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stand that, and every fellow that came near her was certain to have a turn out with me, and I became a great fighter; and she, seeing that I was the best man, and that no one else would come to her, one fine morning agreed to marry me. Well, we were spliced, and the very first night I thought I saw poor Ben Jones standing by my bedside, and for a week or so, I was not comfortable; but, howsomever, it wore off, and I plied at the stairs, and gained my money. But my pipe's out, and I'm dry with talking. Suppose I take a spell for a few minutes.”
Stapleton relighted his pipe, and for nearly half an hour smoked in silence. What Mary's thoughts were I cannot positively assert; but I imagined that, like myself, she was thinking about her mother's conduct and her own.
tainly was making the comparison, and we neither of us spoke a word.
“Well,” continued Stapleton, at last, “I married your mother, Mary, and I only hope that any man who may take a fancy to you, will not have so much trouble with his wife as I had. I thought that a'ter she were settled that she would give up all her nonsense, and behave herself—but I suppose it was in her natur and she couldn't help it. She made eyes and gave encouragement to the men, until they became saucy, and I became jealous, and I had to fight one and then the other, until I became a noted pugilist. I will say that your mother seemed always very happy when I beat my man, which latterly I always did; but still she liked to be fit for, and I had hardly time to earn my bread. At last, some one backed me against another man in the ring, for fifty pound a-side, and I was to have half, if I won. I was very short of blunt at the time, and I agreed; so, a'ter a little training, the battle was fought and I won easy, and the knowing ones liked my way
hitting so much, that they made up another match with a better man, for two hundred pounds; and a lord and other great people came to me, and I was introduced to them at the public house, and all was settled. So I became a regular prize fighter, all through your mother, Mary. Nay, don't cry, child, I don't mean to say that your mother, with all her love of being stared at and talked to, would have gone wrong, but still it was almost as bad in my opinion. Well, I was put into training, and after five weeks we met at Moulsey Hurst, and a hard fight it was—but I've got the whole of it somewhere, Mary; look in the drawer there, and you'll see a newspaper." Mary brought out the
newspaper, rolled up and tied with a bit of string, and Stapleton handed it over to me, telling me to read it aloud. I did so, but I shall not enter
into the details.
“Yes, that's all right enough,” said Stapleton, who had taken advantage of my reading to smoke furiously, to make up for lost time, “but no good came of it, for one of the gemmen took a fancy to your mother, Mary, and tried to win her away from me.
I found him attempting to kiss her, and she refusing him-but laughing, and, as I thought, more than half-willing ; so I floored him, and put him out of the house, and after that I never would have any thing more to say with lords and gemmen, nor with fighting either. I built a new wherry and stuck to the river, and I shifted my lodgings, that I mightn’t mix any more with those who knew me as a boxer. Your mother was then brought to bed with you, and I hoped for a good deal of happiness, as I thought she would only think of her husband and child; and so she did until you
were weaned, and then she went on just as afore.
There was a captain of a vessel lying in the
river, who used now and then to stop and talk with her, but I thought little about that, seeing how every one talked with her and she with every body; and besides, she knew the captain's wife, who was a very pretty woman, and used very often to ask Mary to go and see her, which I permitted. But one morning when I was going off to the boat-for he had come down to me to take him to his vessel-just as I was walking away with the sculls over my shoulder, I recollects my 'baccy box, which I had left, and I goes back and hears him say before I came into the door — Recollect, I shall be here again by two o'clock, and then you promised to come on board my ship, and see I didn't hear the rest, but she laughed and said yes, she would. I didn't show myself, but walked away
and went to the boat. He followed me, and I rowed him up the river and took
the river and took my fare-and
then I determined to watch them, for I felt