William is a sailor in the navy. He has just come home to his wife,
In a moment, your honours. I have been three years at sea, and had never looked upon or heard from my wife--as sweet a little craft as was ever launched--I had come ashore, and I was a lively as a petrel in a storm; I found Susan--that’s my wife, your honours--all her gilt taken by the land-sharks; but yet all taut, with a face as red and rosy as the King’s head on the side of a fire bucket. Well, your honours, when we were as merry as a ship’s crew on a pay-day, there comes an order to go aboard; I left Susan, and went with the rest of the liberty men to ax leave of the first lieutenant. I hadn’t been gone the turning of an hour-glass, when I heard Susan giving signals of distress, I out with my cutlass, made all sail, and came up to my craft--I found her battling with a pirate--I never looked at his figure-head, never stopped--would any of your honours? Long live you and your wives say I!would any of your honours have rowed alongside as if you’d been going aboard a royal yacht?--no, you wouldn’t; for the guilt swabs on the shoulders can’t alter the heart that swells beneath; you would have done as I did--and what did I? Why, I cut him down like a piece of old junk; had he been the first lord of the Admiralty, I had done it!
Douglas Jerrold, “Black Ey’d Susan” in Nineteenth Century Plays, ed. George Rowell, 2nd ed. OUP, 1972. P. 36.
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