This exclamation, however, aroused my ire against Tom; and as I always looked upon him as my special paid henchman, who, in return for such services as supplying me with tiny boxing-gloves, and fishing-tackle, and bait, during my hale days, and tame rabbits now that I was a cripple, mostly contrived to possess himself of my pocket-money, I had no hesitation in exclaiming,
'Why, Tom, you know you're drunk, you silly old fool!'
At this Tom turned his mournful and reproachful gaze upon me, and began to weep anew. Then he turned and addressed the sea, uplifting his hand in oratorical fashion:—
'Here's a young gentleman as I've been more than a father to—yes, more than a father to—for when did his own father ever give him a ferret-eyed rabbit, a real ferret-eyed rabbit thoroughbred?'
'Why, I gave you one of my five-shilling pieces for it,' said I; 'and the rabbit was in a consumption and died in three weeks.'
But Tom still addressed the sea.
'When did his own father give him,' said he, 'the longest thigh-bone that the sea ever washed out of Raxton churchyard?'
'Why, I gave you two of my five-shilling pieces for that,' said I, 'and next day you went and borrowed the bone, and sold it over again to Dr. Munro for a quart of beer.'
'When did his own father give him a beautiful skull for a money-box, and make an oak lid to it, and keep it for him because his mother wouldn't have it in the house?'
'Ah, but where's the money that was in it, Tom? Where's the money?' said I, flourishing one of my crutches, for I was worked up to a state of high excitement when I recalled my own wrongs and Tom's frauds, and I forgot his relationship to the little girl. 'Where are the bright new half-crowns that were in the money-box when I left it with you—the half-crowns that got changed into pennies, Tom? Where are they? What's the use of having a skull for a money-box if it's got no money in it? That's what I want to know, Tom!'