The Chimney Corner (III.)

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LOBSCOUSE.


Which side are yo feightin for, master?" says I.
    Says he, "I'm noan tickle at o'."

 

"Keep thick wi' that 'at's naught, an' that 'at's aught 'll never hurt yo."—NORTHERN PROVERB.


[BILLY BEDFLOCK and OWD BETONY smoking on a bench, at a cottage door.]

"TELL tho, Bill, it wur as bonny a bit o' branglement as ever I clapt een on,—while it lasted."

    "It's bin meeterly lively, for sure, seemingly.  How did it get agate, saysto?"

    "Well, thou sees, Buttercup an' Owd Quarrel hannot bin gradely thick sin' thar-cake time,—an' it's o' about that lass o' Posy Matty's,—her 'at they co'n 'Pratty Strider.'  Well,—th' last Cow Fair Day, Owd Quarrel happen't to be stonnin' in his gronmother's dur-hole, at th' side of a greight mug-ful o' churn-milk, as Buttercup coom swingin by wi' a curly-yure't dog under his arm; an' Quarrel couldn't find in his heart to let him go past quietly.  'Now then, Floppermouth,' said Quarrel, 'whose dog hasto stown this time?'  Well,—thou knows,—Buttercup's a greight wutherin, lung-legged chap, but he's nobbut a short temper, so he made no moore ado, but he whipt th' dog fro' under his arm, an' dipt it into th' churn-milk, an' then he slat Owd Quarrel bang i'th face wi' th' weet dog; an' for a minute or two he never oppen't his lips, but kept agate, first stirrin' th' churn-milk up wi' th' dog, then floppin it at Owd Quarrel's chops again—like a white-limer i' full wark."

    "An' what wur Quarrel doin' o' this time?"

    "Oh, he kept his shoon upo' th' swing like a mon, I'll uphowd to."

    "I thought he'd be somewheer about, thou knows."

    "Ay, ay, marry.  He'll ax for nought better than a bit of feight. . . . Well—as I wur tellin' tho.  Th' dog yeawl't, an' th' churn-milk splash't reet an' left, an' they thunge't an' peel (pelted) at one another, full bat; but, as Buttercup swang th' dog round his yed—like a battle-axe—th' weet tail slips through his fingers, an' th' dog flew slap through 'Owd Tabernacle's' tay-shop window.  Out coom Tabernacle an' th' wife, an' o' th' folk i'th fowd; an' at it they went, hammer and tungs—every mon feightin' for his-sel' . . . Now then, what comes here?"


(PARSLEY DICK, coming down the fold, whistling, with a plucked chicken slung over his shoulder.)


    "Hello, Dick; what's that bit o' th' tanklin' thou's getten thrut o'er thi shoolder?"

    "It's a cock-chicken, owd lad?"

    "What arto for wi't?"

    "I'm beawn't t' ha' this brid to mi tay,—an' then I'll go for a sodiur."

    "Here,—dunnot make a gommeril o' th isel',—because thou doesn't need.  Come, keawer (cower) tho down,—an talk to some sense.  Wheer doss reckon to be gooin' to?"

    "Well,—if thou wants to know both th' hare an' th' hare-gate,—I'm gooin' with this bit o' th' brid, an' a pot o' black curran' presarves, an' a bottle o' elder-fleawer wine, an' hauve-a-suvverin', fro' our mistress down to Owd Ben's wife, at 'Th' Swine Rootins' Bar,' yon,—doesto yer that, now?"

    "What's to do wi' her?

    "Why, hoo's laid up, is th' owd lass; an' hoo's gradely ill this time, too.  It's mich if hoo gets o'er it."

    "Let's see; hoo use's to be a sarvant up at th' ho', didn't hoo?"

    "Yigh, hoo did,—but it's aboon forty year sin'.  It wur i'th owd folks' time.  Hoo nurse't this yunger end on 'em, fro' bein' chylt-little; an' now, thou knows, they looken after th' owd woman a bit."

    "An nought but reet, noather."

    "Nawe, it isn't.  Oh, they'n see 'at hoo's nought short."

    "I tell tho what; there's a deeol o' folk ill, just now."

    "Ay, there is, for sure."

    "They're mostly owd folk, too."

    "Ay, they are.  I reckon that when they'n turn't threescore it's time for 'em to look out, for they'n very nee deawn't their cut."

    "Ay, ay, marry.  Neet brings th' crows whom, thou knows; an' when th' back-end o' th' year comes, th' leeovs mun fo'."

    "As thou says, Bill,—as thou says. . . . How's owd Doldrum's wife gooin' on?"

    "Her yed's gan o'er warchin' at last."

    "Oh, ay.  What has hoo ta'en for't?"

    "It's what they'n co'n 'quietness.'"

    "Some mak of a yarb, I guess?"

    "If it be a yarb, it mun be 'ground-ivy.'"

    "Ground-ivy, eh?  Is that yarb good for th' yed-warche?  Ay; an' for th' heart-warche an' o'.  Hoo nobbut took one dose, and hoo's never complain't sin'."

    "Ground-ivy!  I's be like to try this 'ground-ivy.'"

    "Thou'll ha' to try it some day, whether thou likes or not,—th' same as everybody else."

    "How's that?"

    "Hoo's deeod, mon,—doesn'to see?—hoo's deeod an' buried."

    "Thou never says?  By th' mass, that is 'ground-ivy' with a vengeance!"

    "Yigh.  Th' owd craiter's flitted,—an', I doubt, hoo'll pay no rent for th' house 'at hoo's ta'en this time."

    "Ay, ay!  Hoo's off th' rate-book at last, then, is hoo?  Nawe; hoo'll pay no rent down theer, Bill."

    "I doubt not.  But, whether hoo does or not, they'n never send the bailies into that hole."

    "It's mich if they done, Bill.  But then, thou sees, there's nought to sell up, or else."

    "Well, nawe,—there's nought to speigk on.  If it wur o' put up to th' hommer it wouldn't fot (fetch) mich, for sure."

    "Nawe, it wouldn't.  Poor owd Mall!  Hoo's out o' th' gate o' th' carts now."

    "Ay; it's a very quiet nook, down theer, for sure.  Hoo'll not be trouble't wi' mony folk co'n' a seein' her, noather."

    "Not if they can help it, Bill, not if they can help it."

    "Poor owd craiter!  Hoo's bin bedfast a good while."

    "Ay; hoo'll have had about ten year on't, as far as I can judge."

    "I guess hoo has.  What, hoo'll be turn't fourscore?"

    "Every minute, Bill, every minute.  Owd Doldrum wur kilt just nineteen year sin', come Candlemas; I remember it as if it wur to-day."

    "Poor owd Mall!  Hoo'd a hard poo through after th' owd chap dee'd.  I remember 'em tellin' me about a parson co'in' a-seein her; an' it seems this chap bother't an' talked to her about one thing an' another till hoo gees quite daze's i'th yed; an' at last he axed her if hoo kept the Commandments.  'Eh, maister,' said Mall, 'to tell yo God in heaven's truth, it's as mich as ever I con do to keep mysel'!'  Well, wi' that th' owd lad weren't content, but he at her again, about God an' the devil, an' which on 'em hoo wur for,—an sich like,—till owd Mall hardly knowed which wur which; an' hoo towd him that there were a time when hoo noather fear't God nor devil; but that now hoo wur thick wi' both.  Well,—that didn't suit, noather,—an' he towd her, mich an' moore, that hoo mutn't ha' nought to do wi' the devil, o' no shap.  'But, eh, maister,' said owd Mall, 'I connot help feelin' sorry for him sometimes, for he's a feaw life on't, bi o' acceawnts.'  Well, this wur noan reet, noather; an' th' parson towd her that it sarve't him reet for what he'd done,—an' sich like,—an' come what would, hoo mut (must) drop o' connections wi' the devil, for he'd never do her no good.  'Well, maister,' said owd Mall, 'I thought I wur doin' reet, yo known; becose a body connot tell which on 'em they may ha' to do wi' at th' end of o'.'"

    "Poor owd Mall! . . . Well,—I think I'll be hutchin a bit fur up."

    "Arto for gooin', then?"

    "Ay."

    "What's o' thi hurry?"

    "Well,—I'm o' th' wrang side o' mi baggin'."

    "O' reet; off witho!"

    "At after I've 'liver't this stuff, an' getten' mi baggin', I'd coom an' have a bit of a conk wi' yo'."

    "That's reet, owd brid!"


――――♦――――

 
A POOR SWAP.

[Summer evening.  SNAFFLE O' THATCHER'S and OLD SAM, the landlord, have just

climbed the hill.  BETTY, who has seen them coming up, in the distance, has spread out the "Baggin'" upon the table.  SAM sits down at the table.]


"BY th' mass, Snaffle," said Sam, wiping his face, "it's bin a stiff poo up that broo."

    "Thou'rt so fat, mon."

    "Fat!  I'm nobbut eighteen stone.  Thou should ha' sin my faither; he wur two-an'-twenty,—an' as limber as a snig.  Fat!  Yo connot ha' good meight (meat) beawt fat.  Ax Owd Boswell, th' butcher, an' he'll tell tho.  As for thee, thou'rt o' gristle, an' jumpin'-pows.  If thou wur render't down, they wouldn't get as mich fat out on tho as would grace (grease) a wheel-barrow trindle.  It'd be like stewin' a lot o' fire-irons.  There isn't stuff enough for a tollow-candle i' whole bugth (bigness, bulk) on tho, fro' yed to fuut.  When thou dees we'n ha' tho hommer't out, an' made into coffin-plates."

    "Ay; but yo'n happen need thoose afore I'm ready."

    "We happen sha'n, lad."


(SAM looks at the table.)


    "Hello; what han we here?  Is this o' for me?"

    "To be sure it is," replied Betty.

    "What, an' art thou for havin' noan, then?"

    "I've had mine."

    "An' what wur tho i' sich a splutter for?  Thou met (might) ha' waited a bit."

    "Well, Sam, if I'd thought thou'd ha' bin back by now, I would ha' waited; but thou knows thou'rt noan to reckon on when thou gets into yon town.  I never lippen't o seein' tho again afore th' edge o' dark.  If it had bin th' Rushbearin' thou wouldn't ha' londed afore to-morn."

    "Nawe, I shouldn't, owd lass; an' happen not then.  But that's noather here nor theer.  I hate gettin' my baggin' bi mysel'.  Is there nob'dy else i'th house nobbut thee an' me, thinksto?"

    "Nawe; there's nob'dy nobbut Snaffle, theer."

    "Well; an' if thou'll tak a good look at that lad thou'll find that he's a nick under his nose,—an' not a little un, noather.  Connot he have a bit wi' mo?"

    "Sure he con, if he wants."

    "Wants; look at him!  Didto ever see him when he didn't want?  Bring another set o' tools.  What, we're noan beawn to ha' th' lad clemmed in a Christian country, belike; . . . Theer; now thou shaps!  Come, Snaffle, owd dog! poo up, an' fo' to.  Thou sees what there is."

    "Ay, reitch to," said Betty.  "Th' brade's whoam-baked; an' that's a bit o' good cow-butter,—I made it mysel',—an' there's some fresh-poo'd sallet theer, an' some cowd beef, an' some cheese,—so reitch to, an' dunnot be ailo (shy),—for I'm nobbut a poor hond at laithin' (inviting)."

    "Hasto no oon-cake?"

    "Plenty!  Come, I'll fotch it.  Theer, now; reitch to."
                   .                   .                   .                   .                   .                   .

    "So thou bargain't wi' Sniggle, i'th end, didto?"

    "Ay; but it wur a hard job, Sam; he's so keen-bitten, mon."

    "He's as keen as a Greenlan' winter!"

    "An' I'll tell tho what, Sam, I think they're noan so partial to him down yon."

    "Nawe, by Guy, they aren't that!  An' I don't wonder at it; for he's a chap 'at'll soon wear his welcome out,—go where he will.  There moore laughin' at th' seet of his heels nor there is at th' seet of his toes."

    "I doubt there's some'at wrang wi' his inside, Sam."

    "By th' mass, he never wur reet in his inside, yet."

    "Ay; but he looks to me as if he'd fo'n off terribly this year or two back."

    "Well, ay; his clooas are out-thrivin' his carcase, very fast; an' let 'em thrive on, say I."

    "There's folk at'll be war (worse) missed nor him, Sam."

    "Ay, marry is there! as for me,—he may dee when he will,—I's cry noan! . . . Come, reitch to!"

    "O' reet, Sam; I'm doin' very weel.  That's a bit o' prime beef."

    "Well, go at it, then; an' need no moore tellin'; an' get some'at onto thoose lantern-ribs o' thine!"

    "O' reet.  I'll have a bit moore o' this fat. . . . Eh, I'll tell tho what, Sam, I think mony a time about th' days when we were a' schoo'-lads together, down i'th fowd."

    "Ay; an' so do I.  I remember thee an' me, we used to tak er (our) dinners wi' us when we set off in a morning; an' I used to finish mine mony a time, long afore it geet noon.  Little Billy Butt went to schoo' at th' same time; an' he'd very seldom ony dinner with him, poor lad; he wur badly clemmed.  I've sin him pike peigh-swads out o' th' swillin' tub mony a time.  An' never a breeter nor a better lad drew breath than Billy.  I remember one time, my mother had set me off to schoo' i'th mornin', wi' a greight fayberry-cake (gooseberry) under my arm, for my dinner; an' when dinnertime coom, I wur sit i'th schoo', heightin' (eating) this cake; an' Billy kept watchin' us o' agate of er dinners,—an' he kept maunderin' about like a starve't ratton, wi' not a bite to put into his mouth, poor lad! till, at last, he could stop it no longer, an' he coom quietly up to me, an' he said, 'Sam; if thou'll let me bite o' thy fayberry cake, I'll gi' tho two pot marbles, an' a bell-button, an' I'll let tho look at mi sore toe.'  Poor Billy; it wur o' that he had! . . . Thou'll remember Owd Nanny Shackleton's toffy-shop, I guess?"

    "Me!  Eh, ay; I should think I do.  I like as if I can see Owd Nanny just now, sit i'th nook, wi' a lung pipe in her mouth, an' a white cap on her yed, teed round wi' a piece o' black ribbin; an' a little table bi her side, wi' a Bible, an' some baum-tay on it; an' th' cat asleep upo' th' hearth.  Eh, mony a time, when I've gone in a-buyin' some'at,— traycle-toffy, happen, or a haw'p'ny tak-up,—hoo's gan me a hondful o' nuts to fotch her some 'bacco.  Poor Owd Nanny!  Eh, it wur a grand shop, too, wur that toffy-shop, i' thoose days.  Th' ceilin' wur o' cover't wi' dried yarbs, an' cakebrade; an' close again th' dur-cheek, there wur a greight bottle o' smo'-drink, at a haw'p'ny a pint.  There wur a wooden spiggit i'th bottle, an' it stoode a-top of an empty butter-tub.  Upo' th' little counter, there wur a tin full o' traycle-toffy; an' another full of Indy Rock; an' another wi' mint-cake in it; an' there wur a glass bottle full o' humbugs,—two for a haw'p'ny; an' at th' end of o', there wur a pile o' char-cake.  An' as for th' window,—it's moore nor I can reckon up.  I use't to think that there wur everything 'at wur needed i' this world i' that window.  There were comfits, an' marrables, an' gingerbrade dogs, an' clewkin', an' volentines, an' Jack-jumpers, an' tak-ups, an' penny moufins, an' seed-beads, a haw'p'ny a thimbleful,—thoose wur for th' lasses,—an' there wur crackers, an' dolls, an' kites, an' tin-whistles, an' rick-racks, an' kissin's, an' th' dule knows what.  An' there wur red-yerrin', an' peighs, an' bacco-pipes,—an' as for th' haw'p'ny books,—by th' mass,

    "Here, come; afore tho goes ony fur; wilco have ony moore o' this beef?"

    "Not another toothful, Sam; I've done weel!"

    "Here, then, lass; thou may side these things."


――――♦――――

 
"HE'S COMING TOO!"


[Time, summer evening.—Scene, the old kitchen.—Persons SNAFFLE O' THATCHER'S

and SAM, the landlord, smoking by the fire; BETTY, on the opposite side, knitting.]


"GRAND groo-weather, Sam."

    "It's nought else.  We'n the finest yarb (herb, grass) i' yon top meadow, this time, 'at ever I clapt een on!"

    "Hass ony 'bacco?"

    "Here; help thisel'.  Hasto sin owd Tharcake lately?"

    "Ay; I're gooin' by th' dur tother neet, as he sit i'th shippon, milkin', at th' edge o' dark, an' he code out, 'Now then, what's o' thi hurry?  Han yo a labbor agate, or some'at?  Come, keawer (cower) tho down a bit, an' let's have a conk!'  So I geet my 'bacco' out, an' poo'd up a milkin'-stoo' an' he ga' me a droight (draught) o' afterin's; an' theer we sat, crackin' about owd times, till th' owl-leet had gone; an' then I nipt up, an' took my gate whoam, i'th dark, o'er th' knowe, an' cross th' ' Thistley Feelt,' an' just afore I coom to 'Th' Pedler's Nook,' down i'th 'Fir Grove,' as sure as I'm a livin' mon, I oather see'd Clegg Ho' Boggart or th' dule his-sel'!"

    "It'd be th' latter chap, I dar say.  He's bin a good deeol upo' yo'r side lately.  But, I tell tho what, Snaffle thou'rt terribly gan to boggarts.  How is it?"

    "Oh,—thou'd be so, too, if thou'd bin brought up among 'em, th' same as I have.  I guess thou never sees noan?"

    "Well,—yigh,—I catch't one, once; an' that's moore nor ever thou did, I think."

    "Nawe; I never did.  I matter havin' nought to do wi' 'em.  If they'n keep off me, I'll keep off thame."

    "Well, but I tell tho' I catch't this one dark neet, bi th' scuff o' th' neck, an' I warm't it shins for it, an' then I took it bi th' slack o' th' breeches, an' chuck't it into th' poand, an' I never see'd a boggart swim better than that swam i' o' my born days!  An', mindto, it took care to lond o' th' fur side fro' me; an' as soon as ever it coom to a bit o' dry lond, it just ga' one look back, an' then it played for another township, as hard as it could pelt; and thou may make thisel' sure about one thing, owd lad,—that boggart's never bin back into this quarter sin' then."

    "Oh, never tell me!  It's noan bin o' th' same breed as they are our gate on, or else, bi th' heart, it'd ha' ta'en thee,—an' it'd ha' come'd back for moore."

    "Well, I don't know.  But I can tell tho what breed this wur, to a yure.  It're Bill o' Pobs 'at had bin playin' his marlocks, neet after neet, about th' shippon, yon, till I couldn't get one of our folk to goo out after dark.  But, I laid that boggart, for one; an' th' next time I leet on't, I'll lay it again,—if my shoon stops on!"

    "Bill o' Pobs! oh, go look!  I could lay hauve-a-dozen sich as him, mysel'!  I'm noan fleyed of nought 'ats gradely wick; but it's th' tother mak as gets o'er me.  Mon, we noather known where they come'n fro', nor what they wanten, nor what they're made on."

    "Mostly moonshine, owd lad, I think."

    "Well,—thou may think so; but, it's a mak o' moonshine 'at doesn't agree wi' me."

    "But that wur noan made o' moonshine that I catch't tother neet."

    "Nawe, it weren't.  But that's noather here nor theer.  Sitho, Sam; noather thee nor me knows what there is, an' what there isn't, between this world an' th' next.  It's my opinion—"

    "Here; howd te din!  Sitho, Snaffle; if thy opinion wur a bit o' papper, I'd leet my pipe wi't,—th' same as I'm doin' wi' this.  Thou's bin born under a knocky-kneed planet o' some mak.  Let's drop it.  It's no use talkin'. . . . Well; what's good wi' owd Tharcake?"

    "I guess thou's yerd that his faither's deeod?"

    "Oh, ay.  But what, he'd getten to a good age.  What, he'd be close upo' ninety."

    "Ay; o' out."

    "Ay, well; deein's no trouble to a mon at that time o' life. . . . Ay, ay; they keepen droppin' off, an' comin' on'—droppin' off, an' comin' on.  It's once a-piece for us, o' round.  It'll be our kale (turn) in a bit, Snaffle."

    "I guess it will.  I can reckon about hauve-a-dozen 'at's dee'd upo' th' moorside within three week.  There's 'Splash,' an' 'Kempy,' an' 'Dick-in-a-minute,'—as likely a mon as ever stept shoe-leather,—an' there's 'Thrutcher,'—"

    "Howd, stop!  Thou may chalk 'Thrutcher' off!  He's wick an' hearty!  It's nobbut three days sin' I sowd him a pig!"

    "Sam; thou'rt wrang this time, if thou never wur i' thi life afore.  I tell tho he dee'd three week sin'; an' I wur axed to th' berrin', but I couldn't goo."

    "Well, an' a tell tho, I wur axed to th' berrin',—an' I did goo.  But it's nobbut three days sin' I sowd him a pig, for o' that

    "Sam; thou'rt lyin' belike."

    "Snaffle; I never spoke a truer word sin' I'd a tung in my yed.  Ax our Betty."

    "Ay," said Betty; "its true, for sure."

    "Betty," said Snaffle, "I can believe yo,—as a general thing,—but yo'n ta'en me bi th' face this time,—both on yo!  Here, Sam; there's some'at at 'th back o' this!  Come, let me into th' inseet on't, afore we go ony fur,—for I begin o' feelin' quare i' my yed!"

    "That's nought fresh," said Sam.  "But, come, if thou'll howd together a twothre minutes, I'll tell tho how it wur. It wur a strange dooment,—there's no doubt about that. . . . Well, thou knows, I'd yerd on him bein' laid up, but I're fair gloppen't when they coom round a-laithin' to his berrin'.  But, I thought I couldn't do less than goo an' see th' end o'th owd brid, as him an' me had bin schoo' lads together; so, when th' time coom, I donned th' black 'at I geet when my faither dee'd, an' off I set.  When I geet theer, I fund th' house full o' relations, an' owd friends,—donned i' sad-colour't clooas, an' o' sit round, as quiet as mice, wi' sprigs o' rosemary, an' sich like, i' their bonds; an' they kept blowin' their noses, an' shakin' their yeds, an' whisperin' to one another,—th' same as folk dun at sich times.  'Bill o'th Crag' met me at th' dur-hole, wi' th' berrin' drink, an' I had a poo out o' th' tankard, o' twine't round wi' lemon-pill; an' then I took a cheer among th' rest.  Thrutcher's wife wur sit bi th' fire, cryin', an' rockin' hersel' fro' side to side, wi' two or three neighbour women about her.  Th' table wur spread wi' cheese, an' brade, an' butter, an' sallet, an' spice-cake, an' sich like; an' there wur a plateful o' bacco for th' smookers.  Well; it wanted aboon an hour to th' startin'-time, so I let up (lighted up), an' a lot moor did th' same; an', afore lung, we'd a bonny reech i'th hole.  Th' corpse wur laid out in a reawm off at th' side, up four or five steps.  In a bit Thrutcher's wife brast off into a gradely wuther o' crying', an' hoo said, 'I think I'll have another look at him, afore they screw'n him up!'  An' off hoo went up th' steps, wi' her hankitcher to her een.  'Poor Matty,' said Daunt o' Peggy's, 'I'm soory for her, hoo taks it so ill!'  In a minute or two, we yerd a great clatter i'th reawm where he wur laid; and Bill o' th Crag said to his wife, 'Run thee up, an' see after yon poor craiter; hoo's fo'n, or some'at.'  So Bill's wife went up th' steps, an' hoo looked in at dur-hole, an' hoo said, 'Matty, lass; whatever's to do?'  'Do!' cried Matty; 'This is a bonny come off!  He's sittin' up, here; an' he wants some warm ale wi' ginger in it!'  Well; an' so it turned out.  Th' lung an' short on't wur he coom to; an' afore nine days wur o'er, he wur powlerin' about th' moorside, gettin' wimberry.  But he nobbut took it just i' time, for if he'd put it off hauve an hour lunger, he'd ha' fund hissel' i'th wrong box."

    "Well," said Snaffle, "that's capt my trash!"

    "Ah," said Sam, "an' it capt th' berrin'-folk, too, I can tell tho!  But it awter't (altered) th' shape o' their faces in a snift; an' it ended in a brokken day for th' whole lot. . . . Hello; who comes here?"


(Enter BILLY TWITTER, singing.)


"Lither folk wi' their stomachs so dainty,
     They wanten their proven made fine;
 If it nobbut be good and there's plenty,
     I'm never so tickle wi' mine;
 When I've ploughed till I'm keen as a hunter,
     A jug o' good ale bring me then,
 Two pound o' cow'd beef, and a jannock,—
     You never set een on't again I"


Hello, Belltinker, wheer has thou sprung fro'?"


"'I am Saint George, that noble knight,
  That oft has fought for England's right.
  England's might, and England's main;
  Rise up, Bold Slasher, and fight again!'"


    "Thou's bin i'th sun, owd brid."

    "Nay, but I've bin i'th Th' Hauve Moon a while; an' I went fro' theer into Th' Seven Stars, an' rare doin's we had."

    "What hasto i' that poke?"

    "Porrich-powder."

    "Well, come, poo up; an' let's yer what yo'n had agate.'


――――♦――――

 
HEART-SMITTEN.


[Time, summer evening.—Scene, the winding road leading up the moorside to the old

old inn.—Persons, SNAFFLE O' THATCHER'S and OWD SAM, the landlord, on their way up.]


"I'LL tell tho what, Sam; 'Th' Putty Lad's' as feelin' a felly as there is i' yon town."

    "A daycent chap, very.  He comes of a tender-hearted breed.  Raither to mich so for th' sort o' folk there is gooin' i'th world, just now."

    "There's no mouse-neests about him, Sam."

    "Nawe; he's very good to read."

    "There's some folk, Sam, that'll do no reet, nor tak (take) no wrang; but 'Th' Putty Lad' 'll do no wrang to nob'dy, if he knows it."

    "He wouldn't wrang a ratton."

    "Nawe, not if it bote him, he wouldn't.  An' he's as oppen-temper't a chap as ever I let on."

    "Ay; an' he's oppen-honded.  He'd give his teeth away if he yerd of onybody 'at wanted a set."

    "Ay, he would; an' he'd pay for 'em bein' put in.  Sitho, Sam; if 'Th' Putty Lad' had bin about a quarter as keen as some folk he met (might) ha' bin drivin' his carriage, just now.  But he's bin ta'en in of o' sides."

    "Ay, he has.  But th' owd lad seems quite comfortable about it.  He taks it like a thing 'at mut (must) be.  An he keeps powlerin' on, at th' same bat, an' letting 'em do as they'n a mind wi' him; an' yo never yet a wrang word come out of his yed about nob'dy."

    "I'll tell tho what, Sam; I'm sorry for that lad of his.  Eh, his mother is some put about o'er him!"

    "Ay, an' weel hoo may; for he's as nice a lad as ever bote off th' edge of a moufin'.  It's a thousan' pities!  I doubt he's done for,—dee when he will."

    "I never see'd nob'dy so lapt up in a lass sin' I're born, as he is, poor lad!"

    "Well, hoo's a hon'some lass, there's no doubt.  But they're noan reet sorted, mon.  He's too fine-natur't for hur.  Hoo wants one of a rougher mak.  But, it's no use talkn'; likin's like leetenin', —there's nob'dy can tell where il's beawn (going) to strike, nor what mak o' lumber it's beawn to do."

    "Hoo doesn't care a pep for him, Sam."

    "Not hoo.  But hoo happen met (might) if he didn't care so mich for her."

    "He'll never look o'er it, Sam."

    "I doubt not.  An' if he doesn't it'll kill his mother; for he's o' th' lad they han; an' hoo's fair bund up in him.  They'n ta'en him o' up and down, to an' fro, to try to wean his mind to some'at new.  But, goo where he would, it wur o' th' same, every sound that he yerd, an' every seet that he see'd, brought her to his mind.  An' mornin', noon, an' neet, his een wander't wearily, as if he wur lookin' for some'at that he couldn't find.  He never talked about it but he pines,—an' pines,—an' he'll pine away."

    "It's a feaw (painful) life, Sam."

    "It is that.  There's nought worse to cure, when it gets so deep as that."

    "That lad of Owd Crapple's wur just the same.  His gronmother wur as poor as a crow; but hoo'd ha' sowd up, dish an' spoon, if hoo could ha' brought him to his-sel' again; an' one day, when hoo'd promised him this, an' that, an' tother, to cheer him up a bit, he turn't round i' bed, an' he said, 'It's no use, gronmother; yo connot cure a brokken heart wi' gooseberry puddin' an' new clooas!"

    "Ay; he're a bit touched, but he coom to i'th end."

    "He did, Sam."

    "Ay; but it's strucken twelve wi' this son o' 'Th' Putty Lad's.'"

    "Now, I never wur so ill ta'en to as that, Sam."

    "Nawe; nor me noather.  But, then, folk aren't o' alike, mon."

    "I guess not. Some are raither of a finer reed nor other some. . . . But come, owd lad; let's wind a bit!  I'm gettin' warm under th' saddle!  It's a stiffish poo up this broo!  There's a nice conkin'-pleck bi' th' side o' th' well, here.  What saysto?"

    "Thou may just plez thy bonny sel'!  I'm as warm as thee!  Keawer tho down; an' let's pipe up!  It's nice an' cool at th' side o' this well. . . . Th' moorside looks weel, doesn't it?"

    "It does that!  There'll be rare a lot o' brids this time!"

    "Ay; an' there'll be some stock o' wimberry, too, when Rushbearin' gets o'er."

    "I wish we'd some'at to sup, Sam."

    "Well, there's th' well, here; an' it's as fine wayter as ever rindle't fro a broo-side!  Fill thi belly!"

    "I don't like drinkin' dry wayter."

    "Nawe, thou'd raither pay some'at for worse stuff."

    "Well, an' if thou sowd nought nobbut wayter, Sam, thou'd ha' to shut up."

    "I doubt I should. . . . Well, how didto goo on wi' Owd Sniggle?"

    "Oh, he's as hard as brazzil!  But I banted him i'th end.  I'll tell tho what, Sam; I don't think it's a wise plan to push for th' last penny in a bargain; there's danger in it."

    "Thou's hit th' nail this time, owd brid!"

    "Have I spokken, Sam?"

    "Ay, marry, hasto.  But Sniggle's too greedy to part wi' th' smoke o' his porritch; an' he wur so when he wur a lad.  What, thou'll remember him when we went to schoo' together i'th fowd?"

    "Ay; I should think I do!  I remember gooin' wi' him once into owd Nanny Shackleton's toffee-shop, a-buyin' a hawp'orth o' humbugs; an' as soon as he'd getten th' humbugs, he popt one into his mouth, an' tother into his pocket, an' he went an' sit upo' th' durstep till he'd finished 'em; an' then he went straight into th' shop again, an' began cryin' for owd Nanny to give him his hawp'ny back."

    "It's just like him. . . . But, come; let's be gooin'.  We's just be i' nice time for th' baggin'."


――――♦――――

 
ROUGH LODGINGS.


My lodging is on the cold ground,
And oh, very hard is my fare.

—OLD SONG.


[Time, winter forenoon.—Scene, the old kitchen.—Persons, OWD SAM, the landlord;

JONE O' WOBBLER'S and BETTY, the landlady.]


"WHO is yon chap?"

    "I cannot bring him to mind.  He favvours an ill-stuffed earwig,—as who he is."

    "Ay,—he's come'd off poor stock, has yon.  An' he's bin badly clemmed, too, poor lad.  By th' men, I could see to read a ballet through him, welly (well-nigh)!  I think he mun ha' bin born in a milk-shop."

    "What makes tho think that?"

    "Well,—he looks as if his pap had been wayter't."

    "What had he to sup, Betty?"

    "Pop." [Lemonade]

    "He may well look solid (serious)."

    "Well, come; th' lad didn't make his-sel', I guess.  But, I wouldn't be as sober as he is for a cow-price, this minute! . . . Hello; what's this?"


(Enter WOGGY O' SHOG'S, singing.)"'


"'Oh, it's rollin' in the dew
 Makes the milkmaids fair!'"


    "Well, Wog, owd brid; what, thou's londed whoam again, it seems?"

    "Ay; an' it's as mich as th' bargain, too."

    "How didto goo on?"

    "Eh, it'd tak a week to tell."

    "Who hadto witho?"

    "Well,—when we started, there wur me, an' Harry o' Mon John's, an' Copper Nob, an' Sol o' th' Hout Broo, an' Jem o' th' owd Surs,—we o' set off together; but we hadn't bin i' Lunnon aboon two hours before we lost th' end o' one another, snap,—an' at after that every mon had to do for his-sel': an' by th' mass, some on 'em went through St. Peter's needle,—I know I did."

    "Ay; thou looks as if thou'd bin i'th wars, owd lad."

    "Well, I haven't mich time but I'll just tell tho one bit, an' thou may guess at tother. . . Well, thou knows, when we londed i' Lunnon, o' that I had about mi rags wur mi railway ticket, an' three an' ninepence-hawp'ny, an' an owd knife, an' two ounces o' bacco, twisted in a bit o' papper; but I thought th' brass would howd out weel enough, as we had to come whoam again th' next mornin'.  Well, we powler't up an' down Lunnon streets till I geet as dateless as a lapstone; an', o' at once, o' somehow, I lost these chaps, an' I never seed noather top or tail on 'em,—but they did nought but laugh at me.  Well, thou knows, I began o' thinkin' it wur up wi' th' owd foo; an' I geet quite down i'th mouth.  In a bit I spied a cook's-shop, in a nook; an' in I went an' geet a shillin's-'oth o' potato pie, an' nine-pen'oth o' lobscouse, an' a lump o' cheese an' brade, an' a quart o' ale to 't; an' then I thought to mysel',—'Come, I can howd out till mornin', now, as how th' cat jumps!'

    "So, off I set to see this exhibition; an' I maunder't up an' down amung th' rook till I geet as mazy as a tup.  An' by th' mass, owd lad, I wur some fain to get out o' that hole!  It wur war (worse) tha being in a whisket full o' rattons!  At last, neet coom on, an' it began o' rainin'; an' I thought to mysel', 'By th' mon, I mun hole somewheer till mornin' or else I'se be ta'en up, or some lumber!'  So I reckon't mi brass up an' I fund that I'd just fourpence-hawp'ny left out o' th' stock.  'Come, I's do!' thinks I.  An' wi' that I axed a policeman if he could tell me wheer I could leet o' chep lodgin's; an' I towd him what brass I had.  An' then he took me up one street, an' down another, till we coom to th' end of a ginnel 'at looked as dark as a breast-hee coal-pit: an' he said, 'Sitho; knock at yon third dur, an' tell 'em 'at I've sent tho,—an, thou'll be o' reet.'  So, when I geet to th' house, I fund (found) a yollo-lookin' sort of a chap rear't up again th' dur-cheek,—an' he stare't at me,—an' I stare't at him; an' I don't know what he thought o' me, but I noather liked him nor th' hole 'at he live't in.

    "But, thou knows, it wur rainin' like mad, an' I're gettin' weet, an' I didn't care wheer it wur, so as I geet under cover till dayleet; an' I said to him, 'Maister, dun yo keep lodgin's here?' An' he said, 'Ay!'  An' I said, 'What mak are they?'  An' he said, 'Well,—thou can have a fitherbed for sixpence,—or thou can have a flock bed for fourpence,—or thou can lie on a wood bench for twopence,—or thou may stop again a wole (wall) for a penny.' 'That's just about my size, owd brid,' said I,—'I'll have a pen'oth!'  So he put out his hond for th' brass, an' he said, 'Come forrud!'  An' then he took me into a long, dark reawm (room), wheer there wur a hawp'ny candle let (lighted).  Eh, it wur a smart cote!  By th' mon, a pigsty's an angel to't for a stink!  An' there wur folk lyin' about i' o' nooks an' corners,—an' bonny baigles (beagles, dogs) they wur,—as fur as th' leet went!  As I glendurt round, I thought to mysel', 'By th' mass, this is bad to bide,—but I'll howd out till mornin'!'

    "Well, he showed me th' wole that I had to rear mysel' up to; an' theer he left me.  There wur a lot moore again th' same wole, but I kept mysel' to mysel' as weel as I could,—for I didn't like th' look o' their clooas.  Well, thou knows, there wur a thick rope ran i'th front o' this wole o' mine, fro' one end to tother, about breast-hee; an' when we geet tire's o' th' wole we could rest upo' th' rope.  I tried th' wole a good while; but when it geet past midneet, I couldn't prop my een oppen no lunger, so I leant forrud upo' th' rope, and fell fast asleep.

    "Well, now, just tak notice o' th' upshot!  It seems that when they wanten to teen th' hole (empty the room) in a mornin' they letten this rope goo, an' if there happens to be onybody upo' th' rope they gwon too.  Well, when six o'clock i'th' mornin' coom, I wur sound asleep; an' when they leet th' end o' th' rope goo, I shot reet forrud, th' yed (head) first, amung a lot o' folk that wur lyin' asleep, i'th dark, upo' th' floor; an' eh, by th' mon, thou should ha' sin what a dust there wur kicked up i' that hole in about a minute!  I thought I'd fo'n down a coal-pit, at first; an' afore I could gether mysel' together, there wur a great hondful o' hard fingers come bang amung my een!  By th' mass, that wakken't me up,—an' I began o' letten fly, reet an' left, amung th' rook, first wi' my neighve (fist), an' then wi' my shoon,—an' I know it towd, now an' then, for first one an' then another set up a yeawl (howl), like a lad 'at's fund a lump o' toffy.  Th' best on't wur that nobody knew who they wur hittin', it wur so dark.

    "Well, at the end of o', I wriggle't out at th' dur-hole; an' I left 'em feightin' amung theirsels; an' I darsay they thought they were hommerin' me when I'd getten two or three streets off. . . . Well,—I weshed my face at a pump, an' I geet a pint of ale, an' went straight to th' station; an' I londed awhoam th' same day, wi' nought i' my pocket, but two black een. . . . An' that's th' end o' my Lunnon do!  Here, Betty, I'll have an odd gill!"


――――♦――――

 
NIPPIN' TIMES


                It looks very hard
                To be brought into war'd
To be clemmed, an' do th' best 'at one con.

]ONE O' GREENFIELD.


[Time, winter evening.—Scene, kitchen of the old inn.—Persons, TWITTER, OWD

 SAM, AND JONE O' WOBBLER'S.—BEN O' KITTER'S looks in at the doorway.]


"DUN yo want ony sond, Betty?"

    "Ay; sitho; put two-pen'oth into this can. . . . How's yo'r Sally?"

    "Oh, hoo's gettin' o'er it nicely.  They're doin' very weel."

    "What is it?"

    "As fine a lad as ever I set een on!"

    "Thou'll have a bonny stock in a bit."

    "Th' moore an' th' merrier, Betty!  I wouldn't care if I'd a hundred,—as lung as I've plenty o' some'at for 'em!  If yo'n believe me, we're better off now than when we'd noan at o'!"

    "I dar say!"

    "It's true, what I'm tellin' yo. . . . Will two-pen'oth be enough?"

    "Ay."

    "Well,—good day!"

    "Good day!"
              .                     .                     .                     .                     .                     .

    "Jone," said Owd Sam, "where haste bin rommin' (ramming, putting) thisel' this good while?  I ha' not sin the this mony a bakin'-day."

    "I've bin upo' th' tramp, lookin' for wark.  Billy Pullet an' me set off together.  Mon, I couldn't bide no lunger.  I wur tire't o' doin' nought, an' seein' everybody clemmin' about me."

    "Well an how didto goo on?"

    "Well; at after I'd walked mi shoon off mi feet I geet a job amung some chaps 'at wur makin' a railroad.  It's hard wark; but I've poo'd through, so far; an' I get whoam every week-end,—wi' a bit o' brass i' my hond."

    "An' what becoom o' Billy?"

    "Well; he met (might) ha' getten on at th' same job; but he's too leet (light) for heavy wark.  He'd ha' bin kilt in a sniff!  He's noan short o' pluck, thou knows; an' he would ha' ta'en howd; but I towd him to try th' town first; an' then he could come back to me, if he let o' nought.  So, he went forrud; an' as it happen't, one o' th' street-sweepers had bin buried that day, an' Billy geet his shop."

    "Eh, he'll not like that job!"

    "Nawe; I know that.  But then, there's no jobs to pike at, now; an' a chap 'at's clemmin' mun tak th' first thing 'at comes to his hond, till better times.  'Sitho, Jone,' he says to me, when we parted, 'Sitho, Jone; I'll do ony mak o' wark i' this world afore I'll be behouden to folk!'  An, he did as he said."

    "Well,—it shows willin', ony how.  Oh, he's a daicent lad, is Billy,—but he hasn't mich in him. . . . Doesto think he'll manage this street-sweepin'?"

    "Well; he'll be o' reet as far as a bit o' straight-forrud sweepin' goes, I darsay; but if he comes to sweep round a gas lamp it'll bother him, I doubt. . . . But, I like Billy, let it leet as it will.  He's a lad that'll do fair, as far as he con; an' if he is a bit short i'th top-knot he didn't mak his-sel'.  I'd raither have him than some folk 'at's larn't-up.  Th' breetest folk are not olez th' best o' folk."

    "Nawe, they aren't, Jone, owd craiter.  Why, that owd'st lad o' thine's gone to Manchester, hasn't he?"

    "Yigh, he has.  He geet quite weary o' livin' o' green-sauce cake, an' nettle-puddin', an' slotchin' up an' down wi' his honds in his pockets; so he jumped up, one mornin', an' he said, 'Mother; I'll stop this no lunger!  Yore ill enough stinted beawt me!  I'll find a job o' some sort, or else I'll walk mi legs off.'  Well,—his mother wur fleyed on him gooin' away fro' whoam, so hoo said, 'Bide where thou art, James, an' be patient a bit.  Summat'll turn up afore long, thou'll see.'  But he wouldn't yer tell on't; an' he said mich 'an moore that he couldn't find in his heart to put a bite into his mouth, an' onybody i'th house clemmin'; so he're determine't to try fresh ground,—an' he'd tak th' first wark he could leet on,—as what it wur,—till he could turn his-sel' round.  So, at last, hoo consented; an' off he set."

    "Th' lad's quite reet," said Betty.  "I howd his wit good!  There nought war (worse) than slingin' about at a loce (loose) end!  If they're yung an' strung, an' they'n th' o' use o' their limbs, they should be agate o' some mak o' wark!  I declare I'd elder (rather) see 'em wortchin' for th' next to nought nor (than) see 'em doin' nought.  It keeps 'em out o' lumber,—an' that's summat! . . . An han yo yerd (heard) nought on him yet?"

    "Yigh; we'd a bit of a letter this mornin'."

    "Oh, ay; an' what says he?"

    "It is here. . . . Sam; thee read it."

    "Gi's howd."


(Reads.)


    "Cock-a-doodle-doo!—what's this?—ay, it is!  By th' mass, that' a quare beginnin', as how!"

    "Cock-a-doodle-doo!  I've made fourpence, to-day, wi' gettin' a rook (a lot) o' coals in!  That'll do for a start!  I towd yo I wouldn't write till I'd gettin' some'at to do.  But, by th' mon, this is a quare shop!  I londed here o' Thursday noon, wi' ninepence-hawp'ny, an' some cheese an' loaf, at my Aunt Margit ga' me; an' I'd just finished th' last o' mi cheese an' loaf when I geet this job. . . . By th' mass, this is th' reet mak of a country for takkin' th' white out o' yo'r shirts.  There's bin nought nobbut reech' (smoke) an' rain sin I coom.  It's noan like Rooley Moor, isn't this!  I can hardly get my breath,—we're o' so thrutch up together.  There's no stirrin' for folk, an' carts, an' sich like.  I keep jowin' first again one thing, then again another, till folk thinken I'm crazy,—I think they're the same.  I'd like to bin run o'er three times to-day; an' as I stood i'th street, lookin' up at th' church-clock, there wur a horse blowed its nose i' my neck-hole; an' I bounce't back like a scopperill, an' fell o'er a trotter-stall.  Th' owd woman wur fur havin' me walked off; but I helped her to pike her stuff up; an' hoo coom to at last. . . . I've sin nobry that I like, here, yet. . . . I keep lookin' up an' down to see if I can leet of onybody fro our side,—but I can find noan.  I'm like as I wur born alive an' kin to nobry.  T'other neet I went out at th' town-end till I geet at th' top of a bit of a knowe; an' I looked towards whoam; an' I began o' cryin' like a foo,—till a chap coom up, an' towd me to be off, or else he'd ha' me ta'en up. . . . I geet lodgin's up a ginnel.  It isn't a nice place; but it'll do to goo on wi'.  It's th' next to a milk-shop.  Th' chap's code (called) 'Iron Jack,' an' his wife's a Bowtoner.  They're hard-wortchin' folk. . . . I'm noan beawn (going) to give in; an' I's come noan whoam till I've addle't some'at. . . . I'll let yo know how I'm getten on, about once a week; an' if I don't write yo may know 'at I'm oather out o' wark, or else I've getten th' tooth-warch.  I've getten thick wi' a little lad 'at lives at th' next dur, an' he ga' me a lev (leaf) out of his copy-book to write my letter on.  Tell mi mother I'll send her some brass afore aught's lung."

    "Well done, Jemmy!" said Sam, taking his spectacles off.  "He'll get on, will that lad!"


――――♦――――

 
A BIT O' COURTIN'.


Gie me a canny hour at e'en,
    My arms about my dearie, oh,
An' warldly cares an' warldly men
    May a' gae tapselteerie, oh.

—BURNS.


[Autumn night, two hours after sunset.  An old farmhouse, in a moorland clough.

NANNY, the servant lass bustling about the kitchen by candle-light.  TOM POSY, a lad from the neighbouring fold, lurking among the trees in the orchard.  He gives a low whistle, and then taps quietly at the kitchen window.  The door opens softly, and NANNY slips out.]


"OH, Tom, whatever arto thinkin' on to come an' knock at th' window like that?  Th' mistress has nobbut just gone up stairs.  It's a wonder hoo didn't yer tho!"

    "I don't care whether hoo did or not."

    "Nawe; I dar say not; but I care,—I'm force't to care."

    "Thou'd better go back to her, then."

    "Well, an' I con soon do that, Tom.  What's th' matter that thou'rt so rivven to-neet?"

    "Matter?  Matter enoof, I think!  Look what a time tho's bin wi' comin',—after what thou said to me last neet."

    "I couldn't get out a minute sooner."

    "An' here I've bin maunderin' up an' down i'th cloof by mysel', aboon two hours,—like a foo, as I am."

    "I couldn't help it, Tom,—I couldn't for sure!"

    "If thou thinks thou'rt gooin' to mak a hal o' me, Nanny, thou'rt mista'en!"

    "I'm sure I don't want to mak a hal on tho, Tom,—if thou doesn't wish to mak one o' thisel'."

    "Thou met ha' slipt out an' towd me,—an' if tho couldn't come thysel' thou met ha' sent word by somebry, instead o keepin' me hangin' about under th' trees yon, like a thief lookin' out for a job."

    "Well, I couldn't get out mysel', I tell tho,—for there's bin a lot o' folk fro' th' Birches o' th' afternoon,—they ha' not bin gone aboon hauve-an-hour,—an' I've had mi honds as full as a fitch every minute o' this day, till I didn't know which way to turn mysel',—for our lasses are off at th' town, an' there hasn't been a wick soul i' yon house to do a hond's turn but mysel',—not a soul there hasn't,—nobbut th' owd mistress,—an' hoo's so lame that hoo con noather lift fuut nor finger,—I have to feed her mornin', noon, and neet; an' hoo wants lookin' after at bye-times beside,—and hoo has to be hovven out o' bed an' into bed,—an', tak it o' together, th' owd woman's aboon one body's wark hersel'.  There weren't a soul i'th house belongin' our family but th' owd woman, an' thou surely doesn't think I could ha' sent her down into th' cloof to tell tho I couldn't get out, doesto?"

    "This is noan o' th time that thou promised to meet me, is't?"

    "Well, nawe, Tom, what's th' use o' talkin' that road?"

    "Ay; I know!  Thou doesn't care!  I begin a-thinkin' my talk's raither too chep wi' thee!  But, I con tell tho one thing,—while I've bin powlerin' up an' down yon i'th dark I've bin i' twenty minds to go whoam again, an' come no more to be made a foo on bi thee,—crack that nut!"

    "Well, I'm sure!  What a grand way we're in!  It isn't too late for tho to goo whoam again, now, if thou wants,—there's nobry howdin tho!  Eh, dear o' me!  It's come'd to some'at, however.  Hie tho whoam again, do; there's as good fish left i'th say as ony that ever wur catch't yet,—crack that nut!"

    "Ay, that's just where it is.  Thou's more fish upo' th' hooks than ever thou'll manage to fry gradely.  An' I'll tell thee another thing, Nanny,—if I'm one on 'em,—I'm happen noan as ill catch't as thou thinks on.  Crack that nut!"

    "Well, Tom, I don' know what thou'rt talkin' about but, as thou art so terribly th' wrang side out, I'd ha tho to know that I think thou'rt no great catch, as who gets tho.  Crack that nut, while thou art cracking!"

    "Well, Nanny, afore I goo, I'll just tell tho another thing.  There's one o' these fish o'thine that'll ha' my fist i' his gills if ever I see him maulin' an' sniggerin' about thee ony moore; an' thou may tell him I say so."

    "Well, an' who's that, then?"

    "It's Joss o' Jerry's, fro' th' Syke Broo."

    "What!  My own cousin?"

    "Ay, thi own cousin—if he is thi own cousin.  I dar say he's somewheer about th' house just now!"

    "Eh, Tom, whatever's come'd o'er tho?  What do I want wi' Joss o' Jerry's; or what does he want wi' me that he should be hangin' about this house after me?  He thinks no more o' me than he does o' one of his own sisters."

    "Oh, doesn't he?"

    "Nawe, he doesn't. . . . Eh, Tom, Tom, whatever have I done that thou should think so ill on me?"

    "Oh, don't tell me.  Cousin or no cousin—when it comes to huggin' an' kissin' in a nook, it's raither too much of a good thing."

    "Well,—he has never done that to me!"

    "Yigh, he has!  I see'd him!"

    "When?"

    "Th' neet o'th Churn Supper.  I see'd him put his arms round thi waist an' gi' tho a kiss i'th dur-hole, just afore he went whoam."

    "Well, an' if he did, whatever is there so much amiss i' that?  My own cousin!  I'm sure I never thought ought about it.  An' I'm sure he didn't!  An I'm sure I didn't ax him to gi' me a kiss!  Eh, Torn, whatever arto thinkin' on?"

    "I don't care, Nanny; I don't like it!  An' if I catch him at it again, I'll spoil yon pratty mouth of his for him!"

    "Eh, Tom, Tom, whatever's to be done?  I didn't think thou'd bin o' sich a jealous turn as this!  It'll be a weary life for onybody that has to live wi' thee."

    "Well,—thou doesn't need to do it, then."

    "Well,—e'en just let it be so, Tom,—but I connot help but pity thoose 'at has to goo through it,—if ever thou gets onybody to do it."

    "On, dunnot thee fret thisel' about that!  There's moore folk i'th world than thee, Nan!"

    "Well, thou'd better goo an' help thisel' to some on 'em, then! . . . Dear o' me!  If one's to walk up an' down th' world wi' their lips buttoned up,—an' if one connot stir, nor look off at th' side, but thou mun fly into a ragin' passion, I think I should be a good deeol better off bi mysel',—so I'll be gooin' into th' house."

    "Well, Nanny, an' if thou's set thi heart upo' yon chap at Syke Broo, I think we met as weel break it off at once, an part for good; for I'm noan beawn to join jiblets wi' nobody!"

    "Me set my heart upo' yon chap at Syke Broo?  Eh, Tom, I wonder how tho con talk sich rubbish!  I wonder whatever's made thee think so ill on me.  I'm sure I've never gan thee occasion!  If I'd liked onybody better, I'm sure I'd never ha' come'd out to meet thee,—so thou doesn't need to think it!  Thou mun surely ha' bin use't to some mak o' folk 'at's noan so very particular, or else sich things would never enter thi yed.  An' look what I've had to meet wi'—o' through thee,—fro' mi faither, an' mi mother, an' one an' another on 'em! (She begins to cry.)  They towd me how it would be,—an' I con see it now! . . . But it's all done wi'!  So I'll be gooin' in; an' thou'll not ha' th' chance o' snappin' an' snarlin' at me again, I con tell thee!"

    "Come, Nan,—come here!  Don't cry, lass!  I can't stop it!  I'll not say another wrang word to thee as lung as I live!  Come, let's make it up, an' ha' done wi' this mak o' bother!  Here, dry thi een!  Come here, my lass!"

    "Nawe, give o'er!  I'll not be mauled an' kissed bi nobry!"

    "What! not bi thi cousin Joss?"

    "Nawe, nor thee noather!  If one's een wur made for nought but cryin', an' one's lips wur made for nought but poutin', I'd better be gettin' my hond in."

    "Don't say another word about it, Nanny!  Here; I'se be like to taste again!"

    "Tom, do give o'er!  I'll not stop another minute, if thou doesn't behave thisel'!  O!—do be quiet!  Look how thou's tumble't my yure!"

    "Don't co' me jealous again, Nanny, wilco?  I nobbut did it to try tho, lass!"

    "Well, I think it's very wrung on tho, Tom.  Thou doesn't need to try me,—an' thou knows that, too.  Husht!  What's that?"


(A country chap, going down the lane, singing in the dark.)


Oh, I know not, I care not,
    I can't tell how to woo;
But we'll away to the merry greenwood,
    An we'll get nuts enoo!


    "Who's yon?"

    "It's Billy Panzy, comin' whoam fro' th' town, as full as a fiddler.  Husht! he's strikin' up again!"


(He sings again.)


The dusky night rides down the sky,
    And ushers in the morn;
The dogs all join in jovial cry,
    The huntsman winds his horn.
            Then a-hunting we will go!

The wife around her husband throws
    Her arms to make him stay;
My dear, it rains, it hails, it snows,
    You cannot hunt to-day.
            Yet a-hunting we will go!


    "Ay, th' owd lad's getten about as much as he can carry an' he'll sing in, every inch o'th road,—till he gets within seet o' his own house; an' then he'll be as dumb as a mile-stone."

    "Well, Tom, I've left that dur oppen, an' I mun be gooing in now, for I expect our maister back fro' th' town every minute!"

    "Well, couldn't I goo in till he comes?"

    "Eh, nawe, I durstn't do sich a thing!  If he happened to come—"

    "Well,—I could slip out at th' back."

    "Eh, nawe, Tom; don't ax me sich a thing!  I durstn't do it,—I durstn't for sure!  Beside, th' mistress is lyin' wakken up-stairs, just this minute, an' hoo con yer every fuut 'at stirs!  Hoo never gets a wink o' sleep till mornin'. . . . Husht!  Husht! . . . What's that? . . . Yon's our maister comin', an' somebry wi' him!  I mun goo in this minute.  Don't, Tom, don't.  Do let me goo!  Good neet!"

    "Good neet, my lass!  I'll come to-morn at neet."


    [NANNY runs into the kitchen, and begins to wash up the pots. Enter the old

farmer, with his friend SAM O' ALICK'S, o'th Wayter-side.]


    "Well, Nanny, how's th' mistress?"

    "Hoo's about th' same."

    "Thou's getten her to bed, I guess?"

    "Yes; nearly an hour sin'."

    "Well, conto give us some supper?  There's Sam, here; he'll have a bit wi' me."

    "I'll set it out in a minute.  Win yo have cowd beef again, or what?"

    "Ay,—bring us that beef out, to begin wi'."
                   .                   .                   .                   .                   .                   .

    "Nanny, thou mun mind an' fasten o' th' durs, an' th' shutters, too,—for there's bin a lot o' ill-lookin' tramps prowlin' about th' cloof this day or two back,—there wur some mak o' a gipsy ran through th' orchard as Sam an' me coom up,—so thou mun keep thi een about tho, an' make o' fast, or else we's be robbed again, th' same as we wur th' last back-end."

    "There wur two or three poachers ta'en up our gate on, tother day."

    "I dar say. . . . Th' maister up at th' ho, yon, wur walkin' through th' wood tother day, an' he let o' Black Dan o' Ben's, th' neet hunter, an' he said, 'Dan, what are you doing here?'  'I'm walkin', said Dan.  'Well, do you know that you are walkin' on my ground?'  'Well,' said Dan, 'I'm like to walk o' somebry's ground,—I've noan o' mi own!'"

    "Well,—an' th' maister couldn't get o'er that very weel."

    "Nawe, he had him theer, for sure. . . . Nanny, how's this clock?"

    "I think it'll be reet; for it wur just hauve-past one by it when th' postman went by."

    "Come, that'll do, Nanny. . . . Thou'rt like Johnny Peighswad.  When they axed him if his watch wur reet, he said, 'Ay, I set it by th' milk-cart this mornin'!' . . . Here, Sam, poo up, an' let's get a bit o' supper!"


――――♦――――

 
THE PIG AND THE NURSE.


Thou art gone from my gaze.

SONG.


[Time, autumn evening, after sunset. Scene, the kitchen of the old "Running Horses"

public-house, on Kersal Moor.  Three or four country fellows seated about the fire.  Enter old JOHN BURNETT, and JEM ROYLE, two country farmers, on their way home front the cattle market.]


THE evening air was touched with frost, and there was a bright fire in the kitchen of the "Running Horses."  As old John entered the place he spied two of his men from the farm amongst the company gathered round the hearth.

    "Hello, lads," said the old man, "yo'n getten into th' nook again, I see.  Han yo 'livert (delivered) that stuff down i'th town?"

    "Ay; it's o' reet, maister."

    "An' what han yo dun wi' th' horses?"

    "Why, we'n ta'en 'em down whoam, an' done 'em up for th' neet; an' after that we thought we'd come up here an' have a quiet gill or two. . . . Win yo have a gill wi' us, maister?"

    "Nawe, nawe, lads; yo'n no brass to spare for no gills, noather on yo; but yo's ha' one wi' me if yo'n a mind; an' then I could like yo to get down i' fairish time; for yo'n ha' to set off wi' th' carts afore break o' day i'th mornin'."

    "O reet, maister!"

    "Natty, bring these lads a pint a-piece!"

    The sweet-looking matronly old landlady came sailing into the kitchen with a smiling face, and as clean as a new pin from top to toe.

    "Hello, John," cried she, "is that yo?  Bless us an' save us,—this is good for sore een!  I'll tell yo what, yo'r lockin' as cant (canty) as a kitlin'! . . . Hello; is this yo'r William that yo'n getten wi' yo?  I'll tell yo what, John, he gets a bonny lad!  Ah, he shoots up apace—he does, for sure!"

    And then, remembering that the little fellow had lost his mother, the tears rose into the eyes of the kind old dame as she stroked his head tenderly and said, "Ay, ay, poor lad!  God bless him, an' guide him through this rough world,—for there's nobody so weel kept as those that He keeps! . . . Come hither wi' me, Billy, an' let's see what I have!"

    "Ay, ay," said old John, smiling quietly, "tak him into th' tother room a bit; I'm not gooin' to stop mony minutes!"

    "Now, then, Jem," said old John to his friend, "poo thi cheer into this nook, an' let's have a chat."

    "Agreed on," replied Jem, "for I've bin on mi feet th' most o' this day.  Han yo ony 'bacco, John?"

    "Ay; thou'll find a bit o' good stuff i' that pouch, sitho!  An' reitch me a pipe, too, while thou'rt agate.  I'll have a wift mysel'!"

    Then the two old cronies charged their pipes, and settled themselves at a little round table in the corner for a quiet talk.

    "I'll tell tho what, Jem," said old John, "I'm fast what to do wi' yon lad o' mine!  He's terrible fond o' books, an' sich as that; an' he seems to tak very little delight i' ought else.  A better-natur't lad never broke brade; an' I connot find i' my heart to speighk sharp to him, for if I happen to say a cross word, it brings th' wayter to his een in a minute,—an', between thee an' me, I connot bide to see it,—for he's the very pictur of his mother.  I railly don't know what I mun make on him.  I lie wakken mony an hour i'th neet-time thinkin' about him.  I doubt I's never be able to make a farmer on him,—nought o'th sort.  He likes dreamin' an' dozin' about th' fields, an' gatherin' posies an' wanderin' off into th' woods by his-sel', but he seems to tak no interest i' ought that's gooin' on i'th farm-yard, except playin' wi' th' dogs, an' th' yung cattle, an' sich like.  He'll never make a farmer,—nought o'th sort.  He's too tender-hearted,—an' too simple, to feight wi' a rook o' rough, keen-witted, cattle-chaps.  Besides, I doubt he hasn't weft in him for that job,—for a little thing makes him ill.  I don't know what to do with him, I'm sure.  He's a puzzle to me.  He's like nobody else; an' yet he's a favourite wi' everybody that knows him.  An' he's so fond o' readin' that if he sees a bit o' printed papper lyin' upo' th' road, he'll pick it up, an' look at it; an' if he can get howd of a book, away he'll goo into a corner, i'th barn, or i'th shippon, or onywheer, if it's far enough out o'th road; an' sometimes he gets so lapt up in it that we han actilly to root him out to get him to come to his meals; an' when he does come, he nobbut picks a bit here an' a bit theer,— like a brid among hay-seeds.  Poor lad!  I feel soory for him mony a time; for he is as he is,—an' he connot alter his-sel',—an' I wonder what'll become on him after my yed's lapt,—for this is a rough world for a tender heart an' a tickle stomach to feight through."

    "I'll tell tho what, John; he'd make a rare 'torney!"

    "'Torney!  Bless thi life, Jem, what arto talkin' about?  He'd be as helpless as a kitlin' in a pig-sty!  'Torney!  Nay, marry; he'd be no moore use at that job than a midge in a fire-hole!  What's th' use o' sendin' a lad wi' two wood legs to a dancin'-schoo'?"

    "Well; there's nobody can whistle 'bout top-lip, John; an'—as thou says,—it's no use puttin' a lad to a job that he cares nought about, for sure."

    "Not a bit, Jem,—not a bit!  It's like tryin' to lade wayter wi' a sieve! . . . But, I'll tell tho what,—I wish I could get him into th' owd college, yon!  He'd be like a cat in a tripe-shop amung thoose books!  I believe if I could get him in theer he'd never look beheend him!"

    "Well, I'll tell tho what to do, John!  Speighk to th' parson, yon, about it!  He's thick wi' o' th' quality o'th country-side; an' if onybody can do it, he con!"

    "By th' mass, thou'rt reet, Jem!"

    "Nought venture't nought won, John!  Do it at once!"

    "Well, I think there's no harm i' axin,' as how 'tis!"

    "Not a bit, John!  Think wi' one hond, an' act wi' tother, an' get it o'er!"

    And now there was a thoughtful pause in the conversation, and the two old friends smoked on in silence for two or three minutes.  At last Jem took his pipe from his mouth, and began:—

    "I looked in at 'Hard Nan's' ale-house, yon, as I coom up th' broo; an' I fund about as pratty a swarm o' cow-jobbers an' sich like i'th hole as ever I clapt een on; an' they made th' owd house fair ring again wi' their wild fun an' their racketty din. . . . One on 'em wur tellin' about a chap fro' Bury that had been down at th' market about a month sin' wi' some little pigs to sell.  It seems that this chap geet rid of his pigs soon on i'th day, an' then he geet upo' th' fuddle, an' he went gosterin' up an' down amung th' pig-folk wi' his brass in his hond.  At last he fell in wi' two or three owd cronies, that wur gettin 'market fresh,' like his sel'.  'Hello, Jack,' cried one on 'em, 'how hasto gotten on, owd brid?'  'Gotten on?  Why, I've sowd lung sin',—and at a good price, too,—an' th' brass is here, sitho.'  An' wi' that he chuckt his greasy purse up into th' air, an' catched it again as it coom down.  'Bravo, owd lad; thou'll be as reet as a ribbon now.'  'Well; I'se do as long as th' brass lasts.'  An' wi' that he chuckt th' purse up again; but he missed his aim this time; an' istid o' catchin' it he drove it amung a lot o' pigs that stoode in a pen close by.

    "Well, thou knows, pigs are nobbut pigs,—an' this owd purse wur as greasy as a lump o' suet,—so it had hardly time to get to th' floor afore one o' these pigs swallowed it, wi' seven sovereigns an' a hauve in it.  Well these chaps that wur lookin' on brast out a laughin'.  'Well done, Jack, owd lad.  That bacon'll cost some brass, if it's boun to be fed up wi' sovereigns.  Thou's fund a four-legged savin's-bank at last.'  'Wheer's mi purse?' said Jack , rootin' amung th' slutch i'th pig-pen.  'Nay, thou doesn't need to root theer.  One o' thoose pigs has swallowed it!  I seed it!'  'Which on 'em wur it?' said Jack.  'I believe it wur that big un,—but I'm noan quite sure,—they're so mich alike!'  'Well, that's a corker, as how 'tis!' said Jack, scrattin' his yed, an' lookin' first at one pig, then at another; 'that's a corker!  But I'se be like to stick to this lot till I get my brass back!'  'It wur that biggest pig that geet it!' said a chap that wur stonnin' by; 'I seed it swallow it!'  'What's th' price o' this pig?' said Jack to th' owner.  'I'll tak eight pound for it!'  'Why, what weight doesto co' it?'  'It's twelve score, good!'  'Come, come, owd lad; that's a deeol moore than th' market price!'  'I don't care.  I'll ax no moore, an' tak no less, sell it or never sell it!  That's a valuable pig!  I could sell th' inside for moore than that!'

    "Th' poor fellow seed that it wur no use botherin',—th' pig had his purse, an' th' chap had th' pig; so he made no moore ado, but borrowed brass amung his cronies to buy this pig wi' , an' as they drove it off, Jack looked at this pig an' said, 'Thou's some property o' mine i' thi inside, owd lad!  I don't know how it'll agree wi' tho; but I munnot let thee goo out o' mi seet till it turns up!'

    "Well; about th' edge o' dark, when he'd getten about three mile on th' road whoam wi' his pig, he stops a minute or two to tee his boot-lace, an' while he wur bendin' down th' pig ran into a deep wood that led off at the road-side.  'Hello,' said Jack, when he looked up, 'wheer's my banker gone?'  In a minute he yerd it gruntin' down i'th wood, an' off he set after it, like mad,—for he wur freeten't o' some'at happenin' to th' pig.

    "He geet it whoam at th' end, an' he looked after it very carefully for mony a day; but it wur no use,—there were no signs of ony brass.  At last they had th' pig kilt; an' they looked very carefully amung it, to see if they could find this lost purse; but they could find noather money nor purse.  Th' fact on't wur that th' owd lad had bought th' wrong pig.  It wur another pig that had swallowed th' purse; an' a sly cow-jobber that had bin watchin' th' whole thing, bought th' reet pig after he'd druvven tother away.  But, to this day, he firmly believes that th' purse is lyin' somewhere i'th wood that th' pig ran into as he wur drivin' it whoam; an' he spent mony a score o' hours theer, lookin' for it; an' he'll spend a lot moore, yet, afore he's satisfied."

    "Well," said old John, as he knocked the ashes from his pipe, "o' that I can say is that th' owd lad paid very dear for his market-fuddle! . . . But I mun be gooin'!  It's gettin' dark!  Come, William, my lad; let's be gettin' down th' broo!  I guess thou'rt for stoppin' a bit, Jem?"


――――♦――――

 
FAUSE BENJAMIN.


Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.

— HAMLET.


[Time, winter evening.—Scene, the old kitchen.—Persons, OWD SAM, the landlord;

JONE O' WOBBLER'S; FLOP; TWITTER; and BETTY, the landlady.]


"TWITTER," cried Betty, as she took up the poker to stir the fire, "if I wur thee I'd give o'er lyin', an' start o' thievin',—thou'd make moore by it."

    "Ay, but it's as true as deeoth," cried Twitter.

    "I care nought whether it's true or not," said the landlord; "it's a good tale, an' it's weel towd!"

    "Ay, ay," replied Betty, "thou'rt noan to a shavin' i' thi talk, no moore than he is."

    "Well," said Sam, "some folk's o' for cowd truth, but I like mine mixed a bit!"

    "Eh, Sammul," said Betty, "I wonder how thou can for shame o' thi face say sich a thing, for there isn't a mon alive 'at hates lyin' worse than thou does!"

    "Betty," said Sam, "I wish to th' Lord thou'd give o'er preitchin', an' get forrud wi' thi bakin',—an' let us have a bit o' talk to ersels (ourselves), quietly!"
               .                     .                     .                     .                     .                     .

    "Well, Sam," said Twitter, "I'll tell tho another thing about th' same chap,—an' this is true, too. . . . One neet when he'd stop't at th' 'Amen Corner' alehouse till he couldn't see a hole through a ladthur, he set off to go whoam, i'th dark, an' istid (instead) o' takkin' straight down th' hee road, he turn't into th' avenue o' trees, 'at leads up to th' squire's.  Well, th' first thing he did, he ran again a tree; and he doffed his hat an' said, 'I beg yo'r pardon, maister; I didn't see yo!'  In a minute or two, he ran again another; an' he begged pardon again; an' then he did it a third time, a bit fur on.  An' then he began o' thinkin' to his-sel' that as there wur so many folk about he'd happen better try th' tother side o' th' road.  So, he wamble't across, as weel as he could; but when he geet theer, he fund it as ill as ever; for he kept jowin' again tree after tree, till, at last, he dropt down on his hinder-end, bi th' wole-side, an' he said, 'It's no use tryin' to goo ony fur!  I'll stop where I am till this procession gets by!"

    "Well if ever!" cried Betty, "that sheds o'!" (excels all).

    "It's a crumper, for sure," said Flop; "an' it reminds me o' Ben o' th' Biggin's, an' th' gate-post."

    "Howd a minute, Twitter," said Sam; "who is this chap 'at thou's bin tellin' on?  Isn't he some'at akin 'o Rondle O' Dernshaw, 'at wur poo'd up for sellin' hush'?"

    "Sure he is!  They're own cousins.  There's about forty on 'em i' that fowd that are o' sib an' sib, rib an' rib,—like Kitter's pigs."

    "I thought so.  Well, Flop,—what's this tale about Ben o' th' Biggin's?"

    "Well,—as owd Ben wur waddlin' whoam fuddle't one winter neet, he coom ram-bazz again th' gate-post, at th' end o' th' lone,—an' down he went.  Well, Ben's a short-temper't chap, so he flew into a passion, an' as soon as he could crapple up to his feet again, he went at this gate-post, hommer an' tungs, wi' his fists.  'Thou did that o' purpose,' said Ben; 'but I'll set thee one on, devil!'  Th' parson happen't to be comin' by, an' he said, 'Here Benjamin; what are you doing?  You'll hurt yourself!  Don't you see what it is?'  'I care nought who he is!' cried Ben; 'I'll larn him for runnin' again me, o' that road!'  an' he stroke out again.  'Stop, stop,' said th' parson; 'don't you see it's the post?'  'Post!' said Ben,—'well; how leets he didn't blow his horn, then?'"

    "Good again!" said the landlord; "keep it up, lads; keep it up!"

    "Well," said Flop, "one neet, about a week afore th' last Rushbearin', I went into th' Gowden Bo' a-gettin' a gill, an' theer I fund Ben, an' owd Bill Hollan', an' Boswell, th' butcher, an' Dan Neild, an' a rook moore.  'Ben!' says one on 'em, 'arto ready for th' Rushbearin'?  'Oh, ay,' says Ben; 'I've bin howdin' back o' purpose.'  'I'll tell tho what,' said Boswell, 'I'll gi' tho hauve a crown i' tho'll keep sober this Rushbearin!'  'An' I'll be another,' said owd Bill Hollan'!'  An' then another said he'd be a shillin'; an' soon, till they made it up into fifteen shillin' amung 'em.  Well, this made Ben scrat his yed a bit; for he're noan use't to havin' fifteen shillin' at once in his pocket.  So, he turn't it o'er in his mind a bit; but, at last, down coome his neighve (fist) upo' th' table, with a bang; an' he said, 'Nawe; it'll do noan!  I'll not be lad (led) into temptation wi' yo!  I've bin fuddle't every Rushbearin' this last sixteen year,—an' I'm noan beawn to be a backslider now!'"

    "Eh, this drink, this drink!" said Betty.

    "Flop," said the landlord, "weren't owd Ben i'th asylum once?"

    "Yigh, he wur," answered Flop; "an' th' doctor sarve't him out nicely while he wur theer."

    "How wur that?"

    "Well, thou knows, Ben wur olez (always) to lither (lazy) to wortch, fro' bein' a lad; an' he wur of a fause, schamin' turn, bi natur'.  Some folk reckon't 'at he pretended to be wrang in his yed becose he thote that if he geet into th' asylum he should be out o'th gate o' wark.  Let that be as it may,—he hadn't bin lung i'th asylum, afore he see'd at thoose 'at live't i'th infirmary had daintier diet, an' less to do nor tother.  So, he began o' gruntin', an' groanin', an' pretendin' to be ill.  Th' keepers see'd through him weel enough, for they'd bin done bi th' same sort aforetime; an when th' doctor coom, they said, 'Now, yo mun mind this chap.  He's an owd file.  He's shammin' Abraham; so that he may get into th' infirmary.'  'I see!' said th' doctor.  'Leave him to me!'  So, when Ben coom, th' doctor said, 'Yo'r not well, I understan'.  What's the matter?'  An' Ben said at he wur ill here,—an' he wur ill theer,—an' he couldn't tell wheer he wur ill; it shifted up an' down so.  Then th' doctor looked into his een, an' he said, 'Ay!'  Then he felt at his pulse, and he said, 'Ay!' again.  Then he axed Ben to put his tung out.  An' Ben put his tung out.  'Ay; I see,' said th' doctor,—'O'er-fed!  I'll soon put you to rights!  I'll alter yo'r diet!  You may go!'  Ben began o' thinkin' that he wur sowd.  An' he wur, too; for th' doctor gav orders that he wur to have nought but skilly an' dry toast, twice a day, till further orders.  Well, at th' end o'th fourth day, he looked at Ben again.  'Put yo'r lung out!' said th' doctor; an' Ben put his tung out.  'Ay, ay,' said the doctor; 'yo'r mendin'!  I think I may change yo'r diet a little.  Do you think you could eat an egg, now?'  Ben poo'd his tung in, an'—glarin' at th' doctor, as savage as a tiger,—he cried out, 'Could I,—height,—a HEGG?  Ay; by th' mass,—an' th' hen an' o'.'"

    "Sally," said the landlady, "put some coal upo' this fire.  If it had been summer time, thou'd ha' had it th' hauve road up th' chimbly!  An' stir tho, do!  Thou trails thoose limbs o' thine up an' down, like a flea in a glue-pot!"


――――♦――――

 
MOIDER'T MALLY.


No livin' soul a-top o'th earth's
    Bin tried as I've bin tried:
There's nob'dy but the Lord an' me
    That know's what I've to bide I

—BEN PRESTRON.


IT was a bright winter forenoon.  The air was keen; the ground was hard and slippery under foot; and hoar frost glittered everywhere in the unclouded sunshine.  Mally o' Ben's had been taking the washing to her customers in the town, and she was now sauntering homeward to the outskirts, with a basketful of odd things on her arm, and leading by the hand her little lad, Tommy, who was busy sucking a piece of sugar-toffy, as he dragged lazily along by her side.  They had reached the town-end, where the houses began to blend pleasantly with the green country, and the last dwelling of all,—standing apart from all the rest, in front of a grove of trees,—was now in sight.  This was a neat thatched cottage, in a garden, by the roadside, belonging to a comfortable old widow called Jenny Lee.  Jenny's nest was half-hidden by tall bushes of boxwood and holly; and upon the thick thorn-hedge that overhung the roadside "wreaths of fairy frost-work hung where grew last summer's leaves."  She had known Mally o' Ben's from early childhood, for she had been a friend and companion of her mother's; and amongst Mally and her children the kind old widow always went by the name of "Aunt Jane."

    As Mally and her little lad came trailing along, in the clear, cold sunshine, the old woman chanced to be sweeping the flagged footpath which led through the garden up to her cottage door.  Knocking the dust from her brush upon the front step, she looked up the road before closing the gate.

    "Well, I declare," said she, "if this isn't Mally that's comin'!"

    As Mally came across the road towards the garden gate, she whispered to her little lad, "Sitho, Tommy, who's yon?"

    "It's my Aunt Jane!" said Tommy.

    "Why, it's never thee, Mally, is it?" said the old woman.

    "It's me, for sure."

    "Well, well!  Come thi ways into th' house, an' get thi things off . . . . An' thou's getten Tommy wi' tho, too. . . . Come hither, thou little rollin', rompin', twinklin' squirrel!  Let's have howd on tho!  Come; give us a kiss,—an' be sharp!  Hello; where hasto bin?  Wherever hasto had this lad, Mally?  He's as sticky as a glue-pot!  What's he daubed his face with?"

    "It's toffy!" said Tommy.

    "Toffy!" cried the old woman, laughing, "I'll toffy tho,—thou little kempie! . . . Here; let's have another! . . . Good gracious, lad,—thou'rt varnished fro' yed to fuut!  It's like kissin' a traycle-tub! (Shouts to the servant-girl.)  Here, Martha, tak him an' wesh him; an' turn his bishop (pinafore), an' let's sarve him up tidy. . . . (To MALLY.)  Now, Mally, tak thi things off, lass.  Yo mun stop an' have a bit o' dinner."

    "Eh, Aunt Jane; I munnot stop long.  Yo known I've two o'th childer down."

    "Ay, ay; I know.  Who hasto left with 'em?"

    "Our John's wife's tentin' 'em till I get back."

    "That's reet. . . . Now, while I think on it,—brimstone an' gin's an excellent thing for th' chicken-pox, Mally.  It cured our Joseph's childer.  I'll gi' tho a saup o' gin to tak wi' tho.  Hasto ony brimstone?"

    "Plenty, thank yo."

    "An' which on 'em is it that's getten th' ring-worm?"

    "It's our Nelly."

    "Poor little thing!  Well, keep her warm, Mally; an' give her some gentle oppenin' physic; and wesh her yed weel, now and then, wi' 'bacco-wayter."

    "I believe it's a good thing."

    "There's nothing better, Mally.  Here, gi' me thi basket, an' I'll put some 'bacco in for tho."

    "Well, yo're very good, Aunt Jane; an' I con nobbut thank yo."

    "Eh, howd thi din, lass.  It's some'at an' nought.  What's th' use o' folk livin' if they connot do a good turn now an' then?  An' then, I'm sure thou'll have hard wark to make ends meet with o' yon childer about tho."

    "I have that, Aunt Jane.  I've ten on 'em, yonder, o' under my feet at once, as a body may say,—for th' owdest 'wi'not be eleven till Ladymass."

    "Thou's had 'em very fast, Mary!"

    "Eh,—bless yo! . . . It's nobbut a poor look-out for me, I doubt! . . . But what can a body do, Aunt Jane?"

    "Thou mun do as well as thou con, lass.  Folk connot have it o' their own road, thou knows.  But, bless my life, thou'rt quite young, yet."

    "Well; I'm turn't nine-an'-twenty."

    "Ay ay, marry!  What! yo'n want a bigger house, if things don't alter."

    "Yon's too little, as it is, Aunt Jane."

    "Never mind, lass; what! thou'rt hardly i'th prime o' life, yet."

    "Eh, never name it!  I feel a very poor craiter, sometimes, I can tell yo.  An' I may weel; for I get so hamper't an' so bother's an' poo'd wi' these childer, an' one thing an' another, that mony a time it drives me to my wit's end,—it does, for sure."

    "I can believe it, Mary.  A lot o' childer like yon bide'n a deal o' doin' for."

    "Doin' for!  Eh, Aunt Jane!  Lord bless us, an' save us!  Th' mendin', an' th' fendin',—an' th' rootin' an' th' tootin', an' th' tentin' that I have to go through is beyond tellin'!  Eh; yo should see 'em when they're o' yammerin' round th' table, at dinner-time!  An' if yo'n believe me, Aunt Jane, I hardly know, sometimes, how to scrape an' scrat a bit o' stuff together to stop their din with,—I don't, for sure.  An' ten little hungry mouths like yon takken a deal o' fillin', Aunt Jane!"

    "I'm sure they do, Mary."

    "It's true what I'm tellin' yo, Aunt Jane. . . . An' as for yon guttlin' slotch of a husband o' mine, he thinks o' nobody but his-sel',—an' he's not satisfied with a little, I can tell yo!  Catch him missin' a meal,—or stintin' his appetite, as who else goes short!  Nawe, nawe; he wouldn't deny his-sel' of aught that he took a fancy to,—nawe, not if o' th' world were clemmin' round him! . . . Tother day I set th' last poor cake o' brade that we had i'th house afore him, an' he flung it down as if it had bin dirt, an' he cried out, 'Here; what's this?  Bring me some loaf!  I want noan o' thi baked moonshine!'  'Ay, my lad,' thinks I, 'thou'll be fain of a bit o' haver-brade yet afore thou dees!  Thou'rt too fat an' too full; but thou'll come to thi cake an' milk in a bit!'  An' he will, too, Aunt Jane.  I wonder wherever he thinks I can get stuff fro',—that I do. . . . Eh, bless yo, wi' one thing an' another, I'm mony a time fit to fling everything down an' run mi country,—I am, for sure!  But what can a body do, Aunt Jane?  Th' childer are there, yo known.  If it wern't for them, Aunt Jane, I railly believe I should give this job up o' together.  Sometimes I get so moider't, an' so weary, an' so mazy, that I have to sit down a bit to gether my wits together.  But I haven't long to sit, yo may depend, before I'm force't to get up an' buckle to again.  An' there's nought else for it that I can see."

    "There's nought else for it, Mary."

    "Eh, Aunt Jane!  The life that I have to go through,—it would weary a grooin' tree,—it would for sure!  What with him, an' what wi' th' childer, an what with one thing, an' what with another,—I'm tugged an' poo'd, an' hamper't an' harassed to that degree that I'm fit to rive th' yure off my yed, mony a time,—I am, for sure!  Fro' mornin' to neet, fro' day to day, fro' week end to week end, an' hour after hour, it's 'mother' here, an' 'mother' there; an' 'mother' this, an' 'mother' that;—an' feightin' here, an' strikin' there; an' there's never a minute's quietness for me th' day through, till I get my yed laid down at neet; an' then it's a hundred to one if they'll let me lie still, to get a bit o' rest.  An' then, as soon as dayleet comes,—ay, an' sometimes before,—I have to jump up, ill or weel, an' grind th' same grind o'er again.

    "Eh, dear o' me!  Some folk don't know that they're alive, bless yo!  What wi' weshin', an' what wi' ironin', an' mendin' stockin's, an' stitchin', an' contrivin', an' petchin' clooas, an' docterin', an' cookin',—when there's nought to cook,—an' swillin', an' scourin', an' tryin' to keep things reet an' straight, an' some bit like as they should be—it's enough to drive a milestone crazy,—it is, for sure!  One's brokken his nose—another's paintin' th' chairs with a blackin'-brush; another's cracked a window; another's swallowed a pin; another's getten th' bally-warch, with eatin' sour gooseberries an' churn milk; another comes skrikin' into th' house with a bloody nose; another's tumblin' down th' cellar steps; another's steighlin' mi bit o' sugar; another's teemin' traycle into th' child's cradle; an' another wants a butter-cake,—an' that sets 'em o' agate o' yammerin' for their dinners; an' I have to scrat, an' scrat, like an owd hen tryin' to scrat some'at for her chickens out of a bare rock.  Eh dear, eh dear!  An' then, to mend o', he comes in,—rollin' drunk,—i'th leet-lookin' day,—an' he co's me for everything that he can lay his tung to, becose th' house is upset.  Eh, Aunt Jane, what I have to go through is very bad to bide, I can tell yo!"

    "Ay, ay, lass; thou's quite enough to do, no doubt; an' thou'rt not by thisel', as far as that goes.  As for th' childer,—well, they're a deal o' trouble, i' one sense,—but there's worse things than childer i' this world, Mary.  Bless thi life, I know folk that would give th' yure off their yeds to have one!  An' thee, now,—thou wouldn't like to part wi' one o' thine, as mony as thou has."

    "Eh, nawe, bless yo, nawe!  But, see yo, Aunt Jane,—if yon chap o' mine wur worth his ears—"

    "Come, come; huwd thi din!  Thou's said enough!  There's no interferin' between th' bark an' th' tree!  There's worse sort o' folk i' this world than yo'r Ben!  But, if he wur as ill as th' dule, thou would have him,—as what onybody said.  An' if folk are determin't to make their own beds, Mary, they should e'en try to be content to lie on 'em!  Ben's a bit of a temper of his own, that's true enough,—but thou'rt noan without temper thisel', Mary,—mind that!  An', as for trouble,—thou'rt not by thisel', theer,—for everybody has trouble o' some sort,—an' thoose that han noan are never content till they'll made some. . . . An' there's another thing, Mary, there's nobody ever made their troubles less by gooin' up an' down th' world talkin' about 'em, an' oppenin' every foo's mouth that they meeten with.  So, whatever thou has to go through, Mary, keep it to thisel'; an' don't be gabblin' up an' down tryin' to make little o' yo'r Ben, for if thou does, thou'rt makin' still less o' thisel'! . . . Now, poo up to th' table, an' let's have a bit o' dinner! . . . Come, Tommy, my lad!"


――――♦――――

 
THE WRONG CHIMNEY.


When chill November's surly blast
Lays fields and forests bare.

BURNS.


                                                   The cottage hind
Hangs o'er th' enlivening blaze, and, taleful, there
Recounts his simple frolic; much he talks,
And much he laughs, nor recks the storm that blows
Without, and rattles on his humble roof.

THOMSON.


DULL November was closing, sullen and sad, with wan, uncertain skies and dwindling days, whose sombre light,—oft obscured by clouds of driving sleet,—was hastening to its shortest span.  The pallid sun shone fitfully, with faint, cold ray, upon delightless fields—where a few starved cattle were cropping the sodden aftermath with listless dislike; and an air of desolation pervaded all the withered scene.  In the open country, the year's gay foliage lay mouldering slushily in the ditches and on the lonely walks; and a damp odour of decaying verdure sicklied the air of the little vale which, a few weeks ago, smiled so sweetly in the floral beauty of summer.  Oft, now, across the bleak moor, sighed "the sad genius of the coming storm."  Keen winds that skirmish in the van of approaching winter were beginning to wait and whistle wildly through "bare, ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang;" and in lonely woods, gaunt, leafless boughs creaked gloomily in the blast, where no other sound was heard.  Everything from earth to sky told that before long the white shroud of the year would hide the faded scene.  The voice of the streamlet, as it hurried cheerlessly down the hollow of the clough, between flowerless banks, rose now with pensive tone upon the silent air; for the fields were desolate, and the song-birds of summer were all gone,—all but the twittering red robin, creeping nearer, day by day, to the haunts of man with his cheerful little trill, as the weather grew colder, and the dying year deepened into days of "darkness and of gloominess, of clouds and of thick darkness, even very dark, and no brightness in it, for the land is darkened."

    And yet, it is not all unrelieved gloom; for, now and then, there comes a keen, bright night, followed by a sharp, clear morning, when the air is bracing and pure; and hoar frost lies glittering upon the fields like a robe of pearls; and the hard footpath rings under the traveller's foot like a metal plate; and little ice-clad pools, here and there, shine in the morning sun like burnished silver.  But the year is dying; and the white seal of winter will soon be set upon the land. . . . Now houseless stragglers peep wistfully in at the doors of cosy cottages, as the cheerless day declines, and sighing, think of the home of their childhood, as they wander on into the shelterless gloom; and the footsore tramp, in search of work, with his bundle under his arm, bends down in the fading light to read the milestone, that he may see how far he has yet to travel before he can get relief and housing from the winter night.  Now, as evening sinks down, with a "hard, dull, bitterness of cold," the cottage housewife mends her cottage fire, and bars her door upon the darkened scene; and old folks light their pipes, and draw closer to the glowing grate, and sit listening to the mournful cadences of the wind, whilst they dreamily eye the crackling fire, the clean-swept hearth, and the cosy-looking kettle upon the hob, "singing a quiet tune," with steaming lips.

    It was at the close of a cheerless wintry day that Robin o' Romper's, the boots at the "Moorcock Inn," took a besom from one of the outhouses, and began to sweep the stable-yard, singing as he swept,—


It's true my love is listed,
     And he wears a white cockade;
He is a handsome young man,
    Likewise a roving blade;
He is a handsome young man,
    That's gone to serve the king,
And my very heart is breaking
    All for the loss of him.


He had got thus far with his song when the kitchen door opened, and a stout, red-haired servant lass cried out in a shrill voice, "Robin, thou'rt wanted!"

    "Comin'!" cried Robin; and flinging his besom back into the outhouse, he went towards the kitchen, stamping the snow from his shoes as he went.  When he entered the house, he said in a sharp tone, as he looked round the kitchen, "Well, what is it?"

    "Look theer!" said the servant lass, pointing to a stiff-built, bullet headed little fellow, with a leather apron on, who was sitting by the fire warming his hands.

    It was Clinker Bill, the village cobbler, who had brought Robin's new boots home, and was waiting for the money.

    "Hello, Bill," said Robin, "is that thee?  Where's my boots?"

    "Here they are," said the cobbler, holding them up.

    "Ay," said Robin, examining them quietly, "they looken reet enough.  How much are they, Bill?"

    "Ten shillin'."

    "Well, wait here a minute or two till I goo an' get th' brass. . . . Matty, bring Bill a pint of ale!"

    And away he went to the landlady to borrow the money for his boots.  Meanwhile the cobbler took a pull at the foaming pot, then lit his pipe, and sat warming his hands at the fire, till he heard the sound of Robin's feet returning with the money.

    "Here we are," said Robin.  "Howd thi hond! . . . There's two hauve-crowns to begin wi',—an' one, two, three, four, five shillin'!  Will that do for tho?"

    "It's o' reet, Robin," replied the cobbler, "it's o' reet, my lad, an' thank tho!"

    "Then that job's done wi," said Robin.  "An', now then," continued he, "I think I'll have a gill mysel', for it's getten nearly dark, an' I've nought much to do. . . . Matty, bring me a pint!"

    Then drawing a chair up he took his seat by the side of the cobbler, and slapping him on the knee, he said, "Well, owd Wax-brat, an' how are they getten on down i'th fowd, yon?"

    "Oh,—th' same as ever: it's a quiet place, to be sure,—but we can manage to keep one another alive, o' somehow,—for there's olez a bit o' some'at stirrin',—an' a little thing tickles folks' fancy in a country nook that would never be thought on in a busy town."

    "I dar say. . . . How's little Dumpy gettin' on? haven't sin him sin' Michaelmas."

    "Ay, well, now,—there's Dumpy,—he's as daicent a chap as ever darken't a dur-hole,—an' he's as poor as a crow; but th' owd lad's getten his hond-ful this time, for his wife had twins last week. . . . Poor little Dumpy!  He did a bit of a trick about a fortneet sin' that set th' whole fowd agate o' laughin' for mony a day after."

    "Oh, ay! what wur that?"

    "Well, thou knows, Dumpy lives i'th middle house o' that row, of eight or nine that goes by th' name of 'Turn's Biggins,' becose they wur built by owd Turn o' Leather-caps, that owned that delph upo' th moorside, yon . . . . Well, one windy day, as Dumpy an' th' wife wur sittin' by th' fire, a greight smudge o' soot come down th' chimbly, flush into their faces,—an' it made 'em sit back a bit. . . Well, as soon as they'd getten their breath, an' put things to reets again, th' wife said to Dumpy, 'John, this chimbly mun be looked to, or else there'll be no livin' i'th house!  It wants sweepin', badly!'  'It does, lass,' said Dumpy, wipin' th' soot out of his een again, 'it does; an' I'll have it done at once,—for, though I've yerd folk say that soot wur a good thing for th' ballywarch, I'd as soon dee o' th' ballywarch as be smoor't wi' soot! . . . An' tis no use sendin' for a chimbly sweep, for I think I can manage this job mysel'!'  How so?' said th' wife.  'Well—when we live't up at th' owd house, aboon th' Syke, yon,—if th' chimbly wanted sweepin' my faither uste' to tee a stone an' wisp o' strae to th' end of a long rope, an' then he geet a ladder, an' went upo' th' riggin' o'th house, an' he dropt th' stone an' th' wisp into th' chimbly, an' he poo'd it up an' down till th' chimbly wur as clean as a new-swept hearthstone.  An' surely I can do th' same.  It's simple enough.  There's no harm i' tryin' it, as how 'tis. . . But, mind,' said he, 'thou mun fasten an owd seck or some'at o'er th' fire-place here, while I'm agate, or else we's ha' th' house full o' soot. . . . An' I may as weel do it now, while I'm thinkin' on it,—so thee cover that fire-hole up, an' I'll go an' get ready!' . . . An' wi' that off he set, an' borrowed a rope, an' fettle't up his sweepin'gear; an' then away he went onto th' riggin' o'th house, an' started o' sweepin' like mad. 

    "Well, Dumpy's wife stoode bi th' fire-hole, howdin' th' seek up, to keep th' soot in, an' hearkenin' for th' sound o' this wisp an' stone i'th chimbly, but o' wur still; so hoo went outside, an' hoo shouted up to Dumpy, 'John, how soon arto goin' to begin?  Get done, an' come down, or else thou'll be gettin' cowd!'  'Begin!' said Dumpy, 'I've bin agate o' sweepin', a quarter of an hour!  Keep yon seck to,—there'll be a cart-load o' soot at th' bottom when I've finished!'  Well, i'th next house to Dumpy's, owd Ben o' Tumbler's an' his wife live't by theirsel's; an' it happened that, just as Dumpy geet onto th' riggin' an' started a-sweepin', they wur sittin' down to their dinner; but afore they'd getten two mouthfuls, a greight cloud of soot coom flusk into their faces, an' cover't th' dinner, an' th' table, an' th' floor, an' everything i'th house.  An' again an' again it coom,—as thick as leetnin', till owd Ben an' th' wife wur as black as two colliers, an' they couldn't see one another for th' smudge.  As soon as owd Ben could get his breath, he gasped out, 'Oppen that dur!  I'm smoorin'!'  An' then he ran outside, an' looked up to th' riggin' where Dumpy wur as thrung as Throp's wife, wortchin' his rope up an' down, like a chap pumpin' wayter.  'What the devil arto doin', Dumpy?' cried Ben; 'our house is full o' soot!'  'By th' mass,' said Dumpy, as he let go th' rope, an' roll't off th' slate into a midden at th' back o' th' house, 'I've bin sweepin' th' wrong chimbly!'"

    "Now then," said the landlady, as she came into the kitchen with a pair of shoes in her hand, "what are yo two laughin' about at such a rate?"

    "It's a bit of a tale that Bill's bin tellin' about little Dumpy sweepin' a chimbly."

    "What's he doin' sweepin' chimblys?  He'd better stick to his looms I think!"

    "I don't think he'll sweep yon chimbly again, mistress, as how 'tis."

    "Robin, has thou done yon horses up?"

    "Ay, an hour sin'."

    "Then go thi ways an' lock th' yard-gate; an' see that th' back doors are all fast; an' then make these fires up.  It's goin' to be a wild night."


(Exit ROBIN.)


    "Here, William, look at these shoes.  Are they worth mendin', think yo?"

    "Oh, ay!  They'n want solein', an' heelin', an' weltin',—an' then they'n be as good as new!"

    "Tak 'em wi' yo, then,—an' let's have 'em back as soon as yo con,—an' I'll see if I cannot find yo some more odd jobs. . . . How's Mary?"

    "Well, hoo's a very hard time on it, mistress; an' I don't know how it'll turn with her, for hoo's a great deal o' trouble to get her breath; an' hoo doesn't seem to mend much."

    "Poor body!  Don't goo till I see yo!  I'll put some bits o' things up in a basket for her."

    "Thank yo, mistress."

    "Matty, bring William a drop more ale!"

    "Thank yo, mistress."


――――♦――――



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