Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ashley Sterne Out and About


The following six articles have the common theme of Ashley Sterne amusing himself away from home.  Watch for the delightful wordplay with "hop scotch" in the article Up and Down the Downs So Free.

Haymaking  [Oct 1915]
The Joys of Fishing  [Dec 1915]
Buying a Melon  [Oct 1916]
In a Turkish Bath  [Mar 1920]
Up and Down the Downs So Free  [Mar 1921]
My First Boxing Match  [Sep 1921]


[NOTE: The first article contains some references that may puzzle the modern American reader.  "Chiltern Hundreds" refers to a political appointment taken by a member of Parliament wishing to resign his/her seat.  "Sal volatile" is a form of smelling salts, and the "mangold wurzel" is a cultivated root vegetable used as livestock fodder.]


Haymaking

By Ashley Sterne

Have you ever tried to make hay? It's really quite, simple. You merely get a blade of grass, hang it up to dry in the sun (or, if there's an eclipse on, in front of the kitchen fire), and then remove it and place it in a heap. When you've collected and dried all the hays available, you arrange them with their heads pointing one way and their tails the other in the shape of a stack, get your thatcher to thatch a nice straw lid for it, and your hay is ready to hide needles in, or to feed your lowing kine upon, or to stuff dolls' bodies with.

I am just back from the country where I have been lending a helping hand to a farmer friend. When he wrote to me asking if I would assist him I had no idea the process was so simple. I thought it required skilled labor; and when I told him so I was very agreeably surprised to receive his reply that any fool could make hay and that I should not feel at all out of my depth.

Strictly speaking, hay is born, not made. That is to say, when the grass is quite ripe it is hay; it only requires to be mown. This mowing is great fun. Sometimes it is done with a horse hitched up to a dynamo, sometimes by hand. We cut ours by hand. A scythe is a curious weapon to handle if you don't know it well enough to speak to. As you are probably aware, the blade is shaped some what like a boomerang—a fact it is well to remember. I unfortunately forgot it, with the result that the first stroke I made I missed the hay altogether and mowed off the toe-cap of a new brown boot and ripped off the turn-up of one trouser-leg. The second attempt was somewhat more successful. I mowed at least three blades of hay; but owing to the impetus of my stroke, the enthusiasm I put into it, and the very slight resistance which the vegetation afforded to it, I was swung right round, and nearly mowed my farmer friend into two distinct portions. At the third stroke I made a praiseworthy but abortive attempt to mow a large boulder which had got mixed up with the field. This necessitated my sitting down and stropping the scythe with a thing like a petrified cucumber. My fourth stroke was another miss. The scythe went sailing out of my hands, and hit an honest laborer a few yards off in the small of the back, while I fell into a clump of stinging nettles.

"You'll soon get into the way of it," said my farmer friend, as he pulled me out and started rubbing my face and neck with dock leaves.

Truth to tell, I was a little discouraged, and about to explain to him that I thought of applying for the Chiltern Hundreds and returning to town by the next train. But his words put fresh courage into me, and so I started again, and by dint of keeping one eye on my farmer friend and the other on the honest laborer (who had meanwhile revived from the effects of the terrific "kidney punch" by drinking large quantities of—I suppose—sal volatile out of a tin can), I managed to mow at least a pound of hay.

At midday we fell out for lunch, and I noted with pride that the palms of my hands were covered with beautiful blisters. They had not been in that condition since the day, years ago, when I punted fifteen stone of solid maiden aunt from Staines to Windsor. In the afternoon we went at it again, and by sundown the meadow was practically bald. The next day we laid another meadow low, and another the following day, at the end of which time I should not have been ashamed to mow hay against the professional champion. I was really quite sorry when it was all carted and stacked. I even offered to mow the mangold wurzels from sheer love of mowing, but my farmer friend would not hear of my doing any more work for him. (That was after I had mowed a row of them just to show him I could.)

Haymaking is really a very fine exercise, and put me into excellent training. I weighed ten stone when I went to the country and nine stone ten when I returned. I thus lost four pounds, to say nothing of the fifteen and-six at solo whist coming home in the train. But that is another story.

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The Joys of Fishing

By Ashley Sterne

It was Sir Izaak Walton, the famous mathematician and Senior Angler, who, writing so eloquently upon the soothing delight of a summer day's fishing, recently inspired me to try its effect upon myself. I know lots of men who are devoted to the sport; who go off early in the morning with rod, line, camp-stool and empty creel, sit on the back of a damp and draughty mill-pond all day, and return in.the evening with a creel emptier than ever and the beginnings of a thoroughly reliable quinsy; and who speak in most enthusiastic terms of the entrancing hours they have spent.. But hitherto I had never experienced them myself. I therefore persuaded a friend to lend me a complete outfit, and one morning last week I set off for the country at an hour at which I rarely rise except to attend diamond jubilees or coronations.

I arrived at the fishing-ground shortly after seven o'clock, and at once proceeded to put together my rod. By bumping it lustily against a tree I eventually contrived to get all the joints fixed, and I then got out the line. During the journey down, this almost superhumanly intelligent article had managed to escape from the reel and to crochet itself into one of the most exquisitely beautiful and complex designs I had ever seen. I sat down under a tree and began to unravel it. During the hour I spent at the job, I think I negotiated that line into pretty nearly every design known to fancy-work. I successfully made a d'oyley, a table-centre, a hammock, a shopping-bag, a toilet mat, a fringe-net, and finally a dear little cellular vest. I was so pleased with the latter that I seriously contemplated foregoing my fishing and sending the dainty garment, just as it was, to our vicaress, who is organising a sale of work for the purpose of sending nice thick winter sporrans to the Scottish regiments at the front. However, I picked it up carelessly, and—mirabile dictu—it all came undone, and lay before me a perfectly straight and incorruptible fishing line.

I do not attempt to explain this phenomenon. I simply state the bare fact. I have narrated the circumstance to other anglers, who inform me that there is nothing singular in my experience, and that conversely they have known straight lines to become inextricably mixed up into a ball while their backs have been turned for just the few seconds required to open a fresh bottle of ale.

Rod and line thus being prepared, there still remained the gut tackle to affix. This was a comparatively easy job when I at length managed to extract the hook from the back of my hand; but I felt so weak and anaemic from loss of blood that it was imperative to revive myself with a little nourishment. Therefore, as a church clock in the distance struck nine, I began to eat the lunch which, in normal circumstances, I should not have touched for another four hours. I ate it ravenously, and then I must have dropped off to sleep, for when I opened my eyes the clock was striking eleven; and it struck twelve before I finally got the hook out of the back of my trousers. I can only conclude that I inadvertently sat upon it when I settled down to eat. Twice I undressed—the first time to cut the hook out with my pocket-knife, the second time to liberate a wasp that had unfortunately become incarcerated in my clothing upon the first occasion.

Then it began to rain. I was drenched to the skin in five minutes. I had no mackintosh with me, but I had a railway time-table. Sheltering myself in the depths of a bramble-hedge which I can positively guarantee contained more thorns to the cubic inch than any other bramble-hedge in the world, I found that there was a train home in half an hour. I decided to abandon my sport, in spite of the fact that my friend had told me that fish always bite better after rain. However, it wasn't rain as I understand the term. It was a sheer heartless cataclysm; and my friend had not told me what fish do after cataclysms. Possibly they clamber up the bank and eat out of your hand. Possibly, too, they retire to the comparatively dry surroundings afforded by the uttermost depths of the pond. Anyhow, I didn't wait to see. I broke the rod in two places whilst taking it to pieces. The line is still—for all I know to the contrary—firmly entangled in the oak-tree. The hook I left embedded in my shoulder-blade until I got into the railway carriage. I forgot the creel altogether.

The one bright interlude in my day's fishing was afforded by my catching my train, which was the only thing I did catch—unless you count a mild attack of influenza. However, in any event, I should not have caught any fish, because I subsequently discovered that I had omitted to provide any bait.

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[NOTE: In the next article there is a reference to a board game named "ludo."]


Buying a Melon

By Ashley Sterne

I was at the counter, counting out my money. The greengrocer was in the shop-parlor, eating bread and dripping. The maid was in the gar—  No, I'm wrong. The maid wasn't on in this act; only the green grocer and me—I mean I.

"Good morning. Have you any fruit?" I asked, as he entered the shop.

"Fruit? Let me see now, have I?" he mused, scratching his chin. "Yes, since you mention it, I believe I have got a little somewhere. Now, where did I put it? Ah, would you mind getting up off them tomatoes and sitting on them artichokes instead?"

I got off tho first them and sat on the second while he rummaged about among some market baskets.

"Here we are!" he exclaimed at length. "What would you say to a nice pomegranate?"

"I haven't a notion," I replied. "I've never spoken to a pomegranate before. I should be tongue-tied with bashfulness. Introduce me to some thing easier to start with, a red currant or a stewed prune, and gradually work up to the pomegranate."

"Here's some nice little green gooseberries," he said. "What d'you think of them?"

"They're rather small and green," I observed.

"Little green gooseberries usually are," explained the shopman. "Take one in your hand and stroke it."

"It hasn't got any whiskers either," I said.

"Nor'd you at that age," he said. "Don't hurry, Take a chair while it grows some. I've nothing to do. I only run this shop as a hobby. But stay."

I kindly stayed.

"P'r'aps you'd prefer a nectarine?"

"What's that?" I asked. "Anything like a soup-tureen?"

"A beautiful fruit," went on the greengrocer. "If there'd only been nectarines in the Garden of Eden there'd have been none of that apple scandal. These"—he got a box out of the window—"are the finest Cape nectarines on the market—come straight from the Horn, they did. You might turn Covent Garden upside down and shake it without finding a better fruit. Sure to give satisfaction. Remove that horrid sinking feeling. Children like 'em.  Float in the bath. Make old hats like new. No more tired, aching feet, and all the rest of it. Give 'em a trial."

He held out the box, and I ate six.

"I don't like them," I said. "Take them away. Do I get any rebate if I send the stones back?"

"Not allowed to do it, sir," said the greengrocer. "I should get my licence endorsed. Sorry you don't like 'em. What about a persimmon?"

"That's a pretty name," I remarked. "Most inspiring. I believe I could write a poem about Percival, the Parsimonious Persimmon. Show me one. Let me see one face to face, eye to eye, shoulder to shoulder, each to each. I feel I am going to love Percival."

As luck would have it, the one thing I wanted could not be found. The man searched vainly in all sorts of boxes and baskets. He even opened a drawer labelled "Persimmons," but none came to light. Then he commenced to feel in all his pockets, and, eager to help, I felt in all mine, too. I was almost inclined to run for a policeman, and feel in all his pockets. The more we couldn't find a persimmon the more anxious I grew to meet one. We went systematically right through the shop, and finally we climbed into the shop-window and went right through that into the street.

It was as I was coming up for the third time that I suddenly thought of melons, I can't explain why; I just did. Things happen like that with me. I remember I once thought of a rum omelette in the middle of the Handel Festival. Be that as it may, as soon as we got back into the shop I turned to the greengrocer, who was placing a slice of raw banana on his right eye.

"I've made up my mind," I said cheerily. "I've thought of a melon."

"Double it," he said; "take away the first number— "

"You're thinking of ludo," I put in.  "I want a melon—a yellow Rugby one, not a green soccer one."

Ho found one almost at once in a drawer labelled "Melons."

"This is a good 'un," he said, passing out from touch. "Match size."

"Has it got any roe inside?" I asked, catching it and holding it to my ear. "I can't hear a sound. I particularly want one with a roe. Those dear little pip things, you know," I added, as he looked puzzled.

"Oh, sure to," he said. "All the best melons have pips."

"Shall we open it to make certain?" I suggested. "Cuthbert, the canary, will be so disappointed if it's a male."

"Don't you worry," said the greengrocer, reassuringly. "Just take 'em for granted. That'll be one-and-ten."

"One and ten's eleven," I calculated rapidly, "Cast out nines that leaves two. Got change for a three penny-bit?"

He signalled two bulls and a wide on the cash register, and handed me a packet of pins.

"Should you find Percival," I said, "perhaps you would send me word. You know where I live? No? I'm sorry I haven't a card, but you'll see the name of the house painted on the
gate."

It was not till I reached home that I found that I had left the melon in the tram. I was on the point of starting for Scotland Yard to see whether the Master of the blood hounds could trace it for me, when I suddenly remembered what had put the thought of melons into my head. I dislike them more than any other fruit I've ever met.

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In a Turkish Bath

By Ashley Sterne

If, next time you meet me, you notice that my clothes hang rather loosely on me, don't think that I have bought a ready-made suit in the dark, or that I have lost my butter coupons. I've only had a Turkish bath, that's all.

It happened in this way. I had been bathing at the seaside one day without noticing that the harbor-master had omitted to close the harbor bar. Well, I am always susceptible to draughts, and the result was that I contracted a lot of rheumatism. A man who was staying at the same hotel advised me to try a Turkish bath.. Being friend less and alone, I did so.

My troubles began in the hot room. I started by reclining on the steam heating apparatus instead of on one of the wooden benches. This made a very pretty pattern on my back and shoulders, but otherwise I derived no benefit from it.

Then when I lay down on the wooden bench I broke out into a profuse perspiration. Well, I hadn't gone there to do that. If I want to perspire, I try to balance my passbook, or read the instructions on my ration-card. The atmosphere, too, was terribly hot and close, so I rang the bell, and asked the attendant to open a window. He told me there weren't any, and that the heat and the closeness and the perspiration were part of the bathing.

He said that the heat was only dry heat, and that you can't be boiled in dry heat, and that Turkish baths worked that way. I told him that it wasn't a bath at all; it was a beastly grill-room, and that I was not a steak and tomatoes. I informed him, further, that his wretched inferno was not in the least like what I had imagined a Turkish bath to be. I had always thought that it was a nice large marble affair, with a few goldfish and a water-lily or two floating about in it for decorative purposes, and that as I reclined by the side of it, with my feet dangling in the water, damsels in baggy trousers refreshed me from time to time with lumps of bosphorus and Turkish delight, while concealed musicians played "Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula" on dulcet dulcimers and soft-sounding sackbuts. At least, that was the impression I gained from a picture I had once seen in the Royal Academy.

However, when the attendant learned that I'd never had a Turkish bath before, he said that perhaps I had rather overdone the hot-room business, and that I had better be washed. So he took me into another room where there were a lot of marble slabs, like bacon counters in grocers' shops, and threw me down on one. Then the ruffian put on an india rubber boxing glove and simply knocked me about as he liked. Every time I tried to protest he thrust a huge, soapy lathering-brush into my mouth, and went on punching me and slapping me and scrubbing me with his beastly boxing glove.

Twice I managed to kick him in the st—, in the struggle, I mean; but as on each occasion I rolled off the slippery slab on to the floor and hurt my self, I gave up reprisals.

He then thrust,me into a cabinet and turned on a scalding hot spray. I came out promptly and asked what he was doing. He answered that he was opening the pores of my skin. He hurled me back again and turned on an icy-cold spray. Again I sprang out and asked him if he took me for a walrus or a penguin. He replied that he was now closing the pores of my skin so that I shouldn't catch cold, and once more he shoved me into the cabinet. And there I remained while the ruffian did just what he liked with my pores, opening and shutting them as if they were his own.

Finally he turned off the water, pulled me out, and wrapped me in so many towels that I couldn't move a muscle. Then he carried me to my dressing room and flung me down on the couch with instructions to stay there until I had "cooled off."

This took me exactly five seconds, for as soon as he had gone off to torture another victim I freed my legs and ran straight upstairs to the bureau to inquire for the man who had advised me to try the bath. Unfortunately, he had left while I was having it, but if ever we meet again I shall ask Joe Beckett to come and hit him for me.

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[NOTE: a "char-a-banc" is an open-topped motor coach used for sight-seeing in the country.  "Turmet" is Wiltshire dialect for turnip. A "beauty chorus" is a group of chorus girls.]


Up and Down the Downs So Free

Ashley Sterne Enjoys a Char-a-Banc Holiday.

"O, who will o'er the downs so free—O, who will with me ride?" sang the conductor of the char-a-banc, as he strolled up casually and lit a cigarette at the sparking-plug. "You, sir," he said, addressing me. "You look as if you'd never had a ride on anything more exciting than a rocking-horse. How could you like to up and follow me, and win a blooming bride in this fifty candle-power, fitted to measure, jewelled in every hole Jam Rolls?"

"Where are you going to, my pretty maid?" I carolled back.

"To Shovehem-in-the-Ditch, via Pushem-in-the-Hedge, kind sir, she said," warbled the conductor, getting out a bundle of tickets and preparing to punch one in the eye.

"Then I'll go with you, my pretty maid," I trolled "Have you any room?"

"Yessir, yessir, three bags full," he chanted. "There's a top-hole, tip-up seat between this fat lady—'ere, shore up, auntie, and let the gentleman look at it! —and old Granfer Fungusface with the overflow of whiskers. Now, anybody else comin' on this circular, personally misconducted tour? There is still room for a couple more in the grease-box? No? Very well. Give 'er 'er 'ead, 'Erbert." The conductor ran round to the front of the joy waggon, seized the handle, and played a selection from "Cavalleria Rusticana"; then he rushed back and flung himself into his seat just as the char-a-banc got the clutch between its teeth and plunged headlong in the direction of the far blue hills, Marie.

We were a right goodly company forsooth! On the front seat with the driver sat a magnificent lady upholstered in rich and heavy furs—skink, munk, silver fox, Ostend rabbit, and whatnot—from which I gathered she was either a Duchess or a beauty chorus. With her was an Eton collar with a little boy inside it, his head lavishly anointed with oil, and a little girl with ginger hair, a box of chocolate, silk stockings, and a West Kensington accent.

In the next row there were five young and beauteous damozels, a bag of buns, a bunch of bananas, a pint and a half of monkey-nuts, and five unfinished jumpers still on their scaffolding. My row consisted of the fat lady, myself, Granfer, a stock-broker, and a retired lighthouse-keeper.

In the row behind sat a honeymoon couple holding thumbs, two young fellows, aged about three-and-twenty and twenty-three respectively, and a sad looking man who looked as if he lived on aciddrops, prickly pears and turpentine.

My word, you should have seen us chara and banc! The ground fairly slid beneath us. We were out of the suburbs and into the rhubarb before we had time to kiss our hands and wave our flowers to our relatives on the quay. We did Brixton in a flying leap, Streatham and Norbury in three hops and a scotch, and reached. the Potted Bloater at Croydon (where I did one hop and had three Scotches) before the fat lady had time to realise that we were not the 196b motor-bus to Earl's Court.

Then we started off again and went along so fast that a policeman who tried to push us over and take our number got stuck to the radiator by the air pressure.

"We'll keep him here as a mascot," cried the stockbroker; and old Granfer Fungusface said that these be 'mazing times, that they be, and they never had nothing like it, that they hadn't in his young days.

At last we were in the open country. and all went merrily as a marriage licence. Yokels stopped hoeing turmuts in the fields and gazed at us open-mouthed as we sped by, our engine-driver returning the compliment by opening our throttle. One threw a horse and cart at us for luck, while another mistook us for a circus, and the conductor managed to sell him a couple of ticket-counterfoils for the second house at the Coliseum for last Thursday week as we whizzed by.

We passed through a number of charming villages, and in every one we created a great sensation. The villagers came trooping out to greet us. and flung empty bottle, brickbats, dead cats, potato-peeling, babies—any little gift they could lay their hands on, in fact—into the char-a-banc.

And then, when we at length reached Shovehem-in-the-Ditch, the Mayor himself, arrayed in a fluffy dressing gown and a necklace of curtain-rings. accompanied by his mace-bearer and his clove-bearer and his sword-swallower and the keys of the village on a green plush pin-cushion, came out to greet us, and read out what we at first thought was an address of welcome, until the two twenty-three-year-olds explained that it was the clause from the Riot Act dealing with exceeding the speed limit.

After that interesting ceremony we all got out and dispersed to see the sights. Some of us "did" ye olde village church which dates back to Edward the Professor; some "did" ye olde village workhouse which dates back to the Ministry of Pensions; others "did" ye olde village drinking fountain which dates back to Trust Houses Limited; while the villagers did the lot of us over the sale of picture postcards of their loyal and ancient burgh.

Then, just as ye olde village clock struck, we all got abroad again, and commenced the homeward journey, which we accomplished without delay, except that we stopped once to leave a pedestrian at the mortuary, and once owing to engine-trouble. The engine-driver and the conductor, however, got busy with the tin-opener, and soon had the lid of the engine off; but it wasn't until they had opened the carburettor and taken out a couple of mice that had started to build there that they were able to make the wheels go round again.

But it's an ill wind that has no silver lining, and if it hadn't been for that last little mishap I shouldn't have committed the pleasing error of clambering back in the thickly-falling dusk into the wrong seat and finding myself wedged in amongst the five beauteous damozels.

I had the time of my life all the rest of the way home, and I've arranged to take Cecily to the pictures on Monday, Gertrude to the kinema on Tuesday, Madeline to the movies on Wednesday, Margaret to the cinematograph on Thursday, and Rosalle to the bioscope on Friday; while on Saturday we are all going charabonging again to Knockhem via the old Kentish roadsteads. 

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My First Boxing Match

By Ashley Sterne

One morning I had been down Billingsgate way on business—as a matter of fact I had been to wish good luck to an old pal who was to be be headed on the Tower Green for profiteering (he had a topping day of it) —and was returning through the fish market when a fish fancier banged me on the back of the skull with a crate of mackerel he was carrying on one shoulder.

I turned round to expostulate with him, and he promptly butted me in the eye with a sturgeon he was carrying on his other shoulder. I swerved to let him pass, and received a stinging smack behind the ear from the tail of a conger eel he was carrying in his mouth. I dodged behind him to get out of the way, and a lobster the size of a small crocodile, which he was carrying on his back, scratched my nose with its claw.

I can put up with a good deal without complaining, but this cowardly blow from the lobster was the last straw to give the camel the hump.

"Who's the clumsy fellow with a face about as handsome as a dog fish?" I enquired of a bystander (from the pins stuck in the lapel of his coat, I judged him to be a professional winkle-taster).

"Which one?" he queried.

"That fellow taking the Brighton Aquarium for a walk," I answered. indicating my assailant.

"What d'yer want to know for? Wanter buy a goldfish or a whale or somethink? If so, I—"

"Well," I interrupted, "I feel inclined to run after him and give him a good hard slap. He nearly broke my head with his beastly mackerel, knocked my eye out with his confounded sturgeon- "

"Oh, I'd let bygones be bygones if I was you," broke in the winkle-taster. "That chap happens to be Bill Buggins, the Billingsgate Bruiser."

"That's no excuse," I exclaimed, hotly. "Even if a man is a boozer—"

"Bruiser," the winkle-taster corrected. "Champion light-weight of Billingsgate he is; and if you wanter see as how he can put it across yer, you'd better buy a ticket for to-night's show. He's boxing Bert Bloggins, the Bermondsey Basher, for the championship of England and a purse of five 'undred quid."

"And where does this whitebait championship, or whatever you call it, take place?" I asked, interested.

"Stadium, nine o'clock sharp," said my informant. "Do yer far more good than taking a girl to the pictures and holdin' hands all the evenin'."

"Thanks," I replied, "I'll be there. Much obliged to you. Good morning,"

"Not at all," said the winkle-taster, heaving a couple of moribund halibut and a disused cod after me for luck.

And that is how I made my first acquaintance with the noble art of self-defence. When I reached the Stadium that evening the Bruiser and the Basher were being held down in their respective corners by their seconds to prevent them flying at one another's throats before the gong went. After a little difference of opinion with the man in the next seat, whose nose I had mistaken in the subdued light for a hat-peg, I managed to settle down comfortably to watch the fight.

The ring was cleared; the Bruiser and the Basher shook hands, and the next moment the Bruiser knocked the Basher clean over the ropes into the audience. They threw him back into it the ring, where he quickly regained his feet, and before the Bruiser could say "Jack Robinson" — provided, of course, that he wanted to say "Jack Robinson" at that particular moment—the Basher had punched him in his dinner. The Bruiser retaliated by giving the Basher a ringing box on the ear, which the Basher countered by knocking all the Bruiser's teeth out. In a tinkling the ring looked like an American dentistry depot. And that concluded the first round.

"How'd you have parried that left hook if you'd had been the Bruiser?" asked my now mollified neighbor.

"You mean the blow that knocked all his teeth out? Well, I should have jumped on the Basher fellow's stomach and bitten his ear," I replied, heartily.

My neighbor stole one frightened glance at me, and then clambered over the back of his seat and took another three rows further back. He was clearly astounded at my knowledge of ring-craft.

The second round began briskly. This time the Bruiser and the Basher hit each other a terrific blow simultaneously, with the result that they were both knocked out of the ring into the auditorium, where they rolled under the seats and couldn't be found until time had been called.

They looked a bit dazed as their seconds carried them back to their corners, but after they had each had a bottle of beer and a cigarette they looked in the pink of condition—especially the Basher, who was so pink that he might have fallen into the tomato-chutney instead of just an ordinary audience. Otherwise he was all right, except for a bump on the back of his head the size of a pomegranate, while the Bruiser's left ear looked like an overfed muffin.

Naturally, their increased size gave each man an advantage over the other, and I wasn't surprised when on the call of time the Bruiser beat the Basher to his knees by thumping him on the pomegranate, and the Basher bewildered the Bruiser by smacking him severely on the muffin.

Then they clinched, and the referee tore them apart and flung them into their corners, whence they sprang at one another again like tigers.

The excitement was intense. Everybody felt that something was going to happen, and presently it did. If the referee hadn't got in the way and intercepted a frightful blow from the Bruiser with his shirt-front it would certainly have punched a hole clean through the Basher.

"Follow it up! Hook him on the jaw!" yelled the Bruiser's seconds; and, carried away by the excitement, I stood up on my seat and shouted, "Pull his hair! Dot him on the snitch! Kick him on the shins!"

"Sit down, that double-barrelled ass there!" screamed the people behind me, and the referee blew his whistle and stopped the fight.

"Chuck that melon-faced, pie-can out!" he cried, pointing at me with a forefinger that was simply livid with rage—and about five seconds later I hit a passing motor bus with such terrific force on the radiator that I feared at first I had knocked it out ....

I come out of hospital next Tuesday.

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