"The Zeal of Thine House."
When Greek Meets Greek.
IN the September
following Jimmy Juddy's wedding there was a change of superintendent
ministers in the Duxbury Circuit. It was the middle of October
before the new preacher came to Beckside, his first visit having
been reserved for the "Trust Sermons" Sunday. He had come from
a circuit near London, and had never been in Lancashire before, the
only piece of information retailed about him being that he was a
Such descriptions of the good man as had reached Beckside
were strangely conflicting. Some said he was a thorough
gentleman and a polished speaker, others that he was rather too high
and mighty for Lancashire. In this division of circuit opinion
Beckside realised its responsibility, and prepared itself to give
the preacher a very careful hearing.
The little he had heard of Beckside prepared the preacher for
amusement, and he was a little nonplussed therefore when Jabe and
Long Ben received him in the vestry with impenetrable and icy
stolidity. To counterbalance this, however, he was cheered
when the service was over by Lige, the road-mender, who, in his
Sunday attire, looked a very imposing person, and who met him at the
bottom of the pulpit stairs, and exclaimed, "That's th' best sarmon
we'n had i' this chapil for mony a ye'r." And the minister did
not know that Lige had expressed the same opinion of nearly every
sermon he had heard for many years.
It was Long Ben's turn to take the preacher that day, and
that worthy over the after-dinner pipe imparted to his visitor as a
profound secret the disturbing information that he would have to get
a new steward in his place at Christmas. Well, there was
nothing remarkable in that piece of news, but it was impressed more
than usually upon the "super's" mind by the peculiar action of Ben's
plump, red-cheeked little wife, who happened to overhear the closing
words of Ben's speech. For she shut with a bang the drawer
into which she was putting the tablecloth, shook her cap-strings
quite violently, and then remarked, apparently to the big
brass-clasped Bible on the drawer-top, and in a tone between
amusement and irritation―
"Hay, dear! Owder and softer!"
Now, the "super" was not quite sure in his own mind whether
the remark, which he only imperfectly understood, applied to the
good lady's husband or himself, and was glancing inquiringly from
one to the other of them when Ben invited him to have a walk up to
the Clog Shop.
There, more pipes were smoked, though the minister was not a
disciple of St. Nicotine; and when Sam Speck came in and took Ben
out to hunt up some negligent Sunday School scholars, Jabe informed
the "super" that after twenty-four years' service he had made up
his mind "wilta shalta" [whether or not] to "cum aat at Christmas."
This second resignation made the minister think he smelt a rat, and
so he inquired whether there was anything wrong in the Church.
"Neaw," Jabe replied, "we're reet enough, but Aw mean wot Aw say,"
and he puffed away and looked a very sphinx of stony mystery.
The minister was a little annoyed, and went rather early to the
Sunday School to inspect and address it. When the children were
being dismissed, Nathan, the smith, drew him into the vestry; and
having carefully closed the door, informed him that he had been
seven years in the office of chapel steward, and had only kept on
holding the office to oblige the "supers" who had been there before
the present one, but that now there were so many young ones coming
up he should retire at the end of the year, especially as he wasn't
very good at keeping accounts—and the new minister did not know, of
course, that account-keeping was Nathan's hobby, and that it was his
constant boast that he had never been more than nine-pence wrong in
all these years.
All this was perplexing, not to say irritating, to the minister, and
when he reached his armchair at Ben's, he heaved a little sigh as he
"Yo're siking [sighing], mestur," said Mrs. Ben. "Is summut wrung
"No, I'm all right; but what are all these good men resigning for?"
"Bless yo'; is that aw? They allis [always] do it when a new mon
comes. Yo' munno tak' ony noatice on 'em; they'd be a fine sight
mooar bothered nor yo' if yo' did."
Then she bustled back into the kitchen, and Ben coming in from the
garden, the minister heard him called "lump-yed," and told that it
would "sarve him reet if he wor turn't aat."
Now the "super" was a shrewd man, and laid these things up in his
After the evening service the minister went to the Clog Shop for
supper, and was formally introduced to the members of the Club.
When supper was over and the pipes were in full work, Jabe with a
characteristic movement of his short leg, and an assumption of
modesty which did not at all fit him, asked—
"Well, wot dun yo' think of aar chapil, Mestur 'Shuper'?" And
every man in the company tried to imitate Jabe's expression of
grateful modesty in anticipation of the only answer which could
possibly be given.
The new minister seemed most unaccountably embarrassed, and was
about to give an evasive reply when old Lige burst out―
"Yo 'hanna [have not] seen a prattier chapil i' yo'r life, naa, han
The minister smiled rather oddly, and did not quite succeed in
keeping a contemptuous tone out of his voice as he inquired―
"What style do you call it?"
"Style! it's th' A1 style, an' nowt else," cried Lige excitedly,
whilst the others held their pipes at arm's length, listening
The minister looked wicked, and there was the ghost of a scoff on
his face as he asked—
"Well, but is it classic, or Gothic, or what is it?"
"G-o-t-h-i-c," shouted Lige with lofty indignation. "Neaw, it
isn't; it's gradely owd Lancashire, that's wot it is—wi' yo'r
classics an' yo'r Gothics!"
The minister laughed, and as he had over a mile to walk to catch the
circuit conveyance at the four-road ends, he excused himself and
But he left behind him a most painful impression. For the first time
in its history the beauty of the Beckside tabernacle had been called
into question, at anyrate by implication. And the offence had been
committed by the superintendent minister, of all persons!
The talk in the Clog Shop parlour was long and very serious; and
though Jabe kept up for some time a show of defence of the
ecclesiastic, it was very half-heartedly done, and he admitted to
Sam Speck when the rest were gone—
"When he talked abaat his Gothics, thaa could 'a knocked me daan wi'
Next day all Beckside knew that the minister had scoffed at the
chapel; and the feeling of indignation was quickened when Silas, the
chapel-keeper, made it known that when the minister came to the
week-night service on the following Tuesday he had gone round the
chapel laughing at the high-backed pews, putting his stick into the
cracks in the gable wall, and talking of ventilation until Silas
"Aw welly brast aat on him."
Every time the "super" came to Beckside, he dropped hints about the
chapel which conveyed the impression that he thought it past
Then a local preacher told Sam Speck under an inviolable bond of
secrecy that he had heard the "super" call the chapel a "ramshackle old building." But as Sam always made mental reservations
in favour of the Club in his promises of silence, this most
offensive expression was soon common property.
Under these circumstances, when the Annual Trustees' Meeting came to
be held in the following January, feeling ran very high, and the
minister, unconscious of the sentiments of his flock, very speedily
made things worse. The possibility of danger to their tabernacle put
everything else out of the heads of the Church officers, and not a
word was said on the question of resignations. This was a time to "hold on," everybody felt.
When the routine business of the meeting had been got through, the
minister leaned back in his chair and said—
"Well now, brethren, what about this building? It was all right, I
dare say, seventy or eighty years ago; but it won't do now. It is
behind the times. What do you say to a new chapel?"
Nobody spoke, but Long Ben and Nathan began to stare hard at the
fire, and the rest became absorbed in some mysterious matter going
on on the ceiling.
The circuit steward from Duxbury, who had come with the minister,
and was present as auditor of accounts, then took up the tale.
"You know, brethren, this is a box; simply a box; and (with a very
demonstrative sniff) a very musty box too."
A non-resident Trustee, who had also come in the
circuit conveyance, next broke in―
"You know we must move with the times, friends. What was good enough
for our grandfathers is not good enough for us."
Another long silence.
"Come, friends," said the "super " in the chair;
"What do you think?"
"Will some one propose that we meet again this day three weeks to
take into consideration the advisability of building a new chapel?"
Presently Jabe rose to his feet, turned slowly round, picked his hat
off the peg above his head, and deliberately limped down the whole
length of the vestry to the door amidst a dead silence.
After another minute's pause Long Ben got up and went through
exactly the same performance as his colleague, staring steadily
before him as he marched out. Then Lige followed, and then Sam
Speck. Only one local Trustee was left; and as the minister sat back
in his chair, watching the scene with amazement, Nathan followed the
One behind another, like a procession of ducks, the Trustees made
for the Clog Shop, and there held long and excited debate on the
crisis. Everybody agreed that Jabe's mode of treating the matter was
the correct one, and did him credit.
Presently the circuit trap was heard driving past. This seemed a
sort of relief, and crowding as far as possible into the Ingle-nook
and lighting their pipes, the conspirators discussed the situation
in all its bearings, whilst the firelight cast flickering shadows on
The chapel was compared to other edifices of the kind in the
neighbourhood, very much to its advantage. Long Ben dwelt with
affectionate pride on the labours of the committee who had cleaned
and decorated it for Jimmy Juddy's wedding, and the "super" was
denounced as a stuck-up cockney, a formalist, and finally by Sam
Speck as a Puseyite—the last epithet being all the more popular
because of its being only faintly understood and altogether
The minister's talk about "Gothic" was held up to derision, and it
was confidently prophesied that "he wouldn't stop his time aat."
Presently Sam, who was in a state of mental
elation in consequence of his late brilliant feat in nomenclature,
asked from behind clouds of tobacco smoke, which rendered him
invisible far into the chimney nook―
"Well, wot mun we do?"
This gave the conversation a new turn, and brought forth a number of
extraordinary proposals. None of them, however, met with
general approbation, chiefly because of their inadequacy to express
the seriousness of the occasion or the magnitude of the
At last, however, all criticism was silenced; and perfect, and, in
fact, vociferous unanimity was secured, by the paralysing suggestion
that Jabe should resign all his offices at once.
Yes! That would do. Action so astounding would bring conviction even
to the callous heart of the new "super."
When it was first proposed as a bare possibility, Jabe, though he
thought it not decent to say much, let it be seen that he regarded
the suggestion as a truly heroic one, but when the others began to
discuss it as a really practicable thing he was a little staggered,
and left to himself would probably have been content with something
But he was the leader of the revolt—first in honour and first in
danger. Desperate diseases require desperate remedies; and so,
though he postponed final decision as long as he could, the
infectious confidence of his comrades stimulated him, and he was
soon trying to wear modestly the honour of being the hero of the
hour, and every now and again was dropping mysterious hints as to
the startling effects of their coup on the offending dignitary.
At first it was decided that the awful act should take place on the
"super's" next visit, an idea which Jabe strongly supported; but
Sam Speck and old Lige contented that that was too long to wait, the
moral effect of the deed depending on its following promptly on the
occurrences of the night.
Next day was the Duxbury market, and it was decided that Jabe should
send all his books and other insignia of office, accompanied by a
formal written resignation, by Squire Taylor's market cart in the
Then the company dispersed; and Jabe, when the stimulating effects
of friendly presences was withdrawn, found it strangely difficult to
make up his mind about the note. Writing was not the easiest thing
in the world to him at any time, and composition generally took
time, but this evening he was slower than usual. A sudden thought
about the dear old chapel, however, and the "super's" sacrilegious
suggestions about it, brought the necessary resolution, and after
spoiling several sheets of paper he finally produced the following
"I resine all my offices.
"Your brother in Christ,
During the next two or three days the Clog Shop Club sat in almost
perpetual committee. Highly coloured pictures of the stunning
effects of Jabe's resignation on the minister were painted by Sam
Speck and Lige, and anticipations of what that dignitary would do
were canvassed all day long by those who came and went from the
Sam Speck expressed an intense desire to see the minister arrive "wi' his tail between his legs," as he phrased it; and, as the others
shared his curiosity, and, with the exception of Lige, were their
own masters, very little work was done for some days.
But the "super" gave no sign.
The Trustees' Meeting had been held on a Monday, and when Friday
arrived and neither letter nor message had been received, and Jabe's
books were still at Duxbury, everybody became very serious, and Jabe
was evidently labouring under deep anxiety. It was concluded at the
Clog Shop on Saturday night that the "super" would be sending the
books back together with a note by the local preacher who was coming
on the morrow.
When Sam suggested that a note would not do, and that in an affair
of such magnitude nothing but a visit in person would suffice, he
was somewhat seriously reproved by his elders, and reminded of his
disqualification for sober counsels on the score of juvenility.
The preacher arrived on Sunday morning, and was met by the stewards
in the usual way, and when it was clear that he had brought neither
books nor message, Long Ben looked anxiously at Jabe, who wheeled
round in the vestry and limped out into a little back lane, and was
absent from service for the first time for many years.
This was probably as dark a day as the old Clogger had ever spent,
and when the usual Sunday night deliberations in the parlour
produced not a single ray of light, Jabe went to bed to spend a
The next day he was snappish and bitterly sarcastic. Customers did
their business in the fewest possible words and departed; and the
ingle-nook conspirators endured Jabe's temper very meekly, regarding
it as a special and richly deserved judgment on themselves.
By Wednesday Jabe's crustiness had gone, however, and the Clogger's
aiders and abettors in rebellion noted with consternation that he
had become excessively but sorrowfully amiable. A patient, resigned,
but terribly sad look sat on his face. He sighed heavily every few
minutes, and stuck to his work with a sort of dull desperation.
On Thursday he positively refused to smoke; and on Friday, whilst he
still sat on his bench, it was observed that he was constantly
gazing through the window with a far-away look of melancholy on his
Late on Friday he and Long Ben sat up in deep and secret conclave,
and before daylight next morning Jabe had started to see the "super" at Duxbury.
Now, the minister was a clever man, and prided himself on his
knowledge of human nature. His silence on the question that so
greatly agitated the Beckside Trustees was the silence of policy,
and a smile of triumph crossed his face as Jabe was ushered into his
study on Saturday morning.
"Good morning, Mr. Jabez. Glad to see you! Sit down, sir!"
But Jabe, with a grave, sad face, remained
standing, and overlooking the minister's outstretched hand, and too
deeply troubled to notice his ill-concealed look of victory, he
"Mestur 'Shuper,' Aw've done wrung."
"Wrong, Mr. Jabez? I hope not! In what way?"
"Aw've left a good shop [situation] and a grand Mestur, just because
one of my workmates didn't agree wi' me."
"I don't understand you."
"Dunno yo'? Well th' Lord's let me work for Him till Aw thowt He
couldn't dew ba'at me, but He's shown me as He could. He can dew
better ba'at me nor Aw con dew ba'at Him, a fine sight."
The minister began to have misgivings as to his skill in judging
"Is it about the chapel?" he inquired gently.
"Neaw. It's abaat them books as Aw sent back. Aw've come ta humble
mysel' an' ta ax for t'books back, an' if my Heavenly Father 'ull
forgive me this time aw th' 'supers' i' Methodism shanna drive me
fro' my pooast ageean."
The minister began to feel small.
"Yo' see, Mestur, yo'rs is a changin' life. Yo've seen hundreds o'
chapels i' yo'r time, an' if God spares yo' yo'll see hundreds mooar. But us at Beckside yond' hev' ony wun little Bethil ta think abaat,
an' when yo'n been ta'n to a place as little childer, an' ne'er been
noa wheer else mitch, an' when yo'n getten yo'r fost glimpse o'
Calvary theer, an' aw th' peeps into th' New Jerusalem yo'n iver
hed, why yo' luv' that spot, yo' know, an' theer's sum on us i'
Beckside as luvs ivery stooan there is i' th' building, an' we'd dee
for it if we mud" (must).
"Mr. Jabez," interrupted the minister, gripping the Clogger's hard
hand, whilst his eyes gleamed with unfamiliar tears, "Forgive me,
sir, forgive me! Would to God I loved Him and His cause as you do. I
honour you from my heart."
And the minister asked Jabe to pray with him as a son would ask a
father. And then with wet eyes he went out and told his wife, and
brought her in to see his latest teacher. Then they both asked Jabe
to stay to dinner, and the "super" sent for the circuit conveyance,
and drove Jabe back to Beckside, charging him on the way to keep
silence about his visit.
When they reached the Clog Shop he went and saw Long Ben and Nathan,
and it soon became known that all was well again, the minister
cleverly contriving that it should be understood that Jabe had
conquered him—as indeed he had.
"The Zeal of Thine House."
"To Be, or Not to Be."
THE new "super,"
whose attack on the Beckside chapel has been recorded, was too wise
a man to push his plans in the face of such determined opposition,
and consequently abandoned the whole project; and it is only
consistent with the nature of things that, when the minister had
finally given up the idea, those who had so resolutely resisted
began to see something in it.
Jabe had poured scorn on the suggestion that the pews were
not altogether what they ought to be, but somehow they never either
looked or felt quite as cosy afterwards, and he caught himself very
nearly admitting that they were deep and stiff-backed.
Long Ben, who had been so proud of the work of the painting
and decorating committee which "fettled up" the chapel for Jimmy
Juddy's wedding, presently became troubled with inward doubts as to
whether the result justified the effort, and Sam Speck had to be
severely reproved for expressing the treasonable wish that the
chapel didn't look quite so much like the mill engine-house.
In proportion, however, as these doubts took root in their
minds, each became more and more demonstrative in repelling attacks
on the old building, and more and more emphatic in praising its many
excellences. At the same time each man was conscious of all
uneasy suspicion of the loyalty of his friends in the matter.
To have heard the conversation as they stood outside and
watched Silas lock up on Sunday evening, you would have thought that
their admiration of the edifice was higher than ever; for whilst
before the "super's" ill-starred proposal the chapel came in for
occasional commendation or defence, just as circumstances required,
now there scarcely ever passed a Sunday night but, on their way to
the Clog Shop parlour or home, some one of the officials would be
sure to turn round just where he could get a last glimpse of the
building and say―
"Ther' isn't a cumfurtabler little chapil for twenty mile
All the same, a slow progress of disintegration was going on
in the minds of these authorities, a process of which this excessive
admiration was but too certain a sign. The fact was the
Becksiders had a great respect for the superintendent minister,
whoever he might be, and the present one—the new chapel suggestion
apart—was so popular with them all that unconsciously they had been
deeply impressed by his opinion. The way also in which he had
borne himself when opposed, and the good sense he had displayed in
not resenting opposition, commended him strongly to their judgments,
and one or two of them had gone so far as to secretly regret the
part they had played in his recent defeat.
Not that anyone ever spoke of the matter. The "super"
regarded the question as closed, and apparently the officials did
the same, but they were all nervously afraid of some one suddenly
springing the question upon them again, and thus compelling them to
avow their modified views.
The lesser lights were particularly uncertain about Jabe.
Judged by his utterances, there wasn't the slightest chance of a new
chapel whilst he lived, but they were not quite sure, some of them,
that his loud protestations were not a trifle overdone, and they
were strengthened in their suspicions by the Clogger's very apparent
admiration of the "super."
These feelings were deepened by the fact that Jabe announced
to them, one evening, that the "super" had been an architect before
he entered the ministry, and had built at least a score places of
worship in the course of his public life. Evidently Jabe and
the preacher had been talking of chapel-building.
One Sunday night a stray remark by that rash young man, Dr.
Walmsley, gave Long Ben a long-looked-for opportunity, and five men
stopped in the middle of long pulls at their pipes, and held their
breaths, as Ben alluded for the first time openly to the forbidden
subject in the presence of the minister.
But the "super" knew his men by this time, and did not rise
to the bait, and every listening smoker breathed a sigh of relief.
When he had gone, and the company had settled down to the
regular Sunday evening topic, and Lige had finished a
highly-flattering criticism of the sermon, Jabe once more brought
all talk to a standstill. For, tilting back in his chair and
balancing it on its back legs, in sublime indifference to the
subject under discussion, he said, apparently to a half-consumed ham
hanging on the joist near the door―
"If ever we dew have a new chapil i' Beckside, yon's
th' mon as Aw should loike ta build it."
There was a long silence. Not a word was said in reply,
and when the conversation was resumed it was on the old topic of the
evening's sermon. All the same every man went away that night
with the feeling that the new chapel was now at anyrate a
Next week was the Circuit Quarterly Meeting, and as usual,
Jabe, Long Ben, Nathan, and Sam attended as the representatives of
Beckside. Just before the meeting closed, the "super," with a
palpably gratified air, announced that a very interesting
communication was about to be made to the meeting, and called upon
Brother Ramsden, of Clough End.
This gentleman, who was to Clough End what Jabe was to
Beckside, and who had been, for him, unusually quiet all evening,
with a look of immense importance, rose at the call of the chairman,
and after justifying his reputation for jocularity by a number of
more or less appropriate witticisms, formally asked the permission
of the meeting to build a new chapel at Clough End.
"An' Aw whop (hope)," he concluded, "as it 'ull stir aar
Beckside friends up ta get aat o' yond' owd barn o' theirs."
All eyes were at once turned towards the Clogger and his
friends, but Jabe closed his mouth very tightly, pursed his lips,
and looked across the room into vacancy; and the others feeling, as
Sam Speck afterwards admitted, "as if cowd wayter wur runnin' daan
my back," shot glances of quick inquiry at Jabe, and imitated his
look of stern gravity, as if in rebuke of the frivolity of the
speech to which they had just listened.
The Clough Enders, who had to pass through Beckside on their
way home, got into the coach with the Clogger and his friends, and
were, of course, full of their new scheme. Soon they drew Long
Ben—as a practical man—into the discussion of a draft plan of the
proposed structure which they had brought with them.
This was too much for Sam and Nathan, whose curiosity proved
stronger than their dignity, but Jabe with folded arms sat bolt
upright in the far corner of the vehicle, not deigning to notice the
plans or show the slightest interest in the conversation.
There was always a full attendance round the Clog Shop fire
on the evening of the Quarterly Meeting, and on this occasion every
possible seat was occupied. Jimmy Juddy, Sniggy Parkin, the
Doctor, and even retiring Ned Royle, being there to hear the news.
The air with which the Clogger walked through the shop into
the parlour to change his Sunday coat announced more plainly than
words that there was something unusual to tell, and the company
present was preparing itself for a feast of succulent intelligence
and discussion when Sam Speck, who had stayed behind to say "Good
neet" to the Clough Enders, suddenly burst into the shop and spoilt
all by blurting out in excited eagerness―
"Chaps! th' Clough Enders is goin' to hev' a new chapil."
Instead of the sensation he expected Sam received a decided
snub. The news he brought was unwelcome, but his manner of
serving it up was inexcusable. Matters of this kind were not
to be flung at them as if they were mere items of ordinary gossip,
and so instead of looking at each other in amazement, as Sam had
expected, they carefully avoided catching each other's eyes, and sat
looking into the fire with a decidedly non-commital look on their
At this moment Jabe reappeared, and everybody felt that now
the subject would receive becoming treatment. But first the
Clogger held a consultation with his apprentice on some matter of
business, and the company was divided between impatience to hear his
story and admiration of his artistic sang froid.
Then he sauntered idly to his seat by the fire, and commenced
to charge his pipe, attempting as he did so to start a discussion on
the probable age of the vehicle in which he had just travelled.
But nobody assisted him, though all admired his magnificent
The pipe duly lighted, he at length commenced his regular
description of the events of the day. But he was most
aggravatingly deliberate. Not a detail was omitted, though he
must have seen with what impatience his needless elaboration was
Then he diverged into a discussion with Sam Speck as to
whether the average contribution per member from Brogden had been
1s. 4½d. or 1s. 5½d., and when the latter figure was eventually
accepted he branched off, for the special edification of Sniggy,
into an exhaustive description of the financial system of averages
which obtained in the circuit.
The company listened with growing but carefully-concealed
impatience to this digression, marvelling uncharitably at Sniggy's
lack of comprehension, and all looked relieved and hopeful when,
with a long-drawn "Well," Jabe prepared to resume the main current
of his story.
But just at that moment his pipe went out, and every man in
the company watched with painful interest as, after trying three
matches, he finally discovered that the fuel was exhausted, and
proceeded with exasperating deliberateness to refill and relight it.
As a rule the members of the Club were proud of the
prodigious memory of their chief, but for once they could have
wished it had been a little less tenacious and precise, for the
speeches of the officials seemed long and tedious affairs indeed as
Jabe reported them.
At last, however, the statement for which every one was
waiting with a burning impatience could no longer be withheld, and
so propping himself against the shoulder of the Ingle-nook, and
drawing it out as if it were a hardship to have to give such an
utterly unimportant detail, he said―
"An' then Hallelujah Tommy said summat abaat a new chapil at
Clough End. But Awne'er tak's mitch heed ta wot that gaumless
But nobody was deceived by this painful pretence of
indifference, and in a moment or two Sam set every tongue wagging,
and got rid himself of much pent-up excitement by crying―
"Ay! an' it's ta hev' churchified windows, an' a pinnicle."
Soon the discussion waxed hot, the interest being intensified
by the fact that though they were only discussing the Clough End
chapel, a far more important question was felt to be in the
By long-established custom the Club sat an hour longer than
usual on Quarterly Meeting nights; but though it was late when they
began to separate, Long Ben, often one of the first to leave,
lingered behind, and when he and the Clogger were alone and had sat
for some minutes silently looking at the dying chip embers in the
fire, he turned to Jabe and said, with an anxious sigh,―
"Aw'm feart wee'st ha' ta give in, lad."
And the sigh which accompanied the Clogger's reluctant "Ay"
was longer drawn and deeper than Ben's.
It was customary in the week of the Quarterly Meeting to hold
a united fellowship meeting instead of the ordinary classes, and at
such gatherings Silas, the chapel-keeper, was generally a prominent
figure. But the night after the events just described Silas
was dumb, and neither long pauses nor nods, nor even nudges, had any
"Th' dumb divil's getten howd of sum folk," said Jabe
significantly, as he, Ben, and Silas were passing along the side of
the chapel homewards. But Silas only held his sharp, sallow
face a little higher, and gazed sideways at the rising moon.
As they were turning the corner to the front of the chapel,
however, Jabe pulled up, and whipping round at Silas in the rear, he
"Wot's up wi' thee?"
"Up!" shouted Silas, a look of fierce aggressiveness
springing into his face; "Up!" he repeated, and seizing his
companions by the arms he pulled them back into the little graveyard
"We're goin' t' have a new chapil, Aw ye'r."
"Well! wot if we are?" demanded Jabe.
"Well, if there's a new chapil ther'll be a—a," and Silas's
voice became tremulant, "there'll be a new chapil-keeper, that's
The two leaders looked Silas over slowly from head to foot
with a mournfully curious look.
"Dunna meyther thysel', lad," said Ben soothingly, as he put
his hand gently on Silas' shoulder.
"Meyther mysel'!" cried the chapel-keeper almost in a scream,
and springing away from Ben's touch, "Aw've ta'n cur of this chapil
for welly forty ye'r, an' Aw'm th' poorest mon among yo', but Aw've
ne'er ta'n a brass fardin o' wages aw th' toime. Wot have Aw
done that fur? Wot have Aw lived i' th' little damp
chapil-haase fur aw this toime?"
The leaders moved uncomfortably, and had a guilty,
"Dunna, Silas! dunna, lad!" said Ben, in a mournful, coaxing
"Dunna!" shouted the agitated apparitor, and, pointing to a
grave close under the chapel wall, he continued in high, protesting
"Sithee, my owd mother lies theer, an' aar Kitty, an' little
Laban, an' yond"'—pointing across towards the boundary wall—"yond'
lies my own bonny Grace an' her little un. An'," he continued,
wheeling round, "here's thy fayther, Jabe, as poo'ed mi aat o' th'
Beck when Aw were draandin', and theer's owd Juddy, as poo'ed me aat
o' the horrible pit an' the miry clay. Ay," he went on,
standing up and wildly waving his hands around him, "they're aw
here. An' Aw live wi' 'em, an' they live wi' me. An'
when Aw feels looansome an' daan i' th' maath, Aw comes aat here an'
sits me daan an' sings aw by mysel'—
'Come, let us jine our friends above
That hev obtained the prize.'
An' Aw'st ne'er leave 'em. Aw'st ne'er leave 'em till
Aw goa an' see 'em gradely."
And, out of breath with his exertion and excitement, the poor
chapel-keeper sank back and propped himself against a gravestone.
By this time Ben was in tears, and Jabe, trying ineffectually
to swallow something, looked first at one grave Silas had pointed
out, and then at another, with a miserable convicted look on his
face and certain strange twitches about his mouth.
"We met poo' it daan, an' rebuild it, thaa knaws," suggested
Ben hesitatingly, from behind his pocket-handkerchief.
"Ay! for sure," chimed in Jabe.
"Poo' it daan!" cried Silas, in new agitation; "that's woss
nor aw. Sithee, Jabe, Aw'll show thee summat as thaws ne'er
seen afoor. Aw nobbut fun it aat mysel' t'other day."
And, taking Jabe by the elbow, he led him forward to where,
close to the ground, in a dark corner all green and mouldy, was a
stone in the wall. Then he plucked a handful of grass and
briskly rubbed the face of the stone, and then, striking a match and
holding it near the stone, he made Jabe kneel down and examine it,
pointing as he did so to certain indistinct marks on the face of the
"Con ta read it?" he queried eagerly, but Jabe did not
answer; but, kneeling on the grass, he kept looking carefully at the
scratches until they slowly formed themselves into a scrawling
legend, evidently made by the point of some sharp instrument―
Jabe continued to scrutinise the inscription, which was very
faint, and had evidently been hastily done, until Ben came and knelt
at his side and assisted in the work of decipherment.
"It's reet," said Silas, when at length they rose to their
feet. "It's just loike his writing i' the burrying-book."
The three men stood looking down at the stone, and presently
"Naa, that's it. Thy fayther 'ud nobbut be a lad when
he put that in—just convarted, Aw reacon, an' thaa talks o' poo'in
it daan, does to?"
"An'"—throwing open a window as he spoke―"yon's th' owd
poopit as Adam Clarke preached in, an' Sammy Bradburn. Aw
reacon thaa'll poo' that daan. An' yond's th' penitent-form
[communion-rail], wheer thee an' me, an' sum 'at's up aboon, fan
peace i' th' Great Revival. Thaa'll be poo'in' that daan,
wilta? Well, yo' con dew as you'n a mind, but t'owd Book says,
'Thy servants shall take pleasure in her stones and favour the dust
thereof.' An' Aw dew! Aw dew!"
And, leaning his dark face against the old wall caressingly,
as a child to its parent, he concluded―
"Aw love every stoaan in it, ay, an' th' varry dust we're
Deeply moved by what they had heard, the two leaders somewhat
hastily bade Silas "Good neet," and as they were going down the broo
"each turned round and took a long, lingering look at the edifice
they had just been discussing, sighing heavily the while; and that
same week, without any spoken word having been used, but by such
processes as were perfectly understood amongst them, it penetrated
into the minds of the Beckside Methodists that whatever else was
done there would be no new chapel.
"The Zeal of Thine House."
Of His Necessity.
BEN, Jabe, and the
"super," with their heads close together, were bending over certain
hasty lead-pencil drawings, engrossed in earnest conversation.
"Howd! howd," cried the Clogger, interrupting the minister, "Yo'
munna talk like that. Th' on'y chance o' gerrin' it through 'ull
be fur t' keep them names aat. If yo' talken abaat Roman ex's
[esques] and Gothics to aar chaps yo'll ruin th' job, an' wee'st ha'
wark enew as it is."
"Aw think we'd better let th' owd winders a' be," chimed in
Ben; "bud yo' con mak' a fancy frunt if yo'n a moind. On'y
dooan't caw it by ony fancy names."
"Very good," said the "super," with a sigh of disappointment.
"I'll do the best I can, and you must pave the way for me."
"An' they' mun be noa steeples, nur pinnacles, nur hangels'
yeds, nur Chineese wark abaat it," persisted Jabe. And, as the
"super" nodded slowly, Ben gently added, "An' we mun ha' noa
thrutchin, an' wilta-shalta wark. If they winna they winna,
and we ar'na' fur t' hurt even 'one o' these little ones.'"
And the tremolo cadence of anxiety in the carpenter's voice disarmed
a momentary irritation in the minister's mind.
This conversation took place on a Sunday afternoon. The
two officials having made up their minds that, though the old
building must be preserved, some heed must be paid to the wishes of
those who pressed for improvement, had requested an interview with
their ecclesiastical chief, of which the words recorded above were
the closing parts.
They had explained to him the exact situation, and after a
stealthy visit to the chapel ostensibly to address the scholars, but
really to survey the premises, the "super" had hastily sketched a
plan which had the tentative support of his subordinates, the
understanding being that he was to prepare detailed drawings and
submit the whole scheme to a meeting of trustees, Jabe and Ben
undertaking to prepare the way as best they could.
Now, since the memorable scene in the chapel-yard, Silas,
only an occasional visitor before, had taken to attending regularly
at the Clog Shop, evidently apprehensive lest, in his absence, some
conspiracy might be hatching for the injury of his beloved chapel.
And as Sam Speck had recently taken to openly advocating a new
building, thereby manifesting a dangerous independence of judgment,
the Clog Shop confabulations often developed into stand-up forensic
fights between the two, the other members of the party only making
occasional contributions to the debates.
On the Sunday night in question, the discussion on the
"super's" sermon lasted rather longer than usual, a passing
reference of his to Socinianism having produced itching curiosity on
the part of the irresponsibles, and evasion and impenetrable mystery
on the part of those who were generally recognised as authorities.
Presently, however, Long Ben, who was generally supposed to
dislike the subject of the new chapel as provocative of strong words
and stronger emotions, actually introduced the question himself.
Sam Speck, astonished at this manoeuvre, and hoping, though
with misgivings, that he had made a convert, at once launched out in
commendation of the enterprise and pluck of the Clough Enders, and
the grandeur of their new building, at least as far as its plans
Of course Silas, the chapel-keeper, at once accepted the
challenge, and was soon giving Sam a Roland for his Oliver.
To the surprise of everybody, Long Ben and Jabe immediately
took sides with Silas, and out-Heroded Herod in their denunciation
of any idea of erecting a new sanctuary.
Sam was dumbfounded, and Silas, whose only reliable
supporters hitherto had been Lige and Jethro, rejoiced over the new
converts with many a quiet chuckle. Sam looked crestfallen,
and Jonas Tatlock and Nathan the smith, his chief supporters,
frowned and looked at each other in sympathetic resentment.
Presently Long Ben, contemplating with peculiar steadiness
the candle on the table, and with the most guileless expression of
countenance he could command, remarked―
"Th' Independents hez a gradely nice chapil at th' Hawpenny
"Ay," added Jabe reflectively, as if the idea were perfectly
new to him, "specially sin' it wur rebuilt."
As nobody followed this subtle lead, Ben resumed―
"Le'ss see; when wur it fettlet up?"
"Nine ye'r sin', cum th' frost of February," said Lige, who
prided himself on chronology.
Nobody, however, seemed to take any particular interest in
the matter, for the Halfpenny Gate was four miles away, and the
chapel only an Independent one, and Jethro was just beginning to hum
a tune preparatory to
starting a hymn, singing being not an uncommon practice when topics
of interest were scarce, when Jabe observed―
"It wur th' poorest chapil i' th' countryside afoor it wur
"Soa it wur, lad," replied Ben, apparently only just
remembering the fact, and then, after another pause, he went on―
"Aw'm nor i' favour of new patches upo' owd clogs as a
general thing, but it's aw reet i' sum cases, and saves boath
brass an' fawin' aat."
Now, Sam Speck, indignant at the unusually emphatic manner in
which the recognised heads had opposed his new building scheme, was
giving but a sulky and indifferent ear to the conversation, but
happening to lift his head at this moment, he caught a gleam in
Ben's eye which came as a revelation to him, and catching at the
suggestion hidden under Ben's last remark, he cried out suddenly―
"That's it! By th' mon, that's it! Chaps, we'll
enlarge th' owd 'un!"
And those crafty schemers, Jabe and Ben, affected to consider
this as a totally new idea. They tilted back their chairs and
studied the joists intently, and then slowly shook their heads, as
if to say that they thought very little of the scheme, and, at
anyrate, saw serious difficulties.
And their attitude had exactly the effect they expected.
Gentle opposition only wedded Sam the faster to his idea, and made
him the more fruitful of arguments in favour of it.
Silas also—a much more serious difficulty than Sam—was
deceived by the manoeuvre, and, as the only person present who knew
the exact measurements, supplied details which strongly confirmed
Sam's proposal, and very soon found himself getting angry at the
inconvinceableness of the arch-conspirators.
At length, after long argument, Jabe, in dubious, hesitant
tones, admitted that "Ther' met be summat in it," and with that the
assembly dissolved, Sam full of the double glory of invention and
conquest in argument, and the two stewards demurely content.
The following Friday the "super" held the Trustees' Meeting
and expounded his scheme. The old building was to be left
intact, except that the front was to be taken out and brought
forward, thus giving about forty extra sittings in the chapel.
The vestry at the back was to be pulled down and a schoolroom
erected in its place. The old woodwork of the chapel was to be
removed into the school, but the pulpit and communion-rail were to
be left intact; and when, after describing his scheme in outline,
the "super" unfolded a number of beautifully drawn and coloured
plans ("as good as picters," according to Sam Speck), and invited
examination, seven self-consciously important men drew up to the
table and proceeded to scrutinise the designs with as much of the
air of experts as they could manage to put on. They hung long
and lovingly over the "picters," and when the "super" returned that
night to Duxbury he had full authority to proceed, and left behind
him a body of men who spent the rest of the evening marvelling at
the extent and versatility of his gifts.
A day or two later completed plans were sent, and lay on the
Clog Shop counter for public inspection, and for the next fortnight
Beckside Methodism sat in almost perpetual committee over these
latest examples of the minister's skill. By the end of that
time, there was scarcely a person concerned even remotely in the
matter who had not given judgment in favour of the scheme.
There was one exception, however, and though it would ordinarily
have been regarded as of little moment, yet after what had passed in
the graveyard, Jabe and Ben were honestly distressed at the ominous
absence of Silas.
The "super" was coming over to a public meeting for the
purpose of raising funds on the Friday, and Wednesday night had
arrived, but the chapel-keeper had given no sign. Glowing
descriptions of the new designs had been given him by those who knew
nothing of what had occurred between him and the leaders.
Twice, after putting the plans in a conspicuous place on the
counter, Jabe had sent for Silas on some invented business in order
to draw him into a criticism of the scheme, but without success, and
to have directly broached the question would have been to court
Thursday, the day before the great meeting, arrived, and no
satisfactory evidence was forthcoming as to Silas's attitude.
In the quietest part of the afternoon of that day, however, whilst
Jabe was busy upon a new pair of clogs, Silas suddenly presented
himself. He wanted a clog-iron on, and he wanted it on in a
great hurry, and, catching sight out of the corner of his eye of the
plans, he turned his face toward the opposite wall, and became
intensely interested in a quite venerable advertisement of patent
Jabe took most extraordinary pains with that clog-iron, and
succeeded in making the operation last quite a long time. In
the meantime, Silas, affecting the most restless impatience,
fidgeted every moment about the shortness of time.
Presently Jabe began dropping hints, and putting leading
questions, but Silas would not be caught, and when the iron had been
replaced, and another one that Jabe discovered to be "loosening" had
been made secure, and the repairing process could no longer be
prolonged, he handed back the clog to its owner with a petulant
Silas, on his side, now that the opportunity of departure was
provided, seemed suddenly to have been seized with a fit of
lingering, and manifested a reluctance to depart strangely
inconsistent with his former feverish impatience.
At this moment a new idea occurred to Jabe, and, catching
sight of a pair of clogs, evidently waiting to be taken home, he
"Hay, dear! that lump-yed of a Isaac's goan to his tay ba'at
takkin' Jethro's clugs wi' him. Sit thi daan, Silas, an' moind
th' shop woll Aw nip daan an' tak' em. Th' owd lad conna cum
aat till he gets 'em."
Silas, forgetting his previous haste, complied with
ill-disguised alacrity, and almost before Jabe had closed the
shop-door, he was bending eagerly over the erstwhile invisible
plans. He had a good long look at them, for Jabe was an
unconscionable time away, and when he did return he found the plans
apparently as he had left them, and Silas still engrossed in the
subject of patent blacking.
Jabe attempted to draw the chapel-keeper into conversation
again, but without success. Silas remembered his forgotten
haste, and departed with demonstrations of impatience, leaving the
Clogger wrestling with a sense of defeat.
In the evening Silas joined the company round the fire, and
appeared very attentive when anything referring to the renovation
scheme was introduced; and, when he had departed, Ben nodded his
head sagaciously across the fireplace at his friend, and re-marked―
"He's cumin' raand nicely, tha sees."
The following night the great meeting was to be held.
The "super" was to take the chair, and for some days consultations
had been held, challenges given, and thinly-veiled exhortations
addressed by the Becksiders one to another with a view to promoting
It was getting dark on the Friday evening as the "super"
reached the top of the hill going down to the village, and his
reverence was just tightening rein to steady his steed down the
rough incline when a man came out from behind a gatepost and cried,
looking cautiously round as he did so, "Whey!"
It was Long Ben, and as he came close to the trap the "super"
noticed a look of apprehensive caution on his face. After the
heartiest of greetings, and another anxious glance towards the
village, he said, dropping his voice almost to a whisper―
"He's bin agate on me ageean; he winna le' me gie nowt."
"Who won't?" asked the "super."
"Whey, him!" jerking his thumb in the direction of the Clog
Shop. "He says Aw'm nobbut fur t' gie five paand!" And
Ben's long face lengthened considerably with an injured, resentful
"Well, can you afford more, Mr. Barber?" asked the "super,"
who knew enough to justify the question.
"Affooard! Wot's affooarding to dew wi' it?" cried Ben,
now fairly roused. "This is fur th' Lord's haase, isn't it?
Aw mun affooard, an' Aw will, fur oather him or yo'!"
"Well, but, with your family, Mr. Barber"―
"Family! that's just it. Dew yo' think my childer 'ud
loike fur t' goa theer, an' gie nowt towart th' fettlin' on it?
Neaw, neaw, mestur, we'est dew it if we 'an ta clem [starve] fur
"And does Mr. Jabez want to stop you?"
"Stop us? Ay, does he. He says as if Aw give a
hawpenny mooar nur five paand he'll stop th' job."
"Well, what do you want me to do?"
"Aw've getten a bit of a plan fur chettin' him, if yo'll help
"Well, what is it?"
"When yo' begin ta read aat th' subscriptions yo' mun read
aat ' Ben Barber, five paand,' an' then a bit efther yo' can say, 'A
Friend, twenty paand,' dun yo' see, an' theer's th' brass," and Ben
handed the minister five five-pound notes.
A few minutes later the "super" and Ben entered the Clog Shop in
company, and Jabe seeing them together, glared fiercely at Ben and
But Ben merely sauntered to his seat with his hands in his pockets,
and began humming a tune.
"Tum, tum, tum," cried Jabe, mocking the carpenter's music, and
evidently in the worst of humours; "tha's summat ta 'turn, turn'
abaat, tha has." And eyeing him with a look of mingled suspicion and
disgust, he suddenly demanded―
"Hast browt that writin' papper?"
"Hey, neaw!" cried Ben in sudden remembrance; "Aw'd cleean forgetten
it," and he hurried off homeward.
Jabe watched him disappear with distrustful, uneasy looks, and then,
turning with a heavy sigh to the minister, he cried despairingly―
"Aw'st ne'er mak' nowt on him, Aw con see. Aw've bin trying forty
ye'r, an' Aw'm furder off nor ivver!" and then on sudden
recollection he changed his tone and said, "But Aw want ta hev a
word wi' yo', Mestur Shuper, afoor we goa."
"Proceed, Mr. Steward."
"Naa, when yo' starten a talkin' abaat brassta-neet, yon sawft ninny
'ull be up on his feet an' givin' away his childer's meit afoor we
know wheer we are. Well, Aw'm gooin' fur t' stop him. As soon as yo'n oppened aat, yo mun read aat, 'Jabez Longworth, twenty-five
paand,' an' then, afoor he has time fur t' speik, yo' mun say, 'Ben
Barber, twenty-five paand.' An' if yon mon gets up on his lung legs
yo' mun stop him, an' if he gets up twenty toimes yo' mun stop
him,—and theer's th' brass." And Jabe handed fifty pounds to the
minister in gold and notes.
The "super," touched, amused, and a little embarrassed by the
conflicting confidences of these two friends, was about to reply,
when Ben returned with the writing materials, and all three
adjourned to the chapel.
A goodly company had assembled, and, after a formal opening, the
minister proceeded in a clear and forcible speech to explain the
scheme and solicit subscriptions.
"I have received one or two subscriptions already," he said, "which
I will read:―
"Mr. Benjamin Barber, five pounds.
"A Friend, twenty pounds."
There was an exclamation of smothered wrath from Jabe, but the
"Mr. Jabez Longworth, twenty-five pounds.
"Mr. Benjamin Barber, twenty-five."
The meeting looked mystified. Two subscriptions in one name sounded
very odd. Long Ben sat in his side pew with his eyes closed, and his
face void of all expression, and Jabe, after emitting from
tightly-pursed lips certain indescribable sounds, suddenly rose to
his feet, and glaring over the heads of the people, across the whole
length of the chapel, exclaimed, shaking a podgy finger at Ben—
"Thaa thinks thaws dun it this toime, dust na? Bud Aw'll be straight
wi' thee yet, tha long lump-yed, thaa."
The minister was shocked at this very unparliamentary language, and
was about to intervene when his attention was diverted by a
scuffling sound in one of the middle pews, where Sam Speck and
Nathan seemed to be having some trouble with Silas the
chapel-keeper, who was tightly jammed between them.
More subscriptions began to come in. Dr. Walmsley, in his own and
his "dear wife's" name, offered a thankoffering for a good mother,
followed by smaller gifts from the ladies themselves. Then came
Jonas Tatlock and Johnty Harrop, followed by poor Phebe Green from
the mangle-house, who wanted "to thank God for being a friend to the
widow and sending her some more friends."
"Ten paand, Mestur Shuper," shouted Nathan the smith, still
embarrassed by that mysterious conflict in the middle pew.
"An' me ten," chimed in Sam Speck, apparently out of breath from the
Then a sudden hush fell on the assembly as Sniggy Parkin stood up,
in evident emotion.
"Aw—aw hevn't getten gradely straight yet, friends," he stammered, "bud if yo'll trust me twelve months Aw'll gee two paand ten fur th'
schoo'-missis, God bless her" — (loud Amens)—"an' two paand ten fur
this blessed owd place wheer Jesus washed my sins away."
Then came smaller contributions from others of the reformed
Brick-crofters, each accompanied by some rudely-tender reference to
A pause followed, and Lige, the road-mender, started off singing, "Ther'll be na mooar sorra theer."
And when that was got through, Job Sharples, the niggardly
pig-dealer, rose. There was breathless silence as he opened his pew
door and walked up to the communion-rail, behind which the minister
sat, and put down on the table a coin.
Then he smiled patronisingly on the minister, and walked back to his
seat. Several persons rose in their seats and leaned over to see
what the coin was. "A sovereign," passed in whispers round the
chapel, and expressive looks were exchanged.
As the whispers reached the back pew Jabe rose from his seat, paused
to draw himself to his very fullest height, and then kicking
savagely at the disobedient pew door, he limped down the whole
length of the chapel, took the coin from the table, and, stepping
with a haughty mien to Job's seat, he placed the coin on the narrow
book-rest with a loud click, saying as he did so, in tones of
inexpressible scorn and irony, "Thaa conna affooard it, Job," and
then, with his nose very much in the air, he limped back to his pew.
A second time, at a moment of intense interest, that mysterious
noise came from Sam Speck's pew, and taking advantage of the
momentary distraction, Job snatched his cap from one of the pegs
against the wall and hurried out.
A few more subscriptions were now announced, including quite
reckless sums from Jethro and Lige, and once more that unruly
disturbance in Sam Speck's neighbourhood broke out. A sharp sound,
like the rending of cloth, was heard, and Silas, the chapel-keeper,
with a flapping rent in one of his coat-sleeves, came struggling out
of the pew, having evidently escaped with difficulty from the
restraining hands of Sam and Nathan.
With his long, thin hair waving about, and excitement and triumph in
his look, he rushed up to the table, and dragging out of his pocket a
large tobacco-box, he opened the lid and emptied the contents before
the minister. It was a strange collection. There were several dim
and dirty threepenny and fourpenny pieces, a number of green-mouldy
coppers, two crowns, a few other odd silver coins, and three little
greasy packets containing a half-sovereign each.
"They say Aw munna give nowt 'cause Aw'm sa poor," he cried, in his
wild way. "They say as they'll send it back if Aw dew. Did th' Lord
stop th' poor widow fro' givin' 'cause hoo wur poor? Did He send her
mite back? Neaw! An' He winna send mine back, if they dew. It wur aw
as hoo had, and He took it; an' it's aw as Aw have, an' He'll tak'
mine. An' Aw daar ony on yo' to stop me." And poor Silas sank
sobbing upon the communion cushion.
"Friends," said the minister, with wet eyes and shaking voice,
"Silas, like the widow, has given more than we all, for he has given
of his necessity."
"The Zeal of Thine House."
Raising the Wind.
THE Clogger sat
in a high-backed arm chair, very close to the parlour fire. He
had a huge "comforter" round his neck, the ends of which passed up
over his ears and met in a knot at the top of his head. One
side of his face was swollen. Though the weather was cold, he
was without a coat, for Beckside gentlemen seldom wore their coats
indoors; but his shoulders were covered by a heavy shawl. He
had on his knee a jug containing ale-posseta very popular local cure
for colds—and near him, on the oven top, another jug containing "cumfrey
He held his head a little on one side in a pensive manner,
and had a pathetic, self-pitying expression on his face. He
had got wet through two or three times lately whilst out begging for
the chapel, and this was the result. He had now had several
days of invalidism, which had tried his temper very severely, and at
last had reduced him to pensive and sorrowful resignation.
"Aw've towd thi mony a toime as Aw shouldn't be a lung
liver," he said, in melancholy, whining tones, to Aunt Judy, who was
nursing him. "An' tha sees Aw'm reet. Aw'st dee abaat th'
same age as my muther did."
"Dee? Ger aat wi' thi, tha owd mollycoddle. Yo'
felleys is so feast if owt ails yo'."
"Judy," he replied, shaking his head with profound solemnity,
"yo'r Jabe's dun." And then, after another pause and a sob,
which he did not even try to conceal, "Aw'st ne'er see th' chapil
Judy was in difficulties. She did not in the least
share the patient's fears, but she knew that to refuse to believe in
them would only make things worse. So she tried to get up an
argument with him on the comparative virtues of ale-posset and "cumfrey
tay," and roundly declared, in the hope of arousing a spark of the
old combativeness, that the preference of men-folk for ale-posset
was a suspicious circumstance to her.
But even this did not succeed, and Jabe was commencing to
give some directions as to the disposal of his worldly possessions,
when Judy had a sudden inspiration, and broke in—
"Hast yerd wot Sue Johnty's bin propoasin'?"
"Neaw, wench," replied the Clogger, but with just the
faintest gleam of curiosity in his eye. "Aw've noa interest i'
warldly things naa."
"Hoo says hoo can see a hunderd paand in it, at ony rate,"
said Judy, stealing a sly look at her brother's face, and knowing
that if anything could rouse him it would be the chance of hearing
of means to raise money for the chapel renovation scheme.
"Well, hoo's a loikely wench is Susy," Jabe replied.
"Wot's hoo been sayin'?"
"Hoo wants us to have a buzaar." And Judy gave a sort
of anticipatory wince, and shot a glance of quick apprehension at
the Clogger, as she dropped out the last word.
"Wot?" shouted Jabe, jumping to his feet, and upsetting the
jug of ale-posset as he did so. And for the next five minutes
poor Judy had poured upon her a torrent of abuse and reproach.
The attack would doubtless have lasted longer than it did but
for the fact that Jabe's excitement burst a huge gumboil and
effectually closed his mouth for the time, and the doctor, coming in
a little later, found him faint and exhausted, but still "breathing
For the next three days Jabe sat in semi-state in his
parlour, passing through the various stages of convalescence, and
telling over and over again the story of Sue Johnty's wicked and
worldly proposal, and though many disagreed with him, and some had
even given a conditional adhesion to Mrs. Johnty's scheme, nobody
dared to say so in the Clogger's presence.
Jabe had never seen a bazaar, but he regarded them as the
last sign of worldliness and pride in a church, and declared again
and again during those days of convalescence—
"Aw'd sooner see th' bums [bailiffs] i' th' chapel fur debt
nur pay it off wi' brass fro' Vanity Fair."
This episode seemed also to increase his animosity towards
the opposite sex.
"Women an' trubbel cam' into th' warld together, an' they'n
bin together ivver sin'; bud Aw'll watch 'em at this."
But poor Jabe was only human, and turned pale with a sense of
approaching discomfiture as on the first day after he resumed work
he lifted his head and saw the schoolmistress (now Mrs. Dr. Walmsley),
Nancy of the Fold farm, and the irresistible Mrs. Johnty Harrop
approaching the shop.
It was a long tussle in the parlour that afternoon, and when
the ladies retired they had a subdued and resigned air about them
which seemed to indicate defeat, but it was only the meekness of a
great sense of victory, for that very night Jabe, by tortuous and
difficult processes, understood only by the initiated, caused it to
be known that he was sacrificing his principles for peace sake, and
that the bazaar would be held.
In a few days all Beckside was working and begging for the
sale. It was intended to be held in the following February,
and as the time of opening drew near, the whole neighbourhood became
excited about it. Church people from Brogden offered to help,
and the families of the two brothers who owned the Beckside Mill
took hearty interest in the enterprise.
Jabe and his confederates became positively nervous about it.
A bazaar had never been held nearer than Duxbury, and our friends
had many misgivings. Most of the arrangements were in the
hands of the ladies, and one or two of them were wilful and quite
irresistible women, who did not even consult the dignitaries of the
Clog Shop, and every few hours Sam Speck brought tidings of fresh
arrangements of an utterly unheard-of character, until, when the
Sunday before the great event arrived, Jabe was almost ill with
The sale was to last two days, and the local preacher who was
appointed on the preceding Sunday brought a note from the "super"
containing hints for the management of the affair. At the
close of the note he remarked that as the schoolhouse where the
bazaar was to be held was over the Beck-bridge, and rather lonely,
it would be well to get someone to stay in the building all night,
as a protection against fire or thieves.
This suggestion was a perfect boon. After having had to
stand aside and act as mere camp-followers in the affair, the Clog
Shop authorities suddenly found themselves in charge of an important
department, and proceeded to discuss the situation with undisguised
As soon as the question was raised there were numerous
volunteers, and it seemed at one time as if there was going to be
difficulty in settling who should have the honour of defending the
schoolhouse—Sam Speck, whose father had been a parish constable, and
had bequeathed an old truncheon to his son, and Lige the
road-mender, who often at the Clog Shop fire told remarkable stories
about his achievements as gamekeeper's substitute in days gone by,
being the most clamorous.
As the debate proceeded, however, it widened out somewhat,
and in a short time the bazaar was forgotten in the breathless
interest with which the circle listened to stories of footpads,
burglars, and highway robbers.
By this time Sam and Lige seemed to show some uneasiness.
From thieves the conversation seemed to pass quite naturally to
ghosts, and by the time that Jonas Tatlock had told once more his
never-failing story of the sexton who fell asleep one night in
Brogden Church, and was awakened by a ghost which touched his hair,
leaving a white tuft amidst a plentiful shock of brown, every person
present was most satisfactorily thrilled, and the sudden falling
together of the embers in the fire sent a shock through the whole
In the silence that followed every man seemed to be inwardly
resolving to swallow his own preferences and to waive any claim he
might have to the hitherto coveted honour. And so, when
conversation on the immediate question was resumed, Sam and Lige
found that all competition for the perilous honour they claimed had
ceased, and they were likely to be left in unchallenged possession.
Then Sam became suddenly generous, and intimated that he
really didn't mind very much if anybody particularly wanted the
But nobody did, and some hints dropped by Lige about the
dangers to his "asthmatic" in being out late were ignored; in fact,
the more generous Sam and his companion showed themselves, the more
self-sacrificing became the rest of the company, and Sam, at anyrate,
went home that night anathematising his own long tongue.
But real self-sacrifice brings its own reward, and so the
valiant volunteer guardsmen were comforted next day by the discovery
that they had achieved fame as heroic spirits. All day on
Monday they were receiving offers of loans of firearms of almost
every style and age, whilst bludgeons and cudgels were tendered
wholesale, and Micky Hollows, from the Gravel Hole, offered an
ingenious man-trap with powerful springs of his own invention.
This popularity, of course, had its effect on the two daring
spirits, and when the policeman sauntered into the Clog Shop on
Monday night, and volunteered to assist them, his offer was
slightingly — almost scornfully declined.
The next day, "Poncake Tuesday," was the opening of the
bazaar. All passed off well in spite of the fuming and
agitation of Jabe, and when the first day's proceedings were over,
and it was announced that £93, 17s. had been taken, everybody went
home tired but happy.
As the buyers and sellers dispersed, much interest was
excited by the arrival of Sam and Lige to mount guard over the
building and its valuable contents. Sam carried a thick cudgel
over his shoulder, and a pistol sticking out of each pocket, whilst
Lige had an old gun, one of his own long-handled stone-breaking
hammers, and an old-fashioned powder-flask, whilst he led by a chain
Long Ben's big yard dog "Tenter." Feeling that admiring and
even envious eyes were upon them, the watchmen marched towards the
stove in the middle of the schoolhouse, and very self-consciously
proceeded to arrange their weapons in order.
When the general public had gone, Jabe, Ben, and a few of the
others stayed behind with the watchers, and smoked a social pipe
whilst they recounted the successes of the day. When they
talked of going, Sam, who seemed somehow to have laid in quite a
stock of new or revised stories, began to tell them faster than
ever, putting into the relation rather more than his usual
animation. Then he invited them to taste a brew of hot coffee,
which he proceeded to make; and so it was past midnight when the
last lingerers departed, and the valiant defenders of church
property were left alone.
For a time they stood in the road listening to the retreating
footsteps and voices of their friends, and then to the banging of
doors which followed, but in a minute or two all was quiet, and an
eerie stillness seemed to be in the black darkness.
So the watchmen went inside for the comfort and company of
the dog. Then they smoked, glancing uneasily up at the high
windows every now and again, and holding their breath to listen at
the slightest sound.
After a while Sam began to examine his weapons, and showed
unmistakable signs of nervousness, while Lige took frequent pulls at
a large can of warm ale, which was kept in condition by standing
near the stove. The dog stretched himself out on the floor to
Presently Lige began to nod, which made Sam quite angry, and
he tried to draw him into conversation. But it was no use; the
road-mender was overpowered, and was sinking every minute or two
into slumber, in spite of his own and Sam's efforts to keep him
The stove was a closed one. They had been recommended
for safety's sake to use a lantern instead of a naked light, and so
the room was almost dark, and the articles that hung about made all
sorts of strange deep shadows, and assumed all sorts of suggestive
and terrifying shapes.
Sam grew so apprehensive that he dared not look round.
It was the very longest night he had ever spent. How cold it
was getting, and how awesomely quiet. Would morning
Sam must have been dozing, but this bang brought him
instantly to his feet. He snatched up the pistols, held them
straight over his head, shut his eyes, and fired. One of the
pistols kicked and hurt him, and he jumped back and yelled.
The shots were followed by the furious barking of the dog,
and by Lige falling from his seat and lying on his back, where he
remained shouting, "Murther! Thieves! Fire!"
Then the dog, frantic with excitement, jumped at Sam, who
sprang back and fell over the small table on which the lantern was
standing, and extinguished the only light they had.
"Help! Murther!" shouted Sam.
"Fire! Fire!" shouted Lige, and then they both lay
panting on the floor in the powder smoke until the dog ceased
barking, and all was still again.
Presently they heard a scraping sound on the walls outside,
which set the dog barking again, and then there was a bang at one of
the high windows. A minute later, Sam, venturing to lift up
his head, saw a man with a lantern trying to open the window.
"Thieves! Help!" shouted Sam agaip, and began to grope
on the floor for a weapon, the dog the while going nearly frantic.
All at once the window flew open, a puff of cold air entered the
room, and the thin, squeaky voice of Jethro the knocker-up was heard
"Sam! Liger! wotiver's to dew? Are yo' kilt?"
In a few minutes Jethro had lowered his lantern into the room
on the end of his handkerchief, and by its light Sam rescued Lige
from the débris and opened the door, when it appeared that Jethro,
getting up early to prepare for his rounds, had remembered the
lonely watchers, and had made them a can of hot coffee, but that in
the darkness he had stumbled against the door with the butt-end of
his knocking-up stick, and had made the sharp bang which had
startled Sam so terribly.
The next day nearly all the goods were disposed of. The
handsome total of £204 was realised, and the graver spirits of the
Clog Shop were of opinion that it was worth while to have had the
bazaar, if only for its chastening effects on the irrepressible Sam.
But Sam and Lige escaped more easily than they otherwise
would have done, because another matter attracted public attention.
The bazaar had made Beckside popular, and the struggles of the
villagers with their chapel scheme evoked sympathy in quite
One day the younger of the two gentlemen who owned the mill
sent for Jabe to the office, and proposed to him, by the help of a
party of musical friends from Duxbury, to give a grand concert in a
temporarily empty warehouse belonging to the mill. The
proceeds were to go to the renovation fund. As soon as the
scheme was described to him Jabe saw in it a grand opportunity for
the Beckside string band to display its talents, but the master,
after long and skilful fencing, managed to convince the Clogger
that, however desirable, this was scarcely practicable.
When Jabe announced the arrangements to his friends he was
almost unanimously reproached for never having proposed that their
band should give concerts. They might have had the schoolhouse
for the asking. But when it was clear that he had actually
discussed the question of the band assisting at the forthcoming
performance, and had allowed himself to be beaten, he was regarded
as having seriously compromised himself.
The concert promised to be a very grand affair, and, to crown
all, the day but one before it was to take place the master brought
news that the famous Madame Bona, a great professional lady singer,
who happened to be singing at Whipham, a town a few miles the other
side of Duxbury, had sent a special message to say that she had
heard of the Beckside concert and its object, and would like to sing
at it without fee.
This being noised abroad the fame of the lady created quite a
rush for tickets, and when the evening arrived the big warehouse,
swept out and decorated for the occasion, was crammed. The
reserved seats were filled with the local gentry, many of whom had
never even seen Beckside before, and on the front row of the cheaper
seats sat the members of the Clog Shop Club.
The small but select band from Duxbury came in for very
severe criticism indeed from these authorities. Jethro, as
chief, sat bolt upright with his eyes closed, every now and then
making expressive grimaces as the performers offended his delicate
ear; and, when the overture was finished, Sam Speck leaned backward
to a Duxbury man who was sitting behind, and pointing at Jonas
"Ther's a mon theere as 'ud fiddle the'r yeds off."
After three or four pieces had been got through, a rustle in
the front seats and a general buzz of excitement announced the
advent of the great singer. Most of the Clog Shop cronies
stood up to see her come in; and when she did so each turned and
looked at his neighbour with a surprised and shocked expression, for
the lady was in evening dress.
It was the first time most of them had seen a lady thus
attired, and it so irresistibly suggested the theatre, and other
wicked places, that Jabe and Ben sat suddenly down and buried their
faces—hot with shame—in their hands, whilst the rest looked at each
other with embarrassment.
But the lady began to sing; and as her full, rich tones
rolled down the room even Jabe lifted his head to listen, carefully
avoiding, however, looking at the singer. In a moment or two
he began to frown, and, finally, turning to Jethro, he cried in a
loud, angry whisper―
"What's hoo mee-mawin abaat?"
"Huish, mon," cried Jethro, who was as perplexed as his
friend, but had his reputation to think of. "Aw fancy yon's
that new Tonic Sol-fa as thaws yerd abaat."
But Jabe only shook his head in weary disapproval, and though
the "quality" applauded the Italian song, and even the crowd
clapped, the chapel authorities received it in frigid silence.
One or two band selections having been played, a well-known
and somewhat old-fashioned violin solo was given, which, as it came
within the range of their own knowledge, received from the village
critics a modified approval.
Then the lady appeared again and sang an English love-song,
and, though its sentiments made Jabe's lip curl, its music found a
way to his heart, and he led off the clapping for their bench.
The others somewhat coldly joined in, and Sam Speck stood bolt
upright and stared at the singer with all his eyes, although she
was, according to Beckside standards, undressed.
Towards the close of the concert the lady sang once more, and
was rapturously encored. When she responded it was noticed
that she was without music, and signalled to the accompanist that
she would dispense with his assistance. What was she going to
do? Every eye in the great throng was upon her; even the bench
of critics was compelled to look at her.
And there she stood. Something seemed to be moving her,
and she tried to commence but could not. Then she folded her
hands behind her, school girl fashion, threw back her beautiful
head, and a moment later there came warbling through the hot air the
old familiar strains of Beckside's favourite Sunday School hymn—
"Around the throne of God in heaven,
Thousands of children stand."
The audience was spellbound;. and as the singer sang on, a
great flush of feeling passed over hundreds of faces in the cheaper
seats, and all were listening entranced, when suddenly the thin,
shrill voice of Jethro pierced the air with a vibrant, long drawn
The singer faltered; tears suddenly swam into her eyes; she
stopped, swept a long, low curtsey, and hurriedly retired—whilst the
backbenches, led by Jethro, took up the broken refrain and sang it
to the end.
The reserved seats even had been touched by this unrehearsed
item, and as the assembly broke up the only topic of conversation
was the great singer's last song, and her unheard-of breakdown.
The Clogger and his friends filed off, duck fashion, to the
shop, each man feeling as he wiped his eyes that they had something
worth talking about for once. The pipes had all been charged,
and Jethro was just opening the conversation, when a carriage was
heard to stop outside. The door opened; a rustle of silk and a
waft of scent came floating into the shop, and the great Madame Bona
swept towards the Ingle-nook.
"Well, gentlemen; how did you like my song?" she asked, still
manifesting signs of emotion.
"God bless yo'!" shouted two or three at once.
"God bless you, for you taught it me," replied the
Every man rose to his feet in amazement.
"Yes, old friends, you taught it me. And in my strange
life now, that and other things you taught me, keep me from going
entirely wrong. I've heard of your sacrifices for the dear old
chapel, and I want you to know that there are others out in the
great world who love it too, and will thank God for it for ever."
And slipping a heavy purse into Jabe's trembling hand, she
made another sweeping curtsey, crying, as she did so, "God bless
you, and God bless the chapel!"—and was gone.
"The Zeal of Thine House."
renovation of the chapel the Clog Shop became a sort of General
Office. The Building Committee, which had been formed by a
strictly temporary enlargement of the Trustees' Meeting, was
supposed to meet in Jabe's parlour every Friday evening, but in
reality it could never be said to have suspended its sittings, and
the Friday night meetings became mere perfunctory ceremonies which
formally closed the week's work.
The "super" had informed them that to be strictly in order
all decisions must be confirmed by the Trustees, and the fortnightly
meeting of that body, though brief, was a solemnly important affair,
and invested the members of it with much of the same sense of
dignified responsibility that supports the Lords Commissioners when
delivering the Royal Assent which makes a mere "Bill" an Act of
Now, Silas the chapel-keeper had been made a committee-man,
and had not the least idea of allowing his office to become a
sinecure. Sometimes, indeed, his functions seemed in danger of
clashing the one with the other, the chapel-keeper getting in the
way of the committee-man or vice versâ, which led to some
Silas, however, had an adequate idea of what was required of
him, and, as he had also much leisure and more zeal, he was a most
prominent member of the Building Board. Vested with his new
authority, he became a sort of self-appointed inspector of works of
the most lynx-eyed and incorruptible character, and a thorn in the
side of the workmen.
On that memorable Monday morning when Long Ben and his
workmen arrived on the premises to commence operations, they found
Silas waiting for them at the gate dangling his keys in his hand,
and evidently fully sensible of the honour and responsibility vested
As he inserted the key into the front door, he turned round
and eyed the two tool-laden apprentices with suspicious and
admonitory looks as he said―
"Naa, yo' lads, nooan o' yo'r gams. Yo're no' gooin'in
to a menadgerie or a alehaase, mind yo'."
When they began the work of removing the front pews Silas
found himself in difficulties. If he stood by and watched the
workmen, every stroke of the hammer sent a thrill through him, and
their light-hearted manner made his blood boil, but if he left them
he was tortured with apprehensions of the sacrilege they might be
Presently in the pleasant excitement of the work one of the
boys began to hiss a tune through his teeth, and in a few moments
the hiss grew into a whistle.
"Wot!" shouted Silas, coming in from the graveyard, and
glaring fiercely at the offender whistling. "Thaa gaumless
wastril, dust know wheer thaa art?"
A day or two later, as a high wind was blowing and the chapel
became very draughty, the other apprentice ventured to put on his
cap, and was unconscious of the enormity of his crime until the cap
was sent flying from his head, and Silas stood over him shaking his
fist and shouting―
"For shawm o' thysel. Wheer hast bin browt up?" and
then turning to the other workmen, who were sheepishly removing
their head coverings, he gave them an up-to-date exposition of the
awful examples of Uzzah and the rash men of Bethshemesh.
Later on Silas was haunted with suspicion that smoking
occasionally took place in the vestry, and had elaborated the most
ingenious plan for discovering the offender when a much more serious
difficulty presented itself.
When the bricklayers arrived one morning to commence pulling
down the back premises preparatory to building the new schoolroom,
Silas discovered that Pot Dick, an avowed sceptic from Brogden, was
amongst the number. He saw him arrive with silent amazement,
and as Dick was passing round towards the back of the chapel to
commence work, Silas stopped him―
"Wot! Thee! Sithee, if thaa puts a finger upo'
thuse owd stooans Aw'll—Aw'll chuck thi o'er that waw."
As Silas was slight and painfully thin, and Pot Dick a burly
sixteen-stoner, this terrible threat only made the bricklayer smile.
But at that moment Long Ben appeared on the scene, and the
outraged chapel-keeper at once attacked him. Ben seemed
inclined to argue the point, and so Silas fetched Jabe and Sam
Speck, and, after a long wrangle, he carried his point, and the
master bricklayer was requested to remove the obnoxious workman.
Encouraged by this victory, the chapel-keeper stood guard
over his beloved charge, and so lectured and badgered the workmen
that Ben's position as chief contractor became a very difficult one
As the new part of the building began to rise on its
foundations, Silas also took upon himself the role of chief
exhibitor; and getting possession somehow of a number of technical
building terms, he amazed and mystified the villagers by entirely
incomprehensible descriptions, in which pullasthurs (pilasters),
mullions, corbills (corbels), and cornishes frequently appeared,
whilst strange visitors went away profoundly impressed with the
transcendent abilities of "Aar artchitect."
When the front window was nearly finished Silas made a grand
discovery, and for several days every person visiting the building
was taken across the road to get a view of the window, and was then
informed under inviolable bonds of secrecy, "They tell me as that
winder's pure Gostic. Brogdin Church winder's a sky-leet to
To the workmen, however, Silas became a perfect terror.
If they inadvertently trod on a grave or laid anything upon the
packing-sheets covering the pulpit and communion-rail, he was down
upon them with unexampled fierceness; and a joiner who absently
began singing "Rule Britannia" was not allowed to forget his
enormous transgression for weeks.
At last the badgered labourers began to resent these things. Murmurs
broke out, protests were made, and one Saturday, after paying the
wages, Long Ben adjourned to the Clog Shop in a very perplexed frame
He sighed heavily as he sank into his accustomed
seat and began to fill his pipe, but as the others were deep in a
discussion as to whether Sovrenity (Sovereignty) or Wheat and Tares would be the
best tune to commence with on the opening day, he was unheeded.
In a few moments, however, unable longer to
contain himself, he burst out―
"Aw'll tell yo' wot it is, chaps. If iver th' chapel's ta be
oppened aat, t'o'll ha' ta muzzil yond' awd crater i' th' chapil
Every eye was turned instantly on the speaker, and as he leaned back
in the chimney-nook with a decided "I've had my say and mean it"
look on his face, Jabe drawled out as he poked his little finger
into the bowl of his pipe―
"Ay, rots is allis daan o' tarriers."
Ben vouchsafed no reply; he was too busy with his own thoughts. At
length he observed―
"Wee'st ha' to get him aat o' th' rooad some rooad."
"Ay!" said two or three at once, and laughed incredulously at the
absurdity of such an idea.
"Aw shouldn't loike fur t' be th' mon ta mention sitchen a thing to
him," said Sam Speck.
"Yo' couldn't poo' him aat o' Beckside just naa wi' horses an'
cheynes" (chains), said Jabe with deep conviction.
"But there are other reasons why he should be got away at once,"
broke in the doctor, who was present. Everybody turned to look at
the speaker interrogatively, and Long Ben asked somewhat eagerly―
"Wot dun yo' meean, doctor?"
"I mean that unless he gets a complete change at once we shall lose
There was a long pause, during which surprise deepened into anxiety
on every face as they looked meaningly at each other, and Ben's
gradually assumed a very conscience-stricken expression.
But just then Silas appeared on the scene, and though to those who
had heard the doctor's statement he looked more worn and haggard
than ever, he at once commenced an animated discussion on the to him
obnoxious proposal to put a patent ventilator on the roof.
In the midst of the debate the doctor rose to go, and Jabe and Ben
followed him out.
"Dun yo' meean it, doctor?" asked Ben anxiously when they got
"About Silas? I do mean it. It is a very serious case. It is only
his interest in that old building that is keeping him up."
Ben heaved a great sigh, and began to pull his straggling beard very
nervously, whilst Jabe, turning his head away and gazing far away up
the hill, asked in a husky voice―
"Dun yo' think as th' owd chapil-haase 'as hed owt to dew wi' it?"
"Think? I'm sure of it."
The two stewards shot quick glances at each other, and instantly
dropped their eyes to the ground, and as they stood there rubbing
the dust with uneasy feet, remembrances of Silas' long and voluntary
services and of appeals he had made for improvements in his little
cottage came home to them, and added bitterness to the sorrow of the
At last Jabe broke out―
"He mun goa, chuse wot he says and chuse wot it cosses (costs). He mun be ta'n away if he winna goa."
To this the other two agreed, and Jabe and Ben went back to the
Next morning Silas was not in his usual place at the schoolhouse,
which was the temporary place of worship, and it was soon known that
he was in bed, with the doctor attending him. He seemed to rally,
however, about Tuesday, and after the weeknight service Jabe and Ben
went to have their tussle with the patient, taking the minister and
the doctor with them.
The chapel-keeper heard the proposal with intense indignation, and
refused peremptorily to have the question discussed. When, however,
the doctor and the minister had spoken seriously to him, and he
began to fear having to give way, he lost his temper, accused Ben of
interested motives, called him a "fawse owd schamer," and then gave
himself away by threatening him with all sorts of dire vengeance
when he came back.
Ben endured his chastisement with great meekness, and said
"If tha'll goa to th' sayside we'll say no mooar abaat th'
ventilator, an' tha'st tak' a pictur' o' th' chapil wi' thi. Sam
Speck shall goa wi' thi fur company, an' tha'st come back i' toime
fur th' oppenin' aat."
Visiting the "sayside" was not so common in Lancashire in those
days, and Silas and his friend were the only Becksiders who enjoyed
the luxury that season; but neither the distinction thus achieved
nor the load of little comforts that were heaped upon him to take
with him, nor all the promises of his friends to write to him
compensated, in Silas' mind, for his painful separation from his
All the day before his departure he followed Long Ben about,
instructing, cautioning, and even threatening him, until Ben was
glad when evening came; and next morning the coach was kept standing
some time outside the chapel, whilst Silas gave his final
A few days later Jabe sat dozing in the Ingle-nook, with Ben as his
"There's twenty-five paand wrung between thee an' me," said the
Jabe responded with an unintelligible grunt.
"Aw think Aw've fun a way o' squaring it," continued Ben. "Th'
doctor says he'll gie me ten paand and Nancy-o'-th'-Fowt 'ull gie me
anuther, an' wi' that twenty-five th' job's dun."
"Wot's dun? Wot art talkin' abaat?" cried Jabe, waking up and
rubbing his eyes.
"Pooin' Silas' haase daan, an' buildin' a betther afore he comes
whoam," was the reply.
Jabe stopped in the middle of a vast yawn, transfixed Ben with his
eyes, as if to look him through, and sat gazing thus at him whilst
the whole project was passing in review before his mind. He saw at
once the discrepancy between Ben's figures and the probable cost of
the new cottage, and did not need the least hint as to how Ben, who
would of course build it, meant to make up the deficiency.
With this exception the proposal was exactly to his mind; and so
after stipulating that the matter should be kept out of the weekly
letter to Silas, so that "Th' owd lad can come back to a grand
surprise," he gave his consent to the scheme, and, in fact, came so
near to paying Ben a compliment for his thoughtfulness that that
worthy had some difficulty in concealing his surprise.
In course of time the chapel drew near to completion. The date of
the opening was fixed. Band practices in preparation for the great
event were in full swing, and Ben was pushing rapidly on with Silas'
cottage. Letters of painful elaborateness were received weekly from
the absentees, which, whilst they contained innumerable questions
about the progress of the renovation, very pointed and peremptory
messages to the committee, and impatient demands as to when they
might come home, gave only the most cursory information about the
At last, word was sent that Silas might return, and two days later
the old coach landed him and Sam at the chapel gate, where a knot of
Beckside worthies had gathered to welcome them. Silas had to be
helped out, and a glance of sad meaning passed round as the
onlookers scanned his yellow face.
But Silas scarcely saw them. Disengaging himself from Sam's arm, and
waving his friends back for a moment he leaned on his stick, and,
standing in the middle of the road, drew a long, heavy breath, as
his shining eyes feasted themselves on the now finished chapel
"H-a-y, bud isn't it grand!" he cried out at length, and then,
dropping his stick and waving his hands over his head, he cried,
"'Beautiful for situation, the jye of the whole earth is Mount
Zion.' Hay, chaps! Clough End's a coil hoile [coal house] to it."
Then he entered the chapel yard, passing his new
cottage without noticing it, and after looking eagerly and
delightedly at everything, he turned to the graves, and cried as if
addressing the occupants―
"John Longworth! Juddy! Mother! Wot dun yo' think o' this? It's welly as foine as yo'r own place, isn't it? 'Beautiful for
situation, the jye of the whole earth is Mount Zion.'"
But Silas' excitement had exhausted him; and as he sank down upon a
gravestone, Long Ben came forward and led him towards his house.
Aunt Judy and Mrs. Johnty Harrop were in possession, and whilst they
had polished up all the old bits of furniture that were worth
keeping, and had arranged them as nearly as possible in the old
places, they had added a great many new things, and waited to have
their reward in seeing Silas' surprise.
When he approached the house and first realised what had been done,
his face was a picture. Perplexity, astonishment, and delight
followed each other on his withered face, and passing inside he
dropped into a big arm-chair, the gift of the schoolmistress, and
burst into sobs, crying out through his tears―
"'Mooar nor we can ask or think.' 'Mooar nor we can ask
The opening service was a never-to-be-forgotten triumph. The Chairman
of the District preached. The band achieved its most complete
success. The anthem given by the united band and choir filled the
preacher with most satisfactory astonishment, and all the visitors,
with the exception of a few envious Clough Enders, expressed their
admiration of the improvements.
After the evening service the "super" announced that the
collections had far exceeded expectations, and that, in fact, the
chapel was opened without a penny of debt upon it, at which glad
tidings congregation and choir, and band and committee, and all
combined sent up such a Doxology that Jethro declared —and surely we
could have no better judge―
"Aw thowt Aw wur flooatin' into heaven."
And Jethro was nearly a prophet for others, at anyrate, if not for
himself, for when the congregation was dispersing Aunt Judy came
hurrying into the vestry and beckoned Jabe and his co-steward out. Silas, it appeared, had been quite carried away by the last
Doxology, and the excitement had been too much for him, so that,
after opening the doors for the people to pass out, he hurried to
his cottage and fell down in a dead swoon.
The doctor, who was, of course, on the premises, was in almost
instant attendance, but from the first gave little hope. And Jabe
and the rest passed in a moment from elevated delight to fear and
sorrow. Silas was laid on a long settle, and everything that could
be suggested was got or done to relieve him.
After half an hour's anxious waiting he moved a little, and
presently opened his eyes. But, instead of noticing any one, he
fixed his gaze on the opposite wall.
Suddenly his countenance brightened. He moved his hand as
though he would have pointed, and cried―
"Hay, wot a big 'un! This is niver aar chapil!"
And then he paused, and presently broke out again―
"Bless thi, Grace! Has thaa come to th' oppenin'? An' yo', muther? An' yo', John Longworth? Wait till they oppen th' dur. Naa, then!
naa, then!" and as he spoke Silas' chapel doors did open, and
the dear old saint entered into the joy of his Lord.
MORRISON AND GIBB LIMITED, EDINBURGH