BOOK THE FIRST: THE CUP AND THE LIP
Chapter 6: Cut Adrift (continued)
Miss Potterson, sole proprietor and manager of the Fellowship
Porters, reigned supreme on her throne, the Bar, and a man must
have drunk himself mad drunk indeed if he thought he could
contest a point with her. Being known on her own authority as
Miss Abbey Potterson, some water-side heads, which (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 Fellowship 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.