Tufts of Heather, Vol. II (3)

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OH, THIS TOOTH!
――――♦――――


Whate'er the place is priests ca' hell,
Where a' the tones o' misery yell,
An' rank'd plagues their numbers tell,
            In dreadfu' raw,
Thou, Toothache, surely bear'st the bell
            Among them a'.                     B
URNS.


Winter forenoon.  A little cottage by the wayside, at the end of the village.  MALLY O' RONDLE'S pacing to and fro in the kitchen, with a swollen cheek, and her face lapped in hot flannel.


"EH, dear o' me!  Whatever mun I do?  My gooms are steawngin' an lutchin' to that degree ――!  I can never stop' this mich longer! . . . Sarah, see if that back dur's shut!  I'm sure there's a draught somewheer!  Oh,good gracious; this is bad to bide! . . . Ay; thou may laugh, thou little sniggerin' snicket; but if I wur weel I'd make thee laugh o' tother side o' thi mouth!"

    "I weren't laughin'."

    "What arto pooin' thi face at, then?"

    "I weren't pooin' my face."

    "Get out o' my seet; an' keep out! . . . Gi' me another handkitcher, some on yo! . . . Jenny, doesto think this swellin' goes down ony?"

    "Nawe; it gets worse."

    "Oh, Lord o' me!  Talk about pain!  Eh, my poor yed; it feels like a wasp-neest! . . . Jenny, reitch me that cup o'th hob!  An' somebody keeps negglin' at that sneck. Who is it?  Do keep th' dur shut, I pray yo!  It's enough to drive onybody crazy! . . . Eh, dear; eh, dear! did ever ony poor soul suffer as I'm sufferin' this minute? (Enter a little girl from a neighbouring cottage.)  Now then, theer yo are; that dur's oppen again!  Who is it?  Oh, it's thee, Liddy, is it?  What doesto want?"

    "Mally, my mother wants to know if yo'n be as good as lend her a basinful o' flour till my faither draws his wage?"

    "See what hoo wants, — some on yo, — for I connot yer a word that hoo says!  Oh, dear o' me!"

    "Her mother wants to borrow a basinful o' flour."

    "Oh, that's it, is it? . . . Well, tell thi mother that I haven't a bit o' flour i'th house!  Beside, I'm gooin' to bake; an' I's want it mysel', tell thi mother!  Shut that dur, that's a good lass! . . . Bless my life! they're never off th' dur stones for one thing or another! . . . Jenny, warm this flannel again, an' just put some more coals upo' that fire!  Fasten yon buttery window, some on yo. . . . Oh, this tooth! this tooth! (Door opens again.)  Theer yo are again!  What now?"


(Enter MALLY'S little lad.)


    "Mother, there's a chimbley afire!"

    "Well, let it brun! . . . Get out o' this house, thou little monkey, — an' shut th' dur after tho, — or I'll chine tho to th' floor!  One met (might) as weel be livin' in a dogkennel, — an' me as ill as I am!  Eh, dear! eh, dear! Jenny, reitch me that cup off th' hob again! an' fill th' kettle up! . . . (She tastes of the tea.) Oh, good Lord o' me!  Who's sweeten't this tay?"

    "Me."

    "An' where didto get thi sugar fro'?"

    "Out of a white basin i'th buttery."

    "Well; taste on't!"

    "Eh; its saut! "

    "Saut!  Th' divvle saut yo!  I think yo'r doin' every-thin' that yo con to torment me, — as if I weren't enough tormented o' mysel!  It's enough to make a body run their country! . . . Gi' me another flannel out o' that oon!  Oh, my poor gooms!"

    "Here, mother, sit yo down i' this cheer, bith' fire; an' I'll lap some'at round yo'r shoulders."


(She sits down and JENNY laps her up.)


"Ay, that's better, lass! . . . Now, do try to mak a cup o' gradely tay!  Thou'll find some sugar in a brown papper, upo' that second shelf. . . . Oh, these teeth!  Talk about lyin'-in! — it's a foo to this (The door opens again.)  Now then!  That dur again!  I' the name o' good Katty, what han yo agate this time?"


(A man selling sand looks in.)


    "Dun yo want ony sond?"

    "If thou artn't out o' that dur-hole in hauve a minute, I'll tak' thee a-top o'th yed wi' th' fire-pote! (Exit the sandman.)  I think the dale's thrut his club o'er this house!  Latch yon dur, — an' lock it, — an' keep o' out that is out! . . . Hello!  What's that cat getten?"

    "Eh, mother, it's run upstairs wi' a beefsteak in it mouth!"

    "Good gracious!  Wherever are yo'r e'en? — o' on yo!  I could like to swear at yo!  If I'm laid up mich longer, this house'll go to rack an' ruin!  Cover yon milk up, — an' shut that buttery dur!  An' look if thou can see aught o'th doctor comin'; it's about his time."


(JENNY looks through the window.)


    "He's comin' now, mother!"


(Enter the Doctor.)


    "Good morning, Mally!"

    "Good mornin'!  Eh, I'm fain yo'n come'd, doctor! for I'm very nearly done to th' lung-length!"

    "What's th' matter?"

    "Matter?  Look at my face!"

    "Ay, I see.  It's a bit side-heavy, for sure."

    "Now, doctor, afore yo gone ony fur (further), don't mak me laugh, for I connot ston it just now!"

    "Well, let's be serious, then.  It's your teeth again, I see.  I'll soon put you right.  Which tooth is it?"

    "It's three or four o' these bottom uns, — o' this side."

    "Open your mouth. (He examines her teeth and tries them with his instruments.)  I see nothing amiss with these teeth, Mally!"

    "Poo 'em o' out, I tell yo!  I'd better lose my teeth than lose my life!"

    "I don't feel justified in pulling these teeth out, Mally."

    "Well, cut my yed off, then; for I connot live i' this state!"

    "Well, before we go any further, I'll give you something that'll relieve you.  (Writes a prescription.)  There!  Send down to the druggist's for that, and take it according to directions!  Off with you to bed, and stop there; and let them bring you a good white-wine posset!  I'll call again in the morning, and, if you're no better, I'll see what's to be done!"

    "Well, I don't know whether I's live till mornin' or not, doctor; but if I'm no better than I am now, I'll poo 'em out mysel', if yo winnot!  So, good mornin'!"

    "Good morning!"

――――♦――――

 
A DAB O' PUTTY!
――――♦――――


Autumn evening.  A cottage, in a garden, by the roadside, at the end of Chadderton Fold.  MALL O' PUDDLER'S mending stockings at a little table under the window.  JABEZ, her little son, getting his supper at the same table.  PUDDLER BILL, his father, who has just come in from work, sitting by the fire, smoking.  MALLY (to her little lad).


"NOW, finish thi supper, an' get thi lessons: an' then off witho to bed, — like a good lad! (The lad still plays sulkily with his supper.)

    "Now, Jabez; what arto chunnerin' an pooin' thi face about?  Thou doesn't need to turn thi nose up at thi porritch, for there's nought else i'th house for tho!"

    "I'm not turnin' mi nose up!"

    PUDDLER BILL.  "Nawe, nor thou doesn't need to turn thi nose up, Jabez, my lad, — thou doesn't need to turn it up, — as thi mother says, — for thi nose is just th' pictur' of her's."

    "How is it like mine?"

    "Well, because it wur handsomely turn't up when he wur born, my lass!  It's like a dab o' putty that's bin thrutched up at th' end!"

    MALLY (to her little lad).  "Jabez, my lad, go thi ways an' send yon hens out o'th garden." (Exit JABEZ.)

    MALLY.  "William, I wish to the Lord thou wouldn't meddle between me an' these childer!  It's a strange thing that I cannot correct 'em, but thou mun put thy motty in, an' turn everything that one says to ridicule!  A nice way o' bringin' childer up that is!  How can they be expected to tak notice of oather thee or me, when they see'n thee pooin' one road an' me pooin' tother.  I wonder at tho!  An' sich seely unfeelin' talk, too!  Did ever onybody i' their common senses mak sich remarks about folk's noses, an' bits o' failin' places.  It's a shame to talk sich talk!  Bless my life, I didn't mak mi own nose, no more than thou made thoose two bow-legs o' thine.  An' if thi own mother does sken, hoo's noan to blame for it, — poor body, — no more than yo'r Joe is for havin' a long leg an' a short un!  A bonny trainin' thou'rt givin' thi childer!  If I wur thee I'd measure a peck out o' mi own seck, now an' then, an' try to keep mi tung between mi teeth till I could say some'at to some sense, particular when there's a lot o' childer about!"

    "Well, well; thou's said quite enough!  I very seldom open mi lips at o'; but when I do, thou'rt sure to gi' me twenty words for one!"

    "For the Lord's sake do let it drop! he's comin' in again! (Enter little JABEZ.) Well, hasto sent 'em out?"

    "Ay."

    "Well, finish thi porritch; an' then get thi lessons.  Hello, who's this? (Enter TUM O' NANCY'S, on his way home with a basketful of stuff from the market.)  Never, sure!  Is that yo, Tummus?  What, yo'r loadent like a humma-bee!"

    "Ay, they're some bits o' things for whoam, Mally.  Where's yo'r Bill?"

    "He's i'th corner here."

    "Now then, owd buzzart, where arto?"

    "I'm here, Tummy!  Come an' sit tho down!  What hasto getten i' thi basket?"

    "Oh, a twothre oddments.  I've an offal twenty pound weight for one thing."

    "Well, come, that's a daicent sort of an oddment, for a start, as how 'tis."

    "We're fond o' stew at our house."

    "Well, an' there isn't a finer dish i'th world than a bowl of good stew, weel thicken't wi' crisp haver-bride. . . . What hasto beside?  Come, turn 'em out, an' let's see!"

    "Well, I've bin buyin' a new pair o' ankle-jacks, sitho!"

    "Let's look at 'em! . . . Ay; an' a rare pair they are, too!  Clinker't, an' toe-capped, too, I see!  Thou'll be primely shod for winter, owd buckstick!  But I'll tell tho what, they looken little, — for thee! . . . Cock thi fuut up! . . . Ay; that's a sarious sort of a hoof, that is . . . Dun they fit?"

    "Well, — if I mun tell truth, owd lad, — I don't know whether they'n fit or not, — for, by the mass, — I den forgeet to try 'em on!"

    "Well, by Guy! that's a crumper, as how 'tis! . . . It reminds me of a prank o' Jem o' my uncle Joss's, th' farmer, up aboon 'Th' Syke,' yon. . . . One mornin' when Jem were gettin' hissel' ready to be off to th' cow fair, down i'th town, he said, 'Oh, an' while I'm i'th town, I's ha' to buy a pair o' boots, too!  Here, some on yo come an' measure my fuut; an' I'll tak th' measure wi' me, an' there'll be no moore bother!'  Well, they measur't his fuut, an' they laid th' measure down upo' th' window-sill for him to tak with him.  Well, off he set in a bit, an' as soon as he geet to th' town he went into th' owd shop, an' he said, 'Joe, I want a pair o' strong boots!' an' then he began o' gropin' his pockets for th' measure, but he could find noather top nor tail on't about his rags.  'By th' hectum, Joe!' said he, 'I've forgetter to bring th' measure!  Never mind, I'll co' to-morn!'  An' out he went.  But th' owd shoemaker followed him to th' dur, an' shouted on him, 'Heigh, doesto yer?'  'Well?'  'Where arto for?'  'I'm gooin' for th' measure for the boots!'  'Why, who are they for?'  'They're for mysel'!'  'Well, then, thou's getten thi fuut witho, hasn'to?'  'Sure I have!  By th' mass, I'd forgetten that!'"

    "Come, that's a good un," said Bill; "but it's not so mich better than one I yerd no longer sin than yesterday, for o' that."

    "What wur that?"

    "Well, I went into th' Seven Stars kitchen about noon, an' there I fund Lither Dick an' th' landlord sittin' bi their two sel's, — one o' one side o' th' fire an' tother o' tother, toastin' haver-brade, an' soppin' it i' ale.  In a bit Dick cocks his fuut up, an' he says to th' landlord, 'Sitho, Sam, I've had these boots twelve months, an' they aren't a bit worse!'  'Ay,' said Sam, 'that may be; but thou's punish't thi breeches ―― terribly!'"

    Mally had just finished setting the tea things.

    "Come, William, th' baggin's ready!  Now, John, yo'n have a cup wi' us, winnot yo?"

    "I will, — an thank yo!"

    "Poo up, then!"

――――♦――――

 
I WISH THI MOTHER WOULD COME.


 Th' owd lad had scarcely gone,
     When th' bairn began to squal
 Wi' hikin't up an' down.
     He let the poor thing fall
 It wouldn't hand its tongue,
    Whatever tune he'd hum,-
 'Jack and Jill went up the hill,—
     I wish thi mother would come.'

JOE WILSON, OF TYNESIDE.


Winter evening.  Victoria Station, Manchester.  Train standing, ready to start for Liverpool.  A stout good-looking woman comes puffing up, with a child in her arms.


"TAKE your seats! Any more for Liverpool? . . . Come, missis, look sharp, if yo'r goin'!"

    "Nay yo mustn't be in a hurry! . . . . I've bin runnin'! . . . . An' I'm such a size!"

    "Here; I'll give yo' a lift! . . . Let's have howl o' that bantlin'! . . . Now then; step up; an' I'll hand it in to yo! (She steps up, an' takes her seat. He hands the child in to her.)  Now, yo'n getten yor parcel; an' yor o' reet?"

"Yes; I'm all right, thank you! (She settles herself in her seat, and gives the child a drink.)  Husht, my love!  Did 'em plague it?  I'll lick 'em, I will!"


(Porters on the platform.)


    "Tickets ready, please!"


(She starts, in a fit of consternation.)


    "Eh, good gracious!  I've forgetten mi ticket!  Whatever mun I do? (To a stout, middle-aged man sitting next to her.)  Maister, would yo be kind enough to howd this child a minute, while I run for mi ticket?"

    "Well, — ay, — but yo mun be very sharp, missis, — for I'm nobbut a poor hond at this job!  Now; be slippy!  Yo'n very little time!"

    "I'll not be a minute!"

(Away she runs.  The man begins to dandle the child awkwardly, and the passengers joke him.)

    "There, owd lad; thou's getten a job at last!"

    "Ay; thou may weel say that!  I've tackle't mony a quare bit o' wark sin' I wur a lad; but this is th' first time I ever tried mi bond at weet-nursin'! . . . I hope yon woman 'll be sharp, — for I'm freeten't o' some'at happenin'!  Childer are sick comical craiters!  Hello! th' gam's beginnin'! (The child cries.)  Husht, my love!  For the Lord's sake! husht a minute, — till thi mother comes, — an' then thou may skrike thi ballyful!  Hush—ht! . . . I hope it'll not be takken ill afore hoo gets back! . . . Look out at that window some on yo! (One of the passengers looks out.)  Is hoo comin'?"

    "I see nought on her yet."

    "By th' mass, lads," said he, "this is gettin' awk'ard!"

    "Ay; thou'll be in for it afore long, owd lad, bi' th' look o' that choilt!  Hasto no hippens i' thi pocket?"

    "Have I hectum as like!  Husht, my love! . . . Eh, this is a do!"

    In the meantime the tickets were being examined; the doors were closing, one after another, with a bang; the whistle went for the train to start; and yet the woman had not returned.  The poor fellow with the child in his arms began to perspire at every pore; and, when the porter came to lock the door, he started up in a fright, and cried out, "Heigh, stop!  Here!  Oppen that dur!  Let me get out!  Where's th' guard?  Here, guard!  Where's that woman?"

    "Where's what woman?"

    "Why, th' woman that belongs this choilt."

    "Nay; I know nothing about the woman!"

    "By ――! but thou'll ha' to find her!"

    The guard began to laugh.

    "Ay; thou may laugh!  But this is noan o' my choilt!"

    "Nay; how can I tell?"

    "I never clapt een on it afore, I tell tho!"

    "Ay; that may be!"

    "I know nought about th' woman, I tell yo!  Hoo axed me to stick to it a minute, while hoo went for her ticket!"

    "Well; time's up," said the guard, laughing again; "we must be off!"

    "By ――! but yo munnut goo till hoo comes back!  It's noan o' my choilt!"

    "Well; and it's not mine!" said the guard.

    "It's as much thine as mine!" said the poor fellow.

    "I don't know that," replied the guard.  "Come, get in an' let's be off!"

    "Nay; I'll go noan till hoo comes!  There; stick to it a minute, till I go an' look for her!"

    "Nay, nay; I've plenty o' that sort o' mi own!  But, we must be going!"

    "There; tak it wi' yo, then!"

    "Not me! . . . Shut that door; we can't wait any longer."

    "Then d――n yo, goo!" said the poor fellow, wiping his forehead with his sleeve, "I'll not stir a peg till that woman comes!"

    Away went the train; and the passengers looked out, laughing at the unhappy wight, as they rolled away, and left him staring helplessly to and fro, and dandling the crying child, with a kind of clumsy fear, as if it were a red-hot poker.  The people on the platform, too, began to make fun of him.

    "Give it a saup o' cinder-tay, owd lad!" cried one.

    "Ay," replied he, wiping his forehead again, "an' if I hadn't this thing i' my honds, I'd gi' thee some cinder-tay, too! (But now something happened that drew his attention to the child again.)  Hello! . . . Now for it! . . . Ay; it's just as I expected! . . . Look here!  These are my Sunday breeches."

    "Lend him a hippin, some on yo!" cried one.

    "Tak thi handkitcher, owd lad!" cried another.

(The child began to scream more violently than ever, and a countrywoman came running up.)

    "Whatever are yo doin' at that choilt?  Th' little thing'll skrike itsel' into fits!  An' yo'r hondlin' it like a foo; wrang side up!  Gi' me howd on't!  There's a pin prickin' it somewheer!"

    "Ay," said the poor fellow, with a sigh of relief, "just tak howd on't a minute, missis, — an' see what ails it!"

    But the instant he got it safely landed in the woman's arms, he slipt off to the corner of the building, and shouted for a cab.  The cab drew up, and he jumped in.

    "Where to?" said the cabman.

    "Drive straight out at tother end o'th town, — toward Delamere Forest, — as fast as thou con!  I'll tell tho when to stop!"

    And away they went.
                    .                        .                        .                        .                        .

    "Ay," said the kind-hearted countrywoman who had taken the child in hand, "th' poor little thing might weel cry, with a greight pin runnin' into it.  Look theer!" and as soon as she had put the child to right, and soothed it into quietness, she looked round, and said, "Now, then, maister, tak howd!  It's o' reet, now!"  But the man was not to be seen.  "Hello!" cried she, "where's that chap?"

    "He's off in a cab! " said one of the bystanders.

    "Good gracious!" cried the poor woman, "whatever man I do?  My train starts in about five minutes; an' I've children enoo o' mi own to look after without bein' bother't with onybody else's!  Whatever mun I do?"

    In the meantime the mother of the child had got her ticket, and she came running up to the place where she had left the train standing.

    "Hello!" cried she, "where's th' train?"

    "Th' train's gone!"

    "An' where's my choilt?"

    "That fat chap geet out o'th train, an' took it away with him."

    "Eh, whatever mun I do?" cried she; and she went screaming about one part of the platform, crying out, "My choilt! my choilt! where's my choilt?" whilst the strange woman with the child in her arms was going screaming about amongst the passengers, in another part of the platform, crying, "Where's th' chap that belongs this choilt?"

    At last the two happily met.  The mother got her child the kind-hearted countrywoman was relieved from her untimely burden; and peace was restored.

    But the fat man, who had been nursing the child, came no more to Victoria station that day.

――――♦――――


 
COCK ROBIN.
――――♦――――


Singing he was, or fluting all the day;
He was as fresh as is the month of May.

CHAUCER.


IT was a bitter winter forenoon.  A heavy snowstorm was driving wild across the moor-tops.  The kitchen of the Heather Bell was all a-glow with a roaring fire, and the wind roared in the wide chimney.  On one side of the hearth a poor hawker sat warming his thin hands, with a gill, full of sopped oat-cake, on the hob beside him; on the other sat the old landlord smoking, and watching the snowflakes, which darkened the little lattice as they flew by, — whilst his wife Mary busied herself stirring a great panful of lobscouse which hung over the fire, and turning now and then to give directions to her servants.

    "Joe," said she to the lame old ostler, "goo an' shool th' snow away fro' yon front dur.  Folk connot get in."

    "There'll not be so mony folk here to-day," said Joe, as he went limping towards the door.  "Oh, yigh!" said he, in a tone of surprise, as he looked into the storm, "there's one comin' now!"

    "Who is it?" inquired Mary.

    "Nay," said Joe, "I connot mak him out yet, — for he's lost i'th snow! . . . He's a winter surplice on, — I can see that, — an' he's singin' like a March throstle, too, as who he is! . . . Husht!"

    A clear, strong voice was heard coming up singing through the snow:—


Come, Caleb, an' settle thi shanks,
    An' let's ha' no moor o' thi bother;
Wi' thi camplin' din, an' thi pranks,
    Thou'rt wortchin' thisel' to a lother;
Come, Nathan, poo up into th' nook,—
    Thou'rt a good-natur't, comical craitur:
Let's join in a chat, an' a smook,
    An' a noggin o' hot rum an' wayter.
                Fal-derdal-layrol-i-day!


    "By th' mass," said old Joe, "I thought I knew that sound! . . . It's Cock Robin!"

    "Set th' cheese an' loaf onto that little table," said the landlord.  "He'll be as hungry as a hunter!"

    In the meantime the song came nearer as the singer came slowly up the steep and snowy road:—


We're neighbours, an' very weel met
    We're o' merry lads o' good mettle;
There's Nathan, — wur never licked yet, —
    An' Caleb's i' farrantly fettle:
With a pipe, an' a tot, an' a crack,
    An' a crony, I'm just i' my glory:
So now, I'll fling th' world fro' my back,
    An' brast off with a bit of a story!
                Fal-derdal-layrol-i-day!


The singer was now within a few yards of the doorway.

    "Good mornin', Robin!" cried old Joe.  "Thou'rt liketh' redbreast, — th' cowder th' weather an' th' better thou sings!"

    "Hello, owd buckstick!" replied Robin.  "This is a bit o' good owd-fashion't winter, isn't it?  Ston' fur, — an' let's come into th' house!"

    Robin was going right forward, loaded with snow from head to foot, when the landlady shouted from the inner doorway, "Stop, Robin!  Shake that snow off i'th lobby, afore thou comes in here; or else we's ha' this kitchen floor in a swim!"

    "Reet, Mary, reet!" cried Robin, shaking the heavy snow from his clothes, and beginning to sing again:—


'Twas when the dawn of morning
    Began to leet the sky,
I donned mysel' to wander
    Afore the dew was dry;
To wander in the gay greenwood,
    Right early I did rove,—
I could not rest upon my bed
    For thinkin' of my love.


    "Good mornin', Mary!" said Robin, as he entered the kitchen.

    "Good mornin', Robin!  Thou'rt i' rare fettle, lad!  Wipe thi shoon a bit, upo' that mat! . . . . (He wipes his shoes.)  Ay; that'll do.  Now, get forrad wi' thi ditty!  I like to hear it.  Thou knows


Owd rhymes an' owd chimes
Maken one think of owd times,


so get on wi' thi singin'.  It'll hinder noan o' me!"

    "Well, then, here goes, Mary!—


Down in a flow'ry dingle,
    Where sometimes we did stray,
Our vows of love to mingle,
    At close of summer day;
It's there, where oft among her hair
    The flowers of spring I wove,
I sat me down to think upon
    The girl that I do love."


    "Weel twitter'd, Robin, my lad!" cried the landlord.  "Come, let's have another verse while thou'rt at it!  A merry heart never hindered good wark!  Let's have another verse!"

    "With o' mi heart, Sam!  Here goes again!—


It's there I made a garlan',
    My darlin' for to don,
An' the posies that were in it
    They shined like the sun;
The dewy posies, wild and sweet,
    All in the leafy grove:
It breaks my heart to think upon
    The girl that I do love!"


    "Ay," cried the landlord, laughing, "thou looks brokken-hearted, for sure!  A greight brawsen bullart (bull-ward), with a neck like th' bole of a tree!  Thee, — an' 'The girl that I do love!'  I know nought what hoo is, Robin, — but thou'rt a bonny buzzart."

    "Ay," said the landlady, joining in the laugh, "thou looks terribly wasted, Robin!  But love does tak strong howd o' some folk!  An' who is this woman that thou's bin yeawlin' about?"

    "Why; who dun yo think it is, Mary, but yon rollin' owd farrantly fuzzock (stout, good-looking old woman) o' mine, at our house?  I used to sing that sung to her twenty year sin, — afore we wur wed.  An' I have to sing it again for her, mony a time, when we're sittin' by th' fire at neet.  An' th' childer are just th' same, — they're o' fond o' music, — an' mony a time, when they're gettin' their suppers, they say'n 'Eh, faither, do sing for us a bit, — that's a good lad!'  An' then, there's nought for it, yo known, Mary, but I'm like to start, for th' sake o' quietness."

    "Well, well; I like to yer it, Robin, for it sounds whoamly, an' kindly, an' comfortable. . . . An' how is yo'r Sally, saysto?"

    "Eh, bless yo'r life! th' owd lass is as reet as a ribbin'!  Hoo's as round as a turnip, — an' as swipper as a kitlin' (nimble as a kitten), — ay, an' hoo's as peeort (pert) as a pynot (magpie), sometimes!"

    "Well, well; long may hoo keep so, say I, — for a better-hearted crafter never nips th' edge of a cake o' brade! . . . An' thou'rt i' good fettle, too, Robin, for thou's a voice like a keigh-bugle! . . . But what's set tho agate o' singin' so soon this cowd mornin'?"

    "Well, — I'm weel an' hearty, Mary, — an' th' wife's weel an' hearty, —an'  th' childer are weel an' hearty, — an' we owe'n nobody nought, — an' tak it o'together, I feel fain that I'm wick, — an' that's o' that I know about it! "

    "Ay, ay; thou may weel sing, lad, — thou may weel sing!  Thou'rt like th' birds i' summer, — they keepen singin' an' singin', an' they known nought what they're singin' about."

    "Well; I guess they're like other folk, Mary; they keepen singin' because they're fain, an' they wanten to let it off a bit."

    "Ay, ay," said the landlady, "I guess it is so. . . Well, come; I know thou'rt hungry.  Poo up to this table.  Thou sees what there is.  There's cheese an' brade; an' a prime bit o' cheese it is, too.  An' there's some cowd ham.  Poo up; an' get agate; an' need no more axis'!"

    "Eh, Mary, yo'r a good owd soul!  This is grand!  Bring me a pint o' ale!"

    "Come, Robin," said the landlord, drawing his chair to the table, " I think I'll join tho; for it makes me hungry to hear tho talk! . . . An, — doesto yer?  Come here (In a whisper.)  There's that chap at th' fireside, there.  He looks starve't.  Ax him to have a bit with us!"

    "Maister," said the landlady to the tattered wanderer, who sat warming himself at the fire, "yo may as weel come an' have a bit with 'em.  There's plenty on it; an' yo'r as welcome as th' flowers i' May!  See yo; tak this chair!"

    "That's reet!" said the landlord.  "Poo up; an' give us a lift wi' this bit o' stuff, — an' then we's be o' comfortable together!  Now, lads, fo' to, — and do what yo con, — as long as it lasts!"

    They feasted right heartily; and as old Mary was clearing the things away the landlord whispered to her, "Doesto yer, lass?  That poor owd craiter looks ill clemmed, — an' it's hard weather for sich folk.  Slip him a bit o' some'at into his basket, to tak with him!"

    "I'll do it," said Mary, "with o' my heart!"

――――♦――――


 
BERRIN' BRASS.
――――♦――――


Time: A fine afternoon in March.  Kitchen of the old Beehive public-house at the end of the town.  BEN O'TH BULLART'S sitting in a corner.  JONE O' WELTER'S, tile village cobbler, is lurking in the stable in the yard, out of the way of his wife, who has been looking for him.  She has just gone away.  BEN lifts the kitchen window, and shouts into the yard:—


NOW then, Jone!  Where arto?  Dost yer, Jone?  Where hasto croppen to?"


(JONE peeps out at a window in the hay-loft.)


    "I'm here. . . . Is hoo gone?"

    "Ay, hoo's off.  Come out."

    "Arto sure hoo's gone?"

    "I'm sure hoo's gone.  I watched her off through th' window."

    "Which gate did hoo goo?"

    "Hoo went back towards th' town."

    "Had hoo aught in her hand?"

    "Nawe; but hoo'd some'at under her shawl."

    "I thought so.  It'll be a rollin'-pin. . . . What didto tell her?"

    "I towd her thou'd bin here, but thou'd gone down to Spotland Bridge after some cobblin' jobs."

    "Hoo'll not believe it."

    "Yigh; I'm sure hoo does, for hoo said nought; and hoo went off as quiet as a mouse."

    "Hoo'll not believe it, I tell tho!  Hoo'll not believe a word that onybody tells her that sits in a alehouse!"

    "Thou'rt soft, mon!  Come out!"

    "Soft or hard, I darn't come out yet.  Hoo's as fause as a boggart, mon.  It isn't th' first time that hoo's hunted me down.  Hoo'll turn, an' wind, an' turn again, an' hoo'll catch me, titter or latter; for hoo knows both th' hare an' th' hare-gate; an' hoo's a fine nose; an' hoo'll never give in till hoo's run me down."

    "Thou'rt soft, I tell tho."

    "Thou'd be soft, too, if thou knowed her as weel as I do. . . . Go thi ways an' look down th' road, an' see if there's aught stirrin'.  I'll stop among this hay till thou comes back."


(BEN goes to the front of the house, and looks down the road.  All is still; and he returns to the window, looking into the stable-yard.)


    "Now then, owd lad!  Where arto?"


(JONE looks out at the window again.)


    "I'm here. . . . Well; how are things lookin'?  Conto see aught?"

    "Not a mouse stirrin'; come out wi' tho, — an' dunnot be a foo!  Come out o' that hay, I tell tho.  How long arto boun to ston tootin' there, — like a ratton in a soof (sough, sewer), watchin' a ferret?  Come out, like a mon!"

    "I'm comin'! (JONE creeps down from the hay-loft, and enters the kitchen again, looking fearfully around.)  Between thee an' me, Ben, I think I'd better shift my quarters; for hoo's sure to come back."

    "Not hoo!  Keawer (cower) tho down!  Thou caps me, Jone!  A mon like thee!  Why, thou'd wacker (tremble) at a gorse waggin!"

    "Thou doesn't know what thou'rt talkin' about, Ben."

    "Well, keawer tho down, an' make thisel comfortable.  Hoo'll come noan back,—not hoo.  An' if hoo does come back, thou'rt noan fleyed of a woman, arto?"

    "Yigh, I'm fleyed o' yon woman."

    "What!  Thee?  Th' best wrostler upo' Bagslate Moor!  Why, I thought thou'd a-foughten a lion for a quart o' ale!"

    "What, —me!  I wouldn't face our Betty just now, I tell tho, for a barrel o'th best ale i' this town! . . . Keep thi e'en upo' that window; or else I darn't stop i' this hole!"

    "Well, thou caps me, Jone; I tell tho again.  Thou's a feaw (foul, uncomfortable) life on't, owd lad.  Between thee an' me, I think I could manage yon woman better than thou does."

    "I dar say thou thinks so; but between thee an' me, Ben, thou knows nought at o' about our Betty.  I've yerd folk say that onybody can manage th' bull better than thoose than han it bi th' horns; an' by th' mass, it's true. . . . Enough said.  Howd thi din, an' keep thi e'en upo' that window till I finish my gill."

    "Mak thisel' comfortable, owd brid.  I'll tent this side.  There's nought can come up th' road without me seein' it. . . . Where's thi ale?"

    "It's upo' th' hob here."

    "That's reet.  Now, mak thisel' content for a twothre minutes.  I'll look out for squalls. . . . Hasto bin o'er at Crimble lately?"

    "Ay; I wur theer about a fortnight sin."

    "Well; an' is there aught fresh that gate on?"

    "Ay; I yerd (heard) that owd Jone o' Flup's an' his wife wur deeod."

    "That's noan true, as how 'tis; for I seed him gooin' through th' town wi' a jackass-cart no longer sin than yesterday."

    "It doesn't matter.  He wur deeod a fortnit sin', — an' his wife, too."

    "Well, if he wur off to tother country a fortnit sin', as thou says, — who wur this that I seed wi' th' jackass-cart yesterday; for I spoke to it, — an' I'll swear it wur oather Jone o' Flup's or his ghost!"

    "Keep thi e'en upo' that window, an' I tell tho o' about it."

    "Well, let's be yerrin', then; for there's some'at wrong somewheer."

    "Well, thou shall ha' th' tale as I had it mysel'.  It wur Bob o'th Bridstuffer's that towd me; and he should know, for he's own cousin to Jone o' Flup's o'th mother's side."

    "He should know, as thou says.  Get for'ad wi' thi tale."

    "Well, as thou knows very weel, owd Jone comes of a rackless, gutter-creepin' breed, — an' his wife's noan so much better than hissel'.  O' through life they'n bin livin' fro' hond to mouth, an' it's bin come day, goo day, God send Sunday, wi' 'em.  If ever they addle't a bit o' brass by besom-makin', an' sich like, they made straight with it th' first thing, for they wur both fond o' drink, an' they live't in a low, tatter't way, — partly bi hawkin', an' partly bi beggin', with a bit o' steighlin' (stealing) among it.  Mony a time they wur so stagged up that they didn't know where to turn for a meal's meight; an' they'd ha' bin clemmed to death, o'er an' o'er again, but for th' neighbours.  Th' owd lad up at th' ho' wur very good to 'em, fro' first to last; though he knew very weel that Jone an' th' wife wur up to o' maks o' tricks for raisin' brass, when they wur druvven to th' fur end.  They wearied everybody out nearly, but him; an' he get a bit tire't on 'em sometimes; but he al'ays started again, an' gav' 'em another lift, as fresh as ever. . . .

    "Well, to mak a long story short, — one day, owd Jone an' th' wife wur sat, one o' one side o'th hearth an' tother o' tother, smookin' an' starin' at th' empty grate, — for they'd sowd, an' pop't, an truck't everythin' i'th house for drink, an' they wur quite at their wits' end how to raise a bit o' some'at to goo on wi'.

    "At last Jone took his pipe out of his mouth, an' he said, 'I guess thou has no brass, Mall?'  'Brass,' said Mally, 'thou knows I've no brass!  I haven't a hawp'ny — an' I don't know where to turn to get noan noather, for we'n riddle't this country-side middlin' weel, o'er and o'er again.  I think we're gettin' near th' far end.'  'Well, then,' said Jone, 'it'll ha' to be done!'  'What arto for doin'?' said Mally.  'Between thee an' me, Mally,' said owd Jone, 'I'm thinkin' o' deein' a bit.'  'Deein' said Mally.  What doesto want to dee for?  Thou talks like a foo!  Thou doesn't need to be i' sich a hurry about thi deein'; thou'll dee o' thisel' in a bit, if thou'll be quiet.  Talk to some sense, lad; an' keep thi heart up; there'll surely be some road done.'  'It'll ha' to be done soon, then,' said Jone, 'or else I see but little chance o' keepin' mysel' alive much longer.'  'Howd thi din, an' keep thi heart out o' thi shoon, I tell tho,' said Mally, 'we'n al'ays poo'd through so far.'  'Well,' said Jone, takkin' his pipe out of his mouth, 'we can happen manage to poo through again, if thou'll do what I tell tho.'  'I'll do it, as what it is,' said Mally, 'if it'll bring a bit o' some'at in, — for I'm welly (well-nigh) parish't (perished).  'Well, then,' said Jone, 'I'll stretch mysel' out upo' th' bed, i'th nook theer; an' thou mun dust my face wi' flour, an' tee my chin up, an' throw a sheet o'er me, an' darken th' window a bit; and then off witho to owd Joseph, at th' ho', an' make as poor a mouth as tho con; an' tell him I'd deeod, an' thou hasn't a hawpn'y i'th house to bury me wi'.  I shouldn't wonder if he doesn't gi' tho a sovereign.'

    "Well, no sooner said than done.  Jone wur laid out; an' off went Mally up to th' ho' a-tellin' her tale.  As luck let (alighted), th' owd maister wur away fro' whoam; but one o' th' sons coom, an' when Mally tow'd him about owd Jone bein' deeod, he gave her ten shillin' to help to bury him wi'; an' off hoo started back again wi' th' brass in her hond.  As soon as hoo geet to th' dur-hole owd Jone thrut (threw) th' sheet off, an' rear't hissel' up i' bed, an' said, 'Well; how hasto getten on?'  ' I've getten hauve a sovereign,' said Mally.  'By th' mass,' said Jone, jumping off th' bed, 'that's a good do, for a start!  I'll have a go mysel'!  Here; thee lie down this time; an' I'll go an' try th' owd doctor!  If I tell him thou'rt deeod, I'm sure he'll be some'at toward the berrin'!  Lie tho down; and I'll tee thi chin up, an' throw th' sheet o'er tho.'

    "So Mally lay down, an' Jone drest her up as weel as he could, an' darkened th' window; an' then off he set to th' doctor's, to tell him that his wife wur deeod, an' he hadn't a farthin' o' brass to bury her wi'.  Well; th' doctor wur a daicent, kind-hearted chap, al'ays ready to do a good turn where he could; so he said he wur very sorry that Jone had lost his owd woman; an' he gav him a sovereign to help to bury her wi'; an' Jone set back whoam again, as hard as he could pelt, wi' th' sovereign in his hond.

    "Now, as it happened, th' doctor wur just startin' off to go up to th ho' (the hall), to see one o'th daughters that wur poorly; an' as soon as he geet theer, th' first mortal he met, as he went in at th' dur-hole, wur yung Joseph, that had gan Mally th' ten shillin' to help to bury her husban' wi'.  'Good mornin', Joseph,' said th' doctor.  'Good mornin', doctor,' said yung Joe.  'Any news this mornin'?  'Nought new,' said th' doctor, 'except that owd Mally o' Jone's o' Flup's is dead.  Her husband's just bin to me for a trifle to help to bury her wi'.'  'Nay, nay,' said Joseph; 'it's th' owd chap that's dead!  Mally wur here about an hour sin; an' I gav her ten shillin' to help to pay th' funeral expenses!'  'By the Lord!' said th' doctor, 'I believe it's a swindle!'  'It's nought else,' said Joseph.  Let's run down an' see; an' if it is, I'll flog him soundly!'  An' off they went together to owd Jone's cottage.

    "Now, owd Jone happened to be tootin' through th' window an he spied th' doctor an' yung Joseph comin' down th' road full pelt.  'By th' mass, Mally,' said Jone, 'we're in for't!  Yon's th' doctor an' yung Joseph comin' down here, together!  Jump onto that bed; an' I'll lie down beside tho; an' I'll poo th' sheet o'er us, — an' let's look as deeod as ever we con!'

    "They'd just time to get theirsels sattle't when in coom yung Joe, an' th' doctor.  It wur a dismal-lookin' hole; an' they walked up to th' nook where owd Jone an' th' wife lee stretched out upo' th' bed, wi' th' sheet o'er 'em.  'There they are,' said yung Joe; 'an' by th' miss, they're both deeod!'  'I don't know whether they are or not,' said th' doctor; 'but I'd give another sovereign to know which on 'em deed first.'  As soon as they yerd that, they both sprang onto their hinder-ends, an' they shouted, 'Me!  I deed first.'

    "Wi' that, yung Joe took owd Jone a crack across the shins wi' his whip-stock.  Jone jumped out o' bed, and darted out at th' dur-hole, wi' yung Joe after him, floggin' him every yard he went.  'Murder!' cried Jone.  'Dun yo want to kill me?'  'I connot kill a deeod chap,' said yung Joe.  'I'll larn thi better than deein afore thi time's up!'  'Murder!' cried Jone again.  'Wilto ever dee again?' said yung Joe, layin' on as hard as ever.  'Never, maister,' said owd Jone never again, — as long as I'm wick!  Give o'er, I beg on yo!  Well, fork out that berrin'-brass, then,' said yung Joe.  'I haven't a farthing about me!' said Jone.  'Where is it, then?' said Joe.  'Our Malty has it!' said Jone; an' then—"
                   .                         .                         .                         .                         .

    "Stop a minute, afore thou goes any fur," said Ben o'th Bullart's, looking through the window.  "I never yerd sich a tale i' my life; but stop a minute!  There's some'at comin' up th' road, yon. . . . By th' mass, it's yo'r Betty!  Off witho into th' stable, again! an' I'll go, too, this time; hoo's brought th' rollin'-pin wi' her again!"

――――♦――――


 
TH' WRONG SIDE UP.
――――♦――――
 


I can make noather top nor tail o' this.

OLD SAYING.


IT was a keen December day, and the trees of the vicarage were festooned with beautiful frost-work.  Crisp snow lay thick upon the old church, and upon the tombs and gravestones of the churchyard, and upon the roofs of the houses around; but upon the street where the cattle market had been held, it was now trampled into slush, and soiled by the business of the day.  The crowd was thinning, but evening was creeping on, and folk had begun to "tak the gate."  Cattle, sold and unsold, were slowly wending away from the scene, with their drivers at their heels; and the quaint old street, where the market had been held for centuries, was gradually sinking down to its usual stillness.  But as the light of day declined, the glow of the kitchen fire grew stronger in the Royal Oak, a famous old hostelry in front of the churchyard, where Bill Holland and Ben Boswell, two comfortable butchers, had crept into the chimney corner for a quiet chat and a glass, before retiring for the night to their old haunts in the middle of the town.

    "Between thee an' me, Ben," said Bill Holland, "bar-foot folk shouldn't walk upo' prickles."

    "Well, one would think so," replied Ben, "but it just depends whether they liken it or not, thou knows."

    "Well, — ay, — as thou says, Ben.  If they liken to torment theirsels, they're welcome to fill their ballies, as far as I'm consarn't, — as long as they keepen it to theirsels, and don't trouble other folk.  But, between thee an' me, I tell tho again, there's a lot o' ill-contrive't craiters i' this world that are never comfortable.  Sich folk should be kept in a bit of a pinfowd by theirsels."

    "They're awk'ard craiters to live wi', for sure.  But what ails him?  They say'n he's as rich as Cheetham o' Castleton."

    "Rich!  What's th' use o' that, if a chap's thrutched in his mind!  Folks cannot height (eat) gowd!  When brass get's pile't up to that pitch, it bides a deeol o' tentin', an' lookin' after.  Now, th' difference between five thousan' pound an' five million pound is o' book-keepin' an' anxiety.  I consider that a mon's no more goods i' this world than what he can get good out on.  If he'd o' th' brass i' Englan' he could nobbut sleep i' one bed at a time; an' if his brass troubles his mind he'd better be poor."

    "I don't like bein' poor mysel', Bill.  But there's some'at i' what thou says, for o' that.  If a chap's o'er weighted in his mind he's in an ill case, — an' it doesn't matter whether it's slutch or gowd, — if it pons him down."

    "It's a feaw life havin' too mich brass, Ben."

    "Well, I never tried it."

    "Nawe, nor me noather.  That's a boggart that never freeten't noather thee nor me, Ben. . . . But, come, — here's a Merry Christmas, owd lad!"

    "Th' same to thee, Bill!  It'll be here, now, in a week or two, — as who lives to see it. . . . But, I yer there's one or two on 'em down i'th town that's started their Christmas raither afore th' time."

    "Oh, ay.  Who's that?"

    "Well, owd Cushy, an' Nukkin, an' Bob Leech, an' Occy Lee, an' one or two moore.  They'n bin agate o' their marlocks down i'th owd street, yon, I yer.  It wur Occy Lee that towd me about it."

    "Ay!  What wur it?"

    "Well, it seems that some on 'em turned th' Gowden Bo' sign th' wrong side up tother neet."

    "Oh, ay!  An' it's true enough, too!  It wur Bob Leech that did it i'th neet-time.  Tother knew nought about it. . . . But, didto yer what a prank Nukkin an' owd Cushy had wi' this sign th' next mornin'?"

    "Not a word."

    "Well, thou knows, Nukkin an' owd Cushy are two o'th driest-throated craiters there is i' this country; an' they're generally up afore onybody else in a mornin', huntin' for some'at to sup.  Well; th' mornin' after owd Bob had turn't this sign th' wrong side up, these two coom trailin' down th' street together, soon after break o' day, scrattin' their yeds, an' tootin' about for th' first alehouse dur that oppen't; an' when they geet to th' front o'th Gowden Bo', Cushy looked up at th' sign, an' he said, 'Hello! what's owd Dan Nield bin doin' wi' his sign?'  'This is noan o' Dan's!' said Nukkin.  'Yigh, it is!' said Cushy.  'Yigh it is!  I know by th' windows!'  'It's noan o'th same sign, then,' said Nukkin.  'I connot read it!'

    "Well, Cushy seed that th' sign wur th' wrong side up, so he said, 'Come to tother-side o'th road, here; an' ston o' thi yed up again th' wall; an then thou'll read it fast enough!'  'Well,' said Nukkin, 'I feel raither tickle-stomacked this mornin', when I'm th' reet end up; but I'll have a try at this job!'  An' down went his yed; an' up went his legs again th' wall.  'Now, Cushy,' said Nukkin, 'thou mun keep howd on me, or else I's never be able to stick up for I'm nobbut wambly, when I'm stonnin' o' mi feet!'  'Here, I'll steady tho a bit, owd lad,' said Cushy.  An' he went an' kept his feet up again th' wall.

    "'Now then,' said Cushy, 'conto mak it out?'  'Make it out?  Nawe, by th' mass,' said Nukkin, 'it's ten times worse than it wur when I stood o' mi feet!  Th' whole house is th' wrong side up, now!'  'Conto read th' name upo' th' sign?'  'Nawe,' said Nukkin.  'I con mak noather top nor tail on't!  I'm not one o'th best readers i'th world when I'm th' reet end up; but there isn't a worse scholar alive than me, — when I'm stonnin' o' mi yed! . . . Nay; it's no use; I connot make it out!  Let me come down!'  'Thou hasn't gin it a fair chance yet, mon,' said Cushy.  'Thou'll manage it with a bit more practice.  Try it again, while thou art theer!'  'Here, thee let go my legs,' said Nukkin, 'an' come an' have a try thisel'.  'I would in a minute,' said Cushy, 'but I've a sore place at th' top o' mi yed.'  'Ay,' said Nukkin, 'an' I's have a sore place o' mi yed, too, if I stop here much longer!  Let go my legs, I tell tho!'  'Just have another whet at it,' said Cushy, 'an' then I'll let tho come down! . . . Conto make aught on it, now?'  'Not a bit!' said Nukkin.  'It's like a whisketful o' chips!  An' as for th' letters, they're o' masht up together, like a ponful o' lobscouse!  There is one letter amung 'em, an' that's an' O, — an' that's o' that I can make out!  Let go mi legs, I tell tho, — an' let me come down, — I'm gettin' as mazy as a tup!  It's noan o'th same house!'  So Cushy leet go his legs; an' down he coom, like a seck o' potitos; an' he had to lie theer a while afore he could gether his wits together again."

    "It's just like 'em. . . . But, come; I mun be off down into th' town. . . . I guess thou'll be lookin' in at th' Blue Bell some time afore th' neet's o'er?"

    "I'll meet tho at th' 'Amen Corner,' if thou's a mind, at nine o'clock!"

    "Agreed on!

――――♦――――


 
SAUNTERIN' HOME.
――――♦――――


When light enough is in the sky
To shade the smile and light the eye,
'Tis all but heaven to be by,
    An' bid in whispers, soft an' light
    'S the rustlin' of a leaf, "Good night!"
    At evenin' in the twilight.

WM. BARNES.


MORE than an hour had passed since the summer sun had left the sky, and the rosy afterglow was beginning, to blend dreamily with the shades of twilight as the bustle of market-day declined in the heart of a little rural town on the banks of the Ribble.  The town was the ancient centre of a region of pure air and clear streams, rich in relics of the history of the land, and unsurpassed in all the north of England for its picturesque beauty.  The green country clipt it closely in all round; and little garden plots and bloomy bits of shade gushed in, here and there, amongst the straggling cottages that fringed its one long, winding old-fashioned street, as if they loved the pretty little clustered man-nest, and delighted in making it pleasant. . . . The market-day was drawing to a close, and the noisy crowd was gradually melting away from the busy scene in the middle of the town.  Here and there, little vendors, who had cleared out their stocks, were beginning to pack up their empty stalls, and hurry off to refresh themselves and count their gains.  People looked out at their windows, as the rattle of wheels and the clatter of horses' feet went by, in quick succession, at the town end, showing that the great business of the day in the town was over.  Staid country-folk were wandering away homeward, in twos and threes, along the different roads, into the green country; and, once more, peace and quietness were stealing over the rough coble-pavement around the old cross, which was all strewn with scatterments of hay and straw, and the varied rubbish of a market-day.  As the market-place grew quieter, however, the din of revelry rose higher in some of the old alehouses around, where many a reckless farmer from the outlying fell-sides still lingered, like Tam o'Shanter,


                     Boozing at the nappy,
Whiles gettin' fou and unco happy,
Nor thinkin' o' the lang lang miles
That lay between him and his hame.


And, as stillness deepened upon the main street, the clatter of pots, and the sounds of country song from strong fell-side lungs, began to ring louder and clearer in the centre of the little town.  In one of the oldest hostelries of the town, — a famous resort of market folk, the sign of which was the Eagle and Child, — sat stalwart John Braithwaite the farmer, and his good wife Mary, from Waddington Fell, waiting till their son Willie had put to the horse, and brought the spring-cart round from the yard at the rear of the house.  "Th' Brid an' Bantlin'," by which name the ancient crest of the Stanleys is well known in Lancashire, — "Th' Brid an' Bantlin" was still crowded with lingering farmers and town's-folk, who had been drinking freely during the day, and who were now getting very noisy over their cups.  John and his wife sat in a corner by themselves, looking anxiously through the window for the coming of the cart, for the house was getting uncomfortably hot, and throng, and riotous.  At last Mary was relieved by the sight of the cart in front of the window.

    "Come, John," said she, "yon's Willie wi' th' cart, sitho.  Let's be goin'."

    "Ay, well," replied the farmer, drinking up his ale, and rising slowly from his seat, "I'm quite willin', my lass; for this cote's gettin' terrible thrang."

    "Come, come, John," cried a stout, middle-aged man, who sat on the opposite side of the room, with a great driving stick in his hand.  "Come!  What! yo'r never gooin' bi now, surely?  Sit yo down, Mary.  Come, John, thou'll have another.  What's o' yo'r hurry?  What! I've as far to go as yo han.  Sit yo down a bit, an' we'n o' go together."

    "Nawe, nawe, Sam," said the farmer's wife.  "Willie's waitin' wi' th' cart, yon, an' we mun be gooin'."

    "Well, let's o' go together."

    "I've no objection, Samuel, if thou'rt ready now; but if thou artn't, we's be like to leave tho beheend."

    "Twothre minutes 'll not mak mich difference."

    "We mun be gooin', my lad.  We'n a lot o' childer waitin' on us, an' thou can shake a loose leg, for thou's nought but thisel'.  Beside, if we wur to wait thy time, Sam, I doubtwe should ha' to wait till mornin'.  So, good neet to tho, Sam.  We's happen get a wap on tho some time to-morn, if thou'rt ony bit like."

    "I shouldn't wonder if yo doan't see me to-neet again, yet, Mary.  But good neet to yo, if yo are for gooin'.  I's be at whoam soon after yo."

    "Thou'll ha' to give o'er cockin' thi little finger, then, Sam," said the farmer, as he moved towards the door.

    "Ay, yo'n had quite enough, Sam.  Come on with us, while it's dayleet, — like a good lad."

    "Nay, I'll just have another, Mary, — an' then."

    "An' then what?" said Mary.

    "Why, — an' then, — another," said the farmer to his wife.

    "I shouldn't wonder but it'll turn out so, John," said Sam, who was already beginning to stammer in his speech.  "I shouldn't wonder but I's end up wi' what th' owd clerk at Waddington co's 'a final gill.'"

    "Ay, that'll be about th' size on't, Sam," replied the farmer.  "An' that 'final gill's' finisht mony a strong chap, Sam.  But thou mun do as weel as thou con; so good neet to tho!"

    "Good neet to yo both, John, an' God bless yo!"
                    .                        .                        .                        .                        .

    "It's a thousan' pities about Sam," said the farmer to his wife, as they went down the lobby.  "I doubt he's just gooin' to end up th' same as his faither did."

    "How so?"

    "Well, his faither begun a-wrostlin' th' champion when he wur a young chap."

    "What champion?"

    "Well, he begun a-drinkin' when he-wur quite yung, an' though he wur as strong a chap as ever stalked Waddin'ton Fell, he deed afore he wur forty-five; an' th' doctors o' said that his liver wur brunt to a cinder, for he'd bin drinkin' brandy at a terrible rate mony a year afore he deed.  An' I doubt Sam's gooin' to end up th' same, bi th' way he's gooin' on.  It's a greight pity; for he's a daicent chap."

    "It is a pity," said the farmer's wife, as they came up to the cart, where her son Willie was standing at the horse's head.  "Now then, Willie," said she, "hasto getten o' th' things into th' cart?"

    "Ay."

    "Where's that can o' traycle?"

    "It's here."

    "Well, thou'd better tee th' lid on wi' a bit o' streng.  I don't want to find th' traycle swimmin' about i'th bottom o'th cart, amung thi faither's new clooas, th' same as it did th' last time. . . . John, hasto a bit o' streng i' thi pocket?  Let him tee th' lid on."

    Willie tied the lid upon the treacle can.

    "Now then," said the farmer, "is o' reet, my lad?"

    "Ay."

    "Then up witho; Mary, an' let's be off."

    "I'll tell tho what, John," said the farmer's wife, looking up at the clear evening sky, "it's a beautiful neet.  I'd as lief walk as ride, if thou will, — an' let him goo on wi' th' cart.  What; it's nobbut about three mile; an' I've bin crampt'n up, first i' one nook, an' then in another nook, o' day, till I feel as if I wanted to stretch my legs a bit.  What saysto?"

    "I'm quite willin', my lass."

    "Well, then, Willie, hie tho whoam wi' th' cart; an' mind how thou taks thoose things out; an' tell our Martha to have a bit o' supper ready in about an hour.  Thi faither an' me's gooin' to walk.  Now don't thee goo an' stop upo' th' road, — that's a good lad."

    Away went Willie with the cart, rattling out at the town end, past the quiet mansion where the two halberts flanked the front door, to show that the mayor of the town dwelt there.

    The farmer's wife watched him till he had turned the corner, and then she said, "What; he'll be at whoam i' twenty minutes, if he keeps on at that rate.  Come on, John; let's be gooin'."

    And away they went, cheek-by-jowl, jogging quietly down the old street, — Mary with a basket on her arm, and the tall, stalwart, staid-looking farmer by her side, with a stout hazel staff in his hand, as fine a specimen of the north-country yeoman as could be met with in a day's march.  And many were the kindly greetings they met with on their way,

    "What, yo'r gooin', John?"

    "Ay, we're off."

    "Well, good neet to yo!"

    "Good neet to thee, Dick!"

    The next was a hale, cheerful old woman, who stood in her open doorway, with spectacles on nose, enjoying the balmy twilight.

    "Never sure!" said she, as the farmer and his wife came down the footpath.  "Never sure!  What's to do that yo'r afoot, John?  I seed Willie go by wi' th' cart, an' I thought to stop him, but he went to fast for me. . . . Well, Mary, an' how are yo?"

    "We're weel an' hearty, Martha, thank yo."

    "Well, an' yo looken so, — both on you, — yo done, for sure; an' I'm fain to see yo. . . . An' how are they o' awhoam?"

    "Well, they ail'n nought, Matty, — thank God for't!  Yo'd think so, too, if you were to see 'em at meal-times."

    "I'm fain to yer it, Mary, — I am for sure.  I like to yer o' folk bein' meat-whole; it's a good sign."

    "Well, I think so, Matty.  An', if yo'n believe me, it does me good to see 'em get their dinners; for if folk connot eat, they connot work, as who they are. . . . An' how's yo'r Abraham gettin' on?"

    "Oh, he's pikein' his crumbs up again, thank you, Mary."

    "Well, we mun be gooin'; so I'll bid yo good neet, Matty!  It's sich a fine neet that our John an' me are gooin' to walk it,"

    "It is a beautiful neet, Mary; an' good neet to yo, — an' God bless yo!"

    And thus exchanging many friendly salutations by the way, the comfortable couple toddled out at the old town end, into the open country, where the shades of twilight were sinking softly upon the quiet fields, and the evening air was sweet with the smell of new hay.  When they had got about a mile and a half on the way, the farmer stopt in front of a pleasant-looking cottage, which stood, half-hidden, in a garden by the roadside, and he said to his wife, "What! we's be like to co' at yo'r Joe's, I guess?"

    "Well, I want to be gettin' whoam; but we'd happen better just look in, or else they'n think it strange.  But don't let Joseph persuade tho to stop, now; for if thee an' him gets sit down together, there's no stirrin' yo."

    "I'll be ready as soon as thou's done talkin' wi' Sarah, — and yonder hoo is i'th durhole, sitho, — waitin' on us!"  Joseph was brother to the farmer's wife, and Sarah, who stood in the doorway, was Joseph's wife.

    "Well, if ever!" cried she, spreading her hands as the farmer and his wife came up the garden walk.  "Well, if ever!  Wonders never cease!  Whatever's come'd o'th cart?  Han yo bin upset or some'at?"

    "Nawe," replied the farmer.  "There's nought wrang, Sally.  My wife an' me han walked up, as it's sich a fine neet; an' we sent Willie on wi' th' cart. . . . Where's that chap o' thine?"

    "Yo'n find him i'th corner theer, John.  In wi' yo. . . . Well, Mary, an' how are yo?  Come for'ad, an' tak yo'r things off; an' I'll put th' kettle on."

    "Thou doesn't need to put no kettles on, Sally, for our supper's waitin' on us, an we're not gooin' to stop mony minutes."

    "Well, bless mi life! tak yo'r things off while yo stoppen! . . . Now, John, mak yorsel' a-whoam.  Yo seen what there is upo' th' table. . . . Mary, come into this tother room a minute, I want to speighk to yo."
                    .                        .                        .                        .                        .

    The farmer and old Joe were now left to themselves, sitting opposite one another, each with his glass and his pipe.

    "Well, John," said Joe, "has there bin aught stirrin' i'th town to-day?"

    "Nawe.  A poor market, — very.  If I wur about ten year yunger, Joe, I'd farm no moore lond i' this country, — unless it wur mi own."

    "Rents mun cum down, John."

    "Ay; but farmers 'll ha' to come down first."

    "I dar say. . . . Why, owd Bill Sprowell's wife's deeod!"

    "Ay; an' th' owd lad wouldn't let 'em bury her for mony a day.  He kept sayin', 'Let her stop a bit!  Let her stop!  I'm determin't to ha' one quiet week wi' her, as how 'tis, — afore we parten!' . . . This is a saup o' very good whisky, Joe," continued he.  "Very good it is.  Wheer doesto get it fro'?"

    "I get it fro' Manchester," replied Joe.  "What a terrible shop Manchester is for drinkin'," continued he.  "I wur theer about a month sin', at th' cattle market, an' I had to goo into one o' thoose starin', flarin' ginshops, to look after a butcher that I'd had some truck wi'; an' while I wur theer I seed as sickly a bit o' brokken-down town life as ever I claps een on.  While I wur loungin' about th' counter, waitin' for this butcher, there wur a greight, fat, dirty, red-faced woman coom staggerin' in at th' dur-hole, wi' a little, wizzent, quiet-lookin' chap beheend her, with a face as white as a sheet.  Afore hoo could get gradely into th' place, down hoo went upo' th' floor; an' as this little chap helped her up again, hoo looked round, an' hoo said, 'I'm trouble't wi' th' rheumatics.  This is my husban'.  I'm come to tak care on him.  He's a jobber in a factory, but he's bin out o' wark.  John, goo an' sit tho down,' — an' th' little tatter't divvel went an' set down i'th nook as quiet as an owd sheep.  'Maister,' said hoo to th' chap at counter, 'gi' me a glass o' rum!'  Th' chap gav' her th' rum, an' said, 'What's he to have?'  'Who? — our John?  Oh, give him a bottle o' pop, — he's had enough!  John, thou mun have a bottle o' pop.  Thou connot ston' mich drink, — it gets into thi yed so! . . . He's my husban', maister; an' I like him as weel as ony I've tried yet! '  'Why, how mony han yo had?'  'I've had three afore him; an' if he dees I'll have another!'"

    Here the farmer's wife and her sister-in-law came in from the next room.

    "Come, John," said the farmer's wife, "let's be gooin'!  Yon supper 'll be waitin' for us; an' it'll take us hauve an hour to get up th' broo! . . . Well, good neet, Joseph!  Good neet, Sarah!  We's see yo o' Sunday, again, if o's weel!"

    "Good neet to yo both!  Yo'n have a nice walk, for it's a lovely neet!"



[Owd Mally's Cart]

 


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