The Amateur Gentleman (Chapter 10, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 10

"Sir," said his Lordship, after they had gone some way in silence,
"you are thoughtful, not to say, devilish grave!"

"And you," retorted Barnabas, "have sighed--three times."

"No, did I though?--why then, to be candid,--I detest saying
'Good-by!'--and I have been devoutly wishing for two pair of muffles,
for, sir, I have taken a prodigious liking to you--but--"

"But?" inquired Barnabas.

"Some time since you mentioned the names of two men--champions
both--ornaments of the 'Fancy'--great fighters of unblemished
reputation."

"You mean my--er--that is, Natty Bell and John Barty."

"Precisely!--you claim to have--boxed with them, sir?"

"Every day!" nodded Barnabas.

"With both of them,--I understand?"

"With both of them."

"Hum!"

"Sir," said Barnabas, growing suddenly polite, "do you doubt my word?"

"Well," answered his Lordship, with his whimsical look, "I'll admit
I could have taken it easier had you named only one, for surely, sir,
you must be aware that these were Masters of the Fist--the greatest
since the days of Jack Broughton and Mendoza."

"I know each had been champion--but it would almost seem that I have
entertained angels unawares!--and I boxed with both because they
happened to live together."

"Then, sir," said the Viscount, extending his hand in his frank,
impetuous manner, "you are blest of the gods. I congratulate you and,
incidentally, my desire for muffles grows apace,--you must
positively put 'em on with me at the first opportunity."

"Right willingly, sir," said Barnabas.

"But deuce take me!" exclaimed the Viscount, "if we are to become
friends, which I sincerely hope, we ought at least to know each
other's name. Mine, sir, is Bellasis, Horatio Bellasis; I was named
Horatio after Lord Nelson, consequently my friends generally call me
Tom, Dick, or Harry, for with all due respect to his Lordship,
Horatio is a very devil of a name, now isn't it? Pray what's yours?"

"Barnabas--Beverley. At your service."

"Barnabas--hum! Yours isn't much better. Egad! I think 't is about
as bad. Barnabas!--No, I'll call you Bev, on condition that you make
mine Dick; what d' ye say, my dear Bev?"

"Agreed, Dick," answered Barnabas, smiling, whereupon they stopped,
and having very solemnly shaken hands, went on again, merrier than
ever.

"Now what," inquired the Viscount, suddenly, "what do you think of
marriage, my dear Bev?"

"Marriage?" repeated Barnabas, staring.

"Marriage!" nodded his Lordship, airily, "matrimony, Bev,--wedlock,
my dear fellow?"

"I--indeed I have never had occasion to think of it."

"Fortunate fellow!" sighed his companion.

"Until--this morning!" added Barnabas, as his fingers encountered a
small, soft, lacy bundle in his pocket.

"Un-fortunate fellow!" sighed the Viscount, shaking his head.
"So you are haunted by the grim spectre, are you? Well, that should
be an added bond between us. Not that I quarrel with matrimony, mark
you, Bev; in the abstract it is a very excellent institution,
though--mark me again!--when a man begins to think of marriage it is
generally the beginning of the end. Ah, my dear fellow! many a
bright and promising career has been blighted--sapped--snapped
off--and--er--ruthlessly devoured by the ravenous maw of marriage.
There was young Egerton with a natural gift for boxing, and one of
the best whips I ever knew--we raced our coaches to Brighton and
back for a thousand a side and he beat me by six yards--a splendid
all round sportsman--ruined by matrimony! He's buried somewhere in
the country and passing his days in the humdrum pursuit of being
husband and father. Oh, bruise and blister me! it's all very pitiful,
and yet"--here the Viscount sighed again--"I do not quarrel with
the state, for marriage has often proved a--er--very present help in
the time of trouble, Bev."

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