"AB-O'TH-YATE" (Vol. II) - III.
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DOIN' ONE'S OWN, OR INDEPENDENT O' EVERYBODY.


WHEN aw fust begun o' shepsterin' (housekeeping) aw said to misel', "Ab, owd lad! if theau's ony sense, thee do thi own as far as t' con, an' then theau'll ha' less to thank other folk for.  Theau's a fairish start, becose thoose theau's had to deeal wi' han ta'en good care theau didno' get to' far i' the'r books, so ut theau's no great lumberin' debts for t' keep thi back.  If thi pockets are as cleean as if they'd bin swept eaut wi' a besom, thi limbs are whul; thi stomach's noane of a preaud sort; yo'r Sal's a pluck good enoogh for a dozen women, an' looks as fresh as a posy; so buckle thi clogs tight abeaut thi shanks, an' punce thi road cleean through th' wo'ld."

    Aw've bin puncin' ever sin'; an' neaw "aw'm here," as th' owd foo' i'th' penny show said, mayte-whul, warkwhul; mi owd rib's as breet as hoo wur when hoo donned her pink drawn bonnet for t' be wed in, but no' quite as young as hoo wur at that time; an' we han a lot o' lads abeaut us as hard as a smithy floor, an' as wild as a cover o' March hares, an' as full o' glee as if they'd getten th' wo'ld in a bant, an' could droive it as they wanted.  Yo' met tak' ony on 'em by th' breeches, an' throw 'em into a pit, an' they'd tak' no moore hurt nur a duck would; an' yo' met cleaut ony on 'em abeaut th' yed till yo'r arm wartcht, afore they'd know they'rn hurt.  That's th' fruits o' bringin' 'em up o' hard pastur'!  If aw'd had moore to do on, an' browt 'em up to toast an' gingybread, they'd ha' bin fit for nowt nobbut bein' lapt i' flannel, an' kept in a bonnet-box.  Aw're browt up as hard misel', an' when aw begun o' hatchin' mi own chickens, aw thowt aw couldno' do betther nur follow th' foout-shaps mi feyther had left; so aw did follow 'em as weel as aw could.

    For a start.—Aw dar'say they never sich a weddin' as mine.  Noane o' yo'r fine wark—comin' eaut like buzzerts one day, an' gooin' back into grubs th' day after.  No grand clooas unpaid for, an' havin' th' Scotchman grinnin' through yo'r window, a time or two a week.  No grand heause things at so mich a week, when yo' could pay, an' black looks when yo' couldno'.  No botherin' th' owd folk for what they'd give us; but a cleean booart, an' a straight road.  Aw did muster a new red senglet an' a new white hat eaut o'th brass aw'd getten wi' shavin' ov a Setturday neet, but after aw'd paid for thoose, an' th' bit o' blacksmithin' th' pa'son had done, an' a twothri pints ov ale at "Ring o' Bells," aw couldno' ha' mustered th' tow (toll) for a wheelbarrow.  Eaur Sal had a cut-brass ov her own, so hoo bowt a pink drawn bonnet, an' a blue an' yallow an' white shawl, ut made her look at a distance like a little rushcart; but after that, hoo couldno' ha' raised a jink in her pocket beaut puttin' a thimble in it.  So noather on us could swagger abeaut which wur th' best off.

    Aw very soon fund it eaut ut ther's nowt like bein' poor if yo' wanten to be comfortable.  Nob'dy expects owt off yo', an' as nob'dy 'll gi' yo' owt becose yo'r poor, yo'r noane aulus expectin' summat, an' vexin' yo'rsel' wi' waitin'.  If yo'n ony relations, they forgetten heaw mich they're akin to yo', or whether they're akin at o or not; an' they'd happen no' be vexed if yo' never reminded 'em on't.  As for friends—they'd be like lumps o' beef i' eaur fust pottito-pie, they'd want a good deeal o' delvin' for, an' huntin' eaut afore yo' could find 'em!  If onybody had axt me heaw mony friends aw had, or heaw mony pretended t' be, aw should ha' bin bother't to ha' said heaw loit (few), for aw didno' meean to try which wur gowd, an' which wur nobbut copper.  Ther' wur one hauve-witted foo' offered t' land (lend) me a kayther (cradle) for a start, but aw wouldno' have it.  If ever aw'm made th' prime minister o' owd England, aw'll find that mon a good shop, an' remember him i' mi will when aw'm shuttin' up mi book.

    Aw dar'say things 'ud ha' gone smoother if aw'd had a peaund or two for t' ha' getten a two-thri sticks t'gether for peearchin' on, an' aw'd part made up mi mind for t' try t' borrow it.  But when aw begun o' thinkin' abeaut it, aw begun o' wonderin' whoa aw must ax.  It wur weel known i' Hazlewo'th ut aw're as poor as a church mouse, an' it wur happen likely aw met be wantin' summat off someb'dy, an' that wur a good reason for folk keepin' eaut o' mi road.  If aw'd met onybody i'th' lone, they'd ha' scuttert away fro' me, as if aw'd had th' smo-pox; so aw said to misel', "Nawe, Ab, thee do thi own, if it comes to a flasker at th' last."  Th' wife wanted me to go a-seein' mi uncle Jammie, an' see if he'd put owt i' mi road; so wi' a good deeal o' frabbin' wi' misel', aw made bowd for t' goo an' look th' owd lad up th' day but one after we'rn wed.  Aw knew he'd an owd stockin' laid by somewheere, an' if he'd offer to land me a trifle, aw wouldno' show him my heels till aw'd fingered it.  But ax him for owt—Ab wouldno'!

    Th' owd lad looked as feeart as if he'd seen a boggart when aw oppent th' dur, an' he cowght little bits o' cowghs, an' looked ony road obbut at me.  Aw could see he thowt aw're come a-axin' him for summat, an' so made up mi mind for t' plague him a bit.  Aw didno' sit deawn at th' fust, an' he're not in a hurry for t' ax me.  At last he said—

    "Well, Ab—what's up wi' thi?"

    "Well," aw said—an' then aw hung mi yead deawn, as if aw hadno' pluck to goo on.

    "Hum—hum—hum!" he said.  "Theau's bin makkin' a foo' o' thisel', aw yer."

    "That's just as it turns eaut," aw said.  "If aw've made no bigger a foo' o' misel' nur yo' did when yo'rn wed, aw'st ha' no 'casion t' after-think."

    "What dost' meean bi that?" he said.

    "Well," aw said, "yo' hanno' done so badly eaut o' weddin' ut yo' needn' grumble.  It met be hard scrattin' at th' fust, but sin' yo'r lads geet into big uns, yo'n shapt things middlin' weel.  Aw know yo'n a bit ov a hutch somewheere, if thieves hanno' getten at it."

    "If theau thinks aw've ony brass, theau'rt raly eaut on't," he said; an' he looked to'ard th' top o'th' heause, as if ther summat up theere he couldno' tak' his een off.

    "Then aw'm mista'en," aw said, "for aw thowt yo'rn puttin' it by like heausin' hay."

    "Aye, mony a one's mista'en i' that," he said, "but aw've had a great deeal to do sin' aw're wed; an' if aw have getten on o bit, aw've nob'dy to thank nobbut misel'."

    "Yigh, yo'r lads," aw said; an' aw thowt he looked a bit nettled at that.

    "Well, they han done a bit, sartinly," he said; "but afore they grew up aw did mi own, an' ne'er axt nob'dy for a farthin'."

    "That's just what aw meean to do," aw said; an then he browt his een off top o'th' heause, an' axt me t' sit deawn.

    "Well, an' what soart ov a wife hast' getten like?" he said, when aw'd browt mi cheear up to th' foire.  "Has hoo browt thee owt beside her pattens?"

    "Aye," aw said,—"some good fingers, an' a good temper, but no brass."

    "Nawe, that's hardly likely," he said.  "But awconno' say ut aw know th' wench."

    "Nor mony folk," aw said; an' aw tried to look as fause as aw knew heaw.

    "Let's see," he said,—"hoo're browt up at owd Johnny o' Sammul's, wurno' hoo?"

    "Yigh," aw said; an' aw tried to look as if aw're fairly brastin' for t' tell him summat.

    "Owd Johnny took her eaut o'th' warkheause, did no' he?" he said.

    "Folk aulus thowt so," aw said,—"an' aw didno' know misel' till th' day ut aw're wed but what it wur true?"

    "Well, an' isno' it true?"

    "Is it behanged as like!" aw said.  "It's bin a great saycret whoa her feyther is but he's wo'th his theausants, an' when he shuts up, aw know whoa'll get it."

    "Theau never says, surely!" he said.

    "Wait an' see," aw said.  "Aw'll show yo' heaw things are managed when aw get howd."

    "Theau's like bin a bit luckier nur some folk," he said, an' he looked as breet as a new kettle.

    "Well, they sayn it's betther for t' be born lucky nur rich.  But dunno' yo' tell nob'dy," aw said, "becose if it geet eaut ut aw'd a fortin comin' to me, thieves met be sceawlin' abeaut th' heause; an' just neaw they looken as shy as if they owed me summat."

    "Oh, it's never get eaut through me," he said.  "Aw know when to howd mi tongue.  Well, well,—theau's bin lucky!  Will t' have a pot o' drink?  We'n getten a sope i'th' buttery as sharp as nettles, an' aw'll fotch thee a pint, an' a bit o' cheese an' bread to it, if t' likes."

    "Well, aw'm noane partikilar just neaw," aw said; "though aw reckon in a while aw'st be above drinkin' ale."

    "Aye, aye, lad," he said,—"wine! wine! wine!"

    "An' gettin' mi dinner wi' mi gun off th' moors!" aw said.

    "That's th' mak'!—that's th' mak'!" he said, an' he slapt his knees, an' dragged his clogs to th' buttery, an' drew as good a pint o' drink, an' browt as good a piece o' cheese eaut, as ever aw tasted.

    "Theau'll think o' thi uncle Jammie when theau'rt a squire, wiltno' Ab?" he said, when he put th' ale an' cheese afore me.

    "Oh, aw shanno' forget yo', yo' may depend on't," aw said.  "Aw shall think abeaut heaw yo' helped t' bring me up, an' put me forrad i'th' wo'ld, yo' may be sure."

    "Well, aw've no' done so mich for thi, lad, ut aw couldno' do a bit more," he said; "an' if theau'rt i'th' want ov a trifle t' be gettin' on wi', aw think aw con find it thi."

    "Oh, yo'n no 'casion to put yo'rsel' abeaut," aw said.  "Aw've so mich offered me by other folk, ut aw'm feeart if aw tak' it off one, aw shall vex o t'other, so aw'll ha' noane."

    "Dunne' thee be a foo', Ab!" he said.  "If theau's ony sense get howd ov o theau con, an' stick as fast as folk 'll let thi.  They'n ne'er think no wurr on thi.  It's th' way o'th' wo'ld.  If aw hadno' had wax at th' eend o' mi fingers, aw should ha' bin as poor as onybody neaw, an' nob'dy ud ha' thowt ony betther on me."

    "That may be th' way o' yo'r wo'ld, but not o' mine," aw said.  "If everybody wur scrattin' like yo', we should turn to thievin' at last, for they'd be nob'dy to mak' laws for t' keep us honest.  They wouldno' ha' time to do owt o'th' soart."

    "Well, well, well!" he said, "dunno' be so hard on me.  Aw'm thi uncle, theau knows; an' if theau lives for t' be wo'th thi theausants, theau'll begin o' havin' thi nails set same as other folk.  But art' for havin' a peaund or two?  Aw'll charge thi no interest for it.  Theau con send me a brid neaw an' agen i' shootin' time, an' aw shanno' forget to tell folk it wur mi nevvy ut sent it."

    "Oh, yo' shall have a brid or two whenever aw shoot ony, beaut that," aw said, "so yo' con keep yo'r brass!"

    "Aw'd rayther not, Ab," he said.  "Aw've some upsteers ut aw meean oather takkin' to th' bank or summat, so theau'd betther have a trifle.  It'll do thee more good nur it would onybody else."

    Just then aw begun o feelin' as preaud as a dandy-cock ut's getten a walk to itsel', an' mi hat slipped o one side o' mi yead, an' hung upo' abeaut three yures, as if it knew heaw aw felt, an' wanted to join me, so aw said tomisel', "Neaw Ab, theau munno be soft.  Do thi own if theau'rt owt akin to thi feyther.  Keep eaut o' other folk's books if theau meeans to howd thi yead up.  Wi' a bit o' strivin' an' grinnin' theau'll get through, an' theau con look th' wo'ld i'th' face as brazent as a brass cat!"  So aw said to mi uncle Jammie, "Thank yo o th' same; but aw'll ha' nowt to do wi' ony books, nobbut readin' books, an' then aw shall ne'er ha' to goo back roads for fear o' meetin' someb'dy ut aw owe summat to, or lookin' sideways when aw do meet 'em, as if it ud be th' greatest chance i'th' wo'ld ut aw should ever see 'em ony time.  Mi mind's made up—aw'll do mi own."

    "Well, well, well!" he said, "if theau will be so independent, aw conno' help it; but aw'll tell thee what theau con do, if theau's a mind.  Theau con bring thi wife to her tae next Sunday an' let's see what hoo's like.  That'll brake no backs.  What doss say?"

    "That aw'll do," aw said; an' beaunced off th' cheear aw sit on like a foout-bo', an' bid th' owd lad good day as heartily as if mi carriage had bin waitin' at th' dur, an' a blue monkey droivin'.

    Fro' that day aw begun a-doin' mi own!

    We lived wi' owd Johnny o' Sammul's a month or two, eaur Sal an' me, till we'd scraped a two-thri bits o' timber t'gether, an' then we shifted into a cote we could ha' to eaursel's.  It didno' tak' us lung for t' flit, aw con tell yo'.  Two journeys wi' a wheelbarrow, after we'd set up th' looms, cleared o eaut.  Slogger wur helpin'; so he put a little colour upo' th' last looad, an' th' childer i'th fowt sheauted like heigh-go-mad, an' owd Thuston's jackass laafed till its blinkers blew off.  But we geet o sattled, an' as mony corners o'th' heause filled as we could shap eaut o' what we had to do it wi'; an' then we warmed th' hearthstone wi' a potitto pie, ut wurno' badly kessent (christened), for th' gravy' hadno' a star for t' leet it up wi', an' th' beef wur so skase, ut Slogger said—rootin' for it wur summat like feeshin' i' owd Thuston's pit—plenty o' layin' in, but no pooin' eaut.

    Aw shall never forget lookin' reawnd me when o' wur straightened up.  Eaur Sal made th' floor fair glisten agen, an' rubbed th' cheears till they looked fit to be etten off.  Aw'd driven a mop-nail up for t' hang my hat on, an' as everythin' ut could be made int' an' orniment must be, hoo'd blackleeaded it, an' had made it shoine loike th' oon-dur (oven-door).  Fender we had noane; so hoo'd made a white mark, th' shape of a rainbow, reaund th' hearthstone, for t' let th' cinders see heaw far they must rowl, before they'rn coed eaut o' limits.  Th' chimdy-piece orniments wur two churchwarden pipes crossed i'th' middle,—a pepper box at one eend, an' a tae-caddy at t'other.  Ther two paecock fithers at th' yead o'th' heause, ut did for picturs; a reaund lookin'-glass abeaut th' size of a spoon hung i'th' window; an', as th' wife had notions o' bein' grander nur some ov her neighbours, hoo made her weddin' shawl do duty for a table-cloth ov a Sunday; an' when her bonnet box wur put o'th' top o' that, an' an owd Bible for t' creawn o', aw felt as preawd o' my start as if aw'd bin in a palace, an' as fain as if aw'd wed a queen, for aw could see mi owd rib wur determined t' mak' th' best o' everythin'.

    Things went on swimmin' for a while, an' aw thowt aw're lookin' up i'th' wo'ld.  Then ther a backenin'.  Ther' begun a-bein' moore music i'th' heause nur what eaur Sal an' me made, an' an extry spoon had to be bowt, an' a name fund ut turned eaut to be "Ab," for ther a son an' heir (come, that's grand!) suckin' his thumbs, an' crowin' i'th' kayther.  This youngster wanted a bit o' extry scrattin' for; but after th' fust week or two, wi could hardly feel th' difference, an' didno care if they coome as thick as midges i' spring.  We kept gettin' an odd thing or two fixed i'th' heause, moore nur what we had at th' fust, ut made it look thrunger an' nicer, till in abeaut two year, we'd as pratty a neest as here an' theere one, an' another chelloper i'th' kayther, wearin' eaur Ab's socks.

    For o this time not a single relation coome a seein' us nobbut mi uncle Jammie, an' aw could weel understood what browt him.  Nob'dy wanted owt off me, an' nob'dy coome a offerin' me owt, so ut durstep wur kept as cleean as if it had bin a mahogany table.  Ther' wur neaw an' then a Scotchman peeped through th' window; but when they could see nowt nobbut a table, an' th' cheears, an' th' two paecock's fithers i'th' heause, they darted off as sharply as if someb'dy had helped 'em wi' the'r foot.  When th' heause geet a bit thrunger an' prattier-lookin', they wurno' satisfied wi' a peep through th' window, but oppent th' dur (whoa ever thinks o' knockin' at a poor mon's dur?) an' banged the'r packs deawn, an' said they wouldno' stir till they'd made booath eaur Sal an' me as fine as two foos.  Aw'd ha' nowt to do wi' 'em; an' th' last mon ut coome geet so auvish (impudent), ut aw took mi clogs to him, an' lifted him into th' fowt afore he knew wheere here gooin' to!

    Well, aw kept doin' mi own till, in a while, aw fund it eaut ut folk wurno' for lettin' me, quietly.  Mi uncle Jammie kept comin', an' talkin' abeaut bad times, an' buildin' clubs, an' what little interest th' bank wur payin'; an' neaw an' then he'd whisper summat abeaut folk livin' lunger when ther someb'dy waitin' for the'r shoon—summat ut aw couldno' understood; till one day, when he mentioned same thing, he winked at me, an' it made me feel as if aw'd rayther ha' punted him eaut o'th' heause our harkened to another word.  What surprised me an' put me on th' look-eaut, his owdest wench coome a-seein' us, an' wanted to stood godmother for eaur Joe, an' made sich a fuss abeaut th' childer, ut aw thowt hoo'd ha' bitten a piece eaut o' tone on 'em same as bitin' a apple.  Hoo said heaw mich they wur like the'r mother, an' wonder't if they'rn owt like the'r gronfeyther o'th' mother's side—if they wur, heaw preaud he'd be!

    One day, abeaut Kesmas (Christmas), a chap coed, an' flung a goose i'th' middle o'th' heause-floor, an' said it ud do for mi Kesmas dinner.  Aw towd him aw couldno' afford nowt o' that soart, an' shouldno' pay for it.  He said ther nowt to pay, an' banged off deawn th' fowt as if he're feeart aw should throw goose after him.  A day or two after that th' same chap coed agen; an' this time he browt a bottle o' whiskey an' two bottles o' wine.  He said ther nowt to pay for that, noather.  When mi uncle Jammie wur towd on't, he went very nee int' fits wi' laafin, an' said he knew what it ud come to.  But aw're as bewildered abeaut it as if aw'd bin carried to owd Crusoe's island asleep, an' ne'er wakkent till aw fund misel' roastin' o'er a foire wi' a lot o' black felleys doancin' reaund me.  But aw very soon fund it eaut ut this wur nobbut th' beginnin' o' these strange dooin's.  Things coom in ding-dong; an' folk ut used to pass me as if aw'd bin a stump, took the'r hats off to me neaw, an' reminded me so oft abeaut th' weather, ut aw owt never t' ha' forgetter what soart it wur as lung as aw lived.

    One day th' pa'son coed—th' fust time sin' aw're wed, an' he sat upo' mi loom-rail talkin' till he're as daubed o'er wi' pooin's (waste) as ever a bobbin-winder wur.  He didno' talk so mich abeaut things one would ha' thowt pa'sons knew th' moast on; but abeaut property, an' families, an' what Hazelwo'th wur likely to be in a twothri year; what good wayter ther' wur for manufacturin'; an' heaw hondy coal wur; an' heaw it wur likely ut rents ud goo up, an' mak' his livin' betther, an' sich like carnil things as mi uncle Jammie liked talkin' abeaut so weel.

    But what wur th' capper ov o—th' loomheause window wur one day darkened wi' a carriage drawn wi' two hosses, an' two chaps droivin—one i'th' front, an' t'other beheend.  Aw wonder't at th' fust if it wur a buryin', but couldno' think o' nob'dy ut wur deead.  Eaur Sal went fairly o ov a tremble, an' said summat had happen't, an' ut we should be carried away—hoo couldno' tell wheere, for hoo're sure witchcraft had summat to do wi' it.  Hoo'd had her misgivin's ever sin' so mony things kept bein' sent, an' nowt said abeaut wheere they coome fro'.  Hoo wished we'd never takken 'em in.  Well, ther a knock coome to th' dur, an' things, aw thowt, wur lookin' very queer; but when aw went to th' dur, an seed owd Miss Rigby, fro' th' Hazel Ho', gettin' eaut o'th' carriage, aw felt a bit yessier.

    "Does Abram Fletcher live here?" hoo said an' hoo put her spectacles on, an' looked up at me.

    "Aw'm th' chap ut wur kessent so," aw said, "though my neighbours coen me Ab-o'th'-Yate."

    "May I come in?" hoo said.

    "Oh, aye," aw said, an aw showed her to th' foire an' set her a cheear, an' after hoo'd sit deawn, an' warmed her honds a bit, hoo said:

    "Dost know me?"

    "Aye," aw said, "yo come fro' th' Ho, dunno yo?"

    "Yigh," hoo said; an' hoo took some pappers eaut ov her pocket.  "Let's see," hoo said, "wurno' thi feyther owd Sam Fletcher's lad?"

    Aw said he wur.

    "Owd Sam at th' Knowe?"

    "Th' same chap," aw said.

    "Well, then," hoo said, "Aw'm a cousin o' thi feyther's, o' his mother's side."

    Aw towd her aw thowt as mich, but aw'd never sper'd into 't.

    "Theau'rt comin' in for some money, aw yer," hoo said, "through thi wife, if aw'm no' mistakken."

    Just then my face foired up like a breek-kiln, an' aw felt as if aw could ha' sunken through th' floor!  Aw could akeaunt at once for her comin' a-seein' me, an' for one or two things beside.  It wur plain to me ut mi uncle Jammie had been bletherin' abeaut that skit aw'd had wi' him, an' ut it wur gooin' thro' th' neighbourhood ut mi wife would ha' theausants o' peaunds laft her when her feyther toped o'er; so aw determined for t' put th' best face on't, an' tell th' owd besom no lies abeaut it.

    "Yo' munno' believe o ut yo' yern," aw said.

    "Wheay, is it noane true?" hoo said.

    "Nowt o'th' sort!" aw said.  "Aw'st ne'er ha' nowt nobbut what aw worcht for, an' no' mich o' that."

    "Then folk telln lies," hoo said.

    "Well, aw conno' help it," aw said.

    With that th' owd Jezabel jumps up, an' givin' me a lung look through her spectacles, said—

    "Theau'rt an arrant jackanapes!"

    Then hoo banged eaut o'th' heause like a waddlin' soot bag, an' scrambl't int' her carriage; an' fro' that day noather presents nor relations han ever troubled us; so ut aw'm dooin' mi own still, an' likely for dooin' so eendway.


――――♦―――

 
A SCARE AMONGST THE HAYMAKERS.


IT wur abeaut sich another back-end o'th' year as this, when Daisy Nook wur meautin' afore its time—droppin' its leeaves i' sheawers when th' wynt played amung th' trees, an' th' hedditch graise [1] looked as if it had bin o'er th' yead in a tub, an' wanted commie' eaut.  A lot ut ud nowt to do, an' little for doin' it, wur sit wi' empty pots at Red Bill's, neaw an' then lookin' through th' window, as if some Good Samaritan wur expected to poke his shadow amung other shadows 'at gan a gloom to th' eaut-look i'th' fowt.  It wur a wearyin' time; an' a "foo' wi' a shillin'" ud ha' bin "th' best mon ut ever wur born."  Hardly a word 'ud bin spokken for th' last ten minutes, for whoa could talk when they'd nowt to oil the'r lungs wi'?  Suddenly a face breetent up ut 'ud had a cleaud on it afore.  That wur th' leetheause to th' whul company.

    "Is ther' a sail i' seet, Rackey?" Gatty o' Thrutcher's wanted to know.

    "Ther's a signal up," Rackey said; an' he begun a-whistlin'.

    "It meeans summat, then, if theau con whistle a day like this," Gatty said.  "Is it bearin' deawn on us?"

    "Aye, slap onto us!"

    Cakey o' Matty's begun a-shufflin' th' dominoes; an' th' monkey i'th' corner peeped fro' under its blanket.  Fluter looked int' his pot as if he'd forgetter it wur empty; an' ther like a general move made amung th' company.

    "What name is ther' under th' figure-yead?" Gatty o' Thrutcher's wanted to know.

    "Th' Owd Chicken."

    Th' sun 'ud brasted eaut!  Ther' met no' ha' bin a cleaud i'th' sky; an' its breetness wur reflected in a hauve dozen faces; an' when th' dur oppent, an' showed a red senglet, an' a white hat, wi' a green jacket, an' leggin's—made eaut o'th' skin ov an owd keaw ut 'ud bin dreawnt i'th' river,—th' swing boats, an' merry-go-reauns, an' nuts an' cakes, an' "toss-or-buy," seemed to ha' come wi' 'em!

    "Heaw go, chaps?" wur th' Owd Chicken's salute, as he plank't his shoother agen th' speer, an' threw his face reaund it.

    "We're o on us on th' strike," Rackey said.

    "It's becose yo'n nowt to do, then," th' Owd Chicken said.  "Aw reckon it's th' weather ut's turned yo' eaut."

    "That's abeaut it," Cakey o' Matty's said.  "We'd ha' worked up to th' knees i' wayter if they'd a letten us."

    "It's a pity they conno' mak' hay i' weet weather," th' Owd Chicken said, "for if th' sun shoint yo'd goo on th' fuddle.  Yo' liken wark, yo' dun!"

    "Sup, an' howd thi noise," Gatty o' Thrutcher's said; an' he held eaut his empty pot.

    "Ther' isno' as mich i' that pot as 'ud dreawn a flee," th' Chicken said.  "When theau's had thi meauth at it, it's domino!  But neaw, chaps, let's see heaw mony drops yo' han amung yo'."

    Every pot wur turned th' wrung side up, but they laft no rings upo' th' table.

    "Theigher," th' Owd Chicken said, "just as aw thowt.  Well, yo' shall ha' hauve a gallon, bein' as yo' conno' goo i'th' hay.  Mary, bring it in, wilco?  It wurno' sich weather as this when th' devul freetent th' Breck Ho haymakkers eaut o'th' fielt."

    "Heaw wur that, Chicken?" everybody axt.

    "Stop till th' drink comes in, an' then aw'll tell yo'.  Yo' couldno' hearken to it wi' yo' throats as dry as tinder."

    Th' ale wur browt in, an' bustled reaund; an' when everybody had supt, th' Owd Chicken begun.

    "At th' time aw'm tellin' yo' abeaut, it wur a sarious thing ony neighbour deein'.  Beside, folk bein' badly off, ther' nowheere to teem 'em at when they'd worked the'r last shift,—nobbut Newton Yeth, an' Hollinwood; unless they'd a mind to carry 'em as far as Blackley.  An' it wur o carryin' then for thoose 'at coome under six peaund buryin' brass.  An' ther' wur no ax-backs then as ther' is neaw; an' what little drink they'd brewed for th' buryin', wur drunk afore they set eaut.  So yo' may think ther' wur thin dooin's then!

    "Owd Dick had a lad ut had deed ov a feyver, an' noane o'th' buryin' folk ut had bin axt, du'st goo i'th' heause, though ther plenty o' 'bacco.  One o' these wur owd Abram at th' Hoss Poo'; an' ther nob'dy liked his drink betther nur owd Abram.  Cloak-men walked i'th' front i' thoose days, an' Abram wur to be one.  He'd his cloak an hat-bant browt eaut to him, an' he donned 'em i'th' fowt.  Theere he walked abeaut like a hearse wi' legs i'stead o' wheels, neaw an' then stoppin' at th' dur an' yammerin' like a dog for a pot full o' drink, but nob'dy thowt o' bringin' one to him, though at th' same time he couldno' ha' spit sixpence.

    "Well, it coome to th' buryin' startin'; and owd Abram took up his place i'th' front.  They aulus put th' tallest i'th' front, an' Abram wur abeaut six foout three, an' as far reaund as a rake.  Off they went deawn th' Under Lone, an' they'rn gooin' to bury th' corpse at Newton Yeth. Abram had thowt o' slippin' into th' Bay Hoss, at Cutler Hill, an' havin' a pint theere; he could yessily o'ertak' th' buryin'.  But as they'rn gooin' deawn th' lone, he yerd someb'dy whettin' a scythe.  'Come,' he thowt, 'ther's a sign o' summat here, chus heaw.'  For he knew very weel ut wheere ony mowin' wur bein' done they'd be some drink.  He slipt eaut o'th' ranks in a crack, an' meaunted th' hedge-backin'.  Th' buryin' went on as if nowt had happened.  It wur quite common for odd uns to be slattert on th' road an' be picked up agen comin' back.  Thoose wur owd folk ut couldno' weel walk it.  When Abram had londed on th' backin', he stood theere like a popilary (poplar tree) wi' clooas on.  If he'd bin i'th middle ov a curn fielt, ther' wouldno' ha' bin a brid ut du'st ha' flown within a mile on him!

    "Well, th' mowers, as soon as they geet a glent on him, threw deawn the'r scythes, an' took off as fast as they could leather an' run, an' ne'er stopt till they cleared th' gate.  Owd Jimmy Squeeze-um had th' farm then; an' they ran an' towd owd Jimmy they'd gotten th' owd lad in his hay meadow.  'He'd great big black wings, as big as two cart sheets teed together; an' he flew deawn off th' backin' like a aigle!'

    "'Did yo' see his tail?' owd Jimmy wanted t' know.

    "'Well, we seed summat flutterin' i'th' hedge when he'd flown dawn,"' one o'th' mowers said.  (He wur owd Jimmy's son, Jess).

    "'Th' devil doesno' go far beaut his tail,' owd Squeeze-um said.  'Aw'll be bund he're after th' ale, for it's a dry shop wheere he comes fro'.  But let's goo an' see, lads.'

    "Well, th' mowers followed owd Jimmy to th' gate, an' he gan a hunter's sheaut.

    "'Ha-ha-heigh!'

    "Owd Abram rose in his black majesty eaut o'th' swathes, an' as he stood up he held a pot to his lips, an seein' ut owd Jimmy an' his mowers wur comin' to'ard him, he threw th' pot deawn, an' wur on th' backin' agen i' no time, wheere he seemed to be stondin', till at last his yead drops eaut o'th' seet, leeaving th' cloak flutterin' i'th' hedge.

    "'Didno' aw tell yo' ut he're after th' ale?' th' owd farmer said.  'Yo' said yo'd seen his tail, an' neaw his yead's gone.  Let's brave it eaut, lads.  Come on; this is fuss divil hunt ut aw're ever in at.'

    "When they geet to th' hedge theer wur th' cloak, but no Abram inside on't.  When he fund he're fast among th' thorns he'd slipt eaut on't, an' wur noane to be fund.

    "'Heaw's th' bottle, Jess?' owd Jimmy said; 'or has he takken it wi' him?'

    "'Nawe, it's here,' Jess said; 'but it's empty.'

    "'Aw towd yo he'd come fro' a dry shop,' owd Jimmy said.  'But neaw aw con see.  Yo'n read abeaut vampires, aw reckon?'

    "Nay, they hadno'.  What wur they?

    "'They're animals like great big bit-bats at fly'n abeaut i'th' neet time; an' if they getten into a shippon they sucken every keaw as dry as that bottle.  But aw didno' think they'd drink ale.  Heaw mich wur they' in it?'

    "'W'ed nobbut had two pints eaut on't,' Jess said.

    "'Well, let's get thoose wings eaut o'th' hedge,' owd Jimmy said.  'We mun have 'em stuffed an' hung up i'th' kitchen?'

    "'Howd! stop, feyther!' Jess said; 'ther's a hat here wi' a yard o' crape reaund it.  Wheay, it belungs to owd Abram at th' Hess Poo', an' these wings are a mournin' cloak.  What abeaut havin' em stuffed and hung up i'th kitchen?'

    "Owd Squeeze-um's vampire explanation wouldno' howd wayter when that wur fund eawt.  After they'd had a good laughin' beaut, Jess, at owd Jimmy's, wur sent wi' th' cloak an' hat to owd Abram's.  They towd him he're noane in; he'd gone to th' buryin' o' owd Dick's lad, an hadno' come back yet.  Ther to' mony co'in shops on th' road for him to come whoam afore dark.

    "'Is this his hat?' Jess axt.

    "'Aye, an' that's cloak he wore when he set eaut.  Wheerever hast' fund 'em?'

    "'Aside o'th' pit i' eaur great meadow,' Jess said.

    "'Eh, whatever's he gone an' done that for?' th' owd woman cried eaut.  'He knew very weel we could ha' nowt eaut of his club if he dreawnt hissel'.  But he'd nowt to do it for, unless he're drunken at th' time; and he'd had no drink when he set eaut.'

    "'He's drunken abeaut three quart o' eaur mowin' drink,' Jess said, 'an' if that wouldno' make him drunken he owt to have a brewery to hissel'!'

    "'He's never bin wi' th' buryin' then,' th' owd woman said.  'Eh, dear me, this drink!  They'n do owt for it if they'n dreawn the'rsel'.  An' he'd his Sunday clooas on, too, an' a new shirt ut he's nobbut worn twice!  Aw wouldno' ha' cared so mich abeaut it, if thoose hadno' bin spoilt, for ther nowt inside on 'em ut wur wo'th frettin' abeaut.'

    "Just then, ther a thunge coome to th' dur, an' owd Abram marched in, sweighing abeaut wi' just as mich as he could carry.  Th' owd woman flew at him, for his clooas wur as dry as if they'd bin hanged on th' maiden a week.

    "'Wheer's theau bin?' th' owd woman sheauted eaut.

    "'Jess, theau knows,' owd Abram said; an' he dropt on a cheear like a sackful o' booans.  'Rare good drink, Jess.  Couldno' leeave it till it wur done.  Pay for't, pay for't!  That's o reet!  Is th' cloak safe, an' mi hat?'

    "'They're on th' table theere,' Jess said.  'We thowt it wur th' devil comin' o'er th' hedge when we seed yo', an' we took off, an' left yo' wi' th' bottle.  Heaw yo' flew when yo' yerd mi feyther sheaut!  We could hardly get th' cloak lose eaut o'th' hedge.  But aw knew whoa's th' hat wur.'

    "'Well, never mind, never mind!' owd Abram said. 'Cor be helped, cor be helped!  Aw'll work it off i'th' hay meadow.'

    "'See theau never goes eaut wi' thoose clooas on nobbut ov a Sunday,' th' owd woman said.  'Theau's had a narrow escape fro' dreawnin' thisel', an' theau'll do th' job gradely next time.'

    "'Owd Abram shuffelt off his shoon an' crept to bed; an' Jess, at owd Squeezum's, went to his mowin' agen, leeavin' th' owd woman sayin' what a bad job it ud ha' bin if her owd leather-yead had dreawnt hissel'—chettin' her eaut o'th' buryin' brass, beside spoilin' a good suit o' Sunday clooas.  'Eh, this drink!'

    "'Things are different neaw," th' Owd Chicken went on; ther's very little carryin', an' nobbut short distances.  Ther's nowt like what it wur when they carried owd Nan fro' Wrigley-yead to Blackley—four miles at th' leeast.  That time they'd ony quantity o' carriers, for onybody ut could muster clooas o' ony soart ov a fit would ha' gone to a buryin', whether they'rn axt or not, if it wur nobbut for t' get off the'r looms for a day.  Th' only restin' place on th' road wur at owd Besom's, i' Kenyon lone, i' Moston; it's coed th' 'Long Vault,' neaw.  They set her deawn theere.  They'd bin some words swapt on th' road, ov a hard soart, an' th' bizness didno' end wi' words.  Ther two on 'em ud feight, Jack o' Jotty's an' Little Gorton.  Jack had borrowed his clooas off Tum Worra, an' his brother Ash'n had promised to look after em.

    "'Strip,' Ash'n said to Jack, when he seed things had gone as far as they could goo beaut bloodshed.

    "'Aw con byet that little foomart beaut strippin',' Jack said.

    "'Aye, aw dar'say theau con, but aw'm not gooin' to see eaur Tum's clooas spoilt.  So if theau meeans feightin', doff thisel, an' aw'll help thee.'  An Ash'n gees howd o'th cooat collar, an' it slipt off Jack's shoothers like a cloak, for Tum Worra wur a big chap.

    "'Little Gorton stript, too, an' a ring wur formed; but when they seed ut Little Johnny had nowt but a dickey on i'stead of a shirt, th' women wur shocked, an' wouldno' let 'em feight; so th' job ended theere.  Th' two feighters made friends o'er a pint, an' then th' word o' command wur gan—

    "'Gether her up!'

    "Neaw, folk 'ud hardly think that wur true, but it is an' it happened i'th' memory o' younger men nur me!  But look at th' difference.  Moston Lone, wheere that corpse wur carried through, is neaw thrunged wi' mournin' coaches.  Heaw that's done, aw dunno' know.

    "Folk wur badly off at that time, but they didno' think so," th' Owd Chicken said, when he'd finished his buryin' tales.  "That wur becose they'd seen no betther times.  They'n bin bad later on nur that.  We dunno' raffle a cow-yead every Setterday neet neaw, at tuppence-haupenny a chance; an' ther's someb'dy here beside me ut remembers dooin' that."

    "Aye, aw do," Rackey said; an' he shaked his yead o'er th' memory.  "Thoose wur rare dooments.  Aw won one time; an' when th' news raiched eaur heause, eaur Nell rommed some foire under th' oon, an' borrowed a stew mug.  Ther' sich a smell i'th' heause at bed time 'at eaur childer couldno' sleep, but kept talkin' an' sheautin' till far on i'th' neet.  We'd some wut-cakes on th' bread flake; an' abeaut th' break o' day o' Sunday mornin', th' childer had flown eaut o' the'r neest like sparrows.  Afore aw coome deawn steears, eaur Nell had 'em weshed an' donned, an' ready for th' skoo.  Th' foire had kept in o neet; so by th' time aw're ready for th' attack, th' hearthstone wur covered wi' toasted wut-cakes ready for bein' brokken into th' stew.

    "'Draw th' badger,' aw said to eaur Nell.  So hoo poo'd th' stew eaut o'th' oon; an' it wur like sittin' i'th' front ov a breek-kiln when it wur londed on th' table.  If yo'd seen that pictur'—three young uns reaund th' table, wi' the'r white bishops on, an' cleean faces, an' een as breet as glass marbles; an' ut a time, too, when other folks wur i' bed,—yo'd ha' thowt it wo'th while bein' poor to ha' seen it.  Heaw's t' weather, Cakey?"

    "'It's bin rainin' deawn thy face, if theau nobbut knew," Cakey o' Matty's said.

    "But heaw is it eautside?

    "We met as weel give it up for th' day.  Will it run another carriage, Chicken?" an' Rackey shuffled th' dominoes agen, an' looked deawn into th' pitcher.

    "Aye, knock agen," th' Owd Chicken said, scraumin' howd o' nine dominoes eaut o'th' pack.  "Aw've sowd two hens to-day, an' th' brass is mi own.  Ther'll be no hay makkin' this day."  They'rn gettin' then as if they didno' care for't.

    Ther another jugful browt in, an' th' heause seemed to breeten; an' so did th' faces ut wur in it.

    "Heaw wur it wi' yo'r Tum an' thee, Jammie, when yo' worked at Ba'sley pits?" th' owd Chicken said, when th' dominoes wur started afresh, an' wur makkin zig-zag lines upo' th' table.  Jammie shaked his yead, an' said he couldno' come.

    "Aye, thoose wur hard times for lads," he went on.  "Deawn the pit by six o'clock i'th' mornin', summer an' winter; an' for abeaut two months i'th' year never seein' dayleet nobbut ov a Sunday.  Lads known nowt o' that sort neaw.  Aw never meet one but aw feel as if aw could like to thresh him for bein' so ignorant.  We'd plenty to ate, but it wur of a rough sort, mooestly sleck.  Ther very few neplins amung it, an' no' mich for t' teeth to do.  Beef? nawe, beawt some farmer had a keaw deed.  Th' mooest o' eaur beef coome eaut o' th' pig cote; an' then it had to be like owd Ab's, carved wi' th' sithors.  We aulus foouted off porritch ut wur made th' neet afore, an' put i'th' oon to keep warm.  Th' skin wur so thick in a mornin' it ud ha' done to petch eaur breeches wi'.  It wur laid o' one side for eaur folk to mak wut cakes on.  My feyther wur a cotton wayver, an' used bobbins abeaut th' length o' mi hont.  Mi mother wun (wound) for him, so ut ther aulus a lot o' these bobbins i'th' wheel-yead."

    "But what han bobbins to do wi' porritch," Gatty o' Thrutcher's wanted to know.

    "Theau'll see eeneaw," Jammie said.  "If theau's getten no eights, whey didtno' say theau couldno come, an' no' play a seven to a eight!  Toe fair, Gatty.  That'll do!  Neaw then, aw'll tell thi' what bobbins han to do wi' porritch.  It wur a very cowd winter, an' we'd nowt but eaur coal-pit clooas for t' face th' cowd wi'.  Aw reckon eaur Tum thowt if he eat double quantity o' porritch th' wynt wouldno' ha' th' same chance o' blowin' thro' him.  One mornin', aw missed him i' bed.  He'd crept deawn steears beaut me yerrin him, an' eat every spoonful o'th' porritch what should ha' bin for booath on us.  Then off he went to his wark.  When aw geet up, aw pood th' dish eaut o'th' oon, but aw thowt it felt rayther leet.  Th' skin wur reet enoogh.  He'd laft his hauve o'er mine; but th' inside wur gone."

    "Heaw did he mak th' skin stond up?" Gatty o' Thrutcher's said.

    "Theau's never bin a collier, Gatty, or else theau'd ha' known," Jammie went on.  "If a collier kept yeawin' (hewing) coal eaut beaut proppin' th' roof up as he went, he'd very soon find ut th' roof ud bin like owd Berry's nose, it had flopt deawn.  Neaw that's wheere eaur Tum had browt a collier's experience in."

    "Aw conno' see it yet," Gatty said.  "A porritch skin winno' stand upo' nowt.  Heaw did he mak' it stond?"

    "Aw'll tell thee when aw've played chips," Jammie said.  "Neaw, then, domino!  That's one to me.  Heaw did eaur Tum mak' th' porritch skin stond up?"

    "Ay!"

    "He propped it up wi' bobbins!"

    Wi' tales like these, what would ha' bin a dreary afternoon spun on as if th' wheels o' time had bin newly oiled.  But helped wi' th' Owd Chicken's hen brass, ther' wur some happy heaurs added to th' notches on th' Calendar of Eternity.

    Ther one or two owd dogs among 'em, ut, sin' aw made the'r acquaintance above thirty year sin', had notched deawn a life ut had as mony events in it as th' history ov a country.  Aw'd seen thoose faces as sleek as meaudiwarps; thoose limbs as limber as a tooth-drawer's, an' wouldno' ha' shaked as they shaken neaw when th' wynt blows on to 'em, or a bit o' poverty tampers wi' the'r strength!  Thoose owd knurs had seen summat, an' felt summat, an' borne a lot i' thoose years beaut complainin'!  Dunno' begrudge 'em, ye sanctified followers o' Him ut praiched mercy—dunno' begrudge 'em of an heaur's freedom fro' care, if it con be had so cheply, for they're no wark to go to, an' couldno' do mich if they had!  Like a heause ut's bein' timbered, the'r wark i' this life is well-nee finished.

1.    Hedditch graise,—the after grass.


――――♦――――

 
CROWIN' HENS.


[Ab had been in Derbyshire for the purpose of buying a couple of black Spanish hens, and stayed the night at a lonely public-house.  He tells the following story of how he spent the evening at this tavern, in company with the old farmer from whom he had made the purchase, and a man whom he took to be a packman.]


AW'D noticed a tall gentlemanly-lookin' soart ov a chap sittin' at t'other side o'th' hearthstone, smookin' short fancy pipe, wi' a lid at top, like a little tae-pot, an' a cheean hangin' fro' it.  A big square bundil lee on a cheear close to him, buckled up wi' a leather strap; an' aw judged bi that ut he're one o' thoose Christian-hearted folk ut leeaven shawls, an' napkins, an' dresses at poor bodies heauses, an' never coen for th' brass,—Aw meean a travellin' Scotchman.  He seemed as if he wanted to talk a bit if onybody ud tak' up wi' him; an' as aw're on for a bit ov a crack misel', aw oppent foire at him.

    "Han yo' had middlin' o' trade to-day?" aw said, thinkin' aw'd hit him i'th' softest place.

    "Nothing of any consequence," he said.  "Poor neighbourhood.  Have you done much?"

    "Aw'm not i' yo're line," aw said.  Aw didno' want him t' think aw're a hawker, or owt o' that soart.

    "Eggs?" he said.  An' he looked at mi basket, an' gan a good puff at his pipe.

    "Eh, bless yo', nawe!" aw said.  "Aw'm noane a dur-to-dur shopkeeper.  Aw've nobbut bin buyin' a couple o' hens off this chap here."  An' aw motioned to'ard th' owd farmer.

    "Theau's had 'em gan thee," th' farmer said.  (Aw didno' think he'd bin harkenin'.) .

    "I beg your pardon," th' stranger said; "I took you to be in the hawking line.  Are they of a fancy breed?"

    "Aw bowt 'em for that," aw said.  "Aw dunno' know heaw they'n turn eaut."

    "Game?"

    "Nawe, black Spanish."

    Just then aw yerd sich a fluster i'th' basket ut seaunded as if th' hens wur feightin'; an' they sich chuck-aw-in gooin' on ut rayther put me eaut o' soarts.

    "Aw never knew 'em to have a fluster afore," th' owd farmer said, starin' at me as if he thowt aw' set 'em agate.

    "But if they keepen on i' that fashin," aw said, "they winno' have a fither whul when aw get 'em whoam."  An' aw jumpt up an' went to' th' basket an' undid th' lid.

    Strange!  They'rn booath blinkin' the'r een as if they'd just wakkent eaut ov a sleep, wi' not a fither abeaut 'em but what wur as smoot' as a bit o' satin.  That wur a corker, aw thowt, for aw felt sure aw'd yerd 'em feightin'.  So aw shut th' lid agen, an' coome away, thinkin' if they made no moore mischief nur that wi' the'r differences they met goo at it agen.

    Aw'd no sooner getten to mi seeat, an' had a poo at th' quart pot, than aw yerd another fluster gooin' on i'th' basket; an' they "chuck-chuck-chuckt," an' skriked eaut, till aw couldno' help runnin' to 'em agen, an' rippin' th' lid off.  Th' hens wur quietly peckin' the'r barley, as if nowt had happened, an' like as they wur before, not a fisher wur scrumpled!

    "Well, if this doesno' cap owd Harry!" aw said, as aw smashed th' lid deawn agen.  "Oather my ears han gotten turned reaund, or else th' owd Lad's abeaut."  An' aw went to th' cheear agen, lippenin' o' yerrin' another dust as soon as aw geet sit deawn.

    We'd quietness for a bit after that, an' we chatted abeaut what we'd bin ear-witness to, an' wondered one amung another heaw sich a thing could happen beaut booath blood an' fishers flyin'.  Just as th' owd farmer wur tellin' us abeaut two feightin' hens he had once, ut fowt till they'rn booath killed an' ready pluckt, ther' a noise coom fro' th' basket ut capt o' we'd yerd afore.  It wur nowt less suprisin' nur—

    "Cock-a-doodle-do—o—o!"

    "Theigher!" aw said to th' farmer, ut wur starin' at me as if he'd seen a boggart, "what dun yo' think abeaut that?"

    "Aw dunno' know what to think," he said.  An' he looked as if he didno'.  "Aw never yerd one on 'em crow afore."

    "Yo' wanton t' mak' me believe that," aw said; "but it winno' fit.  Aw met ha' known ther' summat wrung abeaut 'em bi'th' price.  Aw'm deawn o' crowin' hens.  Ther's one upo' eaur hearthstone crows enoogh beaut havin' one i'th' hencote."

    "Here, aw'll tell thee what aw'll do," he said; but afore he could tell me, ther' another—

    "Cock-a-doodle-do—o—o!"

    "Well, aw'll go to!" (aw'll no' say wheere) he said,smashin' his owd crusht hat upo' th' floor.  "That's a crow an' no mistake.  It's happen through bein' shut up i'th' basket.  But aw'll tell thi what aw'll do wi' thi—theau'rt noane satisfied wi' thi bargain, theau con ha' thi brass back, an' aw'll pay for o'th' drink ut's bin had.  Aw conno' say fairer."

    "Nawe," aw said, "yo' conno'.  An' as yo'n made sich an offer we'n be as we are; an' aw'll risk what th' performance 'll be when aw get th' hens whoam."

    That sattl't it; an' we yerd no moore noather flusterin' nor crowin' after.

    Aw'd bin so takken up wi' what wur gooin' on ut aw hadno' noticed ut th' candles wur lit; an' ut eautside it wur as dark as a oon.  Beside that, it wur rainin' like a speaut; an' th' wynt blew till th' windows flapped like a grate papper, an' ther seaunds i'th' chimbdy ut put me i' mind o' seeing "Macbeth" played at th' theayter.  Heaw must aw get whoam? aw wonder't.  It wurno' fit to turn a dog eaut, as th' sayin' is; an' aw begun a-feelin' rayther unyezzy abeaut things, not knowin' heaw soon aw met be tumbl't into th' lone an' made to shift as aw could.

    Aw geet up an' went to th' dur.  Aw couldno' see an inch o'th' road; an' th' heauses across fowt looked as if they'd hutcht the'rsels o'th back ov a cleaud.  Aw slammed th' dur to, an' went to mi seeat agen.  Onybody met ha' seen ut aw didno' feel comfortable abeaut things, becose aw'm one ut conno' feel one road an' look another.  Th' londlady coome an' axt me heaw far aw wur off whoam.  Aw towd her that didno' matter mich if aw could get to a railroad station; but as aw knew nowt abeaut th' country aw're in, an' th' neet wur so dark an' stormy, aw're i' some deauts abeaut findin' mi road to ony station they' met be abeaut.

    "Dunno' put yo'rsel' eaut o'th' road," hoo said; "yo' con tarry wheere yo' are if yo' con put up wi' lyin' on th' couch-cheear."

    "Aw'd put up wi' th' bare hearthstone afore aw'd turn eaut ov a neet like this," aw said, feelin' thankful for th' offer ut had bin made, though aw're a bit unyezzy abeaut what they'd think awhoam.

    "We'n two spare beds," th' owd woman said, "but we con nobbut mak' one up t' neet, an' this gentleman has spokken for it.  He aulus stops here when he's i' this part ov his journey."

    "Never mind," aw said, "aw con mak' shift wi' th' couch-cheear, an' be fain o' that.  Aw've had a deeal wur lodgin's i' mi time."

    "Theau may roost i' eaur barn if theau wants company," th' owd farmer said, givin' his crackt-turmit grin agen.  "Ther's an owd eawl, an' a family or two o' rottans ut ud mak' things lively for thi."

    Aw thanked him for th' offer, but towd him aw thowt aw shouldno' swap.  A warm foire an' a couch-cheer wur moore to my likin' nur a cowd woisty barn, wi' an owd eawl for company.

    "If you've no objections to a bed-fellow," th' strange gentleman said, "you may share my bed.  It's a pretty large one."

    Aw said it wur very good on him; an' if it wurno' for th' fear o' puttin' him to a bit o' inconvaynience, aw'd tak' his offer, an' be fain o'th' bargain.

    "No inconvenience at all," he said, "I'm accustomed to strange bed-fellows.  I'm rather addicted to talking in my sleep, but perhaps you'll have too fast hold to be disturbed."

    "Aw'm a middlin' good un at a snooze," aw said.

    "Then you'll accept my offer?"

    "Aye, an' thank yo'!"


 *                                      *                                      *                                      *                                      *


    Th' neet crept on, as neets dun when one's a bit jolly; company kept tumblin' in, weet eautside an' dry inside, an' tumblin' eaut agen, weet inside an' dry eautside.  Aw sung twice, an' th' strange gentleman sung too; an' we'rn as merry as crickets till th' company dwindled deawn to two, an' th' londlady's een kept gooin' up to th' clock.  At last it wur sattled on it wur bedtime, an' we prepared for flyin' up accordingly.  Th' stranger geet a candle, an' led th' road to eaur roostin' cote, me followin' like a dog.

    We clompered up an owd oak steearcase ut put me i' mind o' gooin' up St. Paul's, above th' "Whisperin' Gallery," an' at last we londed in a big woisty chamber ut favvort bein' a boggart-neest, it wur so dark an' eawlish; but as th' men said he aulus fund it a very comfortable shop, aw tried to put mi fears away, an' prepared for a good snooze.  We doft, an' geet into bed middlin' sharp, for th' wynt blew strung under th' dur, an' th' candle wur sweelin' as if it 'ad been in a ginnel.

    "You noticed the other bed," th' stranger said in a whisper, as soon as we'd getten nicely tucked in.

    Aw said aw had; an' wonder't why they didno' mak' it up.

    "Hush!" th' stranger said.  An' he gan me a nudge.  "It is made up.  There's an old miser sleeping in it now; but they don't want it known downstairs, he's so afraid of being robbed.  That's the reason I told you I talked in my sleep; because, unless you're a very sound sleeper, you'll hear him talk about his money; and you might have been alarmed if you hadn't known about it."

    Aw're alarmt as it wur.  Aw felt as if someb'dy wur teemin' cowd wayter deawn mi back; an' mi fleysh felt tingly abeaut mi knees.  Sleepin' wur eaut o'th' question wi' that on mi mind, an' th' wynt hutherin eautside, an' th' rain pelterin' agen th' window.  Th' stranger went o'er like a top, an' aw could yer him begin a-snorin' like th' seaund o' bagpipes at a distance; then droppin' off agen into quiet breathin'.  Heaw lung aw lee hearkenin' aw conno' tell, but aw'd yerd th' clock deawnsteears strike one, an' it wur ever so lung after afore aw shaped for topin' o'er.  Just as mi lids wur abeaut shuttin', like a pair o' cockles, ther a seaund coome fro' t'other bed ut made 'em fly oppen as if someb'dy had hit mi yead wi' a hommer!  It wur a deep moan ut seem't to tell ov a miserable conscience; an' sich a soik followed it!

    "Did you hear that?" my bedfellow said, part turnin' o'er, an' hearkenin.

    "Aye," aw said, shakin' like a dog in a weet seck.  "Is he beginnin' his nominy?"

    "You'll hear, shortly," th' stranger said.  "He always begins in that manner.  Hush!"

    "One, two, three, four, five, six hundred," th' miser said, as if he're keauntin o'er a lot o' bags.  "There should be seven hundred.  Where is it—where is it?"

    "I know where it is," th' stranger whispered to me.  "If you won't split you shall have half of it."

    "Nay, aw'll no' be in ut nowt o that soart," aw said, fairly shudderin' at thowts on't.  "Aw've led a honest life so far, an' aw meean to keep so eendway."

    "You'll be a fool, then!" th' stranger said, as aw thowt rayther savagely.

    "Aw'll not be a thief," aw said, "unless aw'm made into one."

    "I placed myself in your power," th' stranger said, "because I thought you'd assist me; and by the living jingo you shall, or I'll fix the guilt of the robbery on you!  I can do that."

    "Aw'll get eaut o' bed an' sheaut eaut," aw said.

    "If you do you're a dead man!"  An' he made a noise ut seaunded like th' cockin ov a pistol.  "If you won't share the spoil, be quiet, and I'll have the rest before the night's over.  If you stir or whisper, you know what to expect.  I've had this planted a long time, and I don't mean to be baulked now it's come to this."

    "What if he wakkens an' gi'es meauth?" aw said, thinkin' aw'd betther humour th' chap a bit.

    "He'd have his throat cut before he could utter a word!" he said savagely.

    "Yo' wouldno' tak' his life, would yo'?"

    "Wouldn't I?  I'd kill him as soon as I would a rat!"

    "Gone!—gone!—gone!" th' miser said, wi' another grooan.  "I'm robbed!—I'm robbed!—I'm robbed!"

    "He's only dreaming," th' stranger said.  "He always coughs before he wakes.  If he coughs to-night it will be his last time!"

    Heaw aw felt, noather me nor nob'dy else con tell!  Aw dar'say when a chap's gooin t' be hanged he felt summat like what aw did then.  My shirt wur weet wi' a cowd swat, an' mi yure wur same as if some'dy wur brushin' it th' wrung road abeaut.  Aw'd mi teeth set like a vice, an' mi finger nails wur fairly delvin' into mi honds.  Aw shaked till th' bed rings rattl't like th' rain agen th' window; an' if mi whiskers wurno' turnin' white, they felt as if they wur.  Then ther another seaund coom fro' t'other bed, wi' plenty o' moans an soiks amung it.

    "A hundred 'gone!" th' owd miser said; "a whole hundred.  Whatever must I do?  It will kill me—it will kill me!"

    "I wish it would," th' stranger muttered.  "I don't care to murder a man unless I'm compelled.  If he dies, it will save me the trouble."

    Aw purtended to be asleep as weel as aw could, but onybody met ha' known it wur nobbut dog-sleep, and ther quietness for happen hauve an hour, ut looked more like a whul neet.  Just as aw're calkilatin' heaw th' mornin' wur gettin' on, an ut day 'ud be breakin' soon, aw're startled wi' another seaund. It wur—

    "Cock-a-doodle-do—o—!

    Th' stranger rooted up.

    "What made you bring that basket into the bedroom?" he said snappily.

    "Aw dunno' remember dooin'," aw said.  An' aw didno', noather.  Aw must ha' bin rayther far gone, aw thowt.

    "Well, it's all one," he said, "we must'nt have any crowing hens here," an' he sprang eaut o' bed; rips th' basket lid oppen, an' had rithen th' hen's neck's reaund afore aw could get a word eaut!  Aw knew bi th' noise they made ut theyr'n done for; an' aw thout it wur a corker ut th' poor things must suffer becose, like some wives, they'd tried to don th' what-dun-they-co'-ems, an' crowed.  But aw could see o'er that, if ther no moore murder committed.

    Th' mon geet into bed agen, an' we'd another bit o' quietness.  Aw could yer some snoorin' gooin' on i' t'other bed.  Th' owd miser must ha' bin asleep, for o ut he'd bin robbed.  Aw did a bit moore dog-sleepin misel', neaw an' then peepin' at th' window for t' see if ther any signs o' day breakin'.

    "Are you asleep?" th' stranger said.

    I didno' onswer him.

    "That's right," he said.  An' he geet eaut o' bed agen.

    This time aw could yer here puttin' his treausers on, an' aw wonder't what th' next act 'ud be.  Aw didno' wonder lung, for he poo'd a knife eaut ov his pocket, an' oppenin' it wi' a "snick" ut froze mi blood, said—

    "You stir, or make a noise, and you'll have this!"  Then he crept to t'other bed, an' aw could see him feelin' between th' curtains.

    "Neaw for it," aw thowt.  "Ab, tak' care o' thisel'!"  So aw slipt eaut o' bed, an' crept under like a dog.  Aw'd no sooner done so nur aw yerd bit of frabbin' gooin' on upo' t'other bed.  Ther' a grunt followed, an' then a grooan, an' ther' summat after ut seaunded like th' tricklin' o' wayter!  Aw could howd no lunger; so aw popt mi yead fro' under th' bed, an' sheauted—"Murder! murder" as leaud as mi lungs could find wynt for.

    What followed close after, aw dunno' know.  Aw must have had a fit or summat, for when aw'd come reaund a bit, aw fund three or four folk abeaut me, mi bedfelly amung th' lot; an' they'rn rubbin' mi honds, an' teemin' cowd wayter into mi meauth, as if aw'd bin a tundish.  Aw're rayther suprised when aw yerd 'em set up a crack o' laafin', becose aw could see no fun i' one mon murderin' another.

    Well, heaw dun yo' think it turned eaut?  This road: Ther'd bin no murder committed at o.  Ther noather an owd miser nor nob'dy else sleepin' i' t'other bed; nor mi hens hadno' had the'r necks writhen reaund.  They're snug i' the'r basket deawnsteears.  Th' stranger had done everythin' hissel'—made o'th' seaunds wi' his own meauth—hens crowin', miser moanin', blood tricklin' an' lots o' things beside.  Here what they co'en a "Ventriloquist'" but heaw he shapt for t' do what he did bangs Bannocker, that's o!

    They had some fun wi' me i'th' mornin'.  Th' owd farmer coome deawn for t' see heaw th' hens had behaved the'rsels; an' when things were explained to him he carried on past owt, an' said he knew his hens never crowed.

    Aw londed mi bargain i Walmsley Fowt beaut a fither bein scrumpled; an aw could have a suvverin' for 'em neaw; so it wurno' a bad day's wark.  Eaur Sal grumbled a bit as aw expected hoo would, at me stoppin' o neet; but hoo reckoned it wur Kesmas, an' that mun stond for it.  Well, Kesmas or no Kesmas, yo'n never catch me sleepin' wi' a packman no moore.  He met turn eaut to be another ventriloquist!


――――♦――――

 
SHOOTIN' A THIEF.


FOR some time back we'n held a yearly rhuberb show at th' "Owd Bell."  Aw've won a kettle at it, as a fust prize, an' a pair o' sugar tongs, as a third.  Owd Juddie never could win nowt, though he coed hissel' th' best gardener i' Hazlewo'th, an' he would have it ut someb'dy stole his best sticks, an' happen eaut-showed him wi' 'em.  He suspected "Owd Peg-leg" o' bein' th' mon 'at tampered wi' his garden, becose Peg-leg had takken th' fust prize two year t'gether, an' th' sticks he showed looked meetily like his own.  Jack-o'-Flunter's said he'd sin Peg-leg hoppin' abeaut th' garden gate mony a time late o' neets, an' like as if he're watchin' for owd Juddie's candle to be blown eaut.

    Ther'd bin some bad blood between these two owd codgers for a good while, ut caused 'em to ha' mony a frap when they met together at th' "Owd Bell," or onywheere else.  At last it coome to blows, ut raised o'th' fowt, an' wur very nee gettin' one or two i'th' magistrates honds.  If ever owd Juddie stood at th' dur when Peg-leg went past he'd a set up a crow like a cock, and batted his arms for wings.  Peg-leg 'ud ha' crowed back, an' done a flourish wi' his stick.

    "Timber-too!" Juddie 'ud a coed eaut.

    "Short o' weight!" Peg-leg 'ud a sheawted back; and they'd ha' gone at it for about five minutes, co-in' one another o th' names they could think on, and very nee puttin' the'r noses t'gether at th' finish.

    "Whoa wur seen i' owd Dobbie hencote?"

    "Whoas heause wur owd Mally's clooas-prop fund in?"

    "Aw'll gi' thee clooas-prop!"

    "An' aw'll gi' thee hencote!"

    "Come here, an' aw'll knock that dibblin-peg fro' under thee!"

    "Thee come here, an' aw'll stick it through thi stomach, an' pin thee to owd England!"

    When they'd done everythin' but hit one another, they'd ha' finished up wi'—

    "Theaurt another!"

    "An' theaurt another!"

    "So art theau!"

    "An' so art theau!"

    Well, me an' Jack-o'-Flunters hit on a plan for bringin' these crowin's to a fluster.

    We geet some owd clooas, an' stuffed 'em wi' hay an' sticks, till we'd made a dummy as mich like a mon as we could shap.

    Well, we took this dummy int' owd Juddie's garden after we'd finished, an' fixed him wi' a stake at th' end ov his rhuberb-bed.  It wur rayther a awkart job for t' get him to stond as we wanted, but at last we shapt it, an' laft it, wi' th' body bent forrad, an' th' arms danglin' o'er th' rhuberb, as if he're pooin' a root up.

    Nob'dy could ha' towd th' dummy fro' a mon at that distance; an' when th' moon rose at th' back o' owd Thuston's, peepin' through a thin mist, an' dimly leetin' up th' garden, we could see ut owd Juddie ud soon mak'it eaut to be owd Peg-leg, or someb'dy else ut wur stalin' his rhuberb.

    In a while after, aw met owd Juddie gooin' to'ard th' garden wi' a gun in his hont, an' he swore he'd shoot fust mon he catched.

    "Oh, han yo' seen onybody abeaut here wi one cooat lap torn off?" aw said to Juddie.

    "Nawe; has theau?" he said.

    "Aye; aw seed him preawlin' abeaut here, an' favvort as if he're seechin' rags," aw said.

    "Did he limp ony?"

    "Well, aw thowt he walked rayther queer; an' one leg looked a deeal thinner nur t'other, as if it wur a wooden un."

    "By George, Ab! that's th' thief, theau may depend on't.  Dost say theau'st sin' him t' neet?"

    "This very neet.  Aw shouldno' wonder if he's amung th' rhuberb afore neaw, if he sin' nob'dy watchin'."

    "An' aw'll be amung him, for a ragg'd rascal!" Juddie said, cockin' th' owd blunderbush an' dartin' up th' fowt.  "Aw'll blow his tother cooat lap off an' th' carcase it hangs on in a minute.  Hearken eaut for a bit o' war, Ab—Aw'm advancin'!"

    In another minute Juddie wur at th' garden gate; an' me an' Jack o' Flunter's wur i' owd Thuston's pooarch, waitin' for th' signal o' battle.

    We could see th' owd ]ad peepin' o'er th' garden gate, an' stondin' theere as if he didno' know what to do for a bit.  At last he begun a shappin' for action.

    "Hum—m—m—m!" he sheauts eaut, as if he wanted t' freeten thief away.  But th' owd clooas took no notice.  So he sheauts agen.

    "Neaw then, theere!"

    Th' thief stood as if he never yerd.

    "What art' doin' theere?"

    No notice.

    "Art' pikin' th' best ther' is?

    Th' mon met be dooin' for he never budged.

    "Theau'd betther tak' o i'th' garden."

    Th' thief never offered to stir.

    "Aw reckon theau thinks aw dunno' know thi."

    Th' mon didno' seem to care whether owd Juddie knew him or not, for he stirred noane.

    "Theau'rt a tramp ut comes abeaut getherin' rags; an' theau's a wooden leg.  Aw know thi, mon!" Juddie said.

    Th' thief kept stondin' his greaund.

    "Aw think aw've said enoogh to thi.  Ift' artno' eaut o' this garden in another minute, theau'll oather be a corpse or else theau'll ha' thi timber blown away."

    "Well, blow away!" Jack-o-Flunter's said; an' th' noyse seemed as if it coome eaut o'th garden.

    Owd Juddie started as if someb'dy had shot him when he yerd that; an' he stood peepin' o'er th' gate as if he hadno' made up his mind what to do, neaw an' then duckin' his yead as if he're feart o' bein' banged at hissel'.

    Jack-o'-Flunter's crept eaut o'th pooarch, an' pike't a clod up.

    "Neaw for it!" he said.  An' he whizzed th' clod at owd Juddie, an' catched him just under th' ear.

    "Nay, aw'm noan gooin' t' stond that, an' ha mi rhuberb stown too," Juddie said; "so tak' that!"  An' bang th' owd blunderbush went, an' deawn th' thief dropt, beaut as mich as a flasker."

    "Oh my!" Juddie yeawled eaut, as soon as he seed what he'd done—"oh my! aw've shot a livin' crayther.  Whatever mun aw do?"

    Jack an' me dashed eaut o'th' pooarch, an' ran to th' garden gate.  O th' durs i' th' fowt flew oppen, as if they'd bin worked wi' springs, an' ther a creawd gethered abeaut directly.

    "Han yo' dropt him?" aw said to owd Juddie, ut wur stampin' an' starin' abeaut like somb'dy gone off it.

    "Shot him deead, Ab!—aw have, aw have!" he said, wildly.  "He's never as mich as spokken a word.  It must ha' gone reet through his heart.  Whatever'll come on me?"

    "Yo' should ha' aimed lower!" aw said, lookin' as sollit as aw could.

    "Aw did, Ab—aw did," Juddie said; "but th' gun bein' so heavy looaden it flew up, an' has welly knockt mi yead off.  Oh, my!"

    "Let's goo an' gether him up," Jack-o'-Flunter's said.

    "Th' job's happen noan as bad as it looks."

    "Here, lemme say farewell to yo' afore yo' go'en," Juddie said.  "Aw'm for runnin' mi country afore th' police getten t' yer.  Yo'n find th' gun i'th' doitch.  Aw wish aw'd never had one.  It'll cost mi my neck—it will, it will!  If onybody axes owt abeaut me say yo' seed me runnin to'ard th' owd coal pit.  Farewell!"  An' off owd Juddie flew.

    Jack an' me, after we'd had a fit o' quiet laaffin, ut very nee made booath on us brast, crept into th' garden for t' see heaw th' dummy had gone on.  A lot o' neighbours coome runnin' to'ard th' gate, wonderin' what wur up, an' then a clatter rose i'th' fowt like a wakes feight.

    Juddie had peppered th' owd bundle o' rags finely.  Th' cooat wur like as if someb'dy had getten a pair o' scithors an' kept dabbin' 'em through, an' ther a hontful o' pipe stumps an' abeaut a hauve a peaund o' leead lodged i'th' hay, just below th' waistbant.

    "This is a nice article for t' be co'ed a corpse," Jack said.  An' he off wi' his jacket, an' covered wheere th' face should ha' bin with it.  "Dost think he'll howd t'gether while we getten him eaut?"

    "Aw dunno know," aw said.  "It ud be a deeal betther if we'd a barrow."  An' just then Jim Thuston joint us.  Jim wurno' i'th' saycret then.  "Here Jim," aw said, "mak' thisel' useful.  Fetch a barrow, an' we'n wheel him deawn t' th' 'Owd Bell.'  He's very nee blown to pieces!"

    "Is he deead?" Jim said, an' he stood tremblin' abeaut ten yards off.

    "Deead as a milestone!" aw said.  "His face is so smashed nob'dy ud know him if it wurno' for his clooas."

    "Wheere's his wooden leg?" Jim said.  "They'd know him by that, wouldno' they?"

    "Oh, it's noan owd Peg-leg," aw said; "it's owd Setterday."  (That wur a mon ut went abeaut wi' a baskit, collectin' rags, an' sellin' print an' little tin things, an' aulus coome i'th' fowt ov a Setterday.  That's why he geet his name).

    Just then owd Peg-leg coome limpin' deawn th' garden, followed by abeaut a dozen moore; an' Jim Thuston shot off to the'r barn for a wheelbarrow.

    "Will he say it's me neaw ut's stown his rhuberb?" owd Peg-leg said, when he geet up to us.  "Aw thowt a bit o' leead 'ud find th' thief eaut.  Dun yo' know whoa he is?"

    "Ay; owd Setterday," aw said.

    "Husht," Jack o' Flunter's said, puttin' his ear deawn close to his jacket.  "He's noane deead, Jack groant, "Yer yo'!  He's just stirred a leg, too."

    Talk abeaut a race for th' Chester Cup!  Yo' should ha' seen th' start ther' wur for t' get eaut o' that garden.  Owd Peg-leg's timber quivered abeaut like a strake o' forked leetenin', an' ther' a lot tumbl't o'er Jim Thuston an' his wheelbarrow as they'rn comin' in at th' gate.  That wur just what we wanted.  We could get th' corpse away beaut bein' fund eaut then, so as th' skit 'ud last a bit lunger.  Aw had to fotch th' barrow misel'.  Jim Thuston du'stno' ha' browt it if someb'dy had gan him th' price of a keaw.  Bi th' time aw'd getten to th' gate he'd his yead stuck eaut o' the'r chamber window, sheautin'—"Is he wick, Ab?"

    Well, we gees th' corpse into th' wheelbarrow, an' wheeled it eaut o'th garden.  When we geet i'th' lone gooin' deawn to th' "Owd Bell" we met th' policeman, an' he stopt us.

    "What han yo' getten theere?" he wanted to know.

    "A deead mon!" we said.

    "Dun yo' know he shouldno' ha' bin stirred till aw'd seen him?" he said.

    "Well," aw said, "we hardly knew what to do, as we wurno' sure whether he're gradely deead or not, so we thowt it ud be best for t' shift him.  Yo' con tak' him i' hond neaw, if yo'n a mind."

    "Wheel on," he said!  So we beawl't deawn to th' "Owd Bell," Robert wi' us, lookin' as if he expected that job ud get him a dozen stripes put on his arm.

    When we geet i'th' Bell fowt aw set th' barrow deawn, an' Jack o' Flunter's poo'd his jacket off th' dummy's face.  Yo' should ha' seen that bobby!  Aw thowt once he'd ha' collared booath Jack an' me, an' marched us off to th' lock-up.  But i'stead o' that he set up a yeawl ut shaked his broth-pon off his yead, an' made three buttons fly off his blue casin'.  Th' policeman said he'd have a share i' that spekilation if he lost his yearly suit o' clooas by it.  So he went an' squared th' londlort while we geet th' corpse upsteears.

    Th' news ut a thief had bin shot flew abeaut Hazelwo'th like March dust; an' th' day after creawds coome to th' "Owd Bell" a lookin' at th' corpse ut wur laid eaut upo' two forms in a lumber chamber.  It wur a seet to see, wur watchin' folk goo into that chamber, an' com eaut agen—th' lung, sollim faces they poo'd gooin' in, an' th' grins or black looks they had on 'em when they coome eaut!  Joe Chaddick, owd Dick lad, coome a lookin' at it, an' he'd the'r Plunger wi' him—a big, leatherin' dog, abeaut th' size ov a two-year-owd jackass.  Joe said summat to Plunger afore he turned th' sheet back ut covered owd Setterday, an' th' dog put his nose to th' corpse an' had a snift at him.  Then they crept deawn th' steears as quietly as they'd gone up, an' went an' peearcht i'th' tapreaum.  Eenneaw ther three women eaut o'th' Lung-lone went up, an' they stickt to one another's honds while they went into th' chamber.

    "Fotch it!" Joe Chaddick said to th' dog afore they'd time to uncover th' corpse.

    "Wouf!" Plunger said.  An' th' way he raddled up thoose steears—knockin' one o'th' women deawn as he flew into th' chamber an' th' meauthful he made o' owd Setterday's breeches, wur a credit to dogflesh.  Th' women set up a shrike as if th' floore had gan way, an' afore they'd done givin' meauth, th' corpse were landed i'th' tapreaum—what ther' wur on him; but th' mooast ov his inside wur laft i'th' lobby, an' made a good meal for Cockle-Jack donkey, ut wur preawlin' abeaut th' dur.  Aw need no' tell yo' ut, so far as th' dead thief wur consarned, th' job wur sattled then; but it wur no' so wi' th' mon ut had shot him.

    That afternoon th' policeman marched int' owd Juddie's shop, an' wanted t' know wheer he wur.  Th' dowter said hoo didno' know—he'd gone eaut o'th' road somewheer, but wheer hoo couldno' tell.  It 'ud be th' deeath ov her feyther, hoo're sure!  Th' bobby said he must search th' heause.  So upsteers he went' an' into th' chamber wheere Juddie slept.  He noticed ther a bulk o' summat i' bed ut wurno' quite as still as a corpse.  So he turned th' blankets deawn, an' theere wur th' fause un, as white as a sheet, an' sweeatin' like a coach-boss!

    "Aw'm nabbed!" he said; an' he flung his arms eaut bed an' gan hissel' up.

    "Yo' mun come wi' me to th' 'Owd Bell,' to th' inquest," th' policeman said, an' he poo'd th' hond-cuffs eaut an' rickled 'em.

    "Aw'll goo beaut thoose," Juddie said, wi' a soik; "sooner aw'm hanged, an' betther it'll be, for aw'm toir't o' this life.  Yo'n gi'e me time t' mak' mi will, winno' yo,?"

    "That yo' can do i'th' prison," Robert said.

    "Oh, my!" an' Juddie geet eaut o' bed, an' donned hissel'.

    "If yo'n gi'e me yo'r word ut yo'll come beaut fotchin'," th' policeman said, "yo' con go beaut my company."

    "Thank yo'," Juddie said, "aw'll come as sure as aw'm wick.  Aw'll stond it eaut like a mon; yo' may trust me for that.  Oh, my!"

    Th' policeman hadno' gone mony yards fro' th' dur when Jim Thuston ran into th' shop.

    "Wheere's thi feyther?" he said to Betty.

    "Theau'll happen see him afore lung," th' wench said.

    "Aw've had nowt to do wi' this job, if aw had wi' th' weasel catchin'," Jim said, an he an a grin 'at 'ud ha' shawmed a Cheshire cat.

    "What dost' meean?" Betty said, lookin' quite gloppent.

    "Meean?  Wheay, it turns eaut ut that thief thi feyther shot wur nobbut some owd clooas stuffed wi' hay!  It's part etten neaw."

    "What's that?" owd Juddie sheauted fro' th' top o'th' steears.  An' he rowlt deawn, bump, bump, like a fooutbo.  But Jim wur gone!

    That neet they a bang coome to eaur dur ut seaunded as if someb'dy wur comin' through it.  Then aw yerd someb'dy sheaut eaut, ut needno' be named—

    "Coome eaut, theau yorney! an' aw'll warm thee wur nur aw did owd Peg-leg, theau limb o'th' owd Lad!  Aw'll byet o'th' fowt at showin' rhuberb yet, a lot o' thieves ut yo' are!  Ya—a—ah! "


――――♦――――

 
TURKEYLESS AND GOOSELESS.


"CON we raise a turkey this Kesmas?" aw said to th' owd rib, when aw could see hoo're thinkin' abeaut heaw we must get th' pastime o'er, an' th' best way o' spendin' it.

    "What must we do wi' it if we had one?" hoo wanted to know; becose hoo's one ut wouldno' waste a crust if her teeth could get through it.

    "Ate it, what else?" aw said.

    "It ud ha' to be a chicken turkey, then," hoo said.

    "Well, abeaut a dozen peaund o' one!" aw said.

    "An' dost think it ud keep a fortnit?"

    "It wouldno' ha' to do; aw could side abeaut three peaund on't at one sittin' deawn."

    Th' owd crayther turned a look on me, as mich as to say, "theau pig!"

    "Aw'd forshawm to say ut aw could ate three peaund o' owt at a meal," hoo said, skeawlin' at me as if aw'd bin a tooad.

    "But, dost no' know 'at we'en bigger appetites at this time nur at ony other?" aw said.

    "Nawe, aw didno' know that, an' aw dunno' believe we han.  It's nobbut a bit o' piggishness," hoo said.  "A lot o' folk 'll be rowlin abeaut o' Sunday, wonderin' what's to do wi' 'em, an' feelin' as if they'd getten th' Owd Lad i' the'r inside.  Shawmful!"

    "Well, mun we have a nice little goose, abeaut eight peaund?  We could manage that."

    "An' stink th' heause o'er wi' brunt fat.  Aw go sick to think abeaut it!"

    "Well, a peaund o' sossingers, then?  That's tumblin' fro' th' top o'th' steears to th' botthom."

    "An' supposin' someb'dy wur to come; what would ther' be for 'em eaut of a peaund o' sossingers?  Ther's a difference between starin' an' stark mad."

    "Well, thee try if theau con hit upo' owt for a Kesmas dinner."

    "Well, aw think if aw made a pottito pie, an' put an extry two eaunces o' mutton in it, that ud be good enoogh for us; an' if onybody dropt in they'd be a taste for 'em."

    "That's stirred my yammerin' parts," aw said.  "Simpler an' betther, if folk would nobbut think so.  Th' price of a turkey would mak' abeaut twenty pottito pies."

    Th' owd ticket put her studyin' cap on, an' aw could see ther summat grand brewin'.  Then hoo deliver't hersel'.

    "Ab, aw've just bin thinkin' it'll be a bare Kesmas for some folk!"

    "No deaut it will," aw said.

    "Aw know three families ut han hardly a bite i'th' heause, an' others ut han a very thin buttery."

    "Aw con gex whoa theau'rt thinkin' abeaut."

    "Aw day say theau con.  Well, an idea 'as just tumbl't into mi yead ut for th' price of a turkey we con feed these same as eaur Saviour fed his disciples; an' aw'd rayther have a plateful o' pottito pie nur aw would a bit o' barley bread an' abeaut two ribs o' Liverpool beef."

    "Sensible, owd wench!"

    "Well, if aw wur to mak' as mony pottito pies as 'ud come to th' price of a turkey, we could ax th' poor to have the'r dinner wi' us, an' be no wur off, but betther for it."

    "Reet, owd ticket!"

    "We could send cards eaut, like bigger folk."

    "Aye, an' stitch o' lot o' brass buttons to th' breast o' mi blue cooat, an' then aw should be i' livery, an' could tak' these cards eaut."

    "Theau'rt gooin' off at eautside neaw," th' owd rib said.  "Theau'rt sure to have some extravigant notion."

    This sattled th' line upo' which this great Kesmas dinner wur to be built; an' eaur Sal fotcht a basket eaut, an' towd me to go to th' butcher's, an lay in as mich neck o' mutton as would come to abeaut a dozen shillin', an' hoo'd begin of her wark.  So aw set eaut wi' a heart abeaut th' weight of a goose's wing, an' let o' Jim Thuston on th' road."

    "'Wheere art' off to, Ab?" Jim sheauted, seein' me in a hurry.  "Art sellin' eggs?"

    "Nawe, aw'm buyin-in," aw said.  "There's gooin' to be a show i' eaur fowt."

    "Well, theau needno' be i' sich o' hurry," Jim said.  "They winno' be sowd up yet.  Come an' hang thi nose o'er a warm pint at th' 'Owd Bell.'"

    "Aw hanno' a minute to spare," aw said; but at th' same time aw shuttert into th' 'Owd Bell' lobby, an' wur deawn on a cheear i'th' kitchen, as if aw're fixed for th' day.

    "What hast' up, like?" Jim said, when we'd getten eaur warm uns upo' th' table.  "Art gooin' give th' Kesmas singers a supper?"

    "Nawe, ther nowt i' my way; they're gettin' to' noisy," aw said. "But aw'm gooin' to give someb'dy else a dinner; an' aw set too, an towd Jim mi arrand, an' what it wur for.

    "Theau'rt comin' eaut i' grand style," Jim said, when aw'd finished mi tale.  "Could aw join in?"

    "Aw dunno' know; heaw could it be shapt?"

    "Wheay, yo' couldno' bake o thoose pies i' one oon."

    "Well, not at one time."

    "Eaurs is a three mouffin oon; it ud bake four pies at once.  Theau con ha' that, an' aw'll go thi hauves."

    Just then Jack o' Flunter's drops in.

    "Folk ut dunno' like wark are aulus ready for a pastime afore it comes," Jack said afore he sit deawn.

    "What art theau dooin neaw, Jack?" Jim wanted t' know.

    "Oh, aw'm idle on acceaunt o'th' weather," Jack said, "an' it doesno' affect yo' two.  But yo'n summat agate, aw con see.  Are yo' makkin' up a raffle for a turkey an' a keaw-yead?"

    Aw explained matters to Jack as aw'd done to Jim, an' he fell in wi' my notions, an' wanted to be one in at th' job.

    "Another listed!" Jim said; "we'st have a fine regiment if we go'en on."

    "Well, aw thowt to ha' bin a hauve creawn to'ard these Southport widows [1] an' childer, but aw see at th' brass is rowlin' in so fast they'n hardly know what to do wi' it," Jack said; "an' aw know one or two no' far off here ut con hardly keep the'r ribs fro' meetin', so aw think aw'd best spend it amung mi neighbours.  We'n list another or two for this job, if yo'n a mind.  Beside, aw'll go reaund an' beg as aw've nowt else to do.  Aw think aw con see a peaund or so; what say'n yo', chaps?"

    "Ther's no tellin' wheere this thing 'll end," aw said, an' aw mopt up mi pint.  "We'n just have another upo' th' strength on't," an' aw knocked.

    "Aw thowt theau're in a hurry," Jim Thuston said.

    "Well, aw wur, if aw hadno' let o' thee," aw said.  "But when aw put these things afore th' wife, hoo's sense enoogh to see ut's a dry job; an' things conno' be put square beaut a sope o' warm.  We'n just ha' this, an' then aw'm off," so it wur browt in.

    "Aw shouldno' wonder," Jim Thuston said, "if every heause i'th' fowt is wanted for t' put folk in.  It'll be like th' Heeteawn warkheause ut wur made eaut ov a row o' cottages, nobbut they'n ha' betther doings nur th' paupers had, for th' time."

    After we'd supped up, an' made arrangements for another meetin', aw elbowed mi basket, an' set off to do mi arrand.  Th' butcher wanted to know if aw're gooin' t' start a cookshop, an' didno' aw want some legs, an' beef, an' broth pieces, an' could he depend on my custom if he'd let me ha' stuff a bit chepper nur onybody else?  Aw towd him aw'd keep him i' mind if he sarv't me weel this time; so he threw me a sheep's yead in as a New-year's gift; an', looaded like a jackass, aw trudged off whoam.

    It isno' sich like as eaur rector ut known wheere to find th' poor.  They're noane so yessily fund as to tumble i' the'r road—well, not th' real poor, at onyrate.  It's like delvin' for cockles at Southport, when yo'r on th' hunt for 'em, obbutt there's no blowholes for t' tell wheere they are; an' it isno' likely ut th' rector would poke his stick i'th' sond to root one eaut.  'It's thoose ut han to be amung 'em ut known wheere to drag one eaut into th' dayleet, an' let a bit o' sunshoine on him.  He doesno' come eaut of hissel', an' sing i'th' lone, an' stop folk on th' road for a "copper," then tak' his "doss" into a vault for t' spend what he's getten.  A dacent poor body isno' to be fund i' sich company; an it isno' becose we dunno see it every day ut we are to think poverty doesn't exist.  Th' wo'ld we see may be weel fed, an' weel dressed.  They may flirt at saesides, an' show-off at churches an' chapels.  They may creawd eaur race-greaunds, an' Belle Vues.  They may pay their shillin's to see cricket matches an' foout-bo games.  But ther's a class ut connot afford to do ony o' these—th' sufferin', but patient, poor.

    It's bin my duty at this Kesmas time fort' find these eaut.  A poet has said, "Look under the leaves if you want to find nuts," an' aw've bin peepin' under some, an' fund what aw're seechin, but didno' want to find.  If we mun believe folk ut writen to th' newspappers, one would think ut o' th' poverty in a teawn wur i' one corner; an' ther's a cry goes up time after time for clogs an' clooas, an' soup kitchens, for this partic'lar corner, as if ther no poor to be fund nowheere else.  Is it becose this poverty shows itsel? or is it ut willin' helpers liven amung it, an' known wheere to look for it, while other places are neglected?

    Ther's poverty exists i' country places as weel as i' teawns; but it's hardly noticed theere.  It puts it best face on, as if it wanted folk to think it wur full o' good things.  If it's clooas are thin an' scant, an' nearly droppin' off wi' age, th' wearer, someheaw, manages to linder it t'gether so ut ther' shall be no windows in it to show what should be hidden, an' to mak' it look not only dacent, but i'th' fashion.  But follow it whoam, an' yo'n find a bare cubbort, an' bare shelves, an' a buttery 'at's never used.  Yo may find a four-post bedstead, th' pride o' betther days, but no bed.  Some straw laid on 'th floor sarves for a shake-deawn; an' to mak' believe th' sleepers are gooin' to a gradely bed, they striden o'er th' bed rail an' tumbl'n into straw.  Yet yo'n meet' em wi' smilin' faces when they turn eaut in a mornin'; an' bi that jaunty show, yo'd never suspect ut they'd bin beaut breakfast!  Th' art o' lookin' weel-to-do may be commendable, but it's a pity folk should be driven to practice it when it's a sham.

 

Turkeyless and goosless!


    Well, neaw for our Kesmas dinner!  Jack o' Flouter's turned eaut to be a good forager.  He's cheek for owt, an' would think no moore o' axin' a chap for hauve-a-creawn nur aw should o' axin him for tuppence.  Onythin' coome reet for him a bit o' cheese, a peaund o' sugar, an eaunce o' tae, these fund a place in his wallet—for beside a dinner o' Kesmas day, we'd have a tae party for th' owd folk o'th' Monday.  He're fairly weighted deawn wi' brass, an' aw could hardly see heaw we could get through it.

    It wur my duty, not a pleasant un, aw con tell yo', to list mi poor regiment, an' bring it up to th' battle greaund.  Aw went into a neighbourhood wheere ther a good deeal o' shutters up, an' heauses had a cowd air abeaut 'em, as if nob'dy lived in 'em.  Desolation seemed to ha' swept fro' one end o'th' row to t'other, an' takken everythin' wi' it.  Aw felt as if aw're eaut on a chilly arrand; an' tho' aw'd stockin' sleeves under mi jacket sleeves, an' a newspapper next to mi shirt, aw shaked like a dog ut's bin put under th' pump.  Th' fuss heause aw put mi yead into wur as bare o' furnityer as if it wur th' last looad ov a flittin'.  An owd woman sit wheere th' fender should ha' bin, tryin' to warm hersel' at a foire wheere ther abeaut four dull red cinders.  If hoo'd bin starin' at her grave, it couldno' ha' bin a moore melancholy seet.  When hoo turned her yead, an' seed me, hoo said—

    "Eh, Ab, whatever does theau want?  Theau knows ther's no twinin'-in to be done, for we'n had nowt to wayve this mony a week, we hanno'—we hanno!"

    "Aw'm noane comin' abeaut a job o' twinin'-in," aw said; "summat betther nur that just neaw.  Wheere's yo'r Isaac?"

    "He's gone a-lookin' after a bit o' coal for th' foire.  They say'n th' road's very rough, an' carts ut are looaden wi' coal conno' get o'er it beaut a deeal o' jowten, an' shakin' lumps off th' top.  Then eaur Isaac gets his share.  Sometimes nowty lads putten stones under th' wheels, for t' mak' moore cobs to tumble off; but that isno' fair to thoose ut th' coal belungs to.  What art theau after?"

    "Aw'm comin' a-axin' yo' to a potitto pie do," aw said.

    "What?" th' owd woman said; an' hoo gan me a stare as if hoo meant to draw mi inside eaut.  "A potitto pie, Ab?  It's so lung sin' aw tasted o' one, aw've forgetten what it's like."

    "Well, ther's above a taste for booath yo'r Isaac an' yo', if yo'n come to eaur heause i'th' mornin'," aw said.

    Th' owd woman shaked her yead, an' hutcht close to th' bars.

    "Aw dunno' know, Ab, what to say," hoo said, "aw'm feart it ud get us int' extravigant ways o' livin', an' we couldno' maintain it.  But we'n very little i'th' heause, an' very little to expect; an' it 'ud happen be a lift to'ards one's latter end ut ud have a bit o' pleasure in it; so aw think we'n come.  Wheere is it at?"

    "Well, it'll oather be at eaur heause, or at some other i'th' fowt.  Yo'n ha' plenty o' company, aw dar'say.  Mun we send Jim Thuston's milk cart for yo'?"

    "Eh, Ab, a potitto pie dinner, an' ridin' to it!  Whatever shall we be at eenneaw, aw wonder?  Are things mendin', an' win they howd eaut?"

    "For two days they win," aw said.  "Ther'll be a baggin' for yo' o' Monday."

    "Eh, whoever's dooin' it?  Aw wish eaur felly ud come, an' bring a nepplin' or two or coal, ut theau could bring a warm thisel' afore theau went eaut.  Theau brings sich good news, Ab, ut aw'm feart aw'm dreeamin'.  Never mind th' cart, we con walk."

    Wi' that aw laft th' owd woman, an' went to th' next dur.  Ther a younger couple lived theere, an' th' mon wur sit at a loom i' one corner ov a loomheause ut held four, but three on 'em wur empty.

    "Art' on th' push, Joe?" aw said, seein' ut he're i' sich earnest o'er his wark.

    "Aw am, Ab," he said, witheaut stoppin' his loom.  "If theau wants to talk to me come abeaut eleven o'clock t'neet, when aw've time.  This wark has to be eaut by Tuesday mornin', or else ther'll be thin dooins i'th' mansion.  We mun ha' nowt fro' th' shop till th' beeam grins, an' ther's mony a lap on it yet."

    "Aw'm come'n a-axin' thi to a pottito pie do," aw said.  Th' loom stopt.

    "Wheere an' when?" he wanted to know.

    "At eaur heause, i'th' mornin'," aw said.

    "Art' axin' me an' th' wife?"

    "Aye, booath on yo'."

    "We're comin' then!"



1.    Ed.—this reference might be to the 27 volunteer lifeboatmen from St Annes and Southport, who died on 9 and 10 December 1886, attempting to rescue the crew of the German barque Mexico, which ran aground in a gale on the Main Bank off Southport, Lancashire, while en route from Liverpool to Guayaquil in Ecuador. See Laycock's "Tribute to the Drowned".


――――♦――――

 
AB'S BATHING ADVENTURE AT BLACKPOOL.


IT wur at that time o'th' year when women begin o' ailin' summat, or pretendin' to ail.  Th' owd rib had getten her usual complaint, ut nowt but Blackpool air could cure, an' aw must write at once for a snoozin' shop—not a common un, wheer we should ha' to sit i'th' kitchen amung a lot o' owd folk smookin', but a summat between a wayver's heause an' a palace.  Aw set to wark an' wrote.  Aw went deawn to th' "Owd Bell," an' geet th' use o' the'r telephone; an' these are th' onswers aw had fro' one o'th' places aw wrote to:—

    "Ony blanket jumpers?" aw axt.

    "No, we are quite clear."

    "Ony cats?"

    "Only two Toms and two tabbys."

    "Are they cleean an' honest?  Dun they know the'r own milk?"

    "Yes, and other folks' too."

    "Ony dogs?"

    "Not of our own."

    "Dun yo' alleaw lodgers to bring theers?"

    "Yes; we have only two black retrievers and two St. Bernards in at present."

    "Not comin'.  Beggars an' brunt cork niggers, an' two-legged pups, are enoogh for me."

    Aw shut that shop up!

    Aw tried another.  Th' onswers aw geet wur quite ov another sooart; so we agreed we'd anchor theer.  It wur some sooart of a "Bank" wheer aw fixt on for stitchin' my cable; not a money bank—aw should ha' bin punst eawt o' theer i' two minutes—but a sae bank, wheer childer skop'n sae gowd by spadefuls.  Th' owd rib thowt that met do.  Hoo didno' like big dogs yeawlin' an' floppin' abeaut i' the'r weet feet, an' brushin' cups an' saucers off th' table wi' the'r great bushy tails.

    Aw telephoned agen—"Comin'!"

    "Theau's nowt to do but t' get thisel' ready neaw, owd crayther," aw said.  "O 'll be as straightforrad for thi as getten wed."

    Aw knew ut it ud be a job, ther'd be so mony things forgetten.  Spectekles wur sure to be; an', bein' summer (though it wur moor like March), her cloak.  Th' humbrell aw could hang at mi buttons, an' then ther'd be no danger on her pokin' folk's een eaut wi' it.

    Setturday mornin' coom, an' for once it wur fine; though aw'd yerd owd St. Swithin an' owd Boreas makkin' it up for t' have a gradely spree.  They chuckled an' laafed, an' said they'd mak' a wakes o' folk's finery, pride had getten to sich a height.  Folk hardly knew what to wear neaw, or what not to wear.  Eaur Sal said hoo should have a Tam-o'-Shanter bonnet, ut looks like a flat cake at top ov a woman's yead.  Aw said if hoo had, aw'd wear a Mother Noblett bonnet for a change.  That rattled it as far as th' yead gear wur consarned, an' we sallied eaut o'th' fowt i' grand style, an' deawn to th' tram afore some folk had flown off th' pearch.  When we geet to th' "Owd Bell," eaur Sal laid howd o' one ear, an' pood me past.  Hoo said it wur her day, so aw gan in.  We geet deawn to th' station i' good time; an' we'd a carriage to eaursels,—locked in.  Folk kept comin' ruggin' at th' dur, but it wur no use; they couldno' get at us.  Aw yerd a porter say—rayther savagely, aw thowt:

    "Don't you see who's in?"

    Aw rose i' mi dignity abeaut a foout.  Aw begun to think aw wur somebody.  Th' owd rib seem'd to think th' same, for her temper softened deawn to zero.  We'd quite a nice journey till we geet to Lytham.  Theere, eaur carriage wur invaded.

    Aw fund ther a difference between rich an' poor even i' railway ridin'.  If yo'n a workin' mon's toggery on, yo' conno' get i' some carriages; but if yo're cased i' tweed an' patent boots, an' are smookin' a cigarette, yo' con do as yo'n a mind.

    "This isno' a smookin' carriage, is it, Abraham?" th' owd rib wanted to know.

    Th' cigarettes wur dropt!

    We londed at th' South Shore at last, an' fund eaur "diggins" just to eaur likin'.  Eaur Sal said hoo felt like a lady o at once.

    "Theau'rt one thing short o' bein' a fine lady," aw said.

    "What's that?"

    "Impidence!"

    "Aye, well, theau's getten enoogh for booath on us."

    We hadno' bin theer lung afore ther lots o' friends coom a seein' us.  But they o wanted summat off us,—monkeys, niggers, an' a men ut played a whol' band.  An' Garman bands—one mon playin' an' four beggin'—wur theer, but not i' force.  Aw fancy ther' must be another war brewin' an' they'n be wanted awhoam.  When we'd had a comfortable baggin, aw said aw'd goo an' see if aw could find "Billy Windy," an' ha' a pipe wi' him, if he'd a spare un.

    "See ut theau comes in sober!" th' owd rib said, as a partin' shot.

    "Never taste!" aw said.

    "Aw know thee ov owd, Abraham; theau'll promise owt."

    "Well, tak' mi word this time," aw said, "an' dunno' rub it in so.  Aw'm gettin' too owd for a young mon's tricks."

    "Aw'm fain theau knows it."

    Wi' that aw geet mi owd billy, an' departed, as th' book says.  After a good deeal o' sperrin' aw fund my owd chum just as aw thowt aw should, as snug as an owd bachelor.

    "Hello, Ab, is that thee?" wur th' fust salute ut Billy gan mi.

    "Theau may lay thi life deawn for that," aw said, lookin' reaund.  "An' theau'rt Billy Windy."

    "William i' Blackpool!" he said.

    "Aw'd forgetten.  Well, theau looks nicely off."

    "Grand mansion for this street," he said.  "Two an' eightpence a week, when th' londlord con get th' rent.  But he thinks aw'm an owd boatman, so lets it run on."

    "An' heaw dost mak' thi time away?"

    "Like mony a one i' Blackpool, atin' an' sleepin', an' just twopennorth of a neet.  That's my life th' year reaund."

    "Dost never go to a concert?"

    "Yigh, when some singer gives me a ticket for t' goo an' clap for 'em."

    "Oh! they understood that here, dun they?"

    "Aye, an' givin' t'other singers th' 'bird',[1] if yo' known what that meeans."

    "An' is that o theau does?"

    "Nawe, aw'm sometimes engaged wi' a bathin' van for t' work fakes."

    "What's that?"

    "Well, when things are slack, th' bathin' chap gets me an' another—a nice young chap—fort' get folk reaund his machine.  Then we'n two soldiers for t' mount guard, an' folk begin creawdin' reaund, wonderin' what ther' is to be seen.  Aw tell 'em th' Duke o' York is i'th' van, an' he's just gooin' t' have a dip.  So my mate dives int' th' sae, an' comes back.  When he's drest, an' eaut, folk offern as mich as five shillin' for t' bathe i'th' same van as th' Duke.  That's th' road we raken th' brass in!"

    "An' will folk pay so mich?"

    "Aye, foo's wi' brass, an' ther's lots on 'em.  They sen ther's one born every minute.  Let me see, theau'd a bathin' do once, hadno', an' swapt clooas?"

    "Betther say nowt abeaut that, Billy." [Ed.—see Adventures at Blackpool]

    "Well, let's adjourn, as they sayn i' Parlyment, when they want t' pass summat 'at 'ud be useful.  Ther's a nice little crib close to, wheer aw get mi neetcap sometimes, an' aw'll just introduce thee to some o'th' liveley shrimps.  Theau'll find 'em poor, but jolly.  They're badly off just neaw through this damp weather.  Theau'd think the'r faces wur made eaut o' breawn mugs, they're so tanned.  Some o' these young swells are begun a wearin' boots made eaut o' boatmen's faces.  Yo' may see lots on th' promenade."

    "Theau knows heaw to tell one, Billy?  Aw've larnt off thee!"

    "If theau has, theau licks thi skoomesther."

    We sallied eaut.  It raint as it never raint afore, aw think!


"Wet, wet, wet, the heavens are dripping yet,
 The driving rain pours down amain,
 And heaven is hung with a pall
 Of clouds for summer's funeral.
 It blew as 'twould ha' blown its last,
 The rattling showers drove on the blast."


    "Theau'rt noan feeart ov a sope o' rain, arta?" Billy said, gettin' a dab i'th' meawth; "if theau art theau shouldno' come to Blackpool.  Aw yerd a fawse sort ov a felly say t'other day 'at if it raint mich lunger 'th sae ud run o'er.  That men wur born when Solomons wur plentiful an' foos skase.  Here we are.  Mind that speawt!"

    An' theer we wur, in a snug th' size of a bathin' van, furnished wi' shells, an' pot dolls, an' Noah's arks; we could yer an owd clock in a dark corner, but couldno' see it.  An' air o' humble comfort wur i' every nook.

    Ther wur nobbut two chaps in when Billy an' me geet theer, but we'd no sooner getten sit deawn our two moore coom, an' then th' reawm wur full.  Billy knew o on 'em, an' he introduced me to th' company as "Sir Ab-of-the-Gate—fro' Failsworth," an' they o drunk mi health eaut o' new-filled mugs, an' aw drunk the'rs, an' aw paid for th' drink, so we were pals directly, an' aw towd 'em this tale abeaut "Swappin' a Mon's Clooas for a Woman's."

    "Aw wur stoppin' i' Blackpool at th' time, and so wur Sam Smithies.  Well, one mornin' aw went deawn to th' beach, an' aw fund two bathin' chaps wi' the'r two vans, lookin' eaut for th' 'early worm.'  Aw shopt one on 'em at once, an' meaunted into his machine.  Aw're doft in a snifter, an' puttin' on sich bathin' gear as they han for men, we set off on eaur journey to th' wayter.

    "Th' tide wur middlin' far eaut, an' ther a nice rowl on th' sae.  Aw fund aw should ha' to goo a lung distance afore ther ony danger o' bein' dreawnt, unless aw laid mysel' deawn, a thing aw wurno' likely to do, for reasons yo'n soon larn.  Th' mornin' air an' th' wayther t'gether made mi feel a bit chilly at fust, but aw'd hopes ut that 'ud goo away i' time; so aw dashed in, an' waded forrad to wheer th' sae wur deeper, feelin' my road carefully, for fear a shark should have a snap at me, though aw'd never yerd o' sich like animals bein' seen abeaut Blackpool.

    "Aw'd no sooner getten my fust plunge o'er, an' wayter eaut o' my ears, nur aw seed t'other van rowlin' deawn to'ard mine.  Aw wur to ha' company after o, it seemed.  What surprised me, an' made me feel rayther narvous, a woman geet eaut o'th' van, an' made a plunge into th' wayter, as if hoo're used to sich like wark.  Hoo'd a red geawn on, an' aw thowt by that hoo must be no common body.  After th' fust duckin', hoo struck eaut to'ard me, takkin' strides like a she giant; for to my thinkin' hoo're as big as one.  What age hoo're likely to be, aw couldno' say, becose hoo'd her yead an' th' botthom part of her face teed up in a white napkin.  Aw didno' like o my shop by a good deeal, an' aw thowt it very wrung ut women should be alleawed to be so indacent as to come wheer men are, when ther's plenty o' reawm i'th' sae ut they con have to the'rsels.  Heawever, aw must mak' th' best on't, so aw waded as far eaut as aw du'st, th' tide bein' low, an' th' greaund flat.  But as far as aw went th' bosom kept gettin' narr me; an' th' plungin' an' rowlin' hoo did i'th' wayter wur summat fair cappin'!

    "Aw made a fleaunder i'th' wayter as if aw'd bin a capital swimmer, settin' my yead to'ard her, like a ship in a good wynt.  Aw'd flummax her if aw could.

    "That wouldno' do.  Hoo seemed to challenge me to come on, chus what aw did.  Once aw thowt hoo put her thumb to her nose for t' show me bacon!  That wur a piece o' unmannerliness aw couldno' stond at o, but aw didno' like tellin' her hoo wur no lady for t' behave as hoo did.

    "Aw're not i' love wi' my sitiwation, aw con tell yo; an' aw begun to ha' some misgivin's ut it wur done o' purpose.  Swim aw couldno', nobbut abeaut three strokes at a twell, or else aw'd ha' gone a hawve a mile furr eaut, sooner nur ha' bin thowt aw're i' other folk's road.  As it wur, aw'd my shoothers just buried, wi' neaw an' then a wave comin' slap into my meauth, an' lappin' reaund my yead like a weet teawel.  Th' owd porpus, aw seed, could swim like a cork; an' hoo did a sail reaund, sometimes leetin' for a rest, an' droivin' me into fresh territory.  If hoo'd nobbut get a bit fur eaut into th' sae, aw'd heave my anchor an' steer for t' shore, as aw'd getten rayther wakkery abeaut th' gills, an' ther a sprinklin' o' stragglers upo' th' send watchin' th' fun', as aw thowt.  Th' bathin' chap kept sheautin' eaut to me for t' keep at a proper distance, if aw're a gentleman,—a thing aw'd like to ha' done if hoo would ha' letten me.

    "As a forlorn hope aw'd purtend to dive, wi' mi yead set to'ard th' owd dame.  Aw'd mak' her believe aw could com' up within a yard or so o' wheer hoo wur.  But it wur no use; aw fund aw're blockaded, an' aw're kept dodgin' abeaut for twenty minutes or so, like a duck' at's bein' followed wi' a dog.  At last, when aw'd hawve dreawnt misel' wi' tryin' th' experiment, an' when mi limbs wur as numb as if aw'd bin lapt in a snow-bo, aw spied my opportunity, an' off aw plashed to'ard th' bathin' van as fast as aw could paddle misel' through th' wayther.  Just as aw're meauntin' th' ladder o'th' van, someb'dy fro' th' shore sheauted eaut aw're gettin' i'th' wrung shop; an' as aw're feart a mistake o' that sort met end afore th' magistrates, aw plashed off to t' other consarn in a dule of a hurry.  Theere aw shut misel' up, an' took mi wynt a bit; then aw set to an' gan my husk a good scrubbin' wi' a teawel for t' set mi blood agate a-workin' gradely.  A mon, seein' me get into my kennel, browt th' hoss deawn an' yoked it to th' van.  Summat he said abeaut me sheautin' through a peephole fort' let him know when aw're ready for bein' londed.  A very good contrivance, aw thowt; an' so far everythin' looked reet; but when aw coom to look reaund for mi clooas, aw seed a yeap o' silk or summat piled up in a corner, an' ut favvort havin' dropt off a peg; an' they a bundil lapt up in a newspapper at side on't.  Aw didno' want no scrubbin' then, for th' seet o' that made me break eaut a-sweatin' like a coach hoss, an' set mi blood a-tinglin' like a lot o' little bells!  Aw'd getten into th' wrung box after o!  An' just then th' van begun shakin' same as if th' hoss wanted to start off to'ard shore.

    "'Heigh!' aw sheauted through th' peephole.  'Stop that hoss; aw'm i'th' wrung boose!'

    "'All right, sir!  Caum aup!' th' mon said.  An' then aw felt a jerk, an' yerd wheels grindin' amung th' stones, an' aw fund aw're bein' drawn up to th' shore in a dule ov a pickle.  Aw sheauted through th' peephole agen, but it wur no use; aw met as weel ha' sheauted to th' pier.

    "'Aw'm i'th' wrung van, aw tell yo'!'

    "'Caum aup!'

    "'Let me eaut o' this cote!'

    "'Caum aup!'

    "It wur no use; as oft as aw sheauted for him to stop, it wur 'Caum aup' to th' hoss, an' things wur gettin' moor desperate every turn o'th' wheels.  Aw oppent th' dur an' looked eaut.  Aw seed th' woman wur just climbin' th' steps o' t'other van.  In another minute or two aw should be i'th' honds o'th' police—that wur sartin.  Aw made a last attempt to be yerd, as "Sister Ann" did when Blue Beart wur gooin' to shorten his wife by th' toppin'.  Aw lapt th' silk dress reaund mi carcase, an', climbin' eaut o'th' van dur, aw made another trial o' mi lungs.

    "'Heigh, bathin' felly!' aw sheauted, 'back me into th' sae agen.  Aw'm i'th' wrung box!'

    "Th' mon must ha' bin as deeaf as a shopkeeper when th' book's full, for chus heaw aw sheauted, th' van kept gooin', till at last aw yerd a 'Who-oy!' an' felt a jerk.

    "'Neaw for it!' aw said to misel', when aw fund aw're drawn up to th' beach, an' could yer folk talkin'.  'If ever theau wur in a mess, Ab, theau'rt i' one neaw.'  An' aw sit misel' deawn upo' th' bundil, an' begun mi meditations, like Robi'son Crusoe when he're shipwrecked.  Th' owd doxy must be a whacker, aw thowt, for her boots wur two inches lunger nur my foot, an' quite ov a monly shape.  Aw shouldno' like to meet her upo' th' promenade, an' her to get to know whoa aw wur.  Her nails would be i'th' road o' mi face, aw felt sure.  Just as aw're calkilatin' th' exact minute ut th' dur ud be ript oppen, an' mi carcase hauled eaut, th' bathin' chap looked in, an' axt me if aw're takkin' up mi lodgins' theere.  Aw towd him it wur as likely as not, unless aw'd some soart o' gears to put on different to what aw could find.  An' aw pointed to th' silk dress ut wur hangin' abeaut mi shoothers.  He oppent a meauth as wide as a cauve, an' after makkin' a noise like one, said—

    "Yo'r i'th' wrong burth!'

    "'Tell mi summat aw dunno' know,' aw said, crabbily, "'Aw sheauted till one lung gan way for yo' t' stop, but yo' oather couldno' or wouldno' yer me.  What mun be done?'

    "'Aw darn know,' he said, pokin' his fingers under an oil-case hat, an' scrattin'.  'What made yo' get in?'

    "'Aw're gettin' i' t'other,' aw said, 'but some yorney or other sheauted eaut aw're goin' wrung, so aw swapt.  It sarves yo' reet for puttin' th' vans so close t'gether.'

    "'Yo'r under a fine o' forty shillin' if aw wur to report yo',' he said, wi' a very comfortin' grin.

    "'Report away!' aw said, gettin' savager; for aw're shiverin' like a beggar in a ginnel.  'It's noane o' my faut.  Aw sheauted when aw fund th' mistake eaut, but yo'd getten yo'r ears full o' sond or summat, for yo' kept jiggin' on chus what soart ov a noise aw made.'

    "'Aw didn't hear yo',' he said.

    "Becose yo' wouldno' that's abeaut it,' aw said, 'But aw reckon it's o' as one neaw.  Aw'm in for it, an' aw mun get eaut on't o' some plan.'

    "'The lady's sure to send for a bobby,' th' mon said, wi' another comfortin' grin 'at raiched fro' one ear to t'other.  'Had a fellow locked up t'other night for on'y lookin' at her! '

    "'Hoo conno' find me a wur shop nur this,' aw said, 'unless hoo shipwrecks me at once.  Conno' some plan be shapt 'at we con swap beaut ony moore bother?  It's nobbut a mistake when o's said an' done.'

    "He looked to'ard t'other van for a minute or so, an' then he said—

    "'Signal!  Hond me that riggin' eaut; the old girl's blowin' a gale, aw con see.'

    "Aw honded him th' dress, an' th' bundil, an' th' boots eaut in a crack, an' towd him for t' square things up as weel as he could, an' aw'd stond a pint for him when aw geet eaut o' limbo.

    "Th' mon set off on his arrand wi' a deautful shake of his yead 'at aw didno' relish, an' leeavin' me like a new Adam sowd up to th' last rag an' turned eaut o'th' dur.  In abeaut ten minutes he coom back wi' a very comfortin' piece o' news for me.  Th' owd besom wouldno' part wi' mi clooas till a policeman wur focht, an' summat done for gettin' me eaut o' one prison into another!  A very quare feelin' coome o'er me, aw con tell yo'; an' aw wonder't heaw th' forty shillin' an' costs ud be mustered.  Heawever, summat must be done, an' soon too, or else aw should find misel' i'th' Blackpool summer-heause; so aw said—

    "'Goo as far as th' Darby Hotel, an' ax for Samuel Smithies.  If he's in tell him heaw aw'm fixt, an' ut aw should like him to come deawn.'

    "'All right!' he said, an' off he went.

    "It looked like a hauve an heaur afore th' chap coome back, an' aw're i' deauts as to whether he'd turn up at o.  At last aw yerd his shoon maulin' amung th' stones, an' then they a laaf ut aw'd yerd mony a time afore.  Sam Smithies wur wi' him, an' aw felt as if th' prison durs wur oppenin'.

    "'Heaw art gettin' on, owd swell?' Sam said, peepin' into th' van, as if he'd bin gooin' reaund a menagerie.

    "'Aw'm ready for a wrostle, if theau con find onybody o' my weight,' aw said, as cheerfully as aw could under th' circumstances.

    "'Theau'rt come'n to a queer shop for getherin' shells,' Sam said, peevishly.

    "'Let's ha' noane o' thi allin' ' (bantering), aw said; things are quite bad enoogh.'

    "'Theau'rt in a nice pickle, if theau could nobbut see thisel'!' Sam said, hardly able to howd fro' laafin.  Heaw dost like bein' a prisoner?'

    "'Well, aw dunno' like this soart ov a prison dress,' aw said.  'It's rayther too thin for this soart ov a summer.  It met do for th' Indies, but it's hardly suited to Blackpool.'

    "'Here's a change for thi, then.'  An' he chuckt a bundil in, wi' my hat an' my shoon, ut made me feel quite a new mon.  'Theau may thank me for this,' he said.  'If aw'd bin away they'd ha' wheeled thi off to th' lockups just as theau art, th' van an' o.  Theau'll happen mind betther next time theau comes a-bathin'.'

    "'Aw's never trust my carcase i' one o' these consarns agen,' aw said, 'theau may depend on't.  If aw do, they may wheel me into th' sae, an' bait for sharks wi' me.'

    "'Heawever did t' come to mak' this mistake?' Sam said, puttin' a glass to his e'e as if he'd bin a magistrate an' aw're his prisoner.

    "'It wurno' my doin's at o,' aw said.  'Aw wanted to have a quiet duck, an' that's what aw bathed so soon this mornin' for.  This mon knows, too, ut aw did mybest for t' keep eaut o'th' road, but they wouldno' let me.'

    "'Th' magistrates wouldno' ha' believed that tale, Ab, if theau'd gone afore 'em,' Sam said, wi' a shake of his noddle.  'Aw're watchin' thi o th' time, an' should ha' bin an ugly witness agen thee if aw hadno' bin a chum o' thine.  What'll thi wife think?'

    "'Aw reckon theau'll break thi neck for t' tell her,' aw said, knowin' at th' same time 'at he wouldno' lose a minute.

    "'Ther'll be no 'casion for me t' tell her,' Sam said.  'It's gooin' through Blackpool neaw like th' news of a murder.'

    "'Aye, that's it,' aw said; 'hobble number two.  It's quite time aw paid a visit to Walmsley Fowt for a change o' air.  If aw stop here mich lunger aw's be i' some mischief aw conno' get eaut on so weel.'

    "'Well, be sharp, an' lets get th' sheautin' o'er,' Sam said, lookin' reaund th' corner o'th' van; 'theau's had mony a public reception, an' this is likely to be one ut'll raise thi hat an inch taller.  We owt to have had a band for t' leead up.'

    "'Theau'll do i'stid of a band,' aw said, rayther savagely.  'Theau'rt as fain o' this job as if somebody 'ad laft thi a fortin.  Aw shouldno' wonder if theau's had summat to do' wi' bringin' it abeaut.'

    "'Aye, thoose are th' thanks aw get for helpin' thee eaut of a scrape,' Sam said, an' he put on a look as innocent as a new-born babby.  'But on wi' thi duds,' he said, 'aw con forgie thee.'

    "Wi' mich pooin', an' haulin', an' rippin', an', aw dar'say, swearin', if truth wur towd, aw geet inside mi clooas once moore, an' made a desperate jump eaut o'th' van.  I'stid o' ther' bein' a creawd o' folk abeaut, aw fund ther' nobbut an' odd straggler or two ut didno' seem to know what a grand play had bin acted upo' th' sond.  Aw felt betther satisfied when aw seed that; an' when Sam towd me he'd made it reet wi' th' owd duchess, an' ut ther'd be no pooin' up afore th' magistrates, aw begun to tak' mi wynt a bit moore regilar.

    What soart ov a crayther does hoo look like?' aw axt Sam, becose he must ha' seen her.

    "'Hoo's a ripper'! he said.  An' he held his hont abeaut a foout o'er his yead.  'Hoo tak's a boot as big as mine; an' aw'm considered to have a big foout.'

    "Natturally enoogh aw looked deawn at Sam's feet, an' gan a start as if someb'dy'ad prickt me!  Then aw looked at his face, an' fro' theere deawn to his feet agen, for aw'd seen summat ut gan mi inside a twist.  If he wurno' wearin' th' same boots as aw'd seen i'th' bathin' van, they'rn th' twin pair.  Had aw bin sowd agen?  Aye, an' cleean too, for he gan eaut a crack o' laafin, ut met ha' bin yerd fro' one pier to t'other.  He confessed at once ut it wur him, an' not a woman, ut had put me i' sich a fluster.  He'd followed me fro' th' hotel, takkin wi' him one ov his wife's dresses an' her bathin' geawn.  Th' dress he'd hung up i'th' van for t' leead me to believe it wur a woman's, an' th' bundil aw'd sit on wur his own clooas.  Booath bathin' chaps wur in at th' mischief, an' one on 'em, aw fund, wurno' quite as deeaf as he portended to be.  Aw knew it wur no use sayin' nowt.  Aw're fairly sowd, an' it would be fun for th' "Owd Bell" for a month or two.  Ther one comfort, heawever—ther nowt said abeaut it i' Blackpool.

    "'Aw consider neaw,' Sam said, as we'rn gooin' up to th' hotel, 'ut we're as nee straight wi' one another as we con be.  Theau's had th' upper hood o' me ever sin' we'rn at th' Exhibition, when theau eet th' boot-jack.  If ever theau's th' luck to get another score, aw'll forgive thi.  Lord, what an object theau looked wi' th' dress o'er thi shoothers; an' what a noise theau made when theau're sheautin' for th' van to stop!  Aw're as nee bein' dreawnt as a toucher wi' laafin at thi!  'Heigh, stop that hoss! stop that hoss!  Aw'm i'th' wrung boose! aw'm i'th' wrung boose!'

    "'Say nowt no moore abeaut it,' aw said.  'Aw'll give in ut aw'm fairly byetten.  Let's goo an' ha' some breakfast.  Theau conno' lick me at that!"

1. Th' bira,—Hissing like geese.

――――♦――――

 
TH' BOGGART O'TH' STUMP, OR THE ADVENTURES OF A STUFFED MONKEY.


[Ab-o'th'-Yate and some friends had been to Ashton-under-Lyne, and returning by way of Stamford Street, their attention was drawn towards a sale that was going on in one of the shops.  They decided to enter, more out of curiosity than with an idea of bidding.  The auctioneer was putting up a stuffed monkey for sale, and the following is Ab's description of the proceedings, and of certain amusing incidents which afterwards took place.]

NOTE.—The Auctioneer, and several others, are made to speak in a variation of the Lancashire Dialect which prevails in Ashton-under-Lyne, where the auction takes place.


"HEAW mich will onybody say for his gron'-feyther?" th' auctioneer said, tryin' to fix a pipe between 'Jacko's' teeth, ut 'ad tumbled eaut.

    Aw thowt aw'd have a go at that, so aw said—

    "Sixpence!" an' felt mi ears foire up.

    "Theau doesno' put sich a vally upo' thi relations if theau nobbut offers sixpence for an owd chap ut aw dar' say has gan thee mony a Sunday penny i' his time, an' happen gone short o' 'bacco through it.  Theau mun raise thi figure if theau meeans havink him i'th' family agen."

    "A shillink!" someb'dy coed eaut.

    "That's betther," th' auctioneer said.  "Whoa says another sixpence?"

    "Me," aw said.

    "That's eighteenpence," th' auctioneer said, an' he looked as pleeast as th' monkey.  "Will onybody say two shillink?  If yo'n nobbut just co to mind what yo'r gronfeyther did for yo' when yo'rn toddlink abeaut i' yo'r creepink, an' cryink, an' totterink, an' bumpkink-deawn days, yo'n say this owd mon is chep at ten shillink!  Just remember what Shakespeare says abeaut his own gron'feyther:—


Who from the coal-hole set me free,
And thrashed mi dad when dad thrashed me,
Then took me gently on his knee?
                                                  My gron'feyther.


Neaw, then, whoa'll bid two shillink for his owd friend?  Are yo' o done?  Gooink at eighteen pence.  Gooink, gooink, gone!  Here, mi young mowffin-snapper, this lot's knockt deawn to thee.  Just see th' owd gentleman safe into his carriage, as he's not quite so young us he wur when his pipe wur filled th' fust time."  An' he honded th' monkey deawn to me.  "Theau'rt a decent lad o' sombd'y's," he said.  "Ther's no mony young chaps ut'll fotch the'r relations eaut o'th' wark-heause, an' keep 'em.  See theau behaves weel to him, an' then someb'dy'll happen behave weel to thee when theau'rt stuffed!  Co at th' fust cobbler's theau comes to an' get a bit o' wax to festen his pipe in his meauth, or maybe he'll be losink it.  Gi'e me thi eighteenpence, or we happen shanno' part friends, an' that 'ud be a bad job.  Neaw, yo' folk, mak' way theere, an' let these two monkeys come eaut."

    Aw wurno' lung i' gettin' eaut o' that shop, aw con tell yo'; becose it wur rayther o'er-facin', when one or another said we favvort, an' wanted to know what mi relations wur o' t'other side.  We clear't eaut o' Stamford Street i' double quick time, an' made straight for Peggotty Lone, an' deawn to'ard Toanton.  We coed at an owd fashunt ale-heause theere, an' begged an owd newspapper, an' we lapt his monkeyship in it, so as nob'dy we met 'ud know what aw'd getten.  We begged a bit o' wax, too, for t' festen his pipe i' his meauth.  When aw coome t' examine th' owd lad, aw fund he'd lost one e'e upo' th' road; an' th' wool his yead wur stuffed wi' showed through th' hole.  It wur th' fust time ut ever aw'd sin a one-e'ed monkey, an' aw dunno' want t' see another.  Yo' conno' form no idea o' what it's like!  Th' odd peeper lookin' as if it wur twinklin' wi' mischief, an' t'other summat like a window-hole wi' th' frame blown eaut, an' th' blind poo'd deawn; nobbut it wur sich a poor little window-hole, an' th' blind wur so dusty an' ragged.  Poor little "Jacko!"

    It had gone eight o'clock when we laft th' ale-heause, an' set eaut for th' "Wo Steel," but it wur very nee as leet as day.

    Th' fust performance we had wi' th' monkey wur at that bridge ut crosses th' canell lookin' deawn into Daisy Nook.  We'd set him deawn on' th' bridge wo (wall) while we rested, never thinkin' o' mischief.  Just then we yerd someb'dy comin' whistlin' up th' broo, an' th' thowt struck us we'd have a skit wi' him.  So we went to th' bend o'th' road, wheere he couldno' see us.  When he geet on th' bridge, he stopt, looked at th' monkey, an', beaut sayin' a word, dashed into th' canell.  Then he darted through th' edge at t'other side, an' set eaut a-runnin' like a racer.  He're a collier eaut o'th' Nook, goin' a coortin' to Toantan.  His sweetheart would have a damp reception!

    So we plunged deawn into th' valley, an' o'er th' wooden bridge, an' passed wheere neaw's coed "Red Bill's."  We climbed th' foout-road at th' back, an' stopt at thoose stumps at th' top.  Then we unlapt th' monkey.  Charlie-o'-Tum's made a cap eaut o'th' newspapper, an' donned it upo' Jacko's yead, an' yo' never seed sich a dule as he looked i' yo'r life!  We fixed him upo' th' stump wi' his face to th' moon; an' when we went deawn th' road a bit for t' see heaw he looked at a distance, aw dunno' believe they ony one o'th' three dust ha' gone nee th' stump hissel'.  Then we crept o'th' back o'th' hedge i'th' corner, an' waited for t' see what ud turn up.

    Ther' wurno' as mony folk went that road then as goes neaw; an' aw da'say we waited ten minutes afore we yerd a seaund o' feet.  Ther some singin' coom up fro' th' botthom, we could yer, an' it geet leauder, so it must be comin' nar.  Then we seed a young chap wi' a basket just rising th' broo.  Aw reckon he'd bin to Ash'n a shoppin', an' wur comin' whoam to Woodheauses.  He sung as he drew up—


"It's of a farmer's daughter
     In Lincolnshire did dwell,
 And she was loved by a young man,
     And this was what befell:
 The farmer he would not consent
     That these two should be w―"


    Th' music an' singer stopt booath at once, very suddently; an' th' basket wur set deawn.  Th' men oather wanted a rest or summat.  We could see him stondin' theere, lookin' to'ard th' monkey; an' by th' height he wore his cap, we calkilated his yure wur risin' an' his pluck droppin'.  He stood as still as th' monkey for abeaut five minutes, an' wur starin' at it o'th' time.  Then he looked beheend him for t' see, as we thowt, if they ony company upo' th' road.  Eenneaw, we yerd another pair o' clogs comin' up th' broo; an' another yead an' shoothers hove i'th' seet.

    "What hast getten i' thi basket, Bill?" t'other mop said, when he coome up; "summat heavy, as theau'rt restin'?"

    "Nawe, but sithi, Joe, look at yond stump," Bill said.

    "Aye; somebry's whitewesht th' top on't, aw see, for dark neets," Joe said.

    "Nay, it's summat wick," Bill said, an' they crept a bit nar.

    "Aye, it's a hare," Joe said.  "If aw'd a gun aw'd have a rare dinner t' morn.  Let's creep softly to it.  If it's asleep we may catch it.  Howd, stop, Bill!  It's th' wrung shap o' ears for a hare.  It's moore like a cat.  An' look, it's a white e'e an' a black un," an' he sung eaut—"Heigh, cats, wha-awe, ger eaut theere!"  But th' boggart stirred noan.

    "Aw'll goo a bit nar, if theau will," Bill said.

    "Come on, then," an' Joe led up abeaut four strides, Bill at back on him.  "Not an inch furr," he said; "it may fly at us!  That's a quare animal, Bill; it must ha' brokken eaut o' some show."

    "Aw da'say it's summat ut owd Will Kneet has browt, an' it's getten loce," Bill said.  "Did t' ever see a scorpion?"

    "Nawe."

    "Did t' ever see a cherubim?"

    "Nawe."

    "Did t' ever see—"

    "It's th' Owd Lad, Bill!"  An' th' way th' basket wur swung deawn that broo, an' th' height ut two pair o' heels flew, wur th' next thing to a merrikil!

    In another minute or two we seed 'em skutterin' across th' next fielt as hard as they could leather an' run, turnin' the'r yeads middlin' oft, for t' see if owt wur followin', till a crash i'th' hedge towd us they'd getten away.

    In a while we yerd some moore voices, an' peepin' through a gap we could see two cooarters comin'.

    "If aw dunno' meean what aw say, aw'll ha' mi ears chopt off," wur th' fust words we could mak' eaut, an' it wur th' lad ut spoke.

    "Aye, theau says so," th' wench said; "but theau towd Mary Cloof theau'd have her, an' theau's cooarted two sin' theau gan Mary up.  Ther's no believink chaps neaw-a-days."

    "But aw never liked nob'dy same as aw like thee," th' lad said.  An' he squose th' wench's hont till hoo said "Oh!"  "Beside, it wur Mary ut gan me up, becose hoo see'd me spakink to Betty Chatherton.  As for cooartink thoose t'other wenches, aw'd hardly getten agate wi' 'em when aw fund it eaut they'rn noane my soart.  Aw'd ha' had Mary if hoo'd ha' had me, becose hoo could wayve as mich in a fortnit as oather o'th' t'others con i' three week."

    "Do'st' meean t' say theau never cooarted Betty Chatherton?" th' wench said, an' they stopt.

    "Never a minute," th' lad said; "hoo'd ha' nowt to say to me."

    "An' dost meean t' say theau likes me th' best ov onybody?" th' wench said.

    "Like thee!  Aw like thee betther nur butther i' mi traycle or afterinks to mi porritch.  Like thee!"  An' th' lad had a skrawm at two armful o' plod gingham.

    "An' theau'll ha' me, an' nob'dy elze?"

    "Aye, as soon as thi feyther'll lemme com' i'th' heause, aw will."

    "Theau'll stick to thi promise?"

    "Stick!  If aw brake it aw wish that minute the de――eh, dear, my mam――he's theere!"

    Aw should say that couple never walked eaut agen.  That ut should ha' shown th' best pluck wur at th' botthom o'th' broo afore t'other knew what he'd laft her for; an' we could yer him sheautin' fro' th' back o' Red Bill's—

    "Tak' her, Mesther Sattin—hoo mends stockinks ov a Sunday!"

    Heawever, "Mesther Sattin" didno' tak' her; for th' wench had no sooner getten a glent at th' stump, nur off hoo set after her "false young man" as fast as her clogs would carry her.  A skit like that finds th' depth o' folk sometimes!

    Well, just as we'rn considerin' whether we hadno' had enoogh o' fun eaut o'th' monkey, we yerd someb'dy else comin' t'other road on.  We believed he're one o'th' Andrey's, but we couldno' mak' eaut which.

    "Cats!" he sheauted.

    No effect.

    "Ger off theere, pussy!"

    Nowt stirred.

    "It is a cat, surely," he said to hissel'.  An' he coome wi' a bit ov a stagger reet up to th' stump, but started back as soon as he'd had a peep at Jacko.  "It's time aw gan o'er drinkink," he said, "if aw begin a-seeink thoose things off six pints.  Aw've yerd folk talk abeaut seeink th' blue uns, but this is a breawn un.  Aw mun ha' no moore o' Bob Tayliour fourpenny if it's begun a-sarvink me this road.  Aw'll go to th' Dog for th' next.  Cats!  Nawe, it's a gradely breawn un—a one-e'ed imp, too, it is—pipe in it meauth an' a papper cap on.  Aw've yerd tell o' squirrel-tailed uns beink seen after a week's fuddlink, but when it comes to seink a little dule ut likes his 'bacco off six pints, it shows a wake place somewheere.  It's time aw're teetotal at ony rate; an' aw will be neaw mowink time's o'er.  Ther's some acceauntin' for boggarts neaw.  Aw never believed they' wur ony nobbut what are i' folks' een when the'r cubbort's a bit damp or eaut o' flunter.  Cats!  It's a breawn un—it's a breawn un!  Aw'll sit here till it go's away."  An' deawn he dropt upo' th' hedge-backin', an' wur snorin' asleep i' two minutes, as seaund, very nee, as Jacko hissel'.

    We crept eaut o' eaur hoidin' place then, an' shifted th' monkey off his pearch.

    When aw geet whoam aw dustno' tak' th' monkey int' th' heause for fear o' eaur folk seein' it.  So aw stabled him in an owd pigcote ut wur used for nowt nobbut keepin' foirewood in, thinkin' it ud never be fund eaut.  Aw're just meauntin' th' steears for gooin' t' bed when mi feyther coome bangin' through th' kitchen, wi' his face covered wi' blood, an lookin' as wild as if someb'dy had shot at him.

    "Eh, whatever's to do wi' thi?" mi mother skriked eaut, welly feeart eaut ov her wits.

    "Th' Owd Lad's i'th' pig-cote," mi feyther said, as soon as he could spake.  "Aw seed him hutch i'th' corner, wi' a pipe i' his meauth.  He blew th' candle eaut when aw're piken' a bit o' wood up.  Aw very nee tup't th' wo deawn wi' gettin' eaut o'th' road."

    "Theau'rt dreamin', surely!" mi mother said.

    "Am aw?  Goo an' see for thisel'," mi feyther said.  "Aw thowt they some fearin' abeaut, we'n had sich bad luck wi' th' hens lately."

    Aw yerd nowt no moore, but slipt into bed, an' th' mornin' after, aw fund "Jacko" fresh quarters till aw sowd him to a hawker for three-an' sixpence.  Mi feyther never fund me eaut, but believed to his deein' day ut he'd seen Owd Nick i'th' pig-cote; while for years after, folk abeaut th' Woodheauses an' th' edge o'th' Moss believed i'th' "Boggart o'th' Stump."


――――♦――――



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