Webs from Fancy's Loom (III.)

Home Up Book List Site Search Main Index


 

[Previous Page]



PROSE SKETCHES.

TH' OWD WEIGHVUR'S VISIT TO KING EDWARD VII.
A DREEOM.


AW dreeomt 'at aw're i' Lunnon t'other neet, an' 'at aw met King Edward bi hissel' gooin' deawn Lunnon fowt.

    "Hello! Weighvur," he said, but heaw he knowed me aw couldn't tell.

    "Hello! King Edward," aw said — polite like — an' aw gan mi front toppin' a bit of a lug.

    "Wheer arta gooin'?" he axed me.

    "Nowheer i' particular," aw said.

    "Well, then," said he, "come wi' me to thi baggin'."

    "O reet," aw said.

    He took a short cut past one or two foine show places, an' then he oppen't a back dur, said summat to th' chap 'at stud i' th' lobby, an' we wawk't into one o' th' biggest an' th' grandest reawms 'at ever aw clap't my two een on.  Th' Queen wur sit at one end on't.  Hoo smil't at me, but hoo said nowt.

    "Sit thi deawn, Weighvur," th' King said.  "Put thi clogs under th' table an' mak' thisel' awhoam.  Get a sope o' summat into thi to warm thi up a bit."

    "Whot is it?" aw said, eyin' th' drink bottle o'er 'at stud on th' table.  "It's noan Burton's, is it?"

    "Nowe," he said, savage loike; "get it into thi, mon, it'll hurt noan on thi, nut it marry."

    "It's noan a sope o' that famous brew o' thine, then?" aw said.

    "Nut it," he said; an' he looked a bit put eawt.  "It's summat better nor that."

    "Aw'm capt at thee, King Edward," aw said; "gooin' a-brewin' drink; it's a lettin' deawn to thi, mon; an' sitch an example as theaw's had set thi, too.  Thi mother wouldn't ha' done it, nur thi feyther noather."

    "Well," he said, "say nowt abeawt it noa moor.  Aw took good care to sup little enough iv aw brewed a lot.  Iv folks ull sup noa moor nur aw did that day they'll nut mak' sitch foo's o' thersels as they dun."

    "But theaw shouldn't ha' done it," aw said.  "Ther's drunken foo's enough i' this country beawt thee helpin' to mak' moor."

    "Shut up, do!  It's done neaw an' connut be help't," he said, gettin' cross.  "Aw may oppun a Band of Hope, a Methody chapel, or start a Co-op. shop yet.  Summat o' that sooart 'ud suit thi, aw guess?"

    "Well," aw said, "onny one o' thoose 'ud do moor good nur o th' ale 'at theaw could brew iv theaw never did nowt else as lung as theaw lives.  Iv theaw started a Co-op. shop, for instance, theaw could teych thoose flunkeys o' thine to pay ready brass for their stuff, an' set 'em th' example thisel'.  It 'ud help booath thee an' 'em to keep eawt o' debt, an' put a toothri hawpnies by for a rainy day."

    "Aw guess aw con pleeos misel' abeawt it," he onsurt, lookin' a bit pottert at me.

    "An' this horse-racin' doesn't beseem thi noather," aw said.  "A king should be a cut or two above that sooart o' wark, let me tell thi."

    "But aw'm fond o' good horses," he said, "ther's nowt wrang i' bein' fond o' good horses."

    "Good horses be hanged!" aw said.  "Iv ther wur neawt abeawt th' turf nobbut good horses, folk wouldn't be as keen o' gooin' as they are.  It's bettin' they gooan for, an' theaw knows it.  This bettin' is helpin' to ruin eawr dear owd country, doesta know?  But aw guess theaw mun ha' thi good horses iv booath thee an' o th' country riden to the divvle."

    "Nay, nay, noan soa; aw want nowt o' that sooart noather," he said.

    "Then dunnut be soa feeart o' takin' a bit o' good advice.  Iv theaw art a king theaw'rt nobbut a mon, soa dunnut be soa uppish an' canker't wi' folk when they tawken to thi for thi own good."

    "Aw am noan uppish as theaw coes it," he said.  "Aw've nowt to be uppish for.  It's noa yezzy job 'at aw've getten, let me tell thi.  Whot wi' botherin' wi' Prime Ministers, an' dukes, an' earls, an' launchin' ships, runnin' dreawin' reawms, an' howdin' cooarts, an' tryin' to pleeos a lot o' foine ladies, it tak's me o mi toime to keep th' bant i' th' nick, aw con assure thi."

    "Aw'm sooary for thi, lad," aw said.

    "Aw'st ha' to poo through some road, aw reckon," he said; an' he fair soiked agen.

    "Iv theaw connut, send me word," aw said, "an' aw'll punce a road oppen for thi.  Just look at mi clogs, mon," an' aw put 'em on th' foine tablecloth soas he could see 'em better.  "Thoose are cut eawt for business, doesta see?"

    "They'n do," he said, smilin'.  "Aw'll send for 'em when aw want 'em."

    "They'n be ready oather neet or day," aw said.

    "Aw guess theaw'll come to mi creawnation i' June," he said.

    "Aw'st ha' summat else to do wi' mi brass," aw said.  "Thoose understrappers o' thine han put soa monny taxes on lately, an' weighvin's bin slack, soa it tak's o mi odd brass to pay mi way.  Aw mun stop awhoam an' wurtch."

    "Aw should be tain to see thi iv theaw coom," he said.

    "Aw'm obleeged to thi for axin' me o th' same, but it's toime to be gooin'," aw said.

    "Sit thi deawn agen, mon, it's noan late.  Theaw mun gie us a bit ov a gradely Lancashire ditty before theaw gooas."

    "Aw will," aw said.  "Aw'll sing thi one 'at aw've made misel' o' purpose for thi," soa aw brasted off wi' "God Bless thi Frosty Pow."


GOD BLESS THI FROSTY POW.


Hail, Edward, hail! eawr rightful king,
    Successor to the throne;
Wi' earnest prayers an' loyal hearts
    Thy sway we gladly own.
Thi mother's gone; hur memory's sweet;
    Hoo's wi' thi feyther now;
An' late, but not too late, theaw'rt king.
    God bless thi frosty pow.

Be true to th' best o' th' royal race
    For th' bit o' toime theaw'rt here;
Be kingly in o kingly things,
    Do reet an' never fear.
An' though greyt dukes abeawt thi stond,
    An' mimpin lordlings bow;
Ther's noan wi' truer heart con sing
    "God bless thi frosty pow."

Aw'm fain aw've seen thi royal face,
    Thee an' thi pratty queen,
Whose looks reflect as true a heart
    As ever yet wur seen.
Aw'd loike to ax yo to yore tea,
    But th' dukes 'ud mak a row;
O th' same, a loyal mon, aw'll sing
    "God bless thi frosty pow."

That glitterin' creawn 'at's on thi yed
    Ull fade an' pass away;
An' th' gorjus throng abeawt thi throne
    Ull soon be lifeless clay.
But iv theaw'rt good, loike thoose 'at's gone,
    Heaven's creawn shall deck thi brow—
A fadeless wreath for wark weel done
    Rest on thi frosty pow.


    When aw'd done aw seed him wipe a sope o' sawt wayter eawt ov his een, an' then he clapped me on th' back an' said, "Well done, Weighvur, owd lad!  Aw wish mi ballis-pipes wur in as good trim as thine."

    "Dunnot o'ereyt thisel'," aw said; "an' mind whot theaw sups.  Give o'er reawkin' eawt at neet soa mitch.  Stop awhoam moor an' keep thi pratty queen an' thi bonny grond-childer company."

    "Weel said, Weighvur; aw wish aw could tak thi advice."

    "An' aw'll tell thi whot, aw wish theaw'd just goa reawnd an' gie o thoose Parlyment men o' thine a good cleawt apiece o' th' side o' th' yed, an' tell 'em to give o'er fratchin' soa mitch; mind their wark better, an' get a bit o' summat gradely done for th' good o' th' country."

    "Sanner said nur done, lad," he onsurt.

    "An' as for thee, iv theaw doesn't want thi gowd pearch to wote o'er before yon foine grandson o' thine is owd enough to sit on it, theaw mun be a bit carefuller whot theaw'rt doin'.  Just thee remember 'at ther's a lot moor folk i' th' country better worth pleeosin' nur a toothri foine lords an' ladies 'at dunnot know heaw to mak' their toime an' their brass away gradely.  This grand owd England hasn't bin made whot it is bi sitch as thoose.  Iv there wur noa sooart but thur sooart, this owd consarn 'ud soon goa to rack an' ruin.  Iv thy throne has no better props nor a ale barrel at one end an' a racehorse at t'other, it'll soon wote o'er lad, an' be done wi'.  Thee ha' nowt no moor to do wi' brewin' drink an' runnin' racehorses, iv theaw values thi shop for thisel' an' thoose to come after thi.  Doesta yer that?"

    "Ay, ay, aw yer thi, mon," he said.

    "Well," aw said, "aw'm noan blackin' thi, nut I marry, but just givin' thi some feytherly advice, an' chargin' thi nowt for it."

    "O reet, Weighvur," he said.  "Aw'm harkenin' thi."

    "Aw'm rare an' fain 'at theaw'rt showin' a bit o' thowt for th' poor," aw said.  "Theaw'rt givin' 'em a dinner at th' creawnation aw understond.  Aw guess thi pratty queen's had a bit o' summat to do wi' bringin' that forrud."

    "Happen hoo has, an' happen hoo hasn't," he onsurt; an' he smil't to hissel', an' looked as fose as a boggart.

    "Well," aw said, "it's o reet shusheaw; aw'm fain aw've seen thi; theaw'rt noan a bad sooart.  Aw'll bid yo booath good neet."  An' aw poo'd mi toppin' to 'em.

    "Good neet," he said, "an' think on theaw coes a-seein' us next toime theaw comes to Lunnon —"

    An' then aw wakken'd up as mad as a wasp to find it wur nobbut a dreeom after o.


June, 19o2.


――――♦――――

 
AB-O'TH'-YATE AN' TH' QUEENS MONNYMENT.


T'OTHER day aw'd a queerish mak' ov a dreeom 'at aw want to tell yo' abeawt; aw thowt aw'd dropped asleep just afore lockin' up time i' Queen's Park an' fund misel' wick agen an' walkin' up an' deawn Manchester.  Feelin' raythur peckish aw went into Gradwell's an' geet a good blow eawt o' potato pie weel belied wi' beef an' mutton.  Ther's noan o' yore fancy eytin stuff 'at con lick it yet fur fillin' an empty stomach.  Aw finisht off wi' some cheese an' loaf an' a sope o' neck waytur, an' then aw thowt aw'd have a bit ov a look reawnd Albert Square, wheer aw'd like to ha' run agen th' owd Bishop.  Aw eyed him o'er a bit, an' then aw seed he wur lookin' at me as if he wanted me to spake to him; soa aw said "Heaw arta, my lord bishop?  Eh, mon, but theaw favurs an owd farmer."

    "Well, Ab," he said, "aw met favur summat wur; an' when aw bethink me theaw looks like an owd carter donned up fur th' wakes."

    "Tatta, owd lad," aw onsurt; "ther's nowt to crack on between us."

    "Hello, Ab!" John Bright sheawted at me.  "Arta above lookin' at a body sin' theaw geet made into a statty?"

    "Is that thee, John?" aw said, turnin' reawnd to get a better look at him.  "Heaw dusta like being fixed up a thatance?"

    "Aw dunnot like it a bit.  It's noan to my mind, let me tell thi," he onsurt.

    "Aw wish theaw could just get deawn off that pearch o' thine an' goo an' gie eawr Parlyment chaps a bit o'th' owd sort, fur they needen it, aw con tell thi."

    "Aw'll stop wheer aw am, aw think," he said.  "Ther's noa good to be done wi' sich a wibbly wobbly lot as yond yo' han up at Lunnon just neaw.  Aw haven't payshuns to think abeawt 'em.  Get shut on 'em as soon as yo' con, Ab, do lad, an' let's ha' some ov a better stamp i' thur place, an' good neet to thi."

    Then aw went a bit fur an' aw spied owd Gladstone eawt.  "Eh, owd lad," aw said, "we're short o' one like thee neaw.  We didn't know th' worth on thi when we had thi, but we'n larnt sin' we lost thi."

    "Well, well, Ab," he said, "aw've done mi wark, mon, an' aw mun ha' mi rest.  Aw did as weel as aw could while aw could, theaw knows; whot more dusta want?"

    "Aw want somebody to come an' cleawt eawr greyt Parlyment chaps i' th' yerhole an' turn 'em off abeawt thur business before they'n driven th' country to ruin.  They seem to ha' nowt abeawt 'em as they should have.  We'n had nowt nobbut bother sin' theaw went.  England owes a debt to thee 'at hoo'll never be able to pay.  Rest on, owd lad, rest on, theaw did thi wark weel, theaw did; aw wish we'd another like thi!"

    Then aw went an' had a look at "Albert the Good."  He smilt at me and said: "Is that thee, Ab?  Whot arta dooin' here, lad?"

    "Aw'm just looking reawnd for a change," aw said.

    "An' heaw are things gooin' on?" he axed me.

    "Noan soa weel," aw onsurt him.  "Things han bin raythur queerish sin' yon owdest lad o' thine took his mother's shop."

    "It's noan his fawt, I hope," he said, a bit anxious like.

    "Nawe," aw said, "aw dunnat think it is.  But whot wi' Boer war, debts, rising rates, Eddycashun Acts, cotton corners, fiskul policies, an' Japanese wars, things are bad for poor folk.  Trade's slack, noa wark to be had, an' lots clemmin'.  But aw guess theaw doesn't know whot bein' short o' summat to eyt meons.  Sitchlike as thee han yore plateful shusheaw or shus what happens."

    "Neaw, Ab," he said, "dunnat be soa uncharitable.  Aw should like to see things gooin' on o reet an' everybody wi' enoof to eyt iv aw could shap it.  An' as fur war, theaw knows very weel 'at aw awlus did hard agen it."

    "Aw believe theaw did," aw said, "an' another thing, aw believe yon owdest lad o' thine is dooin' o he con agen it too, iv that's ony comfort to thi."

    "Thank thi, Ab, lad, aw'm fain to yer it.  Theaw's done me more good wi' tellin' me that nur iv theaw'd gan me a mint o' money.  Good neet to thi, an' get that face o' thine wesh't afore theaw goes whoam agen,"

    "It'll be ov noa use, aw'm feart," aw said, an' then aw pood mi toppin' to him an' walked off into Piccadilly.  Just i'th' front o' th' Infirmary, an' abeawt i' th' middle o' th' Square, aw seed a big black-looking thing 'at favurt a boggart.  Aw star't at it a while afore aw could tell whot to co it.  "Whot arta starin' at, Ab?" th' thing said.

    "Eh, is that thee, Missis Queen Victoria?" aw said, as soon as aw could co mi wits together.

    "It is Ab," hoo said.

    "An' whot arta dooin' here?" aw said.  "Heaw is it they hannat put thi at th' side o' yore Albert?"

    "Whoa knows?" hoo said, reet sharp, as iv hoo wur gradely pottert.  "Mon, some folk han noa wit abeawt sitch things.  Th' idea o' partin' a woman fro' hur husbant.  Iv aw am a Queen aw'm a woman, wi' a woman's feelin's.  They're o felleys here theaw sees, an' a woman 'at is a woman booath looks an' feels th' best when hoo's with hur own husbant.  Aw wish they would put me at th' side o' him an' then aw should feel better nur aw do here."

    "Soa theaw would, an' nobbut a natturable thing too.  But what a seet theaw art for sure!" aw said.

    "Am nut aw," hoo onsurt.  "Mon, aw'd noa idea heaw feaw they'd made me till one day a chap coom past wi' a big lookin' glass on his shoulder, an' when aw seed th' shap' o' misel' aw're soa vext aw went black i' th' face, an' aw've bin soa ever sin'."

    "An' weel theaw might," aw said.  "Aw connut tell whot they're doin' to turn a gradely farrantly lookin' woman like thee into a crow boggart an' stick hur up in a pleck like this for everybody to gawp at.  Theaw art a bonny spectacle, for sure."

    "Aw'm noa wur lookin' nur thee, Ab, soa theaw's noa need to come a crowin' o'er me.  Theaw'rt as peckelt as a cuckoo creel an' as meawldy lookin' as a tooad stump."

    "Aw know that," aw said.  "An' to mi sorrow, too.  But it doesn't matter soa mitch abeawt me.  They owt to ha' made a decent job o' puttin' a gradely lookin' woman like thee on a statty in a more becominer road nur they han done.  Aw connut tell whot these greyt teawn ceawncillors wur'n thinkin' at to ha' thi put here i' this fashun."

    "Nur me noathur," th' Queen said.  "But iv ever aw meet that Lord Mayor 'at wur on when aw're put here aw'll poo his horse collar off an' cleawt him with it."

    "An' sarve him reet too," aw said.  An' then aw went reawnd to th' back on hur an' seed another figure ov a woman noan o'erdonned same as th' Queen, but lookin' somebit like farrantly.

    "Oh," aw said, "aw see they han tried to put a nice statty at th' back on thi.  Heawever wur it 'at they'n made sitch a nowmon's job o' th' front?"

    "Nay," hoo said, "aw'm as fast wi' that as thee.  But theaw'rt like o th' fellys, fur they o on 'em co'en that thing stuck at th' back on me nicer nur me, an' aw dunnot like it.  Iv aw could nobbut reach reawnd aw'd soon spoil hur beauty for hur."

    "But that wouldn't mend thee onny," aw said.

    "Nawe, aw know that, but ther wouldn't be sitch a contrast between us then as there is neaw; an' that'd be summat to be thankful for, wouldn't it?"

    "Happen soa," aw said, "but things met ha' bin wur."

    "Heaw soa?" hoo said.

    "Well, iv theaw'd bin as measly lookin' as misel', an' left to thisel' where nobody coom a lookin' at thi hardly.  Theaw's awlus plenty o' company here."

    "Ay," hoo said, "aw've raythur more nur aw want sometimes; an' besides, as aw towd thi afore, aw'd raythur be at th' side o' mi husbant."

    "An' nobbut reet, noathur," aw said.  "But they'n donned thee to th' deeoth an' put thee i'th' wrung shop too into th' bargin."

    "Well, aw wanted noane o' this flummery abeawt me, aw con weel assure thi; it's nowt i' my way at o," hoo said.

    "Noa more it is," aw made onsur.  "Theaw'd booath ha' looked better, and felt better, iv they'd put thee i' some gradely clooas like a motherly body an' set thee up i' Albert Square where theaw could ha' seen an' spokken to yore Albert."

    "Theaw'rt reet, Ab, lad, theaw'rt talkin' sense, an' theaw'rt th' only sensible mon 'at aw've yerd talk abeawt me sin' aw're put here.  Iv aw'd a sword on me aw'd mak' a knight on thi this minute."

    "Nay, theaw wouldn't, thank thi," aw said.  "Aw wouldn't change 'Owd Ab' for o th' titles 'at ever were coined, nur swap 'Walmsley Fowt' for o Windsor Castle, nut I marry.  A warty body like me wants noane o' yore royal vanities; he's better off beawt 'em, a fine seet."

    "Reet agen, Ab," hoo said.  "O these trappin's o' rank an' state are nobbut a cumber an' a carkin' care, an' o eawr pomp is but a passing show.  It's heaw we liven, Ab, an' whot we are eawrsels 'at matters th' mooast, after o."

    Just then a bobby coom up.

    "Move on," he said, a bit cross like.

    "Whot for?" aw said, "aw'm dooin' nowt wrung here, am aw?"

    "Bi th' mass," he said, "it's Owd Ab.  Whotever arta dooin' here?  Iv theaw doesn't beawl off back to Queen's Park aw'll lock thi up i'th' Teawn Hall."

    "Nay, theaw winnut," aw said, "for aw'm gooin' back just neaw."  An' in a crack aw fund misel' back on mi own owd stump i' Queen's Park, an' aw bethowt me at aw must never ha' bin off it, an' then aw geet soa hungry an' soa mad at thowts o' that potato pie 'at aw hadn't had 'at aw wakkened misel' an' fund 'at aw'd dreeornt it o.


Yore's gradely,
                                         OWD AB.

Queen's Park, June, 19o4.


――――♦――――

 
TH' OWD WEIGHVUR AT OWD AB'S MONNYMENT.

VISIT I.


ONE neet after aw'd had mi porritch aw sit bi misel' readin' some o' Owd Ab's Walmsley Fowt sketches, when o at oncet aw fund misel' i' Queen's Park at th' side ov Owd Ab's monnyment.  Aw wawkt reawnd him a time or two before he took onny notice on me.  In a bit he smil't an' said:

    "Is that thee, Weighvur?"

    "Ay," aw said, "it is; an' aw've coam a-seein' thi.  But what's up wi' thi, Ab?  Theaw'rt as meawldy lookin' as an owd tooad stump.  Mon, theaw looks as iv theaw'd had th' smo' pox, an' th' chicken pox, an' th' measels one after t'other, an' just finisht off wi' a nettle rash.  It's a good job 'at theaw connut see thisel', for iv theaw could theaw'd ―――"

    "Neaw then, stop it," he said, seawndin' very cross.  "It's bad enough bein' o' thisance beawt bein' dung up on it i' this fashun.  Have a bit o' thowt for me; aw preythi do."

    "Well," aw said, "aw'll sey nowt no moor abeawt it.  But theaw looks powfagged some road.  An' iv it 'ud nobbut bin a bit darker aw shud ha' ta'en thi for a boggart."

    "Ay, an' theaw'd look powfagged, an' feel so too, if theaw wur fixed up here same as me an' couldn't get a sope o' nowt to weet thi throttle," he onsurt.

    "Oh," aw said, "that's whot ails thi, is it?  Well, aw con soon awter that for thi.  Here's a sope o' summat comfortin' for thi; aw browt it fair o' purpose, for aw thowt theaw'd happen be dry," an' aw put th' bottle into his hont.

    "Here's luck to thi, Weighvur," he said, as he put th' bottle to his lips and took a good swig.  "Here's to th' owd rib," he said, an' then he took another, an' looked as iv he'd sup th' bottle an' o iv he could.

    "Aw feel better neaw," he said, hondin' th' bottle back very nee empty.

    "Aw'm fain aw've come," aw said; "iv its done thi good."

    "Theaw'rt a bigger benefactor nur theaw thinks," he said.  "Ther's monny a chap bin put on a monnyment fur less."

December, 19o2.



VISIT II.


T'OTHER neet a friend o' mine browt me a book back 'at he'd had so lung 'at aw'd begun o thinkin' 'at he'd ta'en it for his own; an' rare an' fain aw wur to see it, fur ther's noan to be had hardly neaw, as they'n letten it goo eawt o' print.  Th' book wur Ben Brierley's Lancashire Weaver Lad, an' o' someheaw aw hadn't had it i' mi honds monny minutes afore aw fund misel' i' Queen's Park wi' mi shoon noses toort Owd Ab's monnyment; an' as aw looked up into th' owd lad's face aw seed 'at it wur as peckelt as ever.  "Well," aw thowt to misel', "they must be a poor lot i' Manchester iv they connut afford a bit o' sooap or summat to wesh Owd Ab's face, shusheaw."

    "Whot arta starin' at?" Owd Ab said, as iv he're gettin' vext at me.

    "Aw'm lookin' at that meawldy-lookin' ceawntenance o' thine, Ab," aw said, "an' thinkin' 'at these big folk i' Manchester must be short oather o' brass or wit, or else they'd ha' tried to mend th' look on thi afore neaw."

    "Never thee mind my looks, Weighvur.  Whot hasta i' that wallet o' thine?  Iv theaw's onny thin stuff abeawt thi hond it up here, do, an' save life while theaw's a chance.  Aw'm as droy as a kex."

    "O reet, Ab," aw said, "aw thowt heaw theaw'd be sittiwated this wot day, an' so aw've browt a sope o' summat in a bottle o' purpose for thi."  An' aw gan him a bottle full o' summat comfortin'.

    "This is whot aw co good on thi, Weighvur, lad.  A friend i' need's a friend indeed.  Aw'm fain ther's somebody laft to tak' pity on me sometimes.  Just think for thisel' whot it meons stondin' up here o day i' this wot sun bareyed an' nowt to sup."

    "Well," aw said, "get a sope into thi neaw while theaw's a chance.  Mun aw put thi a bottle i' thi pocket to be gooin' on wi'?"

    "Never mind, Weighvur, lad, thank thi.  Somebody'd happen tak' it iv theaw did.  Here's th' bottle back, an' aw'm obleeged to thi.  Theaw's bin a good while i' comin'.  Aw thowt theaw'd forgetten me, same as everybody else."

    "Forgetten thi, Ab!  Nay, lad, nowt o' th' sooart.  Aw've noan forgetten thi, nur never shall do while aw con think gradely.  An' ther's plenty moor folk 'at's noan forgetten Owd Ab beside me.  Dusta know 'at this last winter aw went to a place where they'rn actin' that 'Weaver Lad' piece o' thine.  Th' pleck'll howd five hundert folk, an' it wur soa full 'at they had to do th' piece o'er agen th' neet but one after for thoose 'at couldn't get in.  Then they did it in another place 'at'll howd above a theawsand folk, an' that wur rommed full, an' it had to be done agen theer.  Aw yerd it twice misel', an' liked it better th' second time nur th' furst.  It's a bit o' good wark, mon, is that 'Weaver Lad' o' thine, an' it wur weel done o through bi a lot o' gradely country lads an' lasses 'at fairly gan thur mind to it.  Th' lad 'at took Joe o' Dick's part met ha' bin groon o' purpose.  Th' young lass 'at did Mary Hartley wur as sweet as a new posy, an' did hur part as natturable as life.  Harry Andrew an' Bumper wur'n rarely fitted up i' two lads 'at looked awhoam at ther job, an' o t'other actors wur good i' thur way.  Eh, mon, it wur a treat; it'd ha' dun thi good to ha' seen it for thisel'.  Thee never talk abeawt beein' forgetten, Ab, noa moor, nut i' my yerrin.  Theaw'll never be forgetten while audiences 'll ceawer bi three heawers at a stretch leighin' an' cryin' o'er th' 'Weaver Lad.'  Mon, i' country places it seems to come up as fresh as a daisy abewt every eight or ten yer.  Thoose 'at's never yerd it wanten to yer it, an' thoose 'at has are fain to yer it agen."

    "Is that o true, Weighvur?  Come, neaw, artna ratchin' a bit, thinksta?"

    "Am aw to believe mi own een an' yers, Ab?  Aw've towd thi nowt but whot aw've seen an' yerd for misel'.  It's gospel whot aw've towd thi, mon."

    "Aw'm fain to know it, Weighvur.  It does one good, mon, to know 'at whot one's written is givin' pleasure an' dooin' good to folk, though aw'm fast up here."

    "Whot hasta letten thi 'Weaver Lad' run eawt o' print for, Ab?" aw said.

    "Is it eawt o' print, seysta?"

    "Ay, an' has bin for a good while.  It's worth printin' agen, lad."

    "Well, dusta see, Weighvur, though aw've written it reet enough, in a way it's noan o' mine.  Thoose Heywoods [Ed.―Brierley's publisher] geet howd on't, an' they owt to keep it gooin', one would think."

    "Soa they owt, Ab, iv they'd owt abeawt 'em.  Heaw dusta like bein' here, lad?"

    "Aw should like better, but aw'm soa loanly here bi misel', and noa statty onywheer i'th' seet.  Aw've nowt to spake to nobbut that owd lion 'at they'n set theer like a big watch-dog.  But it's quiet enough, that's one comfort."

    "Never thee mind th' lion, Ab; it'll hurt noan on thi.  Theaw'd be o reet, mon, iv they'd nobbut wesh thi face sometimes for thi.  Look whot a lot o' labbur they'n made o' puttin' fleawers abeawt thi feet."

    "Ay, they'n made too mitch labbur bi th' hawve abeawt thoose fleawers.  Everything abeawt 'em is soa artificial.  Some bluebells an' buttercups an' dog posies 'ud be more to my likin' nur thoose furrin-lookin' things 'at aw connot kersun, try as aw will.  Does theaw know whot they're coed, Weighvur?"

    "Nowe, lad, aw dunnut.  They're noan i' my posy book 'at aw know on.  But, shus whot they are, they shown 'at somebody's thowt abeawt thi, an' that's summat to be thankful for, isn't it?"

"Soa it is, Weighvur. Theaw'rt abeawt reet theer. Hasta owt fresh, lad? Han thi getten that statty o' Sam Laycock's set up i' Blackpool yet?"

"Nut 'at aw know on," aw said; "but aw con get to yer nowt abeawt it. Con theaw?"

"Never a word, Weighvur. Whot's become o'th' brass 'at wur subscribed for it?"

"Ax me summat else, Ab, do, for aw connut onsur thi. Aw guess it's flown up wi' th' hens."

"But somebody owt to know summat abeawt it, Weighvur."

"Soa they owt, Ab, but didta ever yer tell ov onnybody knowing owt abeawt butter after it'd getten into a dog's throat?"

"Oh, it's a case o' that sooart, is it?"

"Aw connut tell thi, for aw know noa gradely sense abeawt it, soa aw'll sey nowt noa moor, just neaw."

"Well, Sam Laycock's o reet, statty or noa statty. Let me tell thi, Weighvur, a statty's o' noa good to a chap 'at's done nowt gradely to mak' him famous. But folk'll noan forget th' mon 'at's written 'Thee and Me,' 'Bonny Brid,' 'Ovvd Playmates,' an' plenty moor o'th' same mak'. These'll keep Owd Sam's memory green i' gradely Lancashire hearts for a lung, lung time to come yet. After o's said an' done, a mon's best monnyment is th' wark 'at he's done, an' th' life 'at he's lived; an' Sam did some gradely good wark in his time, Weighvur, mind that."

"Aw know that, Ab," aw said. "Poor Owd Sam, he's noan coam into his own yet. But his fame is like Ned Waugh's an' thine, it'll keep."

"Soa it will, Weighvur; aw'll uphowd thi. Arta goin'?"

"Ay, lad, aw mun be off, or else they'n be lockin' me in. Doest'na yer yon mon shakin' his keys? Good neet, Ab."

"Good neet, Weighvur, an' theaw'll noan forget me?"

"Oh, aw'st noan forget thee, nut I marry."




"Whoas that 'at theaw'rt noan beawn to forget?" th've ax'd me, as hoo gan me a good shake.

"Eh! aw thowt aw're talkin' to Owd Ab."

"Dreomin' agen, aw yer," hoo said. " Well, thee potter off to bed a-dreomin'. It'll do thi more good, lad.” An' aw went.


August, 19o5.



VISIT III.


ONE neet nut soa lung sin' aw sit at th' hob-end readin' abeawt a fine dooment 'at ther'd bin i' Blackpool, when a big pot coed Hall Caine had unveil't a memorial pictur' ov good Owd Sam Laycock.  Aw're very mitch interested i' readin' whot there wur i' th' pappur, becose aw'd bin a quiet looker-on at th' job misel', an' wur weel pleeost 'at th' owd songster had come at last into his own.  Well, aw hadn't bin readin' lung afore aw lost misel' for a bit, an' when aw coom to agen aw're stondin' i' th' front ov Owd Ab's statty i' Queen's Park.

    "Soa theaw's turned up agen at last?" he said, seawndin' a bit cross like.

    "Ay," aw said, very quietly, for aw thowt he seem't vext at summat.

    "Theaw's bin a lung time i' comin'.  Aw thowt theaw'd forgetten o abeawt me."

    "But aw haven't done, theaw sees, an' am nut likely to do, oathur," aw onsurt him.

    "Well, sit thi deawn an' rest thisel' a bit.  Hasta owt fresh for me?"

    "That depends.  Hasta yerd owt lately?"

    "Nowe, nobody comes a-seein' me except thee, an theaw'rt a good while between."

    "Well, whot dusta think?  That Laycock Memorial job's come off at last!"

    "Theaw never seys!  Aw thowt theaw towd me it had flown up wi' th' hens!"

    "Aw thowt soa when aw said it; but it seems aw're mista'en."

    "Well, an' whot is it? an' wheer is it?"

    "Guess," aw said.

    "Aw've noa idea, but when aw bethink me theaw said some yers back it wur to be a statty an' a wayter feawntin i' Blackpool Fowt.   Has it come off, then?"

    "Nowt o' th' sooart, Ab.  Try agen, lad.  Guess summat better for th' job."

    "Well, dusta see, Weighvur, aw've nowt to goa off, soa eawt wi' it, mon."

    "Well they'n gettun Owd Sam made into whot thi coen a pictur' portrait, life size; an' very smart they'n made him.  Aw should ha' liked th' thing better iv he'd bin shown more of a warty body like, an' nut quite soa mitch of a swell.  But it's a grand pictur', mon, an' ther' wur some big folk, an' they did mak' some ado o' th' owd mon.  Eh, dear, aw thowt to misel', a little bit o' this fuss would ha' done Owd Sam's heart good when he're wick, aw'm thinkin'.  But then, a chap has to dee afore some folk con afford him a kind word."

    "Theaw'rt reet, Weighvur.  Mon, folk dunnut know th' value of a chap's wark monny a time till his looms are stopped.  Well, better late nur never; but Lancashire would ha' bin disgraced iv it had done nowt at o to let folk see 'at Owd Sam Laycock wur nut forgetten."

    "Soa it would, Ab, soa it would.  But he'll never be forgetten, Ab, nur thee noather.  Yo'n booath on yo' written things 'at'll live i' Lancashire hearts and find a place i' Lancashire whoams for generations."

    "That's whot theaw seys, Weighvur, an' it's good on thi to try to cheer one's heart up same as theaw does.  Aw sey, while ther's nobody lookin', hasta brought me owt i' that wallet o' thine, lad?"

    "Ov coorse aw have," aw said; an aw honded him a sope o' comfort.  Th' owd mon took a good poo at th' bottle an' gan it me back wi' a smile as he smacked his lips.

    "Eh, but that's good, Weighvur, lad, an' thank thi, owd mon, for thi thowtfulness.  An' whot wur ther comin' off like at this Laycock dooment?  Theaw tells me nowt."

    "Oh, ther wur fine dooins.  Th' mayor o' Blackpool wur theer, wi' a gowd fang-dang hung reawnd his neck, an' a big pot 'at they coen Hall Caine coom up fro' Lunnon o' purpose to unveil th' pictur', an' ther' wur a member of Parlyment, two or three aldermen an' ceawncillors an' J.P.s an' sitch like.  Then an alderman wur th' cheerman, an' he made a very tidy speech till he started o' findin' fote wi' Owd Sam, an' said he couldn't ceawnt reet."

    "Well, whotever wur he drivin' at, Weighvur?"

    "Theaw knows that piece o' Sam's coed 'Bonny Brid?'"

    "Ov coorse aw do, an' a rare bit o' wark it is, too, shus whot that alderman said abeawt it."

    "Soa it is, Ab."

    "Well, go on wi' thi.  Whot arta stuttin' an' starin' like that for?"

    "Becose aw'm capt past o tellin."

    "But theaw's noa need.  Iv theaw'd seen an' yerd as mitch o' sitch-like cattle as aw have theaw'd give o'er bein' capt.  Goo on wi' thi tale, do."

    "Well, theaw knows thoose lines:


'An' though we'n childer two or three,
 We'll mak' a bit o' reawm tor thee.'


    "Two or three, this wiseacre ov an alderman said, an' Sam mentions four childer i'th verses, soa he're nowt at arithmetic.  Neaw, Ab, whot dusta think abeawt that?  As iv a poem could be made up like a sum in addition."

    "Oh, it's nee enoof for an alderman, especially iv he'd had a good dinner.  Wur that o?"

    "Nut it, marry.  This big Lunnun felley said a lot o' nice things abeawt Lancashire folk an' Lancashire talk, 'at seawnded very weel, an' he coed Sam 'The Laureate o' Lancashire.'  Neaw, then, Ab, wur nut that a fine name to give him?"

    "Ay, Weighvur, it seawnds o reet, lad.  But when aw bethink me, didn't Owd Sam write a poem abeawt bein' made into th' Laureate after Tennyson 'crossed th' bar,' an' offert to do th' job for ten bob a week an' his grub?"

    "Ov coorse he did," aw said, "an' a lowfable thing it wur too in its way.  But this fine Lunnon chap wur i' good yernest, mind thi; an' ther wur one or two more beside 'at agreed wi' him."

    "Well, an' why shouldn't they?"

    "Oh, for my part aw dunnot care for this ticketin' wark 'att some folk are soa fond on.  To my mind a title o' that sooart adds nowt to a chap like Sam, or thee oather.  Sam's wark tells it own tale, an' needs noa flutterment; an' thine too, owd mon.  To my thinkin' if aw're thee, aw wouldn't swap 'Owd Ab ' for o th' fine titles 'at a king could lay his tung to.  An' beside, i' o these things ther's such a thing as beseemliness."

    "Ay, Weighvur, lad, soa ther is, soa ther is, an' fine titles dunnot fit plain warty folk soa weel, dun they?"

    "That's my feelin', Ab, lad, to a tee."

    "Well, an' whot's become o' this fine pictur' ov Owd Sam?  Wheer are they beawn to put it?"

    "Oh they'n gan it to Blackpool, an' it's to hang i' th' Art Gallery, wheer everybody con see it.  Aw hope Blackpool folk ull tak' better care on it nur Manchester does o' thee.  Aw'm ashamed for 'em to neglect thee as they done.  Theaw'rt as peckelt as ever, aw see."

    "Neaw, neaw, Weighvur, do let that drop.  Aw connut help it."

    "Aw know theaw connut, but Manchester owt to try to help it.  They're noan fit to have a statty like this gan to 'em iv they winnut tak' care on it, an' aw'd tell 'em soa to thur face iv they're here, every man jack on 'em, an' thur grand lord mayor into th' bargain."

    "Gently, Weighvur, neaw, mon, theaw's noa need to get vext.  Aw'm takin' noa hurt.  Aw'm a bit loanly, that's o."

    "More bi luck nur good manishment, then.  Aw think it's a shame when folk's brass has been spent ov a grand statty like this, an' ther's noa care ta'en on it bi thoose 'at owt to be th' furst to look after it."  Just then ther're a felly coom sidlin' up wi' a bunch o' keys in his hont, an' said it wur time to clear eawt.

    "Good neet, Ab," aw said.

    "Good neet, Weighvur," he said, "an' dunnot forget me.  Theaw met coam a bit ofter.  Theaw'd be welcome, lad, iv theaw did."

    "Aw'll see abeawt it."

    "Whot wilta see abeawt?" th' wife said as hoo gan me a good shake.  Goa to bed o' sleepin', mon; it'll do thi more good nur snoozin' theer."  An' aw went.

September, 191o.


――――♦――――

 
EBENEZER CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, UPPERMILL.
CENTENARY SKETCH.


ANY institution that manages to survive for a century must have a history, whether it be recorded or not, and Ebenezer Congregational Chapel, the centenary of which was celebrated on Sunday, November 1oth, is no exception to the rule.  The original chapel was built in 18o7, and the church that assembled within its walls had come together largely through the evangelistic efforts of two earnest lay preachers, well known in their day and generation as John and Joseph.  Formerly, these men attended the New Connexion Methodist Chapel at Mossley, but, because they began to preach the doctrine of "imputed righteousness," they found themselves in conflict with their brethren, left the connexion, and took their own course.  Being earnest and devoted men, they soon had a following of their own, and they attended fairs and markets and preached in the open air and in little cottage houses whenever an opportunity presented itself.  By so doing in those semi-barbarous days they ran great risks, and were often subjected to opposition and sometimes to personal maltreatment.  But they were fearless in the discharge of their task, and were not given to trimming their sails.  The text at one of these out-door gatherings was "Great is Diana of the Ephesians," and at another "Suffer me to speak and then mock on."  As time went on the need for a meeting place, or places, of their own became apparent, and Ebenezer Chapel, Uppermill, was erected in the year 18o7 (a small, square structure of stone three windows long), and a similar building, named Providence Chapel, was put up at Springhead about the same time.  In these two little conventicles John Buckley and Joseph Winterbottom dispensed the word of life on alternate Sundays, and laboured in season and out to build up the cause so dear to their hearts.  Behind the pulpit in Ebenezer Old Chapel there was a painted board upon which appeared the 'words:—


"O, Earth, Earth, Earth, hear the Word of the Lord."


    On each side of the pulpit at Springhead were placed the following inscriptions:—
 

"Preaching to the Jew first, and also to the Greek, repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  Be ye holy, for I am holy."

"Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but provoking one another and exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching."


    These earnest men were very primitive, simple, and direct in their pulpit ministrations.  Referring to the imperfections of preachers, on one occasion John Buckley told his hearers that "God could strike a straight blow with a croot stick."  Joseph Winterbottom was more of a meditative preacher, and a favourite text of his was, "And they all drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ."  Morning service began about eleven and closed at one.  Then, to quote an old hearer, "We'rn o use't ceawer reawnd th' stove till two o'clock, and then begin agen."

    For a period of twenty years these humble laymen toiled on at their labour of love, hampered greatly by the debt incurred in the erection of their little Bethel.  A period of trade depression set in and made matters worse, and the following appeal for help addressed to the neighbouring churches tells its own story:—


December 2oth, 1827.


        To all who love the Lord Jesus Christ and wish well to His cause, the poor members of the Independent Evangelical Methodist Church at Uppermill, in Saddleworth, send greeting.

        As a Christian society we have experienced a long season of adversity.  The debt of £27o, which, notwithstanding our utmost efforts, we were obliged to leave upon our meeting house, has latterly pressed heavily upon us.  Our difficulties have been increased greatly by the disastrous events of the last two years, by which our resources have been almost dried up and poverty entailed in our parish.

        Our two ministers, who alternately supply us and our sister church at Springhead, are obliged to serve us gratuitously, though, as they are poor men, we are sorry they should have to labour without hire.  But, alas, all the money we can raise among ourselves is insufficient to pay the interest of the debt, consequently, while we have this heavy burden, and the present unhappy state of things in our parish remains, we are hopeless of being able to do justice to our ministers, whom we are bound to love and revere as being our spiritual fathers, by whose instrumentality we were called out of darkness into light.

        In our distress we look to our more fortunate brethren in Christ, by whose liberality we hope to pay off a third or half of our debt, and thereby be delivered from our gloomy apprehensions.  And may the Giver of all good reward one hundredfold every brother, sister, or friend whose heart shall pity, and whose hands shall administer to our relief.—Signed on behalf of us all,


J
OHN SCHOFIELD.
J
AMES BUCKLEY.
T
HOMAS SHAW.


    What these poor people dreaded was having to sell their beloved chapel.  A good response was made considering the badness of trade.  But not enough was forthcoming to save the situation.  At this time a number of gentlemen who had attended the Independent Chapel at Delph were desirous to set up a Congregational interest at Uppermill.  Amongst them were the late John Platt, sen., Esq., of Heathfields House, and the late James Buckley, Esq., J.P., of Hollyville, Greenfield.  Naturally, the founders of the little church, Messrs. Buckley and Winterbottom, were loth to let it pass out of their hands.  This will be seen from the following note to the late Mr. John Schofield, of Shaw, then one of the trustees:—


Lees, July 8th, 1831.


        D
EAR BROTHER,—I am going to Manchester and cannot come to your house to-day.  Expect me to-morrow.  Be not rash in business of so much importance.  We therefore expect that nothing will be done till we have seen you.


J. W
INTERBOTTOM.
J
NO. BUCKLEY.


    Eventually, the chapel was bought by Messrs. John Platt and James Buckley, much to the grief of the old occupiers of the pulpit, who had laboured so unselfishly for over 2o years.  Winterbottom continued his labours for a time at Springhead, but this place also passed to the Independent body, and the Revs. Morris, Wolstenhulme, Dixon, Short, Smith, Phillips, and Waide preceded the present pastor, Mr. D. Ness.  Mr. John Buckley died shortly after the transfer of Ebenezer Chapel to its new owners.

    For a time the Independents supplied their pulpit from neighbouring villages, and the late Mr. James Platt, of Prospecton, of honoured memory, acted as correspondent for many years.  The Rev. Reuben Calvert was the first ordained pastor of the church, and he began his work in 1832.  As he was the first to receive ordination in Uppermill, great interest was taken in the event, and the little chapel was crammed to its utmost capacity.  The Rev. Jonathan Sutcliffe, of Ashton, delivered the sermon on the principles of Congregationalism, and asked the usual questions.  The Rev. Mr. Adamson, of Charlesworth, offered the ordination prayer, and the Rev. John Calvert (Mr. Reuben Calvert's oldest brother) gave the charge to the minister from the words "Be strong and of a good courage."  The Rev. Mr. Hamilton, of Leeds, gave the charge to the people.  This gentleman was fetched by Mr. James Bottomley, of Greenfield, in his gig, as there was no railway in the district then, the day before the ordination, and from that time Mr. Bottomley became attached to the cause at Uppermill.  Mr. Reuben Calvert proved himself a workman that needed not to be ashamed.  The congregation increased to such an extent that the little church was nicknamed "squeezemites," and the chapel was enlarged by two windows in length to afford much needed room for the growing cause.

    In 1832 the church was, by a solemn league and covenant, duly formed in conformity with Dissenting principles by the Rev. S. Sutcliffe and its pastor, and the remnant of the followers of Winterbottom and Buckley threw in their lot with the newly-constituted church.  Mr. Calvert greatly endeared himself to his people.  He was a powerful preacher and an unwearied worker; instant in season and out, eager to win souls.  He left Uppermill in 1841, to the great regret of his people.  His successor was the Rev. Robert Thomson, M.A., who occupied the pulpit some two and a half years.  After this gentleman left some time elapsed before a successor was appointed, and during this period quite an array of rising talent supplied the pulpit, of whom mention may be made of the late Dr. Raleigh, the Revs. J. G. Rogers, Stephen Hooper, R. M. Davies, and John Jones.  The Rev. Jonah Reeve was chosen, and after three years he left for Morley.  The Rev. Simeon Dyson succeeded in the pastorate in 1849, and was ordained on Good Friday, 185o.  Mr. Dyson laboured acceptably at Uppermill for about seven years, and left in response to a call from the Congregational Church at Idle, in Yorkshire.  The Rev. Thomas Sturgess, of Droylsden, was the next to take up the pastorate, but he relinquished it in two and a half years, and was followed by the Rev. William Burrows, B.A., who was ordained in January, 1862.  During the ministry of Mr. Burrows, the late F. Midwood, Esq., and his family came to reside in the district, and soon their influence began to be felt for good in both the Sunday school and the church.  A movement was set on foot to rebuild the chapel, and this was carried through with so much energy and zeal that in 1872-3 the old meeting house was replaced by a much more commodious and imposing structure, and there were some rich in gatherings of the young people connected with the Sunday school some time before and shortly after the new place was opened.

    After a ministry of thirteen years, Mr. Burrows left at the end of March, 1874, and was succeeded by the Rev. W. H. Hyatt, who left in about five years, and was followed by the Rev. W. G. Percival in 188o, who retained the pulpit till January, 1893, when he removed to Birmingham.  The Rev. W. A. Lupton was his successor, and he left after a brief pastorate, and was followed by the Rev. A. E. Taylor, who commenced his ministry on Sunday, July 3rd, 1898, with a notable sermon from the words: "He sent them to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom."

    Many memories are stirred as the mind turns back upon the past, and much could be recorded of interest did space permit, but this brief sketch must suffice for the present.

    That the future of Ebenezer Church may be more than worthy of its past is the writer's earnest wish and prayer.


November, 19o7.


――――♦――――

 
ALICE WOOD'S MISTAKE.

CHAPTER I.


ON Christmas Eve, 187—, in a lowly cottage in High Street, in the Yorkshire village of Lowmill, two humble lovers might have been seen sitting quietly together by a three-legged table covered with a white cloth, on which a lamp was burning brightly, revealing a snow-white hearth, bright steel fender and fire-irons, and the white-topped dresser at the back of the room, which, together with a few chairs, made up the furnishing of the little room.  They were alone, these two; the young man was about twenty-five, tall and well formed, with a high intellectual forehead, abundance of dark red hair, brown, honest eyes, a roman nose, and a noble mouth, almost hidden beneath a heavy moustache and flowing beard.  Not a handsome man to look at, and yet his deportment betokened him one of nature's noblemen.  A man worth knowing, and when known, to be respected for his high character.  His sweetheart was evidently about his own age, and was a comely woman of medium height, good figure, and winsome face.  Not beautiful, certainly, according to the canons of beauty, but her face in repose had an undefinable charm of its own, and her smile, when she smiled, was sweet beyond the power of words to portray.  In the eyes of her lover, Fred Brown, she was the embodiment of perfect femininity.

    Fred Brown and Alice Wood had been engaged for about two years at the time our story opens.  Fred was a hand-loom weaver, but was ambitious and anxious to improve himself.  Alice had also begun her working life as a weaver, but a few months before, having received a small legacy on the death of a distant relative, she had left the mill to learn dressmaking at the most fashionable shop in Lowmill.  Hitherto, the course of true love had run smoothly enough between these two.  But on the night on which we first make their acquaintance they were unusually quiet.  Their conversation flagged.  Fred had little to say, and was very absent-minded.  At last Alice began to fidget with her knitting, and then burst out in half angry, half reproachful tones, as follows:—

    "Whotever's to do wi' thi, lad?  Theaw'rt noan thisel' at o to-neet.  Aw connut tell whot to mak' on thi."

    "Never mind me, Alice, aw'm i' noa cheerful humour just neaw.  Have as mitch patience wi' me as theaw con."

    "Hasta getten into a scrape o' some mak'?  Come, tell me whot's troublin' thi.  Aw con happen help thi eawt."

    "Ay, lass, aw'm in a scrape sure enough, but aw dunnot want thee to help me eawt on't above o folk."

    "Whot for, lad?"

    "Becose aw should lose thi iv theaw did, an' that's whot aw dunnut want to do iv aw con help it o' onny reet fashion."

    "Lose me!  Why, mon, theaw'rt talkin' i' riddles.  Whot wouldta lose me for?"

    "Becose aw couldn't keep thi as weel as aw think theaw'll want to be kept when theaw'rt wed, aw'm fear't.  Theer, neaw, theaw has it straight?"

    "Whotever arta ravin' abeawt, lad?  Aw've never said heaw aw should want to be kept, have aw?  Aw've noa hee notions or silly pride abeawt me 'at aw know on."

    "Heaw is it then 'at sin' theaw gan o'er weighvin' an' started o' dressmakin' theaw's bin soa different fro' whot theaw wur before?"

    "Me different!  Whotever wilta sey th' next?  Aw'm not different fro' whot aw wur when aw're a weighvur 'at aw con tell on."

    "Well, then, heaw is it 'at theaw's gan o'er wearin' clogs an' lung bishops, an' gooas to thi wark every day donned up to th' nines in a fine frock, a white collar, an' low shoon?"

    "Oh, ther's nowt i' that, theaw yorney.  Aw'm nobbut dooin' neaw same as aw did before.  When aw're a weighvur aw donned misel' same as weighvur lasses dun.  Neaw aw'm dressmakin' aw don up same as dressmakers dun.  Aw'm noa different mysel' 'at aw con feel on.  Theaw'rt noan vext at me for wearin' better cloas, surely?"

    "Nay, lass, that's nut it."

    "Dusta want to sey 'at neaw aw'm a bit better donned aw shannut look at thi?  Is that whot theaw'rt drivin' at?  Dusta want to insult me 'at theaw talks like theaw art dooin'?  Becose aw shall be insulted iv theaw doesn't mind."

    "Insult thi, Alice, lass!  Nay, but that's th' last thowt i' mi yed.  Aw connut just put mi thowts as aw should like, but aw've bin wonderin' to misel' iv it wouldn't be better for thi iv aw're to set thi free to mak' a better bargain if theaw'd a chance.  Sin' theaw started o' bein' donned soa fine every day theaw's looked soa sweet an' snod 'at aw've begun o' bein' fear't 'at some chap wi' a lot o' brass ud be strikin' up at thi, an' offerin' thi a grand whoam to goa to; an' where should aw be then, thinksta?"

    "Whot dusta desarve for talkin' like that to me?"

    "Eh, aw dunnut know."

    "Then theaw owt to know to be ashamed o' thisel' for harbourin' sitch thowts abeawt me.  Dusta really think soa little on me as to believe 'at aw've noa more real womanly feelin' in me than to throw thi o'er iv some chap wi' a bit more brass offered hissel'? becose iv that's heaw theaw reckons me up after keepin' company wi' me for two yer, aw've done wi' thi."

    "Eh, bless thi, Alice, for neaw aw know theaw'rt as true as steel.  Aw thowt soa before, my lass, but neaw aw'm sure on it.  Bless thi, my bonny sweet lass, nut only for whot theaw's said, but for th' way theaw's said it.  A mon 'at's th' heart's love ov a woman like thee is better off iv he hasn't a penny to co' his own, nur he would be beawt it, and he're worth millions.  Brass is nowt where love comes, nut it, marry, but for o that aw wish aw could get howd o' some."

    "Whot for, lad?"

    "Aw'd soon show thi iv aw'd a chance.  Theaw should have as nice an' snug a little whoam o' thi own as theaw desarves iv aw could get it thi."

    "Well, Fred, aw believe theaw will get it for me as soon as theaw con, an' till then, my laddie, aw'm willin' to wait, soa dunnot deawt me noa more; it hurts me soa, dusta know.  When aw took thi aw knew theaw're poor, an' likely for bein'.  Aw'm poor misel', an' aw didn't tak' thi for whot theaw had, or wur likely for havin', but becose aw knew theaw wur a gradely true-hearted, honest, hard-workin' lad; an' aw thowt theaw'd care for me, an' believe me to be a true-hearted woman."

    "An' soa aw do, Alice, an' shall do to mi deein' day.  Theaw mun forgie me for beein' soa glum an' deawncast to-neet, but aw've seen summat to-day 'at's gan me a fit o' blues."

    "Whot wur it, lad?"

    "When aw're gooin' whoam to mi dinner past Glen Mill aw seed 'em chuckin' th' hond-looms through a window i' th' top storey deawn into th' mill yard, an' makkin' foirewood on 'em.  Eh! dear, aw thowt to misel', they'n be dooin' th' same at eawr mill th' next, an' then whot shall aw do, for they'n set women uppo' these new peawer looms at less brass nur they're payin' us, an' then we'st ha' to shift eawt o' th' road, an' here aw've bin an' spent o these yers larnin' weighvin' an' neaw it's noa good."

    "Well, lad, theaw connut help it.  But dunnut be soa sure 'at theaw's spent thi time for nowt, becose aw'm nut."

    "Whot for?  Heaw soa, Alice?"

    "Well, these new looms an' women weighvurs ull o want lookin' after wi' men 'at know heaw th' wark should be done, an' nobody ull know that better nur a good hond-weighvur 'at's had to do o for hissel' same as thee.  Get to know o theaw con abeawt these new looms, an' before lung theaw'll be fit for an o'erlookin' shop.  Theaw's a good yeadpiece, a good character, an' a bit o' scholarship; ha' some faith i' thisel', mon, an' things ull turn eawt o reet in a while, aw'm sure."

    "Well aw hope soa, too, but it's poor encouragement aw've had soa far.  Last week aw co'ed at Grove Mill, an' axed Mr. Bothamley iv he'd gie me a chance next time he wanted an o'erlooker."

    "An' whot did he sey to thi?"

    "He made nowt nobbut scorn on me.  They'd be wantin' a Prime Minister up at Lunnon before lung, he said; an' he'd let me know when th' shop wur empty, as he thowt aw should manage that job as weel as o'erlookin'.  Then he wanted to know whot aw knew abeawt sitch-like wark; an' aw're soa mad at him 'at aw up an' towd him 'at aw knew more nur some ov his brawsen gaffers, for bi o acceawnts cursin' an' swearin' at th' weighvurs wur abeawt o they cud do.  An' aw walked off an' left him."

    "Theaw did just reet, lad.  Aw wove theer misel' a bit, but aw soon seed 'at it wur noa shop for me.  Nobody could get owt theer 'at wurnut co'ed Bothamley.  They'rn o akin ov a lump.  O ov a litter, like bunny whelps.  Theaw owt to have had thi named changed to "Bothamley" afore theaw'd gone axin' him for a job."

    "Theaw'rt reet, lass.  Neaw when aw bethink me, o his gaffers are oather Bothamleys or wed into th' family."

    "Never mind, lad, thee look eawt for a shop somewheer else.  An' remember 'at aw meon to stick to thi iv theaw'll let me, through thick an' thin, soa dunnut be deawnhearted noa moor."

    "Eh, bless thi for thi brave words, mi own sweet lass.  They'n dun me a world o' good, an' before another Kersmus comes reawnd aw hope 'at summat better nur poverty knockin' ull turn up for me, an' then whot?—"

    "We'll see when th' time comes," Alice replied archly, so with a fond kiss they parted, and with a light heart Fred trudged off through the fields which lay between Lowmill and his home at Boarswood.



CHAPTER II.


As Fred lay down to sleep that night he heard a group of Sunday school scholars assembling in the next house, and presently the bells of the neighbouring church rang out a merry peal, and the sweet young voices were reverently raised in singing Montgomery's beautiful hymn for Christmas:—


Angels from the realms of glory,
    Wing your flight o'er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation's story,
    Now proclaim Messiah's birth;
        Come and worship;
    Worship Christ, the new-born King.


And as the music died away he fell into happy dreamless sleep.

    Shortly after Easter Fred received a letter from an old schoolmate, who some years before had gone to Halifax, some miles from Lowmill, to manage the Beatall Cloth Mills, which ran as follows:—


DEAR OLD CHUM,— I am in want of an assistant here at the Beatall Mills, and as I have heard that you were on the look-out for a better job, I offer you the appointment.  We have about 2oo looms, and all other machinery both for preparation and finishing; but only about half the place is working, as the people here know little about power weaving.  However, if you will accept my offer, I think that before long we shall be able to drill them into the work, and get all the place going.  You will start at two pounds a week.  If all goes well, you may hope to double that figure.  Say you will come at once and oblige, Your old chum,

SAM BREDBURY.


    Fred was greatly elated when he read this epistle.  Here was the very opening he had longed for, but, alas! there was the distance and the separation from Alice.  How would she take it?  Before accepting the offer he would see what she had to say, so early that evening he set out with the all-important letter in his pocket, and wondering in his mind what his sweetheart would want him to do.  Apart from her he had no close ties, having been early left an orphan, and brought up by an uncle and aunt, who had seen to his bodily wants till he was able to do for himself, but had shown little of that affection for which his heart hungered, and which he had never known till his engagement to Alice Wood.  When about half way on his journey, at an abrupt turn in the road, he was astonished to find himself face to face with his sweetheart, who met his smile with an angry frown, and in hot, bitter tones, cried out?

    "Off wi' thi back, just neaw, an' come after me noa moor till aw send for thi!"

    "Whot have aw done wrang?" Fred asked, in pained surprise.

    "Theaw knows weel enough beawt me havin' to tell thi, soa dunnut mak' things wur bi lyin'."

    "Lyin'! Alice, dusta know whot theaw'rt seyin'?  Theaw knows weel enoof 'at aw never tell lies."

    "Theaw con act 'em it seems, an' that's as bad every bit, iv nut wur.  Get eawt o' mi seet, an' then aw shannut yer onny o' thi lyin' excuses."

    "Whot's come o'er thi, Alice?  Arta gone mad?"

    "Mad!  Ay, aw think aw mun be.  Mad to think 'at theaw'rt soa deceitful, an' aw thowt thi soa true.  But be off, an' never come nee me noa moor."

    "Theaw'll be sooary for this yet, Alice," Fred said, as he turned on his heel, stung to the quick by her strange outburst, and utterly bewildered by her sudden dismissal, and for no reason whatever that he could think of.  He had never seen his sweetheart in a passion before.  This was a side of her nature he had never dreamt of, and what perplexed him most was that he could not recall having done or said anything to justify her conduct.  Then he decided to accept his friend Sam's offer, and take himself off out of her sight as soon as he could, and wait for time to unravel the mystery.

    In a few days he reached Beatall Mills and plunged into his work, hoping in this way to ease the pain of his bitter disappointment and shut Alice out of his mind.  But he did not succeed.  Try as he would he could not tear her image out of his heart, nor bring himself to believe that all was over between them; but the memory of her scornful and bitter words made him shrink from writing to her, and so nearly three years passed away without a reconciliation being effected between them.



CHAPTER III.


The third Christmas Eve since their estrangement came round, and early in the evening Alice sat alone in the house; the married sister with whom she lived having gone to a party with her husband.

    Alice herself had lost none of her comeliness during these three years.  But there was a sadness in her eyes, and a pensive look on her face, which showed that some secret pain was gnawing at her heart, and somehow that night the pain seemed to be more severe than usual.  One by one the details of that fateful night when she had so angrily sent her lover away came back as vividly as if the events were but of yesterday.  What a terrible mistake she had made in sending Fred away without allowing him to speak in self-defence.  How foolish she had been for allowing her temper to get the mastery of her before she knew the real truth of the matter.  Looking back in the light of after events, she saw that she had been too hasty in her judgment, and had condemned her lover unheard on too slight evidence.  Had she allowed him to speak, how different things would have been, for she knew now how utterly wrong she had been in her conclusions.  Then her thoughts turned to the future.  How long was this bitter and needless separation to go on?  There was no justification for its continuance.  What ought she to do under the circumstances?  Just as her thoughts reached this point, she heard a quick manly step on the flags, and a sharp rap at the door — a rap that somehow reminded her of Fred.  Trembling with excitement she opened the door, and there he was before her.  With a strong effort she regained control of herself, and with a weak attempt at pleasantry, she cried :—

    "Wheer hasta sprung fro', lad?  Wilta come in an' sit thi deawn?  Aw're just thinkin' abeawt thi."

    "An' aw've never gan o'er thinkin' abeawt thi sin' theaw turned me off soa sharply, an' aw'm come o' seein' iv theaw'll tell me whot aw're sent off for?"

    "Eh, lad, aw'm fain theaw's come an' axed me that, for theaw'd done nowt wrang, though aw thowt theaw had then when aw sent thi away.  Aw made a greyt mistake, lad, when aw refused to harken whot theaw wanted to sey.  Conta forgie me? for aw connut forgie misel'."

    "Forgie thi, Alice!  Ay, wi' o mi heart.  But do tell me whot theaw thowt aw'd done."

    "Aw con hardly forshawm, Fred, but theaw's a reet to know.  Well, i' th' forenoon o' that unlucky day we parted, Annie Lunn, theaw knows her, towd me a tale abeawt thi 'at aw ought not to ha' ta'en onny notice on till aw'd good proof.  Hoo said hoo'd seen thi walkin' eawt wi' Alice Henson, up Ho Clough, an' as hoo're close behind hoo o'eryerd yo' makin' it up to meet that very neet at th' bend i' th' road, hawve way between Boarswood an' Lowmill, an' iv aw'd goa there abeawt seven o'clock aw should see yo' for misel'.  Well, aw went, foo' 'at aw wur, an' just before aw met thi, aw passed Alice walking slowly on th' footpath as iv hoo're waitin' for somebody, an' when aw seed thi aw jumpt to th' conclusion 'at Annie wur reet, an' 'at theaw wur playin' me false.  Theaw knows whot happened after we met."

    "But aw never walked eawt wi' Alice Henson i' mi life."

    "Noa more theaw did, lad.  It wur o a mistake.  Aw yerd in a day or two after 'at Alice wur keepin' company wi' Ned Lee.  Ned's just abeawt thy build, an' he favvurs thi a bit, soa Annie had mista'en him for thee."

    "Well, well, iv ever aw yerd sitch a tale i' mi life.  But theaw ought to ha' sent me some word when theaw geet to know th' truth."

    "Aw owt to ha' done, aw see that clear enoof neaw.  But at first aw kept hopin' theaw'd come a seein' me abeawt it.  When aw yerd theaw wur gone to Halifax aw thowt 'at o wur o'er between us, an' theaw'd never look at me again."

    "But, Alice, is o to be o'er between us?  Connut that mistake o' thine be put reet agen?"

    "Fred, lad, that rests wi' thisel'."

    "Then we'n wipe eawt this dreary time, an' start afresh.  Conta guess where aw're gooin' that neet when theaw turned me back?"

    "Wurta comin' here, lad?"

    "Ay, aw're beawn to tell thi 'at aw'd getten th' shop 'at aw'm at neaw.  Aw'm nicely off at last; an' that whoam ov eawr own we'rn use't to dream about con be set up as soon as ever theaw likes.  Wilta come to me neaw, mi own sweet lass?"

    "Ay, lad, aw'll come, aw'd tak' thi iv theaw hadn't a hawpenny i' th' world.  Eh! lad, but it's worth summat after o this fo'in' eawt."

    "How soa, Alice?"

    "It's soa nice gettin' thick agen."


    Early the following May a quiet wedding took place at Lowmill.  We need not say who the bride and bridegroom were, but when the ceremony was over they went away to a pretty house in Halifax, and we only need add that in the lists of the Mayors and Mayoresses of that notable town there will be found the names of our old friends Fred and Alice.


 
ELIZA'S SECRET: A VILLAGE IDYLL.

CHAPTER I.


"LET me carry thi cans for thi, wilta?"

    "Aw winnut."

    "Yigh, theaw will," and without any more ado the first speaker — a tall, well-built young weaver, named john Winterbottom — took the maiden's water cans and proceeded to accompany her to a well in the fields just outside the small manufacturing Yorkshire village of Greenthorpe.  Silently they went together over the glittering snow-covered field-path in the clear moonlight, till the well was reached and the cans filled, when the girl, whom we must call Eliza Haynes, or "Liza," as her friends generally spoke of her, resenting her companion's silence, demanded hotly:

    "Whot arta after?  Aw con carry th' cans misel'."

    "Oh," replied John, "two's company; an', beside, aw want to talk to thi, Liza."

    "Whot for?"

    "Well, aw'm gooin' to Dexboro' to-morn, an' it'll be a good while afore aw come back agen, happen."

    "Thee gooin' to Dexboro'!  An' whotever arta gooin' theer for, lad?"

    "An owd mate o' mine sent me a letter yesterday offerin' me a shop in a big newspapur office, and aw've written back tellin' him 'at aw'm comin', an' thankin' him for th' place.  Aw'm weary o' beein' knock't abeawt an' humbugged at Wood's mill.  Ther's noa chance theer for nobody nobbut whot's akin to th' boss; an' beside, aw know aw con do summat better nur poverty knockin', an' addle moor brass bi a lot."

    "Oh, theaw's gettun some hee noashuns into thi yed, an' fancies thisel', aw yer.  Afore lung tha'll turn up thi nose at a weighvur lass like me, aw reckon."

    "Nowt o' th' sooart!  That's noan my feelin'.  But aw do think 'at a mon 'at aims at makkin' a mon ov hissel' should try to do th' mooast he con wi' hissel'; an' iv he feels 'at he has summat in him, bring it eawt."

    "An' whot con theaw do in a newspapur office?  Iv it had bin some sooart o' loom tunin' aw shouldn't ha' bin soa mitch cap't, for aw know theaw'rt a good hond at tanklin'."

    "Well, it's not mitch aw know abeawt makkin' newspapurs yet; but aw've larnt to write shorthand as fast as a mon con talk, an', whot's moor, aw con put it into shape for printin'."

    "Whot!  Has theaw larnt heaw to report?"

    "Ay, partly whot."

    "Aw connut believe thi."

    "Dusta remember th' last big political meetin' ther wur i' th' Public Hall, when Sir Hamer Holmes wur here?"

    "Ay, weel enough."

    "Well, aw wrote every word o' that three-column report ther wur i' th' Mercury, an' geet weel paid for it, too."

    "An' heawever hasta larnt o that?  Whooa's bin thi skoomestur?"

    "Misel', mooastly.  But my owd mate, Jim Radcliffe, gan me a good start i' shorthand afore he went to Dexboro'.  He're awlus a clivver lad, wur Jim, an' ready to do a good turn, an' neaw he's gettin' his three hundert peawnd a yer, an' likely for havin' moor in a bit.  It's him 'at's findin' me th' shop aw'm gooin' to i' th' mornin'."

    "Well, aw'm reet fain to yer 'at theaw's a chance o' mendin' thisel'.  A mon should never be content to be less nur his best.  Aw know theaw'rt steady; aw hope theaw'll get on."

    "Aw'll do mi best, iv —"

    "Neaw, ther should be noa 'ivs' abeawt it.  Theaw said thisel' a minute sin' it wur a mon's duty to mak' th' best he could ov hissel'."

    "An' soa aw did; but aw think it 'ud be a lot yezzier strivin' to get on iv one wur sure 'at ther wur somebody to come back to i' th' owd place 'at 'ud be fain to see one's face an' rejoice i' one's weel-dooin'."

    "Well, thi uncle John an' th' aunt Mary ull be soa, surely?"

    "Oh, they're o reet i' ther way, but aw want somebody closer an' dearer — aw want thee, mi bonnie lass, iv theaw'll promise thisel'.  Then aw'st goa to Dexboro' wi' a good heart, an' wurtch like a black to mak' a snug little whoamlneest for us booath.  Come, whot seysta?"

    "Aw con sey nowt 'at theaw wants me to say; at leost, nut yet.  Aw'st want to think abeawt it.  Mon, it's o soa sudden.  An', beside, aw connut see mi way eawt.  Surely, theaw doesn't think 'at aw could find i' mi heart to leove eawr Elspeth to keep a whoam fur hersel' an' mi poor crippl't brother, Joe, beawt my help."

    "Aw dunnot ax thi to do soa, lass.  Aw should be fain to do owt i' that way 'at theaw wanted me."

    "But aw shouldn't like to leove him, poor lad; he clings to me soa.  Theaw'll happen find somebody 'at'll suit thi better i' Dexboro': a finer body nur me ull be moor to thi mind when theaw's getten up i' th' world a bit."

    "Nowt o' th' sooart; aw'm noane one o' that mak'.  Theaw might gie me some hope."

    "But aw connut promise misel' just neaw.  Aw should be rare an' preawd o' havin' thi regard iv ―"

    "Iv whot, Liza?"

    "Iv aw hadn't to hurt thi bi refusin' thi whot theaw wants.  But as theaw's oppun't thi mind to me, aw'll tell thi soa far 'at aw've promis't misel' to nobody else, an' aw dunnot think aw shall do; soa iv in a yer or two theaw'rt still i' th' mind theaw seys theaw art to-neet, well — theaw con speak to me agen, then."

    "Doesn'ta think theaw'rt raythur hard on me?"

    "Nowe, lad, aw dunnot.  Aw'm bund to be honest wi' thi.  At present aw've noa feelin' i' mi heart 'at onsurs to th' feelin' to'art me 'at theaw's shown me to-neet; an' aw dunnot believe in a woman acceptin' a mon's love unless hoo con give him hurs.  Love's never satisfied, mon, wi' owt less nur a full return ov its own sooart."

    "Well, Liza, aw connut grumble at thi, lass; theaw's gan me an honest onsur, an' aw think better on thi, iv possible, neaw nur aw did afore aw ax't thi; an' aw'll wait for thi an' win thi yet, mi own bonnie, sweet lass.  Theaw'll be mine someday, aw feel sure."

    By this time the pair had reached Eliza's home, and, with a quietly-spoken "good-neet," they parted, not knowing when they would see each other again.

    Eliza Haynes took her cans and her secret into her humble home.  Very gently she spoke to her crippled brother, Joe, and tenderly — more tenderly, if possible, than usual, she ministered to his needs.  To her sister, Elspeth, she said nothing about her interview with John Winterbottom.  For the present she decided that silence would be best, as she did not wish her brother to feel that she had possibly sacrificed her own future for his sake.  She also wanted time to commune with herself; so she retired to her chamber, and, with an earnest prayer in her heart for future guidance and strength, she lay down to rest; her troubled spirit soothed and quieted as she listened to the village choir, who were practising carols in the next house, singing:


Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King.


    In a moment there flashed through her mind a vision of the Life of Lives, from Bethlehem to Calvary.  She saw its supreme example of self-sacrifice, its grand lesson that if men would find their highest life they must lose their lower; and, in learning to put duty before inclination, the service of others before the gratification of self, be ready, if need be, to lay down life itself for the good of others.  Then a great peace filled her soul, and she fell into a calm and dreamless sleep.



CHAPTER II.


    Four years passed over the heads of John and Eliza before they met each other again.  During that period John had steadily made his way upwards, and, assisted by his old friend, James Radcliffe, he had secured a good post on the staff of the Dexboro' News.  By close study and careful culture of his good natural abilities, he had won for himself a name as a capable journalist, and found himself in a position to afford the pleasure of a good home, and felt that now he would be justified in approaching Eliza once more and asking her to share his lot.  He decided to spend Christmas week with his uncle and aunt, and on arriving at his old home he was startled and grieved to hear that Eliza's invalid brother, Joe, was dead, and was to be buried that very day in the village churchyard.  He at once decided that he would attend the funeral, feeling that he was entitled to do so as an old friend.  So he quietly joined the mourners in the little cottage, and followed the body to its last resting-place.  There was a great wave of pity overmastering his natural reticence.  He stepped up to the weeping sisters, who still lingered by the open grave, gently drew them away, and accompanied them home, speaking such words of comfort and consolation as he thought would soothe the hearts of the bereaved girls.  In accordance with local custom, he remained to tea, after which he rose to go, thinking that, perhaps, if he remained longer, his presence might be felt as an intrusion; but Eliza's look of appeal caused him to resume his seat.  Gradually, the relatives and friends took their departure, and Elspeth went out on business, and John and Eliza were left alone.  The door had scarcely closed upon her sister before she broke down completely, and burst into a fit of violent weeping.  John sat by her in sympathetic silence, and waited till her grief had somewhat abated, and then he took her hand and pressed it tenderly and reverently to his lips.  This action seemed to recall the girl to herself, and, withdrawing her hand to dry her tears, she gave him a smile of ineffable sweetness, and he read the answer he had patiently waited and hoped for so long in her swimming eyes.  A deep silence fell between them for a time, and each felt that it was too sweet to be hastily broken.  At length John said: "Aw've noane forgetten thi, theaw sees."

    "Aw hardly thowt theaw would, lad," Eliza answered.  "In fact," she continued, "th' moor aw thowt o'er whot theaw said to me afore theaw went away, an' th' moor aw felt sure 'at some day theaw'd come back to me agen."

    "Arta fain aw've come, Liza?"

    "Fain!  Eh, lad, 'fain's' a poor word to express whot aw feel.  Every neaw an' agen aw've yerd fro' yore folk abeawt thi gettin' on, an' rare an' preawd they wur on thi.  O' someheaw aw seemed to know whot it o meant.  Aw've noane bin idle misel' noather.  As weel as aw could, aw've tried to improve my mind, sooas to mak' misel' fitter to be thy wife, if theaw axed me agen."

    "Aw'm fain to yer that, Liza."

    "Mun aw tell thi summat else?"

    "Tell me owt theaw likes.  Th' seawnd o' thi voice is music i' mi yers."

    "Well, abeawt two months after theaw went off, a friend o' mine larnt me Tennyson's poems.  Hasta read 'em?"

    "Ay, ov course aw have.  Who'd miss 'at had th' chance 'at had onny wit at o?"

    "Well, aw hadn't time to read o th' book, but aw read 'Idylls of the King,' an' aw're struck wi' one passage, wheer King Arthur is bidding farewell to his nowty Queen, an' he says to hur: 'We needs must love the highest when we see it.'  O' someheaw that passage kept ringin' its music i' mi heart, an' th' moor aw thowt abeawt King Arthur an' th' better aw like't him.  In a bit aw begun a thinkin' aw knew somebody whose character wur like King Arthur's.  In a crack it coom to me 'at that somebody wur thee, lad; aw seemed to see thi in a new leet; an' aw remember't heaw good theaw wur to me when we'rn childer together at th' owd skoo'; heaw theaw use't to stond up for eawr Joe when bigger an' strunger lads tried to torment him; ay, heaw theaw wur awlus ready to do onnybody a good turn 'at needed it.  Then aw seed heaw blynt aw'd bin misel'; like Queen Guinevere, stondin' i' mi own leet, an' mi heart seemed to oppun to thi, an' aw felt aw'd a love for thi 'at 'ud be a true onsur to thine."

    "Aw towd thi aw should win thi, didn't aw?"

    "Aw believe theaw did; an' theaw're ever a mesturful piece o' goods, an' would ha' thi own road.  When aw leet thi tak' mi cans aw felt then as iv aw're givin' way to thi, an' 'at theaw'd tak' me, too, wilta-shalta."

    "Nay, nay, lass, aw'm nut quite soa bad, surely; for aw dunnut believe a mon should press a woman too far.  It's nobbut reet 'at he should try to mak' his sweetheart understond heaw mitch he cares for hur, an' win hur to hissel', iv he con.  But iv he finds 'at hoo really has noa love onsurin' to his, he should let hur a-be; for, as th' sung says:


True hearts are free, an' will be free;
True love springs ov itsel';
It flows like sunleet fro' the sun,
Like waytur in a well.


An' after o's done an' said, a true woman's heart's too good a thing to be getten onny road, except as a free gift fro' th' owner on't.  Hasta gan me thine, lass?"

    "Aw have, lad; an' it's never bin onnybody's else."

    At this point the unsuspecting Elspeth unceremoniously entered the cottage, expecting to find her sister alone.  She stared in angry astonishment at John, and said:

    "Whotever art theaw dooin' here?" and then, after a quick glance at her sister's face, she half guessed the truth, and demanded hotly:

    "Whot han yo' two agate on?"

    "Sit thi deawn, Elspeth, an' aw'll soon tell thi o theaw wants to know," and John briefly told his own story to the astonished girl.  When he had done she broke out again:

"Well, aw never wur soa gloppen't i' mi life! An' theaw'll have him, an' leove me bi misel', wilta?" she said, turning to her sister with a reproachful look.

    "My whoam 'ull be thine, Elspie, darling, as lung as theaw mey need it; winnut it, John?"

    "Ov course it will; but aw darsey somebody else ull be wantin' a good bargain as weel as me; afore lung, too," John replied in a dry tone, and with a twinkle in his eye that caused Eliza to ask in a surprised tone:

    "Whot arta drivin' at neaw, John?  Dusta know summat?"

    "Well, aw thowt aw seed somebody lookin' at hur at th' berrin' 'at'll want to see hur agen in a bit."

    "Whooa wur it, John?"

    "Oh, aw dunnut tell tales eawt o' th' skoo," John replied, with a smile.

    "John, has he said summat to thee abeawt it, then?" Elspeth asked eagerly, thus giving her secret away to her sister.

    "Whotever are yo' two talkin' abeawt?  Elspeth, has theaw bin coartin' an' never towd thi own sister?"

    "Liza, has theaw bin coartin' an' never towd thi own sister?  Iv aw'd nobbut known sooner ――"

    Here the excited girl began to weep in spite of herself.

    "Whotever's to do wi' thi?" Eliza asked, in great consternation.

    "Bless my soul," John burst out, greatly moved; "aw see it o neaw."

    "Whot doesta see, lad? for aw'm in a regular mist," said Eliza.

    "Jim Broadbent wants hur, an' hoo'll ha' refused him, same as theaw refused me at th' first, becose hoo wouldn't leove thee bi thisel'."

    "But hoo owt to ha' spokken to me abeawt it."

    "An' theaw owt to ha' spokken to me abeawt John, then," replied Elspeth.

    "Well, well, lasses, let's ha' noa words abeawt it, neaw.  It'll be o reet, yo'n see.  Aw'll have a word or two wi' Jim, misel'.  He's an owd pal o' mine, an' iv he's hawve as mitch sense as aw think he has, this job ull soon be sattle't, an' then ――" ,

    "An' then whot?" asked both girls in a breath.

    "An' then ther'll be a double wedding some time in a bit."

    And so there was.


――――♦――――

 
A VILLAGE "NOWT."

CHAPTER I.


PATTER, patter, patter went a pair of dainty clogs over the pavement of the Yorkshire village of Yewthorpe.  The wearer was as sweet as a sprig of heather from her native moorlands, and as blithe as she was bonnie.  In her hands she carried a pair of water cans, for she was on her way to the village well, and she hummed a popular air as she tripped along the street, little thinking how soon her thoughts were to be turned into a new channel, and the innate womanliness of her nature stirred to its depths.

    It was a clear moonlight night early in December.  The frost had set in after a heavy fall of snow, and all the landscape lay sleeping under a glittering robe of dazzling whiteness.  The quiet beauty of the night fitted well with her own calm and peaceful mood as she turned off the street into the straggling field path that led to the well.  Here, to her astonishment, there stepped out of the shadow of a doorway a tall, gawky-looking youth who seemed at a loss what to do with his long arms and legs; and yet there was a suggestion of latent power about the set of his lips and the pose of his head, and the fire in his dark brown eyes indicated that beneath his unprepossessing appearance a mind and soul full of great possibilities lay hidden.  Evidently, he intended to accompany her to the well; and she knew him well enough by repute, for everybody knows everybody else in a Yorkshire village.  She had also a shrewd idea what his presence meant, so she began to wonder a little to herself what he would have to say for himself; but to her chagrin he was silent.  When his silence had exhausted her patience she burst out with the query: "Whot doesta meeon following me like this, Fred?"

    "Aw meeon a deeol iv theaw'll nobbut let me tell thi, Nancy," he replied, as soon as he could find his tongue.

    "Oh, theaw does, dusta?" she answered, without looking at him, at the same time bending down to fill her cans with the clear sparkling water.

    "Ay, aw want thee thisel', but it's noa use, aw guess," he went on despairingly.  He paused, but Nancy still kept silence.

    "Aw mun tell thi, whether theaw likes it or not.  Aw connut keep it in noa lunger.  Aw've wanted thee a good while, but aw dursn't speak to thi for feeort o' vexin' thi."

    "An' soa theaw thinks it's a monly thing to waylay a woman an' tell hur thi soft tales i' this fashion, dusta?" Nancy said, scornfully.

    "Well, whot else con aw do?  Aw could hardly come to yore heawse beawt axin', could aw?"

    "Iv theaw'd some business to come abeawt whot should stop thi?"

    "Oh, a mon hardly likes to goa to a woman's heawse an' ax for hur straight off beawt havin' some sooart ov a notion heaw he'll be ta'en in.  He might get punced off th' durstones same as Sam o' Jack's wur when he went after Miss Thompson, at th' Hill Farm.  Dusta remember hur brother, Jim, met him on th' front flags an' punced him deawn th' fielt an' rolled him o'er th' hedge into a duckpond?"

    "Well, an' didn't it sarve him reet for havin' noa moor wit nur gooin' somewhere where he met ha' known 'at he wouldn't be wanted?"

    "Happen it did, but――"

    "But whot?"

    "Well, it wur noane soa nice for Sam, aw'm thinkin'."

    "An' aw reckon theaw'rt thinkin' 'at eawr Joe met happen sarve thee th' same road iv theaw coom to eawr heawse o' th' same arrand?"

    "Well, he met happen try, but —"

    "But whot?  Theawr't full o' buts, thee!"

    "Well, aw'm thinkin' he wouldn't have it o his own road, an' then ther'd happen be bother, an' aw want noa bother iv aw con keep eawt on't.  Aw'm willing to come to yore heawse in a gradely way iv aw mun.  Con aw goa wi' thi whoam to-neet?"

    "Nowe, theaw munnut, fur aw want noane on thi."

    "Theaw met gie me some hope."

    "Aw'st do nowt o' th' sooart.  Dusta think aw'st promise misel' to a chap 'at con find nowt noa better to do wi' his spare time nur proppin' an aleheawse-end an' makkin' game o' folk as they gooan past on th' road?  Nut me, aw con tell thi."

    "But aw dunnut spend mi time at th' aleheawse-end, nur goa into one oathur iv aw con help it."

    "Neaw then, dunnut tell lies, Fred.  Aw seed thi misel' th' last Sunday neet stondin' wi' a lot moor sitchlike at th' 'Blue Billy' corner."

    "Well, aw're waitin' to watch for thi passin'.  Aw wanted to see thi soa bad, aw could wait noa lunger."

    "Theaw chose a queer stondin' shop, shusheaw.  Iv aw're a young chap an' wanted a respectable young woman to keep company, aw'd goa to a neet skoo' i' th' weektime; an' i'stead o' wanderin' th' lones an' wastin' th' precious Sabbath heawers, aw'd goa to a Sunday skoo' an' try to be o' some use theer.  In fact, aw'd see iv aw couldn't mak' a mon o' misel' i'stead o' beein' a jackass, or summat wur."

    "Wilta ha' me iv aw'll promise to follow thi advice?"

    "Aw'll promise nowt o' th' sooart.  Mon, theaw'rt like a chap 'at wants paying for his wark afore he's made a start on it.  Aw've advised thi to do nowt but whot's for thi own good.  Theaw'll be th' gainer, an' soon, too, iv theaw'll nobbut do whot aw'm tellin' thi."

    "Well, Nancy, aw'll turn o'er a new leeof, shusheaw, lass."

    "Turn o'er a new leeof, dusta sey?  Nay, mon, theaw wants to buy a new book otogether and start at th' beginnin'."

    "Am aw sitch a bad un as o that?"

    "Well, happen it's nut sheer badness soa mitch as carelessness an' thowtlessness; an' aw'm nut sure whether carelessness an' thowtlessness are nut as bad as badness itsel'."

    "Dunnut be soa hard on me, lass."

    "Hard on thi!  Dusta co' me hard becose aw'm talkin' to thi for thi own good as aw met do iv theaw wur mi own brother?  Mon, aw connut abide to see a likely young chap like thee throwin' hissel' away, same as theaw seems to be dooin', beawt tellin' him whot aw think."

    "Thank thi, Nancy.  Aw see neaw 'at whot theaw's said, theaw's said eawt o' th' kindness o' thi heart, an' aw'll tak' thi advice, see iv aw dunnut."

    "But stop, Fred, theaw'll nut do mitch good for thisel' iv theaw nobbut tak's this advice becose aw've gan it thi.  Whot aw want is for thi to mak' up thi mind to do reet becose it's reet, an' look to One above us o for help to do reet an' pleeos Him.  Theaw'll find Him a good Mestur to work for.  His pay days never miss comin', and His wage is awlus a good deeol better nur eawr wark, let me tell thi.  Tak' howd ov His hont an' He'll help thi to stond o' thi own feet an' walk straight as a mon should."

    "But He cares nowt abeawt sitchlike as me, nut He, marry.  Nobody cares; aw wish sometimes 'at aw're laid bi th' side of mi mother i' th' owd churchyard, for nobody seems to care whether aw do ill or weel sin' hoo wur laid sideway."

    "But folk dun care, Fred; aw care mysel', for aw judge bi th' road theaw's spokken just neaw 'at theaw has th' makkin' ov a good mon in thi.  Ther's nowt to stop thi for dooin' weel iv theaw'll nobbut shap' thisel'.  Surelee, theaw'll never goa on to th' end o' th' chapter as theaw art dooin'?"

    "Eh, dear o' me, aw wish aw could see mi way a bit better, aw seem to ha' soa little to look forrad to."

    "Theaw's everythin' a mon con wish to look forrad to, an' to win for thisel' iv theaw'll nobbut try as a mon should.  T'other day aw met Ned o' Jane's wi' a dog in a bant a fine seet better donned an' fed nur hissel'.  He look't reet preawd ov his job, th' silly foo', but i' my eye th' dog wur noan preawd o' him.  Eh, aw thowt to misel', iv theaw wur a brother o' mine aw'd poo thi toppin' for thi, an' see iv aw couldn't drive a bit o' sense into thi yed.  Just think ov a yung chap 'at should be tryin' to mak' his way up i' th' world dadin' a smo-tail't dog reawnd in a bant, an' thinkin' weel ov his job, too!  Aw wish he could see heaw little he look't."

    "Well, theaw's never seen me at that job, nur theaw never will do.  Sithee, lass, iv theaw'd nobbut tak' a bit o' interest in me aw'd do different."

    "Whether aw tak' onny interest in thi or not, theaw owt for thi own sake to do better nur theaw art dooin' neaw.  Whotever conta see i' wastin' thi life o' this road?"

    "Aw con see nowt in it, for ther is nowt in it to see except ruination.  Ther's nobody cares whot becomes on me.  Sin' mi mother deed aw've felt that 'oanly.  Sometimes aw should be fain iv aw're deeod misel'.  Aw dunnot think theaw con under stond whot aw feel.  Theaw's a whoam 'at is a whoam.  My whoam is nobbut a place to sleep in.  Theaw'rt a chapel body, an' o yore folk are chapel folk, an' yo'n lots of friends an' are weel thowt on.  Aw'm a 'nowt' an' a nobody."

    "Th' chapel dur's oppen to thee, Fred, an' iv theaw wants to come in folk'll be fain to see thi.  Th' Bible's a oppen book, an' th' good ther is in it is for thee as weel as for me.  It o depends o' thisel'.  Theaw con do weel, an' be weel thowt on, too, iv theaw will.  But folk connot think weel on thi, nor do weel by thi, while theaw art as theaw art, an' theaw knows it."

    "Aw wish aw could see some road o' mendin' misel'."

    "Theaw con mak' a road for thisel' iv theaw will.  Whot dusta want with a woman iv theaw connot mak' a road for thisel'?  Theaw doesn't want a woman to mak' a road for thi an' carry thi ov hur back, surelee?"

    "Aw never thowt o' sitch a thing, Nancy."

    "Aw should think not.  Iv ever aw'm wed aw'st want my husbant to ha' summat abeawt him an' be able to do summat o' some good."

    "Ay, aw reckon he'll ha' to be some fine body or other wi' a lot o' brass."

    "Neaw, Fred, theaw'rt wrang, as far wrang as theaw con get.  Aw've noa hankerin' after a felly wi' a lung purse.  It's character an' brains aw'm thinkin' abeawt.  Sithee, aw'd tak' up with a sober, God-fearin', strivin' chap, wi' a trade in his fingers, an' wed him as soon as he're ready, iv aw lik't him an' aw're sure 'at he lik't me; ay, iv he're as poor as Lazarus.  But whotever am aw chatterin' here for?  It's time aw're awhoam, an' theaw wants noan o' my advice."

    "Yigh, aw do, an' whot's moor, aw'll act on it.  Theaw's done me a kindness to-neet wi' speakin' to me 'at aw'st never be able to pay thi for as lung as aw live."

    "Theaw couldn't pay me better nor bi tryin' to do as aw want thi."

    "Well, consider thisel' paid, then."

    "Aw'll wait an' see."

    "Wilta let me carry thi water to yore house?"

    "Nowe, I winnut.  Iv onnybody seed us, it ud be o through Yewthorpe to-morn 'at we'rn keepin' company, an' we are not; theaw understonds that plain enoof."

    "Wilta shake honds wi' me, then?"

    "Ay, aw'll do that mitch just to encourage thi into better ways."  And the small, shapely hand was readily held out in pure, womanly feeling, and gladly seized by the eager wooer, and passionately kissed.  Then, as if the kiss had stung her, the girl quickly withdrew her hand and gave Fred a sounding smack on his right ear.

    "Tak' that for thi impidence," she cried in angry tones, as with swift step she hurried off homewards, leaving her would-be lover to collect his wits as best he could.

    "Eh, but hoo's a gem," he ejaculated.  "Aw thowt weel on her before aw spoke to hur to-neet, but aw think a theawsand times moor on hur neaw.  Hoo's worth hur weight — nay, there's noa tellin' th' worth ov a good-hearted lass like yond.  An' as for me; well, aw'm a 'nowt.'  Whotever mun aw do?  Whotever's to come on me?" he wailed in self-despair.  Then he fell into a deep reverie, and pondered long and wearily what he should do, and which way he should take.  Good and evil struggled for mastery in his soul, and as yet the issue hung in the balance.

    Silently he entered his loveless home, and made his way up to his bedroom.  Bare and cheerless enough the room looked in the dim candlelight.  Glancing round the room his eyes rested for a moment on an old Bible that lay on the top of the chest of drawers that held his scanty clothing.  It was a book he had not opened for years.  Somehow, he had never thought of it as a book to be read except on a Sunday, and in a school or a place of worship.  He took it up, and as he did so Nancy's image rose in his mind, and her words seemed to ring, in his ears: "Th' Bible's a oppun book, an' th' good ther is in it is for thee as weel as for me."  He began to turn over the leaves in an aimless way, hardly knowing why or what he sought.  It was an old book.  A former owner had made good use of it, and here and there had marked certain passages by heavily underscoring the lines.  His eye caught one of these, and it aroused his attention: "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?  By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word."  Ha! here was his own question, and the answer tor it.  He had promised Nancy he would try to be better, and now he began to see how he was to proceed, and where he would find guidance and help.  Why, he wondered, was Nancy so much better than himself?  And the answer seemed to steal into his heart: Because she has taken this holy book for the guide of her youth, and its precepts have made her what she is — a lovable, true-hearted woman.  He read all through the psalm which had caught his eye.  Here and there like pearls he found petitions which seemed to voice the deepest yearnings of his soul, and precepts which pointed out to him the things he ought to fight against.  At last he closed the book, and a great resolve filled his soul that henceforth the Word of God should be the law of his life, and a great hope filled him with unutterable peace.  He fell asleep, and ever and anon a beautiful vision seemed to flit before his gaze.  He was standing at the foot of a high hill.  All around him lay a beautiful landscape partially hidden in a golden haze.  Half way up the hill he saw Nancy standing as if beckoning him upward.  Above her shone a starry crown whose radiance shone down upon her and lit her face with celestial light.  With shining finger and pleading face she seemed to tell him the crown was his if he would strive to win it.  With eager steps he pressed upward, as he thought, to gain the glorious prize.  The vision passed, but the peace which had come into his heart remained an abiding guest.

    The day after his father was killed in a drunken brawl, and after his burial Fred Grayson left Yewthorpe behind him for ever.



CHAPTER II.


    On Christmas Eve, fifteen years after the events recorded in the previous chapter, a lady sat in a cosy room in a well-appointed villa pleasantly situated outside the busy town of Wolverton.  Three bright, healthy, happy children were in the room.  The eldest, a girl of nine, sat at the piano playing some pleasing airs.  The next, a sturdy boy of seven, lay on the rug trying to tease his younger sister by pulling her doll's hair.  Everything was home-like, and spoke of comfort and refinement.  The eyes of the lady flitted from the group on the rug to the piano; and her fine face was lit with motherly pride as the childish prattle of the youngsters on the rug mingled with the pleasing strains which came from the piano.  This happy wife and mother is our old friend Nancy, who has more than realised the promise of her girlhood, and is now a beautiful and well-proportioned woman.  Shortly after Fred Grayson left Yewthorpe, a young engineer named James Woolmer came to Yewthorpe Mill to set up a new and expensive machine.  He had the good fortune to secure lodgings with Nancy's parents.  At the mill he soon proved himself a capable and ingenious workman, and being good humoured and free spoken he soon made himself at home in Nancy's family.  It did not take him long to fall head over ears in love with Nancy herself; and she, truth to tell, was not slow to find out and reciprocate his affection.  So before he had finished his work at the mill the young folks were engaged, with the freely-given consent of Nancy's parents.  As soon as circumstances permitted they were married, and settled in Wolverton.  By and by, the capable mechanic attracted the attention of his employers and was made a foreman.  Two years later, on the death of the manager, James Woolmer was appointed to fill the vacant post, and under his skilful hands the works increased in magnitude and importance, and as a matter of course his salary increased as well, so that Nancy and her husband soon found themselves in comfortable circumstances.  Wise in her generation, Nancy foresaw that her husband's success in life would impose new duties upon herself, so she early set herself to work and acquired the knowledge and manners which enabled her to fill her new social position with credit to herself and satisfaction to her husband.

    Directly James Woolmer entered the room his wife greeted him with a loving smile, and the children crowded round his feet competing which should have the first kiss.  He was a tall, finely-built, noble-looking man.  The poise of his head and the set of his lips indicated the man of power.  An hour of pleasant games with his children he felt to be the best relaxation he could have for himself, and the evening rapidly sped away, and by the time for the little ones to retire came round they were tired out with their romps and games.

    When alone, husband and wife sat for a time in happy silence.  Then James drew a letter from his pocket, and turning to his wife, he inquired, "Nancy, did you ever know or hear of a young fellow in Yewthorpe called Fred Grayson?"

    "Yes, James.  What makes you ask?"

    "I have a letter here from an old friend of mine who went out to the Indies as missionary about eight years ago, and he has written asking me if I can give him any information about the family of this Fred Grayson he mentions.  I will read you the letter:―


DEAR FRIEND, — I daresay you will think I have forgotten you, but such is not the case, as this letter will prove.  I have often thought I would write you since I came here, but now I have something to write about, and must do so at once if only to ease my own mind.  Some two years ago, a young man named Fred Grayson came out here to assist me in my mission work.  I knew little about him except that he had done exceedingly well at college, and volunteered at the end of his course for foreign service.  Soon after he reached me there was a call for a man to take a distant outpost.  He begged to go, and set out full of hope and courage, for he was brave and fearless and eager to get to the work to which he had devoted his life.  He had not been long at the station before a deadly fever broke out, and he worked night and day ministering to the needs of the poor blacks.  At length, his health broke down and we fetched him back to my place here.  But, alas! he was too far gone to recover.  He lingered for a few days, and in his lucid intervals he often spoke of his early life in a place called Yewthorpe, and he begged me to send his dying message to some lady he called Nancy, to whom he owed a great debt of gratitude for having shown him the error of his ways and turned his feet into the way of life.  "Tell her," he said, "that I took her advice as I promised.  Let her know that I fought my way into the ministry and finally came here, and that my last prayer will be for a blessing to rest on her head."

    He died a triumphant death.  "I know in Whom I have believed, Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of life," he cried in ecstasy, and then he sank into unconsciousness and passed to his reward.  I think you will agree with me that he was a great hero, although he never thought such a thing of himself, for he was one of the humblest men I ever met.  He gave his life to serve the poor blacks among whom he laboured, and added one more to the long list of uncanonised saints.  You will now understand why I feel constrained to write you just HOW.  In one of your rare letters you told me you had married a lady from Yewthorpe, and that you had lived there yourself for some weeks, so I think you will be likely to know the young lady to whom my dead friend's message should be sent.  Just now I am in fair health and overwhelmed with work.  The suffering and poverty of the people here are heart-breaking to behold, but I forbear to say more just at present and await your reply with eager interest.—Yours sincerely,

BERNARD STRONG.


    During the reading of the letter Nancy sat with her face partially covered with her right hand, the tears coursing down her cheeks.

    "I need not seek for the Nancy referred to in this letter, I see.  It is you, my love, is it not?"

    "Yes, James, dear, I have every reason to believe it was myself who spoke to Fred Grayson and begged him to lead a better life.  But I had no idea that my poor words had taken any effect.  He left Yewthorpe before you came to it, and from that time till now I never knew what had become of him.  He spoke to me one night as I was fetching water from the well.  He wanted me to keep company with him.  I flatly refused, but somehow I felt prompted to speak seriously to him about mending his ways.  He pleaded hard for me to give him some hope, but I only gave him good advice, and he seemed bitterly disappointed.  Before I left him he promised me that he would take my advice, but I had little hope of his doing so.  Shortly after his father was killed, and then he went away, and I lost sight of him altogether.  How strange that I should hear of him thus through your friend!  I am glad to know he was true to his word.  How sad that his career of usefulness was so soon cut short!  He called himself a 'nowt,' I remember, but I felt sure that he was capable of great things, and I told him so.  It seems I was right."

    "How surprised my friend, Bernard, will be to learn that my darling wife is the young lady to whom his message should be sent!  Ah, my dear, Fred Grayson is not the only man who has been inspired and uplifted by your wise words.  I, too, owe you a debt of gratitude for the ennobling influence of your life and character, my own sweet wife."

    "Oh, James!"

    "It is true, my dear.  When I came to Yewthorpe and was admitted into your home I soon found that you and your people had something which I lacked.  The open, friendly way in which you treated me won my esteem.  I began to attend chapel at your father's invitation, and so began for me a new and better phase of life.  But your loving, dutiful conduct in the home won my admiration, and you know what followed.  It was a happy Providence that sent me to Yewthorpe and gave me you, my dear.  But for your loving, consistent life I, too, might have been little better to-day than a village 'nowt,' as your friend called himself."

    "Nay, James, you would never have fallen to such a low level, I feel sure."

    "I was young and thoughtless enough for anything in those days, my dear.  But happily I found you, and your hand drew me into the right path at the right time.  It was well for Fred Grayson that you spoke to him when you did.  It was well for me that I met and won you before I had time to drift away into indifference and folly.  Ever since I read my friend Bernard's letter the words of the wise man of old have made music in my heart: 'A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.'"

December, 19o5.


――――♦――――

 
CUPID IN A COUNTING-HOUSE.


WHAT a mysterious thing is love!  How strangely it enters into and changes the whole current of human lives!  Like the wind, it seems to come as it lists, and no human wisdom can unravel the mystery of its coming.  We see its effects, but love itself is inscrutable.

    One Saturday morning, many years ago, in the quaint country town of Brierlee, a curious bit of comedy was enacted in the counting-house of James Redfield, insurance and general agent, the actors being James himself, and the object of his secret devotion, Ada Alston, an old acquaintance who not infrequently came into his office to do business with him.  James was well over 3o, and Ada was close upon that age.  She was a comely, sweet-looking woman, with eyes as blue as the skies; and the usual expression on her face suggested that hers was


A heart at leisure from itself
To soothe and sympathise.


    Up to a few weeks before our story opens, James had never been in love.  In his early manhood he had lost both parents and been thrown on his own resources.  Quietly and steadily he had worked up a good connection and made a reputation among his fellows for straightforwardness and sound business capability.  Ada had, in the phraseology of the villagers, "kept herself to herself."  But not in selfish stand-offishness, for no one was more ready to render neighbourly help to the sick or give more effective sympathy to those in any kind of distress.  Both James and Ada were plain and homely in dress and language.  Neither of them to outward appearance seemed likely subjects of Cupid.  But their time had come, though at the moment one of them was not aware of it.

    Ada was in a small business of her own, and lived with a married sister.  On the morning of our story she had received a cheque which was badly drawn, and in accordance with her usual custom when in a business difficulty she called upon James at his counting-house to see if he could cash it for her.  With her mind full of her perplexity she bent over the counter to explain her business, when she was startled by his suddenly snatching a kiss from her lips.

    "Whot hasta done that for?  Whot dusta tak' me for?" she cried, in hot, indignant tones, her sweet face suffused with a fiery red.

    "Aw'll tak' thi for mi wife, iv theaw'll ha' me," James blurted out, astonished at his own temerity.

    "Aw didn't think theaw'd ha' done sitch a trick.  Sithee, iv aw'd a foire-potter here aw'd lay it abeawt thi yed."

    "Forgie me, Ada, aw shouldn't ha' done it," James said, penitently.  "Aw'm makkin' a bad start, aw see; puttin' th' cart afore th' horse, like.  Aw should have axed thi furst, an' then kussed thi when theaw'd gan thi consent.  Well, Ada, here's th' foire-potter, an' theaw con ha' thi fling at me," and he handed a poker to the astonished and half-bewildered woman, saying as he did so: "It's thy turn neaw to put th' cart afore th' horse.  Th' owd seyin' has it, 'A kuss for a blow'; theaw con gie me a blow for a kuss to put us straight agen."

    "Nay, James, aw winnot.  Gie me mi change, an' aw'll be off."

    James handed over the money, and remarked as he did so "Aw'st co' at yore heawse, Ada, to-neet at seven o'clock, an' explain misel'."

    Without a word the angry woman took up her money and was gone, but the flash of her indignant eyes made James Redfield very uncomfortable, for he realised that he had given needless offence to the woman he loved, and so had jeopardised his suit.  But he made up his mind to lose no time in bringing matters to an issue, so just as the church clock was striking seven he presented himself at the door of Ada's home and was quietly admitted to her little sitting-room, where he stood for a moment wondering what to say.

    "Theaw con sit thi deawn, aw guess," Ada said, tartly.  James seated himself and began his explanation, and speaking in great earnestness, he said:

    "Aw'm come to tell thi heaw sooary aw am 'at aw vex't thi as aw did this mornin'.  Someheaw, it seemed as iv aw couldn't help it.  Aw've thowt a deeol abeawt thi o' late ― whot a good woman theaw art; heaw helpful an' gradely theaw art wi' everybody, an' mak's noa fuss abeawt it.  Just at th' minute aw kussed thi, o theaw art as a woman seemed to flash into mi mind, an' th' sweet expression o' thi face drew me towards thi."

    "But theaw shouldn't ha' kussed me.  It wur that 'at hurt me.  That's just th' road some fellys carry on 'at are noa better nur thi should be.  They'n kuss an' cuddle onny woman 'at'll let 'em, an' then mak' scorn on hur when hur back's turned, an' think leetly by hur.  Aw've never gan thee occasion to think at aw're careless abeawt misel', have aw?"

    "Just the very opposite ov o that, Ada, lass.  Believe me, it wur thi sweetness 'at drew me, an' as for hurtin' thi feelin's, nowt could be fur fro' mi thowts."

    "Whot didta act as theaw did for, then?"

    "Aw tell thi aw'd noa ill thowt i' mi mind.  Heaw mun aw mak thi understond?  Didta ever kuss a little choilt?"

    "Ay, aw've kussed monny a one, an' shall do agen iv aw've a chonce."

    "Whot for?"

    "Becose they're sweet and bonnie."

    "Well, aw kussed thee wi' summat same sooart ov a feelin', an' aw connut feel ashamed o' th' feelin', though aw'm sorry for th' act; becose it's hurt thi, aw see.  Neaw then, aw've oppen't mi heart to thi, wilta forgie me?"

    "Well, James, whot theaw seys, an' th' way theaw seys it, compels me to forgie thi, for aw reckon 'at a gradely mon's a right to love a woman, an' to tell hur soa, too, an' then it's for hur to sey 'ay' or 'nowe,' as hoo feels."

    "Theaw'rt reet, Ada, an' neaw aw've said mi sey an' agen aw ax thi — Wilta be mi wife?"

    "Arta sure o' thisel', James?"

    "Ay, Ada, as sure as aw am 'at aw'm alive, aw'm sure 'at aw love thi same as a mon should love a woman when he axes hur to be his wife."

    "Well, then, aw'll consider abeawt it."

    "For heaw lung, Ada?"

    "Whot a hurry theaw'rt in!  Heaw lung has theaw bin thinkin' abeawt me, James?"

    "For weeks an' weeks."

    "Well, then, aw've a right to consider it o'er for as lung, haven't aw?"

    "Theaw has, lass, but ――"

    "But whot?"

    "Aw dunnot like beein' kept i' otty-motty soa lung."

    "But, James, aw mun ha' time, full time, to read mi own mind.  An' theaw munnut keep botherin' me, think on.  Let this matter lie between us two.  Neaw theaw doesn't need to look soa glum abeawt it.  Love kindles love, sometimes.  Let's wait an' see iv thine con kindle mine."

    "An' then whot?"

    "Iv it does aw'll tell thi."

    "An' theaw'rt sure theaw's forgan me?"

    "Aw con do noa less after whot theaw's said, an' neaw we'n sey good-neet"; and so they parted.

    Once or twice a week for a month Ada came into her sweetheart's office as usual, and passed out again without giving him the slightest clue to her feelings.  At the month end James could no longer help putting the question with his eyes that was trembling on his lips, so when next she entered their eyes met, and this time her sweet face was turned towards him in full and frank surrender.


October, 19o9.

――――♦――――

 
A WITCH I' CLOGS.


SOME forty years ago, three young bumpkins stood at the top of the main street of the village of Oakville, leaning idly against the gable of a public-house, locally known as "King Corner."  The time was about seven in the evening, early in December.  Frozen snow lay crisp and thick on the ground, clothing the landscape in a weird beauty as it lay bathed in a flood of clear moonlight.  Directly, the patter of a pair of dainty clogs was heard on the flags, and a young woman of medium height, supple form, and erect carriage, swept rapidly past the lazy group as if unconscious of their existence, though every one of them was well known to her, and they knew it.  The poise of her head, and the expression of her face, betokened a tender yet self-reliant nature.

    "Hoo's nobbut a weighvur lass, but hoo's a preawd madam, yond," said Jimmy, a young blacksmith, wiping his grimy face on his grimier coat sleeve.  "A witch i' clogs."

    "Ay, hoo thinks summat ov hursel', for sure," muttered Dick, a young weaver, as he strained his eyes watching the fast-disappearing figure.

    "Eh! but hoo's a good sooart, as whot yo' sen," broke in Dan, the village carpenter, with a note of defiance in his voice.

    "Weh, whot does theaw know abeawt hur.  Theaw's noan bin snifterin' after hur, hasta?"

    "Nowe, but it's weel known 'at booath o' yo' two han tried hard to get thick wi' hur, an' couldn't."

    "An' it's pratty weel known 'at theaw durn't even try," replied Jimmy, who was nettled at this homethrust of Dan's.

    "Darn't aw?" said Dan, trying to put a bold face on the matter.

    "Nowe, but theaw wants hur bad enoof, aw con tell bi th' way theaw watches hur fro' pillar to post."

    "Theaw'rt measurin' a peck eawt o' thi own seck neaw, Jimmy.  Whot do aw care abeawt hur?"

    "Theaw cares a lot, aw tell thi, but theaw'rt short o' pluck.  Theaw dursn't goa after hur to save thi life.  Hoo's gone to hur Aunt Sarah's i' th' Little Fowd, an' aw'll bet thee a creawnpiece 'at theaw darn't follow hur an' offer to see hur back whoam."

    "Stake up like a mon," said Dan, in reply.  Jimmy at once held out his money.  "Here Dick," he said, "theaw mum howd th' stakes, lad, an' see fair play."

    "O reet," said Dick, as he pocketed the bets.

    "Neaw then, Jimmy, let's ha' this job fixed up straight," said Dan, bracing himself up to his task.  "If aw follow Nancy an' bring hur back whoam to-neet, aw'st ha' won."

    "Ay.  But mind, theaw mun be at th' side on hur.  Noo skulkin' at th' back on hur; theaw mun be walkin' at th' side on hur like a mon, talkin' to hur, an' hur talkin' back to thee when yo' passen this road back."

    "Agreed on," said Dan, and he set off at a brisk pace, as if he had no misgivings as to his success; but, truth to tell, his heart was beating a good deal faster than usual, and as soon as he thought he was out of sight of his mates he slackened his pace, wondering not a little at his temerity, and speculating ruefully upon the reception which Nancy would give him.

    By and by he reached the house where Nancy's aunt resided, and slunk away into the shade of a few trees close by the road to wait for her coming.

    Directly, he heard the door opened, and Nancy's quick step on the footway warned him that she had begun her homeward journey.  Mustering all his courage, Dan stepped out into the roadway and bade her "Good-neet."

    "Whot arta after, Dan?" Nancy asked, in a sharp tone.

    "Aw'm after thee, lass."

    "Nowt o' th' sooart, theaw silly cleawn.  Keep thi distance.  Aw need noan o' thy company; aw con tak' care o' misel'."

    "Happen soa, Nancy; but theaw sees it's gettin' a bit latish on, an' this is a lonely road, an' soa aw thowt aw'd come an' see thi safe back to yore heawse."

    "Theaw'd noa need to put thisel' abeawt like this for nowt."

    "But it isn't for nowt.  Aw'st be weel paid iv theaw'll just let me tak' thi whoam.  Eh! woman, it's worth a lot just to look at thi, an' yer th' music o' thi little tung."

    "Neaw then, aw want noather thee nur thi soft tales; soa theaw con be off wi' thi, an' good shuttance."

    "Whot for?  Whot have aw dun wrang for thi?"

    "Nay, but whot hasta dun reet?  Whot use arta i' Oakville, thinksta?"

    "Well, aw'm co'ed a dacent hand at mi trade.  Aw con oather mak' or mend wi' onny joiner abeawt here, shusheaw."

    "Well, that's o reet as far as it gooas.  But whot conta do beside?  It seems to me 'at it tak's o thi spare time to prop th' end o' th' King Corner up.  Is it worth th' trouble, thinksta?  Neaw keep thi distance, aw tell thi," and so saying, she drew about two yards away from her eager wooer, who, now that the ice was broken, seemed inclined to come to close quarters.

    "Well, iv theaw'll keep company aw'll give o'er gooin' nee th' King Corner.  Aw'd raythur be wi' thee, mi bonny lass, a lot."

    "Soa theaw seys, but aw tak' little notice o' sitch tales.  A young chap like thee owt to be shappin' different fro' whot theaw art dooin', let me tell thi."

    "Shappin' different!  Whot doesta meon, Nancy?"

    "Well, is ther nowt 'at wants doin' i' Oakville, thinksta, nobbut keepin' th' King Corner end up?  Is ther noa neet skoo' theaw could goa to?  Noa Sunday skoo' where theaw could mak' thisel' o' some use?  Noa debatin' class theaw could attend an' try to mak' thisel' fit for dooin' summat towards makin' th' village better nur it is?"

    "Yigh, ther's o thoose things, aw darsey, but they're nowt mitch i' mi line."

    "That's it, thy line seems to be makin' thi spare time away for noa good oather to thisel' or onnybody else."

    "But, Nancy, whot con aw do?"

    "Do!  Well, iv aw're a young felly like thee, aw should look forrud to beein' o' some use, oather on th' store committee, th' district ceawnsil, or i' th' Sunday skoo'.  Happen o three on 'em iv aw'd th' chance.  In fact, aw'd try to be a gradely mon, an' nut a nowmon like thee."

    "Well, Nancy, to tell thee th' truth, aw've awlus thowt sitch things as thoose wur'n eawt o' mi reytch."

    "But they dunnut need to be.  A chap 'at's brains enoof to mak' a good joiner has brains enoof to be useful i' other ways.  But aw guess theaw thinks it a more monly thing to spend thi loose time rear't agen a aleheawse-end, or slotchin' an' drinkin' inside, nur it would be to be dooin' summat for th' public good."

    "Nowt o' th' sooart, Nancy.  Aw dunnut goa into th' public-heawse once a month."

    "Well, that's once too oft for mi likin".  Aw'm havin' nowt to do with a chap 'at drinks, soa theaw con be off.  Aw've seen too mitch o' that sooart o' wark to tak' onny risks."  And then, with a sudden movement, she bounced aside and disappeared down a side street, leaving Dan alone to ponder over the rating she had given him.

    Up to this point he had hoped that Nancy would keep up their conversation till they should pass King Corner, so that he would win his bet; but now this hope was dashed, so he turned his face homeward, smiling grimly to himself as he thought of his mates watching vainly for his return.

    He retired to bed, wishing to be alone, and pondered deeply over what Nancy had said to him; and the more he thought, the more he felt constrained to own that she was right.  His parents had both died before he reached manhood, and he had kept his home together after a fashion by the aid of an old woman as housekeeper, who never seemed to think he did wrong unless he hurt himself.  Had his mother lived, things would have been different.  She would have encouraged him to make the most of himself.  Why, he asked himself, should he not try to become such a man as Nancy had pictured?  Surely, it would be better for him to make the attempt, and if he did, perhaps — perhaps.  Ah, but then Nancy had given him no reason to hope that she could ever care for him; and musing thus, he fell into a troubled sleep.

    The day after, Dan went about his work in such a pre-occupied fashion, that his foreman — a fatherly old man who had trained him at his craft — began to inquire what was amiss with him, and gradually drew from him a full account of his encounter with Nancy the night before.

    "Well," the old man said; "aw'm noan a bit cap't at whot hoo said, nur theaw wouldn't be iv theaw knew o 'at that family's suffer't through drink.  Hoo's reet, mon.  Iv theaw wants a woman like hur, theaw should try to desarve hur, an' do as hoo wants thi."

    "But aw'm noa drinker.  Whot should hoo be soa particular for?"

    "Dan, lad, a good woman like Nancy's a right to be careful whoa hoo tak's for a husbant.  But aw've summat to tell thi; theaw knew Jim Burrows 'at went o'er to Frodham an' set up joinerin' for hissel', some yers back?"

    "Ay, aw did," said Dan.

    "Well, aw seed him last neet, an' he's wantin' a good o-reawnd mon like thee.  He'll gie thi moor wage nur theaw'rt gettin' here; an' ther's a good neet skoo' i' th' teawn wheer theaw could larn buildin' construction an' sitchlike, an' mak' thisel' fit to be oather a manager or a mestur.  Aw'd never a chance; when aw're yung even mesturs could hardly get to larn sitchlike things, let alone men.  But neaw things are different.  An' beside, between thee an' me an' th' bench top, in a toothri yer eawr owd mestur here ull be givin' o'er, aw expect, an' iv theaw wur fit th' business met find it road into thy honds."

    "But aw've noa brass to buy a business like this."

    "But theaw's brains, an' theaw'rt honest, an' soa th' brass con be shapped when th' time comes," said the old man, meaningly.  "Arta willin' to goa an' try to mak' a mon o' thisel', as Nancy towd thi?"

    "Aw will, John, an' thank yo' for tellin' me."



    Five busy years past, and Dan, profiting by his old friend's advice, had indeed made a man of himself.  By his diligent and intelligent application to his work he won the confidence of his master, and soon found his foot on the first rung of the ladder; and at night, by careful, plodding, persistent study, he mastered the principles of building construction and the mysteries of contracting, and in due time was appointed manager with a good salary.  Not very long after this he was invited by his old master to take charge of the whole of his business; and so he came to Oakville practically to be his own master.

    Early in December, one moonlight evening he set out for a brisk walk on a road that led past Nancy's cottage — a little old-fashioned farmstead, half hidden by a clump of trees and enclosed from the highway by a high hedge.  As he passed, he caught a glimpse of Nancy busy washing the windows.  Her dress was pinned up behind, and her sleeves rolled up to the elbows, revealing a pair of shapely arms.

    "A witch i' clogs,' little Jimmy, th' blacksmith, co'ed her," he mused.  "Well, he're abeawt reet.  Whot a bewitchin' way hoo has o' dooin' a bit ov a common job like that.  But it's like hur, bless hur; hoo's a lot bonnier nur hoo wur that neet when hoo blacked me soa weel.  Well, well, it did me a world o' good.  An' hoo's noa dreeomin', tea-an'-toast, stuck-up miss, but a gradely, whoamly, helpful, nayborly body.  Poorly folk, an' old folk, an' folk 'at are i' onny trouble seem to turn to hur same as a fleawer turns to th' sun, for ther's healin' i' th' touch ov hur gentle honds, an' comfort i' th' seawnd ov hur voice."

    All unconscious of the secret watcher, Nancy went deftly on with her work, and directly it was finished she went in and closed the door.

    Dan turned and resumed his walk, longing in his heart to go back and seek an interview with Nancy; but the memory of their last meeting was still fresh in his mind, and he shrank from doing so.  Life would be better worth living with a woman like Nancy for a wife.  But how could he hope to win her?  How, indeed!

    Just then, he was startled by the screams of frightened women and the shouts of excited men, and he saw that a pair of horses were tearing madly along the road toward where he stood, dragging a large waggonette behind them full of people, who seemed to be scared out of their wits.  In a flash he seized the reins, but was overborne by the frantic beasts, and then — darkness and oblivion.

    When he recovered consciousness he found himself in a low-ceilinged, old-fashioned room, in a cosy bed.  Sprigs of holly glistened here and there over the pictures, the window, and the fireplace.  On a table close by him was a vase full of flowers.  By and by, memory woke up.  He recalled watching Nancy clean the windows, and his sudden attempt to stop the runaway horses, and then all became a blank.  Where was he?  What had happened to him?

    Just then he heard the rustle of a soft dress.  A pair of kind eyes looked into his, and seemed to read his heart.  A gentle voice said: "Lie still; you must not talk yet.  You were hurt in the accident, and were brought here at my request.  You must be very quiet, and try to get well."  The music of the voice soothed him, and he dozed off into a long dreamy slumber, in which the faces of his dead mother and Nancy came and went in a strange mixture of music and flowers.

    When he woke again he was much better, and he learned, to his astonishment, that for two weeks he had been an inmate of Nancy's cottage, and that she had nursed him all that time along with his old housekeeper. Before long he gained sufficient strength to get up and go about, and one afternoon his housekeeper went out for a walk, leaving him alone with Nancy, who still persisted in treating him as if he was a helpless invalid; and as she stood near him with a cup of beef tea, he took it and sipped it as he was told to do, gazing ever and anon into the fire, until he found his tongue. "Nancy, may I ask you again to ――― to ―――"

    She bent a comprehending look upon him, their eyes met, then their lips, and then he knew that God had given him the desire of his heart.


February, 19o8.


 
LOVE IN A LOOMGATE.

CHAPTER I.


"JENNY, wilta meet me to-neet at th' top o'th' Lee abeawt seven o'clock?"

    "Aw'll see," hastily replied the girl; "but be off wi' thi, th' young mestur's comin'."

    "Aw've seen him, let him come.  Aw care nowt abeawt him."

    "Is it the loom or the weaver that's out of gear?" inquired the young master with a leering, scornful glance at the frightened girl; "I notice that you have made a good deal of time in this loomgate, recently, Allen."

    "Aw've made noa moor nur wur needed," answered the young man, hotly.  "Aw know my wark, an' aw con do it beawt havin' to be watched fro' pillar to post bi a know-nowt like thee."

    "I want none of your impudence, young man.  It will pay you to keep a civil tongue in your head."

    "An' aw want noan o' yore scorn, an' whot's moor aw'll ha' noan on it.  Aw con get mi livin' somewheer else; an' aw'm dooin' nowt noa moor here.  Aw'll give o'er o' Seturday."

    "You can give up now if you like.  We can manage without you.  If we happen to get fast we'll let you know," replied the young master, disdainfully.

    "Pay me up, then, an' aw'll goa this minute," said the young loom jobber, as he picked up his tools and walked off towards the office.

    Jenny heard all this with white, drawn face, showing clearly enough how keenly she felt her position.

    At this point we must pause to explain that our little story opens at Greystone Mill in Fernyfield, a small manufacturing town on the borders of Lancashire and Yorkshire; the hour, shortly before stopping time one Monday night early in spring.  The actors are Allen Lee, a clever young loom jobber, and Jenny Grey, a bright and winsome weaver lass under his oversight; and the master's son, a young fellow with nothing to commend him to our notice beyond an over-weening sense of his own self-importance.

    True to her promise, Jenny slipped out of the house about seven o'clock, unnoticed, and found Allen at his post impatiently pacing to and fro.

    "Whot didta get into sitch a passion at th' young mestur for?  Theaw knows 'at theaw's made a' lot o' time at my looms o' late."

    "Ay, an' theaw knows 'at they needed it.  They'n bin neglected.  Dusta, conta blame me for tryin' to get 'em reet?" hotly asked the young man.

    "Neaw, Allen, dunnot get into a passion at me.  Iv theaw does aw'st be sooary aw've come.  Aw'll goa back."

    "But theaw munnot goa back, Jenny," said Allen, humbly.  "Do have a bit o' sympathy wi' me.  Aw'm gradely pottert, an' aw want somebody to oppun mi mind to, somebody to put me reet.  But as for me leovin' th' mill, that wur bund to come, for aw've known 'at aw're i'th' road for some time."

    "I'th' road, Allen!  Who on, lad?  Surely, theaw must be dreomin'; for theaw con do thi wark as well as onnybody."

    "Ay, aw know that; but, then, doesn'ta know 'at th' manager's lass has started o' cooartin' wi' Jim Howston? an' Jim's bin tryin' to get on as a jobber at Greystone Mill for yers, an' couldn't, for he'd noa shap at th' job in him.  But neaw he's ta'en up wi' Nan o' Crooks, things are different.  Owd Crook, th' manager, is noa friend o' mine, an' never has bin.  He didn't like me bein' put on to help him, an' aw'll bet he's bin stuffin' th' young mestur wi' some sooart o' lies whot made him talk as he did this afternoon?

    "But, Allen, theaw shouldn't ha' flown up as theaw did, lad!"

    "Aw couldn't help it, Jenny.  When he threw eawt his scorn at thee aw could ha' liked to ha' knock't him deawn on th' spot."

    "But theaw shouldn't ha' thrown thisel' eawt o' wark for th' sake o' me.  Theaw knows heaw hard it is to get a shop like thine."

    "Aw'd do a lot moor nur that for th' sake o' thee, Jenny, liv theaw'd nobbut promise to ha' me when aw've getten on a bit.  But aw guess aw'm noane good enough for thi?  Yore folk are o shopkeepers, an' they'n look deawn at me becose if aw'm nobbut a millhand."

    "Eh, Allen, heaw silly theaw talks."

    "But yore Joe's a churchwarden an' runs th' Post Office, an' keeps a big pappur shop."

    "Ay, Allen, he's o that, but aw'll tell thi whot, judgin' fro' eawr folk's experience aw'd raythur wed a mon wi' a regular wage, iv it wur nobbut four-and-twenty shillin' a week, nur tak' a little shopkeeper on, for they never known gradely whot ther income is.  Tak' eawr Joe for a sample, as theaw's mentioned him.  He gets abeawt twelve shillin' a week for his Post Office wark, an' look whot heawrs he has to mak' for that bit o' brass."

    "Ay, but look whot a lot o' pappurs he sells!"

    "An' whot does that bring in, thinksta?  Suppose he could sell eight dozen pappurs every day an' get paid for 'em, he'd happen mak' another twelve shillin' ov hard-addled brass.  Aw con tell thi, lad, 'at iv he didn't manage to pick up a toothri shillin' neaw an' then bi other things they'd ha' to go short o' monny a thing they ought to have."

    "Well, Jenny, but theaw caps me above a bit.  Aw'd noa idea 'at keepin' a shop wur sitch a poor trade as theaw seys it is."

    "But aw know to mi sorrow, for when aw're a little wench eawr folk wur'n shopkeepers an' aw went to bed beawt supper, an' had dry bread, an' tea beawt sugar an' milk to my breakfast, lots o' times when trade wur slack, for eawr folks hated to run i' debt.  Soa when aw geet owd enough to think for misel', an' made up my mind 'at aw'd wed noa shopkeeper iv aw could help it.  Give me a mon wi' a regular wage iv it's nobbut a little un, an' then aw'st know whot aw ha' to do on, aw'll mak' it do or know aw connut."

    "But look at th' co-operative stores heaw weel they done."

    "Well, theaw yorney!  Connut theaw see 'at they han o th' best o' th' customers, an' o t'other shopkeepers han tor put up wi' whot they con catch?  Nut 'at aw'm grumblin' at that, mind, for folk han a right to buy in where they'n a mind.  Iv ever aw'm wed aw'st goa to th' stores for my stuff, for aw con see it's a good thing for poor folk.  They keep good articles at th' same prices as other shops, an' that dividend every quarter helps folk up a lot."

    "Jenny, iv theaw'll ha' me theaw con do as theaw likes abeawt everythin' belongin' to th' heawsekeeper.  Come, what seysta?"

    "Aw con sey nowt, nobbut 'at aw'm sooary theaw's getten thisel' i' bother wi' th' young mestur an' lost thi shop partly through me.  Aw connut promise misel' to thee, Allen, for to be honest wi' thi, lad, aw dunnut fancy that hasty temper o' thine for one thing, an' aw'm noa weddin' goods."

    "Heaw's that, Jenny?"

    "Well, eawr folk are gettin' i' yers, an' they needen booath me an' o aw con addle.  Soa iv aw liked thi, which aw dunnut do yet, aw couldn't wed thi nobody knows when.  Soa whot would be th' good o' takkin' thi on?"

    "This good, Jenny, 'at iv theaw liked me an' would promise thisel' to me aw should be a better mon through it.  The very thowt 'at aw'd th' love ov a good woman like thee would be like a religion to me, an' help me to try to be fit to ha' thi for mi own.  Aw'd wait for thi, lass, till theaw wur ready, ay, iv it wur twenty yer to come."

    "But, Allen, isn't goodness an' gradely livin' worth strivin' after for its own sake, thinksta?  Tak' my advice, lad.  Put me eawt o' thi yed, but do try to be a steady, God-fearin', i useful mon, an' theaw'll find 'at that'll satisfy thi same as nowt else con."

    "Then theaw'll nut gie me onny hope, nowt to look forward to?"

    "Allen, aw've towd thi th' honest truth, an' aw'll promise nowt, at leeost nut neaw.  Iv in a toothri yer fro' this theaw'rt still i' th' same mind as theaw seys theaw art neaw well, theaw con speyk agen, aw'st gie thi noa sauce.  Aw hope theaw'll soon get a good shop, an' geet on weel, an' do as a gradely mon should.  Good-neet to thi!"

    "Thank thi, Jenny, theaw'rt a good-hearted lass, bless thi.  Aw'll win thi yet, see iv aw dunnut.  Good-neet!"

    Early the morning after, as Jenny was entering the mill yard, she was startled and horrified to hear that the young master had been found with his skull smashed late the night before, close to the spot where she had met Allen Lee.  Then she gathered from Allen's sister that he had gone away by the first train that morning without saying where he was bound.  The news stunned Jenny.  "What had happened?" she asked herself.  Had Allen and the young master met there and quarrelled again?  Had the hot-tempered Allen suddenly killed his master and run away from the consequences of his rash act?  If so, would she be dragged into the terrible affair and have to describe the angry scene in her loomgate the night before?  She fervently hoped not, and she promptly decided not to say anything unless compelled to do so.  In the inquiry that followed nothing transpired to connect the crime with Allen Lee.  Except Jenny, no one knew that he had been near the fatal spot on the night of the murder, and as to his leaving the mill, the fact that Jim Howston was put in his place was explanation enough for the workpeople, who were not slow in drawing their own conclusions.



CHAPTER II.


    Four years passed and Jenny heard nothing of Allen Lee, and knew nothing of his whereabouts.  The death of her parents broke up her home, and she decided to leave her native place.  Hearing that weavers were wanted in the Yorkshire town of Colnfield, she took train there and applied for work at the first mill she came to after leaving the station.  She was at once admitted into the manager's office, and was thunderstruck to find herself face to face once more with Allen Lee.

    "Is that thee, Jenny?" he asked, in astonishment.

    "Ay, it's me, Allen.  But aw'll goa away.  This is noa place for me."

    "Whot for, Jenny?"

    "Conta ax after whot theaw did that neet after aw left thi?"

    "Well, whot happened?  Aw'm fast whot theaw meeons."

    "Whot abeawt th' young mestur beein' killed?  Eh, Allen, aw mun speyk neaw?"

    "Well, Jenny, lass, aw never seed oather top or tail on him after aw left th' mill, soa aw'd nowt to do wi' his deeoth."

    "Thank God for that, Allen.  Eh, lad, aw're feeort 'at yo'd met i' th' dark, an' 'at in a sudden fit ov passion theaw'd done for him, an' run away eawt o' th' road."

    "When aw set off that morning aw knew nowt abeawt whot had happened the neet afore.  Aw left whoam i' th' way aw did soas folk wouldn't ax me soa monny questions an' mak' soa monny remarks.  Aw towd thi Jim Howston would be put i' my shop, didn't aw?"

    "Ay, theaw wur reet, it seems.  But who ever wur it 'at killed th' young mestur, thinksta?"

    "Didta know Polly Snell?"

    "Ay, of course aw did."

    "Doesta remember hur gooin' away suddenly, an' o hur tribe, abeawt a week afore aw left Fernyfield?"

    "Ay, neaw aw bethink me, aw do.  But whot abeawt it?"

    "Well, th' young mestur had getten hur i' trouble, an' hur brother, Jack, vowed 'at he'd kill him th' furst time he let on him bi hissel', an' aw passed him up th' Lee as aw're gooin' whoam after we parted.  Aw know nowt noa more, nobbut 'at he're never seen or yerd on after that neet.  Whot becoom on him nobody knows.  Aw've never blown breath on it to a livin' soul afore, for aw could see noa good to be done by speykin'.  But aw con trust thee, Jenny, to keep whot aw'ver said to thisel'."

    "Oh, aw'll sey nowt, theaw con be sure o' that."

    "An' theaw'rt single yet, Jenny?"

    "An' soa am I.  Yore folk are deeod, aw guess, or else theaw wouldn't be here?"

    "Ay, aw'm left to misel'."

    "Well, aw'm fain to see thee.  Theaw starts here i'th' mornin', think on.  Hasta getten lodgin's?"

    "Nut yet."

    "Well, goa into th' weighvin' shed an' ax for Fanny Horsfall.  Hoo's a gradely, motherly body.  Tell hur aw've sent thi to see iv hoo con accommodate thi.  Hoo'll see thee reet."

    Jenny Grey soon made herself at home in Colnfield, and won the respect and confidence of her workmates.  Clever, good-natured, and helpful, she seemed to bring sunshine into the hearts of those about her.  What wonder if they in return reflected back upon her life something of her own inimitable charm?  She soon learned from the conversation of those about her that Allen Lee was a changed man.  At the mill he was trusted by his master and respected by the workers.  His leisure time was devoted mainly to co-operative and Sunday school work, and the fiery temper which formerly she so much dreaded she now discovered to be under the strong control of sober judgment, so her heart began to go out towards him, and sometimes when alone she dreamt dreams of what might be if ― but at this point she always pulled herself up sharply and decided to wait the issue of events.

    Weeks passed into months, and Allen Lee showed no sign of renewing his suit, and Jenny began to wonder if the love she had refused would never again be offered.  Allen, on his part, was half afraid of another refusal, and so held back the words that often rose to his lips whenever he saw her alone.  But one day a fearful accident occurred which broke through their reserve.  A young weaver, who had only just begun to work, was caught by the strap while in the act of cleaning with the loom running, and was carried over the driving shaft and killed on the spot.  One of the hands ran against Allen as he was entering the shed, and cried out that the new weaver was killed.  Allen jumped to the conclusion that it was Jenny, and stood stupefied; then he ordered the engines to be stopped, and nerving himself for the worst went into the room, where he was greatly relieved to find Jenny busy trying to compose her horrified workmates.

    "Heaw did this happen?" he asked.

    "Hoo wur cleonin' wi' th' loom on," replied one of the girls.

    "Heaw oft have aw towd yo' nut to do it?" he said, sternly.  Then as he caught sight of the grey corpse he reeled over against Jenny's loom and would have fallen but for her quick steadying hand laid against his shoulder.

    "Arta ill, Allen?" Jenny said, an undertone of tender solicitude thrilling in her voice.

    "Nowe, but aw'm upset.  We'n never had a job o' this sooart afore, an' this wouldn't ha' happen't iv that poor lass had nobbut done as hoo're towd."

    Recovering himself, he gave directions for the removal of the body and dismissed the workpeople for the day.  As Jenny was passing out on her way homewards he motioned her aside and whispered:

    "Con aw come a-seein' thi to-neet?"

    "Ay, iv theaw wants."

    "Conta gie me onny hope?"

    "Theaw con come an' see."

    And the smile that accompanied the words told Allen Lee that his suit was almost as good as won.


June, 191o.


――――♦――――

 
NOBBUT A WEIGHVUR.
A VILLAGE TDYLL.


"SALLY, wilta do me a favour?"

    "Ay, two, if theaw wants.  Whot for?"

    "Wilta speyk a good word for me to Sarah Jane?"

    "A mon should do his own courtin', Sam."

    "Well, aw've tried three or four times to get hur to sey summat gradely, but aw couldn't mak' oather top or tail end ov owt 'at hoo said."

    "Theaw has axed hur, then?"

    "Ay, but aw met as weel ha' whistl't to th' hens."

    "Well, theaw doesn't expect a woman to jump at thi as soon as theaw oppuns thi meawth, doesta?  Theaw'rt noan sitch a big catch as o that, arta, Sam?"

    "Neaw, Sally, that isn't a bit like thee.  Arta vex't at me, lass?"

    "Nowe, aw'm noan vex't; but aw'm gradely cap't for o that."

    "Cap't, Sally!  Whot at, preythi?"

    "Well, to be straight wi' thi, aw'm cap't wi' thee axin' Sarah Jane; an' aw'm cap't at hur refusin' thi; for that's whot it comes to, or else theaw'd ha' noa need to ax me to speyk up for thi."

    "But aw con see nowt to be cap't at."

    "Eh, Sam, theaw'rt a bigger foo' nur aw took thi to be."

    "Aw am a foo', Sally, aw'll own to it; but wilta do whot aw've ax't thi to do?"

    "Aw will, Sam, honour bright.  Aw'll do as weel by thi as if theaw wur mi own brother.  Aw con sey noa fairer, con aw?"

    "Thank thi, Sally, aw knew aw could trust thi; theaw wur awlus a good sooart."

    "Aw want noan o' thi thanks.  Away wi' thi to thi baggin', lad, an' dunnot moither thisel' abeawt this job; ther's as good fish i'th say as ever wur catch't, mon."

    The speakers in the foregoing little dialogue were Sam Dicken, a young weaver of some twenty-two summers, and Sally Gray, a bright, winsome lass, about two years his junior.  The two might have been seen one summer evening, after their return from the mill, standing in earnest conversation over the garden wall which stood between the cottages in which they had grown up from childhood.  They had always been chums.  But of late they had seen little of each other, for Sam had taken to haunting the field-path that led to the farm where Sarah Jane Grenfel lived with her parents; and Sally, for reasons of her own, had spent much of her spare time endeavouring to stifle, in a round of household duties, a heart-ache which she would scarcely own to having, even to herself.

    Until recently, Sally Gray and Sarah Jane Grenfel had been companions; but when Sally noted that Sam wanted to have Sarah Jane to himself, she began to contrive excuses for leaving them together.  She soon guessed what Sam was up to, but she was uncertain as to what Sarah Jane thought of the matter.

    On the night of our story, directly tea was over, Sally's mother asked her to go into the village with a message to a friend, and on her return she accidentally met Sarah Jane, and they were soon chatting freely.  During a slight pause, Sally took the opportunity of plunging into the subject which was uppermost in her mind by asking "Where's Sam to-neet?"

    "Aw noather know nur care," Sarah Jane answered, sharply.

    "Han yo' fone eawt?" said Sally.

    "Aw've never ta'en up with him, an' whot's moor, aw've noa notion o' havin' owt to do with him.  He's nobbut a weighvur, theaw sees, an' aw'm noan beawn to tee misel' to a poor chap like him."

    "Oh, but he's a good-hearted lad is Sam, an' he'll mak' his way up, aw con see it in him."

    "Thi een must be different fro' mine, then, for aw con see nowt in him, nur abeawt him, nobbut a weighvur lad, an' a very common sooart of a lad at that."

    "Well, aw'll speyk truth by him, shusheaw, for aw know him to be good to his mother, an' kind to his brothers an' sisters.  An' he's tryin' hard to improve hissel' by readin' good books an' gooin' to th' neet skoo'.  He'll mak' a mon ov hissel, reet enoof, theaw'll see; an' another thing, he'll mak' somebody a good side."

    "Come, Sall, if theaw really thinks soa weel on him, why doesn't theaw tak' up with him thisel'?"

    "Well, for one thing he's never ax't me, an' for another thing aw'm noan weddin' goods."

    After a short silence, Sarah Jane broke out with: "He's nowt i' my line, an' never will be.  When aw'm wed aw'st want a mon 'at con afford summat better nur a bit of a cottage, an' a lot moor finery an' better farin' nur a bit ov a weighvur con afford eawt ov his poor addlins."

    "Eh! Sarah Jane, let me warn thi 'at theawr't makkin' a big mistake.  'Better be a poor mon's darlin' nur at rich mon's snarlin'.'  Good character an' love are better nur o th' brass 'at ever were minted."

    "Well, Sally, theaw con do as theaw likes, an' think as theaw likes, but aw'll stop sengle o th' days o' mi life afore aw'll be teed to a chap 'at's nobbut a weighvur."

    "Sarah Jane, theaw'rt a foo', as fose as theaw thinks thisel'.  Brass is a good thing in its place, but it con never satisfy a true woman's cravin' for love.  An' as for me, if aw're i'th market, an' th' poorest mon i'th village wur to ax me to-morn, if aw lik't him, an' aw knew 'at he're reet an' straight, aw'd wed him an' try to mak' th' best on't."

    "An' theaw'd soon be weary o' thi bargain, aw'll bet thi," said Sarah Jane, angrily.

    "Nay, aw shouldn't, for if ever aw mak' a bargain o' that sooart, aw'll stond by it, as every true woman should.  Love's a better thing nur theaw thinks it is.  Dunnut, aw preythi, goa an' sell thisel' for gain, for if theaw does, theaw'll be th' loaser i'th lung run.  Whot's a greyt lot o' fine things to wear, an' a big heawse to live in, if thoose 'at should be everything to one another hate one another wur' nur poison?"

    "An' heaw mitch rent will this love 'at theaw raves abeawt pay?  An' heaw mitch on it will it tak' to fill an empty stomach, thinksta?" said Sarah Jane, tossing her head with ineffable scorn.

    "Sitch questions arnut wortn onsurin'," said Sally.  "Aw'll bid thi good neet an' leove thi to mend."



    The morning after, Sam was up betimes, and waylaid Sally on her way to the mill.  She read his question in his eyes, and blurted out:

    "Aw've noa good news for thi, lad.  Aw met as weel tell thi at once, hoo's her yed full ov hee notions, an' hoo seys hoo'll tee hersel' to nobody 'at's nobbut a weighvur.  It hurts me to tell thee, but it's best for thi to know th' truth, isn't it?"

    "It is, Sally, an' aw'm obliged to thi for tellin' me straight eawt.  Aw met ha' known whot a preawd woman hoo wur, an' aw'm a foo' for botherin' abeawt hur."

    "Hoo isn't worth it, Sam.  A woman 'at mezzurs a mon's worth by th' depth ov his purse will never mak' a true wife, let me tell thi that."

    "Theaw'rt abeawt reet there, lass.  But it's hard, for o that."

    "Well, Sam, theaw mun pluck up, like a true mon, an' after a while theaw'll be fain 'at hoo's refused thi."

    "Aw'll try to do as theaw seys; an' thank thi, Sally, theaw'rt a good sooart.  Theaw'll mak' somebody a good wife someday, aw hope."

    "One day, someday, never," said the girl, as she turned away with a mirthless laugh, and raced off to her looms.

    Shortly afterwards Sam's mother died, and his home was broken up.  His brothers and sisters married, and he went to live with one of them, and in this way Sally and Sam were separated and lost sight of each other for a while.  Sarah Jane was not slow in carrying out her own ideas.  An elderly but well-to-do farmer in the next township married her, and when she paid flying visits to her native village, her wonderful dresses and smart turn-out were the talk of the mill girls for days; and Sam soon began to realise what a vain and foolish creature she was, and wondered at his own blindness.

    But the experience was not lost upon him, for it woke him up to the meaning of life and its great possibilities, and he turned with fresh vigour to his studies, determined to make the most he could of himself.  By and by, his acquirements attracted the attention of his employers, and they offered him a better position.  This stimulated and encouraged him, and gradually he grew in character and capability, till he became assistant manager, with a bright prospect before him.

    Four years sped away, and June, with its sunshine and flowers, came round; and one lovely Saturday evening Sam sauntered forth to enjoy the beauties of Nature and the quiet of the fields and hedgerows.  Without thinking particularly where he was going, he took a path which skirted the village churchyard, when suddenly he was startled by the low-wailing cry of a woman in trouble.  He paused to listen, and the gentle breeze bore up to him these strange words:

    "O God, whot con aw do?  Mother's gone, mi whoam's gone, an' aw'm laft by misel'.  Is ther' onny creatur' i' Thy wide earth soa lonely as a woman laft by hersel'?"

    He shuddered as he thus heard the heart-hunger of a good woman laid bare before God.  What should he do?  Surely, he knew that voice.  He looked over the wall; it was Sally, and she was suffering.  In a moment he had bounded over the wall, and before he fully realised what he was doing, he had taken her in his strong arms and was whispering words of hope and love in her ears.

    "Aw never yerd 'at thi mother had gone," he said, as they sat down together on a tombstone close by the newly-made grave of Sally's mother.  "Heaw wur it 'at theaw never sent me word, Sally?"

    "Well, Sam, why should aw?"

    "We'rn owd neighbors, Sally."

    "But heaw wur aw to know 'at theaw cared to know owt abeawt us?  Theaw's getten up i'th' world sin' we'rn childer together, an' theaw met ha' forgettun o abeawt us for onny sign theaw's made till just neaw."

    "Theaw mun forgie me, Sally, if aw've seemed to neglect thi, but aw've bin soa lapped up i' mi wark an' mi books till just lately, 'at aw've seemed to have noa time for ought else; but when aw yerd that cry o' thine, mi heart seemed to oppun to thi, an' aw'll ha' thi if theaw'll ha' me."

    "Aw want noa mon's pity, Sam; aw con fend for misel'."

    "Sally, wilta believe me if aw tell thi th' truth?"

    "Of course aw will."

    "Well, lass, during this last heawr mi een han bin oppun't so as they never wur afore i' mi life, an' aw've fun' it eawt 'at aw love thi a good deeol moor nur aw know heaw to put into words, theaw sweet, true-hearted woman.  Would to God 'at aw're worthy on thi.  We'n known one onother fro' beein' childer, an' theaw's bin like a sister to me; but aw want thi to be summat closer still.  Wilta be mi wife?"

    "Arta sure o' thisel', Sam?  To me it seems soa sudden o' thy part 'at aw con hardly believe it."

    "Didta ever know me to tell thi a lie, Sally?"

    "Never, Sam, aw'll sey that for thi, shusheaw."

    "Then why doesta deawt me neaw?"

    "Becose it seems too good to be true."

    "Then theaw cares for me a bit, after o?"

    "Aw've never cared for onnybody else, lad, an' never shall do to mi' deein' day; an' aw'd tak' thi, ay, if theaw wur nobbut a weighvur still."


May, 1913.


――――♦――――

 
SAM O' JOE'S ON RELIGIOUS FOO'S.


"HEAW wur it theaw coom soa late to th' committee meetin' to-neet, Sam?" Joe Tatchin axed me as we'rn gettin' ready for leovin' th' committee-reawm.

    "Oh! aw had to goa to a trustee meetin' at eawr skoo', an' aw had to let a bit o' bant off at one or two owd cronies 'at aw hadn't seen for a bit."

    "Tell us o abeawt it, Sam," Tinker said.

    "Well," aw said, "as soon as th' business wur o'er William Granger an' Jim Workman — yo known 'em booath — coom to me an' wanted to know wheer aw'd bin puttin' misel' o' lately, for they hadn't sin me at onny o' th' week-neet meetin's for a while.  They hoped 'at they hadn't done owt to offend me."

    "Oh," aw said, "that's o reet.  Aw'm busy somewheer else."

    "Ay," Granger said, "aw yer theaw's getten on th' Glencroit committee.  Aw guess theaw's fund 'em a warm lot."

    "He's getten a fine character for puttin' hissel' forrud: movin' this, an' movin' that, till he's move't cheermon off th' committee, they tell'n me," Workman towd him.

    "Nay," aw said, "he moved off ov hissel'."

    "Time he went, too," Workman said.  "Aw connut tell heaw sitch drunken ornery foo's as him ever getten put on a co-op. committee.  He's noa mooar fit for a cheermon nur a jackass."

    "Well, Workman," aw said, "theaw'rt a member, and as mitch to blame as onnybody."

    "Heaw dusta mak' that eawt?" he said.  "Aw're noane at th' meetin', soa aw didn't vote for him."

    "That's just it," aw said.  "Theaw wurnut at th' meetin', but theaw should ha' bin theer to help to stop sitch as him for gettin' on th' committee, an' see to it 'at some sensible mon had bin appointed."

    "But, Sam," he onsurt me, "theaw knows 'at th' class meetin' is awlus o'th' same neet as th' general meetin', an' aw dunnut like to miss that."

    "There theaw art," aw said; "an' there's a lot mooar religious foo's like thee.  Yo' shut yore religion up i' yore bits o' classreawms till it gets foisty for th' want ov a bit ov an rairin'.  Iv yore religion's worth owt bring it into th' leet an' let folk see it an' feel it i'th' public life o' Glencroft."

    "Aw'm cap't at thee, Sammy," Granger said, shaking his yed at me as solemn as an owd judge.  "Theaw'rt gettin' very worldly-minded, mon.  Aw should as soon think at owt as missin' a class meetin'."

    "Aw've nowt to sey agen class meetin's," aw replied.  "They're o reet i' thur place.  But it seems to me 'at a lot o' yo chaps are soa thrung savin' yore own sowls 'at yo'n noa time for owt else.  Aw wonder sometimes iv yore bits o' sowls are worth o th' labbur yo're makkin' on 'em."

    "Come, Sam, theaw'rt gooin' too far neaw," Workman said.

    "Well, happen aw am," aw onsurt him.  "But when aw see chaps like yo keepin' away fro' th' general meetin's an' leovin' th' co-operative society's business to be done by a gang o' chaps 'at's bin primed at a aleheawse afore th' meetin' started; aw feel as iv it would do me good to swear at yo for bein' sitch foo's."

    "Foo's!" they booath coed eawt.  "Weh, Sam, whot wilta sey th' next?"

    "Well," aw put it to 'em, "whot are yo as Christian men supposed to be dooin' i' th' world?  Helpin' to mak' it better, aw reckon?"

    "Of cooarse we are," they said.

    "An' yo gooan to th' class meetin' to be made better yoresel's, but yo stoppen short at that.  Neaw to my thinkin' that's just wheer yo're missin' yore way.  Yo known very weel 'at Glencroft Society could do a lot mooar good nur it is dooin' iv th' members would nobbut see to it 'at th' reet sooart o' men wur put on to manage it; an' th' difference between whot it is doin', an' whot it might do lies at th' dur o' sitch men as yo becose yo never come to th' meetin's to help to mak' things better."

    "But Sam, ther's plenty o' members to run th' society for o it's worth beawt us," they said.

    "Excuse me," aw said, "but aw'm forced to ax yo iv, yore religion tayches yo owt abeawt beein' yore brother's keepers; or han yo left that bit eawt becose yo didn't like it?"

    "Good un, Sam," Tatchin said; "aw wish aw'd bin theer to see heaw they lik't it."

    "Theaw cut deep, aw yer," Tinker said, as he rubbed his own pate same he awlus does when he's gettin' excited.  "Whot had they to sey for thursels?"

    "Oh," aw said, "they look't pottert at me, an' Granger muttert 'at he thowt aw're puttin' co-operation afore religion."

    "An' what is co-operation?" aw onsurt back, "but religion put into sitch everyday things as buyin' an' sellin', an' o' helpin' one another to mend things as weel as they con.  Iv that isn't religion, whot is?"

    "Dusta think soa, Sam?" they booath said in a breeoth, an' they stare't at me agen as iv they didn't know whot to mak' on me.

    "Of cooarse aw do," aw said, "an' yo'd soon see things different fro' whot yo done iv yo wur nut soa steeped in a kind o' religious selfishness 'at thinks its very good becose it gooas to class meetin's an' sitchlike things, but it leoves other wark undone i' th' community 'at it owt to be dooin'; an' th' public life o' Glencroft suffers through this sooart o' wark, an' th' difference between things as they are an' things as they could be lies partly whot at th' durs o' my good friends William Granger an' James Workman, an' yo connut deny it."

    "Aw dunnut just see heaw aw'm to mak' that cap fit my yed, Sam," Granger replied back.

    "Aw'l try to show thi," aw said.  "It's middlin' weel known 'at eawr late cheermon geet on th' committee wi' gooin' th' aleheawses reawnd treatin' folk to vote for him; an' through him an' one or two mooar like him th' credit system started.  Bad stuff wur bowt into th' shop by th' committee becose they'rn treated to a free barrel o' drink neaw an' agen; an' other things wur noane as they should be, till th' society geet into Queer Street.  Neaw, o this would never have happen't iv sitch men as yo had made it a point to come to th' general meetin's an' see to it 'at th' reet sooart o' men wur put on th' committee, an' would back 'em up i' owt 'at wur good 'at they tried to bring forrud.  Aw wonder sometimes to misel' whether we're mooast to blame for th' wrang things 'at we done, or th' reet things 'at we leoven undone."

    "Didta mak' onny impression on 'em, Sam?" Tatchin axed me.

    "Well, they said they'd think o'er whot aw'd said to 'em, an' see whot they could do for th' future."

    "Ay, an' theaw's gan us a bit o' summat to be chewin' at for eawrsel's," Tinker said, as we broke up for th' neet.


July, 19o9.


――――♦――――

 
HONEST JACK.
A WOMAN'S STORY.


HONEST JACK was my first lover.  But talking of lovers, why, in those early days when I was only a chit of a girl, I had 'em by the score, and thought no more of sending half a dozen of them packing of an evening than I did of eating my dinner.  But as for Jack — well, you know, somehow he was so different from the others; He was our village smith, and he had always been good to me when we were school children.  He was older than I, and owing to the sudden death of his father before Jack was out of his teens he had taken his father's place at the forge, and become the stay and support of his widowed mother.  After the death of his mother, he still clung to the home of his childhood.  His steady, plodding, persevering ways had earned for him the respect of our villagers, and Jack had always plenty of work cut out for his clever and willing hands.  It was just the same, bless you, when he made up his mind to come a-courting me.  No amount of quiet avoidance or coy reserve seemed to weary his patience.  On practice nights, for I was a member of our village choir, he would quietly wait outside by the hour for my coming, though I stopped in church longer, often enough, on purpose to tease him.

    Curiously enough, although everybody seemed to regard us as being engaged, he had never even whispered a word of his love to me, till one evening, as I came out of the church porch, I saw that he had something on his mind.  Somehow, I felt conscious that he was going to declare himself at last, and I mischievously resolved to make it as difficult as possible for him to do so.  It was a foolish thought, for which I afterwards paid a bitter penalty.  We walked on in silence for some time.  Suddenly he stopped, and, looking me full in the face, he said, "Jessie?"  "Well, Jack?" I said, nervously.  "I guess you pretty well know what I want to say and cannot?" he said, excitedly.  "Now Jack," said I, "don't talk nonsense.  You are too good a fellow to throw yourself away on a chit of a girl like me."  "Thank you, Jessie," he replied in a more subdued tone, "I'm glad you understood me.  You call yourself a chit of a girl, but let me tell you that I love you with all the strength of my heart.  There is nothing I would not do or suffer to win your love and have you for my own, except you bade me do something wrong and that, I know, is foreign to your pure, bright nature."  "Oh, Jack!" I ejaculated, astonished at his sudden outspokenness, so different from his usually reserved self.  "Jessie, will you try to love me a little?" he pleaded, eagerly.  "No," I half whispered under my breath, scarce knowing what I was saying.  He crouched for a moment like a stricken creature.  All the brightness which had lit up his rugged features seemed to fade as, overcoming his emotions with a strong effort, he said, tenderly, "Jessie, you are old enough to know your own mind, I will not persecute you with my poor attentions any longer, for I think it cowardly and mean for a man to try to force a girl's affections.  If in your heart you feel no response to my love, you cannot help it, Jessie, so you must not blame yourself, and be sure I shall not blame you in the least.  You cannot help it, darling.  Good night and God bless you," he said reverently, raising his hat as he solemnly uttered the words, and in a moment he was gone.

    Slowly and silently I went home in the darkness.  Somehow I seemed all at once to have left my girlhood behind me.  A woman's heart woke within me, and with it a truer and wiser estimate of my position in relation to Jack.  Deeply did I ponder over what had passed between us, but, most of all, I thought of Jack himself.  For the first time I seemed to realise what a truly noble, manly, upright fellow he was.  I recalled his devotion to his widowed mother.  His unostentatious generosity, his chivalrous care of myself all through my schoolday troubles and perplexities, and, above all, his tenderness manifested in refraining from pressing his suit, because I had given him to understand that I did not love him.  The more I thought about him, the more I admired his character and reverenced his sterling goodness of heart.  "Ah!" I cried out in the darkness, "I spoke truly, I am not worthy of him."  Gradually I began to understand myself more clearly.  I saw that I had loved him all along unconsciously he had been my heart's king, and all others in comparison with him had only been like passing shadows.

    When I retired to my little room that night, I communed long and seriously with myself as to what I ought to do.  Clearly I was to blame for giving the answer I did to Jack, and before I went to sleep I determined to send Jack such a message in the morning as would bring him back to my side, and I would frankly tell him the truth.

    Morning came, and as I sat at breakfast my little brother Tom came running in, out of breath almost in his haste.  "Mother," he cried, "Honest Jack has gone away; who will shoe the horses now?"  Mother gave a sudden start, and turned, with a look full of uneasiness, to myself, as I rose from the table and staggered off to my little room.  Of the bitter anguish of that hour I will not stay to speak.  I knew that a strong and loving hand had lifted the cup of happiness to my lips, and that I in my thoughtlessness had pushed it away.  At length I grew calmer, and after thinking the matter over I resolved to wait for Jack to return to me.  But if he did not come back, I would marry no one else.

    Three years passed quietly and uneventfully away.  I was a woman now, with all a woman's sensitiveness, and my woman's secret pain hidden away carefully in my heart, for I did not wish even my dearest ones to know all that I felt and suffered.  I had almost begun to despair of ever seeing my Jack again, when one day a strange thing happened.  We received a newspaper from some friends in the north-country town of Dinton.  One of the paragraphs caught my attention, and fascinated me completely.  There had been a serious breakdown in one of the large works.  The half-drunken engineer had lost control of the engine under his care.  Stunned by a sudden blow from a broken fragment from a driving wheel, he was lying helpless, in momentary peril of his life.  No one durst venture near the ponderous engine, which, released from its load of work, was tearing madly round and round, as if it was bent on destroying both itself and everything about it.  Every second the danger was increasing, when a stalwart young smith, doing some casual repairs on the premises, quietly walked into the engine-room and brought the engine to a stand, thus both averting disaster to the works and saving the engineer's life, at imminent risk of his own.

    "That is just like Jack," I said to myself.  And the fancy seized me that it was Jack and no other who had done this brave deed.  The thought grew upon me to such an extent that I could not rest.  I must go to Dinton.  I should find jack.  Oh, how passionately I longed to see him.  The day after, I set out on a visit to my friends, telling no one of my sudden hope, lest they should laugh at me for indulging in so apparently unfounded an expectation.  With a beating heart I jumped into the Dinton express, and very soon I was speeding along at fifty miles an hour — towards what?  "Jack," my heart answered, with a great throb of hope.  Suddenly the express engine gave a terrible shriek.  The brakes were applied, and there was a fearful shock.  I knew we had collided with some train.  I was badly shaken, but not otherwise injured.  In a few moments I was sufficiently recovered to be able to get out of the carriage and look round.  I saw in a moment what had happened.  Immediately in front two lines crossed each other almost at right angles, and our engine had knocked the engine and foremost carriages of the other train completely off the line.  Many of the passengers were seriously injured, and I, along with others who had escaped injury, set about helping our less fortunate fellow-travellers.  On approaching one of the overturned carriages, my heart stood still.  Who was that, that lay before me bruised and bleeding?  Surely it was jack, my Jack?  Had I only found him thus to lose him for ever?  These thoughts surged quickly through my hot brain as I tried to raise him up, to see if life was still left in him.  Oh, joy! he opened his eyes, he was conscious, and knew me.  "Forgive me, Jack," I whispered, as I bent over him.  "Jessie, mine at last; thank God!" he murmured, and then fainted away.  Strong arms very soon carried him to a farmhouse near, where he quickly recovered, for, though badly cut and bruised, he was not fatally injured.

    I need not dwell over what followed.  You will easily guess all that you need to know when you see this plain gold ring that glitters on a certain finger of my left hand.  I am a proud woman to-day, and have not I a right to be so, seeing that I am the wife of one of the noblest and best of men — the man who is known far and wide as Honest Jack?


June, 1891.


――――♦――――

 
WAR-TIME GLEANINGS


A PRAYER FOR THE TIME.
JUST BEFORE THE GREAT WAR, AUGUST, 1914.


SAVE us from war, O God, hold back the pride,
    The jealousy, and hateful greed of those
Who rule the nations; stay ambition's tide,
    With all its dreadful train of untold woes.
Save us from war unneedful and unjust;
    O keep us from the crime of shedding blood
For selfish ends alone.   Help us to trust
    Our greatness and our power of doing good.
That is the only power that outlasts time;
    Brute force decays and ever must decay,
But good will live eternal and sublime
    When all the pomp of arms has passed away,
And ever be triumphant in its course,
For it is mighty, like Thyself — its source.

Nor should we lift up idle hands to Thee,
    But work and pray for universal peace,
And strive to show by word and deed that we
    Will never rest till wars for aye shall cease.
Inspire our countrymen to lead the van
    In the emprise of peace 'gainst gain and blood;
Promote the universal good of man,
    And thus advance our own and others' good.
Forbid that we should block the nations' way,
    Put back the hands on Time's great dial-plate,
And reinaugurate the hellish sway
    Of blind and brutal force, of blood and hate.
Help us, O God, to rise to our true place
As leaders, benefactors of the race.


――――♦――――

 
TH' OWD WEIGHVUR'S KERSMAS CHAT WI' KING
EDWARD'S GHOST.


O' KERSMAS EVE aw set off for a bit ov a walk up Chew Valley, an' after crossin' th' bruck an' gooin' up bi th' side on it a length, aw coom to a sheltert corner, an' aw sit me deawn to have a quiet think o to misel'.

    Th' moon wur shinin', an' th' stars twinklin', an' ther wur nowt to be yerd except th' singin' o' th' bruck at mi feet an' th' tinklin' ov a little rindle deawn a bit ov a hollow close by where aw wur sit.  O at once aw seed a strange-lookin' fearsome shape loomin' i' th' front on me, but when it coom closer aw seed it wur King Edward at wur coom a-seein' me agen, an' mi mind wur at rest in a minute.  He lookt abeawt th' same as ever, an' he coom an' sit him deawn on a stone close by, an' sed:

    "Cowd sittin', this, Weighvur."

    "Ay, an' middlin' hard as weel," aw sed, "but droiyer nur bein' i' th' trenches i' France, aw reckon."

    "Aw reckon it is," he sed.

    "Whot dusta think abeawt yore hondiwark, yo kings an' kaisers.  Aw'm talkin' to thee as representin' o th' ten or a dozen sitchlike 'at we han i' Europe, wi' yore diplomacy, yore larnin', an' o yore foseness generally.  Come neaw, dusta think 'at onny dozen chimney sweepers could ha' made a bigger mess o' things iv they'd tried?"

    "Things couldna be mitch wur nur they are, for sure," he onsurt me.

    "This is whot comes eawt o' secret treaties an' underhont wark generally.  When th' yeds o' one nation tryen to chet an' tak' advantage ov another, ther's sure to be bother.  Why, mon, they'n bin wur nur a pack o' lyin' thieves."

    "Well, Weighvur, it's noan o' my dooin', aw con tell thi.  Aw did o aw could to prevent it, an' theaw con tak' it fro' me 'at noan o' eawr statesmen, an' noa French or Rooshans, wanted owt o' th' sooart, oather."

    "Theaw lays o th' blame o' t'other side, then?"

    "Where else con it be put, thinksta?"

    "Well, aw'll tell thi whot aw think in a toothri words.  We'n bin too fond i' this country o' misco'in eawrsels, an' belittlin' owt 'at we had.  Accordin' to some folk ther're nowt English 'at wur worth owt.  It wur Garman eddication this, an' Garman mechanikin' that, an' Garman dyein' t'other.  Owt Garman wur everything it should be; owt English wur nut worth lookin' at.  Garman professors an' writers wur crackt up sky high, an' eawrs wur set deawn as durt i'th' road.  Noa wonder at th' Garmans gettin' it into thur swelled yeds 'at they'rn summat bettur nur common.  Mon, theaw con tell folk 'at theaw'rt up to nowt till they'n start o' believin' thi, an' theaw'll stink i' thur noses.  Eh, whot foo's we'n bin for sure, an' neaw we're payin' for eawr foolishness."

    "Ther's summat i' whot theaw says, Weighvur, but nut as mitch as theaw seems to think.  Th' bigger an' th' better a mon is really, an' th' humbler an' th' readier he should be to help other folk up to his own level.  Gradely greytness doesna need to knock everybody deawn to build itsel' up."

    "An' that's whot Garmany's tryin' on, aw guess that's whot theaw wants to tell me."

    "Well, whot does it look like, thinksta?  They'n knockt a lot o' things deawn sin' th' war started; ay, an' they'n letten thersels deawn aboon a bit into th' bargain."

    "Ay, an' they'n knockt a lot o' eawr fine lads eawt o' time, too," aw sed.

    "Soa they han, moor's the pity.  Eh, but it's a bad business, look at it whichever way theaw will.  But, theer, when folk winnut be satisfied wi' thur own, an' start tryin' to grab o before 'em, arta beawn to let 'em?"

    "Nut iv aw con stop 'em," aw sed.

    "Would it be reet to let 'em run roughshod o'er everything an' everybody, just becose they happent to be‘a bit strunger nur common?  Is might to tak' th' place ov right?  Whot sooart ov a place would this world be to live in iv that idea wur to rule?  It winnut abide thinkin' at, mon."

    "Shus whot comes or goes that idea ull ha' to be knockt eawt.  Life wouldna be worth livin' under sitch conditions," aw sed.

    "Noa moor it would, Weighvur, but theaw knows weel enoof 'at when aw're here aw tried o aw knew how to get o th' nations to like one another, an' live peaceable.  Owt 'at Garmany wanted 'at wur reet for hur to have hoo could have had beawt o this bloodsheddin' wark.  But neaw hoo's lost hur good name, an' wi' it hoo'll lose hur place as a greyt nation.  For yers an' yers hoo'll be cripplt bi th' consequences ov hur wrungdooin'.  Belgium, Poland, an' Serbia ull noan forget whot hoo's done in a hurry; an' Austria an' Turkey han nowt to thank hur for 'at aw con see on yet.  Ther's a day ov reckonin' comin', an' woe betide hur iv hoo doesna alter hur ways."

    "Well, hoo doesna favvur dooin' till hoo's niade," aw sed.

    "Hoo'll be made, then, theaw con tak' my word for it.  Noa nation ever did or will get on as it should bi feightin'."

    "Eh, dear," aw sed, "but it's a quare thing 'at after nearly two theawsand yer o' Christianity ther should be sitch carryin's on as we're havin' to-day."

    "Neaw, Weighvur, that's just wheer theaw'rt wrang.  Christianity's noan to blame at o.  It's never bin tried gradely yet, but happen it'll get a bit ov a chance after this.  Mon, iv folk would nobbut tak' up wi' just one bit on it, an' do bi one another as they'd like sarvin' thersels, ther'd be noa moor wars, shusheaw."

    "Theaw'rt abeawt reet theer.  King Edward," aw sed, "but heaw slow folk are at takkin' it up."

    "Dunnut thee give up hope, Weighvur, ther's better days i' store.  O this sufferin' an' loss is not comin' off for nowt.  After a cross of suffering comes a crown o' life.  Nowt happens beawt a purpose.  God lives an' rules i' spite o' kings an' kaisers, an' His will ull yet be done.  He wills goodwill amung men everywhere, an' He'll get it yet, thee rest thisel' sure o' that."

    Just then a heavy hont wur laid o' mi shoulder, an' a rough voice sed: "Whot arta dooin' here?"

    "Where?" aw sed, an' aw lookt up to see Ned o' Tunis, th' gamekeeper, starin' at me.  "Theaw'd better be off whoam," he sed.


    An' then aw wakken'd up to find 'at aw'd never bin off mi own hearthstone.


December, 1915.

 
――――♦――――


IN BRITISH FIELDS.


IN British fields sweet daisies ope their eyes,
    And smiling buttercups and cowslips bloom;
    Wild hyacinths throw out their rich perfume,
And larks' glad music fills us with surprise,
As high in heaven's ethereal blue they rise:
    All nature throbs anew with life and joy;
    Alas! that human passion should destroy
Such peaceful beauty as around us lies.

'Tis spring in France and Belgium, but their hills
    Are battle-scarred, their fields with blood are red;
The scream of shells and roar of cannon fills
    The air, and on their plains lie thousands dead.
Alas! ambitious minds the truth forget
That men above all else are brothers yet.


April, 1916.


――――♦――――

 
BE CONFIDENT.


BE confident; God works His will;
    He's neither soon nor slow,
Though nations rise and fall again,
    And systems come and go.
They're not in vain, these travail throes,
    But growth-pains of the race,
Through which man passes ever on
    Towards a larger place.

Jehovah reigns, let that suffice ―
    That faith will make thee calm;
See how He pours on all mankind
    His precious healing balm.
He wills, and what He wills is best ―
    This all the past doth prove;
No power can stop or stay His hand,
    Or turn aside His love.

He will accomplish what He please,
    For none can say Him nay;
Man's highest good is God's great goal,
    All ill He holds at bay,
Or puts it to some blessed use ―
    The fire to burn man's dross,
The floods to wash his lusts away,
    Thus making gain of loss.

Through all this turmoil, change, and strife,
    We dimly may perceive
A wise controlling hand at work,
    Man's bettering to achieve.
Yea, e'en his sin and folly may,
    As the swift ages fly,
Lead to a grander destiny,
    His being lift on high.

Be confident; God reigns supreme,
    Though doubts sometimes arise,
And Providence may seem obscure,
    And tears may dim thine eyes —
Though wrong appears to triumph oft,
    And dark oppression rife,
And tyrants steep their thrones in blood,
    And peoples groan in strife.

His holy purpose shall not fail;
    Who makes the seasons run,
Knows every step of man's long way;
    His will through all is done.
He does not falter when we fall,
    Nor fail when we distrust;
His loving kindness changeth not,
    Though man may be unjust.

The Great Unchanged and Changeless One,
    Through all the ages still,
Rules that mankind shall upward rise,
    And His high ends fulfil.
Almighty Love no power can baulk;
    Almighty Power will gain
Love's end in love's own ways at last ―
    Man's perfecting through pain.


(Revised November, 1917.)


――――♦――――
 

 



[Home] [Up] [Book List] [Site Search] [Main Index]

Correspondence should be sent to Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk