But kicks will stiffen the muscles, and starving a dog so as to get him ugly-tempered for a fight may make him nasty, but it’s weakening to his insides, and it causes the legs to wabble.
The ring was in a hall, back of a public-house. There was a red-hot whitewashed stove in one corner, and the ring in the other. I lay in the Master’s lap, wrapped in my blanket, and, spite of the stove, shivering awful; but I always shiver before a fight; I can’t help gettin’ excited. While the men-folks were a-flashing their money and taking their last drink at the bar, a little Irish groom in gaiters came up to me and give me the back of his hand to smell, and scratched me behind the ears.
“You poor little pup,” says he. “You haven’t no show,” he says. “That brute in the tap-room, he’ll eat your heart out.”
“That’s what you think,” says the Master, snarling. “I’ll lay you a quid the Kid chews him up.”
The groom, he shook his head, but kept looking at me so sorry-like, that I begun to get a bit sad myself. He seemed like he couldn’t bear to leave off a-patting of me, and he says, speaking low just like he would to a man-folk, “Well, good-luck to you, little pup,” which I thought so civil of him, that I reached up and licked his hand. I don’t do that to many men. And the Master, he knew I didn’t, and took on dreadful.
“What ’ave you got on the back of your hand?” says he, jumping up.
“Soap!” says the groom, quick as a rat. “That’s more than you’ve got on yours. Do you want to smell of it?” and he sticks his fist under the Master’s nose. But the pals pushed in between ’em.
“He tried to poison the Kid!” shouts the Master.
“Oh, one fight at a time,” says the referee. “Get into the ring, Jerry. We’re waiting.” So we went into the ring.
I never could just remember what did happen in that ring. He give me no time to spring. He fell on me like a horse. I couldn’t keep my feet against him, and though, as I saw, he could get his hold when he liked, he wanted to chew me over a bit first. I was wondering if they’d be able to pry him off me, when, in the third round, he took his hold; and I began to drown, just as I did when I fell into the river off the Red C slip. He closed deeper and deeper, on my throat, and everything went black and red and bursting; and then, when I were sure I were dead, the handlers pulled him off, and the Master give me a kick that brought me to. But I couldn’t move none, or even wink, both eyes being shut with lumps.
“He’s a cur!” yells the Master, “a sneaking, cowardly cur. He lost the fight for me,” says he, “because he’s a---------cowardly cur.” And he kicks me again in the lower ribs, so that I go sliding across the sawdust. “There’s gratitude fer yer,” yells the Master. “I’ve fed that dog, and nussed that dog, and housed him like a prince; and now he puts his tail between his legs, and sells me out, he does. He’s a coward; I’ve done with him, I am. I’d sell him for a pipeful of tobacco.” He picked me up by the tail, and swung me for the men-folks to see. “Does any gentleman here want to buy a dog,” he says, “to make into sausage-meat?” he says. “That’s all he’s good for.”
Then I heard the little Irish groom say, “I’ll give you ten bob for the dog.”