The Honourable Mr. Tawnish (Chapter 4, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 4

Myself and Bentley were returning from another dog-fight. This time my dog had lost (which was but natural, seeing its very unfit condition, though to be sure it looked well enough at a glance). Alas! the sport is not what it was in my young days, when rogues can so put off a sick dog upon the unsuspecting. Methinks 'tis becoming a very brutal, degrading practice--have determined to have done with dog-fighting once and for all. Bentley was in a high good humour (as was but to be expected, seeing he had won nigh upon two hundred guineas of me), but then, as I have said, Bentley never wins but he must needs show it.

"By the way," said he, breaking off in the middle of the air he was humming, "did you see him at the fight?"

"Him?" says I.

"Raikes," nodded Bentley. "Man Dick, I never see the fellow but my fingers itch for his throat. I heard some talk that he had won a thousand or so from young Vesey, by this one bout alone."

"Humph!" says I.

"Come, Dick," says Bentley, "let's get on; he cannot be so very far behind, and I have no stomach for his society--I'll race you to the cross roads for fifty."

"I'll hurry myself for no such fellow as Raikes!" says I.

"Nor fifty guineas?"

"No," says I, "nor fifty guineas!"

Whereupon, Bentley yielding to my humour, we rode on with never a word betwixt us. It lacked now but a short three weeks to Christmas, and every day served but to bring Jack nearer to his grave, and add a further load to that which pressed upon my heart. At such times the thought of Pen, and the agony I must see in her eyes so soon, drove me well-nigh frantic. In this rough world men must be prepared for fortune's buffets--and shame to him that blenches, say I--but when through us Fate strikes those we fain would shelter, methinks it is another matter. Thus, had Jack proved coward, I for one should have rejoiced for Pen's sake, but as it was, no power on earth could stay the meeting, and this Christmas would bring her but anguish, and a great sorrow. With all these thoughts upon my mind I was very silent and despondent--and what wonder! As for Bentley, he, on the contrary, manifested an indifference out of all keeping with his character, an insensibility that angered and disgusted me not a little, but surprised and pained me, most of all.

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