Dingle Cottage I.

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DINGLE COTTAGE



DINGLE COTTAGE was pretty, unique, and, more than all, decidedly old-fashioned.  It stood some fifty or sixty yards from the main road, the intervening space consisting of a well-kept garden, with a few fruit trees of the larger species scattered over the plot in a zig-zag fashion, the whole being surrounded by a tall, thick hawthorn hedge.

Dingle Cottage was not only unique and pretty, but was substantially built, the thickness of its walls suggesting a time when material was cheap and wages low.  The low thatched roof told of days when slates and tiles were regarded, figuratively speaking, as a luxury in the building of cottage property; the small window casements, with their leaden frames and little diamond panes, speaking of a time when access of light to a room was at a premium; the thick oaken batten door, with its wooden sneck, brought to mind the good old days when panel doors and brass knockers were not to be reckoned in the erection of a cottage.  At the gable a veteran holly, with knotted trunk and twisted branches, grew in close proximity to a massive elder, still in bloom, although portions of its trunk were fast decaying; the broad-leaved ivy, which clung tenaciously and covered the greater part of the front of the cottage, formed a striking contrast to the Gloire de Dijon, with its half-opened buds and creamed-coloured roses.  The swallows and starlings paid their visits annually, and reared their brood in safety.  It was an ideal spot, and was the object of many a snap-shot by the amateur photographer.

One summer evening two old cronies might have been seen seated, smoking and enjoying the cool of the evening in the garden at Dingle Cottage, both, to all appearances, having passed the allotted time of three score years and ten, but both still looking hale and strong for their years.

The day had been a sad one for the tenant of Dingle Cottage, for another of the old stock had that day been laid low.  The more robust and stouter built of the two was the tenant of the cottage, and was known to his neighbours as “Owd Tum.”  He was a superannuated miner, having worked for upwards of forty years in the local colliery, and had been for the greater portion of that time under-manager.



Old Tom’s companion was some two or three years younger, and could almost be considered a stranger to the village, as he had passed most of his life in the wilds of the bush in South Australia, his parents having emigrated from the village when he was young.  He had led an arduous and adventurous life, first as a rough rider, then a gold miner for several years, and when past the prime of life he embarked in the perilous and fluctuating business of sheep-farming.  But with old age came physical infirmity, so there is little wonder that a yearning desire came over him to visit once more the old country, and look with agèd and longing eyes upon the scenes of his boyhood, and perchance shake by the hand some old veteran of the village whom he had known as a boy, but not seen for more than half a century.  Being a bachelor, with no ties of blood, there was nothing to prevent him from carrying out his wish.  Thus we find him an eager listener, whilst Old Tom is relating to him events that had taken place in the village whilst he had been roughing it abroad.

At last Old Tom broke the silence.  After knocking the ashes from his pipe, and laying it carefully upon the seat beside him, he said:

“It’s no use talkin’, he wer’ born to trouble, wer’ Nathan.  He had for t’ goo throo’ it, mon.  It followed him at every turn, like a dog after a rappit.  Turn whichever road he would, it wer’ sure for t’ o’ertak’ him, an’ theau knows it wer’ no’ his own bringin’ on noather, for a better-hearted or a more even-tempered chap aw ne’er knowed i’ o’ mi life.

“When he wer’ abeawt seven yer owd his feyther geet kilt i’ th’ pit, and in less nor two yer ’at after his mother deed, an’ little Nathan wer’ honded, o’er to a distant relation ’at folk co’ed ‘Owd Bogey,’ ’at lived in a ramshackle owd heawse ’at had once bin a little farm an’ beside keepin’ two or three keaws, him an’ th’ wife had two looms set up for wayvin’.  Well, theau knows, Bill, this relation an’ his witch of a wife — ’at folk used to co’ ‘Owd Skin-flint — welly worked little Nathan to deeoth, for they made him wind bobbins o’ day, an’ every oft till late on i’ th’ neet, an’ then he had for t’ help Bogey wi’ his wark wi’ th’ shippon, till, what wi’ bein’ powfagged an’ o’erworked wi’ these two, an’ frettin’ abeaut his feyther an’ mother, th’ lad hadno’ a bit o’ heart laft in him.  Everybody wer’ sorry for little Nathan, an’ th’ neybours used to talk amung thersel’s, but they darsna’ interfere for fear it ’d mak’ things wur’ for Nathan.

“Well, at last he geet owd enoof to go deawn i’ th’ pit, but he wer’ so weak wi’ bein’ powfagged ’at he wer’ fit for nowt; but Owd Ned wer’ very good, an’ he used to let t’other lads help him eawt wi’ his wark.  Anybody i’ th’ pit would ha’ done owt for little Nathan, he wer’ so quiet an’ harmless.  Aw coom across him once or twice i’ th’ dinner heawer, ceawered bi hissel’, skrikin’, an’ when aw axed him what he wer’ skrikin’ for, he looked up so pitiful, an’ towd me ’at he wer’ thinkin’ abeawt his mother.

“Well, theau knows, time went on, an’ Nathan wer’ happen sixteen or seventeen yer owd, when Owd Ned, th’ manager, had a bit o’ quiet talk wi’ one o’ th’ mesters abeawt Nathan, an’ th’ eend o’ this wer’ ’at Nathan wer’ ta’en eawt o’ th’ pit an’ set on to look after a pony ’at th’ mesters kept for drivin’ abeawt, an’ fillin’ up his time doin’ odd jobs abeawt th’ garden.  Well, theau knows, Bill, when th’ owd missis geet to know abeawt Nathan — good soul ’at hoo wer’ — hoo towd Nathan ’at he wer’ to have his meals i’ th’ kitchen wi’ t’other sarvants; an’, bi th’ good katty, mon, it soon towd a tale, for in less nor twelve month he’d grown abeawt a stone i’ weight, made up to one o’ th’ sarvants, an’ went abeawt whistlin’ like a throstle.  Then he begun to taitch a class i’ th’ chapel skoo’, an’ took to playin’ th’ bassoon i’ th’ band, an’ when he wer’ eighteen or nineteen yer owd he wer’ as fine a lad as ther’ wer’ i’ th’ village.

“Well, one neet aw co’ed for Nathan — aw wer’ playin’ second trombone, an’ Nathan played th’ bassoon, an’ it wer’ practice neet — aw seed ’at things wer’ no’ reet someheaw, for booath Bogey an’ th’ wife looked as sour as a churn o’ buttermilk.  Well, Bill, it seems ’at Nathan ’ad bin savin’ up a lung time for t’ beigh a nice tombstone for his feyther’s an’ mother’s grave, an’ he’d done this job very quietly, beawt sayin’ a word to a livin’ soul till it wer’ fixed up an’ nicely planted reawnd wi’ stocks an’ wallflowers, an’ a nice border o’ forget-me-nots.  When th’ naybours seed what th’ lad ’ad done they talked a good deeal, an said heaw weel th’ lad wer’ turnin’ eawt, considerin’ heaw he’d bin powfagged an’ knocked abeawt wi’ Bogey an’ th’ wife; an’ aw con tell thi’, Bill, ther’ wer’ mony a quiet tear dropt on that grave after this stone wer’ fixed bi thoose ‘at ’ad known Nathan’s feyther an’ mother.

“Well, this neet booath Bogey an’ th’ wife wer’ gradely peevish an’ nowt, and at last Bogey coom close to wheer Nathan wer’ sit havin’ his baggin’, an’ said:

“Wheer doesta reckon theau’s getten th’ brass fro’ for t’ beigh yon stone?  Hasta bin robbin’ somebody?  Come, eawt wi’ it, an’ let’s bi knowin’; aw’ll ha’ no disgrace browt into my heawse if aw know it.’

“Aw could see Nathan change colour, but he neer spoke.

“‘Dost yer,’ sheawted Bogey; ‘wheer did th’ brass coom fro’?  Aw reckon thee un yon hussy ov a sarvant’s managed it between yo’.  Ther’ll bi somebody locked up afore lung, aw reckon o’ nowt else.’

“Just yo’ look here,’ said Nathan, jumpin’ to his feet, ‘ yo’ can say what yo’ like abeawt me, but dunno’ yo’ say owt wrung abeawt her, becose aw winno’ stond it.’

“‘Winno’ theau stond it?’ said Bogey; ‘well, just let mi tell thi ’as hoo’s no good, nor thee noather, an’ the feyther wer’ no good nor thi’ mother noather.’

“He’d hardly getten th’ words eawt o’ his meawth afore Nathan made a spring, an’ grabbed him bi th’ throat wi’ one hont an’ pummelled into his yed an’ face wi’ t’other.  Bi th’ mass, Bill, it coom deawn abeawt a hawve-dozen times like a sledge hommer.  Well, theau knows, while Nathan wer’ seawsin’ Bogey’s yed an’ face, Bogey wer’ busy rattlin’ away at Nathan’s shins wi’ his clogs.  At last Nathan leet lose o’ Bogey, an’ catched him a whizzin’ cleawt ’at knocked him two or three yards.  Well, when th’ wife seed ’at Bogey wer’ gettin’ th’ worst o’ th’ do, hoo coom between ’em just as Bogey wer’ makin’ a lungin’ punce at Nathan’s shins, an’ hoo wer’ just in time to catch a gradely stingin’ cleawt straight between th’ e’en ’at wer’ meant for Bogey.  Bi th’ mass, Bill, that cleawt settled ’em booath.  They thowt he’d gone mad, an’, bi th’ good katty, aw thowt so mysel’, for aw ne’er seed anybody i’ sich a temper sin’ aw wer’ wick.  At last Bogey banged into th’ loom-heawse an’ barred th’ dur, an’ th’ wife bowted eawt an’ hud hersel’ i’ th’ shippon.

“Well, theau knows, when these two had getten eawt o’ Nathan’s raitch, he stood for two or three minits like somebody waken’d eawt ov a dream; his face went very white, an’ aw seed his honds tremble an’ his lips twitch a bit.  He wer’ fast coolin’ deawn eawt ov his temper.  At last he fixed his e’en on a little likeness ov his mother, which he took fro’ th’ wo’ very gently, his two honds tremblin’ o’ th’ time.  He looked at it for abeawt hawve a minit, an’ aw could see tears comin’ i’ th’ poor lad’s e’en.  Then he put it gently in his jacket pocket, an’, takin’ his cap off a cheer back, he walked quietly eawt o’th heawse wi’ his face turned away fro’ me, so ’at aw couldna’ see ’at he wer’ skrikin’.  Aw leet him get a piece deawn th’ lone, an’ then aw followed him, thinkin’ aw happen could console him a bit; but afore aw catched up to him he made straight for th’ churchyard, an’ theer th’ poor lad stood, wi’ his cap i’ one hont an’ his other arm restin’ on th’ top o’ this stone ’at he’d bowt an’ ’ad fixed up to th’ memory ov his feyther an’ mother, ’at ’ad bin deead an’ buried aboon ten ye’r.

“Aw stood watchin’ him for abeawt ten minits, then aw walked quietly up to him, an’ layin’ mi hont gently on his shoother, aw said:

“‘Nathan, wilt come wi’ me to eawr heawse, an’ try an’ ate a bit o’ baggin’?  Come, Nathan,’ aw said, ‘come an’ sleep wi me to-neet.  Theau’ll happen feel better i’th’ mornin’.’

“He looked up so pitiful, an’ said:

“Aw darno,’ Tum; aw’st bi locked up to-neet for what aw’ve done, an’ aw wouldna’ like to be ta’en throo’ th’ village wi’ a cunsable, mon; it ’ud kill mi.  Aw know ‘at they’ll ha’ mi locked up,’ he said, ‘an’ aw’d rayther bi ta’en wheer nobody knows mi — aw shouldna’ feel it quite as bad.’

“Bi th’ mass, th’ lad wer’ reet; aw neer thowt o’ that.

“‘Aw neer thowt,’ he said, lookin’ at th’ stone, ‘’at when aw wer’ savin’ up for this stone ’at it’d come to this turn.  It took mi four yer to pay for it, an’ it wer’ sich a pleasure, mon, aw thowt ’at seein’ they wer’ related ’at they’d bi so fain.’

“He didna’ spake for two or three minits.  At last he said:

“‘Tum, aw want thi to do mi a favour.  Aw want thi to promise me ’at theau’ll tak’ my class while aw’m away.  Aw wouldna’ like one o’ yon lads for t’ leeove.  Ther’ gettin’ on so weel, an’ aw’m gradely fond on ’em.  Awst happen noan be away so lung, an’ when aw’ve paid th’ penalty for what aw’ve done to-neet, aw’ll tak’ it ogen; that is, if th’ parson’ll let mi.  This ’d ne’er ha’ happened if he hadna’ said what he did abeawt mi mother.’

“Well, Bill, that last word ‘mother’ seemed to choke him, for it gradely broke him down, an’ he sobbed like a choilt.  At last he coom reawnd.

“‘Tum,’ he said, gettin’ howd on mi hont, ‘we’n bin friends a good while.  Look weel after yon lads, ’specially th’ little uns,’ an’ givin’ mi hont a good shake, he said, ‘Good-neet, an’ God bless thi,’ an’ he walked deawn th’ lone as slow an’ as sad as if he’d bin at a berryin’.

“Well, Bill, aw ne’er slept a wink o’ that neet.  Aw’d no sooner getten i’ bed than a thowt struck mi ’at happen he’d gone away beawt brass.  Then aw geet it into mi yed ’at happen he’d do summat wi’ hissel’, for th’ lad wer’ gradely heart-broken.

When aw went to mi wark next mornin’ aw felt gradely badly, an’ aw looked badly, too, for Owd Ned axed mi a time or two if aw werno’ so weel.  At last aw towd him an’ two or three moor o’ abeawt this job o’ Nathan’s.  Well, Bill, if theau’d yerd Owd Ned an’ t’other chaps coss an’ swear!  By gow, mon, they fair made mi swet.

“Well, sure enoof, th’ mornin’ after this do, Bogey an’ the wife went an’ geet eawt a warrant for Nathan.  Aw believe Bogey’s face wer’ an’ awful seet, an’ one o’th’ wife’s e’en wer’ as black as ap lump o’ coal.  Aw wer’ just sittin’ deawn to mi baggin’ — aw’d bin so mitch put abeawt, ’at I’d etten nowt o’ that day — when who should come marchin’ up throo th’ garden but Owd Jonothan, the constable.  He beckoned mi eawt i’ th’ garden, an’ then he axed mi o’ abeawt this do wi’ Nathan an’ Bogey.  So aw up an’ towd him o’ abeawt it, reet up to th’ minit ’at Nathan laft mi i’th’ churchyard.

“‘Well, Tum,’ he said, ‘aw winno’ goo two yard to look for Nathan, an’ if Bogey wants mi to lock Nathan up he’ll have to catch him hissel’ an’ fotch him to eawr heawse.  An’ as for Bogey an’ th’ wife, they’ll bi very lucky if they getten throo this beawt bein’ oather lawmt or summat.  Aw’m doin’ o’ ’at aw con to keep folk quiet, but ther’s a lot o’ mischief brewin’, aw con tell thi.  Aw believe ’at they’re gooin’ to brun the’r images.’  An’ wi’ that he bid mi good-neet.

“Well, sure enoof, two or three neets after, Bogey’s image an’ th’ wife’s an’ o’ wer’ carted up to th’ front o’ Bogey’s heawse in Owd Jerry’s donkey cart.  Ther’ wer’ scores o’ folk coom a-watchin’ these images brunt.  Bogey wer’ cussin’ an’ swearin’ throo th’ chamber window.  He swore he’d fotch ’em o’ a summons if they didna’ goo away.  Well, at last they set these images o’ feigher while Bogey wer’ cussin’ like a trooper.

“In a bit ther’ coom a bang an’ a rattle i’ Bogey’s heawse like a hawve a dozen guns gooin’ off o’ at once.  Th’ windows rattled an’ shook.  Some on ’em wer’ smashed.  O’ th’ feigher ’at wer’ i’ th’ grate flew o’ throo th’ heawse.  Bogey flew down th’ stairs.  He thowt th’ heawse wer’ comin’ deawn, an’ th’ folk scuttert off whoam for the’r lives.  Mon, nobody knowed what it wer’, nor what wer’ comin’ next.  Owd Jerry’s donkey wer’ never known to trot afore, but it galloped that neet for th’ fost time in it life, an’ it ne’er stopt till it geet to th’ stable dur.  Folk said it wer’ a judgment on Bogey an’ th’ wife for th’ way ’at they’d used poor Nathan.

“Two or three days after, one o’ th’ lads ’at worked i’ th’ pit coom thungin’ at Owd Jonathan’s dur abeawt four o’clock i’ th’ mornin’, an’ he towd Jonathan ’at Bogey’s keaws ’ad knocked some rails deawn, an’ getten i’ th’ mester’s clover field.  An’ in abeawt hawve an heawr Owd Jonathan wer’ drivin’ these keaws to th’ pin fowt.

“When Nathan ’ad bin missin’ for nine or ten days, folk gan up o’ hope o’ ever seein’ him ogen alive.  They expected he’d bi fun dreawnt, an’ aw thowt so mysel’.  He wer’ so terribly feart o’ bein’ locked up.

“Just abeawt this time th’ band wer’ havin’ a concert for t’ raise a bit o’ brass, an’ Nathan ’ad bin missin’ abeawt three week.  It wer’ Setterday neet, an’ th’ room wer’ nicely filled, an’ the folk ’ad getten sattled an’ waitin’.  Th’ band chaps wer’ o’ on th’ platform.  They’d o’ getten the’r instruments tuned up, an’ they wer’ ready to oppen th’ concert.  It had getten a quarter ov an heawer past time o’ startin’, an’ th’ parson hadno’ turned up for t’ tak’ th’ cheer.  Th’ folk wer’ gettin’ a bit impatient, when at last ther’ wer’ a bit ov a clap coom fro’ th’ bottom eend o’ th’ room close to th’ dur, an’ th’ parson coom walkin’ straight throo th’ room to th’ platform.  Aw could see ’at he looked a bit queer an’ fluttered as he geet howd o’ th’ programme fro’ th’ top o’ th’ desk, an’ after he’d twisted an’ turned it reawnd a time or two, he put it back on th’ desk beawt lookin’ at it.

“Well, Bill, aw’st ne’er forget th’ smile ’at coom o’er that good owd mon’s face, an’ heaw his voice trembled when he said heaw fain he wer’ to tell us ’at Nathan Schofield wer’ alive an’ doin’ weel.  He’d hardly getten th’ words eawt o’ his meawth afore Billy Sikes jumped up an’ sheawted eawt —

“‘Halleluia!  Halleluia!’

“Well, Bill, ther’ wer’ ‘Praise the Lord,’ ‘Glory be to God, ’an’ ‘Halleluia’ coom fro’ every part o’ th’ room, an’ they didna’ whisper, aw con tell thi.  They coom fro’ gradely owd Ranters, an’ theau knows Ranters didna’ whisper at ther’ meetings i’ thoose days.

“Well, while this wer gooin’ on, Owd Isaac, ’at wer’ th’ leader o’ th’ band, geet on his feet, an’ wi’ tears tricklin’ deawn his cheeks he started playin’ th’ Doxology, an’ t’other band chaps followed, an’ every livin’ soul i’ that place stood up an’ sung ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow,’ tears rollin’ deawn th’ cheeks o’ booath owd an’ yung.  Ther’ wer’ no concert: folk wanted noan.  It wer’ worth twenty concerts just to know Nathan wer’ alive.

“I’ less nor two minits after th’ Doxology wer’ sung, th’ room wer’ hawve empty.  Th’ yunger eend ’ad scuttered off to tell thoose ’at didna’ know th’ good news.  One yung rascal went puncin’ at Owd Bogey’s dur, an’ when Bogey an’ th’ wife coom, he towd ’em’ at they’d fun Nathan.

“‘Dreawnt?’ sheawted Bogey, gooin’ as white as a sheet.

“‘Dreawnt!’ said th’ lad; ‘nawe, he’s noan dreawnt; he’s booath wick an’ weel, an’ hawve road to America neaw.  So thi bloomin’ owd warrant’s no good.’  Then th’ lyin’ little rascal scuttert off, an’ laft Bogey cussin’ an’ swearin’ ut he’d have Nathan ta’en if he had to sell every keaw ’at he had i’ th’ shippon.”


――――♦――――


CHAPTER II.


THE night following Old Tom’s recital of Nathan’s trouble, these two old cronies might have been seen plodding their way through the bracken and underwood that grew in great profusion in the clough near Dingle Cottage. Old Tom was labouring up the steep towards his house with a small bundle of nettles, his companion following close behind with a still smaller bundle of comfit and dandelion, for the purpose of brewing what their neighbours chose to call “smo’ drink.”

“Theer,” said Old Tom, dropping his bundle of nettles, and wiping the sweat from his forehead; “aw think we’st ha’ to bate, Bill. Aw’ve seen th’ time aw could ha’ wipt up th’ side o’ this cloof fro’ th’ bruck deawn at bottom straight to th’ top beawt turnin’ a yure.”

The two old cronies sat themselves down amongst the fern and bracken to rest and smoke, and enjoy the beauties of nature spread out before them.

“Aw’ll tell thi what, Bill,” said Old Tom, after a minute’s silence, “there’s some rare music, mon, i’ this cloof.  Aw wonder at some folk botherin’ an’ welly brakin’ ther necks to pay their shillin’s an’ hawve-creawns to yer these fine singers.  Aw dar’ stake mi life ’at ther isno’ one i’th’ lot ’at con sing owt like yon throstle ’at’s singin’ sweet i’ yon holly bush.  Dosta know, Bill, ther’s bin a neest o’ yung throstles booath hatched an’ reared i’ yon holly bush every summer for aboon a dozen yer?  An’ just yer heaw sweet yon blackbrid whistles — its just like a flute.  It’s grand, mon, to sit here an’ yer o’ this fine music fro’ th’ layrocks an’ th’ throstles, an’ th’ blackbrids an’ o’ tother brids.  An’ dosta know, Bill, o’ these brids are mine an’ thine an’ everybody’s?  They dunno’ belong to a limited consarn: everybody livin’ has a equal share.

“Aw’ve often thowt, mon, heaw thowtful God wer to mak’ o’ these sweet singers so little.  If he’d made ‘em big uns like th’ greawse an’ th’ patridges an’ pheasants, ’o ther grand singin’ ’ud o’ gone for nowt.  They’d o’ ha’ bin shot an’ cooked an’ etten i’ spite of o’ ther fine music.  Ther’s another thing ’at seems very queer to me: o’ th’ brids’ ’at come skulkin’ abeawt this cloof ’at dunno’ sing a single note are nowt o’ no good.  Just look at th’ owls, an’ th’ kestrels, an’ t’other mak’ o’ hawks; they do nowt nobbo’ plunder abeawt i’th’ neet time, killin’ an’ atin t’other yung brids; an’ when o’ t’other little brids are singin’ an’ feeding the’r yung i’th’ daytime, these idle skulkin’ thieves are fast asleep.”

Silence followed Old Bill’s speech, and for some time each seemed to be in a mood for reflection.  Both being thorough lovers of nature from their boyhood, the scene that spread itself out before them had many charms that might easily have been passed unnoticed by a casual observer.  The rippling of the brook in the valley below, the singing of the birds, the perfume from the blossom on the hawthorn and wild crab tree, the glorious sunset, and the stillness of the night afforded them a source of pleasure only known to lovers of nature who have been born and reared amidst rural surroundings.

“Aw’ll tell thi what, Bill,” said Old Tom, “if aw wer a bettin’ chap, aw’d back this cloof ogen th’ best laid eawt gardens ther is for miles reawnd.  Just look at yon bonk covered o’ o’er wi’ bluebells and yung foxgloves.  An’ look heaw green thoose ferns are deawn bi th’ side o’th’ bruck; an’ then look at yon hawthorn edge: it’s just like a sheet o’ snow wi’ blossom.  Ther’s nowt smells sweeter nor hawthorn when it’s i’ bloom, specially after a sope o’ rain.  An’ then ther’s yon sycamore an’ two chestnuts, at th’ top o’ th’ bonk: why, mon, when aw wer a lad they didna’ look mitch thicker reawnd nor a clooas prop, an’ look at’em neaw — they’re just i’ ther prime.  It does seem queer, Bill, while thee an’ me are groon booath owd an’ grey, an’ wizzent, ’at these trees should be just as green an’ as fresh lookin’ as they were fifty years ,sin’.”

“It’s queer enoof,” said Bill; “it’s happen becose they’re asleep o’ throo th’ winter, while th’ likes o’ thee an’ me han to slave o’ th’ yer reawnd just for a bare

“Nay, Bill, it conno’ bi that.  Look at thoose folk ’at are born weel off, an’ dunno’ know what wark is.  They dunno’ seem to live any lunger nor thee an’ me, ’ats had to work as lung as God gan us strength.  It does seem strange, Bill, but aw dunno’ think ’at workin’ mak’s one look ony owder nor dee any sooner.  It’s worry an’ trouble, mon, ’at does th’ job; specially that mak’ o’ trouble one hasno’ browt on thersel’.  It seems to follow some folk fro’ th’ minnit ’at they open their een i’ this world till they’re carried an’ laid wheer trouble an’ misfortin’ con noather hurt nor harm ’em.  Just look at poor Nathan ’at aw wer tellin’ thi abeawt last neet.  It seemed to meet him at every turn.  He wer no sooner eawt o’ one trouble but ther wer another waitin’ for him; but aw mun tell thi neaw heaw he geet cleon away eawt o’ th’ village beawt bein’ taen wi’ this ere warrant.

“It wer nobbo’ likely, theau knows, ’at th’ lad should co’ an’ bid this sarvant lass good-bye afore he went away.  So he went potterin’ abeawt th’ garden till hoo seed him, an’ then theau may bet it werno’ lung afoor hoo wer wi’ him i’th’ garden.  Well, Nathan towd her o’ abeawt this bother he’d had wi’ Bogey an’ heaw feart he wer o’ bein’ locked up; an’ when he towd her he wer going away, th’ lass begun o’ skrikin’. Well, just as Nathan wer biddin’ th’ lass good-bye, who should come i’th’ garden but th’ owd misses, an’ when hoo seed th’ lass skrikin’, an’ heaw put abeawt Nathan wer, hoo would know what it wer o’ abeawt. So Nathan told her o’ abeawt it. Then he had to go i’th’ heawse an’ tell his tale o’er ogen to th’ mester, an’ aw believe th’ owd mester cussed an’ coed booath Bogey an’ th’ wife to ill to brun.

“Well, Nathan wer kept two or three days i’th’ heawse beawt anybody seein’ him nobbo’ th’ mester an’ th’ missus an’ this sarvant lass, an’ when o’ th’ folk in th’ village wer i’ bed one neet th’ mester drove Nathan to th’ station, an’ gan him a letter an’ sent him to th’ manager of a pit i’ Yorkshire, an’ in abeawt six months this lass followed him, an’ aw believe they werno’ lung afore they wer wed.

‘Well, Bill, th’ mornin’ after this do at th’ chapel what aw wer tellin’ thi abeawt last neet, aw started off to tak’ Nathan’s class wi’ a heart as leet as a layrock. It wer a grand mornin — th’ sun wer shinin’ an’ th’ brids, wer’ singin’; th’ hay i’ th’ meadows wer dreigh an’ ready for heawsin’, an’ it smelled as sweet as a posey. Ther wer one o’ two layrocks singin’ eawt as if they’d split ther little throats; th’ blackbrids an’ th’ throstles wer pipin’ eawt i’ this very cloof as if they wer whistlin’ for a wager.

“Aw stood for abeawt ten minits watchin’ th’ bees an’ th’ buzzarts buzzin’ an’ flyin’ abeawt i’ th’ very garden wheer wi’ wer sit last neet; an’ look which ever road aw would everything aw booath seed un yerd seemed to me i’th’ spring-time o’ life.

“At last aw started off to skoo’ wi’ a heart as leet as a layrock, an’ aw kept hummin’ o’er fost one an’ then another o’ Wesley’s hymns till aw geet reet to th’ skoo’ dur.

“When aw geet inside, aw fun’ at everyone o’ th’ lads had turned up.  Aw could yer some whisperin’ gooin’ on, an’ aw noticed ’at it stopped o’ at once, an’ aw’d hardly taen mi place at th’ yed o’th’ class afore these lads begun o’ axin’ mi o’ mak o’ questions.  Did aw know wheer Nathan wer?  Heaw lung did aw think it ud be afore he coom back?  If they wrote him a letter, did aw think he’d get it?  Did aw think things could be made reet wi’ Bogey an’ th’ wife if they sattled wi’ th’ doctor an’ paid for th’ warrant?  If aw did they’d o’ bi so mitch a-piece, an’ if that werno’ enoof they’d some brass belungin’ th’ cricket club, — they’d gi’ that an’ o’.

“Well, Bill, tears coom in mi een when aw yerd these ads talk like that, an’ aw didna’ wonder abeawt Nathan bein’ so fond o’ these lads; an’ when aw thowt heaw he’d won ther yung hearts wi’ his simple love an’ kindness, her wer a kindly sort o’ a feeling coom into mi heart ’at aw’d ne’er felt afore.  It wer o’ reet, theau knows, as lung as aw didna think abeawt Bogey, but th’ minit he crossed mi mind th’ devil crept into mi heart, an’ then aw thowt o’ th’ last hawve heawr aw had wi’ Nathan i’th’ churchyard, an’ good Sunday mornin’ as it wer’, aw felt as if aw could ha’ gone straight eawt o’th’ skoo an’ punced Bogey twice reawnd th’ biggest fielt ’at ther wer i’th’ parish.

“Well, Bill, ther wer one o’ these lads i’ Nathan’s class coed Rondle.  He’d happen be abeawt fifteen or sixteen yer owd.  His mother died when he wer abeawt ten yer owd, an’ his feyther run away an’ laft him soon after, so ther wer nowt laft for th’ lad but th’ warkheawse till he wer owd enoof to go deawn th’ pit.  Nathan wer’ gradely fond o’ this lad, an’ th’ lad wer fond o’ Nathan, an’ no wonder, as th’ lad wer like hissel, laft beawt oather feyther or mother.  He wer a quiet, dacent, an’ as simple-lookin’ a lad as one met wish to see.

“Well, this Sunday mornin’, when o’ t’other lads wer so anxious abeawt Nathin an’ axin’ o’ mak o’ questions, this lad Rondle ne’er spoke a single word, an’ when it coom his turn to read a verse he had to be towd which it wer.  He wer th’ same ogen i’th’ afternoon, an’ aw could see plain enoof th’ lad had summat on his mind.

“When th’ skoo wer o’er i’th’ afternoon, he coom up to me when aw wer bi mysel, an’ he axed me if he could come to eawr heawse when th’ chapel wer o’er, as he said he had summat to tell mi; so aw towd him he could.  Aw hung abeawt th’ garden after th’ chapel wer o’er till Rondle coom, an’ then aw took him i’th’ green heawse, wheer aw thowt wi could be quiet.

“‘Neaw, Rondle,’ aw said, when we’d getten sit deawn, ‘what is it ’at theau’s getten to tell mi?’  An’ aw spoke quite cheerful, theau knows, Bill, just to encourage th’ lad.

“He didna spake for abeawt a minit, an he kept his yed turned as if he couldna’ look me i’th’ face.  At last he wiped his jacket sleeve across his een, an’ then he up an’ towd mi ’at it wer him ’at caused th’ explosion i’ Bogey’s heawse.

“Aw thowt aw should ha’ dropt, mon, when he towd mi heaw he geet a little cob o’ coal, an’ drilled into it wi’ a little drill, ’at he’d browt eawt o’th’ pit, an’ heaw he geet some pewther eawt ov Owd Nudger’s flask, an’ crommed it into th’ hole an’ daubed it o’er wi’ clay; an’ when Nudger an’ th’ wife wer booath asleep he crope eawt o’th’ heawse, an put it on a rook o’ coal at Bogey’s back dur.

“‘Rondle,’ aw said; ‘an’, theau knows, Bill, aw tried to look vexed, ‘theau’s done wrung; theau met ha’ kilt booath Bogey an’ th’ wife.  Neaw, Rondle,’ aw said, ‘just tell mi true, hasta’ done owt else?’

“Well, Tum,’ he said, ‘it wer me ’at pood thoose rails deawn an leet Bogey’s keaws in th’ mester’s clover fielt.’

“‘Aw waited till Nudger an’ th’ wife wer asleep, an’ then aw crope eawt o’th’ back dur.  Tum,’ he said, an’ he sobbed loike a choilt, ‘let’s thank God ’at it’s no wer.  To tell th’ truth, if they’d fun Nathan dreawnt like mooast folk thowt he wer, aw’d made up mi mind to lunge Bogey.’

“Well, Bill, aw fair swet while he wer tellin’ mi o’ this.  Wi noather ov us spoke for abeawt a minit.  At last aw said:

“‘Rondle, Nathan would be sorry if he knowed what theau’d done.’

“‘Well,’ he said, between his sobs, ‘Bogey shouldna’ ha’ punced Nathan’s shins, an’ said what he did abeawt his mother.

“‘Tum,’ he said, ‘aw’m goin’ away fro’ here, an’ aw want thi to do me a favour.  Wilta’ let me tak’ Nathan’s bassoon wi’ mi when aw goo?’

“Aw said, ‘Why, Rondle, lad, if theau wer to go an’ ax Bogey for Nathan’s bassoon, he’d punce thi till theau couldna’ stir.’

“He looked at mi wi’ his little twinklin’ een for abeawt heawve a minit, an’ aw could see a bit o’ a smile comin’ o’er his face as he said:

“‘Bogey hasna’ getten it; aw seed it i’th’ window bottom when aw went across for milk, an’ booath Bogey an’ th’ wife wer i’th’ shippon milkin’.  So aw put it under some fayberry bushes i’th’ garden, an’ that neet when aw leet Bogey’s keaws into th’ mester’s clover fielt aw browt it whoam.’

“Well, Bill, aw looked at him wi’ his simple lookin’ face, an’ aw begun to wonder if th’ lad wer gradely reet.

“‘Tum,’ he said, ‘aw’m going away next week-eend, but aw couldna’ go beawt tellin’ thi what aw’d done. Aw conno’ stop here neaw Nathan’s gone.  It wer him ’at kept mi reet, but he’s gone neaw an’ aw’ve no feyther nor mother like t’other lads; they’n getten their brothers an’ sisters to talk to when they come whoam at neet, an’ theau knows aw’ve nobody.  Nathan used to talk to mi an’ cheer mi up, an’ wi used to tell one another what eawr mother’s wer like.  Aw wish mine wer here neaw, Tum, aw shouldna’ want to goo away.  Nudger an’ th’ wife are o’ reet; but lodgin’s are nobbo’ lodgin’s, theau knows; it isno’ like a gradely whoam.’

“Well, Bill, aw felt gradely sorry for th’ lad, an’ aw con tell thi aw’d hard wark to keep mi een dreigh; an’ when aw axed him what he wer gooin’ away for, he towd mi ’at he kept seein’ things ’at made him fret abeawt his mother, an’ he thowt he’d bi better gooin’ abeawt seein’ fresh places, an’ he wer gooin’ to a uncle ’at lived in Liverpool ’at did summat on board o’ ship.

“Well, Bill, aw thowt it ud bi better if th’ lad went, for aw knowed noather Bogey or owt belungin’ him wer safe while he wer abeawt.  So aw gan him what advice aw could, an’ towd him he could tak’ Nathan’s bassoon; an’ when aw gan him a little Testament ’at used to belung Nathan, he brasted eawt o’ skrikin’, an’ biddin’ mi good-neet, he went eawt o’ th’ greenheawse gradely heart-broken, wipin’ his een wi’ his jacket sleeve; an’ he went away in abeawt a week beawt sayin’ a word to a livin’ soul.

“Well, things went on o’ reet i’th’ village after this lad Rondle went away; folk knowed Nathan wer o’ reet, an’ that wer o’ ’at they’d cared abeawt.  Bogey an’ th’ wife went on wi their bit o’ wayvin’ an’ farmin’ just as usual.  They geet it into ther yeds ’at o’ ther trouble wer o’er.

“When Nathan had bin away abeawt three months, this warrant ’at Bogey ud getten wer just abeawt runnin’ eawt, so th’ chapel folk thowt they’d try an persuade him to let it drop.  So it wer agreed uth’ parson’s wife an’ his sister an’ two or three moor women should goo an’ see Bogey, an’ try an’ mak’ things up, so ’at Nathan could come back ogen.  Bogey wer milkin’ i’th’ shippon when these women geet to th’ heawse.  So Bogey’s wife leet ’em in while hoo went an’ fot Bogey.  Well, when Bogey yerd what they had to say he cussed an’ swore to sich a pitch ’at one or two o’ these women wer gradely feart, but this sister o’th’ parson’s had rayther moor pluck nor t’others, an’ hoo said they’d better have a word or two in prayer.  Bogey said they could oather sing, praitch, or pray, but he should goo on wi’ his wark.

“Well, Bill, theau’ll hardly believe it, but these two waistrels went on wi’ ther wark, one windin’ bobbins an’ t’other churnin’ while this good owd soul wer prayi’n fer ther conversion.  Bogey an’ th’ wife wer ne’er liked afore, but after this folk turned gradely ogen ’em, an’ booath chapel folk an’ church folk, too, gan o’er beighin’ his milk, an’ at finish he had to sell his keaws.  After this things seemed to goo o’together rung wi’ Bogey, for one day abeawt three week after these wimmin had paid Bogey this visit, two or three swell lookin’ chaps drove up to his heawse in a trap, an’ beawt sayin’ a single word to Bogey they begun to measure o’ reawnd th’ heawse an’ th’ yard wi’ a great roll o’ measurin’ tape ’at they’d browt wi’ ’em.  Bogey stood an’ watched ’em till they’d finished beawt sayin’ a word, for he could see bi th’ way ’at they went abeawt ther wark ’at they’d some authority fro’ somewheer, an’ it looked like bein’ a sarious job.

“When they’d finished, they towd Bogey at he’d have to drain o’th’ place, as it werno’ fit to live in; an’ what wi’ havin’ to poo deawn an’ then build up, layin’ o’ pipes, an’ flaggin o’th’ loom-heawse, beside pavin’ th’ stable an’ th’ shippon, it looked like ruination to Bogey, specially when they towd him he must start at once, or else they’d send men an’ charge him wi’ it.

“So Bogey sowd his owd heawse an’ bit o’ lond to a keaw jobber for keepin’ beast in, an’ shifted ther two looms an’ bits o’ things, an’ went o’ livin’ somewheer toart Yorkshire; but he took good care to renew this warrant afore he went, an’ he swore he’d doo it to his deein’ day, an’, bi th’ mass, Bill, he kept his word, an’ for abeawt six yer this owd waistrel coom as regular as a clock to renew this warrant.

“At last he deed, an’ as th’ wife didna’ seem to bother, Nathan coom back to th’ village wi’ this sarvant lass ut he’d wed, an’ four as bonny childer as one met wish to look at.



――――♦――――

CHAPTER III.


THE fingers of the clock in the ivy-covered tower of the village church were just about to indicate the hour of four as Old Tom and his companion ascended the half-dozen time-worn steps that led into God’s acre.  The heavy, ponderous iron gate had scarcely finished its screech upon its rusty staples before Old Tom began to recount to his companion the many virtues of numerous former friends and acquaintances that lay buried around them.  Within a few yards from where they stood was the newly filled in grave of Nathan, the stone, which had not yet been replaced, being reared against that of the late sexton, who for upwards of forty years had tolled the bell for morning and evening service, besides acting as sexton and bellman to the village.

Here lay both father and son, who had nobly sacrificed their lives by volunteering to descend the pit to rescue their companions after an explosion, and were both brought up dead.

“An’ here,” said Old Tom, standing before a grave well decorated with window plants, “this is what aw co’ eawr Matty’s garden, for hoo reared every one o’ thoose plants fro’ slips, an’ when th’ owd lass deed aw browt ’em an’ planted ’em wheer aw thowt they’d best reet to be, for hoo looked as weel after thoose plants as if they’d bin childer; an’ neaw aw do o’ ’at aw con to keep ’em alive for th’ sake o’ her.  Aw awlus tak’ ’em an’ put ’em i’th’ greenheawse when th’ neets begin o’ bein’ cowd, an’ theer they stop o’ throo th’ winter; but when th’ weather begins o’ gettin’ warmer, abeawt th’ middle o’ May, aw tak’ ’em back to th’ owd lass, an’ aw tent ’em o’ throo th’ summer just for her sake.  An’ neaw we’n paid eawr respects to th’ memory o’ thoose ’at are dead an’ gone, we’n goo an’ have a bit o’ baggin’, an’ then we’n ceawr us deawn i’ th’ cloof an’ hearken th’ brids sing while aw finish tellin’ abeawt Nathan.”

The clock in the church tower was just striking six as Old Tom and Bill sat themselves down in a well-selected spot to listen to their feathered friends, whilst one related and the other listened to the troubles of poor Nathan.

“Let’s see,” said Old Tom, “aw’d getten to wheer Bogey wer deead an’ Nathan had getten back to th’ village wi’ this sarvant lass ’at he’d wed, wi’ three or four fine childer.

“Well, things wer awtert a good deeol while Nathan ’ud bin away.  Booath th’ owd missus an’ th’ mester wer deeod, an’ th’ pit ’ud changed honds.  Mooast o’th’ scholars ’ud getten wed an’ laft th’ skoo’.  Ther’ wer two or three owd members laft i’th’ band, but mooast on ’em wer new members, — yung felleys ’at wer nobbo’ bits o’ lads when Nathan went away.

“As soon as Nathan ’ud getten sattled he begun o’ workin’ i’th’ pit, an’ things seemed to goo on o’ reet wi’ him for a yer or moor.  He took to taitchin’ his owd class i’th’ chapel skoo’, an’ begun o’ playin’ th’ bassoon ogen i’th’ band just as if he’d ne’er bin away; an’ booath him an’ th’ wife an’ ther little family looked as comfortable an’ happy as th’ day wer lung; an’ it looked as if bad luck an’ misfortin had laft him for good.

“Bi th’ mass, but it hadno’.  Mon, he wer born to trouble, for one neet when we’d finished, an’ wi wer’ gettin’ wun up eawt o’th’ pit, th’ cage stuck fast when it ’ud getten six or seven yard heigh, an’ theer it stuck for abeawt twenty minits, an’ they could noather get it up nor deawn.  At last Owd Joss — that wer th’ chap ’at looked after th’ engine an’ th’ windin’ up geer — gan th’ engine full play, an’ wi th’ jerk comin’ so sudden th’ rope snapped cleon i’ two, an’ deawn th’ cage went straight to th’ bottom wi o’th’ lot.  Well, Bill, awst ne’er forget that drop to mi deein day.  We wer thrut abeawt that cage like shuttlecocks; two or three wer knocked dateless, an’ one or two wer badly cut abeawt ther yed an’ face, but theer wi had to stop for abeawt two heawrs, till they’d getten things put reet for windin’ us up; an’ when wi geet to th’ top wi fun ’at one o’ Nathan’s legs wer badly brokken.

“Poor Nathan, he lee nine lung week i’th’ infirmary wi that leg, while his poor wife wer workin’ hersel to th’ deeoth to find a bit o’ summat to ate for these four little childer.  Th’ parson fotched her a bit o’ summat, an’ fun her a place wheer hoo went two or three days a week cleonin’, an’ th’ naybours looked after th’ childer till hoo coom whoam at neet.

“Poor Ann, hoo wer as good a livin’ woman as needs be.  Aw dunno think hoo missed a Sunday neet’s sarvice o’th’ time Nathan wer i’th’ infirmary.  It did one good, mon, to yer her pray an’ thank God for o’ His mercies while hoo wer gooin’ throo o’ this trouble.  “Wi o’ thowt when Nathan thrut his crutches o’ one side an’ took to potterin’ abeawt wi’ a stick ’at he’d bi back ogen to his wark in two or three week, but he werno’.  It werno’ a cleon brake: it wer some mak’ o’ fracture, an’ he wer a lung time potterin’ abeawt wi’ that stick.

“He used to come ov a neet an’ sit wi’ me i’th’ garden or else i’th’ greenheawse talkin’ things o’er.

“Aw mind him cornin’ one neet wi’ little Pincher, that wer a little Scotch terrier ’at he’d had fro’ bein’ a whelp, an’ he couldna’ stir a yard beawt it wer at his heels.  One o’th’ colliers ’ud kept it for him while he wer away i’th’ hospital.  He looked very deawn this neet, an’ aw could see he wer i’ sore trouble.

“‘Tum,’ he said at last, lookin’ deawn at Pincher; ‘dost know anybody ’at could do wi’ a good little dog?’

“‘Why, Nathan,’ aw, said, ‘theau’rt never thinkin’ o’ partin’ wi’ Pincher, arto?’

“‘Tum,’ he said, ‘wheer ther’s a heawseful o’ little childer at arno’ gettin’ a ballyful o’ mate wi’ ther’ mother lyin’ poorly i’ bed, an’ a feyther at’s gooin’ abeawt wi’ a lawm leg, ther’ isno’ mitch to spare for feedin’ dogs, to say nowt abeawt payin’ taxes.’

“Well, Bill, aw knowed things ’ud getten to th’ fur eend when he talked abeawt partin’ wi’ his little dog, for he thowt a lot abeawt Pincher.  So aw thowt aw’d cheer him up a bit, an’ aw promised to pay th’ tax an’ keep little Pincher till his leg geet weel, an’ he started on his wark ogen.”

“‘Let’s see, Nathan,’ aw said, ‘theau’s four childer, hasno’?’

“He didna’ spake for a bit.  At last he said very slowly:

“‘Ther wer four when aw coom away fro’ whoam, but ther’s happen five neaw.  Aw met th’ doctor wi’ his trap just as aw wer comin’ eawt o’ th’ fowt.’

“‘It’s hard wark, Tum,” he said; aw do hope God ’ull look o’er us an’ give us strength to bear up till this leg gets weel.  To tell thi true, Tum, if it hadno’ bin for what aw’ve taen whoam eawt o’ this garden, an’ what th’ parson an’ th’ naybours than gan us, wi should ha’ bin welly clambed to th’ deeoth.  Booath me an’ yon little woman pray booath neet an’ mornin’ for strength.  Theau knows we’n noather on us lost faith, if wi are i’ trouble.  But aw’m feart if things dunno’ awter soon aw’st have to goo ‘to th’ parish, an’ aw dunno’ want to do that, Tum; but theau knows ther’s yon little childer.  Well, God’s good, an’ he’ll happen put things reet i’ time.’

“It wer a great relief to me, aw con tell thi, when aw yerd Nathan talk like this; an’ aw towd him heaw pleased aw wer to find ’at misfortin hadno’ made him lose faith.  Theau knows aw used to do a bit i’th’ pulpit i’ thoose days, an’ aw wer just remindin’ him heaw God rewarded booath Job an’ Abraham when eawr little Dick coom buzzin’ i’th’ greenheawse puffin’ an’ blowin’ like a brokken winded boat tit.”

“‘Eh, feyther,’ he said, when he’d getten his wynt, ‘Doctor Gregory’s just bin to Nathan Schofielt’s in his trap, an’ he’s browt Missis Schofielt two nice little teeny babby’s.  ‘Theau lies, theau little thief,’ aw bawled eawt, hardly knowin’ what aw said, an’ forgettin’ o’ abeawt Job’s patience an’ Abraham’s faith.  ‘If theau comes here wi a tale like that aw’ll punce thi straight i’th’ bruck.’

“‘Yigh, feyther,’ he said, ‘he has; ther’ Enock’s towd mi, an’ he’s seen ’em booath.  Feyther, con aw have o’ honful o’ gooseberrys for comin’ o’ tellin’ yo’?’

“It wer true, Bill; ther wer two sure enoof.  Nathan’s face went as white as a sheet.  He looked like a chap ’at ’ud just wakent eawt ov’ a dreom.

“Aw stood watchin’ him for two or three minits, an’ when aw seed him poo a red napkin eawt ov his pocket aw thowt it ’ud bi as weel if aw laft him to hissel for a bit, so aw slipt quietly eawt o’th’ greenheawse.

“Fost thing aw seed wer th’ wife gettin’ some little things eawt o’th’ drawers.  Aw’d seen thoose little things before, Bill; they’d done good sarvice for booath eawr little Dick an’ Jane.  Noather me nor th’ wife spoke a word till hoo’d put these little things in a basket an sent eawr Dick wi’ ’em to Nathan’s.  Then hoo coom an’ sit hersel’ deawn close to wheer aw wer.

“‘Tum,’ hoo said, ‘aw want thi to go back to Nathan, an’ for God’s sake dunno’ let him go whoam.  Keep him wheer he is as lung as theau con, for ther’s booath little Enock an’ ’Liza welly doubled i’ two wi’ aches an’ pains throo atin’ sour crab apples ’an blackberry ‘at werno’ hawve ripe, an’ they’n had to fotch th’ doctor ogen.  Th’ little things wer hungry, mon.  God help ’em; aw’m feart ’at ther’ll bi nowt nobbo’ th’ warkheawse for ’em at th’ finish.’

“Well, Bill, aw begun o’ thinkin’ same as th’ wife.  Th’ naybours wer willin’ to do what bit they could, but ther’ werno’ a mon i’th’ pit dooin’ aboon four days a week, an’ theau knows colliers didna’ geet paid i’ thoose days same as they done to-day.  Beside booath flour an’ potatoes wer’ welly double th’ price ’at they are neaw.  Ther wer a vast deeol o’ booath male an’ black traycle etten i’ thoose days.  Aw seed th’ wife keep puttin’ her brat up to her een.  At last hoo said:

“‘Tum, aw’m gooin’ eawt for a while; aw’st noan bi so lung.  Dunno’ ax mi wheer aw’m gooin’ but goo thi ways i’th’ greenheawse, an’ comfort yon poor cratur if theau con, for God knows he needs it.’

“Well, Bill, wheer th’ wife wer gone or what hoo’d gone o dooin’ aw no moor knowed nor th’ mon i’th’ moon, so aw let mi pipe an’ went back to Nathan i’th’ greenheawse.

“‘Tum,’ he said, when aw’d getten sit deawn, ‘aw’ve bin thinkin’ things o’er while theau’s bin away.’

“An’ he spoke very slow, like somebody ’at ’ud bin considerin’ things weel o’er.

“‘Ther’s a pawn ticket here, Tum,’ he said; ‘it’s fost ever aw touched i’ mi life.  It’s belungin’ my bassoon; aw took it to owd Amos, th’ carrier, after aw laft thee last Monday neet, an’ aw towd him to pawn it i’th’ teawn for o’ ’at he could geet, an’ he browt mi this ticket an’ fifteen shillin’.  It’s a good instrument, Tum; it cost mi fifty shilling’ when aw wer away i’ Yorkshire.  Aw want thi to gi this ticket to anybody belungin’ th’ band ’at theau knows con afford to losen it.  Aw’st ne’er bi able to losen it mysel’.’

“‘Nathan,’ aw said, ‘theau munno’ talk like that; theau’ll bi sorry for partin’ wi’ this ticket when thi leg gets weel, an’ theau gets back to thi wark.’

“‘Tum,’ he said, ‘aw’m gooin’ to tell thi summat neaw, ’at aw’ve never towd a livin’ soul before, not even th’ wife.  This leg ull ne’er bi reet ogen while aw’m wick.  Aw’m a cripple, lad, for life; aw yerd a bit o’ whisperin’ wi’ two o’th’ doctors i’th’ infirmary when they thowt aw wer, asleep.  But aw’ve bin livin’ i’ hopes ’at they wer happen mistaen i’ what they said.  Aw’ve prayed mornin’, noon, an’ neet for God to make it weel, so as aw could get back to mi wark, but neaw aw know far sartin ’at aw’st bi lawm for life, an’ what will become o’ yon little woman wi o’ yon childer, God above knows.’

“Well, Bill, aw wer that full aw couldna’ spake, an’ wi noather spoke a word for two or three minits.

“At last Nathan said:

“‘Aw’ve bin thinkin’ a good deeol this last day or two abeawt that text ’at th’ owd parson praitched fro’ last Sunday neet — ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee’ — an’ God’s noather laft me nor forsook me, Tum, or aw couldna’ ha’ gone throo’ what aw have, for ther’s no livin’ mortal knows what aw’ve suffered sin’ aw yerd that whisperin’ wi’ thoose two doctors.’

“Well, Bill, Nathan ’ud hardly getten th’ words eawt ov his meawth afore th’ greenheawse dur wer pushed open, an’ th’ wife coom in.  Hoo walked quietly to wheer Nathan wer, an’ puttin’ her hont on his shoulder, hoo said:

“‘Nathan aw’ve browt thi a bit o’ good news; one o’th’ naybours has bin to see th’ new mesters, an’ towd ’em o’ abeawt thi trouble, an’ they’n sent thi two sovereigns, an’ theau has to ha’ thi wages browt to thi every week eend till thi leg gets reet, an’ theau’rt ready for wark, an’ theau hasno’ to bother abeawt Doctor Gregory; they’n see to that.’

“He raised hissel’ up, an’ liftin’ his cap fro’ his yed he looked up’ an wi’ tears rollin’ deawn his thin, white face, he said:

“‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, praise the Lord.’

“‘Hallelujah!” aw sheawted eawt, an’ aw flung mi cap to th’ top o’th’ greenheawse, an’ theer it stuck amung some wires ‘at aw’d stretched across for training a gloria.

“‘Tum,’ he said, ‘let us thank God for His goodness to me an’ mine this neet,’ an’ he reared hissel’ ogen one o’th’ benches, while booath th’ wife an’ me knelt us deawn an’ he prayed for abeawt five minits.

“Well, Bill, it’s mony a lung yer sin Nathan made that prayer, but aw con feel it mon, to this day.  When he’d done prayin’ he looked at me wi’ a bit ov a smile, an’ he said, ‘Tum, aw’ll trouble thi for that ticket back,’ an lookin’ deawn at his little dog he said:

“‘Well, Pincher, aw think theau’ll ha’ to goo whoam to neet wi me; aw think aw con manage to keep thi neaw.’

“Ther wer rare doins at Nathan’s after this, aw con tell thi.  Ther’ wer a basket browt two or three times aweek fro’ th’ new mester’s an’ th’ best of it wer it wer browt wi’ oather one or t’other o’ ther wives.  Little Enock an’ Silas went swaggerin’ abeawt th’ fowt wi’ new suits o’ velveteen, an’ th’ little lasses had new frocks an’ shoon for Sundays, an’ Nathan towd mi hissel’ ’at they hadno’ cost him a penny, for these ladies wer’ so taen up wi’ Nathan’s childer, ’at they had ’em o’ rigged eawt fro’ top to toe, an’ they paid for every stitch.

“Poor Nathan, he towd mi true when he said he should bi lawm for life, for he awlus went wi’ a bit ov a limp, at after, an’ his days for coal getten wer o’er.  But they fun him a nice job close to th’ pit in a little wooden cabin, an’ theer he used to ceawer o’ throo’ th’ day weighin’ carts an’ makin’ eawt tickets, an’ seein’ ’at th’ colliers’ lamps wer locked afore they went deawn th’ pit.

“It wer a Godsend for moor folk beside Nathan, ’at these new mesters turned eawt as weel as they did, for kinder-hearted or better mesters never lived.

“Neaw, Bill, seein’ ’ut booath throstles an’ th’ blackbrids an’ finished sin’gin’ for to neet, an’ we’st yer nowt no moor nobbo’ yon dismal neighse fro’ th’ corncrake, aw think we’d best pike off i’th’ heawse, an’ aw’ll finish tellin’ thi abeawt Nathan to-morrow neet.



――――♦――――

CHAPTER IV.


THERE had been a great change in the weather since Old Tom and his companion had passed such a pleasant time in the clough the previous evening.  The soft, warm southerly winds that had prevailed for over a week ceased during the night, and were followed by a keen easterly wind, which brought with it frequent showers, which, together with vivid flashes of lightning and peals of thunder, made Dingle Cottage and its surroundings weird looking in comparison to what it was on the previous evening.

“‘Aw’ll tell thi what, Bill,’ said Old Tom, as he stirred up the fire that caused a blaze which reflected itself upon the well-polished oak furniture that adorned the kitchen, ‘aw conno’ stond this thunder an’ leetin’ like aw could once’t; aw con do wi’t rain weel enoof, for it’s badly wanted, an’ if it’ll nobbo’ keep on for a bit we’st have radditches as fur reawnd as yung carrots, an’ keaw turmits as big as footbos.’

“‘An’ neaw, Liza,’ he said, addressing a girl of twelve or thirteen who came for an hour or two each day to tidy up and put things straight, ‘it’s noan rainin’ as mitch as it did, so theau’d best run whoam afore it comes on ogen, an’ tak’ thi fayther this brid cage; it’ll do for one o’ yon canaries ’at he’s bred, an’ tell him to co’ when he’s comin’ fro’ his wark.  Tell him ’at aw want th’ rhubarb thinnin’.  Thi mother’ll find some mak’ o’ use for it; hoo’ll happen mak’ yo’ some presarves, or else some rhubarb dumplins; an’ howd thi brat for these toothri apples.  They’ll do for thee an’ yore Billy, an’ just thee tell yore Billy fro’ me if aw catch him an’ that yung imp o’ Nudger’s swarmin’ yon tree ogen after yon shrycock’s neest, aw’ll throw ’em b-ooath straight i’th’ bruck.  Aw’ll ha’ no yung brids taen eawt o’ this cloof if aw know it.  Neaw hie thi off whoam, an’ bi sure theau tells yore Billy what aw say.’

“‘Yon’s one o’ Nathan’s gronchilder,’ said Old Tom, after she had closed the door.  ‘An hoo’s as smart a little wench as ther’ is for miles reawnd.  Hoo’s nobbo’ thirteen, an’ hoo’s as full o’ music as Nathan wer.  An’ neaw, Bill aw’ll finish tellin’ thi abeawt Nathan, if it taks mi till midneet.

“Ther wer nowt ov any acceawnt coom to Nathan nobbo’ one o’ thoose twins deein’ when it wer two or three months owd.  This new job wer a Godsend to Nathan, for he could oather sit or stond while he wer weighin’ carts, an’ makin’ eawt tickets; an’ he geet gradely lusty, an’ fresh lookin’; an’ he begun o’ gooin’ beawt his stick.  Owd Joss ud getten too owd to lead th’ band, an’ nowt ’ud do but Nathan had to tak’ his place, an’ lead th’ band.  He used to come an’ ceawr wi’ mi oather i’th’ garden or th’ greenheawse two or three neets o’ week.  Ther wer nowt pleased him better nor talkin’ abeawt th’ chapel an’ th’ schoo’, or else music, — specially music, for aw mun tell thi he wer th’ best reader o’ music an’ th’ finest bassoon player ’at ther’ wer for miles reawnd.  Aw mind him comin’ throo’ th’ garden one neet, an’ aw thowt aw never seed a chap so awtert in o’ mi life, for he looked as if he wer brimmin’ o’er wi’ booath health an’ content: an’ he wer smilin’ as if he’d never known a day’s trouble in o’ his life.  Th’ day wer just fadin’ into twileet, th’ buzzarts an’ th’ bees an’ th’ brids ud stopt buzzin’ an’ flyin’ abeawt, an’ ther werno’ a seawnd to bi yerd nobbo’ th’ owd throstle’ at wer pipin’ eawt his vesper before gooin’ to roost.  When he geet close to th’ greenheawse he stood for abeawt a minit hearkenin’ to th’ owd brid ’at wer perched pipin’ eawt close to his neest.

“‘Theer,’ he said, lookin’ up to th’ brid, ‘aw’ll help thi a little bit, shusheaw.’

“An’ wi’ his deep, mellow, rich voice, he started off, an’ sung a verse fro’ that grand owd vesper hymn of Bishop Ken’s, “Glory to Thee, my God, this night.”

‘Well, Bill, what wi’ th’ throstle’s clear, sweet, treble notes, an’ Nathan’s rich, mellow deep bass voice, aw thowt it wer th’ finest bit o’ music ’at aw’d ever yerd in o’ mi life.

“‘Neaw, Tum,’ he said, ‘aw con twitter a bit yet.  It wer a rare good job at aw didna’ brake mi voice at same time ’at aw broke mi leg; for it’s browt mi a deeol o’ comfort, aw con tell thi.’

‘Well, Bill, aw looked at his breet, smilin’ face while he wer talkin, an’gaw thowt ov o’th’ trouble he’d gone throo’; an’ aw couldna’ help thinkin’ what faith he must o’ had ’at God ’ud put things o’ reet in His own good time.

“‘Theau’rt rare an’ merry, Nathan,’ aw said, ceawerin’ mi deawn on a bench close to wheer he wer sit.

“‘Aw’m booath merry an’ thankful,’ he said; ‘an’ aw think aw owt to be.  Just look at what aw am to-neet, an’ what aw wer two or three months sin’.  Why, Tum, we’r as happy an’ content in yon little cot as th’ day’s lung.’  Then o’ at once ther wer a change coom o’er his face, an’ he looked very thowtful, as if he wer tbinkin’ summat eawt.

“‘Tum,’ he said, ‘theau sees thoose geraniums — aw meeon thoose white uns ’ats carryin’ so mitch bloom — well, when theau browt thoose plants into this greenheawse they wer booath poor an’ lost lookin’, an’ they didna’ look as if they’d a bit o’ life laft in ’em.  Well, Tum, thoose plants wer like what me an’ mine wer a month or two sin’.  They wer in trouble.  What theau’d laft ’em eawt i’th’ cowd for aw conno’ tell, but theau browt ’em i’th’ greenheawse, an’ begun o’ lookin’ after ’em an’ givin’ ’em thi special care ’an attention.  An’ look at ’em neaw: they’re covert o’er wi’ bloom like little snowbo’s.  ‘Well, Tum, what theau did for thoose plants, God did for me an’ mine.  He laft us eawt i’th’ cowd for a while, till we wer as nee bein’ deeod as thoose plants wer; an’ when it looked as if we’d getten to th’ fur eend, an’ wi could see nowt nobbo’ th’ warkheawse starin’ us i’th’ face, He took us in, an’ gan us His special care an’ attention.  An’ look at us neaw: why, mon, wi dunno’ look like th’ same folk.’

“‘Nathan,’ aw said, ‘theau’rt a philosopher, if ever ther’ wer one, for theau’s patience o’ Job, an’ theau’rt as wise as Solomon.’

“‘Well, Tum,’ he said, smiling, ‘if theau’ll nobbo’ tell me ’at aw’m as faithful as Abraham, an’ as strung as Samson, aw’st happen do.’

“‘Well, Nathan,’ aw chuckled, ‘theau’rt as patient as Job, an’ theau’s the wisdom o’ Solomon; an’ theau’s faith o’ Abraham, an’ if theau’rt noan as strung as Samson, well, what theau’rt short i’ strength, theau maks up for i’ music, for David ne’er browt finer music fro’ his harp nor what theau con fotch eawt o’ yon’ bassoon.’

“‘Theau forgets, Tum,’ he said, wi’ a bit of a chuckle, ‘David did moor nor play fine music: he made it, mon.’

“At last summer coom to an eend, an’ aw didna’ think mitch abeawt Nathan keepin’ away o’ throo th’ winter, for it wer a very keen un, an’ he’d bin a good deeol bother’t wi’ his leg; but when summer coom an’ he didna’ come an’ sit an’ talk wi’ mi as usual, aw felt gradely lonely, aw con tell thi.

“Well, another winter passed an’ another summer wer welly gone, when he begun a comin’ ogen, happen once an’ sometimes twice a week, but he wer terribly awtert.  He looked booath owder an’ moor thowtful, as if he wer i’ sore trouble, an’ he’d lost that cheerful, smilin’ look ’at he used to have, an’ his face wer paler lookin’; an’ when he didna’ talk to mi abeawt th’ chapel an’ th’ skoo’ an’ music like he used to do, aw knowed ther’ wer summat wrung.  But, theau knows, Bill, aw wer fain enoof to see him, aw con tell thi.  Aw axed him a time or two if he werno’ so weel, but he awlus said he wer o’ reet, but th’ wife werno’ so weel.  Aw mind him comin’ limpin’ throo’ th’ garden one neet, an’ he ceawerd hissel deawn on a bench close to th’ greenheawse dur, an’ he looked very downcast, as if he wer in sore trouble.  Aw wer’ cuttin’ some geraniums deawn, an’ aw kept lookin’ at him neaw an’ then, but as he didna’ awse to spake, aw went an’ sit close to wheer he wer, for aw could see he’d summat very heavy on his mind.  So aw thowt aw’d try to comfort him if aw could.

“‘Nathan,’ aw said, an’ aw spoke as cheerful as aw could, ‘arto noan so weel to neet? or hasto some trouble ’at theau’d care to tell mi abeawt?  Aw con happen help thi wi’ givin’ thi a bit ov advice.’

“He didna’ seem as if he yerd mi fost time aw axed him, for he looked as if he wer in deep thowt, so aw put mi hont on his shoother, an’ aw said, ‘Come, Nathan, tell mi what ther’ is wrung, an’ aw’ll comfort thi if aw con.  He looked at mi for abeawt hawve a minit, an’ wi’ a chokin’ voice, an’ tears comin’ in his een, he said:

“‘Doesta know, Tum, at aw’m gooin’ to lose mi wife?’

“Well, Bill, aw thowt aw should ha’ dropt when Nathan said this.

“‘Nathan,’ aw said, ‘theau mun be mistaen.  It’s never so bad as that.’

“‘Yigh it is, Tum,’ he said; ‘in less nor a month yon little childer’ll bi laft beawt mother.’

“‘Why, Nathan,’ aw said, ‘it wer nobbo’ last week when aw wer passin’ th’ eend o’ yore fowt hoo wer singin’ away like a lark.’

“‘Aw darsay hoo wer, Tum; an’ if God spares her reason till He coes on her whoam hoo’ll sing hersel’ straight to glory; an’ theau’ll see ’at what aw’m tellin’ thi is as true as theau’rt sittin’ theer.  Aw’ve known it a good while neaw, an’ hoo knows that aw know it.  Eh, Tum, if theau wer to yer her sing ‘Abide with me,’ ‘Jesus, lover,’ an’ ‘Rock ov ages,’ an’ look at her thin white face, while tears are rowlin’ deawn her cheeks, theau’d pity her fro’ th’ bottom o’ thi heart.  Mon, it’s hard to see her gether yon little childer reawnd her an’ yer ’em say ther’ prayers, an’ to see her kiss ’em one bi one, while tears are rowlin’ deawn her cheeks.  Th’ little things dunno’ know heaw soon they’ll bi laft beawt mother.  It wer that nine week ’at aw wer i’th’ infirmary, an’ what hoo went throo after aw coom eawt ’at did th’ job.  Mon, it wer hard wark keepin’ life an’ soul together wi’ what th’ naybours gan us when wi knowed very weel ’at they could ha’ done wi’ it thersels.’

“‘Well, Bill, aw dunno’ need to tell thi heaw aw felt while Nathan wer tellin’ mi o’ this.  Aw kept in as lung as aw could, but at last aw wer gradely broke deawn, an’ aw skrike’t like a choilt.  Mon, it wer heart-brakin’ to yer him.

“Nathan towd true when he said hoo’d bi gone in less nor a month.  It wer happen abeawt three weeks ’at after when th’ wife coom to mi i’th’ garden, an’ hoo wer sobbin’ fit to brake her heart.

“‘Tum,’ hoo sobbed eawt, ‘Nathan’s sent mi to tell thi if theau wants to see Ann afore hoo dees theau mun goo across as soon as theau con, or theau’ll bi too late.’

“Well, Bill, aw walked across to Nathan’s like somebody dazed.  Mon, it wer like a dreeom.  But what aw have to tell thi mun bi towd very sharp, or else aw’st ne’er bi able to get throo, for what aw seed that neet comes before my een, mon, as if it wer nobbo’ yesterday.

“Fost thing aw seed wer four little childer stondin’ close to th’ bed ’at they’d getten deawn th’ stairs. Yungest choilt wer’ asleep i’ a little crib close to th’ side o’th’ bed wheer it mother wer passin’ away, lookin’ as peaceful as if hoo wer’ gooin’ to sleep; an’ hoo kept puttin’ her hont neaw an’ then on it little yed, as if hoo could ha’ liked to ha’ taen it with her.  Nathan wer stondin’ at t’other side o’th’ bed, lookin’ as white as a sheet.  In a bit aw yerd a bit of a stir eawtside o’th’ dur, an’ when it wer opened th’ lasses belungin’ her class walked quietly up to th’ bed one bi one, an’ kissed her an’ shook honds wi’ her, an’ then they o’ stood at foot o’th’ bed, an’ tried to sing her favourite hymn, ‘Jesus, lover of my soul,’ but they could nobbo’ get throo one verse for sobbin’.  They’d no sooner stopt nor hoo started th’ next verse hersel’ in a clear, sweet, thin voice, stoppin’ every two or three words for breath.

“But it wer just as Nathan said it would be; hoo sung hersel’ straight to glory, for hoo’d hardly getten to th’ last words o’th’ verse eawt — ‘Still support and comfort me’ — afore hoo passed away wi’ a smile on her face, ’at towd us plain enoof ’at hoo’d oather yerd or seen summat ’at nobody else had, an’ hoo wer gooin’ to a fairer an’ a breeter world than this.

“It wer bad enoof afore hoo deed, but hoo’d no sooner passed away nor every livin’ soul i’th room broke deawn, for ther wer sich sobbin’ an’ skrikin’ wi’ booath owd an’ yung.  Eh, mon, it wer pitiful to see.

“At last th’ naybors geet th’ childer eawt o’th’ heawse.  Aw waited till Nathan geet up fro’ his knees, for he wer knelt deawn prayin’ when hoo deed.  Then aw took him across to eawr heawse, an’ aw tried hard to think o’ summat ’at aw could say ’at aw thowt ’ud comfort him, but aw couldna’ think ov owt, so wi geet to eawr heawse beawt oather ov us spakin’ a single word.  We’d happen bin ceawrt abeawt two minits when aw axed him if it wouldna’ bi as weel if he stopt wi’ mi, as aw knowed th’ wife wouldna’ come whoam till mornin’.

“‘Nay, Tum,’ he said, shakin’ his yed, ‘aw munno’ do that.  They’ll tak’ her away in two or three days, an’ then aw’st see her no moor till aw meet wi’ her in heaven.  Aw know wi conno’ talk to one another, but theau knows aw con look at her for two or three days, an’ when hoo’s laid aside aw’ll bear up as weel as aw con for th’ sake o’th’ childer.  An’ then when God sees fit to co’ on mi whoam, aw know, an aw feel sure, we’st meet ogen in heaven.’

“Aw went across wi’ him ogen when aw thowt things ’ud bi getten straight, an’ aw kept as much ov his company as aw could till th’ day for th’ berryin’; an’ sitch a seet aw ne’er seen before or sin.  Ther wer scores an’ scores coom to follow poor Ann.  Th’ colliers ’at hadno’ getten a suit o’ black geet some fro’ somewheer; th’ owder eend o’th’ chapel folk walked i’th’ front, an’ th’ lasses belungin’ her class walked at oather side o’th’ coffin.  Nathan looked verv pale.  He wer walking close up to wheer aw wer carryin’.  He’d getten two little uns at oather side an’ th’ yungest choilt wer asleep in his arms.  When we’d getten abeawt hawve road to th’ church, this little thing ’at Nathan wer carryin’ waken’d up, an’ after it ud rubbed it little een, it looked reawnd at o’th’ folk, an’ sobbed eawt:

“‘Aw want mi mammy!  Aw want mi mammy!’

“Eh, Bill, it wer’ heart breakin’ to yer it.

“Nathan rocked it in his arms, an’ kissed an’ coaxed it, but o’ to no use, for th’ poor little thing kept skrikin’ eawt:

“‘Aw want mi mammy!  Aw want mi mammy!’

“When Nathan fun ’at he couldna’ keep it fro’ skrikin’ an’ sobbin’ eawt for it mother, he stopt stone still, an’ he sobbed like a choilt.

“Well, theau knows, that wer th’ signal for t’other four, an’, eh, Bill, it wer th’ saddest seet ’at aw ever seed in o’ mi life.  It made some o’th’ women gradely ill, an’ they had to turn back an’ goo whoam ogen.

“At last one o’th’ women coom an’ took this little thing fro’ eawt o’ Nathan’s arms, an’ we started off ogen toart th’ church.  Nowt no moor happened, an’ poor Ann wer laid low in that very grave wheer wi laid poor Nathan t’other day; an’ when th’ stone gets fixed up ogen we’n goo an’ then theau con read these words ’ut Nathan had cut on it :—


“She waited for the summons with the meek resignation of one who had been in sweet communion with God, and went gently to sleep in Jesus.”



――――♦――――

CHAPTER V.


THE day following Old Tom’s sad story of poor Nathan’s troubles was an ideal midsummer day.  June thus far had not been disappointing; most of the meadows had been shorn of their season’s growth; Old Sol had done his very best, for the sweet fragrance from the meadow adjoining Old Tom’s garden did more than suggest that its yield was already dry and ready for housing; the foliage on the bushes and hedgerows that separated the garden from the meadow was still fresh and green, whilst the larger species of fruit trees in the old man’s garden vied with the hawthorn for supremacy in bloom.  Roses, pinks, and carnations, with the sweet-scented wallflower and varied coloured stocks, formed an agreeable contrast to a spacious bed of bright golden marigolds.  The bee and the butterfly were busy hovering over the beds, occasionally alighting to sip the sweet nectar from the flora.

The dell or dingle at the rear of the cottage was resplendent with gay stately foxgloves, bright, fresh green bracken and bluebells, whilst the brooklet sang merrily to the fronds of the fern that grew so proud and Stately along its banks.  The lark was pouring forth its long of praise in the clear blue sky, and the clear shrill voice of the thrush in the hawthorn was responded to by the blackbird in the holly with its sweet fluty notes; the plaintive note from the cuckoo, and the warblings of linnets, finches, and other small minstrels in the bushes and hedges near by, was wont to remind one that it was indeed still midsummer.

As the day grew cooler and the shade of evening began to approach, Old Tom and his companion took their accustomed places in the garden, to chat and to listen to the younger portion of the harvesters in the meadow adjoining Old Tom’s garden.

“They seawnd rare an’ merry,” said Bill, as his com anion rose from his seat to look over the hedge.

“They’ryung, mon,” said Old Tom; “booath thee an’ me wer just as merry when wi wer abeawt th’ same age.  Ther’s a wide difference, Bill, between seventeen an’ seventy.  Ther’s nowt seawnds as sweet to me as a lot o’ yung folk singin’ some simple ditty — it licks o’ th’ made-up music; it wants less larnin’ an comes moor natural,” proceeded the old man, seating himself by his companion. “Husht, Bill, that’s noan one o’th’ yunger eend, shu-sheaw, it’s owd Jack Kershaw; he’s leader o’th’ chapel choir, an’ he’s full o’ music.”  And whilst the old man was holding forth in praise of the veteran choir leader, a sweet low tenor voice came floating over the hedge, for old Jack was trilling forth “The Sunny Month of June,” unconscious that only a hawthorn hedge stood between him and the two old cronies who were drinking in both words and music.  The last two lines of each verse were being responded to with glee by some half-dozen lads and lasses that had worked their way with their forks and rakes near to the garden where the old men were seated.  As the words of the song were in harmony with the surroundings, I here give the song in full.


THE SUNNY MONTH OF JUNE.


I like to roam at early morn
    I’th’ bonny month o’ June,
When hay lies shorn, an’ risin’ corn
    Looks up to th’ sky aboon;
To hear the thrush pipe in the bush,
    It puts ones heart in tune;
When daisies sweet grow at one’s feet,
    I’th’ sunny month o’ June.

A fig for o’ yore parks an‘ lawns,—
    Give me yon bonny dell,
Wheer th’ ripplin’ rill fro’ th’ distant hill
    Comes tricklin’ into th’ well;
Wheer th’ primrose shy is peepin’ sly
    To bluebells up aboon,
An’ hawthorn bloom sheds sweet perfume,
    I’th’ sunny month o’ June.

It’s grand to see th’ owd layrock rise,
    An’ warble throo’ his score,
When th’ mower blythe hangs up his scythe,
    An’ mowin’ time is o’er;
When lasses sweet look just as breet
    As butterflees at noon,
An’ every lad feels blythe an’ glad,
    I’th’ sunny month o’ June.

Ther’s a rake for every bonny lass,
    A fork for every lad;
Ther’s mony a smile ’at’s free fro’ guile,
    An’ mony a heart ’at’s glad;
To watch ’em wink, it mak’s one think
    Ther’ll bi some weddin’s soon;
For love grows strung when hearts are yung,
    I’th’ sunny month o’ June.


“‘For love grows strung when hearts are yung,’” said Old Tom, repeating the words in a kind of soliloquy; “yon lots in June neaw, Bill, an’ it’ll bi midsummer wi’ ’em till they’n getten wed, then autumn ull come creepin’ on, an’ afore they know gradely wheer they are they’ll bi i’th’ depth o’ winter, same as thee an’ me.  Well, God bless ’em, aw like to yer ’em; it mak’s me think o’th’ days when aw wer just as leet-hearted an’ as merry as they are.  Ther’s bin mony a bakin’ day sin’ aw fost used a fork an’ rake in yon meadow: ther’s bin aboon fifty year gone o’er sin’ then, Bill.  It does seem a pity, mon, ’at o’ yon bonny lads an’ lasses, wi’ ther breet een, an’ sweet, smilin’ faces, should have to feight an’ frab wi’ trouble an’ care till they grow owd an‘ grey an’ wizzent like thee an’ me.  Well, let us hope ’at they’ll booath sing an’ bloom in that lond wheer it’s awlus summer an’ trials an’ troubles are never known.”

“It’s to bi hoped ’at they’ll noan have to goo throo’ what Nathan an’ his poor wife went throo’,” said Bill; “aw’ve wondered mony a time sin’ last neet heaw th’ poor cratur went on after his wife wer laid low.”

“Well, Bill, aw never think abeawt th’ change ’at took place after Nathan had laid poor Ann i’th’ greawnd, but that grand owd hymn o’ Cowper’s comes straight to my mind, “God moves in a mysterious way,” — an’ he does too, for aw dunno’ think, fro’ th’ day ’at hoo wer laid to rest to th’ day ’at he deed, ’at Nathan had what one met co’ a gradely day’s trouble.  I’th’ fost place, these yung mester’s an’ ther wives took vastly to Nathan’s childer, an’ as soon as two o’th’ lasses geet owd enoof to leeove th’ skoo’, they took ’em for nussin’ ther childer till they geet owd enoof for gradely sarvants, an’ theer they stopt till they geet wed to two very dacent lads ’at played i’th’ chapel band.

“Enoch an’ Silas had a bit o’ extra taitchin’ fro’ th’ owd parson one or two neets o’ week, an’ when they geet owd enoof, Enoch wer taen i’th’ office an’ Silas wer put in this cabin wi’ Nathan, an’ in two or three yer they pensioned Nathan off an’ gan th’ job o’er to Silas, an’ theer he is to this day, while Enoch manages one o’ t’other pits somewheer in Yorkshire.

“So ther wer nobbo’ Nathan an’ yungest lass laft awhoam, aw meaon ’at little thing ’at skriked so for its mother when hoo wer bein’ buried; an’ when this lass geet wed, they o’ three lived comfortably together wi’ one or two gronchilder till Nathan deed.  An’ neaw, Bill, aw’ve towd thi as mitch as aw know abeawt one o’th’ best craturs ’at aw believe ever lived.”

Twilight had deepened into night, rakes and forks had long been reared against the hedge until the coming morrow, and the thrush had long sang his vesper hymn, ere the two veterans retired to rest, perchance to dream of boyish freaks, or the joys and sorrows of boyhood days.

Dingle Cottage is still an object of interest to the casual passer-by, but those accustomed to see the two old cronies chatting on the rustic seat, or pottering about the garden, feel that what was most interesting to them has now passed away for ever; for the genial relater of poor Nathan’s troubles and his attentive listener have now passed from mortal ken to the great unknown.


――――♦――――

 
OWD SCOPERIL


WELL, Jack, seein’ ut theau’s bothered me so mitch, if theau’ll just ceawr thi deawn for abeawt five or ten minits, aw’ll tell thi o’ abeawt Owd Scoperil.

Well, Jack, aw mun tell thi i’th fost place ’ut he wer a great lung, strappin’ chap, just o’er six feet heigh, an’ he wer very nee as strung as a horse.  He’d a pair o’een ’at favour’t as if they could see straight through yo’.  He wer as breawn as a berry, an’ his yure wer as black as a lump o’ burgy coal.  Who he wer, or wheer he coom fro’, nob’dy knowed.  It wer said ’at he wer a hawve-bred gipsy.  O’ ’at folk could tell abeawt him wer ’at he coom into th’ village one wakes time wi’ one o’ thoose actin’ shows ’at yunger eend o’ folk coe’n penny slangs.  An’ when th’ Wakes wer o’er, he wer deead drunk in one o’ th’ alehouses, so they went away beawt him, an’ laft him as a legacy to th’ village.

Well, theau knows, one Aister Monday ther wer abeawt a dozen o’th’ better eend o’th’ naybors, farmers, shopkeepers, an’ sitch like, i’th’ best room o’th’ Breawn Keaw, an’ o’ ther talk wer abeawt Scoperil.

“Aw’ll tell yo’ what, chaps,” said th’ landlord, “aw wish we wer beawt him, for he’s a gradely nuisance.  What done yo’ say, chaps, if we setten him up i’th’ show line?  Neaw, aw’ve getten a little peep-show deawn i’th’ coach heawse; it used to belung that owd felly ’at wer tae’n ill last Wakes time: he wer tae’n to th’ warkhouse, an’ theer th’ owd chap deed.  He towd me ’at he thowt he should ne’er come eawt alive, an’ he laft me this show fort t’ set him straight like.  Neaw, if Jonathan ull nobbut give him that great ill-favourt dog ’at he’s getten to help him to poo this show abeawt, aw’ll give him th’ show, drum, th’ bugle, an’ o’ ther is belungin’ it.”

Well, Jonathan said he hardly liked partin’ wi’ th’ dog, but as Scoperil wer th’ cause on him beighin’ this dog, if he’d nobbo’ clear eawt o’ th’ village, he could tak’ it wi’ him.

So they sent for Scoperil.

“Neaw, Scoperil,” said th’ owd overseer, “we’n sent for thee becose we want to bi beawt thi, for theau’rt a gradely nuisance.  Theau’s welly catched o’th’ rappits ’at ther wer for a mile or two reawnd; theau’s brunt two or three barns deawn wi’ smookin’ i’th’ neet time; o’th’ childer i’th’ village are feort on thi; theau’ll work noan; theau’ll do nowt nobbo’ poach rappits, sup ale, an’ tell lies, so theau mun flit.  Neaw, we’n getten a little peep-show deawn i’th’ coach heawse, an’ Jonathan’s getten a dog abeawt size of a yung jackass.  If theau’ll nobbo’ clear eawt o’ this place tomorrow morn, theau’st have this show, th’ drum, th’ bugle, an’ o’ ther is belungin’ it; an’ theau con have this dog o’ Jonathan’s to help thi to poo’ it abeawt.”

Well, Jack, Scoperil said, seein’ ’at rappits wer gettin’ scarce, an’ considerin’ ’at he’d bin i’th’ profession before, an’ providin’ they’d nobbo’ collect him a trifle amung yo’, just to start him off, he’d tak’ this job on.

An’ sure enoof he started off next mornin,’ wi’ this show an’ Jonathan’s dog tuggin’ at front like a little cheean horse.  Everybody wer fain when they seed Scoperil start off wi’ this show, ’specially th’ farmers an’ th’ keepers, for he’d caused ’em a deeol o’ trouble.
 


Well, things went on mitch as usual till th’ Wakes time coom reawnd ogen, when who should come treawncin’ into th’ village but Owd Scoperil, wi’ this show an’ Jonathan’s dog tuggin’ ut front like a little jackass; an’ a bonny seet he looked, aw con tell thi, for he’d getten some mak’ ov a second-hond sodier’s suit on, an’ a great lung sword trailin’ at his heels, an he pitched his tent straight at top o’ th’ hill amung t’other show chaps.

Well, Jack, aw’ve yerd tell o’ mony o’ one ’at could tell lies wholesale, an’ aw’ve knowed one or two ’at could ratch a bit, but if that chap couldna’ mak’ lies faster nor he could turn ’em eawt, aw’m noather wick nor wide waken. Lies! why, mon, he could wayve ’em!

Aw conno’ tell thi one-hawve o’ what he said, an’ it no use tryin’ to get mi tung reawnd that hawve-bred gipsy twang ’at he used to spake, but aw’ll get as nee to it as aw con, an’ aw’ll just gie thi one bit for a sample.  Well, theau knows, after he’d banged away at this owd drum till a lot o’ folk had gethered reawnd, he stretched hissel’ up, an’ saluted th’ creawd sodier-like, just as if he were the biggest stranger i’th’ lond.  Then he started off summat like this:—

“Come and patronise a man that has fought and bled for his country — five-and-twenty years and forty-two days I have been privileged to fight for Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen of England and Empress of India.

“I have taken part in seventeen of the most terrific battles that have taken place during the present century; wounded eleven times; taken prisoner and effected my escape on seven separate occasions.

“The bugle which I holds up to your notice is the identical instrument upon which I gave the signal for the Charge of Balaclava.

“The injury to the drum was done by a boomerang fired from the ranks of the enemy.

“My faithful dog Pluto was one amongst many others that acted as a body-guard to King Theodore, better known in English History as the Black Prince.  He was afterwards taken prisoner, and banished for the remainder of his natural life to St. Helena.

“The first picture which I brings before you is a scene from natural history — ‘Daniel in the den of living lions.’  Having displeased the king he is cast into prison; from thence he is taken to the arena, and introduced to seventeen ferocious lions, having taken the precaution to hide about his person the jaw-bone of an ass.  After a terrific encounter, lasting the greater part of the day, he succeeded in slewing the seventeen lions, which so terrified the king that he made him ruler over the greater portion of his provinces, and bestowed upon Daniel the hand of his beautiful daughter Matilda.

“So much for Daniel and the jaw-bone of an ass, the latter having upon several occasions proved to be quite as stubborn as that of a married woman.

“We don’t take farthings, my boy!  The price to this exhibition, as passed by Act of Parliament, is one half-penny to all classes.

“The next picture which I bring before your notice is a scene from unnatural history, ‘The Battle of Waterloo, or the Fight for the Standard.’

“There upon the right you sees Wellington, surrounded by his staff, your humble servant being one of the party.

“If you will look on to the left, you will observe Napoleon, the French army being hid from view in the background.

“In the centre figure you will observe Nelson riding upon his favourite mule, the identical animal that carried him so faithfully through the Spanish Armada.

“You will notice that he is fully armed, having a revolver in one hand and a telescope in the other, which he puts first to one eye and then the other, just according to his fancy.”

Well, Jack, while Scoperil was describing this last picture, who should come peighlin’ up th’ hill wi’ two cans o’ milk but Jonothan, ’at used to own this dog o’ Scoperil’s.  When he geet abeawt hawve road up th’ hill he puts his two cans deawn, an’ sheawted “Milk!”  Well, when th’ dog yerd Jonothan’s voice it jumpt to it feet, an’ when it seed Jonothan abeawt hawve road deawn th’ hill, it took off helter-skelter deawn th’ broo, takkin’ this peep show wi’ it.

Well, what wi’ th’ bangin' o’th’ drum, rattle o’th’ bugle, an’ th’ yeawlin’ o’ th’ dog, Jonothan thowt sure enoof ’at summat had getten lose eawt o’ one o’ th’ shows, so he took off whoam for his life, an’ laft these two cans o’ milk.  Well, theau knows, harder Jonothan run an’ faster th’ dog coom wi’ this show, till it coom bang ogen these two cans o’ milk, and tossed itself straight o’er i’th’ gutter.

Scoperil’s show wer gradely ruinated; o’ th’ top coom off, an’ th’ childer began o’ runnin’ away wi’ th’ inside.

One young rascal scuttered off whoam wi’ seventeen lions in his jacket pocket; another young imp took after him wi’ Daniel i’ one hont an’ a mule i’ th’ t’other.  Wellington, Nelson, an’ Napoleon wer lyin’ side bi side peaceful an’ quiet i’ th’ gutter, covert wi’ slutch an’ new milk.

They’n getten an extra policeman i’ th’ village neaw, an‘ th’ Squire’s engaged another keeper; an’ o’ th’ farmers reawnd abeawt are beighin’ big dogs.

Well, Jack, if theau wer to ax any o’ th’ folk i’ th’ village heaw it wer’at o’ these reforms had come abeawt, they'd look at thi wi’ surprise, an’ say, “Why, mester, dunno’ yo’ know — Scoperil’s comeback.”


――――♦――――




 
Aw’m Lonely, an Weary, an’ Sad.
(Sequel to E. Waugh’s beautiful poem
Come Whoam to th Childer an Me.
 

AWM lonely, an’ weary, an’ sad;
    ‘Aw’m tired o’ livin’ alone;
Aw’m thinkin’ o’th’ days that are past;
    Aw’m thinkin o’ thoose that are gone
Heaw aw miss thoose two little darlin’s
    ‘At used for to climb this owd knee,
An’ aw miss that sweet voice that once said,
    “Come whoam to thi childer an’ me.”

Does’ta mind that neet when theau fotched mi?
    Theau’d just mended th’ fire wi’ a cob,
An’ theau browt mi top-cooat, ’twer rainin,’
    They’re some nice bacon collops on th’ hob;
When theau spoke o’th’ new shoon an’ th’ posset
    Thi face wer’ a picture to see,
But heaw thi voice shook when theau said,
    “Come whoam to thi childer an’ me.”

It werno’ thi words ’at first struck mi,
    Naw lass, it wer th’ way they wer said;
When aw looked an’ seed theau wer cryin’,
    Aw felt fit to jow this owd yed;
’Twer thi sweet patient face, lass, ’at did it,
    Aw wer gradely broke deawn, theau could see,
For it spoke to me plainer than words —
    “Come whoam to thi childer an’ me.”

Is little Sall’s love just as tender?
    Does Dick ever cry for his dad?
When aw look at his trumpet an’ drum,
    No wonder aw’m lonely an’ sad;
Aw see ’em sometimes i’ mi dreams,
    An’ their little een twinkle wi’ glee,
When theau whispers, “Mi lad, ar’to ready?
    Come whom to thi childer an’ me
.”

Mi garden, its o’ crom full o’ weed;
    Th’ owd garden spade’s noan hawve as breet
An’ th’ har’stone, it does’na look th’ same
    As it did when theau fotch’d mi that neet.
Mi stockin’s an’ shirts are o’ holes,
    An’ thi cheer looks lonely an’ dree,
An’ th’ clock seems to say when it ticks,
    “Come whoam to thi childer an’ me.”

’Aw conno’ come yet, but aw’m comin’,
    Theau’ll noan have so lung, lass, to wait;
Aw con see yo’ quite plain i’ mi dreams,
    An’ yo’re stondin’ reet close up to th’ gate.
Aw know ’at yo’re o’ safe i’ glory,
    But aw think theau’s a tear i’ thi ee,
For thi voice seems to shake when theau says,
    “Come whoam to thi childer an’ me.”


――――♦――――

 
Yon Bonny Little Dell.
 

THERS a bonny little dingle
    Abeawt a mile fro here,
An’ when mi wark an’ baggin’s o’er
    Aw’m welly awlus theer.
Ther’s a summat seems to draw mi
    Wheer nature weaves her spell —
That’s why aw like to wander in
    Yon bonny little dell.

Th’ owd throstle greets mi every neet
    Wi sitch a grand salute,
An’ th’ blackbrid’s voice, so sweet an’ nice,
    Seawnds like a magic flute;
When t’other brids run through their score,
    The harmony to swell,
Ther’s a hallelujah chorus in
    Yon bonny little dell.

The fox-gloves, tall an’ stately, bow
    And shake their purple bells,
While hummibees an’ butterflees
    Sip nectar fro’ its cells;
The primrose shy peeps up so sly
    To th’ blue an’ heather bell,
Whilst daffodils dance gaily in
    Yon bonny little dell.

A fig for o’ yo’re foreign plants —
    They cost too monny lives —
Aw’d rayther see wild posies
    Wheer nature smiles an thrives;
Could some folk nobbo’ get a glent,
    An’ just look for thersel’,
They’d want to stop for ever in
    Yon bonny little dell.

Aw care nowt for thoose foreign brids —
    They dunno’ sing like mine —
They’re reet enoof for orniments
    Donn’d up so breet an’ fine;
When mine pipes eawt th’ owd vesper hymn,
    It’s plain enoof to tell
They’re praisin’ God for blessin’s in
    Yon bonny little dell.

Neaw, if yo’n never seen yon dell,
    Sometime yo’ll happen co’,
An’ then aw’ll show yo’ nature, lads —
    Yo’st yer yon brids an’ o’;
An’ while they pipe an’ warble eawt,
    We’ll toddle deawn to th’ well,
An’ drink success to nature in
    Yon bonny little dell.


――――♦――――

 
Eawr Parson.
 

AW like to yer eawr parson praitch,
    His sarmons are so plain;
They’re just th’ reet sort for workin’ folk
    ’At noather preawd nor vain.
He doesna’ use thoose great, lung words
    ’At some folk think so grand:
He gi’es yo gradely whoamly talk,
    ’At yo’ con understand.

For fifty yer he’s praitch’t an’ sung,
    An’ taich’t i’th’ Sunday skoo;—
Should he but yer o’ sore distress,
    He’ll praitch i’th’ week-time, too.
He’s sattl’t mony a doctor’s bill
    For folk ’at couldna’ pay,
An’ open’t mony a cubbort dur
    Afore he knelt to pray.

He never talks abeaut that place —
    That hot shop deawn below:
He’d rayther tell o’ God’s sweet grace
    Than fill yore heart wi’ woe.
He’ll tell yo’ gently of a Love
    That keeps yore heart i’ tune;
He talks o’ charity below,
    An’ mansions up aboon.

Ther’s mony a little orphan choilt,
    An’ mony a widow poor,
’At’s thank’d him wi’ a grateful heart,
    An’ bless’d his silver yure;
He never talks o’ what he’s done,
    But keeps it to hissel;
He ma’es one think o’ “Gentle Jone,”*
    An’ good owd “Roger Bell.”+

If once yo’ yerd eawr parson pray,
    Yo’d noan forget it soon;
It seems as if an angel’s voice
    Wer pleadin’ up aboon.
He prays for every sect an’ creed —
    An’ every colour, too —
For thoose ’at worship i’ God’s heawse,
    An’ them ’at winno’ goo.

An’ when he’s thank’d the Lord of Host
    For every precious boon,
Yo’ feel like David wi’ his harp,
    An’ sing like brids i’ June.
Th’ owd vet’ran’s welly seventy-four
    His een are growin dim,
A few moor chapters fro’ th’ Owd Book,
    An’ then — his “vesper hymn.”

* Waugh’s poem, “Gentle Jone.”
+ Laycock’s “Roger Bell.”


――――♦――――

 
Thank God wer o’ Awhoam.
 

AH, Jack, mi lad, aw’m fain theau’rt here,
    They’n kept thi rayther late;
Come change thi clooas, hie thi lad,
    An’ then get summat t’ ate.
Its gradely rough, it is for sure,
    Aw did so wish theau’d come,
An’ th’ childer wanted t’ see ther dad —
    Thank God wer o’ awhoam.

Eh, what a neet for folk ’at’s eawt, —
    Just hearken heaw it blows;
What folk mun do ’at’s nowheer t’ goo
    The Lord Almighty knows.
Thank God we’n shelter if its rough,
    Aw’m gradely fain theau’s come,
An’ th’ childers fast asleep i’ bed —
    Thank God wer o’ awhoam.

Aw kissed eawr little darlin’s
    Afore they went up stairs,
They looked like little angels
    Prayin’ simple prayers;
Aw wish theau could ha’ see ’em, Jack, —
    But then theau hadna’ come;
Just let us creep an’ have a peep —
    Thank God wer o’ awhoam.

An’ neaw we’n seen ’em, let’s creep deawn,
    Husht — dunno’ mak’ a din,
Aw wouldna waken ‘em for th’ world;
    Mon, it would be a sin.
They’d waken’ o’ at once, an’ sharp,
    If they but knowed theau’d come; —
Just hark to th’ rain on th’ window pane —
    Thank God wer o’ awhoam.

Ther’s mony a mother’s darlin’, Jack,
    ’At’s wand’rin’ eawt i’ th’ weet,
An’ ther’s mony a blinkin’ candle
    I’th’ window, lad, to-neet;
Ther’s mony a heart ’at’s breakin’
    For the lass ’at winno’ come,
An’ ther’s mony a lad ’at’s wishin’
    ’At he wer safe awhoam.

Let’s pray for thoose ’at’s wanderin’
    This dreadful stormy neet;
Let’s pray for thoose ’at’s waitin’, lass,
    For weary, wayward feet.
May they see that blinkin’ candle,
    ’At sure enoof says “Come!”
May they yer that welcome greetin’ —
    Thank God wer o’ awhoam.


――――♦――――

 
We Want yon Lads Awhoam.
 

THEAURT lookin’ sad an’ weary, lass,
    For neets are lung an’ dree;
Ther’s little laft but mem’ry neaw
    To soothe an’ comfort thee.
Poo’ up to th’ feigher, let’s scale thoose bars,
    Just hearken, lass, aw pray,
An’ then aw’ll talk to thee abeawt
    Eawr lads so far away.

Though th’ neest looks bare neaw th’ brids are
            flown,
    Just let us co’ to mind
Heaw good the Lord has bin to mak’
    Eawr lads so true an’ kind;
An’ though eawr hearts they oftimes yearn
    To see yon lads awhoam,
Ther’s summat whispers, “Bide awhile,
    Yon lads are sure to come”.

Eawr Dick an’ Tum went seechin’ gowd —
    Aw think they’n fun’ some too,
For when they sattle deawn to write
    They send a peawnd or two.
Well, bless yon lads, they’re gradely good
    God grant ’em strength an’ grace
To get safe whoam, then Dick an’ Tum
    Will kiss thi smilin’ face.

Eawr Billy’s sent us word, theau knows,
    ’At aw mun wayve no moor;
He’s savin’ brass aw know full weel —
    We’st see him soon, aw’m sure;
An’ when he comes, why, bless thi, lass,
    We’ll sing an’ dance like mad;
An’ Billy, too, he’ll caper like
    A gradely Lanky lad.

Th’ owd bobbin wheel lies idle neaw,
    An’ th’ loom-heawse looks so queer
Mi shuttle tips are red wi’ rust,
    An’ th’ loom stonds eawt o’ gear.
Ther’s nobbut one great boon we crave,
    An’ surely it will come:
Afore we’re laid to rest i’ th’ grave,
    We want yon lads awhoam.


――――♦――――

 
Eawr Lads are Comin’ Whoam.
 

NEAW, Matty, lass, come ceawr thi deawn,
    An’ hearken for awhile,
An’ when theau’s yerd this bit o’ news
    Aw’m sure, owd wench, theau’ll smile.
Dost mind aw towd thi t’other neet
    Yon lads wer sure to come?
Well if aw’ve read this letter reet,
    Eawr lads are comin’ whoam.

“Dear feyther, when yo’ read this news
    Aw’m sendin’ yo’ to-neet,
Yo’ munno’ let my mother know —
    Just keep it eawt o’ seet;
We want to tak’ her by surprise,
    For me, an’ Dick, an’ Tom
We’re gooin’ to clear eawr minin’ gear,
    An’ start streight off for whoam.

“Yo’n hardly know us when we come,
    We’n getten whiskers now;
We never see a razor strap,
    Mitch less a barber’s pow.
Just let us once get safe awhoam,
    An’ yo’ con surely bet
We’st want some shiftin’ for awhile
    An’ dunno’ yo’ forget.

“Eawr Tommy fretted for awhile,
    He thowt we couldna’ tell,
But then, aw munno’ say too mitch,
    Aw skrik’d a bit mysel’!
Eawr Dick would try to chaff, but then
    He’s rayther fawse an’ deep,
An’ if he didna’ fret i’th’ day,
    He talk’d when in his sleep.

“We hanno’ slept on good flock beds:
    For counterpanes an’ sheets
We’n thoose three rugs we browt fro’ whoam
    To keep us warm at neets.
We’n bully beef three times a day —
    It’s just as hard as stone;
We never smell potato pie,
    An’ broth wer never known!

“Aw’m gradely fain we browt thoose clogs,
    They’n noan bin short o’ work:
I’ mony a little friendly doo
    They’n awlus made their mark.
We had to feight for what wer reet
    When fost we londed here;
We show’d ’em straight ’at lads could feight
    ’At coom fro’ Lancasheer.

“Neaw dunno’ think we’n gone to th’ bad,
    Let come whatever may;
We never seek eawr bed at neet
    Beawt kneelin’ deawn to pray.
I’ simple prayers we thank the Lord
    For mercies great an’ deep,
An’ then we pray for yo’ awhoam,
    Or else we couldna sleep.

“Neaw shunt yon loom an’ bobbin wheel,
    Yo’re far too owd, aw’m sure,
To frab wi’ wark fro’ leet till dark, —
    Yo’st wayve an’ wind no moor.
So bid good-bye to weft an’ warp,
    To hanks an’ shuttle tips,
An’ clear yon room fro’ wheel an’ loom,
    Or else ther’ll bi some chips.

“Just guard this secret — if yo’ con, —
    An’ keep a sharp look eawt,
An’ if yo’ see three strappin’ chaps
    Come walkin’ deawn i’th’ fowt,
Just co’ to mind thoose wayward lads
    ‘At went a seechin’ gowd,
An’ welcome whoam three prodigals
    Returnin’ to ther fowd.”
 

.        .        .        .        .        .


This secret, lass, eawr lads know’d weel
    Wer one aw couldna keep,
For o’ last neet aw never geet
    A single wink o’ sleep.
Come, let us kneel an’ pray, my lass,
    For Billy, Dick an’ Tom,
An’ ax the Lord to guard eawr lads,
    An’ bring ’em safely whoam.


――――♦――――


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