"But when I come out of my faint I was laying on the floor in a drug- store saturated with aromatic spirits of ammonia. If I'd known that was Reddy Burns, I'd have got down in the gutter and crawled past him instead of handing him one like I did. Why, if I'd ever been in a ring and seen him climbing over the ropes, I'd have been all to the sal volatile.
"So that's what imagination does," concluded Mack. "And, as I said, your case and mine is simultaneous. You'll never win out. You can't go up against the professionals. I tell you, it's a park bench for yours in this romance business."
Mack, the pessimist, laughed harshly.
"I'm afraid I don't see the parallel," I said, coldly. "I have only a very slight acquaintance with the prize-ring."
The derelict touched my sleeve with his forefinger, for emphasis, as he explained his parable.
"Every man," said he, with some dignity, "has got his lamps on something that looks good to him. With you, it's this dame that you're afraid to say your say to. With me, it was to win out in the ring. Well, you'll lose just like I did."
"Why do you think I shall lose?" I asked warmly.
"'Cause," said he, "you're afraid to go in the ring. You dassen't stand up before a professional. Your case and mine is just the same. You're a amateur; and that means that you'd better keep outside of the ropes."