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Lavengro by George Henry Borrow

The brewer will have no hand in that

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 everyone 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?' 'By no means,' said the landlord, 'because why?--I conceives that a cross is a certainty to those who are in it, whereas by the fair thing one may lose all he has.' 'But,' said I, 'you said the other day that you liked the fair thing.' 'That was by way of gammon,' said the landlord; 'just, do you see, as a Parliament cove might say, speechifying from a barrel to a set of flats, whom he means to sell. Come, what do you think of the plan?'

'It is a very ingenious one,' said I.

'Ain't it?' said the landlord. 'The folks in this neighbourhood are beginning to call me old fool; but if they don't call me something else, when they sees me friends with the brewer, and money in my pocket, my name is not Catchpole. Come, drink your ale, and go home to the young gentlewoman.'

'I am going,' said I, rising from my seat, after finishing the remainder of the ale.

'Do you think she'll have any objection?' said the landlord.

'To do what?' said I.

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