‘If you mean,’ said I, ‘to ask me to lend you the money which you want, it will be to no purpose, as I have very little of my own, just enough for my own occasions; it is true, if you desired it, I would be your intercessor with the person to whom you owe the money, though I should hardly imagine that anything I could say - ‘ ‘You are right there,’ said the landlord; ‘much the brewer would care for anything you could say on my behalf - your going would be the very way to do me up entirely. A pretty opinion he would have of the state of my affairs if I were to send him such a ‘cessor as you; and as for your lending me money, don’t think I was ever fool enough to suppose either that you had any, or if you had that you would be fool enough to lend me any. No, no, the coves of the ring knows better; I have been in the ring myself, and knows what a fighting cove is, and though I was fool enough to back those birds, I was never quite fool enough to lend anybody money. What I am about to propose is something very different from going to my landlord, or lending any capital; something which, though it will put money into my pocket, will likewise put something handsome into your own. I want to get up a fight in this here neighbourhood, which would be sure to bring plenty of people to my house, for a week before and after it takes place; and as people can’t come without drinking, I think I could, during one fortnight, get off for the brewer all the sour and unsaleable liquids he now has, which people wouldn’t drink at any other time, and by that means, do you see, liquidate my debt; then, by means of betting, making first all right, do you see, I have no doubt that I could put something handsome into my pocket and yours, for I should wish you to be the fighting man, as I think I can depend upon you.’ ‘You really must excuse me,’ said I; ‘I have no wish to figure as a pugilist; besides, there is such a difference in our ages; you may be the stronger man of the two, and perhaps the hardest hitter, but I am in much better condition, am more active on my legs, so that I am almost sure I should have the advantage, for, as you very properly observed, "Youth will be served."’ ‘Oh, I didn’t mean to fight,’ said the landlord; ‘I think I could beat you if I were to train a little; but in the fight I propose I looks more to the main chance than anything else. I question whether half so many people could be brought together if you were to fight with me as the person I have in view, or whether there would be half such opportunities for betting, for I am a man, do you see; the person I wants you to fight with is not a man, but the young woman you keeps company with.’

‘The young woman I keep company with,’ said I; ‘pray what do you mean?’

‘We will go into the bar, and have something,’ said the landlord, getting up. ‘My niece is out, and there is no one in the house, so we can talk the matter over quietly.’ Thereupon I followed him into the bar, where, having drawn me a jug of ale, helped himself as usual to a glass of sherry, and lighted a cigar, he proceeded to explain himself further. ‘What I wants is to get up a fight between a man and a woman; there never has yet been such a thing in the ring, and the mere noise of the matter would bring thousands of people together, quite enough to drink out, for the thing should be close to my house, all the brewer’s stock of liquids, both good and bad.’ ‘But,’ said I, ‘you were the other day boasting of the respectability of your house; do you think that a fight between a man and a woman close to your establishment would add to its respectability?’ ‘Confound the respectability of my house,’ said the landlord; ‘will the respectability of my house pay the brewer, or keep the roof over my head? No, no! when respectability won’t keep a man, do you see, the best thing is to let it go and wander. Only let me have my own way, and both the brewer, myself, and every one of us, will be satisfied. And then the betting - what a deal we may make by the betting - and that we shall have all to ourselves, you, I, and the young woman; the brewer will have no hand in that. I can manage to raise ten pounds, and if by flashing that about I don’t manage to make a hundred, call me horse.’ ‘But suppose,’ said I, ‘the party should lose, on whom you sport your money, even as the birds did?’ ‘We must first make all right,’ said the landlord, ‘as I told you before; the birds were irrational beings, and therefore couldn’t come to an understanding with the others, as you and the young woman can. The birds fought fair; but I intend that you and the young woman should fight cross.’ ‘What do you mean by cross?’ said I. ‘Come, come,’ said the landlord, ‘don’t attempt to gammon me; you in the ring, and pretend not to know what fighting cross is! That won’t do, my fine fellow; but as no one is near us, I will speak out. I intend that you and the young woman should understand one another, and agree beforehand which should be beat; and if you take my advice, you will determine between you that the young woman shall be beat, as I am sure that the odds will run high upon her, her character as a fist-woman being spread far and wide, so that all the flats who think it will be all right will back her, as I myself would, if I thought it would be a fair thing.’ ‘Then,’ said I, ‘you would not have us fight fair?’

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