I'm reading one book now (Black Arrow, by Robert Louis Stevenson), and I found one sentence (or, rather, part of a sentence) I can't understand.

“What!” bawled one of the grumblers, “he carrieth us to seaward!”

“’Tis sooth,” cried another. “Nay, we are betrayed for sure.”

And they all began to cry out in chorus that they were betrayed, and in shrill tones and with abominable oaths bade Lawless go about-ship and bring them speedily ashore. Lawless, grinding his teeth, continued in silence to steer the true course, guiding the Good Hope among the formidable billows. To their empty terrors, as to their dishonourable threats, between drink and dignity he scorned to make reply.

I've checked original translation in my language, and it is (almost literally): Sometimes he is drunk, and when he is drunk, he is very proud. So he scorned to make [a] reply.

Is this translation correct? If yes, can you please give some examples with word "between" with same meaning? Or is it just some sophisticated figure of speech which I hardly can meet in other place except this book?

  • You should refer to the author as "Robert Louis Stevenson", which is how he's known to Brits and Yanks.
    – user264
    Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 15:44

1 Answer 1


You've got the right idea. The between drink and dignity simply means that "the combination of his being drunk and feeling too much pride" caused him to refuse to reply to their threats. "Between" = "the combination of".

  • 3
    It may be added that this use of "between" is slightly old-fashioned (you are reading an old book), but nevertheless correct. Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 15:35

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