Black Ajax by George MacDonald Fraser

By George MacDonald Fraser

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My change of heart raises him from the abyss to raptures of gratitude, his pusillanimous nature finding comfort in a mere gesture of support, as though my presence at his debacle should somehow shield him from misfortune. He agrees readily to my suggestion that Mollybird should accompany us, which I assure him must inspire his champion. I do not add that her distress as her hero is thrashed to pulp will be as a sauce piquant to my enjoyment of the occasion. The fight is appointed for the following evening, in the garden of one of the larger exclusive brothels of the Vieux Carre, an establishment familiar to me from my youth, when debauchery was an occupation, not an art.

You know all 'bout boxin' an' fightin' men! You seen ma boy Tom – he's a prime figure, ain't he? ” I ask him, how am I to judge, who have seen neither fight, and he pours my Beaune down his uncomprehending throat. ” he mutters. “They tellin' me he a reg'lar villain, got no mercy, beat the best fightin' nigras on the Gulf! An' Blenkinsop, whut owns him, they say he keep him caged up, in a cage with iron bars, an' shackled to boot! Say he cain't let him loose 'mong other nigras, even, for fear he tear 'em up in his rage!

Like an ogre as he makes his bow to his master, the corpulent Blenkinsop, and squats on his heels above Tom, baring the few yellow teeth remaining in his ghastly jaws, and spitting threats in an awful croaking voice. “Po' li'l nigga-boy! Whyn't yuh run back t'yo' mammy? Cuz yuh stay heah, Ah gwine eat yo' ears an' yo' eyes and pull yo' tongue out yo' stoopid nigga haid! Yuh skeered, boy? ” Blenkinsop's drivers make a great show of driving the brute back with their whips, to the cheers of the multitude, and I note with interest that Tom, who but a moment since seemed in a state of fear, is now at ease, shrugging and skipping a little as he waits his summons to the stage.

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