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Charles Dickens > Our Mutual Friend > Book 2 - 12

Our Mutual Friend

Book 2 - 12


Rogue Riderhood dwelt deep and dark in Limehouse Hole, among
the riggers, and the mast, oar and block makers, and the boat-
builders, and the sail-lofts, as in a kind of ship's hold stored full of
waterside characters, some no better than himself, some very
much better, and none much worse. The Hole, albeit in a general
way not over nice in its choice of company, was rather shy in
reference to the honour of cultivating the Rogue's acquaintance;
more frequently giving him the cold shoulder than the warm hand,
and seldom or never drinking with him unless at his own expense.
A part of the Hole, indeed, contained so much public spirit and
private virtue that not even this strong leverage could move it to
good fellowship with a tainted accuser. But, there may have been
the drawback on this magnanimous morality, that its exponents
held a true witness before Justice to be the next unneighbourly
and accursed character to a false one.

Had it not been for the daughter whom he often mentioned, Mr
Riderhood might have found the Hole a mere grave as to any
means it would yield him of getting a living. But Miss Pleasant
Riderhood had some little position and connection in Limehouse
Hole. Upon the smallest of small scales, she was an unlicensed
pawnbroker, keeping what was popularly called a Leaving Shop,
by lending insignificant sums on insignificant articles of property
deposited with her as security. In her four-and-twentieth year of
life, Pleasant was already in her fifth year of this way of trade.
Her deceased mother had established the business, and on that
parent's demise she had appropriated a secret capital of fifteen
shillings to establishing herself in it; the existence of such capital
in a pillow being the last intelligible confidential communication
made to her by the departed, before succumbing to dropsical
conditions of snuff and gin, incompatible equally with coherence
and existence.

Why christened Pleasant, the late Mrs Riderhood might possibly
have been at some time able to explain, and possibly not. Her
daughter had no information on that point. Pleasant she found
herself, and she couldn't help it. She had not been consulted on
the question, any more than on the question of her coming into
these terrestrial parts, to want a name. Similarly, she found
herself possessed of what is colloquially termed a swivel eye
(derived from her father), which she might perhaps have declined
if her sentiments on the subject had been taken. She was not
otherwise positively ill-looking, though anxious, meagre, of a
muddy complexion, and looking as old again as she really was.

As some dogs have it in the blood, or are trained, to worry certain
creatures to a certain point, so--not to make the comparison
disrespectfially--Pleasant Riderhood had it in the blood, or had
been trained, to regard seamen, within certain limits, as her prey.
Show her a man in a blue jacket, and, figuratively speaking, she
pinned him instantly. Yet, all things considered, she was not of an
evil mind or an unkindly disposition. For, observe how many
things were to be considered according to her own unfortunate
experience. Show Pleasant Riderhood a Wedding in the street,
and she only saw two people taking out a regular licence to
quarrel and fight. Show her a Christening, and she saw a little
heathen personage having a quite superfluous name bestowed
upon it, inasmuch as it would be commonly addressed by some
abusive epithet: which little personage was not in the least wanted
by anybody, and would be shoved and banged out of everybody's
way, until it should grow big enough to shove and bang. Show her
a Funeral, and she saw an unremunerative ceremony in the nature
of a black masquerade, conferring a temporary gentility on the
performers, at an immense expense, and representing the only
formal party ever given by the deceased. Show her a live father,
and she saw but a duplicate of her own father, who from her
infancy had been taken with fits and starts of discharging his duty
to her, which duty was always incorporated in the form of a fist or
a leathern strap, and being discharged hurt her. All things
considered, therefore, Pleasant Riderhood was not so very, very
bad. There was even a touch of romance in her--of such romance
as could creep into Limehouse Hole--and maybe sometimes of a
summer evening, when she stood with folded arms at her shop-
door, looking from the reeking street to the sky where the sun was
setting, she may have had some vaporous visions of far-off islands
in the southern seas or elsewhere (not being geographically
particular), where it would be good to roam with a congenial
partner among groves of bread-fruit, waiting for ships to be wafted
from the hollow ports of civilization. For, sailors to be got the
better of, were essential to Miss Pleasant's Eden.

Not on a summer evening did she come to her little shop-door,
when a certain man standing over against the house on the
opposite side of the street took notice of her. That was on a cold
shrewd windy evening, after dark. Pleasant Riderhood shared
with most of the lady inhabitants of the Hole, the peculiarity that
her hair was a ragged knot, constantly coming down behind, and
that she never could enter upon any undertaking without first
twisting it into place. At that particular moment, being newly
come to the threshold to take a look out of doors, she was winding
herself up with both hands after this fashion. And so prevalent
was the fashion, that on the occasion of a fight or other
disturbance in the Hole, the ladies would be seen flocking from all
quarters universally twisting their back-hair as they came along,
and many of them, in the hurry of the moment, carrying their
back-combs in their mouths.

It was a wretched little shop, with a roof that any man standing in
it could touch with his hand; little better than a cellar or cave,
down three steps. Yet in its ill-lighted window, among a flaring
handkerchief or two, an old peacoat or so, a few valueless
watches and compasses, a jar of tobacco and two crossed pipes, a
bottle of walnut ketchup, and some horrible sweets these creature
discomforts serving as a blind to the main business of the Leaving
Shop--was displayed the inscription SEAMAN'S BOARDING-HOUSE.

Taking notice of Pleasant Riderhood at the door, the man crossed
so quickly that she was still winding herself up, when he stood
close before her.

'Is your father at home?' said he.

'I think he is,' returned Pleasant, dropping her arms; 'come in.'

It was a tentative reply, the man having a seafaring appearance.
Her father was not at home, and Pleasant knew it. 'Take a seat by
the fire,' were her hospitable words when she had got him in; 'men
of your calling are always welcome here.'

'Thankee,' said the man.

His manner was the manner of a sailor, and his hands were the
hands of a sailor, except that they were smooth. Pleasant had an
eye for sailors, and she noticed the unused colour and texture of
the hands, sunburnt though they were, as sharply as she noticed
their unmistakable loosneness and suppleness, as he sat himself
down with his left arm carelessly thrown across his left leg a little
above the knee, and the right arm as carelessly thrown over the
elbow of the wooden chair, with the hand curved, half open and
half shut, as if it had just let go a rope.

'Might you be looking for a Boarding-House?' Pleasant inquired,
taking her observant stand on one side of the fire.

'I don't rightly know my plans yet,' returned the man.

'You ain't looking for a Leaving Shop?'

'No,' said the man.

'No,' assented Pleasant, 'you've got too much of an outfit on you
for that. But if you should want either, this is both.'

'Ay, ay!' said the man, glancing round the place. 'I know. I've
been here before.'

'Did you Leave anything when you were here before?' asked
Pleasant, with a view to principal and interest.

'No.' The man shook his head.

'I am pretty sure you never boarded here?'

'No.' The man again shook his head.

'What DID you do here when you were here before?' asked
Pleasant. 'For I don't remember you.'

'It's not at all likely you should. I only stood at the door, one
night--on the lower step there--while a shipmate of mine looked in
to speak to your father. I remember the place well.' Looking very
curiously round it.

'Might that have been long ago?'

'Ay, a goodish bit ago. When I came off my last voyage.'

'Then you have not been to sea lately?'

'No. Been in the sick bay since then, and been employed ashore.'

'Then, to be sure, that accounts for your hands.'

The man with a keen look, a quick smile, and a change of manner,
caught her up. 'You're a good observer. Yes. That accounts for
my hands.'

Pleasant was somewhat disquieted by his look, and returned it
suspiciously. Not only was his change of manner, though very
sudden, quite collected, but his former manner, which he resumed,
had a certain suppressed confidence and sense of power in it that
were half threatening.

'Will your father be long?' he inquired.

'I don't know. I can't say.'

'As you supposed he was at home, it would seem that he has just
gone out? How's that?'

'I supposed he had come home,' Pleasant explained.

'Oh! You supposed he had come home? Then he has been some
time out? How's that?'

'I don't want to deceive you. Father's on the river in his boat.'

'At the old work?' asked the man.

'I don't know what you mean,' said Pleasant, shrinking a step back.
'What on earth d'ye want?'

'I don't want to hurt your father. I don't want to say I might, if I
chose. I want to speak to him. Not much in that, is there? There
shall be no secrets from you; you shall be by. And plainly, Miss
Riderhood, there's nothing to be got out of me, or made of me. I
am not good for the Leaving Shop, I am not good for the
Boarding-House, I am not good for anything in your way to the
extent of sixpenn'orth of halfpence. Put the idea aside, and we
shall get on together.'

'But you're a seafaring man?' argued Pleasant, as if that were a
sufficient reason for his being good for something in her way.

'Yes and no. I have been, and I may be again. But I am not for
you. Won't you take my word for it?'

The conversation had arrived at a crisis to justify Miss Pleasant's
hair in tumbling down. It tumbled down accordingly, and she
twisted it up, looking from under her bent forehead at the man. In
taking stock of his familiarly worn rough-weather nautical clothes,
piece by piece, she took stock of a formidable knife in a sheath at
his waist ready to his hand, and of a whistle hanging round his
neck, and of a short jagged knotted club with a loaded head that
peeped out of a pocket of his loose outer jacket or frock. He sat
quietly looking at her; but, with these appendages partially
revealing themselves, and with a quantity of bristling oakum-
coloured head and whisker, he had a formidable appearance.

'Won't you take my word for it?' he asked again.

Pleasant answered with a short dumb nod. He rejoined with
another short dumb nod. Then he got up and stood with his arms
folded, in front of the fire, looking down into it occasionally, as
she stood with her arms folded, leaning against the side of the

'To wile away the time till your father comes,' he said,--'pray is
there much robbing and murdering of seamen about the water-side

'No,' said Pleasant.


'Complaints of that sort are sometimes made, about Ratcliffe and
Wapping and up that way. But who knows how many are true?'

'To be sure. And it don't seem necessary.'

'That's what I say,' observed Pleasant. 'Where's the reason for it?
Bless the sailors, it ain't as if they ever could keep what they have,
without it.'

'You're right. Their money may be soon got out of them, without
violence,' said the man.

'Of course it may,' said Pleasant; 'and then they ship again and get
more. And the best thing for 'em, too, to ship again as soon as
ever they can be brought to it. They're never so well off as when
they're afloat.'

'I'll tell you why I ask,' pursued the visitor, looking up from the
fire. 'I was once beset that way myself, and left for dead.'

'No?' said Pleasant. 'Where did it happen?'

'It happened,' returned the man, with a ruminative air, as he drew
his right hand across his chin, and dipped the other in the pocket
of his rough outer coat, 'it happened somewhere about here as I
reckon. I don't think it can have been a mile from here.'

'Were you drunk?' asked Pleasant.

'I was muddled, but not with fair drinking. I had not been
drinking, you understand. A mouthful did it.'

Pleasant with a grave look shook her head; importing that she
understood the process, but decidedly disapproved.

'Fair trade is one thing,' said she, 'but that's another. No one has a
right to carry on with Jack in THAT way.'

'The sentiment does you credit,' returned the man, with a grim
smile; and added, in a mutter, 'the more so, as I believe it's not
your father's.--Yes, I had a bad time of it, that time. 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

'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

'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.

With his Fortunatus's goblet ready in his hand, Mr Riderhood sat
down on one side of the table before the fire, and the strange man
on the other: Pleasant occupying a stool between the latter and the
fireside. The background, composed of handkerchiefs, coats,
shirts, hats, and other old articles 'On Leaving,' had a general dim
resemblance to human listeners; especially where a shiny black
sou'wester suit and hat hung, looking very like a clumsy mariner
with his back to the company, who was so curious to overhear,
that he paused for the purpose with his coat half pulled on, and his
shoulders up to his ears in the uncompleted action.

The visitor first held the bottle against the light of the candle, and
next examined the top of the cork. Satisfied that it had not been
tampered with, he slowly took from his breastpocket a rusty clasp-
knife, and, with a corkscrew in the handle, opened the wine. That
done, he looked at the cork, unscrewed it from the corkscrew, laid
each separately on the table, and, with the end of the sailor's knot
of his neckerchief, dusted the inside of the neck of the bottle. All
this with great deliberation.

At first Riderhood had sat with his footless glass extended at arm's
length for filling, while the very deliberate stranger seemed
absorbed in his preparations. But, gradually his arm reverted
home to him, and his glass was lowered and lowered until he
rested it upside down upon the table. By the same degrees his
attention became concentrated on the knife. And now, as the man
held out the bottle to fill all round, Riderhood stood up, leaned
over the table to look closer at the knife, and stared from it to him.

'What's the matter?' asked the man.

'Why, I know that knife!' said Riderhood.

'Yes, I dare say you do.'

He motioned to him to hold up his glass, and filled it. Riderhood
emptied it to the last drop and began again.

'That there knife--'

'Stop,' said the man, composedly. 'I was going to drink to your
daughter. Your health, Miss Riderhood.'

'That knife was the knife of a seaman named George Radfoot.'

'It was.'

'That seaman was well beknown to me.'

'He was.'

'What's come to him?'

'Death has come to him. Death came to him in an ugly shape. He
looked,' said the man, 'very horrible after it.'

'Arter what?' said Riderhood, with a frowning stare.

'After he was killed.'

'Killed? Who killed him?'

Only answering with a shrug, the man filled the footless glass, and
Riderhood emptied it: looking amazedly from his daughter to his

'You don't mean to tell a honest man--' he was recommencing with
his empty glass in his hand, when his eye became fascinated by
the stranger's outer coat. He leaned across the table to see it
nearer, touched the sleeve, turned the cuff to look at the sleeve-
lining (the man, in his perfect composure, offering not the least
objection), and exclaimed, 'It's my belief as this here coat was
George Radfoot's too!'

'You are right. He wore it the last time you ever saw him, and the
last time you ever will see him--in this world.'

'It's my belief you mean to tell me to my face you killed him!'
exclaimed Riderhood; but, nevertheless, allowing his glass to be
filled again.

The man only answered with another shrug, and showed no
symptom of confusion.

'Wish I may die if I know what to be up to with this chap!' said
Riderhood, after staring at him, and tossing his last glassful down
his throat. 'Let's know what to make of you. Say something

'I will,' returned the other, leaning forward across the table, and
speaking in a low impressive voice. 'What a liar you are!'

The honest witness rose, and made as though he would fling his
glass in the man's face. The man not wincing, and merely shaking
his forefinger half knowingly, half menacingly, the piece of
honesty thought better of it and sat down again, putting the glass
down too.

'And when you went to that lawyer yonder in the Temple with that
invented story,' said the stranger, in an exasperatingly comfortable
sort of confidence, 'you might have had your strong suspicions of
a friend of your own, you know. I think you had, you know.'

'Me my suspicions? Of what friend?'

'Tell me again whose knife was this?' demanded the man.

'It was possessed by, and was the property of--him as I have made
mention on,' said Riderhood, stupidly evading the actual mention
of the name.

'Tell me again whose coat was this?'

'That there article of clothing likeways belonged to, and was wore
by--him as I have made mention on,' was again the dull Old Bailey

'I suspect that you gave him the credit of the deed, and of keeping
cleverly out of the way. But there was small cleverness in HIS
keeping out of the way. The cleverness would have been, to have
got back for one single instant to the light of the sun.'

'Things is come to a pretty pass,' growled Mr Riderhood, rising to
his feet, goaded to stand at bay, 'when bullyers as is wearing dead
men's clothes, and bullyers as is armed with dead men's knives, is
to come into the houses of honest live men, getting their livings by
the sweats of their brows, and is to make these here sort of
charges with no rhyme and no reason, neither the one nor yet the
other! Why should I have had my suspicions of him?'

'Because you knew him,' replied the man; 'because you had been
one with him, and knew his real character under a fair outside;
because on the night which you had afterwards reason to believe
to be the very night of the murder, he came in here, within an hour
of his having left his ship in the docks, and asked you in what
lodgings he could find room. Was there no stranger with him?'

'I'll take my world-without-end everlasting Alfred David that you
warn't with him,' answered Riderhood. 'You talk big, you do, but
things look pretty black against yourself, to my thinking. You
charge again' me that George Radfoot got lost sight of, and was no
more thought of. What's that for a sailor? Why there's fifty such,
out of sight and out of mind, ten times as long as him--through
entering in different names, re-shipping when the out'ard voyage is
made, and what not--a turning up to light every day about here,
and no matter made of it. Ask my daughter. You could go on Poll
Parroting enough with her, when I warn't come in: Poll Parrot a
little with her on this pint. You and your suspicions of my
suspicions of him! What are my suspicions of you? You tell me
George Radfoot got killed. I ask you who done it and how you
know it. You carry his knife and you wear his coat. I ask you
how you come by 'em? Hand over that there bottle!' Here Mr
Riderhood appeared to labour under a virtuous delusion that it
was his own property. 'And you,' he added, turning to his
daughter, as he filled the footless glass, 'if it warn't wasting good
sherry wine on you, I'd chuck this at you, for Poll Parroting with
this man. It's along of Poll Parroting that such like as him gets
their suspicions, whereas I gets mine by argueyment, and being
nat'rally a honest man, and sweating away at the brow as a honest
man ought.' Here he filled the footless goblet again, and stood
chewing one half of its contents and looking down into the other
as he slowly rolled the wine about in the glass; while Pleasant,
whose sympathetic hair had come down on her being
apostrophised, rearranged it, much in the style of the tail of a
horse when proceeding to market to be sold.

'Well? Have you finished?' asked the strange man.

'No,' said Riderhood, 'I ain't. Far from it. Now then! I want to
know how George Radfoot come by his death, and how you come
by his kit?'

'If you ever do know, you won't know now.'

'And next I want to know,' proceeded Riderhood 'whether you
mean to charge that what-you-may-call-it-murder--'

'Harmon murder, father,' suggested Pleasant.

'No Poll Parroting!' he vociferated, in return. 'Keep your mouth
shut!--I want to know, you sir, whether you charge that there
crime on George Radfoot?'

'If you ever do know, you won't know now.'

'Perhaps you done it yourself?' said Riderhood, with a threatening

'I alone know,' returned the man, sternly shaking his head, 'the
mysteries of that crime. I alone know that your trumped-up story
cannot possibly be true. I alone know that it must be altogether
false, and that you must know it to be altogether false. I come
here to-night to tell you so much of what I know, and no more.'

Mr Riderhood, with his crooked eye upon his visitor, meditated
for some moments, and then refilled his glass, and tipped the
contents down his throat in three tips.

'Shut the shop-door!' he then said to his daughter, putting the glass
suddenly down. 'And turn the key and stand by it! If you know
all this, you sir,' getting, as he spoke, between the visitor and the
door, 'why han't you gone to Lawyer Lightwood?'

'That, also, is alone known to myself,' was the cool answer.

'Don't you know that, if you didn't do the deed, what you say you
could tell is worth from five to ten thousand pound?' asked

'I know it very well, and when I claim the money you shall share it.'

The honest man paused, and drew a little nearer to the visitor, and
a little further from the door.

'I know it,' repeated the man, quietly, 'as well as I know that you
and George Radfoot were one together in more than one dark
business; and as well as I know that you, Roger Riderhood,
conspired against an innocent man for blood-money; and as well
as I know that I can--and that I swear I will!--give you up on both
scores, and be the proof against you in my own person, if you defy

'Father!' cried Pleasant, from the door. 'Don't defy him! Give
way to him! Don't get into more trouble, father!'

'Will you leave off a Poll Parroting, I ask you?' cried Mr
Riderhood, half beside himself between the two. Then,
propitiatingly and crawlingly: 'You sir! You han't said what you
want of me. Is it fair, is it worthy of yourself, to talk of my
defying you afore ever you say what you want of me?'

'I don't want much,' said the man. 'This accusation of yours must
not be left half made and half unmade. What was done for the
blood-money must be thoroughly undone.'

'Well; but Shipmate--'

'Don't call me Shipmate,' said the man.

'Captain, then,' urged Mr Riderhood; 'there! You won't object to
Captain. It's a honourable title, and you fully look it. Captain!
Ain't the man dead? Now I ask you fair. Ain't Gaffer dead?'

'Well,' returned the other, with impatience, 'yes, he is dead. What

'Can words hurt a dead man, Captain? I only ask you fair.'

'They can hurt the memory of a dead man, and they can hurt his
living children. How many children had this man?'

'Meaning Gaffer, Captain?'

'Of whom else are we speaking?' returned the other, with a
movement of his foot, as if Rogue Riderhood were beginning to
sneak before him in the body as well as the spirit, and he spurned
him off. 'I have heard of a daughter, and a son. I ask for
information; I ask YOUR daughter; I prefer to speak to her. What
children did Hexam leave?'

Pleasant, looking to her father for permission to reply, that honest
man exclaimed with great bitterness:

'Why the devil don't you answer the Captain? You can Poll Parrot
enough when you ain't wanted to Poll Parrot, you perwerse jade!'

Thus encouraged, Pleasant explained that there were only Lizzie,
the daughter in question, and the youth. Both very respectable,
she added.

'It is dreadful that any stigma should attach to them,' said the
visitor, whom the consideration rendered so uneasy that he rose,
and paced to and fro, muttering, 'Dreadful! Unforeseen? How
could it be foreseen!' Then he stopped, and asked aloud: 'Where
do they live?'

Pleasant further explained that only the daughter had resided with
the father at the time of his accidental death, and that she had
immediately afterwards quitted the neighbourhood.

'I know that,' said the man, 'for I have been to the place they dwelt
in, at the time of the inquest. Could you quietly find out for me
where she lives now?'

Pleasant had no doubt she could do that. Within what time, did
she think? Within a day. The visitor said that was well, and he
would return for the information, relying on its being obtained. To
this dialogue Riderhood had attended in silence, and he now
obsequiously bespake the Captain.

'Captain! Mentioning them unfort'net words of mine respecting
Gaffer, it is contrairily to be bore in mind that Gaffer always were
a precious rascal, and that his line were a thieving line. Likeways
when I went to them two Governors, Lawyer Lightwood and the
t'other Governor, with my information, I may have been a little
over-eager for the cause of justice, or (to put it another way) a
little over-stimilated by them feelings which rouses a man up,
when a pot of money is going about, to get his hand into that pot
of money for his family's sake. Besides which, I think the wine of
them two Governors was--I will not say a hocussed wine, but fur
from a wine as was elthy for the mind. And there's another thing
to be remembered, Captain. Did I stick to them words when
Gaffer was no more, and did I say bold to them two Governors,
"Governors both, wot I informed I still inform; wot was took down
I hold to"? No. I says, frank and open--no shuffling, mind you,
Captain!--"I may have been mistook, I've been a thinking of it, it
mayn't have been took down correct on this and that, and I won't
swear to thick and thin, I'd rayther forfeit your good opinions than
do it. And so far as I know,' concluded Mr Riderhood, by way of
proof and evidence to character, 'I HAVE actiwally forfeited the
good opinions of several persons--even your own, Captain, if I
understand your words--but I'd sooner do it than be forswore.
There; if that's conspiracy, call me conspirator.'

'You shall sign,' said the visitor, taking very little heed of this
oration, 'a statement that it was all utterly false, and the poor girl
shall have it. I will bring it with me for your signature, when I
come again.'

'When might you be expected, Captain?' inquired Riderhood,
again dubiously getting between him and door.

'Quite soon enough for you. I shall not disappoint you; don't be

'Might you be inclined to leave any name, Captain?'

'No, not at all. I have no such intention.'

'"Shall" is summ'at of a hard word, Captain,' urged Riderhood, still
feebly dodging between him and the door, as he advanced. 'When
you say a man "shall" sign this and that and t'other, Captain, you
order him about in a grand sort of a way. Don't it seem so to

The man stood still, and angrily fixed him with his eyes.

'Father, father!' entreated Pleasant, from the door, with her
disengaged hand nervously trembling at her lips; 'don't! Don't get
into trouble any more!'

'Hear me out, Captain, hear me out! All I was wishing to mention,
Captain, afore you took your departer,' said the sneaking Mr
Riderhood, falling out of his path, 'was, your handsome words
relating to the reward.'

'When I claim it,' said the man, in a tone which seemed to leave
some such words as 'you dog,' very distinctly understood, 'you
shall share it.'

Looking stedfastly at Riderhood, he once more said in a low
voice, this time with a grim sort of admiration of him as a perfect
piece of evil, 'What a liar you are!' and, nodding his head twice or
thrice over the compliment, passed out of the shop. But, to
Pleasant he said good-night kindly.

The honest man who gained his living by the sweat of his brow
remained in a state akin to stupefaction, until the footless glass
and the unfinished bottle conveyed themselves into his mind.
From his mind he conveyed them into his hands, and so conveyed
the last of the wine into his stomach. When that was done, he
awoke to a clear perception that Poll Parroting was solely
chargeable with what had passed. Therefore,not to be remiss in
his duty as a father, he threw a pair of sea-boots at Pleasant,
which she ducked to avoid, and then cried, poor thing, using her
hair for a pocket-handkerchief.

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