fact, Tom, if he can heat the Dutchman tonight, let’s bring the champion here to fight him at the club.”

It was enough to stimulate any sleeping man. Terry’s ears pricked up, his eyes opened, and while they groped around in space as eyes do when a person has just awakened, they lit on a tie rack which had been sent to Tom Mahery the Christmas before. And, painted in fancy letters across the wooden surface of the rack, were Kipling’s immortal words:

“A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.”

That night the big clock in the Jersey Club arena read 8:31 P. M. as Terry Harrison landed the blow that knocked the Dutchman out.


Senior Poem

by Albert Morehead

If "What is success?" you or I might ask,
Would the answer we'd hear be true?
That success is the power to do the task
That God would have you do;

That success is the power to lose a fight
If your loss means your brother's gain;
That success is the strength to uphold the right
Though your own reward be pain;

That success is the will to lay down your life
To protect what is true and just;
That success is the strength to bear want and strife;
To be worthy of mankind's trust.

So that when we go into life's great game
We'll learn there's more happiness
In truth than in glory; in right than in fame;
And that honor is success.