Button - Book index
Click this button to search the websiteClick button to return to the website index

 NAN O DANS CENSUS PAPPER

Aw wur just readin’ abeawt these latest pranks o’ th’ Suffragettes when Tim o’ Tum’s popp’d in, lookin’ as fresh an’ as hearty as a full-blown Corporation official.

“Good mornin’, Jammy!” he said. “Theau’rt still addin’ to thy store o’ larnin’ aw see.”

“Well, aw connot say for that, Tim, but aw wur readin’ a bit abeawt these midneet randies o’ these Suffragettes.”

“Aye, well!” mused Tim.  “What con t’expect?  When wimen tak’ to bein’ generals theau mun ceawnt o’ some strange warfare.”

“But what good will this sort o’ wark do, Tim?”

“It’ll do noane, Jammy, an’ it’ll do no harm, noather.  That’s just like ’em, bless ’em.  They’ll hurt nob’dy, mon.  An’ if they dunnot want to tell heaw owd they are well they’re noane to blame.  It’s noane likely they’ll want to put that deawn.  Aw deawt whether o th’ wed wimen will tell th’ truth abeawt that, Jammy.


“Happen they winnot,” aw agreed.  “But, unless they do, it winnot be a true census, Tim.”

“It’ll happen be as true as ever it wur, Jammy.  Aw dunnot think ‘at ever there’s been a gradely true census sin’ sich a thing wur started by King David, an’ that’s a good while sin’.  Aw dar’ say, if th’ truth wur known, ’at there wur wimen then, aye, an’ even men, too, ’at had an objection to tellin’ someb’dy else their reet age.  An’ aw dur say ’at there wur boath men an’ wimen then ’at thowt ’at they wur fixin’ th’ Government eawt by refusin’ to tell sich family secrets as thoose.  But bless yo’ it doesn’t mak’ mich difference.  A theawsant o’ one side or th’ other doesn’t affect th’ balance, as they say.  There’s an alleawance made for it.  It’s same as directors takkin’ stock at these spinnin’ companies.  They just punce th’ skips to give ’em an idea o’ their value, an’ it’s nee enoof.  It’s so wi’ these folks strikin’ again th’ census.  They’ll never awther th’ balance one road or th’ other.”

“But that’s noane what they’re goin’ on th’ strike for, is it?  I understood it wur becose they had no votes.”

“Aye!  Aw believe that’s reckon’d to be their object,” said Tim.  “But heaw rakin’ eawt o’ neet to che’t th’ Census takker is goin’ to help ’em to get votes is one o’ thoose things ’at nob’dy nobbut a woman con understond.  But aw reckon we’st ha’ to put up wi’ their whims.  If they were o smiles an’ never no freawns we shouldn’t think hawve as weel on ’em as we do.  But thank God, Jammy, they give us moore smiles nor freawns, an’ theau’ll generally find ’at even Suffragettes are pratty an’ intelligent y’ung wimen.  They’re th’ greatest enemies to theirsels, mon, same as Nan o’ Dan’s wur.“

“Heaw wur that?” I ax’d.

“Theau happen didn’t know, Nan,” onsert Tim, “but hoo wur as pratty a wench as ever walk’d eawt wi’ a lad.  Aye! an’ y’ung Cha’ley o’ Bob’s thowt so, too, when hoo walk’d beside him of a Sunday neet wi’ her best Sunday clooas on.  Mon, there weren’t a bonnier couple set eawt fro’ th’ Drummer Hill nor Nan an’ Cha’ley.  An’ they thowt so weel o’ one another too!  Yo’ couldn’t ha’ put a pin between ’em, as they say.  But just when folks had made up their minds ’at there’d be a weddin’ afore lung, Nan geet mix’d up wi’ a toothri moore y’ung wimen ’at were followers o’ Miss Lydia Becker.  Theau knew Lydia Becker, didtna?  Hoo wur one o’ th’ Beckers o’ Foxdenton, an’ hoo took it into her yead to advocate what they coed wimen’s reets.  They didno’ coe ’em Suffragettes then.  Hoo geet a few to back her up fro’ Chadderton Fowt, an’ Drummer Hill, an’ Middleton Junction, an’ amung ’em wur Nan o’ Dan’s.  Cha’ley didn’t like it at o, but he said nowt, as he didn’t want to vex her.  Heawever, these companions of her’s began to persuade her ’at if ever hoo geet wed hoo’d become a slave to her husband, an’ i’stid o’ walkin’ eawt wi’ fine clooas on hoo’d be caged up i’ th’ heause, moppin’ or weshin’, or bakin’, or mendin’, or nursin’.  O her liberty would be gone, for hoo’d belung to her husband an’ o ’at hoo had would belung to him.  Of course theau knows, th’ mooast o’ thoose ’at talk’d o’ that road had no fellies.  But Nan never thowt o’ that.  Hoo began to attend one or two wimen’s meetin’s when hoo should ha’ been walkin’ eawt wi’ Cha’ley.  An’ so things went on.  Hoo grew cowder wi’ Cha’ley as hoo grew warmer i’ th’ cause, an’ it wurnot lung before they gan o’er cooartin’ otogether.  There were some o’ thoose ’at had encouraged Nan to throw Cha’ley o’er what would gladly ha’ picked him up, but he wur havin’ noane.  He wur quite agreeable to let ’em ha’ booath their reets an’ their wrungs.

An’ so Nan an’ Cha’ley drifted apart, as th’ song says.  Cha’ley stuck to his books an’ kept on improvin’ hissel’ till he geet a grand shop in another district wheer he could get his livin’ wi’ his jacket on.

Nan didn’t do quite so weel.  First her feyther broke deawn into a lung sickness an’ just when they thowt ’at he wur gettin’ reawnd nicely, an’ would soon be ready for his wark, he deed very suddenly.  This wur a terrible blow to her mother, an’ hoo didn’t live lung after him.  Nan had to buckle to an’ tak’ th’ mother’s an’ feyther’s places straight away.  An’ hoo did it weel.  There wur no question, then, o’ wimen’s reets or wimen’s wrungs.  Hoo’d brothers an’ sisters to look after, an’ though they could just abeawt keep thersels, hoo felt it a duty to see ’at they were browt up as respectably as their mother would ha’ browt ’em up.  An’ hoo stuck to ’em while th’ yea’rs rolled by, an’ her own rosy cheeks bleach’d an’ thinned wi’ toil an’ care.  Aw dar’say hoo thowt mony a time abeawt Cha’ley an’ what met ha’ been, but hoo never grumbled.  O her companions what had persuaded her to gi’e Cha’ley up, had getten wed an’ hoo wur left alone.

By an’ by her brothers an’ sisters geet wed too, an’ hoo’d nowt starin’ her i’ th’ face but solitude an’ th’ warkheause.  Hoo wur obliged to go to th’ factory again to keep hersel’, an’ when hoo coam whoam at neet hoo had to mop for hersel’, wesh for hersel’, bake for hersel’, an’ mend for hersel’ if hoo must keep body an’ soul together.  True, hoo hadn’t nursin’ as weel, but hoo’d ha’ welcomed that little addition.  Hoo’d ha’ welcomed out ‘at browt sympathy.  Hoo felt th’ want o’ human sympathy moore nor votes.  Th’ slavery ’at hoo’d rejected would ha’ carried love an’ sympathy with it, but th’ slavery ’at hoo suffered wur cowd, an’ harsh, an’ bitter, an’ hopeless.  That wur th’ worst on it.  Hopeless!  Hopeless!  There were nobbut one road eawt on it, an’ that wur th’ end.  When hoo couldn’t go to th’ factory ony longer — then, the end.  What a fearful prospect!

Then somebody towd her ’at they were gooin’ to tak’ th’ census.  The Government wur gooin’ to ceawnt th’ people.  But it didn’t interest her.  O her people had been ceawnted an’ ta’en away save one, an’ hoo’d sent him away hersel’.  Would he ever come back?  Nowe, hoo didn’t think he would.  He’d been away so lung.  Beside hoo’d sent him away hersel’ an’ hoo couldn’t expect him to forgive her.  Hoo couldn’t blame him.

Th’ census pappers wur ta’en reawnd, but Nan wur noane in when th’ chap coed wi’ hers.  He left it wi’ th’ folks next dur an’ they gan it to her when hoo coam whoam fro’ her wark.  But hoo couldn’t read it straight away.  Though hoo wur supposed to have coam whoam fro’ her wark hoo had to set to an’ leet th’ fire, an’ boil th’ waythur, an’ mak’ th’ baggin’ before hoo could sit deawn an’ think abeawt what onswers hoo should give.  Then, when hoo wur beawn to get howd o’ th’ papper to read it, hoo bethowt her ’at o th’ wimen were advised to go on th’ strike an’ not onswer th’ questions till their reets had been granted.  So hoo put it o’ one side an’ geet her baggin’.  Then hoo wesh’d up, an’ made th’ bed, an’ mended th’ stockin’s, an’ did a bit o’ sewin’, an’ sided up, an’ went to bed an’ forgeet it.

When th’ felly coom for it it wurnt filled up, an’ Nan wur just wonderin’ whether to tell him ’at hoo shouldn’t fill it up when he said: “Neaw, Nan, shall aw come in while theaw fills it up?”

Hoo turned on him in a temper “Aw shannot fill it up, so yo’ needn’t try to coax me wi’ sayin’ Nan, Nan.  Eh, what!  It’s never Cha’ley, is it?  Why didn’t yo’ tell me?”

“Becose theau didn’t gi’e me th’ chance, Nan,” onswert Cha’ley.  “But mun aw come in, neaw, while theau fills it up?”

“Theau con come in if theau likes, Cha’ley, but aw shannot fill it up,” said Nan.

So Nancy went back into th’ heause an’ Cha’ley followed her.  He looked reawnd expectin’ to see somebody else knockin’ abeawt, but as he seed nob’dy he said: “Arta by thisel’ to-neet, Nan?”

“Aye, awm alus by misel’.”

“Awlus?” inquired Cha’ley.

“Awlus!” onsert Nancy.

“But theau shouldn’t be, Nan.”

“Why?”

“Becose theau shouldn’t.  Theau’rt too good.”

Nan felt a bit of a lump come into her throat an’ hoo couldn’t speak.

“But wheer are o yo’r folks?” axed Cha’ley.

“Some are dead, an’ some are wed,” hoo said.

Cha’ley stood as if he wur mesmerised.  He didn’t know what to say.

“Shall I find that census papper?” hoo axed softly, as Cha’ley still stood without sayin’ a word.  “Aw con happen fill it up if yo’ll show me heaw.”

Hoo fund th’ papper an’ a pen an’ a little bottle of ink an’ hoo put ‘em upo’ th’ table.  Then hoo motioned to Cha’ley to sit him deawn an’ hoo sit deawn too an’ gan him th’ papper in his honds.

He took th’ pen an’ th’ papper an’ began o’ shapin’ for fillin’ it up.

“Who’s th’ yed o’ th’ family?” he axed.

“Me!” hoo said.

“Thee?”

“Aye, an’ th’ tail too, for awm th’ only one laft.”

An’ arta single?”

“Aye!”

“An’ hasta neveribeen wed?” he inquired.

“Never!”

“What!  Never?”

“Never!


He looked at her for a minute, an’ then his arms fund their road reawnd her neck an’ their lips met.

”Cha’ley!” hoo whispered.

“What, Nancy?”

“Has theau never been wed noather?”

“Nowe!”

“Hasta been waitin’ o’ me, lad?”

“I have, lass.” 
――――♦――――

Button - arrow leftButton - arrow right

――――♦――――