"AB-O'TH-YATE" (Vol. II) - IV.
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WALMSLEY FOWT CALICO BALL.


"AB!" th' owd rib said one mornin', when th' porritch deesh had bin shifted off th' table, "Ab!"

    "Well, what's thi sarmon gooin to be this mornin', owd crayther?" aw wanted t' know.  If hoo's owt to say ony time it's sure to be when hoo puts her feet on th' fender afther th' steeam has done risin' fro' th' table.

    "Aw've bin thinkin' a good deeal lately," hoo said.

    "The dule theau has!" aw said.  "Well, theau's talked enoogh i' thi time, an' it's as weel theau did summat beside, neaw theau'rt gettin' into ye'rs.  But what is it ut's bin agitatin' thi noodle?"

    "Aw've bin wonderin' if ever we shall have ony good trade agen.  Here we'n nobbut had one loom gooin' for months, an' th' wark in it noane o' th' best.  If it hadno' bin ut theau con tell so mony lies, an' mak' folk believe they're true, we should oather ha' bin clemmed to deeath or else farmin' a flag i' th' big heause neaw."  An' th' owd ticket looked a bit troubl't, as aw thowt.

    "Well, Sarah," aw said—aw thowt aw'd give her th' velvet side o' mi tongue, as aw'd had a rooghish Kesmas—"that's a subject aw've thowt abeaut a good deeal misel.  But aw'm like a flee in a traycle pot—aw conno' find a road out on't.  As theau says, we'n nobbut had one loom gooin' for months.  But aw reckon it's becose nob'dy wants owt ut we wayven."

    "An' why dunno they want it?" hoo said.  "They'd used to do i' times gone by."

    "Aye, they'd used to do mony a thing then ut they dunno do neaw," aw said.  "Theau wore a bonnet at one time, an' no long sin', ut had abeaut two yard o' sarcenet in it; an' neaw theau wears one ut hasno' mony inches in it.  If everybody did th' same, that ud mak' mony a hundert looms i' difference.  Then a mon wurno' considered to be donned up unless he'd a velvet, or a satin, or a figured waiscoat on, an' a stock reaund his neck big enoogh for a jackass saddle.  Neaw it's o' ribbon, an' dicky, an' pastebooart for th' neck, an' woollen cloth for t' hoide his dicky.  Ther's another hundert or two o' looms gone theere."

    "But aw reckon th' change finds someb'dy else wark?"

    "Theigher!  Neaw theau talks like a philosipher.  It does find someb'dy else wark.  A change aulus does.  If we wur to don no moore clooas nur Adam an' Eve did, it 'ud benefit someb'dy."

    "An' whoa'd they be, aw wonder?"

    "Coffin makkers, an' th' timber trade generally!  Neaw, theau sees what change i' fashions has done for some trades.  When women gan o'er wearin' crinolines, th' wire trade went deawn, an so did th' boot trade, an' th' stockin' trade."

    "Aw dunno' see what difference it should mak' i' thoose.  Women dunno go bar'foot, nor bare-leg, an' aw never wore ony wire i' my crinny.  It wur cane."

    "Neaw, aw'll show thi.  When women liked folk seein' the'r understondin's, they wore stockin's fit to be seen—mooestly white, an' weel-shaped.  An' they wore boots ut ud stond straight up when they'rn poo'd off, an' wur shapely, an' made o' leather, an' weel to look at as they spanked across a dirty road.  Neaw ony soart o' stockin's 'll do."

    "Aw dunno see heaw it should concarn thee so mich, Ab, what women wear'n."

    "If takkin' away one o' th' pleasures o' life doesno' concarn me, aw should like to know whoa it does concarn.  If little Jack Marlor wur upo' th' clod neaw, i'stid o' bein' under it, he'd ha' thowt life wurno' wo'th livin' for."

    "An' why should he ha' thowt so?"

    "Theau may judge for thisel' when aw tell thi he's walked seven mile ov a Sunday mornin' for t' see a woman stride o'er th' sink."

    "Moore foo' he!"

    "Aye, that may be, but it shows th' difference between then an' neaw.  If theau'd bin as badly gaited when theau liv't at owd Johnny o' Sammul's as some young women are neaw-a-days, theau wouldno' ha' catcht me."

    "What a marcy that would ha' bin!"

    "Just as theau thinks; but theau doesno' seem so very fretful o'er it.  But aw've bin tryin' to show thi heaw these things han affected trade.  If women makken a pair o' three-an'-sixpenny boots last as lung as two pair o' seven shillin' uns used to last, cobblers may have a St. Tuesday as weel as a St. Monday."

    "But heaw is it ther's sich a cry eaut abeaut calico?  Is it becose men han gan o'er wearin' shirts, an' women—?"

    "Aw'll tell thi.  At one time they a deeal o' cotton worn i' dresses.  Theau sees very little neaw.  A woman prefers slutherin abeaut in a pair o' owd thrashes, trodden deawn at th' heel, wi' a fuzzy owd stuff dress on, full o' dust an' rips, to a natty pair o' slippers, wi' a bit o' white peepin' eaut o'th' top, a cleean weshed print dress, an' a white cap for t' creawn o.  When aw've sometimes seen young women—nusses—waftin' abeaut th' Infirmary, aw've wished aw'd ha' bin a bit poorly for t' have 'em abeaut me.  It ud be like havin' a plate o' fresh sallet after winter, an' a sope o' churn milk to it."  Aw expected that ud ha' londed a bit o' scrattin' peawer abeaut mi toppin; but eaur Sal wur to' deep in her studies for t' notice everythin' aw said.  I'stead a rooghin' mi Piccadilly fringe wi' her fingers, hoo toped her yead o' one side, an' lookin' as fause as a boggart, said—

    "What's th' meeanin' o' this Calico Ball they're havin' i' Manchester sometime soon?"

    "For t' get wearin' o' calico clooas i' fashin," aw towd her.

    "What, booath men an' women?"

    "To be sure!  Why shouldno' a men have a calico jacket as weel as a woman havin' a calico dress?"

    "Theau'd look a smart article, Ab, wi' a lung tailed cooat wi' th' pictures o' butterflees on!  Lads i'th' lone ud be tryin' t' catch' em."  An' th' owd lass had a good yawp eaut at th' idea.

    "That soart would be for women's wear," aw said.  "Eaur clooas would be made o' cotton velvet.  We met have t' pictur' ov a red lion dabbed on th' back, for t' freeten forriners wi'.  An' not a bad idea when one comes to think on't.  It ud be eaur own manufacture then, for theau wouldno' catch a Frenchman printin' lions.  He knows to' mich abeaut that owd pot dog o' eaurs ut's gone barkin' abeaut th' wol'd so mony ye'rs, for t' sell his likeness i' printed cotton."

    "Couldno' we have a Calico Ball here, Ab?  It ud be encouragin' eaur lads' trade if it didno eaurs."

    "Theau's spokken like an angel wi' a trumpet, neaw."  Aw could see a chance o' finishin' up Kesmas gradely, then.  Theau seldom spakes but theau says summat.  Theau'rt risin' i' my estimation like a balloon.  Theau'rt i'th cleauds neaw.  Aw con see a chance ov a pint to-neet."

    "Aye, theere theau goes," th' owd ticket said.  "Ther's nowt con be said or done but th' "Owd Bell" mun have a twang in it."

    "Well, heaw mun aw see mi cabinet ministers unless aw goo wheere they are?" aw said.  "Mun aw goo reaund th' fowt, like as if aw're laithin to a buryin, an' co' o' Jack o' Flunter's, an' Siah at Owd Bob's, an' Jim Thuston, an' Little Dody, an' Billy Softly?  "It ud tak' me five or six heaurs to do it; an' th' odds are we should ha' to go to th' 'Owd Bell' at last."

    "If ther's onybody ut con skame an heaur or two in a aleheause kitchen nook, it's thee Abram," th' owd ticket said, aw dar'say wishin' hoo'd never mentioned th' Calico Ball.  But it doesno' matter heaw aw skame, hoo's sure to find me eaut.

    When raichin-th'-hat-deawn time coome, aw slipped a bit a wut-cake i' mi pocket, an' crept deawn th' lone as if aw'd bin gooin' to a missionary meetin' an' had a shillin' t' put i'th' box.  When aw geet to th' chapel—th' "Owd Bell" aw meean—aw fund o mi ministers theere obbut Billy Softly.  Billy had made a foo' ov hissel' wi' some chep drink, so he'd takken th' wife to th' pantymine for t' brush her temper up.  Owd Juddie had a peauch on his lips ut shot eaut as far as his nose; an' th' pipe he're seauckin looked as if it wur doin' it best to comfort him.  Aw dunno' believe onybody feels comfortable just after Kesmas, if they'n gone in for as mony "good things" as they could catch.  Aw know ut my temper gets ragged an' dirty; an aw messur' others by misel'.  Onybody ut feels a ton weight hangin' abeaut th' bottom ov his singlet wouldno' mak' a good Christian for th' time.

    "Th' king o' yorneys is comin' neaw," owd Juddie said, as soon as he seed th' end o' my weather-peg.

    "He'd ha' had to be here soon, too, for t' ha' bin afore yo," aw said.  "Yo'n peearched theere, aw con see, till yo'r ready for brastin."

    "Well, what art' gooin' t' have?" Juddie said.  "Aw'll stop thi meauth if aw con."

    "Aw'm gooin' t' begin this year different to what aw finished th' last," aw said.  "Aw think aw'll have a bottle o' pop."

    "Wilt' have a bit o' ice in it?"

    "Aw dunno' mind."

    "Well, pay for it thisel', then!  Aw'm no' gooin' t' have ony moore winter abeaut me nur aw con help.  Aw'm no' gooin' t' pay for it."

    "Whisky boilin', then," aw said.

    "Theigher!" Juddie said, "theau'rt determined to ha' this fourpence eaut on me.  Neaw then, aw dar' say owt aw've a mind to thi."  He hauled eaut his brass, coed me a leather'yead, an' blew his pipe up.

    Aw fund he'd bin bribin' t'other chaps, so ut he could say what he'd a mind to them.  That shows t' peawer o' brass.  If th' biggest foo' i' creation had a theausant or two, an' spent it a bit freely, nob'dy du'st cheep to him, chus what he did.

    "Ther's rare news stirrin'," aw said, as soon as we'd sattled deawn.

    "Aye; what is it?" everybody wanted to know.

    "Th' Bottoms Factory's gooin' t' start agen," aw said.

    "Is that one o' thoose ut theau'rt used to tellin?" Juddie axt, lookin' as if he'd like to believe me, but couldno'.

    "That's upo' th' cards," aw said.  "Trades springin' up, an' o through a very simple thing."

    "An' what's that?"

    "For weeks ther's bin some talk abeaut gettin' up a Calico Ball, an' everybody's wantin' t' go' to it.  Nowt mun be worn at it nobbut calico, an' ther's sich runnin' abeaut after it, ut o th' wareheauses i' Manchester are so empty ther's nowt left for rottans t' hoide amung.  Aw wondert what wur up t'other day when aw're theere, for very nee every weel dressed mon aw met had a calico cut under his arm, an' he lookt as if he're feeart o' someb'dy takkin it off him."

    "That'll do, Ab," Juddie said, wi' his nose wund up to th' sneezin' point.  "It's one o' thy 'to be continueds.'"

    "Would yo' believe th' Manchester Guardian?" aw said.

    "Aye, but aw wouldno' believe that papper ut theau spreads thi lies in.  Aw should think theau'd done it."

    Th' Guardian wur browt, an' aw read it—"Wanted, a Gentleman's ticket for the Calico Ball."

    "Here, lemme look at that," Juddie said, puttin' on-his spectekles.  "Aw've yerd thee read things eaut o'th' newspapper ut never wur in, so aw'm no' gooin' to be tricked this time."

    Th' papper wur honded to Juddie, an' th' owd lad satisfied hissel'.

    "Ther's a bit o' truth in it if t'other are lies," he said, puttin' th' papper deawn an' shuttin' his spectekles like a philosipher.  "Ther's no tellin' wheere this'll end.  Aw wish th' Tories had bin i' peawer.  These Liberal rascals 'll say it's the'r doin's, an' they'll claim th' honour.  It'll be a set-off agen th' weather they'n sent us."

    "Well, what dun yo' think abeaut things neaw?" aw said to owd Juddie, seein' th' owd fause un wur deep i' confab wi' hissel'.

    "As aw said, ther's no tellin' wheere it'll end," he went on.  "Ther's sure to be moore Calico Balls nur one.  Aw shouldno' be surprised if—"

    "We'n one here," Jim Thuston put in.

    "By Goss, Jim!  Theau's hit th' very nail yead ut aw're aimin' at;" an' Juddie used his pipe as if it had bin a hommer, an' smashed it upo' th' fender.  "Ther's a rowl or two o' calico upo' my shelves ut aw want to clear eaut.  Aw've had it mony a year.  It's made eaut o' gradely cotton, yond is—cotton groon on a tree, an' not in a clay-hole.  Aw thowt aw could ha' worn it eaut misel' i' shirts; but aw find aw should ha' to live three hundert year to do it, an' then they'd be some laft.  Aw con see a market for it neaw.  Sup up, chaps!"

    "Yo'd ha' sowd it lung sin'," Jack o' Flunter's said, "if yo'd axt th' same price as other folk."

    "Aw con sell it as chep as onybody, if customers 'ud be satisfied wi' th' quality.  But they expect ut every article i' my shop is what aw say it is, an' no shoddy.  Aw'm no' like theau wur, when theau're frozzen eaut one winter, an' couldno' work at thi own job."

    "Heaw wur that?" Jim Thuston said, knowin' ut Juddie had a trump card in his hont.

    "He went abeaut sellin' silk dresses ut wur one hauve cotton," Juddie said, an' he dropt on his cheear like a seck o' fleaur.  "That's bin th' ruination o'th' silk trade i' this country.  An' becose folk winno' be bitten twice bi th' same dog, it goes yelpin' abeaut th' country, an' says it's 'put on.'  Neaw then, yo' go-ahead Radicals!—what dun yo' think o' that fro' a stupid owd Tory?—It wur me ut knockt, lass, (to th' londlady).  Bring a bowl o' whisky punch.  We'n weet this job, chus heaw."

    Jack hung his yead deawn an' put his hont up, an' it wur gan in ut Juddie had won that reaund fairly.  This so pleeased th' owd lad, ut we du'st ha' said owt to him at after.  Th' punch coome in, an' afore it wur mopt up we'd formed a committee for t' get up a Calico Ball.  Owd Juddie wur made cheearmon, an' Jim Thuston th' scratchetary; an' everybody beside had a' office o' some soart.  Things went on swimmin'.  They aulus dun o'er a bowl o' punch.  Juddie thowt he'd best lay in a stock o' calico if he could get it.  A lot wur sure to be wanted.  Th' Bottoms Factory gooin' to start 'ud be a god-send to him.  He shouldno' do as he did when it wur gooin' afore.  Nawe, nawe.  No trustin' folk ut come'n past th' trowgh.  Here very nee doin' hissel' eaut o'th' dur wi' that.  They'd com' theere, an' work a week or two—get a shop score on; then flit some neet in a hond cart, an' nob'dy know wheere they'd gone to.  He'd turn his shop into a "co-op," an' then folk wouldno' expect trust.  But nob'dy must ha' shares in it, nobbut hissel' an' the'r Betty.  He'd gi'e "divi." too, an' sell 'em owt.  That 'ud be honesty, when he're a co-op."  This he towd me as we'rn swingin' on th' road whoam, his arm locked i' mine like a pump stang wi' a sleeve on.  Aw towd him if he escaped bein' knighted after th' ball wur o'er, it 'ud be on acceaunt ov his modesty, an' ut he didno' care for honours, nobbut what an honest life browt.

    Th' Committee met, wi' owd Juddie as cheearmon.  They didno' get on so weel at fust; an' above one member thowt it moore a women's job nur men's.  It wur decided, after a deeal o' argyin an' yead shakin', ut a women's committee should be formed to act wi' th' men.  Th' cheearmon said ut if th' women wur laft to the'rsels, they'd be a noise among 'em as big as if they'd dipped th' ends o' fifty cats' tails i' vittril, an' shut 'em up in a church.  He're deawn on 'em as legislators.  They'rn reet i' the'r place, an' that wurno' far off th' hearthstone.  They met be some help to th' committee if they'rn gettin' sleepy, for nowt could keep a mon wakken as weel as a woman's tongue.  But if they'rn determined to have women among 'em, they'd want someb'dy i'stead o' him for a cheearmon.  Heawever, th' women wur elected—eaur Sal, Jack o' Flunter's wife, Peggy Thuston, an' Siah at owd Bob's wife.  Billy Softly's wife wouldno' act, becose the'r Billy wurno' on th' committee.  Nobbut a woman would ha' raised that objection.  We wouldno' ha' Billy on th' committee becose he said it wur bab-heause wark, an we should be joinin' at towffy next.  Ther's aulus someb'dy ready to slat cowd wayter upo' owt ut's new, or ut they hanno' had a hond in.  Th' fust meetin' o'th' joint committee wur held at eaur heause, as th' women objected to gooin' to th' "Owd Bell," becose they didno' consider it becomin' o' dacent women meetin' at th' aleheause.

    Th' meetin' went at it' wark as if th' wheels had bin weel oiled for a start; an' it wur surprisin' heaw th' women helped us through th' business.  We couldno' ha' getten on at o witheaut 'em.  They'd everythin' laid eaut straightforrad.  We should ha' had to ha' gone borin at every shop window i' Owdham Street for a week afore we could ha' done owt i'th' dressin' line.  Th' women had it at the'r finger ends.  Aw wur to be a Roman noble, wi' a cleaud o' calico thrown o'er mi shoother, an' hangin' abeaut like bed curtains.  Owd Juddie wur to be an Ancient Briton wearin' a suit o' clooas afore needles wur invented.  Jim Thuston a Red Indian, Jack o' Flunter's Robi'son Crusoe, as it could be provt ut Crusoe wore calico afore he took to goat skins.  Little Dody would tak' th' part ov a Merry Andrey, an' paint an' whiten his face, an' ha' three bobs on his yead.  They nowt to be funny abeaut th' women.  They wurn o on 'em for bein' as grand as they could mak' the'rsels— queens wi' threepence-a-yard robes an' milk wenches wi' flip-flap corded bonnets.  Eaur Sal would ha' bin Mary Queen o' Scots, wi' a armhole waisted dress; but hoo thowt hoo'd groon so eaut o' shape hoo'd be like a chaff bed teed above th' middle.  So hoo changed her mind for a low waist, an' ud left t'other to younger an' shaplier women.

    Then they' th' preparations for th' ball, th' makkin' o' grand things an' showin' 'em fro' heause to heause, like they used to do at a wakes time wi' morris doancers' hats.  It looked as if they'rn gooin' to send up a lot o' printed balloons, wi' sleeves to 'em.  An' when my Roman "togger," or summat as they coed it, wur ready, un aw're tryin' it on, aw could see five or six childer's noses ut wur bein' flattened agen th' window.  Ailse o' Beawker's coome in, an' wanted to know if aw're gooin' to read th' buryin' sarvice o'er someb'dy.

    Th' neet for howdin' th' ball coome at last; an' th' "Owd Bell" fowt wur as thrung as Knott Mill fair used to be afore it wur done away wi' for t' encourage th' races.  Two cabs wur rowlin abeaut like a powlin day for th' Local Board, londin' folk a couple at a time, an gooin' for moore.  When th' owd rib geet eaut ther a sheaut set up.  Hoo're coed to ha' donned hersel' as Queen Esther, wi' a furniture-print dress on, filled wi' canaries, an' summat on her yead ut put me i' mind o' one o' thoose things they covern taepots wi' for t' keep 'em warm.  Aw yerd someb'dy sheaut eaut—

    "Owd Ab's wife's getten a cosy for a bonnet!"

    "Nay, it's a French bobbin-cap, theau foo," another said.

    "Aw've sin' a mon wi' a thing on his yead like that sellin' worm nuts i' Manchester," a third bawl't eaut.

    Aw didno' get off scot free misel', for just as aw're trailin' mi garments o'er th' straw ut wur laid at th' dur aw yerd someb'dy sheaut eaut—

    "Owd Ab's had his shirt neck amputated!"

    "Aye, he's had it done for t' prevent his ears mortifying," another made remark.  "Theau may see they'n bin welly sawn off."

    What t'other geet aw dunno', but aw dar'say they moore fun i'th' fowt nur ther' wur at th' ball.

    An' what a seet it wur when we'd getten t'gether—Jim Thuston wi' a bed-cover lapt reaund, him an' a starched neet-cap on his yead, ut stuck up like Ally Sloper's hat, wi' a little peacock's fither in it; Jack o' Flunter's wi' a pair o' white "ducks" an' a blue jacket, ut he wore when he're i'th' Frog-lone Band!  Aw thowt he're a very un-Crusoe-like Crusoe, but he said history proved ut he're reet.  Owd Juddie's Ancient Briton wur a marvel.  His garment wur to ha' no stitches in it, so he'd made a hole i'th' middle o' three yard o' calico, an' stuck his yead through it!

    Little Dody made a rare cleawn.  He're just th' reet size for it.  But he turned his toes eaut i'stid o' turnin' 'em till aw put him i'th' reet road.  He plagued Owd Juddie till aw thowt th' owd lad 'ud ha' struck him wi' a treadle he carried for an Ancient Briton's spear.  Siah-at-owd-Bob's had kept it a saycret what he're goin' to do till th' neet; so he marched in wi' a white cap on, th' shape ut we'rn used to mak' clay flops, an' everythin' deawn to his shoon wur white.  When aw axt him if he're a pipemakker or a whitewesher, he towd me he're a dust damper, or a trough wrostler, or an alum crusher.  That meant to say he're a baker.  His owd rib wur a milk-maid, but it 'ud ha' to be a broad stoo for onybody to ha' seen it when hoo're milkin'!  Ther queens beaut number, an' at ony price fro' thrippence a yard to a shillin'.

    We did a march reaund th' fust, to th' music o' two little fiddles an' the'r gronfeyther, a happy owd chap ut grunts when he's made, an' no' when he's a mind.  Onybody con march; some folk rayther too fast for others.  But that's eautside.  We had to do it to music, an' that's rayther different to o'er-runnin' a debt.

    Aw dunno' know heaw it happened—but it did happen—as owd Juddie wur paradin' abeaut th' reaum, wi' his Ancient British robes makkin' him look like a duck wi' booath wings brokken, someheaw a match struck itsel', an' set fire to his three yard o' calico.  We expected ut if he wurno' brunt to deeath, he'd be so marked ut he'd wear th' scars for life.  But th' owd un wur too weel padded wi' underclooas for t' tak' ony hurt, so beside havin' a cooat lap brunt off, an' as mich of his shirt, he'd gone through th' fire like thoose three martyrs ut we readen abeaut i'th' owd book.

    Owd Juddie's mishap caused a little bit o' commotion amung thoose ut wurno' i'th' saycret.  If he could ha' getten his "Briton's shawl" o'er his yead, or his yead through th' hole, it 'ud ha' saved ony further mischief.  But he'd made it to' tight a fit.  Th' owd lad looked glum for a while, an' it wur hard to tell which road he'd tak' it.  Luckily, he wurno' brunt hissel'.  It wur rayther to' bad a joke, an' met ha' ended a good deeal more sariously.  At last he breetened up, an' said it wur his own faut.  It wur th' fruits o' folk carryin' matches i' the'r cooat pocket.  He couldno' gawm, noather, heaw it wur they'd strucken.  If he'd sit deawn on 'em, or someb'dy had punced him a bit below th' back buttons, he could ha' understood it.  But—"Well, never mind; ther's wur jobs happen i' coalpits sometimes," he said, as if to cosole hissel' for his misfortune.  Th' coat's an owd un, no wo'th mich.  Th' owd clooas woman wouldno' ha' gan me above fourpence for it."

    "Yo'n a chance neaw o' bringin' eaut a new fashion i' cooats," Jack o' Flunter's said, neaw ut things had ta'en a pleasant turn.  "Whoa knows but eaur big nobs 'll goo mad after it?"

    "If he'd a red calico lap put on, folk 'ud tak' him to be a foreign general on a visit," Siah-at-owd-Bob's said.

    "Aye, but he could do summat grander nur that," Jim Thuston said, hardly knowin' heaw to look sarious.  "If he'd t'other lap cut off, an' a yallow one, wi' three lions on it, stitched to, it 'ud favvor a kings arms."

    "An' he met ha' t'other striped for a Union Jack," Little Dody said. "An', if other folk followed th' fashin, we could sing Rule Britannia' to some sense then. We should look an everlastin' procession as we walked abeaut."

    Ther nobbut one part o'th' "programme" ut aw could tak' a part in, an' th' "Queen o' Persia" said aw could do it to perfection; that wur th' "refreshments."  Well, it's a performance ut yo' con go through beaut a partner, so it's to be recommended on that ackeaunt.

    "Roman nobles," aw said to her majesty, as hoo laid her cosy—her yed dress, aw meean, on th' table for t' cool her yead, "Drank the'r wine eaut o' goblets."

    "Well, an' theau knows heaw to gobble it as weel as they did," my queen said, but not in a very queenly way.  "Aw should give it another name.  Theau's bin doancin abeaut here o neet, an' never as mich as axt me if aw'd a meauth."

    "Has your Gracious Majesty a meauth?" aw axt her.

    "Aw'll show thi whether aw have or not," hoo said.  "An' hoo up wi' th' goblet an' botthomed it.  "It wurno' becose aw wanted owt o'th' soart," hoo said, when hoo'd done poo'in her face after hoo fund it eaut it wur coffee, "but aw thowt theau shouldno' have it o to thisel'.  Yo' men are a selfish lot."  Aw wonder if th' Queen o' Persia talked that road to th' King after hoo'd "fund favvour in his seet?"

    If ever yo'n bin at a ball o' ony soart—it doesno' matter if it wur a teetotal do—yo' mun ha' noticed one thing.  Later th' neet gets, an' th' drier it goes.  Folk 'll flock reaund th' table i' thicker numbers after every doance, till at last th' band has it o to itsel'.  That's aulus th' signal for yerrin' wheels i'th' fowt, an' seein' young women lay cleauds o' wool abeaut the'r meauths.  It wur so wi' eaur Calico Ball.  One o'th' fiddlers wur asleep, an' t'others keepin' ony soart o' time.  Th' Ancient Briton, wi' his one wing, wur laid deawn on a form, "with his martial cloak around him," an' hissel' properly "stitched up."  Th' cleawn had swat o'th' paint off his face.  Th' "Dust damper" had had a rowl in another soart nur dumplin' dust, an' Robi'son Crusoe's "ducks" had turned into crows.  Th' next wur a dribble whoam—kings an' queens foin' eaut like feesh women o'er the'r turns for th' state carriages.  Before th' market carts had begun a-rowlin' past, th' "Owd Bell" wur as quiet as th' church.


――――♦――――

 
WALMSLEY FOWT GRAND CONCERT.


IT'S bin agreed on bi th' owd rib an' me, ut we're not dooin' as mich good i'th' wo'ld as we owt to do.  That we're not i'th' grand push to'ard th' front.  Everybody beside is tryin' to do everybody else as mich good as they con crom into a life.  We'n "missions" for this thing, "missions" for that, an' "missions" for t'other, till i'th' march o' progress they're tradein' o' one another's heels.  We'd thowt to ha' had a clog mission i' Walmsley Fowt, but childer han begun o' turnin' up the'r noses at clogs, so we'n bin driven to eaur wit's end what to do to be i'th' fashion.  Eaur Sal has hit upo' summat, an' come'n to th' rescue.

    "Ab," hoo said, one neet after owd "Snowbo" had bin sittin' wi' us—it wur his day eaut o'th' warkheause—"Aw dunno' see what folk han to live for when they'n getten owd, an' han to be flung into a soart ov a prison.  Look at owd 'Snowbo'—it isno' becose he's lived extravigantly ut he's come'n to what he has.  He never wur a drunken chap, an' aw'm sure he're noane idle, but he's i'th' warkheause for o that."

    "He's had a good deeal o' bad luck," aw said.

    "Aye, an' suffered for other folk," hoo said.  "Neaw, aw dar' be bund to say ut if he'd one-hauve o' what folk han robbed him on, he could ha' sit comfortably on his own hearthstone.  But it's like as if he're soft wi' thoose he had to deeal wi', an' they didno' spare him.  It's a theausant pities."

    "It is," aw said.

    "An' when aw think o' what has bin done for thoose ut are no more desarvin', it mak's me think ut every good isno' shared eaut alike.  When th' dow (dole) days wur on, aw noticed ut thoose geet th' mooest ut put the'rsel's th' mooest forrad.  Theau geet a good cloth cooat ut just fitted thee, if theau recollects, an' it did for a buryin' cooat for thi, while poor Tum at Lukes geet an owd thing ut raiched to his heels, an' no deaut had bin worn by oather a show chap or a pig droiver.  Well, theau sees, theau could goo i' ony soart o' company i' thy cocat; but when Tum went a-tryin' to get a job o' hay-makkin' they'd nobbut give him th' lowest wage.  That wur o th' faut ov his lung cooat; they took him to be an Oirishman.

    "An' what is it theau'rt tryin' to get at neaw?" aw wanted to know.

    "Aw'm tryin' to get at this," hoo said; an' hoo raised th' foire, becose it wur a coolish soart ov a neet.  "Aw'd like to see things a bit different.  As long as poor folk are quiet, an' say nowt, we thinken they're content.  No deaut they are so in a way.  They're quiet becose they'n nowt to get wi' bein' noisy.  Neaw, why conno' sich like as owd Snowbo have a day or two at th' saeside, like younger folk?"

    "Becose we shouldno' like to pay rates for t' send 'em theere," aw said.

    "But meeans are fund for others," hoo said.  "If they conno' raise money ony road else, they con have a concert.  Neaw, why shouldno' we have one i' Walmsley Fowt, an' give th' brass it made to th' poor?"

    "Neaw aw see wheere theau'rt puttin' thi wedge in,—th' thin end th' fust (as if ony foo' would try to droive th' thick end th' fust).  Theau'rt for makkin' a stir i' this hole."  Ther' wur a leet shoinin' on me then.

    "If theau'll help me," hoo said.

    "Tell me heaw, an' aw'll do it."

    "Theau con write enoogh abeaut some soarts o' foolish wark, sich as catchin' a weasel, or shootin' some owd clooas.  Let's see if theau con do summat betther."

    "Aw've some deauts as to whether aw've owt betther in me," aw said.  "If ther' is, aw'll try to scrat it eaut."

    "Theau could see th' rector, an' try to get him to help."

    "Aye, he's had mony a thing done for him."

    "An' get a concert up."

    "Who is ther' to sing?"

    "Well, thee for one.  Theau con sing at th' 'Owd Bell' when ther's summat agate theere."

    "Aye, but it's singin' ov a soart.  Ther's nob'dy ud like to pay to yer it.  Happen theau met do a bit ov a warble."

    "My singin' days are o'er, Ab, if ever aw had ony.  But if Jack o' Flunter's wife ud join me we happen met get through 'Colin an' Phaby,' if they'd let us ha' reaum enoogh to walk abeaut in."

    "That's the ticket!" aw said.  "Aw con see brass at th' end on't.  Aw dar'say th' Frog-lone band ud help us."

    "No deaut they would.  Eaur Dick, playin' th' triangles, would have a bit o' influence wi' t'others, theau sees; an' aw dar'say we could have a payanno for t' sing to."

    "They'd break a lot o' strengs if they tried to follow me," aw said.  "An' theau'd shake some glue eaut on't!"

    "But shall we goo on wi' th' job?" hoo wanted to know; an' th' lass looked quite i' earnest.

    "Aye," aw said.  "Get th' plans an' specifications eaut, an' bring 'em afore th' next meetin', ut aw con look 'em o'er."  Then we broke up.

    Preparations for th' concert wur begun th' mornin' after.  A ragg'd copy o' "Colin an' Phaby" had bin hunted eaut ov a drawer wheere eaur Sal kept sich ov her love letters as aw musno' see, becose they'n feaw picturs on 'em, valentines, aw reckon they are.  Aw yerd her agate o' warblin' eaut a stave soon after.  But her voice seaunded as if it wur a bit like owd Tunnicliff's clarinet, an' wanted lappin' wi' a waxed bant.  Aw've yerd her ring it eaut like a nightingell; but hoo's woven mony a mile sin' then.  Jack o' Flunter's wife had th' sung written in a copy book o' the'r Jim's, ut th' lad couldno' fill afore he dee'd; an' it browt tears into Jack's wife's een when hoo seed it.  Well, aw're put on th' job for t' see what other help we could get; so aw went to th' rector, an' fund him wranglin' wi' th' clerk o'er a sixpence ut th' clerk had in his meauth, an' had forgetten it.  A good deeal o' folk han very queer memories wheere brass is consarned.  Aw broke mi arrand to th' owd rector; an' aw could see bi th' way he rubbed his spectekles he'd rayther aw'd come'n a-givin' him summat.  But, heawever, after he'd looked through th' window till he'd seen everythin' twice, he said—

    "For th' benefit o' poor folk, eh?"

    "Aye, that's what it's intended for," aw said.

    "Dost think ther' isno' enoogh bein' done for em'?" he axt; an' he threw hissel' into his cheear for t' hearken furr.

    "Well, aw know ther's bin a good deeal o' brass left for th' poor bi one an' another," aw said, "but it seems not to ha' getten i'th' reet pockets.  Folk it wur never intended for someheaw geet th' hondlin' on't; an' it's rare stuff for stickin' i' honds ut are weel waxed.  Yo' could tell me summat, aw dar'say, if yo' would.  Some o' yo'r cloth has had a rare polish put on it wi' what should ha' clothed poor folk's backs, an' prevented the'r ribs grooin' t'gether.  If th' poor had bin dealt wi' as they owt to ha' bin, an' wur intended they should be, aw shouldno' ha' bin here neaw, beggin' for summat ut aw con see yo' dunno' want to give."

    "Dunno' be too sure abeaut that, Abram," th' rector said, when aw'd made him feel as if he'd grabbed at a thistle.  "If it's th' skoo' theau wants theau con have it, by payin' for, like other folk.  But th' songs mun be dacent; an' aw couldno' alleaw onybody to dress the'rsels up like pace-eggers, nor black the'r faces like sweeps.  A Sunday skoo's hardly a fit place for sich nonsense, an' aw'm sorry it's ever bin alleawed.  If theau'll promise me ther'll be nowt o' that soart yo' con ha' th' skoo' beaut payin' for."

    "Thank yo'," aw said, "yo needno' be fears ther' 'll be owt objectionable.  We ar'no' respectable enoogh for that.  But aw'd like one exception to what yo'n laid deawn."

    "Name it."

    "My wife's gooin' to tak' Colin's part i' 'Colin an' Phaby.  Hoo wants to wear my hat, so as they con tell one fro' t'other.  Hoo's worn summat else o' mine a good while."

    This put th' owd chap i' sich a good humour ut aw could ha' had owt aw'd wanted an' he went so far as to ring th' bell.

    "Got any hot water, Mary?" he said to th' sarvent, when hoo showed hersel'.

    "In a moment, sir," hoo said; an' hoo off back.

    "Aw'd rayther ha' mine cowd," aw said; an' he star't at me.

    "I've fastened a letter, and I'm afraid I haven't put everything in that I intended," th' rector said.  "I want the hot water to open it."

    Aw took that as a hint ut aw met be gooin', an' as a sign ut ther' nowt comin' nobbut th' wot wayter.  So aw crept eaut, wi' an explanation ut aw'd rayther have a cowd bath nur a warm un; an' aw thowt here orderin' a warm un for his own use.  Aw'm feart he'd see a lie i'th' colour o' mi face!

    I'th' matter o' printin' bills, we'rn terribly eaut on't.  Nob'dy had a notion o' what size they should be.  We didno' want 'em to cover a heause-side; noather did we want 'em so little ut folk met think they'rn for plaisterin' keigh-holes up.  So we agreed on a middlin' size, as we thowt; an' when they'rn put upo' th' walls we had to seech 'em afore we could find 'em.  Some folk wanted to know if we'rn layin' a new rate, an' that wur th' notice.  Owd Juddie drew it up, an' it read summat like this—


TAKE NOTICE.
That wheras a Concert for the Benefit
OF THE POOR
Will be held on Monday next, September 1st, 1884,
IN THE NATIONAL SCHOOL, HAZLEWORTH,
We have to give notice that the following
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
Are giving their services, besides selling tickets
MRS. ABRAM FLETCHER,
Of Walmsley Fowt, (Loomhouse Concerts),
MRS. JOHN TAYLOR,
Of the same Concerts,
MR. GEORGE TAYLOR
The successor to Paganini;
MR. ABRAM FLETCHER,
Principal Baritone at the "Old Bell" Concerts
and other eminent artists.
In addition to the above list of soloists,
A GRAND CHORAL PARTY
Have offered their services; and an
Eminent pianist will accompany.
See future bills.
The Frog Lane Band will be in attendance,
and will play their
"GRAND BELLE VUE MARCH."


    Th' patronage wur left eaut; little folk dun no good, an' big uns wanten so mich fuss.

    Aw very soon fund eaut ut ther' summat moore i' getten up a concert beside printin' bills, an' findin' what they coen "talent."  Ther's heaw to get rid o'th' tickets.  Aw're bothered past o reckonin' i' that job.  Aw'd calkilated ut everythin' ud be straightforrad, an' ut th' tickets ud be snapped up like duckmayte.  Nowt o'th' soart.  Th' greaund had bin raked afore.  "Madame Polwobbler" had had a "benefit" concert, an' ther' six carriages at th' dur.  "Mons. Tomaso de Brogues (Tum at clogger's) had had a benefit at th' "Rising Mug," an' th' place wur so creawded wi' singers ut nob'dy else could get in.  Thoose ut had bowt tickets said it wur a swindle; so mi job wur damaged i' two ways.  When it geet eaut ut aw'd tickets to sell, folks shot past me as if aw'd th' smo-pox!  They'd bin had afore by other ticket sellers, an' didno' want ony moore.  Aw thowt th' object wur good enoogh to draw beawt havin' to be pushed; but a chap wi' a red nose ut hummers th' table uv a neet at th' "Rising Mug" towd me aw mustno' depend upo' that.  If aw did, aw should be havin' summat to pay i'stead o' summan to hond o'er to th' committee (me an' eaur Sal).  Aw're put to mi wit's end for a while, wonderin' what aw must do.  At last aw hit on a plan, an' acted on it.  Aw'd narrow bills, like papper ribbins, plaistered across t'other, wi' these words on


AFTER TWELVE O'CLOCK TO-DAY ALL TICKETS WILL BE CHARGED DOUBLE PRICE.


That fotch't 'em!  Th' bills wur no sooner eaut nur eaur dur wur creawded reaund like a pop-shop dur on a Monday mornin'.

    Aw'd no bother wi' th' tickets after that.  Aw're cleared eawt, an' so wur owd Juddie.  Th' owd lad took a good deeal o'th' credit to hissel'.  He said it wur his solos ut wur dooin' th' trick; an' he gan his fiddle stick an extry rosinin'.  Aw'd another bill put eaut after that


NO MONEY TAKEN AT THE DOOR.


Aw'd thirty moore tickets printed, an' sowd 'em at double th' price!  Aw felt as preaud as a lad ut's split a peg-top, when aw seed heaw things wur sailin'; an' aw're so rich wi' other folk's brass ut aw're tempted to go to Ameriky wi' it.  Th' fowt wur musical o day, for it wur th' day o'th' concert.  "Colin and Phaby" did moor cooartin' nur ever wur known to be put i'th' same time; an' aw towd th' "Silver Moon" to "rowl on" so oft ut aw freetnet th' hens.  Ther a chellupin across th' fowt ut seaunded like a wakes; owd Juddie's "bonnie bit o' timber" wur givin' eaut squeeals enoogh to move th' heart, if not th' ears o' thoose ut wur hearkenin'.

    When seven o'clock coome, my inside begun o' havin' a soart ov a rumblin' feel, an' a fo'in deawn.  Th' owd rib had made mi dicky so stiff ut aw couldno see mi shoon, so hoo had to tee 'em for me.  Aw'd no 'casion to go to th' skoo till th' time o' startin' as eaur Ab an' Joe wur lookin' after things; so aw sat i' state, wakkerin like someb'dy ut's bin on th' spree a week, an' had to put th' peg in o at once.  Th' fuss thump aw yerd o'th' Frog-lone Band drum caused a lot o' thumps under mi dicky; but it wur no use feelin' as if aw'd lost—th' job had to be gone on wi'.  Just as aw're at th' wo'st, owd Juddie an' Jack o' Flunter's an' th' wife coome in, an' wanted to know if we'rn ready.  They said th' skoo wur full, an' a lot had had to goo away.

    "Just teem me a drop more caut; aw'm ready," aw said.

    Did yo' ever feel th' pleasure o' dooin' a good turn?  Aw dar'say yo' han.  It wur that ut had getten howd o' me then, an' made me feel so queer.  Aw dar'say it's becose it mak's folk miserable ut so little on it's done.  But heaw, yo'r axin, con it mak' folk miserable if it's a pleasure?  Aw must say it looks strange, but it does mak' one deawn-hearted.  Aw reckon it's becose we conno' do as mich as we want to, or it brings us i' seet o' things we didno' know existed.  Ther's nowt like livin' in a foo's paradise.  That's th' reeason, aw reckon, ut eaur great folk build sich hee walls reaund the'r heauses.  If they conno' see poverty they dunno' know ther' is ony an' they wouldno' thank yo' for tellin' 'em; so they shut it eaut—play lawn tennis within yerrin o' one ut's playin' his last game upo' this yearth, an's gooin' to draw his winnins, or to "potter up" his losins, as th' case may be.  But—"Dost thou think because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale?" Aw wouldno' destroy a bit o' no mon's pleasure, if aw could help it; but aw should do, if aw put him in a place wheere he could see nobbut one hauve o'th' misery they' is abeaut him.  It isno' becose we're hardened to th' best feelin's ov eaur nature ut wi' dun so little to'ard shiftin' th' cause o' pain.  It's becose we dunno' know ut it exists—an' happen we dunno' want to know.  But aw'm at it agen.

    We went deawn to th' skoo, an fund things as they'rn said to be; an' when aw peeped in at th' side dur aw thowt mi heart would ha' come'n up.  Ther folk theere aw never expected seein'—folk ut aw've blamed for the'r indifference to th' poor, an' ut aw didno' think had one drop o'th' milk o' human kindness i' the'r heart.  Well, it would be a strange place for milk to be in, ov ony soart.

    We couldno' ha' th' payanno.  It belunged to a widow woman, an' had bin fotched away for rent.  Th' dowter wur welly heart-brokken through it.  Another case o' gilded poverty.  It's th' wo'st soart, an' th' hardest to be borne.  Aw wurno' sorry ut we couldno' ha' this music, but aw're sorry for t' cause on't.  It 'ud ha' bothered me past owt, or else aw should ha' bothered it.  Th' band could put in a stave or two when it wur wanted, an' o that way we should get on.  Ther abeaut a dozen wanted to get in for nowt.  They said they'rn "professionals," an' they'd a right.  Aw soon showed 'em whether they had or not, by tumblin' 'em into th' fowt.  One mon walked straight in, as if th' skoo belunged to him.  He said he belunged to th' "press."  He prints tae-pappers; an' aw towd him aw couldno' see why he should ha' ony soart ov a privilege on that ackeaunt.  Two coom a-cadgin'.  They'rn brokken-deawn singers, they said, an' wanted a lift.  Aw gan 'em one, an' they thanked me awfully for it.  These difficulties getten through, aw went to th' "front."

    Thoose ut wanten to see th' ways o'th' wo'ld beaut gooin' far to see 'em, should get up a concert.  They'd never get up another; if they did they're hard to be satisfied.  I'th' fust place, ther's so mony to pleeas.  I'th' second, while yo'r pleeasin' someb'dy, yo'r vexin' someb'dy else; an' between th' two, yo'n very soon come to loggeryeads.  Aw wurno' lung i' findin' that eaut, an' On other things beside. It didno' tak' me mony minutes to find eaut ut ther three or four parties i'th' place, an' they'd oitch the'r own favourite; for 'stead o'th' concert bein' confined to th' names on th' bill, ther some had squeezed in as soon as they'd getten to yer it wur gooin' t' be a success.  That's one way o'th' wo'ld.  Folk like to be in at a good thing; an' they tak' it eaut o' yo'r honds if yo' dunno' mind.  But nob'dy likes to be in at a failure.  They may talk as they like abeaut it bein' for a good object; but unless they con see success written o'th' back o'th' cards, they'n play noane.  That's another way o'th' wo'ld.  Aw wanted to put in o ut aw could, but these new comers very soon showed aw couldno'.  Th' women wur th' queerest, an' th' stupidest, as they are i' everythin'; an' ther a clatter i'th' anti-reawm they could yer at fur end o'th' skoo.  Madame Polwobbler said if hoo could be alleawed to goo on th' fust hoo'd give her sarvices; an' hoo "could bring money in."  Hoo had to goo to another concert that neet, an' would have a carriage to fotch her.  But if hoo're kept late th' carriage would have goo witheaut her, an' hoo couldno' afford to lose five guineas (five shillin').  That wur alleawed on wi' a bit o' grumblin'.  But when Mons. Tomaso de Brogues (Tumat-Cloggers) wanted th' same privilege, becose he should be wanted at th' "Rising Mug," an' he couldno' afford to lose two guineas (two shillin') it tried eaur Sal's temper up.

    "It's nobbut Tum at Cloggers," th' owd rib said, slatterin' th' fust drops ov a comin' storm; "an what should he want to go before us for?  Aw think we'n done enoogh by lettin' Poll-at-Wobblers goo before us.  Her have a carriage waitin' for her!  It'll be a one-wheeled un if it is.  Her frock's as yallow as a marrigowd.  It looks like a carriage waitin' for her!  What dun yo' think abeaut it, George?"

    "Think?  Well, aw think nowt abeaut it, an' care less," owd Juddie said, with a chuckle.  "If they'n let owd Bill an' me goo on as we are dooin' we'n be satisfied; we'n had two pints a-piece neaw.  But aw conno' see ut Tum-at-Cloggers an' Poll-at-Wobblers han ony moore right to have a reaum to the'rsels nur we han.  What han they one for?"

    "Didno' yo' see th' lookin'-glass goo in?" th' owd rib said.

    "Aye, they han it to set the'r meauths by when they go'en on, aw reckon," owd Juddie said.

    "Nay; paint!"

    "Oh, put a bit o' colour on wheere it's wanted, an' tak' a bit off wheere it isno' wanted.  Well, well, Poll's nobbut a dressmakker, an' thoose ut getten a livin' by that hanno' mich bloom on the'r cheeks; so dunno' grumble at th' poor wench," an' owd Juddie gan a scroanch on his fiddle, an' tightened up a peg.  "Isno' it time for that band to play?" he said, after he'd flirted his strings for t' see if they'rn i' tune.  "They'n tootled an' tootled till it'll be time to have another pint eenneaw."

    "They're just gooin' t' strike up," aw said.

    "It's time they did.  Aw'se be as fuddled as a foo if they dunno' start soon.  Bill, let's be dooin' at summat."

    "Well, what mun it be?" owd Bill said, oppenin' a pair o' heavy-lookin' een ut towd tales abeaut 'em.  They'd boath bin practising at th' "Owd Bell" for th' last two heaurs, an' th' ale they'd had wur tellin' on 'em, owd Bill speshly.

    "Yo' munno' begin neaw; th' band's ready," aw said.

    "Whoa cares for th' band!" owd Bill said, blowin' a blast upo' his hoss-leg leaud enoogh to wakken th' deead.  "What mun we have, Juddie?"

    "O, Nannie!"

    "Aw've no bass part for that."

    "Mak' one, then; they'n ne'er know."

    "Blaze away!"

    Just as they wurn beginin', th' band struck up a lively tune, an' they abeaut four hundert feet gooin' to it.  Owd Juddie laid deawn his fiddle an' joined in, an' owd Bill bein' to' heavy for doancin, went o'er agen, his hoss-leg fixed between his own, an' his fingers gooin' as if he'd bin playin'.  Eaur Sal an' Jack o' Flunter's wife, ut had bin practisin' a kurtchy beaut bein' able to mak' one perfect, joined in at th' general merriment; th' owd ticket doancin' as weel as ever hoo did at a club neet, an' Jack's wife flourishin' abeaut as nimbly as if hoo'd never had eight chiller, an' twins twice o'er.  Just as th' band wur givin' signs ut they'd welly done workin' up th' "agony," in sailed Madame Polwobbler, wantin' to know "how soon she would be required."

    "Just neaw," aw said, an' that minute th' band ceased.

    Aw fund it took lunger for t' prepare the'rsel's for gooin' on, after they're expected, nur one 'ud imagine; an' aw think it's for t' let folk wait a bit.  They'rn never howd o'th' reet music, someheaw; an' ther's other little bits o' delays.  Aw're fast i' this instance.  Aw couldno' see heaw Madame Polwobbler could sing "Robin Adair" off th' music to "Robin Redbreast," unless ony Robin 'ud do; an' aw wonder't if aw'd put it deawn upo' th' programme reet.  But hoo went on,—did a kick at th' tail-end of her dress, an' kurtchied.  Ther a good deeal o' clappin' i' one corner.  Aw reckon her friends wur theere.  Then hoo warbled eaut, wi' a good deeal o' shakin':—


What's this dull time to me?
                Robin's not near.
What was't I wished to see?
                What wished to hear?
Where's all the joy and mirth,
Made this town a heaven on earth?
Oh! they're all fled with thee,—
                                Robin Adair.


Then hoo stuck as fast as a thief in a mill.  Aw thowt hoo're happen waitin' while they'd done clappin'; but hoo couldno' get on when everythin' wur quiet.  Hoo stood bitin' her lip, an' lookin' as if hoo wished th' stage ud break deawn, or let her through.  Then they' wur a bit o' unyezziness amung thoose ut wur hearkenin'; an' at last it broke eaut int' summat else.

    "Hoo conno' read," wur sheauted fro' amung th' sixpennies.

    "Try it o'er agen!" wur suggested.

    "Come off if t' conno' goo on!"

    Th' latter advice hoo took, an' coome off, lookin' redder nur ony paint could mak' her, an' mad enough to punce hersel' deawn steears.  Hoo said hoo'd getten th' wrung music.  Aw could ha' towd her that; but when hoo stood starin' at it so lung, aw thowt aw met be mistakken.  But it'll tak' a good deeal o' argyment for t' convince me ut hoo didno' know what music hoo're takkin', an' ut hoo'd no other.  Then aw yerd her an' Thomaso de Brogues say summat abeaut a "dummy copy;" but what it meant, at th' time aw couldno' say.  If it wur singin' off th' wrung music, it's a dangerous practice.  But aw reckon they mun ha' howd o' summat, or else they wouldno' know what to do wi' the'r honds, like Bill o' Tummy's an' his actin'.  Whatever he're doin', Bill dragged a cheear abeaut wi' him.  He said it wur a goad thing to stick to, an' he couldno' get on beaut summat.

    Well, it coome neaw to th' fiddle an' bazoon turn; an' they'rn booath as nee drunken as mak's no matter,—aw meean thoose ut had to play 'em.  Heaw they'd get on wi' "O Nannie" aw couldno' tell, knowin' ut Owd Bill had getten no bass part.  He couldno' had seen one if he had.  He'd two lads for t' howd th' music, but as things wur, he nobbut wanted one, an' he're on th' stage before th' performers.  Ther quite a row when folk seed th' state they'rn in.  Some clapped, others yelled, an' aw expected th' performers cumin' to grief.  Owd Bill swung abeaut like a tree in a wynt, an' bobbed th' meauth-piece of his hoss-leg ins' his ear-hole i'sted ov his meauth.  But at last they geet ins' some soart ov order, an' fired off.

    Well, th' beginnin' wur betther nur aw expected.  They kept weel t'gether th' hauve road through th' tune, an' aw're i' hopes they'd finish wi' a bang.  But when it coome to Owd Juddie turnin' o'er, they broke deawn.  Th' lad ut held th' music clipt it like a vice, an' wurno' inclined to part wi' it.  Owd Juddie tried to turn o'er, but couldno', th' lad's fingers wouldno' let him.  Owd Bill, heawever, kept ramblin' on, as if he wanted to get to th' furr end, while Owd Juddie wur frabbin' wi' th' music.  At last, th' stond went o'er, an' ther a sheaut o' laafin' fro' th' folk i' front.  Owd Juddie had knockt th' lad deawn.

    "Didno' aw tell thee t' leov loce?" he sheauted, as th' lad lay sprawlin' upo' th' floor.  "Heaw could aw turn o'er when yo'd howd o'th' leeaves?  Aw'll finish beaut thee," an' he pieced up, somewheer abeaut wheere he'd left off, but Owd Bill had done.

    "Come, Bill!"

    "Not another blow!  Aw've done my share."

    "Then――yo'!  Aw'll do beaut yo' booath," an' he set to wark, till th' fiddle bridge went flop deawn, an' o wur o'er.

    Leovin' Owd Juddie an' Owd Bill for t' square up matters as best they could, which wur rooghly, it neaw coome to eaur Sal an' Jack o' Flunter's wife's turn to goo on, an' aw could yer ther a bit o' commotion i'th' front; but whether it wur caused bi th' failure o'th' fiddle an' bazoon duet, or it wur wi' th' expectation o' yerrin' summat grand, as they thowt, aw'll leeave time to tell.  Aw think it wur th' latter, becose th' noise kept gettin' leauder.

    "Theau munno' forget to kick, Sarah!" Jack o' Flunter's wife said, as they'rn gooin' on.

    "Aw've nowt for t' kick," th' owd rib said, gooin' through th' motion.  "My skirts arno' lung enoogh, theau sees."

    "Well, we mun kick, chus heaw," Jack's wife said; an' they did kick, too, ut sent folk clappin' like mad.

    It wur a good job they did, for aw believe they'd ha' brokken deawn if they hadno done summat for t' put folk i' good temper.  They'd bin nowt but break-deawns yet, an' they wanted summat for the'r money.  Th' owd ticket towd me when o wur o'er, ut hoo felt "o ov a dither-o-whack" when hoo went on.  Th' owd gel looked quite gallus wi' my owd bobbin-nudger on her yead, just a bit o' one side.  Hoo thinks neaw hoo'll wear a hat, becose it becomes her.  They'n have o eaur clooas yet, if we'n let 'em.

    But ther' wur quietness i'th' front, an' th' women had begun a-walkin' abeaut, as they aulus do when they sing Colin an' Phaby"—crossin' one another an' turnin' back.  Neaw they're off!


COLIN.


Well met, dearest Phebe, oh, why in such haste?
Through the fields and the meadows all day have I
        chased,
In search of a fair one who does me disdain,
You ought to reward me for all my past pain.


PHEBE.


Go, go, boldest Colin, how dare you be seen
With a maiden like me that's scarce turned sixteen?
To be seen all alone with a man, I'm afraid
The world would soon tell me became not a maid.


COLIN.


Never mind what the world says, it shall all prove a
        lie;
We're not all alone, there's a couple hard by,
They may judge of our actions, and drive away care,
For no harm is intended to Phebe, I sware.


PHEBE.


Go, go, boldest Colin, you may say what you will;
You may lie, swear, or flatter, and try all your skill,
But before I'll be conquered I'll have you to know,
That I'll die as I am, so pray let me go.


COLIN.


Oh, Phebe, clearest Phebe, such thoughts I ne'er had;
I come for to ask if to-morrow you'll wed.
But since you're so slighting I'll bid you adieu
I'll go take some other girl who's kinder than you.


PHEBE.


Stay, stay, gentle shepherd, a few moments stay,
I'll venture to yield if you mean as you say;
Let to-morrow first come, in the church you shall find,
The girl you thought cruel will always prove kind.


COLIN.


Oh, Phebe, dear Phebe, accept of a vow,
I ne'er thought you loved me sincerely till now;
And when your bright eyes in the church they do
        shine,
Our hands and our hearts, love, in wedlock shall join.


    What a row ther' wur when they'd finished!  Aw thowt they'd ha' torn th' place deawn.  It wur "encore," "hangcore," "honcore," i' every corner; an' kept up for abeaut three minutes by onybody's clock.

    "What does that meean?" th' owd stockinmender said to me, eaut o' puff wi' what hoo'd done.

    "It meeans they wanten yo' to sing it o'er agen," aw said.

    "Eh! aw con never do that; aw'm fairly done up neaw."

    "Theau mun purtend to be lookin' through thi music till theau sees ther' i' yearnest," aw said.  "That'll gie thi time for t' get reaund.  Jack's wife is as fresh as a daisy."

    "Aye, hoo's younger nur what aw am, an' isno as fat.  Oh, aw con never do it o'er agen!" at th' same time hoo're gettin' ready.  Eh, women, yo'r humbugs!

    They went on an' sung agen, aw think this time betther nur at th' fust; an' when they coome off, an' aw're expectin' th' owd ticket wautin' o'er, an' sayin' hoo wanted some brandy, hoo looked as if hoo'd never turned a yure.  Here aw're sent for eautside.  It wur Madame Polwobbler ut wanted me.  Aw're rayther startled at seein' her, becose aw'd thowt hoo'd gone off in her carriage.  Hoo wanted to know if aw'd let her ha' two shillin' till Monday!  Hoo'd let me have it back then, as hoo'd a lot o' salary to draw.  This wur my first introduction to moneyless pride.  Aw leet her have it, at th' same time aw knew aw should never see it agen.  Sich is life!

    It neaw coome to Tomaso de Brogue's turn, an' he went on i' full fig.  A white choker, an' steel-pen coat, an' patent leather boots.  Aw think ther's one hauve i'th' way they go'en on—smellin' at a white napkin, an' just strokin it o'er theer face, as if they'rn feart o' rubbin' th' paint off.  This Mons. Tomaso did; an' it wur a study to see him bow to th' clappin' ther' wur gooin' on.  He stooped deawn to th' clarionet, an' axt him to seaund "G."

    Aw conno' tell to this day what it wur he sung, though it seem th' audience knew summat abeaut it, for when he said "all together," they took up th' tune as if they'd bin used to havin' it every neet before they went t' bed.  An' they o' sung through the'r nose, while Mons. Tomaso marched abeaut, an' did a soart ov a jerk wi' his knees, an' flirted wi' his fingers.  He'd a way ov his own i' givin' th' English language, ut aw conno' say made it ony betther.  This reminded me ov a chap ut wur axt to read a "Lancashire sketch" afore a lot o' folk ut wurno' Lancashire, an' for t' mak' 'em understood it betther, as he thowt, he give it i' gradely Bible English.  Some laafed, an' others didno'; an' when he'd finished, a young chap ut wur bein' browt up for a pa'son, said, " I'm sowwy I can't anderstained yaw Laincashaw.  It's Gweek, downwight Gweek to me."  Aw wonder't which o'th' two wur th' best English scholar!  Certainly not th' young pa'son.  Tomaso de Brogues gan it a good maulin', makkin' "way" into "why," "say" into "sigh," an' "do" into "dew" but he took weel for o that, an' when he'd finished it made mi heart sink into mi shoon; aw fund he're th' favourite!  They encored him sky-high, an' he're on agen in a crack.  He'd ha' gone on agen if ther'd nobbut bin one pair o' honds.  Another encore—on he went agen—an' aw believe he'd ha' gone on till neaw if aw hadno' takken pity on him.  Aw towd him he'd done very weel, an' aw're feart it ud kill him if he went on agen.  Aw're sure he'd brasted summat, for ther no mon could mak' as feaw a noise as he'd bin makkin' beaut doin' the'rsel's some injury.  He said if that wur th' case he'd tak' his "civil hook;" an' he did.

    Ther's a soart o' music ut someheaw aw conno' help connectin' wi' a certain way o' dressin'.  Th' soart ut Mons. Thomaso de Brogues sings reminds me o' what we'rn used to co a "prig's dress."  Tho' why prigs should wear ony partikilar soart o' clooas, aw conno' tell.  But treausers tight at th' knees an' wide at th' bottoms a jacket wi' laps ut conno' cover th' broadest petch on the'r treausers; a white (sometimes) muffler teed reaund wheere the'r shirt-neck should be; a tight-fittin' cap, an' fancy clogs wi' the'r noses turned up like a Turk's shoon, isno' a dress ut onybody 'ud go to Her Majesty's levee in.  Thomaso de Brogues' sort o' singin' reminds me o' that.

    It neaw coome to my turn; an' aw went on, as full o' confidence as if aw'd bin an owd hond.  But aw soon fund eaut it wur one thing singin' i'th' ale-heause nook, an' another on a stage.  Aw'd kept hummin'—"As aw went by my cot at the close of the day, about the beginning of June,"—up to th' last minute.  But when aw geet on th' stage every word had gone fro' me.  It wur no use on 'em clappin', an' sheautin', an' whistlin', th' pump wouldno' wark.  "Sing up!" wur sheauted.  "We conno' yer at this end."  An' when eaur Sal sheauted "Come off, theau foo'!" it bother't me wurr; an' aw stood theere like a stump, or summat to clod at, till aw fund misel' led off bi one ear, an' londed rayther roughly i'th' ante reaum.  Owd Juddie, thinkin' it wur a part o'th performance, said—

    "Well done, Ab! theau did that weel."

    That wur th' salvation o'th' concert.  Everybody beside me thowt same as owd Juddie; an' they clapped an' sheauted like madlacks; an' when we'd finished they coome reaund to me, shaked honds, an' said heaw weel aw'd acted!


――――♦――――

 
OPPENIN' O' MANCHESTER TEAWN HALL.


AW wonder't what wur up when th' post-chap coome hommerin at th' dur o Monday mornin'.  Aw couldno' think ut aw'd done owt at onybody ut aw should be set o ov a wakker wi' sich a thunge as he made.  Aw flew tremblin' to th' dur, an' when aw oppent it, th' postmen touched his fleawer-pot cap to me, an' honded me summat ut made mi heart creep deawn mi stockin's an' into mi clogs, for it wur welly as big as owd Juddie's shop sign!

    "Yo'r sure this is for me?" aw said to th' mon, ut looked as wild as aw dar'say aw did.

    "For Mister Abraham Fletcher, Walmsley Fowt," he replied.

    "Then it mun be me," aw said, an' aw oppent th' papper as weel as aw could for tremblin'.

    If aw stared afore, didno' aw stare then, when aw fund ut i'stead ov it bein' a summons, or a habus corpus, or summat, it wur a letther, an' wi' it two sich grand picturs as conno' be seen hangin' i' Walmsley Fowt!  Thoose wur th' tickets.

    "Theau's bin i' some lumber, aw see," th' owd rib said, when hoo'd catcht a glent o'th' eautside o'th' papper.  "Aw thowt theau couldno' go powlerin' abeaut as theau has done lately beaut gettin' thisel' i' some scrape or other.  What is it?"

    "A warrant fro' th' Mayor o' Manchester!" aw said, an' aw tried rayther awkardly to look a bit deawn abeaut it.

    "They may tak' thi, then, an' sarve thi reet," hoo said; "for aw shanno' loce thi.  What is it for?"

    "Bein' catcht wi' mi waistcut too slack, an' yammerin at a cookshop window," aw said.

    "Aw con see no hurt i' that, unless theau stole summat," hoo said.

    "Bein' hungry's a great crime i' moore places nur Manchester," aw towd her.

    "Moore's th' pity, then," an' th' owd ticket gan a soik.  "Will it cost thi mich?"

    "A peaund or two," aw said; "an' aw'll bet theau pays, an' willinly, too."

    "Dear-a-me!  Aw wish theau would tak' care o' thisel'!" an' th' owd crayther gan another soik.  "When wilt' ha' to be tried?"

    "Th' trial 'll last two days," aw said.  "Th' fust day is next Thursday, an' th' second day theau'll ha' to be a witness."  Then aw oppent her dayleets by explainin' things to her.

    Didno' th' owd lass set her cap up then!  Above a bit, aw con tell yo'!

    "What!" hoo said, "thee go to a bank-wit?"

    "Theere it is!" aw said; an' aw showed her th' ticket.

    "Wheay, aw thowt nobbut kings an' queens went to bank-wits," hoo said.

    "Well, am not I a soart ov a king?" aw said.  "What's a cheearmon ov a Local Board but a little mayor; an' what's a mayor but a little king?"

    "An' a smart queen theau's getten!"  An' th' owd lass set up sich a crack o' laafin' ut welly shook her appron off.  "Eh, Abram!  Heaw is it theau hasno' run reaund th' fowt a-tellin' everybody afore neaw?"

    "Aw've no 'casion," aw said; "ther're here neaw,—a creawd on 'em " an' they wur.

    Bang!  Th' dur flew oppen, an' in coome Jack o' Flunter's, an' Jim Thuston, an' Little Dody, an' Siah-at owd-Bob's.  An' what made me feel queer, they'd every one a ticket i' the'r hont.

    "Dost' see nowt, Ab?" Jack o' Flunter's said; an' he flourished his one ticket i' mi face.

    "What dost' think abeaut this, theau dald tinker?"  Siah-at-owd-Bob's said; an' he held his ticket up.

    "These are noane thoose railway tickets to Epsom," Little Dody said, winkin' at Jim Thuston.

    "What dun yo' think abeaut these?" aw said; an' aw showed 'em my two tickets.

    "Oh—oh—oh—oh!" they sheauted, but in a very low key.  "Abram is in for it.  What's that t'other ticket for?" they wanted to know.

    "Th' bank-wit!" aw said.  "Moore champagne pop; moore green fat, an' napkins fort' wipe the'r meauths wi'.  Yo'n get nowt nobbut a penny bun an' a hawpo'th o milk!"

    "But ther'll be some doancin to be done," Jim Thuston said; an' he gan a twel reaund upo' th' floor, an' flung his legs eaut like a jack-jumper.  "Aw feel slack neaw wi' th' thowts on't.  Tr'adin' on't women's dresses,—eh, Dody!"

    "But what does this 'reception' meean?" Jack o' Flunter's wanted to know.

    "That's what's botherin' me," aw said.  "Aw dunno' think ther's one o'th' lot on us ut knows th' meeanin' on't."

    "Aw dar'say owd Juddie ud know," Little Dody said.  "Suppose we putten it to him?"

    "Th' very men," aw said; "let's goo an' see if he's awhoam.  If we were to send for him t' come here, he'd think we'rn gooin' to' play some trick on him, an' wouldno' come."

    "Agreed on!" everyone said.

    So aw raiched mi hat deawn, an' led th' road eaut o'th' heause, th' owd rib sheautin' after me—

    "Aw reckon aw shanno' see thi face agen till dinnertime!"

    Well, we went to owd Juddie's, an' fund th' owd tyke i'th' shop, lookin' th' shop-book o'er.  A job o' that soart never puts onybody i'th' best o' humours; an' ther's crust enoogh abeaut Juddie's temper beaut that.

    "What han yo' lot agate?" he said, lookin' o'er th' tops ov his spectekles.  "Han yo' seen someb'dy go past wi' a shillin' in his pocket?"

    "We're come'n a-axin yo' a very civil question," aw said, as aw wur to be th' spokesman.

    "A very silly question, aw dar'say," Juddie said; an' abeaut his e'ebrees breetened up.  "Eaut with it, an' let's see what it's shapt like."

    "Con yo' tell us what a reception is?" aw said.

    "Aye," Juddie said; "if aw catch thee breakin' into th' shop some neet, an' aw let th' square end o'th' foire-potter leet upo' that thick yed o' thine, that ud be what aw should co' a reception, an' a warm un, too."

    "Well, but," aw said, "it's it's another soart ov a reception aw meean, no' quite as warm as that.  Us five an' eaur wives are gooin' to th' oppening o'th' new Teawn Hall i' Manchester, an' we're to be receptioned bi th' mayor.  Con yo' tell us what it's like?  Yo'n gone a good deeal amung big folk, an we thowt yo'd know moore abeaut big dooin's nur we dun."

    This bit o' soft-sooap just did th' trick, an' owd Juddie put his wisest look on."

    "A smart lot yo' are to go to a reception," he said, after he'd looked us o'er a bit.  "Wheere win yo' ha' yo'r clooas fro'?"

    "What soart o' clooas shall we want?" Jim Thuston said.  "We'n o on us a buryin' suit apiece, an' aw should think thoose ud do."

    "A buryin' suit be-hanged!" Juddie said.  "Yo'r no' gooin' to a warm-an'-cowd-an'-slow-walkin' do!  Yo'n want narrow-lapped cooats an' white throttlers, an' white glooves."

    Five yorneys stared at one another!  Then aw bethowt misel' aw could rig eaut two carcases wi' a cooat apiece.

    "It's nobbut th' owd fashion," aw said.  "Aw've a narrow-lapped cooat ut belunged to mi feyther, an' another ut wur mi gronfeyther's.  Onybody con ha' mi gronfeyther's.  It isno' quite as good as new; but aw dunno' think he wore it above thirty year."

    "It'll hardly ha' th' creeases worn eaut if it's nobbut that age," Jack o' Flunter's said.

    "Aw mun ha' that cooat," Jim Thuston said; "an' these three mun hunt up for the'rsels."

    "Agreed on!" aw said.  "Come to eaur heause t' neet an' try it on.  It'll abeaut fit."

    "What soart o' clooas yo' go'n in is no consarn o'mine," Juddie said; "but aw'm no' gooin' to ha' yo' stondin' theere o day.  What moore dun yo' want to know?"

    "Heaw we are to goo on?" aw said.

    "Well, aw're once in at a do o' that soart; but that wur i' mi yard-wide days," Juddie said.  Heawever, aw'll gi' yo' as mich as aw con recollect on't.  Neaw then, yo' mun tak' me to be th' Mayor o' Manchester," an' he coome fro' th' back o'th' keaunter, an' reared hissel' up agen a seek o' fleaur.  "Jack, goo eautside an' tak' Ab's arm."

    Jack did as he're order's, an' we went into th' fowt, lookin' like two foos.

    "Am aw to be thi wife, like?" Jack said, as he stuck his arm through mine till eaur shoothers met.

    "Aye, aw reckon so," aw said.

    "Sheaut thi name eaut, Ab, as if theau're th' clark ov a club co'in th' committee o'er," Juddie said.

    So aw sheauted—"Abram Fletcher!"

    "Come on then, if yo' con squeeze in at th' dur," Juddie said.  "Wheay, yo' wabble'n abeaut like two owd wheelbarrow trindles!  Yo'r legs are lefts an' reets!"  An' so they wur.

    We tried back agen; an' this time we managed betther. We gees to th' middle o'th' shop floor, an' stood waitin' for th' next order.

    "Ab, put thi reet hont upo' third button o' thi waistcut, an' look at me i'stead o' starin' abeaut.  Neaw then, booath on yo' bow at once, then wheel reaund, an' walk into th' bakeheause."

    "Shouldno' aw curtchy?" Jack o' Flunter's said.

    "Aw said 'bow,' didno' aw, leatheryead?"

    "An' what mun aw do wi' my left hont?"

    "Well, theau munno' scrat thi yead wi' it, as theau'rt dooin' neaw.  As theau's no woman's dress on, get howd o' thi jacket lap, an' purtend to lift it up.  Theigher!  Neaw then, bow, an' march into th' bakeheause."

    We bowed, an' wur thankful ut nob'dy seed us nobbut Juddie an t'other chaps; then, forgettin' ther a step, we tumbled slap into th' bakeheause.

    "What mun we do neaw, George?" aw sheauted as we lee on th' bakeheause floore.

    "Yo' mun tumble up agen!" he said.  "If yo'd looked toar't th' floore, as yo' owt to ha' done, i'stead o' calkilatin th' weight o' that ham, yo'd ha' sin th' step.  Neaw then, Jim an' Dody, have a try."

    So, while we'rn fleaunderin' up, Jim Thuston an' Little Dody wur couplin' the'rsel's.

    "Dody mun be th' woman, as he's leeast," Juddie said, "so get yo'rsels linked."

    "But his wife's bigger nur him," Jim said, "so he owt to be th' mon neaw."

    "Aw'd forgetter that," Juddie said.  "Change shops!"

    So they swapt, an' went to th' startin' pleck i'th' fowt, th' childer ut ud gether't abeaut sayin' they'rn measurin' heaw mony strides it wur to owd Juddie's shop.  They managed betther nur we did, becose they'd had a couple to go before 'em, an' see wheere we hit or missed it; an' eaur drill sargeant said he thowt we met manage if we could give th' wives abeaut an heaur's drill at neet for 'em to sleep off.

    That finished eaur lesson; so owd Juddie went to his reckonin'-up agen, an' we went to—aw'd forgetter aw're gooin' to ha' said we went to eaur looms; but i'steado' that we crept deawn to th' "Owd Bell" fort' talk things o'er a bit.

    We'd some fun at neet.  Jim Thuston coome a-tryin' mi gronfeyther's cooat; an' when aw'd fotched it deawn th' steers an' unlapt it, Jim broke eaut a sweeatin, an'—summat else!  He could see in a minute he're sowd, becose Dody an' Siah-at-owd-Bob's wur rowlin i'th' steers laafin'.

    "Yo'n done it nicely," Jim said; "but as aw'm here aw'll try it."  So he geet his arms into th' sleeves ut wur so tight they looked like two blue blackpuddin's.  "A capital fit!" Jim said, gettin' his yead at front o'th' collar ut welly raiched to his creawn.  "Good-neet, chaps; if onybody spers for me, tell 'em aw'm at back ov a Rooshan battery.  Well, if ever!  Aw'll be straight wi' some o' yo' tinkers for this.  Ab, help me wi' it off, or else aw shall ha' to sleep in't."

    "Theau looks as weel as onybody in it," Jack o' Flunter's said.  "We'n o tried it afore theau coome.  Dody went o'er th' yead in it, an' we had to feesh him eaut."

    "Billy Softly has getten one ov a younger shape nur that," Jim said, as his blue-cloth skin peel't off his arms.  "Aw'm gooin' to ha' that.  Neaw yo' tinkers, aw'm afore yo' at onyrate!"

    This cooat bizness wur a difficult job to get o'er; but it wur agreed at last ut everyone on us should ha' new uns, as noane o'th' women liked th' idea o' the'r husbands bein' beheend i' owt.  That sattled, we put eaur wives through the'r facin's; an' if onybody ud sin' eaur Sal carryin' her Dolly Varden across th' heause floore, an' bowin' to th' clock (we'd th' clock for th' mayor), an' then slidin' off into th' loomheause, they'd ha' had to gone t' bed wi' a whisky cloth laps reaund the'r yead!  Aw thowt, "Owd gel, if theau carries on o' that fashion when theau goes afore th' gradely mayor, folk 'll think theau'rt th' Queen o' Sheba come to life agen!"  T'other women tried to imitate th' owd rib; an' th' fun we had, owt to ha' bin divided amung fifty, for it wur raylay to' mich for one body to stond.


                          *                          *                          *                          *                          *                          *


Ab-o'th'-Yate was the only resident in Walmsley Fowt who received an invitation to the Banquet.  This Banquet was held the day before the Reception and Ball.  Ab attended, and the following scant description is all he writes about it.


    Aw geet to th' Teawn Hall just as th' procession wur marchin' into Albert Square.  Aw joined in amung th' lot; an' didno' aw catch it!

    "Three cheers for owd Ab!" th' creawd sheauted as soon as they seed my weatherpeg.

    "Hast' getten th' owd rib wi' thee?"

    "Wheere are thi clogs, Abram?"

    "They'll mak' that yure o' thine lie deawn to-day, owd lad!"—an' sich like wur pelted at me.

    Heawever, aw geet o'er it.  Words o' that soart couldno' tak' th' edge off my twist.

    They a deeal o' ceremonies had to be gone through afore th' aitin' coome on; an' th' shakin' honds ut wur done must ha' made th' Mayor's joints feel as if they'rn comin' undone.  Aw did middlin' o' that misel', for th' biggest nobs they' wur theere didno' turn the'r noses up at me, but made the'rsels plainer nur a deeal o' very common folk ud do.  Onybody ud ha' thowt, to ha' seen us, ut me an' th' Bishop, an' th' Lord Chief Justice, an' John Bright, had played at marbles t'gether when we'rn lads; or had bin used to meetin' one another at th' "Owd Bell," we'rn so chummy.

    "I suppose you've a splendid house in the country, Mister Fletcher?" th' Lord Chief Justice said.

    "Aye," aw said; "four looms, a bit o' garden, a pig-cote, a hen-cote, an' a hive o' hummabees."

    He'd his specktekles on an' off three or four times at that.  Aw dar'say it bother't him moore nur ony point o' law would ha' done.


                          *                          *                          *                          *                          *                          *


The Reception and Ball is described by Ab in the following manner:—


    Aw thowt ut, bein' so weet, ther'd nob'dy see us on th' road; but i' spite o'th' weather th' road wur lined wi' folk, an' they sheauted as if it had bin Her Majesty bowin' her yead eaut at th' coach window.  Weel they met sheaut, for th' owd rib looked like a queen; an' aw knew ut when it coome to her turn to play her part at th' Reception, ther'd be summat grand to be seen.

    When we geet int' Albert Square th' owd lass looked eaut o'th' window up at th' Hall.

    "Ab," hoo says, "han we to go to this church fuss afore we go'en to th' Teawn Hall?"

    "That's th' Teawn Hall," aw said.

    "Eh, my!" hoo soiked eaut; an' hoo clapt her honds to her stays as if a pain had shot through her.  "It's nowt like eaur Teawn Hall."

    "Eaurs behanged!" aw said.  "It'll nobbut howd seven cheears an' a table; an' this 'll have abeaut four theausant folk in to-neet."

    Hoo went same as if hoo'd forgetten hersel' when hoo yerd that; an' when her yead had wandered a bit hoo started up an' said—

    "Eh, Ab, aw've lost mi bonnet!"

    "Nowt o'th' soart!" aw said; "theau didno' bring it wi' thee.  Theau'rt gooin' to a ball, theau knows."

    "Aw'd forgetten, aw'd forgetten!  Aye, aye, aw'm gooin' to a ball!  A seet like this would mak' one to forget owt."  Then hoo coome to hersel' agen.

    It took abeaut twenty minutes for us to get to th' dur but when we londed upo' th' steps, an' th' policemen showed us th' road into th' Hall, aw went as dateles as th' owd rib, for it wur like lookin' at a wick fleawer garden.  Aw calkilate ut i'th' fust two minutes aw did at leeast fifty peaunds wo'th o' damage, for ladies' dresses wur sich a length upo' th' floore ut when they' turned a corner th' bottom part had to goo a-seechin' th' top.  Sometimes they couldno' find one another, for mi feet had separated 'em.  "Rip" they kept gooin', like crackers, an' aw felt abeaut mi feet as if mi treawsers wur comin' off, an' they'd getten o'er mi shoon tops.  Aw could ha' filled a ragpoke directly wi' th' spoil aw made; an' aw could yer ut Jack o' Flunter's and Jim Thuston, an' Little Dody, an' Siah-at-owd-Bob's, wur oitch dooin' the'r share o' mischief, by th' ripper ut wur gooin' on beheend me.

    Havin' done as mich damage as, under other circumstances, we should ha' bin locked up for, we fleaundered upsteears to see what we could do theere.  Th' front o'th' Grand Hall, wheere th' bankwit had bin th' neet afore, wur one blaze o' leet an' finery.  Aw're luckier here nur aw wur below,—or rayther thoose ut walked i'th' front on me wur luckier, becose aw could see th' wabblin' o' skirts on th' floore, an' could manage, bi usin' mi legs like a Scotchman when he's caperin' th' "sword dance," to keep middlin' clear on 'em.

    Aw hadno' noticed then ut everybody abeaut me wur beaut hat, or else aw should no' ha' made th' biggest blunder ov o neet.  Th' reception wur goin' on; names wur bein' sheauted o'er; an' aw could see grand folk marchin' two-an'-two in at a dur.  Eaur Sal an' me fell into th' stream; an' when we'd just getten inside th' reawm, aw yerd someb'dy sheaut eaut—

    "Hats off! "

    Then my patent churn wur lifted off my yead, an' a mon held it up.

    "What art' for wi' that?" aw said; an' aw made a grab at mi bit o' property.

    "Uncovered before the Mayor," he said; then aw could see everybody wur bareyeaded.

    "Theau never does things like onybody else," th' owd rib said, lookin' quite vexed.  "Th' idea!"

    "What han yo' done wi' yo'r hats?" aw said to t'other chaps ut wur beheend us.

    "They took 'em off us deawn steears," Jack o' Flunter's said.  "We shall ha' to goo whoam beaut.  They'rn chucked into a reawm amung a lot moore, an' we shall never be able to find eaurs.  It's a corker, isno' it?"

    We fund eaursel's neaw i'th' front o'th' Mayor an' th' Missis Mayor.  Eaur Sal did her bow famously, an' dragged me wi' her till aw're within an inch o' getten mi neck hooked i'th' Mayor's cheean.

    "Heaw are yo'?" th' owd rib said to th' Missis Mayor.  "Quite well," th' Missis Mayor said, smilin'.

    "Move on!" someb'dy sheauted.

    "Aw think aw've seen yo' afore somewheere," th' owd rib said to th' Missis Mayor.

    "You think so?" th' Missis Mayor said.

    "Move on!" someb'dy sheauted agen.

    "Wur yo' ever i' Walmsley Fowt?" eaur Sal said to th' Missis Mayor.

    "I don't think I have been there," th' Missis Mayor said.

    "Move on, there!"

    "Yo'r very like Tummy Doson wife, but aw think rayther—" Then we fund eaursels in another reaum.

    "Theau never does things like onybody else," aw said, as we reined up.  "Th' idea!"

    "Well, noane o' t'other ladies had a word for t' poor woman," hoo said, "an' theau knows aw dunno' like seein' one slighted or neglected; so aw thowt aw'd just let her see ut ther someb'dy thowt abeaut her."  Heaw a woman con mak' a point even eaut ov a blunder!

    Heaw t'other chaps an' the'r wives went on aw dunno' know, but they'rn everyone laafin when they coome eaut, an' they'd middlin' o' colour i' the'r faces, too.  Beside, ther's summat ut's to be kept a saycret fro' me; an' that's as good as a hint ut o wurno' straight forrad wi' 'em.

    "Aw could do wi' a bit o' peck," Jack o' Flunter's said, as we geet into th' lobby agen.

    "An' so could I," aw said.

    An' so could o th' lot on us.

    We scented abeaut, an' kept climbing steears, till at last we seeted a shop wheere tables wur laid eaut wi' sich grand things ut made me think th' bank-wit wur comin' oft theere.

    "Here, owd ticket!" aw said to eaur Sal, "theau shall taste champagne pop for once;" an' aw geet her a glass temd eaut.

    "Aw dunno' wonder at thi makkin' a foo o' thisel' when theau're i' Lunnon," hoo said after hoo'd tasted.  "Rhuberb wine conno' come up wi' this.  What a pity folk conno' have it for buryin'-drink!"

    Then we geet a lot o' atin' stuff, an' did a middlin' good paddin'.

    "Heaw mich han we to pay?" aw said to one o'th' waiters ut kept grinnin' at me.

    "Nothing," he said.

    "Nothing!" eaur Sal said, quite gloppent.

    "No, ma'am."

    "Well, does onybody yer that?" hoo went on.  "Whenever yo' come'n to Walmsley Fowt just co at eaur heause, th' next to th' gate, an' yo' shall have a taste o' my whoam-made, an' a good plateful o' pottito-pie, if we happen to be havin' one for dinner that day."  Then hoo curtchied, an' went deawn steears agen.

    By this time th' ball had begun.  We could see through th' windows, ut looked like church windows, hunderts o' yeads bobbin' up an' deawn; an' aw mun say, it wur not only a grand seet, but it wur a strange un.  Seein' this through coloured windows caused th' owd rib to forget wheere hoo wur agen, for after lookin' on a bit hoo shaked her yead, an' said—

    "Ab, doancin' in a church looks a queer seet."

    For heaurs we roamed abeaut th' lobbies, meetin' fresh faces every time, an' neaw an' then dooin' a rip, ut kept gettin' me i' wot wayter.  Eaur Sal said it wur a shawm for women to be draggin' o thoose hunderts o' yards o' good silk upo' th' floor; an' aw thowt so too.

    Heaw time had slips o'er!  "What, it's never one o'clock, surely!"  But it wur; an' we'd promised to be awhoam bi two.  Th' owd rib said hoo're sure my turmit watch wur nowt to go by.  It wur never so forrad when aw're eaut bi misel'.  Hoo felt as if hoo could ha' stops theere o neet, if aw didno' keep gettin' misel' i' sich scrapes wi' tr'adin' on folks' clooas.  For fear lest aw should be gettin' marched under th' "Bridge o' Sighs," hoo thowt we'd betther shap' for gooin'.  So aw piked up a armful o' petchwork, ut 'ud do for makkin' dolls' frocks, an' we made eaur way to th' dur, t'others followin', one or two on 'em wi' a ham booan apiece i' the'r fists, for t' help 'em on th' road whoam.

    Grand as th' ball wur, th' seet ov o seets wur on th' Setterday.  This time aw went bi misel', an' geet inside Albert Square.  For a wonder, th' day wur fine, but a bit sulky neaw an' then, as if it wanted a penny to keep quiet.  What creawds o' folks peaured deawn th' road; an' what glee everybody seemed to be in!  Th' jammin' i'th' teawn wur past owt; an' aw calkilated 'at bi th' time aw geet to mi peearchin' pleck, aw should be as ragg'd as a mop, beside havin' three or four pair o' black e'en.  Heawever, aw managed, an' geet into th' square afore th' start.  Then aw looked reaund, an' up.

    Eh! what a seet it wur!  Not a window but wur crammed, as if ther a yead show comin' off.  On th' roofs o' wareheauses ther' seemed to be thick plantations o' short trees, ut couldno' groo ony thicker for th' want o' reaum; an' th' Teawn Hall teawer wur dotted wi' blackspecks.  Abeaut a quarter-past twelve th' fuss banner showed itsel'; then didno' th' bells crash away!  Windin' reaund th' Square like a sarpint, or as aw've seen sich like i'th' pantymime o' "Blue Beard," th' procession moved on till th' Square wur jammed full.  It wur a heart-heavin' seet to watch th' banners thicken into a cluster; an' sich banners they wur for grandery as aw'd never seen before!  Then abeaut a hauve a dozen bands brasted off wi' "God Save the Queen!" an' if th' owd lass could ha' yerd folk join in at it, hoo'd ha' weeshed hoo'd thowt twice afore sendin' word hoo couldno' come.

    For three heaurs a sollit mass o' folk marched through th' Square—sober, weel donned, an' seemingly thrillin' wi' that deep feelin' ut springs fro' th' consciousness ov a noble purpose.  Every face seemed to say, not wildly, but thowtfully, "This is a great day!"  An' it wur—th' greatest day ever Manchester knew.  It ud risen above mere show an' glitter.  It wur following no bauble.  It wur, as a yerd a mon say, "MANCHESTER HONOURING ITSELF."


――――♦――――

 
TH' LAST FLASKER.


"WHAT has takken thi fancy neaw, Abram?" th' owd rib said to me one Aister Monday neet, when hoo're getten ready for th' women's club at th' "Owd Bell."  Hoo'd bin at th' lookin'-glass a hauve an heaur, an' couldno' get things as hoo wanted 'em.

    "Aw'm just thinkin' aw shall be o' very little use to this wo'ld in a short time," aw said, an' aw gan a soik ut would ha' blown a pair o' bagpipes.

    "Aw know what's botherin thee," th' owd ticket said an' hoo finished her bonnet off.  "Theau conno' gallivant abeaut as theau did once; an' aw see a bit on thi neaw after th' hens han flown up."

    "Theau alleaws me nowt to gallivant abeaut with," aw said.

    "Theau could aulus find summat when theau wanted it," hoo said, as aw thowt rayther sharply.

    "What art' gooin' t' do wi' thisel' t' neet?"

    "That depends."

    "Oh, a wink's as good as a nod to a blynt jackass.  Well, theau'll find sixpence under th' tae-caddie; an' for goodness sake come eaut o' that hesshole—theau'll sit theere till theau'll be th' colour ov a cinder—an' shave that week's beart off."

    Aw didno' think they owt i' this wo'ld could ha' worked sich a change i' me as that sixpence.  Beecham's pills wouldno' ha' cleared th' cobwebs away as soon.  But th' prospect o' wealth is best thing to fatten on.  Aw felt bloated in a minute; mi clooas ud hardly fit me.

    "Sarah," aw said, "dost meean it?"

    "Meean what?" hoo said.

    "Throwin' sixpenno'th o' tempation i' mi road," aw said.  "Aw shall be thinkin' aw'm a lad, a mother's favourite, wi' o that brass abeaut me."

    "Well, theau's no 'casion t' spend it o," hoo said.  "Aw dunno' want thee to get big notions i' thi yead o at once."

    "Oh, aw'll tak' good care aw dunno' spend it," aw said.  "Aw'm too proud on't to do that.  Aw'll have it hanged at mi watch, so when folk meet me they'll tak' the'r hats off to me."

    "Theau has to fotch me whoam, theau knows," hoo said.

    "Oh!"

    "Aw've seen th' time aw should have had no 'casion to remind thi.  Heaw is it, like?"

    "Aw've begun a thinkin' everythin's vanity."

    "Theau'rt not so owd yet."

    "Nawe, but th' lunger aw live an' th' moore aw feel convinced ut ther's summat wrung wi' th' wold's clockwork.  It's getten eaut o' gear some road.  Happen ther's a wheel missin'."

    "What's made thi think that?"

    "Theau knows it's bin Good Friday."

    "Aw do.  Heaw dost co mi bonnet to look?"

    "An' folk seem to be wickeder o' that day nur on ony other."

    "Heaw dost co mi bonnet to look, aw axt thee?"

    "An' th' same o' Kesmas Day.  Rowdyisms everywheer."

    "Aw've sin th' time theau wouldno' ha' bin starin' i'th' foire i'stid o' lookin' at thi wife."

    "Eh, bless thi, wench!" aw said; an' aw geet up an' shaked th' cinders eaut o' mi toppin.'  "Aw'm so full o' morality an' religion, ut aw took thi to be a piece o' vanity donned up o purpose to 'tice me back to mi owd carnal ways!  Well, aw mun say ut theau never looked so weel sin' theau're takken to be Missis Langtry.  Aw shanno' be lung afore aw'm after thi.  Theau'rt gettin' dangerous!"

    "Abram," hoo said, as hoo wur puttin' on her glooves, an' lookin' her bonniest, "theau'rt a humbug!" an' off hoo went.

    "Humbug!" aw said to misel' when hoo wur gone; an' th' word stuck i' mi ear like th' buzz ov a hummabee.  "It's time theau gan thisel' a bit o' overhaulin', for t' see if ther's ony scampt wark i' thi buildin' or ony ut's a bit jerrified.  Ther' may be a worm-etten timber or two i' thi top garret; but they'll come wi' age an' thi thatch is gettin' scant.  But aw believe ther's as mich life i'th' owd dog yet as ud feed a flea;" an' aw looked at misel' i'th' lookin'-glass.  "What business," aw said to mi reflection, "has a mon wi' an article o' furniture like this?  An' at my age, too?  That face isno' th' same ut aw seed in it forty year sin'.  That wur fair an' fresh, wi' no evidences o' tight lacin' abeaut th' tip ov his nose.  Nor no clog marks at his spoon-gate.  It'r a face ov a mon ut hadno' as mich ov a crumb-catcher at his chin as a wench would ha' played with, an' said it ud tickle a cheek sometime; nor as mich on his lip as would ha' made a moustache for a tuppenny doll.  It wur a face ut would ha' fotched a young woman like fotchin' a duck off owd.  Thuston's pit in abeaut two blinks o'th' een!  But th' face aw'm lookin' at wouldno' provoke a smile fro' a tinker's trull.  Ther's bin a ploogh abeaut, an' cut it up int' little ship canels, an' turned it up int' ridges, as if someb'dy wur gooin' t' mak' breek on't.  Aw've a good mind to smash th' glass if it shows no hondsomer a physog nur that.  Aw will do, too!"  No sooner said nur done.  Crash th' glass went int' a theausant pieces, an it lay abeaut th' floor like bits o' silver.

    "Theigher, aw've done it!" aw said to misel', as aw contemplated th' mischief aw'd done.  Fourpence eaut o' mi sixpence gone!  Aw'd betther Lammas afore aw'm fund eaut.  But stop, theer's th' cat!  Eh, th' wickedness o' mon!—to lay fourpennoth o' sin upo' that poor innocent craythur ut sits blinkin' her een at me, an' lookin' as if hoo'd say, if hoo could talk, "Ab, theau'rt an owd rascal!"  Then aw lammased wi' th' blacksmith (the door key) i' mi pocket, to see an' yer heaw th' women's club wur gettin' on.

    When aw geet to th' "Owd Bell" aw fund it as quiet as a skoo when th' mesthur's eaut.  But th' noise wur upsteears.  Aw could yer my owd hen crowin' amung th' rest.  Aw've yerd her too oft to be mista'en.  Jack o' Flunter's wur i'th' nook, wi' his elbows on his knees, an' his yead on his hont, lookin' quite saryous.

    "What's to do wi' thee, Jack?" aw said, seein' him in his dumps.

    "Aw'm just thinkin', Ab, aw're born afore mi toime," Jack said.  "Aw'd rayther ha' bin born later, if it could ha' bin shapt."

    "What for?" aw said.

    "Childer are gettin' th' mesthur on us," he said.  "Aw're examinin' yond owdest wench o' mine i' Scripther o' Good Friday, an' aw fund hoo knew moore abeaut it nur aw did."

    "Aw dar'say hoo does," aw said.  "Nobody ud tak' thee to be a pa'son."

    "Well, thee an' me are on th' same form," Jack said.  "We noather on us know when Adam wur a lad."

    "Nawe, Jack," aw said, "it's bother't me mony a time wheere he geet his traycle-cakes an' marbles fro'; an' whether him or his feyther wur th' owdest."

    "Well, neaw aw bethink me, ther's no mention o' that," Jack said.  "Eh, we're two pratty numbskulls!  But, as aw're tellin' thi, aw're puttin' yond wench o' mine through Scripther history.  Aw know a bit abeaut it, through havin' it hommer't into me.  Aw axed her wheere Satan took Christ to when he're showin' him o'er his estate."

    "'Wheere yo' tell mi mother to go to sometimes,' hoo said, in a way aw shanno' forget.  Ab, that floored me.  Aw put on mi hat, an' aw've bin here ever sin."

    "Art' convarted?" aw axt him.

    "Aw'm so far convarted," he said, ut aw shall never tell mi wife to go theere agen.  Eh, Ab, what a wicked wratch aw've bin!"

    "Jack," aw said, sollimly, "it strikes me ut at eaur time o' life it's quite toime we begun o' edgin."

    "What dost meean?" he said.

    "It's time to lay off eaur bets," aw said.  "We'n won mony a stake i'th' race o' life, but neaw we're noane i'th' runnin'.  We're jiggered!"

    "Ther's nowt but vanity i' this wo'ld, Ab!  Sup up!  This is th' last flasker."

    Aw thowt, by th' way ut Jack wur talkin' ut he'd never ha' rallied agen, but had gan things up, like someb'dy ut had done wi' th' wol'd an' o ther' wur in it.  But Fause Juddie used to say, when he thowt he're at th' fur end, he aulus fund a sideway road.  Jack yerd a seaund ut browt him eaut o'th' grub into th' butterflee state.  It wur his wife singin' upsteears—


As I was a-raking
    In the hay meadow sweet,
A maiden did lead me,
    And she dressed so neat.
So neat was her ankle,
    That sighing I said—
"Was that a young rat,
    Or a mouse, my dear maid?"

Half-frightened to death
    She did fling down her rake,
And straight in my arms
    She a refuge did take;
Where panting and sighing,
    And looking quite pale,
She thanked me and kissed me,
    And so ends my tale.


    "Ther's six moore verses," Jack said, lookin' as breet as if he'd fund a sovereign, "but hoo nobbut sings th' fust an' th' last."

    "An' enoogh too," aw said.  "If hoo'd sung th' whul song they'd ha' bin no howdin' thi!"

    "Aw thowt ther nowt i' this wo'ld could ha' lifted me eaut o'th' gutter," Jack said.  "But that bit o' music has.  We'n yerd a different tune to that, hanno' we, Ab?"

    "Mony a time."

    "Aw dar'say we'n desarved it."

    "I have."

    "Well, aw think aw'll mak' it up wi' th' wo'ld another time," an' Jack whistled.

    If a woman knew th' peawer ov a sung ther'd be mony a different whoam to what they' is!


――――♦――――

 
BURYIN' TH' OWD YEAR.


IT'S a custom we han i' Walmsley Fowt, buryin' eaur deead dacently, whether they'n led good lives or bad uns, or whether they're in a club or not.  We bury eaur deead years upo' th' same principle; but latterly they'n bin sich bad uns, ut we're gettin' tired o' dooin' eaur best for 'em; so we'n sarved one or two as if they'd bin paupers an' bowt no tears for 'em.  Th' last year we punced up an' deawn th' fowt afore we threw him into his hole, becose he'd bin sich an' owd rascal to some on us.  On an average we'd a loom stopt th' year reaund; Jack o' Flunter's had had nowt to do nobbut bits o' repairs; Jim Thuston had lost two keaws; Siah at owd Bob's had a pig dreawnt i' th' mop hole; an' owd Juddie said if we'd another year like it he should ha' to shut his shop up, for it wur o gooin' eaut, an' nowt comin' in.

    "We'n bury this owd scamp th' same as they used to bury murderers," he said one neet at th' "Owd Bell," just abeaut th' time ut th' year wur takkin' it' last.  "Aw consider he's bin no betther nur a cut-throat.  Look at th' price he's getten atin' stuff to.  Thoose ut han nobbut so mich brass to live on must ha' gone short, for they couldno' buy as mich wi' twelve shillin' as they could wi' fifteen."

    "Heaw dun yo' mak' that eaut?" Billy Softly axt.

    "Heaw con theau mak' it eaut different, theau yorney?" Juddie said.  "Thi feyther threw thi skoo' wage away if theau conno' reckon th' difference."

    "Yo' may co' me a yorney, or what yo' like," Billy said, "but aw con prove to yo' ut aw con buy as mich wi' twelve shillin' as aw con wi' fifteen."

    "What? th' same quality?" Juddie wanted to know.

    "Well, it shanno' be a wurr quality," Billy said.

    "Then show us heaw theau mak's it eaut."

    "Aw mak' it eaut this road—if aw goo to yo'r shop, an' buy three dozen o' fleaur at heauve-a-creawn a dozen, that'll be seven an' sixpence, winnot it?"

    "Ay, goo on."

    "Two peaund o' butter at eighteenpence—that'll be ten an' sixpence, winnot it?"

    "Who said it wouldno' be, theau leather-yead?"

    "Two peaund o' sugar at sixpence."

    "Eleven an' sixpence—goo on."

    "Two score o' pottitoes at eighteenpence—that'll be fourteen shillin', winnot it?"

    "Theau'rt gettin' on to' fast this time, Billy."

    "Well, aw meant thirteen.  Two peaund an' a hauve o' bacon at tenpence.  That ud be a penny o'er fifteen shillin'."

    "If theau'd come to me wi' an order like that, an' ready brass, aw'd knock th' penny off," Juddie said.  "Neaw then, what abeaut th' twelve shillin'?"

    "Well," Billy said, gettin' up fro' th' table, an' puttin' one shoother at th' back o'th' speer, "aw could buy th' same stuff i' Owdham for twelve shillin'!"  Then he shot eaut o'th' seet.

    It wur weel for Billy he did put summat between hissel' an owd Juddie, for a pint pot went i' his direction, an' at a speed, too, ut would ha' damaged his yead if it had catcht it.  Billy knew what ud be th' upshot, or else he wouldno' ha' shifted.

    Aw con aulus tell when owd Juddie's temper's up, even if he does nowt.  Ther's a tuft o' yure abeaut th' middle ov his bare place ut rises up.  An' it's no use talkin' to him noather till it goes deawn.  He lowered his flag in abeaut two minutes.  Then aw quietened him by sayin—

    "What abeaut th' cost o' shoe leather, walkin' backart and forrad to Owdham?"

    "Aye, an' th' drink he'd have on th' road?" Juddie said.

    "Just so," aw said.  "It reminds me ov a chap aw once knew ut had a big family ut wur hard scrattin' for.  If he could see his road to savin' a penny, he would.  So one day he sent one ov his lads to Owdham for three peaund o' traycle, becose he could get it a farthin' a peaund chepper nur he could i' Hazelwo'th."

    "An wear eaut a penno'th o' clog timber o'er it," Juddie said.  An' he chuckled as if he had me.

    "Nay, nor a farthin's wo'th, nor a bodle's wo'th," aw said.

    "Well, aw dunno' believe he flew," Juddie said.

    "Nor me noather," aw said.  "He tramped it.  He had to doff his clogs an' stockings, an' go bar-foot."

    That put owd Juddie i' good temper wi' booath hissel' an' everybody else; so we geet on wi' th' buryin' talk.

    "Heaw had they used to bury murderers?" Jim Thuston wanted to know, though he knew at th' same time.

    "Did theau never read th' Newgate Calendar?" Juddie said.  "If theau's never seen it theau'rt the only lad o' thi time ut hasno'."

    "Nawe, aw read nowt nobbut th' Bible," Jim said, lookin' very sarious abeaut it.  "Aw've a dab into th' Ready Reckoner neaw an' agen, but that isno' readin'."

    "Thee read nowt nobbut th' Owd Book?" Juddie said, wi' a curl ov his lip ut meant to say Jim wur lyin'.  "Then theau'll forget thi letters; for aw dunno' think theau's touched yo'r Bible this last ten year, unless it's bin for t' strap thi razzor on!"

    "Yigh, aw read th' buryin' sarvice eaut on't th' last year ut we buried.  If yo' con remember, yo' didno' know wheer to look for it.  That shows yo'r knowledge o' th' Scriptur'."

    "Well, theau's chalked one agen me neaw," Juddie gan in.  "An' neaw aw'll tell thi heaw they used to bury murderers.  They put 'em in a cage, like a canary obbut they'd no seed box."

    "But they hung 'em fust didno' they?"

    "Yigh, they made 'em so ut they couldno' hop abeaut nor sing; then they hung th' cage in a tree, for folk to look at.  Sometimes they geet stown, for t' mak' isinglass on!"

    "An' dun yo' propose to hang this owd year i' that fashion?"

    "Aye; but we mun tak' care ut th' clooas are no' to' good.  If we dunno' they'd be on somebody's back afore th' New Year has oppent his een gradely.  Theau'll find th' straw, aw reckon."

    "Oh, aye, aw'll find th' stuffing."

    "Aw've that owd cooat yo' shot at when that thief wur arming yo'r rhuberb."

    "Ab, theau's just gone as far as theau dar," Juddie said, his tuft rising agen.  "Ift' goos ony furr ther'll be another pint pot brokken!"

    "Well, aw meant no hurt," aw said.  "Aw're nobbut sayin' ut aw had th' cooat, an' it 'ud just come in for this job.  Yo'r so very short."

    "Well, behave thisel', an' stond a pint for me; then aw shall be able to pay for that pot."

    "Oh, yo' shall have a pint if yo'n keep that tuft deawn," aw said; an' aw knocked for one.

    We geet on very weel after that.  Th' buryin' arrangements wur made.  Th' corpse wur to be laid eaut i' owd Thuston's barn; an' th' buryin' wur to start fro' theere o New Year's Day.  We agreed to do beaut cage, an' simply hang th' owd rascal in a tree, after he'd bin punced a bit.  Owd Juddie wrote a verse for t' pin on his breast, an' this wur it—


Weep not for me, my children dear,
I've been a most unlucky year.
It my last born no better is,


    "Aw'm a bit fast for another line, Ab," Juddie said, scrattin' th' back ov his ear, an' suckin' his pencil.  "What'll rhyme wi'  'is'?"

    "Bliss," aw said.

    "Aye, but that wouldno' do.  Whoa's had ony bliss?"

    "Well, will this line do?"


Give him a leather and timber kiss.


    "Aye, that'll do very weel.  Theau hasno' made that thisel', Ab.  Theau's had it eaut o' some voluntine.  But it's no wurr for that.  It meeans wi' mun punce him, doesno' it?"

    "Yo'd think so if it wur tried on wi' yo."

    Well, New Year's Day coome; th' childer had bin reaund an' getten the'r oranges; an' a lot o'th' "Owd Bell" fixtures had had the'r wot uns.  Eaur coal chap had bin remembered, an' so had th' postman.  Aw aulus get a bit ov a card o' New Year's mornin'.  Aw think th' postman sends 'em hissel'.  Ther's o soarts o' tricks done neaw-a-days, when th' hat has to be held eaut.

    Jim Thuston threw th' heause dur oppen for th' buryin folk, an' he'd some warm an' cowd i' big pitchers on th' table.  As Fause Juddie wur th' owdest i'th' company he're voted in for t' be th' sarver, a post ut th' owd lad wur a bit preaud on.  A jury had sit on th' corpse th' same day, an' he're th' krunner.  He directed ut th' verdict "Deed through his own nowtiness!" should be gan; an' th' jury agreed to it to a mon.  Billy Softly had gone reaund th' neet afore a-laithin (inviting) to th' buryin', an' it wur late when he'd finished, becose o' so mony sup-wi'-me's on th' road.  "Yo'r desired at th' funeral o'th' Owd Year to-morn at one o'clock."  That wur th' owd laithin nominy, an' Billy had done a lot on it in his time, becose he could aulus drink as mich as onybody ud offer him.

    When th' buryin folk begun a-droppin' in—an' they nob'dy coome late th' us'al "Han yo' ever yerd this?" wur signal for tales bein' towd, as if th' corpse had bin wick some time, and must be buried wi' th' customary fun.

    "Han yo' yerd abeaut Sam Blunderick an' his turkey?" Jack o' Flunter's wanted to know, when th' gam' had fairly begun.

    "Nawe, nawe, nawe!" everybody said, an' hutcht for t' yer Jack's tale if he had one.

    "What is it—what is it like?"

    "Well yo' seen," Jack said, "Sam's getten a bit on wi' big notions sin he geet up i' th' wo'ld; so this Kesmas he'd have a turkey.  He went deawn to Manchester o'purpose to buy one, an' he bowt summat beside a turkey while he're theere, an' summat he couldno' carry as weel."

    "It ud be rum then," owd Juddie put in.

    "You'n hit it this time," Jack said.  "He'd a casin' o' rum ut took him welly off his feet; an' if it hadno' bin for th' turkey helpin' to balance him he'd ha' bin deawn mony a time.  Aw're just getten off th' tram at th' 'Duke,' when aw seed Sam swingin' past wi' th' turkey hangin' o'er his shoother.  Aw walked beheend him for t' watch heaw he went on, till aw passed a butcher's shop ut's weel known.  Th' butcher happened to be at th' dur when Sam passed an' be said to me—

    "Isno' that Sam Blunderick?"

    "'It is,' aw said.

    "'Aw'll snake that turkey, then, if he coes at th' 'Woodman,' th' butcher said.  'He's shot in.  Neaw for it.'  An' he went through th' shop an' into th' kitchen.

    "Aw thowt aw'd be in at th' fun; so aw followed Sam into th' 'Woodman,' an' geet o' th' side on him.  But it didno' matter what wur said or done, Sam wouldno' leeave loce o' th' turkey, but gripped it by th' neck as tight as if his hond had bin a vice.  Heaw th' butcher ud snake it, as he said, aw couldno' see, for Sam wurno' sleepy drunken, but seemed to have booath his wits an' his een abeaut him.  Well, eenneaw th' butcher coome in an' he eyed Sam o'er as if he're calkilatin' his weight.  Aw noticed he laft summat i' th' lobby, but what it wur aw couldno' see.  After Sam had mopt his rum up he made for gooin.  So he slung th' turkey o'er his shoother an' bid us good neet.

    "'That's a fine brid, Sam,' th' butcher said, as th' pair on 'em swung into th' lobby.  'What weight is it?'

    "'What weight dost think?' Sam said an' he turned reaund.

    "'Sixteen or eighteen peaund,' th' butcher said.  'Let me feel it and aw'll tell thee to a peaund.'

    "So he felt at th' turkey; then he axt me to feel at it so aw did, but aw'm a very poor hond at gexin' weight.

    "'What dost co it?' th' butcher said.  An' while aw're dooin' mi best for t' gex the weight he lifted summat off th' floor ut had a hook at one end an' two breek (bricks) at t'other.  Th' hook he fixed into th' turkey's neck, then he eaut wi' his knife, an' whipped it through th' throttle in a jiffy.  'Hook it, Jack,' he whispered; so aw took th' hint an sloped off wi' th' carcase.  'Sixteen peaund an' three quarters,' th' butcher said.  Sam had his back to him o' th' time.

    "'That's a good gex, Bill,' Sam said; 'theau'rt within a peaund;' an' off he went wi' th' breek hangin' at th' turkey's neck i'stead o'th' carcas, ut wur i'th' bar.

    "He hadno' bin gone lung afore he're back agen.  He'd met owd Joe on th' road, an' Joe wanted t' know if it wur a heause or a pig-cote he're gooin' to build, an' wur he gooin' to be his own labourer?  'What dost want t' know that for?' Sam said.  'Wheay, theau's getten a load o' breek wi' thee, so theau mun be for buildin', Joe said.

    "Sam unshoothert his wallet, an' then he said some hard words.

    "'Well, aw'll be hanged!' he said, when his surprise wur o'er.  'Ten minutes sin' ther a turkey hung theer, an' neaw it's turned into two breek.  Aw mun be off back to th' 'Woodman.'  It's yon Bill ut's done it.'

    "We'd a rare do when Sam geet back.  He mustno' have his turkey till he'd paid for glasses reaund.  But when he did get howd on't, ther no snakin it a second time, for he had it wedged under his arm till he welly squoze it flat.  It would ha' bin a nice present for the'r Ellen if he'd londed breek whoam i'stead o'th' turkey!"

    Bi Jack had finished his tale it wur time for th' buryin' to start; so he fetched th' corpse eaut o'th' barn, an' punced it up an' deawn th' fowt as a part o'th' ceremony.  Then we took him to th' tree, an' owd Juddie made a speech before we swung him.

    "It's time we made an extry example ov eaur bad years," he said, as sollimly as if he'd getten a black cap on; "an' this has bin one o'th' wo'st we'en had sin' th' dow times.  Aw think th' last years are aulus wo'st.  Then, aw say, it's time we made an example on 'em.  This rascal has ruined th' harvests, made wark slack, raised th' prices o' shop stuff, dreawnt a lot o' folk.  For dooin' these things aw commit his body to th' gibbet, beaut th' hope ov a blessed resurrection beyond th' grave.  We'n ha' no burying sarvice.  Ab, throw th' rope o'er that boof, an' hoist him up."

    Well, we swung th' Owd Year under th' tree, an' ther a sheaut set up.  Aw'd noticed a smell o' foire as aw hondled th' corpse, an' when it wur hung aw could see reech ooisn eaut o' one leg.  Afore it had done swingin' ther a puff, then a report ut sent owd Juddie up th' fowt as if the dule wur after him!  Jim Thuston had put abeaut a peaund o' blastin' peawther amung th' straw, an' when we coome to look up, after th' reech had cleared away, ther' wurno' a rag o'th' Owd Year laft.  It had bin gradely cremated.  Whether we shall gibbet this year or not, aw dunno' know.  But it desarves it.



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THE END

 


 

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