The individual in question unfortunately came out at the moment to see the boat off, and turning, to him, red with anger, she cried—
“Grandfather! he doesn’t believe you were on board the Naiad that time!”
The old man answered at first as if he didn’t deign to enter upon any controversy on the subject—
“Oh, I suppose it’s only little girls’ prattle again.”
But whether it was wounded vanity, or a sudden access of irritation against the lad, or that his eye fell upon his granddaughter standing there, so evidently incensed and resentful, he flared up the next moment, and thrusting his huge fist under the youngster’s nose, burst out—
“If you want to know all about it, you young swabber, I may tell you I stood on the Naiad’s gun-deck with better folk than you are ever likely to come across”—he stamped his foot here as if he had the deck under him—“when, with one broadside from the Dictator, the three masts and bowsprit were shot away, and the main deck came crashing down upon the lower;”—the last sentence was taken from ’Exploits of Danish and Norwegian Naval Heroes,’ and the old man was as proud of these lines as he would have been of a medal.
“When the crash came,” he pursued, always in the same posture, and in the manner of the sacred text, “he who stands here and tells the tale had but just time to save himself by leaping into the sea through a gun-port.”
But he threw off then the trammels of the text, and continued in propria persona, violently gesticulating with his fists, and steadily advancing all the time, while Salve prudently retreated before his advance down to the boat.
“We don’t deal in lies and fabricate stories out here like you, you young whipper-snapper of a ship’s cub; and if it wasn’t for your father, who has sense enough to rope’s-end you himself, I’d lay a stick across your back till you hadn’t a howl left in you.”
With this finale of the longest speech to which he had given vent for thirty years perhaps, he turned with a short nod to the father, and went into the house again.
Elizabeth was miserable that Salve should go away like this, without so much as deigning to say good-bye to her. And her grandfather was cross enough himself; for he was afraid that he had done something foolish, and broken with the lighterman.
Salve came out to the rock again the next autumn, after a voyage to Liverpool and Havre.
At first he was rather shy, although his father and old Jacob Torungen had in the interval, in spite of that little affair of the previous year, been on the best of terms. The white bear, however, as he called him, seemed to have altogether forgotten what had passed; and with the girl he was very easily reconciled—she had learnt now not to tell everything to her grandfather.