(like the water) were none of the clearest, harboured muddled notions that, because of her dignity and firmness, she was named after, or in some sort related to, the Abbey at Westminster. But, Abbey was only short for Abigail, by which name Miss Potterson had been christened at Limehouse Church, some sixty and odd years before.

“Now, you mind, you Riderhood,” said Miss Abbey Potterson, with emphatic forefinger over the half-door, “the Fellowships don’t want you at all, and would rather by far have your room than your company; but if you were as welcome here as you are not, you shouldn’t even then have another drop of drink here this night, after this present pint of beer. So make the most of it.”

“But you know, Miss Potterson,” this was suggested very meekly though, “if I behave myself, you can’t help serving me, miss.”

Can’t I!” said Abbey, with infinite expression.

“No, Miss Potterson; because, you see, the law—”

I am the law here, my man,” returned Miss Abbey, “and I’ll soon convince you of that, if you doubt it at all.”

“I never said I did doubt it at all, Miss Abbey.”

“So much the better for you.”

Abbey the supreme threw the customer’s halfpence into the till, and, seating herself in her fireside-chair, resumed the newspaper she had been reading. She was a tall, upright, well-favoured woman, though severe of countenance, and had more of the air of a schoolmistress than mistress of the Six Jolly Fellowship- Porters. The man on the other side of the half-door, was a waterside-man with a squinting leer, and he eyed her as if he were one of her pupils in disgrace.

“You’re cruel hard upon me, Miss Potterson.”

Miss Potterson read her newspaper with contracted brows, and took no notice until he whispered:

“Miss Potterson! Ma’am! Might I have half a word with you?”

Deigning then to turn her eyes sideways towards the suppliant, Miss Potterson beheld him knuckling his low forehead, and ducking at her with his head, as if he were asking leave to fling himself head foremost over the half-door and alight on his feet in the bar.

“Well?” said Miss Potterson, with a manner as short as she herself was long, “say your half word. Bring it out.”

“Miss Potterson! Ma’am! Would you ’sxcuse me taking the liberty of asking, is it my character that you take objections to?”

“Certainly,” said Miss Potterson.

“Is it that you’re afraid of—”

“I am not afraid of you,” interposed Miss Potterson, “if you mean that.”

“But I humbly don’t mean that, Miss Abbey.”

“Then what do you mean?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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