THE CLOGGER AT BAY.
woman-hater, Methodist steward, and general village oracle, sat one
morning in the parlour adjoining the clog-shop meditatively eating
his breakfast. His reflections were evidently of a distracting
character, and interfered with the progress of the meal. As he took
up the last spoonful of porridge and transferred it to his mouth his
face puckered into frowns, and, arresting the spoon as it approached
his lips and setting his teeth grimly, he growled out, "The brazzened bosom!" Then he slowly swallowed the porridge, thinking
rapidly the while, and at length, throwing the empty spoon down upon
his plate with a sort of punctuating bang, he went on, "It sarves
him reet! He's wur nor hur! he is, fur sure."
A moment later he turned his chair towards the fire and put out his
hand towards the oven-top, and began to feel absently for his pipe. As he did so his eye fell upon the steaming coffee-pot, and,
suddenly remembering that he had had only one of the courses of his
double-barrelled breakfast, he picked up the vessel and poured
himself out a full cup. As he turned to replace the coffee-pot on
the hob, he paused a moment, took a long, comprehensive look round
the room, and heaving a little sigh burst out, "Thank goodness
there's wun haase i' Beckside az isna plagued wi' th' petticoat
pestilence! Neaw, nur ne'er will be woll Aw'm in it!" And then he
resumed his seat, flinging his expressive short leg over the other
with an emphatic and conclusive jerk. Just as he was taking a
sampling sip at his cup the door opened, and in stepped his big,
much enduring sister, Aunt Judy.
"Aw've browt thi sum scratchings fur thi breakfast," she said, with
a heavy sigh, as she approached the table.
The clogger helped himself to the scratchings with an inarticulate
"Hay dear!" began Judy, who evidently had something on her mind, and
was in a fretful and despondent humour; but just then she caught
sight of the long-settle, which was tumbled up as though some one
had slept on it. "Wot's ta dew wi' th' lung-settle? Tha's bin
sleepin' onit, an' thee wi' th' best feather bed i' Beckside
upst'irs: a body 'ud think tha'd bin drunk an' aat aw neet. Aw'm
shawmed fur thi, Jabez."
Jabe dipped his scratchings in the salt and grunted, "It's no me."
"Then whoar is it?" demanded Judy sternly.
"It's Sam; yond'
bully-ragging huzzy locked him aat."
"An' sarve him reet! that shop o' thine's woss nur ony ale-haase ov
a neet! Wot's he want going whoam at that time fur?"
Jabe crammed the last of the scratchings into his mouth, and then
turned away from the table. As he did so he put out one hand to feel
for his pipe, and stretching out the other he clenched his fist and
shook it at his sister and cried fiercely, "Si thi, Judy, if Aw'd
owe ta dew wi' yond' woman Aw'd welt her rig fur her! that's woe
Aw'd dew." And he crammed the tobacco savagely down into the bowl of
his pipe and proceeded to light it.
"Women!" he cried, dropping back into his chair and pouring out a
volume of smoke, "women! wherever there's women there's bother. Th'
weaker sect!" he added, curling his lip with intensest sarcasm. "Theyn played Owd Harry wi' th' strunger sect, that's aw az Aw know;
bud theyn ne'er bamboozle me, thank goodness, an' they ne'er will
dew noather. Aw'll show 'em!"
Now it so happened that the conversation had taken the most
unfortunate of turns for poor Aunt Judy; she had come on a very
delicate and difficult mission, and her little present of
scratchings was intended to pave the way for her; and, lo! the
conversation had taken a turn which made her errand more difficult
than it might have been, which was unnecessary. She wished she had
never seen the crumpled long-settle, and turned away from it with a
petulant gesture. Then she took a long, wandering glance round the
room, and, putting her feet upon the fender, looked dreamily into
"Hay dear!" she murmured presently, with a most alarming sigh, "this is a weary wold." And then, as she realised her feelings were
getting the better of her, she hurried into the pantry to recover
herself. Presently she came back again, and, standing leaning over
the fireplace, resumed her absorbed gaze into the fire.
Now the clogger had been dimly conscious for some minutes that there
was something not quite satisfactory about his sister, and so as she
stood before him looking dejected and miserable he jerked out
shortly, "Wot's up wi' thi?"
Judy commenced to rock herself over the
fireplace, and at last answered in a breaking voice, "Nowt."
All the same the poor creature's rockings became more rapid and
pronounced, and presently a great tear dropped upon the hot
fire-irons and sent out a loud hiss. And of all things Jabe hated
tears, especially women's tears. He pulled himself together in his
chair, glared angrily at the moving form of his portly sister, and
then said with stern deliberateness, "Judy, prating women's bad, an' schaming women's wur, bud the Lord deliver me fro yowling women." And then, with a jesture of disgust, he rose to his feet, knocked
the ashes out of his pipe, and walked off towards the shop.
But this did not suit Judy's purpose at all; the matter in her mind
was too serious to admit of delay, and so she cried in fear and
alarm: "Jabe, dunna, dunna goo. Aw've summat to tell thi."
Jabe, standing with the clog-shop door half open in his hand,
demanded in his surliest tones, "Well, wot is it?"
And Judy, dropping into a tone of dark mystery, cried, "Aw conna
tell thi theer; shut th' dur an' cum here."
Jabe let the door slip from his hand, and taking a step nearer, but
still standing at a non-committal distance, he jerked out, "Well?"
But now Judy's feelings suddenly overcame her, and she dropped her
head on the arm that was leaning on the fireplace and began to sob. Jabe glared at his sister in angry disgust, and after a muttered
imprecation on all women he demanded in louder tones, "Wot is it,
woman? aat wi' it."
Judy only sobbed the louder, and presently groaned out, "This is a
"Confaand th' wold! Aat wi' it, woman."
After a moment or two of uneasy silence, the weeping woman turned
her pathetic and tear-stained face to the clogger and stammered out,
"Jabe, aar Tummas 'as brokken"; and then she fell back into a
chair and began to cry afresh.
Jabe's face suddenly straightened into excessive gravity; he lifted
his hand nervously to feel for his coat collar, but as he had no
such garment on at the moment, it dropped helplessly to his side
again, and his loose, short leg began to move uneasily.
"An' sarve him reet!" he cried presently, in a voice too full of
wrath and scorn to be loud. "Didn't Aw allis tell thi it 'ud cum to
Judy heaved a most appealing sigh, and groping in her pocket
produced a letter which she held out to the clogger, crying as she
did so in pleading tones, "Bud tha'll help 'em, Jabe lad, wiltna?"
"Help 'em!" Snatching the letter from his sister, the clogger threw it
as far as he could across the room, and said bitterly, "Aw'll see 'em
i' th' bastile (workhouse) fost!"
"Bud there's aar Annie an' th' chilt; tha'll tak' pity upa them,
"Help her! Ay! Aw'll help her, Aw will that! Hoo's made her bed, an'
hoo mun lie on it."
"Hoo nobbut wants uz to tak' th' chilt tin they getten streight
ageean," persisted Judy.
"Nobbut th' chilt!" mocked the slogger indignantly. "Oh, neaw!
nobbut th' chilt, th' thin end o' th' wedge! Fost chilt an' then th'
muther, an' then th' baancing blash-boggert ov a husband! Not me,
Judy! not me!" He shook his head in knowing but resolute refusal.
"Ther wur noabry loike aar Annie wi' thee, Jabe, wunce."
"Naa then! noan o' that! Aw whop Aw'st neer see ony on 'em ageean." And he limped uneasily across the floor to the window, for Judy's
last remark had evidently probed an old wound.
"Nor even up aboon," murmured Judy; and she winced in anticipation
of the explosion that she expected would follow.
Jabe stood staring hard through the window to get his face under
control, and at last he said:
"Judy! Aw tewk cur o' that wench loike a feyther; Aw'd 'a' made a
lady on her if hoo'd 'a' let me. Aw warnt her ageean yond' wastril
toime an' toime ageean. An' hoo desaved me an' cawd me everything hoo could lay her tongue tew, and then hoo left me an' went off wi'
him. Hoo's made her bed, Aw tell thi, an' hoo'st lie on it fur me."
Then Judy rose to her feet and stepped towards the clog-shop door,
for all the familiars used that mode of entrance to the parlour, the
front door being only available on Sundays. When she reached the
door and was just passing out, she turned round and with solemn
"Jabez! aar Annie sarved me ten toimes wur nur hoo sarved thee: an' Awm nor a classleader nor a steward nor a superintender; Aw'm nobbut
a poor, sinful woman. Bud Aw'st need forgivin' sum day, an' Aw've
furgeen aar Annie upo' my knees this varry morning. Thaa con pleease
thisel'; bur Aw'st send fur yond' chilt this varry day."
And with a sort of I've-cleared-my-conscience cough Judy drew the
door to and disappeared.
As the reader will have already guessed, the
conversation just reported had reference to an early episode in the
family history of the Longworths. About twenty years before the time of which we
write Jabe and Judy had been proud in the possession of a bright and
clever younger sister. At Jabe's expense she had received education
much beyond what was possible to those of their class. She had
worked all those wonderful "samplers" which, framed in heavy
rosewood, were still the chief ornaments of Judy's little cottage,
and knew more wonderful and complicated stitches than any woman for
miles around. She was the chief treble singer in the choir, and the
only person who could be trusted to bake the tea-party "bun loaf." Her brother was inordinately proud of her, and came as near to
compromising his already pronounced opinions on the woman question
in her favour as he ever did in his life. It was even rumoured in Beckside at one time that the minister, who was young for a "super," and a childless widower, was "makkin' up to her," and it
was whilst the expectation of the news of this engagement was
keenest in everybody's mind that there came to the village that
frivolous and "impident cock-sparrow," the travelling draper's
assistant from Duxbury.
This young man was from Cumberland, and had been engaged to assist "owd
Dyson," who for many years had come twice a week to Beckside and
the surrounding villages retailing drapery, but who now was unequal
to the journeys himself. Jabe took a dislike to the young fellow
from the first, and missed no opportunity of taking him down. Aunt
Judy went to the length of withdrawing her custom from him, and even
did some little to influence Mrs. Ben Barber in the same direction. When therefore, it was suddenly discovered that young Dent was
making love to Annie, and that she was encouraging him, Jabe's wrath
knew no bounds. He stormed, he walked up and down the parlour
calling the young draper all the opprobrious names he could think
of, and threatening that if he saw him speaking to Annie again he
would "bansil his hide fur him." Then in his disgust he fell to
mimicking a peculiar manner the young man had of carrying his left
shoulder. He satirised his unusual height and extreme thinness, and
went through a savagely grotesque imitation of the way he dealt with
his customers, until poor Annie was provoked into taking the young
fellow's part and defying her relatives.
Then it was discovered that young Dent was not a member of Society,
was not even a Methodist, and, in truth, made light of religion
altogether. This last fact cooled Jabe somewhat, and he felt so
absolutely sure his sister would not think seriously of marrying an
utterly worldly man and a stranger, that he was inclined to think
there was no need to be alarmed. One morning, however, Aunt Judy
came to the clog-shop with a fearful and alarmed look on her face. Annie had just told her that she was going to be married almost
immediately. Once more Jabe lost control of himself; he limped off
down to Judy's house, and burst in upon his frightened sister with
most terrible denunciations. After recovering herself a little, she
replied in kind, and in the end the clogger had pronounced his final
"Goa! thaa impident madam! Goa thi ways! Bud moind thi, th' day az
tha drops th' Lung'orth name tha drops th' Lung'orth blood. Moind
And Annie had gone; not indeed immediately, for she spent several
days more in her old home with Judy. When at last she departed, and
word came that she was married, Judy discovered that Annie had spent
most of her time since Jabe's final pronouncement in rummaging the
drawers and boxes of the house and appropriating everything movable
that she could lay her hands on. Nay, more: in one of the upstairs
drawers the two of them had put their little savings together in an
old purse; but Judy found that the purse was gone.
Since that sad parting Jabe and his sister had scarcely heard of
Annie, and when they did, it was some inflated piece of intelligence
setting forth how wonderfully they were getting on, and in what fine
style they were living. The Dents had, however, led a wandering
life, and Judy, who was generally the first to get the news, had
heard of their living in this and then in that provincial town; but,
finally, they had gone to London, and knowing how much this fact
would impress the minds of the Becksiders, Annie had written a
letter to Judy describing the grand style in which they were living
and carefully detailing all the little attractions of their only
child, who was about six years of age. Since that time next to
nothing had been heard of them, and Judy had long ago concluded that
they had got too big to think of their poor relatives.
In justice to both Judy and her irascible brother it is only fair to
say that in their hearts they had been more than willing for years
to come to a reconciliation; but the others gave no sign of
relenting, and what messages had been received were so flippant in
tone that the two had concluded that the Londoners were still
All at once this had come. Annie had sent a most touching and
pathetic letter, telling of their misfortune, and begging in words
of penitent humility that the disgrace might be kept from the child,
and that for a time her auntie would take her in. Twice during that
day Judy returned to the clog-shop to plead with her brother, but he
remained cruelly obdurate; and so at last, heedless of what he might
either say or do, she had got Mrs. Johnty Harrop to write a letter
bidding her relatives send the child at once.
THE COMING OF DOXIE.
JUDY held an important
position in Beckside; she was the self-appointed and unpaid village
nurse. In fact, a salaried nurse was unheard of amongst the
villagers; when any one was seriously ill and needed attention, such
service was usually rendered by the relatives and neighbours, with
the assistance and under the superintendence of Jabe's big sister.
She lived in the old cottage, where all the present generation of
that family had been born, and which had been left to her by her
father. She had a small annuity bequeathed to her by her
husband, and this, together with a subsidy paid to her by the
clogger in return for her services as non-resident housekeeper,
enabled her to live in modest comfort. She had her brother's
love of authority, and this, with certain skill in the making of
herb drink and other simple medicines, and her own big, tender
heart, had gradually led her to adopt nursing as her sphere in life.
But her "professional" duties, of course, greatly interfered with
her domestic arrangements, and she was so uncertain in her habits,
and so often away from home, that she could never entertain visitors
for any length of time. When, therefore, friends did come to
stay with her, it generally happened that the duty of entertaining
them fell quite as much upon the clogger as upon Judy herself, and
they usually ended by settling down at the clog-shop as in every
sense the more attractive place. But though all the world
might come and welcome to the clog-shop fire, Jabe had decided views
as to who should occupy the parlour and sit down to table with him;
and as Judy was never certain at what hour she might be summoned to
attend to some one, it was always necessary to get the clogger's
consent before she could invite anybody to stay with her for a
This, therefore, whilst it explains the object of Judy's
interview with her brother, will enable the reader to enter into
Jabe's feelings as he sat at his bench that morning. The news
about Annie was sufficient of itself to send him off into a long fit
of abstraction, for he had dearly loved her, and did so still, in
spite of the scorn with which he always received any reference to
her. But this additional item of the coming of Annie's
daughter was a serious complication of the situation and worried him
exceedingly. Judy, as we have already intimated, visited him
twice that day, but found him increasingly raspy and abusive, and to
all his other friends he was taciturn and uncommunicative.
As Judy went home from her second attack upon her obdurate
brother, she met Sam Speck coming up the "broo," and immediately
communicated to him the news. Sam received the intelligence
with interest, and with something more than resignation. He
had now a partner in distress. The "wench" whom Judy was
inviting was as near as she could reckon about fifteen years of age,
and would prove in Sam's way of reckoning a sufficient "handful" for
the clogger. For years Jabe had chaffed and "bullyragged" him
about his cowardly subjection to feminine tyranny, and had chuckled
triumphantly about the freedom of the clog-shop from such
exasperating and humiliating torments. Anything and everything
that wore a petticoat was an irritation to Jabe, and provoked his
sarcasm or his abuse. What would he do now? And a wench
of that age was such an uncertain quantity; you never knew whether
to treat her as a woman or as a child. Jabe would be in a "hotterin
mafflement," that was certain. Well, at any rate he would have
more sympathy with him now, and that was something. Meditating
thus, Sam lounged into the clog-shop.
Sam lounged into the clog shop.
He cast a quick glance at the clogger as he passed to the fireplace,
and noted with satisfaction that his aspect was distinctly thundery.
He bent over the fire for a light, and his face had a smirk of
satisfaction upon it.
"Yore Judy's in a foine flutterment yond'."
And Jabe lifted his head and glanced out of the window with a
significant sniff, but never spoke.
"Yore Annie's wench 'ull be a woman bi this welly."
But the slogger went doggedly on with his work.
Sam shifted his position, stretched his legs out on the old
clog-bench near him, transferred his pipe to the other hand, and
then resumed, "Wenches o' that age is awkerd to dew wi'."
Jabe took another long look through the window, but did not
reply; and so Sam changed his tune and said, with a demonstrative
sigh, "Hay dear! ther's nowt bud bother wheer wimin is."
Jabe lifted his head, and, taking another look through the
window, answered with a slight sneer, "Ay, when them az hez 'em's
"Ivverybody con deeal wi' th' divil bud them az hez him,"
responded Sam; "bud we shouldna whistle afoor we're aat o' th'
"Wot wood? Wot's th' lumpyed talkie' abaat?" Jabe
turned half round, and looked at his friend with a glance in which
affected surprise and lofty disdain were curiously blended.
But Sam had just got another idea. Jabe was evidently
vulnerable on this point; he had often bullied him on this question
before all their friends, and had held him up again and again to
scorn. Now it was his turn, and he would make the most of it.
Yes, he would have Jabe "upo' th' stick" that very night, and would
reserve and prepare himself for that occasion. And so, when
evening came, and the regular frequenters of the clog-shop had got
to their places and were filling the shop with smoke, Sam, who had
carefully chosen his place, and was almost invisible far into the
Ingle-nook, waited for a pause in the conversation, and at length
said, looking across at Long Ben the carpenter, "This is a wold o'
changes, lad." Then he winked a wink that puckered the whole
of one side of his face, whilst with the other eye he glanced
significantly at Jabe.
Ben, who had not yet found his cue, sighed sympathetically
with a half-expectant "Ay."
"An' cappin' changes tew," persisted Sam and he nodded his
head sagaciously. "They arr that—mooast on 'em!"
Sam drew a few long, reflective pulls from his pipe, and
then, leaning forward and putting as much serious sympathy into his
voice as he could command at the moment, he said, "There's a change
coming to th' clug-shop."
Jabe, who was standing at the counter and cutting out
clog-tops, here began to give some directions to his apprentice in a
loud, hurried tone.
"I' th' clug-shop! Wot soort o' changes?" asked Ben, as
soon as the clogger paused.
"A sarvent lass, dust mean?"
"A sarvent lass!" cried Sam, in high disdain. "A missis,
mooar loike; a high stepper—a Lundun wench wi' frills an' flaances
an' stroiped stockin's an'foine cockney talk!"
An illuminating grin passed over Ben's countenance, and his
eyes twinkled with fun. He had already heard the news from
Judy, and now fully comprehended what Sam was after. He sat
musing for a moment, then stole a sly glance at the silent clogger;
at last, heaving a sigh of prodigious length, as an expression of
profoundest sympathy with his unfortunate friend, he said:
"Them Lundun wenches is ter'ble forrat."
"Ay," sighed Sam, with exaggerated impressiveness; "theyn
tongues loike razzors."
"An' they don thersel's up loike pace-eggers."
"An' they conna eight wot we eightn." This from Lige,
"Wot sort o' changes?" asked Ben.
For ten minutes more the confederates went on with their comments,
but the clogger was not to be drawn. He kept his lips tightly
closed, and gleams of wrath shot every now and again from under his
shaggy eyebrows; but never a word would he speak, and Sam went home
very disappointed with the result of his attack. Nevertheless
Jabe was a long time in getting to sleep that night, and next
morning as Judy was leaving him after discharging her duties he
called her back.
"Si thi," he cried, fiercely shaking his fist at her, "if
thaa brings ony missnancified powsement of a wench here, Aw'll—Aw'll
chuck her i' th' beck, an' thee efther her; soa moind that naa."
A week later it was known in Beckside that Judy's sister's
daughter was coming, and would, in fact, arrive next day; and though
the story of the failure of Annie's husband was a sufficiently
interesting topic of conversation, it was almost forgotten in the
curiosity shown to see a real London "wench."
Jabe, however, manifested complete indifference on the
subject, and even went so far as to pretend not to know when the
visitor was coming. All the same, as the time of arrival drew
near he grew most unusually fidgety.
Sam and Lige strolled in during the afternoon with the object
of having a good view of the coming wonder, from the safe
vantage-point of the clog-shop window and also, it must be admitted,
of enjoying the meeting between Judy's guest and the clogger.
Jabe began to be very restless; twice he sat down to his work near
the window, and each time relinquished it in a pet and resumed his
place by the fire. Then he began to tidy up the little
counter, humming fitfully an old tune; but upon Sam making a remark
which showed that he thought his friend was making ready for the
new-comer, he suddenly abandoned his task and went and sat down
again in the chimney nook. Next he tried to start conversation
on two or three utterly uninteresting topics, and when he could got
no satisfactory response, and noticed that Sam grinned every now and
again in a most suspicious but wholly unexplainable way, he called
that worthy a "gibbering numyed" and resumed his work once more.
Just then the coach was heard coming clattering down the "broo," and
a moment later it had stopped in the triangle opposite the shop.
Sam and Lige immediately hastened to the outside of the counter, and
with heads close together stood watching for the first glimpse of
the new arrival.
"Si thi, Jabe! theer hoo is! Hay, by gum! si thi, mon,
si thi! Hoo's a switcher."
But Jabe would not even lift his head.
As the passengers alighted, they turned and looked towards
the cloggery, evidently expecting its owner to appear; then Aunt
Judy climbed slowly down the coach steps, and turned in the same
direction, whilst a tall, fair girl who followed her moved her head
half round and glanced shyly about. The coach drove away, and
Judy, after another pensive look towards her brother's residence,
taking hold of one end of a big box, and motioning Nathan the smith,
who was a passenger, to take the other, moved off towards her own
For the next half-hour or so Sam and Lige held forth on the
attractions of the girl who had just arrived, making as often as
they dare oblique references as to what they would have done if they
had had so attractive a relative. But the clogger neither
moved nor spoke, and only gave indication of feeling by smiting away
most unmercifully at an obdurate piece of leather. It was
Sam's tea-time, and as he was in disgrace at home, he had need to be
punctual, and so began to make off. As he reached the door he
turned aside and took another peep through the window, and very
hastily drew back.
"By gum, Jabe, they here! they here!" And he hopped
hurriedly back to the fireplace, for, tea or no tea, he must see
Jabe's face twitched rapidly, and he began once more to
belabour the leather. The door opened, and in walked Judy, a
little out of breath and visibly nervous, followed by the girl.
"This is hur, Jabe," she said, gently pushing the girl before
her into the shop. The clogger went on banging at his leather
as if he had never heard.
"Jabe! Jabe! this is hur." But the clogger took
not the slightest notice, and Sam and Lige held their breath as they
watched the scene from the shadow of the Ingle-nook.
The visitor took the matter into her own hands. She
stepped round the end of the counter, avoided with a graceful little
motion that quite won Sam's heart the heap of clog-tops on the
floor, and coming close up to her sphinx-like uncle held up her face
and turned to the clogger two pretty pink lips to be kissed.
Sam was nearly bursting with excitement to see the crabby old
clogger who scoffed at all "sawftness" and hated anything in
petticoats kissing a pretty girl was the sight of a lifetime, and he
silently hugged himself to keep down his feelings.
For the first time Jabe seemed to become conscious of the
presence of his niece. He gave a guilty little start, glanced
in something very like terror at the sweet face so confidingly
turned up to his, turned his head away, hesitated, and went a shade
paler, and then, hastily drawing the back of his hand over his
mouth, he bent over meekly, received the proffered salute, and
hastily wiping his mouth again, went on with his work; whilst Sam
and his chum breaking into broad grins, stared amazedly at each
other, and dropped into their seats, fairly overcome.
A moment later their attention was once more attracted by
what was going on in the shop. Judy, to break the ice, had
commence to give her brother some details of their niece's journey,
when suddenly a clear, girlish voice broke in: "And oh! Uncle Jybus,
there was a fat man with three dogs all tied to strings." Off
the girl plunged into a long and excited description of a funny
incident she had met with on her journey. She opened her great
gray eyes and spread out her hands to aid her in depicting the
scene; then she showed a row of faultless white teeth, and rippled
out merry little laughs as she outlined the fat man's grotesque
appearance; next she spread out her skirts in a most bewitching
manner to give some idea of the proportions of her corpulent
subject; and when at last, out of breath and excited, she described
the final catastrophe of the fat man measuring his full length on
the platform of the station, whilst his dogs yelped and howled and
tugged at their strings and got more and more entangled, her pale
face was red with merry blushes, and her long eyelashes wet with
tears of laughter.
Sam and Lige listened like men enchanted the pretty grace of
her movements, her fine-sounding cockney accent, her perfect
naturalness, and the abandon of her acting were all so new and
delightful to them that when she finished her story they burst into
a long, loud laugh.
Jabe mumbled something about "numyeds," but turned away his
face to conceal a relishful smirk, and then, putting on a look of
terrible sternness, he looked at his niece with his fiercest glance,
and demanded, "Wot's thi name?"
"My name's Charlotte; but father calls me Doxie, Uncle Jybus."
"Doxie? Wot the hangment mak' of a name's that?"
"Oh! I like it, and so does mother! Don't you, Uncle
But Jabe turned away to his work with an incomprehensible
grunt, and Sam and Lige suddenly remembered tea.
When they had got outside, however, Sam turned to the still
grinning Lige, and said impressively, as he punctuated every word
with his forefinger on the ex-road-mender's breast: "Liger, owd
Jabe's pipe's put aat! It's petticut guverment at th' clug-shop
fro naa—that's wot it is!"
And Lige drew his brows together, and staring from under them
into vacancy, he nodded his head with looks of sagacious
comprehension, and departed.
THE CAPITULATION OF JABE.
ON the night of
Doxie's arrival in Beckside Jabe held out more fiercely than ever on
his favourite topic. His niece's coming provided him with an
excellent opportunity, and he made the most of it.
"Women!" he cried indignantly: "ther born contrairy. Wotivver yo'
tell 'em ta dew, they goo an' dew collywest."
This, of course, had reference to Judy's obstinate persistence in
receiving the girl in spite of his repeated protests.
"Ay! it's a bit awkert fur thee," said Sam, in affected sympathy.
"Me? Hoo'll ha' nowt ta dew wi' me, Aw'll tak'
cur o' that! Aw'll
show her." And he threw back his head in indignant defiance of Doxie
in particular and all other women in general.
"Hoo's noice sooart o' ways wi' her, tew," said Lige, after a slight
"Ways! Aw'll give her ways! Hoo'll come nooan of her connifogeling
dodges wi' me, Aw'll tell thi. Yo' sawftyeds hez aw bin collogued wi'
women's ways; but Aw'll show yo'!"
Poor Jabe! he kept up this show of defiance all night, and even
condescended to mimic the new-comer's manner for the entertainment
of his associates; and if this boisterous language was meant to
cover a masterly retreat, it was neither too soon nor too violent,
for in a short time he found himself in a parlous condition indeed.
For the next two days he saw little of his niece, but on the third
morning, when he went into the shop after breakfast, he found her
perched on a stool, and telling the apprentices a story which, with
the novel attractiveness of the teller, was so absorbing that they
did not notice the entrance of their dread master, and had to be
roused out of their enchantment by the sudden blast of his wrath. Jabe had two apprentices at this period, for Isaac was nearly out of
his time, and his successor had just been installed. But from that
hour they led him a weary life. It was easy for him to assume his
old ascendency when they were alone, but the moment Doxie appeared
they had eyes and ears for nothing else, and government, except in
so far as it is represented by abusive language, may be said to have
ceased to exist in the clog-shop. Then Doxie took to talking to Sam
Speck, and telling him secrets; and Sam was henceforth to be found
at the shop at any and every hour when there was the least chance of
the "Lundun wench" being around.
One day, about a week after her arrival, Doxie came to the cloggery
as usual and announced to her uncle that she was going to stay to
tea with him. And though this was the first time she had really made
any overture of a particular kind to him, and the moment therefore
when he could put his foot down once for all, the clogger simply
muttered a sort of surly grunt to himself, heaved a little sigh, and
tamely went on with his work. Presently Doxie adjourned to the
parlour to prepare the coming meal, and Jabe could hear her rattling
the pots and singing as though in triumph over her first victory. Then she called him to tea, and before he could sit down she
delivered him a little lecture upon the way in which, as she could
see from the teapot, his tea had been usually brewed, and carefully
instructed him in the latest London style of doing it; and Jabe
listened, or pretended to do so, meekly replying, "Ay."
Just as he was drawing his chair up to the table, the girl stopped
him, and, with a prettily affected sternness, demanded to know
whether Beckside gentlemen usually took tea in their shirt sleeves
and without washing; and Jabe, the valiant, unconquerable Jabe,
champion of freedom and defender of north country ways, muttered
something about forgetting, and limped humbly off into the scullery
to wash, calling at the parlour door on his way back to put on his
Before he could sit down she delivered him a little lecture.
Throughout the meal Doxie rattled and talked to her taciturn uncle
in the gayest manner, and he, furtively watching her every movement
from under his thick eyebrows, made no response except an occasional
inexplicable grunt. He was not giving in, he told himself; no, he
was not to be bamboozled; but all the same the tea lasted twice as
long as when he was alone, and even when it was over he lingered to
light his pipe, dropping into a chair for a moment to hear her
finish a characteristically graphic description of going out to tea
in London with her mother.
Doxie was certainly very unlike an ordinary Lancashire girl. Her
features were fairly regular, and her complexion almost colourless,
and there was nothing remarkable about her face when it was at rest; but it rarely was at rest. When she spoke, every word was
accompanied by corresponding changes of expression, which, though
slight in themselves, gave charm and piquancy to her face; even
when she was only listening to you, the quick-changing light in her
great gray eyes, the rising and lowering of her finely pencilled
eyebrows, and the constant play of varied expression around her
large but mobile mouth were so attractive, that as you watched her
you were in danger of forgetting what you were saying. When she
became animated, as she did upon the slightest occasion, her
feelings expressed themselves through every limb; and, as all her
motions had a strange, subtle grace, she was then an enchanting thing
to look at. Doxie's hair was of a dull, commonplace brown, but so
abundant that no ordinary chenille net, such as was worn by girls at
that time, would hold it, and it hung in thick clusters down her
back. Tall for her age, her many-flounced dress-skirt was, according
to Beckside fashion, disgracefully short, and her long, striped
stockings, though in the height of fashion in London at that period,
shocked the susceptibilities of Aunt Judy and her lady friends.
The night of the tea Jabe held forth at the clog-shop fire on the
weakmindedness of parents towards their children, especially those
who had only one child. From that he passed on to the frivolous
vanity of townsfolk in the matter of dress. Then he came by easy
process to the wiles and weaknesses of women, finishing with a
terrible tirade against Aunt Judy for introducing into Beckside such
a fearful example of "proide an' peertniss" as this newly arrived
niece. But Sam Speck took particular note that, except for the last
sentence, Jabe did not directly denounce the new-comer.
Thenceforward Doxie came more and more to the clog-shop, until, by
the end of another week, she had established herself there
altogether, except that she went home early in the evening and
always slept at her aunt's. And now Jabe's troubles began in
earnest. Early and late the shop was the scene of most disgraceful
"carryings on." Sam Speck came to the Ingle-nook every morning as
soon as Doxie arrived, and could not be driven away; whilst the
quiet of the place was broken every few minutes by his irritating
laughter at some word or deed from the "wench." The most provoking
part was that, whenever he was recovering from one of the outbursts,
he was sure to turn round and glance most significantly at the
clogger, to see how he was taking it. As to the apprentices, Jabe
was simply at his wits' end. If Doxie was near them, they could not
be kept at work in the daytime, and it was equally difficult to get
them away when "knocking off" time came at night. At her slightest
wish they would jump up from their seats, getting into each other's
way in their haste to serve her, and neither their master's strong
language nor his even more terrible glare had any effect. Jabe hated
cats almost more than he hated women, but one day Doxie appeared at
the clog-shop with two kittens in her arms which she had begged from
a boy who was going to drown them. A burst of wrath escaped the
clogger as he saw what was being brought to him; but when she came
round the corner and opened her arms to show him her treasures,
asking him whether they were not dear little things, Jabe glanced
helplessly at the pussies, gave a dismal groan, and turned away to
resume his work. The sputtering, smothered laugh which came at that
moment from the Ingle-nook where Sam and Lige were smoking was
unbearably tantalising; but if those two unsympathetic merry-makers
had seen the poor clogger standing helplessly upon his bedroom floor
in the dead of night, with one loudly mewing little wretch in his
hand and the other clinging nervously to his shirt tail and lifting
up its voice on high, they would have had cause for jubilation.
Jabe gave the fiddle a hasty kick.
day or two later as Jabe was just finishing for the third time a
rasping assurance to the new apprentice that he would "ne'er mak' a
clugger wo'll tha'll wik," a sudden sharp cry, followed by a loud
bang and a boom, was heard coming from the parlour, and the old man
jumped to his feet crying, "Lord, a massy! wot's that?" Then he
limped hastily across the shop floor, and burst into the parlour to
behold Doxie rising hastily to her feet with a great bump on her
forehead, whilst Jabe's cherished and incomparable bass-viol lay in
pieces at her feet.
"O uncle! I'm sorry! I am sorry!"
But Jabe gave the fiddle a hasty kick with his foot, and seizing the
trembling girl by the arm he dragged her to the window. "Maw wench! maw wench!" he cried, in great distress; and then, as Doxie
suddenly turned pale and was about to fall, he caught her tenderly
in his arms and cried with face all a-work to his apprentices, "Fetch
Judy! fetch th' doctor! Hoo's deein'! Oh! hoo's deein'."
But Doxie recovered herself and stopped the frightened lads,
declaring she was all right; and then she tried to laugh and got
away from her uncle, and, dropping into a chair, drew a long breath.
"O uncle! heaw bad of me! You cannot forgive me neaw, can you? I
shall never, never forgive myself."
For answer, Jabe got up and, giving another vicious kick at the
fiddle, went off into the pantry to fetch some goose-grease for the
girl's bruised forehead. Putting a little of it on the end of a not
too clean finger, and placing one arm round her neck, with infinite
gentleness he anointed the throbbing wound.
"Oh, that is nice!" she gasped; and then, throwing her soft arms
round the clogger's neck, and pressing her face against his, she
burst into a long, relief-ful sob.
Jabe bore this "cuddlin"' with remarkable fortitude, and to judge by
his looks would have endured more; but presently his niece let him
go, and once more began to express her contrition. But he noisily
broke in upon her confessions, picked up the broken viol, tossed it
upon the long-settle, and then commenced to lecture her. He began
cautiously enough, for this was confessedly a type of character with
which he was not familiar. Soon, however, he discovered that his
niece, so far from being unduly alarmed, was rather enjoying his
tirade; and now, sure of his ground, he launched out in his own
inimitable style. The recklessness of young people in the presence
of danger, the fearful consequences that might have ensued from the
accident, the risk of permanent disfigurement she had run, the
wisdom of taking heed to her elders, were all descanted upon with
due length and seriousness, the whole discourse being finished off
with a few pungent sentences on the folly and wilfulness of all
women, especially of young ones.
Doxie listened to the deliverance with ever increasing delight. She
had not before heard her uncle "read off," as Sam would have said. Her eyes, out of which the tears of penitence had scarcely departed,
shone with eager fun; her nods followed the clogger's points as
though she were supplying the emphasis; and when at last he
concluded, she burst out into a long, delighted laugh. From that
moment Jabe was unmuzzled. Hitherto some ideas of old-fashioned
hospitality had restrained him; but the accident of the bass-viol
at least had this good about it, that it assured him he was free to
talk as he pleased, so far as his niece was concerned.
His views about her sex greatly amused Doxie, and when she
discovered that he had opposed her coming and regarded her
presence as a trial from which he hoped speedily to be delivered, she
laughed more than ever; and whenever she was in danger of getting
dull, though to give the girl her due that was not often, she would
go into the shop, and, sitting cross-legged on a stool by the side
of Sam or Lige, would make a remark which she knew beforehand would
set her uncle off, and then sit and hug herself, laughing with
In a few days Doxie was the most popular person in Beckside. Her
striking appearance and dress, her high spirits and frank, open
manners, her remarkable gift of mimicry, and a certain indefinable
daintiness of person, made her exceedingly attractive to the simple
villagers, and every day Jabe was treated to numerous compliments
about "yore Annie's wench." To all these the clogger replied with
loud scoffs and ironical sneers.
"Yo' en ta live wi folk ta know 'em," he would cry; and then with a
significant sniff he would add, "An' then yo' dunna know 'em —if
Now and again Doxie would overhear these choice sentiments; but she
only laughed the more merrily, and prophesied that her uncle would
end by marrying a widow. "Mother says such people alwiys do."
One morning, however, she came to the shop with a cloud on her face. "O uncle, isn't it a shaime?" she cried, as soon as she caught
sight of him.
"Wot's up naa?" he growled, in his surliest tones.
"I've to go home the daiy after to-morrow isn't it dreadful?"
"Thank the Lord fur that burst out Jabe. Wee'st ha' peace an'
quiteniss once mooar."
This brought the light back into Doxie's eyes, and as the fun
gleamed through a little tear she said coaxingly, "But ain't
you sorry a little bit, uncle, just a little, neaw?"
"Sorry! Aw am that! As sorry as a felley az gets aat o' Bedlam."
"But you'll miss me when I'm gone, won't you, uncle?"
"Miss yo'! Aw shall that! Loike Billy Twitters said to th' bums
when he paid 'em aat."
This kind of raillery went on the whole day, and at night Jabe, with
an exaggerated air of joyousness, boasted over the shop fire of his
coming deliverance; and though thereby he was confessing to having
suffered more than he would have previously admitted, yet,
regardless of consistency and everything else, he did his best to
convince his friends that he was unfeignedly glad of his approaching
escape from petticoat persecution. His recent experience seemed to
have aggravated unnecessarily his dislike for the opposite sex, and
before the evening was over he had out-heroded Herod in his
denunciations of their ways.
Next morning, when Doxie came as usual, he was worse than ever. "Only one day more! Oh, what a blessin'!" Doxie seemed inclined to
cry, and could not manage even a smile. Jabe seemed encouraged by
these signs, and surpassed himself in highly coloured descriptions
of the peace and comfort he was so eagerly anticipating. But had his
niece been less preoccupied with her own regrets, she might have
noticed how keenly he was watching her from under his shaggy brows.
Doxie spent the greater part of the day in making farewell calls,
but just before tea-time she came back to her uncle's looking sad
and tired, and quietly commenced to make the tea. Jabe drew up to
the table with a sly leer on his face, and in a moment or two gave
vent to a dry chuckle.
"Oh, you nawsty, wicked, hard-hearted man, you! When I do go I'll
never, never come back, so there!" But in spite of herself there was
a gleam of fun behind her sorrowful looks, and the clogger chuckled
"Ain't you a little bit sorry, uncle—just a little bit?"
And the clogger gave his head a series of very emphatic shakes, and
cried, "Not me! Not me!"
"What did you maike me love you for then?" And Doxie's mouth began
to droop at the corners.
Jabe gave another loud, rough laugh; but if his niece had been more
observant, she might have noted that it was a mirthless exercise. For a moment there was a pause; Doxie looked steadily and musingly
at her uncle, and then, as the tears came in spite of her, she
dropped her head upon her arms and said, as she began to cry
quietly, "I didn't know you liked the fiddle so much, uncle."
Jabe was surprised; a gleam as of sudden enlightenment shot into
his eyes. "Fiddle!" he cried, with the utmost contempt; "wot's th
fiddle getten to dew wi' it?"
"I'm sure it's the fiddle," sobbed Doxie.
"Confaand th' fiddle!" And Jabe looked really angry for a moment.
But just then Aunt Judy came in, and seeing her favourite in tears,
and being at that moment wrought up to a high point of emotion at
the prospect of parting with the girl who had so entwined herself
around her heart, she drew herself up, fixed a stern eye upon her
brother, and for full five minutes poured out a long-accumulated
flood of indignant reproach upon him. Jabe listened to his sister's
tirade with a face of exasperating blandness. "Mon!" she cried,
"tha'rt nowt! that's wot thaa art! tha'rt nowt!"
Jabe threw his expressive leg over the other and laughed.
"Hert! tha's noa hert! thaa river hed! Thaa wur born baat, it's my
Again the clogger laughed.
"Tha's lived bi thisel', an' tha'll dee bi thisel', an' not a sowl
i' th' wold ull cur fur thi."
"Yes they will, uncle; I will, I will!" And Doxie, flinging her
arms around him, chair back and all, dropped her pretty head on his
bosom and sobbed as though her heart would break.
Jabe sat imprisoned in his chair, and looking like a man undergoing
a painful operation, whilst his little red eyes shone with a strange
moisture; yet never a word did he speak. Judy looked down on the
pair with wondering perplexity. Presently she drew Doxie away, and
bade her prepare to pack her box for going. Left to himself, the
clogger seemed unusually restless. He tried to smoke, but the pipe
went out as often as he lighted it. Then he stood up and took a
long, meditative look out of the window; and finally, feeling more
and more uncomfortable, he sauntered into the shop. Yet when his
friends assembled they found him moody and unsociable, and when Sam,
by way of feeler, expressed regret at the approaching departure of
Doxie, the clogger exploded into one of his most violent outbursts,
and altogether made himself so disagreeable that his companions were
fain to let him alone in silence. But this displeased him more than
ever, and turning his attention to the hapless apprentices he gave
them a most uncomfortable time of it.
Next morning Jabe was astir earlier than usual, and seemed more
irritable even than on the previous evening. Judy was so busy
getting her niece ready for departure, that she could not come to
the shop, and so he was left to prepare his breakfast for himself. Twice he went into the parlour to do so, but on each occasion he
fell into a brown study, and finally wandered back into the shop.
Presently word came from the cottage that the box was ready and
somebody must go to fetch it. Sam and Isaac started at once, and in
a few minutes came back with the package. A little later Aunt Judy
and Doxie, both seeming very miserable, arrived to wait for the
coach; and Jabe, carefully avoiding his niece's eye, sat down to his
work, trying to look as though nothing unusual was happening. Then
the coach was heard coming up the brow, and Doxie turned and gazed
distressfully at her uncle; but he would not see her. The
conveyance stopped opposite the shop, and Sam and Isaac came forward
to carry out the box.
"Wheer 't gooin' wi' that box?"
"Wheer t' gooin' wi' that box?"
was Jabe who was speaking; he had risen to his feet, and stood
glaring at Sam as though he had caught him in the act of stealing
"Aw'm takkin' it to th' cooach fur shure."
"Clap it daan."
"Bud t' cooach is here."
"Clap it daan, Aw tell thi."
"Bud th' wench conna goo baat hur box."
"Th' wench is no gooin'."
"Neaw, nur th' box nother."
"Naa then! arr yo' gooin' t' be theer aw day?" shouted Billy from
the coach box.
"Ay, an' aw neet tew," bawled Jabe in reply.
"Jabez, art maddlet? Let th' wench goo!" cried Judy, in sore
"Judy," replied the clogger, turning to his sister and speaking in
slow, deliberate tones, "that wench is wheer hoo's stoppin'; hoo
coom ta pleease thee, an' hoo'll stop ta pleease me." Then as Doxie
flung her arms about his neck, the rugged old clogger drew her
gently to his side, and looking round defiantly at the astonished
company he cried, with a quaver in his voice, "Aw've fun wun bit a
gradely womanhood i' th' wold, an' Aw'm goin' t' stick tew it—bless
AN IRRESISTIBLE AMBASSADRESS.
WHILST the events recorded in the last chapter were taking place at
the clog-shop, a woman was seated before a small fire in the dingy
back room of a London lodging-house. She was respectably dressed,
and had a comfortable, cared for air about her; but her face showed
unmistakable signs of recent and severe suffering. She had turned
her back to the table, on which were the remains of a spare
breakfast, and was sitting looking sadly and dreamily into the fire. She held in her hand a letter, and glanced absently at it every now
and again. The woman was Doxie's mother, and the letter was the one
informing her why her daughter had not started for home that day. She held it loosely between her fingers, and turned it over with
When her husband had first communicated to her the condition of
their affairs he had, of course, made the best of it, and had
suggested that if they could manage to get Doxie out of the way for
a little while until things got settled again, she would probably
escape all the unpleasantness, and know nothing of what had taken
place when she returned. For some time Mrs. Dent had been
longing for the opportunity to become reconciled to her people, but
hitherto she had felt too much condemned for her own conduct to
attempt any approach, unless she could be assured that her brother
and sister were of similar mind. She discovered, however, that
her husband was not at all prepared to allow Doxie to go to
Beckside, and it was only under the pressure of their misfortunes
that he brought himself to make the suggestion. She found the
writing of the letter, humble though it had to be, comparatively
pleasant, and the prospect of a possible reconciliation to her
friends helped considerably to soften the severity of the sufferings
which her husband's circumstances had brought upon her. Aunt
Judy's prompt and simply affectionate reply further relieved the
situation, and in the preparations for Doxie's visit and the
anticipations connected with it she forgot for the time her own
grief. She had never before been separated from her only
child, yet she had such confidence that Doxie's sunny temper and
winsomeness would pave the way to the reconciliation she longed for,
that she parted with her daughter with something very like
But since the day upon which she saw her child off at the
station Mrs. Dent's sorrows had multiplied. Her husband
confessed that things were worse than he had at first supposed, and
one sad day the bailiffs came to mark the goods of their pretty
little home. Then everything had been sold, and they had come
into these shabby lodgings. What would Doxie think when she
came into them? Then in her wretchedness the lessons of
earlier and happier days came back to her, and poor Annie spent many
of her lonely hours in that little back room in prayer.
Her husband was as miserable as she was, and she suspected
that he was pining for his child. One morning when she awoke
she found to her surprise that he was not in bed at her side.
Where had he gone? Sometimes he rose before her and lighted
the fire, but the fire was untouched. She dressed hastily and
looked about her. His boots and overcoat were gone also.
Then her eye fell upon a little packet on the table. Her heart
gave a great jump, and with a cry of bitter distress she snatched it
up and began to examine it. It contained her husband's watch
and chain and about twenty-five shillings. Underneath these
was a little note, at which she eagerly caught, but dared not open.
"O Lord, ha' marcy! ha' marcy!" she cried, as she wrung her hands
and crushed the note in them. Then she sat down, and, after
sobbing a moment or two, opened the letter. This is what she
cannot bear it any longer. If I stay here I shall do away with
myself. Sell the watch and chain and do the best you can.
As soon as I have money I will send you some; but you will not see
me until I have a home to give you again. God bless you, my
dear lass, and our bonnie Doxie!
Short as it was, Mrs. Dent did not read the whole of the
letter at once. Every sentence brought a fresh burst of tears,
and it was some time before she comprehended all it meant. She
did not blame her husband; in fact, that view of the case never
occurred to her. But she intensely pitied him. For days
she had watched him suffering under her very eyes, and in one sense
his departure was a relief. At length she got up and walked
about the room. Presently her agitation subsided, and she
began to think calmly what she was to do. Then she remembered
that Doxie was returning that day, and this broke her down again.
For over an hour she wandered about the room in agonised perplexity.
Suddenly she remembered that, put away in a box, she had five or six
pounds about which her husband knew nothing. It was so small a
sum that until lately she had not thought of telling her husband
about it, and since they had come into the lodgings she had decided
to keep it until the day of emergency. Now she reproached
herself with the thought that, if she had told her husband, he might
not have left her. This made her think of her failing, a
liking for secret saving, and it brought back to her mind the old
purse which she had carried away from home in the long, long ago,
and all other feelings were for the moment lost in a deep remorse.
Again and again she thought she could hear her oracular brother
saying in his stern way, "Be sure your sin will find you out."
Poor Annie! it was a bitter moment. Just then a clock
on the stairs struck two, and she was suddenly reminded that in an
hour or two Doxie would be there. Oh! what was she to do?
What would Doxie say when she found that her father was gone?
Yet she must be stirring; and so, absently getting ready, she went
to the station to meet the train. The day passed; through
trains from Lancashire were not so numerous as they are now, but,
having nothing else to do, and fearing almost to be alone, Mrs. Dent
stayed and met them all as they came in. The last train
arrived, and still no Doxie. She grew alarmed, and all other
troubles were for the moment forgotten in anxiety about the one whom
she longed and yet dreaded to see. A porter suggested that she
should telegraph to Beckside; but telegrams were much dearer then
than now, and she knew there was no telegraph office at Beckside.
Mrs. Dent did not go to bed that night, and was at the
station early next morning to seek her child. There she learnt
that two trains had come in during the night; she had not thought of
that contingency, and was nearly distracted at the possibility of
having missed her child. The friendly porter suggested that
she should go home and see whether Doxie had arrived during her
absence. It was a long way to her lodgings, but Annie did not
feel the distance. When she arrived, she found the room still
empty, and as a cry escaped her, and she was dropping into a chair
in sheer despair, her eye fell upon a letter propped up against the
little clock on the mantelpiece. It was in Doxie's
handwriting, and she kissed it and sobbed again for relief as she
turned it over and over. When she found strength to read the
letter, it contained the story of Uncle Jabez' sudden and peremptory
refusal to let Doxie return, and concluded with an urgent request
that she might be allowed to stay longer. It was this letter,
with its comforting and yet perplexing contents, which was in
Annie's hands when we introduced her to our readers in that little
The first feeling in Mrs. Dent's mind as she read the letter
had been one of intense relief at the safety of her daughter, and
that was deepened as she gratefully realised that at least for
awhile longer Doxie would be in comfort and safety. Presently
into her mind came a deep, overpowering longing. Doxie's
previous letters had been much longer than this one, and were full
of most entertaining particulars about Beckside, and all the
delights she was enjoying; yet none of them had stirred her mother's
heart as this had done. For a few minutes she felt as though
she must get up and set off to her village home, if she had to walk
every step of the way. She could imagine her irascible elder
brother suddenly putting his foot down, and refusing to let his
niece return. The clog-shop, their own little cottage, and the
little chapel came vividly before her mind, and she could see
herself standing in a Sunday-school class and singing "God moves in
a mysterious way." For a little time the feeling in her heart
was almost unbearable. Presently she slipped down upon her
knees, and although her thoughts did not form themselves into
definite prayer, she remained there quietly weeping, and somehow
deriving comfort and hope from the exercise.
A soft peace seemed to steal slowly over her heart as she
knelt, and when at last she rose to her feet, her face, though pale
and tearful, had a look of resignation and tranquillity. She
now found herself ready to face the situation. She herself had
sent for Doxie, but that was because she felt she could not remain
longer without exciting suspicion. Now Providence had
intervened, and the very thought of that gave her courage and
strength. Soon she had her plans formed, and proceeded to act
on them with the energy of her practical nature.
All her efforts were exerted to discover, without giving
grounds for suspicion, where her husband was. She proceeded
very cautiously. She had no mistrust of him. She knew
that he was of an active and enterprising nature, and would not be
long before he obtained some kind of employment. But day
succeeded day, and she gleaned nothing about the absent man,
although she used every means she could think of to obtain
information. Then she began to be depressed, and had to fight
night and day with a great longing to see her child; and this was
strengthened when in her next letter Doxie wrote an impulsive little
sentence which revealed that she was becoming home-sick. But
now the possibility of her coming home suddenly seemed to frighten
the poor mother; with a great effort she sat down and wrote a letter
in which she informed her daughter that they were expecting to
remove into a new house, and that she had better stay until the
bustle was over.
Meanwhile things were going on much as usual at Beckside.
Doxie, now that she had discovered her uncle's feelings towards her,
would gladly have entered into more affectionate relationship with
him; but she soon found that he had relapsed almost instantly into
his old manner, and repulsed her tentative caresses with all the old
gruffness, and received all her endearing words with impatient
scorn. She found, however, that he grew more and more
impatient of her absences from the clog-shop, and became quite testy
if she omitted to take any of her meals with him. A day or two
after his peremptory stopping of her departure he began to speak of
himself in depreciatory and abusive terms as an "owd sawftyed," and
sought, whenever Doxie was present, to convey the idea that he had
only relented out of foolish and weak-minded pity, and that he had
already most completely repented of it. Then he slid into the
habit of constant self-pity, affecting to regard himself as the
victim of most mysterious and undeserved misfortunes. "Plagues
o' Egypt!" he would say with expressive elevations of the eyebrows,
"th' trials o' Jooab! the'r' nowt tew it." Both Doxie and all
others who heard him were left to interpret for themselves what the
As the days grew into weeks and Doxie still remained, Aunt
Judy began to grow uneasy. It would be a great wrench to her
whenever "th' little wench" left them, but every day she could see
that Doxie was getting a stronger hold upon her uncle's affections,
and there was no telling what outrageous thing he might do if the
parting was deferred much longer. It would not surprise her,
in fact, if he refused to let her return home at all. Then it
occurred to Judy that her sister was strangely easy about the
continued absence of the child. Had the girl been hers, she
reasoned, she would have had her home long ago. She made no
account of children staying so long in strangers' houses, it made
them discontented with their own. Then the letter about the
removal came, and it struck Judy as being rather strange that the
Dents should remove twice in less than three months. The next
letter that Doxie received contained a sentence which made her
aunt's heart sink and opened her eyes. It was only a word or
two, but to Judy it was a covert, yet none the less distinct, bid
for reconciliation. "Oh how I should like to peep just for
once at the dear old home!" wrote Annie. Judy felt a sinking,
as she phrased it afterwards, and in a few minutes she had come
perilously near to guessing the truth.
At any rate Annie was in a much humbler mood than usual, and
evidently would like an invitation to come home. Yes! and
Doxie had been sent to Beckside as a peacemaker. Judy smiled
to think how effectually her niece had done her work. But what
had brought about this remarkable change? As she turned the
thing over and over in her mind, and recalled all the circumstances
of the case, she came to the conclusion that the Dents were in
trouble and needed friends.
"Haa mitch lunger art goin' t' keep yond' wench?" she asked,
turning round and looking at her brother as she was leaving the
clog-shop parlour next morning.
"Me? Me keep her! Well, that's a good un!"
And the clogger stared at Judy and laughed with an elaborate
affectation of amazement.
"Then hoo'd bet-ter goo next wik, aar Annie 'ull be
"The sewner the better."
It was no use talking to Jabe, and Aunt Judy lapsed into her
own uneasy musings and departed. But a day or two later Judy
discovered that Doxie herself was beginning to grow restless, and
without much trouble she ascertained that the girl was longing to
see her parents. At the same time she could not get rid of the
feeling that something was wrong in London. For two more days
she brooded over these things, and then went to consult her
unfailing friend, Mrs. Ben, the carpenter's wife. That good
woman recommended that Doxie should be told, and left to settle the
matter with her uncle. But Judy shrank from that course, and
so they consulted the carpenter. After tantalising his wife by
a long and provoking pause, during which he did nothing but stare
before him, and puff away at his pipe, Ben advised that Annie should
be sent for, and introduced into the clog-shop unexpectedly.
Judy was not very confident of either of these courses, and took
more time to reflect. Then the matter settled itself.
Next morning Doxie was somewhat late in starting for the
clog-shop, and consequently was still in the house when the postman
came. Hitherto Judy had contrived more by luck than anything
else to get her letters when Doxie was absent, and thus she got to
know their contents before she showed them to her niece. But
this morning the girl herself went to the door, and handed the
letter to her aunt with a look on her face that showed the elder
woman that it would be cruel to keep the news from her.
Moreover, Judy was not good at reading writing, though she had so
far managed with Mrs. Johnty Harrop's help to get to know the
contents of the letters before Doxie learnt of their arrival.
The letter when opened proved to be so long and so closely written,
and Doxie looked so very impatient, that Judy handed it to her to
read, though not without misgiving. Doxie had not commenced to
read aloud, but was just glancing over the first few lines when she
uttered a cry of alarm and went exceedingly pale. Then she
read on without in the least heeding Judy's eager enquiries, and
again a cry of pain escaped her. "O mother! dear, dear
mother!" she cried, and as her eyes filled with great tears she read
"Wot is it, wench? wot is it?" cried Judy in terror; but
Doxie stepped mechanically back, as though to get out of her aunt's
reach, and went on reading greedily.
"O father! father!" she cried with a fresh burst of weeping,
and once more resumed her perusal of the painful missive.
It was the full utterance of poor Annie's heart.
Lonely, miserable, and sick at heart, she had at last become
desperate, and throwing discretion to the winds had written to her
sister a full statement of their recent troubles and her present
miserable condition. Doxie read it through with tear-blinded
eyes, and then when she had finished she stepped back, and putting
her hand to her side she cried out piteously, "O auntie, I shall
die!" For fully half a minute she stood looking wildly at her
aunt, and then suddenly rushing to the door she darted off up the
hill to the clog-shop.
"Come back wi' thi, come back," cried Judy; but the fleeing
girl was already half-way up the "broo." "It's happen better
sa," murmured Judy, as she realised how hopeless was the task of
catching her niece, and then she went indoors again and waited
developments with a heavily beating heart.
Meanwhile Doxie had burst in upon the clogger like a
whirlwind. He was seated by the fire talking to Sam, but in a
moment she had caught him round the neck and was pouring into his
bewildered ear the whole distressful tale. All that took place
at that memorable interview has never been known, for even Sam saw
that it was something very serious and discreetly took himself off.
Half an hour later, however, Doxie left the shop with a new light in
her eyes and ten pounds in gold in her hands, and that day a
registered letter was sent to London with full directions for the
lonely watcher there to come to Beckside at once.
The next two days passed over very slowly, and it would have
been difficult to say whether Doxie or her uncle was more restless.
On the morning of the third day the post brought the expected
letter, and a little later Doxie and her aunt started in the coach
to meet Annie. Jabe ate no dinner that day, and as the time
for the arrival of the coach drew near he became painfully agitated.
"Aw've seen th' owd lad i' monny a pucker," Sam Speck
confided to Lige and Ben that night, "bud Aw ne'er seed him nowt
"Aw've seen the old lad i' mony a pucker . . . . bud aw ne'er
seen him nowt loike that."
Five minutes before its usual time the coach was heard coming
rumbling down the "broo." The clogger was as pale as death.
A moment later the door was burst open and a bright, eager voice
cried, "Here she is, uncle! here she is!" But she was not
there, she was only getting out of the coach.
Jabe rose to his feet, and his legs positively shook under
him. Without turning his head he glanced out of the window
towards the coach. He was dimly conscious of two female
figures coming towards the door, and then he heard Judy's voice
saying, "Here hoo is, Jabe."
A pale, trembling woman, with a haggard, sorrow-stricken
face, moved slowly towards the counter, and Jabe, tardily lifting
his eyes, looked into the face of his sister. The silence of
that moment was deathly.
"Well, lad," stammered the sister.
And Jabe, trying vainly to keep control over a quivering
mouth, faltered out, "Well."
There the two stood opposite one another, but not venturing
to look at each other, and Doxie, who was watching with eager eyes,
was about to burst in with some impetuous remark, when Jabe took a
slow step towards his sister, and held out a stiff hand. Annie
snatched at it eagerly, and if she had been a lady would doubtless
have put it to her lips; but being only a Lancashire woman after
all, she gripped it as with the grip of death, and held it over the
"O Jabe, Jabe!" she cried, in tones of bitter penitence,
"I've been a great sinner." And Jabe turned his head hastily
towards the window, and replied fervently, "It's nowt towart wot
Aw've bin." And Doxie, to whom these things were not
only altogether incomprehensible, but also altogether out of place
in a glad reunion, put her red lips together, and making a grotesque
and lugubrious face at her uncle, murmured in exact imitation of the
new Brogden curate's tones, "So are we all, all miserable sinners."
And as the clogger began to laugh through his tearful eyes, she
cried, in her imperious, though to him always delightful, way, "And
now, uncle, we are all going to stay for ' baggin.'
Polly, put the kettle on,
And we'll all have tea."
NOW the little
black door that divided the clog-shop from the parlour was about as
plain and uninteresting a construction as ever filled an aperture,
but on the night of Annie Dent's return to Beckside it came in for
an amount of interested attention that would have filled with pride
a much more pretentious article of the kind.
Sam Speck, who came into the shop just as the tea-things were
beginning to rattle in the parlour, eyed it over from his place at
the fire with a most curious and impatient stare. Next he went
and sat down beside the new apprentice, who was working at the back
window, and, whilst he asked fitful questions of that worthy every
now and then, he scarcely attended at all to the answers, but became
absorbed again in his contemplation of the door. Presently he
got up and walked up and down the shop, stopping each time and
scrutinising the latch as he passed. Then he took a long,
abstracted stare into the fire, and, finally, unable to bear it any
longer, he affected to remember something which he ought to have
told the clogger earlier in the day, and enquired earnestly from
Isaac whether he thought there would be anything wrong in him
knocking at the parlour door and speaking to Jabe about it whilst it
was in his mind. Isaac did not think there would, and so Sam
stepped over and was just about to tap, when his heart suddenly
failed him, and he hastened on tip-toes back to the fireplace.
After a moment or two, however, he tried again, yet once more
hesitated; but this time without leaving his place before the
terrible door. Then he began to make all kinds of grotesque
faces at the door, and sudden stabs at it as though he was only
wavering as to where exactly he should assault it. Finally,
however, he pulled himself together, and doubling his fist tightly
gave a distinct knock.
"Oh, it's yo', is it? Aw wur just wantin' ta spick ta
Jabe a minit," he cried, in sudden confusion as Doxie opened the
"Naa then, gawmliss, cum here wi' thi," cried Jabe from the
far end of the parlour.
But no, Sam could not stay; he must "be goin'"; he wouldn't
keep Jabe "a minit." Doxie caught him by the arm and began to
pull him into the room; but it was only after a prolonged struggle
that he allowed himself to be overcome. And when he did enter,
his astonishment to see strangers present was something wonderful to
behold, and was only eclipsed by the amazement he exhibited when it
was made clear to him that the stranger was the long-lost Annie.
So surprised in fact was he, that his sidling into a chair and his
subsequent lighting of his pipe can only be put down to extreme
absent-mindedness produced by the bewildering nature of the
experiences he was passing through.
A few minutes later the conversation in the parlour was
interrupted by a most violent poking and banging in the
neighbourhood of the chimney-back, and this being followed by
laborious and protracted fits of coughing, Sam who was now beginning
to feel at home, leaned forward to Doxie and with a broad grin on
his countenance jerked his head in the direction of the parlour
door, and said, "It's owd Lige."
The ex-road-mender having been duly ushered into the room and
introduced to the guest of the evening, was just beginning some
reminiscences of the days when Doxie's mother was a wench, when the
new apprentice put his shock head into the parlour, and cried, with
a somewhat scared look as he glanced at his master, "Yo're wanted."
"Whoa wants me?" demanded the clogger indolently.
The apprentice stepped back a little, and seemed to be
holding a hurried though excited conversation with some one in the
shop, when the clogger, evidently identifying the whisperers, called
out, "Naa then, lumpyeds, come here wi' yo'." And then there
was more whispering, and Doxie went to the door and cried, as she
turned and looked at the clogger, "It's only Ben and Nathan, uncle."
But by this time Doxie had caught the spirit of the scene,
and so, drawing herself up to her greatest height and holding
herself as stiffly as she possibly could, she ceremoniously led
these last two worthies in, and bringing them suddenly to a
standstill before her uncle, she waved her hand like a master of
ceremonies, and said with a little bow, "Mr. Barber—Mr. Longworth;
Mr. Longworth—Mr. Barber; mother—Mr. Barber; Mr. Barber—mother."
This ceremony having been duly performed, she marched in stateliest
fashion back to the parlour door to wait the next arrival, upon
which Sam burst into a loud roar of delighted laughter and Jabe
relaxed into an amused grin. Two or three other visitors, all
declaring that they had dropped in on quite other business, and all
immensely surprised to see Doxie's mother, having been ushered in by
the stately Doxie, conversation began to flow more easily, and even
the timid and pensive guest of the evening became a little animated.
Several references having been made in the course of the
conversation to London and London life, Sam Speck's small face
gradually assumed a critical and disputatious expression, and at
last, confident of his safety in the fact that he was only repeating
sentiments he had heard Jabe and Ben utter again and again, he
screwed his head to one side, and glancing for a moment at Doxie,
turned, and looking musingly into the fire, said:
"Ay, Lundun's a weary place, they tell me." To his
astonishment Jabe turned his head and growled out, "Wot's than know
"Wot's than know abaat Lundun?"
But Sam was not to be silenced, and so, after another long stare
into the fire, he resumed: "It's full o' sin an' nowtiness if Aw
"London, Mr. Speck! London! London's full of
nice, good people, I can tell you," broke in Doxie impulsively.
"Why, mother lives in London; is she bad? And father"—here her
voice broke a little—"father lives in London, and he's not bad, is
All the men present were of the opinion that the last example
of London rectitude was, to say the least, unfortunate, for in their
opinion Thomas Dent was bad decidedly; but they dare not say so in
the presence and under the light of those indignant gray eyes, and
so they held their peace, and an awkward silence followed.
Aunt Judy broke in by saying it was time to be going, and she
and her sister began to prepare for departure, whilst Doxie, after
kissing all her relatives, made a low bow, and put her hands to her
lips in an altogether bewitching fashion to the men present, and
went upstairs to bed.
That night, sitting over the fire in the old home, Doxie's
mother told her sister all the story of her recent troubles, and
finished up with an item that was new. Her husband had
emigrated. The night before she left London she had received a
long letter from him, in which he informed her that he had met with
an old acquaintance of years ago who was going out to seek a fortune
in the Australian gold diggings; and who had offered to pay the
passage if he would go with him for company. He had not been
able to get any employment, and so had decided to accept the offer,
and when that letter reached her he would be already on the deep.
Then followed a long and roseate description of the success he was
going to make and of the grand reunion they would have in the near
future; for of course he would not be long in Australia before he
had made a fortune. The letter concluded with a few words of
pathetic farewell, and a message of love to Doxie. Judy was
indignant, and was just about to speak her mind about her
brother-in-law's desertion of wife and child, when she discovered
that Annie was in no mood to hear her husband abused, and spoke of
him in the tenderest tones.
Next morning this item of intelligence was conveyed to the
clogger, and Judy was surprised to note that whilst her brother
curled his lip scornfully at her recital of "Tummas's" protestations
of affection for his wife and child, he seemed strangely unmoved at
the prospect of having Doxie and her mother to keep.
In a few days all the sad story was known to the villagers,
and much sympathy was expressed for the two who had come to live
amongst them under such painful circumstances. The usual
frequenters of the clog-shop, however, soon found that it was
needful to be cautious in expressing their opinions in the presence
of Jabe. He never alluded to the matter himself, except in the
most distant way, and even then in the fewest possible words.
By some means or other also, he made them understand that Doxie was
still under the delusion that her father was all he should be, and
they gathered that he strongly desired that she should remain in
that state of mind. It was rather hard upon them they felt,
for the topic was of such exceptional interest, and their opinions
on the matter were so pronounced, that it would have provided food
for endless discussions. Still, nobody was prepared to brave
the clogger, and so the subject had to be discussed, if at all,
under most restraining circumstances and in any but the right
One day, however, Doxie introduced the subject herself.
Sam and Jabe were sitting in the Ingle-nook enjoying their
after-dinner pipe, when she sauntered in from the parlour and came
and sat down by her uncle's side. Sam, deep in the chimney,
was puffing quietly away at his pipe, and feasting his eyes on the
fresh young beauty before him, when she began to move her leg
somewhat after the manner of her uncle, whilst a far-away look came
over her face.
"Mr. Sam," she said, glancing dreamily at him, "won't it be
grand when father comes home with all that gold!"
"Ay, when――!" Sam was beginning, but to his
astonishment, he received a savage kick from Jabe's longer leg and
broke clumsily down, leaving the sentence unfinished. He was
fairly puzzled. For himself he had had dreams not so long ago
of going to these same far off goldfields and coming back rich
enough to buy all Brogden Clough, and the subject was still a
tempting one to him. But so far as he understood, his cue was
to disbelieve in these grand dreams, at any rate so far as Doxie's
father was concerned. Whilst he was still wondering what
Jabe's meaning might be, Doxie, who fortunately had been too
absorbed in her own thoughts to notice either the kick or the hiatus
in his reply, commenced again.
"Wouldn't you like to go and get your fortune, Mr.
"Aw should that," said Sam energetically and then he checked
himself, not knowing what he was expected to do.
"I've heard father say that men sometimes find their fortunes
in a month or two. Have you heard that, Mr. Sam?"
Thus appealed to on a subject upon which he was better posted
than any man in Beckside, Sam hesitated for a moment, and then,
resenting Jabe's mysteriousness, he broke through all caution and
launched out into a ten minutes' summary of all he had heard and
read of the wonderful treasures to be found at the Antipodes.
Doxie listened with parted lips and widely opened eyes to the
story, and then sent a shock through poor Sam by turning to her
uncle and asking eagerly, "And wouldn't you like to go, Uncle Jybus?"
Sam felt himself wading in bottomless deeps of bewilderment
as Jabe, without removing his pipe from his mouth, answered in a
dull mutter, "If Aw wur a bit yunger."
Sam was simply dumfounded. Was this the man who had
always so caustically mocked at his tentative hints and plainer
statements of the glories of the land of gold? Was this the
man who always championed the cause of the sod on which they stood,
and quoted so unctuously the proverb about the rolling stone?
But the surprises of the day were not yet over for our
friend. In the evening, sitting in the very place in which he
had listened eagerly to Doxie's excited utterances about Australia,
Jabe started a discussion on shipwrecks, and palpably led up to the
question of the possibilities of the return of Doxie's father.
Sam, expecting to receive as much open encouragement as the
clogger ever gave to those who agreed with him in his arguments,
predicted that "Tummas would be home in five years 'as sure as heggs
is heggs.'" And to his utter amazement Jabe turned upon him a
look of supreme contempt, as much as to say that though he was
expressing the veriest nonsense, it really was not worth while to
Repenting, however, a moment later, the clogger turned to his
friend and asked with a snarl, "Hez thaa iver known ony as az gooan
"Ay, lots," jerked out Sam, beginning to get resentful.
"An' has mony on 'em coom back?" The clogger glared
into Sam's face and waited impatiently for his reply.
And Sam nearly lost his temper and began to justify his
position still further; one or two others supported him, and very
soon Jabe was getting the worst of the battle.
"Mon," cried Lige at last as a clincher, "th' divil's childer
hez th' divil's luck. Tummas's soort allis comes whoam."
And then Jabe rose to his feet and, with something deeper in
his voice than any mere fear of defeat in argument, he snatched his
pipe from his mouth and shaking it defiantly at the last speaker he
cried fiercely, "He con cum back fifty toimes if he's a moind, bud
hee'st neer ha' yond' little wench."
"Si thi," said Sam to Long Ben as they went home that night,
"Aw'm fair byetten wi' yond' mon."
Ben looked as though he thought that not at all unlikely, and
then he asked, "Wot's up naa?"
"Wot's up! he talks to yond' wench as if he wanted her
fayther ta cum whoam."
"Hay, men!" replied Ben, as he turned down the "broo."
"He'd go ta Australly an' fotch him whoam if hoo axed him."