Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 12

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"Mr Vavasor," said Grey very slowly, in a low tone of voice, but with something in his eye which would have told any bystander that he was much in earnest, "you have used words in your anger which I cannot allow to pass. You must recall them."

"What were the words? I said that you were a pettifogging rascal. I now repeat them." As he spoke he put on his hat, so as to leave both his hands ready for action if action should be required.

Grey was much the larger man and much the stronger. It may be doubted whether he knew himself the extent of his own strength, but such as it was he resolved that he must now use it. "There is no help for it," he said, as he also prepared for action. The first thing he did was to open the door, and as he did so he became conscious that his mouth was full of blood from a sharp blow upon his face. Vavasor had struck him with his fist, and had cut his lip against his teeth. Then there came a scramble, and Grey was soon aware that he had his opponent in his hands. I doubt whether he had attempted to strike a blow, or whether he had so much as clenched his fist. Vavasor had struck him repeatedly, but the blows had fallen on his body or his head, and he was unconscious of them. He had but one object now in his mind, and that object was the kicking his assailant down the stairs. Then came a scramble, as I have said, and Grey had a hold of the smaller man by the nape of his neck. So holding him he forced him back through the door on to the landing, and there succeeded in pushing him down the first flight of steps. Grey kicked at him as he went, but the kick was impotent. He had, however, been so far successful that he had thrust his enemy out of the room, and had the satisfaction of seeing him sprawling on the landing-place.

Vavasor, when he raised himself, prepared to make another rush at the room, but before he could do so a man from below, hearing the noise, had come upon him and interrupted him. "Mr Jones," said Grey, speaking from above, "if that gentleman does not leave the house, I must get you to search for a policeman."

Vavasor, though the lodging-house man had hold of the collar of his coat, made no attempt to turn upon his new enemy. When two dogs are fighting, any bystander may attempt to separate them with impunity. The brutes are so anxious to tear each other that they have no energies left for other purposes. It never occurs to them to turn their teeth upon newcomers in the quarrel. So it was with George Vavasor. Jones was sufficient to prevent his further attack upon the foe up-stairs, and therefore he had no alternative but to relinquish the fight.

"What's it all about, sir?" said Jones, who kept a tailor's establishment, and, as a tailor, was something of a fighting man himself. Of all tradesmen in London the tailors are, no doubt, the most combative,—as might be expected from the necessity which lies upon them of living down the general bad character in this respect which the world has wrongly given them. "What's it all about, sir?" said Jones, still holding Vavasor by his coat.

"That man has ill-used me, and I've punished him; that's all."

"I don't know much about punishing," said the tailor. "It seems to me he pitched you down pretty clean out of the room above. I think the best thing you can do now is to walk yourself off."

It was the only thing that Vavasor could do, and he did walk himself off. He walked himself off, and went home to his own lodgings in Cecil Street, that he might smooth his feathers after the late encounter before he went down to Westminster to take his seat in the House of Commons. I do not think that he was comfortable when he got there, or that he felt himself very well able to fight another battle that night on behalf of the River Bank. He had not been hurt, but he had been worsted. Grey had probably received more personal damage than had fallen to his share; but Grey had succeeded in expelling him from the room, and he knew that he had been found prostrate on the landing-place when the tailor first saw him.