The carnation was
still in position, and the dark-blue pin-stripe suit was holding up well in its
maturity. A hint of silver in the sideburns added a new and effective touch to
his immeasurable dignity.
Pat," said Jack Doyle, Irish heavyweight boxer, singer and wrestler.
"Still keeping fit, I see."
Both of us might
have been 20 pounds overweight. "Not too bad, Jack," I said and, having
come in through one door of the pub, started out the other.
He laid on my arm
the great hand that had stretched so many novices before his matchmakers became
too ambitious. "You're just the chap," said Jack, "I wanted to
see." Retaining his grip with the right hand, he beckoned to the barman
with the other. "Some attention for Sir Patrick," he said, the Oxford,
Cambridge and Mayfair amalgam of accents more clipped than ever.
On the bar in
front of him was a half glass of what might possibly have been virgin Coke.
"Throw another rum in there, old boy," he said to the barman. I ordered
a beer for myself, and paid for both of them, while Jack adjusted the
handkerchief in his sleeve.
"To tell you
the truth," he said, "I'm just a shade jittery." His smile mocked,
affectionately, the frailty of humankind. "I got into a little game of
cards last night with two girls, and no good came of it at all."
myself," I said quickly. "Two odds-on favorites down the pipe."
"I know how
it is," said Jack with equal speed and went on to reveal the greater size
of his own emergency. During the game it seemed that he'd been compelled to
write a check for �50 without, in the heat of the play, having had time to
reveal that he was temporarily an undischarged bankrupt and therefore not in a
position to make so large a gesture.
Alarmed by the
seriousness of the matter, I indicated that �50 was exactly the sum that I owed
in back rent and was now unable to pay.
tight," Jack agreed with sympathy and explained how tight it was. A
detective inspector in Scotland Yard—one of his best friends—had heard of the
check incident and was now suggesting in the friendliest way that arrest might
follow unless recompense could be made within 24 hours. "But the trouble
is," said Jack, giving me a look of concern, "I'm leaving on a
wrestling tour of Germany in the morning, and I won't be able to go unless this
little matter is cleared up."