From her vantage point concealed in thick gorse above the hollow
Tamsin peered down, her mind in fear, her heart instilled with sorrow.
The promised vengeance of her father filled her soul with dread,
An awful premonition this fight would leave her lover dead.
Then from below her last hope died as she heard the lookout's shout,
'The coast is clear. There are no signs of any 'peelers' roundabout'.
She knew that there was nothing now that could prevent the match
As the times-man called two fighters' to step up to the scratch.
The referee called out the rules controlling a bare-knuckle fight,
No kicking, no strangling, no wrestling, do not gouge and do not bite,
A man knocked off his feet signals the end of every round,
With a count of thirty seconds to rise up from the ground.
Then the seconds hurried forward at the referee's command
To toss a coin to find the corner where must each fighter stand
And in the chosen corner Tom's father knelt to make a knee,
His son sat down upon it as they reviewed their strategy.
'The sun is at your back and in his face ' ,the old man said,
'His bulk's to big for body blows, you must strike at the head,
He's twice your age so twice as slow so you should weave and dance
Have patience, wait for him to tire, that is surely you best chance.
But Tom Oatley had a different strategy in mind,
For he believed his only chance was to strike this gypsy blind,
So he'd blunt up both his lights to make his eyes a bloody mask
Then use that huge advantage to finish off the task.
The referee now glanced around and then he made the sign
That would summon up both pugilists to toe against the line
As he spoke the word 'set-to' Tom took his opponent by surprise,
As with lightning speed he struck a savage blow between the gypsy's eyes.
Jack growled an oath as he set his own fist flying in reply,
But Tom's altered stance ensured the blow harmlessly flew by
As he stepped inside and aimed at the spot he wished to stab,
He caught the left eye of his foe with a brutal left-hand jab.
Then rapidly he danced away on quick and nimble feet,
Each time Jack lumbered forward, each time did he retreat,
But he kept his left hand working with a monotonous dull thud
Against an eyebrow that eventually spouted forth red blood.