"AB-O'TH-YATE" (Vol. II) - II.
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A COLLIER'S SPREE.


MANY years ago when colliers were getting enormously high wages—some earning as much as five pounds per week—I heard so many stories of their intemperance and extravagance, that I determined to ascertain by my own personal experience, how far the reports current might be credited.  I accordingly set out one morning with the intention of visiting the coal producing districts round about "Th' Heights," and having a peep into the "pubs," that I might be an eye-witness of those disgraceful orgies believed, by "correct" people, to be of frequent occurrence in these places.

    An hour's walking brought me to the colliery district of Pendlebury.  I wandered over a fairly wide area, but saw nothing disorderly or indicative of extravagance.  A storm coming on, I turned into the "Cart and Tits," which was the principal hostelry in the village, the model of a substantial wayside public, and the "fowt " of which was thronged with carts.  I made my way at once to the tap-room, where I could hear something was going on, encountering along the passage several curious glances, expressive of surprise that broad cloth should be courting the society of prevailing fustian, and risking the loss of caste that was sure to follow its being "blown " upon.

    Strange!—I did not meet with the scenes I expected to find even in this promising place.  The company present were mostly carters and their followers, with a sprinkling of others whose calling it would be difficult to make out.  The operative mining interest was meagrely represented; for only about three, and these mere youths, could positively be identified as being connected with coal-getting.  The floor was not "slat o'er" with spilled drink; as very little of any kind of beverage was being consumed, except by such customers as rushed in, drained their measure at once, and went on their journey.  Amongst others, such as I may term "fixtures" for the day, little business in the soaking line was doing.  At the rate they were going on, a shilling or so would last them until nightfall; and it was then short of noon.  They were mostly occupied in bantering a rather pulpy specimen of the genus homo, whose nickname of "Burgy" at once attested the quality of the man and the nature of his vocation.  This occupation afforded rare fun for the whole company, not even excepting your humble servant; but as the probability was that, if carried too far, it would end in a fight, singing was substituted; "Burgy" himself leading off with one of those old-fashioned country ballads in which you are advised to "shun bad company;" the singer holding himself up as the particular "warning" to be observed; and who, like many others, had resolved to mend his ways when it was too late.

    After this kind of entertainment had gone on for about half-an-hour, and when I was disappointedly contemplating a retreat homewards, a man entered the room, who hailed me by the familiar salutation of—"Good mornin' sir!"

    I returned the greeting, and drank to the new-comer's good health.

    "It's cowd!" he said, with an accompanying shiver that was contagious.

    I owned that it was bitterly cold, and disagreeably damp as well.

    The stranger sidled round the table behind which I sat, and dropped himself upon the adjoining bench with a grunt that appeared to settle the question of his whereabouts for some time to come.  The motive for his singling me out from the rest of the company will appear anon.

    "It's cowd!" he repeated, giving with a stick he carried an emphatic rap upon the floor.

    This time I nodded my acquiescence in the remark, which was without further reiteration handed over to the record of undisputed facts.

    My companion for the time was an elderly man, and appeared to have had many rude buffetings with the world.  His frame was spare and stooping, one shoulder being raised above the other, as if elevated to that position by that inscrutable dispensation which assigns to one man dominion over another, or rather by the more obvious agency attributable to the habit of leaning upon a stick.

    The coat he wore was made before it was possible for shoddy to be palmed off for the durable article; and was of a cut familiar in the days of our grandfathers.  This portion of his attire was buttoned to the "highest storey;" the space betwixt that and his chin being occupied by the folds of a faded and scanty comforter, of a rather primitive design, but which had undoubtedly been considered as something out of the common way when it shone in its fresher tints.  From that upwards were the features of a man who at one time might have been handsome in that particular region, but had suffered them to be remodelled after a fashion not to be found in the portfolio of "English Beauties."  His nose had been tampered with to an extent that removed its outline considerably from the centre of the face, and impressed with a seal that nothing but a hammer, or the tip of a clog, could have rendered so positively indelible.  His grey eyes twinkled vivaciously for his years, and were concealed at times by the neb of his hat, which had a trick of flapping down when its owner was in a particularly demonstrative humour, and might have served as a mask had occasion required.  He was altogether a queer piece of humanity—of the type designated "hard as nails," and which modern luxury is rendering it impossible to perpetuate.

    "Pinch o' snuff?" demanded my friend, turning round to me rather sharply.

    "I don't carry a box," I replied.

    "Have one with me?"  And he held out a small repository of the refreshing dust, from which I took the proffered pinch.

    "Thank you," I said, and sneezed a compliment to its quality.

    "Aw dunno' mind if aw do," he said, as if in reply to some question I had put to him.

    "Do what?" I asked, at a loss to comprehend the meaning of the observation.

    "Ha' twopenno'th wi' yo'!" he replied.

    "Oh, by all means!" I said.  And the old man gave an authorative rap upon the table.

    "Twopenno'th o' whisky!" he said to the waiter, who came bustling in at the summons.

    The whisky was brought, and a conversation at once commenced, but which it was difficult to continue in consequence of the noise that came from the other side of the room.

    "Yo' dunno' kennel o' this side th' park?" said my companion, scanning me over as if I had been a living prodigy, just imported.

    I admitted I did not dwell in that neighbourhood at all, or near it.

    "Too fine bred," he observed, after the first promptings of curiosity had been satisfied.  "Mostly brokken-yured uns abeaut here.  Well, come—here's to'ard yo'!"  And he took his glass and sipped, as if afraid of its being emptied too soon.

    "Mostly colliers in this neighbourhood, I suppose?"  I wanted to draw the old man out.

    "Aye, meaudiwarts," he replied, as if that was the term usually applied to them.

    "Pephaps you are one?" I presumed.

    "Aw ha' bin," he said; "but aw never geet so mich brass as they're gettin' neaw."

    "Probably not," I observed.

    "Nawe; lung shifts—hard workin's—little wage: that wur my soart."

    "A long time ago, I should think."

    "No' so very.  Li'en o' mi side, yeawin at a two-foout till aw've had segs as hard as dur-flags, while silk wayvers han bin walkin' eaut brid-neezin' (bird-nesting), or sit o'th' hearthstone tellin' boggart-tales.  Come'n whoam—had a swill, as if aw'd bin a slutchy fowt—swallowed mi porritch—noane sich thick uns, noather—kebbed on a stoo', starin' at th' foire till bedtime—haumpled up steers—had what wur coed mi sleep—up an' at it agen—as if that wur o aw're sent i'th' wo'ld for.  If one could manage to raise a battle o'th' week-end, it wur welly o'th' comfort one had.  These whelps known nowt, dun they Eccles as like! "

    "Too fond of their drink and their play," I supposed.

    "Dunno' know ut they're so mich different to other folk i' that respect," the old man replied.  "Ther happen seen moore at it, an' makken moore noise o'er it.  But some are so sly an' quiet, they'n swallow a barrel afore onybody else known they'n tasted.  Folk ut wear'n betther clooas nur me, too."

    "I don't see much drinking going on to-day," I remarked.  "Being Monday, I expected seeing scores of people drunk."

    "Wheere han yo' looked?" he said, with a sly raising of the eyelids.

    "All round the neighbourhood," I replied.

    "Ah!" he observed with a shake of the head.  "Yo'n looked i'th' wrung shop.  Yo' should ha' looked reaund Manchester; peeped into th' hotels theere: they'n gan o'er gooin' to common aleheauses."

    I felt there might be some truth in that statement, and prepared myself for hearing something of a more than ordinary character.

    "Got above drinking fourpenny!" I remarked, to encourage the old man to proceed.

    "Fourpenny, sure!—aye, or sixpenny oather," he replied, with an implied sneer in his manner of alluding to the popular beverage.  "Tenpenny ud hardly go deawn neaw.  Nowt short o' champagne 'll suit a collier's throttle i' these days!  Yo' happen never yerd abeaut thoose two ut went on th' spree once fro' Halshy Moor?"

    I confessed I had not.

    "Rare do, they had.  Aw wish aw could just come across owd Ab-o'th'-Yate some time, aw'd tell him o th' skit.  He'd mak' summat eaut on't, aw'll be bund.  He knows a bit o' summat abeaut champagne hissel, owd Ab does.  Noane quite as big a leatheryead as he purtends to be.  Dun yo' know him?"

    "I have a slight remembrance of having seen the man," I admitted.  "If you'll tell me the story I'll see that it gets to his ears.  He can please himself whether he makes use of it or not "

    "Then yo'st have it."  The old man hereupon looked into his glass, which he tilted on one side, the better to observe how matters stood in that locality.  I took the hint, and ordered in a second twopennyworth of whisky after which our friend proceeded with his story.

    "These two meaudiwarts," he began, "had moore brass nur they knew what to do wi'.  It's a very awkert perdickyment fur a mon to be put in ut doesno' believe i' savin'.  They'd fuddled two days that week; an' when they coome to reckon up, it had nobbut cost 'em abeaut three-an'-sixpence a piece; so that wouldno' do, noather at th' pit nor at th' wharf.  It wur plain enoogh they'd ha' to save summat, if they didno' mind what they'rn abeaut.  Well, they tried keepin' dogs; an' they fed 'em wi' mutton chops, an' oysters, an' milk, till they geet so fat they slaked the'r tongues eaut as if they'rn gooin' mad; so they had to get beaut 'em.  Beside, th' childer had begun to ate what th' dogs couldno' swallow; an' that, they thowt, ud mak' the'r stomachs too preaud for porritch an' stuff.  Th' next thing they tried wur bettin'; but o' someheaw they'd to' mich luck o' the'r side.  I'stead o' lessenin' the'r brass it made it moore, an' that wur makkin' bad wuss!  So they'rn driven to the'r wit's end what for t' do next.

    "Well, they held a meetin' one day when they'rn off the'r wark, an' consulted one another as to what wur th' best thing to be done, as the'r pockets wur gettin' desperately too heavy, an' they some talk of another strike for moore wage."

    "What's th' use o' strikin' for moore wage," Bill said to Bob, "when we dunno' know heaw to spend what we're gettin' neaw? "

    "Not a bit o' use!" Bob said.  "It'll nobbut mak' eaur wives preauder nur they are; an' that's needless.  Eaur Moll towd me t'other day ut if we did get another rise hoo should begin a-wearin' shinnons."

    "Just th' same at eaur heause!" Bill said.  "It's nobbut a week sin' aw didno' know what to do wi' mi brass, so aw bowt eaur Lizz two new cheears, ut aw gan four-an'-sixpence apiece for; an' it made her so preaud ut hoo gan a three-legged stoo' away ut wur mi gronfeyther's, an' ut had bin sit on till it wur worn hollow."

    "Aye, that's way wi' some women," Bob said; "the'r heauses are never fine enoogh for 'em.  We'n a flag carpeted neaw, an' sich a thing never wur known i'th' breed afore.  They'n be sendin' th' childer to th' skoo next!  But we mun stop that off."

    "But heaw," Bill said, "when we conno' spend th' brass i' no gradely way?  It's o very weel talkin' wi' a empty pocket; but when it's full, an' no other road for it, it puts us in a fix."

    Bob puts his studyin'-cap on for a bit, an' then his face breetened up like pooin' th' top off a lamp.

    "Aw have it neaw," he said, an' he rose up on his feet.  They'd bin sittin' on the'r heels, as, aw dar'say, yo'n seen colliers do. Aw've keaweart o' that fashin misel' mony a hundert heaurs.

    "Well! what is it?" Bill said.  An' he rose up, too.

    "Wurt ever in a ho-tel?" Bob o' Bill's said to his mate.

    "Nawe," Bill said; "but aw've mony a time thowt aw could like to goo i' one, if it's nobbut to see heaw th' nobs carry'n on theere, an' what sort o' stuff they drinken.  Aw've bin towd they'n ale theere at thrippence a glass!  We met get through a shillin' or two theere yezzily, an' have a cab whoam."

    "Well! what saysta?" Bob said.  "Mun we try a barrowful?"

    "Aye," Bill said.  "Aw'm i'th' mind if theau art.  They conno' tak' us up if we payn us road."

    "Let's goo upo' th' next train," Bob said.  So they geet reaund their een wesht, an' off they went to Manchester.

    They'rn a good while afore they could pike a shop eaut; an' they'rn lunger afore they durst ventur' in when they fixed upo' one.  But at last they shoolt [shovelled] the'r courage t'gether, an' went in.  They met a chap i'th' lobby ut looked like a box-organ grinder; but as he're bare-yeaded, they thowt he must live theere.

    "Heigh, surry!" Bill said, "which is th' best drinkin' shop?"

    "Do you want the smoke-room?" th' mon said.  And he star't at 'em as if he'd a notion th' police ud be after 'em afore lung.

    "Aye," Bob said; "aw reckon we's want a pipe o' 'bacco afore we leeaven."

    "Don't allow pipes!" th' mon said; "only cigars."

    "It mun be a top shop," Bill whispered to Bob, "if they dunno' alleaw pipes!  Aw never smooked a cigar yet, but aw'll have a try.  We's have a chance o' spendin' summat here, chus heaw."

    "This way," th' mon said.  An' in th' colliers went.

    It wur a big reaum they went in, abeaut four times th' size o' this, an' it wur full o' gentlemen, makkin' noise like a skoo.  They'n reechin' away at cigars as if ther a smookin' match, an' drinkin eaut of o sorts o' queer glasses.  Whoa should th' Halshy Moor chaps see pearcht i' one corner at th' fur end but th' mesthurs they worched for; an' rare an' gloppent they wur!  Th' mesthurs twigged 'em in a minute; an' they'rn gloppent too, as it wur likely they would be; an' noather Bill nur Bob felt so comfortable at th' fust.  But they soon geet o'er that, as they knew th' mesthers dustno' cheep to 'em as things wur.  Beside, they'd as mich reet there as onybody else, if they paid for what they had.

    "Ne'er mind 'em, Bob!" Bill said.  "We are here; so let's put a good face on it.  Hommer that table, as if theau're knockin' for a barrel!"

    "But what mun we have?" Bob said, raisin' a fist like a pile-mo [a long shafted mallet used for driving in piles].

    "Well, aw think we'd best start low, an' goo up to th' top," Bill said.  "What dost' say to a quart o' ale?"

    "O reet!" Bob said; an' deawn his knuckles went wi' a rap at' seaunded like hittin' th' table wi' a flat-iron.

    "What is it?" a mon said, 'at had a white napkin on, like a pa'son.

    "What's that to thee?" Bill said, thinkin' th' mon wur meddlin'.  "Thee mind thi own business, an' aw'll buy thee a brass hat!"

    "Aye, it would look betther on thee if theau'd mind thi praichin' i'stid o' comin' to sich shops as this," Bob said.

    "What were you knockin' for?" th' mon said, rayther sharply.

    "If it'll do thee ony good to know," Bill said, "we'rn knockin' for a quart o' ale."

    "Mild or bitter?" th' mon said; an' he poo'd a tin booart fro' th' back on him, an' skraumt some empty glasses on it.

    "Wheay, art theau t' waiter-on?" Bill said, givin' th' mon a good stare.

    "Yessir," th' mon said.

    "Well, aw took thee to be a blackin' chap eaut o' wark!" Bill said.  "There's nob'dy's cooat i' this hole 'at shoines like thine.  Theau's oather starved a peg for it, or else it's a thank-yo'-sir.  Well, stop, owd mon!" he said, seein' at th' waiter wur gooin' away in a bit of a huff, "bring us a quart o' gradely ale.  Never mind weather it's mild or bitter, so as it's th' best an' good messur."

    "Two pints?" th' waiter said; an' he turned back to 'em.

    "Aye, theau con bring it i' two pints," Bob said, "It'll nobbut have a bit moore eautside to it, that's o.  An' aw say, owd mon, bring us a cigar apiece as weel."

    Th' waiter darted eaut, an' e'enneaw he comes back wi' two pints o' ale i' glasses as big as fleawer-pots; an' he'd a box wi' him 'at favvort a little male-ark (meal-ark) wi' three divisions in it.

    "Threepence—fourpence—sixpence." he said, puttin' th' box upo' th' table, an' pointin'to th' cigars wi' his finger.

    "Aw reckon th' biggest are twice as good as th' leeast," Bob said; "so goo in for a sixpenny go, Bill; aw'll pay this reaund.  Heaw mich is th' lot, owd mon?"

    "Two shillings," th' waiter said.

    "That's a rare start' Bill!" Bob said, as he hauled eaut a two-shillin'-piece, an' threw it upo' th' table.  "We'n a chance o' bein' a bit expensive at last."

    "A light, sir?" th' waiter said; an' he gan 'em a leeted papper apiece abeaut th' length of a feeshin' rod.

    They set to wark wi' the'r cigars, but when they'd bin tryin' a quarter of an heaur, an' had covered th' table o'er wi' brunt papper, they'rn as far off leetin' 'em as when they started!

    "Heaw dun yo' manage t' leet these things?" Bill said to a gentleman ut sit at th' end o'th' table.

    "Unlap 'em till you find a road through 'em!" he said.  "They're rather tight."

    Well, they kept unlappin', an' firin' up, till th' cigars wur as ragged beggars, as beggars, an' as thin as candle-weekin; an' when they'd howd together no lunger they threw 'em away, an' said they hadno' bin eddicated for nowt o' that soart.  Bob had set foire to his cap neb, an' brunt a piece eaut afore he gan in.  They mopt up the'r pints; an' as they couldno' see onybody else drinkin' ale, they'd ha' summat betther.  So they hommert at th' table agen for th' waiter; an' when he coom they axt him if ther onybody i'th' reaum drinkin' champagne.  Th' waiter looked reaund, an' said ther' wurno'

    "Then," Bill said, "we'n have a bottle.  Mun us Bob?"

    "O reet!" Bob said, "it's thy turn t' pay next."

    "Well, bring it in," Bill said.

    Th' waiter wur just gooin' eaut when one o'th' pit mesthurs beckont on him.

    "What han yon chaps bin orderin'?" he said to th' waiter.

    "Champagne," th' waiter said.

    "Well, here's a shillin' for thi," th' mesthur said; "an' bring 'em a bottle o' katchup i'stead o' champagne.  They'n never know th' difference."

    Th' waiter grinned, touched his yure, an' off he went.

    Well, he browt 'em a bottle o' katchup i'stead o' champagne, an' two little glasses a bit bigger nur thimbles; an' he put 'em on th' table wi' as much palaver as if they'd bin two kings, or local booards.

    "Heaw mich have aw t' pay?" Bill said to th' waiter.

    "Ten-and-six," th' waiter said; an' he looked as if here givin' th' stuff away at that price.

    "Ten-an'-six?—that's sixteen pence," Bill said.  He're a good reckoner for one at wur no scholar.

    "Ten—shillings—and—sixpence!" th' waiter said; an' at every word he tapped th' table wi' th' corkscrew.

    Bill looked at Bob, an' Bob looked at Bill; an' then they star't at one another.  Bill whistled, an' dived his hont into his pocket.

    "We shanno' ha to knock so oft at this rate, Bob," he said, as he thumped th' brass upo' th' table.

    "Nawe," Bob said, "We conno' goo above another turn reaund o'th' pully.  But teem eaut, an' let's be tastin' what it's like.  Aw've yerd so mich abeaut this champagne 'at it sets me a-yammerin."

    Bill tem'd eaut, an' tasted; an' his face went o shapes!

    "Theau doseno' favvor likin' it," Bob said; "or else theau doesno' want me to taste."

    "They may ha' the'r champagne for me," Bill said, as soon as he could spake.  "But if that wur sowd for fourpen'y, nob'dy ud sup it."

    Bob tried his meauth wi' a glass, an' he poo'ed a face as writhen as Bill's when he'd swallowed.

    "Aw think ther's a good deal i'th' name of a thing, if this is champagne," he said.  "For my own sel' aw'd as leif drink seeny tae."

    "Aye, or cockle broth!" Bill said.  "But we munno' leeave it, theau knows.  We'se happen like it betther when we'n getter used to it.  We didno' like smookin' th' fust time we tried."

    "Nawe; but it'll take a fuddle or two afore we liken that stuff," Bob said.

    "What dost' co' it to taste like?"

    "Aw dunno' know," Bill said, "unless it's like brunt flannel an' traycle.  What does theau think it's like?"

    "Nowt 'at ever aw've tasted sin' aw had th' jaunders," Bob said.  "It favvors as if th' doctor should stand o'er me, an' say, "Theau'rt like to tak' it if t' meeans t' get weel.  Try another dose on't."

    Bill tem'd another glass eaut, an' swallowed it like takkin' physic.

    "It tastes betther this time, Bob," he said, smackin' his lips.  "Aw dar'say th' next bottle 'll be grand."

    Bob tried another shove i'th' meauth, an' he thowt same as Bill, 'at it didno' taste as ronk as th' fust glass did.  They'rn gettin' used to it, yo' seen!

    "It doesno' mak' me a bit fuddlet," Bill said, tryin' his legs upo' th' floor.  "One ud ha' thowt 'at a glass o' champagne o'th' top o' what we'n had afore would ha' auter't one's balance a bit."

    "Aw'm as sober as a pump, yet!" Bob said, gettin' up an' stretchin' hissel'.  "If we'd gone as far as th' 'Nob Inn, an spent so mich i' whiskey an' wayter, we should ha' bin ready for a wheelbarrow neaw.  But get on wi' thi drinkin', surry! it'll happen find us eaut afore we'n done wi't.  Should aw sing, thinksta'?  That 'ud happen stir things up a bit."

    "Aye, brast off wi' a stave!" Bill said; "ther'll oather be quietness or else a bigger noise when theau starts."

    Beaut ony moore ado, Bob rear't his yead back, an' begun a singin'; but afore he'd getten to th' fust tryin'-o'er-agen th' waiter coome, an' said they didno' want no sort of a mess there.  If here poorly he'd betther have a cab, an' go whoam.

    "Poorly!" Bob said, lookin' as if he could like t' ha' put th' waiter i'th' doctor's honds.  "Dustno' know good singin' when theau yers it, theau donned-up mopstail?"

    "Gentlemen don't make that noise here," th' waiter said, an' he turned away.

    "Yer thee, Bill," Bob said; "yond mon says gentlemen dunno' sing i' this cote.  What does he mean by that?"

    "He happen sings hissel', an' tak's th' hat reaund," Bill said.  "Theau's seen sich like knockin' abeaut Knott Mill Fair."

    "Aye, that'll be it," Bob said.  "Sup agen, owd mate.  We con drink if we munno' sing."

    Well, they emptied th' bottle, an' knocked for another but they couldno' say 'at they gradely liked champagne when they'd finished th' second looad.

    "Heaw does thi cubbart feel, Bob?" Bill said; an' he begun a-polishin' his waistcoat buttons wi' his hont.

    "Noane so yezzy!" Bob said; an' he laid his elbows on his knees an' grunted.  Ther's a meetin' bein' howden abeaut th' bottom o' my throttle, an' if they' isno' a strike soon it'll cap me.  Aw dunno' wonder at folk wantin' a cab when they'n been drinkin' champagne.  Aw shall want a heearse, or summat, if aw drink mich moore o' that stuff.  Oh, my!"

    "It puts me i' mind o' drinkin' sooap suds for th' worms," Bill said; an' he gan his senglet-buttons another polishin'.  "Ther's oather a dog battle, or a rot-hunt, gooin' on under my fist.  Another bottle 'ud happen set us to reets, Bob.  Dost' think it would?"

    "Ugh!" Bob said, puttin' his hont o'er his meauth, like a wax plaister.  "Dunno' name it agen!  Ift' does ther's a pit here wheere they may wind eaut on beaut engine.  There'll be a self-actin' pump a-workin', too.  Howd thi noise!  Ugh!  Oh my!  Let's be shiftin', afore we're turn't eaut."

    Bill didno' need twice axin', for he'd gone very white abeaut th' bracket of his nose, and he'd a sort of a ramblin' feel abeaut his top button.

    "Let's goo as far as th' Mayor's Parlour, an' have a whisky a-piece," he said.  "That'll happen put things to reets."

    "Aw'm quite willin' for a change, as Bowzer said when he're walkin' up th' lung steears at th' New Bailey; so come on," Bob said.

    Wi' that they crept eaut o'th' hotel, rayther quietly, no deaut, an' went deawn to th' Mayor's Parlour, i' Short Millgit.  Heaw mony whiskies they had theere, they never could keaunt; but it took a lot afore they could shift th' "champagne," an' bring quietness to disturbed quarters.  The'r pockets wur in a middlin' satisfactory state o' emptiness when th' spree wur finished, so 'at they could goo whoam wi' hearts as leet as the'r clooas.  They'd forgetten t' save brass for a cab, an' as they'rn too far gone for th' train to tak' 'em, they had to walk.

    A rare journey they had, aw believe, afore they londed whoam.   They moandert abeaut Sawfort for mony an heaur: gettin' into o soarts o' streets, till at last they fund the'rsel's somewheere abeaut th' Delphi, wi' the'r arms clipt reaund a lamp-post, as fast asleep as th' lamp-post itsel'!  When they wakkent, they'd getten a notion o someheaw into the'r yeads 'at they'rn at th' bottom o'th' coal-pit, waitin' to be wund up; an' they'rn very nee frozzen to deeath.

    "Aw wonder heaw lung he's goin' t' be afore he starts a-windin'?" Bill said to Bob.

    "Aw dunno know," Bob said; "but if he doesno' wind soon, aw'll swarm th' rope.  This is a cowd hole, Bill!  Aw think they must ha' oppent another air shaft.  By gum, surry!" he said, lookin up at th' lamp, "he's stopt th' engine for summat.  We're within a yard or two o'th' top.  Theau may do as t' likes, but aw'll swarm for it."

    So Bob set eaut on his journey up th' lamp-post, leeavin' Bill to shift for hissel' as best he could.

    "This is a rare thick rope, mate," he said, as he meaunted up.  "A patent safety, aw should think."  Then his yead struck agen a piece o' iron 'at stuck eaut like a arm; an' it knocked him so dateless 'at he dropt, like a lump o' roofin' reet upo' Bill, 'at wur just framin' for followin'.

    They'rn never gradely wakkent till then; an' raly they star't at one another when they fund they'rn rowlin' in a gutter, i'stead o' bein' knockt into a jelly at th' bottom of a coal-pit.  Heaw they geet whoam they couldno' tell; but, when they went to the'r wark th' mornin' after, they fund 'at everybody i'th' pit knew abeaut spree at th' hotel an' kept sheautin'—"another bottle o' katchup;"—till at last they fund it eaut they'd bin drinkin' that i'stead o' champagne; an' rare an' mad they wur!  It ever they yer th' last o' that, it ''ll be when they con yer nowt at o.

    By the time our friend had finished his story the snow had cleared off, and the sun had set about its business apparently in right good earnest.  After thanking the old man for the manner in which he had entertained me, and promising that I would at once put myself in communication with "Owd Ab," I rose to depart, leaving him gazing at the bottom of his glass, which I took care was sumptuously replenished.  I had not made my journey for nothing after all.


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FOO'S.


EVERYBODY'S a foo' at summat; but my owd rib says, "If they're foo's at one thing, they'll be foo's at another."  Aw say hoo's wrung theere; but hoo sticks to it hoo's reet, an' ut it's me ut's wrung.  Aw know it's no use tryin' to convart her; so aw'll see if aw con talk to someb'dy else.

    Aw say everybody's a foo' at summat.  They' never wur a yead put on a pair o' shoothers, but, if yo' wur to feel it o'er, yo'd find a crack or a soft place somewheere.  It met no' be a crack as wide as a church dur, nor a place as soft as a turf-clod; but soft an' shaken for o that.  An' heaw we becoen one another for th' bits o' leatheryeadishness ut we conno' help but show!  An' heaw we setten eaursel's up on a hee peearch, an' praichen deawn to thoose ut we thinken hanno' sense to look up, an' try to get at us!  We dunno' calkilate, at th' same time, ut someb'dy may be talkin' deawn to us, for bein' such foo's as to think we'n moore sense nor other folk.  Yorneyism, to th' very chapter an' verse; but we conno' see it!

    Someb'dy says—th' wo'ld's kept on by foo's, an' ut ther'd be poor doin's for some folk beaut 'em.  Rogues 'ud ha' to look eaut for fresh pastur' wheere folks' wits hadno' bin put to th' grindlestone; an' thoose ut liven by rogues an' foo's met follow.  Newspappers 'ud ha' little to say; lawyers 'ud ha' nowt to do nobbut scrat the'r wigs; doctors ud ha' to swallow the'r own physic, an' pa'sons ud ha' moore time to beslutch one another, a job ut some on 'em liken betther nur pointin the'r finger to'ard another wo'ld, an' tryin' t' mak' us reet i' this.  What must become ov eaur red jackets aw dunno' know; for ther'd be no moore thumpin' upo' th' owd war tub (drum); no moore makkin' holes i' one another's stomachs; no moore trailin' o'th' owd striped rag abeaut, an' darrin' onybody to touch it!  Some good howsome puncin' would be o ut ud be wanted when we geet a bit cranky, an very little o' that 'ud satisfy us.

    One could find very nee as mony sooarts o' foo's as faces; so it 'ud tak' a bit o' time fort' reckon 'em up an' sort 'em.  Aw nobbut meean to tackle one or two partikilar sorts ut aw have abeaut me.  Sometimes thoose folk ut purtend to be t' fausest (the most cunning), are th' biggest yorneys ov o, an' they're th' plagueyest sooart we han to deeal wi'.  But aw'll just put one o' these upo' th' table, so ut you con see what he's like.

    For th' fuss thing he's as stupid as a jackass, an' it's a pity his ears are no' th' length they should be!  Yo' couldno' mak' him t' believe ut onybody's ony sense beside hissel' if yo' wur to talk to him wi' a hommer, an' let him feel what yo' had t' say; an' aw'm sure aw'st ne'er try.  It's no use him readin' ony books; he knows o ther' is in 'em, an' a good deal moore ut ther' should ha' bin.  He never goes to noather church nor chapel, becose he could taich th' pa'son moore nur he knows; an' as for religion makkin' him a betther mon—he's quite good enoogh for th' wo'ld he's in, or ony ut's waitin' for him.  Ther's aulus summat gooin' wrang for him, i' Lunnon fowt speshly.  He'd manage things i' that shop betther nur o th' wiseacres ut ever threw the'r wynt away at a sleepy parlyment.  Owd Noll Crummell wur smo-drink to him, an' that he'd let 'em see, if they'd nobbut put th' guiders o'th' owd state waggin in his hont.  He'd show 'em heaw to cleean th' war score (national debt) off, an' mak' everythin' an' everybody look as breet as a summer Sunday wi' a new suit o' clooas on.  It's a pity nob'dy con see him as weel as he con see hissel', an' ut we should be gropin' through th' slutch i'th' dark, an' knockin' th' owd waggin to pieces wi' bad droivin', when this wiseacre could mak' it goo like a railroad, an' hang as mony lanterns abeaut it as 'ud leet it reaund th' corner o'th' wo'ld.  But it aulus wur so.  Nob'dy knows what a gowden karnel ther's shut up i' his nut; an' they'll never find it eaut, becose th' shell's to' thick to get at it.  So we may grope an' tumble abeaut eendway.  Knock him off th' table, an punce him for tumblin'.

    Ov a very common sort o' leatheryead is yo'r good-natured foo', ut says brass (money) wur made reaund so ut it could roll abeaut, an' mak's this into an excuse for spendin' o he gets, an' happen a bit o' summat moore nur he con co his own.  I' some cases we find this yorney is summat beside a foo'; for some time when he's fund th' bottom ov his pocket before he's tired o' yerrin' folk praise him for bein' "a rare good sort," he goes whoam, an' puts th' wife's een i' mournin', becose hoo conno' put him a supper under his nose ut 'ud be good enough for a strawberry-faced justice.

    Generally speakin' this foo's heause isno' quite a palace.  Th' windows as no' very promisin' for a start.  Th' heause window has a short curtain made o' faded print, an' poo'ed as tight as a drum for t' mak' it raich across; an' it's fifty to nowt ut one or moore o'th quarrels (squares) are brokken eaut int' a ragged sore, or docthered wi' a papper plaister.  Th' chamber window is screened off, like th' front ov a gallanty show, wi' an' owd petchwark bed-cover, hanged upo' two nails.  Goo into th' heause.  Ther'll be no danger on yo' breakin' yo'r shins agen th' mahogany!  Ther's nowt nobbut three cheears an' a stoo'.  If aw must chuse, aw'd rayther sit me deawn upo' th' stoo' for safety, becose th' cheears are like "Berm Joe,"—knock-a-kneed o' one side, an' bowlegged o'th' tother, an' th' bottoms are like crow-neests ut han wintered badly.  Th' table—ther's nobbut one—has three or four dirty spoons on it, an' happen as mony knives ut han bin made widows through th' childer usin' th' forks for gardenin' i' the'r way.  Ther's a dirty basin or two, an' a brokken pitcher ut looks as if it had been cryin' till churn-milk tears had run deawn th' sides.

    If it's th' weshin'-day, ther's a line stretched across th' foire-place, wi' a two-thri (few) hauve-wesht rags hanged on it.  Th' hesshole's full o' hess (ashes), an' th' fender's plashed o'er wi' suds an' milk.  Th' childer are like th' heause—bare an' dirty.  One on 'em's makkin' a ship eaut ov a piece o'th' table-top.  That's th' janious o'th' family, an'll come to summat some day!  At ony rate his feyther says so when he's swaggerin' i'th' ale-heause nook abeaut his heause an' his childer, as if the'r nowt like 'em nowhere for bein' forrad an' smart.  Another o' this precious lot should be nussin (nursing) th' little un; but hoo sits at th' eend o'th' fender, leetin' papper at th' fire, an wonderin', if thoose are th' best ov her days, what hoo'll be like when hoo's a woman.  Th' choilt's laid upo' th' hearthstone, nussin' itsel',—daubded up to th' een wi' porritch an' traycle, an' atin' cinders as a soart o' relish after dinner.  Th' mother's dabbin' away at summat in a crackt mug; neaw an' then seawsin' th' childer wi' a weet hond, an' sheautin' like a mad-cap at 'em, an' tellin' 'em hoo'll knock the'r heads off the'r shoothers, or writhe the'r little necks reaund, as soon as hoo's done weshin'.

    This is summat like a good-natured foo's heause, becose aw know mony a one o'th' sort; an' when aw come for t' calkilate heaw mony scamps it tak's fort' keep one o'these leatheryeads i' concait wi' hissel', aw breek eaut in a cowd swat, an' cuss th' whul wo'ld for lettin' 'em run loose!

    Another sort o' foo's—an' a rare kennelful on 'em ther' is—are thoose ut run starin' after women, as iv ther' nowt i'th' wo'ld beside ut wur fit to be looked at, an' ut winno' stop ut nowt short of a rope or a razzor, as if soul an' body wurno' worth keepin' t'gether beaut a pratty wench wur grinnin' at 'em, an' lookin' feaw at everybody beside.  Aw'm no' quite sure whether these are no' th' biggest leatheryeads ov o.  They're what one may co whoppers at ony rate.  Aw dunno' think so mich at a great hobblin' lad ut's just begun o' gropin' abeaut his chin for th' smo' end ov a beeart, starin' his e'en eaut ov his yead at a saucy besom ut's aulus lookin' at hersel', as if her own een wur made for nowt else; but when a grey-yeaded sinner ut con hardly get his shoon-heels off th' greaund, puts his e'e windows on, an' goes blinkin' at some faded duchess wi' tight stays an' a blue nose, an' talks at her same as if they'rn booath on 'em i'th' best o'the'r days, it's time someb'dy interfered.

    Aw knew one o' these owd blinkerts once; an' every neet he sluthert his shoon a-seein' an owd duchess ut favvort hoo'd bin hung up amung dried yarbs.  A weddin' wur made up, an' th' foo' had a coach for t' tak' 'em to th' church, as if the'r Makker hadno' done enoogh for em wi' givin' 'em legs, but owt to ha' put wheels to 'em i'th bargain!  Th' woman tried to look as yunk an' pratty as a pot shepherdess; but geet on badly wi' it, an' afore they went into th' church, hoo stood o'er t'other wife's grave, an' whimpert a bit,—though at th' same time, if hoo thowt ther' ony chance on her comin' to life again, hoo'd ha' had th' coffin lid nailed deawn wi' tenpenny nails, an' a looad or two o' weight-stones tem'd upo' th' grave beside.

    When th' weddin' wur o'er, an' that gowden bant, as they co'en it, teed as fast as it could be, they set off to Blackport, or Southpool—aw've forgetten which, becose aw'm no quality chap—an' tarried theere a fortni't, though th' fust wife never so mich as seed th' sae, nor thowt o' sich a thing, bein' a dacent woman.  They coom back like a lord an' a lady; but th' day after, one on 'em had to go to his wark, an' t'other to her housekeepin', if hoo knew owt abeaut it.  Hoo hadno' bin used to weetin' her fingers for owt beside weshin' her face, so by th' week end ther' as mony dirty pots lee abeaut as would ha' filled a wheelbarrow.  Th' honeymoon (traycle-moon aw co it) wur getter i'th' last quarter, an' a very thin bit, too, it wur!  It ud soon be dark o'th' moon, th' rate it wur gooin' on at.  Hoo gan eaut her weshin'.  Bake hoo couldno', an' when hoo should ha' mended th' husbant's shirt, hoo gan it to th' ragmon, an' said it wurno' fit for wearin' ony lunger.  Hoo turned eaut to be as big a sloven as ever "Black Sam's" wife wur, an' no dog i' Hazlewo'th 'ud ha passed her beaut givin' her a shake, as if it had mistakken her for a mop.  Hoo sowd her rings for gin, if her husbant 'ud let her ha' no brass; an' hoo sluthert abeaut in a pair o' clogs made eaut o' top-boots, an' wi' a yead as roogh as a haycock, an' her clooas same as if they'd bin tossed on her back wi' a pikel (pitchfork)!  T'other side o'th' bargain wur as mich gone i'th' meant (moult) as hoo wur; an' neaw ther' isno' sich a pair of curnboggarts i' o Hazlewo'th as they are.  Th' jackass met ha' known ut a woman ut wur aulus donned up, an' did nowt but read po'try an' books abeaut young lads an' wenches runnin' off wi one another a-getten wed, ud never do for a wife for him.  Hoo wanted three or four sarvants, an' a carriage, an' someb'dy t' dondle abeaut her, an' tak' her to th' playheause, an' Karsey Moor races, an' doancin' shops; an' then for t' be a little bit poorly to'ard mid-summer, so ut hoo could goo to th' saeside, an' strollop abeaut theere for a month or two, as if folk neaw-a-days couldno' get on beaut bein' blown a bit wi' owd Daf Jones's ballis.  Hoo'd pop't into th' wrung shop; an' when a woman finds it eaut ut hoo's made a mistake o' that sort, it's wo-up wi' her an' thoose abeaut her, too, for as mich o' this life as they han to live t'gether.  If hoo's bin aimin' at flyin' o' her young days, an' has never bin able to raise her feet off th' greaund, an' neaw, i'stid o' gettin' a lift, gets a seause—hoo tumbles i'th' gutter, an' tarries theere till hoo's ready for cartin' off to th' churchyard.  Hoo's bin as big a foo' as onybody.  Get th' tongs, an' lift 'em booath off th' table!

    If ther' are women-mad foo's, ther' are foo's quite o't'other side o'th' hedge,—fog's ut believen if a mon spakes to a woman, it's same as puttin' his foot in a rotten-trap, or his neck in a noose—he's to be hob-shackled for life.  These belung to th' clever sort o' yorneys, an' a pratty kittle on 'em ther' is, as far as my exparience tak's me!  Aw con tell one as soon as ever aw clap my e'en on him.  If he's a young un, ut hasno' gan o'er bein' marred wi' his mother, he'll ha plenty o' brass i' his pocket, an' isno' partikilar abeaut folk knowin' it.  He walks abeaut by hissel' o'th' edge o' dark; an' if he yers a pair o' pattens beheend him, or sees a red cloak afore him, he looks abeaut for a gap ut he con dart through, an' get eaut o'th' road.

    Whenever yo' meeten him he'll be sure to have his honds in his pockets, an' owder he gets an' deeper he thrutches 'em.  He'll be walkin' abeaut th' rate ov a snail ut's ta'en to crutches, an' mooastly wi' his chin nar his clogs nur it should be for a chicken.  If he says owt, he's sure to talk abeaut things ut are no i'th' common way; an' he'll bother yo' as ill as a boat-hoss wi' some cranklety notion ut's bin hatchin' in his yead for happen a hay-time or two.  It's seldom he puts his best clooas on ov a Sunday, so ut he'll groo owd i'th' same hat, an' same cooat ut he had made when his great-gronmother wur buried.  Yo' may know him when he's getten int' years by that, for he'll look like an' owd brid i' young fithers.

    But this foo' never gets owd in his own e'en.  He fixes upo' a hobbyhoss when he's in his yard-wide days, or what "Owd Pee" would co th' beginnin' ov his puppyhood, an' rides it till he con howd on no lunger.  He'll happen keep pigeons, or hens, or ducks, or dogs, or brids—an' it's a wonder to him heaw onybody'll gi'e these up for th' sake ov a woman.  His mother praises him for bein' th' best lad i' England, an' aw da'say wi' some reeason, for though a foo', he may no' be th' wo'st son ever marred, an' a mother 'll soon put t'other to.  He conno' do wrung for her, chus what he does, if he'll keep hissel' to hissel'.  Hoo aulus has his shirt th' whitest ov onybody's, an' keeps him o'th' hearthstone as snug as an owd tabby cat, till he's fit for bein' nowheere else.  But when hoo's gone, an' he finds a two-thri grey yures in his whiskers, an' a dry gutter or two abeaut his e'en, an' his sisters han o getten wed, an' ther's nob'dy nobbut him an' his feyther left, he begins o' lookin' sich a pictur' o' misery as conno' be likened to nowt ut goes upo' two legs.

    Ther's one o' these lives i' eaur fowt neaw, ut we coen "Slogger," an' he's fairly a seet to be seen!  He's as ragged an' as dirty as ever owd "Mungo" wur, an' so bad tempered ut, if th' childer meeten him onywheere, they scuttern away, like a lot o' chickens when ther's a dog abeaut.  He's aulus lived under th' same thatch, an' he doesno' know ut he could live under ony other.  It's th' thatch ut his feyther an' mother dee'd under, an' sin' then he's lived theere by hissel'.  Twenty year sin' (heaw time slips o'er!) he're quite a swipper young chap.  Nowt very grand abeaut him; but he're aulus cleean, an' his clooas, if they wurno' as fine as some folk's, wur kept i' good fettle.  But he set so leet o' women ut aw felt sure he'd never be wed as lung as he lived; an' so far, aw've bin a fortin-teller.  When aw towd him aw're gooin' t' be wed, he made o sorts o' gam' on me, an' kept shakin' a leg at me, for t' let me see it wur loce, an' showin' mea hontful o' brass, an' sayin' aw should never be plagued wi' havin' holes i' mi pockets when a wife had getten howd on me.

    Well, aw geet wed, like a foo', as Slogger thowt, an' in a while after, ther' a young "Ab" chipped his shell, an' chellupt i'th' kayther (cradle) like a young throstle ut's ne'er tried it wings.  Eaur "Joe" followed, an, then eaur "Dick" said it wur his turn an' ever sin' th' kayther has hardly gan o'er rockin'.  We geet as thrung as a little skoo', an' welly as noisy.  Every year we had t' buy a new porritch dish, an' every time it had to be a size bigger.  It wur hard scrattin' for 'em, aw con tell yo'; wi' wark chep, an' atin'-stuff dear!  But when Setterday neet coom, an' we'd raised a bakin', th' heause looked as brisk as a wakes.  Th' childer would ha' bin runnin' abeaut wi' a mouffin' apiece, th' size of a trencher—beawlin' 'em across th' floor, an' stickin the'r fingers through th' middle, an' makkin' pinwheels on 'em.

    Slogger would ha' comn i'th' thrung ov o this, an' axt me if aw could do wi' a week's fuddle, or a rant abeaut th' country.  He knew eaur Sal 'ud fly at him like a cat; but he did it for t' plague me with, as he thowt, an' he'd ha' run grinnin' eaur o'th' heause, an' shakin' a leg at me.  But he's done neaw, an' ther's nowt but th' warkheause for th' foo'.


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DOOIN' THE'R BEST.


"IF ther's a men onywheere abeaut ut con lay his hont on his senglet, an' say ut ever sin' he begun puncin' his road wi' his own clogs he's tried to mak' th' best o' everythin', aw could like to see his honest face i' Walmsley Fowt.  If he'll promise to come o'er some Setterday, eaur Sal shall brew a peck o' drink, an' mak' a thumpin' pottito-pie; an' he shall ha' sich a blow-eaut as 'll mak' his buttons gi'e notice they conno' stond nowt o'th' soart agen.  We'n send a balloon up, an' we'n foire eaur Ab's bobbin-gun, an' eaur Joe an' Dick shall put on the'r Sunday garters, as if it wur a haliday.  Mi owd Rib shall put her best cap on, an' th' bed-geawn [A morning dress for working in] hoo nobbut wears o' club neets.  An' mi best olive breeches, ut han never bin had on sin' owd Colley wur buried, shall be drawn o'er mi shanks, an' flourished abeaut th' fowt i' honour o'th' visit."

    This notice aw gan eaut one neet i'th' "Owd Bell" kitchen, an' though it's mony a year sin' nob'dy's bin yet, so ut sich like folk mun be scarce.  Aw conno' say ut aw know one o'th' soart, an' aw've had mi een abeaut me ever sin' aw could use 'em.  One neet after aw'd bin a bearin' whoam to Manchester, th' owd stockin'-mender breetened up her face, an' laid her hont upo' mi knee, an' said hoo thowt aw desarved booath th' drink an' pottito-pie misel'.  But then aw'd gan fippence a yard for a new bed-geawn for her that day; an' browt a new pair o' socks an' a ricker for th' young'st choilt; an' a curran loaf fro' Scholes's at Plattin'; so it wur no wonder her sayin' what hoo did.  Hoo knew at th' same time aw'd bin guilty o' mony a yorneyish trick, sich as gettin' moore fourpenny nur aw could carry straight, an' venturin' a penny or tuppence on a race when aw could ill afford to lose.  Does th' cap fit onybody?

    Well, aw'm not within a peck o' drink an' a pottito-pie yet, if ther's onybody con come an' claim it.  Aw dunno' think ut eaur fowt's as bad a place as some holes aw've waded through; but aw see no danger o'th' drink bein' drunken, or th' pottito-pie bein' etten by ony o' mi neighbours.  Not yet, at ony rate, though they're shappin' to'ard it.  Some han spent brass when they knew it would ha' bin betther i' the'r pockets.  Others han letten things slip through the'r fingers ut 'll never give 'em a chance o' grabbin' at 'em agen; an' one or two ov a common breed o' leather-yeads ut never tried to do owt gradely i' the'r lives, putten it eaut o'th' raich ov others for t' help 'em.  Aw dunno' know heaw it is amung folk ut liven i' grand heauses, an' getten the'r livin' wi' the'r cooats on the'r backs; but aw know heaw it is wi' folk sich like as me, thoose ut han th' mooest comin' in are th' wo'st off, an' th' last to keep straight.  Thoose ut are nobbut gettin' fro' nine to twelve shillin' a week are scrattin' like a dog at a rat hole for t' pay the'r road; but some o' thoose ut are gettin' above a peaund a week dunno' seem for t' care abeaut dooin' exactly as they'd like to be done by; an' if folk are yessy wi' 'em they getten moore carless, an' begin a-gooin' fury nur they con wade.  They getten into shop-books, an' putten ale-scores on, an' han clooas off th' Scotchman; an' after a while they getten so bothert wi' folk comin' a-seein' 'em, an' walkin' eaut wi' black looks, ut they takken advantage o' some fine moonleet neet, an' go'en away for th' benefit o' the'r health.

    Some on 'em mun do things very grand, whether they con afford it or not.  They'n ha' fine clooas, an' fine heauses wi' carpets on th' floor, while sich as me are fain to have a little bit ov a cot, wi' a twothri plain sticks abeaut, an' a carpet at a penny a peck eaut ov a sondbarrow.  They mun have a great lump o' beef browt to th' dur ov a Setterday, wi' a little ticket on it, an' a white cloth o'er it, while eaur Sal has to fotch eaur bit on a plate, an' no sich a big un, noather.  Other things they'n ha' browt th' same road, an' when th' rent chap comes he's fain to get eaut o'th' heause beaut brass; for they'n ha' this thing an' that thing done afore they'd pay a haupenny, and generally they sticken to what they sayn.  What looks strange to me is ut this soart o' folk han moore uncles nur ony other relations; an' they getten 'em to tak' care o' the'r best clooas fro' Monday mornin' to Setterday neet for fear o' thieves gettin' howd on 'em!  They nobbut go'en once a fortnit to church; an' that's th' Sunday after th' pay day; though why they're partikilar to that Sunday happen someb'dy wiser nur me con tell.

    Aw recollect one time when things wur middlin' brisk i' eaur fowt, wayvers gettin' abeaut twelve shillin' a week, an' other trades twice an' three times as mich, they' a mon i' Hazlewo'th thowt he'd begin a-gooin' abeaut wi' new pottitoes, an' green stuff.  So he geet a donkey an' cart, an' tried his luck.  He coom i' eaur fowt mony a time beaut sellin' a pottito, or a cabbitch; an' he wonder't heaw it wur.  Folk did get new pottitos fro' somewheere, becose he'd seen th' scrapin's upo' th' middens.  Well, one day he met Jim Thuston, an' he axt him if he could explain heaw it wur ut he couldno' sell his pottitoes.

    "Theau happen wants brass for 'em!" Jim Thuston said.

    "Wheay, doesno' theau?" th' pottito chap said.

    "Yigh," Jim said, "but aw dunno aulus get howd on't when aw want it!  Nob'dy con sell nowt neaw-a-days unless they keepen a book.  When folk wur dooin' badly aw could ha' getten a bit o' ready brass.  But neaw they're betther off, they spend it upo' finery, an' th' sae-side; an' aw have to wait o' mine, an' sometimes lunger nur aw like on."

    "Well, an' does theau trust o th' fowt?" th' pottito chap said.

    "Nawe," Jim said.  "If aw did that, aw should ha' my keaws clemmed to deeath, an' very soon, too.  Aw nobbut trust th' poorest neaw, tho' aw went amung th' middlin's at fust, an' did a bit amung th' quality till aw geet my fingers nettled; an' then aw begun a-weedin' em.  But aw'll tell thee what to do.  Go to th' "Owd Bell," an' look at th' back o'th' kitchen dur.  Theau'll see a lot o' ale scores choked up theere, wi' th' names o' thoose ut owe 'em.  Look which are th' biggest, an' which are th' leeast, an' if theau doesno' know what to do after that, theau'rt a hard larner."

    Th' pottito chap went to th' "Owd Bell," an' sit hissel' deawn i'th kitchen, an' knockt for a pint.  When th' londlady browt th' drink in, he axt her if hoo'd shut th' dur while he stopt, as he couldno' stond a draught if it wur summer time.  Th' londlady shut th' dur, an' th' pottito chap fixed hissel' at back on't.  It wur choked (chalked) o'er fro' top to bottom wi' ale scores an' other bits o' things.  Some on 'em wur woppers, too!  Th' mon begun a-readin' 'em o'er to hissel', an' markin' 'em deawn in his noddle.  Aw mun own ut mine wur amung th' lot, lest folk met think aw're swaggerin'.  Th' figures ran summat like these:—

    "Smoot Dody—Sixty-three pints, fifteen cigars, a bottle o' rum, an' two dozen eggs."  He works up at th' cons, an' gets good wage.  Aw mun keep away fro' his dur.

    "Shoiny Jim—another o'th' same breed—Fifty one pints, sixteen peaund o' bacon, an' a brokken window."  Aw mun keep o'th' blynt side o' him, too.

    "Smo-Cop—Thirty-four pints, twelve hauve-eaunces o' 'bacco, an' two pint pots brokken."  He's a good shop at th' Knowe factory.  He's hardly to mi likin'.

    "Blackey—Twenty-three pints, eight hauve-eaunces o' 'bacco, an' two tin-full o' toasted cheese."  That mon gets his thirty-two shillin' a week.  Aw'st be shy at him aw think.  What next?

    "Billy o' Tummy's—Eight pints, an' two hauve-eaunces o' 'bacco."  Come, that's summat like.  Billy's nobbut a wayver.  Aw'll stop at his dur, if it's oppen.

    "Jack o' Flunter's—Eight pints an' a mowffin an' cheese."  Jack works i'th' greaund when ther's no buildin' gooin' on, an' doesno' get mich; but it seems he's nar straight nur some on 'em.  Aw think aw may ventur to leeave a boilin' theere.

    "Ab-o'th'-Yate—Nine pints.  At th' length within a pint.  Th' bearin'-whoam day o' Setterday.  Promises to pay up then."  Aw think, aw may leeave a twothri theere.  Ab's a wyndy soart ov a foo hissel', but aw may trust his wife."

    Well, just as he're getten to th' bottom o'th' dur th' londlady comes in, an' catches him at th' back on't.

    "What, are yo' lookin' at my shop-book?" hoo says.

    "Aye," th' mon said.  "Aw thowt at th' fuss it wur some soart o' music, but aw conno' mak' a tune eaut on't."

    "Nawe, nor me noather!" th' londlady said.  "Aw may whistle o'er it, aw think, afore aw get some on't rubbed off.  Aw'll tak' a hauve-a-creawn for two o'th' top rows neaw, an' think aw've made a good bargain.  Thoose ut owe 'em could pay 'em off if they would; they getten brass enoogh."

    "What would yo' tak' for thoose at th' bottom?" th' mon said.

    "Oh, thoose are as good as paid," th' londlady said.  They aulus clearn th' score off when they'n ta'en the'r wark whoam, an' never go'en above ten pints in a fornit, though aw dust trust 'em moore.  But it's just here—thoose ut han th' leeast wanten th' leeast, an' thoose ut han th' mooest keep wantin' moore, till they hardly known wheere to stop.  Aw believe it's so th' wo'ld o'er.  If aw could get five shillin' for th' lot aw dunno' expect bein' paid for, aw should be very glad, for th' dur wants paintin'.  It hasno' bin painted this dozen year, aw'm sure."

    Well, th' chap went eaut, wonderin' if he should ever have a chance o' paintin' his cart sides after he'd made em into a shop-book, an' he said—

    "Gee up, Jinny!"

    Th' pottito chap, after he'd read a lesson eaut o'th' "Owd Bell kitchen dur, drove straight to Walmsley Fowt afore he gan a sheaut; an' when he geet through th' yate he made th' fowt fairly ring agen wi' "New pottitos, eightpence a score!  Pay when yo' con!  Pay when yo' con!  Hie yo' women—hie yo' women!"

    Folk coome to the'r durs; but he never offert to stop th' cart till he geet facin' owd Thuston's, what we co'en th' quality end o'th' fowt.  Theere he turned reaund, an' towd Jenny for t' behave hersel', like a good donkey, for hoo'd a good deeal to go through.  As he looked reaund he could see yeads pop't eaut o' durs—some wi' caps on; some witheaut, an' one or two wi' ribbins flyin' abeaut 'em.  He didno' like th' ribbins; they'rn too fine; nor th' bare yeads; they'rn too slovenly.  He felt th' mooest partial to th' white caps an' check approns.  A middlin' way, he thowt, aulus looked th' gradeliest.

    "Neaw then," he said to hissel', "aw'm same as owd Knocker when he'd sown rapeseed in a mistake for parsley, aw've some weedin' to do," an' he sheauted agen—"New pottitos, eightpence a score!  Male (meal) in a deesh—male in a deesh!  Cracken i'th' pon like limestones i' rain!  Hie yo' women—hie yo' women!  Pay when yo' con—pay when yo' con!"

    Ther a wench coome up to th' cart wi' a little fancy basket in her hont, an' hoo axt th' chap if he'd let her mother ha' five peaund o' pottitos, an' hoo'd pay him o' Setterday.

    "Whooa is thi mother?" he axt.

    "Misses Trimmer," th' wench said.

    "Oh, oh, Missis Trimmer is it?  Then theau'rt Shoiny Jim's wench?" th' mon said.

    "They coen mi feyther so, but mi mother doesno' like it," th' wench said.

    "Thi feyther gets good wages, doesno' he?"

    "Yigh, sometimes he does.  But he lost two days last week wi' drinkin'."

    "Well then," th' chap said, "tell thi mother hoo mun wait ov her potittos till Setterday, as aw'm gooin' t' begin a-drinkin' misel'.  Gee up, Jinny, an' dunno' keep lookin' at folk so mich!"

    Th' cart wheels hadno' turned reaund above twice afore a woman wi' as mony ribbons abeaut her yead as' ud ha' done for a rush cart hoss, nips eaut of her heause like a doancin' wench at a fair, her face as full o' grins as if hoo're wastin' a month's stock at once; an' hoo says—

    "Aw con do wi' a hauve score o' pottitos, if yo'n trust me till th' week end.  They're very nice uns, aw see."

    "What does yo'r husbant do?" th' mon wanted to know.

    "He works for Meadowcroft's, i' Birchwood."

    "Oh, then he gets middlin' o' wage?"

    "Well," th' woman said, "he nobbut gets two pounds a week at present, but he expects bein' raised afore lung."

    "Well, yo' shall ha' yo'r potittos when he gets his rise.  Goo on Jinny, an' keep thi back up, owd lass!  Happen thi looad 'll be leeter soon."

    He hadno' driven above a yard or two furr when he heard a woman sheautin' at a window.  This woman coome eaut beaut cap, an' wi' a yead as roogh as a mop, an' hoo browt an owd basket wi' her ut had a hole i'th' bottom, an' had lost one o' its hondles.

    "Let me have a score o' potittos, win yo'?" hoo said, "an' aw'll gi' yo' fourpence to'ard 'em neaw, an' t' other aw'll pay yo' o'th' reckonin' day."

    "Let's see, yo'r men works at th' Hillock, doesno' he?" th' chap said.

    "Yigh, yo' known him; Smo' Cop, they coen him."

    "Aw reckon he gets middlin' o' wage."

    "Aye, but what will it do amung eight on us?" th' woman said.  "We're goin' to send eaur Joe a-piecin' next week, an' that'll mak' things betther for us, aw dunno' like this gooin' o' trust, as we han to pay sometime if we're honest."

    "Well," th' men said, "yo' shall ha' yo'r potittos if yo'n gi' me th' fourpence."  So he weighed 'em eaut, an' spit on th' brass, an' sheauted—"Sowd agen, an' th' money drawn! as th' quack doctor said, when someb'dy had paid him a bad shillin' for a box o' putty pills.  Pike thi road, Jenny!"

    He drove on, an' sheauted! till he thowt nob'dy wur havin' nowt to do wi' him ony moore.  At last he felt a pluck at his jacket laps; so he turned reaund for t' see what wur up.  It wur a little lad wi' a check napkin i' one hont, an' a quart o' fayberry (gooseberries) in a can i' t'other.

    "Well, what does theau want, mi little apple face?" th' chap said.

    "Mi mother wants to know if yo' sell'n fayberry," th' lad said.

    "Nawe, aw dunno' mi lad.  What does hoo want to know that for when theau's getten some?"

    "Well," th' lad said, "if yo'n let her ha' five peaund o' pottitos hoo'll gi' these fayberry for 'em, an' then yo' con start o' sellin'.  They'n come'n eaut o' eaur garden.  Hoo has no brass nobbut twopence, an' that hoo'll want for bacon."

    "Aw dunno know, lad, what aw mun do wi' th' fayberry," th' chap said.  "A quart wouldno' be sich a good start."

    "Well, mi mother says if yo' dunno' want th' fayberry, win yo' let her ha' th' pottitos o' trust, an' if mi feyther doesno' pay for 'em when he's deawnt (finished his work), yo' mun tak' it eaut on him th' fust time yo' leeten on him at th' 'Owd Bell'?" an' th' lad looked at th' fayberry as if he could like t' ha' etten 'em hissel'.

    "Let's see, whoa is thi feyther?"

    "Billy o' Tummy's."

    "Oh, aye, to be sure.  He wayves to owd Aaron, doesno' he?"

    "Yigh, an' mi mother wayves chep trip [1] to Sloper's."

    "Does theau like fayberry?"

    "Aye, but they gi'en me th' bally wartch if aw ate too mony!"

    "Could t' ate o they' is i' that can?"

    "Eaur Alick an' me could."

    "Howd thi napkin," an' th' chap weighed eaut five peaund o' pottitos, an' towd th' lad to tak' faberry back; an' if his mother wanted five peaund moore i'th' mornin' after hoo could have 'em.

    "Noane o' thi capers, Jenny!"

    Well, he begun a-dooin' his business o' this plan straight forrad, an' bi th' time he'd getten to the yate, he'd emptied a hamper an' started ov a fresh un.

    Ther' wur some ov a row when he'd gone!  Th' quality end o'th' fowt wur up i' arms agen t'other, an' aw thowt they'd be noses brasted an' yure poo'd up bi th' roots afore they'd sattled the'r bother.  Th' day after things wur quite as bad, an' when Setterday coome they sich a hullaballoo as aw never yerd afore, for booath men an' women wur at it.  My owd Rib kept i'th' heause, like a woman ut has a bit o' dacency abeaut her, an' aw said hoo desarved a wooden medal for it, an' aw'd mak' her one eaut ov a bobbin yead.  But when Setterday neet coome, an' things had quietened deawn a bit, Shoiny Jim's wife coome for her an' said hoo're wanted at the'r heause very partikilar.  Aw didno' like thowts on her gooin', but when Jim's wife said it wur o i' friendship, aw said hoo met goo, an' if hoo coome back wi' flyin' colours hoo should have a tin medal.

    Well, hoo went to Shoiny Jim's, an' fund th' heause full o' quality folk--th' women fo'in eaut wi' the'r husbants, an' th' husbants neaw an' then givin' 'em a word back ut hit 'em like hommers!  Hoo could see in a minute what hoo're wanted for, so hoo kept her appron lapt reaund her, an' put her yure eaut o'th' seet, lest what hoo said ud leead to a scrimmage.

    "Neaw then, Sarah," Shoiny Jim's wife said—hoo aulus coes my owd rib Sarah—"Aw want to see what theau'd do if theau're i' my place.  Eaur Jim here wur on th' spree two days last week, an' he's nobbut browt me one pound twelve for t' do everythin' wi.  Aw want to know what theau'd do with it, Sarah?"

    "Aw dunno' know," eaur Sal said; "wayvers' wives hanno' bin used to nowt o'th' soart."

    "Yer thi, theau wastrel!" Jim's wife said, turnin' to her husbant, ut looked as sheepish i'th' nook as if he'd bin drinkin' a whul week, "hoo doesno' know what hoo'd do wi' it, an' a wayver's wife, too!"

    "Dost meean t' say theau doesno' know what theau'd do wi' one peaund twelve a-week?" Shoiny Jim said to my wife.

    "Nawe," th' owd lass said, "but aw happen met larn; but just neaw if yo'd tak' twenty off, an' leeave me th' odd twelve, aw should happen know what to do wi' that."

    Well, they o stare't one ut another, an' aw dar'say some on 'em thowt eaur Sal wur lyin', but th' owd stockin'- mender never flinched fro' what hoo said.  Hoo'd ha' parted wi' her yure fust.

    "Twelve shillin' a-week! " Shoiny Jim's wife said.

    "Twelve shillin' a-week!" Smoot Dody's wife said.  "Heawever could hoo mak' that do?"

    "Aw conno' tell," my owd Rib said.  "But aw've had to mak' it do mony a time, an' sometimes less, when we'n bin waitin' o' wark.  Ther's nob'dy con tell what they con do, nor what they con bear, till they're put to it.  God knows aw could ha' done wi' moore if aw'd had it!"

    Oh, but they couldno' see it.  Hoo met give 'em an inklin' heaw it wur done.

    "Well, for a start," th' owd skoo-missis begun "Aw dunno' goo a tae drinkin' ov a Monday, an' gooin' agen o' Tuesday a-talkin' abeaut it.  Aw have to mind mi wheel, an' ther's a savin' there.  Aw dunno' goo to th' 'Owd Bell' bar five or six times a-day for t' see what time it is, when aw've a good clock awhoam.  Eaur table doesno' know what potted shrimps, an' salmon steaks, an' marmalade, an' lobsters are.  Aw believe if owt o'th' soart wur put on it, it ud break deawn.  We hanno' lamb an' green peas for dinner every day.  But mind what aw say neaw, ut yo' winno' misunderstood me.  It isno' becose worchin folk should be begrudged, or should go short o' sich things, becose aw think ut if onybody desarves good mayte an' drink it's thoose ut wortchen for it.  But twelve shillin' a week winno' afford it, unless ther's beef at threehaupence a peaund, an' other things as chep i' proportion."

    "Well done, Sarah!" th' men sheauted; but they changt the'r tune afore hoo'd done.

    "Aw never cook moore nur we con ate," th' owd ticket went on, "so ther's nowt wasted.  Aw do mi own weshin', as every wife owt to do, if hoo's able, whether hoo be gentle or simple.  Aw believe eaur Ab 'ud go as ittert (dirty) as owd Will Kneet afore he'd wear a shirt o' onybody's weshin' beside mine.  (True, owd wench; aw itch wi' thowts on't neaw!)  Aw do mi own cleeanin', but that's no mich, becose eaur heause is nobbut a little un.  Aw dunno' goo strollopin' abeaut i' silk an' satin a day or two a week, as if aw're Lady Mary, an' then to'ard Thursday, borrow someb'dy's ring for t' tak' to mi uncle's an' aw dunno'—"

    Hoo could get no furr, for o'th' chaps jumpt up at once, an' as sudden as if they'd bin scauden; an' o'th' women obbut my owd rib put the'r honds under the'r approns, an' looked as if they'rn just bin drawn up afore th' magistrate.  Ther' wurno' a ring i'th' heause, nobbut one aw'd gan two canaries for, an' that wur on eaur Sal's finger.  Th' approns wur turned up in a snifter, an' when ther' nowt breeter nur a finger nail could be seen, ther' wur a dooment!

    Fists flew abeaut, an' threat'nin's wur made wi' sich vengeance ut made my wife wish hoo're at side o'th' owd yate agen, for hoo thowt ther'd be some black e'en 'liver' eaut.  But it didno' come to that.  Th' women promised they'd be everythin' ut wur reet an' good if th' men ud be th' same, an' they'd try to do the'r best.  Th' storm passed off, an' th' sunshine coome eaut agen, an' aw're sent for, just to ha' a word amung 'em.  Aw backed mi owd rib up as if hoo'd bin a tip-top race hoss, an' a rare spree we had.  We'd just an odd quart o' spigot milk as a gradely sattler.  Aw sung 'em "Jove o' Grinfilt," an' we'rn as merry as a lot o' gipsies till midneet, when we parted.

Walmsley Fowt has bin different ever sin'.  Booath men an' women are tryin' ther' best, an' things are lookin' betther every day.  Th' pottito chap coes neaw at every dur; an' his donkey has getten so fat, it think it's a hoss, for it draws as soon as it's towd, an' has gan o'er singin' "another wayver deead" [2] at th' side o'th' yate.

    Ther's no wipin' o' lips nor borrowin' o' rings, neaw!  Aw noticed one day ut "mi uncles," as they coed him, ut had a shop wi' three brass oranges o'er his dur deawn i' Hazlewo'th, had put his shutters up, an' takken his three-legged sign deawn, an' ther an ettercrop (spider) th' size ov a starfish wayin a bed-tick o one side o'th' dur hole.  An' one neet when aw went i'th' "Owd Bell" kitchen aw hardly knew wheere aw wur, summat looked so strange to me.  Aw believe aw should ne'er ha' fund it eaut if th' londlady hadno' com'n in, an' said—

    "We'n managed it at last, Ab!"

    "Managed what?" aw said.

    "We'n getten th' kitchen dur painted!"

    That wur it ut made th' place look so strange to me.

    Neaw aw've bin thinkin' if things han bin gooin' wrung i' Walmsley Fowt, heaw are they gooin' on i' bigger fowts, an' amung bigger folks?  It's o very weel praichin to workin' folk abeaut bein' extravagant, an' sich like, but are eaur nobs dooin' betther?  Aw rayther think ut i'tead o' dooin' that, they're spendin' the'r theausands o' nowt but fiddle-faddle, while a lot o' poor craythers are clemmin'.  Is no' it a shawm?  Nay, aw'll go furr—is no' it a sin before God o Meety?  Let 'em wipe the'r scores off o' every soart, so ut when fine weather comes owd England's kitchen dur con be new painted!


1. Chep trip, the name given by weavers to a very poor quality of material, for the weaving of which they only received about five shillings for fifty yards.

2. It used to be a very common occurrence for Lancashire people in the country districts, on hearing a Donkey bray, to exclaim "Yer thi! another wayver deead!"


――――♦――――

 
CATCHIN' A WEASEL.


JIM THURSTON coome runnin' across th' fowt t'other mornin', wi' his yure blowin' up on his yead, an' his e'en lookin' as wild as if he'd seen a boggart.

    "Ab! " he said, wyndily, "does theau know owt abeaut nattural history?"

    "Animals or yarbs?" aw axt him.

    "Oh, animals, what else?" he said.  "What han yarbs to do wi' nattural history?"

    "Well," aw said, "aw con tell a rottan (rat) fro' a ring-tailed monkey, if they wur to put one aside o' t'other."

    "Did theau ever see a weasel?"

    "Aw have," aw said.

    "An' a foomart?"

    "Aw've seen booath," aw said.

    "Are they owt like one another?"

    "One's abeaut as mich like t'other as a kittlin' is to a cat," aw said.  "A weasel's red-breawn, an' a foomart's breawn-black."

    "Well, aw've catcht oather one or t'other," Jim said "but which it is, aw conno' tell, becose it's noather a breawn-black nor a red-breawn; an' if aw'm not mista'en, it's bigger nur a weasel, an' less nur a foomart."

    "Theau's th' deuce as like!" aw said, an' aw laid mi pickin'-peg deawn.

    "Yoi; aw have it caged under a firkin-tub i'th' kitchen yonder," he said.  "But eaur Peggy says it's raised sich a smell hoo wants me t' turn it eaut agen."

    "Well," aw said, "aw hanno' yerd o' sich a thing bein' seen abeaut here this mony a year.  Could one manage to get a peep at this animal, dost think?"

    "Just come across," he said.

    Aw didno' need twice axin', but shuttert off my loom at once, an' we slipped across th' fowt, an' into owd Thuston's kitchen, wheere aw seed th' firkin tub stondin' i'th' middle o'th' floor.

    "If theau koiks th' tub o' one side, beaut ther's summat put i'th' front," aw said to Jim, "th' foomart, or whatever it is, 'll get eaut.  Wi should ha' had a wire net!"

    "Heaw would a riddle do?" Jim said, an' one side ov his face puckered up, as if he could hardly howd fro' laafin'.

    "That ud be too mich like eawl catchin'," aw said, an' a glimmer ov a misgivin' shot through mi yead ut lookin' at a foomart ud turn eaut to be summat like catchin' a eawl.  Then aw yerd a noise like scrattin' at th' tub ut put these thowts o' one side agen.

    "Yer thi, heaw it's scrattin'!" Jim said, gettin' howd o'th' tub an' just raisin' it.  "Another inch an' theau met see it nose."  Then he flopped th' tub deawn agen as if he'd bin bitten!

    "What's do wi' thi neaw?" aw said.  "It hasno' bitten thi through th' leggins, has it?"

 

"Look for weasel then."


    "Oh, that smell!" he said, takkin' howd ov a hondful ov his nose an' givin' it a screw reaund.  "Does theau smell nowt?"

    "Aw do smell a bit o' summat neaw," aw said.  "Aw think it'll turn eaut to be a foomart bi that."  Then aw clapt mi een on a spindle-backed cheear ut stood in a corner o'th' kitchen.  "Just the very thing," aw said.  "Aw'll clap that cheear back i'th' front o'th' tub, so ut when theau lifts it up it'll be like a cage front.  Dostno' see?"

    "Aw didno' think o' that," Jim said.  "Theau'rt a good skamer, Ab!  Aw dunno' know what we should do i' Walmsley Fowt if it wurno' for thee.  Deawn wi' thi timber!"

    Well, aw gees this cheear an' laid it deawn aside o'th' tub, an' held it tight to it.  Then they another scrattin' noise, an' while that wur gooin' on Jim koiked th' tub o one side, an' axt me if aw could see owt.  Aw couldno' while aw stood up, so aw deawn o' mi knees an' peeped through th' cage, but if aw'd looked till neaw, aw should ha' seen nowt.  So aw begun o' keawntin' th' almanack, an' fund ut th' day before that wur th' thirty-fust o' March!

    "Thea may put th' tub deawn agen," aw said; "aw'm satisfied—it's a weasel."

    "Theau thinks it is?" Jim said, wi' a grin on his face ut ud ha' done for a aleheause sign.

    "Aye, it's a weasel," aw said.  "Aw've just bethowt mi ut foomarts are never seen after th' last o' March; an' this is th' fust ov April, isno' it?"

    He oppent a meauth as wide as a soof, an' settin' up a rooar like a bull, said—

    "April foo'!"

    "Jim," aw said, "thi feyther used to say, when he're talkin' abeaut thee, ut theau hadno' wit enoogh to poo thi finger eaut o'th' foire if someb'dy put it in.  He's a wise feyther ut knows his own son.  Thine ne'er fund thee yet.  If theau lives till theau'rt eighty theau'll be a philosipher—theau will, Jim."

    "Sam Smithies couldno' ha' sowd thee betther," Jim said, oppenin' his face agen.

    "That's true, Jim, he couldno'," aw said.  "Theau's done th' job as cleean as ony men could do.  But aw'll tell thi what—aw'm no goin' to be th' odd foo'.  Aw dunno' care for havin' o th' honour to misel'.  Someb'dy else mun share it, or else aw'll lose a day's wark."

    "Well, whoa is they' we con try it on wi'?" Jim said, runnin' th' fowt directory o'er in his mind.

    "Theau mun ha' thowt aw're th' biggest yorney i'th' fowt, or else theau wouldno' ha' come'n to me th' fust," aw said.  "Theau'll be a philosipher yet, Mesthur James.  Thy feyther made a mistake when he put thee to farmin'."

    "Well," Jim said, in a way for t' piece things up, as he thowt, "what made me come to thee th' fust wur this: aw calkilated ut if aw could sell thee aw could sell o'th' fowt after.  Doesno' see?"

    "Very good; but th' clooas winno' fit this time," aw said.  "Heawever, we mun collar another foo' before th' chiller getten t' yer.  What dost' say to tryin' Fause Juddie on?"

    "Just the very chap." Jim said, slappin' his knees, an' settin' up a yeawl.  "Nob'dy betther.  Eh, what a do we con have if he'll tak' th' bait gradely!  Ab, theau could get him t' swallow th' hook betther nur aw could."

    "Aw dunno' know that," aw said.  "Theau's catcht one fish very smartly an' met lond another.  But never mind, aw'll lay in for Juddie.  Thee goo, an' look after th' shippon, an' keep thi meauth as close as if theau'd a shillin' in it, while aw goo an' bait mi hook."

    Wi' that we parted, Jim gooin' abeaut his wark, an' me settin eaut a foo'-huntin' as if it wur a prime bit o' business.  Aw slung mi timber across th' fowt, an' crept under th' window, so ut eaur Sal couldno' see me, an' think aw're gone deawn to th' "Owd Bell."  Then aw slipt reaund th' end o'th' heause, an' into owd Juddie's shop, wheere aw fund th' owd lad agate o' cobblin' up a pair o' weighs, ut he said would keep givin' o'er-weight, chus what he did at 'em.

    "Aw believe yo'n a book upo' nattural history?" aw said.

    "Aye, an' no betther i'th' country," Juddie said; "but aw shanno' land it to nob'dy."

    Aw said, "Aw dunno' want to tak' nowt eaut o'th' heause.  If yo'n let mi look at it, aw'se be weel satisfied."

    He fotcht th' book an' laid it upo' th' keaunter.  A good-sized un, too, it wur,—quite big enoogh for t' howd twenty ov a family.

    "Neaw then," he says, "what is it, an' aw'll find it for thi?"

    "Foomart," aw said.

    "Let's see," he said, "that'll be under th' letters F double-o, foo—th' same letthers as theau'd be under if theau're an animal."  An' he chuckled to hissel' an' winked.  Then he rummaged through th' book for abeaut five minutes, but no foomart could he find.  A foomart must no' be an animal known at th' time this book wur printed, or else it ud ha' bin in."

    "Look for weasel, then," aw said.

    "Let's see, heaw will that be spelt?  What letthers will it be under?"

    "W double-e," aw said.

    "Aye, that seaunds reet."  An' he plundert abeaut i'th' book agen.  That's noane here noather," he said, lookin' as if he could like to ha' brunt th' book straightforrad.  It's meeterley strange!"

    "We'n happen spelt it wrung," aw said.  "Look agen; try wayzle."

    "That ud be w-a-y-zle," he said, makkin' a dash at th' book agen.  "Nob'dy ut had an eaunce o' scholarment i' ther yead ud spell it o' that road.  Hello, it is here, by dang!  W-e-a-s-e-l—way-sel.  Whoa'd ha' thowt it?"

    "Well, what does it say th' animal's like?" aw said, satisfied wi' th' way ut owd Juddie wur nibblin'.

    He wiped his spectekles an' read—"'Weasel: a genus of quadrupeds of the family of M-u-s-t-e-l-i-d-æ,' two o'th' last letthers fast t'gether.  What does that spell, Ab?"

    "Never mind," aw said; "co it Jerusalem, an' goo on."  So he begun agen—

    "'Jerusalem, having a very elongated body, short feet, with toes quite separate, and sharp claws.  It is about two inches and a half in height, and seven inches and a half in length, from nose to tail.  The head is large, the ears short, broad, and rounded, the whiskers long.  The colour is reddish-brown on the upper part, sides, legs, and tail, the throat and belly white.  The eyes are small, round, and black.  It is nimble, active, bold, and yet wary.  It may often be seen peeping curiously from a hole in a wall, but vainly does the schoolboy attempt to strike it with a stone.  Catching it is out of the question for him, and so far well, for it is ready to bite severely.'"

    "That'll do," aw said; "yo'n read enoogh.  It conno' be a weasel."

    "What?" owd Juddie said, shuttin' th' book, an'peepin' o'er his windows.

    "Yon thing ut Jim Thuston's catcht," aw said.

    "Wheay, has he catcht summat?"

    "The'r Peggy an' him han between 'em.  But they dunno' want everybody to know abeaut it, becose ther'd be sich swarms o' folk comin' a-seein' it if they did."

    "Has theau seen it?"

    "Nobbut just glent.  It's under a tub, an' we dustno' lift it up so hee, for fear th' animal ud get away.  Aw dunno' think it's a weasel, noather.  It's abeaut th' same length, but thicker, an' its colour ov a meause.  Aw should ha' coed it a young foomart if its yead had bin less."

    "Aw should think, Ab," owd Juddie said, "as aw've bin at this trouble to look through th' nattural history upo' that akeaunt, aw owt to have a chance o' seein' this thing."

    "But would yo' be sure an' no' tell onybody?" aw said.  "If yo'd promise that, aw dar'say aw could get a private exhibition for yo'."

    "Aw wouldno' cheep it to no mon wick," he said; "not a sowl."

    "Well, follow me, then, in abeaut five minutes," aw said.  "If we went t'gether folk met think ther summat up, an' th' news ud get eaut."

    "O reet," Juddie said.  An' wi' that aw laft him an' went to Jim Thuston i'th' shippon, for t' tell him heaw aw'd primed th' owd lad.

    Jim made a noise like a menagerie when aw towd him heaw aw'd gone on; an' we agreed it ud be a skit as good as eawl-catchin'.  Just as we'rn layin' a plan or two eaut, we seed owd Juddie comin' trottin' across th' fowt, wi' th' nattural history under his arm, an' a pen an' ink in his hont, for o th' wo'ld like a parish clerk babby-huntin'.  Aw shanno' forget seein' his spectekles glisten i'th' sun as he looked up at Peggy Thuston potterin' abeaut th' chamber window i'th' front.  Jim had made Peggy reet by fastenin' her up i'th' chamber till th' job wur o'er.  Hoo'd ha' spoilt th' skit if hoo'd bin lose.

    "Theau's bin very quiet abeaut it, Jim," owd Juddie said, winkin' at me, as he coome up to us.  "Aw reckon theau intended chargin' so mich a-piece, same as they dun at Knott Mill Fair?  Theau'rt a deep file for a young un!"

    "Well, Jim said, "aw con tell yo' one thing—ther's nob'dy beside yo' two mun see it beaut payin'.  Aw intend makkin' summat eaut on't afore aw have it stuffed."

    "Theau'rt for havin' it stuffed, then, arta?" owd Juddie said.

    "If aw con kill it beaut spoilin' th' hide, aw shall," Jim said.  "But aw want to catch it an' put it in a cage for th' present.  Con' yo' tell me of a plan for doin' it?"

    "Catch it when it's asleep," Juddie said.

    "Aye, aw dar'say," Jim said.  "Catch a weasel asleep!  But come on.  If yo' wanten t look at it, yo'd betther do it afore eaur Peggy comes deawn steers.  Hoo's feart to deeath on't."

    "But stop a bit," Juddie said, talkin' like a skoomesthur.  "Aw should like t' ha' th' honour o' kessunin' this animal."

    "Ther's nob'dy ut'll be-grudge yo' o' that, aw'm sure," Jim said.

    "Aw've browt th' nattural history wi' me," Juddie said, "It's full o' pictur's o' animals, fro' a whale to a blanket jumper; an' if ther's no pictur' like it, it'll be a new animal, so ut if aw've th' honour o' namin' it, what a thing it ud be for Walmsley Fowt!"

    "Aye, it 'ud knock that wyndymil [1] yo' made into fits," aw said.

    "Thee shut that dumplin' catcher o' thine!" Juddie said, givin' me a skeawl fro' under his hat.  "Th' windy-mill wur quite as good as thy ferry boat, [2] theau yorney!   Sing smo, an' theau'se have a gowden wicket.  Theau couldno' name this animal when theau conno' tell a weasel fro' a foomart.  Has theau a pair o' hedgin' mittens?" he said, turnit' to Jim.

    "Ther's an owd pair o' mi feyther's," Jim said.  "They're hanged up i'th' kitchen, if yo' wanten 'em."

    "That'll do," Juddie said. "Neaw then, aw'll put thoose mittens on, an' lap mi legs i' straw, an' put a teawel or two reaund mi neck; an' if this thing isno' as sharp as a fleck, aw'll have it caged i' less nur two minutes."

    "Heaw is it, aw wonder, at aw never thowt o' that misel'?" Jim said, strikin' foire wi' a spade he had in his hont.  "Aw should ha' bin for knockin' th' end o'th' tub in an' shootin' it, if aw'd fund no betther plan eaut."

    "Theau doesno' think everybody's brains are as addled as thine, doesta?" owd Juddie said, drawin' hissel' up as preaud as a doctor when he's made a grand cure.  "Aw'll let thee know ut aw've had moore shillin's spent upo' my eddication nur ever theau's had pennies, theau yorney!  Come, get mi thoose mittens, an' a bat o' straw, an' let's be gettin' to wark.  Yond's Jack-o'-Flunter's gooin' through th' gate.  He'd be vexed, Jack would, if he knew what wur gooin' on, an' mustno' have a fist in it.  He'd be for catchin' it beaut mittens, an' get his honds bitten through.  That's abeaut o'th' sense he has."

    Well, Jim Thuston geet a battin o' straw, an' wi lapt owd Juddie's legs in it till they favvort two beehives.  Then we went into th' kitchen, an' as soon as th' owd lad see'd th' tub he gan a start.  He said he're sure he'd seen it stir.  He'd th' mittens on in a crack, an' said ther no teeth ever palisaded a animal's meauth ut could bore through sich leather as that.  Wi lapt two teawels reaund his neck an' throttled him till his e'en wur ready to fly eaut, an' he wheezed an' blowed like a brokken-wynded tit.

    "Neaw then, aw'm ready!" he said, an' he squared hissel' afore th' tub.  "But afore wi go'n to wark, let's mak' a bargain."

    "Well, what is it?" Jim said.

    "If it's a new soart ov a animal, an' aw have to kessun it," Juddie said, "let it be shown th' fuss day i' eaur shop ut a penny apiece, an' th' money to go to'ard gettin' a new gate for th' fowt."

    "Oh, aw'll agree to that," Jim said.

    "Then go to wark," Juddie said, an' mind heaw theau raises th' tub.  Theau trembles neaw as ill as if theau're gooin' t' be hanged.  Theau'rt a poor plucks un, Jim!"  But th' owd lad wur wakkerin' hissel' like a mon ut's bin on th' spree a week.  "Let Ab lift it!"

    "Aw'm noane as weel guarded as yo' are," Jim said.  So aw clapt mi honds upo' th' tub.

    "Thee mind, neaw!" Juddie said, settin' his honds for catchin'.  "Aw yer it scrattin'.  If it wur a weasel it ud weeak like a rottan.  Jim, see ut nob'dy oppens th' dur if aw miss mi howd. Neaw then, Ab, koik th' tub gently, an' let me get mi honds under."

    Aw lifted th' tub o one side, an' owd Juddie made a dart wi' th' mittens.

    "Han yo' missed it?" Jim said, seem' ut owd Juddie wur fumblin' under th' tub.

    "O'er wi' th' tub; it must ha' climbed up th' side," Juddie said, feelin' abeaut agen.

    "It's happen gone a-seein' what day o'th' month it is!" aw said.

    Th' owd lad looked at me, an' then at Jim, an' swat boils eaut o' his face as if he're bein' roasted!

    "Which o' yo' two mun aw strike, yo' nasty waistrels?" he said, flourishin' th' mittens abeaut like a pair o' boxin' gloves ov a new pattern.  "Owd as aw am, aw con leather oather on yo', yo' dirty scrawls!"  But afore he could mak' his mind up which on us to tackle, th' dur flew oppen, an' Sam Smithies an' a regilar forum fro th' "Owd Bell" darted in, eaut o' wynt wi' runnin'.  They'd just getten t' yer.

    "Wheere is it?—what is it?" they sheauted.  But when they see'd th' empty tub, an' yerd owd Juddie say they'd catcht a April foo', they slunk eaut agen, owd Juddie wi' 'em, threatenin' what he'd do if onybody did ony wark that day.  They took him deawn to the "Owd Bell"—th' mittens, straw gaiters, teawels an' o—an' a rare spree they had wi' th' owd lad.

    Th' mornin' after, aw fund a mitten i'th' middle o'th' heause floor.  It had bin sent through th' window, takkin' th' leead an' o wi' it.  Straw wur blowin' abeaut th' fowt as if ther'd bin a flittin', an' ther quite a track to owd Juddie's dur.  He made th' window good afore th' week wur o'er, an' th' last aw see'd on him he're runnin' a lad eaut o'th' shop sheautin—

    "Aw'll let thee know whether it's a weasel or a foomart, if aw get howd on thi, theau young rascal!"

1.    See "Heaw to do Beawt Coal" in Vol. I.

2.    See "Sailin' for Bacon " in Vol. III.


――――♦――――

 
BEIN' GRADELY.


THER'S nowt nicer i' this wo'ld nur a pratty woman.  Everybody'll say so obbut a nazzy owd bachelor, an' aw'm noane sure whether one or two o'th' queerest owd sticks ut ever shied at a bonnet wouldno' give in to th' same, if they'd getten howd o' thoose ut they once wanted.  But when a mon in his puppyhood has set his een on a face ut he thowt he could ha' live't on, as if it would be mayte an' drink an' pocket brass to him, an' that face goes a shoinin' somewheere else nur in his own seet, he puts his spectacles o'er a candle, an' sweels (smokes) 'em so ut he con see nowt, speshly a woman's face, in it gradely colour after.  So he's nowt to go by.  But this is off th' book.  Aw'm sure to ramble a bit if a woman's mentioned.

    Well, aw'll stick to mi text—ther's nowt nicer i' this wo'ld nur a pratty woman; an' my owd rib, if hoo're rubbed wi' sondpaper, an' polished wi' turpytine an' beeswax, an' geared up wi' summat beside bedgeawns, an' caps wi' great flappin' screens, hoo'd be as pratty as here an' theere one.  Aw dunno' meean to say hoo'd be th' prattiest, becose that ud be like everybody's choilt, ut th' mother thinks ther's nowt like it nowheere, becose it's her own.  Some folk may say ut aw look through a pair o' husbant's spectacles at my wife.  Well, aw dar'say aw do someimes, when aw want to see her th' best side eaut.  Bless her owd face!  When aw see her sittin' on th' hearthstone wi' her chickens reaund her (aw'm spakin' neaw o' thirty year sin), one at th' breast, an' t'others happin' her knee wi' the'r spoons, an' axin' if th' babby's nose is made o putty, it's a seet for t' look at, an' to mak' one feel content.  Aw aulus liked women.  Aw've gettern a armful o' one neaw, an' ut sticks to me like a pocketful o' traycle-cakes; an' aw believe ut lunger hoo sticks to me an' betther aw like her.

    Age gives prattiness to mony a thing.  A summer mornin' looks nice an' fresh; but it aulus puts me i' mind o' moppin' time, when a woman tak's it as a privilege to be as slatternly as hoo con, an' fridges, an' sceaurs, an' slushes, till yo'd hardly think hoo could look as breet as hoo does when hoo puts th' tae-things on th' table, an' splits a new-baked mowffin i' two.  Nowt like afternoon, when th' day's donned up, an' th' sun begins a-wearin' caps, an' looks like a mother sittin' i'th' nook wi' a lot o' chickens reaund her, an' wonderin' which hoo likes th' best, but conno' mak up her mind to ony partikilar one.  A green apple looks nice to a lad ut's yammmerin' at th' top of an orchard wall; but as it mellows, an' turns yallow, an' hangs upo' th' tree, wi' th' green leaves of its younger days gone, or mellowed with it, it's a seet ut's sure t' get him into a scrape.  So wi' my owd rib.  Hoo wur nice in a mornin' when hoo wur green; when, if aw'd seen her stondin' at owd Johnny o' Sammul's dur,—a pictur' framed wi' a poorch,—aw'd ha' gone as wambly as a sick cat, an' tumbled i'th' hedge, like a drunken mon, wi' starin' at her.  But neaw hoo's mellowed, hoo looks like a day an heaur or two afore th' sun goes to bed—when yo' lookers at it through th' trees i'th' cloof, an' seen everythin' so grand an' still, it mak's yo' wish it ud last for ever.  Aw could look at eaur Sal's face for ever, an' think it wur a sun, or a bit o' heaven, an' fancy aw could yer angel's wings flappin' abeaut it, an' trumpets playin' sich nice music as made th' botthom o' my feet tingle, an' summut i' my inside go pitterty-pat, pitterty-pat, like Mally-at-th'-rain-tub's shuttle when hoo's wayvin' gingham to owd Aaron Hartley.  It's a grand thing to ha' summat nice abeaut yo', an' feel for those ut hanno'.  It's two-fowd grand when it's gradely beside bein' nice, an' we owt to go deawn on eaur knees, an' thank somebody ut he's put a gowd mine upo' th' hearthstone, ut mak's us feel as if Californy wur nobbut an owd coalhole ut side on't.

    Aw conno' say ut my owd stockin'-mender is as gradely as hoo met be, though hoo's one in a theausant.  Hoo's little bits o' fauts abeaut her ut are what eaur pa'son coes "moral freckles."  Hoo wouldno' fotch me fro' th' "Owd Bell" as if hoo'er come'n a-axin me to a poncake.  Hoo wouldno' bring mi topcooat if it rained—well, for one thing, aw hanno' one, but if aw had, hoo wouldno'.  They'd be no "bacon collops o'th' hob," nor no "ale posset i'th' oon," waitin' for me.  Hoo'd noather coax me, nor sauce me; but, beaut sayin' a word, hoo'd just get howd o' one ear an' poo at it.  If aw'd a mind to follow her, hoo'd leeave it stickin' to mi yead.  If not, one side ud get a fearful maulin', for hoo'd poo mi ear till it ud do for rubbin' windows wi'.  Aw dar'say some women ud say "sarve me reet."  Well, aw'll give in—it happen would sarve me reet; though aw think ut a bit o' coaxin, if it's done i'th' aleheause nook, is good for wyndy foos like misel' ut han very poor leets i' the'r yead for t' guide 'em to dooin' reet.  Aw nobbut mention this for t' show ut eaur Sal has stopt a bit short o' perfection—hoe's a woman after o.

    It's summat aw've thowt a great deeal abeaut—is bein' nice an' gradely, for aw con see some folk ut han getten one quality beaut t'other.  Ther's prattiness i' things ut some folk ud co ugly, or plain, at ony rate.  It is no' becose a woman has a reaunt apple face, an' blue e'en, ut hoo's nice.  They con mak' a doll quite as pratty; an' who ud go blynt wi' starin' at a lump o' painted wood?  But if a doll could gi' yo' a look ut ud stir yo'r inside up like grindin' coffee, an' oppen a pair o' lips as if they'rn th' curtains to a gallanty show, an' let summat sweet come eaut,—ut yo' couldno' tell whether it wur music or honey, becose yo' could booath yer it an' taste it,—then it ud be that soart o' prattiness ut ud ha' summat gradely abeaut it.  Aw've seen mony a plain face so lit up wi' good natur' ut yo' could hardly tell it fro' one o'th' nicest.  An' aw've seen mony a face ut wur intended to be looked at goo as feaw as nowtiness when they wur an ugly temper wi' it.

    Aw've seen roogh-lookin' owd dogs ut favvort they'd bin hacked eaut ov a tree botthom, wi' as tender insides as a boilt urchant (hedgehog); an' when tears han begun a-tricklin' deawn the'r faces wi' pity for some poor sowl ut th' wo'ld hasno' dealt kindly wi', they'n bin th' same to me as if they'd thrown off the'r owd looks, as a buzzart does its grub skin, an' stood forrad, donned i' white muslin an' ribbins.  Aw've yerd silver tongues whine eaut summat 'at, to some folk, has seaunded like music at midneet, when ther's bin poison at th' root enoogh to kill a salamander, an' ut's sure to kill someb'dy at last.  Aw've yerd others, noisy, roogh, an' bletherin' to foo's like me, ut would lap the'r words up like mufflin' a church bell for a buryin, when they'n bin meant for ears ut couldno' stond hard uns.  They'n tried to be as nice an' gradely as they knew heaw.

    An' what a grand thing it is, aw may say agen, booath men an' women, when wi' nice looks they con bring a nice temper, an' a gradely feelin' to'ard thoose abeaut 'em!  What sunshoine it tak's wi' 'em wheerever they go'n; an' heaw yo' feeln to 'em yorsels, ut, if yo'd owt i' yo'r pocket yo'd give 'em part on't, whether they'rn i'th' need on't or not!  Heaw gingerly they hondle yo'r bits o' yorneyisms, an' telln yo' consarns o' the'r own, ut mak's yo' feel as if yo' hadno' bin a bigger leather-yead nur other folk, but met ha' bin a bit betther!  Heaw safely yo' con oppen that cubbort dur ut's under yo'r waistcooat, an' brush th' cobwebs eaut, an' th' skeletons o' deead goodnesses, till it's fit for bein' new painted, an' sweetened, an' stocked wi' fresh feelins', as if it wur a new cubbort just come'n fro' th' makkin!

    What's th' best o' havin' these abeaut yo' is, ut they trien to mak' everybody an' everythin' like the'rsels.  They never turn up the'r noses at a nice face, and wishen thoose it belungs to ud goo a' nussin' someb'dy ut had th' smallpox badly.  They'n a good word for 'em, an' ud tell 'em what fashion to wear the'r yure, an' what soart ov a bonnet ud mak' th' face look th' nicest.  If yo' done summat hondsome they winno' try to mar it wi' daubin' pitch on it, or sayin' they could ha' done it ten times betther.  If yo'r poorly, they winno' say it sarves yo' reet, or ut they knew what yo'd bring yorsel' to by th' way yo'rn carryin' on.  They'd help yo' eaut o' bed by tellin' yo' heaw so-an'-so wur ten times wurr, an' geet betther, an' becoome so strong after ut he hardly knew what to do wi' hissel'.  If yo'rn clemmin', they'd come i' yor heause wi' summat under the'r appron ut they'd happen spared eaut o' very little.  They wouldno' carry it ut top ov a pow, as if they wanted everybody to see what they're dooin'.  They done everythin' so ut yo' conno' see th' hont ut's dooin' it, like heaven does.

    But aw'll tell yo' heaw aw once seed a wo'ld o' nice an' gradely folk, an' what seemed strange to me wur ut becose th' folk wur nice an' gradely, th' wo'ld wur nice an' gradely too, as if it couldno' help bein' i'th' fashion, but must keep up wi' th' rook, like lads playin' at follow-my-captain upo' Hazlewo'th Green.  This wur heaw it coome abeaut, an' aw dar'say yo'n say aw'm a bit crackt (eaur Sal says aw am sometimes) when yo'n yerd it.

    One fine summer neet-fo, just before it geet to' dark for wayvin black sarcenet at a little window, aw took eaut mi pipe for t' have a nice quiet keawer i'th' garden—watchin' th' owd sun put his neetcap on, an' th' stars show the'r bits o' breet faces, like childer tumblin' eaut o' the'r neests in a mornin'.  It wur one o' that soart o' neet-fo's ut put yo' i' good temper wi' everybody, an' mak's yo' feel ut if yo'rn makkin yo'r will, yo'd leeave summat for t' mak' winter a bit shorter i' poor folk's heauses.

    Ther a soft warm redness abeaut th' owd sun's blankets, ut made his bed look like a rare snug sleepin' pleck, an' th' owd lad wur illin (covering) hissel' up as nicely as an owd codger ut knows heaw to shap things for th' best.  Mi fleawers wur rubbin' the'r e'en, an' looked slamp (drooping), an' they nodded the'r yeads betimes like childer waitin' for the'r neet-clooas to be warmed.  Frogs wur gooin' eaut a-coortin', an' brids wur singin' "God save the Queen" as a finish up for th' day's spree.  Th' last hummabee wur just feelin' for his latchkey, an' no' bein' able to find it, punted th' dur, like a drunken mon.  Aw dar'say it had bin singin' "He's a jolly good fellow" somewheere, an' had his health drunk a time or two.  Aw fancied aw could yer his wife givin' him a bit o' neetcap music

    Well, aw sit misel' deawn upo' an owd tub botthom ut aw'd fixed up i' one corner o'th' garden, as a mak'-believe summer-heause; an' aw shaked th' dust eaut o' mi pipe, an' blew up mi foire, till th' reech played abeaut mi nose like a lot o' little fairy childer showin' one another the'r new frocks.  Aw puffed, an' blowed,—an' i' mi mind crooned o'er an owd love sung or two ut aw'd yerd mi owd nightingell sing when hoo wove bi hersel' i' owd Johnny o' Sammul's loom-heause.  Aw couldno' help feelin' heaw nice everythin' wur abeaut; an' when yo' feel that, yo'r sure to think of a love song.  Whether it wur wi' fancyin' aw could see th' owd sun marlockin' afore he stretched his feet deawn, or it wur browt on bi th' quietness o' everythin' abeaut, aw conno' tell, but, o' someheaw, aw begun a-feelin' a bit "peeperish," as eaur Joe used to say when he wanted to fly up to his peearch.  Aw nodded a time or two, an' begun a-pokin' mi pipe to'ard mi ears i'stead o' mi meauth.  Aw fund misel' at last starin' at a mother rose—a red un—ut had a lot o' young uns abeaut her ut favvort they couldno' sleep for th' thowts o' havin' new clooas on every day, ut would be finer, an' prattier every change, till they dropt off, like owd Will Neet's cooat, when it ud howd t'gether no lunger.  Aw skenned at this rose till aw made it into two or three; an' then begun a-makkin' 'em so fast ut aw soon filled th' wo'ld wi' beauty.

    Well, aw dreeamt; an' sich a dreeam it wur, as aw may never hope to have agen!  If aw thowt aw could, aw'd tak' as mich sleepin' stuff as 'ud last me a week.  Aw'd getten into some strange country, aw thowt, but for o that ther' some things abeaut ut looked like owd acquaintances.  Ther' mi bit o'th' cote for one, an' my owd rib for another; but they'rn so autered (changed) o' someheaw, ut they booath looked like th' same an' they didno'.  Th' owd house favvort it had bin put in a new suit o' Sunday clooas while it wur asleep; an' neaw it had wakkent, it didno' know but it wur a palace, an' felt so preaud ut it wouldno' spake to t'other heauses.  Th' walls looked as white as if they'd bin newly dipt i' creeam, an' nob'dy licked 'em after.  Honeysuckles an' roses trailed abeaut th' windows like fleawery e'ebrees (eyebrows).  A cherry-tree dangled its blossoms abeaut th' roof as if it wur offerin' th' heause a posy for t' mak' friends wi' it; an' a good fat elder at th' eend favvort it wur grooin' whitewesh brushes o' purpose to keep th' walls a good colour.  Ther' a nice flutterin' o' curtains at every window, an' th' bit o' garden i'th' front looked so trim ut aw couldno' help takin' mi clogs off afore aw went into it.  A sweet soikin' (sighing) wynt, ut seaunded as if it wur i' love, played at hoide-an'-seek amung th' trees abeaut, an' brids wur singin' so prattily, ut aw could hardly find it i' mi heart for t' go to mi loom, lest th' noise o' mi shuttle should dreawn th' music.

    Aw looked deawn th' fowt.  Owd Thuston's farm wur theere, an' Peggy wur hangin' th' cans eaut fort' sweeten.  An' the'r heause had getten Sunday clooas on too, as weel as mi own cote; an' rare an' pratty it looked.  So did Peggy.  Hoo're just i'th' bloom ov her wench-hood, aw thowt, an' ther' so mich summer i' her face ut yo'd ha' felt as if th' trees abeaut ud ha' forgetten the'rsel's, an' blossomed through th' winter.  Her yure hung i' screws abeaut her neck, an' when hoo tossed her yead, as hoo knew heaw, aw fancied aw could yer 'em ring, like soft bells.  Her waist favvort it had been spoke-shaved, an' every bit o'th' ridge sond-pappert deawn till it wur as perfect as if owd Jacob Robi'son had turned it in his shuttle-lathe.  Her arms wur sich a nice blendin' o' red an' white, ut yo' couldno' ha' towd wheere one colour begun an' t'other ended; an' her ankles—aw turned misel' reaund for t' see if my owd rib wur watchin' me afore aw du'st look gradely—wur sich as ud make yo'r een wartch wi' starin' at; an' they twinkled abeaut amung th' buttercups an' daisies till aw looked 'em into two wanderin' snowbo's, ut th' winter had left asleep somewheere, an' had getten bewildered amung th' fleawers.

    Aw geet on th' top ov a hedge-backin' an' looked reaund, till mi seet wur brokken agen th' hills o' one hond, an' lost i'th' sky o' t'other.  It wur a seet for t' look at an' never forget—that wur!  Everythin' abeaut wur made as pratty as honds could mak' it.  Th' meadows looked as if they'rn newly covered wi' green plush—two-pile an' lung cut; an' as th' wynt wandered o'er 'em, like a saucy trespasser, it tracked glitterin' foout-shap's wheerever it went.  Hedge-backin's wurno' th' owd tumble-deawn things they had bin, wi' here an' theere' an owd bare thurn, as if fences had bin made into buryin' greaunds for deead brushwood—but wur blossomed o'er, ut made 'em at a distance look like so mony clooas-lines filled wi' childers' shirts.  Abeaut th' fine oak trees ut reared thersel's here an' theere, like men-o'-war takkin' care o' little ships, grew apple trees an' plum trees an' cherry trees, ut made me think th' wo'ld wur one big orchard, an' ut ther' wurno' a lad i' Hazlewo'th but ud ha' every rag rent off his back wi' lookin' after th' fruit when it wur comin' ripe.  Heauses wur new painted an' whitened, an' tricked eaut wi' greenery; an' ther sich a sweet smell bein' wafted abeaut, ut it made me wish, when aw wakkent, ut aw could ha' had mi nose corked up, so ut aw could ha' kept some on it for th' day after.  An' what sweet seaunds chimed abeaut!  They'd takken th' owd crack't bell eaut o'th' church steeple, an' put a peeal in, ut chellopt eaut ther' bits o' music ut seaunded like Fause Juddie's fiddle; an' they'rn gooin' at it like childer playin'—no partiklar tune, but neaw swellin' into a sheaut o' gladness, an' then droppin' quietly deawn to a whisper, as if th' little bells wur tellin' ther' fust love an' didno' want the'r mothers t' yer.  An' th' singin' ut mixed wi' these seaunds wur as sweet as th' bells.

    It met ha' bin Sunday, aw thowt, everythin' looked so halidayish.  But then aw could yer th' patterin' o' shuttles an' clinkin' o' hommers, an' a saw gooin' whiskin' through a plank, so ut it must ha' bin wartyday (workday).  Aw begun a-thinkin' ut if things abeaut are so mich changed for th' betther, happen folk are too.  Aw're sure they're summat abeaut Peggy Thuston ut aw'd never seen afore, but aw couldno' tell what.  Hoo'd happen nicer ways wi' her, an' that made th' difference.  Aw wondered what my owd rib wur like—an' Ab, an' Joe, an' Dick, an' t'other childer.  Happen they're a bit changed too.  Aw didno' wonder lung, but jumpt deawn fro' th' top o'th' brackin', an' wi' a heart flutterin' same as if it had a pair o' wings, aw crept into mi cote.

    By th' mon, it wur a palace inside as weel as eautside!  Ther' sich a look o' comfort, ut aw could hardly help brastin' eaut o' cryin', an' when aw sit misel' deawn i' mi cheear, aw couldno' help feelin' if ther' a new cushi'n under me; o' someheaw, it felt so soft.  Eaur Sal wur flittin' abeaut th' heause same as if hoo're touchin' some sort o' music wi' her feet; an when hoo spoke, it wur like silver bells ringin' a fairy weddin' peeal.  An' heaw aw did so yammer for her cap-strings to come danglin' abeaut mi face—for ther' summat in her een, an' abeaut her meauth, ut fairly bewitched me, an' aw felt same as a choilt when it see's a nice toy, as if aw wanted to hondle it, an see what it wur made on.  When aw could howd no lunger, aw said—

    "What's up wi' thi, owd crayther?"

    "Nowt partikilar," hoo said.  "What dost ax that for?"

    "Becose theau looks so different, o' someheaw," aw said.  "Hast bin havin' rum an' tae or summat?"

    "Nawe!" hoo said, an' hoo stared at me same as if hoo thowt aw're dreeamin' or had gone off it.

    "Am aw a-whoam?" aw said, "an' art theau my owd rib? an' are these lads eaurs?"

    "Theau's bin drinkin'!" hoo said; but hoo said it so nicely ut aw felt as if aw could ha' getten drunk o' purpose to yer it agen.  "Aw thowt thae'd had a sope when aw seed thee tak' thi clogs off for t' come i'th' heause.  Theau doesno' use doin' so."

    "Wheay, th' heause is so pratty," aw said, "Aw'm feeart o' spoilin' it."

    "It's nowt different to what it uses bein'," hoo said.  "It's thee ut's getten th' queers i' thi een."

    "Then aw'm oather drunken or crazy, if ther's ony difference i'th' two," aw said.  "If aw'm crazy, aw hope aw may keep so, if this comes ov it."

    "Eh, feyther," eaur Joe said, "eaur Ab an' me an' eaur Dick con sing as weel as Thrutcher lads neaw," an' he put sich a howsome face across mi knee, ut aw couldno' howd for givin' him a squeeze ut fairly made him yelp.

    "Sing!" aw said: "con yo' sing?"

    O th' lads set up a crack o' laafin', led off bi the'r mother, ut aw raly begun a wonderin' if aw're gettin' a bit wake i'th' yead."

    "Eh, hearken mi father!" eaur Ab said.

    "He wants t' plague us a bit," eaur Joe said.

    "Let's sing Portigil," eaur Dick said.  An' they geet a book a-piece, an' set to singin', till, o' someheaw, aw fund misel' at th' dur, makkin' a by-wesh o' mi e'en, for aw're fairly runnin' o'er wi' happiness.

    Well, aw couldno' stond this no lunger, comin' as it did so suddenly on me; so aw geet mi hat an' dashed deawn th' fowt, wi' a notion a neighbourin' a bit, an' seein' heaw other folk wur gettin' on.

    Aw met owd Thuston at th' yate, just airin' hissel' wi' his pipe; an' he looked at me wi' sich a comikil look ut aw couldno' help wonderin' if he could see summat queer abeaut me.

    "Thuston," aw said,—aw dar'say rayther wyndily,—"am aw i' Walmsley Fowt?"

    "Well, ther's th' owd yate here," he said.  "Awdunno' think ther's one like it onywheere else."

    "Aye, aw see," aw said; "but everthin' else looks quite different to what it wur once."

    "Things are different," he said; an' his e'en twinkled as merrily as if they'd yerd a fiddle.  "Just put thi elbows upo' th' yate a bit, an' aw'll tell thi summat."

    Aw did as he towd me t' do, an' he blew up his pipe, an' hutched his breeches up, an' said—

    "Th' wo'ld has takken a turn, Ab!  We'n bin worryin' one another ever sin teeth wur made, an' neaw w'en fund it eaut ut it wurno' what we'rn sent here for.  Hunderts o' years folk han kept tellin' us we'rn doin' wrung; but we couldno', or wouldno', see it, so kept worryin' on.  W'en made sae an lond red wi' Christian blood, an coed it glory.  We'n swapt hard words, when we met ha' croodled t'gether like pigeons in a cote.  We'n robbed one another like monkeys; an' lied an' chetted forgettin' Scriptur' whenever owd Nick has promised us a sarvice.  This has kept gooin' on, an' on, an' on—till at last every mon had getten his brother by th' ears, an' it must oather come to a general throttlin' match, or we must shake honds an' try t' be friends.  We could see ut if we throttled one another that ut wur th' strungest ud aulus have th' crow; an' that could never end i' nowt nobbut killin' one another to th' last mon.  Someb'dy said—this sort o' wark 'll never do.  What has it done, but browt misery to every dur, an' it'll be ever lunger an' wurr?  Honesty an' goodwill will ha' no chance wheere universal thievin' an' worryin' are gooin' on; so let's try to stop it before it's to' late.  We se'en what livin' for one's sel' has done; let's try to live for one another, an' see heaw nice an' gradely we con mak' that wo'ld ut we'n made sich havoc wi' up to neaw.

    "Mon, it wur like as if everybody had tumbled i' love wi' one another o at once!  They shaked honds till the'r teeth fairly hacked agen, an' the'r jacket sleeves begun a-givin' way at th' shoothers.  An' ther sich rejoicin' as ther' never wur o'er a battle, when men han thanked God that He's helped 'em to mak' childer feytherless, an' a fair country into a waste.  Fro' that day we begun o' lookin' up; an' sun an' sky looked deawn on us as if they'rn booath fain.  Wheerever ther' wur a bare spot, we made it green; an' wheerever blood reddened, we planted a garden ut grew so pratty, it fairly seemed to talk o' love.  What th' whul lot wur doin' for th' common good had influence o'er every single mon an' woman.  We could see it i' every fowt, an' upo' every hearthstone.  Doin' for one another wur makkin' everythin' nice an' gradely, an' if we keep on we'st mak' this wo'ld into a live heaven, an' eaursels nobbot a trifle short o' bein' angels.  We conno' help it.  It's i'th' natur' o' things as they're put t'gether; for love's nobbut another name for beauty; an' what's nice and gradely must lead us up to God."

    "An' are eaur neighbours nice an' gradely?" aw said for aw'd seen nob'dy nobbut owd Thuston as yet.

    "Everybody—everything," he said.

    "Then aw'st ha' to fo in amung th' rook," aw said.

    "Theau'll belike, becose theau conno' help thisel'," he said.

    "Well aw'll try a barrowful," aw said.  An' just then aw wakkent, an' fun eaur Sal shakin' me as if aw'd bin a bottle o' physic for t' be takken straight off.  An' aw thowt hoo didno' look i'th' best o' temper.

    "Thi porritch are ready," hoo said; an' hoo gan me another shake.

    "Ate 'em thisel'," aw said; for aw wanted to talk a bit moore wi' owd Thuston.

    "Eaur lads 'll ate 'em o if t' doesno be sharp," hoo said.  "Come, get up!  What hast poo'd thi clogs off for?  Did t' think theau're gooin' t' bed?  An' what hast bin talkin' to thisel' abeaut things bein' nice an' gradely for?  Thy whoam is as nice as onybody's for owt aw know.  But theau'rt never satisfied!  An' what doss t' meean by blessin' everybody, an' sayin' theau could ate Peggy Thuston to a thumb butther-cake?  Aw dunno' know ut hoo's so mich nicer nur other folk.  Look awhoam!"

    Aw put mi clogs on, an' geet up, an' shaked misel'.  Mi pipe wur brokken, an' so wur mi dreeam; but aw couldno' help sayin', as aw shammockt into th' heause—"Eh, what we could be if we nobbut would!"


――――♦――――

 
CAUGHT IN HIS OWN TRAP.


"AB," said Billy Softly to me one mornin', an' aw could see he'r consarn't abeaut summat—he generally is when he comes to see me—"heaw would theau like someb'dy helpin' the'rsels to thy coals?"

    "Aw shouldno' like it," aw said, "unless they thowt they'd a betther right to 'em nur aw had.  Has someb'dy bin takkin' yor's?"

    Billy has a strung imagination, and fancies things ut never wur, an' happen never will be.  Beside, he's saved a hutch o' brass wi' givin' nowt to nob'dy.  Aw didno' think onybody ud ha' touched as mich as a neplin ov his coals.

    "Aye, they han," he said; "aw've missed lots lately."  An' he set his botthom lip as if he're gooin' to catch pigeons wi' it.

    "Aw've wonder't mony a time wheere folk han had the'r coals fro' this weather," aw said.  "They'n kept good foires i'th' fowt."

    "Theau may depend on't, Ab," Billy said, "ut my coals han helped to mak' thoose foires.  Aw conno' see sich as Little Dody havin' a foire as big as a bakin'-day every day 'i'th' week."

    "It's a pity but yo' could catch th' theives," aw said; "for if they'n tak' yo'r coals they'n tak' other folks'.  It isno' becose they'n owt agen yo'."

    "Heaw could they have?" Billy said, an' he put a look on as if he'd bin chuckin' a lot o' brass amung th' childer.  Aw goo to th' church regilar, and drop my penny into th' box every time it comes reaund, so they conno co' me a greedy chap, con they?"

    "No moore they con.  Everybody knows yo'r charitable when yo' gi'en owt," aw said.  "But aw'll tell yo' heaw to find this thief eaut."

    "Theau will?  Well, aw'll not forget thee if theau does," an' Billy looked as if he're goin' t' remember me in his will.

    "Yo' seen, if yo'd bowt yo'r coals by th' hundert, like Little Dody, an' kept 'em i'th' heause nook, nob'dy could ha' touched 'em.  Dody had a brokken plate for a shoo (shovel), an' would ha' kept ladin' 'em eaut o' th' corner, an' put 'em on th' foire, an' never stirred off his pearch."

    "Ab," Billy said,—an' he spoke in a whisper,—"theau knows what aw'm thinkin' neaw."

    "Yo' shouldno' suspect onybody till yo' known they're guilty," aw said; "an' even then yo' should be a bit charitable i' yo'r opinions.  But yo' goo to Corporal Toggery—he belongs to th' Volunteers—an' try to beg one or two blank cartridges off him.  Put abeaut two i'th' likeliest places i' yo'r coals when yo' goin' t' bed, but dunno' forget to tak' 'em eaut i'th' mornin,' if yo' dunno' want to see th' siege o' Sebastopol on a Belle Vue scale.  If yo' yer'n a report like a cannon onywheere, yo'r coal thief 'll be wonderin' wheere he's gooin' to find a leetin' place."

    "Theau'rt a janius, Ab!" an' Billy looked at me as if he felt a bit o'erawed.  "If theau'll goo as far as th' "Owd Bell," aw'll pay for a gill for thee, aw'll be hanged if aw dunno'!"

    "It's very kind on yo', an' shows what a big heart yo' han, if it wur nicely tapped," aw said.  "But aw've getten above common fourpenny."

    "Getten up to sixpenny, aw reckon?"

    "Nay, it's wine neaw.  Every post brings a wine list.  Aw'm gooin' to order a case."

    "Con theau afford it?"

    "Aw con be like some folk, never pay.  It's th' fashion neaw for gilded rogues to live upo' honest foos."

    "Well, aw'll do as theau advises," Billy said; "an' if ther' isno' some dust, an' soot, an' slates, an' chimdies flyin' abeaut afore lung, it'll cap me!  Aw'll go deawn to Corporal Toggery's, an' try to get these partridges."

    "Cartridges," aw said.

    "Aye, aye, aw know. Aw'll put 'em amung th' coals."

    "An' tak 'em eaut i'th' mornin'," aw said.

    "Just so; that I'll no' forget.  Aw'm no' for bein' blown up misel'.  That ud be fun for one or two."

    It may be yet, aw thowt.

    "Well, aw'll go to mi loom, Ab, an' hatch an' egg or two upo' this plan, an' o'th' chickens 'll happen come eaut cocks."

    Billy went a-hatchin' his eggs, as he said, an' aw went to mi loom, thinkin' nowt no moore abeaut what we'd bin talkin' abeaut, an' days went o'er, an' everythin' forgetten.

    But one mornin' my owd partner had bin eaut a-neighbourin', an' hoo coome runnin' whoam sayin' th' Ship Canal wur full o' wayter.

    "Han they letten th' sae into it?" aw axt her.

    "Nawe, it's gradely wayter, but not quite so cleean as what eaur rain tub has in it.  Some chaps turn't a lot o' wick herrin' in it for t' see if they'd live.  But th' herrin' turn't the'r yeads to'ard th' sae; they'd ha' noane."

    "That's one fear done away wi'," aw said.  "Ther some fause folk ut said we should ha' to wait till they browt Thirlmere to Manchester before th' canal ud be owt beside a bruck for lads to swim boats in.  Aw shouldno' wonder if shares go'en up neaw."

    "To be sure they win.  They say'n eaurs 'll be wo'th fifteen peaund."

    "We shan droive eaur carriage yet," aw said.

    "Well, chus heaw that'll be, theau'll ha' summat to mak' a will on neaw.  Winno' that be grand?"

    "Ther's another fear yet aw conno' get o'er."

    "What's that, Abram?"

    "Are we sure ut French winno' come?"

    "Eh, aw never thowt abeaut that!  Wheay, hanno' we ships ut could stop 'em? "

    "Yigh, if they'd act.  But some ov eaur big feightin' ships are built after th' plan o' crocodiles; it tak's 'em so lung t' turn reaund, ut if ther ony Lord Charles Beresford's i'th' French navy, they'd goo reaund a ship wi' the'r one-gun boat like sae rottans, an' bore into it, an' sink it, afore they could get a shot at 'em."

    "What dun they build sich big ships for?" th' owd navigator wanted to know.

    "For t' find shops for some o'th' helpless dummies ut belung to th' aristocracy," aw said.  "They couldno' get a livin' wi' gradely honest wark."

    "Well, they're to be pitied.  Happen they connot help it.  They'rn born so, aw reckon," an' th' owd Rib thanked her stars ut hoo didno' belong to th' poor nobs.

    "Ther's that big breek-kiln at New Brighton," [Ed. —Fort Perch Rock] aw said, "ut's supposed to guard th' biggest port i'th' wo'ld; what is it fit for?"

    "Isn't it to put bathin' vans in i'th' winter?"

    "That's abeaut o it's fit for.  A hauve a dozen Kentucky mules bombardin' it wi' the'r heels ud mak' rotten breek fly like big hailstones; an' th' French ud come sailin' up th' Ship Canal wi' the'r thumbs to the'r noses."

    Bang! summat went like a cannon.

    "They're here neaw!"

    "Ab, they never are, surely?" an' th' owd hen fluttered to th' dur.

    "Dost' see owt? " aw said.

    "Ther's a cleaud o' reech o'er Billy Softly's heause," hoo said, "but aw see nowt beside."

    "Ther's the—" Aw'd quite forgetter Billy's trap to catch a coal thief!  "Billy's fo'en into his own trap.  Just as aw expected.  Neaw he'll blame me.  Well, aw'll goo an' see heaw mich o'th' heause is stondin'."  So aw geet my hat, an' off aw went.

    Th' fust mon aw met wur Little Dody.  He thowt th' boiler at th' new factory had brasted, an' he're gooin' a seein'.  He'd two lads workin' theere.

    "Aw think theau'll find that factory's narr whoam," aw said.  "But ther's a collier comin' down th' lone; aw'll ax him.  Heigh, surry!" aw said to th' collier; "con yo' tell me wheere th' explosion's bin?"

    "Golook!" wur o th' onswer aw geet.

    "Yo'r no' so very civil," aw said.  "But—Billy, is that yo'?"

    "Theau knew it wur me o th' time," he said.

    "An' what are yo' dooin' so sooty?" aw said.  "Han yo' bin at this explosion?"

    "Theau's no 'casion to be so strange," he said; "theau knows o abeaut it."

    "Oh, yo'n bin catcht i' yo'r own trap, aw yer!  Well, it's three months imprisonment for onybody ut's catcht stalin' the'r own."

    "Aw desarve a ye'r!" he said, an' off he went.


――――♦――――

 
OWD TIMES AN' NEW.


HEAW oft' han yo' yerd it said—"Ther' never wur sich times as these?"  That sayin' has bin drummed int' mi yead ever sin' mi ears wur fitted on; so ut whenever aw yer it, aw feel as tingly as if aw'd a wasp i' mi ear, an' as sick as a young woman o'er a love tale.  Aw've no 'casion to tell yo' what folk meean when they say'n it.  They meean ther' never wur sich bad times, or sich queer times.  They dunno' meean sich good times.  A year has for t' dee, like a Christian, afore onybody 'll give it a good name.  Th' same folk 'll tell yo' ut th' best o' times wur when yo' met ha' gone fro' th' Miles Platting to th' Red Turn Nook, an' raked th' road wi' a keemin' comm (cleaning comb), an' not as mich as turned o'er a single crust, or a rotten pottito; when lads, for th' sake ov a penny, 'ud ha' let yo' punce 'em till yo'r clogs had flown, an' the'r clooas bin slit up like a bunch o' stay laces; when if a lass wur seen wi' a bonnet on, th' childer 'ud ha' followed her like followin' Punch an' Judy, or a rush-cart; an' they'd ha' wanted to know whose turn it wur for t' wear it th' day after.

    Aw reckon they wur good times when we had to stare through a haupenny candle fro' neet to mornin', singin' "Britons never shall be slaves," an' leatherin' away at one's loom as if we'rn feightin' a battle—an' o for t' just get a mess o' thick porritch o'th' week day, an' a quartern o' bacon, cut up int' dominoes, ov a Sunday.  They wur good times when a lad durstno' goo eaut o'th' dur wi' a butthercake i' his fist, if ther ony bigger lads abeaut, for fear he'd have it ta'en off him.  They wur good times when one hat had t' do for ten of a family, an' that ut geet up th' fust in a mornin' had it for th' day.

    Mi uncle Jammie sticks to it, neaw, ut thoose wur th' best times ever known, though sin' then, he's put a row o' heauses up eaut o' what he's made wi' shopkeepin'; an' neaw he does nowt nobbut grumble hissel' fat o'er his pint o' fourpenny, an' calkilate th' time ut things 'll be gradely at th' fur eend.

    Aw've known th' owd lad sit at his loom wi' a stick at th' side on him for t' keep th' childer fro' atin' his soave, [1] they'rn so clemmed; an' whenever they'rn sent to th' shop for a pennorth o' traycle they'd ha' fowten like dogs which must ha' had th' fust lick, an' made sich a noise i'th' lone one met ha' thowt a ship wur londed fro' th' Indies, an' browt a looad o' suvverins.  They used to go powlerin' abeaut th' heause like a lot o' moice for t' see if they could find owt they could put between the'r teeth, an' if one on 'em had fund a crust, or a hontful o' meeal onywheer, the'r clogs ud ha' begun o' flyin' abeaut one another's shins like so mony drumsticks.  They co'ed it "buttery huntin'," an' rare sprees they wur!

    Aw recollect they'n upo' th' hunt one time, an' had scented a red herrin' somewheere i' hee latitudes, when i'th' scramble they knocked th' porritch dish off th' shelf, an' crash it went on th' floor.  Ther sich a yell set up, when they seed th' dish wur brokken, ut th' neighbours ran to the'r durs, thinkin' somebody wur bein' murthert.  Well, ther' wur someb'dy as nee kilt as a toucher, for when mi uncle Jammie coome eaut o'th' loom-heause, an' seed th' dish lyin' upo' th' floor i' three pieces, he geet a rope, an' laid it abeaut him till th' buttons flew agen th' walls like bullets, an' the'r yure geet sich a twistin' as 'ud ha' takken a fortnight's pasturin' in a cook-shop for t' get it straight agen.  Then, when th' yelpin' wur finished, an' th' e'ewayther mopt up, he coed a meetin', an' towd th' lads they must ha' no moore porritch till th' dish wur pieced, so they met set abeaut piecin' it as soon as they'd a mind.  Well, they set to wark, an' in abeaut two minutes ther' wur a noise i'th heause like a little stone quarry.  By dinner time they'd penkled a lot o' holes i'th' brokken bits, an' drawn cotton reops through 'em, like lacin' a pair o' shoon, an' put th' dish together so nicely, ut nowt thicker nur owd Thuston's mowin' drink would ha' lekt eaut on't.

    Neaw then,—as badly off as folk purtend to be neaw-a-days—an' mi uncle Jammie says things conno' last above another rent-day—aw should like to see someb'dy ut ud piece a brokken dish afore he'd buy a new un!  Aw should very soon mak' up mi mind ut ther summat wrang wi' th' inside of his yead.  When aw're used to ha' mi een welly scrat eaut wi' blackberry trees, an' mi clooas slit int' ribbons wi' makkin' gaps for bigger lads i' wickthurn hedges; when aw recollect heaw sweet a butthercake wur ut aw turned a grindlestone a whul day for, an' had blisters on mi honds, an' o good threshin' wi' mi feyther, i'th' bargain, aw've said to misel'—goo on, lads, romp away till yo' hanno' a button to howd yo'r rags up! scrape yo'r shins till yo' conno' get yo'r stockin's on!  I' thirty year fro' neaw, yo'n happen ha' grand clooas, an' live i' grand heauses; an' then yo'n shake yo'r yeads an' say—

    "These ar'no sich times as when we roasted pottito-shoives wi' a candle, an' towd tales in an owd pig-cote; when a slur deawn a plank wur a grander journey nor sixty mile an heaur on a railroad would be neaw; when a peearch in a tree wur a grander look-eaut upo' th' wo'ld nur a top garret i'th' Teawer o' Babel; when we held eaur treausers up wi' booath honds for th' want o' buttons, an' thowt an afternoon in a turmit fielt wur as mich as a king could ever want, or ony mon live for."  Thoose'll be owd times to yo' then, an' yo'n say ther's nowt like 'em, nor ever will be agen.

    Aw've an odd soart ov a notion ut wi liken owd times becose we'rn younger i' thoose days nur we are neaw, an' looken at 'em wi' younger e'en.  Ther's nowt looks as weel when yo' han to sken at it through a pair o' pocket windows, nor nowt tastes as good when yo' han to mumple at it wi' a worn-eaut dinner mill, an' when yo'r stomach begins o sulkin' at yo' as if it had bin somb'dy's else at one time, an' wurno satisfied wi' th' swap.

    When a mon remembers havin' two rows o' double-blank dominoes in his meauth, ut would set a butthercake a tremblin' when it coome i'th' seet on 'em; when he'd nowt to think at nobbut meal times, an' didno' care what coome on th' table so ut ther enoogh on't, an neaw sits soppin' toast i' coffee, an' grumblin' abeaut bad gas an' th' property tax—aw donne' wonder at him sayin' things wur different when he're young.  They wur different becose he see'd 'em different, an' that's saycret ov a good mony queer notions.

    When aw see a lot o' lads climbin' up trees an' slurrin deawn planks, aw feel ready for t' poo the'r ears eaut o' shape, for havin' no moore sense nur goo rippin' the'r clooas off the'r backs, an' scrapin' bark off the'r shins wi' summat ut aw could see no moore fun in nur ther' is i' gradely hard wark.  But when aw come to think o' thirty yer sin', an' recollect spendin' a whul week i' tryin' to lade a pit dry wi' an owd traycle can, for t' see if ther ony fresh in it,—an' heaw aw fund ut th' wayther ran in agen as fast as aw laded it eaut, but aw couldno' gi' o'er becose it wur sich gam'—aw'm surprised at nowt they done.

    Neaw for t' show yo' ther's a bit o' summat i' what aw say, aw'll tell yo' a bit ov a tale.  Ther a young felly aw knew once, not a common soart ov a leatheryead, as folk went i' thoose days, but a bit ov a janious in his way.  He could tell heaw mony barley-curns would raich reaund th' wo'ld, an' summat abeaut heaw mony nails ther' wur in a hoss-shoof; an' he're what they co'en a poet, too; but that's hardly to his credit; for aw con see nowt po'try.  He made sungs abeaut his neighbour, an' co'ed young women by names aw never yerd tell on till afore,—goddesses, or summat; till aw're used t' expect seein' 'em poo off the'r clogs an' tak' to flyin'.  Well, he tumbled up to th' ears i' love wi' one on 'em, an' coed her fine names, an' daubed her o'er wi' sweet words, till aw're sure her skin wur as sticky as if hoo'd bin dipped in a tracyle pot.  But hoo're sich a preaud snicket, becose her feyther wur a farmer (Owd Thuston, i' Walmsley Fowt), an' th' lad hissel wur nobbut a wayver, ut hoo'd ha' nowt t' say to him.  He tried her wi' o soarts o' po'try, an' offered a time or two for t' dee a bit for her; though what a young woman could do wi' a dread sweetheart, aw never could tell.  Aw think poets are a bit crackter nur common, when they offern to give up the'r spoon for th' sake ov a saucy besom, ut ud think moore abeaut a new bonnet nur o'th' po'try ut's ever bin written sin' th' owd blynt ballet singer raved his wits away abeaut women an' feightin', theausants o' years back.  This wouldno' do, an' when he'd coed her everythin' fro' a buttercup an' a daisy, to an angel, an' written as mich po'try as would ha' made curl-papper for o'th' wenches i' Hazlewo'th, an' fund he could mak' nowt on her, he teed his second shirt in a napkin, soik'd (sighed) a bit upo' th' bridge, sung summat like th' "Owd Hunder't," an' then swung his clogs off to another country.

    Well, he thowt summat short o' forrin' parts ud do for him; so he roved abeaut th' wo'ld for abeaut two heaurs, an' then let his scotch deawn somewheere i' Manchester, where he set abeaut makkin' hissel int' a great mon, as he thowt, straight forrad.

    He geet in to be a soart ov an under sweepereaut ut a wareheause, an' gan his mesther sich satisfaction ut he're soon promoted to th' top end o'th' brush, at an extry shillin' a week.  He wurno' ut this job lung, for onybody ut had a bit o' inseet into things could see ut he didno' sweep like a common mon.  His mesther wurno' a foo', so he gan him another lift, an' sent him to th' hondcart, an he're so preaud on't, he had his picthur takken shaftin a looad o' calico through th' teawn in his shirt sleeves.  He thowt that wur betther nur writin' po'try, an' said he're soory for poor wayvers afore his seeat-booart had getten gradely cowd.

    If ever he thowt abeaut Hazlewo'th it wur becose he couldno' forget Peggy Thuston; but he'd made up his mind never to go back agen till he could say, "Peggy, aw'm neaw as big a mon as thee or thi feyther oather; but aw'm not a preaud chap.  If theau'll put thi hont i' mine, an' say theau'll ha' me, what's mine shall be thine, an' we'en be teed t'gether as fast as owd Pa'son Goodier con tee us, as soon as th' job con be gradely done."  He kept his word.  He never did go back till he'd brass enoogh for t' buy owd Thuston up, th' farm an o.  But it had takken him thirty year to do it in, an' o this time he'd thowt abeaut Peggy.  He could see her i'th' same straw bonnet, th' same pink an' white frock, th' same low-deawn shoon teed wi' a ribbin, as hoo wore when he turned his back on her, an' soiked upo' th' bridge.  Hoo hadno' aged one minute to him; an' he lunged to see thoose two cheeks ut wur just th' same colour as her frock, an' thoose two een ut met ha' bin made eaut ov a fent o' summer sky—they'rn so soft an' blue, an' yer her rattle o'er a merry song as hoo used to do when hoo're feedin' th' pigs or fotchin' th' keaws up, thirty year afore.

    He went to Hazelwo'th one mornin' i' haytime, an' he'd donned hissel up for t' look as young as he could.  But his yead wur gray, an' he carried his een in his pocket, an' o' someheaw th' road didno' look th' same to him as it did once.  Th' trees looked as if they'd had the'r legs cut off, an' the'r yeads powed, an' th' hedges wur ov a breawn-green.  He didno' know a soul he met, an' nob'dy knew him.  He wondered wheere o' thoose gray-yeaded chaps an' owd-fashint women coome fro'.  He felt sure they didno' belung to Hazelwo'th.  Th' "Bell an' Corkscrew" stood theere still; but what a little bit ov a place th' fowt wur!  He went on th' bridge an' looked o'er th' wall.  Wheay, th' bruck wur nobbut a gutter!  He're sure a fish wouldno' ha' reawm t' swim in it, tho' he'd hook'd lots eaut i' times gone by.  At last he coome to owd Thuston's farm, an' he laid his elbows on a gate while he looked abeaut him.  He couldno' say ut ther a sengle breek o'th' heause, or a sengle window autered; but for o that, nowt looked as grand as it did once.  Th' apple trees an' th' cherry trees wur theere, but i'stead a grooin' bigger they'd groon less, an' th' stump they hung milk-cans on wur gone into quite a twig.  As owd things met his een, thirty year kept gooin' less an' less, till it nobbut looked like yesterday sin' he stood theere afore, watchin' Peggy trip abeaut th' fowt, an' wishin' hoo'd let him just put his nose inside her bonnet, if he dee'd th' minute after.  As nob'dy he'd met knew him, he thowt he dust venture up to th' dur, an' ax for Peggy; so he oppent th' gate an' went forrad.  An owd felly, bent very nee double, sit on a bench i'th' fowt.  He'd white yure hangin' upo' his shoothers, an' he're lookin' up at th' sun wi' a pair o' dim een as if he wurno' sure whether it wur shoinin or not, an' wanted to know.

    "Does Johnny Thuston live here yet?" th' chap said.

    "Aye," th' owd felly said, "if it con be coed livin' when they getten my age."

    "Wheay, you're noane Johnny, are yo'?" th' chap said, an' he put his pocket een on.

    "Aw dunno' know whoa theau art, nor wheere theau comes fro'," th' felly said, "but theau sees o the'r is laft on me neaw."

    Th' chap went fair o ov a wakker, an' then he axt abeaut Peggy.

    "Theau'll find her i'th' heause churnin'," th' owd felly said, "if hoo isno' havin' her pipe.  It's abeaut her time."

    This wur a regilar floorer for th' chap, an' he felt as if he couldno' get a stride fur.

    "Does yo'r Peggy smook?" he said, an' ther sich a weight fell deawn his inside, ut he couldno' help lookin' at th' floor as if he expected it had dropped theere.

    "Smookes like a bon-fire!" owd Thuston said.  "We getten through abeaut three eaunes a week between us.  Eaur lads are o wed, but hoo sticks to th' hearthstone like a weet plaister.  Nobody 'll have her.  Does theau want to see her?"

    "Well, just for t' ax heaw hoo is, that's o," th' chap said.

    "Well, put thi finger through th' sneck-hole," owd Thuston said, "an' oppen th' dur thisel.  It's no use knockin'; hoo couldno' yer thi if theau banged at th' dur wi' a smithy hommer, hoo's so deeaf."

    Th' chap went as sick as if he'd swallowed a tooad, when he yerd this, an' felt as if he'd rayther ha' coils hissel' up ins' a foot-bo (football), an' rowlt whoam, nur gone ony fur.  But, heawever, he pumpt some courage up, an' oppen't th' dur.  Th' fust thing he seed when he geet i'th' heause, wur a woman, a mile or two past th' hauve-way heause o' life, sittin' i'th' nook, wi' her elbows laid on her knees, nussin' a long pipe, an' playin' wi' two cats.  He wouldno' ha' known it wur Peggy, but he see'd ther a bit o'th' owd face left, an' her yure, though it had changed colour a bit, wur worn as hoo'd aulus worn it, an' her dress wur petched here an' theere wi' pieces o'th' pink an' white print ut had dazzlet his een so mich afore.

    Some folk, aw dar'say, would ha' coed her prattier nur hoo wur when hoo're young, becose her face had lost noane of its colour, an her een, if they wurno' as breet as they wur once, wur of a softer an' kinder blue, an' her saucy temper had quite left her.  Beside, hoo're as buxom as a londlady, or a butcher's wife, an' as far reaund as a mash-tub; so ut ther moore on her, if it wurno' quite as fine a sort.  But to Tommy Tootler, (that wur th' chap's name) hoo're as common as a berm woman; an' o'th' po'try ut ever turned a mon's brains wouldno' put a single charm upo' her face, nor ha' made him t' feel ut it wur t' same Peggy as he had known thirty year afore.  He hadno watched th' change come quietly o'er her, like th' blackberry time after summer: so couldno' understood it.  In his mind, he'd bin lookin' at her wi' lads' e'en, same as he'd looked at th' trees ut had groon less, an' th' bruck ut had dwindled into a gutter.  His young days wur owd times to him then, an' o' th' paint an' th' trimmin' i'th' wo'ld couldno' bring 'em back.

    "Eh, that's never Tummy Tootler, is it?" Peggy said, lookin' at th' chap.

    "Yigh it is," Tummy said, an' he sit deawn.

    "Well, an' heawever are yo'?" Peggy said.

    "Middlin," Tummy said.

    "An' heaw are thoose yo'n laft awhoam?" Peggy said.

    "Aw've laft nob'dy awhoam," Tummy said.

    "Wheay, areno' yo' wed?"

    "Nawe," Tummy said.

    "Yo' keepn writin' po'try, then, aw reckon?" Peggy said.

    "Nay; aw gan that up thirty year sin'," Tummy said, an' he reddens up to th' colour ov a crimson cloak.  Peggy put her spectacles on.

    "Yo're getten int' an owd felly very soon," hoo said.

    "An' yo're getten int' an owd woman very soon," Tummy said, feelin' a bit nettled.

    "Eh, nay, aw'm noane mich awtered!" Peggy said.  "Nobbut mi een areno' quite as good as they use t' be, an' mi ears are a bit plaguy.  Thoose wur grand times!" an' Peggy shaked her yead.  "Yo'rn a smart young chap then! " hoo said.

    "Did yo' think so at th' time?" Tummy said, an' he pricked his ears for another word or two.

    "Aye, aw did; but yore autered neaw," Peggy said.  "Yo'n getten snow upo' yo'r meauntins, an' a rainbow i' yo'r back; an' at that time yo'rn as straight as a popilary (poplar tree), an' as prim as a posey.  Aw'd ha' had yo' then, if aw'd known as mich as aw know neaw.  But aw thowt everythin' ud keep lookin' nicer lunger we live't.  They did look so to me then, but aw've fund it eaut sin' ut we looken eaut o' different een, th' owder wi groon.  Are yo' i'th' same mind neaw as yo' wur then?"

    Tummy scrat his yead, an' muttered summat ut he thowt Peggy couldno' yer.  If hoo did yer it, ther's nowt like a bit o' deafness sometimes, for hoo said—

    "Well, aw'm agreeable.  We'st never be younger."

    If Tummy had yerd thoose words thirty year afore he'd ha' jumpt eaut ov his skin; but he felt just then he'd rayther ha' dropt through floor nur owt elze.  So he coughed, an' shaffled abeaut, an' pood his hat off, an' stroked his grey yure deawn, an' felt at th' rainbow on his back.  At last he said—

    "Aw'm feeart we'n driven it too lung, Peggy."

    "Eh, nay," Peggy said, "It's never too late for t' mend bad wark.  Yo' seen we conno' expect mi feyther livin' lung, an' when he's gone we shall booath be bi eaursel's; an' we met ha' things then same as yo' used to plan 'em i' yo'r po'try,—arcadies, an' paradises, an' beawers, or summat as yo'd coed 'em, becose th' farm's betther condition nur it ever wur, an' groos moore stuff.  Beside, mi feyther has so willed it ut eaur lads conno' tak' it off me when he's gone.  What sayn yo'?"

    "Well, aw'll think abeaut it," Tummy said, an' he made sich a dart eaut o'th' heause, an' wur i' sich a hurry t' get away, ut he tumbled o'er owd Thuston i'th fowt, an' set th' hens an' ducks agate o' makkin' sich noises, one met ha' thowt th' bull had brokken lose.

    He never stopped till he geet back to Manchester; an' when he'd wiped his face, an' getten his wynt a bit, he set hissel' o' thinkin' at what Peggy had said; an' whether he's thinkin' yet, or not, aw conno' tell; but he's never bin to Hazelwo'th sin'; an' if ever he yers onybody mention owd times, he jumps up same as he're scauden, an's never seen agen for a day or two.  He's had quite enoogh o' owd times, an' thinks neaw ther's nowt like th' new, if he could nobbut look at 'em reet.  But his young een han lost the'r seet for ever.

    Neaw then, they are theausants o' Tummy Tootlers i'th' wo'ld, booath men an' women.  My owd rib 'll go maunderin' an' soikin abeaut th' owd heause, wheere hoo's bin clemmed till hoo could welly see i'th' t'other country, an' says th' owd yate's nowt like what it wur th' day ut aw took her through it after makkin' a job ov eaursels at th' church.  Hoo says hoo wishes hoo could go back to it, an' tak' owd times wi' her.  Well, aw sometimes wish hoo could, if hoo'd leeave me wheere aw am, for hoo gets so cranklety ther's no livin' wi' her, an' it's o becose we're betther off nur we wur thirty year sin'.  Good livin' spoils some folk, speshly women!

1.     Sowe—Flour paste used for dressing cotton yarn.


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