Ab-o'th'-Yate Sketches, Vol. III (I)
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AB-O'TH'-YATE AN' CHEP BEEF.


NEAW, aw da'say aw've bin as clemmed as mony a-one i' mi time.  Aw've known what it's bin to have my dinner off th' smell of a keigh-hole.  Aw've scraped a traycle can afore neaw till it's bin as cleean as some folk could ha' wesht it.  Aw've sin battles for th' getherins off a porritch slice.  Aw've sin my feyther byet time to eaur spoons when we'n bin atin us porritch; an' ony on us 'at had dipt his spoon i'th' deesh afore he ceaunted ten, an' then said—'dive, lads!' ud had to had th' leeast spoon th' mornin' after.  Neaw then, my exparience tells me this: let a chap have enoogh o' summat t'ate an' they'll be no danger on him puncin' noather king nor queen off the'r peearch; nor makkin' pa'sons into beawls, an playin' at skittles wi' church steeples.  Folk 'ud care no moore abeaut whoa's i' peawer an' whoa's eaut, nor they would abeaut whoa carts coal to th' moon, or whoa wayves bed-geawns for th' Boggart Ho' witches.  Aw know this bi misel'; an' they sen at messurin' a peck eaut o' the'r own seck is th' fairest messur'.  When aw've bin as low i'th' woald as aw con get, aw've felt ready for oather feightin' or owt; an' would as soon ha' doft a king, or ony other great mon off at th' knees, as gone to mi loom.  But for th' last fortnit aw' bin livin' like a feighter, an' aw fund it eaut ut as fast as my singlet tightens aw geet moore loyal.  Neaw, heaw mun we cheppen beef, an' fleawr, an' porritoes, an' coals, an' clooas, an' fill empty looms wi' wark?  Aw'd say, for thoose 'at wanten mayte, lets groo it for 'em; for thoose at wanten clooas, lets wayve cloth, an' mak' 'em; for thoose at wanten foire, lets get coal for 'em.  Ther's plenty o' booath lond, an' looms, an' coal; an' plenty o' honds for t' do everythin'.  Heaw is it then we'n nowt to do; nowt to have; nowt to look forrud to?  That's what aw'm fast in.  But this aw con say, lets ha' beef ut abeaut thrippence a peaund; fleaur ut abeaut eighteen-pence a dozen [1]; porritoes at abeaut fourpence a score; an' a bit o' wark t' keep us fro' bein' idle, an' we'st yer no moore abeaut a revilution.  Neaw, aw'll just tell yo' heaw aw coom for t' think o' this road.

    Aw said afore, aw've bin livin' for th' last fortnit like a feighter; an' aw da'say yo'n be wonderin' heaw aw managed it.  Well, yo' seen it happens o' this fashin.

    Owd Thuston i' Walmsley Fowt had a keaw deed; no' becose it ail't ony soart of a disorder; but o' someheaw it ud getten its neck o'er a rail i'th' meadow, an' couldno' get it back agen.  O' this plan it geet throttl't to deeath; an' rare wark ther' wur abeaut it, for it wur a favorite keaw.  Well, owd Thuston thowt it would no' be mich wur for atin'; but as he dustno' tak' it to th' market, an' it ud be moore nur they could ate the'rsel—though he has one or two lads, yo' known, ut con side a dacent plateful—he'd sell it to th' neighbours at threeaw-pence-a-peaund.  So he sent for Pig Johnny, th' butcher, an' had it kilt after it wur deead; an' when it wur dressed an' cut up into quarters big enoogh for t' slate a pig-cote wi', aw thowt aw never seed betther stuff i' mi life!

    Aw'd just borne whoam, an' wur flush o' brass—that is, aw'd abeaut five shillin' laft after payin' th' shop score off; so aw said to owd Thuston aw could like t' have abeaut forty peaund o' that beef, just for t' see if it ud awter th' colour o' one's skin a bit.

    "Theau'st have it," he said.  "An' a choice cuttin' too, if theau's a mind, as theau'rt a good milk customer."

    So aw ordert a stew, an' as mich of a reaund as ud mak' up th' weight; an' paid for it while aw'd th' brass.

    It favvert a flittin' when it wur bein' carried whoam; an' when eaur Joe tumbl't i'th' heause wi' th' stew on his shoother, th' wife set up a skrike, for hoo thowt he're bringin' th' young'st choilt whoam deead.  But when aw marcht in wi' summat at front on me abeaut th' size of a middlin' tree bottom, aw thowt hood ha' gone beside hersel'.

    "Eh, Ab! whatever is ther' t' do?" hoo skrik't eaut.

    "Sithi, owd wench," aw said, "look at this!  Theau'st ha' sich a blow-eaut as theau hasno' had afore sin th' dow-times."[2]  An' th' wark ut wur made wi' th' childer wur past o tellin'.  They doanced abeaut th' flooar, an' seawsed one another, an' made marlocks same as if they'd gone wild o at once.  Ther noather wayvin' nor windin' to be done ony moore that day.  It look't like a halliday.  Eaur Dick wanted t' know if he must put his Sunday garters on.  Th' clooas, yo' see, wur th' same, Sunday an' warty (workday) t'gether.  Well, we set th' oon an' th' boiler agate booath at once; an' they'n bin gooin' ever sin'!  We'n had roast beef an' pies, an' stew knockin' abeaut till th' wife ses th' hearthstone 'll never be gradely agen.  Th' childer slur'n o'er it neaw, just th' same as if it wur a piece o' ice, it's so slippy wi' graise!

    Well, when dinner time coom, an' th' stuff wur browt eaut, aw thowt it wur th' grandest seet ut ever mortal een look't at.  Th' table reeched (steamed) o reaund like a limehole.  Aw'd a lump o' beef afore me ut favvert a little meauntin' an' aw hardly knew heaw t' begin o' thwitin at it.  Eaur Joe ses, "Feyther, yo' conno' cut that wi' th' sithers, same as yo' dun sometimes!"

    "Nawe, lad," aw sed.  "An' aw look't at his yure (hair) ut stood as straight up on his yed as if it had bin th' prickles of a bur, an' thowt, owd jockey, aw'll auter that for thee afore theau'rt mich owder! for if yo'n noticed, childer ut han bin badly clemmed i' the'r bringin' up han different sooart o' yeads to others.  The'r yure wouldno' lie deawn if it wur punced.  If yo' wur t' daub a hontful o' swine's graise on it, an' brush it an heaur wi' a deetin' brush, it 'ud rise up agen as stiff an' as wiry as ever."

    Well, aw dash't th' knife into th' beef an' cut a lump for eaur Joe, as big as his clog.  "Eh, feyther," he sed, an' he oppent a pair o' een as wide as a sheead, "is o this for me?"  "Aye," aw sed, "it is, mi lad, an when that's done theau con come agen, if t' hasno' had enough.  Aw'll oather mak' that yure o' thine lie deawn same as other folk's or else aw'll brast thi! "

    Well, he thresht an' eat, an' so did eaur Dick an' t'other childer, till bi th' week end the'r yeds wur as smoot as foire potter knobs; an' the'r yure lee deawn as straight an' as glossy as a bit o' satin.  Yure-oil's a foo' to good feedin'.

1. This was written when flour was selling at about three shillings per dozen pounds.

2. Dow-times refers to the doles to the poor during the cotton famine.


――――♦――――

 
SHOINY JIM'S KESMAS DINNER.



201A, Timber Street, Manchester,

December 15th, 18—.


DEAR old Pal.—The festive season is drawing near, and I feel as lively as a kittling, because I have grand expectations.  To me this promises to be the best Christmas I have had for two ages of years.  I have saved up a few shillings on the quiet.  If it was known, I should have the blooming Assyrians down upon me—them as I owe something to, and my poor relations, who would pluck me like a goose.  Well, I mean to have a bachelor party on Christmas Day, or rather the day after.  The invitations are already out.  This is one.  A dinner served up à la Russe, and furnished by a well-known restaurant keeper over the way.  My wife and kids—nine of 'em—are going to spend the day with her parents at Hazelworth.  They can all toddle,—thank goodness!—as the youngest is turned five years.  We shall have a proper blow-out on the day after Christmas Day—what you would call a "brast."  Show up at ten, when the decanters will be placed.  Hoping to see your jolly old mug,


I am,
                      truly, your
                                                          SHOINY JIM.


    That letther aw geet just a year sin' come next Setterday, an' it rayther took th' wynt eaut o' mi ballis.  What!  Shoiny Jim give a grand dinner?  Well, he'd aulus notions a great deeal taller nur his hat; an' if he'd brass at will his table ud never ha' gan o'er reechin'.  Aw've known him spend his last twopence on a cigar, then cut it i' two, one piece for me, so ut we could be a pair o' swells.  We coed him "Shoiny" when he lived i'th' Fowt becose he dressed his hat wi' butther every Sunday ut made it look as if it had bin blackleeaded.  He're aulus a gentleman in his way—did his borrowin' by sendin' notes to his friends—"Could you oblige me with a tanner till I draw my screw?  The sugar run out," or—"I'm threatened with the flaggers.  Four-an'-six will save my sticks.  Can you see your way to advancing four-an'-seven, th' odd penny for swizzle?"  This wur thowt to be so respectable ut nob'dy could refuse him a fuss time; but when noather loan nor interest ever turned up, th' bank would be closed, an' he'd ha' to oppen another ackeaunt somewheere else.  Aw're fain to see by his letther ut Jim wur gettin' up i'th' wo'ld, becose he wur never a bad soart.  If he'd a shillin' in his pocket he'd share it amung his chums, if it belunged to someb'dy else; an' he'd carry th' rent in his pocket for a day o' purpose to mak' a jink.  Sometimes he'd miss gettin' it put deawn i'th' rent book; then some new bank would ha' to be tried wi' a note.  But he'd rayther borrow nur sponge ony time.

    "Eaur Sal, thinkin' it wur a woman's writin', oppent th' letther.  Hoo aulus does if ther's a smell o' rose wayter an' yure pins abeaut it.  Yo' should see her oppen one!  Hoo goes at it as savage as a cat at a sparrow, expectin' hoo's getten a nice morsel.  Hoo wur done this time.  Aw could tak' mi wynt freely when aw seed her wrinkles oppen eaut, as aw're feart it wur a dunnin' letter for a pair o' glooves aw forfeited last Kesmas bu' one.

    "Shoiny Jim!" hoo said, flingin' th' letther on th' table.  "Aw should think he'll be able t' pay for that bacon he had off us th' last pig we kilt."

    "Eaut o'th' statty o' limitations," aw said; "it's above seven year owd.  Aw couldno' get it bi law."

    "Aw dunno' see ut it mak's ony difference," hoo said.  "He wouldno' pay it if he'd brass, an' he's rayly autered if he's things i'th' heause ut ud fotch th' price o' six peaund o' bacon.  Theau may rub th' score off th' buttery dur."

    "Eaur Dick did that when he had th' dur for a raft on th' mop-hole, for t' act Robi'son Crusoe on," aw said.

    "Aw dunno' think, Ab, he's as weel off as he purtends to be," th' owd ticket said.  "He're aulus full o' swagger, an' his wife's no mich betther.  Hoo'd go to th' butcher's wi' a clooas basket for hauve a peaund o' mutton, an' beg a skewer for th' childer t' play wi', an' mak' folk believe hoo'd bin buyin' abeaut a hauve ov a carcass.  It'll be a nice trace for owd Jone, nine childer an' the'r mother reaund th' table.  Aw-hope hoo'll come noan here."

    Nowt no moore passed, nobbut "Aw reckon theau'rt gooin;" an' when aw said aw wur, th' owd lass gan a "Humph!" an' went a-feedin' th' brids i'th' fowt, her "mornin's sarvice" as hoo coes it.

    Th' day after Kesmas Day aw set eaut for this grand "brast," wi a senglet as slack as th' lace ud alleaw on.  What soart o' cronies Jim had to meet me aw couldno' ha' th' leeast gawm at.  If they wurno' short-pipers, an' didno carry cases i' the'r pockets, wi' rowled up cabbage-leeaves in 'em, aw didno' care.  Pipes th' length o' one's arm are a sign o' good company; an' aw hoped to find 'em.  Aw're at some bother to find Timber Street, though aw sperred off o soarts o folk.  They o on 'em said they knew ther' wur sich a street, but couldno' tell me wheere to look for it.  At last aw met an owd Jew.  Aw made his acquaintance after that, an' he pointed to th' ridgin of a public-heause, an' said "It vos ober dare."  Aw didno' mak' mi way o'er th' roof o'th' public-heause; but chose to go reaund abeaut for th' next.  Aw kept mi bearins reet to a wobble o'th' compass; an' just in a line wi' th' owd Jew's finger, aw fund Timber Street.  It wurno' exactly th' place aw expected findin'.  Fro' th' name aw're led to think ther'd be trees i'th' front o'th' heauses, an' happen bits o' gardens.  Ther' met ha' bin a hundert year sin'.  Th' only timber aw could see neaw wur shutters wi' holes in 'em ut could let plenty o' leet through when ther ony to spare; an' durs ut wur as nee akin to th' shutters as relationship could come.

    "Number 201A.  Here it is, an' a grand mansion, too!" aw said to misel' as aw stood lookin' at a woman's yead ut made a queer orniment for th' window.  Jim must keep a sarvant, aw thowt; but aw hoped hoo'd ha' nowt to do wi' th' cookin'.  Aw wurno' i' dread o' been' knocked deawn by a couple o' flunkies when aw knocked at th' dur, but for o that, aw lifted th' knocker wi' fear an' tremblin'.  Th' woman aw'd seen i'th' window oppent th' dur just wide enoogh for t' get her yead between it an th' wall.

    "Does Shoiny Jim live here?" aw axt her.

    "What's the name, sur?"

    "Shoiny Jim."  Aw 'd forgetter his gradely name.

    "Is it Mister James Thomas, ye wants?"

    "Happen it is," aw said, "What does he do?"

    "Shure, an' he's a furnithur polisher," hoo said.

    "That's my mon!" aw said.  "Is he in?"

    "No, sur.  You'll find him there, sur," an' hoo pointed to a public-heause ut didno' look as if it had had it' face wesht sin' th' flood.  "He left word when he went out that if any gintlemen called oi was to sind for him.  Nellie, darlin'!" hoo sheauted to a little wench ut wur decoratin' her yead wi' some bits o' straw hoo'd picked eaut ov a gutter, "go and tell Spanker a gintlemin wants him."

    So that's a new name, aw thowt!

    "Here, aw'll go to him," aw said; so aw crossed th' street, an' into th' public-heause pointed eaut, wheere aw fund Spanker in his glory.

    "Ha, my dear old swell!" he sheauted as soon as he seed me, "how's your bone case?  Glad you've come, old boy!  Gentlemen, my esteemed and talented friend, Ab-o'th'-Yate!"

    "What! him ut has kept o his ribs t'gether?" one o'th' company axt.

    "The same star of our terrestrial firmament," Jim said.  An' he gan a flourish wi' his arm ut knockt th' pipe eaut ov another chap's meauth.  "Come to illume the sylvan groves of Timber street.  What's your wet, old boy?"

    "Aw'm noan particklar," aw said.

    "Let us have something seasonable before we adjourn to dinner.  What say you to a bottle?"

    "What soart of a bottle?"

    "You shall see."  An' Jim geet howd of a dirty bell-rope, an' gan it a good shakin'.  "Two rums and one ginger ale, split!" he said, when a good-lookin', but rumpled, young woman sluthert in.

    "Is it to go on?" th' wench wanted to know.

    "Of course it is.  Put it down to the dinner wines," Jim said.

    "All right, so long as I know," th' young woman said.  An' hoo glided eaut o'th' seet.

    "I don't care for having so many accounts sent in when they can lump them," Jim said, in his big way.  "Easily checked off.  Looks more when you have to receive it, and a jolly sight more when you have to pay it."

    Ther a peevish-lookin' owd codger sit in a dark corner ut said he felt a bit interested i' my liver!

    "Heaw did yo' manage to digest that boot-jack?" he wanted to know.  An' his face oppen't wi' an owd-fashint grin.

    "Yezzily enoogh," aw said.  "Aw nobbut had to send a pair o' boots after it, an' th' job wur done.  It's when yo' dunno' know what soart o' trimmin's to get ut a dinner, bothers yo'!"

    That sattlet him.  Th' rum an' splits wur browt in, an' they no disputes abeaut th' change, an' nice drinkin' aw fund it to be.

    "Now, then," said Jim, when we'd emptied eaur schooners, "by the time we get across, friend Abram, all the guests will have arrived, and the dinner will be tabled at once.  Have you buppied up?"

    "Bottom't!" aw said.

    "Friends, you'll excuse us," Jim said, gettin' up, an' turnin' to th' company.  "Christmas comes but once a year, and when it comes it brings good cheer.  We have to partake of the cheer."

    "What sort o' cheer, Jim?" one o'th' company axt.  "That which maketh the heart glad," Jim said.  "Fried fish an' chipped spuds, eh, Jim?"

    "Them's for ordinary people; not for the lords of society.  Good morning, gentlemen."

    After yerrin' that, aw didno' feel quite as hungry as aw had felt.  Th' grand Kesmas dinner wur losin' it' colour as weel as it' smell.  But when we geet to 201A, an' th' dur wur oppent by a lad wi' a white appron on, an' a white rag teed reaund his neck, aw begun to be a bit moore hopeful.

    "Dining-room upstairs," Jim said; "mind the hole in the fourth step.  Come along.  Music, music everywhere, even in the creaking of the stairs.  Quite safe, old boy."

    "Safe, aw fund th' steers wur; but aw didno' like th' music, nor th' hole ut aw could see a gridiron through, an' two white pots.  But we londed i'th' dinin' reaum an' Jim catcht me starin' reaund.

    "Don't be bashful, my dear friend," he said, as he motioned me to a cheear.  "Not used to grand Society?"

    "Nawe, aw feel knocked eaut o' time o ready," aw said.

    "You'll come round by and by," Jim said, squarin' hissel' at what he coed "the head of the table."  But which wur th' yead an' which wur th' tail nob'dy could ha' towd, becose th' table wur a reaunt un, a bit bigger nur a button-top.

    "Wheere are t'other chaps?" aw axt, seein' nob'dy abeaut nobbut eaur two sels.

    "The host and his guests are all assembled," Jim said, settin' hissel' back in his cheear as if turtle wur bein' sarved reaund.  "You'll excuse the usual menu card; but the printers are not working to-day.  We commence with soup au Oldham, with which it is the fashion to serve turkey au Stretford, stuffed with sweet marjoram, sage, thyme, and various other kinds of herbs.  Now I'll ring up the first course."

    Jim geet howd o'th' fire-potter, an' hammered on th' floor wi' it.  Then he sit deawn again, an' put his face between his honds.  "For what we are about to receive, yum, yum, yum," he said; an' bi th' time he'd finished, th' waiter showed hissel'.

    "Bring up the soup and the turkey!" Jim commanded.

    "Th' soup's ready, but th' turkey isno' quite," th' waiter said.  "Owd Isaac wouldno' boil it, becose he says 'it does shmell like pork.'  So we'n had to boil it eaursel's."

    "Disappointment number one," Jim said, lookin' as if he couldno' wait another minute.  "Put on the wine, young man."

    While the "wine" wur bein' browt up, aw took an invent'ry o'th' dinin'-reaum furnitur.  Ther another cheear beside thoose we sit on; two baggy pictures hung on th' walls—th' "Crucifixion" an' th' "Ascension."  These aw'd sin afore.

    "What's that thing theere, Jim?" aw axt; an' aw pointed to an article ut wur noather a chist o' drawers nor a payanno.

    "The plate chest," Jim said, beaut a smile.

    "An' heaw dost manage to creawd eleven on yo' reaund this table, ut'll hardly howd us two?"

    "I put on the dining-room door, and, as it is moore healthy for children to stand during meals, we have no need for chairs.  You miss the cradle?"

    "Aye, wheere's that?"

    "Burnt it.  Oh, here's the wine!"

    Aw never seed wine in a pitcher afore; nor aw never seed any wi' froth on th' top.  But aw seed booath neaw.  Th' waiter put it on th' table, wi' two gill glasses.

    "British malt wine, full bodied, and of fruity flavour," Jim said, as he filled th' glasses.  "October vintage.  Happy to take wine with you."

    We raised glasses, an' drunk.

    "The dinner being delayed through the prejudice of that blooming old Jew, we'll proceed with the toasts," but before Jim could begin wi' th' list, th' waiter hurried into th' reaum, i' quite a wild state.

    "Th' pudding's brasted!" he said.

    "What! the plum pudding?"

    "Nawe, th' black—aw meean th' turkey!"

    "You must be overboiling it.  Bring the course up.  The stupidness of hired cooks! 'The Queen,' Ab!"

    We raised glasses, an' drunk th' owd woman.

    "The Prince of Wales and the rest of the Royal Family!"

    We drunk thoose.

    "The army and—oh! here comes the first course."  Th' cook marched in wi' th' turkey au Stretford, an' th' waiter wi' th' soup au Oldham.

    "What's a dinner á la Russe, Jim," aw axt, seein' ut mine host wur abeaut carvin' th' turkey.

    "Served from a side table," was th' onswer he gan me.  "But the bones having been taken out of this—a—bird, it is easy to carve."

    "Aw thowt it had happen summat to do wi' black puddings an' breawis," aw said.

    "My dear friend, name is everything nowadays," Jim said, cuttin' th' "turkey" i' hauves.  "If I'd called this course 'Black pudding and browis'—'Brose' in Scotland—you wouldn't have eaten it with the same relish.  Waiter, pass the plate."

    Th' waiter had no 'cession to pass th' plate; it wur under mi nose oready.  But he made a show o' doin' it.

    Well, ther's wurr stuff etten nur black puddin's an' breawis, but it's hardly what one expects at a Kesmas dinner.  Aw sided mi mess wi a relish, an' wonder't what th' next "course," 'ud be like.

    "Happy to take wine with you, Ab."

    Th' glasses wur raised, an' we drank.

    "Waiter, fetch up the poo-ah-zong de Yarmouth," Jim said to th' waiter; an' th' lad start as if he're beside hissel'.  At last his face breetent up, an' he said,—

    "Dun yo' meean th' bloaters?"

    "Bloaters be hanged!" Jim ripped eaut.  "Didn't I tell you that 'poo-ah-zong' is the French for fish?"

    "Well, then, isn't bloaters fish?" th' waiter said.

    "Certainly, but you need not give them that name.  Mizzle, and bring up the tureen!  What a blooming ass!" Jim said, as th' waiter went eaut o' seet.  "Been drilling him all morning, and a pretty mess he's made of his lessons.  Board schools ain't worth a rap!"

    Th' tureen turned eaut to be a plate wi' two bloaters on it; an' a dishful o' nice pottatoes wur upo' th' table.

    "Fresh in, this mornin'," Jim said, as he honded me a whul carcass.  "Saw one of them wag its tail when it was brought in.  Hello! what the deuce is this?  One of old Isaac's studs.  If it isn't, I'm bloomed!  He'll be after this before long."  Jim had hardly getten th' word eaut ere we yerd some puncin' at th' botthom o'th' steears.  Then ther an Israelitish sheaut—

    "Mishter Sphankare, vosh my shdud on ze blate?"

    "I told you," said Jim; "the old bobby-knocker's here already.  Here, waiter, convey to our purveyor this precious jewel, worth about three farthings decimal nothing.  Tell him to reduce the capacity of his buttonholes, or they'll reduce him to beggary."

    Th' stud wur sent deawn on a dirty plate, an' th' bloater wur attacked.

    "Moore booans i' these nur ther' wur i'th' turkey, Jim," aw said.  Aw'd getten mi teeth full on 'em.

    "Yes," Jim said; "they ought to have been dissolved by the application of acid, but the old bloke doesn't understand high-class cookery.  He's in the old school, you see."

    An' neaw we'd a sensation ut wurno' i'th' menu, nor th' wine list.  Th' waiter, i' bustlin' abeaut, had moore nur once banged agen th' plate chist; an' as it's last flake o' snow ut mak's th' avalanche, so th' last nudge caused th' front o'th' chist to tumble eaut, bringin' wi' it a rowl o' blankets.

    "Dost keep thi plate i' flannel, Jim?" aw said, seein' ut his face reddened up like a foire.

    "Well, you see, my dear friend, the lid is rather insecure; very old, very old.  I ought to have stronger locks put on.  Not being safe, two of the boys sleep in the chest, to prevent it being robbed."

    "Theau'rt never, fast for a come-off," aw thowt.

    This explanation ud ha' done very weel, if aw hadno' yerd th' waiter sayin' at botthom o'th' steears—

    "Missis, th' turn-deawn bed has tumbled oppen!"

    When we'd done dissectin th' "poo-ah-zong de Yarmouth," moore wine wur ordered, an' pipes and 'bacco.  Then Jim rose wi' th' majesty ov a king, an' said

    "Gentlemen may now smoke."

    We'd just getten eaur pipes lit, an' feet upo' th' fender, when ther a noise deawn th' steears ut seaunded like a skoo locin.  Then ther a clatter on th' steears, like as if a dozen pair o' clogs wur meauntin.  Jim changed colour.

    "The old woman an' kids, by all that's blest!" he said, settin' his ears for hearkenin.  "What's been up, I wonder?"

    He hadno' lung to wonder, for just then his wife coome bangin' into th' reaum, lookin' foire an' brimstone.

    "How's this, my dear, back so soon?" Jim wanted to know, but in a henpecked soart ov a way.

    "Back so soon?" th' wife snapped eaut.  "Theau'd be back so soon if theau went wheere theau wurno' welcome!  As soon as mi feyther seed me he said, 'What hast browt o that ragg'd crew for?  Aw nobbut axt thee to come.'  'They're yo'r gronchilder,' aw said; 'an' if they're noan welcome, we con go back.'  So aw said no moore, but trooped 'em off to Walmsley Fowt, an' divided 'em among th' neighbours, while Ab's wife an' me had a bit o' goose.  Hoo towd me theau're givin' a grand dinner to a lot o' folk, an' ut Ab wur gone to it.  That made me come back sooner, becose aw couldno' see heaw we could afford it."

    "My dear friend," said Jim, slammin' his hat on his yead, "let us adjourn the festive' board to the hotel.  Time is out of joint."

    He'd no 'casion to ax me twice.  Aw'd stridden o'er th' hole i'th' steears i' three or four wags o'th' clock, an' we finished th' day wi' what Jim coed "the flowing bowl."  But it wur fourp'ny!


――――♦――――

 
A WOMEN'S CAP SHOW.


THOOSE folk ut han bin born young, or, to put it another road, sin' Queen Victorey wur hoisted on her peearch, an' had her gowden bonnet donned on, will ha' very little recollection o' what a women's cap show wur like.  If they han onny they'n remember a seet sich as they hanno' seen i' these days.  If wayvin' happened to be middlin' good at a wakes time caps brasted eaut i' extry bloom; an' orders for ribbins made Coventry folk stare.  Th' poorest body ther' wur i' Hazelwo'th 'ud ha' come'n eaut in her best at th' club neet; an' th' judge, or what they co'ed th' "centioner," had a difficult job to pleeas everybody.  Every woman had to mak' her own yead gear; so it wurno' th' cap itsel', but th' makker ut geet th' honour.  Aw hadno' winked at mi owd blossom then.  It wur like afore her time.  Hoo hadno' groon eaut of her bishops.  But wenches o' her age stuck fleawers an' ribbins i' the'r yure, an' gallopped abeaut like rushcart hosses.  Aw've had mony an armful o' puffin' witchery i' mi time!

    It usually took abeaut a fortnit to mak' one o' these caps, becose wed women had to wayve fro' six i' th' mornin' till nine at neet, if they could grope so lung at the'r looms; so ut th' heause wark, or ony extry wark, had to be done after.  This wur why it took 'em a fortnit to mak' a cap.  It used to be fun watchin' 'em goo fro' heause to heause, for t' see heaw caps wur bein' made, an' pick up ideas for makkin' the'r own.  They'd be some bitin' o' lips if they fund they'rn beheend.  But on th' wakes Monday no garden wur like th' Bell fowt for showy colours; an' comments wur not exactly what everyone 'ud like.  They'rn very free, an' sometimes startlin'.  Jack o' Flunter's wife 'ud ax Little Dody's wife if hoo'd bin strippin' a doll, an' Little Dody's wife 'ud retort upo' Jack o' Flunter's wife by sayin'—

    "They wurno' in a morris doancer's hat twenty year sin'. Aw've sin thoine i' yo'r Jack's hat afore eaur Turn wur born."

    "Look at Little Matty's cap!  Th' screen flaps abeaut her face like Lovely Jane's, ut hoo used to freeten childer with.  Aw'm sure hoo's put no starch in it.  An' blue an' yallow ribbin!  That shows taste.  But aw reckon hoo thinks it matches her face.  If that wins th' show aw'll brun mine when aw get whoam."

    "An' aw'll sweel th' chimbdy wi' mine.  Who's bein' th' centioner?

    "Jocky wife."

    "What, that preaud madam?"

    "Aye, but hoo's barred eaut for showin' hersel'.  Hoo's yonder in a plain lyin'-in cap!"

    "Aw see her.  Hoo thinks summat ov hersel', yond does!  An' Daisy wife wi' a black appron on!  Doesno' hoo look a dowdy?  If aw couldno' ha' raised a white un aw'd ha' stopt awhoam.  Hoo'll be havin' a black cap next, an' then hoo'll look like havin' three or four childer bi th' hont, an' singin' i'th' lone."

    "Ther's Sloper wife comin' deawn th' lone neaw.  Look what a rushcart hoo's getten on her yead!  Hoo should ha' two childer for t' howd it on wi' ropes.  Ther's no touchin' her neaw the'r Sloper's gettin' a peaund a week.  Aw wish th' dinner wur ready."

    "It should be on th' table at two o'clock."

    "They say'n Billy Softly's comin' i'th' place ov his wife."

    "Well, if ever!  Aw think that rule owt to be done away wi'.  What right han men at a women's club, hearkenin' o ut's said, an' blobbin' it abeaut th' fowl?"

    "He's bin three days drinkin' yarb tae."

    "Then he'll hoide summat, theau may depend on't.  He'll be like Jim Thuston's pig—he'll get into th' trough.  Aw hanno' forgetten him bein' at owd Joe's buryin'.  Betty cut him as mich beef as ud a made a pair o' shoon, tops an' o;  an' then he kept forkin' at th' stack o' butthercakes as if he're drawin'-in a piece.  He con find a rare owd wallet, Billy con, when th' stuff's chep."

"Aw believe they're gooin' upsteears. We'd betther no' be beheend; so come on, an' let's get as nee th cutter-up as we con. Aw con yer Pig Johnny whettin' his knife."

If these two wur talkin' abeaut other women, it's ten to one they wurno escapin' the'rsel's.

    "Rowl up, women!" Pig Johnny sheauted, as he squared hissel' i'th' front ov a Curran-puddin'—abeaut a wheel-barrow full.  Yo' mun understood that at club dinners, or what they co'en th' yearly-day dinners, i' country places, they sarven eaut th' puddin' th' fust, so as they conno' ate mich beef.  A very wise thing, too!  Th' remarks abeaut one another's caps fell off as sudden as a thunner sheawer, becose th' women had summat else to do nur talk.  Billy Softly sit amung 'em like a black sheep ut nob'dy ud ha' nowt to do wi'.  They had him i' Coventry.  But Billy dinno' care as lung as they a prospect o' havin' his waistcut padded.  Jack o' Flunter's wife did just ax him if he'd ordered a cart for t' tak' him whoam, or did he prefer bein' carried on stangs?  Billy took no notice till he fund he're th' last to be sarved when th' beef went reaund.  Then he forked howd ov a lump o' bread, an' began a-gnawin' at that, lookin' as comfortable at th' time as if he'd lost his turn to be fitted at th' wareheause.  But when he did get sarved he went at it as if he're mowin' an' heausin' booath at once.  When he'd finished he went deawn steears, an' would ha' gone to his loom, but he're too full for wark.

    Neaw th' clatter begun a-risin', an' 'ud ha' getten leauder if they hadno' bin ordered deawn steears while th' table wur shifted.  An' everybody said what a good dinner they'd had, an' wouldno' mind if it wur a yearly day every day, an' never mind th' caps.  Whoa cared abeaut winnin'?  They'd nowt to win, nobbut a bit o' ill-will fro' someb'dy.  An' they walked i' procession fro' th' "Owd Bell," to th' pump, lookin like a rockin' fleawer bed.  Then they mustered upsteears agen, an' th' fiddler peeped in, an' fund he're to' soon; they hadno' done the'r club bizness yet.  An' th' secretary hopped in on his crutches, an' th' books wur oppent.  It took an' heaur for 'em to pay.  That done, th' secretary hopped off agen after he'd had his glass o' whiskey punch, his only salary, an' had his dinner i' th' kitchen.  Then th' cap show wur co'ed eaut, an' every woman stood up.

    "Neaw, yo' women," Jockey wife said, "yo' munno be be vexed at me for what aw do, becose aw'll do mi fairest.  Are yo' o here?"

    They'rn o on 'em theere obbut owd Mary i' th' croft, an' hoo're havin' her pipe deawn steears.

    "Someb'dy fotch owd Mary up," Jocky wife said, "We munno' leeave her eaut.  Neaw, for a start, Ailse 'o Dobby's, aw'll gie thee one mark."

    Ailse o' Dobby's stretcht hersel' to her full height, while th' centioner licked th' end of a pencil, an' made a stroke on a bit o' taepapper. Ther' a bit of a buzz went reaund th' reaum, ut didno' reaund like a song o' praise.

    "Little Matty, aw mun gi'e thee one," an' Little Matty looked at Jack o' Flunter's wife as good as to say—"tak' it eaut o' that."

    Sloper wife put hersel' forrard wi' a sooart o' "look at me," in her ways.  But Jockey wife took notice on her, but passed her by an' ther some leetenin' flew eaut o' Sloper wife's een!

    "Am not aw fort' have a mark?" hoo said.

    "This is a cap show," th' centioner said. "If aw're judging' morris-doancer's hats aw'd gie thee two marks for a start."

    This Sloper wife took as a bit o' flattery, as it showed ut if hoo couldn't get up a cap, hoo could dress a hat.  But hoo couldno' tell what o that gigglin' meant.  Just then owd Mary i' th' croft coome into th' reaum, an' laid her pipe apo' th' chimdy-piece.

    "That's th' winner!" every look seemed to say, as owd Mary took her cheear.

    "Aw'm fain yo'n come'n, Mary," Jocky wife said.  "It 'ud ha' bin a pity if yo'd bin missed.  Aw'll gie yo' two marks."

    Ailse o'Dobby's an' Little Matty wur beawled eaut, an' bi an owd woman, too!  But ther one satisfaction left to 'em, it wur noane o' these yung dolls ut had done it.

    "Neaw, then," Jocky wife said, "win yo' be satisfied if aw say owd Mary's th' winner?"

    "Aye," everybody said, obbut Ailse o' Dobby's an' Little Matty.  Jack o' Flunter's wife sheauted "aye" twice; an' Little Matty looked knives an' forks at her.

    After judgment had bin gan, everyb'dy creawded reaund owd Mary an' praised her cap.

    "Wheay, it's nobbut a plain un," hoo said.  "Aw'd no thowts o' showin', not I.  Aw dar'say some o' yo' would look betther an' a bit moore farrantly if yo'rn plainer donned."

    "Did yo' mak' it yo'rsel', Mary?" everybody wanted to know.

    "Did aw mak' it misel'?  Eh, dear!" owd Mary said.  "When this cap wur made ther nob'dy to mak' 'em nobbut thoose ut wore 'em.  This cap aw made afore some o' yo' had hondle't a spoon, an' aw've worn it every club dinner ever sin'.  They made things to last then, becose they'rn bad to come at.  They wurno' worn for a day, an' then chuckt into th' rag poke for childer t' swap for marbles.  Nawe, nawe, yo' young snickets known nowt!  Aw could sing a sung then wi' twenty verses in it, an' neaw yo'n hardly wynt enoogh for three.  Yo'r nobbut bits o' chaney!  Aw'm a gradely owd breawn mug!"

    "It's a good while sin' yo' doanced Mally o' Jammie's deawn," Jocky wife said.

    "Wheay, does theau remember that?"

    "Nawe, but aw've yerd mi' mother tell abeaut it."

    "Aw're thinkin' theau're noane hatched then.  Wheay, it's very nee fifty year sin'.  Bob at Siah's doanced in his stockin-feet th' same neet, an' doanced th' bottoms eaut, so he had to wear 'em for wellers after.  Folk are noane as mad neaw as they used to be, or else its becose they're soft."

    After that owd Mary geet her pipe agen; an' peearchin' hersel' in a corner, sit wi' one elbow on her knees an' reeched away.  Th' younger lot geet ready for doancin', an' th' middle-aged uns sattled deawn, an' talked abeaut the'r childer, an' the'r bits o' ailments, an' some talked abeaut the'r neighbours.  Th' fiddler wur sent for, an' he looked as if he'd "rosined" summat else beside his fiddle-stick, for he could hardly get up steears.  But they fixed him in his cheear, an' he begun o screwin' at his pegs enoogh to smash every fiddle streng.

    "Aw've fiddled for thee mony a time, hanner I, owd lass?" he said, turnin' to owd Mary i'th' croft.

    "Aye, theau has," owd Mary said, "but theau ne'er could fiddle noan!  Theau couldno' scrape an heaur beaut restin'."

    "Aw could fiddle thee deawn, too," th' owd scraper said; an' he gan a twang on his fiddle ut seaunded like someb'dy tumblin' on a payano.

    "Oh, theau fairly edges mi teeth!" owd Mary said, givin' her nose end a bob wi' her chin.

    "Dost' carry 'em i' thi' pocket, then?" th' fiddler said, "for aw'll swear theau's noane i' th' meauth," an' he set eaut wi' what should ha' bin "Off she goes!" but nob'dy knew what tune it wur, but th' fiddler.

    That wur th' last women's cap show ever held in Hazelwo'th.


――――♦――――

 
SAILIN' FOR BACON.


[A heavy thunderstorm causes "Walmsley Fowt" to be flooded.  Ab meets with an adventure.]


JUST as aw're crossin' th' fowt to go whoam, aw met Fause Juddie gooin' a-lookin' as he said, for me.  He towd me the'r cellar wur flooded, an' he couldno' oppen th' soof.  Ther some bacon on a shelf at th' fur end, an' he couldno' get to it.  Could aw help him to plan some sooart ov a raft or summat ut he could get across on, as they hadno' a bit o' bacon i' th' shop.

    "Han yo' sich a thing as an empty 'Meriky fleaur tub?'" aw said, quite willin' to give him my advice, an' help too, if it wur needed.

    "Aye, mony a one," he said.

    "That'll do," aw said; "aw think we con manage to plan summat.  Yo'r not above th' weight of a Tum cat so aw think aw con float yo'."

    "Aw didno' think of a tub," owd Juddie said, rubbin' his honds wi' glee.  "Theaur't fur-seen i' these things nur aw thowt a yorney o' thy breed 'ud ha' bin."

    "Aye," aw said.  "Yo' hanno' getten o' th' wit to yo'rsel'! an' that yo'n find eaut afore this job's sattled."

    "Well, well, lad," he said, wi' a self-satisfied chuckle, "Aw winno' be hard on thi, as theau'rt gooin' to help mi."  So we went o'er to the'r heause.

    When we geet to th' shop he took me into a chamber wheere he kept his tubs, an' secks, an' other lumber, an' aw piked eaut what aw thowt wur th' best tub i'th' stock, an' rowled it eaut.  Aw'd some difficulty i' gettin it deawn th' cellar steps on ackeaunt o'th' road bein' narrow; but when aw did get it deawn, an' fund it wur wayter tight, aw could see a chance ov a good voyage wur finisht an' cargo londed.

    "Just the very thing!" aw said to owd Juddie, ut wur puffin' beheend me.

    "Theau thinks it'll carry my weight, doesta?" he said, an' he put on his spectekels an' examined his craft.

    "It ud howd th' weight o' two like yo'," aw said, an' aw leaned my own weight on it for to show him what tonnage it wur like.

    "It favvors it met do," Juddie said, lookin' satisfied wi' th' way ut things wur shapin'.  "Aw've browt a clooas prop wi' me for t' push wi'.  It owt be lung enoo' for sich a job."

    "Yo'n need nowt o' that soart," aw said.  "Aw'll gi' yo' a push ut'll send yo' across like winkin'.  But aw'd forgetten, yo'n want to come back agen."

    "Aye, aye, lad!" he said, wi another chuckle o' triumph.  "Ther's nowt like havin' a foreseet i' things, is ther'?  Neaw, then—art ready for shippin' me?"

    "Quite ready for takkin' in cargo," aw said.  "Mind what yo'r abeaut; yo'r an owd sailor.  Aw'll howd th' tub for yo' while yo' getten in."

    "We'n co' this sailin' o'er to th' Cheshire side, Ab," owd Juddie said, layin' his clooas prop ready for pushin'—

    "Ab-o'th'-Yate's patent ferry boat.  Aw didno' think that square yead o' thine could ha' planned owt o' this soart," an' he put one fuut into th' tub, an' begun a-wakkerin'.  "Who-oy, ship!" he said, puttin' his hont upo' mi shoother while he lifted t'other leg in.  "Gently, Abram.  Dunno' be i' to' big a hurry.  Ther's nob'dy waitin' for't bacon ut aw know on.  Steady, lad, steady! dunno' push me off till aw say when.  Just gi'e mi that clooas prop, an' mind theau doesno' leeave lose o'th' tub.  That'll do!  Art theau ready thisel'?"

    "Aw'm ready for weighin' anchor," aw said.

    "Let me get my wynt a bit, an' then.  It doesno' feel so steady as it met do, Ab!"

    "Oh, it'll be betther when yo' getten fairly eaut to sae," aw said.  "Coast sailin's aulus reckon't th' mooast dangerous.  Dun yo' feel yo'rsel' ready for yo'r voyage yet?"

    "A-a-a-ay.  A bit d-d-dithersome, that's o."

    "Off she goes, then!" an' aw gan th' tub a push ut aw calkilated ud send it to t'other side o'th' cellar.  Well, th' tub did goo, but it went beawt owd Juddie; for aw'd no sooner gan th' push nur th' owd lad toppled o'er into th' wayter wi' a splash ut gan me a gradely deawse!

    "Are yo' shipwrecked o'ready?" aw said, as he lifted his yead eaut o'th' wayter.

    "Thee be hanged!" he spluttered eaut—"theau knew what it ud do.  Get howd o' this prop, an' poo me eaut.  Aw'st sail no moore for bacon!"

    Aw geet howd o'th' prop, an' londed th' owd lad, ut looked for o th' wo'ld like a dreawnt rotton (rat).  He'd no sooner scrambl't eaut nur off he went up th' cellar steps beaut spakin' a word; an' aw yerd nowt no moore on him for two days.  Heaw he geet th' bacon aw dunno' know; but as lung as he lives he'll remember "Walmsley Fowt Flood," an' "Sailin' o'er to th' Cheshire side."



――――♦――――

 
A ROYAL VISIT.


AW'VE had curious brastins-eaut i' my life.  Sometimes aw've bin as loyal as an Orangeman; while, at another time aw'd rob th' Queen of her creawn, an' pone it for what aw could get on it.  That's bin accordin' to th' ups an' deawns aw've had.  Ther's a good monny o' th' same soart, they're ruled by th' state o' th' buttery.  Aw'm in a loyal fit neaw, becose loyalty's i' th' fashion,—an' beside that, th' pottito-pies we'n had lately han had moore stars on th' gravy.  My owd ticket's i'th' same skoo'.  Th' air has just bin stirred wi' puffs o' royal wynt, an' storms fro' loyal lungs; an' this has caused th' owd rib to hang eaut her flag—a check napkin pinned on a brushstail, an' trim her bonnet wi' orange ribbin.  An' they' had bin some talk o' dooin' things even moore grand, but we geet th' wrung soart o' oil.  It wouldno' brun.  Eaur Sal said it wur Radical oil, an' that ackeaunted for it.  Aw coome whoam t'other neet, an' sung her a new sung, o' mi own makkin, an' yo' shall have it, wi' an' apology to Ned Waugh.


EAUR PRINCE'S VISIT.


Come, Sarah, get thi bonnet on,
    An' gang along wi' me,
An' we'n goo deawn to Manchester,
    This royal lad to see.
They say'n his face is like his mam's,
    His een are like his dad's;
But i' other things, if th' truth wur known,
    He's mich like other lads.

His pasture's bin too rich for him—
    He seldom porritch takes;
An' nob'dy'll e'er be plagued wi' fat
    Ut feeds on Eccles cakes.
If he'll coome deawn to Daisy Nook,
    Wi' Charlie, Frank, an' me,
We'n show him heaw to ratch his rags
    Wi' a cheese an' bacon spree.

We'n taich him heaw to swing his clogs,
    An' heaw to use his spoon;
An' heaw to whet an' appetite
    By peepin' into th' oon—
An' seein' theere a bubblin' tin,
    Just like a little sae;
An' aw'll be sworn when he goes whoam
    He'll never ax for tay.

We'n pile some flesh on his bare bones,
    Ut are showin' through his skin,
An' mak' him he'll no' know hissel'
    Afore a week he's bin.
An' when wi' th' "Hencote's" fun an' sung
    He's yerd th' owd rafters ring,
He'll say—"Sup up, lads! aw'll stond th'
        next—
    Aw'm 'every inch a king!'" [1]


    "Aw've towd thee!" th' owd rib said.

    "Theau's towd me what?" aw axt her.

    "Ut theau're oather drunken, or gooin' off thi yead, or else theau'd never write poetry.  Theau'll be writin' volentines next, or a copy o' verses on a hangin' do."

    "Well, doestno' co that sung a good un?"

    "It's middlin' for thee.  But what abeaut gooin' a-seein' this young prince?"

    "Aye, that's what aw're comin' to.  Heaw dost think we con get to see him?"

    "Well, ther's Mary at mi Aint Ailse's lives i' Butler Street; hoo's two or three windows up steears; we con surely stick eaur yeads through one on 'em.  It'll be as good seein' theere as onywheere aw know."

    "Reet, owd ticket!" aw said.  "Aw've bin tryin' to plan some soart of a watch teawer; but aw find a woman con plan things betther nur aw con.  We'n goo theere."

    Th' mornin' after we set eaut to Manchester, an' it wur a grand day.  Th' bonnet blazed i' th' sun like a basketful o' oranges; an' when we geet to Butler Street, wurno' ther' a sheaut?  Folk thowt th' prince wur comin'; an' th' band begun o' playin', an' th' so'diers wur ordered to do summat wi' the'r "hums."  Ther' two or three on hors-back ut kept ridin' abeaut fort' let folk see heaw important they wur, an' heaw mich like th' Ash'n "Blake Lad" they could ride; aw reckon they'rn ossifers.  If they'd bin privates they'd had to ha' ridden like men ut knew th' difference between a hoss an' a feel-loss-o'-speed.  But they'rn happen dooin' the'r best.

    We fund sich a creawd as aw never seed i' Owdham Road afore, not even at a wakes; an' we could hardly see deawn Butler Street, ther so mony clooas-lines stretched across, wi' o colours o' calico flappin' an' flyin' fro' 'em as if it had bin a grand weshin' day.  Every window wur filled wi' yeads; some wi' nice faces, an' ut would ha' bin nicer if the'r een hadno' bin hid i' yore.  An' ther one face like a harvest moon ut smiled a welcome to us ut seemed to flash across th' street.

    "Heaw arta, Sarah?"

    "Heaw arta, Mary?"

    "Didt' ever see sich a street?"

    "Nawe, an' happen never shall agen."

    "Mind if th' Queen doesno' say summat abeaut it."

    "Aw shouldno' wonder.  Aw'd have th' name changed to Victor Street.  But then, londlords ud raise th' rents, an' yo'd be bothered wi' rich folk comin' to live i'th' street, so yo'n be betther as yo' are."

    "Aye, folk han to be used to Butler street afore they liken it.  But come upsteears, an' get fixed at th' window afore he comes."

    Well, we went upsteers, an' geet mixed up wi' a lot o' yeads.  But Mary at Aint Ailse's preferred stondin' at th' dur; an' hoo filled it wi' her own carcass.  Ther mony a false alarm ut caused a bit ov a flutter amung th' bunches o' yeads; an' ther lots o' fun an' meauntebankin' gooin' on i'th' street ut geet time on, or else we should ha' bin weary wi' waitin'.

    But ther a sheaut set up at last ut couldno' be mistakken for a false alarm as it rowled alung th' line till it wakkent th' so'diers ut stood i' Owdham Road, an' they had to present "hums."  Ther a cleaud an' a glitter filled th' street as fur as we could see for th' clooas lines; an' some bobbies on hoss-back broke eaut o'th cleaud, an' led up a lot o' carriages wi' folk in 'em ut didno' seem to know heaw to sit for t' look big enoogh.  Then ther' coome a nice lot a chaps, led up wi' a band ut didno' play.  Aw reckon they didno' want to mak' tother bands jealous.  These wur th' Lancers, an' they knew heaw to ride a hoss an' look like a so'dier, too,—noane o' yo'r short pipe brigade.  Sandwiched between two squads o' these wur th' Prince, lookin' very thin an' pale aside o'th' burly form o' Sir John, ut wur o theere.  An' folk sheauted,an' sheauted, an' waved o' soarts o' napkins, till th' royal lad looked bewilder't.  Aw dar'say he'd bin towd ut he're bein' driven through th' lowest part o' Manchester, becose ther nowt but workin' folk lived in it.  Th' swells lived eautside.  He favvort bein' surprised ut ther no lads runnin' abeaut wi' calico tails, as they'rn used to do, an' wi' very hungry looks.  He seed no toe-rags noather, an' nob'dy rowlin' i'th' gutter.  Here surprised, too, ut seein' so mony healthy-lookin' faces, different to what he'd ever seen i' Whitechapel; an' for th' matter o' that, i' Mayfair.  When he geet a-facin' wheere we wur, he stopt his carriage, took off his hat, an' bowed to th' pictur' ut wur framed by a certain dur-place.  He seemed to be axin Sir John if that wur a gradely sample o' Lancashire women, an' Sir John seemed to be tellin' him hoo wur.  They didno' live o' zeffers an' scent theere.  They sowd moore tripe, an' trotters, an' keaw heels, an' fried feesh, an' beef, an' penky i' that street nur would be fund i' o Lunnon.  Talk abeaut "the food of the people," look at that show!  Th' carriage drove on, an' th' Prince made a note, aw dar'say for t' show his mother an' grondmother when he geet whoam.  A lung line o' what th' childer coed "Coppers," browt up th' tail end o'th' procession, an' then coome th' scramble to get eaut o'th' street.  We'd no chance if we'd wanted, unless we'd gone eaut o'th' back dur an' deawn th' entry.

    Mary at Aint Ailse's axt us to stop to eaur baggin; an' ther some fun, an' some good solid talk o'er it; but th' fun wurno' abeaut th' Prince.  Everybody pitied him, an' said what a shawm it wur ut a poor delicate lad like him should be dragged abeaut th' country by a lot o' chaps ut thowt moore abeaut usin' a knife an' fork nur owt else, an' made a show on him, while they'rn showin' off the'rsels.  Th' owd rib couldno' see ut they'rn dooin' ony good by it, nobbut gettin' folk ready for th' pone shop.  Beside, what wur th' Prince to look at?  If they'd stuck a wax candle i'th' corner o'th' carriage, an' put it a hat on, an' lapt plenty o' starched linen reaund it, it would ha' done as weel.

    "He's a nice young chap, for o that," Mary at Aint Ailse's said, "But he looks as if he're gettin' ready for a 'job.'"

    "Well, he's young yet," th' owd stockin-mender said.  "As he gets owder he may get fatter.  Eaur Joe wur nobbut like a worm once, an' look at him neaw.  He's so mich like a tub ut the'r Matty has to tee his shoon, when he's ony to put on.  His feyther, here, met ha' bin as big if he'd kept off his whisky an' stuck to ale."

    "Reet, owd ticket!" aw said; "but ale tak's up to' mich reawm when they're like me, gan o'er grooin'.  But yo'rn talkin' abeaut this Prince.  Aw shall yer nowt ut's good if yo' talken abeaut me."

    "Aw'm fain theau knows it," th' owd Mother Confessor said.  "But if th' Prince had bin browt up i' Walinsley Fowt, an' had to feight for his buttercakes, he'd ha' takken moore cloth for his clooas nur he does neaw.  That's th' place for eddicatin' 'em, booath i'th' yead an' th' body.  This grey-toppined owd sinner would ha' bin as numb as onybody if he'd bin sent to a college.  They makken 'em fit for nowt theere nobbu' partin' the'r yure i'th' middle an' sayin' 'haw!'"

    "What abeaut these lad's clubs?" aw axt her.

    "Well," hoo said, "aw dunno' think they're o' that importance ut royalty should be fotcht deawn fro' Lunnon for 't mak' 'em think they're little gods.  Wheere ther's a lot o' lads t'gether ther's sure to be some mischief gooin' on, if not summat wurr.  Aw know that by eaur board skoo.  They're th' impidentist, mischievousist, swearinist little blackguards ut ever broke a window or yelled in a fowt."

    "Aye, that's true," aw said; "an' if one spakes to 'em they gi'en three or four words for one, an' some on 'em arno' sich nice uns,—plenty o' slowter-heause abeaut 'em.  An' they're aulus puncin' at summat, if they con find owt to punce at,—oather hauve a breek or a deead cat.  It wur but t'other day ut an owd kettle coome crashin' through eaur window, but nob'dy had done it."

    "Theau forgets, Ab, ut theau's bin a lad thisel'," th' owd rib put in.  "Let's be fair to 'em."

    "Aye, aw know that, an' aw've bin made to know it mony a score o' times," aw said.  "If a lad did owt wrung then he geet a warmin' for it, one ut he'd remember too.  Neaw if they touchen a lad they're hauled afore th' magistrates, an' fine't.  That's th' difference between bein' a lad then, an' bein' a lad neaw.  What wouldt' think abeaut a wenches' club?"

    "Eh," th' owd crayther said, an' hoo threw up her honds, "that 'ud be wurr nur a lads' club.  They're wurr nur lads neaw, for if lads 'ud let 'em a-be, they winno' let lads a-be.  Shawmful th' way they carryin' on, speshly ov a Sundey neet, when they should ha' bin towt betther.  A wenches' club!  They mit as weel start Knot Mill Fair agen, an' howd it every week."

    "Well, neaw, owd skoomissis," aw said, "if theau'd th' orderin' o' things what would theau do?"

    "What would aw do wi' what?"

    "Lads an' wenches."

    "Aw'd keep 'em separate till they'd sense enoogh to behave the'rsels'.  I'stead o' havin' big skoos, an' clubs, aw'd have a lot o' little skoos, abeaut as big as this heause.  It 'ud howd as mony as are fit to be t'gether; an' one body could taich 'em.  Aw'd have 'em to loce at different times, so ut ther' wouldno' be sich a racket i' th' lone.  Aw'd have 'em like little families, watched o'er by careful een, an' aw wouldno' stuff so mach into 'em.  They arno' like turkeys ut fatten o' what they crom 'em wi'.  It's moore like to turn 'em into loonies.  Change these things, an' we shall see a different race o' childer.  Ther' wouldno' be so mony spectekles worn wi' young folk then."

    This browt th' lecture, an' th' "jacky" to an end.


1. "Aye, every inch a king."—King Lear.


――――♦――――

 
A QUIET BANK HOLIDAY.


A BANK Holiday with most people in their search for pleasure, is an occasion for rushing away from home as far as possible.  There are, however, a few quiet souls who do not care to brave the discomforts inseparable from long journeys, bad fare, and sweltering crowds, for the purpose of spending a few feverish hours at some favourite sea-side resort, or other place of recreation.  Their own immediate neighbourhood with its pleasant walks, its freshly-mown meadows, its valleys, not yet filled with the refuse of towns, is quite sufficient for them.  These are, generally speaking, old-fashioned folks who have not been brought up to extravagances of modern times, when Miss will spend as much on a bonnet as she has earned in a fortnight, and Master thinks he ought to have the whole of his earnings for pocket money.  They have no great anxiety about the weather.  If unfavourable for a walk, they know where to meet congenial company, to which rain adds enjoyment, and brings with it a grim satisfaction that "someb'dy's clooas are catchin' it," whilst nothing short of fire could spoil their own.  Being indifferent to Bank Holiday myself, chance led me into the company of a numbers of these, who were amusing each other with queer tales and quaint sayings "that set the table in a roar."  They were not congregated in a chapel; nor in a coffee room; nor in the "barracks" of the "Salvation Army;" but in the kitchen of a roadside inn.  Reader, if you believe with Dr. Boerhave that "mirth and laughter is the salt of life, and much contributes to health," do not despise the public-house kitchen.  Years before we became so prim, and each of us had his own drawing room and decanter, it was the place where wit met wit in hilarious encounter; and not a place for indulgence in stupid and senseless "booze," in which every noble and genial faculty is drowned.

    They were rough in the exterior, were these fellows,—well, they had not put on their holiday attire, not caring to do so for a day that promised, in the early part, to be wet.  So they had settled down for a comfortable day about home.

    "Aw believe it'll turn eaut to be fine yet," remarked one of the company, who was distinguished by the sobriquet of "Judd."  "Th' reech fro' th' coalpit chimdy's stretchin' it's back a bit straighter nur it did at breakfast time.  We'st have a fine day yet."

    "Reech is nowt to go by," said another of the company, whom we will call "Nutty."  "Theau met as weel look at my pipe-yead as a chimdy."

    "It's a good while sin' theau bent thi back, Judd," said "Sleck," who had carelessly thrown his arm on the window-bottom, and was looking out for a shower.  "Book-makkin's betther nur workin' like a meaudiwarp, makkin' holes i'th' greaund.  Theau's never hondled a pick sin' theau laft Wigin."

    "Nawe, nor aw dunno' meean dooin'," said Judd; "that's another thing.  Aw'm no' for deein wi' mi clogs on."

    "Is it true they conno' mak' a cart i' Wigin?" Nutty wanted to know.  "Aw've yerd as mich."

    "True enough," replied Judd.

    "Heaw dost ackeaunt for that, Judd?"

    "Well, yo' seen ther' wur an agreement made between Wiginers an' th' Ince chaps, thoose ut followed th' wheelwreet trade, ut they'd oitch stick to the'r own trade.  O th' wagins ut wur wanted must be made i' Wigin, an' o'th' carts i' Ince.  But, as they sayn, ther's no law i' England but they con droive a coach through it; so ther no agreement beween Ince an' Wigin but they could draw a cart or a wagin through it.  Ther a fause soart ov a wheelreet i' Wigin made a wagin wi' shafts at booath ends!"

    "What did he do that for?"

    "Theau'll see eenneaw.  That wurno makkin' a cart.  But when he'd finished it o to paintin', he geet a crosscut saw, an' had it divided i'th' middle, an' made into two carts.  So th' sayin is—they conno' mak' a cart i' Wigin, but they con mak' two."

    "One for Wigin!" was shouted by the Company.  "Heaw did Ince folk goo on?"

    "They made wagins wi' two wheels; but they'rn so wake i'th' back they'rn fit for nowt nobbut greengrocery an' cockles; so they'rn sent to Manchester.  Aw seed one one day, an' it wur bent like a bow.  It had a clooas line raichin' fro' one end to t'other, an' it wur strenged o'er wi' cock chickens ready plucked.  They'rn nowt but skin an' booan.  If they'd bin gradely weel fed they'd ha' brokken th' cart deawn.  Sich wagins are nobbut fit for carryin' childer in."

    "Wur that wheere theau bowt that nine-year-owd chicken, Sleek?" said Nutty, inclined far a little banter.

    "Nawe," replied Sleck, with a grin and a shake of the head.  "But we're goin' to ha' some thunner, aw con see."

    "But what abeaut that cock chicken?"

    "It wurno' a cock, it wur a hen.  As for its age, it never wur registered, as we couldno' find it i' noane o' owd Glue's poultry books.  But it had scrat nine sets o' nails off, an' bi that we knew it wur nine year owd."

    "That wur as tough as owd Ab's hen, wurno' it, Sleck?"

    The individual thus questioned would rather have turned the conversation on some other subject.  He again alluded to the weather—said the clouds were gathering, and that a storm was imminent.

    "But that hen, Sleck," said Nutty, persistently.  "Didno' owd Glue do thee one when he sowd it thee?"

    "Aw dunno' know that," replied Sleck, with an air of condescension.  "Aw bowt it for layin', no' for atin'.  It wur becose hoo fell off her wark ut aw had her kilt.  If theau fell off thy wark nob'dy ud kill thee!"

    "Nawe," remarked Judd, "they'd find him a cord jacket, an' stick him i' some corner o'th' warkheause, wi' a wooden bowl on his knee, an' a spoon made for widenin' meauths."

    "Aye, they'n no 'casion for sharpenin' teeth theere," said Nutty, with a peevish glance at Sleck.

    "Nawe," retorted Sleck, "But thy teeth wanted sharpenin' an' thi jaws oilin' when theau lost a quarter through tryin' t' pike a wing."

    "Wheay, did he?" asked the company.

    "Ax him, he's theere."

    "True enoogh," admitted Nutty.  "Aw'd pieces o'that wing between my teeth for a week after; an' ony on em would ha' done for lacin' shoon wi'.  Did yo' see that?"

    It was a flash of lightning that made everyone in the company look blue; and the next moment the thunder broke over their heads.

    "Aw thowt it ud come," said Sleck, immediately on seeing the flash.  "An' neaw they're teemin' a looad o' stones.  That'll shake summat deawn if th' deggin-can speaut isno' made up.  Aw towd yo'.  It's comin' neaw, i' drops as big as marbles."

    "This ud be rare weather for owd Hay-bant," remarked Judd.

    "Why should it be?" Sleck wished to know.

    "Well," replied Judd, "they had owd Hay-bant up for wayterin' his milk; but he swore he'd never tampered wi' it sin' he begun farmin'.  But heaw wur it, th' magistrates wanted to know, ut i'th' sample they'd examined they'd fund ten per cent. o' wayter?  He'd nobbut one way ov ackeauntin' for it.  That mornin' they took th' sample ther a thunnerstorm coome, an' th' rain coome deawn like nowt else.  For t' save him fro' bein' weet abeaut th' shoothers, he took th' lid off th' can, an' put it on his yead.  He ne'er thowt abeaut th' milk gettin' weet.  That geet him off.  But he're guilty for o that."

    "Aye, no deaut abeaut it," said Sleek.  "He're swaggerin' one neet abeaut his milk, an' he said no flees could dreawn in it; th' creeam wur so thick they could run races on it, or play a match at footbo'.  Ther a chap they coed owd Nal said that wur partly true.  No flees ud dreawn i'th' milk; they'd dreawn i'th' wayter afore they geet to th' milk."

    "But abeaut that hen, Sleck?  We'n had nowt yet nobbut th' history ov a wing.  What becoome o'th' carcass?"

    "Aw never knew what becoome o'th' flesh," replied Sleck; "but mi wife boilt it o'er agen, an' it wur o'er th' foire for two days, till th' booans wur as tender as a bit o' boilt bacon.  But th' flesh had gone into a soart o' yarb ut tasted like rhuberb.  An' whether it wur true or not, aw conno' tell, but th' wife made a rhuberb dumplin' one day, an' aw fancied aw could taste th' owd hen i' that.  Ther's no tellin' what uses we con put a thing to.  Here, Bill, we're prisoners for th' day; get us abeaut three peaund ov a steak, an' clap it i'th' fryin-pon.  It's time we'd summat beside ale an' ale to it.  We shall feel betther i'th' mornin' for it.  Eh, but that wur a crasher (alluding to the thunder).  That's lit somewheere."

    "It'll no' leet here," remarked Nutty.

    "Why shouldno' it leet here?"

    "Ther' isno' brass among us for t' draw it.  It generally strikes wheere ther's some collectin' boxes, an' not i' aleheause kitchens."

    "We shouldno' have had mich neaw if we'd gone off somewheere," remarked Sleek.  "We're betther off as we are."

    "We'd betther mak' eaur minds up for t' stop wheere we are," said Judd; "there'll be no Boggart Hole to-day, an' aw wouldno' gie tuppence to goo ony furr, unless ther a race on."

    "Ther's Blakeley sports on, theau knows," said Nutty.

    "Aye, but thoose areno' my soart.  No bettin' alleawed.  They'rn nobbut begun for t' give cadgers an' comic singers a chance o' pikin a breawn or two up.  Gi'e me a good straight hors race for makkin' a book on.  Ther's nowt nobbut church folk an' Methodys at th' yead o' these sports, so one met as weel go to a camp meetin'.  If onybody sheauts 'two to one bar one' they're hauled off th' jug."

    The hissing sound of frying broke off further conversation, and it was not long ere the company were so many Ajaxes, defying the lightning whilst demolishing their steak.


――――♦――――

 
A DAY AT BOLTON ABBEY.


"NOBODY seems to live awhoam neaw-a-days," th' owd rib made remark, as hoo wur ironin' a bit o' finery for t' wear at a picnic th' day after.  "They're aulus gaddin' off somewheere.  If they conno' afford to goo a distance they go'en singin' in a cart to some park, or to some aleheause in th' country, wheere they con have ham an' eggs, an' jacky i' the'r tay.  Then they'n come singin' whoam, an' have just twopenno'th at partin'!  An' they'n talk hauve-an-hour abeaut havin' sich a day; an' when they dun goo whoam they byetten th' childer for havin' turned th' heause th' wrung side up while they'n bin away."

    "Theau seems to know a good deeal abeaut other folk's carryin's on," aw said, "but theau says nowt abeaut thisel'."

    "Becose aw'm noane one on 'em," hoo said.  "Aw dunno' pay to th' gooin'-off club, nor th' rum bottle club, an' mak' thee believe ut th' brass is gooin' to'art whiteweshin' th' chapel, or buyin' new hymn books.  Theau doesno' catch me at that, Abram!"

    "Nawe; theau'rt th' owd white hen ut never laid away!  But theau seems to be makkin' great preparations for mornin'!  Heaw if it rains?"

    "Well, we're gettin' used to rain.  If it wur to be fine a week neaw, we should begin a-cryin' eaut ut we'rn gooin' to be dried up, an' measurin' th' depth o' wayter i'th' rain tub.  It's bin a fine afternoon; an' it looks as if th' weather wur takkin' up.  Aw wouldno' care, if it wurno' for th' poor farmers.  They're catchin' it.  Jim Thuston says if th' weather doesno' auter, his keaws 'll ha' to feed on breawn bread an' traycle, like we did when times wur bad."

    "Get on wi' thi smoothin'!"

    "Wilt want to tak' an extra dicky wi' thee?"

    "Nawe, mi shirt 'll do."

    "Aw con put it i' mi bag.  Theau'll happen be getten into some lumber if aw lose seet on thee.  Then theau'd want a change."

    "If this sixty year owd babby conno' tak' care of hissel' let him dreawn!" an' th' smoothin' wur finished.

    Well, th' mornin' wur a soaker.  Aw're up by five o'clock, an' had a peep eaut o' mi sleepin' cote window.  My heart went flop when aw seed what a mornin' it wur.

    Jim Thuston stood i'th' fowt like a mon beside hissel'.  Twice or three times he looked at th' mop-hole, as if he're thinkin' a plunge into it wur th' best thing he could do.  His hay wur as black as a yep o' beean-stalks, an' 'ud be fit for nowt nobbut makkin' bustles on.  He're calkilatin' he're a ruined mon, an' couldno' face th' wo'ld agen.  Aw felt sooary for him, if he had plagued me a good deeal in his toime.

    "Heaw's th' weather, Ab?" th' owd rib said, peepin' fro' under th' bed-clooas, as if it had bin Kesmas mornin'.

    "Th' owd soart," aw said, an' her yead went deawn agen.

    "Eh, dear o' me!" seemed to coome fro' under a flag.  "We shall never turn eaut a mornin' like this, surely."

    "Aw shall hoist my flag if it's ten toimes wurr," aw said; tho' aw felt as if aw'd like to retrace.  "He's a poor so'dier ut conno' stond a bit o' weather.  Aw've sit under yo'r edge mony a toime waitin' for thee to coome eaut; an' it's rained like a deggin'-can speaut o th' toime, till mi clooas han bin like a mop."

    Aw yerd a bit of a chuckle under th' blankets; an' ther' coome a voice fro' th' same shop—

    "Get i' bed agen an' dunno' stond shiverin' theere, as if theau didno' know what to do.  Give it up!"

    "Nawe," aw said.  "Aw'll goo an' gether th' eggs, an' festen th' pigeons up; an' get some fleawers for th' hummabees, for they're gettin' clemmed wi' no bein' able to wark.  Aw seed one t'other day wi' a fox-glove fleawer for a wayterproof, but it wouldno' act."

    Then aw donned misel' an' went deawn steears.

    After aw'd lit th' fire, aw kept gooin' to th' window for t' see heaw th' weather wur gooin' on.  It kept mendin' wurr.  Wheere one drop fell before ther' two neaw; an' they kept addin' interest at th' rate of abeaut fifty per cent.

    Aw begun to wish someb'dy 'ud come an' tee me fast to th' loom pawst, so ut they couldno' co me a keaward if aw failed to muster; but th' owd un comin' deawn steears fund me summat else to do.

    Aw cleeant her boots, an' my best shoon, while hoo geet th' breakfast ready; then aw seed th' rain wur slackenin'.

    "Hurray! it'll be fine yet," aw said; an' aw went an' did mi reaunds i'th' garden—to th' hen-cote, pigeon-cote, an' th' bee-hive.  When aw'd done that th' weather clear't up.  "Ther's as mich blue sky neaw as ud mak' a pair o' breeches," aw said, when aw turn't in.  "Get ready, owd crayther, an' let's be off afore th' rain begins agen."

    Th' owd ticket's face looked as breet as a new tin can; an' we splutter't through t' breakfast an' begun to get ready for off.  Onybody ut dons the'rsels in a hurry con never find nowt he wants.  Aw broke a shoe-tee, an' couldno' find another for some time.  Then aw couldno' find th' tickets.  Wheere wur they?  Aw thowt aw had 'em i' mi pocket.  Nawe, noane theere!  Th' cleauds begun to leawer abeaut th' owd rib's face.  "They'rn wheere aw'd put 'em," hoo said.  Aw never could find nowt.  Then hoo bethowt hersel' hoo'd put 'em under th' coffee mill.  That wur one for me.

    Then Jack o' Flunter's wife coome to th' dur, an' said eaur Joe's little lad had swallowed th' rent ut wur kept in a pepper box.  He'd bin conjurin' wi' it.  Th' owd ticket went off middlin' quick, an' gan him a slap, as gron'-mothers will, an' coome hurryin' back.

    "Hast' getten o th' brass theau'll want?" hoo wanted to know.

    "Aye," aw said.

    "Theau's bin i' my drawer, aw reckon?"

    Nowt said.

    "Eh, yon little duleskin! purtendin' to swallow th' rent!  Aw'd flee him for it if aw're his mother; but hoo's soft wi' yon childer.  Art' ready?"

    "Quiet ready," aw said.

    "Let's be off, then.  We're aulus th' last.  See theau festens th' dur gradely.  Aw've a good mind to tak' a biscuit or two wi' me.  Aw hanno' had hauve a breakfast.  Get a hontful eaut o'th' cubbort, Ab."

    Aw geet th' biscuits.

    "Owt ony moore?"

    "Is th' back dur fast?"

    "Aye, aw've seen to that."

    "An' is ther' ony chips on th' oon?"

    "Aye, as mony as ud mak' a bunfoire."

    "Does mi dress hang to' low?"

    "Nawe, its abeaut on a level wi' th' garters."

    "Ger eaut wi' thi!"

    We geet off at last, an' wur on number 7 platform at Victoria Station th' fust ov onybody.  Then th' company begun a-creawdin' in, an' everybody hoped it ud be fine.  Unpromisin' mornin's very oft turn eaut fine days!  Nob'dy had felt a drop o' rain while they'rn on th' road comin', so they'd have a drop o' summat else.  Whiskeyometers wur gooin' up i'th' refreshment shop; then everybody wur sure ov a fine day.

    We mustered abeaut eighty o' booath soarts, an' we nobbut wanted a blink o' sun for t' get th' merriment up to ninety degrees.

    Three saloon carriages were like three skoos when th' teachers han turn't the'r backs, ther sich a racket gooin' on!

    At twenty minutes past nine we shot eaut o'th' station wi' a merry swing, eaur destination bein' Bolton Abbey.

    Everythin' went on weel till we geet fro' under Yetton Park.  Then th' carriage windows had made the'rsels int' jeweller's shops, an' wur fillin' the'r showcases wi' lung eardrops.  It had begun to rain.  Whoa cared so lung as we'rn under cover?  Eaut wi' thoose strawberries an' saucers, let's be dooin' summat.  Whoa cares for readin' or con read, wi' sich a clank gooin' on?

    We geet to Skipton just i' time for what they coen lunch, but aw co it dinner, becose it just onswers as one.  This wur at th' Midland Hotel, close to th' station.  Ther eighty on us deawn at th' table so suddenly ther' met a bin someb'dy firin' at us, an' we dropt on eaur seeats for t' escape th' shot!  An' th' dinner wur wo'th sittin' deawn to, an' we hadno' for t' wait on't, noather.  As soon as one plate wur empty ther another under mi nose.  Th' londlady—a fine un, too, hoo is—wur so attentive an' obligin'—to me—ut th' owd rib geet jealous on her, an' said aw'd bin winkin' at her.  Aw had to mind what aw're dooin' after that.  I' less nur an heaur th' men wur rubbin' the'r waistcuts, an' th' women went up th' steears a-slackenin' the'r stays.

    Then we geet ready for six miles ov a droive to th' Abbey.  It wurno' o ridin'.  Ther some o'th roads wheere we had to walk, an' generally it wur th' hardest.

    Aw shall never forget that droive!  Th' hedges nearly o th' road wur adorned wi' wild roses, like a woman's cap-screen used to be wi' fleawers for th' yearly club day.  This seet made me feel melancholy, for we'n no hedges i' eaur neighbourhood, nowt but wire wi' sharks' teeth in it for t' rent folks' clooas if they conno' see it.

    But aw need no' say heaw mich aw wur reminded o' mi younger days, when aw'd mi honds scrat o'er wi' gettin' blackberries, becose ther blackberry trees then; when we could find bridneezes i' hedges ut had bin white o'er wi' blossom; when we could find feesh i'th' bruck by potterin' under stones.  Neaw we'n nowt but twisted wire i'th' place o' hedges, an' rotten stumps for trees, an' a sink for a bruck.  In another year or two we shanno' be able to yer a throstle sing, becose they conno' build the'r neests on a piece o' wire, so they'n emigrate to somewheere else.  It's a good while sin' aw grappled for a loach or pluck't a blackberry, ther's nowt for childer to do neaw nobbut play wi' a bit ov indyrubber an' go to th' skoo.

    An' we co'en this progress.  Progress!  Ther's no sich thing as progress—it's nobbut change; for as mich as we' getten one way we' losen it in another.  We must ha' grand colours for eaur dresses; but we're desolatin' fields an' gardens t' mak' 'em.  An' this is coed progress!

    We could ha' bin as weel off fifty year sin as we are neaw—aw meean i' bread an' butther—if some folks 'ud alleawed us to be.

    But ther' tyrants i' thoose days, grippin' tyrants ut eaur young chaps neaw-a-days know nowt abeaut, an' couldno' believe if they're shown it.  Ignorant an' clumsy men makkin' big fortins in a year or two ut they couldno' mak' neaw in a lifetime; an' workin'-folk wur no betther nur serfs under thoose tyrants, an' if ther's ony justice to be had hereafter, they'n have a warm shop on't.

    But spakin' o' rural England—pastoral England—domestic England!—so far as Lancashire is concarned, its glory is gone to "Tom Fudge!"  But aw'm gettin' off mi hawse.

    We wur neaw at th' gates, or rayther th' hole i'th' wo' ut led us into th' greaunds belungin' to Bolton Abbey, wheere we're shot at bi little Warwick wi' his concertina gun for takkin' likenesses.

    To get eighty on us to stond like eight-day clocks for just one jiffy, an' others to lie deawn i'th' front, like shepherds, wur a job for him, speshly th' women, ut would keep waggin' the'r bonnets i' time to the'r tongues.

    Bolton Abbey, aw'm towd, wur nobbut a priory, one grade below an' abbey.  Ther's no' mich on't laft beside th' bare walls, an' th' nave ut's used for a chapel.

    At fust it wur built at Embsay, a village abeaut two miles fro' Skipton, by one William de Mechines an' Cecilia his wife.  Thirty year after, owing to a melancholy accident it wur translated to Bolton by the'r dowter, Adeliza, wed to William Fitz-Duncan, nephew o' King David o' Scotland.

    I' what they co'en Bolton Woods, th' river Wharfe's throttled up between two rocks, an' it has to squeeze itsel' through.  This neck is nobbut four feet wide.  Ever sin' owd Ham, or one of his brothers, built the'r huts i' this part, folk wearin' six-an'-a-quarter hats han bin reckless enoogh to jump o'er it.  Some han jumped part road, an' had a good wesh, an' a journey by wayter.  Fro' that they gan it th' name o'th' "Strid."

    That ventursome youngster o' Adeliza's had a dog wi' him in a bant; an' he tried to jump o'er th' "Strid," an' drag th' dog after him.  But th' dog wouldno' goo, so he went part road hissel' dropt to th' bottom, an' wur carried away wi' th' flood.

    This foolish trick wur th' cause of his parents removin' th' priory fro' Embsay to a spot as near wheere th' calamity occurred as they could get.  But aw think th' owd monks had summat to do wi' persuadin' 'em, for they liked bein' i'th' middle o' some rich meadow land, wheere ther some good feeshin' an' good huntin'; an' they'd booath theere.

    Th' front o'th' ruin seems not to ha' lost a stone, but stonds eaut to th' sky as if it wur defyin' time to crumble it to pieces.  After one has stooden lookin' at it, an' wonderin' if wayvers wove to owd Kaye's when it wur built, we'n nobbut to turn reaund to see as fine a sweep o' river as ony Yorkshire-mon con swagger abeaut.

    When Henry Eighth dissolved these religious heauses i' 1540, this Abbey, an' what belunged to it, wur granted to a family fro' which it descended to th' present Duke o' Devonshire.  What a vast tract o' land he owns!

    But th' "Gleenian Club," alias th' "Wobbleton Warblers," wur ready wi' the'r music, an' they filled th' woods wi' the'r harmony.

    This part o'th' programme wouldno' ha' come off if th' weather hadno' bin fine.  But "singin' in the forest glade" has a charm abeaut it we conno' find in a low reawm wi' cross-barred ceilin'.  Ther's no 'bacco smook abeaut it, an' no waiters jinglin' glasses an' whisperin' leaud.

    After this concert wur o'er, an'—nawe, ther' wur no collection,—we beawled off to Skipton agen, merry wi' th' prospect ov a good feed when we geet to th' Midland Hotel, wheere aw knew "ample justice," as newspappers sayn, would be done to what ther' wur on th' table.  Aw knew that by misel'.

    We londed safe, an' groomed eaursels, then felt at eaur waistcuts.  "Slack!" wur th' general report.  Onybody ut's seen a band chap tighten a drum by slippin' leathers o'er th' cords, could have an idea o' what we'rn dooin'.  We'rn slippin' a leather every plateful; an' even Sir John Falstaff wur satisfied.  Th' owd rib wur jealous agen, an' wanted to change me seeats, so ut nob'dy could rub agen me when they passed me.  Aw said hoo'd be in a draught, an' th' thing wur dropt.

    Well, after dinner we'd another "sing," an' didno' th' warblers warble!  Aw thowt aw never yerd 'em pipe betther.  They flung the'r notes eaut as if they intended chuckin' 'em through th' windows, an' lads scramblin' for 'em eautside.  One lady sung, an' wurno' that a startler to thoose ut didno' know her!  Rayther.

    After th' programme wur done wi', we had to hurry to th' station; but th' train wurno' in a hurry, nor it never geet on speed till it laft Bury, wheere it took a good wynt afore it started.  But what o' that?  We'rn merry, an' comforted wi' knowin' we'd eaur "stockin'-menders" wi' us, so ther'd be no rowlin' pins i'th' wrung place when we geet whoam.

    "Eh," th' owd rib said when we'rn

Takin' th' top
Off a bottle o' pop.


    "it wur fine becose aw're theere."


――――♦――――

 
DOIN' LIVERPOOL SWELLS.


AW'D getten misel' nicely peearcht i'th' bar o'th'—Hotel, Douglas, pooin' at th' leg ov a "churchwarden" pipe as comfortably as ever owd Ailse o' Beawkers wur after hoo'd done her wyndin', when a lot o' chaps coome in ut aw could hardly kessun just then, they'rn so quarely donned.  One on 'em had a fustian jacket on ut favvort it had bin made eaut ov a fent, it wur so scant abeaut th' laps.  He'd a white senglet at th' front on him, ut had one pocket weighed deawn wi' a thick brass cheean ut would ha' done for festenin' a towbar gate or a pin-fowt.  I'stead o' havin' a napkin reaund his neck, he'd a little brass button letten into his wyntpipe, an' a bit o' collar festen't to it abeaut th' width o' mi razzor.  A white hat wur kebbed at th' top ov a yead ut wur powed as close as a pavin' stone.  He'd a face under it polished up as smoot as a piece o' red Persian; an' th' stove pipes he wore wur abeaut th' colour ov his hat.  A pair o' spectekles beaut shafts hung fro' a black ribbin reaund his neck, an' these he made do double duty, sometimes stroddlin' his nose, an' at others bein' used as a drumstick, byetin' th' Owd Lad's tattoo upo' th' table.

    T'other chaps wur donned summit like this mon till it coome to th' toppin'.  They'd mooastly nattural curtains hung at the'r chins; an' they'd very quare billycocks, worn in a gallus way, like, as if for t' mak' folk believe they'rn someb'dy ut could afford to look awkward witheaut bein' thowt unmannerly or undacent.

    They'd hardly sit deawn afore they'd the'r pocket-books eaut, an' a lot o' thin papper unrowlt, sich like as they buy'n pigs wi' at Hazelwo'th fair.  What they did that for aw conno' tell, unless they'd getten a habit o' dooin' so when they're i' company wi' great folk; an' they happen took me for a "key" or a "deemster," or th' governor o'th' island hissel'.  But aw soon fund it eaut aw wurno' takken to be one o' these; for when aw thowt aw'd just remind 'em ut it had bin a fine day, as they met ha' forgetten, they jumped as if aw'd trated 'em to a dose o' pellets eaut o'th' owd "Mi-too-ral-oo," an' star't at me like a lot o' throttled earwigs.  When aw seed they'd ha' nowt to do wi' me, aw blew eaut o' cleaud o' reech ut would ha' flown a balloon, an' hutcht int' mi corner, promisin' misel' ut aw'd throw no moore wynt away at 'em, but keep mi own company till bed time.

    Well, they coed for the'r drink, an' they spoke in a whisper o'er it, as if they didno' want me t' yer what it wur, an' be havin' th' same.  When it wur browt in, an' aw seed what it wur, mi ears begun a brunnin' like two yetters.  It wur champagne-pop, like that aw had i' Lunnon, ut Sam Smithies had to pay for.  Aw wish aw're theere neaw, flyin' mi ribbins abeaut Trafalgar Square, an' strokin' th' lions deawn like a showman!

    Aw looked at mi bit o' whiskey, ut favvort bein' as innocent as Manx milk at th' side o' that stuff ut wur fizzin' at t'other side th' reawm, as if they'rn sleckin' lime in it; an' aw couldno' help feelin' to'ard it as one does to'ard a poor relation, when he will mak' us know he's akin.  Aw felt, too, as if aw could like to ha' brusht up a bit ov owd acquaintance, an' getten misel' int' a balloon way agen, if it could be shapt.  Aw expected after th' fust bottle, these chaps would ha' wickent up, like hummabees in a clover fielt, an' bin i' singin' fettle i' no time.  I'stead o' that they plank't the'rsel's at back o' five newspappers, as if they'd never seen one that day before, an' met never have another chance.  One on 'em after turnin' th' papper inside eaut four times, wonder't if th' war had started.  Ther' hadno' bin a blow strucken then, as it happen't; an' neaw ther's mony a theausand, booath French an' Prussians, winno' read this skit ut met ha' read it then, poor lads!  T'other chaps wonder't too, but didno' know, an' aw dar'say they'd said th' same thing a dozen times that day.

    An iday hit me ut if aw just ventur't a word in wi' 'em, an' geet a bit chatty, they met ax me to sup o' the'r "fiz"; so aw said aw thowt th' two armies wur like lads and wenches, ut could like t' spake t' one another, an' to mak' things up for cooartin', but hadno' th' pluck to break th' ice.  If one 'ud hit t'other a bat i'th' chops, an' t'other axt him what it wur for, ther'd happen be a bit of a tussle ut 'ud bring 'em to an understondin'.  But shillyshallyin' at th' edge o'th' wayter like a dog ut's bin taiched to swim upo' th' hearthstone, 'ud leead to nowt.

    They o on 'em put the'r spectekles on, an' looked at me, as if aw'd bin a curiosity, browt eaut o' th' museum, an' put in a glass box for t' be shown through Douglas.  Whether they'rn Manx chaps, an' didno' understood a word aw'd said, becose it wur spokken i' broad Lanky, aw couldno' tell; but chus heaw it wur, they hadno' a word to say back, ut rayther nettled me, as aw're doom' mi talkin' for nowt.  After starin' at me lung enoogh to ha' taen mi pictur, they geet the'rsel's beheend the'r newspappers agen, an' talked to one another, as if they wurno' readin', but held the'r pappers as singers dun the'r music, to ha' summat to play wi'.  One said he thowt th' French 'ud ate th' Garmans up, if they could get enoogh o' Rhine wine for t' wesh 'em deawn wi'.

    "Yo'n find th' clog 'll be upo' t'other foout," aw said, venturin' another shot eaut o' mi corner.  "Th' Garmans 'll be towgher to tackle nur stewed frogs.  That yo'n see!"

    Then th' yeads wur up agen, an' th' spectekles wur across the'r noses in a crack; but they'rn as dumb as if they'd had the'r meauths stitched up, or a hang-lock put on 'em.  After another stare they ducked beheend the'r pappers agen, an' begun o' talkin' amung the'rsel's.  Aw yerd one on 'em sayin'—

    "You may depend upon one thing: Napoleon will be in Berlin before a fortnight's over."

    "He may be i' Berlin," aw said; "but aw'll lay two gills o' fourpenny he never sees whoam agen o' this side Kesmas.  An' if he gets to Berlin he'll ha' to be carted theere, wi' someb'dy takkin' care ut he doesno' use his legs to' free."

    Aw'd no sooner said that nur they o five jumped up, an' went to t'other side o'th' reaum; an' as they passed me they gan me th' yead starin'-beaut ut ever aw had i' mi life; an' they drew the'r noses up at me till they welly touched the'r hats.  Aw could see then ut they wouldno' spake to me, an' ut they didno' thank me for bein' i' the'r company, as if someb'dy had towd 'em aw're nobbut a wayver.

    Aw felt as mad as a wasp in a bottle at this, an' begun o' plannin' summat for t' be straight wi' 'em, an' tak' 'em deawn a peg, beside makkin' 'em t' behave the'rsel's i' company whether they knew heaw or not.  Aw didno' turn o'er mi wits lung afore aw hit on a grand sell, ut aw thowt 'ud do 'em nicely.

    Aw bethowt me aw'd seen th' Governor's pleasure-boat lyin' i'th' basin; an' thus what aw thowt abeaut beside, this kept bein' th' topmost.  Summat this boat had to do wi' mi skame; but what it wur aw couldno' mak' eaut for a while.

    At last it coome to me, like a dream ut's bin buzzin' abeaut mi yead for a week or so, an' couldno' get gradely lodgin's till it wur weel wore eaut.

    Aw jumped up an' darted into th' lobby, wheere aw fund a mon in a white neck-napkin an' black cooat, rootin' amung a lot o' boxes an' bags, as if he'r feeshin' for a lost sarmon.

    "Here, mi reverent friend," aw said, givin' him a tap o'th' shoother, "yo'r just th' mon aw want!"

    He poo'd his yure at me, an' ax'd me what he could do for me.

    "Ther's five summats i'th' bar yonder, ut aw reckon co'en the'rsels gentlemen, but han made a mistake in the'r kessunin'.  Dun yo' know owt abeaut 'em?

    "Cotton brokers from Liverpool," he said.

    "Oh, are they?" aw said.  "Aw thowt they'd happen bin bettin' chaps, or summat o' that soart."

    "Same thing," he said, an' he grinned.

    "Well," aw said, "whatever they are, aw want to have a bit ov a skit wi' 'em, ut'll mak' 'em look chep some day.  An' beside that, aw want yo' to help me t' do it, if yo' con."

    "All right, sir," he said, an' poo'd his yure agen.

    "Here's a bit o' mi best silver plate," aw said, showin' him sixpence ut aw'd takken eaut o' mi pocket, "an' it shall be yo'rs if yo'll do as aw tell yo'."

    "If it's anything I can do, sir, I shall only be too glad, sir," he said.  An' he made a bow till he welly touched mi knees.

    "Th' Governor's pleasure boat's i'th' harbour," aw said.

    "The Gov'nor's yacht, sir—yes, sir."

    "Aye; well, co it what yo'n a mind.  Neaw, my name's Fletcher—think on that."

    "Yes, sir."

    "Yo' come into th' bar in abeaut ten minutes, an' tell me, leaud enoogh for yon chaps to yer, ut th' Governor wants me to have a sail with him i'th' mornin'.  Here's th' sixpence for yo'r trouble; an' yo' con trate yo'r sweetheart wi' it, an' drink mi health when yo' go'n eaut o Sunday."

    "Thank you, sir; I'll see you all right," he said.  An' he pocketed th' sixpence, an' rubbed his honds, as if he could see here gooin' t' have some fun.

    Aw retraced to mi owd quarters after that, an' geet mi pipe to a white yeat, an' order't another cargo o' whisky for t' drink thoose gentlemen's health when aw'd made 'em they'd hate th' seet o' the'rsels i'th' mornin'—a thing ut aw felt sure o' doin'.

    When nine minutes had towd the'rsels off, an' said they'd never come agen, aw felt mi honds begin a tinglin', an' aw swat as ill as if aw'd bin brewin'.  As soon as th' ten minutes wur up th' dur oppent, an' th' white-necked chap coome morrisin' in.  He looked reaund, as if he didno' knew, me, an' wur seechin' someb'dy else.  Eenneaw he said, lookin' at t'other chaps at th' same time, as if he're spakin' to 'em—

    "Mistaw Fletchaw!"

    "That's me," aw said, an' aw bobbed mi yead eaut o'th corner so ut aw could be seen.

    "Beg pawdon," he said.  "His Excellency th' Guv'nor sends his comp'ments, an' says the yacht will be at your service at nine to-morrow.  May be a little later on account of the tide."

    "Aw'll be theere," aw said.  "Give that chap ut's browt word a suvverin', an' choke it on to me.  Yo' con tak' another for yor'sel', an' aw'll owe it yo'."

    He wapped eaut o'th' seet as sudden as a jack-in-a-box, leeavin' me to mak' th' best aw could o' mi sixpenno'th o' honour.

    Th' spectekles wur on agen in a snifter, an' yeads wur bobbin' abeaut one another as if they'd belunged to a jury ut wur gooin' to agree.  Just to start th' gam' ut aw could see wur ripe for playin', aw axt 'em if they knew th' exact minute th' tide 'ud be up i'th' mornin'.  Aw thowt they'd ha' brokken the'r necks wi' bein' i' sich a hurry to onswer me!  But one on 'em had it eaut in a crack an' said he thowt abeaut five minutes past nine.  But if aw wanted to be sure, he'd ring th' bell for a tide table.

    "Oh, never mind," aw said; "mi sarvant 'll know, aw dar'say.  Aw'm obleeged to yo' o'th' same."

    "Would you mind taking a glass of wine with us?" another on 'em said, an' he made a dash at th' bottles as if he're fixin' a set o' nine-pins.

    "Well," aw said "it isno' ut aw care abeaut it; but aw'll just ha' one to obleege yo'."  An' aw lifted mi shanks fro' under th' table an' crossed o'er to theers.

    Aw thowt they'd ha' etten me wick, they made sich ado on me!  Aw'd two glasses o' pop fizzin' i' mi throat afore aw could tak' mi wynt; an' a third wur on th' road as soon as they could teem it eaut.  Aw could ha' bin as drunken as a wisket in abeaut ten minutes if aw hadno' had sense to tak' care o' misel', an' keep mi dignity up.

    They excused the'rsel's bein' so shy at th' fust, becose they hadno' bin introduced to me.  An' they hoped aw should think nowt at it, but put it deawn to a sort of an accident ut couldno' happen agen.  Would "Mistaw Fletchaw" have a cigar?

    "Aw'd rayther keep to mi yard o' clay," aw said, "if it's th' same thing to yo'."

    "Oh, please yourself," they o on 'em said, in a talkin' chorus.

    "Aw never tried nobbut one cigar i' mi life," aw said, "an' aw'd like to ha' bin blown up wi' it; an' it's made me a bit dubious abeaut sich like things."

    "A friendly lark, I suppose," him wi' th' white hat said.  An' he threw hissel' back i' his cheear, an' hooked his thumbs i'th' armholes ov his senglet.

    "It met ha' bin a throstle for owt aw know," aw said "but whatever it wur it shifted a lot o' company away fro' me, an' afore it flussed off, too.  They must ha' sin ut aw couldno' smooke a cigar gradely, an' thowt it wouldno' be safe sittin' o'th' side on me."

    "Does the war affect you much?" one on 'em said, ut 'w co "Smo-beart," becose he'd nobbut abeaut five-an'-twenty yures on his chin; an' they coome to a point, as if they'd bin dipt in a traycle pot.

    "Well, it vexes me," aw said, "for t' see ut folk han no moore sense nur they had when they run wild i'th' woods, beaut clocas, an' lived upo' achurns (acorns) an' raw pig flesh."

    "But I mean does it affect business?"

    "Well," aw said, "as far as my business is concarned, aw hanno' felt mich yet; but a neighbour o' mine is deawn in his dumps."

    "Indeed!  What business is he in?"

    "Th' same as misel'."

    "And how can it affect one without the other?"

    "This road; he's a big family, yo' seen, an' Garman berm (harm) is likely to rise, an' they'n gan o'er brewin' at th' 'Owd Bell.'  It's like a thodden look-eaut for him, he thinks.  So do I."

    They o on 'em set up sich a crack o' laafin' ut aw wondert if they summat wrung wi' me, sich as mi nose bein' sooted, or summat o' that soart, as aw could see no fun i' what aw'd said.

    "Very good, Mister Fletcher, very good!" th' white hat said.  "Take another glass of wine."

    Aw took booath his advice an' th' wine; an' begun o feelin' as if aw didno' care for th' war nor nowt else.  Th' wo'ld an' me wur gettin' on very comfortably t'gether.

    "You expressed an opinion just now," th' white hat said, "that the French army would have the worst of it when the war commenced in earnest.  What is your reason for thinking so?"

    "Th' French han bin fiddlin' an' doancin' to' mich for t' mind the'r feightin'," aw said.  "They'd leeave cannon balls for hoppin' balls if th' war depended on it, an' sell the'r country for a stare at a pratty woman.  Then look heaw they spend the'r Sundays!  While th' Garmans are takkin' it yessily, they're livin' at th' rate ov abeaut sixty mile an heaur, an' frettin' th' skin off the'r teeth ut they conno live at th' rate ov a hundert.  Yo'n see ut when these big Prussian chaps getten howd on 'em they'n stamper up like a prick't bledder.  Barley tae 'll byet frog pie ony time."

    "I'm afraid there's too much truth in what you say," Smo-beart said.  "I've seen a good deal of Paris, and it has often struck me that the people were living a kind of artificial life."

    "Aye," aw said, "an' we're gettin' into the'r ways as fast as we con.  In a year or two it 'll be th' strangest thing i'th' wo'ld for t' see a woman blush, they're gan o'er puttin' the'r honds o'er the'r faces neaw; an' one wouldno' ha' thowt at one time ut we should ever ha' seen that amung th' wives an' dowters ov owd England."

    "Have you travelled much, Mister Fletcher?" th' white hat said, lookin' as if he wanted to know summat.

    "Well, aw've no' bin to Chiny; nor Californy; nor th' Indies," aw said, "an' tho' aw've bin i'th' North Pole trade this lung time, aw've never bin to that shop yet."

    "The North Pole trade!  What's that?" three or four on 'em said in a wynt.

    "Straw hats an' silk stockin's," aw said.  An' aw skenned deawn at mi pipe-yead for t' keep fro' grinnin'.

    "Rather a peculiar trade for that quarter of the globe, Mister Fletcher."

    "It is," aw said.  "Nobody ships noane beside us, an' aw think we're likely to keep th' trade to eaursel's eendways.  But aw'd rayther not talk abeaut business when aw'm eaut pleasurin'."

    "You're right, Mister Fletcher; keep the shop at home."

    "What think you of the Isle of Man, Mister Fletcher?'

    "Middlin' in its way," aw said, tryin' to look as if aw'd seen th' whul would.  "But it isno' Switzerland, nor Italy; an' aw hardly think it comes up to the Rhine, or Killarney.  It's a nice spot for o that."

    "The Governor's a very nice gentleman," the white hat said.  "Very much respected by the islanders."

    "He is," aw said.  "He conno' be to' mich respected."

    "Have you known him long?"

    "Well," aw said, "eaur acquaintance wi' one another begun so nee booath at once ut aw con hardly say which wur th' fust, an' aw've never bin at th' trouble to find eaut th' difference.  Yo'n happen excuse me when aw say ut aw never mention an owd friend o' mine but aw feel as if aw could like to drink his health."

    "Oh, by all means," everybody said; "we'll drink it ourselves.  The health of the Governor!  Hip, hip, hooray!"  So aw made mi escape eaut of a dangerous subject.

    A lot moore pop wur ordert, an' afore we'd getten through it we'rn shakin' honds o'er th' table; an' aw're axt to moore dinners nur aw could ha' etten in a week, an' as mich fiz offer't me as aw could ha' swum in.  Aw must ha' letten slip ut aw'd another name beside Fletcher—heaw it wur done, or when, aw dunno' know—becose th' chaps filled the'r glasses, an' gettin' on the'r feet said:

    "Health to Abe-of-the-Gate!"

    Aw geet on mi stumps an' said th' same, an' drank mi health wi' 'em ut caused some fun afore it wur sattled.  Aw made a bit ov a speech, beginnin' wi' "Most Noble Grand," an' it set 'em agate o' talkin' till they'd speeched o reawnd, an' so daubed me o'er wi' sweet sooap an' honey ut aw could hardly oppen mi een.  They said aw're a "jolly good felly," an' nob'dy could deny it.  It wur a way they had i'th' army, or summat o' that soart.  Aw said aw're preaud aw'd met wi' 'em, an' would remember 'em when aw geet back to Walmsley Fowt; an' th' next cargo o' straw hats an' silk stockin's we shipped to th' North Pole we'd come reaund by Liverpool an' have a spree o'er it.

    Whether aw'd bin talkin' a while wi' mi een shut or not, aw dunno' know; but when aw coome to sit me deawn aw leet thwack i'th' steers, wi' a chap pooin' at mi shoon for t' get 'em off mi feet.  When aw towd him to teem another glass eaut, he said—

    "Gentlemen gone to bed, sir, and the bar's locked."

    "Be hanged to th' bar!" aw said.  "What have aw to do wi' th' bar?  Go deawn i'th' cellar for it!"

    "Can't sir; all locked up, sir.  Want to go to bed, sir."

    "O reet," aw said.  "Away wi' thee.  Aw'll go, too."

    "Do you remember what you promised me?" he said.

    "Nawe; what is it?"

    "A pair of silk stockings and a straw hat."

    "Oh, did aw?  Well, theau'll get 'em when th' ship londs.  Steer mi bark to Erin's isle, neaw.  Good neet, owd craythur! an' gaw bless thi!  See ut aw'm cleared eaut o' this cote afore thoose cotton chaps getten up i'th' mornin', or else aw'st happen see Walmsley Fowt no moore wick.  Good neet! "

    Wi' that aw tumbl't up steears, an' wur soon i'th' arms o' Murphiz, deealin' lessons o' love an' destruction amung folk ut couldno' live quietly an' thankfully upo' this blessed yearth ov eaurs.

    When aw wakent i'th' mornin', an' begun o' thinkin' abeaut what aw'd bin doin' th' neet afore, aw swat as ill as if aw'd stown summat, an' geet ready for flittin' afore they so mony folk stirrin'.  This we managed nicely, an' geet away beaut ony lumber bein' done.  Whether th' Governor's yacht sailed at nine o'clock or not, aw dunno' know.  If it did, it sailed beaut me.  Aw're safely on board th' owd "Tinwil" an heaur afore that time, comfortin' eaur Sal in her bits o' illness, an' wonderin' heaw thoose Liverpool "gentlemen" wur gettin' on.


――――♦――――

 
AT A FASHIONABLE BAZAAR.


"COME on, owd ticket," aw said to eaur Sal one Monday morning, "theau says theau's seen nowt lately nobbut a garden hedge un an' owd gate.  Theau shall see a bit o' France beaut crossin' th' sae!"

    "Heaw con aw do that?" hoo wanted to know.

    "Well," aw said, "they'n sent us a teawn as a sample o'th' country.  If we liken it we con have o'th' job lot at a price.  We're gettin' short o' lond, an' met as weel have a bit o' France as onybody else.  Owd Bismark has had a slice or two put to Germany, wi' feightin' for it; but we con afford to buy what we want."

    "An' wheere are th' French gooin' to live?" th' owd un said, aw dar'say wonderin' heaw this teawn had bin sent o'er.

    "I' China, if th' Chinese 'll let 'em," aw said.  "They're like another nation aw could name, they're never at rest.  But come, theau'd betther get thi duds on, an' let's be gooin'; this is last day but one."

    "Aw con be ready as soon as theau con," an' th' owd lass's appron flew across th' heause as if hoo meant it.

    It wur a race which could be ready th' fust; but through breakin' a shoe-tee th' owd blossom licked me by a minute.  Then off we set.

    When we geet into Oxford Road aw thowt everybody an' his gron'mother wur theere, it wur so creawded.  Talk abeaut owd England bein' done up!  Not while folk con afford to pay a shillin' six times a year to see a hawse race.

    Aw con remember a time when less nur that had to do for a whul day's expenses.  But neaw,—look at th' creawds ut go'en to theaytres, singin' shops, an' bazzars,  An' see heaw they dress!  Done up?  Not yet.

    We paid eaur shillin's, an' th' trumpet sounded.

    "What's that for, Ab?" th' owd ticket said, when th' music 'ad bin throttl't off.

    "They'n seen us come in, an' seaunded welcome," aw said.

    "An' dun they do it for everybody?"

    "Nawe, nobbut sich an' sich; an' we're sich."

    We stood awhile lookin' at th' walls o' this French teawn; an' it struck me ut some on 'em wur th' wrung side eaut.  They'rn showin' th' back o'th' pictur'.  Aw could ha' takken that teawn misel', if aw'd had a good pair o' scithors.

    After we'd looked it o'er, an' seen wheere a stone had bin stitched in wi' a needle an' thread, we moved deawn to'art what they coed th' "Barbicon."

    "What are o these folk starin' at Ab?" th' owd rib said; an' just then aw seed a lot o' chaps ut had "set" us.

    "Aw conno' tell unless it's one of us two," aw said.   "It's thee, aw believe. Theau'rt takken for someb'dy else nur thisel', like theau wur at th' Botanical Gardens."

    An' just as aw're lookin' o'er top of a glass o' whisky, ut someheaw fell i' mi hont at th' "canteen," aw yerd someb'dy say ut stood no' far off us,—

    "I didn't think aristocratic people were so good-looking as they are; and I was led to understand that the Countess was rather a slim person."

    "Well, you see what she's like," aw yerd another say.

    "The nobility are not such bad looking people, after all."

    "Is that the Earl that's got his nose in a glass?" t'other mon said.

    "I suppose it is; he cocks his finger like one."  An' they passed on, suckin' th' knobs o' the'r sticks, an' starin' back at eaur Sal an' me.

    "Coome on, owd crayther; if we stop here another minute we're be takken for a Duke an' a Duchess!"

    We passed through th' gateway o'th' Barbican, an' into th' teawn, wheere we'rn saluted i' military style, an' axt to put in a raffle.

    Hoo're a little she so'dier ut axt me, wi' a red sash on an a natty little cap ut fitted on a "bang" so nicely ut one mit ha' bin made for t'other, as no deaubt it wur.  Hoo geet howd of a button, an' coaxed me, as women will when they wanten summat; an' aw felt bi th' shakin' o' mi arm ut ther a storm brewin'.  So aw towd her aw're feart o' winnin' summat, an' it 'ud be so mich bother gettin' it away.  Aw'd won six payannos i' mi time, an' aw'd no place to put another in.

    Hoo gan me sich an' innocent look, an' turned away.  Aw dar'say hoo'd never yerd a gradely sproanger afore.

    "What wur that little minx after?" eaur Sal wanted to know when t'other had ta'en hersel' away.

    "Hoo wanted to know if her ladyship, meeanin' thee, would like to tak' a stall, as th' countess wur gettin' quite fatigued," aw said.

    Up went th' owd blossom's pecker, an' hoo marched off wi' th' stateliness ov a queen.  But we kept tumblin' o'er so mony o' these women so'diers, ut hoo wanted to know if they no soart else i' France.

    "Nawe," aw said, "th' bulk o'th' men wur kilt i'th' last war, an' what wur laft they'n sent to China.  They'n nowt nobbut women feighters neaw, an' they winno' ha' mony o' thoose if they letten 'em come o'er here.  These'll go noane back, theau'll see."

    "It's come to summat at last," th' owd rib said, after tryin' to swallow what aw'd towd her.  "Women sod'iers!  They'n tried to be men a good while,—wearin' men's clooas, an' drinkin' like men.  They owt t' ha' the'r 'rights,' neaw, an' tak' men's places.  It wur but t'other Sunday aw seed what aw took to be a young chap sittin' i'th' front o' me at church, wi' a hat on like thy bobbin-nudger; an' becose aw axt him heaw he could think at sittin' i'th' church wi' his hat on, he gan me sich a look!—an' pointed to his earrings.  Aw could see then aw'd made a mistake.  If her yure had bin platted at back aw should ha' known th' difference.  But it wur as short as thine."

    After hoo'd deliver't hersel' o' this sarmon, th' owd rib said hoo thowt hoo could do wi' a cup o' coffee, an' hoo'd quite as mich right to it as I had to my whisky.

    Aw thowt same; so took her to th' "Wilton Arms," an' axt for one.  A young lady honded it to me as nicely as if aw'd bin a lord; an' just then a mon tapped me on th' shoother.

    "Don't you put a sovereign down," he said; "if you do you'll get no change."

    "No danger," aw said, as aw forked eaut fourpence.  "Aw collected o th' copper aw could afore aw coome; an' aw've nowt beside.  It's a weight fort' carry, but aw'm no, 'gooin' to part wi' it o."

    "When aw turn't reaund aw fund th' owd ticket i' close confab wi' one o'th' waiters,—th' one ut had sarved her wi' th' coffee.  Aw yerd her sayin'—

    "Aye, aw knew th' owd lady very weel.  Hoo wur a good woman; an' used to go a good deeal amung th' poor.  Aw didno' know th' last Lady Wilton; but they say'n hoo wur a very nice lady.  This present Countess aw expected to see here.  But they say'n hoo's tired eaut, poor thing, an' gone whoam."

    "Abram, thou hasno' paid for th' coffee, an' aw've supped it."

    "Well, aw con pay neaw," aw said.  "Aw dar'say aw'm th' fust mon ut's had strap at this public-heause," an' th' waitress laafed as aw stumpt mi fourpence deawn.

    "Well, good day, Miss!" th' owd rib said, as we coome away.  "Aw should like to ha' seen th' Countess."

    "She served you with coffee!"  An' aw could see a smile vanish as hoo slipt behind th' coffee urn.

    "An' aw've bin talkin' to her o' this time; an' tellin' her mi ailments, like a foo'!  Ab, it's loike a bit o' thy wark; theau'd ha' done th' same," an' th' owd ticket sailed away.

    After this we'd a general stare reaund.  Th' stalls wur one blaze o' colour; an' we'd as mich as we could do to run th' gauntlet i' these women warriors, ut wur bent on sellin' me summat.  Aw fund it wur th' best purtendin' to be deeaf, an' showin' 'em tuppence for an article happen wo'th hauve-a-creawn, an' if they made ony bother, showin' 'em a penny 'ud droive 'em.

    But as th' bazaar wur for a good cause, aw thowt aw owt to do summat for it moore nur aw had done.  So aw looked reaund for t' see what aw could invest in.  Babby clooas wur never offered me.  Aw dar'say thoose ut had 'em could see it wur no use.  They met as weel o' offered me a feedin'-bottle.

    Ther a little wench aw should tak' to be abeaut fifteen,—no moore, at onyrate,—coome up to us wi' a choilt in her arms; an' th' owd rib looked at her as if hoo wur shocked past owt.

    "Is that thine, theau little snicket?" hoo said.

    "Yes; will you buy it?  Cry all night if you'll wind it up.  Doesn't require any milk warming, and never ails anything!"

    Just then it set up a "yah," ut drove eaur Sal into a corner, wonderin' what th' next would be.

    "Theau're properly sowd wi' that, owd crayther!" aw said.  "Theau're gooin' to ha' fitted her ears up wi' a sarmon on forradness if hoo hadno' spoilt it."

    "Well, aw thowt it wur awful, one so young; but aw'm fain it isno' so," an' we went on.

    "Aw'll tell thee what, Sarah," aw said as aw looked reaund, "this licks Walmsley Fowt Bazaar.  If theau'd had a stall here theau'd ha' had summat on it beside a red senglet an' two bobbins o' cotton."

    "It would cost thee moore, too," hoo said, lookin' quite nettled.

    An' just then hoo stopt at a table wi' a twellin' booart on it, like they han at a wakes.

    "Neaw theau's a chance o' dooin' summat," aw said.  "Invest thi money ift' has ony.  Ther's a nice little box theere aw'd like thee t' win.  Put thi penny on it."

    Hoo did so.

    "Neaw twell it a time an' a hauve reaund, an' it'll just win.  Dunno' strike it as if theau're sousin one o'th' childer.  Neaw for it! th' countess is watchin' thi performance."

    Hoo did as aw towd her.  Th' finger swung near reaund an' stopt a-facin' that little box ut aw wanted her to win.  Ther a sheaut set up ut caused everybody's attention, an' th' prize wur borne off i' triumph.  When th' box wur oppent, lo and behold, o ut wur in it wur two bobbins o' cotton!

    "Theigher, owd wench!" aw said, "theau'rt set up neaw for another Walmsley Fowt Bazaar.  Theau nobbut wants a red singlet.  Theau shall have a pair o' red breeches next.  Come on, owd lass!  It's gettin' to' thrung here.  Everybody's followin' us abeaut.  They dunno' see th' Duchess o' Hazelwo'th every day!"

    We'd just a "smile" between us, an' then we coome eaut.  It wur gettin' to' warm for us!


――――♦――――

 
A WEEK AT LLANDUDNO.


THER'S life i'th' owd dog yet,—aw dunno' meean misel', tho' aw'm noane quite ready for havin' a stone festened reaund mi neck, an' flung i' owd Thuston's pit.  Mi garters hanno' yet slipped o'er mi cauves; nor mi yure isno' ready parted i'th' middle when aw get up in a mornin'.  Aw meean to say ther's life i' owd England; an' a good deeal on't is gay life, speshly at this time o'th' year, an' as aw see it thro' mi ancient spectekles.

    Aw thowt a week or two sin' as aw're feedin' th' hens, aw'd as mich right to an eaut as my "boss" had.  He's bin flourishin' abeaut in Ameriky, havin' chowder an' pop wi' mayors an' governors, but forgeet to tak' me wi' him, as he did four year sin'.  But aw con tell him aw'm as fit to be seen in his company as aw wur then; an' quite as able to pay mi share o'th' shot; so he need no' ha' gan me th' cowd side of his shoother, as if aw'd bin what he coes a "bummer."

    Ther's another thing aw con tell him too,—aw've bin abroad as weel as he has, but aw ha' not had as mich rantypowin' as he's had.  An' ther's summat moore aw con tell him ut he conno' boast on, aw took th' owd rib wi' me.  Yer nowt?  Aw've takken her to Llandidnodo; an' as he talks abeaut havin' a "good time," an' that soarto' Yankee nonsense, aw con tell yo' aw've had a good time, an' so has th' owd rib.  Th' owd crayther had picked up some Welsh words; but if hoo hadno' forgetten 'em hoo'd ha' wanted a new set o' teeth, for her tongue has bin fast amung 'em mony a time.  It coome abeaut this road—

    "Aw conno' tell heaw it is," th' owd ticket said one day as hoo wur waftin' her face wi' a newly starched dickey o' mine for t' keep it cool, "but at this time o'th' year ther's aulus a deal o' helpless women.  They're sure to ail summat if they con afford.  If they're poor its no use, so they ail nowt.  An' these soart o' ailments conno' be cured wi' nowt nobbut sae wynt, an' a p'rambilator.  A duck i'th' wayter at Seauthport wur used to be enoogh for 'em, but neaw—"

    "Eaut wi' it at once, for aw con see what theau'rt droivin' at," aw said.

    "Dunno' thee be to' sure o' that," hoo said.  "Theau aulus tak's me up if aw'm sayin' owt abeaut other folk; tho' heaw women 'ud get on if it wurno' for talkin' abeaut one another aw dunno' know!  But as aw're sayin', a dip i'th' wayter at Seauthport wur used to be enoogh for 'em.  But Seauthport geet to be to' nee whoam fort' be gradely sae; so they must goo to Blackpool.  They said it wur betther wayter theere; but aw think it 'ud bother 'em to find eaut wheere it wur divided."

    "Oh, th' owd Ribble draws th' line at Lytham," aw said.  "Theau con see it ramblin' abeaut like a snig when th' tide's eaut."

    "That's as mich as aw met expect eaut o' thee," hoo said, an' then went on wi' her sarmon.  "Folk begun a-gooin' to Blackpool, an' takkin' the'r own tae an' sugar wi' 'em.  But th' nobs mun have hotels, an' the'r names put i'th' papper.  But to' mony women coome theere wi' baskets on the'r arms, so th' big uns flew to Moorcome."

    "Thoose are what they co'en th' Moorcome swallows," aw said, thinkin' to encourage her a bit.

    "Aw know nowt abeaut that," th' owd rib said, an' aw could see mi kindness wur lost on her, "but aw should ha' co'ed 'em saegulls.  Moorcome geet to' throng wi' Yorkshire folk; then they emigrated to th' Isle o' Man.  I' time that wouldno' do; then it wur Scarbro'.  But everybody mustno' goo theere, becose th' big folk wanted it to the'rsel's.  It wur a good place for sellin' the'r dowters, an' havin' son-in-laws wi' big names an' nowt beside.  Thoose ut didno' care for makkin' matches o' that soart, or had no dowters for to be made into foos, begun o' gooin' to Llandidnodo; an' they're gooin' theere yet.  It didno' matter what they ailed, that 'ud cure 'em till they geet whoam agen.  But everybody could goo once, an' that didno' suit thoose ut wanted to be above others.  These han two poorly beauts neaw, or else one lung un, ut 'ud last 'em a month upo' what they co'en th' continent.  Aw feel as if a week among th' one-does 'ud do me good, for mi wynt's a bit plaguey; an' aw keep havin' th' spasms.  What art' grinnin at?"

    "Nowt," aw said.  "Aw towd thee aw could see what theau'r drivin' at, an' theau's just hit th' road.  Theau wants to goo to Llandidnodo!"

    "An' is it to' mich to ax, considerin' th' state ut aw'm in?" hoo wanted to know.  "Becose if it is aw con be as weel as onybody."

    "Not a bit," aw said; "but theau needno' ha' gone so far reaund it.  Art' prepared for th' eaut?"

    "A woman soon con be if it's an eaut hoo likes.  Aw've mi box packed neaw.  Theau'd ha' seen it if theau'd bin at thi loom.  But if aw want to hoide owt th' safest place is i'th' loom-heause."  An' th' owd damsel threw mi dicky upo' th' couch-cheer, an' broke th' foire up, as if hoo'd bin gooin' to droive an express engine.

    "Neaw," hoo said, before hoo went ony furr, "whether would theau rayther have me gruntin' abeaut th' heause, eaut o' temper wi' everythin', or see me wi' a face th' colour of a red mug, tellin' Jack o' Flunter's wife what aw'd seen at th' sae-side?"

    "Get on wi' thi doytchin, owd philosepher!" aw said.  "Th' con's wot, an' th' dough's risen.  Aw con see theau meeans it."

    That sattled things; an' i' two minutes after eaur Sal could hardly get her wynt, hoo wur trottin' abeaut th' heause like a lampleeter, gettin' things ready for off to Llandidnodo.

    Aw're a good while afore aw could get her to face th' sae when we londed at Liverpool.  Hoo'd rayther ha' gone bi th' Ship Canell, hoo said; but when aw towd her th' Ship Canell wurno' made, an' it wur hardly likely they'd tak' it into Wales, hoo made a move deawn th' broo' to th' Londin' stage.

    Ther' wur just a ripple upo' th' wayter, an' that wur o but th' owd messmate hadno' forgetten gooin' to th' Isle o' Man, an' hangin' her yead o'er a great spittoon.  It looked like bein' rough, hoo said; an' if hoo must goo, whether or not, hoo bargained ut aw'd see her teed fast to one o'th' chimdies, so ut hoo wouldno' tumble into th' sae.  Aw promised aw'd see her safely limbered.

    "Dear me, heaw it rocks!" hoo said, as hoo felt her way off th' plank an' onto th' ship.  "Aw shall be deawn if aw hanno' summat to stick to."

    "Stick to thi bag then!" aw said; so hoo geet howd of her piece of o' owd carpet; an' hoo walked as steady as a tight-rope doancer.

    "Eh, an' are yo' here?" th' owd ticket wur sayin' to one an' another afore hoo offered to sit deawn.  "Heawever dar yo' tak' that choilt wi' yo' o'er th' sae, when yo' know ut th' ships nobbut made o' wood an' guided by a mon's honds?  That little crayther met happen t' be dreawnt as not; an' heawever would yo' feel after it?"

    "Aw shouldno' be so far off it if it wur dreawnt," aw yerd a woman say, "so aw shouldno' fret above ten minutes."

    "Are yo' gooin' to Llandidnodo?" eaur Sal said to another woman ut wur thwitin at a loaf abeaut th' size an' shape of a dobbin-rowler.

    "Nawe, we're gooin' to Blue Morris," th' woman said.

    "Eh, then we'n getten upo' th' wrung ship.  Just like him!  He never con goo reet if he's a chance o' gooin' wrung.  Aw'm fain yo' spoke afore th' ship started."  An' th' owd fidget flustered abeaut like a hen ut's knocked one of her chickens into th' mop-hole.

    "Th' ship has started, Sarah," th' woman said.  "Conno' yo' see ut we're gooin' past New Brighton, neaw?"

    "Well it's like to be as it is then," th' owd un said an' hoo dropt like summat heavy on a form.  "Th' next time aw goo onywheere aw'll goo bi misel'.  Aw conno' trust to him after this.  Ther's nowt for it nobbut gooin' to Blue Morris too."

    "Yo'n no 'casion to go to Blue Morris beaut yo'n a mind," th' woman said.  "Yo' con get off at Llandidnodo for th' ship stops theere."

    That satisfied th' owd crayther, an' aw'd no moore bother.

    We londed safely at Llandidnodo; an' went eaut on a hunt for what we could find.

    What a creawd o' folk they' wur!  An' th' different soarts o' dresses an' bonnets we met wi' wur enoogh to mak' th' mother of hauve-a-dozen goo crazy!

    "What are these chaps we see knockin' abeaut everywheere?" aw said to a mon ut wur sittin' upo' one o' thoose hard seeats i'th' front o'th' George Hotel.  Th' chaps aw meant wur a lot o' youngsters wi' coloured caps ut they wore at th' back o' the'r yeads; an' they'd striped jackets, an' flannel treawsers; an' they aulus looked in a hurry, as if someb'dy wur after 'em.  "They areno' white niggers, are they?"

    "No," th' mon said, "there's something more sad about them.  They belong to the Asylum for Idiots at Taly-come-double-me-up!  They're let out for their holidays."

    "Dear a me!  Whoa'd ha' thowt it?" aw said, feelin' pity for 'em.  "Aw reckon they're of a quiet soart."

    "They wouldn't have been let out if they were dangerous," th' mon said.  "Some people, out of mistaken kindness and pity for them, have given them drink; and this causes them to fancy they are Indians of the 'Dude' tribe; an' they go about with yells and war-whoops, but don't do any harm."

    "Poor things!" aw said, "the'r mothers must ha' had a deeal o' trouble wi' 'em i' the'r bringin' up.  Dun yo' think aw should insult him if aw offered one on 'em a penny?"

    "They're not allowed to receive money," th' mon said.  "You might give them tobacco; they're fond o smoking."

    "Aw dunno' happen to ha' ony 'bacco abeaut me just neaw, or else aw'd ha' gan 'em a bit," aw said; an' aw did feel sorry for th' yung chaps, becose they're somebody's childer.  "It's very good o' the'r keepers lettin' 'em eaut this fine weather.  Will they goo back to the'r whoam witheaut bein' focht?"

    "Some will: but others they're afraid of," th' mon said.  "But you will find they've all got one pattern of shoe sole; so wherever they go they can be traced.  You've seen their footprints, no doubt."

    "Well aw've not bin here so lung, so aw've seen little or nowt yet; but aw have seen some queer shaps i' yond street as aw coome up.  Aw thowt they'd happen bin made wi' nannygoats, so aw took no furr notice on 'em."

    "Why, can't you tell the difference between a man's footprint and a goat's footprint?" th' mon said, an' aw thowt he looked rayther queer at me.

    "Not when th' goats are shod!" aw said.

    Whether he'd bin sittin' on summat ut had a neest somewheere abeaut aw couldno' say; but th' mon jumped up as if a hummabee had bin i'th' bizness, an' off he went, leeavin' me an' th' owd rib starin' at one another, an' wonderin' whether it wur some sooart of a sae-side performance.

    "Heaw mich hast' gan him?" eaur Sal wanted to know, after th' mon had gone.

    "Aw gan him nowt," aw said, "why dost' ax?"

    "Aw thowt everybody collected at th' sae-side!" hoo said.

    That woman'll be a philosopher yet if hoo doesno' mind!

    After that we'd a strowl as far as th' Happy Valley, stoppin' on th' road to hearken a blynt chap play a Welsh harp.  Aw reckon it wur Welsh, tho' it 'ud play booath English, Irish an' Scotch tunes.  Eaur Sal gan him a penny fort' play th' Owd Hundert; an' aw made th' fund into threepence for him t' play 'Johnny Morgan.'  Then th' mon axt me if aw'd look after his machine while he went an' had twopennorth o' bread an' cheese.

    Th' owd rib an' me did th' watchin' bizness to th' men's satisfaction an' he thank't us.  But while he're away two owd women stopt lookin' at th' harp, an' they examined it as if it had bin a new bonnet, or a new babby.  When they'd looked reaund an' reaund, one said to t'other:

    "Wheere's th' hondle?"

    "Ab," eaur Sal said, as we went away, "ther's sleepier places nur Walmsley Fowt."

    Aw dunno' know a prattier seet, unless it be childer reaund a table, nur th' Happy Valley is ov a fine day!  To see yung folk—aye, an' owd uns too—kebbed on th' rocks o reaund—the'r mony-coloured dresses lookin' like fleawers growin' eaut o'th' nicks, an' spreadin' o'er th' sides, gives a charm to th' place ut nowt else could.  It's like a Belle Vue foireworks witheaut foire!  If ther' wur wooden seats for 'em to sit on i'stead o'th' rocks th' seet wouldno' be hauve as nice.  It 'ud look artificial, an' as we seen it neaw it looks nattural.  Aw fixed th' owd ticket on one hard grey knob, while aw took a lower stone misel', an' as aw laid mi owd bobbin-nudger agen wheere th' babbies used to lie i' the'r turns, while they'rn bein' sung to, aw felt as if we're no little part ov a grand pictur'.  I'th' middle o' this great circus ther a lot o' niggers—made niggers, sich as putten the'r yeads i'th chimdy for t' blacken the'r faces, an' han the'r clooas made eaut o' owd bed curtains.  These wur singin', an' chatterin', an' marlocking i' sich fun ut aw felt summat eautside o' my hat jowtin' away as if mi pillow had bin a steeam engine.  Aw laafed, becose aw couldno' help it.  Th' fun wur catchin', aw think.  What they'rn talkin' abeaut aw couldno' yer, nobbut neaw an' then a bit; but thoose ut could yer o kept gooin' off i' sheautin' fits.  Some ud want new stays!

    When th' darkies had finished the'r performance, an' piked up the'r traps, they left th' ring to someb'dy else.  Th' owd rib said hoo thowt they'd forgetter to go reaund wi' th' hat.

    "If they'n neglected to do that part o'th' job," aw said, "theau may depend on't afore th' next time they come upo' th' clod ther'll be noane to be seen.  Th' sae 'll ha' covered it.  Forget to collect!  Wheay, th' hat's bin gooin' reaund o'th' time."

    "But they hanno' bin up here," hoo said.

    "Nawe," aw said; "aw took care to get on too hee a peearch for 'em.  It would be wark climbin' up to here, an' they hanno' getten wings yet.  Ther's a lot cumin' neaw ut known what collections are as weel as niggers.

    These wur "missions" o' some soart; self-ordained, aw reckon, they mooastly are; an' aw couldno' held thinkin' they're a bit eaut o' place theere, an' at that time.  Heaw could they expect folk to feel serious an' thowtful after rippin' buttons off an' crackin' stay laces wi' laafin?  Heawever, they sung but th' singin' wurno' very grand o' bein' a good deeal mixed, an' slattery.  Then ther wur a discoorse; but rayly-o-me! heawever folk con hearken to a mon tellin' heaw bad he's bin in his time, an' heaw good he's bin made to be ov a sudden, tak's a spoke eaut o' my wheel!  Aw wouldno' like to trust sich a mon wi' a thirteen carat temptation.

    "Ab," eaur Sal said, after hoo'd hearkened a while, "theau'd mak' a rare good missionary!"

    "What are my partikilar qualifications?" aw wanted to know, becose it wur a strange sayin' on her part.

    "Theau could tell 'em a lot they dunno' know!" th' owd skoomissis said.

    "Good or bad?" aw axt.

    "Bad an' foolish," wur th' onswer.  "But moore foolish nur bad.  Theau couldno' tell 'em theau used to feight every Setturday neet; nor ut theau used to spend o thi brass i'stead o' bringin' it whoam.  Nor theau couldno' say ut theau'd ever made me a pair o' black een.  But theau could tell 'em enough for o that.  Theau could tell 'em heaw theau's stuffed me up wi' o soarts o' lies—abeaut tellin' me theau're gooin' to a co-op. meetin' when theau's gone straight to th' "Owd Bell!"; abeaut gooin' to someb'dy's buryin' when theau's gone to a race; an' abeaut bein' seen at Belle Vue when theau's towd me theau're gooin' to th' Free Trade Hall!"

    "Aye, an' abeaut gooin' to th' church once too oft!" aw said, thinkin' aw'd put her one in.

    "Th' best day's wark ever theau did i' thi life, Abram," th' owd gell spluttered eaut; an' hoo gar mi arm a pluck ut welly dragged me off mi peearch.  "If it hadno' bin for me, theau'd ha' bin gooin' abeaut neaw as ragg'd as owd Thuston's jackass, an' very quiet abeaut thi feet.  Theau'd never ha' seen Llandidnodo, unless Sam Smithies had browt thi; not thee, indeed!"

    "Softly, Sarah," aw said, "just lay it on wi' a thin brush.  Dunne' rub it in as if theau're sautin bacon.  Theau wouldno' like onybody else to do it."

    "Nawe, if they did they'd feel my nails.  Aw may do it misel', like threshin' one's own childer.  But nob'dy else mun while aw've a tongue i' mi yead, or ten commandments at th' end o' mi fingers."

    This wur th' last puff o'th' matrimonial breeze.  We creapt deawn fro' eaur dizzy heights, like two childer scramblin' deawn a backin' an' th' same side th' fust, an' thinkin' it wur time aw'd a whiff o' 'bacco, we played for a wooden seeat an' a level floor.

    It wur th' childer's heaur.  Th' bathin' vans had bin drawn up to the'r stablin'; an' bathin' women wur fillin' the'r lines wi' clooas for t' dry.  Th' beach wur scattered o'er wi' little hummabees workin' wi' spades an' buckets, an' buildin' castles ut th' next tide would level, like mony a one aw've built misel'.  Some wur paddlin' i'th' wayter, an' others sailin' little ships ut a ripple would dash upo' th' shore, like bigger waves done bigger ships.  We'd a sae life on a little scale; an' it browt to mind th' sun an' shadow ov a life wheere real dangers are felt, an' th' wrecks ar'no' childer's playthings.

    Eaut as far as th' e'e con raich ther's a trail o' black reech bein' laft beheend a vessel ut's gettin' whoam.  Every face on that ship's neaw turned to'ard Liverpool; an' happen faces at Liverpool are turned to'ard th' ship.  Summat tells me ther'll be joyful hearts meetin' to-neet, an' merry songs 'll be sung.  An' neaw—

    "Theau pays moore attention to that pipe nur theau does to me," aw yerd someb'dy say ut aw'd quite forgetten wur sittin' bi mi side.

    "Eh, owd crayther, art theau here?" aw said, comin' eaut o' mi dreeam ov a sudden.

    "Aye, an' aw've bin watchin' thee ten minutes pooin' as writhen a face as ever aw seed at a grinnin' match," hoo said.  "Ab, thy index, as theau coes it, never wur shaped for a short pipe.  If theau seed it when theau'rt givin' a good poo, theau'd oather break pipe or thi face!  Throw it away, an' be a mon; ony lad con have a short pipe."

    "Aw would if aw'd a cigar," aw said.  "Aw've nobbut another charge laft, an' it's a little un."

    Th' owd ticket uncovered her bout an' showed me a papper wi' five cigars laft in it, o sizes an' colours an' shapes they wur, an' aw dar'say different prices.

    "Here," hoo said, "these are what aw've fund i' thi pockets when theau's bin amung big folk, an' aw think they're as good neaw as they wur when they'rn new made, for aw've takken great care on 'em for t' keep 'em fro' gooin' to' dry.  Neaw then, theau con look like a gentleman."

    If smookin' a cigar ut spread itsel' eaut like a besom when th' bands are cut made me look like a gentleman, aw're a tip-top swell in abeaut two minutes.  Happen it had bin i' mi pocket for weeks, mixed wi' other things, sich as clewkin, two-inch nails, an' a window screw.  Mi foire seemed to travel abeaut fro' one lappin' to another, an' runnin' up one side, as if it wanted a short cut to mi nose.  Aw threw it deawn when it begun a makkin' mi fingers feel a bit uncomfortable' an' tried another.  Th' second wur no betther, becose it had bin brokken i'th' middle, an' th' owd ticket had gummed it t'gether wi' some stamp edgin.  My stock o' cigars wur a failure, an' as aw'd thrown mi pipe away mi smookin' had to come to an untimely end.

    "Wo'ldly pleasures, theau sees, Ab, ar'no' wo'th mich, an' dunno' last lung," th' owd rib said in her moralism' way.

    "Nawe, not when they come to' late," aw said.  "But if aw'd had thoose cigars sooner, they'd ha' bin wo'th moore, an' would ha' lasted lunger."

    "Aye, just like owd chaps tryin' to be young," th' owd praicher said.  "When they are young, an' straight, an' weel knit t'gether, they dunno' crumble an' fly i' pieces, when they come to a tussle; but let 'em be put i'th' wold's pocket, an' forgetten for a lot o' years, they're like thoose cigars,—pilthert i' the'r skins an' brokken i' the'r back, till they're fit for nowt, nobbut bein' thrown away as so mich lumber.  Shouldno' aw mak' a rare good pa'son, Ab?"

    "Aye, theau would; but theau'd not ha' mony owd folk for thi congregation, noather," aw said, "they'd ha' to be young uns.  But it's time we shifted fro' here.  Aw'm gettin' peckish."

    "What, after so mich dinner as theau put eaut o' seet?  Bless thy twist!" an' th' owd un gethered her humbrell up, an' we shuttert deawn th' foot-road to wheere th' owd harper sit twangin' his bandin'.

    We booath on us agreed ut we'rn gettin' a bit tired, an' didno' care for gooin' eaut agen after baggin', but stop in, an' look eaut at th' window to watch folk go past, an' tak' care we'rn seen eaursels.  This is quite as mich as some folk dun, if they're good-lookin', or if they thinken they are.  But th' day after— excelsior! we'd put a creawn on owd Snowdon's toppin.  If it hit.

    When aw wakkent th' mornin' after, aw're bi misel'; th' owd un had slipped me for summat or other, an' hoo didno' turn up agen till it wur eggs an' bacon time.  Aw tumbled mi clooas on, an' went a seeching her bi th' saeside.

    As aw wandert abeaut th' bathin' vans, watchin' women splash one another, an' do things ut made mi ears brun, aw seed someb'dy walkin' i'th' front on me ut aw thowt aw knew up to th' shoothers.  But as her yure hung deawn her back like keaw tails, an' blew abeaut i'th' wynt, aw couldno' find eaut whoa th' yead belunged to.  Aw made bowd for t' look her i'th' face when aw geet past, an' theere it wur—yigh, it wur—my owd mermaid, just thrown her feesh skin off, an' come'n eaut o'th' sae!

    "Has theau bin bathin'?" aw axt her, when aw'd clear't mi throat.

    "Aye, an' why not?" hoo said.

    "Dostno' know ut it's dangerous gooin' i'th' wayter before they'n tasted o' summat?" aw said.

    "Well, dose think aw dunno' know wheere to get it as weel as thee, Abram?" hoo snapt.

    "Oh!" aw said.

    "Theau may depend on't, Ab, if a woman wants it hoo con get it an' nob'dy know.  But aw nobbut wanted to freeten thi.  Aw've had nowt, not I, nobbut that sope ut wur at botthom o'th' bottle.  Aw hanno' begun o' bein' sly yet."

    "But theau should ha' had thi breakfast afore bathin' that wur what aw meant," aw said.

    "Well, sithi, Ab, aw wanted to bathe while th' wayter wur fresh an' cleean; not when everybody had bin in it an' laft the'r dirt beheend 'em.  Whoa knows but they may ail summat ut's catchin', happen th' koller, as it's knockin' abeaut i' other countries?

    That's th' way hoo sattled me.

    After we'd swallowed some eggs, an' th' part ov a pig, we sallied eaut for t' do great things.  We took th' train to Llandidnodo Junction.  Fro' theere we crossed o'er th' hanging bridge into Conway.  As eaur Sal had never bin inside th' castle hoo'd ha' threepenn'oth, an' aw must pay.  Aw thowt hoo'd ha' moandert abeaut i'th' owd buildin' o day, as hoo likes seein' ruins an' pluckin' ivy leeaves.  Aw ha' no ivy groom' reaund me, or else hoo'd be pluckin' my leeaves, aw reckon!  Hoo could write po'try, hoo thinks, if aw'd find her jingling words.  Heaw narrowly aw've escaped havin' a "blue-stockin" for a wife!

    Ha, Conway Castle! theau could tell us summat if theau'd words an' a memory—summat abeaut kings an' queens, an' aitin' an' drinkin', an' feightin', for ther little ov owt else done six hundert year sin'.  Ther no chep trips then; an' nob'dy wanted to poo thee i' pieces for t' tak' whoam wi' 'em.  What a change!  But we hadno' seen a nannygoat yet.

    As it wur a good stretch for t' walk to owd Pen, we'd leeave that for another day.  Snowdon would keep, too.  He'd no' be partikilar abeaut havin' his creawn for a day or two.  Then it wur so wot, we trickled back o'er th' bridge; an' gettin' sit deawn in a nice parlour at th' "Ferry Farm," we agreed ut makkin' a toil ov a pleasure wur quite as bad as workin' for nowt, an' pay-in' double for owt we had.  We sattled deawn comfortably.  Folk con when the'r limbs are gettin' stiff, an' the'r pulse gooin' as slow as if th' bruck wur empty.  It's a quiet snuggery is th' "Ferry Farm."  Aw've had mony a jolly neet theere, wi' mi back agen some owd oak, an' a winter's foire has made a summer i'th chimdy.

    Th' day after we did manage to get as far as owd Pen an' when aw pointed to th' top, an' said Snowdon wur twice th' height, hoo gan up th' idea o' ever creawnin' it.  Aw'd gan that up afore her!  Th' legs are gettin' too owd for th' job.  Th' owd pilgrim said hoo thowt th' top 'th' Yead would be as hee as ever hoo should get i' this wo'ld.  Hoo wurno' like some women ut wanted to be so hee ut nob'dy could touch 'em, an' have a carriage on th' top.  Hoo're humble, an' could do wi' a peearch i'th' Happy Valley, wheere hoo could watch th' niggers an' feed eaut ov a papper bag.  So hoo spent mooest ov her time theere, while aw went to teetotal meetins, an' watched th' performin' brids an' Punch.  Hoo says th' sunset as seen fro' wheere hoo sit is like what th' sunset o' life owt be—a quiet twileet, shadin' fro' rosy to blue, an' endin' glory.  Th' owd crayther's summat in her!

    Neaw hoo's tellin' Jack o' Flunter's wife what grand things hoo's seen i' Wales.  Hoo's sure they couldno' see moore in Ameriky.  But ther one thing hoo'd missed.  After spendin' a whul week amung th' nannygoats hoo'd never seen a sengle one.  A chap had towd her they used 'em for cartin' slates.  Hoo'd ha' seen lots if hoo'd gone to th' quarries.  Hoo's determined hoo'll see 'em sometime.


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