The Big Umbrella

Damon Runyon

August 7 1937

Now No. 23 is a very high-class trap which is patronized only by the better element of rumpots in New York, and what I am doing in these unusual surroundings with Spider McCoy, the fight manager, is something that requires a job of telling.

This No. 23 is a spot where wealthy characters assemble on an afternoon and evening to sit around tables or stand at the bar guzzling old-fashioneds, and Scotches, and other delicacies of this nature, and there are always many swell-looking Judys present, so it is generally a scene of great gaiety, but it is certainly about the last place you will ever expect to find Spider McCoy and me.

But there we are, and the reason we are there starts in front of Mindy’s restaurant on Broadway, when I observe Spider McCoy walking along the street following close behind a tall young character of most unique appearance in many respects.

This tall young character cannot be more than twenty-one years of age, and he is maybe six feet two inches tall and must weigh around one hundred and ninety pounds. He has shoulders like the back of a truck, and he has blond hair, and pink cheeks, and is without doubt as good-looking as any male character has a right to be without causing comment.

He is wearing a pair of striped pants, and a cut-away coat, and a white vest, and a high hat, and in fact he is dressed as if he just comes from a high-toned wedding such as you see in pictures in the Sunday blats, and this is by no means a familiar costume in front of Mindy’s, so naturally the tall young character attracts no little attention, and many citizens wonder what he is advertising.

Well, as soon as he sees me, Spider McCoy beckons me to join him, and as I fall into step with him behind the tall young character, Spider McCoy says to me:

“Sh-h-h-h!” Spider McCoy says. “Here is without doubt the next heavy-weight champion of the whole world. I just see him kiss the jockey of a short down the street with a right-hand shot that is positively a lily. It does not travel more than three inches. The jockey takes a run at this party quite ferocious and, bap, down he goes as still as a plank under his own cab. It is the best natural right hand I ever see. He reminds me of Jack Dempsey,” Spider McCoy says. “Also Gene Tunney.”

Well, it is very seldom I see Spider McCoy but what he is speaking of some guy who is the next heavy-weight champion of the world, and they nearly always remind him of Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, and sometimes of Max Schmeling, so I am about to go about my business when Spider grabs me by the arm and compels me to accompany him.

“Who is the guy, Spider?” I say.

“What difference does it make who a guy is that can punch like he can?” Spider says. “All I know is he is the next heavy-weight champion of the world if he gets in the proper hands, such as mine. The broads will go crazy about his looks and the way he dresses. He will be a wonderful card,” Spider says. “You can see by the way he carries himself that he is a natural fighter. He is loose and light on his feet,” he says. “Chances are there is plenty of animal in him. I like my fighters to have plenty of animal in them, especially,” Spider says, “my heavy-weights.”

“Well, Spider,” I say, “from the way your heavy-weights I see knock off that hot meat on you, there is plenty of animal in them. But,” I say, “how do you know this party wishes to be a fighter, anyway? Maybe he has other plans in life.”

“We will find out,” Spider McCoy says. “We will tail him until we learn where he hangs out so I can make a connection with him. Look at his chest development,” Spider says. “Look at his small waist-line,” he says. “Look at the shape of his head.”

So we follow the tall young character until he leads us into No. 23, and I notice that Sammy the doorman gives him a very small hello, and I figure the tall young character cannot be anybody much, because when anybody is anybody much, Sammy the doorman gives them a very large hello, indeed. In fact, Sammy’s hello to the tall young character is almost as small as the hello he gives us, and this is practically unnoticeable.

Well, I know Sammy the doorman from back down the years when he is not working in a joint as classy as No. 23, and to tell the truth I know him when he is nothing but a steer for a bust-out joint in West Forty-third, a bust-out joint being a joint where they will cheat your eyeballs out at cards, and dice, and similar devices. So I ask Sammy who the tall young character is, and Sammy says:

“Oh,” he says, “he is one of these ex-kings. He comes from some nickel country over in Europe. A dictator gives him the foot off the throne and then chases him out of the country and takes personal charge of matters. His name is Jonas. I mean the ex-king,” Sammy says. “They are getting to be quite a nuisance around.”

“Is this ex-king holding anything?” I say.

“Nothing,” Sammy says. “Not a quarter. The hotel where he is stopping catches him out to a society tea the other afternoon and puts a hickey in his keyhole and now he cannot get at his other clothes and has to go around the way you see him. The chances are,” Sammy says, “he is in here looking to cadge a drink or a bite to eat.”

Well, Spider McCoy is looking the joint over to see if he can find anybody he knows to introduce him to the ex-king, but when I tell him what Sammy says, Spider at once eases himself up alongside the ex-king and begins talking to him, because Spider knows that when guys are not holding anything they are willing to talk to anybody.

He is somewhat surprised to find that the ex-king speaks English and seems to be a nice, pleasant young character and the chances are he is by no means high-toned even when he is holding something, so pretty soon Spider is buying him Scotches, although this is by no means a dram that Spider approves of for fighters unless they buy them themselves, and finally Spider says to him like this:

“I see you tag that taxi jockey over on Broadway,” Spider says. “I never see a more beautiful right in my born days. It reminds me something of Georges Carpentier’s right, only,” Spider says, “Georges always pulls his just a little before shooting to get more leverage, and you just barely move yours. Why,” Spider says, “the more I think of it, the more I am amazed. What does the guy do to vex you?”

“Why,” the ex-king says, “he does not do anything to vex me. I am quite unvexed at the time. It is almost inadvertent. The taxi-driver gets off his seat and starts to run after a passenger that fails to settle his account with him, and he is about to collide with me there on the sidewalk, so,” he says, “I just put out my right hand to ward him off, and he runs into it with his chin and knocks himself unconscious. I must look him up someday and express my regrets. But,” he says, “I will never think of deliberately striking anybody without serious provocation.”

Well, at this, Spider McCoy is somewhat nonplussed, because he can now see that what he takes for the ex-king’s natural punch is merely an accident that may not happen if it is on purpose, and furthermore, the ex-king’s expressions are scarcely the expressions of anybody with much animal in them, and Spider is commencing to regret the purchase of the Scotches for the ex-king. In fact, I can see that Spider is reaching a state of mind that may cause him to take a pop at the ex-king for grossly deceiving him.

But Spider McCoy cannot look at six feet two and one hundred and ninety pounds of anybody under thirty without becoming most avaricious, and so after a couple of more Scotches, he begins feeling the ex-king’s muscles, which causes the ex-king to laugh quite heartily, as it seems he is a little ticklish in spots, and finally Spider says:

“Well,” he says, “there is undoubtedly great natural strength here, and all it needs is to be properly developed. Why,” Spider says, “the more I think of you knocking a guy out by just letting him run into your hand, the more impressed I am. In fact,” he says, “I can scarcely get over it. How do you feel about becoming a professional?”

“A professional what?” the ex-king says.

“A professional boxer,” Spider says. “It is a name we have in this country for prize-fighters.”

“I never give such a matter a thought,” the ex-king says. “What is the idea?”

“The idea is money,” Spider McCoy says. “I hear of other ideas for professional boxing, but,” he says, “I do not approve of them, your Majesty.”

“Call me Jonas,” the ex-king says. “Do you mean to tell me I can make money out of boxing? Well, I will feel right kindly towards anything I can make money out of. I find,” he says, “that money seems to be somewhat necessary in this country.”

So then Spider McCoy explains to him how he can make a ton of money by winning the heavy-weight championship of the world and that all he requires to do this is to have Spider for his manager. Furthermore, Spider explains that all he will ask for being the manager is 33 per cent of the ex-king’s earnings, with the expenses off the top, which means before they cut up anything.

Well, the ex-king listens very intently and keeps nodding his head to show that he understands, and finally he says:

“In the meantime,” he says, “do I eat?”

“The best, your Majesty,” Spider says.

“Call me Jonas,” the ex-king says again. “All right, then,” Jonas says, “I will become heavy-weight champion of the world as you say, and make a ton of money, and then I snap my fingers at Dictator Poltafuss, the dirty rat.”

“The big heel,” Spider says.

So Spider McCoy takes Jonas to his home, which is an apartment in West Fiftieth Street, where his orphan niece, Miss Margie Grogan, keeps house for him, and bosses him around no little, and quite some, and I go with them to lend moral support to Spider, because by this time he is slightly Scotched up, and he always likes to have a little moral support when he goes home Scotched.

His niece, Miss Margie Grogan, is a Judy of maybe twenty, and if you like them small, and lively, and with huckleberry hair, and blue eyes, and freckles on the nose, and plenty of temper, she is all right. In fact, I hear some say that Margie is extra all right, but those who say this are younger than I am and maybe not such good judges. Personally, I like them with more heft and less temper.

It is not a large apartment where Spider McCoy lives, but it is a neat and clean little joint, at that, for Margie is without doubt a good all-round housekeeper. Furthermore, she is much better than a raw hand with a skillet, and she comes flying out of the kitchen with her face red and her hair all tousled up to meet Spider, but when she sees Jonas behind him she stops, and speaks as follows:

“Good grief,” Margie says, “another big umbrella.”

“What do you mean, umbrella?” Spider says.

“Why,” Margie says, “something that folds up. I never know you to bring home any other kind.”

“This is no umbrella,” Spider says. “This is the next heavyweight champion of the world.”

“No,” Margie says, “it cannot be, for two months you tell me that somebody called Ben Robbins is the next heavy-weight champion of the world.”

“Ben Robbins is nothing but a bum,” Spider says.

“So I find out,” Margie says. “Well,” she says, “come on in, you and your next heavy-weight champion of the world. We are about to put on the corned beef and.”

Then Spider introduces Jonas to her, and right away Jonas grabs her hand and lifts it to his lips, and this astonishes Margie no little, and afterward she tells me that she regrets for a moment that she just recently sticks her hand in a pot of boiled onions, and the chances are Jonas does too.

But Miss Margie Grogan is by no means in favor of prize-fighters in any manner, shape or form, because all they ever mean to her is an extra plate, and more cooking, and it is plain to be seen that though he seems to be an expert hand-kisser, Jonas is no more welcome than any of the others that Spider brings home, and he brings them home too often to suit Margie.

The ones he brings home are always heavy-weight prospects, for while Spider McCoy manages a number of fighters, he never gets excited about anything but a heavy-weight, and this is the way all fight managers are. A fight manager may have a light-weight champion of the world, but he will get more heated up about some sausage who scarcely knows how to hold his hands up if he is a heavy-weight.

Personally, I consider it most remarkable that Margie is able to spot Jonas as one of Spider’s heavy-weight prospects in a high hat and a cut-away coat, but Margie says it is a sixth sense with her. She says Spider once brings home a party with a beard half-way down to his waist, but that as soon as she opens the door she pegs him as a heavy-weight prospect that Spider does not yet have time to get shaved.

But she says she is so fond of Spider that she takes them all in, and feeds them up good, and the only time she ever bars anybody on him is the time Spider brings home a big widow he finds in Mickey Walker’s bar and claims he is going to make her the only female contender for the heavy-weight title in the world. Miss Margie Grogan says she has to draw the line somewhere on Uncle Spider’s prospects.

Well, from now on, Spider has Jonas in the gymnasium for several hours every day, teaching how to box, and anybody will tell you that Spider is as good a teacher as there is in the world, especially of a punch that is called the one-two, although this punch is really two punches. It is a left jab followed through fast with a right cross, and it is considered quite a gravy punch if properly put on.

Jonas lives in a spare room in Spider’s apartment, and takes his meals there, and Spider tells me everything will be very nice indeed for them all, if Margie does not happen to take more of a dislike than somewhat to Jonas, especially when she learns that he is once a king and gets the old hoovus-groovus from a dictator.

Margie tells Spider McCoy that it proves there must be anyway a trace of umbrella in a character who lets anybody run him out of his own country, and Spider says the only reason he does not give her an argument on the matter is that he is not sure but what she is right, though not because Jonas lets himself get run out.

“I do not figure this in at all,” Spider says. “I sometimes let myself get run out of places, and I do not think there is umbrella in me, or anyway not much. But,” he says, “a young heavy-weight prospect is a peculiar proposition. You can find out in the gymnasium if he can box, if he is fast, and if he can punch, but you cannot find out if he can take a punch and if he is dead game until you see him boffed around good in the ring.

“And,” Spider says, “this is what you must find out before you know if you have a heavy-weight contender, or just a heavyweight. This Jonas looks great in the gym, but,” he says, “sometimes I wonder about him. I do not know why I wonder, but I remember I wonder the same way about Ben Robbins, who is such a gymnasium marvel that I turn down twenty thousand for his contract. Then,” Spider says, “I put him with this punching-bag, Joe Grosher, in Newark, and my guy geeks it the first good smack he gets. Somehow,” Spider says, “Jonas has a certain look in his eyes that reminds me of Ben Robbins.”

“Well,” I says, “if you are not sure about him, why not chuck him in with somebody the same as you do Ben, and find out if he can fight, or what?”

“Look,” Spider McCoy says, “I will never find out anything more about this guy than I know now, if the offers I am getting keep on coming in. I will not have to find out,” he says. “We must have a hundred propositions right now, and I am going to commence taking some.”

Naturally the blats make quite an uproar when they discover that an ex-king is training to be a fighter, and they are full of stories and pictures about Jonas every day, and Spider of course does not discourage this publicity because it is responsible for the offers of matches for Jonas from all over the country.

But the matches Spider finally commences accepting are not the matches the promoters offer, because the promoters offer opponents who may have no respect for royalty, and may try to knock Jonas’s brains out. The matches Spider accepts have his own personal supervision, and they are much better for Jonas than what the promoters might think up.

These matches are with sure-footed watermen, who plunge in swiftly and smoothly when Jonas waves at them, and while everybody knows these matches are strictly tank jobs, nobody cares, especially the customers who almost break down the doors of the clubs where Jonas appears, trying to get in. The customers are so greatly pleased to be permitted to observe an ex-king in short pants that they scarcely pause for their change at the box-office windows.

Of course Spider does not tell Jonas that these contests are dipsydoos and Jonas thinks he really is belting out these porter-houses, and as he is getting pretty nice money for the work, he feels very well, indeed. Anybody will tell you that it helps build up a young fighter’s confidence to let him see a few people take naps in front of him as he is coming along, though Jonas is slightly bewildered the night at the Sun Casino when a generally very reliable waterboy by the name of Charley Drunckley misses his cue and falls down before Jonas can hit him.

The boxing commission is somewhat bewildered, too, and asks a few questions that nobody tries to answer, and Spider McCoy explains to Jonas that he hits so fast he cannot notice his punches landing himself, but even then Jonas continues to look somewhat bewildered.

He continues living at Spider McCoy’s apartment, because Spider is by no means sucker enough to let Jonas get very far away from him, what with so many unscrupulous characters around the boxing game who are always looking to steal somebody’s fighter, especially a fighter who is worth his weight in platinum, like Jonas, but from what I hear Miss Margie Grogan continues to play plenty of ice for him.

She goes to see him fight once, because everybody else in town is trying to go, but Margie is pretty cute, and she can spot a tank job as far as anybody, and while she knows very well that it is Spider McCoy and not Jonas who is responsible for these half-gainers that are going on, she tells Spider that if Jonas is not a big umbrella he will be fighting somebody who can really fight.

“Over my dead body,” Spider says. “If I ever hear of anybody that can really fight trying to fight my Jonas, I will cause trouble. And Margie,” Spider says, “do not call Jonas an umbrella in my presence. It hurts my feelings.”

But Jonas is a great disappointment to Spider in some respects, especially about publicity angles. Spider wishes to get a tin crown made for him to wear going into the ring, but Jonas will not listen to this, and what is more he will not stand for as much as a monocle, because he claims he does not know how to keep one in his eye.

Well, the dough is rolling in on Spider and Jonas just with tank acts, but some of the boxing scribes are commencing to say Jonas ought to meet real competition, and I tell Spider myself it may be a good idea to see if Jonas really can fight.

“Yes,” Spider says, “I am sometimes tempted myself. He shapes up so good that I get to thinking maybe he is the makings, at that. But I think I will let well enough alone.

“Anyway,” Spider says, “what a sap I will be to throw him in with competition as long as the suckers will pay to see him as he is. I can go on with him indefinitely this way,” Spider says, “but one smack on the chops may finish us up for good. Yes,” he says, “I think I will let well enough alone.”

Now, one day a chunky guy with a big moustache and his hair cut short comes to see Jonas and has a long talk with him, and Jonas tells Spider that this guy is from his home country over in Europe, and that he is sent by the dictator who runs Jonas off, and his cabinet, who wish Jonas to return home to talk to them about certain matters, which may include a proposition for him to be king again, and Jonas says it sounds like a fair sort of proposition, at that.

“Why,” Spider says, “nobody can talk business with you now. I am your manager, and all propositions must come to me first. Is there any chance of us making any real dough out of your going back to being king?”

Well, Jonas says it is by no means definite that he is to be king again, but that there is something in the air, and as he now has plenty of dough, and it is safe for him to return, he wishes to go home a while if only to pick up a few belongings that he does not have time to collect the last time he departs.

Furthermore, nothing will do but Spider must go with him, and Spider says this means Miss Margie Grogan will have to go, too, because she is practically his right arm in business, and every other way, and Jonas says he thinks this is an excellent idea. He says Margie looks to him as if a sea voyage will do her good, and when Spider mentions this opinion to Margie, she says she wishes the big umbrella will stop looking at her to see how she looks, but that she will go just to spite him, and so they sail away.

Well, it is some months before I see Spider McCoy again, and then I run into him on Broadway one afternoon, and he is all dressed up in striped pants, and white spats, and a cut-away coat, and a high hat, and before I can start asking questions he says to me like this:

“Come with me to number twenty-three,” he says. “I am on a meet there with somebody, and I will tell you all.” So from now on for a while this is Spider McCoy’s story:

Well [Spider says] we have a most satisfactory journey in every respect. Going over on the boat, what happens what with the moon and the stars, and the music, and dancing, and all this and that, but Margie and Jonas get so they are on slightly better terms, and this makes things more pleasant for me, as they are together quite a bit, and this gives me time to catch up on my drinking, which I neglect no little when I am so busy looking after Jonas’s interests.

He gets a wonderful reception when we reach his old home country, what with bands and soldiers, and one thing and another, but I am surprised to find that none of the natives hear of me as his manager. In fact, it seems that his reputation there rests entirely on once being king, and they never hear of his accomplishments in the ring, which consist of eighteen consecutive k.o.“s. This really hurts my feelings after all my work with him in the gym and the trouble I go to in picking his opponents.

Personally, his country does not strike me as much of a country, and in fact it strikes me as nothing but a sort of double Jersey City, and the natives speak a language of their own, and the scenery is filled with high hills, and take it all around, I do not consider it anything to get excited about, but it is plain to be seen that Jonas is glad to get back there.

Well, we are not there more than a few hours before we get a line on what is doing, and what is doing is that the people wish Jonas to be king again, and they are making life a burden for this Dictator Poltafuss, and his cabinet, and Poltafuss figures it will be a good scheme to put Jonas back, all right, but first he wishes to discuss certain terms of his own with Jonas.

The very afternoon of the day we arrive there is a cabinet meeting in the palace, which is a building quite similar to a county court-house, and Jonas is invited to this meeting. They do not invite me, but naturally as Jonas’s manager, I insist on going to protect his interests, and in fact I consider it quite unethical for them to be inviting my fighter to discuss terms of any kind and not including me, and then Jonas requests Margie to also accompany him.

The cabinet meeting is in a big room with high windows overlooking a public square and in this square a large number of natives of Jonas’s country gather while the meeting is in progress, and talk among themselves in their own language.

There must be thirty characters of one kind and another sitting around a big table when we enter the room, and I figure they are the cabinet, and it does not take me long to pick Dictator Poltafuss. He is sitting at the head of the table and he is wearing a uniform with about four pounds of medals on his chest, and he has short black whiskers, and a fierce eye, and anybody can see that he is built from the ground up.

He is as big as a Russian wrestler, and looks to me as if he may be a tough character in every respect. A solid-looking Judy in a black dress is sitting in a chair behind him with some knitting in her hands, and she does not seem to be paying much attention to what is going on.

Well, as we enter the room and Jonas sees Poltafuss, a look comes into Jonas’s eyes that is without doubt the same look I sometimes see in the gymnasium and in the ring, and which is the look that makes me wonder about him and keeps me from ever putting him in without knowing his opponent’s right name and address, and, thinks I to myself, he is afraid of the guy with the sassafras. Thinks I to myself, Margie is right. He is a big umbrella.

Poltafuss begins talking very fast to Jonas, and in their own language, and after he gets through, Jonas does a lot of talking in the same language, and finally Jonas turns to us, and in our language he tells us what Poltafuss says to him and what he says to Poltafuss, and what Poltafuss says is really somewhat surprising.

“He says,” Jonas says, “that I will be returned to the throne if I first marry his sister. She is the chromo sitting behind him. I tell him she is older than he is, and has a big nose, and a moustache.

He says,” Jonas says, “that she is only a year older, which puts her shading forty, and that a big horn indicates character, and a moustache is good luck.

“Then,” Jonas says, “I tell him the real reason I will not marry her, which is because I am going to marry someone else.”

“Wait a minute, Jonas,” I say. “You mustn’t never tell a lie, even to be king. You know you are not going to marry anybody. I do not permit my fighters to marry,” I say. “It takes their mind off their business.”

“Yes,” Jonas says, “I am going to marry Miss Margie Grogan. We fix it up on the ship.” Then all of a sudden Poltafuss jumps up and says to Margie in English like this: “Why,” he says, “the idea is ridiculous. He cannot marry you. He is of royal blood. You are of common stock,” he says. “Look, Jonas,” Margie says, “are you going to stand here and hear me insulted? If you are, I am leaving right now,” she says. Then she starts for the door, and Jonas runs after her and grabs her by the arm and says:

“But, Margie,” he says, “what can I do?”

“Well,” Margie says, “you can boff this big ape for one thing, as any gentleman is bound to do, unless,” she says, “there is even more umbrella in you than ever I suspect.”

“Why, yes,” Jonas says. “To be sure, and certainly,” he says.

And with this he walks over to Poltafuss; but old Polty hears what Margie says, and as Jonas gets near him, he lets go a big right hand that starts down around China and bangs Jonas on the chin, and Jonas goes down.

Well, I thinks to myself, I am only glad this does not occur at the Garden some night when the joint is packed. Then I hear Margie’s voice saying like this:

“Get up, Jonas,” Margie says. “Get up and steady yourself.”

“It is no use, Margie,” I say. “You are right, he is an umbrella.”

“You are a liar,” Margie says.

“Margie,” I say, “remember you are speaking to your Uncle Spider.”

I am still thinking of how disrespectfully Margie addresses me, when I notice that Jonas is up on his feet, and as he gets up he sticks out his left in time to drive it through Poltafuss’s whiskers, as Poltafuss rushes at him. This halts Polty for an instant, then he comes on again swinging both hands. He is strictly a wild thrower, but he hits like a steer kicking when he lands, and he has Jonas down three times in as many minutes, and every time I figure Jonas will remain there and doze off, but Margie says get up, and Jonas gets up, and when he gets up he has sense enough to stick his left in Poltafuss’s beard.

There seems to be some slight confusion among the members of the cabinet as the contest opens, and I take a good strong grip on a big chair, just in case of fire or flood, but I wish to say I never witness a finer spirit of fair play than is exhibited by the members of the cabinet. They stand back against the wall and give Jonas and Poltafuss plenty of elbow-room, and they seem to be enjoying the affair no little. In fact, the only spectator present who does not seem to be enjoying it is Poltafuss’s sister, who does not get up out of her chair to get a better view, and furthermore does not stop her knitting, so I can see she is by no means a fight fan.

Pretty soon Jonas’s left-hand sticking has Poltafuss’s nose bleeding and then one eye begins to close, and I find myself getting very much interested, because I now see what I am looking for all my life, which is a dead game heavy-weight, and I can see that I will no longer have to be worrying about who I put Jonas in with. I see the next heavy-weight champion of the world as sure as I am standing there, and I now begin coaching Jonas in person.

“Downstairs, Jonas,” I say. “In the elly-bay, Jonas,” I say. So Jonas hits Poltafuss a left hook in the stomach, and Polty goes oof.

“The old one-two, Jonas,” I say, and Jonas stabs Poltafuss’s nose with a long left, then follows through with a right cross, just as I educate him to do, and this right-hand cross lands on Polty’s chin, among the whiskers, and down he goes as stiff as a board on his face, and when they fall in this manner, you may proceed at once to the pay-off window.

The next thing I know, Margie is in Jonas’s arms, dabbing at his bloody face with a little handkerchief, and shedding tears, and a member of the cabinet that I afterward learn is the secretary of war is at one of the windows yelling down to the natives in the square and they are yelling back at him, and later someone tells me that what he yells is that the king just flattens Poltafuss and what they are yelling back is long live the king.

“Spider,” Jonas says, “I never have any real confidence in myself before, but I have now. I just lick the party who can lick any six guys in my country all at once and with one hand tied behind him. Spider,” he says, “I know now I will be heavy-weight champ on of the world.”

Well, Poltafuss is sitting up on the floor holding his nose with both hands, and looking somewhat dishevelled, but at this he puts his hands down long enough to speak as follows:

“No,” he says, “you will be king, and your sweetheart there will be queen.”

And this is the way it turns out [Spider says] and Jonas and Poltafuss get along very nicely indeed together afterward, except once at a cabinet meeting when King Jonas has to flatten Poltafuss again to make him agree to some unemployment measure.

“But, Spider,” I say, as Spider McCoy finishes his story, “you do not state what becomes of the dictator’s sister.”

“Well,” Spider says, “I will tell you. It seems to me that the dictator’s sister gets a rough deal, one way and another, especially,” he says, “as her beezer is by no means as big as some people think.

“So,” Spider says, “while I will always regret blowing the next heavy-weight champion of the world, I console myself with the thought that I get a wonderful and ever-loving wife, and if you will wait a few minutes longer, I will introduce you to the former Miss Sofia Poltafuss, now Mrs. Spider McCoy.”