The Haunted Man.
The Mauvais Sujet.
SOME two or three
weeks after the opening of the new organ, and whilst Beckside was
still in the first flush of its pride as the only country chapel in
the Duxbury Circuit that could boast of such a luxury, Jabe caught
cold again, and was threatened with a return of his old throat
complaint. He was compelled therefore to stay indoors on the
Sunday. This of course went badly against the grain; and in
order to keep the old man "ony bit loike," Ben and two or three
others called after each service and gave a full and particular
account of all that had taken place at the chapel, dwelling at
length on the achievements of the new organ, and the wonderful way
in which Mrs. Dr. Walmsley played it.
As the time for the close of the evening service drew near,
Jabe limped about in his parlour with his throat muffled up,
fidgeting and talking impatiently to himself, and peeping every
minute or two out of the corner of the window to see if the chapel
was "loosing." For the life of him he could not sit still.
One moment he was consulting the long-cased clock standing near the
door that led into the shop, and comparing it carefully with his
double-cased watch, and the next he was taking a sip at a jug of
"balm tay" which stood on the oven-top. Then he limped to the
window again, and after getting as close to the wall as he could in
order to see as far round the corner as possible, he stood there
peeping slantwise up the hill to see if anyone were coming down it.
Every now and again he imagined he could hear the organ, and stood
still in the middle of the floor to listen, although he knew, in
spite of Jimmy Juddy's solemn declaration that he had heard it in
their kitchen, that the chapel was too far away to allow of any such
thing. Then he began to snarl under his breath at the
preacher, and went twice to examine the "plan" hanging behind the
parlour door to make sure that the man appointed was not one of
those longwinded ones.
All at once, however, the front door was noisily burst open,
and in rushed Sam Speck, almost out of breath in his haste to tell
his somewhat remarkable tidings.
"Wot dust think? Whoa dust think's bin at chapil?" he
"Haa dew Aw knaaw? Aw hevna, Aw knaaw that," and
the Clogger looked and spoke as if Sam were responsible for his
enforced absence, and had done him a grievous injury.
But just then Lige came hurrying in almost as much out of
breath as his forerunner, and as he stepped towards the hearthstone,
he turned to Sam, and addressing him, said, just as if Jabe were not
bursting with impatience and curiosity―
"Well, wot dust think, naa? Wot's he up tew, think's ta?"
"Whoa? Wot? Wot are yo' meytherin' abaat?"
demanded Jabe in fierce impatience.
But before either Sam or Lige could answer, Nathan and Jethro
stepped in, followed immediately by Long Ben.
Jethro was the first to speak. Ranging himself
alongside Sam, and turning his head towards him whilst he warmed his
hands at the fire behind him, he asked―
"Well, wot's th' meeanin' on it, dust think?"
And Sam, turning to face his interrogator, knit his brows
sternly, and, tapping Jethro on the second button of his seedy
Sunday coat, replied emphatically―
"It meeans lumber; that wot it meeans. If he isna
efther some nowtiness, Aw'll—Aw'll eit my yed," and, giving the
knocker-up a little push as if to add additional emphasis to a
statement already overladen with that commodity, he stepped back,
and, putting his hand under his coat tails, stared doggedly at
Jabe was "on tenter-hooks."
"Wot's up?" he shouted huskily. "Arr yo' aw gone
dateliss? Whoa arr yo' talkin' abaat?"
"We're talkin' abaat Jooab, skinny Jooab," cried Sam.
"Well, wot abaat him?"
"He's bin ta th' chapel ta-neet; that's wot abaat him," and
Sam glared at the sick Clogger as if defying him to contradict his
Now Job Sharples, the pig-dealer, had never been to chapel
since that memorable meeting at which Jabe had so scornfully
returned his niggardly sovereign for the renovation fund. For
years before this Job appeared to have been gradually losing first
one and then another bond that bound him to better things, and this
seemed to have been the last one, for though the renovated chapel
had now been reopened some eighteen months, he had never put his
head inside the doors, and had come to be regarded by the
chapel-goers as entirely lost to them.
Of late years, too, Job seemed to have come so entirely under
the dominion of the vice of greed, and was so constantly engaged in
deep, tortuous schemes for his own enrichment, that his neighbours
had ceased to give him credit for disinterestedness even in the
smallest things, and his most innocent actions were suspiciously
scrutinised, under the conviction that, when properly understood,
they would be seen to be parts of some deep design for accomplishing
a selfish end.
When Jabe, therefore, received the intelligence recorded
above, it struck him exactly as it had struck the others; and so,
after standing in the middle of the floor and gazing thoughtfully at
Sam for a minute or more, he quietly dropped into a seat, and,
setting his eloquent, short leg in rapid motion, stared first at Sam
and then at Long Ben, as if in search of something in their faces
that would give him a clue to this great mystery.
"He's happen come ta yer th' horgin," remarked Nathan at
Now, there was not a person in the company but believed that
the new instrument was capable of even this miracle of
attractiveness, especially as Job was an old bandsman, but after
looking at the others for a while, Jabe shook his head, and the rest
wagged theirs in reluctant rejection of the suggestion.
"Aw'll tell yo' wot it is," cried Lige after another pause,
"he's cumin' efther Phebe Green; that's wot he's efther."
Several pairs of eyebrows were immediately raised, and Sam
Speck was just about to make a remark evidently confirmatory of this
view of the case, when Jabe, with his short leg moving at a frantic
"Talk sense, Liger. Does a dog goa courtin' an owd cat
efther he's worried wun of her kittlins?"
The elevated eyebrows dropped as Jabe began to speak, and
were knitted into momentary frowns of perplexity as he proceeded,
but when he had done every face was clear again, and it was evident
that Lige's suggestion was held to be an impossibility, for Job had,
many years before, badly jilted Mrs. Green's younger sister Lydia,
and almost broken her heart, and since then Phebe, who was more like
Lydia's mother than her sister, had regarded Job with feelings of
From this point it became clear that Job's real reason for
visiting the chapel would have to be given up, and so, as the
cronies filled their pipes, and settled themselves round the parlour
fire, the conversation turned upon the pig-dealer's character and
After two or three unimportant remarks, Sam Speck ventured to
say, solemnly nodding his head―
"Ther's sum foak as is lost afoor they arr lost. An'
Jooab's wun on 'em."
"Ther' worn't a dacenter young felley i' th' Clough when he
wur a lad," said Ben gently.
"An' naa ther' isn't a wur," added Lige with grim
"Jooab," cried Jabe, rising from his seat and taking a "swig"
at his "balm tay," "Jooab's tew men. Ther's a sawft-herted,
common-sense, music-luvin' and welly religious Jooab, an' ther's a
snakin', grindin', splitfardin' Jooab. An' wi' them tew—a—a—sperits
feightin' togather i' wun skin, Jooab mun hev a ter'ble toime on
Now there was a gradual change in Jabe's tone as he delivered
this summary of the pig-dealer's character. It went from
sternness to apology, and from apology to sympathy as he proceeded,
and so encouraged by the manifestation of a feeling something like
his own, Long Ben broke in here.
Leaning forward in his chair and waving his pipe by way of
emphasis, he said―
"If iver ther' wur an' owd hangil i' this wurld it wur that
"It wur that," murmured two or three together, and then there
was an impressive pause, and each seemed busy with his own thoughts.
"Naa," said Lige at length, cocking his head at an
argumentative angle, and evidently about to propound some abstruse
problem, "has dun yo' mak' it aat, as owd saints loike Betsy hez
sick childer as Jooab—an' he wur aw as hoo hed, tew? Besoide,"
he went on, as the position opened out before him, "his fayther wur
a gradely good chap, tew."
Two or three sighed deeply, as if to show that they had often
wrestled with the problem, but so far had reached no satisfactory
"It's horidginal sin; that's wot it is," said Jabe
sententiously. "Didn't Christ say as faythers 'ud be tewk fro'
childer an' childer fro' payrunts at th' last day! An' it is
"Thaa talks as if th' poor lad wur lost awready," said Long
Ben, looking protestingly at his friend.
"Lost?" cried Jabe excitedly; "when a mon gets to fifty-five—an's
gooin' wur ivery day—if he isna awtert he ne'er will be."
Ben turned and looked at the Clogger steadily with mingled
reproach and indignation in his face, and then glancing away and
leaning back in his chair, he said, in tones of slow, solemn
"Jooab Sharples 'ull dee a convarted mon."
Every eye turned for a moment on this venturesome prophet,
and then as quickly turned away from him, and as nobody spoke, Ben
"Owd Betsy pruyed thaasands o' pruyers for her son, an' deed
afoor her toime wi' meytherin' abaat him, an' as shure as there's a
God aboon, them pruyers 'ull be answert."
One or two seemed impressed by the solemnity of Ben's manner,
and appeared half inclined to believe his prophecy. Jabe
himself shook his head, and of course Sam Speck did the same.
From this point, however, the conversation took a less
interesting direction, stories of Job's meanness and hardness being
related by one and another, and all seemed dubious about one or two
instances of an opposite character related by Long Ben.
Presently they worked themselves back to the starting-point, and
once more speculated, but without success, on the reasons for Job's
unexpected presence at the chapel.
On the following afternoon, as Jabe, not yet quite
convalescent, sat musing and smoking in the inglenook, who should
step into the shop but Job himself.
He had not been inside the Clog Shop for over twelve months,
and Jabe thought as he glanced up at him that his visitor did not
look quite as well as usual. There was a softness, somehow,
about the red, sore eyes, and the face looked a trifle more pinched
He came into the shop somewhat timidly, but that was
characteristic, and so the Clogger eyed him askance and waited for
him to speak.
Job was evidently ill at ease. He took his snuff in a
decidedly nervous manner, glanced uneasily round the shop, stole a
sly look at Jabe as if doubtful of his reception, and then moving
towards the inglenook, and hesitating at the edge of a seat, he
"Well, Aw yerd yond' horgin last neet."
So that after all was Job's reason for going to chapel.
Jabe was a little disappointed, and answered gruffly―
"Th' horgin's reet enuff."
"Ay, an' hoo plays it weel," replied Job, with a little show
of enthusiasm, and then he turned and glanced at a seat near him, as
if waiting to be asked to occupy it.
The erstwhile schoolmistress's musical ability requiring no
defence, Jabe leaned back against the chimney-jamb and stared
steadily into vacancy.
Job made a movement as though he would sit down; but,
changing his mind, he took another pinch of snuff and a sidelong
glance at the owner of the shop. Would Jabe never ask him to
sit? Evidently not. The Clogger could not, or would not,
see what his visitor wanted. But Job had come for a serious
talk, and felt he could not open his mind until he got comfortably
seated. So he turned and looked round again very
significantly, but the Clogger would not respond.
Then he propped himself awkwardly against the inglenook and
blew his snuffy nose. Then he resumed an upright attitude,
took a step forward, picked up and began effusively to admire a pair
of new clogs standing on the counter. But even this did not
move the stolid Clogger, and at last Job, dropping his voice, as
became the nature of his question, asked―
"Jabe, hast iver seen a boggart?"
The Clogger laughed a hard, contemptuous laugh. "Ay!"
he cried, "Aw sees 'em ivery day."
"Ay, bur gradely boggarts—sperits, thaa knaaws."
"Aw knaaw nowt abaat 'em. It's tew-legged boggarts, wi'
clugs on, as Aw'm bothert wi'."
Job took another cautious look round the shop, sighed a
little, blew his nose again, picked up the short poker and tried to
balance it on his finger, put it down carefully in the corner again,
and then, leaning across and touching Jabe on the knee, he said,
"Jabe, Aw sees 'em reglar."
The Clogger laughed again; but a gleam of curiosity shot into
his eye, and turning his head the least bit round towards his
visitor, he cried―
"Ay, ivery toime thaa leuks i' th' leukingglass, Aw reason."
"Jabe," replied Job solemnly, and ignoring his friend's
mocking tone, "Aw sees 'em ivery wik, owd lad. Aw'm bewitched,
an' it's killin' me."
By this time it was evident that Job was very much in
earnest, and the Clogger, in spite of himself, was compelled to turn
and look at his companion.
The man's face was drawn and white. His eyes had a
frightened, appealing look in them, and dank moisture was beginning
to gather on his forehead.
"Ger aat, thaa sawftyed! Whoa dust see?" answered the
Clogger, with an odd blending of impatience and curiosity.
"Jabe, Aw sees—my—my—muther," and a choking sound like a
smothered sob escaped the distressed man, and falling into a seat,
he dropped his head into his hands and groaned.
"Thi muther! Well, tha'rt noa feart of her sureli?"
"Jabe, thaa knaaws wot a bonny sweet face hoo uset have."
"It's noa loike that naa; it's dark an' fearsome, an' it sets
me aw of a whacker. An' Aw sweeats till th' bed swims."
Jabe felt almost tempted to tell his visitor that it served
him right, but the poor fellow's face told such a tale of anguish
that he could not find in his heart to do so, and so he sat looking
thoughtfully before him without speaking,
"An,' Jabe," went on Job, in a pathetic voice little louder
than a whisper, "Aw sees sumbry wur nor my muther."
Jabe looked up with a large note of interrogation on his
face, but he never spoke.
"Whoa dust think Aw see, lad?"
"Th' owd lad?"
"Neaw; wur nor him, Jabe."
"Wur nor him? Thaa conna see nowt wur nor th' divil!"
"Aw dew, Jabe! Aw dew!" and Job shook his head with a
weary, heartbroken moan.
"Whey! whoa th' ferrups const see wur nor him?" cried Jabe in
"Jabe,"—and here the speaker's voice became husky and thick
with agitation,—"Aw sees Liddy."
Jabe felt a cold chill run down his spine, and he was bound
to admit to himself that if he had acted as Job had acted towards
Lydia Scholes, the appearance of her spirit to him would be more
terrible than a visit from his satanic majesty, and so he sat
staring before him with an amazed and dumbfounded look.
"Wot mun Aw dew, Jabe—wot mun Aw dew?"
Oh, what a sermon Jabe could have preached just then on the
expensiveness of sin and the certainty of retribution. But for
the life of him he could not compel himself to speak, and his
long-pent-up anger with his hard, niggardly visitor was fast giving
place to a feeling of deep pity. But Job was speaking again.
"My muther uset pray fur me, an' talk to me, an' coax me—hoo'd
a laid daan her loife for me, an' naa hoo's turnt inta a fearsome
boggart as freetens me loife aat, an' drives me maddlet. An'
Liddy!—they'll kill me, Jabe, they'll kill me."
But Jabe could hold in no longer.
"It's thi conscience, mon; it's thi bad loife. Thaa mun
repent, an' start o'doin' reet and give o'er scrattin' for brass,
an' then th' boggarts 'ull leeav' thi. Nay, they winna leeav'
thi; bud th' boggarts 'ull be turnt inta guardian angils, an',
insteead o' scarrin' thi, they'll tak' cur on thi an' comfort thi."
Jabe having thus thawed at last, conversation became easy,
and Job poured out the whole tale of his troubles to his companion,
manifesting at one moment a desire to justify, or, at least, excuse
himself, and the next accusing and condemning himself in unsparing
terms as the author of much misery both to himself and others.
Presently, relieved and comforted by the conversation, he
rose to go. When he reached the door he stood looking at and
toying with the sneck for some time, and then turning back, he came
to the fireplace again, and standing over the Clogger with fist
clenched, and a face aflame with shame and bitter self-reproach, he
"Dust knaaw wot hell is, Jabe? When a chap's badniss
turns his blessed owd muther into a tormenting boggart, an' brings
her aat o' heaven ta pester an' freeten him; an' when his
sweetheart, as luved ivery hur o' his yed is driven aat of her
restin'-place ta be a skriking ghooast tew him, that's hell.
An' that's wheer Aw am."
And with a wild despairing gesture he fled from the shop.
The Haunted Man.
How the Boggarts were Laid.
SHARPLES lived in the
first house in Beckside, on the same side of the road as the chapel,
and about a hundred yards higher up the "broo." It was rather
a large house for a solitary bachelor, being a good four-roomed
structure, but old, and covered at both ends with ivy. It had
narrow windows, a quaint porch, and a forlorn and neglected garden.
The house had fallen into Job's hands some years before at a very
low price, in consequence of the fact that old Tim Lindley, the
original owner, had committed suicide in it, and a rumour, carefully
encouraged after a while by the wily pig-dealer, had got afloat that
Tim's ghost had been seen in it. At the sale nobody would bid,
and so it fell into Job's hands at less than half its value.
And as Jabe sat musing by the fire on all he had just heard, he
could not but see in Job's recent experiences a strong confirmation
of the doctrine of retribution in which he was so firm a believer.
It was well known in the village, too, that old Betsy
Sharples had done her very best to wean her son from his grasping
tendencies, and that when she failed she had solemnly declared to
Job that his money would not only never bring him happiness, but
would eventually work him earthly shame and suffering and eternal
misery. And Jabe saw in Job's present condition a literal
fulfilment of the old woman's prediction.
The heartless way, also, in which, after several years'
courtship, he had jilted one of the sweetest girls in the
neighbourhood could never be forgotten by any Becksider, especially
as everyone knew that he gave poor Lydia up because he thought he
saw a chance of marrying money, a chance that, after all, he missed.
Poor broken-hearted Lydia, it was said, had, when goaded by Job's
cold sneers, told him in a passion of tears that he had given her
her death-blow, and that if she did die she would come back to him
and spoil every pleasure he should ever have. And it was told,
too, that after he had left her, Lydia had repented and gone after
him to ask his pardon, and to tell him as long as she lived she
would pray for him, and that after her death she would watch over
him, for, living or dying, she could never do anything but love him.
Then Lydia, after wearing away almost to a skeleton, had left
Beckside for a change of air, and since then, with the exception of
her sister, Phebe Green, nobody knew what had become of her, and if
Phebe knew, she never told. This was now nearly twenty years
ago, and beyond a rumour that she had died in the Manchester
Infirmary, nobody knew anything about her.
But, of course, as Jabe sat musing on these things by the
fire, he realised that there could now be no doubt as to Lydia's
whereabouts. If her ghost had appeared to the hardened Job,
she must be dead, and that settled the matter. As he reflected
on these things, his blood boiled with indignation at the
pig-dealer's harshness towards his gentle sweetheart. But
then, as he recalled Job's haggard face and wild, despairing looks,
he melted again, and felt deeply sorry for the man.
That night he paid a visit to Job, and after trying to
comfort the unhappy man, he preached him a very earnest and
plain-spoken little sermon, exhorting him to mend his ways and
return to chapel, and then perhaps the "boggarts" would trouble him
no more. At the same time Jabe took care not to stay too long,
for though he greatly honoured the two dead women, he had no desire
to meet them again, especially in Job's company.
And Job seemed disposed to listen to his friend's counsel,
and became most regular in his attendance at the chapel.
Then he took a pew—a whole pew—though there was nobody to
occupy it but himself. His contributions to the collections
were noticeably generous, and he began to put out feelers in the
direction of returning to the band. At the same time he
improved visibly in health, and appeared passably cheerful, spending
at least one night a week at the Clog Shop fire. But after a
little time less satisfactory signs began to show themselves.
He sub-let part of the pew he had taken, began to give coppers again
at the collections, and was commonly reported to have dealt in the
old harsh fashion with a tenant who was behind with her rent.
Two or three times Jabe attacked him about these signs of
lapsing, and told him again and again that half-measures would not
do, and that a man like him must be everything or nothing. But
Job apparently took no notice, and was evidently fast returning to
his old hard ways, when one morning, before the Clogger was up, he
presented himself at the Clog Shop, and with wild eyes and pallid
cheeks, and hands that shook when he tried to use them, he cried as
he met the Clogger at the foot of the stairs—
"Jabe, Jabe, they've bin ageean!"
"Didn't Aw tell thi!" cried the Clogger. "They're sewer
ta come; tha'll ha' noa peace till thaa turns o'er gradely."
"Bud Aw hev turnt o'er! Aw come ta th' chapil reglar,
an' Aw gees i' th' c'llection, an"'—
"Wot's that?" shouted Jabe with disdainful impatience.
"Tha'll ha' ta turn o'er gradely, an' goa ta th' penitent form, an'
jine th' class, an' give o'er money-grubbin', an' mak' it up ta them
as tha's chizelled, an' be a gradely Christian."
"Chizelled! Aw hevna— Aw shanna ha' ta pay back, shall
Aw?" And Job opened his mouth, and gazed at the Clogger with
surprise and terror in his eyes.
"If thaa wants peace wi' God an' th' boggarts, tha'll ha' ta
undew aw th' herm tha's done, as fur as thaa con," reiterated Jabe
emphatically, for he realised that no half-measures would suffice
with the pig-dealer.
Job sat for a long time after this, moaning and groaning, and
evidently hard hit indeed. Nobody ever charged him with real
dishonesty, but he himself knew how much there was in his life that
would require to be undone, if this was the only condition on which
he could have rest; and as his memory brought back to him case after
case of hard dealing and mean trickery, he writhed on his seat in
remorse and fear.
Presently he rose to his feet.
"Aw darr na sleep i' yond' haase anuther neet! Aw darr
na! Hay, dear! Wot mun Aw dew?"
Then he left, and during the day Jabe obtained temporary
lodgings for the miserable man. The following Sunday there
were two large pieces of silver in the collection-box, and Job even
stayed to the Sunday night prayer-meeting.
Then he took to frequenting the Clog Shop nearly every day,
and adopted such a humble and conciliatory tone towards those who
usually gathered there, that they soon made him feel at home amongst
them, and missed him when he was absent. He began also to
recover his health and lightness of spirit.
And so two months passed on, and though Jabe still held
stoutly to his contention that Job would never get peace until he "gan
in gradely," yet he was fain to acknowledge that there was an
immense improvement in his pupil all round.
Amongst other things, Job had tried to get upon good terms
with Phebe Green, the mangle-woman, and elder sister of his old-time
sweetheart, Lydia. But though he was very persistent and
patient, Phebe would have nothing to do with him, and repelled all
his advances with cold and undisguised suspicion.
By this time it had got well on into autumn, and the Clog
Shop fire had a large circle of visitors round it every night.
One evening Job was missing, and though it was known that he
had gone to Lamb Fold to "stick a pig" early in the afternoon, no
one knew whether he had returned or not.
Two or three of the early birds had departed, and Jabe, Sam,
and Long Ben were seated deep in the inglenook, the flickering chip
fire fitfully lighting up their faces as they discussed the
approaching Christmas festivities.
Suddenly there was a dull, heavy thud at the door, and then,
as they looked alarmedly at each other, all was still again.
It was too late for boyish tricks. What could it be?
"Wot th' ferrups is that?" cried Sam in startled tones.
But though they all held their breath, and listened, nobody
answered. Presently Jabe rose to his feet, and limped
cautiously towards the door. He stood a moment to look at it.
It was still fast, and nothing unusual could be seen.
Then he jerked the door open and stepped back, partly to
avoid any sudden attack, and partly to get the advantage of the
light. Nothing could be seen, but, as he was about to take a
step forward, a heavy groan came from somewhere near the door, and
Jabe jumped back in a fright.
Sam and Ben came gingerly up to his side, and stood looking
in the direction of Jabe's gaze.
Another groan! and evidently very near. Then Jabe,
whose scepticism on the subject of boggarts was being severely
shaken, thought he saw something dark on the ground inside the outer
He drew a deep sigh, glanced awesomely around, assured
himself that his companions were still by his side, and was just
putting forward his short leg, when a woeful voice wailed out
"Aw've seen 'em ageean, Jabe. Ageean! Ageean!"
Now the Clogger had kept Job's secret perfectly, and neither
Sam nor Ben knew anything of what had happened. So with
frightened starts they stepped back, and looked with scared faces at
That worthy returned their look with interest, and then,
snatching at the only candle that was burning, he brought it
forward, and, stooping down, peered earnestly at the heap behind the
door. There, all huddled together, lay the unhappy Job.
"Save me, Jabe! Save me, fur God's sake!" he cried.
"Aw've seen 'em ageean."
Jabe turned round, put the candle on the little counter, laid
down his expired pipe, and then going forward, gripped the miserable
Job by the back of his coat-collar, raised him slowly to his feet,
and led him into the dim light.
Job had a bruise on his forehead, and his nose was bleeding a
little, whilst his face was white and haggard.
"Wotiver's to dew wi' thi, lad?" cried the Clogger.
But Job's head dropped upon his chest, and staggering towards
the fire, he fell heavily into a seat. Then bending forward
and propping his head upon his hands, he burst into a cry and sobbed
as if his heart would break.
It eventually transpired that he had been to Lamb Fold, and
was returning home after dark, thinking of anything except his
recent troubles, when suddenly, just as he got down the Clough
"bonk," and stepped upon the cinder path along the Beckside,
there—right before him—stood the two ghostly forms he had learned to
fear so much.
Maddened and desperate, Job went from fear to frenzy, and
darted recklessly at the spectres, and as they vanished before him,
he fell headlong into the Beck, bruising his face on a stone, and
getting his clothes soaked with muddy water.
How he scrambled out and got into Shaving Lane he was never
able to tell, and he had not much more idea as to how he had reached
the Clog Shop.
As he sat there, wet and bruised, and almost ghastly, he
would have been a heartless man who had not pitied him.
Everything that could be done to soothe and relieve him was done.
Jabe found him some old clothes, and insisted on his changing his
wet garments. Long Ben slipped off to fetch some of his wife's
famous coltsfoot wine, to which was added a few drops of a
mysterious mixture of magical power, concocted by little Eli—rumour
said in the dead of night—and called by him "Number Seven," which
had never been known to fail in casting off the effects of a chill
if taken in time. Sam, with a little rag and warm water,
carefully washed the unfortunate man's wound, preparatory to
applying a green wax plaster—also the invention of the aforesaid
But even when these things were accomplished, Job seemed ill
at ease. His eyes wandered wildly about the room; he started
violently at every sound; and when it was mildly suggested that he
should go to his lodgings and sleep, he became terribly alarmed, and
utterly refused to go anywhere by himself.
Ultimately it was decided that he should sleep with the
Clogger, but as he was still too excited to rest, he sat cowering by
the fire, whilst Jabe related to Ben and Sam all that was necessary
to enable them to understand the case. The two stayed until a
very late hour, and when they had departed, and Jabe had
administered another dose of coltsfoot wine and "Number Seven," he
put the still excited man to bed, and lay down by his side.
Next morning there was a solemn consultation at the Clog
Shop. Sam Speck, having seen Ben going into that
establishment, came hurrying across the road from his own cottage,
with the remains of his breakfast in his hand, and a great idea
struggling for an opportunity of expressing itself in his mind.
As Sam entered, Jabe was just finishing his account of the
weary night he had spent with Job, who had at last dropped off into
sleep and must not on any account be awakened.
"An' Aw'll tell thy, summat," said the Clogger in conclusion,
and looking with earnest conviction at Long Ben; "if they' isna a
hawteration afoor lung, they'll be anuther mon fur th' 'sylum."
"Poor felley," said Ben softly; "hedn't thaa better send fur
"It's a soul-doctor an' not a body-doctor as he
wants," replied Jabe.
This was Sam's opportunity. Crowding the last piece of
buttered oatcake hastily into his mouth, and thrusting his head in
between his two friends, he swallowed the food, and said at last—
"If yo' tew han owt abaat yo', yo'll cure him yorsel's."
But Jabe was in no mood for trifling.
"Wot's th' lumpyed meytherin' abaat naa," he cried, casting a
withering look at Sam, and limping off into the parlour to listen at
the foot of the stairs, and ascertain whether Job were still
Sam waited, secure in his confidence in his great idea, until
Jabe came back, and then putting on a look of greatest gravity, and
using his forefinger to emphasise what he was saying, he asked—
"Yo' tew's th' yeds o' th' church, arna yo'?"
"Well, wot bi that?"
"Well, doesn't th' owd Beuk say as th' elders is ta cast aat
"Thaa doesn't caw Liddy an' Owd Betsy divils, sureli?"
"Neaw; bud they're boggarts, an' that's th' same thing?"
"Well, o' aw th' bletherin' leatheryeds—Sithi'! Aw
wodna cast 'em aat if Aw could! They're dewin' him good, mon!
Mooar good nor they iver did woll they wur wik. They're savin'
his sowl, mon."
"Well, they're takkin' a rough wey o' dewin' it, that's aw as
Aw hev' ta say."
"We met hev' a bit of a pruyer-meetin' fur him, at ony rate,"
suggested Ben quietly; but just then Job began to stir about
upstairs, and Jabe hurried off to attend to him, and the other two
departed, Sam still confident that his plan for Job's recovery was
the only likely one.
A day or two later the suggested prayer-meeting was held, Job
himself being present, and responding very loudly to every petition
at all applicable to his particular case. And whether it was
the prayer-meeting, or the influence of his own fears, or both
combined, sure enough Job was at the penitent form on the following
It was a long and desperate struggle, and when the
after-meeting broke up about half-past nine at night, though Job
declared that he felt a "foine soight leeter," the professional
judges of this kind of thing could scarcely be said to be satisfied,
and Jabe voiced the feelings of more than one when he said—
"He'll tak' noa harm fur being i' pickle a bit."
From that time, however, there was a very marked change in
the poor pig-dealer. He joined Jabe's class, bought a new
fiddle, and assisted the band at the Christmas tea-party, reduced
the rents of several of his poorer tenants, and gratified the
housewives living on his property so thoroughly in the matter of
repairs and fresh wall-paper, that they became loud in his praises,
and declared that he was "gradely convarted."
Then he had the cheap little tombstone on his mother's grave
replaced by a marble one with gold lettering, the only one of its
kind in the chapel-yard, and Jabe and his friends were divided
between intense pride and delight in the new stone, and misgivings
as to whether Job was not "showing off."
Then he gave up what remained to him of his original
business, and made it over to a former assistant who was poor and
struggling. So great, in fact, was the change in him that the
very children noticed it, and the harsh, unsympathetic old
pig-dealer and landlord became a popular favourite with them.
But perhaps the most remarkable of all his achievements was
his success with Phebe Green. He not only got on speaking
terms with her, but, by obtaining a situation for little Jacky in
Duxbury, he seemed quite to have won the mother over, and became so
intimate with her that he was once caught by Sam Speck actually
turning the mangle; and as Job's amorous disposition was well known,
it was confidently predicted that it would "end up in a weddin'."
Early in the following spring Job ventured to go back and
live in his own cottage; and as he was growing visibly stouter and
younger-looking, it was concluded that he had effectually got rid of
his gruesome visitors.
Then he began to "fettle up" his house. He had large
new windows put in the front. The outhouses were repaired, and
Lige, who seemed to have taken the pig-dealer under his special
protection, spent much of his time assisting him to weed and restore
the long-neglected garden. And, of course, no stronger
confirmation could be given of the idea that Job was going to marry
And Phebe's conduct seemed to give further support to this
view. She certainly no longer shunned her old-time enemy; and
when quizzed about him, she laughed in a very significant sort of
way, and said in her own peculiar manner that "them as lives th'
lungest 'ull see th' mooast."
Of course Job himself did not escape chaff on the subject,
and those who treated him to it were encouraged by the discovery
that he rather seemed to like it. For years he had been
hankering after a wife, but hitherto his preference had always been
given to women "wi' an owd stockin'," and in those days he probably
never even thought of Phebe. She was poor, and had four
children, one of whom was an invalid, but more than all he knew that
the motherly sister of his old sweetheart, Lydia, would have scorned
him in spite of his money.
But now everything was changed. He could help a brave
woman who was making an heroic struggle. Her children with his
money behind them would make something out; and, helping her, Job
would be helping himself to popular appreciation, a thing he greatly
coveted in these latter days. And, besides all this, to help
Phebe was about the only means left to him of making atonement for
his conduct to the gentle Lydia.
Job did not conceal from himself, either, that Phebe, though
proud and close, was a clever, managing woman, and would be a great
help to him in the plans he had formed for the future.
All these things, therefore, made the village talk very
pleasant to Job, and he redoubled his efforts to ingratiate himself
into Phebe's favour.
For four months now he had seen no "boggarts," and declared
almost every day at the Clog Shop that he had never known what life
was until now.
One evening in the early summer, after a hard day's work in
his garden, he had seated himself on the little side-seat in the
porch at the front of his house, and with a pot of nettle-beer at
one side of him and his snuff-box in his hand was musing on his
future, and his possible chances of winning Phebe. The look on
his face told plainly how pleasant were his thoughts. The air
was laden with the scent of wallflowers and early roses, and musical
with the songs of the birds. All nature seemed to smile upon
him, and as he looked around at the bright flowers and
white-blossomed hedges, he heaved a great sigh of contentedness, and
"Hay! God's good! God's varry good!"
As Job sat musing thus, a woman stole out of the mangle-house
at the bottom of the village, and, turning into Shaving Lane,
crossed the stile, and began climbing slowly up the hill towards the
Duxbury Road. She was of about medium height, with small
regular features, soft dark eyes, and a clear white skin.
Evidently she was about thirty-seven years of age, and a fair
example of that type of Lancashire woman who is fairer at forty than
She looked a little nervous and preoccupied, and every now
and again a soft warm light rose into her eyes and made her face
look tender and sweet.
When she got over the stile into the road, a little above
Job's house, she paused and glanced rather anxiously about her.
Then she sought the shelter of the high hedge, and stole quietly
down towards the cottage with her heart beating almost into her
When she got close to the house she stopped, and after
looking cautiously around again, she bent her head, and peeping
through the hedge, caught sight of Job sitting in the porch.
Her eyes suddenly filled with tears, tears all shining with
the light of a joy that was almost holy.
She put her hand on her beating heart, and sighed, and then
bent down and peeped again—a good, careful look this time.
Then she took a step nearer, and touched the gate with a hand
that trembled so that it shook.
The musing pig-dealer started with a terrified cry. The
colour left his face. He rose to his feet hastily, and opened
his mouth to shriek, but just then the gate clanked, and in another
moment two soft plump arms were thrown around him, a hot tearful
face was laid against his, and a low eager voice cried-
"Bless thi, lad! Aw knowed tha'd cum reet! God
does answer pruyer! Bless thi! Bless thi, lad!"
"Liddy! Liddy!!" cried Job, almost beside himself.
"It's no' thee! Tha'rt no' wik! Hay, wench!
W-e-n-c-h." And Job folded his arms around his long-lost love,
and hugged her to his heart.
Yes, it was Lydia. She had not died after all, but had
been in service in London, and kept up secret communication with her
sister Phebe. She had waited in prayerful faith and hope all
these years, and at last, at her sister's instigation, had come home
to her heart's only love.
And there they sat in the little porch, laughing and crying
together, and making mutual confessions and vows for a happier
future, and as the sun dropped behind Wardle Hill and the birds
ceased their songs, poor Job at last found peace and all the wealth
of a woman's unwearying love.
MORRISON AND GIBB LIMITED, EDINBURGH