Adventures at Blackpool
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ADVENTURES AT BLACKPOOL.

 

EH, BILL! COME TO BLACKPOOL.


EH, BILL, come to Blackpool! an' bring thi Wife, Mary,
    Hoo looks fairly run deawn wi' moilin' through t' day;
An' bring Jack an' Nelly — that curly-nobbed fairy —
    That cowf ut hoo's getten ull soon pass away.
It's lively just neaw — for there's crowds o' folk walkin'
    Up an' deawn th' Promenade fro' mornin' till neet;
They're as happy as con be, lowfin' an' tawkin' —
    By gum, Blackpool just neaw's a rally grand seet!

Come on to Blackpool — yo' may spend a nice hower
    In a sail fro' th' North Pier to Fleetwood an' back;
Or a grand afternoon i' roamin' through th' Tower,
    For th' monkeys an' tigers ull pleose yore Jack.
Yo' may goo on to th' piers — there's skatin' an' dancin',
    Or ride to th' South Shore, an' get fun eaut o' th' fair;
Or tak' th' childer on t' sands, an' jine i' their prancin',
    An' help um build castles — theau's built some i'th' air

Get ready: come neaw! for I've getten a notion
    Ut a sniff o'th' briny ull do yo aw good;
An' breathin' th' ozone fro' th' owd rollickin' ocean
    Is th' reet soart o' physic to tingle one's blood.
Yo want'en a change — maybe Fayther Time's markin'
    A notch in his stick as each yer ebbs away;
So pack up thi luggage, tha connot keep warkin' —
    If tha o'erdraws Natur, tha'll have to repay.

So come on to Blackpool, yo'll never repent it,
    It's a rare bracin' place for owd folk an' young,
This invite's i' good faith, tha'll be glad as I sent it,
    It's a good salve for dumps to mix up wi' t'thrung.
It's a lovely sayside for rest or for pleasure,
    Wi' th' waves rowlin' high or just lavin' one's feet;
Yo' may strowl upo' th' cliffs — get health without measure,
    So come, an' durnt miss such a glorious treat.

LANGFORD SAUNDERS



CHAPTER I.


SAM SMITHIES has turned up again; and moore than that, he's getten hissel' hooked.  If yo' wanten me t' be a bit plainer, he's ta'en to hissel' a "rib" ut he didno' keaunt on th' last time we yerd abeaut him.  Made me get to know this, someb'dy sent me a mournin' card a week or two sin' with this on—



    "What a pity!" eaur Sal said, when hoo'd read th' card.

    "What is?" I said, seein' ut hoo're knockin' her yead again a gravestone.

    "Wheay ut he's deead," hoo said, pooin a face as would ha been quite lung enoogh for th' deeath of a rich uncle.  "He looked likely enoogh when he're livin'."

    "Theaw's getten howd o' th' wrung end o' that lot," I said.  "Sam's nobbut put his neck in a noose."

    "What, an' hanged hissel'?" hoo said, wi' a shudder.

    "Hanged hissel' i' one sense, but not in another," I said.  "He taks his wynt just same as he did, I dar'say; but for liberty o' limb, an' havin' his own road, he's as deead as a dur-nail."

    "Prison?" the owd un said, throwin' up her e'en in a mystarious way.

    "Reet, owd jockey, this time," I said.  "Sam's a prisoner in his own heause.  He's getten wed.  That's what he's gone an' done."

    Hoo whizzed hersel' reaund when hoo yerd that; threw the card i' th' fire, an' dashed into th' loomheause.

    "Bobbins!" hoo sheauted, in a snappy way.  "Knock that lad off th' stoo' if he doesno' get on with his wyndin'.  Yo'r o alike; that's what yo' are."  Then her shuttle went as fast as her tongue does sometimes.

    Just as I're ponderin' abeaut things, and wonderin' if I should set mysel' reet wi' Sam neaw he'd happened this misfortin', Dick, th' hostler, popt in, an' said I're wanted at th' Owd Bell.  I snaiked my hat off th' peg at once, an' shot eaut o' th' heause while eaur Sal's loom wur gooin', for t' see whoa it wur ut wanted me.  When I geet deawn to th' owd rallyin'-shop whoa should I find theere but Sam Smithies an' his new wife, lookin' as breet an' as glossy, they wur, as a pair o' buzzerts.  I're rayther gloppent, I con tell yo', but I must put th' best face on't I could.

    "Ab," Sam said, gettin howd o' my hont, an' shakin' it in his owd-fashint way, "let bygones be by-gones.  Heaw arta?  This is my wife.  Minnie, love, Ab-o'-th'-Yate."  An' he turned to his new rib, an' grinned like a doancin'-mesther.

    "Do, sir?" his wife whispered, as if spakin' gradely would ha' brasted her.  And hoo offered me a kid gloove, as if hoo wanted me to poo it off her hont.

    I said I're toll-loll, and hoped hoo're th' same.

    " 'K you!  How is Mrs. Fletcher?"

    "Quite remarkable," I said.

    " 'K you!  Would you—a—."  I couldno' exactly catch what hoo whispered beside; but, aimin' rooghly at th' mark, I said—

    "Well, I'd as lief have a pint as owt yo' con set me."

    "I mean, would you have the kindness to introduce me to—a—Missis Fletcher?" hoo said, a bit leauder this time, ut fotcht some colour i' my face.  I could see I'd put my foout in't, as us'al.

    "Ay," I said; "I'd do that in a minit, if hoo're here."

    "Can't you send?"

    "Here, Dick," Sam said to th' hostler, "goo an' fetch th' owd stockin-mender, too, an' they con have a bit of a confab while we looken at th' picthurs."

    "Sam-u-el!"his wife said.  An' hoo messurt him wi' her e'en fro' his toppin to his boots.  I could see by that hoo're puttin' th' break on, in her way.

    Well, Dick th' hostler wur sent up to th' fowt for eaur Sal; but he must ha' made a mess of his arrand, for had to come back hissel', an' in a bit of a fluster, too.  Eaur Sal sent word ut if anybody wanted to see her they must go up to th' cote, as hoo couldno' purtend to leave th' neest, an' let th' eggs go cowd.

    This wur a riddle to Sam's wife; but when I explained to her ut th' owd lass were upo' th' push wi' her wark, becose Whissundy wur close on, hoo said hood goo up an' see her, hersel', if anybody would show her th' road.  So Dick the hostler wur shopt again; an' he must ha' done his wark gradely this time, becose he showed me a sixpence when he coome back, an' gan me a wink ut I could quite understond.

    As soon as Sam an' me had getten peearcht by eaursels, i' th' owd way, wi' two picthurs afore us, ut didno' go feaw wi' starin' at, he gan me a slap upo' th' knee ut made me jump, an' axt me what I thowt abeaut his bargain.

    "Hoo's a beauncer," I said, "if I mun look at her in a stable leet.  Wheere hast' piked her up?"

    "Wheere dost think?" he said.

    "Not at Number two, Gloster Terrace, Hyde Park?" I said.  Sam gan me a look ut went through me.

    "Ab," he said, givin' his lip a bit of a worryin', "no moore o' that!  Keep off sore places.  If theau will hit me strike it wheere's seaund.  Her ut theau coed Lady Mary Constance Stanhope is no' fit to lace my wife's stays."

    "I'm fain to yer it," I said; "an as theau's made sich a good bargain theau con afford to forgive me.  But whoa is hoo, and wheere didt' leet on her?"  I could see he're fairly brastin' for t' tell me o abeaut her, an happen a great deeal more than he knew.

    "Hoo's my wife neaw," he said; "but hoo wur a barmaid at a hotel i' Manchester when I met wi' her at fust."

    "Oh, wur hoo?" I said.  "Theau's bin middlin' lucky i' that job, Sam; becose barmaids generally han their e'en abeaut 'em, an' winno' be pi'ked up wi' tinkers.  Theau didno' tell her as mich as I could ha' towd her abeaut thee.  Whor!"

    "Husht!" he said, an' winked.

    "Oh, I am not one to set mischief agate between mon an' wife," I said.  "Theau may trust Ab."

    "Theau doesno' live in a steel heause thysel'," Sam said; "so theau hadno' better begin a-cloddin" (throwing sods or stones.)

    "I think," I said, "we'd noather on us best say nowt.  Quietness is th' best,' as th' Owd Poot says.  But wheere art livin' neaw?"

    "Ive takken a heause within a mile o' here," he said; "but I thowt I'd bring th' wife a-lookin' at it afore I closed th' bargain.  Hoo likes th' place fust rate.  We's be neighbours again, theau sees."

    "Ay, but theau dar'no' find thy road here as oft as theau used to do," I said; "an' it winno' do for thee t' carry on i' th' bar as I've seen thee do mony a time.  Yond woman favvors look-in' after thee, an' hookin' thy cheean up a link or two."

    "That's what I took her for," he said.  "I wanted th' break puttin' on, or else I should ha' bin at th' bottom o' th' broo afore my time.  Well, han yo're Sarah an' thee bin off anywheere this—I con hardly co it summer?"

    "Dost meean to some sae-side, or summat?" I axt.

    "Ay; Blackpool, or anywheere."

    "Nawe," I said; "but if th' weather changes for th' better eaur Sall 'll be gruntin' in a week or two.  Folk conno' stood fine weather awhoam neaw."

    "My new rib—I con hardly co' her an owd un yet—is goooin' to New Brighton next week," Sam said.  "Theau'd better let yore Sarah goo wi' her.  I know hoo'll ax her to goo; that's what hoo's gone a-seein' her for."

    "Hoo con goo anywheere hoo likes when hoo's emptied her loom," I said.  "I never meddle wi' noather her gooin'-eaut nor her comin'-in; if I did, hoo'd have her own road after o."

    "It'll be o reet then?"

    "Ay."

    "That'll do.  Neaw, then, just hearken me," an' Sam hutched his cheear close to mine, and whispered: "When they'n getten nicely away," he said, "thee an' me con slip off to Blackpool, an' shake a lose leg for a week.  Dar' theau try it on?"

    "I dar' do owt ut theau dar'," I said.

    "Agreed on, then," Sam said.  "I'll stond ex's.  But th' wives munno' get to know abeaut it, noather.  If they dun there'll be th' very Owd Lad to play."

    "It winno' get eaut through me," I said.  "My leease o' comfort is rayther too temporairy for that; an' if yond woman isno' th' mesther o' thee neaw, theau may calkilate hoo will be afore lung; so it ud be dangerous for thee if theau split."

    "Honour bright, Ab!" he said.

    So we'd another pint a-piece; an' afore we'd finished that, an' said o we could like t' ha said, Sam's wife coome sailin' in, wi' a bunch o' wall-flowers in her hont ut eaur Sal had gar her.  I could see by that ut they'd getten on weel t'gether, an' wur very likely as thick as inklewayvers afore they'd known one another five minits.  Women con manage a job o' that sort better than men.  Hoo said th' owd rib wur a "delightful person," an' no' quite as owd as hoo expected findin' her.  Eaur Sal had consented to goo wi' her to New Brighton if I should ha' no objections; an' hoo thowt hoo'd be a "very pleasant companion" for her.  "A sedate and motherly body," an' I dunno' know what th' owd lass wurno' beside.  A woman's opinion o' women is summat like th' weather, subject to changes.

    Sam winked at me, and I winked back again; an' I fancied I could see a bit o' mischief just abeaut bein' put i' th' brewin'-tub.

    Well, we had to part to meet again, as th' owd sung says.  Sam would tak' care ut ther' nowt went wrung o' his part; an' if I'd keep my own keaunsel, and mind what I're doin', things would goo on as nice as ninepence.  So we shaked honds an' parted; Sam an' his wife gooin' a-seein' heaw th' papper-daubers wur gettin' on ut their new heause, an' me to see heaw my owd hearthstone picthur looked wi New Brighton in her yead.

    I fund th' owd lass quite brisk, knockin' away at her loom as if hoo'd shake it to pieces.  Hoo towd me what a nice eaut hoo'd a chance o' havin' if I'd nobbut give my consent to it; but hoo should goo whether I consented or not.  Heaw did I intend makkin' my time away while hoo're off?  I couldno' do better, hoo thowt, than stick fast to my loom for th' week; and then when hoo coome back I could have a day to mysel' i' th' "Boggart Hole Cloof," if I wanted a haliday.

    I agreed wi' her ut that would be a very nice arrangement, partikilar th' Cloof bizness.  Very likely Sam Smithies would come o'er an' spend th' day wi' me; an' we could sit under th' trees drinkin' churn-milk an' hearknin' th' brids sing, till we'rn as happy as two foos.  Th' owd lass looked quite angel-faced at that, an' thowt Sam an' me wur comin' to eaur senses.  Hoo're sure Sam wur, or else he'd never ha' getten howd o' sich a nice lady as he had for a wife; not he.

    O' this way we humbugged one another till bedtime.


――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER II.


TH' day coome ut eaur Sal and Sam Smithies' wife had to set eaut for New Brighton.  It wurno' one o' th' finest mornin's I'd seen i' my time.  Th' wynt wur raythur blustery, and seemed to have a bit of a notion o' gettin' up a storm.  Donkeys turned their tails to'ard th' hedge, an' lambs favvort thinkin' they'd come-n i' th' wo'ld afore mint wur ripe.  Th' rain kept off, for a wonder, though ther an ugly cleaud or two lumberin' abeaut th' sky, lookin' as if they wanted to spoil somebody's clooas.  Ther a cab sent for th' owd rib; and a rare wakes it made i' Walmsley Fowt.  O th' childer abeaut wanted to ride; an' they co'ed it a "four-wheeled feel-loss-o'-speed."  It took the biggest part of an heaur for t' get th' owd lass off; hoo had to get in an' eaut so oft, through forgettin' summat.  At lung length hoo geet sattled deawn in her seeat, wi' her box eautside, fastened wi' a strap, an' a noggin o' gin in a alegar bottle inside, for t' keep th' wynt fro' blowin' through th' nicks o' th' cab window.  Th' last words hoo said to me, as hoo beawled out o' th' fowt, wur—

    "Ab, thee stick to thy loom while I'm away, an' I winno' begrudge thee a day to thysel' when I come back."

    "Reet, owd crayther," I said; "we'n manage as weel as we're able.  Send me word heaw theau'rt getten on, an' if I dunno' write back it'll be becose I'm too busy.  Ta, tah!"  An off hoo went, like a queen.

    Th' owd damsel had no sooner getten eaut o' th' seet than I slipt deawn to th' Owd Bell, wheere I expected meetin' Sam Smithies, fore t' mak' eaur arrangements for gooin' to Blackpool th' day after.  Sam turned up in abeaut twenty minits wi' a carpet-bag for me, an' a spyin'-glass for hissel', ut he'd borrowed somewheere.  We'd mony a crack o' laafin o'er what we'rn gooin' to do; an when Sam towd me ut his wife advised him to stick to bizness while hoo're away, an' not ha' so mich o' th' smell o' 'bacco-reech in his clooas when hoo coome back, we'd ha' gradely yawp eaut.

    Th' day went roogher as it grew owder, so that when neet coome th' wynt blew what Sam co'ed "big guns."  He thowt eaur wives would be stoppin' i' Liverpool that neet.  They'd never cross o'er to New Brighton while th' weather wur so roogh.  But th' mornin' after it wur a deeal quieter.  It looked very promisin' for Blackpool, if it would nobbut keep on.  Eaur childer thowt I're followin' their mother; an' I didno' contradict 'em, but said I met no' come back above a day afore her.  They'rn 'i fine glee o'er bein' laft by theirsels.  They said they could mak' th' porritch any thickness, an' have as mich traycle to 'em as they'd a mind.  It's a grand thing for childer to ha' liberty to deeal wi' their stomachs as they liken.

    We crept quietly off to Manchester, an' as quietly we took eaur seeats i' th' train for Blackpool; Sam Smithies lookin' quite fidgetty till th' engine whistled.  When we began a movin' he threw up his arms in a wild fashin, an' said—

    "Theigher, Ab, we're safe.  Eaut wi' that 'lubricator!"'

    I had to carry th' "lubricator," as Sam co'ed a bottle o' whiskey, an' he carried th' cigars.  So we supt and smooked, and wur as merry as a gang o' sondknockers, till we geet to Prest'n.  Then we tumbled o'er th' hedge into th' land o' Nod, wheere we tarried till we'rn wakkent up at Poult'n fort' give up eaur tickets.  Th' next stage wur Blackpool, where we fund th' sky as breet as a new-polished dish-cover, an' th' waves rowlin' o'er one another like a hay-meadow on th' spree.  I'd four or five women howd on me directly, axin' me if I wanted lodgin's.  They may co' Blackpool a healthy place, but there must be a good deeal o' widows theere, or else they wouldno' ha' poo'd me abeaut as they did.  Sam shoothert 'em off like a pack o' beggars, an' said we mustno' bother wi' common folk; we must go to an hotel, an' be grand.  Ther one, a new un, kept by a friend of his wife's, ut wur a bar-manager at th' same place as hoo're at hersel' once, an' we must go theere.  He coed it th' "Darby Hotel."  Anywheere wur reet for me, bein' as I'd nowt to pay; so to th' "Darby" we went, and I fund we'd getten a nice shop on't.  I felt mysel' awhoam in a snifter; an' when we'd had a wesh, an' a tidy sort of a waistcoat-tightenin', Ab wur as reet as a wooden clock.

    "Neaw, then, owd swell!" Sam said, after we'd made eaursels comfortable,"we're no' gooin' t' sit fuddlin' o' th' time we're i' Blackpool, if other folk dun.  Let's have a blow i' some gradely wynt.  What dost' say abeaut a strowl as far as Uncle Tom's Cabin while th' weather's fine?"

    "Anywheere for me so as I'm th' reet end up," I said.  "I hope Uncle Tom 'll be awhoam."

    "Come on, then.  It's a good brisk walk theere an' back; but we shanno' be choked wi' shoddy dust upo' th' road, an' that's summat.  There'll be some fun stirrin', I dar'say."

    So to Uncle Tom's Cabin we went, gooin' deawn by th' lower road, for t' save tow-brass.  Sam didno' believe i' payin' tow (toll) for one pair o' legs, as if we'd bin hosses or jackasses.  It wur a breezy walk, I con tell yo'; an' what wi' my hat fittin' rayther slack, an' my cooat-laps flappin' abeaut my ears, I'd a busy time on't.  Sam, seein' heaw I're bothert wi' havin' t' howd my arms up, poo'd eaut abeaut a yard and a-hauve o' blue ribbin', ut he'd saved eaut o' owd Dizzy's do-ment, an' passin it o'er th' gable end o' my hat, tee'd it under my chopper, ut made me look like a pace-egger.  It wur fun to Sam, an' to mony a one beside, seein' me donned up i' royal colours, as if I're leeadin' th' British fleet up.  Some youngsters we met on th' road—I think they must ha' bin nail-getherers fro' Chow-bent [Ed.—now Atherton], or weight tarrers fro' Owdham—set up a sheaut when they see'd me; an' one said—

    "See yo', lads, this men's ta'en th' fust prize i' th' donkey show.  Let's give him three cheers."

    So they gan me three cheers, for which I could like to ha' thanked 'em wi' my clogs, if I'd had 'em wi' me.

    When we geet to Uncle Tom's Cabin we fund they a lot o' folk theere ut had come-n moore for a frolic than for any good they expected to get eaut o' sae-wynt.  They'rn doancin', young an' owd, to th' tootlin' of a band; an' Sam an' me went in wi' th' lot, as brisk as th' best on 'em.  We'd one another for partners as lung as th' women would alleaw us; an' that, yo'r sure, wouldno' be lung.  After th' fust twell, we'rn collared, neck and crop, by two women i' black—no' quite th' hondsomest ut ever I'd clapt my e'en on, but wi' little bit moore than their share o' divulment in 'em—an' we'rn whizzed reaund like peg-tops, till I leet bang wi' my yead again th' cabin, and seed sae an' lond runnin' after one another as if they'rn tryin' which could get to Ameriky th' fust.  That wur th' finish o' my doancin'; an' if it had bin th' finish o' th' spree, nob'dy would ever ha' yerd abeaut eaur gooin' to Blackpool.  But wheer women are mischief 's sure to be.  I've fund it so, at any rate; an' my exparience didno' begin yesterday.

    "Are you hurt?" my owd damsel said to me, seein' ut I're a bit dazed wi' my bang.

    "No' mich," I said.  "I've a collar-booan an' a rib or two missin', that's o.  If anybody finds 'em I hope they'n turn 'em up."

    "Dear me!" hoo said, lookin' abeaut her as if hoo'd dropt her—her—what-dun-they-co'-it—improver, or summat, "Whatever must we do?"

    "Never mind, owd crayther," I said; "I've a lot moore to change on, so ut it doesno' matter mich."

    Hoo gan me a quiet slap i' th' face for that, an said I're a "funny fellow."  Happen I am to some folk.  I wur to her, at any rate; for after that I couldno' shake her off.  Whatever I said to her, it wur no use.  When I thowt I'd put th' capper on by tellin' her I'd a wife and sixteen childer, hoo said I met as well ha' towd her fifty.  Hoo didno' believe ut I're wed at o.  Even when Sam put in an' said I'd missed th' keaunt o' my family by an odd twin ut I hadno' reckont, hoo wouldno' swallow a word.  If I'd had a wife, hoo're sure hoo'd ha bin wi' me if hoo're owt like other wives.  I'd forgetter then ut it wur lip (leap) year.  But when I did bethink mysel', I could see danger i' th' look-eaut.

    After this bit of a marlock we went a-seein' Uncle Tom, an' fund him a jolly sort of a chap, an' one ut could sing a good sung when he're wanted.  He towd us he'd built th' cabin hissel', an' th' greaund it stood on wur one time coed "Little Lunnon," an' wur a rallyin' shop for th' lads an' wenches o' Blackpool o' Sunday neets an' pastimes.  Th' fust consarn wur summat like a black-pae shop, slated wi' a rag.  Ther no "penky" sowd theere at that time.  Nowt nobbut gingybread and nuts.  After that he put a bit o' wood reaund his carcase, an' a gradely roof o'er his yead.  Then strangers began a-comin'; an' if they could find a level yard or two o' greaund they'rn sure to begin a-doancin on it.  Chus heaw big he made his cote it kept bein' too little till it geet to what it is neaw.  He'd as mich ale an' stuff i' stock as would fuddle o Blackpool for a week, an' he didno' think any on't would be alleawed to go seaur.  But he sowd a deeal o' cakes an' things to childer ut coome a-swingin' upo' th' swings, an' lookin' for shells upo' th' sands.  Owd Neptune had gan him notice every winter for mony a year ut he should want th' greaund after a while; an' he're a londlord ut nob'dy would think o' shootin'; not even thoose mad yorneys ut thinken abeaut nowt nobbut pistils an' cowd leead if they conno' have their own road i' everythin', an' mak everybody think as they thinken',—leatheryeads!

    Leeavin' Uncle Tom's Cabin, an' slippin' th' women i' black, we made eaur way to'ard th' owd pier, an' had a penn'oth o wynt fro' th' top end; my blue ribbin bein' fun for everybody we met.  Sam had a squint through his spyin'-glass; an' he said he could see a boat wi' two women in it far eaut to'ard Liverpool.  One had a fat humbrell wi' her, an' wur middlin' plump hersel'; an' th' tother favvort hoo'd bin browt up to pumpin' ale, an' messurin' whiskey.  They'rn comin this road at a deuce of a rate.  He calkilated they'd lond i' Blackpool in abeaut an heaur, if they'd luck.

    "They're never th' wives, surely, Sam," I said.  An' I began a-feelin' rayther quire abeaut th' top storey o' my stomach.  If wo'rn nobbled there'd be a bit of a dogbattle comin' off, an' a bullbait too, an' what besides I couldno' tell.  "Con theau mak 'em eaut yet?" I said.

    "I'm feart I con mak' 'em eaut too weel," he said, rubbin th' end o' th' glass wi' his napkin.  "Had thy wife a green an black shawl on, Ab?"

    "Hoo had," I said; "a pattern as big as a flag."

    "We're dropt on then," he said, very sayriously.  "Look for thysel'."

    I geet howd o' th' glass, and poked it o'er a rail; then shut one e'e, and put it to th' end o' th' glass.

    "I con see nowt nobbut darkness," I said.  "My e'en munno' be o' th' reet sort for spyin' wi'."

    "Why, theau yorney, theau's shut th' wrung e'e," Sam said.  An' so I had.

    I swapt peepers, an' looked again.  This time I could see dayleet, if I could see nowt else.

    "Just aim at yond speck i' th' distance," Sam said; "an' howd th' glass steady.  Theau'rt o of a wakker."

    "An' so would theau be," I said, "if theau'd th' white Sargent just getten howd o' thy collar and I feel as if mine wur i' th' grip o'ready.  I con see nowt yet, nobbut th' sae rowlin' abeaut.  Howd!  Neaw I see summat.  Nowt like a boat, noather.  It's more like a big dog muzzle o' th' top of a three-legs."

    "Ay, it's th' beacon o' th' end o' th' new pier," Sam said.  "Let me have another peep."

    So he geet howd o' th' glass again, and had another squint; and when he'd looked abeaut a minit he said—

    "By my stockin's, Ab, it's domino wi' us; I con see 'em neaw as plain as I con see thee.  What mun we do?"

    "I'm off back this minit, if there's a train," I said.  "I'd as lief meet th' Garmans as eaur Sal here.  Come, shut that bobbin-sucker up, and let's be off."

    "Howd," Sam said; "let's see if they look anyways poorly fust.  Ha!—um!—they are no' women.  They're two fishermen.  I con see 'em drawin' a net neaw."

    "I wish they'd throw it o'er thee," I said, "for puttin' me this fluster."  It's my belief he'd seen nowt at o.  Noather his wife nor mine would ha' ventured upo' th' sae i' that weather, I're sure.  But I're feart for o that.

    After comin' off th' pier we'd a strowl upo' what they co'en the "Promenade."  That's wheere folk do nowt but walk an' ride abeaut, an' stare at one another in a genteel fashin.  We could see men i'clooas they wouldno' be seen wearin' abeaut whoam; and women strollopin' abeaut in a way ut i' Walmsley Fowt would be coed brazent.  But then they'rn ladies; an' I reckon that mak's a bit o' difference.  Some wur ridin' jackasses; an' th' poor things ut wur carryin' 'em wur havin' their skins pown wi' sticks till, as Sam towd me, when they dee'n it'll come off their booans i' ready-made leather.  A great looberin' foo' i' specktekles, an' ut could hardly keep his feet off th' greaund, passed us, stroddlin' across a bit of a ragged rottan ut had barely gan o'er suckin'; and its legs wabbled abeaut as if they'rn goin' t' snap.  A lad wur busy palin' it wi' a thick stick till yure flew, but th' little thing could hardly totter on chus heaw he mauled it.

    "Theau doesno' know heaw to droive a donkey," Sam said to th' lad.  "Theau does nowt but tickle it.  Just land me th' stick, an' I'll mak' him goo smartly."

    "Sam, dunno' thee ill-use th' poor crayther," I said; "it's badly enoogh off as it is."

    But he geet howd o' th' stick wi' a firm an' savage-lookin' grip, an' aimin a blow ut I calkilated would ha' knocked a bigger animal deawn than that poor brute, catcht th' rider just below his jacket buttons, an' made him fly o'er th' donkey's yead like a hunter o'er a fence.

    "Beg pardon," Sam said to th' chap, ut wur rubbin' a sore place, an' starin o'er his specktekles.  "Sorry I missed my aim, but this animal is so very stupid.  I know him of old.  Hope you're not much hurt."

    "Rather," th' chap said, twistin' his meauth under one ear, an' rubbin'; "but it can't be helped, I suppose.  Accidents will happen."  He favvort havin' some deauts abeaut it bein' an accident, too, but I reckon he didno' know heaw to mend hissel' after he'd messurt Sam's weight.  Heawever, he'd had enoogh o' ridin' for that beaut, an' he turned away, leeavin' Sam an' me welly brastin wi' fun.  Th' donkey looked as fain as owt, an' exercised it ears an' tail quite briskly.

    "Yond mon'll no' go t' sleep this next hauve-heaur," Sam said, as we went on.  "He'll be sore for mony a day, I'll bet.  An' sarve him reet, too, for a lung slammockin' cauve!  I could like t' read th' same lesson to a lot moore yorneys.  Better than writin' to newspappers abeaut 'em.  Heaw he flew!  He's rubbin' yet."  An' he wur.

    We coome to an owd-fashint sort of a heause, wi' a churn-milk-and-traycle-coloured front, ut I could see wur co'ed "Oak Cottage," an' ut somb'dy o' th' name o' "Samuel Laycock" lived at it, an' took likenesses.  A mon ut favvort bein' made eaut o' humbrell wire wur potterin abeaut amung some picthurs ut wur in a glass case fixed to th' railins i' th' front o' th' heause.  He're stript in his shirt sleeves, an' wur bare-yead.  Thinkin' he met tell me summat abeaut thoose ut lived theere, I axt him if he knew Sam Laycock.  He said he thowt he did.

"Is he owt akin to him ut writes po'try? " I axt.

"Th' same potato," he said.

"Never, surely!" I said.

"Yo'n find they're booath one."

"Dost think I could get to have a peep at him?" I said.

"Well, if yo'n mak' yor hont into a telescope, an' look at me," he said, "yo'n see his wife's husbant."  An' he gan me a squint eaut of abeaut th' twentieth part o' one e'e, as if here usin a spyin'-glass hissel'.

    "Theau doesno' say!" I said, quite in a gloppent way.

    "Well, I'm fain t' see thee, owd lad!—that I am.  Let's have a wag o' thy pen-howder."  An' we shaked honds heartily, while Sam Smithies wur lookin' at th' likenesses.  "An' theau writes po'try?"

    "A bit; sometimes."

    "Dost think theau could manufactur a line or two abeaut me?" I said.

    He twitched up his snuffer as a hoss does it tail when flees are plaguin' it; an' givin' me another pin-yead look eaut o'th' telescope peeper, said—

    "I'll try."

    "Blaze away, then," I said.

    He scrat his toppin abeaut a minit, an' then he said—


Ther' coome a stranger to my dur;—
 At fast aw wondered who he wur;
 But when aw seed his knobbly pate,
 Thinks aw t' mysel'—that's Ab-o'-th' Yate.


    "Brayvo!" I said.  "Po'try an' fortin-tellin' come'n as nattural to thee as atin' and drinkin'.  But theau'rt no' doin' mich i' th' jingle line neaw, I think?"

    "Nawe; I ha' no time," he said.  "Folk ut come a-seein' me, an' stoppin' at my heause—I tak' in visitors, yo' seen—find me as mich as I con do wi' takkin their likenesses.  Th' day's rayther too far gone neaw, or else I could like t' ha' ta'en someb'dy's ut I've been wantin' to see a good while."

    "Wait till t' morn, an' theaus't have a fling at me," I said; "an, I'll bring this tother chap wi' me.  I darno' tell thee whoa he is neaw; but he's a great mon!"

    "Is he?" Laycock said, wi' another screwin up o' one side of his jib.

    "Ay," I said, "theau'll be surprised when theau yers his name."  An' wishin' one another a good afternoon we parted for t' meet again th' day after.

    Neet wur comin' on, an' Sam Smithies thowt it wur time to be creepin' to eaur cote, an' flyin' up.  So we turned eaur toes to'ard th' Darby Hotel, an' ordered a dacent sort of a neet-cap for a finisher.  We could do wi' a bit o' supper, Sam thowt, an' I felt th' same.  So it wur ordered at once.

    "There are two ladies taking supper in the dining-room up stairs," th' londlady said.  "I don't think they'd have any objections to your joining them, if you've no objections.  They appear to be nice people."

    "Moore an' th' merrier," Sam said, jumpin' up.  "Come on, Ab; let's goo an' peg into some provender; theau looks middlin' sharp set.  We'n have a bottle o' thy favourite pop for't wesh it deawn with."

    "O reet!" I said, an' upstairs we went.

    When we geet into th' dinin'-reaum whoa should we find sittin' at th' table but thoose two widows i' black ut we'd bin doancin' with at Uncle Tom's Cabin.

    "We're met again, ladies," Sam said, in his swaggerin', beauncin' way.  "Would you permit us to join you?"

    "Yes, and welcome," one on 'em said, with an ancient grin.

    "Thank you!"  So Sam an' me dropt deawn to th' table, aside o' one another, wi' th' women no' far off us.  Sam carved at some cowd salmon, an' then ut th' beef; an' I kept him at his wark middin' stiffly.  Yo may be sure they a bit o' talk gooin' on at th' same time; an' th' ladies helped us at th' pop, till their tongues geet as lose as a women's club-neet.  They'd bin seechin us, they said, ever sin they missed us at Uncle Tom's Cabin; but little did they think we'rn stoppin' at th' same place.  It wur like a thing ut must be, they said, an' they tittert an' purtended to shawm like two country wenches at a weddin'.  We'd hard wark to keep 'em at arm's length, I con tell yo; but when Sam towd 'em we'rn members of a "Married Men's Protection Society," an' i' full benefits, they behaved theirsels a bit moore becominly.  Or else they'd getten so far as to co Sam a "duck," an me a "goose;" an' it wur "dear" this and "dear" th' tother, very nee every word.  We'd another bottle o "fizz;" an' then th' clatter went on famously.

    "Can you drive, dear?" one o' th' women said to Sam, quite languishinly.

    "Like a circus," Sam said.

    "Then suppose we've a carriage to-morrow, an' go to Lytham?  Beautiful drive."

    "Agreed on," Sam said, an' he winked at me.

    "I feel ready for any mortal thing," I said.  Th' "fizz" wur gettin' howd on me, yo seen.

    "Deelightful!  Oh, we shall have such fun!" an' they slapt their honds as if they'd just yerd ut someb'dy had left em a fortin.

    I didno' feel quite sure ut it would be so very "deelightful" becose I'd a bit of a misgivin, o' someheaw, ut o wouldno' be straightforrad.  Heawever, things wur gettin' on bravely so far; an' I sang, an' Sam sang, an' I believe th' women would ha' tuned their pipes wi' a bit o' pressin'.  I geet up an' made a bit of a speech, praisin' th' owd damsels for their beauty an' their young looks, till I calkilated they'd smash th' lookinglass next time they stood i' th' front o' one.  As a finisher up, I filled a glass o' pop for't drink their health.  Sam did th' same; an' I framed mysel' for th' job, like th' cheearmon of a pig-show dinner.



    I'd getten howd o' my glass, un wur just sayin'—"Ladies," when th' dur oppent, an' in marched eaur Sal an' Sam's wife, like a pair o' boggarts.


――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER III.


"OH, my!" th' owd rib soiked.

    "Goodness me!" Sam Smithies' wife said.

    "Ab!"

    "Sam-u-el!"  And then ther three or four seconds o' sultry quietness, same as ther is sometimes before a heavy clap o' thunner.

    I think ut any sort of a reaum, an' speshly at a public-heause, owt to have two durs to it, so ut there'd be a better chance o' gettin' eaut i' case o' fire, or summat as dangerous.  A second dur would ha' bin very ready i' eaur case; but bein' as ther nobbut one, an' that blockaded wi' two fifty-gunners, turned broadside on us, th' best thing we could do wur to lay deawn arms, an' give eaursel's up to th' tender mercies o' th' enemy.

    "What does all this mean?" Sam's wife said, lookin' fust at us an' then at th' widows.

    "Ay, what does it meean?" eaur Sal said, clearin' for action.  Noather Sam nor me could say just then what it did meean, for we'rn booath on us knockt of a lump.

    "What are you doing here?" Sam's wife screeamed eaut in her topmost key, an' givin' Sam a witherin' look.

    "What art theau doin' here?" my owd blossom sheauted, makkin' a rustle of her bonnet ribbins.

    "In such company as this, too!" Sam's wife went on.

    "Two women with 'em!" eaur Sal hinted, rayther strungly.

    "Is there something wrong?" one o' th' widows axt, with a very innocent look.

    "Something wrong!" Sam's wife said, savagely.

    "Summat wrung!" th' owd rib followed up, an warmin' upo' th' road.  "There's nowt reet here, I'm sure."

    "I ask you again, all of you, what does this mean?" Sam's wife said, wi' another pitch on her top note.

    "I should like to know what this intrusion means," one o' th' widows said, lookin' a bit nettled after th' fust surprise wur o'er.

    "Yes, indeed!" tother damsel said, throwin' her yead back like a hee-mettled tit when it's bin blown wi' a run.

    "Intrusion!" Sam's wife gan eaut, rippin' her gloves off, as if hoo'd bin scauded.  "The idea—the idea that we should be supposed to be intruding!"

    "We did not send for you," widow number one said, as quietly as if hoo'd bin givin' a poorly body some physic; "and the gentlemen assured us they were alone."

    "Send for us!" eaur Sal skriked eaut, givin' a flourish of her humbrell ut looked dangerous.  "If yo' thinken yo'n moore right to eaur husbants than we han, tak' 'em.  Yo'r welcome to mine, at any rate."

    "Husbands!" booath widows said, starin' at one another like throttled earwigs.

    "Yes, husbands!" Sam's wife said, gettin' howd o' her share o' creation's peerage by th' collar, an' shakin' his champagne up.

    "That gentleman," one o'th' widows said, pointin' to Sam, "assured us they were both single men."  Then hoo gan me a look ut I could hardly read th' meeanin' on.

    "What a thumper!" I said.  An' I struck th' table wi' my fist.  "Didno' I tell yo' at Uncle Tom's Cabin ut I'd a wife an' sixteen childer?"

    "Seventeen, Ab!  Seventeen, owd cockalorum!" Sam sheauted.  He'd gone as fuddled as a foo' o at once; an' chus heaw his wife shaked him he wouldno' spake another word, so I're laft for't feight th' battle eaut mysel'.

    "Are you this gentleman's wife?" widow number two said to eaur Sal, at th' same time pointin' at me.

    "I'm this foo's wife," th' owd un said savagely "moore's th' pity I should be, wi' sich carryins-on as these."

    "And is it really true that you have seventeen children?"

    "I'll let him know whether I have or not;" an' th' owd stockinmender set to an' began a-palin' me abeaut th' shoothers wi' her humbrell, till I thowt hoo'd ne'er ha' gan o'er.  "This is yor gooin' to Boggart Hole Cloof," hoo said, after hoo'd made her humbrell look like a crow-neest ut's bin i' some heavy weather.  "I can believe owt abeaut thee neaw ut's bad enoogh, theau great bobbin-hat!" an' hoo gan me a finishin' welt wi' her ruffled gingham.  "Nice, very nice, ut as soon as one turns one's back they mun come a-gallivantin' here.  Heaw did yo' leet on 'em?  I'll believe yo' neaw, afore oather o' these—these—I dunno' know what to co 'em."

    "Speak for your own husband, Missis Fletcher," Sam's wife said, givin' her human bargain a rooghish sort of a cuddle, fort' wakken him up.  Brave woman, that.

    "We met them at Uncle Tom's Cabin," widow number one said; an' hoo spoke like a pa'son.  "They chose us as partners in a dance, and so conducted themselves as to lead us to suppose they were single men.  There was nothing more than that, I can assure you.  My friend and I have been staying here several days, and were at supper this evening—alone, mind you—when, to our surprise, these gentlemen walk into the room, and ask if they might be allowed to take supper at the same table.  Now you know everything."

    Noather eaur Sal nor Sam's wife had a word to say to that; an' number one went on.

    "We are staying at this hotel; this is a public dining-room, and we have a right to the use of it unmolested by anyone.  Good night!"  Wi' that they booath rose fro' their cheears, an' makkin a sort of a duckin' bow at th' dur, sailed eaut o' th' reaum.

    "An' a nice pair o' blossoms I dar' say yo are," th' owd un said when th' widows had laft us.  Then hoo set at me wi' o her moral teeth, an' would draw eaut a confession.  I towd her th' truth o abeaut it, leeavin' a good lump for Sam to face up when he're sober.  I whitewesht mysel' famously; an' geet th' owd ticket so far reconciled ut hoo'd drink a glass o' "fizz," an' taste a bit o' salmon.  Sam's wife coome reaund, too, after a slatterin o' e'e-wayter; an' three eaut o' th' four on us seemed to get i' th' humour for takkin things as they coome.  One hardly knows when it's rainin' heaw soon th' owd Sun may peep eaut.

    Just as I're finishin' my peeace-makkin a waiter coome in, an' said we'rn wanted deawn stairs.  Sam wakkent up in a crack, an' looked as if he'd never tasted o' nowt that neet; an' his wife took his arm like one ut could forgive owt ut coome short o' murder.  Eaur Sal said hoo'd mend o' that when hoo'd catcht him in as mich lumber as I'd bin in mysel'.  Thank thee, Sarah!

    Well, we went deawn th' stairs, o four on us, an' fund it wur th' two widows ut wanted a bit moore of eaur company.  I fancy th' londlady had bin explainin things to'em.  They'rn sit in a parlour by theirsels, an' looked as demure as two owdfashint stone angels.  They rose up as we went into th' reaum, an' begged eaur pardon for a start; but it wur "the ladies only" ut they wanted to see, a piece o' news ut wur quite welcome to th' "gentlemen."  Sam gan me th' wink, an' shoothert me eaut o' th' reaum; and then we went into th' bar for t' wait till sich times as this she parlyment had done their bizness.  If I mun spake for Sam we felt like two lads ut had just missed a good threshin', an' getten off wi' nowt but a bit o' strung talkin' to.  No deaut th' wust wur o'er as far as we'rn consarned eaur two sels; but we expected yerrin' a mixture o' leaud tongue waggin' i' th' parlour, if it didno' come to a tumblin' abeaut o' furnitur, an' a bit o' finger-nail exercise.  Heawever, ther nowt o' that sort as yet, an' things looked promisin'.  We geet eaur pipes, an' an extry neetcap apiece, while we planned summat for gettin' up th' matrimonial weather in a sort o' good haytime.  Sam thowt takken 'em a havin' their likenesses done would be as good a thing as owt, for ther' nothin' a woman liked better than lookin' at her own face, speshly if hoo considered it a nice un, as what woman doesno'?  I fell into his way o' thinkin' quite natturally; an' it wur agreed on at once.  We'd getten' eaursels in a mess, an' we must fleawnder eaut on't as best we could.  Sam had a bit o' knowledge o' woman nathur as weel as mysel' I fund.

    "Yond parlyment's very quiet," he said, after we'd swallowed eaur neetcaps, an' ordered two fresh uns knit.

    "Th' dur happen fits close, an' winno let th' seaund come eaut," I said.  I could hardly think ut four women could be t'gether as lung as they'd bin witheaut makkin a noise ut one met ha' yerd a fielt off; speshly when they'rn debatin' upo "woman's reets," as no deaut they wur.

    "Whoa could have expected sich a drop-on as this?" Sam said, lookin' slyly up fro' his pipe.

    "No' me, theau'rt sure," I said.  "If I had expected owt o' th' sort, I'd sooner ha' had my neck brokken than ha come'n here; that I would.  I wonder heaw they'n fund us eaut, or what they're doin' here?" for it looked so strange ut we should be dropt on o' th' plan we wur.

    "I con see it straightforrad," Sam said, wi' a knowin' puff of his pipe.  "Th' weather's bin too roogh for 'em to go to New Brighton, so they'n come'n to Blackpool.  This heause wur sure to be th' fust place my wife would come to, bein' an owd friend o' th' londlady's."

    "Neaw I con see," I said; "I didno' think o' that.  It maks it no better for us, noather."

    "Oh, we'se get o'er it," Sam said, quite consolinly.  "Theau's bin in as big a hobble as this mony a time, or else theau's bin lucky."

    "Nay, never!" I said.  "I've bin i' one or two queer scrapes, I'll alleaw, but ther no women consarned in 'em.  Whenever there's a woman i' th' question it's the very Owd Lad hissel.  That theau'll find eaut when theau's had another do or two o' this sort.  An' it's happen noane o'er yet, if we thinken it is.  I've mony a time thowt a cracker had spent itsel' becose it's bin quiet an' I could see no blaze; but when I've getten howd on't its gan a fizz an' a frap, an' darted abeaut th' fowt as briskly as ever.  Women are not a bit unlike crackers."

    Just then we'rn booath on us started wi' a noise ut coome fro th' parlour.  It wur eaur Sal singin' th' "Jolly Angler."

    "Yer thee, by — (summat)" Sam said, jumpin' up, an' smashin' his pipe on th' table.  "If that doesno' cap owd Harry!  Hoo is singin', is not hoo?"

    "There's no mistake abeaut yond pipe," I said, feelin' as fain as if someb'dy had gan me a new pair o' clogs.  I con yer th' owd shakin warble quite plain.  There should be a bit o' difference between singin' an' spittin fire."

    "An' heaw the dickens has that bin browt abeaut?" Sam said, lookin' quite bewildert.

    "Nay," I said, "there's no akeuntin' for what a lot o' women will do when they getten t'gether.  I'm noane surprised, if theau art; not a bit."

    "We'st ha' to goo an' join 'em, neaw, at anyrate," Sam said, jertin across th' reaum wi' a slur; "so come on, owd swell."

    "Just let her ribship finish her singin' fust," I said, feelin' a bit o' respect for th' owd crayther's performance.  "Hoo'll not be above ten minits lunger.  Theau should yer her sing 'Th' Gardener;' that lasts twenty."  But 'th owd lass finished off wi' a flourish, an' then we ventured into th' parlour.

    Talk abeaut a jubilee, or th' comin' of a fust babby!  Eh, dear!  Nowt could ha' byetten th' finishin' up o' that neet.  Th' women had getten their wine afore 'em, like a board o' guardians after there's bin a new rate collected; an' it favvort as if no little on't had bin put o' one side.  Eaur Sal's face wur like a piece o' mahogany; an' th' way ut hoo coome at me, an' threw her arms reaund my neck, towd its own tale.  Sam's wife kept hoidin' her face in her napkin, bein' young at sich like wark; an' it wur fun to see heaw o four bonnets had getten writhen abeaut their yeads.

    "What a pity," Sam said o' one side to me, "ut drink should be th' cause o' so mich misery i'th wo'ld, when a sope 'll set things to reets like this."

    "Ay; it's a corker—is nor it?" I said.

    "Come, Ab," eaur Sal said, stretchin' hersel' like a butcher's wife at a merrymeal, "theau'll ha' to let these ladies yer what theau con do."

    Ladies!  An heaur before that they'rn ready to scrat one anothers' e'en eaut; an' neaw they'rn as thick as cooarters.  Thoose widows had seen a bit o' th' wo'ld, an' knew summat o' what a woman wur made on, or else they couldno' ha' managed a job o' that sort so readily.  I begin to think now ut feightin', whether between two yorneys in a tap-reaum or two nations in a fielt (yorneys just th' same) never sattled a difference sin' Cain won his fust battle wi' their Abel.  Hard blows never wur intended to mak' a wrung reet.  But I fund I should ha' to sing summat, an' as singin's anytime pleasanter than fratchin', I wesht my organ-pipes eaut wi' a gargle o' red port, an' brasted off wi'—


SEEIN' DOUBLE.


A lord on a pony rode by t'other day,
When he spied a fair damsel, and to her did say,
"My fair one, whose pigglings are those in yon sty?"
"They belung to th' owd soo, sir," the girl made reply.
                                                                    Derry down.

"You're rather sharp-witted," the lord then did say;
"But, by the same rule, who may own you, I pray?"
"My mother," she said, with a blush on her cheek;
"But Jammie o' Nancy's 'll claim me next week."
                                                                    Derry down.

"Who's Jammie o' Nancy's?" the nobleman said.
"Is he some wealthy squire, or gentleman bred?"
"He's noane a rich squire," the maiden said she,
"But owd Nancy at th' Top lad, an' skens o' one e'e."
                                                                    Derry down.

"Why should you prefer one that squints?" the lord said.
"Becose one ut looks straight has less use for his yead;
But he that con see o'er two hedges at once,
Con mind two folks' bizness, or else he's a dunce."
                                                                    Derry down.

"Well answered," the lord said, and straightway rode he;
"That's a hint for my meddling, I plainly can see.
Now, what shall I give you your favour to gain?"
"A seet o' yo'r back," said the maid with disdain.
                                                                    Derry down.

The week that came next found the couple at church;
They were met by the lord as they entered the porch,
Who promised them there that when twins blest their lot
A good acre of land he would add to their plot.
                                                                    Derry down.

In a year after that the young couple were blest—
A child in the cradle lay sucking its fist,
When the mother, one day, thus accosted the lord—
"I' that matter o' twins will yo' stick to yo'r word?"
                                                                    Derry down.

"But I only see one," said the lord with a smile,
And the youngster he took from its cradle the while.
"Yo'r done," said the dame, " 'less yo'r bargain yo' rue;
Yo' may nobbut see one, but eaur Jammie sees two."
                                                                    Derry down.


    "Down, down, derry down!" eaur Sal piped eaut, givin' th' chorus twice o'er as a finisher.  "I believe I'm beginnin' a-seein' double mysel'," hoo said, blinkin' at me with a rowlin' sort of a look.  I con see two Abs.  Whether they're booath mine or not I dunno' know.  One's a good un, at anyrate, obbut he's too fond o' gooin' to th' Owd Bell; an' he isno' quite as young as he used to be, moore's the pity.  Bless'em booath!  Ladies, bless yo' too!  Yo'r a good sort.  I wish I could find a husbant a-piece for yo'.  Tidy-iddle-de-come-again; women con dance as well as th' men.  Misses Smi'ies, let's goo;" an' th' owd craythur geet up, very uncertainly, off her cheear.

    "Wheere art' off to, neaw?" I said, catchin' howd on her by th' elbows, and steadyin' her rowlin' motion.

    "Uncle Tom's Cabin," hoo said, puttin' one foout upo' th' fender, an' lookin' i' th' fire-place, as if hoo'd getten a notion in her yead ut Uncle Tom's Cabin wur somewheer up th' chimdy.

    "I think a journey up Timber-street to Bedford would suit thee better than gooin' to Uncle Tom's Cabin, at eleven o'clock at neet," I said.  An' I took her by the shoothers, an' walked her into th' lobby.  A young woman met us wi' a candle, an' said hoo'd see her ribship safe londed upstairs.  Sam's wife bid th' widows good neet, an' followed; an' it wurno' mony minits afore ther another flittin', leeavin' Sam an' me th' mesthurs o' th' fielt.  As soon as we'd getten by eaursels, Sam nudged me, an' settin' up a dumb crack o' laafin, said—

    "Ab, we'n managed that job bravely.  Let's have another neetcap.  Cock-a-doodle-do!"


――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER IV.


AFTER a neet's rest, brokken neaw an' then by a seaund o', "Bless eaur Ab an' th' childer!" buzzin' i' my ear, I geet up an' shaked th' dew off my wings afore anybody else wur stirrin'.  It wur a grand mornin', rayther cool for th' time o' th' year, but as fresh as a rose, an' sweet like one.  I thowt I'd have a bathe while th' beach wur quiet, for I've my own notions abeaut dacency, an' they're a bit strict, too.  Th' owd rib wur slum'merin' seaundly; so I donned mysel', an' crept away witheaut her knowin'.  Sam Smithies must ha' yerd me; for he co'ed eaut, as I're gooin deawn th' stairs—

    "Wheer art' off to, Ab?"

    "I'm gooin' a-seein' if I con find a shell or two for th' childer," I said.  I didno' want him to know ut I're gooin' a-bathin'.  He met happen be up to some sort o' mischief if he did.

    "O reet—away wi thee!" he said; an' I took his advice.

    I went deawn to th' beach, an' fund two bathin' chaps, wi' their two vans, lookin' eaut for th' "early worm."  I shopt one on 'em at once, an' meaunted my road into his machine.  I'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 were middlin' far eaut, an' ther a nice rowl o' sae.  I fund I should ha' to goo a lung distance afore ther any danger o' bein' dreawnt, unless I laid mysel' deawn, a thing I wurno' likely to do, for reeasons yo'n soon larn.  Th' mornin' air an' th' wayter t'gether made me feel a bit chilly at fust, but I'd hopes ut that would goo away i' time; so I dashed in, an' waded forrad to wheere th' sae wur deeper, feelin' my road carefully, for fear a shark should have a snap at me, though I'd never yerd o' sich like animals bein' seen abeaut Blackpool.

    I'd no sooner getten my fust plunge o'er, an' th' wayter eaut o' my ears, than I see'd th' tother van rowlin' deawn to'ard mine.  I wur to ha' company, after o, it seemed.  What surprised me, an' made me feel rayther nervous, a woman geet eaut o' th' van, and made a plunge into th' wayter, as if hoo're used to sich like wark.  Hoo'd a red geawn on, an' I 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 I couldno' say, becose hoo'd her yead an' th' bottom part of her face tee'd up in a white napkin.  I didno' like o' my shop by a good deeal, un I thowt it very wrong ut women should be alleawed to be so undacent as to come wheer men are, when there's plenty o' reaum i'th' sae ut they con have to theirsels.  Heawever, I must mak th' best on't, so I waded as far eaut as I du'st, th' tide bein' low, an' th' greaund flat.  But, as far as I went th' owd besom kept getten' narr me; an' th' plungin' and rowlin' hoo did i'th' wayter wur summat fair cappin'.

    I made a fleaunder i'th' wayter, as if I'd bin a capital swimmer, settin' my yead to'ard her, like a ship in a good wynt.  I'd flummax her, if I could.  That wouldno' do.  Hoo seemed to challenge me to come on, chus what I did.  Once I thowt hoo put her thumb to her nose, for t' show me bacon.  That wur a piece o' unmannerliness I couldno' stond at o, but I didno' like tellin' her hoo're no lady for t' behave as hoo did.

    I're not i' love wi' my sitiwation, I con tell yo; an' I began to have some misgivins ut it wur done o' purpose.  Swim I couldno', nobbut abeaut three strokes at a twell, or else I'd ha' gone a hauve a mile furr eaut, sooner than ha' bin thowt I're i' other folk's road.  As it wur, I'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, I see'd, could swim like a cork; an' hoo did a sail reaund, sometimes leetin' for a rest, and droivin' me into fresh territory.  If hoo'd nobbut get a bit furr eaut int' th' sae, I'd heave my anchor an' steer for t' shore, as I'd getten rayther wakkery abeaut the gills, an' ther a sprinklin' o' stragglers upo' th' sond, watchin th' fun, as I thowt.  Th' bathin' chap kept sheautin' eaut to me for t' keep at a proper distance, if I're a gentleman—a thing I'd like to ha' done, if others would ha' letten me.

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

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

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

    "I'm i' th' wrung van, I tell yo."

    "Caum aup!"

    "Let me eaut o' this cote."

    "Caum aup!"

    It wur no use; as oft as I sheauted for him t' stop, it wur "Caum aup" to th' hoss, an' things wur' gettin' moore desperate every turn o' th' wheels.  I oppent th' dur an looked eaut.  I seed th' woman wur just climbin' th' steps o' th' tother van.

    In another minit or two I should be i' th' honds o' th' police—that wur sartin.  I made a last attempt to be yerd, as "Sister Ann" did when Blue Beart wur gooin' to shorten his wife by th' toppin'.  I lapt th' silk dress reaund my carcase, an' climbin' eaut o' th' van dur I made another trial o' my lungs."



    "Heigh, bathin'-felly," I sheauted, "back me into th' sae again.  I'm i' th' wrung box."

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

    "Neaw for it!" I said to mysel', when I fund I'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' I sit mysel' deawn upo' th' bundil, an' began my meditations, like Robi'son Crusoe when he're shipwrecked.  Th' owd doxy must be a whacker, I thowt, for her boots wur two inches lunger than my foout, an' quite of a monly shape.  I shouldno' like to meet her upo' th' promenade, an' her get to know whoa I wur.  Her nails would be i' th' road o' my face, I felt sure.  Just as I're calkilatin' th' exact minit ut th' dur would be ript oppen, an' my carcase hauled eaut, th' bathin' chap looked in, an' axt me if I're takkin' up my lodgings theere.  I towd him it wur as likely as not, unless I'd some sort o' gears to put on different to what I could find.  An' I pointed to th' silk dress ut were hangin' abeaut my 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 me summat I dunno' know," I said, crabbily.  "I sheauted till one lung gan way for yo' t' stop, but yo' oather couldno' or wouldno' yer me.  What mun be done?"

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

    "I're gettin' i' th' tother," I said; "but some yorney or other sheauted I're gooin wrung; so I swapt.  It sarves yo' reet for puttin' th' vans so close t'gether."

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

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

    "I dirn'd hear yo'," he said.

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

    "The lady's sure to send for a bobby," th' mon said, wi' another comfortin' grin ut raiched fro' one ear to th' tother.  "Had a fellow locked up tother night for on'y lookin' at her."

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

    He looked to'ard th' tother van for a minute or so, an' then he said—

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

    I 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' I'd stond a pint for him when I geet eaut o' limbo.

    Th' mon set off on his arrand wi' a deautful shake of his yead ut I 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 coome back wi' a very comfortin' piece o' news for me.  Th' owd besom wouldno' part wi' my clooas till a policeman were fotcht, an' summat done for gettin' me eaut o' one prison int' another.  A very quire feelin' coome o'er me, I con tell yo; an' I wondered heaw th' forty shillin' an' costs would be mustered.  Heawever, summat must be done, an' soon too, or else I should find mysel' i' th' Blackpool summer-heause; so I said—

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

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

    It looked like a hauve an hour afore th' chap coome back, an' I're i' deauts as to whether he'd turn up at o.  At last I yerd his shoon maulin' amung th' stones, an' then they a laaf ut I'd yerd mony a time before.  Sam Smithies wur with him, an' I 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.

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

    "Theaur't come'n to a queer shop for getherin' shells," Sam said, peevishly.

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

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

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

    "Here's a change for thee, 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 I'd bin away they'd ha' wheeled thee off to th' lockups just as theau art, th' van an' o.  Theau'll happen mind better next time theau comes a-bathin'."

    "I'se never trust my carcase i' one o' these consarns again," I said, "theau may depend on't.  If I 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' I're his prisoner.

    "It wurno' my doin's at o," I said.  "I wanted to have a quiet duck, an' that's what I bathed so soon this mornin' for.  This mon knows, too, ut I did my best 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, with a shake of his noddle.  "I're watchin' thee o th' time, an' should ha' bin an ugly witness again thee if I hadno' bin a chum o' thine.  What'll thy wife think?"

    "I reckon theau'll break thy neck for t' tell her!" I said, knowin' at the' same time ut he wouldno' lose a minit.

    "There'll be no 'casion for me to tell her," Sam said.  "It's gooin' through Blackpool neaw like th' news of a murder."

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

    "Well, be sharp, an' let's 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 thy hat an inch taller.  We owt to have had a band for't leead up."

    "Theau'll do i'stead of a band," I said rayther savagely.  "Theau'rt as fain o' this job as if someb'dy had laft thee a fortin.  I shouldno' wonder if theau's had summat to do wi' bringin' it abeaut."

    "Ay; thoose are th' thanks I get for helpin' thee eaut of a scrape," Sam said; an' he put on a look as innocent as a newborn babby.  "But on wi' thy duds," he said, "I con forgie thee."

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

    "What sort of a crayther does hoo look like?" I 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 taks a boot as big as mine; an I'm considered to have a big foout."

    Natturally enoogh I looked deawn at Sam's feet, and gan a start, as if someb'dy had prickt me.  Then I looked at his face, an' fro' theere deawn to his feet again, for I'd seen summat ut had gan my inside a twist.  If he wurno' wearin' th' same boots as I'd seen i' th' bathin' van, they'rn th' twin pair.  Had I bin sowd again?  Ay, an' cleean too, for he gan eaut a crack o' laafin ut met ha' bin yerd fro' one pier to th' tother.  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 with him one of 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, and th' bundil I'd sit on wur his own clooas.  Booath bathin' chaps wur in at th' mischief, an' one on 'em, I fund, wurno quite as deeaf as he portended to be.  I knew it wur no use sayin' nowt.  I'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.

    "I 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.  Theaws had th' upper hond o' me ever sin we'rn at th' Exhibition.  If ever theau's th' luck to get another score I'll forgive thee.  Lord, what an object theau looked wi' th' dress o'er thy shoothers; an' what a noise theau made when theau're sheautin' for th' van to stop!  I're as nee being dreawnt as a toucher wi' laafin' at thee.  'Heigh, stop that hoss; stop that hoss!  I'm i'th wrung boose; I'm i' th' wrung boose.'"

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


――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER V.


MY bathin' adventure, I fund, had one good effect: if it had made me look like a foo', it had browt sich sunshoine i'th' Darby Hotel as had happen never bin seen theere afore.

    Th' women had just come'n deawn th' stairs when Sam Smithies an' me had getten back fro' th' beach, an' wur lookin' eaut for us at th' bottom o'th' street, becose th' breakfast wur ready, an' th' Blackpool air had made 'em a bit sharp-set.  Th' owd rib complained of a smatterin' o' yead-wartch, ut hoo shows wur browt on through havin' her bonnet-strengs teed too tight on ackeawnt o'th' wynt.  It couldno' be th' wine hoo'd had, hoo're sure.  I didno' feel quite so sartin mysel' ut th' wine had had nowt to do wi' th' mischief; but as ther peeace i'th' camp, I'd let it pass for th' bonnet-strengs.  Sam's wife looked like a wench ut had bin catcht coortin th' first time, an' couldno' forshawm to face her neighbours up th' mornin' after.  Hoo'd plenty o' colour in her face ut hadno' bin caused by noather sae wynt nor Blackpool sun.  Sam said hoo're like a fleawer ut had gone to bed a lily an' getten up a pink; a remark ut geet him a nice slap i'th' face for makkin' it.  Th' widows looked as if they'd never ailt nowt i' their lives, an' never would ail nowt.  They'd a bit o' fresh bloom on their cheeks ut I hadno' seen afore, an' ut took a year or two off their calendar; an' th' way they brushed abeaut, an' looked after th' breakfast showed they knew moore o' what they co'en life than con be seen i Walmsley Fowt.

    There met never ha' bin a row th' neet afore, th' women looked so gradely wi' one another.  It wur "Missis This" an' "Missis That," an' what their ailments had bin through life, as if they'd bin owd friends, parted for a time, an' browt t'gether again by th' strangest o' accidents.  It wur far better, I thowt, than if we'd bin o' one family, come to Blackpool t'gether, for t' spend a hum-a-drum week or so i' green spectekles an' yallow shoon; then goo whoam wi' th' satisfaction o' havin' bathed once every day, ridden donkeys twice, an' gan everybody abeaut us as much trouble as could be made; as if that wur th' greatest pleasure ut could be had at th' sae-side.  But for o that, it wur an experiment ut I shouldno' like to try o'er again, an' ut happen wouldno' come off reet once eaut of a hundert trials.

    "Get it o'er afore theau chokes thysel'," I said to Sam as we sat deawn to breakfast.  I could see his crop wur swellin' eaut, like blowin' a foot-bo up, wi' summat he had to let eaut.  "Theau'll ha' no reaum for thy coffee if theau doesno' use thy tongue for a stomach-pump, an' empty eaut."

    Wi' that he set up a crack o' laaffin' ut seaunded moore like cowghfin, an' ut made his wife jump up an' slap him on th' back, as if hoo thowt he'd getten a crust in his throat an' wur chokin'.  When he'd come reaund, and had two bits ov after-claps, he set to an' towd th' skit he'd had wi' me o'er bathin'.  I thowt eaur Sal wur shapin for bein' vexed at th' fust, as hoo gan me a shot fro' her e'en ut had mony a time bin th' beginnin ov a storm; but when Sam sheauted—"Heigh, bathin felly, back me into th' sae again, I'm i'th' wrong box"—an' th' tother women gan eaut a skreeak ut made 'em twitch up their stays as if they'rn brastin, th' owd lass unscrewed her index, an' speauted her coffee reet into th' fireplace.  I laafed too as weel as I could; but a deeal on't went again th' grain, an' we'd summat like a hauve-a-dozen merry peeals reaund th' table, ut caused folk ut wur passin' th' hotel to stop an' look up at th' window, an' as good as ax one another heaw mich it wur to go in.  Everybody's coffee went cowd for th' want o' swallowin'; an' as hungry as no deaut we wur, eawr jaws had summat else to do than grind buttercakes.

    "Theau great yorney!" th' owd un said as soon as hoo'd getten as mich wynt back as would mak' three words.  "I wonder what sort of a foo' they're mak' on thee next.  Theau'll ha' to wear dadins (leading-strings) yet, or else be led by th' hont.  I'd ha' gan summat for t' ha' had thee portergrapht when theau'd th' dress lapt reaund thy carcase.  Thy yure ud want some chep beef, I know.  There will be one good thing come eaut on't, at any rate; theau darno' go to th' Owd Bell yet awhile.  Theau'rt sure to yer abeaut it if t' does."

    "What would anybody else ha' done if they'd bin i'th' same predickyment?" I said, feelin' a bit nettled at th' fun they'rn makkin on me.

    "Done, sure!" hoo humphed.  "Dost' think any woman would ha' carried on as Sam did?"

    "Well, I do think," I said, "ut when folk are away fro' whoam, men are th' modester o'th' two.  What dun yo' think?" an' I turned to th' widows.

    One on 'em nodded, as good as to say hoo thowt as I thowt, an' th' other said—

    "You're right, Mister Fletcher."  (I wonder heaw hoo getten t' know my name.)  "I know from my own experience that what you say is quite true, though I speak it to the shame of my own sex."

    I'd won that point fairly.

    An' neaw it coome to heaw must we spend th' day, wheere must we goo, an' sich like; things ut I expected Sam an' me would ha' t' sattle.  I fund, heawever, ut th' women had laid th' plans eaut afore we'd a chance o' namin' owt o'th' sort; an' when Sam said a walk as far as "Raikes Ho" would be a nice eaut, they gan us to understood they wouldno' shank it a yard nowheere: they'd have a carriage if they nobbut went to th' bottom o'th' street.  Heaw everybody tries to be grand, I thowt.

    "A carriage will only hold four," Sam said, lookin' reaund an' purtendin' to keaunt th' company, as if he didno' know at th' same time ut ther six on us.

    "We nobbut wanten one ut'll howd four," eawr Sal said, wi' a fause sort of a grin.

    "But we can't do less than ask these ladies," Sam said, lookin' at th' widows.

    "Th' ladies han axt us; neaw then," th' owd rib said, trumpin' Sam's king.  Then ther a titterin' went reawnd th' table, an' some meeanin' looks wur swapt amung th' women.

    "I may as well tell you, dear," Sam's wife said—(eaur Sal nudged me an' whisperd, "Yer thee, Ab, hoo co'es him 'dear': I'll co thee chucky.")—"I may as well tell you, dear, that the ladies have asked us to have a drive with them to the Strawberry Gardens, and you can go where you please; which, I dare say, is an arrangement you won't object to."

    Sam turned up his e'en an' soiked.

    "Now you won't, dear, will you now?  As you've been so very attentive since we came ("Humph!" eaur Sal said), we've agreed to a—a—"

    "To poo their collars off, an' let 'em run abeawt th' fowt," th' owd un said, seein' ut her better-larnt friend wur fast for a word or two.

    "'K you, Missis Fletcher," Sam's wife said, with a bow; "what a happy way you have of expressing yourself!  How sorry the gentlemen look, don't they?"  An' hoo geet howd ov her lord's bears an' poo'd it.

    "I shall break my heart, love," Sam said, rommin' a hontful of his knuckles into his e'en, as a choilt does when it's skrikin' for a buttercake.

    "It's bigger odds on thee breakin' thy neck," I said, thinkin' I'd just put him one in while I'd a chance.

    "There'll be moore doancin' than skrikin', will there no', chucky?" eaur Sal said; an' hoo gan me a pluck at my left whisker ut made me wince.

    "Reet, owd ticket!" I said; an expression ut made th' "ladies" oppen their e'en, as if they hadno' bin used to sich sweet an' lovin' words.

    After a bit moore o' this pleasant croodlin—a thing ut seemed to mak' th' widows wish their own husbants wur theere—we agreed, Sam an' me, ut we'd let th' women do their own for an heaur or two; but they mustno' expect ut sich a great sacrifice o' th' feelins o' two lovin' husbants could be made every day.  We happen met see through it this time wi' a bit o' philosophisin', but th' consequences of a second experiment could noather be weighed nor keaunted.  But life wur beset wi' trials, Sam said; an' partin wur sich sweet sorrow; an'—fare thee well, an' if for ever, still for ever fare thee well!

    "Let's goo deawn th' stairs an' have a bitter, Ab.  Tie a stone to th' neck o' grief, an' drown it in the bowl."

    "I'm ready for doin' a deed o' that sort any minit," I said; for I could hardly howd fro' yawpin eawt.

    "Lead a-on, then!" Sam said, gettin' up fro' th' table, an' brushin' th' crumbs off his waistcoat.  "The time will come!  Hook it! Ab."  Th' last three words he whispered.

    "A kiss, dear!" Sam's wife said, throwin' her arms reaund his neck as he rose fro' his pearch.

    "Leeave me a tuft o' thy yure, chucky," th' owd un said, as I jumpt up fro' th' table.  But, as there wurno' a pair o' scithors abeaut my thatch wur spared, an' I led "a-on," an' Sam an' me went deawn th' stairs to th' bar for to' dreawn eaur grief; Sam rommin' a napkin in his meauth, for fear o' his share o'ergettin' him, an' savin' its life.  But whether we'rn havin' th' women on th' stick, or they'rn havin' us on, I ha' no' fund eaut to this day.

    It took fully an heaur for th' jorum to get off;—a ship could ha bin swum as soon.  They'd as mony preparations for th' journey as some folk would ha' made for gooin to Ameriky.  But at lung length they geet into th' carriage, ut had bin waitin' at th' dur ever sich a time, an' we seed th' last on 'em for that day.

    "We conno' catch owd brids with chaff," Sam said, as soon as th' seaund o'th' carriage wheels had de'ed away.  That young un o' mine, theau sees, 'll peck at owt; but that owd un o' thine winno' hop under th' riddle chus what we baiten with.

    "Nawe, th' owd brid's up to a trap," I said; "an' theau'll find, as thine gets owder, hoo'll be harder to catch; speshly if hoo joins eaur Sal's skoo."

    "Whoa'd ha' thowt they'd ha' letten us shake a lose leg so soon after bein' dropt on as we wur?" Sam said, wi' a' bit o' rumblin o' laafin under his senglet.

    "It suits 'em to do it," I said, fishin up a bit o' my exparience.  "If it hadno' theau may depend on't they'd ha' fastened on us like so mony leeches."

    "It seems theau'rt an owd scholar i' these things," Sam said, wi' a soik.

    "But a bad larner," I said.

    "Well, they're gone," Sam said, flingin' his arms eaut, as if they'd bin fastened wi' a rope, an' someb'dy had cut it; "so neaw let's be off to Raikes Ho.  Theau'll see th' biggest fish theere, Ab, ut ever wur catcht i' Blackpool."

    "Is it wick?" I said; becose I'd seen mony a deead un i' my time ut wur a middlin whacker.

    "Wick!" Sam said, in a surprised way; "ay, I think it is—as wick as ever it wur; an' that theau'll find eaut afore theau's bin theere mony minits."

    "What breed is it on?"

    "I conno' exactly say—summat between a cherubim an' a devil-fish; but what distance it is fro' one or th' tother I dunno' know."

    "Does it swim i' fresh wayter, or saut?"

    "It likes fresh wayter better than saut; but would rayther have it mixed wi' summat else."

    "Bran?" I axt.

    "Bran behanged!  Theau met think it wur a hoss."

    "Well, what then?"

    "Tincture o' barley, mon,—'spigot-milk,' as owd Tum Hobson used to co it.  Dost' no' see?"

    "Yoi, I've gawmt it neaw; they'n towt it bad habits; I reckon that's what theau meeans.  I see'd one once ut they said could talk; but when I axt it if its dad an' mam wur livin', it rose up suddenly on its tail, and gan me a slap i'th' face wi' what they coed its 'flipper.'  I reckon it wouldno' have its family affairs meddled with.  Con this talk?"

    "Talk! ay, as weel as thee.  I believe it could sing if it wur t' try."

    "What length is it?"

    "No' far off six feet."

    "What thickness?"

    "Oh, a tidy waistcoat full."

    "Theau doesno' meean t' say it wears clooas, doesta?"

    "But I do," Sam said; "an' they become it as weel as oather thee or me."

    "Theau surprises me," I said; "but theau's sowd me so oft theau may happen see a chance o' sellin' me again."

    "This is no sell, Abram," Sam said, lookin' quite sollit.  If theau doesno' see a wick fish as big as thysel', an' ut con talk as weel as thee—I'll say nowt abeaut th' singin'—then I'm a—theau knows what, an' no' fit to be believed no time.  But even if there wurno' this fish, Raikes Ho is wo'th a visit, if it's nobbut to see th' place; so gether thy shanks up, an' let's be off."

    Lyin' yeasterly fro' th' sae, an' just upo' th' selvage o'th' teawn, an' formin' a woody fringe to th' web o' breek an' mortar, is Raikes Ho; at one time a whoam for young women ut are reckoned to care nowt abeaut chaps, but neaw made into a sae-side "Belle Vue," witheaut th' animals an' painted teawns.  A slow walk of abeaut twenty minits browt us to th' gates, wheere, after payin' tuppence apiece, we're letter inside the greaunds, abeaut five minits' walk fro' th' heawse.

    I fund it wur a bigger consarn than I expected it bein'; an' when it's finished there winno' be a nicer place for spendin' a quiet summer's neet nowheere abeaut Blackpool.  Th' heawse is made into a atin'-an-drinkin' shop; an' there's plenty o' reaum in it for doin' booath,—weel laid eaut an' nicely fitted up.  Then there's walks an' fleawers, an' trees,—ay, trees i' Blackpool; an' at th' fur end there's a booarded floor, as big as Walmsley Fowt, wheere yo' may doance till yo'r stockin's fly'n off.  A band wur pearched in a big sautbox wi' th' front ta'en eaut when we geet theere; an' ther some hunderts o' young folk flingin' their legs abeaut to th' music.  Sam wanted me to have an odd twell upo' th' booart; but as I'd bin so misfortunate before wi' my doancin, I thowt I'd better not risk gettin' into another scrape; or else ther one or two buxom damsels ut favvort bein' ready for draggin' abeaut, if they could find a pair o' cooat sleeves wi' arms in 'em free, willin', an' able.  As it wur my mind kept runnin' upo' this big fish; an' I towd Sam I couldno' gie mysel' up noather to doancin' nor nowt else till I'd seen it, an' bad a bit of a confab with it.

    "Oh, come this road, then," he said, gettin' howd on me by th' shoother.  "I'd quite forgetten it."

    Wi' that we went under a big shed ut had a keaunter raichin' fro' one end to th' tother; an' I fund this wur a drinkin' shop, as weel as th' heawse.  We must be a dry lot.  Sam knockt for two gills; an' when they're browt he axt th' waiter-on if he could see th' manager.  He're towd he could; an' in abeaut two minits th' manager coome; an' they shaked honds, an' axt one another heaw they wur, like owd cronies.  He're a steaut, good-lookin' chap, wur th' manager; an' I fund here quite as jolly as he looked.  Sam stood cigars for th' three on us, but as I wurno' used to sich things, I sowd mine for tuppence when we geet back to Blackpool.

    "Alleaw me to introduce yo' to my friend Ab-o'-th'-Yate," Sam said, turnin' to th' manager.

    "Oh, ay!" th manager said, flingin oppen his dayleets.  "Is this that—let me see, what does he co hissel'?"

    "Yorney," Sam said, quite sollitly.

    "Ay, yorney," th' manager said, as if it wur some grand title; "I'm fain to see him."

    "He wants to see that big fish," Sam said; an' if he didno' wink, ther a sharp twitchin' of his face ut looked like winkin'.

    "Oh, he shall see it; nob'dy moore welcome," th' manager said, "if he'll stond th' extry."

    "What's that?" I axt.

    "A glass o' whisky," th' manager said.  "It drinks whisky like a human crayther; and if it doesno' get one when its shown it sulks, an' winno' perform a bit."

    "Oh, I'm not to an odd fourpenn'oth," I said, "speshly to a fish.  It'll be a groat's wo'th o' fun to watch it drink."

    "Come reaund to th' back, then," he said; but before we could stir a waiter coome, an' sheautin to th' manager, said—

    "Mister Fish, a gentleman wants to speak to you at the other end."

    "Very well," th' manager said; "I con have th' whisky when I come back."  An' Sam an' him gan a yawp eaut ut fairly dreawnt th' noise o'th' band.

    My jaw dropt to my senglet.  I could see I're sowd again.

    "Well, have I towd thee any lies?" Sam said, grinnin' at me liked a stuffed monkey.  "Conno' it talk?  An' isno' it as big a wick fish as ever theau seed?"

    "Here's my fourpence," I said, fumblin' eaut my copper.  "Dunno' thee mak a sung abeaut it, an' I'll say nowt.  I see I've bin done, an' wi' my een oppen, too."

    It would ha' bin weel if th' skit had ended theere; but it didno.  At th' time we'd agreed on to meet eaur wives we'rn booath on us what Sam co'ed "screwed up to th' end o'th' worm."  We'd gone into th' Ho, wheere ther a lot o' Cliftonians—fast young duleskins, ut come to Blackpool for a spree, becose they darno' have one awhoam; an' they made Sam an' me so ut we took moore o'th' road when we'rn gooin back than wur fairly eaur share.  This wur th' meeans o' gettin' booath on us into what had like to ha' bin a moore sarious hobble than any we'd ever bin in before.


――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER VI.


    "THERE'S a nice sae," Sam Smithies said, as we stood at th' corner o'th' Clifton Arms, waitin' o'th' women to come back fro' th' Strawberry Gardens.  "Heaw would t' like a bit ov a sail, Ab?"

    "I shouldno' mind if theau thinks it ud be safe," I said.  "Safe as th' bank," Sam said "th' wayter's as quiet as a choilt asleep."

    "Th' wayter's reet enoof," I said; "but, i'th' humour theau'rt in just neaw th' boat met get th' wrung side up, an' gi'e me another duckin'."

    "Theau doesno' think I'd do a trick o' that sort, doesta?" Sam said, puttin' on a very innocent look.

    "Oh, nawe," I said; "theau didno' hauve dreawn me this mornin', an' theau never geet me i' no sort of a scrape i' thy life—never."

    "Well, trust me this time, an' we'n shake honds o'er it," Sam said; an' he put eaut his feeler for me to tak howd on.

    "I'll trust thee this far," I said; "I shanno' goo unless th' women are with us."

    "I never intended us gooin' witheaut 'em," he said, as if he're surprised ut any mon would ever think o' gooin' two yards away fro' whoam unless he're in his wife's company.

    "Agreed on, then," I said; an' we snaked honds o'er it.  "But we mun ha' these likenesses takken th' fust."

    "To be sure," Sam said; "I'd quite forgetten it."  Then he poo'd his watch eaut, an' looked at th' time.  "Didt' ever know a woman promise to meet anybody at a certain time, an' keep it?"

    "Ay, once," I said.  "When eaur Sal an' me wur wed we met at th' church.  Folk ut had to work for their livin' didno' goo i' carriages then.  We agreed to meet at ten o'clock, exactly to th' minit, so as we shouldno' keep one another waitin'.  Well, th' church clock wur just strikin' th' heaur as I're gooin' through th' gates; but th' owd lass had warmed th' end of a gravestone wi sittin on it before then."

    "That's once in a life," Sam said.  "I dunno' think a woman ever wur too late for a job o' that sort.  I wonder heaw it would be if they'rn gooin' a-bein' unwed."

    "They'd forget th' day," I said; an' Sam agreed wi' me.

    Well, we'd a walk deawn th' Promenade, thinkin' we should happen meet th' carriage; an' just as we geet a-facin th' "Oak Cottage" it coome droivin' up; an' a grand turn-eaut it looked.  We purtended to do a bit o' grumblin' for bein' kept waitin so lung; but eaur Sal thowt, by th' appearance on us, we'd bin waitin inside th' Clifton Arms i'stead o' eautside.  We leet th' owd lass have her say, thinkin less we spoke an' th' better we should come off, becose Sam livert his words eaut as if he'd a piece of a blanket lapt reaund his tongue; an' I dunno' think I'd mich of a crow o'er him.  Sam's wife an' my owd blossom wur honded eaut o'th' carriage, an' wi' a nicely-spokken "Good morning!" th' widows drove off to th' Darby Hotel.

    "I get fonder o' yond women every heaur," th' owd rib said, as hoo watched th' carriage beawl away.  "I wonder if it's bein' a widow ut maks a woman so pleasant an' good-tempered."

    "Does theau want to try a barrowful?" I said, thinkin' I'd humour her a bit,

    "Well, I aulus thowt I should look weel i' black," hoo said, witheaut as mich as a bit of a pucker of her face.

    One for Ab's nob, I thowt.

    "Just look at thoose two, Ab," th' owd un said, meeanin' Sam an' his wife, ut wur croodlin' t'gether like two pigeons.  "They met be cooartin'.  I con tell to a year heaw lung a couple han bin wed."

    "What by?" I said, as I wanted a bit o' her exparience i' sich things.

    "By th' distance there is between 'em when they're walkin' eaut."  True, o Sarah!

    This londed us into Sam Laycock's "portergraphtin" place, as eaur Sal coes it, where we fund th' owd lad just finishin off a sleepy babby, ut wur bein' takken becose th' mother thowt it wur so mich like an angel it met no' tarry here lung.  I conno' tell what effect fittin' it wi' a pair o' wings would ha' had, but—well, it's no use hurtin' th' woman's feelins.  Hoo looks at her own wi' a mother's e'en, I reckon.

    "Do I see th' owd rib?" Sam Laycock said, puttin' eaur Sal at th' end o' his telescope.

    "Ay, th' owd stockinmender," I said; an' they shaked honds.  "An' this is that Sam Smithies theau's yerd tell on."

    "What, him ut paid for that pop i' Lunnon?" Laycock said, puttin' his new acquaintance under th' fire of his peepin'-battery.

    "Th' same owd swell, an' this lady's his wife."  Then ther a general paw-waggin' followed.

    "Shall I ha' th' pleasure o' takkin' o yo'r likenesses?" Laycock said, snifterin a good netful o' fish.

    "Theau may tak' these women an' his yorneyship," Sam Smithies said; "but if anybody ever taks me it'll be when I'm asleep.  I dunno' believe i' sich vanity."

    I hardly think Laycock looked so weel pleeast at that, though he said nowt, but begun a preparin' for wark.  Sam's wife wur takken th' fust, an' very nice an' lady-like hoo looked, wi' a book before her an' a garden beheend her.  It strikes me there's a deeal moore books figure'n i' likenesses than ever wur read.  When it coome to eaur Sal's turn there a regilar commotion i'th' place.  Heaw must hoo be takken?  Sittin' or stondin'?  Wi' her bonnet on, or bare-yead?  What must hoo do wi' her arms, an' heaw must hoo shape her face?  I said I thowt hoo'd best sit, an' keep her bonnet on, as it would look moore becomin' her years.  If hoo'd had a "Dolly Varden" hat on hoo'd ha' bin as grand as a pot shepherdess.

    "There's a lady stoppin' wi' us ut has one," Laycock said; "I dar say hoo'd land it for a job o' this sort."

    "Fotch it then," 'I said, "an' let's decorate th' owd picthur gradely."

    No sooner said than done.  Laycock shot into th' heawse like a tooth-drawer, an' th' next minit he're back again, bringin' with him a hat ut favvort bein' made for bakin' loaves in.  Eaur Sal had her bonnet off in a crack, an' th' hat i'th' place on't.  Bein' witheawt shinnon, hoo'd nowt to tilt it forrard with, so we geet a coffee cup an' stuck that under, an' rare an' gallus th' owd crayther lookt as hoo sit theere.

    "What mun I do wi' my honds, Mesther Laycop?" hoo said, balancin' her hat like a meauntebank balancin' a pow.

    "Put one upo' th' table an' th' tother upo' yo'r knee," Laycock said.  An' he popt his yead under a little pall, an' surveyed th' owd ticket through his machinery.  "Con yo manage to sit still?"

    "Not if eaur Ab keeps pooin' his face at me," hoo said, wrythin' her meauth abeaut.

    I wurno pooin' my face at her.  I're nobbut doin' my best to look as if I hadno' tasted drink."

    "Oh," I said, "I'll goo into th' fowt if yo' conno' get on wi' me bein' here;" so I sidled to th' dur, wheere I could peep, an' watch heaw things wur gooin' on.

    Laycock twitcht his yead fro' under th' little pall, an' lookin' at eaur Sal, said—

    "Yo're skennin', Missis."

    "Whoa con help it," th' owd lass said, "when they'n getten a tae sarvice o'th' top o' their yead?"  Then hoo tried to set her e'en as straight as hoo could, an' fix hersel' like a clockcase.

    "Look at this," Laycock said, puttin' his finger on a nail yead ut wur stickin' eaut o'th' corner of a cubbort.

    "Ay, well, I see it," eaur Sal said, followin' Sam's finger wi' her e'en.  "It looks like a nail yead."

    "Well, keep lookin' at it till I tell yo' to stop," Laycock said; an' he darted under th' little pall again.

    "I conno' mak it int' nowt nobbut a nail yead, chus heaw I look at it," th' owd rib said, thinkin' hoo're bein had on th' stick.

    "Yo' may no' just neaw," Laycock said; "but if yo'n look lung enoogh yo'n see it turned into a diamond pin."  Then didno' th' owd gel stare?

    While hoo're watchin' for th' change ut would never happen Laycock took aim with his machine, keaunted twenty, an' then said o wur o'er; but eaur Sal said hoo wanted to see th' nail yead change int' a diamond pin.  Heawever, as Sam towd her it met tak' a milliont year, an' happen a day or two beside, hoo could see through it o.  Th' owd lad winked at me, an' said hoo met leeave her seeat, an' goo an' join Sam Smithies' wife i'th' heause; he shouldno' be above ten minits.  As for me, he thowt I'd best come another day, an' tak' a lesson off th' order o' Good Tremblers, or summat he co'ed 'em, an' I should mak' a nicer picthur'.

    I're quite inclined for takkin' his advice.

    "I reckon it's as chep sittin' as stondin'," Sam Smithies said, as soon as Laycock had shut hissel' up in his dark hole.  An' he dropt his carcase upo' th' cheear ut eaur Sal had just laft, an' wur asleep i' two minits.

    "Neaw for it!" I said to Laycock as soon as he popt eaut of his den: "this mon said whenever he'd his likeness takken it ud be when he're asleep; so neaw there's a chance.  Get that magic lantern ready, an' have a shot at him.  Eh, what a picthur'!"

    An' he wur a picthur' too.  His chin had dropt upo' his shoother, an' his face wur poo'd eaut of o human shape, as if it had bin made o' indy-rubber, wi' his bottom lip hangin' deawn like a leather apporn.  I just lifted his hat up quietly (he wore a straw un, like a sailor), un raked his yure deawn o'er his e'en; an' if yo' could ha' fund owt like him eautside "Sot's Hole," I'd ha' forfeited my clogs.  Laycock had th' likeness takken in a snifter, an' just as he're hoidin' hissel' i'th' little dungeon Sam Smithies wakkent.

    "Come, Ab; this boat," he said, givin' his clooas a shake: "a bit of a blow'll do us good."  An' just then he see'd hissel' i'th' lookin'-glass.  "Theighur!" he said, "I'm a bonny lookin' article at anyrate.  I should mak a rare picthur' for a tap-reaum shouldno' I, Ab?"

    "Ay," I said, "thee o' one side, an' owd Blucher o'th' tother.  It ud be th' makkin' o'th' Owd Bell."  Little did he think he'd find hissel' hung theere afore he're mony days owder.

    After squarin' up for th' "portergraphs," we went an' hired a boat; an' Sam Smithies said he'd poo' us eaut hissel', as he wanted a bit o' good exercise.  I could tak howd o'th' pows when he're tired.  Th' boat chap advised us not to goo too far eaut, as th' tide would be upo' th' turn in a hauve an heaur an' then we should find some difficulty i' gettin' back.

    "O reet!" Sam said; an' he dipt his pows i'th' wayter, an' began a-workin' like a hoss.

    We shot eaut to sae quite bravely, me an' th' women sittin' i'th' tail eend o'th' boat, an' Sam plungin' an' flaskerin' i'th' front, doin' double wark.  Folk upo' th' new pier waved their hats an' their napkins; an' I could see ther three or four spyin' glasses levelled at us.  Harder they sheauted an' harder Sam poo'd; till at last he dropt th' pows i'th' boat, done up.  I must have a twell th' next, he said, an' see what sort of a sailor I should mak.  There wurno' a curl of a wave upo' th' whul sae, as we could see, so that th' boat rode as still as if it had bin upo' wheels, an' gan us every chance o' doin' as we liked with it, I geet howd o'th' pows, an' prepared for wark.

    The fust dip I gan I made eaur Sal int' a merrymaid, for I could see saut waytur runnin' off at her chin end as if hoo'd nobbut just risen eaut o'th' mighty deep.  Th' next poo wur better; but after th' third I fund mysel' on my back i'th' boat, wi' my legs pokin' up like two masts.  They'd o three on 'em getten a deawse then.

    "Here!" Sam said, wringin' his beart like a mop, "we're no' gooin' t'stond that sort.  Theau met be doin' it o' purpose.  Gie me howd o'th oars."

    "Nawe," I said, "I'm no' gooin' t' be licked.  I'll see if I conno' mend my wark afore I give up.  I'll turn mysel' th' tother road abeaut, an' then I shanno' plash yo."  So I turned reaund i' my seeat, an' began a-workin' away that road; Sam settin' up cracks o' laafin' like some wild animal.

    "Turn her reaund neaw." he said, as soon as he could spake for laafin'.  So I plunged one o'th' pows deawn into th' sae, but could feel no bottom.

    "Theigher, Sam," I said, "we're in a hobble neaw, I conno' turn th' boat.  Th' pow's too short for raichin' th' bottom."

    "Dear o' me!" th' owd rib said; "whatever mun we do? I wish we'd ne'r ha' come'n."

    "Theau yorney!" Sam said, "theau'll never mak a sailor.  Gie me howd o' one o' thoose oars."  An' he geet howd o' one, an' paddled wi' it till th' boat wheeled reaund like a clock finger.  That wur a wrinkle for me ut I'd never larnt before.  "Neaw, then, thee tak one oar an' I'll tak th' tother, an' we're poo toard whoam.  Th' tide's upo' th' turn."

    So we set to, an' poo'd, an poo'd, but never seemed to gain an inch.  For a whul hauve heaur we wur at it, an' fund ut chus heaw we poo'd, i'stead o' gettin' narr th' lond we'rn gooin' furr eaut to sae.

    "We'n driven it too lung, Ab," Sam said, droppin' his paddlin' like one ut wur givin everythin' up.  "Th' tide's takkin us eaut.  We'se never be able to lond till it turns back again.''

    Then wurno' there a fluster amung th' women!

    "Eh dear!" eaur Sal skriked eaut, "ut ever I should ha' come'n!  I mun never see Walmsley Fowt no moore.  Eh, my poor childer! they're be witheaut mother afore mornin!"

    But as I knew wringin' th' mop would be o' no sarvice, I kept workin' away, while Sam Smithies looked stupidly o'er th' side o'th' boat, as if he expected help comin' fro' somewheere.  We could yer folk sheautin fro' th' pier; but sheautin wouldno' put in an extry stroke for us if it had bin as leaud as thunner; so I kept at my wark like one that knew whoa he wur pooin' for.  Ther a boat wi' a sail to it abeaut a hauve a mile off us, but not lookin' that distance, an' Sam's wife stood on her feet an' waved her napkin, like a shipwrecked sailor, for it to see us.  It seemed to come narr, I thowt, an' Sam gripped his pow for another flasker.  Just as he're dippin he catcht a look at me, an' I thowt he'd ha' rowlt i'th' bottom o'th' boat.



    "Wheay, theau great jackass!" he said, "theau's bin pooin' again me o th' time, as theau did at Belle Vue."

    "Nowt o'th' sort," I said: "I're pooin' to'ard th' owd rib an' I're aulus reet if I're pooin' that road.  Theau wants me to deawse 'em again, doesta?"

    But o someheaw I fund it eaut after it wur too late ut I'd bin pooin' one road an' Sam th' tother; an' by that meeans th' tide wur doin' as it liked wi' us.  It couldno' be helped, heawever; an' neaw ut th' sailin' boat wur comin' to us it didno' matter mich.  In abeaut ten minits I felt th' end of a rope lap reaund my neck, as if I're gooin to be hung.  It had bin thrown fro th' sailin' boat for t' tak' us i' tow.  In another minit wer'n glidin' cozily to'ard th' shore, wheere wer'n met by one hauve o' th' teawn, ut said they never expected seein' us again.

    That wur th' last adventure we had i' Blackpool.  At th' week end we went whoam; an' th' fust thing I see'd when I went to th' Owd Bell wur Sam Smithies' "portergrapht" hangin' a-facin' owd Blucher's i'th' tap-reawm; an' it wur written on at th' bottom, "A Good Tippler."  I think I're abeaut level wi' him then.




JOHN HEYWOOD, Excelsior Steam Printing and Bookbinding Works,
Hulme Hall Road, Manchester.


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