a gentleman if one came his way. He prolonged the shaking until Denton, under the influence of the mirror, withdrew his hand. The swart man became pensive, spat impressively on the platform, and resumed his theme.
“Whad I was going to say was this,” he said; was gravelled, and shook his head at his foot.
Denton became curious. “Go on,” he said, attentive.
The swart man took the plunge. He grasped Denton’s arm, became intimate in his attitude. “‘Scuse me,” he said. “Fact is, you done know ‘ow to scrap. Done know ‘ow to. Why—you done know ‘ow to begin. You’ll get killed if you don’t mind. ‘Ouldin’ your ‘ands—There!”
He reinforced his statement by objurgation, watching the effect of each oath with a wary eye.
“F’r instance. You’re tall. Long arms. You get a longer reach than any one in the brasted vault. Gobblimey, but I thought I’d got a Tough on. ‘Stead of which … ‘Scuse me. I wouldn’t have ‘it you if I’d known. It’s like fighting sacks. ‘Tisn’ right. Y’r arms seemed ‘ung on ‘ooks. Reg’lar—’ung on ‘ooks. There!”
Denton stared, and then surprised and hurt his battered chin by a sudden laugh. Bitter tears came into his eyes.
“Go on,” he said.
The swart man reverted to his formula. He was good enough to say he liked the look of Denton, thought he had stood up “amazing plucky. On’y pluck ain’t no good—ain’t no brasted good—if you don’t ‘old your ‘ands.
“Whad I was going to say was this,” he said. “Lemme show you ‘ow to scrap. Jest lemme. You’re ig’nant, you ain’t no class; but you might be a very decent scrapper—very decent. Shown. That’s what I meant to say.”
Denton hesitated. “But—” he said, “I can’t give you anything—”
“That’s the ge’man all over,” said the swart man. “Who arst you to?”
“But your time?”
“If you don’t get learnt scrapping you’ll get killed,—don’t you make no bones of that.”
Denton thought. “I don’t know,” he said.
He looked at the face beside him, and all its native coarseness shouted at him. He felt a quick revulsion from his transient friendliness. It seemed to him incredible that it should be necessary for him to be indebted to such a creature.
“The chaps are always scrapping,” said the swart man. “Always. And, of course—if one gets waxy and ‘its you vital … ”
“By God!” cried Denton; “I wish one would.”
“Of course, if you feel like that—”
“You don’t understand.”