“That’s it,” Jack would say. He didn’t like it any, though.
One morning we were all out on the road. We’d been out quite a way and now we were coming back. We’d go along fast for three minutes and then walk a minute, and then go fast for three minutes again. Jack wasn’t ever what you would call a sprinter. He’d move around fast enough in the ring if he had to, but he wasn’t any too fast on the road. All the time we were walking Soldier was kidding him. We came up the hill to the farmhouse.
“Well,” says Jack, “you better go back to town, Soldier.”
“What do you mean?”
“You better go back to town and stay there.”
“What’s the matter?”
“I’m sick of hearing you talk.”
“Yes?” says Soldier.
“Yes,” says Jack.
“You’ll be a damn sight sicker when Walcott gets through with you.”
“Sure,” says Jack, “maybe I will. But I know I’m sick of you.”
So Soldier went off on that train to town that same morning. I went with him to the train. He was good and sore.
“I was just kidding him,” he said. We were waiting on the platform. “He can’t pull that stuff with me, Jerry.”
“He’s nervous and crabby,” I said. “He’s a good fellow, Soldier.”
“The hell he is. The hell he’s ever been a good fellow.”
“Well,” I said, “so long, Soldier.”
The train had come in. He climbed up with his bag.
“So long, Jerry,” he says. “You be in town before the fight?”
“I don’t think so.”
“See you then.”
He went in and the conductor swung up and the train went out. I rode back to the farm in the cart. Jack was on the porch writing a letter to his wife. The mail had come and I got the papers and went over on the other side of the porch and sat down to read. Hogan came out the door and walked over to me.
“Did he have a jam with Soldier?”
“Not a jam,” I said. “He just told him to go back to town.”
“I could see it coming,” Hogan said. “He never liked Soldier much.”
“No. He don’t like many people.”
“He’s a pretty cold one,” Hogan said.
“Well, he’s always been fine to me.”
“Me too,” Hogan said. “I got no kick on him. He’s a cold one though.”
Hogan went in through the screen door and I sat there on the porch and read the papers. It was just starting to get fall weather and it’s nice country there in Jersey, up in the hills, and after I read the paper through I sat there and looked out at the country and the road down below against the woods with cars going along it, lifting the dust up. It was fine weather and pretty nice-looking country. Hogan came to the door and I said, “Say, Hogan, haven’t you got anything to shoot here?”
“No,” Hogan said. “Only sparrows.”
“Seen the paper?” I said to Hogan. “What’s in it?”
“Sande booted three of them in yesterday.”
“I got that on the telephone last night.”
“You follow them pretty close, Hogan?” I asked.
“Oh, I keep in touch with them,” Hogan said.
“How about Jack?” I says. “Does he still play them?”
“Him?” said Hogan. “Can you see him doing it?”
Just then Jack came around the corner with the letter in his hand. He’s wearing a sweater and an old pair of pants and boxing shoes.
“Got a stamp, Hogan?” he asks.
“Give me that letter,” Hogan said. “I’ll mail it for you.”
“Say, Jack,” I said, ‘didn’t you used to play the ponies?”
“I knew you did. I knew I used to see you out at Sheepshead.”
“What did you lay off them for?” Hogan asked.
Jack sat down on the porch by me. He leaned back against a post. He shut his eyes in the sun.
“Want a chair?” Hogan asked.
“No,” said Jack. “This is fine.”
“It’s a nice day,” I said. “It’s pretty nice out in the country.”
“I’d a damn sight rather be in town with the wife.”
“Well, you only got another week.”