The Memory of the Just.
A Father's Honour.
arr that! They're Chinese puzzles, women arr! It teuk th'
'owd lad' ta foind th' fost on 'em aat, an' it tak's him ta dew it
yet. Some on 'em's simple an' some on 'em's sawft, bud then aw
The speaker, of course, was Jabe. Raising himself up to
straighten his back as he stood with braces hung down at his side,
over the clog-shaping bench, and using the last half-finished sole
to emphasise his observations, he was addressing himself apparently
to vacancy, for the rest of the company were sitting deep into the
Ingle, and were invisible behind clouds of smoke.
"Wot does thaa know abaat women?" came from somewhere behind
the smoke-cloud, in tones very like those of the erstwhile
road-mender and recent bridegroom, Lige.
"Aw know wun on 'em as hez made a sawft yed sawfter lattly."
There was a sort of sputter of laughter in the nook, and the
voice of Sam Speck cried delightedly—
"Goo' lad, Jabe! By gum—that's a nobbler fur thee,
But Lige was very easy-going in these days of his prosperity,
and was, moreover, interested in the topic which had provoked the
Clogger's tirade, and so he brought the conversation back by
"Thaa happen feart her, Jabe. Women wants handlin'
gently, than knows."
"Feart her? Aw will fear her if hoo comes ony of her
stuck-up ways wi' me. Aw tell thi they'r clemmin' i' th' haase,
and hoo comes an' slaps her brass daan i' th' frunt o' me as if hoo
hed a milliond."
"Ay, an' they sticken ta they'r oan pew, an' pay fur it.
An' they spend as mitch brass i' donning up th' owd chap's grave as
'ud keep wun on 'em—partly wot," added Sam Speck sternly.
After a short pause, Lige observed reflectively—
"Well, if ther' is a grave i' that yard as owt ta be kept
noice it's owd Abil's; it 'ull be a lung toime afoor ther's another
loike him i' Beckside.
But Jabe was out of all patience, and all the more so as he
was somewhat uneasy in his own mind.
"Ha' some sense, will yo'!" he cried. Tummy Nibble towd
me hissel' as aw th' butcher's meit they iver han is tewpennorth o'
liver at th' wik end, an' a pennorth o' cratchins o' Wednesdays.
An' wun Setterday when he awsed ta give Jinny a bit o' briskit as he
couldna sell, hoo threw it back i' th' cart an' welly slapped him i'
"It's pride! sinful pride, an' nowt else," cried Sam with
stern indignant emphasis, and Jabe thus encouraged, proceeded—
"Dun yo' know haa it is as they cum'n ta th' chapel wun at
wunce naa? It's 'cause they'n nobbut wun bonnet between 'em.
An' aar Judy says as that's bin awtered an' awtered till it winna
awter. Isn't that pride?"
And Lige sighed and shook his head, as a sign that he would
be very reluctant indeed to believe the charge. And the
Clogger, though he sat down in the circle of smoke and lighted his
pipe, still showed where his thoughts were by the uneasy motions of
his short leg.
The subjects of this conversation were two middle-aged
females named Horrocks, who were generally known as "Rhoda an' Jinny
Abil"—Abel being the name of their father, now long deceased.
They lived in what had once been the prettiest cottage in
Beckside. It stood in the midst of a rather large garden just
beyond the schoolhouse, going up the "broo" to Knob Top.
Unlike most of the other cottages in the hamlet it was built of
stone, and the windows, where climbing plants did not prevent, were
rimmed round with a framework of whitewash. The ground rose at
the back and screened the cottage from the east wind, and for many
years the neatly-kept little house, with its gay and fruitful
garden, had been a grateful sight to any one entering Beckside from
that end of the village.
Old Abel, who built and owned it, was a mason by trade, and
one of the mainstays of the chapel in the days when Jabe and his
friends were young. He was a man of high character and gentle,
kindly ways. His goodness seemed to shine out of his ruddy
face, and he was known as one of the most upright and honourable men
in the community. He was the associate and coadjutor of Jabe's
father, John Longworth, and when he died he was so sincerely
respected and beloved that the chapel people had by special
contributions erected what was even in Jabe's later days by far the
most pretentious tombstone in the graveyard. And when old John
Longworth, declaring that he couldn't think of a text of Scripture,
or a verse of a hymn, good enough to express the virtues of their
departed friend, finally wrote out in his painful roundhand for the
stone-carver's instruction, "Mark the perfect man and behold the
upright," everybody felt that John had been specially guided and had
made the only adequate selection.
Old Abel left three children, a son and two daughters, and
these, though quiet retiring people, followed in their father's
footsteps, at any rate so far as a deep attachment to the chapel and
an interest in its welfare were concerned.
The son, Abel the younger, was the mill joiner, and Rhoda and
Jinny were weavers, and so they were regarded as pretty well off,
though now and again the extra sharp ones of the village pretended
to have noticed odd and unexpected signs of pinching and even
poverty about them.
Then young Abel died, and the girls were left behind.
They owned the house they lived in, and had three looms each at the
mill, and so must still have a good income; but notwithstanding all
this they did not seem really comfortable, and every now and again
little incidents occurred which made people wonder whether "Abil
wenches" were really as well off as they were supposed to be, and as
they always took pains to appear to be.
The one weakness of these two plain women was their quiet
pride in their father's memory, together with the manifestation of
that pride in fastidious and unremitting care for his grave.
The stone was always kept scrupulously clean, and the little
flower-bed before it always showed that careful and loving hands
constantly tended it.
Now, it was a moot point in Beckside theology whether it was
quite right to show excessive interest, especially of the mournful
kind, in graves, there being a sort of feeling that people ought to
rejoice at the translation of their friends, especially if they were
uncommonly good. And so the conduct of "Abil wenches"
attracted more notice than it ordinarily would have done, and it was
feared that they were giving way to the "sorrow of the world."
It was noticed also that the two women had aged very rapidly
since their brother's death, and the most diligent care on their
part did not conceal the fact that they were getting poorer.
Rhoda, the eldest, had begun to look quite old, and there were
already indications of a premature breaking up of her constitution.
At the same time she became shyer, and gradually changed from a
calm, self-possessed Lancashire lass into a fretful, jaded,
worn-looking and suspicious woman.
Then she became unable to work at the mill, and the burden of
maintenance fell entirely on the younger and less energetic Jinny.
And now, as their poverty had an explainable cause, and could
no longer be matter of doubt, tentative offers of help were made,
but in every case they were hotly and almost fiercely rejected, as
if, in fact, poverty were a terrible crime which they would rather
die than confess to.
The night before the one on which our story opens, Jabe had
been holding his class.
It was ticket night, and the leader, when receiving the class
moneys after the minister's departure, left Jinny's lying on the
table, and detained Jinny herself in conversation until the rest
were gone, when he picked up the shilling and was quietly slipping
it into her hands again. But she would not understand, and
when the Clogger was compelled—not too gently, it is to be feared—to
explain that he couldn't allow her to pay, as he felt sure she
couldn't afford, Jinny flushed, and then turning white with fear and
resentment, cried, eyeing Jabe over with keen suspicion as she did
"Haa does thaa know we're poor? Whoas towd thi?"
"Know? Aw con see, woman, sureli!" cried Jabe,
with rising choler.
"See! Ay, tha'rt allis pooakin' thi nooase inta
sumbry's business. But let me tell thi, Abil Horrocks allis
held his yed up i' th' wold, an' his dowters art na goin fur t'
disgrace his name. Moind that, naa!"
Jabe's feelings were divided between anger at the woman's
obstinacy and pride, and a strong secret sympathy with her feelings
about her father, and the respect that should be shown to his
memory, and so he said, half apologetically
"Well, wench, Aw meant noa harm."
"Well, then, ler uz alooan, an' tell t'othcrs ta ler uz
alooan. We'en getten ta tak' cur o' my fayther's name, and
we'll dew it—ay, dew it if we dee dewing it"—and then Jinny burst
into tears and hurried out of the vestry.
But she did not go home. She walked up the road a
little way, and turned into a by-lane, where she slowly dried her
tears. Then when she thought Jabe would be gone she came back
to the chapel. It was a cloudy night, with an intermittent
moon, and putting her clog toe into a hole in the wall, Jinny, as if
she were accustomed to enter the graveyard that way, climbed quickly
over, and was soon kneeling by her father's tombstone.
She looked up for the moon, but it was hidden for a moment
behind a cloud, and she knelt there in an attitude of prayer, but
though her lips moved rapidly, not a sound came from them.
Presently she became more excited, and at length, turning her face
up passionately to the clouds, she cried, clenching her hands with
"They shanna know, fayther; they shall niver know."
At that moment the moon came into sight for a moment, and, as
its pale, cold beams fell on the stone, Jinny lifted her head and
looked at it. Then she got up and dusted the already spotless
surface just where it was lettered, much as another woman would have
cleaned an expensive piece of pottery or a large mirror. And
then she put one arm over the top of it, and stooping down, she read
the precious lines once more, and then, still hanging over it, she
fondly kissed the letters, and, turning her white face up till the
moonlight fell across it and made it almost ghastly in its paleness,
she cried, with a sudden burst of tears—
"It's theer yet, fayther! An' they shanna tak' it off.
They can murther uz if they'n a moind, but they shanna tak' it off.
Thaa wur parfect; than wur hupright; let clubs an' accaant
beuks say wod they'n a moind."
When Jinny reached home that night, she found her sister
huddling over a very small slack fire, and trying to get some little
heat into her thin shrunken limbs.
Rhoda did not move when her sister entered, but when Jinny
had drawn her chair beside her, and told the story of her interview
with Jabe, she broke out—
"We'est ne'er dew it, wench! Summat's bin tellin' me as
we shanna for mony a wik. We'en scratted an' we'en clemm't ta
clew it, an' we shanna dew it efther aw."
Jinny muttered something.
"Nobbut ten paand! It met as weel be a hunderd, wench.
We'est ne'er raise it. Aw'm deein'; Aw know Aw'm deein'; an'
then my fayther's stooan 'ull be a lyin' stooan for iver an' iver."
And poor Rhoda beat on the sanded floor with her feet, and rocked
herself in an agony of tearless grief.
After a while she stopped suddenly, a look of resolution that
was almost fierce came into her eyes, and, after wrestling with deep
feeling for a moment or two more, she jumped to her feet, and,
clenching her fist and stamping emphatically on the floor, she
"Bud we mun, Jinny, we mun! Aw conna dee till it's
done. We'll sell ivery stick we han bud we'll dew it."
And then clasping her hands together, and holding them over her
head, whilst a look of tender melting love came into her eyes, she
"An' then, fayther, we'est see yo'—'wheer the wicked cease
fro' troublin', an' the weary are at rest.' An' then yo'll
know as we tewk cur o' yo'r name. An' that 'ull be heaven fur
uz. Ay! that 'ull be heaven for uz."
But next day, and many days after, poor Rhoda kept her bed.
At first Jinny was able to leave her and go to the mill, but
presently she grew feebler, and at the same time so excitable, that
it was not safe to leave her, and Jinny had to stay at home and
nurse her. Neighbours came to offer help, but they were
suspiciously and almost rudely repulsed by Jinny, in a perfect fever
of fear and apprehension; and day after day she watched over her
dying sister, and lived no one knew how.
The Memory of the Just.
Owd Croppy's Errand.
consultations were held at the Clog Shop about the Horrockses, but
the only result of them was that Dr. Walmsley went to the cottage,
and insisted, almost by on seeing the invalid. And the doctor
reported that though there was no particular evidence of disease in
the patient, and no very clear sign of poverty in the house, yet the
woman was evidently dying, and dying of weakness and trouble.
Jabe was nearly beside himself, and made all sorts of wild
suggestions for compelling the Horrockses to open their minds.
At last one night, as Long Ben was going home from the usual
rendezvous, he saw a woman, with a shawl over her head, standing
hesitantly at the garden gate of his house.
"Is that thee, Ben?" she asked timidly, as he came up.
"Ay; is that thee, Jinny?"
"Ay! Ben, aar Rhoda wants thi."
"Ay, naa. An' fur marcy's sake come."
Ben closed the gate and went along with poor Jinny.
They walked rapidly but silently towards Abel's cottage.
"Is hoo wur?" asked the carpenter, as they neared the Beck
"Wur? Ay, hoo's deein', Ben," and Jinny burst into a
cry that was somehow too terrible for tears.
When they reached the cottage, they found Rhoda sitting up in
bed, and evidently waiting for them. Her face was haggard and
pale, but her eyes were bright with excitement.
Ben sometimes did a little furniture brokering, and so, as he
began to inquire after Rhoda's health, she impatiently waved the
subject aside, as if it were too trivial, and began—
"Ben, Aw want thi to tell me haa mitch theas bits o' things
o' aars are woth."
Ben looked round, seemed to hesitate for a moment, and then
"Aw durn't know; wot art botherin' abaat? Wot dust want
to sell 'em fur?"
But Jinny, stepping behind, pulled his coat tail, and so Ben,
guessing that he was required to humour the patient, went on with a
sudden assumption of business shrewdness—
"Haa mitch dust want fur 'em?"
Ben expected that Rhoda would begin to "haggle" with him, but
instead of that she leaned forward with eager eyes and lips dry from
excitement, and cried, "Ten paand. They're woth ten paand,
Now, seeing that the dying woman really wanted to sell, Ben
would probably have agreed if the sum demanded had been double what
it was, and so he answered promptly—
"Ay, Aw'll gi' thi ten paand an' chonce it."
Rhoda put out a thin blue-lined hand, and cried, "Tak' 'em
then, an' gi' me th' brass."
"Brass? Aw hevna getten it wi' me. Dust want it
"Naa! Ay, naa! Aw'm deein', mon. Naa!
Naa!!" And the excited woman wrung her hands in intense
"Aw con fotch it thi, if tha's a moind," said Ben
hesitatingly, and knowing full well that he hadn't half the sum, and
couldn't think where to procure it at that late hour.
"Fotch it, then. Fotch it, an' be slippy, mon! Or
else Aw'st be deead afoor it comes." And with a gleam of eager
joy that did not appear to Ben to be quite sane, she went on "Just
let me get a seet on it an' howd it in my hond fur wun little
minute, an' then, an' then—Aw'll—
'Clap my glad wings and sooar away,
An' mingle with the blaze of day.'"
And flinging up her arms and falling back on her pillow, she lay
there panting and exhausted.
Jinny made attempts to soothe her sister. Tucking the
bedclothes around her and shaking up the pillow, and wetting her
lips with cold tea, she crooned over her in an anxious endeavour to
calm the sufferer's agitation.
After a few minutes of apparent unconsciousness, the sick one
suddenly opened her eyes, and sat bolt upright again. Seeing
Ben still standing there, she put out her open hand as if to receive
something, and cried―
"Hast getten it, lad? Give it me; give it me!"
"Tak' thi toime, woman; he's gooin' fur it naa!" said Jinny
"Toime! Aw've toime fur nowt. Fotch it, Ben; fur
marcy's sake fotch it. Aw'st dee ba'at knowing it's paid if
And then, checking herself suddenly, she gazed at Ben with
the searching, suspicious look he had so often seen in these women's
faces of late years.
On Rhoda promising to be still and quiet, Ben and Jinny went
"Does hoo oft wandther loike that?" asked Ben softly as they
reached the lower room.
"Wandther? Hoo's no' wandthering, Ben;" and then, in an
agony of fear and anxiety too stern and imperious to conceal, she
"We mun hev' it, mon; chuse wheer it comes fro'. Hoo
conna dee till hoo knows it's reet, or if hoo dees ba'at knowing
ther'll be a ghooast i' Beckside, fur hoo'll niver rest in her
The look of tortured fear on poor Jinny's face went to Ben's
heart, and in an impulse of wonder and pity he cried, though he
would have given his ears to recall the word when it had gone—
"Wot dun yo' want it fur?"
Jinny stopped her wailing, and shot into Ben's face another
of those terrified, suspicious looks he had grown familiar with, and
after studying his face for a moment or two, and appearing to be
relieved by what she saw, she at length said—
"Aw conna tell thi, Ben; Aw wouldna tell thi to save my soul.
An' if iver thaa knaws, tha'll wuish thaa hadna known. But
thaa shanna know! Noabry shall iver know." And for a
moment Jinny looked as fierce as her sister.
Ben was puzzled and distressed, but realising both the
uselessness and the unkindness of pressing the matter, he hastened
away to find the money.
After crossing the bridge in profound agitation, he
remembered Lige's many offers of help if he ever needed it, and
turned in by the Brickcroft corner, and stopped at the road-mender's
door. He raised the latch, but the door would not open; and he
then remembered that Lige and his wife had gone to Duxbury about the
sale of a piece of property, and had announced their intention of
staying the week-end.
Where must he go next? He had not more than three
pounds in his pocket. He shrank from exciting the dangerous
curiosity of Sam Speck about the matter, and so, after many a
misgiving, he turned up the "broo" toward the Clog Shop, preparing
to make a clean breast of everything, and induce the Clogger to join
him in his strange speculation.
Jabe's face as Ben told his story was a study. First it
was mockingly scornful. Then, when the money question was
raised, it became a picture of unconvincible obstinacy. Then,
as Ben detailed the painful agitation of the women, Jabe's eyes
began to blink rapidly, and he blew his nose with most unnecessary
violence, and finally every other expression was swallowed up in one
of open-eyed and wondering curiosity, as Ben described with
significant nods and winks the strange enigmatical hints which had
dropped from the women, and the air of mystery with which the whole
question seemed enveloped.
And this provided Ben with a way of escape, for Jabe's
chronic anger with Ben for his "sawftniss," and his indignation with
the women for their pride, were both forgotten in the presence of an
object which excited at once genuine anxiety and keen, wondering
But, unfortunately, Jabe had very little ready money in the
house—less than two pounds, in fact—having that day paid a heavy
bill for "owler" wood.
Ben seemed inclined to rest awhile and discuss the situation,
but Jabe positively could not sit still, and in a few moments they
were on their way to Nathan's.
Nathan had gone to the Clog Shop, Tatty said, but as they had
not met him, it was certain he must have made a call somewhere.
When they reached the smithy yard gate, and were standing and
discussing where Nathan would most likely be, they heard a panting
gasp behind them, and the agitated voice of "Jinny Abil" cried—
"Hast getten it, Ben?" And then, as if unable to
control her feelings, she stood back, and, wringing her hands,
"Oh, dunna say thaa hasna! for God's sake, dunna say that! "
"Dunna, wench; dunna," said Ben soothingly. "Aw'm gooin'
efther it naa."
"Then thaa hasna getten it! Oh, efther aw theeas ye'rs,
efther aw theeas ye'rs," and Jinny wrung her hands again in
helpless, piteous despair.
She continued clasping her hands and twisting her body as if
in intense pain, until Jabe could bear it no longer, and so, hastily
drawing Ben aside, he whispered—
"Tak' her whoam. Aw'll goa and get it somewheer."
Ben turned round to persuade Jinny to go home with him, but
he was saved the trouble, for all at once the distressed woman burst
"Hoo's gooin'! Hoo's gooin'? Hoo'll be deein' bi
hersel'," and with another piteous wail she darted off down the hill
Ben, after another hasty word with his friend, followed
"Mun Aw tell her Aw've getten th' brass?" he asked as they
"Bud thaa hasna."
"Neaw, bud Aw shall hev' i' th' morn."
"Morn!" was the almost fierce reply; "hoo wants ta see it.
See it afore hoo dees. Hoo could dee an' be dun wi' it, then.
Ay! an' soa could Aw, an' be thankful."
They had just reached the bridge. The waters of the
Beck were brawling over the stones underneath, the stone parapet was
bathed in moonlight, and not a soul was in sight.
"Jinny," said Ben, stopping suddenly, and speaking with great
impressiveness, "wot's aw this meean? Ther's summat wrung; naa
wot is it? Owd Abil's childer doesna need ta want nowt i'
But at the mention of her father's name Jinny gave another
bitter cry, and started once more for home.
When she reached the cottage, Jinny passed right upstairs,
but Ben remained standing before the expiring fire, and waiting a
summons to the bed-chamber, listening one moment to the sounds
above, and the next to everything outside that suggested the coming
of the Clogger.
Presently he was relieved to hear someone approaching the
house, but the next moment his pleasure was dashed by the discovery
that it was not the irregular click-clack of a clog, but the duller
thud of a boot that he heard, which made him aware that the
new-comer could not be the Clogger.
A peculiar, sharp, single tap on the door announced the
presence of "Owd Croppy," the Brogden and Duxbury rent and debt
collector. Whatever could he be doing in Beckside at this time
He stared when Ben opened the door, and looked impatient and
disappointed, as if he had something to communicate which was very
good and which he longed to utter.
"Hello!" he cried; "wheer arr they? Wheer's Rhoda?
A sudden seriousness came over the old collector as he
learned the facts of the case and the condition of poor Rhoda.
"Well," he said, after ruminating with pursed lips for a
moment or two, and following Ben's example by speaking under his
breath, "Aw mun see 'em! Aw've getten some news as winna keep!
"Howd on," replied Ben, holding up his hands deprecatingly
and still speaking in a whisper, "it met kill 'em, or"—and then he
paused, and as all the stray words and unintentional hints the women
had dropped came back to him all at once, he continued—"or else cure
'em. By th' mon, Croppy, th' Lord's sent thee here ta-neet."
Croppy wasn't at all sure of this. His face seemed to
say that he was much more accustomed to commissions from an opposite
source, but before he could answer Jinny came hurrying downstairs.
She uttered a despairing cry as she saw the debt collector.
"Wot! Awready! Thaa met a letten her dee fost.
Wun on us 'ud a getten aat on it at ony rate. But thaa shall
be paid. Aw'll pay thi if Aw hev ta sell th' last rag o' my
back. An' then Aw'll goa to th' bastile an' dee. Ay, an'
be rare an' fain ta dee tew!"
"Jinny," cried Croppy, ashamed for once of his profession,
"Aw hev'na come abaat brass. Aw've come wi' some queer news.
Good news tew, Aw darr say!"
Just then the high ringing voice of the feverish sufferer
upstairs was heard. "Jin ler him come up; ler him come up,
Jinny stepped to the bottom of the stairs and told her sister
who the visitor was.
"Dust think Aw conna yer whoa it is? He met a waited
till Aw wur cowd, bud ler him come up."
Jinny beckoned Croppy to follow her, and they both ascended
to the bedroom.
At this moment Jabe gently raised the latch. Ben could
see at a glance that he had not been successful. He motioned
the Clogger to be silent, and then drew him out of the house again
and expressed his conviction that they wouldn't be needed any more
that night. But Jabe was hard to convince. His curiosity
was so thoroughly aroused that it took all Ben's arguments and
persuasions to induce him to leave the sisters until the morning;
and but for the fact that he had no money to offer them, he would
undoubtedly have held out. It was late, however; Croppy's
business was evidently very important, and might take a long time,
and so, with a painful and snappish reluctance, Jabe at last
consented, and the two, after shouting "Gooidneet!" up the stairs,
and getting a reassuring "Gooid-neet" in Jinny's own voice in reply,
made their way across the bridge and up the "broo."
The Memory of the Just.
Joy Cometh in the Morning.
NEXT morning Jabe
had Ben up earlier than usual, and the two made their way to the
Horrockses. To their surprise, the curtains were drawn up and
the door was open.
Jabe's nervousness made him bashful, and so he stopped on the
threshold and knocked.
Hurried feet came noisily downstairs, and as soon as she saw
them, Jinny, who had a dishevelled and up-all-night appearance,
cried out, whilst tears of evident joy welled up into her eyes—
"Hay, chaps, come in; bless yo', come in. Aw feel as if
it wur th' resurrection mornin', an' Aw'd just come aat of a grave.
Bless th' Lord Bless th' Lord!"
And, as Jabe and Ben looked at each other in astonishment,
Jinny's cry was feebly repeated upstairs—"Bless th' Lord!
Bless th' Lord!"
"Wotiver's ta dew, wench?" cried Jabe, in amazement.
"Ta dew? Ther's iverything ta dew. Summer i' th'
middle of winter; midsummer in November. It's heaven upo' 'arth;
heaven upo' 'arth!"
"Whey, wotiver's happened?" and Ben lifted his eyebrows and
looked at Jabe, and muttered under his breath, "Th' poor crayter's
gooan off it."
"Ler me tell 'em, Jin—ler me tell 'em. Bless th' Lord!"
came feebly downstairs.
"Yo'll ha' ta goa upst'irs, chaps," said Jinny, actually
smiling. "Hoo allis hed her own rooad, yo' known."
In obedience, therefore, to these directions, the Clogger and
his friend made their way to the bedroom, where they found Rhoda
still in bed, but looking like a transfigured being.
"Sit yo' daan," she said, as they entered, and then she
looked from one to the other with eager, beaming eyes, and burst
out, "Bless th' Lord! Bless th' Lord!"
When they were seated, and were looking hard at the sick
woman in whom so strange a transformation had taken place, she
suddenly turned in her bed, and looking at Jabe, demanded—
"Jabe, wot wur it as yo' put upo' my fayther's stooan?"
"'Mark the perfect man and behold the upright,'" said Jabe.
"An' wor it trew? Wor he parfect an' upright? Wor
"He wur that," answered Ben fervently.
"A foine seet better nor ony 'at's abaat naa," added Jabe as
"Bless th' Lord! He wur! He wur!" And the two
women looked at each other, apparently gloating over the words they
Then Rhoda's face suddenly darkened again. She seemed
to be collecting her powers for a difficult task, and at last she
"Jabe, iver sin th' wik efther it wur put up we'en bin feart
it wur a lyin' stooan."
"Naay, Aw ne'er wur," cried Jinny, through glistening
"Whey, it wur thee," cried Rhoda in astonishment.
"Aw knew betther aw th' toime."
"Naay, it wur thee; no' me."
But just then Ben chimed in: "If iver a grave-stooan i' this
wold towd trew, it wur that."
"Trew? It wur na hawf trew eneuff," added Jabe
Rhoda paused in a listening attitude, as if she were hearing
enthralling music, and presently she went on—
"Th' wik efther th' stooan were put up, a felley cum fro'
Duxbury an' said as th' club beuks as my fayther used t' have wur
wrung, an' hed bin fur mony a munth."
"Wrung?" cried both men at once, in amazed indignation.
"Ay, wrung! An' if Aw hedna bin i' th' haase aar Abil 'ud
a felled him. But Aw sattled Abil a bit, an' then th' chap
axed him fur t' goa ta Duxbury an' see th' beuks fur hissel'."
There was a sound of long, laborious breath being drawn, and
Jabe and his friend looked at each other in fierce indignation.
"Well," Rhoda proceeded, "he went, an' when he coom back he
wur loike a deead un. He sat daan afoor th' feire an' started
a whackering and skriking an' couldna tell us a thing. Well,
at th' lung last, he said as it were trew, an' mi fayther 'ud bin
takkin' th' club brass for ye'rs."
Rhoda paused for a moment to give her hearers time to realise
the awful communication she had made. Then she wiped her
perspiring face with a spotted cotton handkerchief, and, leaning
towards the Clogger, whose short leg had already kicked the
bed-stock several times, she went on—
"Sithi, Jabe; Aw could ha' torn aar Abil to pieces when he
said that." And then, after a moment's silence, "Poor lad, it
"Well, yo' known," she proceeded, after a moment's mournful
thought, "we couldna believe it of aar fayther, but Abil stuck aat
as it wur trew, an' we wur that feart on it gettin' aat we darrna
speik abaat it ta awmbry. So we morgiged th' haase an' paid
it,—welly sixty paand,—an' th' felley said as he'd keep it quiet."
"Thaa lumpyed! whey didn't thaa cum an' tell me?" interrupted
Jabe in stern indignation.
"Aw know'd it wur wrung aw th' toime, an' Aw wouldna hev'
agreed ta pay it, chuse wot they'd said, ony fur that text upo' th'
gravestooan," answered Rhoda. And then, after another pause,
"Well, six munths efther, th' felley coom an' said as they'd
fun' some mooar aat. Hay, Ben, Aw thowt as mi hest 'ud a bust.
We prayed till we couldna pray, an' we skriked till we wur blind.
An' aw th' toime foak were talkin' abaat th' grave-stooan, an' sayin'
has trew it wur. An' we knowed as it wur aarsel's, but we
couldna prove it, an' we wur feart aat of aar wits on it bein' fun'
"Well, we borrad th' second lot o' brass off Owd Croppy at a
big interest, an' wot wi' th' debt an' wot wi' th' interest we'en
bin payin' it off iver sin'. It kilt aar Abil, an' it wur
killin' me. Th' last ten paand we couldna raise; we'en bin
tryin' for welly tew ye'r. An' Croppy saused uz ivery toime he
coom. An' we wur that feart of owt cumin' aat, as we darrna
leuk poor. An' then Aw geet badly, an' Aw wur feart o' deein'
afoor it wur paid. It ud aw a come aat if Aw hed, happen.
But Aw, couldna keep up. Aw felt Aw wur dun fur. An' Aw
wur welly crazy maddlet ta get th' brass, an' save my fayther's
Then she paused for a moment, out of breath. Both Ben
and Jinny began to exhort her to rest a little, but she stopped them
with an impatient gesture and proceeded—
"At last aar Jin an' me made it up as hoo should goa i'
lodgings, or else to th' bastile, when Aw wur deead, an' sell aw th'
furniture ta pay wi'. Aw couldna dee, yo' known, till mi
fayther's name wur saved—an' it is saved naa. Bless th' Lord!"
"Thi fayther's name ne'er wanted savin'," jerked out Jabe;
"bud goa on an' finish this nominny."
"Well," resumed Rhoda, "when Aw know'd Aw wur struck wi'
death, Aw felt Aw couldna goa till Aw know'd as it wur aw reet an'
safe. An' soa Aw sent fur thee, Ben, last neet. Thaa
allis hed a koind hert, lad. An' thaa cum, an' went away ta
fetch th' brass, and when Aw wur waitin' upst'irs fur thi ta cum
back, Aw yerd Owd Croppy daanst'irs, and then he cum up. An'
hay, Aw wur feart! But he said as he'd some news fur me.
Aw didn't want ony news, but Aw darrna say so. Soa he cum an'
he stood jist where tha'rt sittin' naa, Ben, an' he leuked at me,
an' he said, 'Amos Bobby wur kilt this mornin'.'
"Amos wur my fayther's pardner i' th' club stewardship, thaa
knows. Well, Aw thowt as they'd fun' summat else aat, an' Aw
skriked aat, but Croppy said as when he wur deein' Amos sent fur him
an' towd him he'd summat ta get off his soul afore he faced his
Maker. An' wot dun yo' think it wur?"
Both men were watching Rhoda with a stern eagerness that was
painful, but neither spoke.
"He towd Croppy as he'd awtered th' beuks ta pay his dog-runnin'
debts, an' then when my fayther deead suddin he couldna foind th'
brass, an' soa he leet it goa upo' th' deead mon. An' soa, yo'
see, his name's saved at last. Hay, Aw know'd it couldna be mi
fayther; bud we'en saved his name! We'en saved his name!
And naa Aw con goa ta me grave contented."
But she didn't. At first it seemed very doubtful
whether she would rally, but the vindication of her father's honour,
and the removal of her own intolerable burden, seemed to give her
new life, and in a short time she was going to the mill again,
looking younger and stronger than she had done for years.
Love and Music.
Clogger's apprentice, sat at his work before the back window of the
shop one balmy day in the early summer. He had opened the
window, thereby letting in the scent of wallflowers and the hum of
Jabe was out, for it was the first working day after the
Whitsuntide holidays, and the Clogger, though he would certainly not
have admitted the fact, was feeling the effects of the holiday and
the school treat, and so, being in no humour for work, had gone down
to Long Ben's to "sattle up" about the previous day's proceedings.
And Isaac seemed to have caught some of the restlessness of
his master, and was getting on very slowly with his work.
He held a clog-top between his knees, and was making a show
of stitching it, but when he had drawn the tatching ends through
their holes, and stretched out his arms to pull them tight, he kept
them thus extended, and sat gazing out of the window with a
far-away, melancholy, and dispirited look on his face.
Then as he sat gazing out of the window at the tree-tops on
the ridge of the Clough, he would every now and again heave a heavy
sigh, then start suddenly as he discovered that he was idling, and
hurriedly resume his stitching, casting as he did so furtive glances
towards the inglenook, where Sam Speck sat enjoying a meditative
Presently Isaac's sighs became quite demonstrative, and were
evidently somewhat artificially produced for the purpose of
attracting attention. If so, they entirely failed, for Sam,
half-asleep, was not in the least affected by them. A few
minutes later Sam began to nod, which seemed to quite disturb poor
Isaac. Then his pipe dropped out of his mouth, and that awoke
him, and as he was picking it up, Isaac, to prevent him dozing off
again, broke out—
"Aw've yerd bet-ter hanthums tin that we hed o' Sunday neet."
"Wot's thaa know abaat hanthums?"
Isaac seemed not to hear this rough answer, and proceeded—
"Aw loiked it weel enuff i' perts, bud Aw thowt as th' solo
spilet it, thaa knows."
"Spilet it, thaa bermyed, whey it wur the best pert on it."
Isaac seemed very uncomfortable, and the face that gazed out
through the window looked quite wretched.
"Ay! Aw darr say it's reet enuff if it 'ud bin sung owt
like"—and Isaac stole a long sly look at Sam.
"Sung! whey, it wur sung grand! He's a throit like a
throstle, Joe hes."
A spasm of pain shot across Isaac's homely countenance, as if
Sam's words were so many twists of a thumbscrew or other dreadful
instrument of torture. For a moment or two he seemed unable to
speak. His lips tightened, and then suddenly relaxed and
quivered, and as he gazed abstractedly at the distant treetops once
more, something very like tears swam into his eyes.
Presently, with a manifest effort, he asked—
"Did—did—t'other singers loike th' solo?"
"Aw reacon thaa meeans did Lizer Tatlock loike it?
Well, hoo did. Hoo gan him some peppermint humbugs when it wur
Isaac went very red about the neck and ears. His eyes
filled again, and looking with a sort of desperation through his
tears at the distant trees once more, he said slowly and
falteringly, and in a tone which even the most credulous would have
found it difficult to believe in—
"Aw cur nowt abaat Lizer Tatlock."
Sam laughed—a great, ironical, unbelieving laugh. "Neaw,"
he cried, "an' tha'rt no' jealous o' Joe, arta? Oh neaw!
sartinly not!" and Sam grinned again in relish of his own rough
There was another pause, during which Isaac was evidently
trying to get himself well in hand again, but in spite of all he
could do a great tear splashed down upon his hand as he was boring a
hole in the clog-top with his awl.
Now Sam saw this tear, and it was the first indication he had
had of the depth of Isaac's feelings on the matter of their
conversation, and so, after watching the apprentice meditatively for
some time, he changed his tone and said, with an assumption of stern
"Whey doesn't thaa shape, mon, an' get th' wench if thaa
wants her? Hoo conna be so bad to pleeas when hoo tak's up wi'
Isaac took another long stare through the window, and then,
speaking like a man who was absorbingly preoccupied, he murmured
"Joe's bet-ter leukin' nor me, an' mooar of a scholard—beside
his singin'" and then, after a pondering, dreamy pause, "Hay!
Lizer does loike music."
"Hoo wouldna be Jonas's wench if hoo didna," cried Sam; "but
whey doesn't thaa start o' singin'?"
And Isaac, with a despondent shake of the head and a voice of
profound melancholy, replied—
"Aw conna sing a nooat, Sam."
Sam sat up, as if to think more rapidly, seemed about to
speak once or twice, and then checked himself; but at length he
suggested, though not very confidently—
"Start o' playin' then, mon. Thaa met ger i' th' band,
thaa knows, an' that 'ud fotch her off her pierch."
An eager light came into Isaac's eyes. This was
evidently what he would like most of all, but a moment later he
shook his head sadly and said—
"Aw'm sitchen a numyed, thaa knows, Sam; besides, whoa'd larn
Sam evidently agreed with Isaac as to his lack of power to
acquire knowledge, but he also sympathised with him in his trouble,
and so he said at last—
"Well, if thaa loikes fur t' try th' voiolin, Aw'll larn thi."
Isaac accepted this with great eagerness and many clumsy
expressions of gratitude. And in response to it Sam offered to
get him a fiddle and allow him to pay for it as he was able, which,
as Isaac was poor and had a sick mother, was a great relief to him.
Then there came the question as to where the practising
should take place. Sam was so dubious about his pupil that he
insisted on the lessons being given secretly. They couldn't be
given at his house, for his tyrant housekeeper and sister would not,
he knew, tolerate them for an hour.
After much discussion, a disused hencote at the bottom of the
yard wherein Isaac's mother's cottage stood, and which belonged to
the cottage, was decided upon, and it was arranged that lessons
should commence at once.
Many and many a time did poor Sam repent of his bargain
during the next few months, for Isaac fully justified his own
account of himself, and proved a most trying pupil.
In course of time, however, some little progress was made,
and almost every night during the following winter any person going
down Shaving Lane would have heard certain peculiar sounds coming
from the outbuildings abutting upon the lane, and if they had
peeped, as more than one curious Becksider did, through one of the
many holes in the wall, they would have seen a tall, long-necked
youth, with very short hair, mending a broken string, or resining a
fiddle-bow, or producing, with fearful facial contortions and
grotesque protrusions of tongue, certain weird, indescribable
sounds, which every now and again very distantly suggested a tune.
As the springtime came round again the practices became more
frequent, and Sam was sometimes on the point of giving his pupil up
altogether, and sometimes prophesied that he would "mak' a fiddler
One day, however, Sam effected his grand coup.
It was the second practice night at the Clog Shop preparatory to the
"Sarmons," and things could not be said to be going at all well.
The instrumentalists struggled bravely with the new piece of anthem
music, but when at last they had got through it, every man finished
with that irritated and discouraged feeling so usual in the earlier
stages of musical preparation. This was Sam's opportunity.
"Aw'll tell yo' wot it is, chaps," he cried, straightening
himself and brandishing his fiddle-bow to emphasise his argument, "th'
fost fiddles isna strung enuff, an' wot's mooar, they ne'er han bin
strung enuff sin owd Job gan up."
"They makken neyse [noise] enuff, at ony rate," snarled Jabe
from behind his 'cello; "it's no neyse we wanten, it's music."
"Yo' conna foind fiddlers upo' ivery hedge backin," said
"We met ax fat Joss," suggested Jonas the leader.
"Wot! Theer's noa ale-hawse fiddler goin' fur t' play i'
aar chapil," cried Jabe, with fierce resolution.
There was a pause, broken by the strumming of strings in
process of tuning, and then Sam said as carelessly as he could—
"We met tak' a young un an' larn him."
"Ay," retorted Jabe sarcastically, "we did that when we teuk
thee, an' a bonny bargin thaa wur tew."
But the others, who evidently thought there was something to
be said for Sam's suggestion, looked at him as if expecting him to
proceed, and when he did not, Jonas, as leader, demanded—
"Aat wi' it, Sam; wot art dreivin' at?"
Sam became all at once deeply engrossed in tightening his
fiddle-bow, and as he bent his head over it he said, in a low,
"Isaac con fiddle a bit."
"That wastril!" cried Jabe, rising to his feet in supreme
indignation; and in a moment everybody was speaking at once, and all
agreed in denouncing the idea as absurd in the extreme. But
Sam stuck to his point, and after a long strenuous argument, which
sadly interfered with the practice, reluctant and tentative consent
was given for Isaac to come to the next practice and try.
When Sam late that night communicated the intelligence to his
pupil in the hencote, Isaac was overjoyed.
"Hay, lad," he cried, "when hoo sees me stonnin' i' th' band
at th' Sarmons, an' fiddlin' away loike—loike—winkin'—wot'll hoo
think on me then?"
And Sam, though with certain misgivings, catching for the
moment some of Isaac's enthusiasm, replied—
"Joe Gullett's dun fur ony minit."
It was a trying ordeal through which poor Isaac passed next
day. All day long Jabe was lecturing him on the difficulties
of the task he was undertaking, and the utter impossibility of his
being able to play creditably alongside such accomplished exponents
of the art as the members of the band. And when the evening
came, and eight sternly-critical judges listened to Isaac's
initiatory performance with heads held sideways and nodding marks of
time, the verdict, though not definite and final, was anything but
hopeful. At any rate, when the practice was over, and Isaac,
after waiting for the verdict for a long time, at last rose to go,
he asked, with his hand on the latch—"Mun Aw cum ageean?"
Nobody seemed inclined to answer, until Jonas, who as leader
was expected to reply, answered somewhat surlily—
"Thaa con pleeas thisel'."
Of course Isaac continued to attend, but his case was never
regarded as a hopeful one. Just when he ought to have been
showing most improvement he became somehow most stupid, and his
inclusion in the band for the great "Sarmons" day was an unsettled
question to the very last. In fact, had it not been that Long
Ben and Jethro discovered that Isaac did not dream of being left
out, but was looking forward to his first public appearance with an
eagerness they could not bear to disappoint, it is absolutely
certain that Jabe would have had his way and the young clogger would
have been summarily dismissed.
A week before the great event Jonas undertook to give Isaac a
little private instruction, to prevent a fiasco at the last,
and the only point in this arrangement that struck Isaac was that he
had become a pupil of "Lizer's" father, and might even meet her in
the house when he went for his lessons.
But the young lady was somehow always absent, and eventually
he began to regard this as a fortunate circumstance, as his
appearance in the band on the great Sunday would be all the greater
surprise to her.
There was one drawback, however, to the completeness of
Isaac's joy on the occasion. It was an unwritten law in
Beckside that everybody with any pretence to respectability—at any
rate every young person—must appear on Whit Sunday in new clothes,
and had Isaac been able to add this additional glory to the triumphs
of the day, his cup would have been about full. But his
mother's illness had made that impossible. He would have to
wear his old suit on this greatest occasion of his life, and just on
the top of one knee his trousers had had to be darned, and the darn
would be shockingly conspicuous, and he would sit where everybody
could see him. But even this great difficulty did not daunt
him. He got a new "dicky," a new bright blue necktie, with
white spots in it, and a new billy-cock, and sat up until long after
midnight in the hencote going over again and again the pieces to be
played on the glorious morrow, finally going to bed to think and
dream and do everything except sleep.
The Sunday proved wonderfully fine, though hot, and a great
Very shyly poor Isaac insinuated himself into the vestry
appropriated for the use of the band, and turned red and pale and
pale and red again as he followed the procession of instrumentalists
into the chapel.
Isaac was placed at the corner of the Communion rail, with
Sam Speck at one side of him and Jimmy Juddy at the other. The
players had their backs to the congregation, and their faces towards
the stage on which sat rows of girls in white. In the bottom
row, but on the other side of the pulpit from Isaac, sat Eliza
Tatlock, whose dancing black eyes and arch roguish face had entirely
bewitched the poor apprentice.
Having found out exactly where she was, Isaac began to make
every possible use of his great opportunity. When he commenced
to tune his fiddle, it was done pointedly at her, as if the exercise
were a tribute to her beauty, rather than a mere musical
preliminary. When the hymn was given out, and the band stood
up and struck off with the tune, every stroke of Isaac's fiddle-bow
which could possibly be made to do so went in Eliza's direction, and
in all the succeeding parts of the service Isaac played palpably,
and most enthusiastically, at the queen of his heart. Sad to
say, though he never took his eyes from her except to look at his
notes during the whole service, the hard-hearted beauty never
deigned him so much as a single glance, whilst he twice caught her
smiling in the direction of Joe Gullett.
Except for this circumstance, Isaac was perfectly satisfied
with the service, and felt it, therefore, a great compliment when,
immediately after dinner, Jonas Tatlock came down to him, and
drilled him for a whole hour in his part for the evening service.
And poor Isaac did not know that this was done to appease the
wrath of the Clogger, who was denouncing his apprentice in most
violent language, and insisting on his being kept out of the
But the morning's service was merely a skirmish, and even the
afternoon was not regarded by the band as of much importance, as
they took but a very secondary part in it. The grand display,
of course, was always reserved for night, and as the time drew near
Isaac made his way in a high state of nervous perspiration to the
Had he been less preoccupied he might have noticed that his
fellow-players all looked at him with cold averted faces, except Sam
Speck, who looked so bad that Isaac asked him if he'd got the "toothwarch."
Presently the Clogger entered the vestry. "Sithi'," he
cried, as soon as he caught sight of his apprentice, "it's aither
neck or nowt wi' thee ta-neet. If thaa shapes ta-neet loike
thaa did this mornin' Aw'll—Aw'll brast thi fiddle fur thee."
Isaac smiled sheepishly, and tried to imagine how ashamed of
himself his master would be when the service was over.
In a few moments they adjourned to the chapel, and Isaac,
glancing up, saw that "Lizer" was there, looking as saucy and wicked
as ever, and that Joe Gullett had changed places, and was just at
The great musical event of the day was the anthem of the
evening service, and Isaac, turning round for an instant, saw all
the musical critics of Brogden, Clough End, Halfpenny Gate, and the
neighbourhood, sitting behind him with uncompromising faces.
At last the anthem was called for, and the band and choir
stood up to perform. Just as Isaac was settling his fiddle to
his chin he caught sight of Lizer looking straight at him. He
felt that look right down to his toes. Now for it! The
music commenced, and in a moment or two Isaac was sawing away for
dear life, glancing every bar or two towards his lady-love to see
how she was taking it. He saw her frown once. Then she
blushed, and smiled very strangely. Then she went red again,
and then, after biting her lip for a time, she presently laughed
outright, and Isaac, excited almost beyond himself, put all he knew
into the last grand fortissimo, and sat down, feeling that his work
was done and his victory complete.
But somehow the band was very badly behaved that evening.
Even Jabe was muttering and setting his teeth about something all
through the sermon, and the rest hung down their heads and scowled;
and when the last hymn came they played as if all life had gone out
Isaac was surprised and grieved, and made up his mind to
admonish his seniors gently when he got into the vestry. He
had done his part. What was the matter with all the rest of
As the congregation dispersed, the band played a selection,
and Isaac, in the confidence of a great sense of victory,
extemporised a little, putting in several fine grace notes; and
congratulated himself that everybody was noticing him, as indeed
they were. He almost blushed as he discovered going out that
all the musical critics in the congregation were looking at him in
wonder, and, he doubted not, in envy too.
Poor Isaac! scarcely had he got inside the vestry when Jabe,
almost purple with wrath, fell furiously upon him.
"Thee play!" he cried indignantly. "Ther's as mitch
music i' thee as they' is in a cracked weshing-mug! Dun?
Tha's spilt the best hanthum we'en iver hed, an' th' collection's
daan three paand; that's wot tha's done! Pike off whooam, thaa
scraping scarrcrow thaa!"
And glaring angrily at him, whilst the rest looked on with
pained, resentful looks, Jabe pointed to the door, and stood in the
middle of the vestry, waiting for him to depart.
And as if that were not enough, as he was going dejectedly
down the "broo" towards home, who should pass him but the laughing,
teasing "Lizer," talking with suspicious confidence to Joe Gullett.
No Place like Home.
ISAAC and his
mother lived in the last of three irregular little one-storey
cottages at the corner of Shaving Lane. He had got within a
few steps of home when the teasing "Lizer" and her companion, Joe
Gullett, passed him.
When he saw them thus in company, and heard the young lady's
titter, he nearly stopped. A great lump came into his throat,
and he struggled vainly to keep back hot, angry tears.
Absorbed in watching his rival, he forgot to look where he was
going, and a moment later he had stumbled over the remains of an
ancient kerbstone, and his fiddle went flying from under his arm and
clattering along the road, whilst Isaac himself went sprawling into
He was up again in an instant with a great slit in his
trousers, just across the top of the knee where they had been
darned. He was covered all over with dust, and felt that he
had scraped the skin off his shin. But that was nothing to the
anger and bitter shame that raged within him as "Lizer" and Joe,
just as they were turning the corner of Shaving Lane, looked at him.
Concern and sympathy shot into "Lizer's" dark eyes, but at that
instant Joe made some remark, which Isaac did not hear, but which
set "Lizer" off giggling, and even after they had disappeared round
the corner Isaac could hear her rippling laugh.
Sore, ashamed, and bitterly angry with all the world, Isaac
picked up his instrument and walked slowly towards the house,
knocking the dust off his clothes as he went, and struggling hard to
keep back tears of pain and anger.
He steadied himself for a moment ere he opened the cottage
door, waited until he could command his countenance, and then
quietly lifted the latch.
The cottage was poorly furnished but spotlessly clean, and on
the far side of the fireplace stood an old four-post bedstead
carefully hung with pink and white bed-hangings of ancient pattern.
Isaac never looked at the bed. He took off his hat and laid it
on the edge of an old chest, ready to be taken up into the attic
when he retired to rest. Then he carefully put away his fiddle
in a little green bag and hung it in the chimney corner nearest the
bed. Then he sat down before the fire and made a show of
poking it, though the evening was most uncomfortably warm. In
a moment or two he got up, walked to the window, and appeared to be
interested in examining a couple of potted plants.
As he did so, a dismal chirp was heard just above his head,
and a young "throstle" in a little cage hanging against the
window-jamb began to show signs of recognition and gladness.
But even this did not interest him, and instead of giving the
expectant bird a responsive whistle, he stood blankly staring at it,
as if it had committed some shocking crime, and then abstractedly
turned away again and sat down once more by the fire.
All this time, as Isaac was well aware, a pair of anxious,
pain-faded eyes had been watching him from the bed, and as they
watched they grew darker and more distressful, and when he finally
sat down before the fire, evidently very unhappy, the sad eyes grew
softer, a melting light came into them, and many a wistful glance
was cast towards him.
No sign or sound was there beside. Isaac was still in
dreamland, and a dark and dreary dreamland it must have been, to
judge by his face and the gloomy stillness in which he sat.
Presently there was a movement in the bed, accompanied by a
groan which the sufferer tried hard but vainly to suppress.
She now lay on her back gazing earnestly at the joists above her
head, and after a pause she said in a low, gentle voice—
"Hay, Aw'm a praad woman ta-day."
But Isaac neither moved nor spoke, and so after another
pause, she went on―
"Sum women's sons 'as bin i' th' ale-haase an' th' skittle
alley an' tossin' an' swurrin' [swearing] aw day, an' moine's bin
playin' hanthums at th' annivarsary. Bless th' Lord!"
Isaac gave a gasp, and a great gush of tears rose into his
eyes, but he never spoke.
The sufferer on the bed was listening intently, and waiting
for him to speak, but as he did not, she began to prepare her next
remark; looking steadily at the joists, and apparently absorbed in
conversation with the Great Unseen, she moved her twisted hands and
"Ay, Lord, th' herps of goold an' th' angils' singin' 'ull be
varry grand, bud—Aw'd rayther yer aar Isaac playin' i' th'
And then she added in a soft, apologetic undertone—
"Yo' mun excuse me, Lord; Aw'm his mother."
Isaac was crying now. Not with the hot, hard tears of
disappointment and shame, but the soft, gentle overflowings of
relief and sympathy. He sat for some time undisguisedly wiping
his eyes and sighing. Then he resumed his steady stare into
the fire, but never a word did he speak,
"Aw reacon Aw'st ne'er yer na mooar hanthums till Aw get to
the bet-ter land," murmured the sufferer on the bed, still
apparently speaking to the Unseen or to herself.
And now for the first time Isaac turned and glanced towards
his mother, but almost immediately resumed his glowering into the
"Ne'er moind," came from the bed again. "Ther's plenty
as hez yerd him play, if Aw hevna. Bud Aw'st be a hangil afoor
lung, wi' wings an' noa rheumatiz, an' Aw'st goa to aw th' Sarmons
as aar Isaac plays at."
And the afflicted one turned over on her side with her face
to the wall, and shut her eyes as if in pain.
At this Isaac turned again and looked towards his mother, and
once more resumed his gazing in the fire. Then he looked again
with a wistful, anxious look. A long pause followed, and at
length the young clogger rose to his feet and reached out his hand
for his violin. He tuned it in a slow, absent sort of manner.
Then he drew the bow across the strings aimlessly, and at last,
turning his back towards the bed, he began to play, carefully and
nervously at first, but soon with confidence and then with abandon,
and with an accuracy and skill which would have greatly astonished
his tutors and fellow-bandsmen. Finally he finished up with a
grand, triumphant flourish.
During the playing of this anthem Isaac's mother did not
move, and even when he had finished she gave no sign at all.
Isaac stood for a moment expecting her to say something, and when
she did not, he grew uneasy, and crept round the foot of the bed,
with the fiddle still at his chin, to steal a look at her.
Still she neither moved nor spoke. Had she gone to sleep
whilst he played? He stepped nearer, passed the scullery door,
stole along the other side of the bed, stooped over and looked down.
And there lay a woman with a face worn with long and terrible
suffering, but which now shone with a light that was scarcely
earthly, whilst the pillow under her cheek was wet with gracious
tears. As he bent over her she moved and opened her eyes.
Then she smiled. Such a smile! Isaac had never seen
anything like it before.
"Haa's yo'r pain, muther?" he asked, for the sake of saying
"Pain, lad? Aw know nowt abaat pain! Aw'm i'
heaven. Hay, Isaac! Aw've bin i' heaven."
A great glow of comfort and gladness suddenly gushed into
Isaac's heart, and, partly to hide his emotion and partly to
continue his mother's pleasure, he perched himself on the edge of
the bed and played one of the anniversary hymns. When that was
finished he played another, and then a third, and by this time his
mother was sitting up and watching him in the twilight with admiring
and grateful eyes.
When he had finished he walked back to his place by the now
dead fire. A great peace was in his heart. He had found
a vocation, and even his expulsion from the band began to look a
less dreadful thing to him.
Then he got his mother a little food, and went out and
fetched a jug of skimmed milk, and with that in one hand and a piece
of oatcake in the other he sat down at the bedside to talk.
"Hay, Isaac; thaa hez capt me ta-neet," began his mother.
"Aw ne'er thowt as thaa could play loike that."
"Aw'll gi' yo' sum mooar when Aw've hed mi supper," said the
"Nay, lad, tha'rt tired ta-neet."
"Tired? Aw cud play aw neet!" And, putting down
his empty milk-basin, he picked up his fiddle, though it was now
quite dusk, and said—
"Naa, muther, what wed yo' loike?"
The bedridden woman seemed to hesitate. Then she looked
at her son through the gloaming, and said—
"Yo' grand players dunno bother wi' childer's tunes, dun yo'?"
The subtle flattery of these words was like healing balm to
Isaac's sore heart, and he said cheerfully—
"Childer's tunes? Ay, wot yo' loike, if Aw know it?"
"Can thaa play, 'Aw want to be a hangil'? When Aw uset
t' yer that Aw could fair yer th' angils singin' and see 'em comin'
Of course Isaac knew that tune, and so he began to play,
whilst his mother fell back on her pillow to listen. When he
had got through the simple little melody he commenced again, and
then again, and at last, after a particularly loud and flourishing
wind up, he dropped upon the bed, crying,—
"Well, muther, will that dew?"
By this time it was so dark that he could not see his
mother's face, except by going close to her. And as he bent
over her he thought she looked almost beautiful, and an impulse came
over him to kiss her. But he had never done such a thing in
his life that he could remember, and blushed at his own thought.
Just then his mother moved.
"Huish!" she cried in subdued, reverent tones; "they're theer!
They're theer, Isaac!"
And then she closed her eyes again, and sighed, and smiled,
and Isaac crept off the bed and stood in the darkness alone.
Then he slipped off his boots, and was creeping up into his
little attic, when a soft voice said, "Isaac!"
"Wilta bring th' angils tew me ageean some day?"
"Ay, muther; ivery day if yo'n a moind an' if fiddlin' 'ull
And with that he climbed his little ladder, and crept into
his bed a comforted and even thankful young man.
Next day was the school treat, and of course a holiday, but
Isaac had no heart for the festivities, and shrank timidly from the
chaff he knew would be dealt out to him. So he stayed at home.
All morning he was "fettlin' up" the little cottage, although it was
already spotless, and in the afternoon, whilst the scholars were
enjoying themselves in the Fold Farm field, Isaac was playing to his
mother. Though the cottage door was kept open because of the
heat, he kept carefully out of sight, and watchfully avoided both
seeing and being seen.
When he retired that night, he spent a long time before he
went to sleep picturing to himself the ordeal he would have to pass
through on the morrow at the Clog Shop, and it took all the comfort
he had got from his mother's appreciation to nerve him to face the
But the anticipation proved as usual worse than the reality.
Jabe treated him with a dignified indifference, never even alluding
to Sunday, and the other frequenters of the Clog Shop seemed more
inclined to pity than to scold him.
For the next two months Isaac spent most of his spare time at
his mother's bedside, and the fiddle was in constant use, although
Isaac had often to confess to himself that he had never played the
anthem so well as he did on that first sad night.
But now other things began to trouble him. He thought
he perceived a change in his mother, and at last he mustered courage
to ask the doctor about it.
"She might linger for some time," was the doctor's verdict,
"but at longest she will scarcely see the next winter through."
Poor Isaac! It was hard work playing with this fear on
his mind. He had got so used to his mother being in bed, that
it seemed as if she always had been there, and always would be.
What should he do if she were taken? There would be nobody to
live for and nobody to play for then. Life would be a blank.
One night, some three weeks after Isaac's consultation with
Dr. Walmsley, he had been kept rather later than usual at the Clog
Shop by pressure of business. When he got home he found his
mother strangely changed. She seemed greatly oppressed with
the heat and very restless. By this time Isaac's faith in the
power of his fiddle was almost boundless, and so in a few minutes he
was sitting in his old place by the bedside and fiddling away at the
simple melodies his mother liked. For a time the music seemed
to excite rather than soothe. She sat up two or three times
and looked at him earnestly, and then fell back with a gasp on her
pillow. This alarmed Isaac more than he cared to show, and he
glided off into Sunday-school tunes, carefully reserving his one
unfailing little hymn until the last.
"Arr they comin', muther?" he said, in a loud whisper, as he
reached the end of "The realms of the blest," and a faint voice
"Bless thi, lad! Bless thi!"
Isaac tried another tune, and then a third.
"Con yo' see 'em, muther?"
"Bless thi, lad!" came back through the twilight in a faint
As he played "There is a happy land," Isaac inwardly resolved
that if he did not get a more satisfactory answer from his mother
next time, he would plunge right away into the irresistible "I want
to be an angel," and when he got through the tune and bent forward,
he noticed that his mother was sitting up, and leaning towards him,
and gazing at him with a strange intentness.
"Con yo' see 'em yet?" he asked, in hushed tones.
The suffering woman bent farther forward and took his face
between her hands, and, looking with burning gaze into his eyes, she
"See 'em! Well, Aw con see wun on 'em at ony
rate. Aw th' angils i' heaven arna as bonny to me as my oan
fiddlin' clogger lad; an' they hevna done mooar fur me, nayther."
Isaac was startled. It was a most unusual action on the
part of his mother, and her words were more strange than her deeds.
But for all that those words sent a warm gush into his heart, and
so, to relieve his feelings, he dashed off once more into "I want to
be an angel."
Before he had got through, his mother had dropped back upon
her pillow, and Isaac, taking this for a good sign, began again.
Then he tried a third and even a fourth tune, and when at last he
stopped, he discovered that his mother was asleep. Softly
putting his fiddle away, and lighting a candle, he approached the
bedside. His mother was apparently in deep slumber, but such a
peaceful, happy sleep it seemed. She almost seemed to be
smiling, and once more the temptation to kiss the pain-worn face
came to the bashful lad, but only to be resisted, as before.
Then he stole off to bed, and when, next morning, he came to
the bedside to greet his parent, he found that she had had her
desire, and gone to see the angels. Isaac stood for a moment
stunned; then, uttering a great, dreadful cry, he flew off to the
Jabe, Aunt Judy, and Sam Speck were soon on hand to render
all possible help, and deep, though almost wordless, sympathy.
Three days later, his mother was laid in the chapel yard, and Isaac,
refusing several rudely-tender offers of at least temporary
lodgings, went back to live by himself in his mother's cottage.
For a whole month he never touched his fiddle, but spent his
spare time gathering together the few little knick-knacks belonging
to his mother, and arranging and rearranging them in an old box
covered with wall-paper.
One sultry evening he felt more pensive than usual.
Somehow the box failed to interest him for once, and he wandered
about the house in a restless, uneasy manner.
Presently he turned towards the mantelpiece, and, after
hesitating a moment, reached down his fiddle, and drew the bow
gently across the strings. The instrument gave forth a most
plaintive note. That touched him. He felt his hand
shake, and so, with a heavy sigh, he put the fiddle back into its
bag and hung it up again.
But he was now more restless than ever. He went to the
open door and stood looking moodily up and down the road. Then
he came back and stood in the middle of the floor. A feeling
of intolerable loneliness came over him. He looked round the
room again and again as if seeking someone, and then, drawing a long
breath, he moaned out, "Aw am looansome"; and then, after a pause,
"Aw wuish mi muther's angels 'ud come."
And as he stood there in his misery, a thought suddenly
"They'll happen come if Aw play," he cried, and snatched down
his fiddle. "Hoo'll happen come hersel'. Hay, Aw wuish
hoo wod, bless her!"
Then he commenced to play. The twilight was just
gathering in, and but for the open door the small-windowed house
would have been almost in darkness.
As Isaac played, his spirits rose. He began to think
that perhaps the angels would come, and so he played on and felt
relieved and cheered. Tune after tune was gone through, the
music moving the lonely, fretful heart of the young clogger, until
it grew strangely light and warm. As he played, he glanced
round into the darker corners of the room as if expecting to see
someone. Still he played, getting lighter-hearted and more
hopeful almost every moment. Just as he was turning upon what
he had reserved as usual for the last, a shadow fell across the
doorway. He did not see it for a moment, and had got into the
second line of his tune, when, turning towards the doorway, he
stopped suddenly, and cried, in undisguised astonishment
Yes, there she was. The same black-eyed, bewitching
beauty upon whom he had once so fondly looked with hope. But
her face was grave—a strange thing indeed for her. She also
seemed a little shy and embarrassed.
"Ay, it's me, lad," she said, in answer to Isaac's startled
question; and even he could not help noticing that there was a tone
of kindness and sympathy in her voice.
Isaac pointed to a chair, but she blushed and shook her head,
glancing the while at the door as if meditating flight.
Isaac noted this, and was just about to beg her not to go so
soon, when she stopped him by asking―
"Artna looansome livin' here by thisel'?"
"Hay, Aw am that," said Isaac, and the look he cast at her
would have melted a heart of stone.
There was an awkward pause, during which Eliza was drawing
figures on the sanded floor with the iron of a dainty clog.
"Wot wur that thaa wur playin'?" she asked, although the
wicked puss knew as well as he did.
"'Aw want to be a hangil,' my muther's tune, thaa knows."
"Did thi mother loike it?"
"Ay, hoo did that; hoo uset say it browt th' angils tew her.
Aw thowt it 'ud happen bring 'em to me."
There was another long pause, and more clog-iron sketching on
the floor. Presently, after looking at him steadily for a
moment, she resumed her drawing, saying as she did so―
"Wot dust want angils fur?"
"'Cause Aw'm sa looansome. They uset comfort my muther,
and they'd happen comfort me."
The pause that followed was longer than ever, and by the way
Eliza kept glancing towards the door, Isaac expected every moment to
see her dart away through it and vanish. But presently she
bent her pretty head, and a great blush began to rise up her white
"Aw wuish Aw wur a hangil," she stammered, and then snatching
up her little white apron, she hid her hot face in it and seemed
about to begin to cry.
But even then the stupid Isaac could not see, and so, looking
up with dull astonishment, he asked―
"Wot does thaa want ta be a hangil fur?"
But Eliza was already trembling with the thought of her own
boldness, and so there came out of the crumpled apron the single
And then the slow lover seemed to guess something, only it
was altogether too wonderful and astonishing to be true; but
presently he ventured—
"Thaa could be mooar nor a hangil ta me if thaa nobbut wod."
And "Lizer" didn't "fly up," as he had expected; she didn't
even run away. She just stood there and cried, and seemed to
be waiting to be taken possession of. And at last Isaac
ventured; but how it was done, and how Eliza responded is really too
private a matter to be detailed in print.
An hour later, Isaac stood at Jonas Tatlock's garden gate,
talking brightly to his sweetheart, even then scarcely able to
believe in his luck.
"Lizer," he said, "Aw allis thowt as thaa looked daan o' me
an' loufed at me."
"Aw'st louf at thi ageean mony a toime afoor Aw've dun wi'
thi," was the saucy reply.
"Bud, Lizer, did thaa cum ta see me ta-neet 'cause thaa yerd
Aw wur looansome?"
"Well, thaa knows, when thi muther deed, foak were aw saying
haa thaa'd tan cur o' thi muther an' fiddled to her aw neet o'er?"
"Well, wot bi that?"
Lizer hesitated, looked down into Isaac's homely face for a
moment, and then gazing right before her, said hesitatingly—
"Well, thaa knows, Aw thowt as a lad as teuk cur of an owd
woman 'ud happen tak' cur of a young un tew."