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 BOBBIN CLOOF CHRISTMAS WAITS

CHAPTER I.

Bobbin Cloof Church wur i’ debt.  Aw dar say that yo’ll say this is nowt new.  Well, i’ these times, happen it isno; but aw con remember when folks loiked to be as straight wi’ the’r religion as they wur wi’ the’r bisness.  But thoose days are past, an’ neaw as soon as a church or a chapel gets eawt o’ one debt it goes an’ dips o’er th’ neck an’ ears in another, an’ folks ’at would shawm to run up a shop score o’ ten shillings think nowt abeawt runnin’ up a church debt o’ five or six hundert peaunds.  They say ’at it gi’es a stimulas to exertion an’ energy.  P’raps it does, but aw’ve known mony o’ mon have a stimulant ’ats fund hissel’ i’ th’ gutter soon after.  It’s a quare religion that has to be awlus livin’ o’ stimulants.  Aw think it wouldno’ be a bad plan to run a church same as th’ store, on th’ ready money principle.  Just fancy a respectable body o’ men an’ women goin’ to heaven on th’ tick!  What will Peter say when they show him the’r shop book?  Aw wonder if he uses a black pencil for aleheause debts, an’ a white un for church debts?  Happen he does.

Well, as aw wur tellin’ yo’, Bobbin Cloof Church wur i’ debt.  But, mind yo’, this debt hadno’ been browt on throo’ wilful extravagance.  Eh dear, nawe!  To tell yo’ th’ truth, booath parson an’ th’ congregation had been letten in.  It wur this road — ther’d been an election i’ th’ ceaunty abeawt eighteen months before, an’ as ther’ wur a toothri freehowd voters i’ th’ Cloof, of course booath candidates paid ’em a good deal of attention.  The’r agents wur often seen in an’ abeawt th’ Church Inn, an’ it wur noticed ’at no matter which on ’em wur theer he filled th’ electors an’ non-electors wi’ sich weighty arguments ’at they could hardly walk whoam.  Owd Donty wur so pleeos’d ’at he said he wish’d ther’ wur an election every month.  Eh! what ale ther’ wur supp’d at that election for sure.  Th’ landlord had to put five or six special brews on, an’ then he’d lite to have run short.  But they didno’ devote o’ the’r attention to the free an’ independent voters ’at spent th’ mooist o’ the’r time i’ th’ Church Inn.  They wanted to catch everybody.  One o’ th’ candidates thowt it would be good policy to attend th’ church, an’, when th’ other mon yerd on it, he decided to go too.  So o’ th’ Sunday followin’ they’re booath theer, one wi’ his tall shiner an’ kid glooves and white senglet on, an’ a pink handkicher reaund his neck an’ a pink fieawer in his cooat; an’ th’ other wi’ his tall shiner on an’ kid glooves, an’ a yallow handkicher on his neck an’ a yallow fleawer in his cooat.  One sit o’ one side o’ th’ church an’ th’ other on th’ other side, an’ ther’ wur moore starin’ an’ talkin’ abeawt ’em nur ther’ wur abeawt th’ sarvice, an’ they booath seem’d to loik’d it.

When th’ sarvice wur o’er they booath stopp’d beheend an’ shaked everybody’s honds ’at they could get nee, an’ then they had a bit o’ talk one wi’ th’ parson an’ th’ other wi’ th’ churchwarden.  Him ’at wur talkin’ wi’ th’ churchwarden noticed ‘at th’ Bible i’ th’ pulpit wur gettin’ in a very dilapidated condition, an’ th’ parson’s geawn wur gettin’ worse for wear, an’ he said ’at he should be very glad if they’d alleaw him to buy new uns.  Of course th’ churchwarden did what ony other sensible churchwarden would ha’ done.  He towd him ’at they’d be very glad to alleaw him, an’ he thank’d him for his generosity.  Th’ other candidate wur suggestin’ to th’ parson that it would be a great improvement to the church if a memorial window of stained glass, wur placed i’ th’ chancel beheend th’ pulpit.  He should be pleased, he said, to defray th’ expenses if th’ parson would get one put in.  Of course th’ parson didno’ need twice tellin’.  After thankin’ his kind patron he hurried off whoam an’ wrote at once to a firm i’ Manchester to send a mon to prepare a design.  He towd th’ candidate after what he’d done, an’ he reckon’d to be delighted with his promptitude, and said he would be glad to leave the matter entirely in the parson’s hands.  Aye I an’ he laft it theer too, for when th’ election took place a two-thri weeks after, an’ he wur fund to be at th’ bottom o’ th’ poll, he said summat abeawt havin’ been deceived wi’ his friends, an’ he’d wesh his honds o’ th’ place for ever.  He did do, too, for they never seed noather him nor th’ colour of his brass i’ Bobbin Cloof after.  Of course th’ memorial window wur put in, an’ the parson wur obliged to appeal to his people to help him eawt of his scrape.

Ther’ wur o sorts o’ suggestions, from a cock feight to a bazaar, for raising th’ funds, but they couldno’ come to a gradely settlement.  Months kept gooin’ by an’ nowt wur done, except ’at th’ parson neaw an’ then wrote to th’ chap to remind him of his promise.  But he never geet an answer, an’ th’ only thing he could yer abeawt him wur ’at he’d changed his colour an’ wur neaw tryin’ to get into Parliament for th’ other side.  It had getten very nee Kesmus when th’ parson coed a meetin’ of his flock, an’ towd ’em at th’ chap ’at put th’ window in wur beginnin’ to dun him for his brass.

Rayph Keyshaw wanted to know if it ud be ony use axin’ th’ successful candidate to stump up, but th’ parson said as he didn’t think it would, as it had ta’en ’em o the’r time to get th’ brass eawt on him for th’ new geawn an’ Bible.  Owd Sammy Dyson said as it wur th’ wrung time o’ th’ year or else they met o’ had a fleawr or an onion show i’ th’ church, an’ then Owd Penky coed eawt an’ suggested that they should mak’ up a party an’ go eawt o’ singin’ o’ Kesmus Eve, an’ give what they geet to th’ window fund.  Th’ idea wur ta’en up at once, an’ they wonder’t why they hadno’ thowt on it before.  Yung Tim Halliwell wur put in to select a suitable choir, an’ before th’ neet wur o’er everybody i’ th’ Cloof had yerd abeawt o th’ bisness, an’ wur i’ great glee abeawt th’ Bobbin Cloof Kesmus Waits.

Tim Halliwell soon fund ’at he’d tackled a towfer job nor he expected.  He wur surprised at th’ number of musicians and singers ’at ther’ wur i’ th’ Cloof ’at he’d never yerd tell on before.  But what bother’d him mooist wur ’at they o’ wanted to perform o’ th’ Kesmus Eve.  Ther’ wur scores o’ singers ’at could sing ony part, an’ ther’ wur fiddlers, clarynet, and concerteena players witheawt number, to say nowt o’ tin-whistlers and triangle and Jew’s-harp players.  Tim made moore enemies that time nor ever he had in o his life afore, for he wur obliged to bar biggest part on ’em eawt.  But some on ’em wouldno’ be barr’d eawt.  Dinah Laycock wur fifty yer owd, as everybody i’ th’ Clough knew, but hoo reckon’d to be short o’ thirty, an’ hoo swore as they were mooistly sengle folks ’at were gooin’, hoo should go too, for hoo could sing as weel as th’ best on ’em.  Owd Penky wanted to tak’ th’ big drum ’at wur his grondfeyther’s when he wur i’th’ Bobbin Cloof Fife and Drum Band becose he contended that it had as much music in it then as it ever had, an’ it only wanted knockin’ eawt.  Tim invited Parson Pilkington to go wi’ ’em, for th’ owd mon wur fond of a bit o’ good singin’, an he’d help to keep th’ rest o’ th’ company straight.  But he drew th’ line at Owd Penky.  If Owd Penky wur goin’ to sing he wur beawn’t ha’ nowt to do wi’ it.  He could sing noane hissel’, an’ he put other folks eawt.  Beside, he wur so ill favvert that his own friends, if they seed him eawt at neet, would run, thinkin’ th’ owd lad wur abeawt.  Th’ main difficulty, heawever, wur to persuade Owd Penky to stop away, especially as he wur th’ originator o’ th’ idea.  Parson Pilkington undertook to use his influence, an’ he succeeded, though, as things turned eawt, it would happen ha’ been better for mony o’ one if he hadn’t.  Wi’ a lot o’ trouble an’ vexation other discordant elements wur drawn eawt, an’ th’ party wur finally an’ definitely fixed.  Ther’ wur one thing, heawever, ’at noather Tim nor th’ parson could accomplish, an’ that wur to induce Dinah Laycock to retire.

Well, Kesmus Eve coom at last, an’ Tim an’ his party set eawt.  Eh! what a neet it wur for sure, th’ rain fairly peawer’d deawn just when they wur settin’ off, or else they’d very loikely have had moore hangers on nor what they cared abeawt.  They hadno’ getten far before they’d a bit of a mishap.  One o’ th’ first places ’at they wur’n deawn to sing at wur at Owd Joe Schofield’s, just o’er th’ brook, an’ they wur crossin’ th’ bridge when this accident occurred.  It wur nobbut a narrow plank wi’ a bit of rail o’ one side, an’ yo’ could only cross it i’ sengle file.  Well, as aw’ve towd yo’ it wur rainin’ very fast, an’ this party o’ Kesmus Waits wur, as usual, made up mooistly o’ cooarters.  Yo’ll happen wonder what th’ rain had to do wi’ th’ cooarters.  Well, it had this to do wi’ ’em.  Dunnot yo’ know ’at ther’s nobbut one umbrell to one pair o’ cooarters?  At least ther’s never nobbut one put up.  Its surprisin’ heaw mich moore rain one umbrell ’ll keep off two sengle folks nor two will keep off th’ same folks when they’re wed. But it will do, an’ yo’ o know it too.

Aw’ve noane cooarters mony o’ time wish it would rain so as they could walk eawt together under th’ same umbrell.  It wur so wi’ these singers.  They thowt nowt abeawt th’ rain, not um; but it wur rayther awkert when they coom to th’ bridge.  They couldno’ walk across arm i’ arm, an’ it’s not so easy howdin’ th’ umbrell o’er yo’r girl if hoo’s oather at th’ front or at th’ back.  Yung Tim Halliwell, of course, had his sweetheart (Jenny Collins) wi’ him, an’ he wur very anxious that hoo shouldn’t get weet, so he did his best to shelter her wi’ his umbrell while they wur crossin’ th’ bridge; but it wur very dark, dunnot yo’ see, an’ th’ bridge wur very narrow, an’ Tim’s thowts wur so fixed on Jenny ’at he never thowt abeawt hissel’.  When they’d getten abeawt th’ hauve road across, he happen’d to just step off th’ side o’ th’ plank wi’ one foot an’ o’er he went, wi’ th’ umbrell i’ one hont an’ his fiddle box i’ th’ other, into th’ brook.  Eh! what a commotion ther’ wur.  Jenny screeomed as only women con screeom.

“He’s dreawnin’,” hoo said, “He’s dreawnin’.  Will nobody save him?”

Tim, heawever, wur soon on his feet, an’ scramblin’ eawt as soon as he could, but he’d a job to pacify Jenny, for hoo kept wantin’ to know if he wur dreawnt.  He assured her at he wur as nee being dreawnt as a sope o’ wayther six inches deep could dreawn him, an’ he wur bringin’ some away wi’ him for a keepsake.  He look’d a bonny object, for sure, for o one side of his clooas wus as weet as a dishcleawt, an’ his face fawert as if it had been sceawr’d wi’ a breek.  He wur witchert o’ booath feet, an’ when he clapp’d ’em deawn th’ wayther spurted eawt of his shoon same as a feawntain.  His hat had tumbl’d off an’ gone sailin’ deawn th’ brook loike a little boat.  His umbrell wur brokken‘, an’ his fiddle-box an’ his fiddle wur full o’ wayther.  Th’ parson advised him to goo whoam an’ get to bed at once, but Tim couldn’t see th’ fun o’ goin’ whoam an’ leeovin’ Jenny to walk eawt wi’ th’ other singers.  He said he’d goo an’ change his clooas, an’ he ax’d Jenny to carry his fiddle-box while he coom back, as he shouldn’t be lung away.  He darted off as hard as he could goo, an’ th’ wayther splash’d eawt of his shoon an’ ran off his breeches as he went.  Jenny kept lookin’ back o’ th’ road to see if he wur comin’, but he hadno’ shown up when they landed at Owd Joe Schofield’s.  They’re in a bit of a pickle beawt leeoder, but they thowt ’at they could manage.  Heaw they went on aw’ll tell yo’ i’ th’ next chapter.

CHAPTER II.

Tim wurno’ lung i’ r’achin’ whoam, but th’ heause wur o i’ darkness.  Happen his fayther an’ mother wur gone to bed, he thowt.  It wur a pity to disturb ‘em, but he couldno’ pretend to stop eawt o neet i’ thoose weet clooas.  So he knock’d at th’ dur, but nob’dy onswert.  Then he knock’d leawder, but nob’dy still coom he gan a reg’lar ran-tan till he wakkent very nee o th’ neighbourhood.  A chamber window wur oppent a dur or two off an’ a neet cap popp’d eawt an’ someb’dy said, “Tim! — thy mother an’ fayther are gone o’ havin’ a bit of a merry meal at owd Nat Dosun’s.”  Well, Owd Nat, yo’ know, he lived very nee at Royley Cloof, an’ as Tim had to fotch key fro’ theer th’ best part of an heaur had gone before he geet back.  Moore nor that, his clooas had very nee dried on his back, though his stockin’s felt a bit sloppy in his shoon.  He geet o changed as soon as he could, but as he’d nobbo’ one pair o’ shoon he had to put his clogs on, an’ as his hat had gone deawn th’ river he had to don his warty cap on.   He didno’ care for this, heawever, so off he set to catch up wi’ th’ waits an’ particularly his own dear Jenny.  While o this wur goin’ on th’ waits wur havin’ a rayther curious time on it.  Th’ rain had gan o’er, but not before some on ’em had getten nearly weet through.  When they’re beawnt start o’ singing at Owd Joe Schofield’s, Billy Wild says, “Here! howd on folks. Who’s beawn’t conduct?”

“We needen noane,” said Sammy Dyson.  “Conno’ we conduct ussel’?”

“Neawe; we conno’,” replied Billy.

“Heaw are we to know when to start, an’ when to stop, an’ heaw to keep i’ time while we are agate if we han nob’dy to byet time?”

“Well, aw’ll move ’at Tummy o’ Yeb’s lad conducts then,” said Sammy Dyson.

“Nay, he winnot, noather,” co’ed eawt Billy, “for if he hoes aw shannot play.”

Wi’ that ther’ wur a reg’lar hullaballoo.  One suggested one body an’ another suggested another, but as sure as one wur mentioned someb’dy else objected an’ said that if he had it they should ha’ nowt to do wi’ it.  Th’ party wur gettin’ very nee brokken up when th’ parson begg’d on ’em for t’ try an’ do beawt conductor while Tim coom back.  So they agreed, an’ fiddles, an’ cornets, an’ trombones wur browt eawt, an’ concerteenas unlapp’d, an’ th’ flutes wur screw’d together, an’ th’ tin whistles wiped, an’ triangles examined o ready for startin’.  They stood i’ th’ front o’ th’ dur in a sort of hauve circle wi’ th’ band i’ th’ centre an’ singers on ayther side.  Then th’ fiddles had to be tuned, an’ as ther’ wur three or four concerteenas, an’ o of a different pitch, givin’ ‘em th’ keynote o at th’ same time, they wur awhile before they’re satisfied. Heawever, at last they started.  Th’ singers wur th’ fust, an’ off they went wi’—

“Christians, awake!
              Salute this happy morn.”

They geet howd of a pitch ’at didno’ belong to oather th’ fiddles or th’ comets or th’ concerteenas, but they wouldno’ turn back.  When they’d getten abeawt th’ hauve road through th’ fust line th’ concerteenas started at th’ beginnin’ an’ ther’ wur sich a discord that th’ parson wur fain to clap his honds to his ears.  A note or two after th’ flutes join’d in, then th’ trombones, an’ just before th’ singers had getten to th’ eend o’ th’ line th’ fiddles squeak’d eawt, an’ triangles started o’ twangin’, an’ ther’ wur sich a mixture as nob’dy had ever yerd o’ Christmas Morn before.  They o started at th’ beginnin’, no matter wheer th’ others wur, an’ they o kept the’r own time, for th’ singers wurno’ beawnt be led wi’ th’ trombones, nor comets, nor concerteenas, nor Jew’s harps, nor nob’dy else.  Th’ others wur th’ same.  They o did the’r own, an’ what a dismal job they made on it for sure.  To mak’ matters worse th’ fiddle strengs wur damp, an’ chus heaw they screw’d ’em up they wur as flat as th’ brayin’ of Owd Penky’s donkey, an’ that wur abeawt as flat as owt ’at had ever been yerd i’ th’ Cloof i’ th’ memory o’ th’ owdest inhabitant.  Ther’ wur two or three cats caterwaulin’ at top o’ th’ heause when they started, but when they yerd that music they didno’ stop to come deawn th’ reg’lar road, they jump’d off th’ roof an’ darted deawn th’ Cloof an’ wur never seen nor yerd on after.

Th’ singers had finished th’ fust verse an’ wur agate o’ th’ second before th’ band had getten through th’ fust, when someb’dy knocked at th’ dur.  Owd Joe coom to th’ chamber window, an’ oppen’t it, an’ look’d deawn just as th’ singers wur on th’ point o’ commencin’ th’ third verse.

“Here!  Howd on, theer,” he coed eawt.

“Me an’ eawr Liza have had abeawt enoof o’ that theer sort o’ singin’, an’ if yo’ sing another verse aw’st empty this on th’ top on yo’.”

Th’ singers an’ th’ band stopp’d suddenly, th’ window wur put deawn an’ th’ leet put eawt, an’ i’stead of a bit of a tuck in, as they wur expectin’, they had to pike off as quietly as they could.  When they look’d reawnd th’ parson wur noane to be seen, an’ he show’d up no moore till he went i’ th’ pulpit on th’ Sunday followin’.  An’ when owd Joe Schofield geet up th’ day after an’ fund ’at his cat, which had won two or three prizes, had been feeart away, he swore ’at he should law ’em for damages.  Th’ singers wur fain to get away beawt axin’ for th’ leawance which Owd Joe had promised ’em.  They walk’d up th’ brook side an’ never cheep’d to one another, an’ they trod o’er th’ greawnd so softly, an’ seem’d to howd the’r breath as if they wur feeart o’ someb’dy yerrin’ ’em.

In a bit, heawever, Joe o’ Dick’s said, “Aw say, folks, wheer are we goin’?” an’ they o started as if they’d been wakken’t wi’ th’ shot of a gun.

“Aye!  Wheer are we goin’?” they o ax’d one another.  But nob’dy seem’d to know, an’ nob’dy seem’d to want to know after th’ experience ’at they’d had.  They’d soon fund it eawt ’at Kesmus singin’ wurnot as nice as they’d expected.  I’stead o’ bein’ invited in an’ made a reg’lar do on, an’ havin’ plenty o’ summat t’ ate an’ drink, they wur walkin abeawt wi’ hungry stomachs, dry throats, an weet clooas.

“No moore Kesmus singin’ for me,” said Joe o’ Dicks.

“Neawe! it’s th’ fust an’ last time for me,” chimed in Jimmy o’ Tum’s.

It’s driest an’ th’ weetest job ’at ever aw had i’ my life,” remarked Billy Wild.  “Aw wonder wheer th’ parson’s getten to?”

“Aw dunnot know,” replied Jimmy.  “He pik’d off while we wur saranadin’ Owd joe, an’ aw dar’say ’at he’s neaw nicely awhoam ceawr’t on a warm hearthstone an’ scrattin’ his teeth wi’ th’ leg of a turkey.”

“Well, aw think he’s a very nice sensible shepherd,” said Billy, “an’ it wouldno’ be a bad plan if his flock wur to follow his example.”

“Theau’rt reet, Billy,” put in Sammy Dyson, “but aw’m feeart ’at th’ chances aren’t o equal.  Aw know that if we’d had owt o’ th’ sort i’ eawr heause yo’ wouldn’t ha’ getten me eawt for noather Kesmus singin’ not nowt else as lung as it lasted.”

“Well, what dun yo’ say?” ax’d Billy.  “Shall we turn back or go forrad?  Booath th’ bandmesthur an’ th’ parson have forsaken us, an’ yo’re o shiverin’ an’ shakin’ wurse nor Owd Nat Dosun’s linderin’ bant.”

“Heaw will it be if we go as far as Owd Penky’s and give him a sample of eawr harmony,” suggested Sammy.

“Just the thing,” said Joe o’ Dick’s.  “Aw dar’say he’ll ax us in though we wouldn’t have him with us.

“How’d on a bit,” cried Jimmy, “if yo’ go that road aw’m beawnt to part company wi’ yo’.  Aw hanno forgetten seein’ that boggart at th’ side o’ Owd Penky’s yet.”

“Theau’s ‘no need to be freetent, Jimmy.  There’s noather boggart nor nowt else ’ll trouble us if we’ll nobbo’ sing same as we did at Owd Joe’s.”

There wur noane on ‘em so weel pleeos’d wi’ Dinah Laycock for sayin’ this, but to show ’at they wurno’ feeart, a twothri’ on ’em declared ’at they’d go oather to Owd Penky’s or ony other place if th’ rest o’ th’ company would goo.

Well, as Owd Penky wur known to be a daycent sort of a chap, an’ wur loikely to have a sope o’ good whoam brew’d i’ th’ heause, an’ as th’ only things ’at folk had to say abeawt him wur ’at he’d a feaw face, which th’ felly couldn’t help, an’ that a boggart had been seen abeawt his heause, though it had never hurt onybody, an’ he’d never seen it hissel’, they decided to go.  

Neaw, yo’ know, Penky mustn’t ha’ been a bad sort of a chap or they dursn’t ha’ gone after refusin’ him admission into th’ party.  To tell yo’ th’ truth, he wur a bit cute, but he wur one o’ th’ best hearted fellies ’at ever lived.  He’d a terribly feaw face, but its very feawness wur a mark of which mony a theausand folks would ha’ been preaud.  It wur caused by an accident ’at happen’d when he wur a lad.  He wur gooin’ whistlin’ through th’ Cloof one day, when he yerd a leawd screeom i’ one o’ th’ heauses, an’ runnin’ in to see what ther’ wur to do he fund a little wench wi’ o her clooas of a blaze, an’ th’ mother wur wringin’ her honds an’ screeomin’ an’ didno’ know what to do.  Penky at once nipp’d th’ wench up in his arms an’ ran wi’ her to th’ brook.  He’re o of a fire hissel’ by this time, but he laid her i’ th’ wayther an’ roll’d her o’er, an’ then laid hissel’ in an’ roll’d o’er while th’ blazes wur eawt.  It wur o done so quickly that folks hardly knew what ther’ wur to do till they seed Penky comin’ back fro’ th’ brook wi’ th’ wench in his arms, an’ booath o’ the’r faces brunt an’ the’r hair an’ the’r clooas nearly sweelt off. 

Th’ wench wurno’ lung before hoo wur o reet again, but Penky’s face wur spoilt for ever.  His een, too, wur damaged wi’ th’ fire, an’ he wur never able to follow th’ trade o’ hondloom weavin’.  But when he geet a bit bigger th’ neighbours subscribed a bit amung the’rsels and bowt him a donkey an’ cart, an’ he started o’ gooin’ reaund wi’ “idleback and salt.
 He’d done this neaw for very nee forty years, an’ aw dar’say th’ owd mon had a little brass put by to keep him when he geet too owd to work, for he’d noather wife, nor choilt, nor relation livin’.  But he’d lots o’ friends, an’ his best friends wur th’ little childer i’ th’ Cloof.  They never thowt owt abeawt his feaw face, for they’d run after him when they seed him comin’, an’ he’d lift ’em up in his arms an’ kiss ’em an’ put some on ’em in his cart an’ give ’em a ride, an’ thoose ’at he couldn’t put in he’d give ’em a bit o’ goodstuff, an’ tell ’em it should be the’r turn th’ next time.  Then at Kesmus time he’d very oft an orange, or an apple, an’ a bit o’ holly, or fir, for th’ little uns, an’ he’d tell ’em heaw an’ why they should o be happy at that time.  

Its wonderful heaw soon childer con find folks eawt.  It doesno’ matter heaw feaw or poor they are, if they’ve a kind heart th’ childer ’ll find it, an’ it doesno’ matter heaw fine an’ grand folks may be if they’re seawr an’ selfish th’ childer seem to know it by instinct an’ keep eawt o’ the’r road.  Childer’s love for a mon bangs o th’ testimonials ‘at even a parson could write.  But wi’ o his love for childer, Owd Penky had never been wed.  Whether he’d ever ax’d onybody nobody could tell.  He lived by hissel’ in a heause ’at stood by itsel’ a piece back fro’ th’ road, he slept by hissel’, he cook’d for hissel’, he ate by hissel’, an’ he wesh’d for hissel’, except a twothri’ clooas ’at Owd Matty Clegg fotch’d every Monday mornin’ an’ browt back again every Friday.  He never wore starch’d things an’ he’d no use for th’ taly irons ’at wur awlus hung up an’ kept breet o’er th’ cornish. 

He awlus walk’d eawt by hissel’, unless yo’d coe it company when he took Neddy, that wur his donkey, with him.  They wur a grand pair wur Penky an’ Neddy.  Th’ donkey would do owt ’at Penky wanted it to do, an’ Penky thowt so weel o’ th’ donkey ’at he wouldno’ ax it to do owt ’at it shouldno’ do.  Next to th’ donkey th’ mooist precious thing i’ Penky’s possession wur his grondfeyther’s big drum.  He thowt wo’ld o’ that drum, an’ he used to spend his time o’ cowd winter’s neets, talkin’ fust to th’ donkey an’ then to th’ drum while it wur bedtime.  Sometimes he geet so lapp’d up i’ this drum that he’d dreeom abeawt it when he went to bed, an’ occasionally he’d come deawn th’ steers in his shirt an’ neet cap an’ buckle th’ belt reawnd his waist an’ hang th’ drum on to’t an’ then march reawnd th’ heause, or else go an’ wakken Owd Neddy up i’ th’ stable.  Th’ donkey geet a bit used to these nocturnal visits, but they wur very mysterious to th’ neighbourhood.

Whenever onybody yerd th’ bang o’ that drum i’ th’ neet time they darted off whoam as fast as they could goo; an’ if they happen’d to be awhoam they took good care to stop theer until sich times as they thowt th’ boggart would ha’ retired for th’ neet.

That drum wur loike th’ owd curfew bell.  It wur known to o th’ inhabitants o’ th’ Cloof as th’ Boggart Drum, an’ th’ seawnd on it wur accepted as a solemn wamin’ that o’ daycent folks owt to be i’ bed.  But neaw an’ then one or two neet crows that had happen spent too mich time an’ brass at th’ Rose o’ Lancaster, or up ’at th’ Black Ceaw, catch’d a glimpse o’ th’ boggart.  It did ’em a peawer o’ good though, for they wur sometime before they went on th’ spree again.

Jimmy o’ Tum’s seed it one neet.  He’d been stoppin’ eawt rayther lunger nor a respectable single yung chap should do, an’ he wur takkin’ a short cut by Owd Penky’s when he yerd th’ seawnd o’ th’ Boggart Drum.  He stopp’d o at once, an’ his knees knock’d together same as if th’ boggart wur usin’ ’em for drum sticks.  In a minute or two he seed th’ boggart comin’ up th’ road wheer he stood, he wur i’ sich a stew ’at he hardly knew what to do, but he managed to creep into th’ doitch back an’ hud hissel’ amung some blackberry bushes.  He went up to th’ knees i’ wayther too, but he didno’ find that eawt till after.  He waited theer, an’ his yure stood up, an’ sw’at roll’d deawn his face, though his feet wur cowd enoof, for very nee a hauve-an-heaur.  It seem’d to him a week.  Then he pluck’d up courage to peep deawn th’ road, but th’ boggart wur nowheer to be seen.  He wur eawt o’ that hole i’ double quick time an’ off he darted back again up th’ road, an’ reawnd by th’ Church, for he durstno’ go past Owd Penky’s that neet if they’d ha’ creawn’t him.  He wur a bonny object when he geet whoam.  His face an’ honds wur scrat an’ bleedin’ wi’ th’ blackberry trees, his jacket wur rent, he wur soppin’ weet up to his knees, an’ he’s yure stood up loike pins an’ needles.  His face an’ honds geet weel in awhile, an’ his clooas wur soon dried, but his yure never lee deawn again.

CHAPTER III.

Jimmy o’ Tum’s wur as good as his word.  When it wur gradely understood ’at they wur beawn to pay a visit to Owd Penky’s he dropp’d eawt o’ th’ ranks, an’ turn’d back, takkin’ his sweetheart wi’ him.  Yo’ may be sure ’at hoo ne’d no persuadin’ to go wi’ him, an’ ther’ wur mony o’ one beside her ’at would ha’ been glad of a similar excuse.  They wur o a bit feeart, booath th’ yung chaps an’ th’ yung women, but nob’dy wanted to be th’ fust to show th’ white fither.  It’s strange heaw bowd yung chaps are when they happen to have the’r girls with ’em.  They’ll face owt, very nee, from a foomart to a boggart.  See yo’! bless yo’! if it hadno’ been for this spirit o’ tryin’ to show off, an’ lookin’ brave i’ th’ front o’ women, ther’ wouldn’t ha’ been th’ hauve o’ th’ heroic deeds done in history ’at one reads abeawt.  Ther’s been moore acts o’ bravery an’ heroism, aye, an’ moore foul crimes too, through th’ love an’ fear o’ women than everythin’ else put together.  It’s so o through nature, an’ we con no moore get o’er this natural instinct than Owd Donty could get o’er his habit o’ gettin’ fuddlet three times a week whether he wanted or not.

But ther’s some folk ’at noather th’ presence nor admiration o’ women would ever mak’ into heroes.  They’ve no moore pluck in ’em nor a hen.  Ther’ wur one or two o’ these sort amung these waits, an’, aw darsay th’ others wur noane so mich better.  Yo’ should ha’ seen ’em walk up that brookside to’rd Owd Penky’s.  A funeral procession wur not in it.  O wur quiet an’ dark, an’ th’ singers, an’ th’ musicians wur soon walkin’ i’ pairs, an’ th’ tenors an’ trebles, an’ basses an’ altos, an’ fiddlers, cornet, concerteena, flute an’ Jews’ harp players wur mixed up in a manner ’at seem’d very agreeable.  But when they’d o mated ’at could do ther’ wur two o’ one sort too mony.  These wur Tim Halliwell’s sweetheart, Jenny, an’ Dinah Laycock.  Jenny, heawever, wur expectin’ ’at Tim would turn up every minute, while Dinah had no expectations at o.  So they had to walk on together, while o th’ others wur doin’ the’r best to be th’ last at the’r journey’s end.

Ther’ wur no lovers’ tales towd that neet at ony rate, for ther’ wur very few words spokken.  Some had the’r een fixed upo’ th’ floor o th’ time, as if they wur feeart o’ lookin’ ahead lest they should see summat ’at they didno’ want.  Others stopp’d a bit neaw an’ then, gazin’ up into th’ sky, as if they wur expectin’ seein’ some astronomical revelation.  But, bless yo’! they knew nowt abeawt astronomy, not ‘em.  Besides, it wur nearly pitch dark, an’ ther’ wur noather th’ moon nor a star to be seen.  Neawe, it wur noane astronomy at they wanted.  They wur o dodgin’ dunnot yo’ see, to be th’ last, so as if owt happen’d they’d ha’ th’ fust chance o’ retreat.  Talk abeawt courage!  Ther’ wur no one on ’em but what wur shakin’ at th’ knees, an’ they o hutch’d close together for sympathy an’ support.  Wi’ a good deeol o’ contrivin’ Jaccy Thorpe an’ Sally Booth had getten to th’ tail end o’ th’ procession an’ then they stopp’d.  They waited a bit, an’ harkened, an’ as o wur quiet they concluded ’at th’ others had gone on so they began, very gently, o’ turnin’ back.  But th’ others hadno’ gone on.  Curiously enoof by a sudden impulse, they’d o stopp’d at once, an’ theer they stood, loike a lot o’ moonleet monuments.  In a minute or two after Jaccy had pike’d off, Joe o’ Dick’s follow’d suit an’ catch’d up wi’ him a piece deawn th’ road.

“Neaw then, Jaccy,” he said, “theau’rt noane turnin’ soft, arto?”

“Nawe! aw’m not,“ replied Jaccy.  “Aw thowt ’at aw geet a bit of a glint o’ th’ Star o’ Bethlehem up yonder, an’ wur nobbo’ turnin’ back a bit so as get a better view deawn here.”  “Oh, aye!”said Joe.  “Aw’ve yerd tell on it before, but aw’ve never seen it.  Suppose we go back a bit fur an’ we’st happen see it better still?  Come on Peggy.”

Just then another couple coom back, an’ said ’at they should loike to see it, an’ then another, an’ it wurno’ lung before they wur o turnin’ back at a lot faster rate nor they’d gone, exceptin’ Jenny an’ Dinah, ‘at wur trudgin’ on by the’rsel.  Heaw far these amateur astronomers would ha’ gone before they fund th’ Star o’ Bethlehem it would be hard to say, but in a bit they yerd a whistle, an’ a sheaut, an’ a seaund o’ summat loike clogs clatterin’ up th’ road.  Th’ procession halted in a jiffy.  “What’s yon?” ax’d Jaccy Thorpe.  
It’s th’ Bobbin Cloof Boggart,” said Joe o’ Dicks, “an’ aw’m off.”

“Eh! Joe!  Theau winnot goo an’ leeov me, wilto? cried Peggy.

But Joe noather waited for Peggy nor nobody else.  He darted o’er th’ fence loike a hunted hare, an’ they seed him no moore that neet.  His cornet dropp’d fro’ under his arm, but he turn’d noane back to pike it up.

“Eh! whatever mun aw do neaw?” skroik’d Peggy.  ”Heaw shall aw get whoam?”

“Oh! dunnot thee fret,” said Jaccy.  “Aw’ll fotch him back.”

“Eh! theau munnot go too, Jaccy,” whimper’d Sally.  
What mun aw do if th’ boggart tak’s me?”

But Jaccy wur off i’ th’ same direction as Joe.  They yerd summat loike a concerteena leet upo’ th’ floor when he geet o’er th’ fence, but Jaccy didno’ care if th’ boggart took boath concerteena an’ Sally if he nobbo’ geet safely eaut o’ th’ road.

Eh!  What screeomin’, an’ sckroikin’ an’ tremblin’, an’ sammin’ howd o’ one another ther’ wur.

“Eh! Lord help us,” shrieked little Jemima, an’ hoo clipp’d reawnd Sammy Dyson so as he’d never been clipp’d sin’ he’re a little babby.  He used to say, after, ’at he wish’d at th’ boggart would come every cooartin’ neet.

“Theau winno’ run an’ leeov me, wilto?” said Mary Kent to Tummy o’ Yeb’s lad.

“Nawe, aw winnot, lass,” an’ o th’ time he wur tryin’ to mak’ her leeov lose of his jacket.  But hoo stuck loike glue.

“Eh! aw wish my mother wur here neaw!” coed eawt Betsy Nadin.

“Aw wish hoo wur i’ th’ place o’ me,” said Billy Wild, as he tried to get away, but couldn’t, as hoo wur stickin’ to his cooat lap. 

O this time th’ seawnd o’ clogs wur comin’ n’ar, an’ as it geet close to, th’ yung women screeom’d leauder nor ever, an’ th’ yung chaps made an extra effort to break away.  But they wur held as tightly as if they’d been fasten’d deawn wi’ th’ matrimonial knot.  Just then th’ clatter o’ th’ clogs stopp’d an’ Tim Halliwell stood i’ th’ front on ’em, eawt o’ wynt.

“What’s to do?” he inquired.  “What’s o this noise abeawt?”

“Eh! aw’m fain it’s thee, Tim,” said Betsy Nadin.  “We o thowt ’at it wur th’ Bobbin Cloof Boggart.”

“Do aw favvur a boggart then?”

“Neawe, theau doesno’ Tim, but we thowt it wur one, an’ Joe o’ Dick’s an’ Jimmy o’ Tum’s ha’n ta’en o’er th’ doitch an’ ran away as hard as they could goo.”

“What! an’ have they laft Sally an’ Peggy i’ th’ lurch?  Well, if aw wur thoose two noice yung women aw’d give ’em up as a bad job, an’ as two soft yeads ’at arno’ worth havin’.”

“Aye, we would do that,” sobbed Peggy, “but ther’ is nob’dy else, is ther’, Sally?”

“Neawe, ther’ isn’t,” replied Sally, “or else aw wouldn’t go eawt with him another yard.”

“Well, never mind,” said Tim, “aw dar’ say yo’ll remind ’em on it mony o’ time when yo’ getten fast howd on ’em.”

“Aye! we shan that,” they booath responded.

“But wheer’s Jenny?
inquired Tim.

Alas! They didn’t know.  Little Jemima said ’at they laft her an’ Dinah Laycock goin’ up th’ road to’rd Owd Penky’s when they turn’d back.

“An’ did o yo’ turn back an’ leeov two lone women to go that road by the’r two sels?  Well, yo’ are a fine pack o’ ceawards aw must say.”

“It wur noane o’ my fau’t,” explained Sammy Dyson.  “Aw should ha’ gone forrad but Jemima kept pooin’ me back.”

“Eh! what a fib that is,” said Jemima.  “See thee, Tim, he pretended he could hardly walk while we wur goin’, but aw couldn’t keep up wi’ him comin’ back.”

“Aw con believe thee, Jemima.  But what abeawt Billy Wild, theer?  He reckons to be as bowd as a lion.  Heaw do’st acceawnt for it, Billy?”

“Theau knows, Tim, that if aw’d ha’ been laft to mysel’ aw’d ha’ foughton o th’ boggarts or owt else ther’ wur i’ th’ Cloof, afore one o’ these women should ha’ been touch’d, but Betsy here wouldn’t harken to it.”

“Eh, Billy!  Heaw con theau forshawm to say owt o’ th’ sort?  Theau knows ’at theau never spoke a word o th’ time, but aw could yer thy heart thumping again thy ribs, an’ aw towd thee ‘at if theau ran away, loike Joe o’ Dick’s an’ Jimmy o’ Tum’s, aw should never spake to thee again.  An’ aw never should ha’ done.”

“Well, yo’n surprised me wi’ yo’r want o’ pluck, chaps, an’ yo’ve made it no better wi’ tryin’ to lay th’ blame on to th’ women.  But aw’m goin’ to Owd Penky’s neaw after yon two poor women ’at yo’ve laft to do the’r own.  Who’s goin’ wi’ me?  Aw want no’bdy ’at’s feeart.”

O th’ chaps vow’d at once ’at they’d go wi’ him.  They wurnot a bit feeart, especially if he’d go th’ fust.  As th’ yung women had as mich courage, or else moore, nor th’ chaps, an’ as they felt a bit shawm’d at havin’ deserted two o’ the’r own sex, they wur soon o on th’ road again to’rd Owd Penky’s.

O thowts o’ singin’ had neaw vanished fro’ the’r minds, an’ they tried to feel loike the brave rescuers of two comrades ’at wur i’ danger.  But they wur a chicken-hearted lot o’ heroes.  They walk’d gently on, feeart o’ wakkenin’ owt, an’ they started at th’ leeost bit of a seaund.  Heawever, wi’ Tim leadin’ up, an’ cheerily whistlin’ and singin’ “Britons never shall be slaves,” they landed through a steele-hole, an’ into th’ private road to Owd Penky’s heawse.  Here they fund Dinah an’ Jenny sat on a stone, chatting as unconcernedly as if ther’d been no boggarts within miles off.  Of course, they o stopp’d an’ express’d the’r surprise ’at two lone women durst sit theer at that time o’ th’ neet.  “Had they seen nowt, nor yerd nowt o’ th’ boggart?”

“Neawe, they hadn’t,” said Dinah.  “In fact they’d never thowt abeawt it.  But why did they ax?  Had they seen summat?”

“Eh, dear! neawe,” replied Billy Wild.  “We wur nobbo’ thinkin’ at th’ boggart met ha’ tried to feear yo’, being’ as yo’ wur by yo’rsel’ an’ had no chaps wi’ yo’.  Boggarts dar’ no’ come nee us, dar’ they, Sammy?”

“Nawe, they dar’ no’ face gradely chaps,” said Sammy.

Just then a bang wur yerd loike th’ seaund o’ a big drum.

“Did yo’ yer that?” ax’d Tummy o’ Yeb’s lad.

“Aye! we did that,” said Billy Wild.

“Yon’s th’ Boggart Drum.  Eh! whatever shall we do?  It’ll be here in a hauve a minute,” an’ Billy wur shapin’ for off but Betsy had howd on him.

“Nay, nay, Bi1ly,” hoo said, “theau’rt beawnt t’ see this eawt if aw do.”

Sammy Dyson wur tremblin’ ole o’er, an’ his face wur as white as a sheet if it could nobbut ha’ been seen.

“Come on, folks,” he begg’d.  “Let’s o get eaut o’ th’ road before it comes,” an’ he made a bit of a sprint, same as if he wur for off, but Jemima had him in her grip.

“Howd on, Sammy!  Aw dunno’ care heaw soon theau leeovs me after to-neet, but we’re beaunt t’ go through this together,” an’ Sammy had to stop.

“Come, folks,” appealed Tim, “dunno’ let’s act so soft.  There’s enoo on us to meet hauve a dozen boggarts.  Stond yo’r greawnd like men, an’ let’s see if we conno’ find eawt what this Bobbin Cloof Boggart is.”

While Tim wur talkin’ bang went th’ drum again.

“Eh! the Lord save us,” cried some o’ th’ women.

“It’s co-co-comin’,” stutted Sammy, as he tried to wriggle eawt o’ Jemima’s honds.

“Never mind it,” hoo said, “theau’rt noane goin’.”

“It’s comin’ this road,” yell’d eawt Billy Wild.  Dunnot yo’ see it comin’ reawnd th’ corner o’ th’ heawse yon?”

Aye!  It wur true enoof.  Th’ moon had just brokken through th’ cleawds, an’ th’ rays o’ moonleet seem’d to rest straight on to th’ boggart as it set off deawn th’ road wheer th’ waits wur stondin’.  It wur not an ordinary sort of a boggart that could vanish through th’ nicks of a dur, or walk through a key hole, or disappear into th’ greawnd, leeovin’ yo’ wonderin’ wheer it had gone to.  Neawe; this wur a gradely sort of a boggart, an’ it wur dress’d up i’ uniform ’at hardly belung’d to th’ other regions.  It had a hat on, summat loike thoose ’at little Nap used to wear, wi’ a big fither stondin’ eawt at th’ top, an’ it had a red jacket ’at wur very much loike thoose ’at wur worn by th’ owd Bobbin Cloof Fife an’ Drum Band.  Reawnd this jacket wur a belt, to which wur hung a big drum, which his boggartship thwack’d wi’ o his might.  He’d a lung white muffler reawnd his neck, an’ as th’ ends flew abeawt i’ th’ wind they very nee fawur’d wings.  He’d black treawsers wi’ a white stripe deawn th’ side, an’ he rode on a white donkey.  Of o th’ boggarts ’at ever wur seen nob’dy had yerd tell o’ one like this.  Every time th’ boggart bang’d at th’ drum th’ donkey stopp’d an’ brayed.  Eh! what a duet it wur for sure.  It wur sufficient to feear less timid folks than thoose Kesmus Waits, an’ they wur timid enoof, bless yo’!”

When th’ boggart an’ his Jerusalem steed geet to th’ top o’ th’ broo, facin’ th’ heawse, th’ boggart gan a gradely bang at th’ drum, th’ donkey followed wi’ his usual variation, an’ then they booath darted deawn th’ broo’ as fast as they could goo.  Talk abeawt dispersin’ th’ enemy!  They flew i’ o directions, obbo one, an’ that wur th’ direction at th’ boggart wur comin’.  Yung chaps an’ yung women shot through fences, an’ o’er th’ gate, through th’ steel-hole an’ o’er th’ fields, an’ never look’d reawnd till they wur eawt o’ wynt an’ couldno’ go a stride fur.  Screeoms wur set up at wakken’t an’ set o th’ Cloof a wonderin’ what ther’ wur to do.  But when they yerd th’ Boggart Drum bang they poo’d th’ clooas o’er the’r yeds an’ thank’d the’r stars ’at they wur i’ bed.

Th’ only waits ’at stood the’r greawnd wur Tim an’ Jenny, an’ Dinah Laycock.  They never winced even when th’ boggart rode past ’em, but when they seed th’ donkey stumble an’ yerd th’ boggart an’ th’ drum leet on th’ floor, they ran to see if they could be of ony help.  Leeovin’ th’ donkey to tak’ care of itsel’ they paid the’r attention to th’ boggart, which they fund laid on its back, wi’ th’ drum on th’ top on it.  They wurno’ lung i’ takkin’ th’ drum off, an’ they fund at th’ boggart wur no other than Owd Penky, who’d been ridin’ abeawt in his sleep.  He wur wakken enoof neaw, so they lifted him up on his feet.  But th’ owd chap couldn’t stond.  He sprained his leg an’ they had to dade him whoam again.  Th’ donkey fund th’ road back to th’ stable itsel’; an’ as for th’ drum, why, it wur forgetten o abeawt till th’ followin’ mornin’, when thoose ’at had lost the’r instruments th’ neet before coom to look for ’em.

They o coom before it wur gradely dayleet, everyone thinkin’ he’d be theer before onybody seed him, an’ as it happen’d they wur o theer at once.  Th’ instruments wur no so mich wur for the’r neet’s eawt; but Tummy o’ Yeb’s big fiddle had a big hole in it as if somebody had sent the’r clog nose through it.  Very loikely it wur this ’at th’ donkey stumbled o’er when it threw Owd Penky.  Th’ lad took it whoam, but heaw he explained it to his feyther nob’dy ever knew.  They seed th’ drum theer too, but they wur feeart o’ touchin’ it, an’ it lee theer while Tim seed it as he wur gooin’ whoam after stoppin’ wi’ Owd Penky o neet.

Dinah wur theer every day makin’ th’ heawse tidy, an’ th’ owd lad comfortable: an’ one day when he wur getten very nee weel, an’ hoo wur sit havin’ a bit o’ dinner wi’ him, he said, “Aw’ll tell‘ thee what aw’ve been thinkin’ abeawt, lass.  It’s a good mony years sin’ aw roll’d thee i’ th’ brook neaw, isn’t it?  An’ neaw it’s been thy turn to do a bit for me.  Aye!  It’s a strange world is this, Dinah.  But it’s stranger, doesno’ think, ’at thee an’ me keep strugglin’ through th’ world by ussel’ when it’s evident ’at we wur intended for one another.  What doesta say, Dinah?  Are we too owd to love one another?  Aw’ve awlus thowt ’at aw should loike to mak’ thee comfortable an’ happy, an’ aw know’ at theau’rt th’ only body i’ th’ world ’at con mak’ me happy.  Come, Dinah, shall we jog deawn th’ hill o’ life together?”

An’, as he said this, he put his arm lovin’ly reawnd her neck, an’ as hoo wiped her een wi’ her apron hoo whispered “Aye.”

After that day th’ red jacket an’ th’ big drum wur put o’ one side, an’ in a twothri’ weeks ther’ wur a bit of a ceremony i’ th’ church wi’ Dinah an’ Penky as th’ chief actors an’ Jenny an’ Tim as sponsors, when owd Parson Pilkington said, as he put the’r honds into each other, “Thoose whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder,” an’ they never did.


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