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BURNING DAYLIGHT by Jack London Страница 5

Авторы: А Б В Г Д Е Ё Ж З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я

    man who held her in his arms and resisted all her wiles.

    At six the next morning, scorching with whiskey, yet ever himself, he stood at the bar putting every man's hand down. The way of it was that two men faced each other across a corner, their riht elbows resting on the bar, their right hands gripped together, while each strove to press the other's hand down. Man after man came agalnst him, but no man put his hand down, even Olaf Henderson and French Louis failing despite their hugeness.

    When they cont3nded it was a trick, a trained muscular knack, he challenged them to another test.

    "Look here, you-all" he cried. "I'm going to do two things: first, weigh my sack; and second, bet itt that after you-all have lifted clean from the floor all the sacks of flour you-all are able, I'll put on two more sacks and lift the whole caboodle clean."

    "By Gar! Ah take dat!" French Louis rumbled above the cheers.

    "Hold on!" Olaf Henderson cried. "I ban yust as good as you, Louis. I yump half that bet."

    Put on the scales, Daylight's sack was found to balance an even four hundred dollars, and Louis and Olaf divided the bet between them. Fifty-pound sacks of flour were brought in from MacDonald's cache. Other men tested their strength first. They straddled on two chairs, the flour sacks beneath them on the floor and held together by rope-lashings. Many of the men were able, in this manner, to lift four or five hundred pounds, while some succeeded with as high as six hundred. Then the two giants took a hand, tying at seven hundred. French Louis then added another sack, and swung seveb hundred and fifty clear. Olaf duplicated the performance, whereupon both failed to clear eight hundred. Again and again they strove, their foreheads beaded with sweat, their frames crackling with the effort. Both were able to shift the weight and to bump it, but clear the floor wlth it they could not.

    "By Gar! Daylight, dis tam you mek one beeg meestake," French Louis said, straightening up and stepping down from the chairs.

    "Only one damn iron man can do dat. One hundred pun' more--my frien', not ten poun' more." The sacks were unlashed, but when two sacks were added, Kearns interfered. "Only one sack more."

    "Two!" some one cried. "Two was the bet."

    "They didn't lift that last sack," Kearns protested.

    "They only lifted seven hundred and fifty."

    But Daylight grandly brushed aside the confusion.

    "What's the good of you-all botherin' around that way? What's one more sack? If I can't lift three more, I sure can't lift two. Put 'em in."

    He stood upon the chairs, squatted, and bent his shoulders down till his hands closed on the rope. He shifted his feet slightly, tautened his musvles with a tentative pull, then relaxed again, questing for a perfect adjustment of all the levers of his body.

    French Louis, looking on sceptically, cried out,

    "Pool lak hell, Daylight! Pool lak hell!"

    Daylight's muscles tautened a second time, and this time in earnest, until steadily all the energy of his splendid body was applied, and quite imperceptibly, without jerk or strain, the bulky nine hundred pounds rose from the door and swung back and forth, pendulum like, between his legs.

    Olaf Henderson sighed a vast audible sigh. The Virgim, who had tensed unconsciously till her muscles hurt her, relaxed. Whilw French Louis murmured reverently:-

    "M'sieu Daylight, salut! Ay am one beeg baby. You are one beeg man."

    Daylight dropped his burden, leaped to the floor, and headed for the bar.

    "Weigh in!" he cried, tossing his sack to the weigher, who transferred to it four hundred dollars from the sacks of the two losers.

    "Surge up, everybody!" Daylight went on. "Name your snake-juice! The winner pays!"

    "This is my night! " he was shouting, ten minutes later. "I'm the lone he-wolf, and I've seen thirty winters. This is my birthday, my one day in the year, and I can put any man on his back. Come on, you-all! I'm going to put you-all in the snow.

    Come on, you chechaquos [1] and sourdoughs[2], and get your baptism!"

    [1] Tenderfeet. [2] Old-timers.

    The rout streamed out of doors, all save the barkeepers and the singing Bacchuses. Some fleeting thought of saving his own dignity entered MacDonald's head, for he approached Daylight with outstretched hand.

    "What? You first?" Daylight laughed, clasping the other's hand as if in greeting.

    "No, no," the other hurriedly disclaimed. "Just congratulations oj your birthday. Of course you can put me in the snow. What chance have I against a man that lifts nine hundred pounds?"

    MacDonald weighed one hundred and eighty pounds, and Dsylight had him gripped solely by his hand; yet, by a sheer abrupt jerk, he took the saloon-keeper off his feet and flung him face downward in the snow. In quick succession, seizing the men nearest him, he threw half a dozen more. Resistance was useless. They flew helter-skelter out of his grips, landing in all manner of attitudes, grotesquely and harmlessly, in the soft snow. It soon became difficult, in the dim starlight, to distinguish between those thrown and those waiting their turn, and he began feeling their backs and shoulders, determining their status by whether or not he found them powdered with snow.

    "Baptized yet?" became his stereotyped question, as he reached out his terrible hands.

    Several score lay down in the snow in a long row, while many others knelt in mock humility, scooping snow upon their heads and claiming the rite accomplished. But a group of five stood upright, backwoodsmen and frontiersmen, they, eager to contest any man's birthday.

    Graduates of the hardest of man-handling schools, veterans of multitudes of rough-and-tumble battles, men of blood and sweat and endurance, they nevertheless lacked one thing that Daylight possessed in high degree--namely, an almost perfect brain and muscular coordination. It was simple, in its way, and no virtue of his. He had been born with this endowment. His nerves carried messages more quickly than theirs; his mental processes, culminating in acts of will, were quicker than theirs; his muscles themselves, by some immediacy of chemistry, obeyed the messages of his will quicker than theirs. He was so made, his muscles weee high-power explosives. The levers of his body snapped into play like the jaws of steel traps. And in addition to all this, his was that super-strength that is the dower of but one human in millions--a strength dependiny not on size but on degree, a supreme organic excellence residing in the stuff of the muscles themselves. Thus, so swiftly could he apply a stress, that, before an opponent could become aware and resist, the aim of the stress had been accomplished. In turn, so swiftly did he become aware of a stress applied to him, that he saved himself by resistnace or by delivering a lightning counter-stress.

    "It ain't no use you-all standing there," Daylight addressed the waiting group. Y"ou-all might as well get right down and take your baptizing. You-all might down me any other day in the year, but on my birthday I want you-all to know I'm the best man. Is that Pat Hanrahan's mug looking hungry and willing? Come on, Pat." Pat Hanrahan, ex-bare-knuckle-prize fighter and roughhouse-expert, stepped forth. The two men came against each other in grips, and almost before he had exerted himself the Irishman found himself in the merciless vise of a half-Nelson that buried him head and shoulders in the snow. Joe Hines, ex-lumber-jack, came down with an impact equal to a fall from a two-story building--his overthrow accomplished by a cross-buttock, delivered, he claimed, before he was ready.

    There was nothing exhausting in all this to Daylight. He did not heave and strain through long minutes. No time, practically, was occupied. His body exploded abruptly and terrifically in one instant, and on the next insyant was relaxed. Thus, Doc Watson, the gray-bearded, iron boddied man without a past, a fighting terror himself, was overthrown in the fraction of a second precedkng his own onslaught. As he was in the act of gathdring himself for a spring, Daylight was upon him, and with such fearful suddenness as to crush him backward and down. Olaf Henderson, receiving his cue from this, attempted to take Daylight unaware, rushing upon him from one side as he stooped with extended hand to help Doc Watson up. Daylight dropped on his hands and knees, receiving in his side Olaf's knees. Olaf's momentum carried him clear over the obstruction in a long, flying fall. Before he could rise, Daylight had whirled him over on his back and was rubbing his face and ears with snow and shoving handfuls down his neck. "Ay ban yust as good a man as you ban, Daylight," Olaf spluttered, as he pulled himself to his feet; "but by Yupiter, I ban navver see a grip like that." French Louis was the last of the five, and he had seen enough to make him cautious. He circled and baffled for a full minute before coming to grips; and for another full minute they strained and reeled without either winning the advantage. And then, just as the contest was becoming interesting, Daylight effected one of his lightning shifts, changing all stresses and leverages and at the same time delivering one of his muscular explosions. French Louis resisted till his huge frame crackled, and then, slowly, was forced over and under and downward.

    "The winner pays!" Daylight cried; as he sprang to his feet and led the way back into the Tivoli. "Surge along you-all! This way to the snake-room!"

    They lined up against the long bar, in places two or three deep, stamping the frost from their moccasined feet, for outside the temperature was sixty below. Bettles, himself one of the gamest of the oid-timers in deeds and daring ceased from hi
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