He was always such a nice boy, your father. Even when he was just your age he was a little gentleman. Well, he caused a bit of a ruckus now and then…maybe a little more than now and then…but he was always so sweet to me, is what I meant to say. He was just like you, too, with that slingshot. He used to shoot cherries out of the tree in my front yard and bring them to me until we were tall enough to reach them, and then he'd shoot down the ones higher up. He could hit any mark you pointed out to him, even when he was little. You really do take after him, Usopp.

I was his best friend, you know, when we were little. The other girls…well, they never liked to play with me much. Never mind, honey, it's not important why. Just remember that you're beautiful no matter what, right? That's what your father always told me: "Bankina, you're the most beautiful girl there is, no matter what they say." And the other boys, well, they were just jealous of him, I think. None of them could shoot the tail feathers off of a bird from 300 yards and they just weren't creative enough to get themselves out of any mess with words alone—and do not take that as permission to lie to me, young man, you know better than that. I could see through your father's stories and I can see through yours. But the other children never wanted much to do with us, and besides, I would get sick sometimes and he would always sit in the window and tell me stories to make me feel better. We were just fine on our own, though. We were always happy, Yasopp and I.

Well, your grandmother, rest her soul, never liked him much. She always told me "Bankina, you stay away from that boy; he's nothing but trouble and one day he'll break your heart." She knew he wanted to be a pirate, you see, and she didn't approve of that one bit. No one thought he would do it, of course. But it was still "the mark of a bad seed" as the old folks in the village liked to say. He always told me that he would go out to sea and become a great adventurer, and one day he would come back home and whisk me away…we used to spend hours talking about it. Oh, it was a wonderful dream…

Now, the first time your father asked me on a date, I was very sick. Mother tried to keep him away. She tried everything! Locking all the windows and doors, drawing the curtains and turning the lights off…as if he would think I'd gone somewhere else. Ha! Oh, Mother…but he found a way in, of course, and he asked me if I wanted to go dancing! I could barely walk ten feet, and he wanted to take me dancing. I told him "I couldn't go dancing with you even if I did want to, you goofball," and he just said "We don't have to go out dancing, sweetheart," because he called me that even before we were dating, you know. He told me he could sing a song for us to dance to, but your father never could sing, and besides, Mother would have heard. So he hummed, instead. He hummed us a pirate song, because those were the only songs he knew, and we danced around my bedroom floor until I got too tired and had to sit down, and we sat in the window and looked at the stars and I put my head on his shoulder…we were so young then.

Your father was always an excellent liar, you know, but he never could keep a secret from me. Like when he asked me to marry him. He just took me out to the bluff—and that was a beautiful evening, it really was—and he was so nervous the whole time that I just knew something was up, so I told him "All right, if you've got something to ask me then why don't you just spit it out and stop looking at me from the corner of your eye?" And do you know what he did? He told me to close my eyes, and he took my hand and put a ring on my finger, and he said "You only get to keep that if you promise to marry me." He sounded so brave, you know—he always did. And how could I say no? I couldn't have even if I'd wanted to, and the thought never crossed my mind.

So I moved out of my mother's house and we got ourselves this little place, and we were so happy, even though no one came to the wedding who wanted to be there and we didn't get much time to go out, what with your father working and me being sick so often. But we loved each other, Usopp, that's the important part. That's what really matters. One day you'll grow up and get married, and I want you to remember that most of all out of everything I've ever told you: love is the most important thing you will ever have.

Well, your father worked hard. He really did. But…well, he was happy, but there was always something missing; I could tell. He tried to hide it, but of course it never worked. And then one day…that's right, Captain Shanks came along. And he brought his big pirate ship and his big pirate crew and scared half the town to death and won the other half over so thoroughly that no one's forgotten him yet, and they never will. I know I never will! He was a gentleman too, in his own way. A little too loud and a little too reckless, but he was very polite, for a pirate. And your father…well, he was trapped. Completely. Oh, but he told me, "I can't leave you, Bankina. I just can't go off and leave you here…"

But I knew he'd be heartbroken if he couldn't go. So I said "Yasopp, all that matters to me is that you're happy. And besides, how can you become a great adventurer and come back to whisk me away if you never go on any adventures and don't have anywhere to come back from?" So he thought about it, and thought about it some more, and he went and told Captain Shanks that he'd go. And then Captain Shanks came to me, and he said "Ma'am, I feel like I should apologize for stealing your husband." But I told him not to worry. I just said "As long as you take care of him and make sure he doesn't get himself into any really bad trouble for no good reason, then that's just fine and I don't have any problem with you."

He apologized anyway. And he kissed my hand, too, and Yasopp punched him in the shoulder, and that's when I knew that he was going to be okay.

So your father sailed away in that big pirate ship, and he stood up and waved like a maniac until I couldn't see him anymore. And I laughed until I cried and then I cried until I laughed, and I waited every day for his letters. I got one every week, but I could never send any back…but then you were born, and I saved up and found a mail bird that was willing to do some looking around for a few extra coins, and I sent him word, and you should have seen the letter—I still have it somewhere, I'll get it out later—you should have seen how happy it was. He was so happy that he had a son, and I sent him a picture as soon as I got the chance. Your father is a good man, Usopp, and he always was and he always will be. I don't think anyone could love anyone more than I love him. Except for how much I love you, of course!

You just wait. One day he'll come back to us and take us away from this little village. He'll be so proud of you. You're turning out just like him. Every day, I can see a little more of him in you. Would you do Mommy a favor and get her medicine down from the top shelf? That's a good boy. Now, why don't you go out and play with that nice girl who lives in the big house? Have fun, darling. And Usopp? Tell her a story for me. Make it a good one, with pirates in it. That's my boy.