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Russell took the sneer quietly.

"I saw him in the ring. He looked happy. Is that put on for the public?"

"Yerra, man, if ye had eyes at all ye'd have seen it wasn't," said Micky, hotly. "Did he look like a boy that's not treated right?"

They heard him sigh with relief. But Jeff was too anxious to care.

"What are you goin' to do? Do you want to take him away? It's a darned shame, if you can't give him a good home!"

"I've no home—only my job on the ship. But I've been off my head with anxiety about him. I'd chuck the job and take him if he weren't all right." He straightened up, his voice low and eager. "Teil me the truth, man—he's really happy?"

It was almost a cry. Jeff softened.

"You've no call to worry one bit about him. He's done well—you could see that for yourself. An' he belongs to Micky an' me when he's not in the ring. We look af ter him. We—well, we're real fond of him. We'd fight you for him—wouldn't we, Mick!"

"Wid all me heart," said Micky, pleasantly. "Now or anny time!"

A shadow loomed up beside them. It was Big Dan.

"What's this, boys?" Then he saw Russell's face. "Oh— you!" His voice was hard and suspicious.

"He's afther comin' to see if the boy was all right, sir,"