THE GAME Many patterns of carpet lay rolled out

THE GAME

Many patterns of carpet lay rolled out before them on the floor—two of Brussels showed the beginning of their quest. And its ending in that direction; while a score of ingrains lured their eyes and prolonged the debate between desire pocket-book.  The head of the department did them the honor of waiting upon them himself—or did Joe the honor, as she well knew, for she had noted the open-mouthed awe of the elevator boy who brought them up.

Nor had she been blind to the marked respect shown Joe by the urchins and groups of young fellows on corners, when she walked with him in their own neighborhood down at the west end of the town.

But the head of the department was called away to the telephone, and in her mind, the splendid promise of the carpets and the irk of the pocket-book were thrust aside by a greater doubt and anxiety.

“But I don’t see what you find to like in it, Joe,” she said softly, the note of insistence in her words betraying recent and unsatisfactory discussion.

For a fleeting moment, a shadow darkened his boyish face.

To be replaced by the glow of tenderness. He was only a boy, as she was only a girl—two young things on the threshold of life, house-renting and buying carpets together.

“What’s the good of worrying?” he questioned. “It’s the last go, the very last.”

He smiled at her, but she saw on his lips the unconscious and all but breathed a sigh of renunciation, and with the instinctive monopoly of a woman for her mate, she feared this thing she did not understand and which gripped his life so strongly.

“You know the go with O’Neil cleared the last payment on mother’s house,” he went on. “And that’s off my mind.  Now, this last with Ponta will give me a hundred dollars in the bank—an even hundred, that’s the purse—for you and me to start on, a nest-egg.”

She disregarded the money appeal.  “But you like it, this—this ‘game’ you call it.  Why?”

He lacked speech-expression.  He expressed himself with his hands, at his work. And with his body and the play of his muscles in the squared ring; But to tell with his own lips the charm of the squared ring was beyond him. Yet he essayed, and haltingly at first. To express what he felt and analyzed when playing the Game at the supreme summit of existence.

“All I know, Genevieve, is that you feel good in the ring.

When you’ve got the man where you want him when he’s had a punch up both sleeves waiting for you and you’ve never given him an opening to land ’em when you’ve landed your own little punch an’ he’s goin’ groggy. An’ holdin’ on, an’ the referee’s dragging him off so’s you can go in the an’ finish. An’ all the house is shouting an’ tearin’ itself loose, and you know you’re the best man, an’ that you played m’ fair an’ won out because you’re the best man.  I tell you—”

He ceased brokenly, alarmed by his own volubility and by Genevieve’s look of alarm. As he talked she had watched his face while fear dawned in her own.  As he described the moment of moments to her, on his inward vision were lined the tottering man, the lights, the shouting house, and he swept out and away from her on this tide of life that was beyond her comprehension. Menacing, irresistible, making her love pitiful and weak. 필리핀마이다스 The Joe she knew receded, faded, became lost.

The fresh boyish face was gone, the tenderness of the eyes, the sweetness of the mouth with its curves and pictured corners.  It was a man’s face she saw, a face of steel, tense and immobile; a mouth of steel. The lips like the jaws of a trap; eyes of steel, dilated, intent, and the light in them and the glitter were the light and glitter of steel. The face of a man, and she had known only his boy face.  This face she did not know at all.

And yet, while it frightened her, she was vaguely stirred with pride in him.

His masculinity, the masculinity of the fighting male. Made its inevitable appeal to her, a female, molded by all her heredity to seek out the strong man formate and to lean against the wall of his strength.  She did not understand this force of his being that rose mightier than her love and laid its compulsion upon him; and yet, in her woman’s heart, she was aware of the sweet pang which told her that for her sake. For Love’s own sake, he had surrendered to her, abandoned all that portion of his life, and with this one last fight would never fight again.

“Mrs. Silverstein doesn’t like prize-fighting,” she said.  “She’s down on it, and she knows something, too.”