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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/275

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THE LEADER OF FASHION.

Lord David attended prize-fights, and was their living law. On great occasions it was he who had the stakes driven in and ropes stretched, and who fixed the number of feet for the ring. When he was a second, he followed his man step by step, a bottle in one hand, a sponge in the other; crying out to him to strike fair, but suggesting all sorts of stratagems; advising him as he fought, wiping away the blood, raising him when overthrown, placing him on his knee, putting the mouth of the brandy bottle between his teeth, and from his own mouth, filled with water, blowing a fine rain into his eyes and ears,—a thing which revives even a dying man. If he was referee, he saw that there was no foul play; prevented any one, whomsoever he might be, from assisting the combatants, excepting the seconds; declared the man beaten who did not fairly face his opponent; saw that the time between the rounds did not exceed half a minute; prevented butting, declaring whoever resorted to it beaten; and forbade a man's being hit when down. All this scientific knowledge, however, did not make him a pedant, or destroy his ease of manner in society.

When Lord David was referee, rough, pimple-faced, unshorn friends of either combatant never dared to come to the aid of the failing man; nor in order to upset the chances of the betting jump over the barrier, enter the ring, break the ropes, pull down the stakes, or interfere in any way in the contest. He was one of the few referees they dared not attempt to bully.

No one could train like him. The pugilist whose trainer he consented to become was sure to win. Lord David would choose a Hercules,—massive as a rock, tall as a tower,—and make a child of him. The problem was to turn that human rock from a defensive to an offensive state. In this he excelled. Having once