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look, taking out his note-book to enter it, for our friend Rattle sometimes forgets these little things.
Meantime East is freshening up Tom with the sponges for next round, and has set two other boys to rub his hands.
“ Tom, old boy," whispers he, “ this may be fun for you, but it's death to me. He'll hit all the fight out of you in another five minutes, and then I shall go and drown myself in the island ditch. Feint him—use your legs! draw him about! he'll lose his wind then in no time, and you can go into him. Hit at his body too, we'll take care of his frontispiece by-and-bye.”
Tom felt the wisdom of the counsel, and saw already that he couldn't go in and finish the Slogger off at mere hammer and tongs, so changed his tactics completely in the third round. He now fights cautious, getting away from and parrying the Slogger's lunging hits, instead of trying to counter, and leading his enemy a dance all round the ring after him. 6 He's funking, go in Williams," “ Catch him up,” “ Finish him off,” scream the small boys of the Slogger party.
“ Just what we want,” thinks East, chuckling to himself, as he sees Williams, excited by these shouts and thinking the game in his own hands, blowing himself in his exertions to get to close quarters again, while Tom is keeping away with perfect ease.
They quarter over the ground again and again, Tom always on the defensive.
The Slogger pulls up at last for a moment, fairly blown.
“ Now then, Tom," sings out East, dancing with delight. Tom goes in in a twinkling, and hits two heavy body blows, and gets away again before the Slogger can catch his wind; which when he does he rushes with blind fury at Tom, and being skilfully parried and avoided, overreaches himself and falls on his face, amidst terrific cheers from the schoolhouse boys.
5 Double your two to one ?” says Groove to Rattle, note-book in hand.
“ Stop a bit,” says that hero, looking uncomfortably at Williams, who is puffing away on his second's knee, winded enough, but little the worse in any other way.
After another round the Slogger too seems to see that he can't go in and win right off, and has met his match or thereabouts. So he too begins to use his head, and tries to make Tom lose patience, and come in before his time. And so the fight sways on, now one and now the other, getting a trifling pull.
Tom's face begins to look very one-sided—there are little queer bumps on his forehead, and his mouth is bleeding; but East keeps the wet sponges going so scientifically, that he comes up looking as fresh and bright as ever. Williams is only slightly marked in the face, but by the nervous movement of his elbows you can see that Tom's body blows are telling. In fact half the vice of the Slogger's hitting is neutralized, for he daren't lunge out freely for fear of exposing his sides. It is too interesting 318
THE RING BROKEN.
by this time for much shouting, and the whole ring is very quiet.
“ All right, Tommy,” whispers East; “hold on's the horse that's to win. We've got the last. Keep your head, old boy."
But where is Arthur all this time? Words cannot paint the poor little fellow's distress. He couldn't muster courage to come up to the ring, but wandered up and down from the great fives-court to the corner of the chapel rails. Now trying to make up his mind to throw himself between them, and try to stop them; then thinking of running in and telling his friend Mary, who he knew would instantly report to the Doctor. The stories he had heard of men being killed in prize-fights rose up horribly before him.
Once only, when the shouts of “ Well done, Brown!” 6 Huzza for the school-house!” rose higher than ever, he ventured up to the ring, thinking the victory was won. Catching sight of Tom's face in the state I have described, all fear of consequences vanishing out of his mind, he rushed straight off to the matron's room, beseeching her to get the fight stopped, or he shall die.
But it's time for us to get back to the close. What is this fierce tumult and confusion ? the ring is broken, and high and angry words are being bandied about; " It's all fair,” “ It isn't,” “ No hugging;” the fight is stopped. The combatants, however, sit there quietly, tended by their seconds, while their adherents wrangle in the middle. East can't
: THE RING BROKEN.
help shouting challenges to two or three of the other side, though he never leaves Tom for a moment, and plies the sponges as fast as ever.
The fact is, that at the end of the last round, Tom seeing a good opening had closed with his opponent, and after a moment's struggle had thrown him heavily, by help of the fall he had learnt from his village rival in the Vale of White Horse. Williams hadn't the ghost of a chance with Tom at wrestling; and the conviction broke at once on the Slogger faction, that if this were allowed their man must be licked. There was a strong feeling in the school against catching hold and throwing, though it was generally ruled all fair within certain limits; so the ring was broken and the fight stopped.
The school-house are overruled—the fight is on again, but there is to be no throwing; and East in high wrath threatens to take his man away after next round, (which he don't mean to do by the way,) when suddenly young Brooke comes through the small gate at the end of the chapel. The school-house faction rush to him. « Oh, hurra! now we shall get fair play."
“ Please, Brooke, come up, they won't let Tom Brown throw him."
“ Throw whom?” says Brooke, coming up to the ring. « Oh! Williams, I see. Nonsense! of course he may throw him if he catches him fairly above the waist.”
Now, young Brooke, you're in the sixth, you know, and you ought to stop all fights. He looks
hard at both boys. “ Any thing wrong ?” says he to East, nodding at Tom.
“ Not a bit.”
“ Bless you, no! heaps of fight in him. Ain't there, Tom ?”
Tom looks at Brooke and grins.
“So, so; rather done, I think, since his last fall. He won't stand above two more.”
« Time's up!” the boys rise again and face one another. Brooke can't find it in his heart to stop them just yet, so the round goes on, the Slogger waiting for Tom, and reserving all his strength to hit him out should he come in for the wrestling dodge again, for he feels that that must be stopped, or his sponge will soon go up in the air.
And now another new comer appears on the field, to wit, the under-porter, with his long brush and great wooden receptacle for dust under his arm. He has been sweeping out the schools.
66 You'd better stop, gentlemen," he says; the Doctor knows that Brown's fighting-he'll be out in a minute.”
6 You go to Bath, Bill,” is all that that excellent servitor gets by his advice. And being a man of his hands, and a staunch upholder of the schoolhouse, can't help stopping to look on for a bit, and see Tom Brown, their pet craftsman, fight a round.
It is grim earnest now, and no mistake. Both boys feel this, and summon every power of head,