I lost everything, and had a sharp struggle for my life, weak as I was.'
'Did you get the parties punished?' asked Pleasant.
'A tremendous punishment followed,' said the man, more seriously; 'but it was not of my bringing about.'
'Of whose, then?' asked Pleasant.
The man pointed upward with his forefinger, and, slowly recovering that hand, settled his chin in it again as he looked at the fire. Bringing her inherited eye to bear upon him, Pleasant Riderhood felt more and more uncomfortable, his manner was so mysterious, so stern, so self-possessed.
'Anyways,' said the damsel, 'I am glad punishment followed, and I say so. Fair trade with seafaring men gets a bad name through deeds of violence. I am as much against deeds of violence being done to seafaring men, as seafaring men can be themselves. I am of the same opinion as my mother was, when she was living. Fair trade, my mother used to say, but no robbery and no blows.' In the way of trade Miss Pleasant would have taken--and indeed did take when she could--as much as thirty shillings a week for board that would be dear at five, and likewise conducted the Leaving business upon correspondingly equitable principles; yet she had that tenderness of conscience and those feelings of humanity, that the moment her ideas of trade were overstepped, she became the seaman's champion, even against her father whom she seldom otherwise resisted.
But, she was here interrupted by her father's voice exclaiming angrily, 'Now, Poll Parrot!' and by her father's hat being heavily flung from his hand and striking her face. Accustomed to such occasional manifestations of his sense of parental duty, Pleasant merely wiped her face on her hair (which of course had tumbled down) before she twisted it up. This was another common procedure on the part of the ladies of the Hole, when heated by verbal or fistic altercation.
'Blest if I believe such a Poll Parrot as you was ever learned to speak!' growled Mr Riderhood, stooping to pick up his hat, and making a feint at her with his head and right elbow; for he took the delicate subject of robbing seamen in extraordinary dudgeon, and was out of humour too. 'What are you Poll Parroting at now? Ain't you got nothing to do but fold your arms and stand a Poll Parroting all night?'
'Let her alone,' urged the man. 'She was only speaking to me.'
'Let her alone too!' retorted Mr Riderhood, eyeing him all over. 'Do you know she's my daughter?'
'And don't you know that I won't have no Poll Parroting on the part of my daughter? No, nor yet that I won't take no Poll Parroting from no man? And who may YOU be, and what may YOU want?'
'How can I tell you until you are silent?' returned the other fiercely.
'Well,' said Mr Riderhood, quailing a little, 'I am willing to be silent for the purpose of hearing. But don't Poll Parrot me.'
'Are you thirsty, you?' the man asked, in the same fierce short way, after returning his look.
'Why nat'rally,' said Mr Riderhood, 'ain't I always thirsty!' (Indignant at the absurdity of the question.)
'What will you drink?' demanded the man.
'Sherry wine,' returned Mr Riderhood, in the same sharp tone, 'if you're capable of it.'
The man put his hand in his pocket, took out half a sovereign, and begged the favour of Miss Pleasant that she would fetch a bottle. 'With the cork undrawn,' he added, emphatically, looking at her father.
'I'll take my Alfred David,' muttered Mr Riderhood, slowly relaxing into a dark smile, 'that you know a move. Do I know YOU? N--n--no, I don't know you.'
The man replied, 'No, you don't know me.' And so they stood looking at one another surlily enough, until Pleasant came back.
'There's small glasses on the shelf,' said Riderhood to his daughter. 'Give me the one without a foot. I gets my living by the sweat of my brow, and it's good enough for ME.' This had a modest self- denying appearance; but it soon turned out that as, by reason of the impossibility of standing the glass upright while there was anything in it, it required to be emptied as soon as filled, Mr Riderhood managed to drink in the proportion of three to one.