"I'll not have you touchin' my little girl!" He grabbed his daughter roughly and a little too familiarly around the waist and hips. "Not when I myself have barely---"
He caught himself just as someone playing an organ offstage hit about fourteen keys simultaneously, musically (if not exactly euphoniously) underlining the shock registering on the faces of those present. Violet's eyes were darting left and right and even -- as a tiny figure scampered by her, headed into the pub -- downwards for a sec. Sister Margaret looked as though she was about to pop Jack one in the snoot. Joe's mother fell backwards through the door still swinging from the dwarf's passage.
And from the alley came a roar: Bill, unleashed by fury, of a sudden moved by hatred of his rival more than he was content to let his disappointment of a son be beaten to death, it was Bill now leaping into the fray.
"He'll be touchin' whatever he wants to touch, Jack McGilligan," Bill's voice boomed, "and whoever come to that!"
Sister Margaret, cool as usual but a little disoriented by the turn of events, turned and popped not Jack but Bill in the snoot, and the old drunk crumpled to a heap there on the sidewalk. The organist, having dropped and then reassembled the sheet music for all this month's shows, struck up "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling." It was a weird but not-bad selection.
Violet writhed out of Jack's grasp and bolted into the pub. Sister Margaret, rubbing her knuckles, seemed to forget her position for a moment. "What," she wondered aloud, "what in the hell