Ab-o'th'-Yate Sketches, Vol. I (II)
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AB-O'TH'-YATE IN LONDON.

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SIXTH LETTER.
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GOING TO THE PLAY.

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Somewheere i' Lunnon,
                                             June —, 1868.


MY Better Three-quarters,—It's hardly safe for me to tell thee wheere aw think aw am, becose mi yead's getten turned so far reaund, ut aw dunno' feel sartin abeaut nowt.  Aw wish aw'd come whoam a day or two sin', as aw'm feart aw'm teetotally spoilt for Walmsley Fowt, an' gettin' mi livin' wi' mi clogs on!  Aw fund misel' amung very uncomfortable dreeams this mornin'—sich as aw never could like to dreeam agen, for aw want nowt nobbut plain Ab as lung as aw live, an' no' to be takken fro' mi loom, an' thee, an' th' chiller, for to be "exalted amung men," as th' sperrit o' mi dreeam said aw must be if aw didno' mind what aw're doin'.  Ther' weet on mi face when aw wakkent, an' for a while aw couldno' help givin' deep heavy sobs ut welly fotched mi heart up.  "Oh, Sally, my wench!" aw fund misel' sayin', "never let me be beguiled fro' thee wi' no sort o' witchin' huzzies i' pink silk an' no bonnets, an' bunches o'th' top o' the'r yead as big as a sixpenny cob loaf!  Send me thi blue printed bedgeawn made up i' a parcel, ut aw may hang it afore mi e'en, an' remind misel' o' what aw wur once, an' what aw hope to be agen!"

    Aw towd thee i' mi last letter ut Sam Smithies had axt me to go to th' theatry wi' him; but aw'd no idea o'th mischief ut he're plannin' for me, or else aw should ha' said,—"Away, tempter!" an' corked up mi ears like bottlin' smo-drink.  But aw promised him aw'd goo, an' t'other neet aw took that step ut may leead me—goodness knows wheere, if aw dunno' catch howd o' summat to poo misel' back.  Read this letter straight through beaut stoppin', or theau may happen think wurr on me nur aw desarve, an' say summat savage abeaut me, as aw know theau con if theau tries.  Aw feel ut aw did wrung, but aw couldno' help misel' after th' start, as aw're same as Jammie o' Tum's when he're bathin' i'th' sae, an' fund he're gettin' nar Ameriky nur he should ha' bin, aw're like to go th' road ut th' tide went, so aw did.

    "Come to my hotel abeaut four o'clock i' th' afternoon," Sam said, "an' aw'll mak' thee so ut yo're Sal wouldno' know thee afore aw've done wi' thee."

    Aw axt him if he thowt they'd forgetten th' pop an' bootjack dooment; for if they hadno' aw meant to keep mi heels to'ard th' dur as mich as aw could.

    "Oh," he said, "aw squared that off o reet.  They'n say nowt to thee, unless they just axen thee abeaut th' state o' thi stomach, or if theau's fund thi own yead an' legs yet."

    So aw consented.

    Th' day after, aw rambled abeaut, an' sailed a time or two up an' deawn th' river in a penny "Express" boat till three o'clock wur struck by th' parlyment church clock, when aw thowt it wur time to be gettin' ready; so aw shambled deawn to th' "owd sailor," an' gan mi clogs a taste o' candle, an' rinsed mi face a bit, ut aw could forshaum to goo among big folk.

    When aw geet to th' hotel aw met Sam at th' dur, an' ther three or four o' thoose little doctors grinnin' through a window at me.  One on em' held up a bootjack, just like that they said aw'd etten, an' aw shawmt to some tune when aw thowt what strange notions folk getten i' the'r yeads when they drinken summat stronger nur pop.

    "Come on wi' me," Sam said, an' he took me deawn th' street to a barber's shop; an' when aw axt him what he're for wi' me theere, he towd me he're gooin' to have twenty year takken off mi shoothers, so ut when aw geet back to Walmsley Fowt aw should get turned eaut o'th' dur for bein' takken for someb'dy beside mysel'!  Afore aw'd time to wonder heaw that could be managed, aw fund mysel' on a wooden cheear wi' a little chap doancin' reaund me like a toothdrawer, an' chatterin' away at summat ut wur like French to me.  Aw couldno' understond him ut o till he said—

    "City cat?" (cut.)

    "Nawe," Sam said, "his yure wants no cuttin', aw nobbut want yo' to mak' it so as it winno' lie deawn."

    "Curling?"

    "Aye," Sam said, "if it isno' too short;" an' he geet howd of a tuft, an' gan it sich a poo, ut made me rip eaut wi' summat ut sent th' little barber into a shakin' fit.

    "Yessir, yessir—all right!" an' th' barber wapt a pair o' lung pincers i'th' fire, an' put me inside of a white geawn, ut made me favvor a pa'son.

    "Art up to some sort o' marlockin'?" aw said to Sam; "becose ift' art aw'm off in a crack, chus heaw th' theatry goes on," an' aw begun a-feelin' as uncomfortable as if aw're gooin' t' have an owd stump drawn wi' Doctor Hollant after he'd had a week's spree.

    "Howd thi bother!" Sam said, "ift' doesno' want blisters raisin' o' thi yead," which aw thowt wur a queer way o' makkin' one feel satisfied.

    "Machine brushed?" th' barber said; an' he geet howd of a thing ut favvort a grindlestone made o' bristles' an' twirled it reaund.

    "Aye, give him a gradely sceawerin'," Sam said, an' aw fairly swat agen!

    He'd no sooner getten th' word eaut nur th' little barber stampt his foout, an' wapt at th' back o' my cheear.  Then a engine begun a-turnin', an' aw felt summat druzzin' away at mi yead ut welly lifted me off mi pearch.  It wur just same as if a theausant cats had seen a meause i' mi yure, an' wur scrattin' for it; but for o that aw couldno' say but it felt nice, an' "soothin'," as "Shoiny Jim's" wife says th' birch rod is for childer.  When aw thowt he'd scraped mi toppin' as nee bare as an ivory cage knob, th' engine gan o'er turning, an' aw sattled deawn i' mi seeat again, wonderin' what ud come next.

    Well, theau may think aw wur in a way when th' barber poo'd th' pincers eaut o'th' fire—red wot, an' Sam said— Mind thi ears, Ab!  If theau's ony bant i' thi pocket, theau'd better tee 'em under thi chin, so as they'n be eaut o' th' road."  But aw had no bant, so mi ears had to tak' the'r chance as they wur.  Aw thowt th' barber wur gooin' to brun o th' yure off mi yead, if th' steeam brush had left ony on; but when he popt th' pincers in a mug full o' wayther, an' they raised a steeam like makkin cinder tae, aw felt a bit yessier.

    Well, he set to wark, an' he raised sich a storm i' mi yure, an' gan me sich a twitchin', ut aw fairly think mi yead 'll never be gradely agen!  It took him mony a yeatin' o'th' pincers afore he'd finished me off; but at last he laid his tools deawn, gan mi yure a good soppin' wi' oil, an' brushed it agen wi' a hondbrush.  Then he put th' comm (comb) through it, an' when he'd fettled a while wi' that, he poo'd mi geawn off, an' towd me to look i' th' glass.

    By th' mass, Sal!  Aw didno' know mysel'! an' if theau'd bin theere, theau'd never ha' laft loce on me, for fear o' some grand lady runnin' away wi' me!  My yead wur somb'dy's else this time, surely; for sich a seet wur never seen i' Walmsley Fowt.  Aw dunno' wonder what happened after, an' what aw'm feart theau'll tak' in a wrung leet when theau comes to know abeaut it.  But theau shall know.

    When we'd finished barberin' we went back to th' hotel, an' Sam took me upsteers, an' show'd me a suit o' clooas ut he said aw must put on, an' a grand lot they wur!  Ther a "dicky" amung 'em, an' theau knows aw never would wear one awhoam; but this time aw had to submit to bein' pinned up like a dumplin' in a rag, an' havin' as mich tape lapt abeaut mi shoothers as would ha' flown a dragon (kite.)  When aw'd getten abeaut hauve donned, Sam showed me a white napkin, an' a collar ut turned deawn like a skoo lad's, an' he said aw mun put thoose on.  Well, theau knows he met as weel ha' put me to makkin babby-clooas as set me agate of a job of that sort, for aw no moore knew heaw to begin nur if aw'd bin made o' waxwork; an' after aw'd fumbled abeaut till aw'd rent th' collar i' two, ut aw fund wur nobbut made o' papper, Sam geet another, an' set to an' geart me up hissel.  Everythin' fitted as if it had bin made o' purpose for me; an' when aw looked at mysel' i'th' glass an' seed heaw fine aw wur, Walmsley Fowt went clean eaut o' mi seet, an' aw couldno' talk gradely Lancashire English if aw'd bin punced to it!  After aw'd squozzen mi feet into a pair o' boots ut aw could see mi face in, aw coed misel' finished off, an' aw looked at mi poor owd clogs ut hung the'r ears so mournful i'th' corner, like two owd friends ut one's getten too preaud to spake to, an' aw gan way to three or four tears.

    "Give o'er thi snurchin', an' put these on!" Sam said, an' he showed me a pair o' white leather glooves ut would abeaut ha' fitted eaur Dick i' width, tho' th' fingers would ha' had to be turned up like th' legs of his fust treausers.

    Aw tried mi best to get 'em on; but aw met as weel ha' tried to squeeze mi yead into th' neck of a quart bottle; so Sam towd me aw must carry 'em i' mi hont, as it wouldno' do to goo amung th' "swells" beaut glooves.

    "We'n just have a shove i' th' meauth," he said, "an' then we'n be off."

    So we went deawn th' steers, an' had a "shove i' th' meauth," ut aw fund wur a sope o' that red bottle stuff ut aw'd tasted once afore.  As aw're gooin' into th' reawm, a gentleman, ut wur just sittin' deawn at a table, said to me—

    "Waiter!  Half-pint o' sherry!"

    An' when aw took no notice on him, he flew into sich a passion ut aw thowt he'd ha' strucken me wi' his stick!  So one o' th' waiters went to him, an' whispered summat in his ear.  Then he geet on his feet, an' doft his hat an' said—

    "Beg your pawdon, sir; I mistook you for one of the waiters."

    Sam towd him quietly ut it wur th' best thing he could ha' done, as aw're a lieutenant i' th' "Royal Blazers," an' a capital shot!  Th' mon looked quite nervous after that; but what Sam meant by a "capital shot," aw dunno' know to this day.

    "Cab's waiting, sir," a chap wi' a box-organ jacket on coom an' whispered to Sam; so we mopt up an' put eaur hats on.  Aw dunno heaw it leet, bur owt o' Sam's fitted me nobbut th' glooves, an' th' hat he fund me fitted me like a pepper-box lid, an' had sich a gloss on, ut folk could hardly abide to look at it.  As we'rn gooin' deawn th' lobby we met an owd gentleman wi' a white yead, an' he took his hat off, an' bowed to us.  When Sam seed that he geet howd o' mi arm, an' said—

    "Coom on, Ab, afore we getten locked up.  Yon owd men's a lord, an' if he'd known theau'd nobbut bin a wayver he'd ha' had thee i' th' lock-ups i' two minutes, i'stid o' bowin' to thee!"

    Aw fund it eaut then it wur clooas ut made o' th' difference, an' ut if a lord had put my rags on he'd nobbut ha' bin a wayver.

    Well, Sam shoother't me into th' cab, an' off we drove but when aw coom to bethink me ut he'd said th' play didno' begin till hawve-past eight, aw begun a-wonderin' heaw it wur ut we'rn gooin' so soon.  Aw didno' wonder lung, for th' cab poo'd up after we'd ridden abeaut ten minutes, an' we stopped a-facing a grand heause wi' trees i'th' front; an' aw axt Sam if that wur th' theatry.

    "Art theau th' Prince o' Wales!" he said, an' he looked at me as if he're thinking aw'd made a leatheryead o' mysel'.

    "Nawe," aw said,—"aw wish aw wur; theau wouldno' get these clooas back if that wur t' come abeaut."

    "Con theau keep a saycret?" he said, an' he stared me i'th' face like a magistrate when he's talkin to a witness ut's nervous.

    "Aye," aw said, "as weel as a woman, an' betther too, if aw're put to it."

    "Well," he said, "my sweetheart lives here wi' her mother, an' we're goin' t'have eaur baggin' (tea) wi' 'em, an' then tak' 'em wi' us.  Theau con be a single chap for an heaur or two, conno theau?"

    He met ha' knockt me o'er wi' a pae!  What! me mak' someb'dy believe ut aw ha' not as nice a wife as ever made a mon feel as if he're i' heaven, obbut when hoo's dressin' knots off him wi' her tongue?  What! me ut's lived above th' hauve o' mi time,—unless aw'm gooin' in for a second hundert,—goo gallivantin' abeaut wi' some gingybread besom ut'll be hanged abeaut wi' finery as full as a winter-hedge, an' talkin' like a windy foo' o' nineteen, ut's just getten lose fro' his mother's appron-string?  Nawe!  Not for Ab!  But Sally, my love!—we're "weak vessels," as "Owd Thumpbook" says, an' if a mon has a soft place in his yead, a woman 'll find it eaut, an' mak' it softer afore hoo's done wi' him.  It wur so wi' me, tho' aw'm confessin' it to thee, wi' mi ears brunnin' like two cinders, as if they knew what to expect when aw geet whoam.

    Aw went i'th' heause; an' when th' dur wur shut at th' back on me, aw felt as if aw'd getten a separation fro' thee, an had to alleaw thee eighteen pence a week, an' sixpence a yead for th' childer, besides club pennies, an' shoon brass, an' a bit a summat to'ard keepin' th' hens.

    "Poo thi hat off," Sam said, "an' flourish thi glooves abeaut, an' dunno' keep fumblin' abeaut thi shirt collar, as if theau'd getten a rope reaund thi neck ut theau hadno' bin measurt for;" an' just as he'd getten th' words eaut, an' aw're getten mysel' 'i order as weel as aw could, ther summat coom deawn th' steers ut aw thowt wur flyin' an' it fluttert close to Sam, an' the'r faces met.

    "Annie,—my friend, Lieutenant Abrams; Lieutenant Abrams,—Miss Pilcher," Sam said, an' hoo ducked her yead, an' backed fro' me as if hoo wur feart on me gettin' howd of her hont, an squeezin' it into putty!

    "I'm delighted to make your acquaintance," Miss Pilcher said to me, as soft as if hoo'er talkin' through a flute.  "Is your regiment in town?"

    "Royal Blazers!" Sam said, an' he began a-talkin' as fine as a pa'son.

    "Oh, in-deed!"

    "Led the attack at the storming of Magdala, and now returned home covered with glory."

    "Ift' doesno' give o'er lyin' aw'll goo eaut," aw whispert to Sam; but he sent his elbow into mi ribs, an' towd me no' to be a foo' an' o 'ud be reet.

    Well we'rn shown into a grand reawm wheere a table stood covered wi' cups an' saucers, an' things ut aw couldno' mak' eaut.  Aw sit misel' deawn upo' th' fust cheear aw coom to, but aw'd no sooner done os nur Sam geet howd of a hontful o' mi yure, an' lifted me up again.

    "Theau'll get th' 'Royal Blazers' badly thowt on if theau sits thee deawn afore th' women," he said; an' just then th' owd woman coom in, waddlin' like a duck ut's getten so fed up it doesno' know but it's a goose.  Th' same nominy were gone thro' wi' her, an' when th' women had fixed the'rsels at th' table, Sam motioned ut aw met sit deawn, so aw dropt like a hommer, an' squared misel' for atin'.

    "Tea or coffee, Mister Abrams?—beg your pardon—Lieutenant, I mean," th' owd damsel said, an' hoo' reddened up a bit through her white paint, ut looked like fleaur on her face!

    "Oather 'll do," aw said, no' quite sure ut aw're reet.

    "Perhaps you've been so accustomed to coffee while in camp, that you would prefer tea for a change," an' hoo gan me a look ut fairly poo'd me to'ard her.

    "Oather 'll do," aw said agen, so hoo temd me a cup o' tae eaut, an' aw sit waitin' o' th' word o' command fro' Sam.

    Well, th' tae wur sarved reaund, an' when we'd getten a cup a piece, th' owd lady said to me—

    "Would you oblige me with a little fowl, Mister— Lieutenant Abrams?"

    "A little what?" aw said.

    "A little fowl, if you please."

    Aw looked at Sam, an' fund here rommin' a napkin in his meauth, an' his e'en wur welly startin' eaut of his yead!  He couldno' spake, but pointed his finger to summat i' th' front o' me ut looked like a frog, obbut a good deeal bigger.

    "Oh, aye," aw said, an' aw honded it to her.  Aw'm a little bit deeaf, an' it mak's me gawmless betimes, an' aw thowt, "Owd damsel, yo'n a tidy twist if yo' con manage o that for a start!"

    "Beg your pardon," hoo said; an' as aw couldno' say ut hoo'd done owt wrung aw forgan her, an' towd her as mich.

    Aw're awlus towt ut it wur bad manners fort laaf o'er atin'; but Sam poo'd th' napkin eaut of his meauth an' rooard like a young bull! an' if aw didno' catch his sweetheart wi' her face turned fro' th' table, an' her shoothers shakin', aw'm a yorney!

    "Ladies," Sam said, as soon as he'd getten his face i' shape, "you must excuse my gallant friend if he happens to be a little awkward.  The noise of artillery has injured his hearing, and life in the camp has somewhat roughened his language and manners; but as a lover you'll find him both a gentleman and a soldier.  Now then, Lieutenant!" he said, turning to me, "would you please to leave your jokes to your comrades, and carve that fowl, as only a soldier can.  I've no doubt, ladies," he said, turnin' fust to one an' then th' tother, "that if the lieutenant were to use his sword, he'd carve it in the most delicate manner possible."

    Lorjus, heaw aw swat!—an' when th' fowl wur honded back to me, an' everybody said they could do wi' a little bit, aw felt as if aw're gooin' off in a swither!  What mun aw do wi' it, aw wondered?  Mun aw use a knife an' fork, or a spoon?  Mun aw cut it lengthways, or across, or delve i'th' middle?  But while aw're wonderin' they'rn starin', an' aw felt ut aw mun do summat; so aw geet howd of a knife an' fork, an' begun o' fiddlin' away as if a tune wur expected, an aw hadno' rosined gradely!  Aw met as weel ha' bin yeawin (hewing) at a clog sole, or an owd umbrell' frame, for ony use it wur; so aw turned it reaund and tried again.  Aw'd no sooner getten to wark a second time, then flirt it went fro' under mi fork, an' jumpt reet onto mi knee!  "Come," aw thowt, "his treawsers are catchin' it neaw!" but aw geet it on th' plate again in a crack, an' fiddled away like a monkey on a box-organ.  Aw yerd th' owd woman sayin'—

    "What a pity you haven't got your sword!"

    "Aw could do beaut sword if aw'd a pair o' pincers," aw said; an' then they' sich a crack o' laafin' went reaund th' table, ut aw threw th' knife deawn, an' pusht th' plate o'er to Sam.  O' someheaw nob'dy wanted noane then; they'd ha' summat else; but aw could like to ha' seen what Sam would ha' done wi' sich an owd piece of machinery as that "fowl" wur.  He'd ha' bin hobbled wi' it, aw know.  It wur different to carving bacon wi' th' scithors.

    Well, they axt me what aw'd have; but as aw didno' know th' name o' nowt upo' th' table, aw towd 'em aw wurno used to good stuff.

    "Aw'd as lief have a buttercake an' a scallion as owt," aw said.  "If yo'n no scallions, a two-thre o' thoose t'other yarbs 'ud do as weel."

    Th' owd lady begged mi pardon again, an' aw forgan her a second time.  Then Sam put his motty in an' said—

    "My gallant friend has been so much in contact with the enemy, that his language has become tainted with theirs.  That is the reason you don't understand him.  Scallion is the Abyssinian for love, and yarbs is the native word for dear.  I told you that Lieutenant Abrams was well up in matters of gallantry, as you'll find before he leaves for his seat in Lancashire."

    Aw swat wurr an' wurr; an' as aw seed aw'd no chance o' gettin' nowt beaut aw helped misel', aw scraumt howd of a hontful o' buttercakes, ut wur cut so thin aw could see through 'em, an' took four fowd at a bite!  O' this fashin aw polished a plateful off while th' owd damsel wur tryin' to look as if someb'dy had just axt her if hoo'd have him, an' hoo'd said "Aye," afore hoo knew what hoo're doin'.

    Another plateful o' buttercakes wur browt, an' aw samd into thoose; an' by th' time aw'd getten mi coals in, an' drunken another cupful o' tae, th' owd lass had hutched her cheear back, an' risen up.  Th' yung un had done th' same, an' Sam motioned to me ut aw must give o'er atin', whether aw'd had enoogh or not.  A wench coom an' cleared th' table, an' when th' cloth wur rowld up, hoo browt some bottles in, an' put 'em between Sam an' me.

    "Gentlemen, help yourselves, and excuse us for a short time," th' owd woman said, an' hoo waddled eaut, an' took th' yung un wi' her.

    "Neaw, Ab, owd lad!" Sam said, as soon as th' cooast wur clear—"theau mun show what th' Royal Blazers con do!  Ther's a sope of as nice whisky here as ever laid a mon under th' table.  Get some o' this under thi waistcoat, an' theau'll talk like a quack doctor."

    Aw felt as if aw're short o' talking peawer, so aw took Sam's advice, an' dived into th' whisky deeper nur aw intended, an' deeper nur aw ever shall again as lung as mi name's oather Ab or "Lieutenant Abrams."  When th' women coom back, donned like a young angel an' ayounger, aw felt as if aw're someb'dy else agen, an ut' aw'd had o'th corners o' mi tongue filed off.  What aw talked abeaut aw dunno' know, an' aw dunno' think they con remember; but when th' owd lass coom to me an' said, "My dear Lieutenant—your arm," an' gan me a look ut made th' inside o' mi yead work like a churn, aw'd misgivings ut aw'd bin sayin' summat ut theau wouldno' like to ha' yerd, an' ut theau wouldno' ha yerd quietly if ther'd bin a stoo' abeaut ut theau could ha' flung at me!

    Well, aw gan her mi arm, an' hoo squoze it to her as if hoo thowt hoo'd moore right to it nur aw had! an' as aw didno' care for an odd arm or two just then, aw leet her have it quietly; so o' this fashin wi marched to th' cab.  Just as aw'd getten mi knees comfortably heaused amung a cleaud o' muslin, aw yerd Sam say to th' cab felly—

    "Drive to Covent Garden," an' off we drove.

    Heaw aw went on when aw geet theere, an' what happen'd after, aw'll tell thee i' mi next letter.  But till then let me advise thee not to think ony wurr o' thi yorney of a husbant.                          AB.


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

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SEVENTH LETTER.

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A CLIMAX AND A FALL.

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Somewheere else i' Lunnon,
                                                      June—, 1868.


OWD BRID,—Aw've lived just five heaurs of a parlour-so'dier's life, an' bin punced eaut o'th' regiment th' fust campain! so ut aw'm no lunger "Lieutenant Abrams, o'th' Royal Blazers,"—th' fust at th' stormin' o' Magdala, an' th' last fort' mak' a noise abeaut it!  Aw'm getten into mi clogs once moore, if that'll be ony satisfaction to thee; an' ther's a heause i' Lunnon ut aw dar' no' go to again; that'll be a bit moore good news for thee, or rayther, theau'll think it is.  Aw've bin put on a tit's back, an' aw've ridden to th' Owd Lad, like mony a poor leatheryead afore me, an' neaw aw'm Solomonisin' o'er it.

    I' mi last letther aw laft off ut aw wur set-eaut to th' theatry, an' aw wish fro' th' bottom o' mi crop ut aw'd nowt no moore to say abeaut it; for if aw did no' mak' a foo' o' mysel' it wur becose aw're one o ready.  Whether aw fell asleep i'th' cab or not aw dunno' know.  Aw hope aw did; but aw've a strung notion ut, besides bein' wakken, aw're in as good romancin' fettle as ever "Fause Juddie" wur, an' he shad Gulliver.  If it wur so, it wur so; but oather whiskey or summat knockt a bit o' thatch off my memory, so ut aw recollect nowt abeaut it.  Aw nobbut judge fro' what th' owd lady said, if aw'm reet in co'in' her owd.  Just as aw're wakkenin' up fro' bein' oather asleep or dateless, th' owd besom said—

    "Then you think you'll sell out?"

    "Oh, aye," aw said—"If ever aw do sell, aw'll sell eaut!  Ther's no heause i' Hazelwo'th ut ud keep a mon wi' nobbut sellin' in.  Sellin' eaut ud mak' a barrel a week i' difference, an' that's a consideration, besides they bein' no extra license to pay."

    Th' owd lass crackt eaut o' laafin.

    "What a funny man you are, my dear lieutenant!" hoo said—"how nicely you can turn anything into a joke!  I didn't mean selling beer, which, of course, you know.  I meant selling your commission in the army.  If you take the farm you spoke of you'll be obliged to sell out."

    Another case o' sweatin'!  What had aw bin sayin' abeaut a farm, aw wondered?  Heawever aw thowt aw met as weel put a good face on, so aw said—"Just so," an' crackt eaut o' laafin', too; but it coom off a weak stomach.

    "Is your seat a pleasant one?" th' owd damsel said an' hoo looked up i' mi face, same as a yung brid does at its mother when it wants a worm.

    "Well," aw said, "if aw'd abeaut two inches moor reawm, it 'ud be o th' betther.  But dunno' put yorsel' abeaut; aw con happen manage till we getten to th' theatry."

    Another crack o' laafin', th' owd woman leading' off, an' Sam joinin' in wi' summat like a serenade fro' a jackass.

    "You old tease!" her ladyship said, as soon as hoo gan o'er shakin' her owd fat shoothers, I didn't mean your seat in the coach; I meant your country-seat down in Lancashire.  But you are so fond of your jokes."

    Sithi, Sal,—aw thowt aw must ha' melted!  Mi country-seeat drawn i' Lancashire!  Aw wish hoo seed it, an' thee i' th' fowt, just ticklin' eaur Ab, an' Joe, an' Dick up wi' that bit o' hazel ut Owd Thuston says con bring moore music eaut nur Owd Jammie Ogden con wi' his "oon dur."  If hoo'd sore e'en that seet 'ud cure 'em, aw know it would; an' if hoo'd a pair o' ears as cute as Owd Juddie's, a bit of a sarmon fro' thy tongue, summat like what theau gi'es me when aw've lost command o'er mi legs, 'ud set 'em to reets for a time!  What would hoo think abeaut th' owd yate, an' th' dur wi' a wooden latch, an' th' windows abeaut th' size of a giant's spectekles, an' th' hencote made eaut o' two fleaur tubs, an' th' looms gooin' knickerty-knock, knickerty-knock, fort creawn o?  Hoo'd think it wur a fine country seeat, wouldno' hoo?  Aw dunno' care, aw'm as preaud on't as if it wur a better, an' sartinly, when theau'rt in it a finer country seeat need no' be; but it met be a bit quieter sometimes.

    Well, we geet to th' theatry, an' aw fun it wurno' hauve as grand eautside as aw expected.  Its moore like a factory beaut windows nur owt else; an' ther' noather stage nor pictures o' battles to be seen, an' no painted women wi' gowd stummagers, an' balloon frocks walkin' abeaut i' th' front, same as ther' is at thoose penny shows ut coom to Hazelwo'th wakes.  An' ther no owd foo's to be seen, beaut they met reckon me one; an' no clarionet tootlin' nor drum byettin'; an' no sheautin' o' folk to rowl up an' see what they never seed afore, an' moore nur they bargained for.  Ther nobbut two so'diers, wi' drawn guns, an' steel skewers, walkin' abeaut! an' when Sam towd me they'rn gradely so'diers, aw felt a bit queer, lest he should put a trick on me.

    As we geet eaut o'th' coach, th' owd woman collar't mi arm, an' th' yun un geet howd o' Sam's, an' o this plan, like a Hazelwo'th weddin' we marched into th' theatry.  My owd damsel jerked her carcase forrud like a paecock, an' when hoo swept her train to'ard me, aw made a carpet on't; but havin' no clogs on, aw managed to let it howd t'gether till we geet to eaur places.  We had to climb a pair o' steers with a red flannel carpet upo' th' steps, an' aw thowt we should never ha' gotten to th' top.  It wur some fun to Sam watchin' me doance abeaut like a scoperil, for fear o' strippin' women's dresses.  Heaw other folk manage fort' keep the'r feet off aw conno' tell!  Aw've woven wark wi' ten treddles, an' never misst mi fooutin', but a yard or two o' trailin' silk bothers me, an' mi feet too.  As we passed a little window ther a mon stood at it ut looked as if he could like to ha' turned me back; but when Sam spoke to him, an' threw some brass at him, he looked as pleasant as Punch did when he thowt he'd gan Judy a gradely sattler.  After meauntin' another lot o' steps, we coom to an oppen place ut wur as dark as if it had nobbut bin lit up wi' breet buttons; an' Sam pointed eaut to four cheers ut stood empty, an' he said thoose wur waitin' for us.

    "Heaw con they be waitin' for us?" aw said, when they dunno' know we're comin', "an' aw thowt Owd lad, crack that nut."  But they wur waitin' for us after o.  Things are shapt different theere to what they used to be at th' owd penny "Temple," wheere we had to feight for seats, an' keep eaur clogs i' puncin gear as lung as t' play lasted!  When we'rn comfortably plankt deawn, an' lookin' reawnd at th' place, ut kept gooin' bigger an' leeter, mi jaws flew oppen wi' wonder, for aw met ha' bin at Crystal Palace agen, stuck like a weed in a big posy, or a hummabee amung a flock o' butterflees.  Ther moore bees abeaut beside me, for aw could yer 'em hummin' though aw couldno' see 'em so weel.

    "Do you often go to the opera, Lieutenant?" th' owd lady said; an' hoo unrowlt a lung papper wi' readin' on, an' began a-lookin' deawn it.

    "What doss say?" aw said, turnin' to Sam; for aw wanted to mak' it seem as if aw thowt it wur him ut had spokken, becose aw didno' know what onswer to mak'.

    It wouldno' do.  Sam wur as deeof as a hommer—aw believe o' purpose, an' aw're put to mi wit's end what to say or do.  Then th' owd woman said again, as unconsarndly as if hood never axt me afore—

    "Do you often go to the opera, Lieutenant?"

    "Ay," aw said at a ventur'; an' then aw waited like a thief ut's waitin' for his sentence at th' New Bailey, wonderin' what ud come next.

    "What is your favourite piece?" hoo said, an' hoo took a fan fro' somewheere, an' began a-blowing her face like "Owd Nanny" when hoo blows th' fire wi'' back-spittle.

    Aw turned to Sam agen, like a forlorn hope, an' axt him which wur th' best piece.  This time he yerd me, an' he said—

    "Jack Sheppard!"

    "Jack Sheppard," aw said to th' owd woman, an' awfelt as if aw'd had a weight takken off mi crop.

    Hoo shut up her fan as sudden as Owd Thumpbook when he's actin' th' angel o' deeath shuttin' its wing up, an' strikin' her knee with it, hoo said—

    "Now, really, Lieutenant, your jokes are too bad!  You ought to reserve them for your comrades!  In earnest, now, what is your favourite?"

    "What's yo'rs?" aw said, an aw tried to look as if aw knew a great deeal moore nur aw did, like mony a foo' besides me does, when he's talkin' to someb'dy cliverer nur hissel'.

    "The Barber Uncivil,"* hoo said, or aw thowt hoo said, an' aw wonder't if th' owd dame had bin at th' back o'th dur wi' th' whiskey bottle, ut hoo should ramble fro' plays to barbers o' that fashin.

    "Nawe," aw said, "he're quite civil; but he gan mi yure sich a twitchin', ut aw couldno' like t' have again, noather i' Lunnon nor nowheere else;" an' just then th' gas flashed up like leetnin', an' th' music brasted off like thunner, an' aw're spared ony moore axin' abeaut oather plays or barbers.  But th' owd damsel gan me sich a queer look, ut aw've wondered sin' if aw wurno' makkin' misel' int' a proper leatheryead at th' time.

    Well, th' music after th' fust brast, went as quiet as a Garman Band, when o th' players, obbut th' clarionet, are eaut beggin'; an' aw could nobbut yer a flute tootlin' same as if it wur in love wi' another flute, an' wur tryin' to wheedle it o'er.  Then summat like an oboy struck in, an' th' two on 'em tootled at it like two cats when they're singin' a duet under a chamber window, obbut it wur a deeal nicer music.

    "How sweet!" th' owd woman said.


It sounds like the breeze
Sighing through the trees,
In some fairy-haunted grove,
Where my brighter fancies rove.


    "What do you think of my poetry, Lieutenant Abrams?"

    Aw towd her aw're no judge o' poetry,—ut aw could hondle a beef dumplin' betther, an' ut aw thowt if owd Shakspere had had mayte enoogh he wouldno' ha' wanted a peaund o' flesh i'stid of his bond!

    O this time th' flute an' th' obey wur havin' th' music to the'rsel's, an' aw thowt it wur hardly fair; but e'enneaw t'others wakkent up, an' they leet off wi' sich a crash, ut it seaunded for o th' wo'ld like a lot o' owd cans bein' tumbled deawn a pair o' steers.  An' they kept crashin' away, as if they'rn havin' a music race; an' whether th' flute an' th' obey or th' fiddles or th' smodrink pumps had it, isno' for me to say, as it wur a very tight run race.  They'd no sooner done nur up went th' curtain, an' th' owd woman laid howd o' mi arm, an' squoze it till aw gan meauth like a heaund whelp.

    In abeaut two minutes aw'd cleean forgotten wheere aw wur, or whoa aw're with.  It wur no penny show, that, wi' an umbrell' roof, an' a sawdust floor; but a grand palace, ut met ha' bin made bi fairies, eaut o' gowd an' red wo'sted, an' ut when a lot o' angels see'd it, they made up the'r minds ut th' next haliday they had, they'd goo on a chep trip an' have a bit of a frolic in it!  This wur chep trip day, an' here wur th' angels—flutterin' the'r wings, an' seemin' to wonder heaw sich grandery could be fashin'd upo' this yearth.  Wheere th' stage should ha' bin, wi' a painted rag or two, an' a wooden heause, ther' a church, a gradely church, an' abeaut a dozen pa'sons coom in singin' a hymn.  It wur singin', too!  No mumblin', same as owd Thumpbook does when he finds it eaut he's getten th' start, an' has to wait for th' congregation to coom up wi' him.  After they'd gone eaut o' th' seet, ther' summat coom ut aw reckon must be an angel, as no woman could be as pratty, an' hoe let fly a lot o' music, like turning pigeons up, for every note fluttert abeaut th' place as if it wur flyin' on silver wings, an' fund it wur so nice it wouldno' turn back again!  Talk abeaut whistlin'!—Joe Whiteyead's flute, when here used to goo a-cooartin' Deborah Marsland wi' it—tootlin' under th' garden hedge, an' owd Johnny seechin' him wi' a hazel stick—wur a foe' to it! an' theau're used to say ut when he played "In a cottage" it wur like crommin' the'r ears wi' strawberry an' gingerbread.

    After this angel had flown her music abeaut a bit, ther summat coom donned like a king on a pack o' cards, an' he sent some notes after t'other fort coax 'em back aw reckon; then they boath flew 'em t'gether, an' rare flutterin' an' warblin' ther' wur between 'em.  It didno' tak' me lung to find eaut ut these two wur i' love wi' one another; an' when aw fund th' owd duchess wur squeezin' mi arm tighter, aw felt double sure ther' a bit o' croodlin' gooin' on.  Heaw lung this lasted aw dunno' know, for what wi' th' whisky aw'd had, an' th' music ut had wacken't it up, aw felt misel' gooin' o'er in a sort of a swoon, an' when aw coom eaut ont' th' curtain wur deawn, an' th' band wur havin' a bit of a rasp to itsel'.

    "Let's goo eaut an' stretch eaur legs," Sam whispered to me.  So we went to th' next baitin' shop an' stretched em.

    We tarried rayther lunger nur aw cared for, an' if mi legs wurno' stretched above straight aw dunno' know what a plim-rule is.  As we'rn gooin' back to th' theaytre we seed a grand carriage at a dur, an' a lot o' chaps abeaut it wi' knee breeches on, an' cauves o' legs stickin' eaut like pincushins.  If aw didno' see bran or sawdust tricklin' eaut o' one on 'em mi e'en wurno' fit to be trusted!  Sam wanted to try one wi' his penknife, but aw poo'd him away an' wouldno' let him.  Th' carriage, he said, belunged to th' "Prince o' Goatland."  He knew it by one or two comic singers bein' abeaut wi' hondfuls o' tickets i' the'r honds an' the'r hat linin's i' th' seet.  While we'rn talkin' an' plaguin' these chaps at had poo'd the'r meauths so eaut o' shape wi' what they co'ed sin-in' ut they favvort these new fangled 'bacco peauches, a gentleman coom deawn th' stairs donned just like us, an' he spoke to another gentleman ut wur donned i' th' same fashin; an' ther' sich a scuffle amung th' comic singers an' th' chaps wi' th' pincushin cauves ut aw wondered what ther' wur up.

    "Th' Prince!" Sam said; but which wur th' prince an' which wur th' gentleman, aw dunno' know to this day; obbut one on 'em, aw dunno know which, coom to me, an' layin' his hont o' mi shoother, he said—

    "Ab!" (heaw did he know me, aw wonder), "if you'll kick those bareheaded fellows down the street I'll stand a pint for you!"

    Aw towed him aw hadno' mi clogs wi' me, or else aw'd ha' cleart th' fowt i' two or three jiffies.  So he said he're sorry for that, an' then made a dart into th' carriage, and drove off like a railroad, leeaving th' comic chaps as glum as if they'd bin robbed an th' thief gone.  Sam said they expected a pocketful o' brass apiece, an' had miss't it.  We went into th' theatry after this, an' took eaur places agen.

    We fund we'd miss't one act o'th piece, an' rarely th' women sauced us for it.  My owd gipsey wur as cross as a rate-felly when ther's no brass for him, an' no signs o' bein'; but aw reckon aw said summat to her ut met ha' bin intended for thee when theau'rt flytin, for her face breetened up just same as if it had bin new painted an' white-wesht an' th' windows cleeant for a pastime.  Hoo geet howd o' mi arm agen, an' pointed to'ard th' stage, an' towd me to tak' a pattern fro' what wur gooin' on theere, wheere everybody wur lovin' one another as hoo said—"like a nest of doves."

    Well, aw happen did purtend to tak' a pattern, for th' whisky had getten th' upperhond on me again, an' aw da'say aw said things ut are best forgetten.  Theau sees aw'm tellin' thee everythin' th' wust side eaut, as aw aulus do when aw've committed a faut, the' theau says mony a time ut theau doesno' believe me—speshly when aw tell thee one tale at neet an' another i'th morning, ut theau thinks is becose aw've a short memory.

    Theau knows th' owd sayin'—"Ut th' Bruck o' true love runs o'er plenty o' stones, an' has a deeal o' turnin's."  It wur so wi thoose kings and queens on th' stage.  Folk wouldno' let 'em like one another as they'd a mind, so th' King of Hearts, as aw reckon he wur, flew up into a passion, an' swore i' music ut he wouldno' stond sich like; an' fort' show he're i' good matter, he smashed his sword an' threw th' pieces deawn, like owd Juddie breakin' his pipe when the'r Nan wants to be th' mesther.  This made sich a stir i' my clockwark ut aw couldno' help sheautin' eaut—

    "Well done, owd brid!  If theau'll come as far as Walmsley Fowt theau'st ha' th' best we han, an' eaur Sal an' two or three childer i'th' bargain!"

    Think nowt at it lass, for aw're crazy.  Theau knows aw wouldno' part wi' thee for thy weight i' sollit suvverins; an' as for th' childer, aw wouldno' part wi' 'em for twice the'r weight i'th' same sort o' stuff, an' price of a pint thrown in.  If aw would,—"Jemmy Johnson squeeze me!"

    Well, theau should ha' seen th' owd woman when hoo yerd that!  Her comm rose like a thunnerstorm, an' hoo leet eaut at me like a tit when its heels han getten th' mesthur of its yead; an' for a time ther a grand opera performance at th' wrung end o' th' theatry.

    "What do you mean, sir; what do you mean?  Are you married, sir; are you married?  Have you been deceiving me, sir?  Explain yourself."

    "Aye," aw said, "aw'm wed, an' six o' as bonny childer as ever wur fed o' porritch.  If yo' deauten mi word, ax Sam theere; he knows th' lot."

    "Then why had you the impudence to propose to me, sir, and deceive me in the manner you have, by saying you had an estate in Lancashire, which I don't believe you have?"  An' hoo flapped her fan i' mi face, as if it had been wings o' some unlucky brid bringin' me bad news.

    "Ax Sam theere," aw said. "Aw've had nowt to do wi' it.  These are his clooas ut aw have on; an' if he did co' me Lieutenant Blazer, aw'd nowt to do wi' th' kessunin (christening).  Aw'm plain Ab-o'th'-Yate, an' aw dunno' care whoa knows it; an' if aw con just get eawt o' this scrape, yo'n no' catch me in another o'th' same sort in a hurry."

    Th' owd jewel rose on her feet.

    "Annie, my love," hoo says to th' yung un, "these men, if they can be called such, are imposters.  Order a coach immediately.  We won't stay in such company another moment—the base fellows!"

    Sam lained o'er to me.

    "Ab," he says, in a whisper, "we'd best clear eaut, aw think, afore we're in a wurr mess.  Theau's made a bonny job o' booath thisel' an' me.  Come wi' me to my hotel, for aw'm no' gooin' to trust thee eaut o' mi seet wi' thoose clooas on."

    Aw beaunced up in a crack, an' beaut so mich as sayin' "good neet" to mi owd flame, ut wur in a swither then, made a dart to'ard th' dur, an' geet as mony blessin's fro' folk ut aw had to scramble past, as owt to sarve me as lung as aw'm wick.  When aw geet to th' dur aw looked back at th' road aw'd come, an' seed aw'd laid a whol fielt o' muslin in a swaithe (swath), as if aw'd bin a scythe, or a hurricane.  Sam, after he'd had a bit of a frap wi' his sweetheart, an' getten a rap o'er th' nose wi' her mother's fan, coom sweepin' after me, makkin' another swaithe, an' bringin' a lot o blessin's wi' him, ut he didno' seem fort' think ud do him ony good.  Aw da'say ther scores o' toes had to be plaistered up that neet.

    When we geet into th' street Sam co'ed for a cab, an' we drove to his hotel; an' a rare set-to he gan me upo' th' road for spoilin' what he co'd his little game."  But when we londed at th' hotel, an' had finished a red bottle, he geet into a better temper, an' said it wur happen for th' best, as finest o' women didno' aulus mak' th' best o' wives.

    "Aw wish aw'd one like thine, Ab," he said, an' he geet howd o' mi hont as he said it.  "Aw should think aw'd getten a queen, an' what's moore, a gradely woman."

    So theau yers what folk thinken abeaut thee, even so far off as Lunnon; an' aw think misel' ut theau couldno' do better nur let it be a consideration i' mi favour when aw get whoam, so ut if ther' is ony troubled waythers, it may be a drop o' sweet oil o'th' top o' 'em, as eaur Dick's spellin'-book says.

    Good neet, owd brid!  After theau's yerd fro' me another time theau may tell th' post felly ut th' next letther aw send aw shall bring misel', if th' Owd Lad or Sam Smithies doesno' stond i'th' road.

                                                                            Thine, i' repentence,                      AB.

* "The Barber of Seville," by Rossini.

――――♦――――

 
AB-O'-TH'-YATE IN LONDON.

――――――――――――

EIGHTH LETTER.

――――――――――――

TWO PHASES OF A LONDON SABBATH.

――――――――――――

Sam's Hotel, Lunnon Fowt,
                                     July —, 1868.


LOVELY Sarah,—As aw'm writin' abeaut Sunday, aw'll co' thee by thi Sunday name; for aw'm full o' Sunday feelin's, an' Sunday wishes to'ard thee an' everyb'dy.  Aw hope theau'rt same, an' ut theau'll keep so a day or two lunger,—forgettin' mi bits o' yorneyish doin's, ut theau has scored up again me, an' ut theau'rt sometimes pleest to co sticks i' pickle."  Let 'em keep picklin', an' behanged to 'em.

    Yesterday wur a reecher, an' if aw'd roamed abeaut th' streets o day aw should ha' bin like an underdone steak neaw, fit to be put on a table wi' fried onions an' fleaur lithin'.  But aw'd a better thing on—aw're i' Sam Smithies' clooas again; but ther no barberin' this time, so ut mi yure looked as if it had bin knockt abeaut wi' a whelwynt (whirlwind), or made into a meause neest while a family o' yung uns had bin browt up.  Aw march into th' hotel neaw just as if aw're gooin' into mi own heause, obbut Sam winno' stond me orderin' mi own dinner, an' if aw've owt to sup, it hast' go through his honds afore it gets to mi meauth.  Well, aw conno' grumble at that, seein' what aw've cost him at other times, besides th' danger ther' is i' lettin' me ha' mi own road i' things ut concarn mi stomach.

    "Ab," he said, when we'rn partin' t'other neet, after aw'd gan up mi commission i' th' Royal Blazers, "heaw art gooin' to spend Sunday?"

    "Well," aw said, "if aw could find eaut a Ranters' chapel aw'd goo theere; becose they're so yearnest i' what they're doin' ut it keeps one wakken betther nur they con at th' church; an' aw dunno' like sleepin' o'er a sarmon, same as owd Johnny o' Sammuls, ut had his pew back made so hee (high) they couldno' see him when his yead went deawn."

    "Goo wi' me to th' Foundlin' Hospital," he said, "they'n keep thee wakken theere.  Beside, theau'll see a seet ut'll mak' th' cockles o' thi heart oppen like mussels on a topbar!"

    "Is that a church or a chapel?" aw axt him "becose aw'm rather partiklar abeaut th' sort o' company aw goo amung, speshly neaw aw'm i' Lunnon."

    "Theau may co it oather," he said; "but they go'n through th' sarvice same as the done at a church."

    "Dost think ther'll be a collection?" aw said, for aw're calkilatin ut mi pockets wouldno' stond mich divin' into.

    "Well," he said, "if ther is, theau con tak' a thripenny bit wi' thee an' put that i'th' box, as mony a hundert beside thee han done ut could weel afford a suvverin."

    "Should aw graise mi clogs, or ha' 'em black-balled?" aw said.  Theau sees aw're given' him a hint abeaut his clooas, an' aw stretcht misel', fort' show him heaw nicely they fitted me.

    "Oh," he said, after he'd chewed his thumbnail a bit, an' looked at th' floor, "theau con ha' thoose on agen, but theau'll ha' t' strip as soon as we getten back."

    Aw took him fort' meean booath th' boots an' the clooas; so aw gan him mi hont at once, an' said aw'd goo wi' him.

    That sattled on, we parted—"to meet again in a happier place," as "Owd Softly" said, when he prayed for Little Nopper, an' then took th' bed fro' under him for rent.

    Well, Sunday mornin' coom, an' as aw'd pitched mi tent upo' Newington Green, aw could hardly tell it fro' a Hazlewo'th Sunday, it wur so nice and quiet, even to th' church bells, ut rung same as if they'd slippers on, an' wur feart o' wakkenin' th' babby.  Th' owd sun had put as mony coals upo' his fire as th' grate ud howd, an' his chimdy drew it into a white yeat; but ther a nice breeze wafted abeaut me, ut wur as refreshen' as puttin' a cleean shirt on, an' aw felt as if aw could like to ha' sit theere o day, under th' shadow o'th' trees—harkenin' bells an' th' brids, an' puttin' one's thowts an' feelin's i'th' sort o' harmony ut mak's one's e'en wander up to th' sky, an' marvel what's gooin' on theere.  Aw could just recollect a verse of a hymn ut we used to sing at Hazelwo'th skoo, when theau're at th' bottom form, wi' a pair o' cheeks like apples, an' a meauth ut looked as if it belunged to th' hymn; so, as ther nob'dy abeaut just then, aw led it eaut, two lines at once, as "Owd John" used to do, an' raised mi voice an' mi heart i' singin'.  Theau knows what a clumsy singer aw am at owt beside a ballit, but to me just then it sounded like a little chapel, wi' brass candlesticks upo' th' pulpit, an' brass nobs upo' th' pew durs, an' twenty pratty wenches stondin' up i'th' loft, tryin' to draw us fro' this carnil yearth, wi' looks an' seaunds ut belunged to somewheere else.

    Aw believe aw could ha' praiched a sarmon then, for good thowts kept springing i' mi yead like a well o' sweet wayther, an' words o' thankfulness coom tumblin' into mi meauth i' sich a way, ut aw couldno' help Iettin' 'em eaut as fast as ever owd Thumpbook did, when ther' someb'dy sittin' before him ut had plenty o' brass an' a wide pocket top, an' ut kept a good table for Sundays.  "Carnil vessel" ut he is.

    But time fur meetin' Sam wur drawin' on, so aw had to bless mi congregation an' send 'em whoam, ut aw met goo an' praich somewheere else.  This aw did i' grand style.  Then wi' a heart runnin' o'er wi' love for everybody, but moore partikilarly thee an' th' childer, aw gethered up mi carcase, an' took it to wheere it ud have its eautside put i' haliday trim, as weel as th' inside.  This finished, to th' boots an' white neck-napkin agen, aw set eaut wi' mi owd companion to th' Foundlin' Hospital.  O' someheaw aw fancied Sam had bin fettlin' his inside up a bit, like one's-sel', he looked so sollit an' quiet; an' they' no peevish twinkle in his e'e, ut aw'd seen afore.

    Eaur road lee through a part o' Lunnon ut aw'd ne'er been in afore, an' if aw must choose aw'd ne'er goo in agen, speshly on a Sunday; for ther' things to be seen theere ut mak's one wish ut a comet 'ud come wi' a dish-cleaut tail, an' mop th' wo'ld of its sin an' ugliness, an' give it a fresh start to see if it 'ud mend its ways!  If ther' sich carryin's on among th' Blue-faced Indians, ut aw've yerd Little Nopper talk abeaut, wheere they'n no leet to guide 'em, no moore nur dogs or monkeys, we should be sendin' a ship-looad o' missionaries, for t' tell 'em ther' ways wurno' sich as 'ud lond 'em reet i' th' next sattlement!  But here, wheere ther a lot o' stray human sheep within raich o' a theausant shepherds' hookin' pows, ther' is no' one put eaut for t' save 'em tho' they're up to th' neck i'th' slutch o' wickedness, an' within a frab or two o' poppin' o'er th' yead, for t' never see moral dayleet agen.  Th' seaund o' that canker-hole coom on me like a sheaut fro' Bedlam, an' aw tremblt' lest a judgment should come on us just then, an' mak' it a warmer shop nur it wur.

    "Theau'll see a seet e'eneaw," Sam said, "ut'll mak' thi yure so ut theau winno' need to goo to th' barber's a-havin' it curled.  Theau may have an inklin' by th' noise ther' is."  An' just then we coom to a street ut wur fairly swarmin' wi' maggots—no' sich like maggots as theau finds i' cheese, ut owd Juddie says are nowt nobbut "wick fat," but maggots wi' arms an' legs an' clooas—rags aw meean—an' ut could sheaut an' swear, an' rip abeaut like nowt i' th' wo'ld beside.

    "What does o this meean?" aw said to Sam, for aw'd that sort of a feelin' ut one has when we'n seen a battle, wheere th' feighters had bitten one another like dogs.  "Heaw is it ut sich like is alleawed on i' this Christian lond?  Wheere are th' police?  Wheere are th' pa'sons?  Wheere is th' parlyment?  Wheere is th' Queen?  Wheere is"—aw'd like to ha' said a greater peawer, but summat stopt me.

    "Aw've axt misel' that question mony a time," Sam said; "but aw've getten no onswer nobbut this,—it doesno' matter what folks done eaut o' th' seet o' th' government an' th' nobs o' th' lond, if they'n keep eaut o' Trafalgar Square an' Hyde Park.  It's when they go'en theere, ut they getten a bit o' notice fro' thoose ut should taich an' guide 'em.  No other time."

    "An' what is this place, an' what are these poor folk doin'?" aw said; for aw're bewildered, an' dumb-feaundered wi' th' noise an' th' brawl ut wur gooin' on.

    "It's Leather-lane market," Sam said, "wheeze th' poorest o' the poor han to buy the'r Sunday needs.  Theau may truck i' owt fro' a cabbage to a walnut, or fro' a hontful o' perriwinkles to a suit o' clooas," an' just then ther a woman, ut wur as ragged an' as dirty as owd Moll Hollant, held up summat ut looked like a leg o' mutton, an' ut wur quite as dirty lookin' as hersel', an' hoo axt what onyb'dy 'ud bid for that.  Another put up summat ut Sam said wur fish, but it looked moore like a leather appron, an' hoo axt what they'd bid.  Then a mon held up an owd senglet, an' knockt it deawn for sevenpence, after he'd done moore sheautin' nur ever aw yerd fro' a showfelly at Knot Mill fair.  Reaund every stondin',—an' they'rn as close t'gether as th' pavin' stones i' th' street,—this sort o' auction wark wur gooin' on, so theau may think what a bother an' racket ther' wur i' that cusst hole.  An' talk abeaut th' smell!—Phew! aw'm as sick as if aw'd bin ridin' in a flyin'-box, every time aw think abeaut it; an' heaw even a dog could ate owt ut wur sowd theere an' forshawm t' goo into a cleean kennel after, aw conno' understood.  It 'ud be a disgrace to four-legged natur'.  That it would!

    "Aw'd rayther aw hadno' seen a seet o' this sort," aw said to Sam, ut wur lookin' on as if it wur a everyday seet to him.  "Aw'd a good crop o' Sunday feelin's when aw set eaut, an' neaw aw ha' not as mich as a windle laft.  Oh, 'for a wilderness o' monkeys,' as owd Shakspere says, if these are Christian folk!"

    "Howd thi bother!" Sam said, "it's same as skinnin' snigs, they getten used to it, an' thinken no moore abeaut it nur if they'rn gooin' to a charity sarmon or a Ranters' camp meetin'.  It's Cockney natur'—not to do owt like onybody else."

    "But why conno' they get the'r stuff in, sich like as it is, o' Setturday neets?" aw said, same as they done i' England, or ony other gradely country?"

    "They'n no time," he said.  "Setturday neets are precious to 'em.  They han to spend the'r wage i' drink an' singin'-reaum music then, becose they conno' get it o'th' Sunday mornin'.  Beside, they han to wait for what's laft bi Setturday folk, so as it'll come in chepper o'th' Sunday.  They're a sort o' market scavengers, ut, like rottens in a soof, aten up what winno' go deawn th' grid.  That's why Lunnon is so free fro' pestilence.  It's a balancin' law o' natur', ut great cities conno' do beawt, an' eaur parlyment knows it; that's why they dunno' meddle."

    "Come on," aw said, "afore mi heart comes up," an' aw geet howd o' Sam's arm an' dragged him to'ard a sweeter place.

    "That's one sort o' Sunday life i' Lunnon," he said, as we'rn gooin' away; "but ut theau winno' goo whoam, an' think ther' isno' a better sort, theau'll find thisel' i' ten minutes fro' neaw, in a place ut'll bring o thi best feelin's back, an' one or two extry i'th' bargain."

    He towd true.  I' ten minutes fro' then we'rn in another wo'ld.

    We stop't at th' gates o' what to me looked like a grand palace, wi' a big garden i'th' front, laid eaut i' nice walks; an' wheere ther green shady trees same as ther' is i'th' country.  Aw'd bin stewin in a stink afore, but this seet coom on mi like suppin at a well, wi' roses an' honeysuckles hangin' o'er it, an' thee sittin' o'th' side on't, lookin' thi Sunday looks at me.  We went up one o' these walks, an' fund we wurno' by eaursels, for ther lots o' grand folk upo' th' same arrand.  At last we coom to a dur, ut looked like a chapel dur, wheere a mon stood, howdin' a tin dish in his hont, full o' little bits o' silver.  Sam dropt a shillin' i'th' dish, an' it looked like a silver giant amung t' others.  Aw fumbled eaut mi thripenny, an' when aw dropt it o'th' side o'th' shillin' aw felt as if aw'd bin takkin' summat eaut i'ste'd o' puttin' summat in. But ther others did th' same ut ne'r shawmt a bit.  After that we took eaur hats off, an meaunted a pair o' steers; an when we'd squozzen eaursels up th' side o' a gallery, ut wur throng wi' folk, Sam whispert to me to look reaund.

    Oh dear me, Sal!—Sarah, aw meean—that wur a seet ut as soon as aw set mi e'en on they filled as full as they did when aw looked at eaur little Betty i' her coffin, wi' that little posy i' her hont ut wur deead like hersel', but booath smilin'!  Ther abeawt a hundert an' fifty childer, to th' best o' mi calkilation, sittin' i' rows up in a gallery, ut sloped fro' th' top o' th' buildin' deawn to wheere we stood.  They'rn divided i' th' middle bi a organ—th' lads o' one side an' th' wenches o' tother; an' if aw couldno' ha' takken everyone on 'em, an armful at a time, an' blest 'em like blessin' mi own childer, never say ut aw'm a feyther again, or ut aw've a feyther's feelin's.  Aw mun use a big word neaw, an' say ut a lovlier seet couldno' be eaut o' heaven nur that garden o' sweet choilt-fleawers—buds, aw meean,—for they'rn like thoose roses ut are shut up at neet i' innocent freshness, an' i' th' morn are blown i' full grooth—scatterin' the'r sweetness abeawt as if it wur wo'th nowt, till th' frost nips the'r petals, an' owd Death puts 'em in his cooat-breast, an' carries 'em whoam at last!

    "Sam, what are o' these?" aw said, for th' sarvice hadno' begun yet, so ut one could talk.

    "They're foundlin's," he said, "an' this is th' Foundlin' Hospital.'"

    "An' what are foundlin's?" aw said.  "Are they childer beaut feythers an' mothers, like orphins?"

    "They're childer ut dunno' know whether they'n feythers an' mothers or not," Sam said, an' he turned his e'en on me wi' a very meeanin' look.  "They're browt here as soon as they're born, an' fro' th' minute ut one comes in at that dur, o these tother are sisters an' brothers to it, an' they'n noane else i' this wo'ld."

    "But why dunno' the'r feythers an' mothers keep 'em awhoam?" aw said, for aw felt ut if aw'd a fielt full o' childer aw should want 'em o to stond reaund th' same table at porritch time.

    "That's best known to Him ut watches o eaur consarns," he said, as if he'd getten into th' pulpit an' wur prachin'.  "Happen ther' are lots o' feythers an' mothers here, ut han childer up theere, an' they dunno' know which is the'r own, an' never will."

    Aw looked up at that gallery agen, an' stared at it till mi e'en grew dizzy.  We'rn at th' wenches' side, an' every face i' that sweet pictur' wur oppen to me as a book, ut aw could read strange things eaut on, as if it wur a little Bible, ut said nowt abeaut th' wickedness o' men an' the'r salvation, but showed me a little heaven, wheere nowt but childer wur alleawed to goo ut had no feythers an' mothers upo' this yearth, but had One above ut did for booath.  Every one wur donned alike.  A black stuff frock wi' short sleeves—a little woman's white appron teed o'er it; a white tippet, an' a white French cap, wur the'r simple Sunday gear; an' not a silk an' satin bedaubed snicket wur ther' lookin' up at 'em but favvort as they'd give every rag an' jewel they had booath theere an' a-whoam to be just like 'em.  Aw looked at one i' partikilar, ut favvort hoo're th' mother to a family o' tuppenny dolls, an' had browt 'em up i' credit.  A sweet face hoo had, just like eaur little Betty's—ut's neaw i' heaven, bless her!  Whether summat towd her ut aw're thinkin' abeaut her aw couldno' tell, but someheaw hoo couldno' keep her e'en off me; an' aw felt as if aw could ha' takken her on mi back an' carried her to Walmsley Fowt, an' letten her tak' eaur Betty's place.  I' mi mind aw fund whoams for 'em o straight forrad, an' seed 'em groom' up theere a blessin' to everybody abeaut 'em.

    "An' these," aw said to misel' "know nowt o' what a mother is;—never wur clipt to her breast, an' fondled o'er while hoo's sung 'hush-a-bee!'  Never lisped the'r fust words for ears ut thinken ther's noane sich musick nowheere!  Never prattled the'r little bits o' prayers ut childhood's altar—a mother's knee!  Never fretted when a loved face looked mournfu' an' crowed when it smiled!  Never rode to 'Banbury Cross' upo' grondad's leg, nor wore his waistcoat an' spectekles when they begun to toddle!  Never wur watched to th' skoo on a Sunday wi' dotin' e'en, nor hearkened for at neet wi' hearts ut cracken to yer thoose little feet patterin' at th' dur wi' tiny punces, an' puttin' a heart i' flutter, ut no sorrow nobbut one can crush!

    Aw could goo no furr, for mi heart brasted, an' aw had to put mi hat o'er mi face while th' flood ut wur letten loce spent itsel' i' mi napkin.  Tell eaur Ab, an' Joe, an' Dick, ut if they dunno' behave to thee as they should to a mother, aw'll poo the'r ears till they con garter the'r clooas up wi' 'em, when aw coom whoam, that aw will.  As soon as aw could get mi e'en ut they could see, aw looked reaund.  Ther' wur other hearts watchin' beside mine.  A woman i' black wi' a black veil just drawn o' one side her face, gan way till aw could yer her sobs above th' pa'son's voice, ut wur neaw i' th' pilpit beginnin' th' sarvice.  An' her e'en 'ud sometimes be fixed upo' th' gallery,—wanderm' fro' top to bottom,—fro' end to side, as a mother looks up an' deawn th' street for a lost choilt.  Then hoo'd tak' 'em off, bury 'em in her napkin, an' brast eaut afresh.  Aw'd no 'casion to ax Sam what that meant.  As sure as aw hope to see thee agen hoo'd a choilt up theere, an' hoo didno' know which it wur, an' wi' o her seechin' hoo'd never find it.

    When th' hymn, wur gan eaut,—if theau'd yerd thoose little darlin's sing, theau'd ha' bin like me, wet through wi' e'e wayther; an' theau'd ha' said, like a greater Somebody nor thisel'—"Suffer little children to come unto me!" for o ut theau's six o' thi own an' th' kayther noane yet laid by.  It seaunded like music fro' a wo'ld o' sperrits,—ut aw sometimes yerd i' mi dreeams, when theau're used to sing me asleep, afore theau begun a-singin' for th' childer!  An' whoever could deaut ther' bein' a heaven, after yerrin' sich a grand promise fro' thoose angel lips, has noather heart nor ear ut aw'd give a gingham fent for, nor a soul ut con meaunt two inches above his hat.  If he has, aw'm a jobber-knowl, neaw then!  Every part o' th' sarvice wur like a taste of a betther place, obbut when it coom to th' sarmon, ut wur noane sich a sarmon as aw could read i' thoose Bible-faces, but coom too nee one's own wo'ld, to put us i' strunger hope for th' next, or mak' us feel better nur we felt o ready.

    Aw parted fro' that seet same as aw're used t' part fro' thee of a cooartin' neet, aw wanted to be th' last eaut o' th' place, as aw're th' last fro' th' side o' yore gate.  But "ther's a time for everythin'," as th' owd book says, an' Sam whispered to me ut it wur dinner time an' we must goo an' watch th' childer sit deawn to the'r meal.  So aw took a farewell look at th' gallery, gan a good soik, an' tore misel' away.  When aw looked at Sam's face aw could see abeaut his e'en favvort it had bin wesht sin th' t'other part wur; so he must ha' bin swillin', too.

    Well, we went deawn th' steers, an' we'rn shown into a reawm ut favvort it would ha' raiched fro' eaur dur to owd Thuston's shippon; an' ther tables deawn booath sides on't.  This wur th' atin place for th' lads, so aw fund aw should ha' a chance o' seein' 'em better nur aw had i' th' church, as aw're then at th' wenches side.  Th' dinner wur set eaut o ready—cowd beef, a lettuce, an' a hunch o' bread a-piece—th' plates bein' bigger or less accordin' to th' size o' th' ater.  I' two or three minutes after we'd takken eaur stond amung th' crowd o' folk ut wur gethert reaund, we seed two lines o' summat shoot into th' place, as straight as a ramrod eaut o' a gun.  They'rn lads marchin' to th' tables, led up bi a little band.  When every one had getten a-facin' his own plate, an' gan it a shy look, as if it had bin a wench, th' band struck up, a blessin' wur axt, an' theau may judge for thisel' what followed, an' heaw soon, too, when theau's sin eaur lads delve into a deeshful o' new pottitos—three on a fork at once, an' deawn wi' 'em.  Aw fancied aw yerd th' captain say, quietly, "Wire in, lads!" an' they wir't in.

    That seet made me so hungry aw couldno' abide; an as Sam wur gauging his waistcoat, so ut he could tell what time o' th' day it wur, as he said he could to five minutes, we coom eaut; an' after we'd sattled up eaur consciences, like reckoning up a shop score, we fund ut we'rn so mich better folk for havin' bin wheere we had, ut aw made up mi mind ut when aw geet whoam aw'd ha' a Foundlin' Hospital o' mi own, an' put eaur Ab, an' Joe, an' Dick, an' th' wenches in it, divided deawn th' middle bi th' lung table i'stid ov a organ, an' aw'd praich to em' ov a Sunday, as th' owd fisherman did i' Gallilee, afore parsons wore black gaiters an' broad-brimmed hats, or sowd folk up for tithes an' church rates, as they han done afore neaw, tho' aw think they're gettin' moore o'th' milk o' kindness i' the'r stomachs nur they'n used to feed on i' darker times.  Aw hope they han, at ony rate, for th' sake o' Him ut towt 'em Charity an' Love, an' had nowheere to lay His yead, nobbut on th' stones o' th' hee road.

    Neaw then, aw've seen Lunnon, but ha' no' seen o by a theausant times, an' happen never shall, tho' Sam Smithies says aw mun come agen sometime, an' he'll mak' me into as mich o' a philosopher, as it's possible to manufactur' eaut o' a foo'.  Heawever, what aw ha' seen an' tasted aw'll never forget to mi deein' day, nor lose th' seet o' th' lessons ut it taiches.  I' two days fro' neaw aw shall tee up mi bundle an' put mi travellin' legs on; then, wi' mi nose set to'ard Walmsley Fowt, an' mi heart yearnin' for thee, aw shall say, i'th' words o' owd Sam Bamfort—"Lunnon, fare thee well!"

            Thine, till theau sees me agen,                                AB.


――――♦――――

 
PREPARIN' FOR WALMSLEY FOWT JUBILEE
CELEBRATION.


CHAPTER I.

FIRST COMMITTEE MEETING.


WELL, Sarah, next year is Queen Victoria's Jubilee year, an' aw reckon we's ha' to do summat to celebrate it an' do honour to her; aw munset abeaut shappin' a plan."

    "Theau'd better bide quiet a bit an' see what other folk are begun t' do, an' theau'll happen larn summat ut ull suit.  If theau does summat o' thi own plannin' it ull happen be wur nur that sail in a tub ut theau gan Fause Juddie, an' it ull be best for thi to let me know afore tha does owt ut o.  What doss think o' that?"

    "To be sure it would, owd Skoomissis," aw said.  What blunders aw should mak' if aw hadno' thee ut mi elbow to correct me!  Neaw then, what are we men gooin' to do for this great Jubilee next year?"

    "Well, aw'd ha' knitted her a pair o' white stockin's if aw thowt hoo'd wear 'em.  But aw dar'say hoo wears red uns, like other ladies o' quality; summat different to workin' folk."

    "But ther' are poor folk ut wearn red uns," aw said.

    "Aye, but thoose are below common, like Black Sam's wife; an' they nobbut wearn 'em when ladies han done wi' 'em, so it's nowt to go by."

    "But aw didno' meean what art' theau gooin' to do," aw said.  "Aw meant what should th' whul fowt do.  What should we spend some money on, as a jubilee moniment to her Most Gracious Majesty?"

    "Put a pow up wi' a hen on th' top, for t' show ut th' naton's bin henpecked fifty year, an' never grumbled," th' owd ticket said; an' aw thowt by that hoo'd scored a point nicely.

    "That's just it," aw said.  "Theau's hit th' nail beaut hommerin thi thumb.  A henpecked nation!  It's a wonder nob'dy's thowt abeaut that afore."

    "Well, it shows a woman's better able to manage things nur a mon is.  If we'd had a king he'd ha' gone abeaut his wark like a blunderin' owd foo'; an' his childer would ha' bin scattert abeaut th' country, till we shouldn't ha' known 'em fro' common folk!  A queen's best, but aw'd mak' it law ut hoo shouldno' wed till hoo're fifty."

    "What would t' do that for?"

    "Wheay, art' so blynt theau conno' see that?"

    "Aw conno' gawn thi meeanin' yet."

    "Conno' theau see we should be on less expense?"

    "Aw do see it neaw.  Wheay, in a generation or two that ud lond us into a republic.  Ther'd be noather princes nor princesses.  Well, theau has notions o' thi own, an' no mistake!"

    "That's what owd Juddie would ha' coed seaund logic, isno' it, Abram?  Aw reckon theau's never thowt abeaut it before; hasto, neaw?"

    "Nawe, that's a new idea; an' theau desarves a patent for it.  Heaw to lessen a nation's expenses beaut hurtin' onybody, or touchin' what they coen vested interests.  If that law wur carried eaut a bit furr for a generation or two th' country would be no wurr for it.  But neaw theau's sattled that job, let's come to this jubilee agen."

    "Well," th' owd stockin' mender said, "what doss think we should do beside puttin' this hen-pearch up?"

    "Some folk are i' favour o' scholarships," aw said.

    "What are thoose?"

    "Payin' so mich brass to a skoo, so ut a lad con go to it free."

    "An' why not a wench as weel as a lad?"

    "Aw never thowt abeaut that afore."

    "Nawe; that shows yo men are a selfish lot.  But if this money's paid con everybody's lads ha' larnin' for nowt?"

    "Nawe, they han to be elected like club stewards, or a local board.  Influence an' favour han to do it."

    "Oh, bother sich like, then!  It seems one body's childer are betther nur anothers.  Look at Gimblet widow's lads!  Hoo's getten two on 'em i' th' Blue Cooat Skoo at a time hoo'd a good livin' comin' in.  But quiet Nancy couldno' get one o' hers in, an' th' poor crayther con hardly tell wheere th' next meal mun come fro'."

    "Heaw wur that done?"

    "Well, quiet Nancy's a gradely woman.  Hoo would-no' do an unfair thing to onybody, nor try to get an advantage o'er 'em.  But hoo happens to goo to th' wrung chapel.  Gimblet widow knew what hoo're dooin', an' went to th' reet un.  Hoo sucked up wi' everybody ut hoo thowt had a bit o' peawer, an' looked so saintish one 'ud hardly ha' thowt butter 'ud ha' melted i' her meauth.  But ther's nob'dy likes her twopennoth at th' "Owd Bell" bar window betther nur hoo does, an' talkin' tattlin' talk abeaut her neighbours.  Hoo con get things off gentlefolk when nobody else con; an' it's sich like as hoo is 'at 'ud get these scholarships, as theau co'es 'em.  Let us do summat ut everybody con share at alike, an' no' trust to a system ut's next dur to gamblin'!  Let folk do summat for the'rsel's if they wanten the'r childer to be pa'sons, an' doctors, an' thoose chaps ut liven by turnin' law to the'r own side when nob'dy else con mak' owt on it!"

    "Then theau doesno' howd wi' scholarships?"

    "Nawe, nor wi' thoose ut talken abeaut 'em."

    "Well, what other shape should eaur Jubilee tak'?"

    "Givin' mayte to thoose ut are clemmin'; an' coals to thoose ut conno' raise a foire; an' clooas to thoose ut are shiverin' wi' bare skins!  Yo'n find plenty to do."

    "That's abeaut as sensible as theau could ha' said, an' aw'll name it t'morn a neet, when we're havin' eaur meetin'."

    "Wheere are yo' meetin' at?"

    "Well we thowt to ha' met i' th' church, but we thowt it 'ud be too cowd unless th' engine wur set a gooin' an' that 'ud be too expensive.  So we're meetin' at th' "Owd Bell."  Th' teetotallers wouldn't let us ha' the'r shop, unless three or four ut aw could name 'ud ha' the'r noses white-weshed."

    "An' theau'rt one on 'em, aw reckon."

    "Ha' thi own road."

    "Yo' never went after noather th' church nor th' teetotal place.  Theau'rt at it again, Abram!  If aw towd as mony lies as theau tells o'th' good Sunday, too, aw should be feart o' gooin' t' bed!  Yo' never thowt abeaut nowheere nobbut th' Owd Bell."

    Well, that sattled things as far as eaur Sal an' me wur consarned.  An aw went an' geet a leeaf or two o' potyarbs for th' broth fro' a corner o' Jim Thuston's five-acre, wheere aw knew ther a nettle or two laft eaut o'th' summer's grooth.

    Monday neet coom, an' we'd a very good meetin'.  Aw knew ther' would be when Sam Smithies had sent word he're comin', an' ud stond some drink for 'em.  Rare stuff for fotchin folk when it's chep!  Some wur agate a-singin' afore th' cheearmon wur elected; an' aw knew by that they'd get through th' business at railroad speed.  Never wur sich loyalty shown sin' th' creawnation!  An' aw believe ut if th' queen had walked in, an' ordered a glass o' red poort wine, they'd ha' bin feightin which must ha' paid for it, besides strippin' the'r jackets for her to walk on!  They'd never known a better queen sin' they're born; an' that wur abeaut as true as owt they could ha' said, as ther's never bin one sin' Queen Anne, an' they sayn hoo's deead!

    Aw're moved, an' seconded, an' carried into th' cheear; then, like mony a cheermon beside me, aw're fast what to do.  Sam Smithies coome to th' rescue.  He said—

    "Mesthur Cheermon, fort' start this business aw move that it's desirable that Hazelwo'th should do summat fort' show its loyalty.  Hazelwo'th is too important a place to run i'th' ruck.  It mun be somewheere i'th' front.  What place has done moore to'ard reformin' eaur aristocracy nur it has done?  Eaur nobility are not th' same nobility as they wur a hundert years sin'.  Then if a workin' mon had spokken to a prince he'd ha' bin transported.  But we're lived to see a day when a prince, within a few years o' bein' a king, con talk to workin' folk in his own palace, an' wi' his wife and family reaund him; when he con show 'em through his palace an' through his greaunds; an' chat wi' 'em as if he'd belunged to th' same club, an' paid his subscription regilarly!  Aw've no deaut he'd feel betther after that nur ever he felt in his life, unless it wur that day he took that lass fro' Denmark to be his stockinmender.  Sich events as these desarven celebratin', for they shown ut th' big an' little are comin' closer t'gether, an' for one another's good.  It shows, too, ut eaur nobility wanted eddicatin' to it; an' aw think Walmsley Fowt has done its share to'ard that eddication.  ("It has, Sam.")  Well, then we owt to do summat worthy on us to show eaur loyalty to kings an' queens when they shown the'r loyalty to'ard us, an' dunno' govern us like Nayro did th' Romans.  Aw therefore move ut we do summat, as aw said afore, to show eaur loyalty to eaur Queen and constitution.  Th' shape it should tak' con be sattled after."

    Billy Softly couldno' see what th' church had done amiss ut it should be laft eaut o'th' perambilations.  It sarved a very wise end.  It contributed a good deeal o' charity ut wouldno' be done witheaut it.  ("Aye, an' theau gets thi share.")

    Jack o' Flunter's thowt they'rn ramblin' away fro' th' question; but while they wur away he'd give 'em a bit o' a verse o' po'try he'd just made.  Everybody knows ut Billy wears th' pa'son's cooat o' a Sunday.

    (Billy: "Theau'd wear it, too, if theau had it.")

    Cheearmon: Gentlemen, keep to th' question, Jack o' Flunter's has had too much inspiration.  Another quart, an' Burns ud be nowheere!

    Jim Thuston ud second Sam Smithies' motion.  He agreed wi' everythin' he'd said, an' thowt ut Hazelwo'th owt to do summat worthy on it bein' put i'th' map.  It had bin snubbed lung enoogh, sayin' ut it had done so mich, as Sam had said, to eddicate thoose above us, an' bring 'em up to eaur level.  Here quite sure ut if Hazelwo'th, speshly Walmsley Fowt part on't, did its dooty next year it ud not only be put into th' map, but it ud ha' a good place in it!  (Hear, hear.)

    Ther' bein' no 'mendment, aw put th' motion.  Every hont obbut Little Dody's wur held up for it, an' Dody wur asleep.  Aw then declared it carried.

    "Wakken up, Dody!" Jack o' Flunter's said, givin' him a good shake, "theau's had too mich broth, owd lad.  Puddin's comin' on th' next."

    "Sha' ha' no pud; wai' f'r beef," Dody muttered.  Then he sang, in a dreamy away—


Oh, dear to my heart is the home of my childhood,
And charming young Jessie, the flower of Dunblane,
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The charming young Jessie, that hangs in the well.


    "Makken a mess o' that!  Wheere am aw?"

    Leeavin' Little Dody to his mixin' up o' two songs ut are sung to th' same tune, ut he kept dooin' till he went to sleep again, we went on wi' th' bizness.

    Th' cheermon (that wur me) said—, "Neaw we'n sattled ut we are to do summat i' this ju—jubilee year, we mun neaw consider what's best we con do.  Eaur Sal has thrown eaut an idea ut aw think desarves some consideration.  That is puttin' a pow up wi' a hen on th' top, for a weathercock.  Aw think we couldno' do better nur adopt that idea.  It 'ud show ut creawned yeads—we could put a creawn on th' hen's yead i'stead of a comm—i' these days han to turn wi' th' wynt.  They darno' goo agen public opinion an' public feelin'.  They darno' start a war on the'r own ackeaunt.  They conno' tax us beaut we'n a voice in it.  They conno' meddle wi' nowt unless we'n a mind to let 'em; so they're i' no danger o' losin' the'r yeads as they wur once on a time.  O they han to do is to pearch on the'r pow, an' show us th' road th' political wynt is blowin'.

    Every one at th' meetin' fell in wi' th' idea; an' it wur moved an' seconded, an' carried, as Billy Softly said, wi' "proclamation."  Some wanted to roast a ox; but that 'ud cost too mich; an' if we bowt a cauve, th' butcher mit swap it for a jackass!  Siah at Owd Bob's thowt a pig 'ud be th' best, as they wouldno' be limited to size.  If they couldno' raise brass for a big un, they could ha' a little un.  But ther' an objection raised to this; if they roasted a pig they'd ha' to turn it th' wrung side eaut; becose if they roasted th' reet side eaut th' bacon 'ud be done afore th' poork!  This part o' th' bizness wur laft o'er to some meetin' nar th' time; an' havin gone as far as we could, we sang "God save the Queen," an' aw closed th' meetin'.  But ther's aulus another meetin' deawn steears, as a sort o' a "good neet" meetin'.  Sam Smithies ordered some moore "inspiration," an' we sit till th' cheearman's wife coom, an' said ther' a meetin' to be howden awhoam, an' hoo wanted to move th' fust resolution at it.


――――♦――――

 
PREPARIN' FOR WALMSLEY FOWT JUBILEE CELEBRATION.



CHAPTER II.

SECOND COMMITTEE MEETING.—NOWT DONE.


WHEN th' second meetin' o' th' Walmsley Fowt Jubilee Committee wur held at th' "Owd Bell" they moved me into cheear agen.  Ther' wur a full attendance.  Sam Smithies proposed ut th' minits o' th' last meetin' be read.

    "What han we to do wi' minits?" Jack o' Flunter's wanted to know.  "Lump 'em, an' say heaurs."

    "Jack doesno' understood what aw meean," Sam Smithies said.  "He kneaws moore abeaut settin' a boiler up nur he does abeaut minits."

    "Aye, when he turns th' flue i' th' wrung chimbdy," Billy Softly said, takkin' a stroke o' revenge eaut o' Jack.

    "Minits are fort' show what wur done at th' last meetin'," Sam said.  "Wheere are they?"

    "We'n never chosen a secretary," aw said.

    "Heaw wur that?" Sam wanted to know.

    "Well," Jim Thuston said, spakin' to Sam, "theau're one on us.  Why didt' no' put us reet?"

    "It's not too late; we'n start reet neaw.  Con onyb'dy remember what we did?"

    "Aw know what aw did," Little Dody said.  "Aw walked into th' mop-hole, an' had to wesh mi treausers misel'!"

    "But that had nowt to do wi' th' bizness o' th' meetin'."

    "O ut we did at th' last meetin' wur agreein' to put up a pow wi' a hen on th' top for a weathercock," aw said.

    "Then aw move ut that minit be confirmed," Sam said.

    "Nob'dy's ony peawer to confirm nobbut a bishop," Billy Softly said.  "If Sam'll say reproved, i'stead o' confirmed, aw'll second it."

    "Approved, theau bobbinhat!" Jim Thuston said.

    "Oather'll do.  Go on wi' th' bizness."

    So th' minits wur approved, Little Dody wantin' to know if th' mop-hole bizness wur included.

    "Th' next bizness is to appoint a secretary," aw said.

    "Will onybody domineer?" Billy Softly axt.

    "Billy, we con get on wi' what bizness we han to do beaut thee bringin' eaut thi grammar ut not one hauve on us con understood," aw said, thinkin' aw'd put him one in.

    "It isno' my faut," Billy said, "Yo' should ha' gone to th' skoo, same as aw did.  Then yo' could ha' understood ony sort o' ramifications."  Then he chuckled, an' winked, as if he bin as fause as a boggart.

    "Aw move ut Jim Thuston's segritary," Jack o' Flunter's geet on his feet an' said, "Onybody ut con reckon a milk score up thrippence too mich is fit to be Chancellor o'th' Excheker, say nowt abeaut a segritary!  If we subscriben five peaund to'ard expense o' this pow, he'll mak' it ten shillin' moore!  Aw dunno' know heaw he does it."

    "It's thi ignorance," Billy Softly said.  "It con be done bi fluctuations, aw know.  But aw'll second Jim, an' carry him harmoniously."

    "Theau'll let us vote th' fust, an' then theau con put as mony grand words to it as theau con sooart eaut," aw said.  "There's nowt disturbs my worm pastur' so mich as meetin' wi' a lot o' eddicated ignorance ut wants to show itsel' off."  Aw put th' motion, an' it wur carried.

    That job done, Jim Thuston wur installed into his office, an' he poo'd a milk book eaut o' his pocket, an' co'in for pen an' ink, he squared hissel' for bizness.  Jack o' Flunter's winked at Billy Softly, then turnin' to th' secretary, said—

    "Th' fust resolution ut's passed, Jim, theau con write across mi name.  It ud tak' one as lung as a chapter i'th' owd book for t' cover Billy's milk score!"

    "Gentlemen, bizness," aw said, knockin' on th' table wi' a corkscrew.  "What sort an' size of a pow mun we have?"

    "Ther's a popilary (poplar) tree i'th' Ho Cloof," Billy Softly said, "as tall as a chimdy, an' as straight as a twinin-in rod."

    "What sort of a chimdy?" Sam Smithies wanted to know, "a factory chimdy, or owd Juddie's bake-heause chimdy?"

    "It's abeaut th' length o' a stove-pipe, aw dar'say," Jack o' Flunter's said.  "Ther's no poplar i'th Ho Cloof ut ud be wo'th puttin' up."

    "We could ha' a ship's mast for a peaund or two," Sam Smithies said.  "Aw know wheer ther's a lot lyin' rottin' i' Liverpool, an' no deaut they want to get 'em eaut o'th' road."

    "Th' best thing ut's bin thowt on," Jim Thuston said.

    "Ther's one belunged to a ship ut used to run th' blockade ut th' time o'th' Merriky war wur gooin' on," Sam said.  "It's nobbut a bit pock marked wi' bein' shot at, so ut it ud do for us.  Aw could ha' it at th' price o' firewood."

    "Then aw move a motion ut a depitation fro' this committee be sent to Liverpool to see this mask," Billy Softly said; "an' ut Sam Smithies an' me be th' depitation."

    "Jobbery!" Jack o' Flunter's sheauted.

    "If ther's ony pickin' t' be had, Billy'll ha' some on it," Jim Thuston said.  "Why mun th' secretary be laft eaut?"

    "An' th' cheearmon?" Little Dody said.

    Sam Smithies got on his feet.

    "Mesther cheearmon," he said, "we are no' a Corporation, ut con afford to have eauts at th' expense o' th' ratepayers when one mon 'ud do th' job as weel as a dozen.   Sendin' three on us to Liverpool, an' feedin' us as we should ha' to be fed, an' treatin' us to champagne—eaur cheearmon smacks his lips at that—'ud cost us moore nur two pows!   So aw see no good in it.   Sometime when aw ha' to goo t' Liverpool on mi own bizness aw con get this mast, an' charge yo' nowt for expenses."

    That didno' goo deawn wi' me an' Billy.  Someheaw when folk wanten to be a bit patriotic, an' offern the'r sarvices to th' public, an' chargen 'em twice as mich for thoose sarvices as they would for the'rsel's, folk want to mak' it eaut ut it's jobbery, when it's nowt but a likin' they han for th' public an' th' public interests.  Shawm on 'em!

    It wur carried ut Sam should do th' job, an' th' secretary wrote it deawn i' th' milk book.

    "Ony moore bizness?" aw axt.  Sam Smithies said—

    "Th' hint wur thrown eaut some weeks sin' ut we could raise an exhibition.—(Hear, hear.)  It mit no' be quite as big as th' Manchester Exhibition, but happen big enoogh for us.  We could ha' lond at thrippence a yard; an' if we charged th' exhibitors eighteenpence a yard, an' th' hauve price for skyage, th' money 'ud pay for th' buildin'; an' what visitors paid for gooin' in 'ud be clear profit.  At that rate we should want no guarantee.  These are th' lines ut Manchester folk are workin' on; an' if exhibitors an' visitors are foos big enoogh to submit to these things surely we may expect Hazelwo'th folk doin' th' same.  We may no' mak' a fortin' eaut o' th' spec, but we may mak' some peaunds, if they'n let us."

    Jack o' Flunter's couldno' see heaw th' thing 'ud work.  Hazelwo'th folk wurno' so mony sheep.  They wouldno' follow a gilded bell-wether.  Manchester folk would; put a big price on a thing they'd snap it up!  Put a less price on th' same article, an' they wouldno' ha' it at no price!  They'd think it wurno' wo'th it.  Th' same wi' plays an' singin' shops, put on a fair price, an' nob'dy 'ud goo; but put on a big price, an' if ther's a bell-wether i' th' shape o' a rich lady to leead up th' sheep'll follow!  Owd Juddie has towd him that mony a time, an' he knew.

    "Aw'd rayther this question coome on nar th' time," aw said, "ther's some months yet to work on, an' by to'ard next February we con see what other folk are doin'.  It'll no' tak' us as lung to put th' buildin' up as it did Siah at owd Bob's to build his pig-cote."

    "Not unless we had to stale th' breek," Jack o' Flunter's said; "an' ther's no owd heauses bein' poo'd deawn neaw, as ther wur when Siah raised his bacon temple; we should ha' to buy o'th' buildin' matareal."

    "Dost' meean t' say aw stole mine?" Siah at owd Bob's said, jumpin' on his feet, an' his yure raisin' wi' him.

    "Nawe," Jack said.  "Aw meant to say ut if we bowt th' breek an' slates we could build it sooner nur if we had to stale 'em, becose ther's no owd buildin's gooin' to wrack as ther' used to be at th' time theau begun a-pig keepin'.  Theau's misunderstood me."

    "Aw thowt theau'd ha' to draw thoose words back," Siah said, seemin' satisfied wi' Jack's explanation; an' harmony wur restored.

    Sam Smithies thowt a drop moore inspiration ud set us to reets, an' send th' price o' shares up!  We agreed ut it would witheaut puttin' it to th' vote.  It's one o' thoose things ut con be done witheaut formality.  Th' inspiration wur browt in, an' bizness stood still for a minit or two.  When we'd oiled th' wheels th' machinery went moore briskly.  After a good poo at his tumbler, Sam geet on his legs, an' aw hommered th' table wi' th' corkscrew.

    "Mesther Cheearmon," he said, "we mun ha' every-thin' cut an' dried before we starten a-buildin'.  We mun know what we're gooin' to do fro' th' beginnin' to th' endin'.  If we are to have machinery we conno' go to th' expense o' puttin' steeam deawn. (Jack o' Flunter's: "Gettin' it up, theau meeans.")  We conno' get it up beawt boilers, an' we conno' afford to put thoose deawn."

    Billy Softly begged to interrupt him.  He said: "If we conno' ha' machinery driven bi steeam, we could ha' it i' still motion. (Jack o' Flunter's: "A bit moore o' thi scholarment, Billy!")  What aw meean bi still motion is this: we could ha' it fixed like as if it wur goin', but at th' same time it ud be stondin'.  Ther's a still motion, an' a-gooin' motion; dunno' yo' see?" an' he sit deawn.

    Sam Smithies said—"That's a new law to me, unless Billy meeuns ut a watch mit be stopt, but if th' owner on't wur travellin' on a railroad, it wud be gooin'.  (Billy —"That's just it." )  Aw see, like a bobbin wheel put in a cart.  It mit be still an' gooin' at th' same time.  Th' next thing Billy finds eaut 'll be perpetual motion; an' then he'll dee!"

    Jim Thuston: "What space mun we alleaw for this machinery i' still motion?"

    Th' Cheearmon: "That would depend on th' size o'th' buildin'.  If we covered an acre wi' it, we mit alleaw a rood, an' so on, i' proportion; we'n say that's understood beaut votin'.  Th' next question is—"Mun we ha' a pictur' gallery?"

    Billy Softly: "We could ha' a reaum wi' pictur's in, but aw see no need o' havin' a gallery, like th' Methody Chapel, one row o' forms above another.  Owd Johnny Skooals tumbled fro' top to bottom once, an' broke his leg!  Let's ha' it on th' level.

    Th' Cheearmon: "It would be."

    Billy: "Heaw con it be a gallery, then?  It's time some o' yo' went to skoo' agen, if ever yo' did goo!"

    Jack o' Flunter's: "We went wi' th' still motion.  That's why we'n stuck wheere we aulus wur!"

    Siah at owd Bob's: "Pictur's be hanged!  Aw could show one ut ud lick ony pictur' yo' could bring!"

    Little Dody: "Is it Solomon's Temple ut yo'r Mary did wi' th' needle when hoo're a wench, wi' a brid on th' ridgin' as big as th' chimdy?"

    Siah: "Nawe, one bigger nur that.  Aw had to mak' a hole i'th' floor afore aw could hang it up!  It's a side o' bacon!  Lick that wi' paint if yo' con!"

    Sam Smithies: "Aw happen to know summat abeaut pictur's, an' aw should like us to be careful as to what sort we han.  We mun ha' no owd masthers, as they co'en em—painters ut painted nowt but things they never seed, an' wur done o' purpose to freeten owd women an' childer.  We mun ha' thoose wi' subjects possible, if not likely.  No pictur's o' childer wi' little wings an' fat legs! no writhen-faced figures, wi' long narrow-toed shoon, ut looken as if they used 'em while stondin' o' their yeads, to flap flees off th' wall; no pictur's o' battles ut wur never seen, an' happen never fowt.  Lets ha' nice uns, ut we con look at, an' feel better for it; that's th' true purpose o' art."

    Jim Thuston: "Should we ha' images, too?"

    Sam: "Dost' meean stattys?"

    Jim: "Thoose pot things ut chaps carryn on a booart on the'r yeads, an' sheauten 'imigees'?"

    Sam: "Aye, but they should ha' clooas on, same as they putten on angels, an' other fablus animals."

    Jim: "But theau wouldno' put clooas on hosses, an' keaws, an' dogs?"

    Sam: "They need noane.  We're so used to seein' 'em witheaut ut we tak' no notice on 'em."

    Jim: "Are we to ha' owd armour, an' swords, an' spears, an' axes?"

    Sam: "Aw should say we owt to ha' if we con get to know wheere they makken 'em.  Ther's a place i' Sheffi'lt wheere they turn a lot eaut, but they sayn they're too busy to tak' ony fresh orders.  If we could borrow some ut's never bin used, they'd be as good as new."

    Jack o' Flunter's had a few observations to mak'.  He proposed that we had a hond loom amung th' machinery.  That could be gooin', as they'd want no steeam.  Put owd Mally-at-th'-rain-tub on it, wi' a reed o' gingham; an' let her wayve, for t' show heaw fortins wur made fifty year sin', an'—here Jack stopt.  "Wheere are yo' off to?" Jack wanted to know.

    But nob'dy had a word to say.  Th' mention o' a loom had stricken us dumb; an' one after another we crept deawn steears, an' sidled into th' kitchen, leeavin' Jim Thuston botherin' wi' th' minits.  Aw hadno' even time to dissolve th' meetin'; an' it's noane dissolved yet; an' when we are to meet agen aw dunno' know.  Th' committee could stond owt, fro' picture galleries to machinery i' "still motion," but when a loom wur named they shot deawn steears as if they'd seen a boggart!  Aw shouldno' be surprised if its put a stop to Walmsley Fowt Jubilee Exhibition.

    Mi owd reckoner-up says men never begun owt yet ut they finished!  They should tak' a pattern fro' women.


――――♦――――

 
PREPARIN' FOR WALMSLEY FOWT JUBILEE CELEBRATION.



CHAPTER III.

A NEW MOVE.


SIN' th' last meetin' eaur committee seems to ha' bin rayther fragmentary, brokken into pieces ut had nowt to hang together by.  It aulus happens so when everybody wants to ha' the'r own road, or think the'r notions are better nur other folk's.  It's not only so i' Walmsley Fowt, but i' England generally.  A lot o' men gethert t'gether, it doesno' matter what for, if they'n no opposition fro' eautside they'n feight amung one another.  Aw thowt ther nowt could ha' glued eaur committee t'gether, short o' a pottato pie doo, or a main brew.  But summat else has done th' job; an' neaw they're as thick as inkle wayvers.

    Some folks winno' work unless they mun be mesthers.  Let 'em be leeadin' bosses an' they'n poo like mules.  It's bin so wi' th' nobs o' Hazelwo'th.  They could see no way o' makkin' this exhibition a success.  They threw not only a wet blanket upo' th' skame, but a whul damp bed, sheets an' pillows an' o!  An' when they thowt it wur deead an' buried, wi' a stone on it, they thowt they'd try if they couldno' ha' a resurrection.  So they set to wark an' co'ed a meetin' to be held at th' Church Skoo, an' ther o th' big names i'th' teawnship on th' bill—th' rector, an' tradesmen, shopkeepers, an' two bettin' chaps ut wur co'd "gentry."  Poor me an' mi companions wur laft eaut, tho' we'rn th' fust to set th' bobbin a-rollin'.  But someheaw Billy Softly managed to creep amung these nobs.  Heaw he did it we couldno' tell, but he's ways o' his own, Billy has, an' he con talk nicely to ears ut liken bein' tickled.

    Th' owd committee ud ha' a meetin', too, afore this new lot could be getten t'gether, an' we didno' need mich co'in on, noather.  As soon as it geet wynt ut Sam Smithies ud like to meet his chums at th' Owd Bell they swarmed deawn th' lone as if they'd yerd th' heaunds!  But Billy Softly wur missin', an' we didno' care; he're best amung t'other lot.  We met this time i'th' kitchen, an' Sam Smithies moved hissel' into th' cheear before we could get sarved.  Th' meetin' wur oppent as soon as th' last pint had bin browt in; an' when we'd o supped Sam geet up an said—

    "Ther's some queer wark gooin' on i' this bit of a teawnship, an' aw darsay yo'n yerd on't ("We han.")  No sooner dun we mention a skame for getten up an exhibition, but it's cried deawn, an' snuffed at, as ill as if we'd bin startin' another Hencote Company, wi' Ab theere as secretary ("Keep off that, Sam,"—that wur fro' me.)  These folk ut han cried it deawn, an' when they seen we conno' get on wi' it, they creepen reaund th' fowt i' th' neettime, an' stalen eaur tools.  They con see ther's summat in it neaw.  But what is it ut has oppent the'r e'en?  Not owt they care abeaut th' exhibition no fur nur forradin' the'r own self-interest.  Yo' know abeaut this new buryin' greaund ut a company han bowt?  ("Aye, we known").  It appears th' peawers i' Lunnon winno' let 'em start on't for another year; so they han no interest commin' in on th' shares.  Well, what dun yo' think the'r proposin' to do?  ("Set th' greaund wi' pottatoes an' cabbitch "). Nay, that wouldno' pay 'em.  They're proposin' to ha' th' exhibition on that greaund! (Sensation).  An' yo'n yer if yo'n attend th' meetin' next Monday what terms they wanten.  It's a bit o' th' coolest jobbery ut ever aw knew; an' yo'n think so yo'rsels if yo'n be at th' meetin'.  Aw've getten t' know this mich eaut o' Billy Softly."

    After some moore talkin' it wur agreed ut we should attend this public meetin' i' full foorce, o six on us—an' see if we couldno' ha' a bit of eaur road.  We wurno' gooin' to submit to havin' to pay a lot o' greaund rent to th' Cemetary Company when we could ha' had Jim Thuston's fielt for next to nowt.

    Th' day for howdin' th' meetin' coome; an' as it wur co'ed for eleven o'clock, it wur i'tended they' should be nob'dy at it nobbut thoose folk ut had nowt else to do, an' th' promoters o' th' cemetary could ha' the'r own road.  But they'd reckont beaut londlord bein' i' th' reaum!  They hadno' considered ut wayvers, when they're at th' busiest, could spare an heaur for followin' th' heaunds, an' surely they could spare one for t' attend a meetin' of sich importance as this exhibition meetin'.  An' even if they couldno' they'rn everyone beaut wark at th' time, so they mit as weel be at th' meetin' as keauntin' cinders awhoam, or sittin' at th' "Owd Bell," waitin' to be axt.  So we mustered i' sich a number as took th' steeam eaut o' some o' th' promoters; an' thoose ut had come to talk big had made up the'r minds to let the'r pegs deawn a bit an' tune the'r fiddles to slow music.  Thoose ut belunged to other trades nur wayvers swelled eaur ranks, so ut when th' rector wur moved into th' cheear we'd a mijority of two to one.  Th' rector fun' it wur different talkin' at a meetin' to what it wur praitchin' in a church, an' he blundert thro' his oppenin' speech i' sich a way ut noather th' promoters, nor nob'dy else knew what to mak' on't.  As far as aw con recollect it wur summat like this—

    "Gentlemen, we are met here this morning—haw—this morning to consider—haw—to consider the question of the possibility—haw—of holding an exhibition of—haw—works of art and manufacture, and—haw—objects of natural sciences—haw—objects of natural science, as contemplated by, I am sure you will understand me when I say (a voice: "Verily, verily, I say unto you "), that such are enumerated—haw—in the category of art and manufactures, ah, hem, now we come to business (wiping his spectacles).  It will be left for this meeting to decide as to the form and character this exhibition shall take.  I am sure—I am sure—it will be to the advantage of this important township, and other important townships by which we are surrounded, that this exhibition should take place.  I think I may say that is a settled question.  It remains for this meeting to say that it shall be so by passing a resolution upon it.  It would be—haw—premature to decide upon a site until we have passed the resolution that there shall be an exhibition, which I regard as a settled question.  We have a site in view, and have gone so far as to engage a manager.  (A voice: "Whoa's engaged him?")  We, the committee, pro tem., which means for the time.  ("Whoa's elected 'em?")  No one; the committee, pro tem., is of spontaneous growth—only for the time being.  We surrender our authority to this meeting.  I now call upon Mr. Jackson, grocer, to move the first resolution."  (Sits down. A voice: "It's time yo' sit deawn, yo' owd buzzart.")  Mr. Jackson rose with a bit o' papper in a tremblin' hont.  He said—

    "Mesther cheearmon an gentlemen: Aw've what they co'en a resolution to propose, but aw'm nowt o' a spaker, an' it is (looks at papper) ut this exhibition be held on th' Cemetary greaund."

    Chairmon: "That's the wrong one.  That is for the committee, when elected, to decide.

    Then th' row begun.  Mesther Jackson, in his blunderin' way, had shown the'r cards; an' thoose abeaut him pood him deawn, an' would ha' held him deawn if he hadno' shown feight.  But he rose like a cork.

    "Gentlemen," he begun agen, "aw'm no' gooin' to be put deawn.  This resolution aw made misel', an' aw'm gooin' to ha' it put.  If th' cheearmon winno' put it aw will.  Aw'm a sharehowder i' this, i' this—(a voice: "Skeleton's rest")—in this cemetary greaund, an' aw'm gooin' to look after mi own interests whether others dun or not.  If it hadno' bin ut we shall ha' this lond upo' eaur honds, dooin' nowt for a year, this exhibition—(another poo deawn).  Gentlemen"—this time his voice seemed to coom fro' under a bowster, ther' so mony abeaut him.  ("Goo on, Sugar.")  "Gentlemen,"—this wur a partin' word for th' little grocer wur bundilled eaut at a dur.

    Cheearman: "Mr. Potts will propose the resolution which ought to have been proposed by Mr. Jackson."

    Mesthur Potts rose, an' said—

    "My friends, I have to propose the first—a—resolution, that it is desirable that an exhibition should be held in Hazleworth next year, to com—commemorate the jubilee of her Majesty's reign.  I have nothing more to say."

    Cheearmon: "Mr. Slops will second the resolution."

    Slops rose an' shaked hissel' as if his clogs didno' fit him gradely.  After he'd hooked his thumbs under his galluses, an' prepared us t' expect a long speech, he said—

    "Mesther Cheearmon, Aw'll second it.  Th' same speech 'll do for booath."  Slops flops.

    Cheearmon—"Will Mr. Wild support the resolution?"

    Whoa's Mesther Wild, aw wondered!  Aw could see nob'dy o' that name, till Billy Softly coom shuffling to th' front, an' then aw bethowt me his feyther's name wur Wild.  Someb'dy i' th' meetin' coed him "Mesther Sleeve-creeper."  He said—

    "Aw feel ut aw'd like to say summat upo' this subject.  Yo'r aware ut other teawnships are lookin' at us, an' they winno' tak' the'r wynt till they'n yerd heaw we'n gone on.  This Exhibition is of as mich circumnavigable importance as th' Ship Canal."

    Cheearmon—"Will Mr. Wild keep to words the meeting can understand?"

    Billy—"Well it's of efficient importance.  Happen that'll do better.  Efficient importance, gentlemen—(A voice: "Throw th' dictionary at 'em, Billy.")  Aw consider ut wi' sich men as eaur rector at th' yead o' th' indicate, this movement 'll move onward like electric fluid fro' th' North Pole to th' South, witheaut stoppin' at th' equator.—(A voice: "Shut thi face.")  Eaur noble rector is a lord of hosts i' hissel'.—(A voice: "Theau wants another thank-you-sir; th' cooat theau's on's getten threed-bare.")  Eaur noble rector never tak's nowt i' hond but he goes thro' wi' it, as th' Israelites went thro' th' Red Sae.—("Aw wish he'd goo thro' thee.")  Someb'dy's determine aw munno' be yerd, so aw'll drop it," an' he dropt!

    Cheearmon—"I'll put the resolution.  Those in favour put up both hands."

    Every hont went up; an' abeaut th' middle o' th' skoo aw seed a pair o' legs, middlin' weel timbert at th' end, bobbin' up!  That mon wur for havin' four votes!  Th' cheearmon said it wur "u-nannymous," an' as they'd gone as far as they could that day, he declared th' meetin' adjourned to some other day.

    "If we dunno' mind," Jack o' Flunter's said, as we'rn leeavin' th' skoo, "yon chaps 'll be too mony for us.  They seed they couldno' carry the'r point or else they wouldno' ha' brokken th' meetin' up so soon."

    "Nawe " aw said, "if they could goo so far as t' choose a manager witheaut ony peawer, they wouldno' stop at a thing or two.  We mun be on th' watch, as th' 'Lumpies' wur for 'Wingy,' an' wait till it breaks cover.  Just an odd gill an' then whoam."


――――♦――――

 

CRONNIES AT "TH' OWD BELL"


 
PREPARIN' FOR WALMSLEY FOWT JUBILEE EXHIBITION.


CHAPTER IV.

CONCLUSION.


TH' "Owd Bell" never rung sich music fro' its tongue, nor sent sich a smell eaut at th' front dur at th' same time, as it did last Setturday afternoon.  Strangers stopt at th' dur, snifted an' hearkened, walked a yard or two past, stopt agen, then turned back an' darted in.  Well, for one thing it wur cowd eautside, an' they could see heaw th' snow had bin melted i' th' fowt wi' th' yeat ut had coom fro' th' inside, an' a warm pint 'ud help 'em on th' road.  Then they'rn trapped, like a hungry meause, or a sparrow ut's had bare dooin's.  Th' ale-warmer, like owd Thuston's fryin' pon, never wur letten goo cowd, but kept gettin' rom'd i' th' foire abeaut twice i' every five minutes, till th' sugar pot had to keep bein' filled, an' th' nutmeg wur workin' away like a little sawmill.  Whoa couldno' be merry an' dry under th' influence o' th' yeat an' th' smell ut filled th' heause as wi' a flush o' scented sunshoine?  An' what caused th' smell dun yo' think, ut made th' strangers stop lunger nur they would ha' done, an' ha' moore pints nur they intended havin'?  It wur sixteen peaund o' a goose, stuffed till it wur ready to brast wi' sage an' onions, an' wur to be on th' table at five o'clock, for six on us to tackle!  Aw complained to th' owd rib abeaut bein' a bit poorly at dinner-time, an' couldno' touch th' dinner ut wur getten for me awhoam.  Hoo said it wur drink ut caused it, an' ut aw could ate as weel as onybody if aw kept off it.  When mi leg wur brokken an' aw couldno' goo eaut, aw'd ha' limped to th' table afore th' dinner wur ready, but neaw aw couldno' touch it.  Ther' wur a peaund o' good black puddin's, too, ut had coom fro' Stretfort, wi' a lump o' fat at every bite!  What could aw ha' betther?

    Aw knew what aw could ha' betther, tho' aw're no' gooin' to tell her; an' when four o'clock wur dacently passed aw said to th' owd ticket—

    "Aw feel as if aw could do wi' a sope o' summat to mak' me sae-sick, an' get mi stomach clear'd eaut.  Aw think aw'll goo deawn to th' druggists an' ha' a blackan'-tan.  That'll set me to reets as soon as owt."

    "Black-an'-tan, eh! " hoo said, wi' a dark suspicion on her mind ut aw meant summat else.

    "Aye," aw said.  "One should do some doctorin' afore next week, or else we conno' get through th' atin' ut has to be done."

    "Aw con get through my share beawt owt," hoo said, rayther snappishly, aw thowt.  "But theau never thinks at bringing nowt whoam wi' thee ut's nice, nobbut but what theau's swallowed!  If theau'rt gooin' to th' druggist's bring some linseed for that cough, for theau kept me wakken above an heaur wi' it yesterneet."

    "Is ther' owt else theau wants?" aw said, "an' aw'll get it at th' same time,"

    "Aye, bring some candy-lemon for a puddin', an' a bito' spice; theau con happen do wi' that to thi dinner t'morn."

    "Aw shall just be i' fettle for it after th' physicin' aw shall have.  Keep th' kettle boilin', so ut aw con ha' summat wot when aw'm gooin' t' bed"; an' wi' that aw laft her, an' went, as hoo thowt, to do mi arrands.

    Aw're just i' nice tiff for tacklin' th' goose, an' felt as if aw could hardly wait for five o'clock, but wanted to be startin' at once.  When aw geet to th' Owd Bell aw fund t'other chaps wur theere, rubbin' the'r waistcoats, an' lookin' at th' clock.  Aw seed aw'd just time to do mi arrands at th' druggist's, but forgeet th' black draft.  Aw've a very short memory sometimes, an' it wur abeaut th' shortest then.  Th' spice, an' th' candy-lemon, an' th' linseed aw londed o reet; an' when aw geet back to th' Owd Bell they'rn just booardin' th' brid on th' table.  It wur a whacker, aw thowt, for six on us!

    "Whoa's gooin' to th' meetin' t'neet? " aw said, as aw took mi peearch at th' table.

    "What meetin'?" Jack o' Flunter's wanted to know.

    "Wheay, th' exhibition meetin'!" aw said.

    "Aw'd forgetten ther' wur one," Jack said.  So had t'other chaps.  Th' goose wur th' topmost o' everythin'.

    "Aw'm no' gooin' t' leeave that brid for no sort o' a meetin'," Siah at owd Bob's said.

    "Nor me noather!" went reaund th' table.

    So this great exhibition ut wur to raise Hazlewo'th to th' dignity o' a borough, an' bring lots o' brass into th' teawnship, met go to Banter o' Boby's so lung as ther a fat goose to be etten.  It's way o'th' wol'd; bribery wur at th' bottom on it o.

    "Aw should like to know wheer this goose has come fro," aw said, before we begun operations.  "Ther's summat queer abeaut it.  Th' londlort says he's had nowt to do wi' it nobbut cookin' it."

    "Never mind wheere it's coom fro'," Jim Thuston said.  "Get that scythe into it, an' let's be dooin' summat beside talkin'; whittle a leg off an' wheel it deawn here.  Aw'm as hollow as a pair o' ballis."

    "Thee come an' carve it," aw said, "for aw dunno' know which is a leg, an' which is a wing."

    "Turn it t'other road abeaut," Jim said.  "Theau knows a duck's legs are hanged on different to a hen's, an' a goose is nobbut a big duck.  Th' legs are bent th' contrary way to a hen's; if they wurno' they'd swim backert!"

    "Let's aitch carve eaur own," Little Dody said, "That'll be th' fairest."

    We took th' advice, an' aw shoived a flake off th' breast ut 'ud ha' done for a cap creawn, an' hauled eaut a scope full o' yarbs as big as a little cabbitch.

    "Theau's made that brid lob-sided, Ab," Jack o' Flunter's said as Jim Thuston squared for wark.  "If Jim does a bit o' mowin' like that ther'll be nowt nobbut th' limbs for us.  Aw should like t' ha' a twel th' next."

    "Theau'll ha' to wait till aw get reaund this joint," Jim said; an' flop a lot o' gravy went on th' table.

    Heaw that goose geet hacked an' hommered by th' time it had gone reaund th' table it 'ud be hard to say, but ther mich o' nowt laft nobbut summat like a basket after th' last men had operated on it.  As for carvin' th' legs an' th' wings, ther' nob'dy tried nobbut Jim Thuston, an' he very nee had it on th' floor.  Th' pottatoes had gotten welly coved afore we're sawed, but that didno' matter, it wur th' goose ut wur th' main thing.  As far as talk wur consarned ther quietness for abeaut twenty minutes, for everyone wur peggin' away as if he're feart o' someb'dy takkin' it off him.

    "It's dry dooin's," Jack o' Flunters said, as he fell back in his cheear after scrapin' up.

    "Aw never thowt abeaut ony drink," Jim Thuston said, as he worried at a booan abeaut th' size ov a little stew.

    "Nor me noather," Little Dody said, still busy wi' his tools.  "Aw've no reaum for drink."

    "It'll ha' to be of a thin sooart, if aw've ony," Siah at owd Bob's said.  "Fourpenny couldno' find a shop."

    Just then th' landlort walked in wi' a big pitcher ut steeam rose fro', an' he wanted to know if we'd finished.  Ther a hauve gallon o' whisky punch for us as soon as we'd sided th' goose!

    "Sam Smithies is comin' when th' meetin's o'er," he said.  "Yo' mun leeave a bit for him, or else he'll poo th' heause deawn if he smells it."

    "He may pike this basket," aw said; "he'll find very little beside.  Why didno' he come at fust?"

    "He'll let you know when he comes," an' wi' this hint th' londlort backed deawn th' steers, after he'd oppent one o' th' windows for to let th' smell eaut.

    "Ther's summat strange abeaut this do," aw said, after th' londlort had gone.  "Aw'd like to get at th' bottom on't."

    "Get to'ard th' bottom o' that pitcher," Jack o' Flunter's said.  "Never mind th' goose.  We'n welly bottomed that; so let it lie wheer it is, an' let's be smellin' at that steeam.  Aw want us to get agate o' singin' afore onybody else comes in.  Never mind th' table bein' sided—buttle reaund."

    We buttled; an' while th' sarvant wur sidin' th' table we geet to th' thin end of a long pipe apiece, an' set eaursels for an heaur or two's feelin' what Kesmas wur like.  Thera bin a great change i'th' weather, judgin' bi th' weet ut wur tricklin' deawn th' windows.  But it wur happen th' punch ut wur causin' th' change.  We'rn gettin' very happy beawt singin'.  Everyone wur to' full to sing; an' th' comfort we had wur of a quiet sort, till we yerd a noise makkin' its road toward us.  Th' noise wur caused bi Sam Smithies, an' we looked at one another.

    "He's in a temper o'er summat," Jack o' Flunter's said; an' we o on us thowt th' same.

    E'enneaw he bangs th' dur oppen, an' sets his e'en on th' table, an' thoose ut wur sittin' at it.

    "Yo'r a nice lot," he begun, "sittin' here stuffin' an guzzlin' while th' meetin's bin gooin' on."

    "What meetin?" aw said, as if aw'd known nowt abeaut it.

    "Wheay, th' exhibition meetin', what else?" he said.  "Here th' cemetary lot han bin havin' the'r own road while yo'r crommin' yorsel's here."

    "Wilt ha' a bit o' goose?" aw said.

    "If aw have aw hope it'll poison me!" Sam said.  "Aw'll ha' no goose ut's bin fed at th' rectory."

    "What doss meean bi that, Sam?" aw said.

    "Aw meeon that goose wur sent bi th' rector as a bribe for t' keep yo' away," Sam said.  "He knew his men, he did.  Get at a Walmsley Fowt stomach, an' he con do owt he likes wi' yo'!"

    "We didno' know th' rector had sent it," Jim Thustonsaid.  "We couldno' mak' it eaut."

    "It wouldno' ha' mattered if th' devil had sent it, yo'd ha' stopt away fro' th' meetin' for it.  Here they'n gone an' passed a resolution ut th' exhibition shall be held on th' cemetary greaund, an' th' sharehowders are to goo in free as oft as they like, after bein' paid a heavy rent beside.  An' for th' sake of a bribe yo'n stopt away, an' letten 'em ha' the'r own road.  If aw're i' yo'r place aw couldno' for shawm to be seen till Kesmas wur o'er."

    Aw mun say ut aw felt a little bit takken deawn wi' what Sam had said; an' th' goose didno' feel so yessy on mi crop after knowin' th' rector had sent it as a bribe to keep us away fro' th' meetin'.  Aw said as mich to Sam, but he towd me it wur o katty-watty, an' less aw said abeaut it an' th' betther.  Aw geet him to sit deawn, an' ha' a tot o' punch.  He could drink that, he said, wi' a clear conscience, becose he knew th' londlort had gar it.  He took a second tot, an' a third; an' bi th' time he'd bottomed that he'd getten his temper eaut o'th' ruffles.  But he towd us he'd ha' to talk to us yet.

    "Neaw," he said, after he'd charged a new gun, an' getten it agate o' fizzin', "yo'r just th' sort o' Englishmen ut we'en too mony on, folk ut'll sheaut for a new thing like a choilt for a new toy, yo' go'en mad o'er it; an' one ud think yo'd never sleep while it lasted.  But yo'n no sooner sucked th' paint off nur yo' thrown it o' one side, an' it's forgetten!  Aw remember once seein' th' Rifle Volunteers muster for a parade a-facin' th' Infirmary.  They'rn quite new then, an' folk creawded to see 'em.  But when they'rn ready for marchin' they someb'dy geet a lad for t' have his bare legs blacked wi' a shoe-black.  This took o' th' attention off th' volunteers; an' when they marched ther' wurno' a single sowl to watch 'em off; they'rn to' much takken up wi' the'r new toy!  Yo'r just th' same.  Yo' sheauted for th' Ship Canal, when th' idea wur new; but when th' exhibition begun to be talked abeaut th' Ship Canal had to go to th' wall.  Neaw it's dicky wi' that becose yo'n had a goose sent yo'; an' it'll be dicky wi' th' next thing ut's started if ther's a quart o' ale i'th' road."

    We felt every word ut Sam had said.  It wur o true; but someheaw another reaund o' punch made us forget it.  Th' wo'ld hasno' changed yet.


――――♦――――


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