Ab-o'th'-Yate Sketches, Vol. I (I)
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A MOSTON RENT DINNER.


                   "Was't ever your lot
                   To visit the spot
Where the heather was once in its glory?
                   Where the farmers and yeomen
                   Would give in to no men,
In mowing or telling a story!"—The Bard o' Bow Green.


IT happened before Manchester invaded Moston;—when the "Mosscrops" and "Bottom-enders" were as much at feud as were the Orangemen and the Ribbonmen in Irish history, but fought not with pistol or bludgeon.  The land was in darkness, materially and mentally.  The "Harpurhey Lighting Committee" had not yet illuminated the paths by which the invaders nightly crept to their camps, after carousing at "Jim's," or "George's," or raising a political dust at "Tom's!"  That fine sheet of water known as "Dicky Pit" had not ceased to do duty as a weatherometer, to show the inhabitants when it rained.  The one razor that mowed all the beards about the "Green" was still carried from house to house in an old lantern; and the old clock that had lost a fortnight and four hours was still permitted to tell its lies in its privileged nook, and grunt and wheeze as though the infirmities of clocks were something to those of their owners!  "Billy Buttonhole" still strode the lane with tragic mien, and bellowed forth the "Hailstone Chorus" in tones of thunder when offered the gift of a piece of crape.  Funeral parties from neighbouring villages rested and fought at "Besom's;" and "Bet-at-Owd-Nan's" shrill voice could still be heard above the musical inflictions of her donkey.  Moston was in its primitive state, and its land was largely productive of blackberries and rushes!

    But a new landlord had come upon the scene, and a change for the better was to be inaugurated.  Farms were to be put in order, and made more fertile than they had hitherto been.  Tumble-down buildings were to be renovated, old-fashioned notions of husbandry were to be superseded by the newest of all improvements, and the ridding-up of fences and introduction of draining tiles staggered the "slow-coaches," who had been content with thin crops and low rents,—enjoying their pipes and their home-brewed in peace, not caring for the go-aheadedness of the world without.  It was quite natural that these innovations would interfere with the prejudices of a class of people who have always been known to harbour strong ones.  "Hodge" scratched his head, and exhibited a state of bewilderment at these changes that showed he was far from being prepared to accept them.  The mutterings of a rebellious disposition grew into growlings, and the taproom of the "Blue Bell Inn," Moston, (not the "Old Bell" of Ab-o'th'-Yate,) nightly rang with denunciations of all new-fangled ideas of land cultivation.  "What!" it was said, "do away wi' rushes?  Never!  What mun we do for rushcarts?  Another pint afore aw brast!"

    To conciliate the mutinous spirits, the new landlord offered to give a dinner on the first rent day, and it should be such a dinner as was never known to be eaten in that part of the uncivilised world!  It was to consist of real turtle, salmon, lamb and green peas, veal cutlets, and such other viands as were only known to be spread on the tables of the rich.  These things were to be washed down,—not with fourpenny, but with champagne, and everybody was to be made gloriously drunk!  The event was looked forward to with the impatience of children yearning for the bearing-whoam day "that was to bring them new clothes.  A slow state of starvation was advocated, and that rigid course of self-denial found many adherents.  Jack o' Bill's so far neglected his meals that his jacket hung on his back as if hanging from a peg, and he declared that "if th' rent-day doesno' come soon, aw shall do for a shippon lantern!"  A noted sportsman grew so weak that he could not raise his gun to fire! and it is said that rabbits "sit up at him," and the one sparrow, [p.3] which some people believed was a feathered ghost, flew about his head defiantly!  Baking days were "shifted" the wrong way about, and the solitary shopkeeper, who monopolised all the trade at the "Bottom End," wondered if a rival had set up opposition.  The butcher could do with half a sheep instead of a whole one, and flitches of home-fed bacon had almost ceased to swing.

    For weeks nothing was talked about at the "Bell" but the rent dinner, and speculations were rife as to what the first course to be served would be like, and what it could possibly consist of to be worth a guinea a quart.  Tummy at th' Bluestone said he knew what turtle soup was made of, because he had been told by a butcher who supplied the material to a certain hotel in Manchester.

    "Well, what is it, then?" gruffly demanded Sammy at th' Rushpit, who was incredulous of Tommy's superior knowledge of things.

    "Cauve's brains!" was the reply.

    "Art' theau made o' cauve's brains?" Sammy blurted out with a sneer; and the whole company decided to ignore the Bluestone authority.

    The rent day came at last, after many seeming "put offs," and with it came the last stage of the starvation period.  The old inn, where the festivities were to be held, was quite alive with preparations for the "feed," and noses were sniffing at the door to get a foretaste of what the palate was more substantially to enjoy.  The soup, the salmon, the veal cutlets, and other luxuries had to be sent up from one of the Manchester hotels, and the spring-cart that conveyed all these wonderful edibles was followed as far as Harpurhey by a crowd of children, eager to discover the meaning of that mysterious visitation.  Sauces and "dips" of various kinds were being handed about the kitchen, and bottles that were likened to "gowden skittles," displayed their aristocratic necks in the otherwise plebeian bar.  When the steward arrived to superintend the feast he was greeted with such tokens of welcome as were never heard before where champagne was King of the Board.  There was no dribbling in of guests when he mounted the stairs.  They flowed into the room in a body, each man holding his hair in a determined grip, as if afraid of it being separated from the scalp by the blaze of cutlery that was shimmering on the table!  Sly glances were directed towards polished covers, and no doubt rude guesses were made as to what was hidden beneath them.  When the company were seating themselves Jack o' Bill's and Sammy at th' Rushpit both dropped on the same chair, as if intending joint occupancy.

    "Here aw say, Sammy, conno' theau find a boose for thi own cauve?" said Jack, giving his companion a good shouldering.

    "Ther's to be two to a cheear!" replied Sammy, doing a bit of shouldering in return.

    "Heaw doss' mak' that eaut?"

    "Wheay, doestno' see ut ther's two knives and two forks to one plate, theau blynt meaudewarp?"

    "Then aw'm off to a corner bi misel'; ther's no reaum for swellin' eaut here.  Aw meean havin' elbow reaum!"  And Jack made a move, with the intention of leaving the table.

    The dispute was settled by the steward intimating that there were two sets of dinner "tools" for each guest; and Sammy at th' Rushpit took the chair next to his friend Jack.

    After grace the soup was served, and eyes were opened in blank astonishment.

    "This's a rare big spoon for so little broth!" remarked Johnny at th' Cheean to his equally astonished neighbour.  "We could ha' done wi' a tae-spoon to this mess.  But aw reckon it's becose it's so dear.  Aw wonder what this green stuff is?"

    "It looks like a bit o' owler bark," said the other, who was pulling his face at the first spoonful.

    "Aw dar'say it's a yarb o' some sort, for t' seeason it wi'.  Aw'll taste, chus heaw!" and Johnny tasted, then began to splutter.  "Oh, by —!" he exclaimed, flinging down the spoon, "if this isno' tooad broth; and that's a tooad back swimmin' at th' top!  Aw've yerd folk say ut they made soup eaut o' frogs; but this is a tooad!  Aw'll ha' no moore o' that stuff," and he kept his-word.

    "Aw dunno' care if it's made o' askers, [p.6-1]" said Jack o' Bill's, who had got the rim of his soup plate at his lips, that he could drain the last drop.  "It's rare stuff for grooin' off!  Aw feel it abeaut th' roots o' my yure neaw!"

    The clatter of spoons having ceased, the salmon was brought on and speedily served.  No one at the table had ever tasted salmon before, except the steward; and all eyes were directed towards this worthy to get the cue as to the manner of eating it.

    "What's this stuff, Jack?" asked Sammy at th' Rush-pit of Jack o' Bill's.

    "It says sal-mon upo' that papper," replied Jack, sounding the l with a strong emphasis.  "It smells meeterly like fresh herrin'!  Aw wonder what they putten on it?  But aw reckon owt'll do.  It's accordin' to a mon's taste.  Aw'll try a sope o' this."  And he took hold of a "boat" of caper sauce, that was intended for the boiled leg of mutton.  "Sowe, [p.6-2] wi' black paes in it!  Ne'er mind, if gentle-folk con ate it, ther's a stomach here ut winno' be feart on't—so here goes!"  And Jack poured the contents of the vessel on his plate.

    "Theau shouldno' use thi knife," Sammy at th' Rushpit whispered.  "Th' stewart doesno' use his."

    "Heaw mun aw get it to mi meauth, then?" demanded Jack, turning round upon his neighbour.

    "Theau mun do same as aw do,—use thi fork as if it wur a knife, an' thi fingers i'stead ov a fork."  And Sammy gave practical effect to his instructions.

    "Aye, aw reckon fingers wur made afore knives an' forks, an' they're a deeal readier wi' stuff like this.  Theau'rt fit to dine wi' a king, Sammy!" Jack chuckled, as he uttered this piece of flattery.  Then he hid his finger nails in the salmon.  "Theau'rt noane havin' no sowe to thine, aw see."

    "Nawe," said Sammy, "its good enoogh beaut owt."

    "Aw'll tell thi what, these black paes are some an' warm!" said Jack, pulling his face, and applying his sleeve to his mouth, while the sauce dripped from his finger ends.  "Aw'll put 'em o' one side, like plumstones.  Aw conno' say ut aw mich care abeaut this sowe.  Aw've happen getten th' wrung sort o' stuff on.  Aw'll hoide it, too!"  And at it he went again.

    "What's th' next, Jack?" inquired Sammy, after he had despatched the last bit of salmon skin.

    "Aw'll tell thi when aw've mopped up," was Jack's response, finding himself too busy to attend to the other.  "Aw've made a wary mess o' this table-cloth!  Sarve 'em reet! they shouldno' ha' put it on."

    He told the truth, he had made a "mess" of the table cloth.  It had the appearance of having had a bill-poster at work near it, and in a hurry to get finished.  Jack had splashed the "soave" all over his share of it; and his left-hand neighbour's glasses were freckled with the same kind of liquid.  He was relieved of his embarrassment on hearing a cork fly.

    "Hello! someb'dy shot, bi owd Sam!" he exclaimed, bobbing up from his chair, and looking towards the head of the table.  "Nob'dy bleedin', noather; it's th' champagne ut's gone off.  It's comin' this road neaw.  Eh, my throttle! theau'rt gooin' t' have a rare bathe in another minute!"

    Presently a glass of the delectable juice was fizzing under our friend's nose; and his mouth watered at the prospect.

    "Supposin' aw're a dog, Sammy," he said to his neighbour, "and theau ax't me t' sit up!"

    "What by that?" said Sammy, evidently thinking Jack was losing time by putting the question.

    "Well, supposin' aw did sit up when theau axt me."

    "Sit up, then!"

    "Well, aw'm sittin' up.  Ceaunt twenty, an' then aw'll sup!"

    Sammy counted twenty, then up went Jack's glass, and down went its contents.  Two pairs of eyelids expanded, and one pair of eyes suddenly grew into goggles.  A pair of lips smacked like the cracking of a whip; and a large rough hand was employed in going over a waistcoat, as a roller is employed in going over uneven land.

    "Sammy!"

    "What?"

    "Aw wonder heave mich o' this stuff 'ud kill a mon?"

    "Aw've yerd it said ut abeaut six bottles 'ud be a finisher."

    "Aw've a good mind to do my job, then.  Aw couldno' dee i' betther company.  They could nobbut hang me for it after, an' then aw shouldno' care.  What's that ut's comin' neaw?"

    "Look at th' papper."

    "Oh, veeal cutlets.  Aw wonder whether its knife wark, or spoon wark, or fork an' fingers?"

    "Knife wark; doestno' see?  They're fiddlin' away deawn yonder."

    The veal cutlets were handed to each of the two guests under notice, and they took care to empty the dish.

    "They look'n like hen's legs wi' th' shanks cut off!" Jack remarked, as he fingered one of the cutlets.  "Aw shanno' use a knife to mine, they're nobbut a meauthful apiece, an' hardly that.  Nawe! no moore sowe, Sammy!"

    Bolt went one cutlet after another to the number of four, and in about two minutes the bones, clean picked, lay on the plate.

    "Aw should mak' a rare gentleman, Sammy, if ther sich like pastur' as this every day.  Aw should be as red abeaut mi ears as eaur Molly's back.  [Molly was a red cow.]  Oh, lamb an' green paes next, aw see!  Aw shall ha' no moore black uns, they're to' warm for me, mi tongue's blister't neaw!  Aw weesh they'd be sharp.  Oh, here it comes!  They're sayin' deawn here ut they should ha' mint sauce to lamb.  Which is it, Sammy?"

    "Aw dunno' know, beaut it's that wi' th' pot spoon in it."

    "Well, just hond it o'er for me, wilta?—an' aw'll try a barrowful, for t' see what it's like."

    Sammy reached over the table, and placed the vessel pointed out at his friend's elbow.

    "Theigher!" said Jack, as he stirred up the sauce, "ther's no black paes i' this.  Aw con smell summat like rum,, or brandy.  It mun be peppermint sauce, a bit doctor't!  Aw'll taste on't fust;" and Jack raised the ladle to his lips, and drank off the contents.  "Eh, Sammy! wheay, this byets that fizzin' stuff!  By th' makkers! but gentle folk dun live!  Ther's no stint aw reckon, is ther' Sammy?"

    "Not ut aw know on."

    "Then aw'm havin' o this to misel';" and Jack emptied the "boat" on his plate.  "Gi' me that spoon eaut o' th' pottato deesh, Sammy; aw shall want ony ameaunt o' tools to this lot.  Oh, some moore champagne!  Deawn it go's!" and down it went.  "By th' mass, Sammy, that's stirred thoose three pint o' fourpenny aw had ut th' 'Owd Loom!'  Every meauthful aw swallow neaw'll leet plunge, like droppin' in a well!  Eh, bu' these are rare dooins!"

    How Jack o' Bill's enjoyed his lamb and green peas is not recorded; but he nearly went to sleep over the mess.  He was seen to nod several times; and he never spoke a word until he had emptied his plate.  Then he said "domino!" and placed his elbows on the table, and rested his head on his hands.  Presently he was heard to snore; but when the champagne came round he suddenly chopped off his music, and said "Come!"  "Do!" responded Sammy; and they both drank "Jone o' Bardsley " fashion, which means "bottomin'."

    When the turn for pudding came there was a cry raised for the b"randy dip."  There was the vessel that had held it a short time before, but that was all!  Where had the stuff gone to?

    "Jack, theau's etten it!" said Sammy at th' Rushpit, turning to his neighbour.

    "Nay, it wur mint sauce ut wur i' that pot!" Jack protested with some warmth.

    "Nowt o'th' sort, it wur brandy dip!"

    "Well, chus what it wur, it's wheere it'll tarry!  Aw could do wi' some moore, beaut lamb.  It mak's me feel rayther wambley, too.  If they'n say nowt, aw'll go deawn th' steers an' ha' mi pipe till they'n topped up.  Aw'm full to th' eend o' mi tongue misel'.  Mind, owd lad, an' lemme come!"

    It would have been better for Sammy if he had "minded;" for no sooner did Jack attempt to rise from his chair than he and his friend were rolling on the floor.  Sammy sprang to his feet as quickly as he could, and the rest of the company crowded round Jack o' Bill's, wondering what was the matter with him; but all they could elicit from the inebriated farmer were the two monosyllables—"mint sauce!"

    It would add nothing to this story to say what followed, until a very sedate procession was seen moving down Moston Lane, headed by a wheelbarrow, in which Jack o' Bill's was reclining.  How often he tumbled out was not scored; but, as the Yankees would say, he was "dumped" at his door, rather worse for his ride than otherwise, as it turned out after.

    A few days after the spree the steward met Jack in the lane, and the peculiar manner in which the old farmer carried his head attracted the other's notice.

    "Got a stiff neck, Jack?"

    "Aye, seemin'ly."

    "A cold?"

    "Nawe; wheelbarrow trindle t'other day."

    "How did that affect you?"

    "It wore o th' yure off th' back o' mi yead, an' took part o' th' yead wi' it!  Aw've just bin to th' doctor a-havin' it dressed.  Another rent day 'ud kill me!"


――――♦――――

 
AB-O'TH'-YATE IN LONDON.

DESCRIBED IN A SERIES OF EIGHT LETTERS TO HIS WIFE.

―――――――――――

FIRST LETTER.

THE JOURNEY UP, AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS.
―――――――――――

Aldgate Pump, Lunnon Fowt,
                                                         June —, 1868.


MY Dear Owd Rib,—Here aw am—i' Lunnon— actily i' Lunnon, an what's mooast surprisin', after sich a journey, aw'm wick!  Never thee talk o' followin' me up here, as theau does to th' aleheause; theau'd be oather lost, or ridden o'er, or takken up for collectin' a creawd abeaut thee afore theau'd bin londed two minutes; for aw know heaw aw wur, an' theau knows aw'm noane quite so gawmless as thee—not ut theau'rt different to other women, or else aw wouldno' ha' said it.  Well, bless thee!—when theau'rt awhoam! for theau'rt a reet un when theau'rt wheere wives should aulus be—upo' their own hearthstones.  An' tho' women up here seem to be nowt short nobbut wings an' English tongues to mak' 'em into angels, aw'd rayther see th' pattern o' thy bedgeawn, and yer th' neckle o' thy clogs (never mind thi tongue), nur see "Rotton Row" i' full blaze, or yer a simperin' beauty, donned i' a full cut o'muslin, an' a fent or two beside—co me a "dear, funny old chaip!" an' ax me heaw mich aw'm going to "staind!"

    Aw da' say theau'll want to know summat abeaut mi journey—heaw aw liked it, an' whether aw made a foo' o' misel' on th' road, or behaved misel' like a Christian.  Aw'll tell thi if theau'll nobbut ha' patience to read.

    When aw geet i' th' railroad carriage at Manchester, th' fust time ever aw wur i' one, theau knows, aw felt as if Walmsley Fowt had gone cleon eaut o' th' map of owd England, an' ut aw never should see it agen—nor thee, nor eaur Ab, an' Joe, an' Dick, an' t'other childer!  Dunno' thee think aw'm soft when aw tell thee aw'd moore use for mi pocket napkin nur aw ever thowt aw should have had, an' ut tears fell on mi clogs as big as sparrow eggs, wi' thinkin' abeaut what aw'd laft beheend me!  But no matter what theau thinks abeaut it, it wur so.  A cant owd woman i' black sit next to me, an' hoo cried too; but whether it wur to keep me company, or like me, hood laft someb'dy beheend her ut wur like th' whul wo'ld to her, aw couldno' tell at th' fust; but whichever it met be aw felt comforted by it.  Ther's aulus comfort i' bein' at th' side of a woman, speshly if hoo's a pratty un, when hoo's wringin' her deeshcleaut (dishcloth).  If ther's a storm gooin' on, it isno' a storm o' hard words peltin' yo' abeaut th' ears like a sheawer o' hailstones; an' heawever roogh it may be, one may put it deawn for sartin ut ther's sunshoine no' far off.  It wur so wi' this owd crayther.  Hoo mopped up afore aw'd gradely done swillin', an' turnin' her fat greasy face to'ard me, hoo said—

    "Are yo' thinkin' abeaut yo'r wife?"

    Aw said aw wur!

    "An' childer too, aw reckon?"

    "Aye, an' childer, too!"

    Hoo said nowt no moore for a bit, but sit as if hoo're thinkin' abeaut summat—neaw an' then shakin' her yead, an' givin' a wipe abeaut th' corners o' her een.  At last hoo said—

    "Whoa are yo' i' mournin' for?"

    Aw must say ut aw felt a bit puzzl't at that; for aw couldno' mak' eawt heaw hoo coom to think aw're i' mournin' for onybody.  At last aw bethowt misel' o' that broad black ribbin theau'd put reaund mi hat for t' let Lunnoners see ther' fine folk i' England as weel as Lunnon; so aw towd her ut if aw wur i' mournin'—hoo must not ha' yerd th' "if"—it wur for a very dear friend o' mine.

    "A woman?" hoo said; an' hoo stroked her thin grey yure (hair) at th' back of her ears, an' tried to mak' hersel' look as yung an' as pratty as hoo could.

    "A woman," aw said.

    "Happen yo'r wife?"

    Aw put mi napkin to mi ee'n, an' said nowt.  Wi' that hoo leet her hont drop o' mi knee wi' sich a sos, ut it made me jump as if hoo'd flung a red cinder at me, an' hoo said—

    "Yo'n lost yo'r best friend!"

    "Neaw then, Ab," aw thowt, "theau'rt in for summat neaw, owd lad!  It's a good job ther's someb'dy i' th' carriage beside thisel', or else theau'd never get to Walmsley Fowt again.  Theau mun mind what theau'rt abeaut as it is."

    "Has hoo left a big family?" hoo said.

    "Middlin'!" aw sobbed.

    "Are they groon up?"  Then hoo looked at me, as if hoo could ha' liked to ha' look'd at mi teeth, same as they done hosses when they want to get at the'r age; an' when hoo'd finished her calkilation, hoo said—

    "They conno' be so very owd!"

    "Yore reet," aw said, "they areno'."

    "Well," hoo said, and hoo fetched up a soik (sigh) as hoo said it, "aw never knew what it wur to be a mother."

    "But yo'n bin a wife?" aw said.

    "Eh, aye, aw have—to mi sorrow!"

    "Wurno' yo' comfortable wi' one another?" aw said.

    "Yoi'—Yoi'—very," hoo said; "but yo' seen if aw'd never had a husbant, aw should ne'er ha' known t' loss o' him—not ut he's laft me badly, becose aw've what ut'll keep me as lung as aw live—if aw've owt to live for."

    Just then th' engine gan a whistle, an' a yung woman—as bonny a lass as ever Peggy Thuston wur—popped her yead in at th' carriage dur, gan th' owd woman a bus, put her face to'ard mine, ut made me feel as if aw're goin' off in a swither, then findin' ut hoo're as nee as a toucher makkin' a mistake, said "good-bye, aunt!" an' shot eaut o'th' seet in a crack!  Then th' station begun a doancin' a three hond reel, an' aw felt as if someb'dy wur pooin' at me!  It kept goin' leeter i'th' carriage, till, in abeaut a minute, full dayleet flashed on us, and aw fund we'rn fairly off to Lunnon."

    "Farewell, owd England!" aw said, as heauses kept rattlin' past us, just as if they wanted to get eaut o'th' road.

    Th owd woman said, "Farewell, owd England!" too, an' then we sat as quiet as moice for what looked to be abeaut ten minutes.  Then th' engine whistled, th' train slackened, an' aw fund we'rn stoppin'.

    "We're no' getten to Lunnon bi neaw, are we?" aw said.

    Wi' that o'th' company set up a crack o' laafin', an' one yung woman showed a set o' teeth ut looked like a hontful o' mustard spoons, an' said aw must ax that in abeaut eight heaurs!

    "Eight heaurs?" aw said; "mun we be eight heaurs beaut oather owt t' ate or owt sup?"

    Th' owd woman took a fat reticule fro' under th' form, an' oppent it.

    "Yo'n no need to clem," hoo said, "nor be dried up noather," an' hoo showed me three or four pies as big as mi 'bacca pot; a stack o' thin buttercakes wi' bits o' ham between; a lot o' little things like top-cooat buttons, an' very nee as hard; two big bottles o' summat ut fairly made mi throttle wartch wi' lookin' at it, an' hoo hinted slyly ut aw'd nowt to do nobbut spake, an' aw met ha' mi fill.

    "Come," aw thowt, "aw'm droppin' into good ivin' by neaw.  If aw keep on aw shall be as big as owd Jammie Howt afore aw come back!"

    Just as th' train stopt aw put mi yead eaut o' th' carriage window, for t' look abeaut me.  Aw'd no sooner done so nur some'dy sheauted eaut:

    "Hallo Ab! heaw art' gettin' on for chep beef?"

    "Whoa's that," aw wonder't, "ut knows me so far off Walmsley Fowt?"  Then another sheauted eaut:

    "Theau conno' cut that wi' th' scithors!"

    An' before aw could spake, another mon said,

    "Aw'll oather mak' that yure (hair) o' thine lie deawnor else aw'll brast thee!"

    Theau knows what they wur hintin' at—that chep beef we had once fro' owd Thuston, that ut eaur Joe said aw couldno' cut wi' th' scithors, same as aw did bacon sometimes, an' ut made eaur childer's yure lie deawn as smoot' as a bit o' satin!  Theau'll recollect, aw know, becose it made a strange auteration in thee. [p.17]

    Whoa these chaps wur aw dunno' know, for they'd popped eaut o' th' seet in a crack; an' aw could yer 'em laafin' like madlocks as we'rn bein' drawn eaut o' th' station.

    Whether it wur wi' watchin' trees an' heauses an' meadows an' hills fly past us as if they'rn runnin' races at Karsey Moor, or it wur bein' rocked like bein' in a kayther (cradle), aw dunno' know, but o' someheaw aw fund misel' dreamin' abeaut Walmsley Fowl, an' thee, an' th' childer, an' ut aw'd come back fro' Lunnon wi' mi pockets full o' gowden pavin' stones for thee, a wick (monkey for eaur Ab, an' a lot o' cakes wi' brids o' th' top, ut th' Queen had gan me becose aw'd prevented a revolution) for t'other childer!  Heaw lung aw slept aw conno' tell.  Aw happen met ha' bin sleepin' yet if aw hadno' bin disturbed in a very temptin' way.  But just as aw'd finished th' plan of a monkey cote for eaur Ab, an' wur ceauntin' th' gowden pavin' stones, an' wonderin' heaw aw could turn 'em into sovverins, aw begun o at once a-feelin' as if someb'dy wur smooarin' (smothering) me wi' crommin' red-hot turf up mi nose!  Aw beaunced up wakken, an' catched th' owd woman just wipin' her lips, an' fund ther sich a strung smell o' summat like rum i' th' carriage ut aw could hardly get mi wynt!

    "Win yo' taste?" hoo said, lookin' a bit fluttert, as if hoo'd bin catched doin' summat hoo shouldno' do. An' hoo twisted a little white napkin reaund th' bottle neck, an' held it eaut to me.

    Aw know theau'rt thinkin' aw wouldno' refuse an offer o' that sort, an' theau'rt reet—aw didno'.  Aw just said aw didno' mind—very softly—lest hoo met think aw didno' want, an' th' bottle neck wur at mi meauth afore theau could ha' said Jack Robi'son.

    It wurno' rum, it wur summat betther, it wur brandy! an' if it had ever seen cowd wayter, it had nobbut smelt at it, for ther' wurno' mich on't had fund th' road into th' bottle.  Aw took a good swig—ut wur very nee doin' mi job, for aw're some time afore aw could spake after it!

    "Yo'd do neaw wi' a bit o' pie, wouldno' yo?" th' owd woman said, as aw honded her th' bottle back.

    Aw dunno' know what aw said.  T'other folk wur asleep, an' as they couldno' see nor yer what wur gooin' on, aw thowt aw met as weel ate a bit, if it wur for nowt nobbut to lesson th' weight o'th' reticule.  So aw poo'd mi owd scythe eaut o' mi pocket, an' prepared for mowin'.

    It wur a feeast, an' no mistake! an' what wi' meauthfuls o' pie, an' meauthfuls o' brandy, one followin' another like playing at cups an' balls, aw'd crommed misel' as full as a filch afore aw knew gradely what aw're doin'.  Aw felt as if aw'd bin at a main-brew, an' could no moore keep mi music fro' brastin' eaut nur if aw'd bin a "Cat-alley band" on th' spree!  So aw begun o tootlin' "Woodpecker," an' th' owd woman made so mich trouble o'th' chorus, ut aw'd no chance after th' fuse verse. Hoo held on as lung as hoo'd wynt, an' when that failed her, hoo dropped her yead upo' mi shoother i' sich a way ut it played the very dule wi' a bunch o' black fleawers 'at grew eaut o' her bonnet, an' made me feel rayther comical.  Luckily we shot into a tunnel, an' bi th' time we popped eaut at t'other end, th' owd woman had getten betther o' her brandy fit, an' hoo sat up as straight as an eight-days' clock, an' lookin' as if hoo'd never tasted o' nowt strunger nur owd Thuston's mowin' drink!

    Aw believe aw'm one o'th' "Swinish multitude," for aw'd no sooner tightened mi waistcoat nur aw felt as if a bit o' a snooze amung some straw would be welcome for a change.  Aw kept thinkin' abeaut it, an' watchin' a chap ut wur swayin' his yead to an' fro like a popilary (poplar) tree in a storm, an' snoorin' as leaud as a pair o' smithy ballis, till aw threw mi yead back, an' went at it misel'.  Aw slept this time as seaund as midneet, till aw're wakkened up bi a men sheautin' eaut—

    "We're within ten mile o' Lunnon!"

    Aw beaunced up, an' stretched misel', and looked eaut.  We'rn gooin' then like a shot, an' fields, an' meadows, an' trees wur ginnin' reaund like whirligigs at a wakes!  Aw could see th' heauses as wi passed 'em wur a deeal grander nur they are i' Walmsley Fowt, or in Manchester oather; an' aw're like as if aw could yer bells ringin'—"Turn again, Whittington! Lord Mayor of London!" as they did when moice wur moore plentiful, an' cats wur wo'th moore brass nur they are neaw.

    On we went, as if th' train wur takkin' a run-a-ber an' wur gooin' to jump o'er Lunnon, an' lond somewheere i' France or Ameriky!  Heauses thicken't; fields grew less; streets begun a-showin' thersels' i' lung straight lines, an' ther' so mony big signboarts wi' brewer's names on 'em kept following one another, like colours when th' Oddfellys are walkin', ut aw begun a-thinkin' ther nowt gooin' on i' Lunnon nobbut fuddlin'.

    At last we slackent, as if th' train had autered its mind an' wouldno' jump o'er th' teawn that time, but would wait till aw coom again.  Folk begun a-scrapin' their bits o' things together, an' preparin' the'rsel's for their pilgrimage through th' deserts o' Lunnon.  So aw scrawmt mine fro' under th' form, an' stretched mi shirt collar, ut aw could be ready for bowtin' as soon as th' train stopt, for aw felt th' owd woman wur hutchin' closer to me nur theau'd ha' liked on if theau'd bin theere, an' aw could smell th' brandy bottle again,—reet under mi nose!

    "What part o' Lunnon are yo' gooin' to?" hoo said, an' hoo laid her hont upo' mi arm.

    Aw said aw could hardly tell; but aw meant to spend a day or two i' th' Bridcage Walk, an' if ther' ony lodgin's to be had i' Rotten Row, aw meant to put up theere for a change!  But Aldgate Pump wur mi fust coin' shop.  Aw intended peearchin' theere for an odd neet or so, if th' pump stone wurno oready engaged!  At ony rate, aw should be fund oather theere or at th' Marble Arch, unless it wur so at th' Queen couldno' spare me—a thing ut must be considered, an' alleawed for.

    "Heaw lucky!" hoo said, an' hoo slapt her owd fat knees—"Aw'm gooin' to'ard Aldgate Pump, too, an' if yo'n a mind we con go together!  Aw've a nevvy lives deawn theere, an' he's comin' a-meetin' me at Lunnon Station, an' carryin' mi box."

    Aw felt someheaw as if th' owd lass wur gooin' to nail me, an' ut that broad black ribbin theau'd put reaund mi hat wur dooin' summat theau hadno' calkilated on; so aw towd her aw hardly knew whether aw should be at liberty or not, as th' Lord Mayor's carriage 'ud be waitin' for me, an' he happen met object to two on us, speshly when he seed one wur a woman.

    Th' owd besom looked deawn at mi clogs, then at th' buttons o' mi breeches-knees, then up at mi waistcoat, till hoo raiched mi face; an' when hoo catched me winkin' at th' yung woman wi' th' mustard spoons, hoo set up sich a crack o' laafin, ut aw thowt wur leaud enoogh to stop th' train!  For it did stop that minute, an' th' engine blew off steeam as if it wur rejoicin' ut it had done its wark an' lunged to get into th' stable an' have a rest.

    Neaw for a scramble!  Eaut wi tumbled—me wi' mi nose to th' greaund, an' th' owd woman o'th' top o' me—palin' me abeaut th' yead wi' her empty reticule, as if hoo're in another brandy fit!  When aw geet on mi legs aw could see nowt on her—hoo'd getten mixed up wi' th' creawd ut wur jostlin' one another same as they done at a play-heause dur.  Aw reckon her nevvy had collar't her, an' saved me fro' bein' a Latter-day Saint, an' havin' moore wives nur aw could keep i' clooas an' good temper!

    Aw'd no sooner getten eaut o'th' station nur aw fund misel' i'th' middle o' a creawd o' ragged lads ut wanted to carry mi bundle, and aw're fear't once they'd ha' takken it off me an' divided it amung 'em.  But aw thowt aw'd let 'em see ut they'd getten howd o' an Englishman, an' not a Lunnoner.  So aw up wi' mi fist an' fetched one on 'em a cleaut o'th' side o'th' yead, an' another aw leet taste o' a bit o' jibblet pie off th' end o' mi clog! That wur enough for th' lot on 'em, for they piked the'rsel's off, an' went an' collar't an owd men ut wur frabbin' wi' a tin box an' a bass fiddle, as if he thowt he could carry booath hissel'!

    Well, aw darted eaut o'th' gates, an' aw'd no sooner done so, nur aw fund misel' under a hoss's yead, wi' a whip-lash touching me on a tender part, ut made me feel rayther wakken.

    "Hi,—hi, gaffer!" someb'dy sheauted eaut, "get out of the way there!  Pick up yer clogs, old fellow!"

    Aw did pick up mi clogs as sharply as aw knew heaw, an' made a dart across th' road.  Aw dunno know heaw many hosses yeads aw went under i' mi travels, nor heaw mony whip lashes aw felt afore aw londed upo' th' flags; but aw felt as if aw'd bin scramblin' through a hedge, an' someb'dy helpin' me wi' the'r foout.  When aw looked reaund aw fund aw'd bin i'th' middle o' a neest o' one-hoss coaches, ut looked as if they'd bin doancin' Morris beaut music, an' th' fun ut wur gooin' on wur like a wakes!  Aw took misel' off as quietly as aw could, an' when aw'd getten a bit on th' road, th' coachman, ut aw reckon towd me to "pick up mi clogs," drove past me, an' theau may be sure aw're some takken when aw seed he're drivin' th' owd woman ut had come wi' me on th' train.  Th' owd Jezebel sheauted eaut—

    "Is that yo'r Lord Mayor's carriage?"

    Aw felt so mortified aw could hardly howd; but they conno think o' one thing lung i' Lunnon, they getten so knocked abeaut.  Aw're jowed o' one side bi one mon, an' then at t'other wi' someb'dy else.  Another ud come slap into mi stomach, an' welly knock th' wynt eaut on mi!  Beside everybody wur gettin' the'r legs fast i' mi bundle, an' aw dropped in for one or two blessin's fro' a grand lady wi' a painted face, ut wur so good as to leeave part o' her silk dress under mi foout, an' went off like a hen ut's had some o' her tail plucked eaut.  Aw thowt this sort o' wark wouldno' do lung—ut aw should be gettin' misel' into trouble if aw kept on, sayin' nowt abeaut th' danger aw wur in o' havin' mi bundle ripped away, an' thoose fine calico shirts theau made me finding the'r road into some popshop; for aw could see ther'n noane short o' sich like places i' Lunnon, no moore nur they are i' England.  So aw squeezed misel' into a shop dur, wheere they sowd 'bacco an' black dolls, thinkin' to wait till th' creawd had gone past.  But aw met ha' waited theere till th' "keaws coom whoam," an' ne'er bin nar, for th' creawd kept gooin' thicker instead o' thinner, an if aw put mi yead eaut, someb'dy wur sure to leet bump again it, as if theyr'n playin' at Punch and Judy.

    At last aw bowted, like a rotten eaut of a hole, an' fowt mi road till aw geet to an aleheause ut they coed th' "Angel," wheere aw thowt aw'd stop an' look abeaut me.

    Th' streets, aw fund, wurno' paved wi' gowd, as aw'd bin led to believe, like a leatheryead ut aw mun be.  Aw'd some deauts as to whether they wur paved wi' owt, for they'rn as slutchy as ever Hazel'orth Green wur after a bullbait.  Aw fund it eaut too, ut everybody wurno' lords an' ladies; but ut amung heauses ut wur so grand they met ha' bin built i' fairylond, an' brout theere i' balloons, ther' ragged, dirty childer; women ut looked as if they'd hired the'rsel's eaut for mops, an' wur gettin' far worn—an' men ut seemed as if they didno' care heaw soon th' wo'ld 'ud be at an end, if it 'ud nobbut stop that weary creawd fro gooin' on, on, on, an' let 'em rest.

    Heaw aw geet to Aldgate Pump aw dunno' know; but aw fund misel' theere at last.  Well aw'm gettin' sleepy, so good neet, owd craythur! till aw write agen, an' tell thee heaw aw'm gooin' on.

                                                                                                    Thine till theau'rt weary, AB.

    TAK' NOTICE!—Let eaur childer have as mich skooin' as they con get, so ut they winno' be sich thickyeads as the'r feyther!  AB.


――――♦――――

 
AB-O'-TH'-YATE IN LONDON.

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SECOND LETTER.

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THE CROSSING SWEEPER ST. PAUL'S.

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Gowden Ball, Paul's Cross,
                                                     Lunnon Fowt, June —, 1868.


OWD Craythur,—Aw'm "up," too—as hee as aw con get, for aw'm peearched like a monkey, grinnin' through a cage abeaut a hundert an' twenty yard above other folk, an' lookin' if aw con see Walmsley Fowt.  Heaw aw geet here is a marvel to me; but aw'll tell thee as mich as aw con recollect o' th' journey an' what aw con see neaw aw've getten here.

    Aw're up afore th' lark, if ther' is sich a thing as a lark i' Lunnon, an' after duckin' mi yead in a bucket, an' stretchin' mi fithers, not forgettin' to spend a penny on mi clogs, aw looked eaut for a chep breakfast.  Th' streets wur as quiet as if everybody had flitted, or gone on a chep trip to Manchester, an' aw'd summat to do afore aw could get a chance o' havin' mi waistcoat tightened.  After strowlin' abeaut, an' cloddin' at cats for an heaur or so, aw coom upo' summat wi' two legs, stondin' at a corner; but whether it wur a mon or a lad aw couldno' weel mak' eaut.  If it had stood in a curn-fielt aw should ha' coed it a crow-boggart, it wur so ragged an' dirty!  He'd a stump of a besom in his hont, a besom ut, if it ever had seen better days, had never seen sich good ups, an' bi th' way ut he kept turnin' his een up to th' sky, ut then wur a nice sweet blue, aw're led to wonder what he're abeaut.  Thinkin' he met be able to tell me wheere ther' some sort o' thickenin' stuff to be had, aw made bowd to spake to him.

    "Con yo' tell me wheere aw con get a chep breakfast?" aw said, "an' soon?"

    He shuffled abeaut an' muttered summat, an' then pointed his finger deawn th' street, an' made a hook of his arm; but what wur th' meeanin' o' what he oather said or did theaw just knows as mich as aw do.

    "Here!" aw said, "come wi' me, an' show me."

    "Kim along then!" he said; an' he went o at once as wick as a hummabee, shoothered his besom, an' shuffled deawn th' street.  Aw betted misel' fifty to one, an' won, 'at he'd seen no breakfast that mornin'.  He took me eaut o' that street into a narrower, an' then eaut o' that into a narrower still, an' londed me at a dur wheere ther' a smell o' coffee, an' bacon, an' herrin' coome to my nose quite strung.

    "Git yer grub here!" he said, an' he put his hont up to what should ha' bin his hat, an' looked as if he wanted to gie me summat.

    Aw thanked him, but he're like as if he'd made his mind up to put summat i' mi road, for he kept pooin' at his hat till aw begged on him no' to put hissel' abeaut ony furr, as aw could manage beaut him.

    "Aint tasted wittles for two blessed days!" he said, an he showed me heaw slack his senglet wur.

    Aw seed at once 'at aw'd bin mistakkin' his meeanin', 'at i'sted o' him wantin' to gie me summat, th' clog wur upo' t'other foot; so aw darted into th' shop, an' towd him to follow.  He didno' need twice axin.  He're at th' back of a table afore aw could wink, and byettin' the dule's drum wi' a knife an' fork!

    Bi th' time aw'd getten sit deawn ther' a chap at mi elbow, ut looked as if he'd bin sleepin' i' a dog kennel, an' had nobbut slept wi' one part of his body at a time.  He wanted to know what mi' "pleasure" wur, an' aw towd him good atin' an' drinkin' wi' a bit o' a sung neaw an' agen.  He met bring some coffee an' buttercakes for a start.

    "Two pints of coffee?" he said.

    "Two pints."

    "How many slices?"

    "It depends on th' thickness.  Bring a stack!" aw said.

    "Crast or crammy?"

    Aw didno' know what he meant by that, but aw ventured upo' it "crammy," thinking it met be better for one's teeth.

    "Rasher?"

    "What's that?

    "Bacon."

    "Nawe, no Lunnon pig for me! they feeden 'em too queerly, if o be true one reads abeaut 'em!"

    He grinned at that, then shot hissel' into a place abeaut th' size o' a bonnet-box, an' begun a-knockin' cups an' saucers abeaut.

    Aw turned to th' lad, or mon, or whatever he met be ut wur wi' me; but aw con assure thee o' one thing, aw didno' sit so close to him.  He're a strange lookin' craythur.  His face look'd as if it had bin made eaut o' dirty putty, an' tredden into shape wi' a pair o' clogs; an' he could look wi' one e'e at th' table, an' watch th' flees (flies) doance upo' th' ceilin' wi' t'other!  His shirt no lad would ha' punced if he'd seen it lyin' i'th' loane; an' heaw his cooat hung on his back, or heaw he geet hissel' i'th' inside on't, is as big a puzzle to me as that conjurin' chap wur ut could conjure a shillin' eaut o' a mon's pocket, but couldno' conjure it back again.  When aw fust seed him he looked as glum as a mournin' coach eaut o' wark, but he'd no sooner gotten ut th' back o'th' table nur he went as merry as a cricket on a bakin' day; an' he poo'd his meauth i' sich a shape wi' whistlin', ut theau'd ha' thowt he'd had a piece cut eaut, an' drawn it 'gether again wi' a bant!

    "What are yo'?" aw said.

    "Hope I ain't a sinner!" he said; but as he said it aw thowt he looked moore like a sort o' varment nur a Christian.

    "That isno' what aw meean," aw said; "what dun yo' do for a livin'?"

    "Sveeps a crossin'."

    Come, aw thowt, that's a new soart of a trade to me, but if it wouldno' afford better doins' nur clemmin' two days, an' chettin' mops o' what should belung to 'em, it's hardly worth while takkin' it to Walmsley Fowt.  Heawever, aw thowt aw met as weel know what it wur, so aw axt him.

    "Well," he said, an' he looked at me same as if he're gooin' to measur' me for a suit o' beggar's uniform—"You aint long from the caintry—don't know a crossing!" an' then he geet howd of his besom, said some soart o'gibberish ut aw couldno' have understood if aw'd had four pair o' ears, an' then made sich wark amung th' sawdust upo' th' floor ut aw're very nee choked wi' dust.  Luckily th' coffee coom in, an' th' besom wur flung under th' table, an' if theau'd seen that poor owd dog worry his "crammy," theau'd ha' believed he hadno' tasted for a week.

    "Bad time for sveepers!" he said, after he'd lessened th' stack o' buttercakes, an' made hissel' look more Christian-like.  Aint nothing to sveep.  Too dry—too dry.  Shower worth a bob; the veeper, wot's the vater cart, worth a tizzy—Aint neither.  On'y picked up nine browns yes'day; guv it all to the old ooman for the kids.  Aint nothink for myself.  Jolly good feed this, guv'nor.  Sveep like a machine if the veeper kims round.  Hope it'll kim before the ladies turns out; they weeps it all up with their togs they does.  Hullo! there he goes!" an' he begun a-swallowin' at th' rate of a maut mill.

    Aw yerd a rumblin' seaund i' th' street, an' aw looked through th' window for t' see what it wur.  Aw fund it wur a cart looad o' wayther, an' just as it wur passin' th' driver turned a handle an' eaut th' wayther coom, squirtin' like comin' eaut of a deggin' can!  That wur th' "veeper."  Th' besom wur nipt fro' under th' table in a crack, an' eaut th' men shuffled i' less toime nur aw could tell thee.

    "Thank yer, guv'nor!" he said as he haumpled eaut; "go to bizness, yer see.  Kim to my crossin', and vont I sveep for yer!  Good mornin'!"

    "Theigher!" aw said to misel' when he're gone, "if theau'rt a sample o' Lunnon folk, ther's a nice kettle on em somewheere.  If theau coom to Walmsley Fowt, theau'd ha' to be drawn through Owd Thuston's pit afore theau're alleawed to goo in at a dur, an' ha' th' clooas brunt beside!  What shall aw see next aw wonder?"

    Afore aw'd finished mi breakfast aw fund ut th' place wur as thrung wi' folk as a herrin' basket; but heaw or when they'd come in wur a puzzle to me, it wur done so quietly.  An' a weary lot they looked!  Some wi' the'r e'en part unbuttoned, others ut favvort as they'd never had the'r clooas off the'r backs sin they'rn fust put on, an' didno' meean to tak' 'em off till they'rn ready for a wooden suit; an' for o they couldno' afford to spend above thrippence on a breakfast, they'd talk abeaut havin' the'r "pots o' beer" th' neet afore, as if drink wur like to be had, chus what becoom o' mayte an' clooas an' whoam comforts.  Aw thowt abeaut Walmsley Fowt, an' bakin' days, an' breet, cosy Setterday neets, an' happy Sunday mornin's—eaur childer wi' the'r white bishops on, an' the'r clean, rosy faces—gooin' to th' skoo, an' th' Sunday dinner, ut sets one reet for a whul week o' thinner pastur', an' pleasant neighbourin' amung pleasant folk, wi' just an odd pint for t' set one a-singin', an' aw made up mi mind ut these poor sowls could ha' nowt o' that sort, but tore wearily on i' drink an' dirt, till a black box wi' an owd reawsty bob or two at th' top, too short to nod, coom an' shifted 'em eawt o'th' road for ever!  These thowts made me feel as glum as winter weather, an' it took me some time afore aw could rally misel'.

    Breakfast o'er an' paid for, aw sallied eant an' fund 'at as musty as th' street wur, it wur better our bein' stifled in a dirty box o' a place, wi' three or four flees (flies) at once pearchin' upo' yo'r nose, an' abeaut a dozen buzzin' i' yo'r ears.  Aw followed th' track o'th' wayter cart till, when aw'd gone up a street or two, aw fund it eaut what a "crossin"' wur.  Aw tumbled upo' th' owd sweeper again, scrattin' away wi' his stump of a besom as if he're determined upo' rootin' th' stones up.  Aw watched him awhile.  If onybody wi' a fine cooat had passed, he'd his hoot at his hat in a jiffy.  If they'd dropped a copper, or a "brown," as he coed it, it would ha' bin in his meauth afore it had time to go cowd, an' he'd peg away wi' his besom as if he'd bin an engine newly fir't up.  If nowt had bin dropped for awhile he'd ha' slackened his speed till he'd dropped it o together, an' he'd ha' laint on his besom an' looked abeaut.  Seein' me, he briskened up, flourished his besom, then set to, an' made dirt fly like fifty coach-wheels whizzin' through a mizzey (quagmire)!

    "Hullo, guv'nor!" he said, "here's a cawpet for yer, three pile Brussels an' a brass knocker!  Kim this way again, an' I'll polish yer up like vinkin'!  Shawn't forgit yer.  Good mornink agin!"

    An' o this for a fourpenny breakfast

    An' neaw for one o' th' grandest seets i' Lunnon, for aw'm for seein' Saint Paul's if aw con nobbut find it.  Stridin' away, lookin' at shop windows, an' wonderin' what fun folk could find i' knockin' me abeaut, as if to get the'r toes under mi clogs, an' limpin' after, aw soon fund misel' at th' side of a big buildin' ut a chap towd me wur built when glass wur so dear they couldno' afford windows; for ther' wurno' a window abeaut th' place!  He said it wur th' "Baink," an' ut ther' as mich brass i' th' cellar, wheere they kept ther' drink, as 'ud buy o Manchester, an' th' pictur o' th' Infirmary i' solid gowd beside!  Aw towd him what aw thowt he wur; becose if they'rn wo'th so mich brass, heaw wur it they couldno' afford windows.  England again Lunnon for a brew!

    Neaw then, which road mun aw goo?  Everybody's gooin' every road, an' they seem to be th' same folk again, comin' an' gooin' an' gooin' an' comin', as if that wur o they had to do fro' mornin' to neet.  Aw mun stir some road soon, or else be jowed to pieces, for mi clooas are givin' way oready.  Someheaw aw think aw mun turn to mi reet, but dunno' know why, aw'll try it; an' then aw yer sich a thungin' seawnd, ding dong, ut mak's me fairly shake i' mi clogs.  Folk looken at ther' watches, an' then aw'm towd Saint Paul's is strikin' ten.  Aw goo to'ard wheere th' seawnd comes fro', an' after havin' bin poo'd three or four times fro' amung carriage wheels, an' pushed to within an inch o' smashin' a big window full o' watches, aw geet to a place wheere Bobby Peel stonds i' th' middle o' th' street, howdin' a meeting by hissel' abeaut th' curn laws.  Then what do aw see?  A white stone cleaud, or meauntain, buildin' it conno' be, unless it wur built when folk wur giants, an' played at marbles wi' thunner-bowts!  It's so big ther's no gettin' past it, for like th' moon it seems to be followin' as we goo on, an' aw could stare at it till aw fancied it wur a mile off an' then th' minute after it 'ud seem to come lumberin' to'ard me as if it wur gooin' to bury o before it!  Aw put mi hont o'er mi een an' looked up to th' gowden apple till aw felt as drunken as if aw'd been fuddlin' a day at th' "Owd Bell," an' mi yead wur same as if it wur quite leet!  Aw turned to a mon ut wur lettin' a hoss sup eaut of a bucket, an axt him heaw he thowt they managed to build it that height.

    "Oh! easy!  They built it laid on one side, then reared it up!"

    "A good plan, too," aw said.  "Has they' ever onybody bin o'th' top sin it wur built?"

    "Lots every day.  See 'em sometimes perched on the cross like clothes pegs!  Yer may stand on yer 'ed there for a capple o' bobs, and see Landon upside down!  Or yer may git inside the ball, an' lor bless yer! yer'll be no more than a pippin in a orange!"

    "Which is th' road into th' church?" aw said, for aw felt a hankerin' notion o'seein' as mich as aw could see.

    "The door there," an' he pointed across th' yard.  "Take them 'bawges' off yer feet if yer don't wish to waken the stiff uns!"

    Aw'd no notion o' doffin' mi clogs, aw con assure thee; but aw'd no sooner put mi nose inside th' church nur aw yerd abeaut fifty pair o' clogs rattlin' away i' every part.  When aw stopped they stopped, as if they'd made me the'r leader; an' when aw couldno' see a pair beside mi own aw wonder't wheere they wur, or what wur t' meeanin' o' sic a clatter.  So aw spoke to a gentleman ut wur lookin' at a stone chap tumblin' off a stone hoss, an' aw axt him if he thowt ther' some sort o' hornpipe doancin' gooin' on!  He looked deawn at mi feet an' then laafed.

    "It's the echo of your clogs," he said; an' just then someb'dy knocked a form o'er, an' ov o th' noieses ever aw yerd that wur th' flogger. "Come," aw thowt, "if th' deead areno' as fast asleep as ever owd Juddie wur when it wur his turn to pay, they'n be wakken't up wi that;" for it wur t' same as if th' floor wur made o' drum ends, an' th' church tumblin' on to it!  Aw could understand then why that chap eautside towd me to poo mi "bawges" off.

    Well, aw clomper't abeaut, th' regiment o' clogs followin me, till aw geet i'th' middle o' what seemed to me to be a bull-ring flagged o'er; an' when aw looked up aw thowt mi shoothers ud ha' gan way, an' mi yead flown off, for it' favvort as if they'd takken th' inside o'th' meauntain eaut, an' laft nowt nobbut th' ribs.  Theere ther' a lot o' little folk walkin' like flees (flies) on a wo', or on a ceilin'; an' when aw're towd aw could goo up theere, an' ut it wur as safe as bein' upo' th' hearthstone, aw wonder't moore an' moore.  Afore aw'd time to calkilate th' consequence o' havin' mi brains knocked eaut, or whether they'd be a chance o' thee drawin' th' brass eaut o'th' buryin' club if aw're cut up into spoon mayte, a mon wi a black geawn rayther wurr for wear coom to me, an' said—

    "This way to the Whisperin' Gallery!  Pay your money inside that door!"

    Whether it wur ut th' dur wur summat like th' vestry dur at Hazelo'th church, an' ut aw fancied aw're gooin' a-bein' wed o'er again, aw dunno' know, but aw shot through it as sudden as aw did that mornin' aw're teed to thee, when theau said theau never seed me in a bigger hurry i' thi life!  When aw geet through aw fund misel' at th' bottom of a pair of queer-lookin' steers an' two men sit at a table wi' a lot o' bits o' pasteboard afore 'em.  They axt me wheere aw're gooin', an' aw towd 'em aw wanted to know that, an' aw expected they could tell me.

    "Whispering Gallery?" they said.

    "That's one shop, aw believe," aw said.

    "Golden Gallery?"

    "Ay, aw mun see that."

    "Clock?"

    "Aw con see that eautside," aw said.

    "But not the works.  Very interesting, sir: by all means see the clock."

    "Well, book me for th' clock," aw said.

    "Ball?"

    "Ay, aw met as weel goo in for th' dollop, neaw aw'm here."

    "Two and eightpence!  If you wish to see the crypt, you'll have to go the other way."

    "What's the crypt?" aw said, an' someheaw aw shuddert at th' name.

    "The tombs of the heroes—Nelson, Wellington, Picton, and—"

    "Stop a bit!" aw said, "aw'm noane gooin' theere!  Aw'll goo onywheere above greaund, but when yo' catchen me in a grave aw'll be boxed up for it!  So gie me mi tickets, an' let's be gooin' up these steers.

    Aw geet mi ticket, paid mi brass, an' begun o' climbin'.  It wur climbin', too, an' as oft as aw thowt aw should be somewheere soon, aw seemed to ha' getten nowheere, for ther' kept bein' steers at th' top o' steers, summat like thoose steps i' th' New Bailey, ut folk con walk up three months an' ne'er get to th' top.  When aw're just at th' point o' givin' up, an' wishin' misel' at th' bottom again, aw coom to a dur-hole, wheere a chap stood ut favvort he'd bin buried once, an' takken up again, for he looked sunken an' worm-etten, an' when he spoke his voice seaunded as if it wur comin' fro' under a flag.  Aw beaunced as if someb'dy had pricked me wi' a pin when he drawled eaut—

    "Take—off—your—hat!"

    Aw did as he towd me, an' then popt through th' dur hole, an' fund aw'd getten amung thoose little folk inside summat ut looked like a great beehive, ut they'd coed th' "Whisperin' Gallery."  Aw whispered to misel'—"Bless eaur Sal!" an' aw could yer it as plain as owt! so aw kept blessin' thee, an' it wur so nice when aw could yer it amung a lot o' folk ut aw thowt didno' talk gradely English.  Then aw blessed eaur Ab, an' Joe, an' Dick, an' t'other chiller, till aw'd blest yo o reaund, an' felt drops o' summat weet upo' mi cheeks!

    Th' place wur shelved reaund wi' flags rail't off i'th' front, so as folk ut had notions o' flyin' would ha' no chance o'th' concait bein' takken eaut on em'.  Aw thowt it ud mak' a good cooarse for a hauve mile race, so aw tried a sprint reaund, but aw hadno' getten mony yards fro' th' start afore aw thowt everybody wur runnin' eaut, fear't o'th' place tumblin'!  Aw stopt, an' looked reaund, but nob'dy had stirred.  It wur th' echo o' mi clogs agen!  Then that voice coom fro' under th' flag agen--

    "Take—off—your—hat!"

    Aw'd never put mi hat on, so what could he be tellin' me a second time for?  Then someb'dy said—

    "Dost like me as weel as theau says?"

    But as they' nob'dy within abeaut fifty yard on me, nobbut a yung mon an' a yung woman, country-lookin', aw begun a wonderin' if theau'd dee'd brokken-hearted through me leavin' thee, an' ut thi ghost had followed me fort' rebuke me, as th' owd book says.  Well, while aw're ponderin' abeaut this, an' feelin' a bit unyessy i' mi crop, aw yerd another voice say—

    "Yon's an Owdhamer i' clogs!"

    Aw thowt this caps o!  Ther' must be sperrits abeaut, aw're sure; an' when that voice coom fro' under th' flag again, an' said—"Take—off—your—hat!" aw felt bothered eaut o' mi wits, an' stood starin' reaund till a gentleman aw'd seen below coom up to me.  Aw said to him—

    "Yon mon keeps tellin' me to poo off mi hat, an' aw've never had it on!"

    "Oh no," he said, "he's only telling people as they enter, and the sound comes round to you.  That's why they call this the 'Whispering Gallery.'"

    Aw felt so mad ut aw'd shown misel' sich a leatheryead, ut aw darted reet eaut, an' went up a lung ginnel a-lookin' at th' clock.

    It wur like gooin' into an organ loft, an' th' clock itsel' wur like a little factory on short time, for th' wheels, ut wur as big as barrow trindles, wur creepin' as slow as if they wanted oilin', an th' necker nobbut neckt once for eaur owd 'larum twice; an' heaw it could keep time wi' that bothered me above a bit.  Just as an owd mon wur tellin' me ut th' minute finger wur as lung as eaur Joe an' me put together, like a fishin' rod, th' clock begun astrikin' eleven, an' it raised sich a clatter i' that hole, ut aw fund misel' at t'other end o' th' ginnel afore it had strucken three, feelin' as if aw'd getten a lot o' wasps inside mi yead!  When aw'd getten reaund a bit, aw made for th' end o' mi journey, feelin' determin't to meaunt to Jericho if onybody else did.

    Well, aw begun a-clomberin' up steers through a lot o' owd lumber reawms ut wur as dark as th' fur end of a breek-oon (brick oven), an' when aw raiched th' last on em mi shirt wur as weet as if aw'd bin i' th' middle o' Owd Thuston' pit.

    "Leave yer hat," a mon said ut stood ut a dur "an' tie a handkycher round yer head, or you'll have yer hair blown off!"

    As aw didno' like thowts o' losin' mi toppin', aw did as he towd me, an' a nice pictur' aw da'say aw looked wi' mi yead laps up like a wesherwoman wi' th' toothwartch!  Aw begun a-climbin' ladders ut wur as straight up as a wo' an' when aw'd squeezed misel' through a hole abeaut th' width of a boss-collar, aw fund dayleet starin' at me as if we'rn strangers, an' a wynt strung enoogh to play a trumpet blowin' at me.  An' here wur Lunnon reet under me, lookin' as if it had bin cut eawt o' corkwood, an' creawds o' dolls i' little narrow streets, tumblin' o'er one another like maggots i' cheese, an' hunderts o' penny dobby bosses drawin' little tin coaches, an' tiny boats on a river, skimmin' abeaut like fithers on a duck-hole!  An' little wooden churches; an' trees ut looked like bunches o' parsley, an' fields far away, ut looked as if they'rn stitched to th' sky!

    "An' this is Lunnon," aw thowt, "ut o th' wo'ld beside is lookin' to'ard; wheere if folk had a mind they could stop every wheel an' spindle i' every country, an' bring sich a crash i' th' wo'ld as no earthquake ever did.  Wheere ther's moore sin goon' on, an' wheere moore kind hearts byetten, by a theausant times nur what'll ever be known to onybody but ONE!"

    An' fro' here aw date mi letter, becose, aw think nob'dy ever did beside me; an' wheere, if aw con get safely deawn this time, aw shall never be catcht again as long as aw'm


Thine in his senses,
                                                 AB.


――――♦――――

 
AB-O'TH'-YATE IN LONDON.
――――――――――――

THIRD LETTER.
――――――――――――

AT THE CRYSTAL PALACE.
――――――――――――

Sentry Box, Hoss Guards,
                                    Lunnon Fowt, June —, 1868.


MY Blessed Lass,—Dunno' thee think aw'm listed becose aw'm writin' fro' a sodierin' shop.  They wouldno' ha' me if even aw'd a notion o' bein' made into a thing to shoot at.  They sayn mi legs are too bandy for stoppin' cannon bo's, an' ut aw've walked abeaut so mich wi' mi honds in mi pockets ut mi shoothers are getten thrutched eaut o' ther' places, an' mi neck made too short for owt obbut hangin' by; so ut aw shouldno' do for a sodier.  Thank 'em, aw dunno' want owt o'th' sort, but as aw thowt a sentry box 'ud be a nicer sleepin' shop nur a pumpstone, aw'd shift mi quarters, so here aw am.

    Aw're saunterin' deawn what they coen Fleet-street t'other day, an' as aw're ceawntin' mi copper up, an' calkilatin' heaw far it ud goo i' cheese an' bread an' soakin' stuff, aw felt a hont coom rayther heavy upo' one shoother.  Aw whizzed misel' reaund wi' th' intention o' knockin' someb'dy a week nar Kesmus, when whoa should aw see grinnin' at me but Sam Smithies, own Johnny's lad i' Irkdale!

    "Ab," he said, "what art theau doin' here?" an' he geet howd o' mi fist, an' gan it sich a wring ut welly made me squeeal.

    Aw towd him aw'd seen it i'th' newspapper ut they wur just one mon short i' Lunnon, an' ut aw'd coom a fillin' th' place up!

    "An heaw lung hasto bin?" he said.

    Aw towd him aw'd seen so mich o' what they coed "life," an' bin dragged abeaut so mich amung great folk, ut they'd knocked o reckonin' eaut on me, an' aw couldno' say to a day or two.

    "Wheere art stoppin' at?  Wheere could aw find thee?" he said.

    Aw towd him ut as Lunnon wur situated through me comin' up, it wur unsartin wheere aw could be fund.  Ther' so mony big folk to'ard th' West End ut wanted me to stop wi' 'em, ut aw thowt if aw stopt wi' one aw should vex o t'other, so aw're sarvin' 'em o alike.  Aw'd bin farmin' Aldgate Pump; but, at present, aw're garrisonin' Whitehall, wheere aw thowt aw should stop till aw're ready to goo whoam!

    "Oh, come an' stop wi' me," he said, "ther's plenty o' reaum for thee.  Never mind other folk.  Beside, they conno' object, bein' as we're owd companions."

    That argiment had weight wi' me, an' aw consented at once, upo' condition ut if ther ony bother i' th' newspapper abeaut it he'd back me eaut as weel as he could!

    "Well, come on to my hotel," he said, "an' we'n liquor."

    So we went an' liquort.  It wur a grand place ut he're stoppin' at, an' aw da'say it 'ud cost him a pratty penny.  It looked like a church eautside, an' we had to pass through iron gates same as gooin' i' th' New Bailey, nobbut th' smell wur so different, it fairly made me t' yammer.  Aw took mi hat off at th' dur, but Sam walked in wi' his on, an' actily whistled as if he're gooin' in his own heause!  He took me into a reawm as wide as Owd Thuston's barn, an' boxed off like a church—a table i'th' middle o' every box, an' everyone covered wi' white napkins ut wur sprad o'er wi' knives an' forks an' spoons like rushcart sheets.  Aw felt as if aw're walkin' in a hay meadow, for th' carpets wur so thick nob'dy could tell ut aw'd abeaut two peaund o' timber hung at oather foout, so aw crept in beaut bein' mich noticed.  Sam motioned for me to sit mi deawn.  So aw did.  An' when aw looked up aw could see aw're sit under a big thing ut wur hung reaund wi' a lot o' icicles, ut aw thowt made th' reawm feel nice an' cool!  Aw could hardly believe it wur ice at fust, but when aw seed two men puttin' lumps i' ther' drinks, aw thowt Lunnon must be a queer place when they could ha' Summer an' Winter booath at once!

    "What art' gooin' to have?" Sam said.

    Aw towd him mi stomach wurno' a preaud un, if it had had so mony temptations, an' ut a gill o' fourpenny 'ud be as welcome as owt!

    He laafed at me.

    "Theau'rt noane i' Hazel'o'th neaw," he said, "theau'll ha' to goo to a bigger figure nur fours, or sixes oather!"


    "Well," aw said, "aw'll ha' th' same as thee."  Aw thowt ut if aw et an' drunk same as other folk, aw should be doin' reet; but that isno' aulus th' best guide, as theau'll see in a while.

    "Two glasses o' bitter!" Sam said to a little chap ut favvvort a doctor; an' aw con assure thee aw did some stare when aw fund it eaut ut he're nobbut a waiter-on.

    Well, th' "bitter" coom in, an' what dost think it wur?  Nowt nobbut ale wi' th' ribs takken eaut!  Aw said to Sam—

    "Heaw mich dun they charge for this thin stuff?"

    "Thrippence a glass," he said.

    "Thrippence!" aw said.  "Wheay, aw could get a glass at th' 'Owd Bell' as thick as slutch for a penny!"

    Sam laafed at me as if he couldno' believe me; but aw towd him he no 'casion, for aw'd towd truth; an' then he laafed harder an' harder at me, an' set others agate o' laafin' too.

    "We'n just ha' a meauthful o' lunch," he said, "an' then, if theau's a mind, we'n goo as far as th' Crystal Palace, an' dine when we come back.  Folk i' Lunnon dunno' get the'r dinners till neet."

    Aw towd him aw didno' mich matter Lunnon ways, as far as aw'd seen on 'em; aw'd rayther do as they did i' England; but he met pleeas' hissel'.

    "Oh, theau'll not ha' mich reaum to grumble," he said, "beaut theau hasno' tasted for a day or two."  So he ordert lunch, as he coed it, but which aw took to be a sort o' a bitin' on.

    It wur a bitin' on, an' no mistake!  We'd a lump o' beef fort' cut at ut wur as mich as th' little doctor could carry; an' it wur cut an' come agen as oft as we'd a mind.  Aw know theau thinks aw lessoned it, an' theau thinks reet; aw did!  When th' little doctor fotch'd what wur left away, he'd liked to ha tumbled backort, it felt so leet.  If that wur nobbut lunch, aw wonder't what a dinner 'ud be.  When aw'd done, aw fund aw'd wedged misel' between th' table an' th' form till aw could hardly stir!  Aw said to Sam—

    "Aw'm ready for oather Crystal Palace or owt, neaw!"

    "Come on then!" he said, "they winno' want thee to tarry here lung."

    So we geet up fro' th' table an' went eaut.  As we passed deawn th' lobby aw turned misel' reaund for t' look what time it wur by a clock, an' aw could see ther' six o thoose little doctors grinnin' at me through a window!  Aw thowt they'rn brazent folk i' Lunnon!

    We marched deawn th' street till we coom i'th' seet o' a railway station; but fust Sam bargaint wi' me to walk a twothre yard beheend him, for fear we should meet someb'dy ut knew him, an' met think he'd getten into queer company if they seed me clomperin' bi his side.  It bothered me sometimes to keep i'th' seet on him, speshly when we had to cross a street.  If th' "veeper" had bin reaund, it took me o mi time to keep o' mi feet, it wur so slutchy an' slippy, an' when aw had to fence agen hoss yeads an' coach wheels, theau may be sure aw're full o' wark, an' had some to let eaut.  Sam's cooat lap saved me once.  Aw made a grab at it when aw fund misel' flyin' backort!  If aw'd missed it th' blinds would ha bin deawn i' Walmsley Fowt, for aw should ha' bin squozzen as flat as if aw'd bin put through owd Jinny's mangle, buttons an' o!  At last we coom to th' station, an' aw axt Sam if it wur th' Crystal Palace.  It wur some fun to him, that wur, an' when he towd me ut th' Palace wur abeaut ten times as big, an' ut it wur mony a mile off, an' we had to goo on th' railroad to it, aw felt as if Lunnon wur grooin' bigger an' bigger, an' lookin' at it fro' th' top o' Sent Paul's wur as decaitful as lookin' through th' wrung end of a telescope.

    Well, we geet into a train ut wur just stoppin', an' theau'll be surprised when aw tell thee ut aw didno' mak' a single blunder o'er it.  Ther' wur some lots o' folk gooin' besides us, an' so mony on 'em had music books wi' 'em, ut aw wondered if they'rn gooin' to sing on th' road.  Sam towd me it wur th' fust day o' Handel's Festival, an' these folk wur gooin' a singin' at it.

    "Hande!" aw said, "has Handel o' Jone's getten to that height wi' his tootlin', ut he con get up a grand consarn like that?"

    He said it wurno' Handel o' Jone's, but th' great Handel of o, ut made that tune abeaut th' "Harmonious Blacksmith," ut owd Jammie Ogden used to play on th' "owd oon-dur."

    "Oh!" aw said; an' then aw fund we'rn getten eaut o' Lunnon, an' ut train wur wabblin' away like a lung rattlesnake, through green fields, wheere t' smell wur like gooin' through a hay meadow, an' aw felt ut we couldno' be far off Walmsley Fowt.  At last we shot into summat like a tunnel, an' th' train poo'd up, an' Sam towd me we wur at th' furr end.

    "Here!" he said, as we geet eaut, "put this card i' thi pocket.  We may lose one another.  If we done, tak' a cab when theau gets eaut o'th' train gooin' back; show th' driver th' card, an' he'll drive thee straight to my hotel.  If aw'm noane theere, theau con order dinner for thisel', show 'em th' card an' it'll be o reet."  Then he wrote on th' back o'th' card—"Let the bearer have anything he requires, and charge Samuel Smithies."  Aw felt as safe then as if aw'd bin locked up in a bank cellar, full o' good atin' an' drinkin'.

    It wur like a cellar we wur in, an' we'd a good ramble afore we geet to th' fur end on't.  At last we coom to some steers an' after climbin' thoose, th' seet ut aw see'd fairly took mi wynt.  Heawever, afore aw'd time to wonder mich, aw fund misel' at a turnsteel, like that gooin' into owd Thuston's "hauve acre," an' we had to go through it.  What Sam paid for gooin' in aw dunno know, but it looked a good deeal o' brass.

    Aw've yerd folk say ut thoose ut lived i' glass heauses shouldno' throw stones, an' aw thowt at th' time it wur a very silly sayin', as aw'd never seen a glass heause, an' didno' believe ther' wur sich things; but neaw aw're stondin' i' one—starin' wi' o th' ee'n i' mi yead, an' wonderin' heaw onyb'dy could deawt ther' bein' sich a country as Fairylond after a seet o' this sort!  Aw could believe i' Tom Thumb, or Jack the Giant Killer, or Dr. Cummins neaw; an' even go to th' length o' hearkenin' a tale abeaut sperrit-rappin' beaut breakin' mi jaws wi, laafin'!  Theau may tell owd Thuston ut, if he'd sich a place as this for grooin' keawcumbers in, he met swagger, for whether aw'm stondin' i' th' middle or not aw dunno' know, as aw conno' see noather end nor side.  It met be a fielt wi' a glass roof, an' filled so full o' grand things an' grand folk, ut aw believe if aw didno' shut mi ee'n neaw an' agen, an' think abeaut whoam, aw should goo as cleean eaut o' concait wi' thee an' Walmsley Fowt as if aw'd never known noather.

    "Dunno' stond starin' abeaut thee, as if theau're a turnin' yead in a barber's shop window!" Sam said, gettin' howd o' mi arm, "but come on! an' let's get as good a stondin' shop as we con; sittin's eaut o' th' question, aw see.  We'n look at these things when th' festival's o'er."

    It wur like wayvin' broad-wark—pick after pick—puttin' that great creawd together ut stood afore us—a grand carpet wi' fleawers woven in it, noddin' the'r yeads as natural as in a garden when a May wynt's blowin' on 'em.  An' thoose fleawers wur women, ut if Peggy Thuston had seen 'em when hoo're in her curl papper an' gauze tippet days, we should ha' fund her some mornin' th' clogs upport i' th' well! for hoo're used to say ut if hoo thowt ther onyb'dy i' th' wo'ld as pratty as hersel', hoo wouldno' live no lunger nur hoo could find a sope o' wayther to dreawn in!  (Aw da'say hoo's autered her tune by this.)  An' ther' bits o' posies o' these fleawers put together i' boxes ut looked like big canary cages, an' one grand posy of o, ut Sam said had two theausant fleawers in, an' as mony weeds, wur flutterin' its bits o' petals reet i' th' front on us.  Ther' two big summats i' th' middle, th' shape o' tulips, an' aw axt Sam what they wur.  He said:

    "When good King Arthur wur livin' he had 'em for punch bowls, for th' Knights o'th' Reaund Table to drink eaut on.  After he dee'd they wur made into drums!"  He calkilated ut they'd howd as mich punch as would fuddle o th' lot; so ther' must ha' bin some heavy drinkin' gooin' on i' thoose days.

    Well, while we'rn talkin' an' getten eaursels packed i' th' creawd, a trumpet seaunded, an' ther' sich a flutter i' that big posy as theau never seed, while th' fleawer carpet below, ut we'd getten woven in eaursels, wur same as if a brisk wynt had swept o'er it, an' browt colours eaut ut changed an' changed till mi een wur so dazzled aw could hardly see.  Then ther' another flutter i'th' big posy, an' just after that ther' a sound broke eaut ut fairly lifted me eaut o' mi clogs, an' aw dunno believe aw touched th'floor as lung as it lasted!  If it had kept on mich lunger nur it did, aw should ha' gone up like a balloon, an' laft mi timber to ha' bin put amung th' curiosities o'th' palace!

    Aw never thowt aw'd ony gradely music in me afore then; but aw'd no sooner getten above th' cleauds, as aw imagined, nur aw fund misel' crooning away, like "Crape Billy," when he're used to sing th' "Hailstone Chorus" i' owd Thuston's Barn.  Sam nudged me a time or two, an' towd me to keep mi music to misel', an' hearken other folk; but aw towd him if onybody could keep ther' organ quiet amung sich seaunds as thoose, they wur thinkin' abeaut robbin' someb'dy.  Sam looked potthert at that, but when th' music swelled up agen, his face breetent, an' aw could yer him ogate o' helpin' t'others, as if he thowt they'rn a singer short.

    Theau knows what owd Jammie Ogden used to say abeaut hearkenin' Peggy Thuston sing!  He said it wur like suppin' ale through ther ears, an' getten drunken wi' seaund.  It wur th' same wi' me!  Aw went as wambly as a lad after smookin' his fust pipe, an' someheaw aw fun' misel' gooin' off into a sort o' wakken sleep.  That big posy i'th' front o' me changed into a flock o' butter-flees, an' then grew into a cleaud o' angels, ther petals takkin' shap' o' wings, upo' which they'rn getten ready for meauntin'!  Aw axt Sam heaw soon he thowt they'd fly!  He shaked his yed at me, an' said he thowt aw'd bin havin' summat t'sup unknown to him, for aw talked as if aw're drunken!

    Well, th' music stopt, an' th' angels sit em deawn, an' shut the'r wings up like a hontful o' cards, an' aw fun' misel' comin deawn to'ard th' floor agen.  Then a black hummabee, wi' a white senglet on, coom forrad; an if he didno' mak' that place ring same as if it had bin hung reaund wi' a milliont little silver bells, aw'm dreamin'.  Heaw one meauth could mak' o that noise, an' be no bigger nur other folks, caps me, that it does!  Aw think he must ha' summat in his throat, same as owd Tunnicliffe used to lap reaund th' end of his oboy, an' ut he coed a "reed;" becose they coed this singer "Sim o' Reed's."  He pleeast me so weel ut if ever he comes to Walmsley Fowt, he shall have a pint wi' me at th' "Owd Bell!"

    When he sit deawn ther' a noise went through th' place like th' clatter of a theausant rick-racks, an' Sam knockt his honds t'gether as busily as ony.  Ther' a bit of a lull after this, an aw felt as if aw're sleepin' on a bed o' fleawers, till aw're wakken'd up bi summat settin' mi ears a-tinglin' as if someb'dy had bin battin' at 'em wi' a bunch o' nettles.  Aw soon fund th' cause eaut.  It wur a yung whelp wi' a short stick in his hont, an' a napkin reaund his neck abeaut thickness of a shoe ribbon, yelpin' eaut—"Not for Joseph!"

    "Aw'll gie thee 'Not for Joseph'," aw said, "ift' doesno' drop it!" an' whether aw intended it or not aw dunno' know, but aw fund his yead agen my fist in a crack, an' it went o' one side, as if th' two didno' agree t'gether so weel!"

    "Theigher!" aw said, "goo an' tak' 'Joseph' amung th' West End nobs, an' couple him to 'Champagne Charlie,' an' let 'em yelp for th' glory an' th 'edification o' th' British aristocracy! but if ever aw catch 'em amung dacent folk, aw'll twitchel 'em, if ther's a pair o' owd cans or tin kettles to be fund i' Lunnon; so wind thi lip up, an' ift' mentions 'Joseph' agen aw'll stop th' noise wi' apiece o' timber!"

    He put one hauve of a pair o' spectekels to his e'e, an' looked at mi fist; an' when he'd measur't it, an' calkilated th' weight, he took his glass deawn, said summat abeaut th' "Nawth," an' "caintry," an' "bawbarism," an' sit hissel' deawn.  Aw towd him ut if we wur barbarous, we knew when we yerd good music, an' we wouldno' have it spoilt wi' owt ut folk ut wur o'er civilised could do.  Ther' a bit of a clap for me amung thoose ut sit reaund, an' Sam whispered to me ut if aw'd goo wi' him to'ard Piccydilly some neet he'd find mi full wark for booath honds, an' a bit o' o'ertime beside.

    Silence!  Ther's another flutter o' wings amung th' angels.  They're flyin' this time, an' no mistake!  Up they go'n!  But stop! they'n nobbut risen to their feet.  Next time, aw think, they'n cut th' ropes, an' let 'em off, aw feel as if aw could like to goo wi' 'em.  If folk nobbut knew th' peawer o' beauty an' music, what a good wo'ld we should live in!  Hush!

    "For unto us"—rowls up to th' sky like thunner, an' aw'm off wi' it!  Peeal after peeal it kept rowlin' up, an' aw wondered heaw it wur ther' no leetenin'!  Drummers wur gooin' at it like a hailstorm, an' fiddlers' elbows wur bobbin' up an' deawn like whul rows o' thoose pegs i' owd Thuston's spinnet when th' lid's up!  Aw clenched mi honds so tight ut aw're feeart aw'd drawn blood wi' mi nails; an' held mi wynt till aw're welly brastin'; an' if aw didno' stretch mi ears till they'rn as lung as jackass ears, it wur becose they'rn made o' bad stuff an' wouldno' catch.  When th' last peeal had gone up, an' th' storm wur quietnin' deawn to a rumble, as it does when th' sun's gooin' to come eaut, aw took mi wynt, an' unbraced mi fingers, an' felt if mi ears wur th' reet shape.  Aw trembled as if aw'd bin dooin' summat wrung an' wur fund eaut; an' it wurno' till one o' th' angels coom forrad an' begun o' warblin' like a lark, strong i' th' throat, ut aw felt misel' gettin' reaund!  After this, an' a fent of a storm, ther' another lull, an' Sam axt me if aw could "do a bitter."  Th' idea o' drinkin' thin ale after bein' i' Paradise!

    Heawever, aw went quite dry o of a sudden, an' as folk had begun o' shiftin,' aw thowt aw met as weel shift too, an' coom deawn to earthly things once moore; so aw did.

    Well, we went an' bittert, but it wur like feightin' for it to get howd of a sope; an' th' wark ut mi clogs made amung ladies' dresses i' th' scramble, aw never hope to know, but aw fund three or four soarts reaund mi ankles when aw geet eaut!  Sam said aw're like a walkin' petchwork shop newly started i' business.  When aw'd doffed mi wellers, we'd a strowl abeaut lookin' at stone fellys ut lived i' times afore sewin' machines wur made, an' when Shudehill cord wur sca'ce.  We went through a church wheere ther' a lot o' kings an' queens an' feightin' chaps buried, an' into a temple ut Sam said wur within a month or two o' bein' fifty-theausant yer owd.  Heaw they could calkilate it up so nicely, aw dunno' know, but aw'm gan o'er wonderin' at owt neaw.  When we coom eaut o' th' temple we went into a stone heause ut Sam towd me a Roman family lived in eight theausant yer sin'.  They fund it i' King George's time, buried in a fielt, an' when they'd cleared a road to th' dur, they fund a bobbin wheel an' a three-legged stoo' under th' window, an' a hazel stick i' one corner, supposed to be for threshin' th' winder with; so ut ther' must ha' bin wayvin' i' thoose days!  Fro' here we went to t'other end o'th' palace, an' a good walk it wur, too.  We geet into a country o' savages, ut wur so nee like monkeys ut aw thowt it wur hardly worth while makkin' a difference!  Some wur camped reaund, as if they'd bin havin' a pint or two, an' a sung; others wur preparin' for feightin', an' one or two looked too idle for owt, obbut lyin' amung sawdust, parin' the'r finger nails with the'r teeth.  It wur an ugly seet, an' as we could see ugly seets enoogh beaut comin theere, aw didno mind seein' mich moore on 'em. So we went amung th' animals, an' seed a hippo-poti-tummas—a thing wi' a meauth ut ud howd a wheelbarrow, trindle an' o!  A sae-lion we seed an' a loud-lion feightin' a tiger; an' of o th' savage wark they favvort makkin' wi' the'r teeth an' the'r nails, that wur th' flogger.  Aw went quite sick, an' when we yerd th' music strikin' up "Lift up your heads!  O ye gates!" an' Sam said we must yer that, aw felt some relief, so we went for t' join th' fleaw'r carpet again.

    Heawever it wur manag'd aw dunno' know, but someheaw i'th' scramble for places, aw lost seet o' Sam, an chus heave aw looked for him it wur no use.  Aw met as weel ha' looked for charity in a loan society as for onybody i' partikilar amung o thoose folk!  Aw seethed for him till th' singing wur o'er, an' aw fund aw met as weel give it up; so aw gan it up, an' made mi way eaut o'th' palace.  But th' gooin' eaut wurno' like th' gooin' in.  Aw'd bowted at th' wrung dur, and getten amung th' carriages; an' if ever a poor dog, wi' a can teed to its tail, geet so mauled amung a creaud o' lads, as aw did amung thoose carriages, aw feel sorry for it.  But at last aw fowt misel to th' station, geet i'th' fust train, an' londed at Ludgate-hill safe an' seaund, save a bit of a rip or two i' mi clooas.  Aw beaunced into a cab, like a tiptop nob—showed th' driver mi card—yerd him say "All right," an' in a minute or two aw fund misel at Sam's hotel, orderin' dinner like a prince.  What happens after aw'll tell thee i'th' next letter, an' theau'll say when theau reads it, ut aw'm th' biggest yorney i' Lunnon!—


Thine, as aw're eddicated,
                                                      
                                                   AB.

――――♦――――

 
AB-O'TH'-YATE IN LONDON.

――――――――――――

FOURTH LETTER.

――――――――――――

EATING A BOOTJACK.

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Lion's Den, Trafalgar Square,
                       Lunnon Fowt, June —, 1868.


MY Best Hearthston' Pictur',—Aw begin to think aw'st never see Walmsley Fowt no moore, for if aw dunno' get lost, or kilt, or takken up for dooin' summat aw never intended dooin', aw shall be i' lumber o' some soart!  Aw gan thee a hint i' my last letter ut aw'd bin makkin' a foo' o' misel'; but aw didno' like tellin' thee o at once, as aw knew theau'd carry on so; an' tho' aw'm so far eaut o'th' raich o' thi tongue, aw tremble to think heaw theau'd ha' poo'd th' childer's ears for havin' no better a feyther, just as if they could ha' help's it.

    Well, theau may rest satisfied o' one thing,—aw've done nowt ut th' law con touch me for neaw, if ther's th' same soart o' law here as they is i' England.  An' theau may be comforted in another way, too; aw've done nowt but what mony a one beside me would ha' done if they'd bin put i'th' same fix; but theau'll see e'enneaw what it is to act "the gentleman" when they're short o' tools, an' ha' no' bin brows up to th' trade; an' this owt to be a lesson an' a warnin' to mony a one aw know, ut, if they could just get a lift on th' back of a hoss, they'd ride to some place wheere they'n no return tickets, and wheere it doesno' freeze above twelve months i'th' year.

    When aw geet back fro' th' Crystal Palace, an' had getten my knees comfortably kennelled under one o' thoose little tables at Sam's hotel, wi' a sniff ticklin' my nose ut aw never smelt nobbut at a club dinner, aw thowt aw'd do summat grand i'th' atin' way, an' have an extra blow-eaut if it cost me fifteen-pence; an' if aw paid for my own atin' an' drinkin, no thanks to nob'dy.  Aw'd be a gentleman for once, an' stroke my waistcoat deawn as comfortably as an owd farmer at a pig-show dinner, after aw'd stuffed it in a genteel fashin'.  So aw put my finger up, an' a waiter-on, as fine as if he'd bin cut eaut o' black and white papper, same as thoose picturs "owd Setturday Ailse" used to come abeaut wi' an' sell for rags,—coome waddlin' to me, an' stood afore me same as if he're gooin to bat his wings an' crow.  Aw towd him aw wanted a good dinner, but aw hardly knew what to start with.  If he could tell me aw'd be mich obleeged to him.  He pointed to a thin book ut lee on th' table, an' said—

    "Bill of fare, sir."

    "Ay, well," aw said, "that's reet enoof, but let me ha' summat th' first!  If aw conno' pay for it mysel' Sam Smithies will," an' aw showed him th' card ut Sam 'ad gan me.

    "All right!" he said, "what do you please to order?"

    "Well, han yo' ony pottato pie?" aw said.

    "Don't keep it, sir!  Never called for."

    "Ony frog-i'th'-holes?"

    "'Fraid not, sir!  What may them be?"

    "Beef dumplins, what else?" aw said; an' aw could see he're a bit put eaut o'th' road becose we'd things i' England ut they knew nowt abeawt i' Lunnon!  So he said, aw reckon for a bit o' peevishness:

    "Hadn't you better look at the bill of fare?"

    Aw towd him again, aw'd had nowt, so heaw could there be ony bill for me?  Beside, aw're prepared for payin' for owt they could find me, so ut they'd no 'casion to be feart on me runnin' away.  He mutter's summat like grumblin' at this, then shot eaut his knees an' jerked hissel' deawn to t'other end o'th reawm, leeavin' me like a dog ut sees a booan an' conno' get at it!

    Well, aw thowt aw'd wait till someb'dy else coom in, ut aw could see what they had, an' aw'd ha' th' same, for aw're so hungry aw could ha' etten owt, fro a pair o' owd spoon to a stuffed monkey.  Aw hadno waited lung afore two gentlemen coom in ut favvort they'd bin browt up o' pigeon milk an' gingerbread, an' they plankt thersels deawn ut th' next table to me.

    "Waiter!" one on 'em sheauted, as savage as if he'd bin co'in for a rasp for t' file his teeth wi'.

    Th' waiter coom trottin' to 'em, an' him ut had spokken said:

    "How is salmon to-day?"

    "Beautiful, sir!—finest Ribble, sir!—only just come in, sir!"

    "Well, salmon, peas, and sparrow grass."

    Aw thowt that seaunded nice, so aw'd have some too, an' aw sheauted to th' waiter:

 

BRING ME TH' SAME.


    "Bring me th' same!"

    Th' waiter seemed as if he hardly knew whether to bring mine or not, but at last he made up his mind an' shot eaut o' seet.  Thoose two gentlemen looked at me as if they'rn feart aw're gooin' to ate theers an' o, an' one on 'em geet howd of a knife an' flourished it, as good as to say, "Keep to thi own table, my lad, as hungry as theau looks!"  They little thowt at th' same time aw're wonderin' what aw're gooin' t' ate.

    Well, th' plates wur browt in, but aw fund they'rn not as big as aw expected.  To my thinkin' at th' time, aw could ha' etten five or six on 'em beaut a button givin' warnin'.  Heawever, it ud do for fillin' one's teeth wi' again gradely atin' coom on.  Th' salmon looked like a lump o' rowly-powly dumplin' wi' a hole through it as should ha' bin filled wi' currans; but it smelt so like fresh herrin', an' had a skin so like it, ut aw reckon it must ha' bin wick sometime.  Aw didno' mich matter th' "sparrow grass."  It wur like chewin' boilt cheear bottoms, but th' paes wur so nice aw didno' bother wi' a knife, but scoped 'em up wi' a spoon, an' geet through th' mess afore t'other chaps had gradely begun.  They star't to some tune when aw rattled my tools on th' plate!  But they star't wur by th' hawve when aw axt 'em t' hond a bottle o'er to me, ut they'rn drinkin' summat like red rubbin' stuff eaut on!  Heawever, they honded me th' bottle o'er, an' aw took a good swig on't, an' fund it wurno' bad takkin'.  It wur so nice aw'd try another glass, an' then one o'th' chaps sheauted eaut—

    "That's rather cool, old fellow!"

    "An' as nice as it's cool!" aw said;—"just suits this weather!"

    "Well, would you be so kind as to return the bottle?" t'other said, "we're obliged to you for your opinion."

    "Oh, aw'm not one as wants above his share," aw said so aw honded 'em th' bottle back, an' they looked fain ut they'd getten howd on't, an' favvort bein' as greedy o'er it as if it had bin the'r own.  Th' selfishness o'th' wo'ld again, aw thowt!

    "Well, aw'd no sooner emptied my plate nur th' waiter coom an' nipt it off th' table, an' looked at me as if he wanted t' see whether aw'd pocketed some or not!"

    "What shall I bring you next?" he said; so aw towd him aw'd wait till t'other wur sattl't deawn a bit.

    "Oh, ha,—boa constrictor!" he said, as if here sayin' it to hissel'.  Aw wonder why they conno' spake eaut gradely.

    "Aw'll consider on't," aw said.  "If it's nice aw may have a bit."

    "Wine, sir?"

    "Nawe," aw said; "wine's rayther above my fist!  Aw'm quite satisfied wi' what they hap upo' t'other table.  Heaw is it ther's noane on mine?"

    "Didn't order it, sir."

    Aw felt just then as if someb'dy wur leetin' a fire under my ears, an' swat swirted eaut o' my face like squeezin' wayther eaut of a sponge!  Aw knew aw'd bin puttin' my foout in it.

    "What's that they're drinkin'?" aw said.

    "Claret, sir."

    "That's wine, is it no?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Ay, well,—bring me a bitter!"

    "Waiter!" one o'th' gentlemen sheauted out.

    "Yes, sir."

    "Saddle of lamb, please!"

    "Yes, sir," an' th' waiter looked at me.

    "Bring me th' same!" aw said, an' off he went.

    Aw begun a wonderin' what a "saddle o' lamb" wur.  Aw'd seen hoss saddles, an' jackass saddles, but never sheep saddles; an' aw couldno' think ut oather one or another on 'em wur fit for cookin'!  Aw knew 'at "Billy Wyndy's" donkey saddle wur made eaut of an owd coal-seck; an' if they could mak' owt o' that sort fit for teeth playing with, it ud be wo'th while takkin' a cookin' lesson as far as Walmsley Fowt.  Happen aw should yer summat abeaut bridle pie e'eneaw, an' stirrup broth.  Heawever, aw could ate owt ut onybody else could, so felt yessy upo' that score.  Just as aw're wonderin' what sheep wanted wi' saddles, unless i' Lunnon they had 'em for t' draw childer's carriages, as nanny-goats did at Seauthport, th' waiter coom in, an' slipt a plate under my nose ut fairly made me grin.  An' what dost think it turned eaut to be?  A bit of as nice mutton as ever grais't a thwittle!  An' what wur surprisin', it wanted no mint sauce, becose, thoose gentlemen said when aw named it, ut th' sheep had been fed on mint an' vinegar a day or two afore it wur kilt!  But they put summat on theers ut wur meeterly like mint sauce, too; but aw didno' like axin what it wur.

    Well, aw shifted that lot, an' felt as if aw could do wi' another o'th' same sort, but thowt aw'd see what ther' wur beside; so waited while t'other chaps 'ad done.  E'enneaw aw could see they're scrapin' up, an' at last th' waiter wur beckon't on.

    "Cherry-pie an' iced cream!" one on 'em said, an' th' waiter looked at me.

    "Bring me th' same!" aw said, an' off he went again.

    Aw wurno' put to my wits end abeaut th' cherry-pie.  Eaur childer would ha' known what that wur, an' they'd ha' made a noise like a skoo till they'd getten 'owd on't.  But th' iced cre-am rayther bother't me till it coom in, an' then aw're at reets in a snifter.  Aw took it like swallowin' an egg, an' fund it wur grand stuff!  If aw get in to be th' o'erseer next March, theau shall know what iced cre-am is!

    Well, we put that mess eaut o' seet, an' as aw didno' feel quite satisfied, aw star't hard at t'other table, expectin' another looad o' summat.  But t'other chaps stroked the'r waistcoats, an' threw their legs upo' th' form, as if they'd done, an' wur gooin' t' have a snooze.  In a bit they whispered to one another, an laafed.  Then they beckon't o'th' waiter' an' whispered to him.  Th' waiter laafed too, an' looked at me as he'd done afore.  Aw thowt aw're no' gooin' to be sowd that road, so afore he could dart off aw said—

    "Bring me th' same!"

    "And, waiter!" one o'th' chaps sheauted, "bring the 'Directory' as well!"

    "Bring me th' same!" aw sheauted; an' then they laafed at me as if they'd never seen no fun i' Lunnon, an' were determin't aw should be the'r mak-sport; but aw thowt they'd find me too sharp for 'em.  Aw'd have what they had if they coed for twenty different sorts.

    This time th' waiter browt two tall bottles wi' silver shirts on, an' hats o'th' same sort o' stuff.  An' he'd a thick book under his arm, ut favvort owd Thuston's Bible.  He divided th' bottles between us, an' th' book he laft upo' t'other table.

    "We've only one Directory," he said to me.  "Would you please to wait till the other gentlemen have done with it?"

    "Nawe!" aw said, "aw'll goo beaut!  If they getten howl on't they'n ate it o; so draw that cork, an' let's be suppin!"

    Aw never seed a cork drawn wi' pincers afore, like drawin' teeth!  Aw know eaur Ned's pop, when they cuttin th' bant, blows th' cork eaut like a gun; but this met be of a quieter sort.  Heawever, when th' cork did bowt, th' neck reeched like "owd Juddie's" chimdy on a bakin,' day; an' th' stuff wheezed up like a hondful o' suds!  Mon! it wur like drinkin' music! an' when aw'd bottomed a glass, aw'd a rift ut welly took my yead off, an' made tears rowl deawn my face as big as an undertakker's when he's weel paid!  Aw tried another dose, an' this time wynt whistled eaut o' my ears like railroad whistles, an' aw felt mysel gooin' in a sort of a balloon way; but as t'other chaps wur drinkin' theers as fast as they could teem it eaut, aw'd do th' same; so aw did, till aw fund th' bottle wur empty!

    Well, they ordered another, an' as aw wurno for bein' beheend, aw did th' same; an' by th' time th' second bottle wur empty aw fund mysel' ridin' on a whirligig, an' howdin on by th' table an' form for fear o' bein' shuttered off.  Tables wur ginnin reaund like wooden hosses wi' white coverin's; an' whether they'd stop afore they geet to Walmsley Fowt or not aw couldno' tell, for they'rn gooin' at a dule of a rate!  At last aw tumbled o'er asleep, an' dreamt abeaut bein' at th' battle o' Waterloo, firin' pop bottles, an' settin' whul regiments o' French agate o' riftin' and sneezin' till they laid the'r guns deawn, an' gan th'ersels up.

    When aw wakkent, aw fund t'other chaps had bin asleep, too, for they'rn just rubbin' their e'en as aw're givin' an obstropilous Frenchman a lesson i' clognose music.  One on 'em sheauted eaut—

    "Waiter! bring the bootjack!"

    "Bring me th' same!" aw said.

    "Why, you don't want the bootjack," th' waiter said. "You've got clawgs!"

    "Aw dunno care!" aw said, "if thoose chaps con ate a bootjack, aw con!  So bring it in!"  Aw wurno gooin' to be byetten, theau sees.

    Well, theau should ha' yerd th' laaf ut wur set up!  But what fun they could see in it aw conno' tell.  Lunnon folk mun be yessily pleeast.  Whether th' bootjack wur etten, or whether it wur brought in or not, passes my recollection, for aw went o at once as if aw'd bin drinkin', an' wauted o'er.  Heaw aw passed th' neet, or whether aw see'd Sam or not, or kept on makkin' fun for folk, is as blank to me as th' day ut aw're born.  An' it's happen a good job, for aw con remember quite enoogh to bring swat eaut on me i' sheawers!

    When aw wakkened i'th' mornin' aw fund mysel' in a strange bed, an' aw lee a good while wonderin' wheer aw'd getten to.  Th' fust thing ut struck me wur ut th' Queen had sent for me to form a Ministry, an' aw'd bin sleepin' i'th' Cabinet, so ut aw should be nee my wark!  Aw're like as if aw could recollect puncin' owd Dizzy an' Lord Darby deawn th' steers, an' seein' John Bright i' one corner, tryin' to squeeze hissel into an owd pair o' Billy Pitt's pantaloons!  Aw'd a notion, too, ut owd Dizzy had turn't back an' flung a bootjack at my yed, just to lemme know ut he wouldno' gi' up quietly!  Then aw begun o rememberin' odd bits o' things abeaut bein' in a glass heause, an' seein' lots o' folk, an' yerrin' sich singin' as'll never be druven eaut o' my ears.  Then it coom to mi mind abeaut bein' in a coach, an' gooin' to a hotel, an' havin' a blow eaut o' green paes an' boilt rushes, an' drinkin' sich pop as aw never tasted afore.  Aw must ha' 'ad summat strunger after it, or else aw should ha' recollected everythin' at once.  Then aw begun o' thinkin' aw musn't ha' gone fro' th' hotel, but stop't theer o neet; an' when aw geet eaut o' bed, an' felt as if my legs belunged to someb'dy else, it wur same as dayleet comin' suddenly in a dark place.  Aw fund eaut wheer aw wur.

    Well, aw geet up an' donned mysel', an' when aw coom to look for my clogs, they'rn gone!  Someb'dy 'ad takken 'em, an' left a pair o' soft thin shoon i' the'r place!  Aw said summat savage when aw fund that eaut, for aw'd bin towd ut folk i' Lunnon wur no honester nur they are i' England, an' this wur a proof.  What mun be done? aw wonder't.  Aw couldno' purtend to slip abeaut Lunnon i' thoose gingybread things.  Aw should be gone through th' bottoms afore neet!  But heawever, to mak' th' best on't, aw'd go deawn th' steers, an' see if they' ony moore pop stirrin', as my throat wur gettin' middlin' like a stovepipe.  So aw oppent th' chamber dur, an' what doss think, beside me bein' a foo?  My clogs wur eautside, just close to th' dur, an' someb'dy had blackballed 'em till they shoin't like thy face at a women's club neet!  Aw know they'd had a rare job wi' 'em, for aw'd used a whul candle on 'em th' day afore!  Well, aw slipt my timber on, an' fund aw had to go deawn a lung lobby afore aw geet to th' steers.  As aw're clomperin deawn th' steers aw yerd someb'dy sheaut eaut—

    "Is that thee, Ab?"

    "It's my carcase," aw said, "but aw've getten a yead an' a pair o' legs belungin' to someb'dy else, an' aw want to swap 'em!"

    "Aw dunno' wonder at that," he said, "wi' th' stufftheau put o one side yesterneet!"

    "Aw'd no' mich o' nowt! " aw said.

    "O reet, Mesthur 'No-mich-o-nowt!"' Sam said, for it wur Sam Smithies; "but just thee mind what theau'rt dooin' this mornin'!  Order th' breakfast, an' aw'll be wi' thee directly; but theau mun ha' nowt t' sup till aw come deawn steers."

    "Aw could do wi' another bottle o' pop," aw said, as aw didno' like th' notion o' waitin' lung i'th' state my throat wur in.  Besides, aw'd getten so deeply i' love wi' teetotalism, ut aw wanted try it a bit fury.

    "Ay, well," he said, "aw'll pop thee wi' my foout when aw get up, mind if aw dunno'!" an' aw thowt he seaunded rayther ill-tempered.

    "What's up neaw?" aw wonder't.  Had aw bin feightin' th' neet afore?  Or had aw etten an' drunken th' hotel up, an' laft nowt for Sam?  Heawever, aw made my road deawn th' steers, an' geet someb'dy's legs under a table again, an' order't breakfast.  Aw noticed ut th' little waiter-on kept grinnin' at me, an' hutchin' his shoothers up, an' nubbin' his honds, till aw hinted ut a boss-collar ud just become him.  E'nneaw Sam coom in, an' as soon as he seed me he shook his fist in a way they dun at a wakes, just before a battle.

    "Here, owd swell!" he said, "aw want to poo thee o'er th' coals."

    "What for?" aw said, for aw felt quite innocent o' owt obbut losin' my wits th' neet afore, an' swappin' someb'dy's legs, happen against the'r will.

    "What wur theau drinkin' yesterneet?" he said.

    "Well," aw said, "aw dunno' know what aw finished up wi', but aw begun wi' pop!"

    "Pop be hanged!" he said, "it wur champagne, ten-and-sixpence a bottle!"

    "By goss, theau doesno' say so!" aw said.

    "It wur nowt else," he said, "an' theau drunk two bottles, an' wur gooin' to have a third this mornin' if aw hadno' stopt thee!"

    "Well," aw said, "aw thowt at th' time aw're drinkin' it ut it had a nicer rift wi' it nur th' pop eaur Ned sells.  But it's like to be so neaw; there's no fotchin' it back.  Aw wish ther wur, for oather my yead or someb'dy's else has bin whizzin abeaut o neet like a whiptop!"

    "But heaw mun it be paid for?" he said.

    "Aw dunno' know," aw said.  "It's eaut o' my peawer."

    "An' mine too!" he said.

    "Then we're in a fix," aw said, "an' if we conno' plan a road eaut on't, we're like to tarry."

    "Ay, an' what's th' wust on't," Sam said, "at big hotels like this they keepen the'r own policeman, an' if they getten t' know 'ut we conno' pay, he'll be on us in a crack."

    "Then we'd better have a bit of a walk somewheer," aw said, "an' get lost."

    "That met do for thee," he said, "but o my things are here, an' aw should ha' to leeav e'em; beside, aw've had to sleep i' my boots, an' connot get 'em cleeant!"

    "Heaw's that?" aw said.

    "Well," he said, "they had nobbut one bootjack i'th' heause, an' theau eat it to thy supper yesterneet!  So aw'll ha' to wait till they getten a new un!"

    Aw could ackeawnt then for my inside feelin' a bit queer! an' aw towd Sam 'at aw felt quite sick an' a bit o' fresh air at th' dur ud happen set me to reets.  He agreed wi' me; so aw went to th' dur, an' as soon as aw geet a snift o'th' street, aw set eaut off runnin' till aw thowt my clogs ud ha' flown off!  Deawn Lung Acre aw took, an' ne'er stopt till aw fund mysel' under th' shadow o' Lord Nelson, makkin' a breakfast off a lion's tail, an' wonderin' if it wur true ut aw'd etten a bootjack.  If aw had, aw hope ther no nails in it.  Heaw my digestion goes on aw'll tell thee when aw come whoam, an' that winno' be lung to.



Thine, in a predickyment,
                                                 AB.


P.S.—Aw never knew afore what wur th' meeanin "o' o'errunnin' th' constable."  Aw've done it i' two ways.  But Sam paid—aw know he did.
                                          AB.


――――♦――――

 
AB-O'TH'-YATE IN LONDON.

――――――――――――

FIFTH LETTER.

――――――――――――

HYDE PARK.  IN THE STREETS.  LOST.

Bridcage Walk,
                                                 Lunnon Fowt, June—, 1868.


OWD Ticket,—Thi letter coom safe, an' it wur—


As welcome as th'fleawers i' May,
Or mouffins on a bakin'-day.


    That's po'try for thee!  Aw'm fain to yer theau'rt wick, an' ut th' childer are weel an' hearty.  It's a comfort to me i'this great wilderness, wheere everybody seems to be oather runnin' after somb'dy, or runnin' eaut o'th' road o' somb'dy, to know ther's one or two i'th' wo'ld ut are livin' gradely, an' for summat better nur hurryin' up an' deawn, an' knowin' no rest nobbut what th' grave brings 'em.

    Th' childer, aw hope, are growin' reet; an' bless 'em—keep 'em i'th' way they're in,—honorin' the'r feyther an' mother, an' drinkin' nowt stronger nur churn-milk till the'r booans are gradely set, an' the'r flesh as thodden as leather.  Theau'rt reet i' sayin' theau'll never let 'em know what a foo' the'r feyther's bin; but makkin' it t' appear as if aw're as wise as Owd Solomon, is rayther o'erdoin' it, aw think.  Stop a bit short o' Solomon.  Mak' 'em believe it's a grand thing to work for the'r livin'; an' ut if a mon strives his best to do reet, an pay his road, "Him ut pays o eaur debts when He tak's us into His sarvice," as Owd Turn Hobson says, will stretch off what ther' is owin' besides givin' him a bit o' beaunty-brass when he 'lists amung Heayen's so'diers.

    Aw'm fain t' yer they're getten "Owd Silveryead" eaut o'th' warkheause, and ut th' neighbours are doin' a bit o' summat to keep him on his feet till he's coed up to th' top shop.  It mak's mi heart wartch to think ut a mon like him, ut never thrutched nob'dy o' one side i' his road through life, should neaw be sittin' upo' th' last milestone, beggin' for crutches to help him to th' fur end.  Well, thee do a bit to'ard givin' him "a lift on the way," as Neddy Waugh says i' that grand song o' his ut "Little Joe" sings, an' cries o'er.  Give him mi owd senglet, an' that hat ut theau says is too big for me; it'll just fit him; an' tell eaur Ab an' Joe an' Dick ut neaw an' then a bite o' their butter-cakes would no' be miss't, becose they'd get an owd mon's blessin' for it, an' that's wo'th summat when it comes fro' th' heart.  Tell 'em too ut they munno' plague him as they'rn used to do, by rappin' at his loomheause window, an' then runnin' eaut o'th' seet, but to honor owd age, ut the'r days may have a lung summertime, an' a gowden autumn at th' back on 'em.

    Aw didno' think theau could ha' written sich a letter, becose aw know th' mooast o' thi larnin' wur hommert into thi yead wi' a thimble, as mine wur wi' a ruler!  But thi spellin's rayther owd fashint, an' would do wi' a bit o' fettlin'.  Buss isno' spelt wi' a z, nor love wi' a u, an' ther's an E short in heart.  But these fau'ts are nowt to punce at when ther's so mich good meanin' to cover 'em.  Aw know theau's frabbed mony an heaur when theau should ha' bin i' bed for t' send me so mich news, an' summat aw vally a great deeal moore nur news—thy love!  It's cost thee mony a candle, an' aw da'say thi elbows are as red as cherries wi' rubbin' 'em upo' th' table.  Well, bless 'em, an' thi whul carcase too!  Theau'st have a new bedgeawn if ever aw get back, which aw think sometimes is rayther deawtful, for aw'm oather i' some soart o' danger or another every minute aw'm loce.  It wur but t'other day ut aw're lost; aye, cleean lost! but o' someheaw aw fund misel' agen wi' a bit o' hard powlerin', an' a great deeal moore clog-wark nur felt comfortable to mi shanks.  It happened this road:—

    Aw thowt aw'd see one or two chep seets, as mi pockets wur gettin' in a state o' drought, an' could ha' done wi' a gowden sheawer for t' mak' 'em so as th' pump 'ud draw.  Aw'd yerd a deeal abeaut Hyde Park an' Roston Row, wheere lords went a-winkin' at ladies an' ladies winked at 'em back.  A sort of a meetin' shop for yung folk, same as Owd Juddie's heause-end.  Well, aw set eaut, shankin' it o th' road, an' a weary treaunce aw fund it, becose aw started upo' th' wrung scent, an' had to goo by what Little Nopper used to co a "circumbendibus"; that's same as gooin' reaund by thi ears to get to thi meauth.  Heawever aw fund th' park at last, an' poo'd mi hat off to "Owd Wellington" peearcht upo' th' back of a stone tit, summat like a wooden so'dier eaut o' that sixpenny toy-box ut Peggy Thuston bowt for eaur Ab at Knott Mill Fair.  It wur as bad as bein' abeaut Lunnon Bridge,—gooin' into th' park,—ther' so mony hosses caperin' abeaut, an' carriages wheelin' backort an' forrad.  Beside, th' "veeper" had just bin, an' it wur like treadin' mortar wadin' through th' slutch ut ther' wur at start.  Then didn't aw see a seet!

    Ther' two or three hundert gentlemen o' hossback, ridin' abeaut, lookin' at one another, as if they'd nowt else to do, an' wur seechin' a job.  Some wore stovepipes (trousers) like my Sunday uns.  Others had knee-breeches an' shoon wi' sleeves to 'em; but mooast on 'em wore lung geawns ut welly raiched to th' floor, an' they rode sideways so ut they could see folk better.  Ther' a mon stood aside o' me said they'rn women, but aw couldno' believe ut ther' ony women i' Lunnon as feaw as they wur.  But he said that wur becose they belunged to th' aristocracy, an' would be different to other women; so o th' chance they had wur i' bein' ugly, an' he thowt they'd managed it middlin' weel.

    "An' what does o this meean?" aw said to th' chap, ut looked like a sort o' a hanger-on at a aleheause dur—howdin' hosses' yeads, an' runnin' arrands.

    "It means we hev to keep 'em!" he said, an' he clips his arms up like a Methody praicher when he's getten his congregation ready for th' hat gooin' reaund.

    That wur summat aw hadno' thowt at afore, an' very strange things passed through mi noddle.  Heaw it wur ut we kept 'em aw couldno' mak' eaut.  But one thing wur plain enoough, they didno' keep the'rsel's if they'd nowt no better t' do nur ride abeaut starin' at one another like poor folk at a wakes or a fair.  Aw ponder't at this till aw geet to mi wits' end, an' then aw had to give it up.

    When aw're just gettin' to th' end o' mi ponderin', a full crept besom wi' a red yead, an' a very impident stare, coom gallopin' past; her tit throwin' dirt up like a temperer in a brickcroft.  Th' mon said that wur Lady ―, a famous hunter, an' th' nicest swearer i' Rotten Row.  It wur a sign o' good breedin' he said, when they could swear so ut it didno' seaund like swearin'!  Hoo're a good fist at card playin' too, an' would sit a whul neet playin' at whist, an' talkin' abeaut things ut 'ud mak' a poor woman's ears brun wi' shawm.  Aw could like to ha' seen her in a bedgeawn an' check appron an' clogs.  Hoo'd ha' looked a bonny trollops.  Nob'dy would ha' piked her up for nowt nobbut wringin' deeshcleauts (dishcloths), or gettin' coals in.  An' hoo wouldno' ha' getten mich wage for that.  Tak' brass away fro' sich like, an' what helpless things they'd be!—for aw dunno' think ther's one i' o th' lot could wayve plain sarcenet, or mak' a shirt beaut sarvin' her time to it.  Aw wonder what sich folk thinken at when they dee, after livin' a life ut's bin o' no use to nob'dy, an' had happen better ne'er ha' bin lived?  Aw should be fit to get mi neck measur't for a rope collar if aw're one on 'em!

    Tired o' watchin' folk do nowt, an' say nowt, an' look nowt, as if they'rn so mony straw dummies, bein' dragged abeaut fort' let others see what clooas makkers could do, aw took a saunter deawn by th' side o' th' race cooarse, an' sit misel' deawn for t' think a bit, an' thwittle a hunch o' bread an' cheese ut aw'd takken wi' me.  Aw thowt it wur very good o' someb'dy puttin' cheers theere to sit on, but when a mon coom to me an' axt me for a penny, aw begun o' havin' some deawts as to whether ther' owt to be had i' Lunnon for nowt.  Well, aw forked eaut mi "brown," as th' owd sweeper would ha' co'ed it, an' set agate o' paddin' mi waistcoat, ut wur hangin' very slack abeaut mi ribs, for it wur gone gradely dinner time.

    Aw looked reaund me.  I'th' front on me, an' o' oather hond as fur as aw could see, wur these gallopin' dummies.  Beheend me wur lung rows o' carriages, ut favvort they'd browt o thoose women fleawers fro' th' Crystal Palace, an' wur gooin' to wayve a carpet wi' 'em here.  An' abeaut me wur beds o' these fleawers, noddin' i' th' wynt, an' lookin' as if a weed 'ud come an' twine itsel' reaund 'em, it 'ud be just what they'rn planted theere for.  Noane on 'em favvort thinkin' they'rn i' th' reet place, but kept shiftin' abeaut, an' plantin' thersel's i' fresh plecks, an' lookin' at th' weeds agen, an' they wur weeds an' no mistake, for if o o'th' same sort ut are grooin' upo' th' broad yearth could be browt together an' mown, th' wo'ld 'ud never miss 'em.

    "An' is this o ther' is to do i' Lunnon?" aw thowt.  "Is ther' no gradely wark gooin' on nowheere?  If ther' is, does it matter owt?  Would this be gooin' on if every loom wur stopt, an' every tool laid by?  Ha'n o these grand things bin made eaut o' nowt, an' would they keep comin' an' comin' like th' fleawers i' spring—ut "toil not neither do they spin," as th' owd book says?  Nawe! that dress ut's just wiped th' slutch off th' nose o' mi clog has had tears on it!  Aw con see th' spots neaw, an' crumbs o' dry bread han fo'en on it o'er th' makkin', an' happen while it wur bein' woven childer wur watchin' for th' cutmark, so as they could ha' summat t' ate when it wur finished, or happen a poor thing wur ill, ut wouldno' ha' bin if it could ha' bin better done to; an' th' mother wur watchin' it dee while th' feyther wur wavvin' wi' th' heart-wartch; for th' loom munno' stop, nor th' needle be laid deawn, ut th' 'daily bread' con be bowt, an' these thowtless huzzies go fleauntin' the'r finery through 'Vanity Fair,' as th' owd Pilgrim co'es it i' th' Progress!

    These thowts made mi bread an' cheese stick i' mi throat, as if ther' a lump theere ut it couldno' get past, an' aw felt as melancholy as a hen under a raintub on a weet day.  Everyb'dy abeaut me looked as if they'rn wearied o' the'r life, an' wanted a change.  But ther' no change for 'em nobbut for th' wurr.  They'rn at th' tiptop o'th' ladder, an' kept feelin' for a step above, but could find noane, an' o th' life they had to live neaw would be spent i' feelin' for this step, ut could never be fund till th' grave wur crossed an' a better lond coom i'th' seet.  Aw could never like to be one o' these.  Let me ha' summat to live for—summat to look up to!  Let me ha' some good to do, if it's nobbut in a little way, so ut aw con feel th' pleasure o' havin' done it!  Above o, keep me fro' th' misery an' sin o' idleness, ut aw may ate an' drink nowt but what's sweeten't wi' thowts ut aw desarve it, an' ut no other meauths are yammerin' for it!  Never let me get to' preaud for Walmsley Fowt, but gie me mi mornin's strength an' freshness; mi day's howsome wark; mi humble meals o' thick-porritch, wut-cakes an' sich like; mi wife's smile an' love; mi childer's blessin'; a pint wi' a friend when th' day's wark's done; a sung afore gooin' to bed; a conscience ut'll let mi sleep; an' th' great uns o'th' wo'ld may parcel it eaut amung 'em as they like an' feight o'er th' difference, but aw shall be king o'er 'em o!

    Aw believe aw geet to thinkin' these things aleaud; for when aw looked up aw fund ther' a lot o' one e'ed spectekels levelled at me, an' one or two empty faces wur tryin' to put summat i' the'r looks ut didno' belung to 'em.  Ther' a little creawd reaund me directly, an' aw yerd a weed whisper to a fleawer—

    "Some great man in cog!"  Aw thowt at fust he said "in clogs," till aw yerd it whispered agen by others.  What wur th' meeanin' on't aw dunno' know.  They han sich queer words i' Lunnon.

    "P'waps Tom Cawlyle!" one said.

    "Mo' pwobably John Bwight!" another said.

    "Or the Chowbent Chicken!" a mon said wi' very smo' treausers, an' short jacket laps, an' a hat like a broth plate.  Then aw could yer sich like things as "Amateur Casual," "Sir Robert Napier," "Governor Eyre;" but when aw seed a yung lady's face leet up like a bit o' sun through a chancy cup, an' yerd her whisper like some low flutin, "My dear, don't you think it is Punch?"—Aw took off mi hat an' bowed.  Th' idea ut aw should be takken for Punch!

    What wi' th' yeat o'th' weather, an' th' creawd ther' wur abeaut me, aw felt as if aw're gooin' like a candle afore a foire, an' aw could no moore get mi wynt nur fly; an' so aw geet up, an' th' creawd gan way, an' aw made for leavin' th' park as straight as aw could.  But aw fund it wur noane sich a yessy job, for wheere ever aw went ther' a creawd followed me, same as th' childer used to do Crazy Molly, when hoo carried a key on her finger an' praiched up an' deawn ut hoo'd getten th' key of a better shop, an' nob'dy could get in beaut hoo'd a mind.  They followed me to th' gates, an' when aw geet theere they gan a bit o' a sheaut, an' some took the'r hats off.  Then ther' a creawd i'th' street took me i' hond, an' aw could fancy Owd Wellington, peearched on his stone hoss, turned his yead an' nodded at me.  This creawd wur wurr nur t'other, for they'rn noisier; an' as they'd no idea ut aw're a great mon, as th' folk i'th' park had, they geet very impident an troublesome.  Aw da'say they took me to be a crazy chap, just brokken eaut o' his den, an' aw expected a stone bein' whizzed at mi yead every minnit.  Heawever, aw made th' best o' mi road to a narrow street ut wur filled wi' carriages, an' as soon as aw geet theere, aw nipt up mi heels an' set eaut o' runnin' till aw geet fairly clear o' mi tormentors.

    Freed fro' th' creaud, aw went ramblin' deawn street after street—street after street, till aw coom to a poorer quarter o' th' teawn, an' when aw seed ut ther' a chance o' havin' a bit o' quietness, after bein' takken for a great mon an' used like one, aw sit misel' deawn upo' th' step of an empty heause for t' have a rest.  Aw looked abeaut me.  Heaw mich different things an' folk wur here to thoose aw'd just laft!  Life an' finery i' one place, i' t'other,—misery an' rags!  Here for th' yung ther's no hope nobbut i' drink; for th' owd nowt nobbut th' grave!  A dur wi' a strap is for ever upo' th' swing, an' hauve-quarterns o' comfort (?) are bein' begged for at th' back on't, as if very life depended on it bein' sarved!  Dirty, slatternly women wi' childer i' the'r arms ut look owd afore they'n getten eaut o' the'r sixpenny shoon, are gooin' in an' comin' eaut o' that shop as if ther' no other i' this wo'ld wheere a bit o' rest, an' relief fro' th' burden o' life, could be had.  An' men wi' blank faces, ut 'll never be filled up as faces should be, are shammockin wearily in an' eaut; an' upo' every rag i' that creawd o' mops, as plain as upo' th' fleawered glass i' th' window, wur written that terrible word "Gin!"

    Well, just as aw're calkilatin' heaw mony suits o' thoose clooas it 'ud tak' for t' be wo'th a hauve-creawn, an' spekilatin' as to what sort o' feythers an' mothers th' childer 'ud mak', aw yerd a box-organ tootling away somewheere no' fur off me.  Aw prickt mi ears when awyerd it wur playin' "Jack's the Lad," for aw've doanced that at th' "Owd Bell" till aw welly shaked mi stockin's off, an' mi feet wur gooin' neaw just as if they could yer th' music as weel as me, an' couldno' howd still as lung as it lasted.  Th' organ kept comin' nar an' nar, an' th' music grew leauder an' leauder, till it sent mi legs int' a sort of a tremblin' fit, same us they wur th' fust neet aw spoke to thee.  E'en neaw aw could see ther' other legs busy as weel as mine, for ther' two or three bits o' shrimps darted eaut o' th' end of a street, shakin' the'r rags like thoose little dolls i' "Owd Rogers" show.  Moore followed, an' heaw the'r bits o' limbs could get through o that wark, an' do it so weel too, wur a marvel to me.  But th' capper of o wur a monkey wi' a red jacket on, doancin' amung 'em as weel as ony o' th' lot, doin' th' double shuffle, leet an' heavy, just like a Christian, an' playin' a tamborine at th' same time!  That seet warmed mi blood up.  "Come," aw thowt,—"aw'm noane gooin' t' be byetten wi' a monkey!" so aw sprung to mi feet an' geet mi clogs i' order.  "Neaw then, Ab," aw said to misel', "theau mun do summat worthy o' th' breed theau'rt on, an' th' trouble ut's bin made o' thi heels; so here goes for th' honour o' Lancashire, an' Owd England i'th' bargain!" an' aw flew into th' middle o' th' street like a shuttlecock, an' begun a peggin' away at "Jack's the Lad," as if aw'd bin gooin' by steeam.

    Theau never see'd nowt like it!  Th' childer sheauted an' aw doanced, an' box organ whizzed away like a little engine at a fair!  Harder aw doanced an' harder th' childer doanced, an' th' monkey went so vexed it threw th' tamborine deawn, an' went at it like mad, grinnin' an' jabberin' till someb'dy flung a penny deawn, when it gan o'er o at once,—piked th' penny up, an' then jumpt on th' top o'th' organ, wheere it sat scrattin' it ears, an' laafin' at me as lung as th' tune lasted.  Aw swat same as if aw'd bin doancin' for a new hat at a wakes; but th' monkey looked as fresh as a new shillin', an' those bits o' wick things ut some folk would ha' coed childer, had hardly a yure turned.  Aw thowt aw munno' give up that road; so th' organ struck up th' "College," an' we went at it agen, th' monkey an' o.  But aw fund aw'd no chance, an' when aw're as nee breakin' deawn as Wellington wur at Waterloo afore Blucher coom up, aw took a hontful o' copper eaut o' mi pocket, an' threw it, abeaut me.  Th' childer dropt the'r doancin' o at once, an' wur rowlin' amung th' dust, th' monkey as busy as ony on 'em, scramblin' for th' brass.  Aw'd a quiet victory, but like mony a battle of a bigger sort, it wur unfairly fowten, an' had to be bowt at last.

    Th' doancin' feight o'er, aw went an' sat misel' deawn upo' th' dur step agen, an' look't on.  Th' organ changed its tune to what they co'en a waltz, an' childer went spinnin' reaund like tops i' couples.  Ther' noane on 'em quite little enoough fort' doance wi' th' monkey, so th' owd lad beaunced on th' organ agen, an' geet howd o' a little fiddle, an' begun a raspin' away as brisk as Owd Jammie Ogden at th' rent neet.  It did me good fort' watch thoose mites o' Christian bein's enjoy the'rsel's as they wur dooin'.  It wur a silver linin' to th' cleaud ut hung abeaut that poverty-stricken place; an' whatever aw may think abeaut Lunnon when aw get back to Walmsley Fowt, aw shanno' forget that seet an' th' lesson it towt me, heaw ut th' bigger price we gi'en for happiness, an' less we getten on it.

    I' this "mood," as "Owd 'Lijah" co'es it (shake his hont for me if he pops in) aw gethered up mi booans, an' strowl't deawn th' street; but wheere aw wur or wheere aw're gooin' to, aw no moore knew nur th' mon i'th' aw moon, if they' is such a crayther.  Heawever, aw kept on, thinkin' aw should find misel' somewheere e'enneaw; but every street aw coom into looked quite new to me, an' aw went moore an' moore bewildered.  At last aw thowt aw'd sper: so aw tackled a policeman ut wur wringin' a little lad's ears for axin' him if he'd getten ony wittles in his hat, an' aw towd him ut aw're oather lost or mislaid, an' aw wanted puttin' reet.  O' someheaw he looked as fain, when he seed me, as if aw'd bin a cook-wench, havin' my day eaut; an' afore he towd me owt, he ax't me if aw thowt it wur as warm i' Manchester as it wur theere.  When aw yerd he'd an English tongue i' his yead, aw felt as fain as he wur; an' aw ax't him if he knew summat abeaut Manchester.

    "Aw owt to do," he said, "for aw're browt up no' far off it."

    "Wheere?" aw said.

    "Hazel'wo'th!"

    As soon as aw yerd that name, aw geet howd of his hont, an' aw shaked it till my arm warcht, then he shaked mine till his arm warcht, an' just as here leevin' loce, aw yerd a little lad sheautin' to another—

    "Hi, Johnny!  Bobby's copped that dancin' cove!  Hooray! give us a brown, old feller, an' aw'll git yer off!"  Then he darted eaut o'th' seet, same as if he'd gone deawn a rot hole.

    Bobby laafed an' so did I, an' then we coom to sperrin' one another abeaut whoa we wur, an' sich like.

    "Is Boston pump stondin' yet?" he said.

    Aw towd him it wur.

    "Is Levi livin'?"

    "Aye, an' as wick as a yung duck."

    "Is he as feart o' tooads as ever?"

    "Aw dunno' know, aw think he's wurr feart o' his yung days bein' o'er."

    "Jim at Owd John's livin'?

    "Aye," aw said: "aw met him t'other day wi' a kettle lid in his hont, an' he're gooin' to Manchester a-seein' if he could find a kettle ut ud fit it!"

    "Aw reckon," he said, "aw've no 'casion t' ax if Red Tum's as merry as ever."

    "Nawe," aw said, "gie Tummas th' seet of a pint, an' a comfortable seeat i' th' nook, an' ther'll be no king i' th' wo'ld as weel off as him!"

    "Well," he said, "aw'd rayther be punced to deeath i' Hazel'o'th, nur dee natural here!"

    "So would I!" aw said, an' we shaked honds agen, an' skrik't (cried) a bit, same as if we'd bin at a buryin'.

    "Well," he said when he'd mopt up, "wheere is it theau wants to go to?"

    "Th' Bridcage Walk," aw said.

    "Theau'rt gooin' away fro' it neaw," he said.  "Turn thisel' reaund an' goo deawn this street till theau gets to Ho'born.  Turn eaut o' Ho'born into Chancery Lane an' that'll bring thee to Temple Bar; then jump upo' th' fust omnibus theau sees, an' it'll tak' thee to Charin' Cross, an —"

    "Oh, aw'st know wheere aw am then," aw said.  So aw thanked him, an' as he said his sergeant wur comin' up, we bid one another good day, as loth to part as two sweethearts, an' then aw swung mi timbers to'ard Ho'born.

    Aw da'say aw sperred fifty times afore aw fund Chancery Lane, but when aw did get into it aw pailed deawn it as fast as mi clogs 'ud let me, till aw geet to th' botham; an' as mi feet wur sore aw did as t' Bobby towd me, an' jumpt on to an omnibus gooin' reet for Charin' Cross as aw thowt.

    But what dost think?  Leatheryead as aw wur!  Aw're gooin' th' wrung road, an' never fund it eawt till they londed me at th' "Elephant an' Castle," mony a mile off wheere aw wanted to go to!  Aw said to him ut they co'en th' guard,—"What han yo' it painted on th' omnibus 'Charin' Cross' for if yo dunno' go theere?"

    "Oh, we'll take yer next time," he said, as cool as if he'd done nowt wrung.

    "Nay," aw said "aw'll trust yo' no fur.  Aw'll peg it."  An' aw did peg it; an' a weary treaunce it wur, sayin' nowt abeaut th' times aw're lost an' i' danger o' bein' ridden o'er.  At last aw scented th' lions, an' seed owd Nelson on th' look eaut for me, as if he'd getten up o' th' top o' his pow o' purpose.  What wur a bit of a surprise to me, Sam Smithies keawert upo' th' edge o' th' big mug ut th' wayther squirts in; an' aw con tell thee aw're some fain when aw fund it eaut ut i'stead o' comin' a wringin' mi ears, he'd coom a axin me to go to—wheere dost think?  To th' theatry

    Well, we're gooin' t' morn neet; an' what aw see theere aw'll tell thee abeaut; so good neet Owd Ticket an' believe ut aw'm

Thine yet,
                       AB.


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