cried out one and all, shame upon him for putting upon an industrious woman, up early and late for the good of her young family, and keeping her poor place so clean that a individual might have ate his dinner, yes, and his tea too, if he was so disposed, off any one of the floors or stairs, in spite of all his guzzlings and his muzzlings, such was the care and pains bestowed upon him!"
Mrs. Mac Stinger stopped to fetch her breath; and her face flushed with triumph in this second happy introduction of Captain Cuttle’s muzzlings.
"And he runs awa-a-a-y!" cried Mrs. Mac Stinger, with a lengthening out of the last syllable that made the unfortunate Captain regard himself as the meanest of men; "and keeps away a twelvemonth! From a woman! Sitch is his conscience! He hasn’t the courage to meet her hi-i-igh;" long syllable again; "but steals away, like a felion. Why, if that baby of mine," said Mrs. Mac Stinger, with sudden rapidity, "was to offer to go and steal away, I’d do my duty as a mother by him, till he was covered with wales!"
The young Alexander, interpreting this into a positive promise, to be shortly redeemed, tumbled over with fear and grief, and lay upon the floor, exhibiting the soles of his shoes and making such a deafening outcry, that Mrs. Mac Stinger found it necessary to take him up in her arms, where she quieted him, ever and anon, as he broke out again, by a shake that seemed enough to loosen his teeth.
"A pretty sort of a man is Cap’en Cuttle," said Mrs. Mac Stinger, with a sharp stress on the first syllable of the Captain’s name, "to take on for—and to lose sleep for—and to faint along of—and to think dead forsooth—and to go up and down the blessed town like a mad woman, asking questions after! Oh, a pretty sort of a man! Ha ha ha ha! He’s worth all that trouble and distress of mind, and much more. That’s nothing, bless you! Ha ha ha ha! Cap’en Cuttle," said Mrs. Mac Stinger, with severe reaction in her voice and manner, "I wish to know if you ’re a-coming home."
The frightened Captain looked into his hat, as if he saw nothing for it but to put it on, and give himself up.
"Cap’en Cuttle," repeated Mrs. Mac Stinger, in the same determined manner, "I wish to know if you ’re a-coming home, Sir."
The Captain seemed quite ready to go, but faintly suggested something to the effect of "not making so much noise about it."
"Aye, aye, aye," said Bunsby, in a soothing tone. "Awast, my lass, awast!"
"And who may you be, if you please!" retorted Mrs. Mac Stinger, with chaste loftiness. "Did you ever lodge at Number Nine, Brig Place, Sir? My memory may be bad, but not with me, I think. There was a Mrs. Jollson lived at Number Nine before me, and perhaps you ’re mistaking me for her. That is my only ways of accounting for your familiarity, Sir."
"Come, come, my lass, awast, awast!" said Bunsby. Captain Cuttle could hardly believe it, even of this great man, though he saw it done with his waking eyes; but Bunsby, advancing boldly, put his shaggy blue arm round Mrs. Mac Stinger, and so softened her by his magic way of doing it, and by these few words—he said no more—that she melted into tears, after looking upon him for a few moments, and observed that a child might conquer her now, she was so low in her courage.