The Chronicles of Waverlow (I.)
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CHRONICLES OF WAVERLOW.


THE HUNTSMAN'S FUNERAL.


"OLD COLLEY" was dead! and the evening knell came mournfully upon the ear as the twilight deepened.  Old Colley was dead, and his remains were to be interred on the morrow in the graveyard of the little church that looked from its pine-surrounded eminence over Waverlow, and great were the preparations for an event which concerned the whole village.

    "The deceased was much and deservedly respected by all who knew him."  So his tombstone records, and as everybody, not only in Waverlow, but in the adjoining hamlets, would think themselves privileged to attend the funeral, it became a difficult matter to determine who should or who should not be invited.  It was at length agreed upon by the relatives assembled, that a general house-to-house "laithin" [1] should be given out; and, accordingly, people were appointed to go round the village and give verbal invitations to all who might be regarded as eligible to attend a funeral.  It used to be considered a great privilege to be selected "as a fit and proper person" to go on this errand, as a "pot'll o' drink" was always expected of the "better eend o' folk," and it was nothing out of the way if these parties, towards the finish of their rounds, got rather irregular in their visits, or oblivious of their duties.  "Yo'r laitht to th' buryin o' So-and-so, tomorrow at one o'clock," might be pronounced with very distinct articulation at the commencement of the round, but the utterance would have a tendency to thicken as the visiting progressed, especially if it happened to be near a pastime, when everybody reckoned to "brew."  Then it would be a matter of the greatest difficulty to get through the work, or perform it without scandalising the business by a not over-sedate exercise of the lungs at some public-house, if the landlord's name happened to be on the invitation list, and he was liberal with his hospitality.

    On this occasion there were two visitors appointed to each of the three districts embracing Waverlow, Hazelworth, and Langleyside.  The districts were again subdivided and each man went his round alone.  The bell had ceased tolling long before the "laithin" was completed, and when the parties broke up at the "Wheel and Barrels," which they agreed should be their rendezvous at the finish, my informant says—"th' floor wur slat o'er same as if it had bin th' weshin day."

    Those who have taken part in a "gradely Lancashire buryin" (funeral), and know the shifts to which some of the people attending have been put to get decent or suitable clothes for the purpose, will have some idea of the difficulties to be encountered on an occasion that was looked upon as out of the common way—when everybody meant or wished to be present.  He would be deemed a wealthy person who possessed two suits of good "Sunday going" clothes; and as there were many who could not boast of one whole or even part of a suit, the exigency had to be met when it came by borrowing, wherever a tolerable fit of the particular garment required could be obtained.  Some would not care for either the fit or fashion of the thing borrowed, if its texture was orthodox, and if it could be made capable of admitting legs, arms, or body, by any means short of re-tailoring.  Indeed, the latter class of people did not care for misfits at all, and would don a broad-lapped "swinger" or a swallow-tailed coat with equal indifference, and would not be over particular whether their calves were displayed through a pair of broad-ribboned "smalls," or hidden betwixt the seams of the more modern "stove pipes" (trousers).  The women were even more easily accommodated.  If they could muster a good cloak of any colour ― scarlet or crimson preferred — a black bonnet of any shape, from the old "coal box" to the degenerate thing which latter times had introduced, they were "good buryin folk," and few there were who did not possess one or more of these essentials to a decent appearance behind a corpse.  If they lacked anything, they had recourse to the same expedient as the men—borrowing—and the principle was no more made of by either borrower or lender than wishing each other "good morning,'' or asking "how are yo'?"

    Judging from these preparations and the shifts attending them, it were easy to conclude that a funeral was regarded in the light of no ordinary occurrence, as it would generally involve the cessation of work on the part of sixty or a hundred people for the greatest portion of a day, to say nothing about the time lost on the preceding evening, in hunting up and fitting on clothes, gossiping, and the like.  Then the starting of the procession, the hundreds of women who must look on, and the comments they make upon everybody's appearance; the wonder where So-and-so got his coat from, the collar of which fits behind his head like a Dutch oven; the marvel that somebody else's cloak looks so fresh after being borrowed by the whole parish on similar occasions during the last fifty years; the remarks, too, that are to be made on the other body who, probably, stands in nothing of his own besides his garters, are matters as much looked for as anything connected with the funeral, and a stranger must not think the affair less serious or less becoming on that account.

    But old Colley was dead.  His remains were to be buried with unusual pomp, and the funeral was to be attended with unusual numbers; so the affair made great stir in Waverlow, both on the day of interment and the evening before.

    The deceased had been a great sportsman in his time not after the modern fashion, carrying a gun over a preserve or following a pack of hounds just for the sake of a few leaps on horseback, but a Nimrod of the primitive school, who reckoned not the loss of either time or ease as a sacrifice, but would have hunted day and night in a swampy clough with only a couple of dogs, his spade and jumping staff as his accessories.  No one ever suspected him of poaching, for the game he most loved to hunt were "foumarts" (polecats), and otters, and many a living trophy had he borne home, both when pursuing his sport singly, and in company.  He caught cold the last time he was out, that threw him into a fever, of which he died.

    On the night before the funeral, which happened in that season when it is remarked that days are getting shorter, there was an unusual banging of doors in Waverlow, caused by people popping in and out of each other's houses on borrowing business.  Some would go round the village before they could get a hat to fit them, that article of dress being generally the most difficult to adapt to the borrower's wear.  A dwarfish person who had met with a good coat that unfortunately would have fitted a giant, tried to exchange it for a shorter, but, being of stout body, could not find one that would allow his arms to lie in their proper places; so, after wasting a couple of hours in a fruitless search for an eligible substitute, he made up his mind to do the best he could with the one he had got, and risk annihilation by wearing it.  This he resolved to do, notwithstanding that a tall, lean fellow, who was to perform an important part at the funeral, and who had obtained a coat that fitted him in the circumference, but was about half a yard too short, tried to persuade him that an exchange would be all the better, as his little neighbour might, at a pinch, walk with his hands behind him; and, for himself, the overlapping caused by the extra dimensions of the other's coat, would be obviated by an additional waistcoat  or two being worn under; and thus both would be mutually accommodated.  The little fellow would not, however, hear of the proposal, so both went in for martyrdom, after each other's peculiar fashion of it.  Others of the neighbours might be seen running about with a newly-ironed shirt front or "dicky" — the strings flying like streamers in the wind.  Others were wondering how a loose collar — that had been made by an aspiring seamstress after a pattern not to be found in any shop window — could be fastened to a shirt whose own collar, to use the wearer's phrase, was "gettin into th' ragmon's honds."  One fellow was observed tinkering up a hat by means of a heated poker and a dressing brush, giving it the appearance of having been japanned, after getting wofully dinged in the process.  Another was engaged in blackening the lining of a pair of trousers, just opposite to where an awkward hole had been made in the outer cloth, and which could not be conveniently patched.  A third was taking in the skirts of a coat that were too long, by turning the ends inside, giving him the appearance, when he tried it on, of a game cock with its tail cut.  All were busy in general preparation until bedtime, when the village settled into its wonted quietude.

    The morn arrived, and with it a few hunting friends who had come from a distance.  These quartered themselves at the "Wheel and Barrels," where they sat talking over old times, and telling stories of hunting adventures till the time drew near for the funeral to start.  They had called to have a last look at their former companion — shook his cold hand, a custom with the dead in villages like Waverlow, and they were now smoking and drinking down feelings which, in spite of their rough nature, would otherwise have got the better of them.  Five houses, of which the one where the deceased lay formed the centre, were set out in "buryin" fashion; each whitewashed and cleaned throughout, and each filled with chairs borrowed from the neighbours round to accommodate with seats those who were invited to attend.  Many a family had, in consequence of these arrangements, to stand at the table while they ate their dinners, but such inconveniences were never regarded as of any moment by those who were accustomed to them.  A table stood in the centre of each houseplace, upon which were placed a couple of brass candlesticks, ornamented with paper cut in various devices, a tray heaped up with tobacco, and a sheaf of new pipes.  A pair of large pitchers ― one of them distinguished by a ring of lemon peel linked in the handle — stood on another table at the head of the house.  These were to serve round the "warm and cold," a customary libation over a funeral in Waverlow.  In the middle house, where the corpse lay, an additional table stood at the door.  This bore a tray laden with sprigs of rosemary, one of which was to be served to each guest, and afterwards deposited on the coffin when laid in the grave.

    The bereaved family had just concluded an early dinner, and were siding the remnants, when they were startled by a loud "tally-ho!" given in a thoroughly huntsmanlike manner at the door; and before they could recover from their surprise, the tall, wiry form of "Long Yeb," accompanied by his dog, "Sounder," appeared at the corner of the "speer."

    "Yo' munno' think nowt about me givin th' music at th' dur," said the visitor, by way of apology for the noise he had been making, "th' owd lad ordert me afore he deed for t' be here th' fust, an' sound th' keynote for a muster; an' yo'n had it as loud as me owd ballispipe ud give it."

    He then seized a chair which stood near the door, and motioning his dog to sit beside it, dropped with a loud grunt upon the seat.

    "I reckon I'st ha' t' sarve, if things are t' be as they'rn ordert," he said; and he took stock of the jugs which stood on the long table, concluding his inspection with a smack of approval.

    "Ay, ay, Yeb," said the old dame, relict of the deceased huntsman; "thou'rt likker than anybody else, for I think thou'rt th' owd'st companion our felly had.  Wilt goo up th' stairs an' look at him?"

    This invitation is usually extended to all who attend a funeral, but more pressingly given to particular friends.

    "Well, I'st belike t' just stroke him down a bit," and Yeb stumbled upstairs and placed himself by the bedside where the remains of his old comrade lay within their modest oaken coffin ― his hunting whip lying close to the hand which could no longer wield it.

    "Owd lad," said Yeb, taking hold of the cold hand, and gazing very earnestly at the shrunken features of his friend, "we'n flooded mony a otter hole, and smoort mony a tough owd dog of a foumart out of his kennel in our time, but thou's lippn thy last bruck, an' delvt thy last clod, beaut ther's varmint i'th' tother country, an' good dogs an' huntin ground.  Well; ta-ta, an' bless thee, Jammie!"

    The visitor thus took leave of the dead; and as he descended the stairs it might have been observed that his eyes were more moist than they were when he went up.

    The "cold" pitcher for the men, as they invariably arrived before the women, was then filled with "home-brewed;" the door was set open, the tablecloths were smoothed down, and Long Yeb took his place as "sarver" to the guests.

    The next arrivals were the friends from the "Wheel and Barrels," who looked rather "toddyish" from the quantity of "smo' weft" they had imbibed, and soon the house was filled with smoke from their well-plied pipes.  The next comer was "Little Sam," the short, thick-set person before mentioned; and notwithstanding that he was about the most comical sight that could have been met with in Waverlow, nobody laughed at his appearance.  Yeb did just hint at the ownership of the coat Sam wore, by observing, as the latter crossed the floor, "Sam, just lift his cooat laps up, or thou'll have 'em dagged i'th' sond."

    "Someb'dy's cooat 'll no' be dagged beaut thou tumbles in it," Sam retorted, alluding to the other's coat, the tails of which had much to do to conceal his waistband.

    Further banter was checked by the wholesale arrival of a party from Langleyside, who, after tasting of the "sarving drink," and selecting each a sprig of rosemary, put on their hats and adjourned to the next house, where they could all be together and joke without restraint; for joking and tale-telling was quite a feature at a Waverlow funeral.

    An individual now introduced himself who excited some curiosity among the visitors, as he appeared to be a stranger to every one present.  This person commenced making free with everything on the table, although uninvited to do so, and his general behaviour seemed to imply that he felt as much at home there as the rest.  At length the old dame, whose proper sphere would have been upstairs, but who chose rather to be tottering about the houseplace, surveying the new comer with one hand shading her eyes, exclaimed, "That's never thee, Tummy, is it?"

    "Yigh; whoa else?" was the answer.

    "Well, I didno' know thee.  Whose clooas hast getten on?"  And the widow surveyed her guest from top to toe.

    "That's what gets o'er me," said Tummy; for it was the person guessed at, and who lived just across the green.  "Aw'st be puzzled i'th' mornin for t' know wheer t' tak 'em to, for I've nowt on nobbut my shoon an' stockins ut's my own.  I do know whooa's th' hat is, for there's nobbut one yead i' o Waverlow ut taks a hat as big as that, an' mine's one o'th least ther is.  Mind how yo' knocken it about, for ther's a pack o' cards inside ut I've had to stuff it wi', an I'm feart on 'em bein shaked out o'th' linin;" and "Tummy o Tums" chuckled over what he considered was a very ingenious contrivance.

    Now began a gradual dropping in of people of all ages.  Old men with deep, dry lines in their faces, and heads so closely cropped that they looked like paving stones when uncovered.  Some wore the primitive blue coat of perhaps half a century's wear.  Others appeared in newly-washed woollen-cord breeches, the buttons at the knees shining like pearls; and the red plush singlet, the pride of huntsmen, adorned the chest of several who were known to be enthusiasts in the profession.  Most of them wore very strong shoes which had been polished with a candle, and hats that had defied storm and flood through many a gallant hunt.  Old women — tottering and toothless — wearing red cloaks, and leaning on crutches that gave them quite a weird-like appearance, came; and these were accommodated with armchairs, in the chimney-corner, where they smoked their pipes and carried on a conversation more remarkable for its volubility than its intelligence, seeming to live, as it were, in a world of their own.  Younger women — "fat, fair, and forty" — bearing with them all the pride of mother-hood, bustled about, upstairs and down, and seeming all importance the while, as if funeral preparations belonged more exclusively to that age than to any other.  And more youthful still in the persons of grandchildren were present, whose blooming faces looked ill-assorted with grief, as they peeped from behind the folds of their white pocket handkerchiefs.  Each wore a neat white cap, with a kerchief of similar material covering their shoulders, and all took places in the chamber of mourning, where everything strangely contrasted with what was passing downstairs.

    The house was now getting crowded, as were also the other four.  Joke, and scarcely repressed laughter, with how and then a loud "guffaw," which, however unseemly might be, it was hardly possible to restrain, made the time slip over much more pleasantly than what might be expected at a funeral.  There sat "Tummy o' Tum's," the "observed of all observers" and looking so "fine" in his borrowed suit of clothes as scarcely to be recognised by even his wife.  He would eye the heap of hats on the drawers with a look of interest, if not of pride, and whenever a new corner tried to place his own head covering on the crowded receptacle, Tummy would become fidgety, and rising from his seat his invariable exclamation would be, "Mind his hat!"  In the corner, close to the clock case, perched "Little Sam," his feet scarcely touching the floor, from the height of the chair on which he sat.  But his coat tails swept the sand at every twist he gave his body, and, from his hands being buried in the sleeves, it became a wonder to "Lung Yeb" how he held his pipe.  Once his elbow neighbour innocently observed that, as the day was windy and cold, Sam had better pull his "top cooat" off, and he would feel the benefit of it when the "buryin" went.  The little fellow riled up at this, and twisted his countenance into a very severe look; but he kept on with his pipe and said nothing.  Leaning his chair against the "speer," sat "James o' Joe's," with his ears buried in a shirt-collar almost large enough for a winding-sheet.  This individual rather enjoyed the comments that were being made, not only about other people, but upon himself also.  He protested against being spoken to, as it could not be expected that, with his head fixed in the stocks, he could take any part in the conversation.  "Jone o' Pee's" said "if they would fnd a pair o' scissors he'd dub him as mich off his shirt-neck as ud mak a 'dicky.'"

    James begged they would be cautious what they said while there was a "stranger i'th' house," and he cast his eyes on the superb-looking "Tummy o' Tums," when there was a general laugh round the company at Tummy's expense.  "Little Sam" intimated that if anybody said "owt any moore about him" he should "feight," at which there was a murmur of disapprobation; — not that it was unusual for a battle to take place at a funeral, but as "Long Yeb" observed, — "it wur a shawm t' feight wi' other folk's clooas on."  While this was going on the pitchers went their rounds with never-tiring regularity.  "Old Boxer," being deaf, and therefore unable to enjoy the conversation, went to sleep in good time.  But he never missed his turn at the drink.  He always wakened up when the pitcher was about being handed past him, and he would seize the handle, and resting the rim upon his broad slouching lip, give a deep pull, and go to sleep again.  He did once remark to the person who sat next to him that he "thowt owd Colley hadno' bin quite so owd."

    "How owd is he?" asked "James o' Joe's."

    "Seventy-five it says upo' th' coffin," replied "Boxer." "He're aulus coed a year yunker than me, an' I thowt I're nobbut seventy-five mysel."

    "Yo'n bin that age mony a year," remarked "Little Sam," rather ill-temperedly.

    "What does he say?" inquired "Boxer," leaning from his seat.

    "He says yo' con o'er-lie Stump," said "Long Yeb," with a peevish chuckle.

    "Boxer made a clumsy spring upon his feet, and shaking his fist at "Little Sam," said "If it wurno' for spoilin someb'dys clooas, I'd thresh thee wurr than ever thy mother did; thou little otty—motty!"

    The appearance of the coffin-maker, with a screw-driver in his hand, and pulling as long a face as he well could from lack of emotion, put off further quarrel, and intimated to the company that it was time to prepare for starting.  When it was announced that the coffin was being brought downstairs a general scramble for hats took place; several got wrong ones at first, and it was not the least amusing of the many uncouth incidents that occurred to see the puzzled countenances of such as could not own the hats they had borrowed, and were continually getting hold of wrong ones.  Some were marching about with their eyes nearly hidden by an overfit, whilst others had scarcely more than their crowns covered by the other side of the exchange.  "Tummy o' Tum's," however, had not allowed himself to lose sight of the hat he had charge of, so, before the others were on their feet, he had it singled out and placed upon his head, where it fitted like a churn.  With a little trouble and wrangling, the hats were at last assorted; the coffin was brought down, and placed in the hearse, which had been waiting until the one horse was nearly asleep, and the signal was given for starting. [2]

    Then occurred a scene that would have defied the pencil of Cruikshank to picture.  Most of the hunters had brought their dogs with them, and these when they were mustered on Waverlow Green made a demonstration that would have led a stranger to believe some notable hunt was afoot, whilst the owners whooped and "tallyho'd" until all echoed again.  At last they were got into some kind of order, and the procession moved off, some of the followers taking a very zig-zag route as though the road had been a crooked one.  All looked as serious as they well could under the circumstances; but a disposition to be chatty and demonstrative would sometimes cause confusion in the line, and a section would become severed from the rest by a very wide gap.  Others would take a course of their own and walk anywhere; sometimes before the hearse, at others behind it; and an instance or two occurred where parties seemed to forget the business they were upon, and after dropping behind, "sidled" into a public-house to be seen no more.

    The route of the procession, which lay through the heart of the village, was lined all the way by spectators; but these were chiefly women, with here and there an exceptional sprinkling of the more curious of the other sex; and all were orderly in their observations, until the occurrence of a remarkable and ludicrous incident which upset the gravity of the whole affair for a time.

    The day was windy; and though it might appear to blow a steady gale in the open country, it came in sudden and violent gusts about the nooks and corners of Waverlow, making old people stagger and young ones look anxiously about the safety of their hats.  The hearse, which had the resemblance of a servant's trunk covered with faded crape, rolled about like an old tub on the uneven pavement, and that, together with the wind, made the old ragged "bobs" on the top dance and toss about in a wild and scarecrow manner.  The funeral had just got to the "Four Ways," and was making a turn to ascend the hill leading to the church, when a shout came from the crowd of lockers-on that caused all in the forepart of the procession to turn suddenly round to see what was the matter.  A hat was seen spinning up the road at a speed which distanced for a time the swiftest of those who were in pursuit.  On it went, distributing as it rolled quite a shower of square pieces of pasteboard, that might have been placed there by a conjurer, and were performing some feat of necromancy.  Some of the cards were blown about like waifs — flying over garden fences, spinning round and round in areas, perching on window sills, and all getting so scattered, that an old sinner remarked, "they'rn never better shufflt at a main brew!"  Away the hat still rolled, everybody that could lend a leg pursuing, and all intent upon picking up the cards as they were blown in their way.  A "Jack" was caught by one of the ragged "bobs" on the top of the hearse, where it stuck like an escutcheon, defying both the wind and the driver's whip to dislodge it.  Some were carried quite out of the way, and nearly every person at the funeral was engaged in collecting what had been the stuffing of "Tummy o' Tum's" hat.

    The driver, seeing the procession almost dispersed, stopped his vehicle, and enjoyed the scene from his solitary box, perhaps the most indifferent spectator of the strange scene that was being enacted around him.  One fellow, who had made several unsuccessful dives after the hat, which the wind would carry away just as he was in the act of clutching at it, had somehow worked his "dicky" loose at the bottom, and the whole front — tape and all — was streaming behind his neck like a flag of truce, to the intense delight of a crowd of boys to whom both mishaps were a godsend of fun.  The owner, or rather the person who had charge of the hat, which the reader already knows was a borrowed one, appeared so overwhelmed by the disaster that he stood like somebody crazed — irresolute as to what part he should play in the affair — his short hair blowing up from his forehead, and his eyes wandering after the hat and cards, which he calculated just then were entirely lost.  At length the runaway was caught; the cards, with but few exceptions, were picked up, but this time, instead of the latter being made into padding for the hat, they were deposited in the owner's pocket — himself content to walk bareheaded the remainder of the journey.

    The procession was then re-formed; the hearse drove on and reached the church gates just as the rector, with his surplice under his arm, was shambling down from the rectory.  The reverend gentleman, who was one of your model country parsons — easy and jolly — paused as his eye lighted on "Jack of Clubs," whose squat form was sporting itself among the "moulting" plumes of one of the hearse's "bobs."  Scarcely believing his naked vision, he took out his spectacles and gazed a moment at the strange exhibition which the dancing "bobs" presented.  Directly he turned round to one of the conductors, who happened to be a sort of a wag, and asked him what was the meaning of that "sinful piece of pasteboard up there?"

    The person interrogated replied he did not know; but he had heard that "th' saxon (sexton) had fund it i'th' vestry and put it up theere for t' show what sort o' company th' pa'son kept."

    Had not the old gentleman seen through the joke, he might have flown into a rage at this explanation; instead of that he laughed, and, afterwards getting a more correct version of the affair, he observed, with as much gravity in his demeanour as he could muster, "The wicked shall be scattered as with a whirlwind," and then walked into the church, the funeral people following.

    The whole being comfortably settled in the old-fashioned pews, which probably had never before seated such a picturesque-looking congregation, the rector mounted his pulpit and commenced reading the funeral service.  This duty he performed in such a drowsy, monotonous tone of voice, and with such slow articulation, that the eyelids of several of his hearers were observed to close, and the heads reel forward and sideways as though an inclination to sleep had overcome them.  "Long Yeb" had tumbled his chin upon his breast after the first few sentences had been gone over, and his body was see-sawing to and fro, and coming down with such jerks, that those about him felt alarmed lest he should knock his head against the back of the next pew, and cause an interruption to the service.  Directly he gave a snore — not that low, droning sound with which snoring is apt to commence — but a loud, sharp snort, as though it had been a blast on the lowest octave of the organ.  The shock and the sound together wakened up the sleeper, and, as if he imagined he had been present at a hunt, he placed his hand to his mouth and gave the "view halloo!" in a voice that was a credit to his lungs.  Immediately there was such a yow-yow-yow! in the church, and such a steeple-chase of dogs over pew backs, as to frighten the spectacles from the clerk's nose, and cause the rector to bring the service to an abrupt pause.  There was consternation throughout the place, and all faces were turned towards "Long Yeb," who sat rubbing his eyes as if just awakening to a sense of the breach he had made in the solemnity of the proceedings.  The offender was immediately collared by an indignant churchwarden, and hauled out of his quarters, although he protested, in explanation, that he had "bin dreeamin ut he see'd a fine bitch foumart start out of a backin, an' he couldno' help givin mouth when he wakkent an' see'd th' dogs about him."

    After the hounds had been silenced and all alarm had subsided, the rector resumed the service, and proceeded with it in a more lively manner than at the commencement.  The book at last closed; the prayers were concluded, and the people dismissed to assemble again round the grave of the deceased huntsman.  The corpse was borne from the church porch by four of the "next of kin," and as it was lowered to its last resting-place the scene changed from the grotesque and ludicrous to one of imposing solemnity.  The old huntsmen gathered round the grave in a solid ring, each holding his dog by the slip, and when the final — "Ashes to ashes — dust to dust" was pronounced, the whole strewed their sprigs of rosemary over the coffin, then raising their heads, gave a simultaneous "Yo—ho! tally-ho!" the sound of which became heightened by the dogs joining their voices as they rung the last cry over their "earthed" companion.

    There is little more to tell of this notable funeral.  Most of the company on leaving the church called at the "Wheel and Barrels," where they washed old Colley down in "warm and cold; wi' a sope o' summat else in," and told hunting and other tales till late, when they dispersed rather in a damaged state to their several homes.

    Just as the late moon rose over Waverlow a white figure was seen standing in the middle of the green.  It was "Tummy o' Tum's," stripped to his shirt; and as he held up one article of clothing after another, gave out in unmistakable accents his desire that any person who had lent him anything should come there and own it, as he did not remember who the clothes belonged to.  This was the last of "old Colley's funeral."


――――♦――――

 
"DRAGGED UP."

[WRITTEN DURING THE COTTON FAMINE.]


THE schoolmaster shambled to his desk, and opening it, took out a roll of manuscript which had the appearance of being recently penned.  "This," said he, "I wrote merely to remind myself of what I have been — what I am — never intending it for publication.  If it is worth anything to you — take it and welcome."

    I unrolled the MS., and read as follows:—

    "I was born at the very antipodes of 'Silverspoonia,' the denizen of a tumbledown 'barrack' situated in an obscure corner of that poor devil county which is now driven to showing its hat-lining to the world.  I am what a Yorkshireman would call a 'Lanky,' and perhaps as poor a specimen of the cotton county's human produce as ever trounced barefoot through its lanes, or shuddered at the sound of its factory bells.  I was born a mistake, I have lived a mistake, and the probability is that I shall end my days in the position of one whose existence has been without a purpose.

    "Friend, if thou knowest not the meaning of the term 'dragged up,' I will explain it to thee.  It is to be educated by a kick, fed upon the tender mercies of a stepfather, and clothed by the rightful inheritance of the 'parish mop.'

    Thou hast it now ― the outline of my history ― the life of a ' White-toppin,' for by such a name was the little colony I belonged to known.

    "I have often heard it boasted by my foster-parent that I was born in the largest house in Birchwood, an assertion that once had its truth disputed by a squire farmer, heir to fifty acres and a big whitewashed hall, but who was, notwithstanding his wealth, a lout of the greenest furrow.  The fellow, however, became convinced, when, after receiving a benediction from my father's fist, I was forced to proclaim from the elevation of a taproom form, that I drew my first breath in the parish workhouse.  I was indeed a pauper born, and I believe the distinction which my station conferred upon me at birth will stick to me until this 'mortal coil' be 'shuffled off.'

    "It would be an injustice to my mother, who showed as much kindness for me as her means would allow, were I not to say that it was through the most pardonable of a thousand faults that I thus became 'monarch of nothing I surveyed,' and heir to the spoon and can of a 'White-toppin.'  The poor woman who committed the sin of bringing me into the world — a squealing burden on a one-and-fourpenny rate — was a widow when she bore me.  My father died of a diabetes after about four months' illness; and my mother, who had to support both, besides four children, by weaving, had no means of keeping her own bed when her turn came to need it.  She was of well-to-do parents, but disobeying them by marrying my father (the 'old, old story'), they would not look at her in her travail, nor give a sixpence to help her.  I consequently became one of the family of 'White-toppins,' called the governor 'daddy,' and shared with six other unfortunate 'babbies' the oaken cradle of the 'big heause ' at Birchwood.  I was thus cast at the foot of life, with no higher aspiration possessing my youthful breast than what is expressed in the hungry sentiment, 'Thick porridge and plenty of 'em!'

" As I have no remembrance of the 'dadin' (leading String) period, I must commence my history at the event of my departure into the wide world, when I left the many-familied home of the ' White-toppins ' to assist my mother in keeping herself poor, and run about in almost the nakedness of a little savage on the village common. With the blessing of the governor (he was a kind man, only he had a mania for stroking my short—haired sconce the wrong way about, which sometimes made me wince), we turned our heels on the workhouse, and planted our imaginary vine and fig tree at a poor tenement that held the lease of its existence at the mercy of the brook that flowed past it. Here my mother set up her loom and her cap at the same time, for she had not the least notion of remaining a widow so long as there was a marriageable fellow in Highfield, and 'Tummy Turndeawn,' it was known, had cast an eye upon her. "Tummy Turndeawn!' how I remember his first stalking into our cottage, and asking my mother if she would allow him to hang up his hat on the empty peg; and how my mother blushed, and said he met if he would!"

    "In her second edition of housekeeping my parent had to economise most rigidly.  Butter to our bread was out of the question, and treacle was only allowed on Sundays.  But the porridge-dish was as constantly before our vision as the trough to hungry pigs.  The cry was 'porridge at morn, porridge at noon, porridge at night, porridge again, mam?' for we lived a life of spoonwork, and right glad we were of a constant supply of even such humble fare.  It was a picture to see us assembled round the table — as eager to commence our meal as if it had been 'Kesmas bo,' (Christmas pudding) or the glorious Lancashire potato-pie; and woe to the one who lost the start.  My brother Bill once let his spoon fall on the floor, and the yell he set up through this mishap made my mother think he had scalded himself, which was a frequent occurrence with us.  Generally speaking we had milk to our porridge, but there were times when such a dainty could not be afforded.  Then we had to fall back upon the less costly edible of a farthing 'humbug' stuck in the middle of the dish, at which we all dipped in turns, and being hard to melt, it was amusing to hear our spoons rattle against it.

    "One blessed trait of my mother's character was the desire to see her progeny endowed with some kind of education.  In accordance with this wish I was put to school as soon as I could 'toddle' and received both nursing and instruction for the fee of two pence weekly, and monthly fire penny.  It may be a matter of wonder that our schooling cost so little; but it is accounted for by the fact that our pedagogue was a gingham weaver, and taught us our lessons whilst occupied at his loom.  Our A. B. C. was pasted on the loomhouse wall, and was printed in such large characters that we could easily have discerned them across the lane.  We stood in rows between the loom and the wall, and whenever we stuck fast in our lesson old Wardley would call out any letter that occurred to him, and we went through the alphabet rightly or wrongly, just as might happen.  We were a picturesque group as I well remember; I in my blue pinafore, fustian frock, and linsey petticoat, and the rest with costumes as varied in fashion and quality as any Lancashire lane will present during the period of the cotton famine.  It may easily be guessed what character of instruction I received whilst being trained at this establishment, and how qualified I was after a twelve-months' probation, to be called 'learned up' and put to the nursery stool to tease into fits the first instalment of my mother's second family batch.'

    "My stepfather, or as we always called him 'Tummy Turndeawn,' had his own peculiar notions of household economy.  He went upon the principle that the same outlay should serve for any number of family; consequently the porridge dish grew no bigger, though additions were made to the consumers, and if the number of treacle cakes increased, the thickness diminished in proportion.  Beside, the same clothing had to do for six of us as had previously been required for only four; — each description of garment being handed down from the eldest to the next younger, and so on, as the wearer outgrew it, until it descended to the youngest born, who was, as a matter of course, the raggedest fellow of the lot.

    "After the seventh offspring, viz., five 'Toottys' and two 'Turndeawns,' my mother ceased to have children, and we had no longer the dismal tidings of a 'new babby' to put us in dread of shorter fare.  By this time my brother Joe had begun to earn four shillings per week at the factory; being employed as a 'middle piecer,' because his legs were too long for a 'scavenger.'  In addition to his ordinary wages he had a penny per week for himself, which at first he said he would save up until he could buy England with the accumulated stock.  The prodigal fellow looked grand in our eyes, and the prospect of becoming at some time the possessors of so much wealth, spread visions of finery and loads of porridge before us that made our future look like 'promise land!  Then my brother Bill had got put to the 'rope-walk.'  He had to turn a handle from six in the morning till seven at night, with two hours off for meals, and a good larruping if he fell asleep over his work.  For this employment he received the magnificent weekly salary of eighteenpence, and nothing for himself.  The stinginess implied in the latter condition nearly broke the poor fellow's heart.  A penny for his own pocket would have made him so proud that he would hardly have known whose handle he turned; but it was refused him; so he ran away from his place, and after absenting himself from home for several days, he returned — got his licking over, and went to seek more congenial employment at the bottom of a coalpit.

    "In the order of family events it came to my turn to be put to work.  I was made a 'little piecer' and worked at 'Pie Johnny's' mill.  They called my employer by that deliciously sounding nickname because his father used to hawk mutton pies from alehouse to alehouse round the villages, by which vocation he made a small fortune that enabled him to put his son into the cotton trade.  Johnny was a stingy fellow, and a tyrant in his way; always walked about the mill with a strap under his coat, and if he caught any of us playing, although our 'ends were up,' he made us feel the weight of it.  He had, beside, the reputation of reducing wages to more than a justifiable extent, by making 'abatements' on what he called 'spoiled work.'  These practices caused him to have the worst class of workpeople, who were little tyrants themselves, which I found out to the cost of many a good bruising.  The spinner I worked for was fond of his drink, and when he had been on the 'batter' a day or two, and was getting round, he made such fearful noises at us, and swore such dreadful oaths, that we were in constant fear of his some day going further than a mere 'treawncing,' and killing us outright.  Once I happened to stumble over a 'slip' and knock the 'faller' down just as the 'jenny' was getting at the 'stretch.'  Every thread of the many hundreds snapped in an instant, and the next moment I found myself descending the steps at a greater speed than I had ever done before, being, as I believe, materially assisted in my descent by the momentum of a kick, given by I know not who, but whom I have cause to suspect.  My stepfather said I must not go to the factory again, which I thought was very kind of him for once; but discovered afterwards that it was not from any good feeling towards me that I was thus to be rid of mill life, but that he had found out I should be of greater use at home.  A bobbin-winder was wanted, consequent upon my sister, the next older, going to live with Farmer 'Stubble' as his little milkmaid.  To the service of the 'twelve apostles' — for such an appellation had been given by a facetious neighbour to the twelve-spoked wheel — I was accordingly put, and I believe it would be impossible to invent an occupation that I should detest so much as I did the turning of that humdrum wheel.  I could not pick the knots out of the silk to give satisfaction, which led to the continued utterance of threats on the part of 'Tummy Turndeawn' that I should have the 'knots' taken out of me.  Then if the bobbin I wound was in other respects so bad that the thread would not keep whole, it was sure to be stripped from the shuttle and flung at my head, so that I became a target for a sort of 'cloddin' gallery, and had the privilege of having my hair dressed by this novel process several times a day.  Then I was always driven to a stretch for bobbins, which was another source of torment to me.  I would do anything rather than turn the obnoxious wheel — carve letters on the stool, stand upon my head in the corner, or upset the machine and wheel it about like one side of a handcart.  I was once I caught at the latter practice, and just as I was trundling my vehicle into the 'fowt,' and had sung out 'Stond furr, childer, this is eaur cart,' I felt something clutch at my hair, and the next moment a strong 'batting rod' fell foul of my back, being wielded by the merciless hand of 'Tummy Turndeawn,' who knew how to administer such doses to perfection.

    "After continuing at this occupation until my knees got too high for the spindle, I was taken away to assist my mother at the loom; and thus became placed more under the surveillance of my stepfather.  I should not have made a weaver if I had kept at the occupation until this day.  I do not know exactly why.  It was not that I altogether disliked the business, but somehow I was unlucky with it.  I could not make good cloth.  I could not strike an even 'blow,' and if I whistled whilst throwing the shuttle, I was sure to forget the pattern.  At last our folks were threatened to be turned without work if they ever again allowed me to get upon the loom.  This looked like a finisher for me, and a life of vagabondage appeared to be my inevitable lot.

    "To give me another trial, and see if a coarser and more laborious kind of employment would suit me better, I was sent to work upon a farm; but caught a fever through having no more sense than stand in a ditch all day, emptying water that flowed in as fast as I could scoop it out.  What a mercy it would have been to the rising generation if it had pleased fate to have given me my quietus at that time!  It would beside have spared me many a long day's misery; for, in spite of my blundering and ill-luck, I still thought it possible that I might have been of use in some sphere if I had only been taken-kindly to at the outset.  But it was to be otherwise, and when every other source of employment failed, I was engaged to thrash small boys at the village school, the master of which was afflicted with palsy.  This gave me an opportunity of picking up a smattering of education, so that when the old pedagogue gave up his ruler and nightcap I took his place, and assumed duties that had been successively discharged by cripples and unfortunates for many generations before me.  I had at length found an occupation that in some respects suited my temperament.  There was no one to give or scold me, nobody to find fault with my work, for the parents of my pupils were too ignorant themselves to  know whether their children made any progress or not under my tuition.  The former were satisfied if the youngsters were kept out of mischief, and the latter lived in wholesome fear of the rod, so that I had a moderately comfortable time of it when compared to the dog's life I had led before.

    "Well, I occupy the old oaken chair still, and wield the inevitable 'switch.'  I open my school shutters at nine in the morning and close them at five in the afternoon.  I have a reputation for being regular and somewhat austere in my habits, which gives me an importance in the eyes of my neighbours that greatly smooths my way.  But it sometimes gives me a pang when I reflect how much more learning they give me credit for than I really possess, and how prevalent the notion is among country people that when a man is fit for nothing else they ought to make a schoolmaster of him.  Alas! they take little into account how some of us have been 'dragged up.'"


――――♦――――

 
THE BATTLE OF LANGLEY HEIGHTS.

"IT'S my firm belief we'st do th' job this time, Brayley, if we are no' a pack o' keawards," observed "Jim-i'th'-broo," pausing over his work, and looking very earnestly and confidently at his friend.  "Our folk i' Lunnun han' ne'er had sich a blow sin' owd Noll punst 'em out o' th' Parlyment, and shortent King Charley by his toppin.  But if Waverlow an' Langleyside, an' th' tother places round about, 'll nobbut be true to th' cause, we'st knock someb'dy their feet fro' under 'em afore we'n done."

    "Ther news coome yesterneet fro' Ash'n an' Stalybridge ut they'rn quite ripe theere an' ready for th' word o' command.  A great mon had bin offerin t' bet his spectacles to nowt ut th' Irk an' th owd Tome [3] wur a different colour afore he're three days owder; an' th' Owdham lads had buckled their clogs i'th' furmost hole ready for marchin down.  They'n come i' ther thousands fro' theere when th' finger's put up."

    "That's th' mak — turn, Brayley."

    The two were engaged in sharpening a rusty piece of steel that was once a turnip-cutter, had been a "hedging- bill," and was shortly to do duty somewhere in the ranks of the "Waverlow Hardheads," on the occasion of upsetting the Government of Victoria the First, Anno Domini 1842, the year of the great strike in Lancashire.

    Round flew the "grindlestone," — whir — whir — whir, — in rapid motion;  grunt — grunt — grunt, went Brayley, in accompaniment, and if Jim-i'th'-broo could have faced the enemy's fire as unflinchingly as he received the spray which flew from the stone and splashed over him, a braver man than he would not have occupied Langley Heights during the engagements of that memorable August.  The weapon, from a blunt, round face, was now getting tapered to a thin edge as the two conspirators plied themselves at a task in which they had been engaged most of an hour.  The grinder drew his hand over the blade, to wipe off the dirty water, then casting his eye along the shining surface, said —

    "A turn or two moore, Brayley, an' it'll split a yure."

    "That's reet," said the other, "for I'm as nee done as a toucher."  And he drew his shirt sleeve across his forehead, where the perspiration hung in drops, and whence a stream trickled down each side of his face.

    "If wayvin wur as hard wark as this, Jim, ther'd be less on't done.  I've segs o' my hont now as big as rumbo's."

    "If't' grumbles at turnin a hondle, how wilt be when it comes to feightin?" said Jim, laying his blade again on the stone.

    "Oh, that's quite another thing — keawerin at th' back of a hedge, an' poppin a gun through it now an again," replied Brayley, resuming his turning and grunting.  "Beside, feightin's noane co'ed wark, thou knows.  I tried a shot out o' yon little bull-dog o' mine th' tether day, an' split a apple i' two i' owd Smithie's orchut.  If Kurnel Wems ud bin i'th' same pleck, his toppin ud ha' bin i'th' road ― whorr?"

    The report of a gun was heard.

    "Husht!" exclaimed Jim-i'th'-broo, taking his steel from the stone and listening.  "Yon's someb'dy else dustin their barrel out, I yer."

    A second shot was heard.

    "Theer again," said Brayley.  "An' that's a different bark to th' tother.  A rifle, by th' mass."

    Crack went a third shot, louder than its predecessors.  "Yer thee, another!" exclaimed Jim.  "That's a wapper.  If they'n yerd that at th' barricks someb'dy doesno' feel so comfortable by this."

    "I da'say they'n be thinkin about Peterloo, an' how we'st tak it out on 'em for droppin onto us when we'd no moore thowts about feightin than if we'd bin at a ranter's camp meetin," observed Brayley, seeming by his manner to have no doubts in his mind regarding the issue of the contemplated fight.

    "Plunger winno' be for givin quarter if he's our captain," said Jim.  "If anybody mentions his feyther bein killed i' nineteen, he shows his teeth like a yorn-croft dog, an' says th' day o' reckonin will come, an' afore long.  I think sometimes he's noane gradely reet, he looks so savage."

    "They shouldno' be above hauve rocked if they mun put thersels at th' front of an army," observed Brayley, "for when I think sollitly about feightin it looks moore like foo's wark than owt else."

    "Thou munno' start o' thinkin that road," said the other.  "Ift' does we'n be findin thee in a soof when the day comes.  Whoa leeads th' Langleyside poots up."

    "Steel-ribs."

    "Well, he's a yallow-legged un, if there's one i'th' cote," observed Jim.  "An' if his squad are as gam as he is, they'n mak someb'dy t' stond furr."

    "He punst a whul reawm full o' Whig skeawbankers out o'th' "Pig an' Fork" tother neet, they'rn sayin upo' th' green this mornin."

    "Ay, if it coome to clognoses we could clear th' ground of a thousant afore owd Sam Kunstable could lotch o'er th' Hauve Acre.  I'd rayther we'd stick to th' owd motty — 'A fair day's wage for a fair day's wark,' an' letten th' charter do its own.  But now we'n couplt 'em we'st ha' t' run 'em t'gether, I reckon.  Has ther any news come'n fro' Ratchda or Bury, as thou knows on, Brayley?"

    "Nawe; but I seed a felly fro' Yeawood yesterday, an' he said ther a looad o' pikes went through th' town as he coome away.  He knew theyrn pikes by th' rick they made i' th' cart."

    "That's a sign o' summat.  They're dooin things quietly theer, no doubt.  I da'say o th' grindlestones i'th' country are whizzin away this minit."

    "Ay; an' if they'n as hard stuff as that for t' grind, ther'll be some cussin gooin on.  Theer, now — not another turn round if th' war depends on't."  And Brayley threw up the handle, with a determination not to resume turning at any price.

    "It's done to a breeath," said his companion, wiping the blade, and holding it up in admiration.  "They'n ne'er want a second blow fro' this, beaut they'n skins as thick as a cobbler's knees.  Now for fixin it firmly i'th' pow, an' tryin it again a loom-pawst!  If it turns up its nose at that, I'll have my yead shaved wi't."

    The two, having finished their occupation at the grindstone, turned into Jim's house, where the day was spent in further preparations for the coming morrow, when it was expected the whole country would be in a blaze of insurrection.

    The gloaming descended upon Waverlow without any additional note of warlike preparation being heard than the three shots which our friends had remarked over their occupation in the backyard.  But there seemed to be a turbulent spirit abroad, keeping people's minds awake to an event which was to bring weal or woe to the hearths of that countryside, if the predictions of its oracles were to be believed.  Not a shuttle had been heard for weeks, and if an observer had stood upon Langley Heights, and taken a daily survey of the miles of country spiked here and there with factory chimneys, not a wreath of smoke could he have seen ascending from any one of them.  The cessation of employment for so long a period, when benevolence was shut out by the very cause which had brought such a state of things about, had engendered a clamorous discontent amongst the people, and a disposition to riot had manifested itself at several places.  Bands of half-armed men had formed themselves into training companies which were scattered in sections over the hillside, so that the martial shout, accompanied by the din of muster, might be heard in the twilight of each evening and in the early dawn, both in Waverlow and the neighbouring villages.  A rumour had got abroad that the authorities were determined to put an end to the "strike" by force of arms; yet no one had the slightest idea how such a feat could be accomplished.   But the sword was regarded as all-subduing when unopposed by a similar power, and people might be driven to work, or to do anything the Government pleased; hence the preparation for armed opposition by the inhabitants of these semi-rural districts.  Bodies of police, aiding the local constabulary, had on several occasions endeavoured to put a stop to the drilling and training of these rude bands, but they had as often been put to flight by over-powering numbers, who, better acquainted with the country, could surprise the enemy from many points at once, and make it appear as if the whole populace of the hillside were sweeping down upon them.  The many failures on the part of the civil power to repress these lawless gatherings led the authorities to determine upon their dispersion by military force, and a company of infantry, to be accompanied by a detachment of cavalry, were ordered to appear on Langley Heights some time about the 24th, and if the "plugites" mustered they were to be dispersed at all hazards.  Notwithstanding that the strictest secrecy was enjoined by the magistrates regarding their decision, it somehow transpired that the soldiers were to "invest" Waverlow on the day named, and greatly exaggerated accounts were given of their intentions.  It was, however, all but generally inferred that a battle was to be fought on Langley Heights, and this was to be the signal for the uprising of the whole of the northern counties, under the banner of "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work," and the "Charter" into the bargain.

    There was a gleeful "rush to arms" when these announcements were made, and Waverlow was all astir for  three or four days with the tumult of preparation.  All sorts of weapons, from the scythe to a fowling-piece, were looked up and got in readiness for work.  Jim-i'th'-broo's grindstone squeaked and whirred from morning till night, and the anvil of "owd Jimmy's" forge rang as incessantly as if it had been "sharpening time" in a slippery frost.  Weavers' "leads" were melted down into bullets, and blasting powder from neighbouring coal pits was ground into the required fineness for musket use.  A fabulous number of pikes, if rumour was to be credited, were continually finding their way into the village, and judging from the disappearance of fence rails from the farms round about, these pikes were as rapidly finding shafts and people to use them.  It was even said that earthworks were being thrown up above Langleyside, but these turned out to be only repairs of fences that had been trampled down by marauding cattle.  So the rumour, like many others, went for nothing.  It was quite evident, however, that a formidable stand was intended; and, though by some the affair was looked upon in the light of a joke, the seriousness with which each man went about his warlike business convinced the most incredulous that mischief was meant.  Nobody laughed at the "Wheel and Barrels," when Tootty said an old woman with a red cloak would put to flight the whole body of insurgents.  He was denounced as a "spy," and treated as such, his head being stuck beneath the firegrate, and several wholesome "thwacks" being administered to sundry projecting parts of the body.  A gloom spread itself over that portion of the public mind that did not rank itself in partisanship on either side.  This was  succeeded by terror, and flight was contemplated by many, though few actually left the country.  The excitement continued to increase up to the eve of the 24th, and when that day's sun dipped behind the Horwich moors, the "Hardheads" of Waverlow, and the "Poots" of Langleysidei began their muster.

    They were to encamp that night on the heights, to be in readiness for morning; and the person who first crossed the river in arms was to be regarded as a hero, if he fought no better than another.  Accordingly, many anxious eyes were bent towards the bridge to see on whom this distinction would light, when a youth, nicknamed "Plucktun," with a pike mounted on a bran new pole, jumped the brook opposite Jim-i'th'-broo's door, and now he stood like a commander, waving his weapon, and encouraging the more tardy to follow.  He was immediately joined by a companion in arms.  A third leaped the brook, and each gave a shout of encouragement as he took up a position on the other side.  Numbers now made their appearance from different quarters, and soon the bridge was crowded by troops of these modern "Covenanters" armed, and apparently eager for the fray.

    Just as the main body, with "Plunger" at their head, were making towards the bridge, they were arrested by a voice calling to them from a short distance up the brookside.  Looking in that direction, the mob saw the tall and still unbent form of "old Dicky Bairnfoot," a veteran of "19," approaching.  The old man's head was erect, with that conscious integrity which had borne him through the many trials of his time, and his white hair, falling upon  his shoulders, from beneath his primitive-looking hat, inspired a momentary feeling of respect, if not of veneration, in those who beheld him.

    "Is owd Dicky for joinin us, I wonder?" observed one of the "Hardheads."

    "He's noane quite so swipper as he wur when he slipped Nadin an' his 'runners,' i'th' Hazelcloof," remarked another.

    "He's getten his 'twig' with him, too," said a third, alluding to a stout iron-shod stick which the old man carried.

    The party were just footing the bridge when Dicky made up to them.  Placing himself in front, and throwing out his stick, the veteran sung "Halt!" in a firm and commanding voice.

    "I'm th' captain here," said Plunger, "so march on, lads."

    "Halt! I say," repeated Dicky.

    "Tumble him i'th' bruck," said a voice from behind.

    "No' while I'm here, for my feyther's sake," said Plunger, a gleam of better feeling shining out of his rough nature.

    "Leatheryeads!" vociferated Dicky, "what dun yo' meean?"

    "We meean t' have a fair day's wage for a fair day's Wark," shouted several at once.

    "Ay, an' th' Charter, too," said others.

    "But this isno' th' road t' goo about it," exclaimed the veteran.  "Physickil foorce 'll never do at o.  It never did yet.  Ther isno' twenty on yo' now ut ud stond yo'r ground if a hoss-so'dier wur to show hissel."

    "We are no' woven eaut o' th' same piece as th' White Moss Brigade," observed a fellow who had scarcely strength sufficient to carry his weapon.

    "Nawe, yo' ha' no' th' hauve o'th' weft in yo' ut they had.  An' if yo'd ten times moore, what could yo' do wi' thoose treddlepins an' yeald-hooks again sooards an' baginets?  Wheay, they'd chop yo' into potato-pie mayte afore yo'd time t' say yo'r prayers, if yo'r heels didno' save yo'.  Beside, if yo' thresht 'em, what'n so'diers t' do wi' wages, or how would killin 'em put a penny a yard on t' plain sarcenet?  Goo to yo'r looms like good husbants an' feythers, an' think about yo'r wives an' childer ut yo'n laft skrikin awhoam."

    One man did think of his children, among whom he had just divided the last loaf, an' he dropped his chin upon his breast an' wept.  He was fightin his share of the battle then.  Others felt ashamed of having taken such a rash step, and a murmur went through the crowd.

    "I've said my say now," concluded Dicky, "an' if yo'n tak my advice yo'n think better o' booath yorsels an' me i'th' mornin.  So drop yo'r mad wark, and goo whoam while yo'r booans are whul."  So saying, he stumped down his stick, and marched off with the same consciousness of rectitude as he had brought with him.

    A grim smile sat on Plunger's face as he watched the veteran's form recede among the shadows, and he felt a moment's wavering from that vague purpose which had brought him and his companions thither.

    "But," he exclaimed, rousing up his passions, "my feyther wur kilt at Peterloo, an' I'st never be satisfied till I've had blood for blood.  Now, then, thoose ut are keawards goo whoam; an' thoose ut are ready to dee for liberty follow me!"

    About a dozen fell back from the crowd, and the rest, with a shout that made the hillside ring, flourished their weapons, and dashed over the bridge.

    There was a sort of reckless jubilance among the leading parties at the outset, but this light spirit gave way to a more serious deportment as night fell, and saw them wending their way slowly towards the Heights.  Now the van could be seen forming a dusky crown on the summit, and straggling bodies, toiling up the ascent from both sides, swelled the numbers rapidly, and the crown grew larger, but less defined, as the darkness increased.

    The Waverlow "Hardheads" were the first to reach the Heights, and now the last of the Langleyside "Poots" had joined the main body.  Preparations were made for spending the night in camp, as the military were not expected before the morrow, and as soon as the first uniform showed itself in Waverlow they would be ready for the attack.  The warmness of the season favoured this tentless encampment.  The day had been sultry, and the night air had nothing but a refreshing coolness about it ― being far from chill.  A light mist sprang up as the breeze fell, and ere night could have fairly set in, the last twinkle of the village lights was hidden from the many loving eyes that looked in their direction down from the hill top.  A feeling of sadness came over some of the less daring spirits who had probably more to risk than their own persons in the affray, and many a sigh was heaved as the chances of success faded before their better reflections.  But others made merry at the prospect of bloodshed, and talked of dancing at the cannon's mouth, as if death was nothing to the slavery they spoke of.  These reproached the others with cowardice, and even offered to stand before them in battle to prevent their taking harm.

    Plunger stepped forth as if summoning a council of war, and striking his pike shaft firmly in the turf, said: "Gether reaund, lads, an' we'n sing th' Arms o' Deeath Hymn afore wi' lyen deawn; it'll put us i' pluck for th' morn."

    The mob bared their heads; and raising their voices in varied tones, which reached Waverlow and Langleyside in solemn and scarcely distinct murmurs, these would-be Covenanters sang their "war song":—

Arise ye brave sons of freedom through the land!
Snap the chain that binds you to the dust;
        Let the Charter be the cry
        For which we swear to die,
And our watchwords be, "We will, we must!"
        Then your drums so loudly beat,
        Let their voice the mountains greet,
And give the bugle-horn its breath;
        Ere the evening mist again
        Shall whiten o'er the plain,
We may sleep in the arms of death.

Bold Langleyside shall send up its legions of "Poots,"
And Waverlow its "Hardheads" so brave;
        And before the day hath waned,
        Our victory shall be gained,
Or we'll have made Langley Heights our grave.
                                            Then your drums, &c.

So up with the standard — unfurl it to the breeze,
Let it give back the glances of the sun;
        Though our numbers are but few,
        Let each man his duty do,
And our closing shout shall be, "We've won!"
        Then your drums so loudly beat,
        Let their voice the mountains greet,
And give the bugle-horn its breath;
        Ere the evening mist again
        Shall whiten o'er the plain.
Our foes shall meet the arms of death.


    The last breath of the chorus was just dying away when a voice was heard calling from below —

    "They're comin now — booath hoss and foot — they'n be on yo' i' two minits!"

    Consternation buzzed through the camp at this unexpected announcement, and each man stood in what he supposed to be the attitude of battle.

    "Be ready!" shouted Plunger, rushing to the front.  "Shooters th' fust, an' pikemen beheend!  Now, then  — liberty or deeath!"

    The cry rang through the camp, and as the commander looked towards his left he fancied he saw a dark mass rushing up the hillside to join them.

    "Surrender!" shouted a voice from behind a small thicket at a short distance.

    "Never!" returned Plunger.  "We'n dee upo' th' clod th' fust."

    "Then take that!"  And bang went a musket; the shot evidently being aimed at the leader, but without taking effect.

    "Now, lads-at 'em!" sang out Plunger fiercely; but turning round to direct the charge, not a follower could be seen.  The insurgent army of Langley Heights had disappeared as suddenly as if they'd been let simultaneously through a trap-door, and the only hero of that bloodless fight was left to meet death or capture alone.

    "Wheer th' d—l are they gone to?" exclaimed the  astonished captain, bending down and casting his eyes along the horizon to see if the melted host had assumed the attitude of sharpshooters, and lain down.

    No one answering his call, he threw down his pike, and, thrusting his hands into his pockets, said—

    "Owd Dicky Bairnfoot wur a fortin-teller, by—"

    But the oath was cut short by a rude hand clutching hold of his collar, and Plunger gave himself up to the redcoats and twelve months! imprisonment, without a single blow being struck on behalf of that cause which was to have secured "a fair day's wages for a fair day's work" and made the "people's charter" the law of the land.

    The battle of Langley Heights was won and lost in two minutes.

    Leaving the crestfallen hero of the "Hardheads" to his fate, let us follow the vanquished army in its glorious and successful retreat.  Never did forces without a general manage to save themselves so completely as did these undisciplined warriors.  Had it been moonlight, both "Poots" and "Hardheads" might have been seen descending the hill on the Waverlow side at a much quicker pace than they went up, and few cared to carry their arms along with them, but plied their heels as industriously as they had previously done their tongues.  Even the brave "Steelribs" discovered that "discretion was the better part of valour," and took the river like a hound keen on the scent.  Jim-i'th'-broo stumbled over a fellow who was groping his way under cover of a fence, and neither of them discovered till after a good wrestle and many protestations of loyalty to queen and country, that they were companions in retreat.

    "I da'say ther's one hauve on us kilt by th' firin ther's bin," said Jim; "I seed Plunger drop th' fust shot.  But he's noather choilt nor chicken t' fret o'er him, an' we'st happen be a bit quieter now he's done for.  So here goes for th' 'Wheel an' Barrels'; we mun know nowt about this when we getten in."  And the two leaped a narrow part of the brook, and were soon, with apparent unconcern, snugly seated in the quietest nook of their favourite rendezvous.  Others began to drop in, and soon the house was full of insurgents, who had taken their discipline in their own hands and disbanded themselves.  Some were dripping with wet, having taken the river nolens volens, and all were out of breath with running and tumbling.  No one ventured any remarks till Jim-i'th'-broo, who was smoking with the ease of one who had been at a similar occupation all the evening, said he "thowt you chaps upo' th' Heights wurno' gettin on so weel," as if he wished it to be understood that he had taken no part in the movement.

    "It's a bad job," said a newcomer, ringing his trousers-bottoms, and pulling off his shoes to let out the water.  "An' I think if it hadno' bin for one or two fause folk like thee, we shouldno' ha' bin made sich foos on."

    "I've had nowt to do wi't," said Jim.

    "Thou lies!" exclaimed a dozen of the company at once.  "Thou're fust mon ut run off th' Heights, thee an' Laggin-back, theere.'

    "Beside, thou's bin pickin warps o th' time we'n bin on th' strike, thou two-faced skeaundril!"

    "He's a spy!" rang through the room.

    "Dip him i'th' bruck," was suggested.  And before the hero of the "grindlestone" had time to expostulate, he was carried shoulder-height out of the house, and well soused in the yet stainless water of the river, much as he protested that he "should ha' fowten if anybody else had done."

    Similar visitations were made upon several treacherous leaders during the early part of the night, which had a very wholesome effect, as subsequent events showed; and, had it not been for the capture of Plunger—who, after all, was deemed a "good shuttance" — no one would have regretted the price at which the day's lesson had been bought.

    At midnight "peace reigned in Waverlow."  Fathers were at home, comforting their fretful children, and many an eye that had been tearful during that dreaded sunset, now sparkled brightly over the hearth, which, but for an instinctive prudence that some people would term cowardice, might have had many a mourner.

    When the morrow came things had resumed their ordinary course.  The village was early astir, but it was with preparations for a more peaceful solution of the problem, "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work," in the breaking up of the strike.  Shirtsleeves were rolled up, and ere noon shuttles were rattling as merrily throughout Waverlow as if the "Great Battle of Langley Heights" had not been fought the night before.


――――♦――――

 
THE OLD THATCHED HOUSE.

THREE years ago (1860) there stood a dilapidated dwelling at the corner of the lane leading from Waverlow to Welbrook.  It has since gone to ruin.  A heap of rubbishy bricks, blackened by dust and rain, a broken pig-trough, a rotten stump, with a rusty chain attached, and a solitary currant tree still growing in a waste of garden, are the only evidences that remain of the place being once a homestead.  Middle-aged people may remember the cottage being as snug a dwelling as any in Waverlow; and if the cheerful song of its proprietor and principal occupant might be taken as an indication of the social temperament within, no happier home need be wished for.  The house had a thatched roof; and though its back was much bent through its timbers being weakened by decay, it preserved, until within late years, an appearance of being sound and weatherproof, by the scrupulous repair in which it was kept.  Martins pitched their nests beneath the eaves; starlings found a shelter within the perforations which design or inadvertence had formed or left between the rafters; and the possession of these retreats was often disputed and shared by a colony of sparrows, whose occupation was encouraged by daily offerings of porridge and crumbs of bread from the family table.  These latter would congregate in the cherry tree, or about the chimney, which looked like a nipple on the housetop; and their chirping and "flustering" would form a chorus to the song of their entertainer, which might be heard on a summer morning before the sun had fairly roused the flowers from their sleep.  Mingling with these lively sounds would be the grunting of a couple or more of pigs, the cackling of hens, and the lusty crowing of a game cock.  Sometimes the salutation of a predatory jackass, that preferred cabbages to thistles, would startle the denizens of the cottage "fowt," and awaken a shrill, admonitory shout from behind the window, much to the annoyance of the long-eared trespasser, who would jingle his one shoe in unwilling retreat.

    But the cottage!  Nobody ever saw one like it; for the owner built it with his own hands — all but the roof, which a neighbour timbered and thatched for him; the rooftree and rafters being the relics of a past generation of cottages.  No plummet had ever been applied to the walls, which here bellied out in jolly rotundity, and there appeared to have undergone a starving operation that had drawn them inwards.  The porch, from its peculiar construction, led strangers to hesitate upon entering, for two contrary twistings had to be performed before the interior could be reached, the entrance inclining towards the "coal rook," and the inner door having an apparent disposition to throw itself on the opposite gable.  The windows, which in these highly-glazed times would probably have been termed "eylet-holes," were in quaint harmony with the rest of the structure; and were so small, that if the ivy which grew about them had been allowed to have its own way, the interior, which never could boast of more than a decent twilight, would have been consigned to a perpetual gloom.

    In this cot, "Little Jack Dooley" and his helpmate commenced housekeeping; the latter, a good-looking cheerfully disposed person, whose body and spirit an accumulation of years and sorrows could hardly bend.  Jack was frail from his cradle, having had to do a good share of his own nursing while his mother toiled at the loom.  His ancestors, traceable beyond the age of his rooftree, were weavers, and Jack was put to the trade when he was so small that the treadles looked like stilts to his feet.  But he was clever at his work for all that, and when the "fly lathe" came in vogue, none threw the shuttle quicker, or with greater apparent ease, than our little friend.  When he had finished his "biggin," and taken his sweetheart Mary "for better for worse," he set up the loom which his father gave him, along with the compliment of "thou little foo," and looked forward to prosperous and happy days.

    They came, and with them children.  Ivy and honeysuckle ornamented the most unseemly portions of the cottage exterior, creeping lovingly over rough joints and rugged excrescences; and, within, two lovely girls and a rosy, chubby-faced boy, his father's darling and hope, were more than the brightest mahogany or the costliest pictures in setting off the household.

    Years rolled on, and the girls and boy grew up taller than their father.  But sickness came, and they drooped as if they were not plants of this world, and in three successive falls, when the leaves rustled in the pathways, and the martins migrated to a warmer clime, the flowers  which had clustered about little Dooley's fireside were taken from their earthly garden, and transplanted to another and more genial region.  But with their bereavement came strength to the parents.  The cottage exterior preserved its quaint charm, with its patches of ivy and honeysuckle, the cherries ripened each summer, the martins came and went, and the sparrows and starlings were as noisy as ever.  The hens cackled and brooded, and led with motherly pride their families of chickens, and the old cock still looked from his perch in the alder tree contemptuously down upon the pigs.  In the interior, however, there was a change, though not to that moping melancholy which eats its heart out.  Ere a summer's herbage had withered on the grave of the last departed, little Jack trolled out a song at his loom; Mary carried her pipe to the "fowt yate," and laughed and chatted with her neighbours.  It was when only two chairs drew up to the evening fireside that they felt their loneliness most; but their sorrows were tempered by a quiet resignation, and the assurance from the daily Scripture lesson that they should again meet their children when life's journey, which every sunset shortened, would be finished.  And happy days came again; the loom rattled as merrily as when a little cherub rode on the seatboard, and crowed at the "hanger-string;" and, though the looking-glass had ceased to reflect two wavy bunches of auburn tresses, it still gave back old Mary's cap and smile, with the few thin grey locks that did not make the face grow old.

    Who knows how long this happiness might have lasted had not another grief assailed the lonely pair.  Work grew bad; from bad to worse it went, and the little hoard — the savings of better days — went with it.  Do what he would the little fellow could not make both ends meet.  Wages fell.  Oh, to what a pittance his earnings dwindled!  One by one the long cherished coins were drawn from the "old stocking," till the last came out, and the hand that earned it trembled, and the eyes that had watched with pleasure the crossing threads form the smooth and even cloth, were bright and strong no longer, but dim with age, and tears would come forth now in spite of all his fortitude.  The little merry face, that almost twinkled beneath the short fringe of hair which hung like a valance over his forehead, now fell into deep furrows, that made his neglected beard seem longer than it really was.  The cottage, too, shrank like its owner.  Not firmly built, it needed much repairing; and, now that he had little work, he had less time to attend to what repairs were necessary; for, when his loom was empty, what could the poor fellow do but stare moodily at it, pace backwards and forwards, rub his hands and spectacles, and sigh over the remembrance of happier days?  The birds deserted the dwelling; for the porridge dish no longer met their morning hunger.  It could ill be spared from the table.  The pigs were swept away for chief and garden rent — the arrears of which had been allowed to accumulate over several years; and the poultry, all but a solitary old black hen, that would stand under the hedge all day with its head, inserted beneath its feathers, had been conveyed in a netted hamper to the Birchwood market for sale.  The wind, one stormy night, carried away a portion of the thatch, and the straw lay about as if the dwelling had been in its autumn.  This covering was never replaced, and the rain beat through the roof, and poured down the walls into the loomhouse, even when the weaver was groping by his dim candle at his thriftless work.  Cracks opened in the gable — one of them so wide as to admit almost as much light as any of the windows, and the wind sported with the cobwebs, and whistled dismal music in the chinks.

    "Your house is falling!" observed a neighbour one day, as he surveyed the crumbling walls and widening cracks.  "Nay, nay; no' yet.  We'st fo t'gether," the weaver replied, shaking his head, and laying his trembling hand against the almost dismantled doorway.  "An' why shouldno' it be so?" he continued, "when ther's nob'dy t' live i'th' house after we're gone?  Nay, nay; we'st fo t'gether; — we'st fo t'gether."

    But the cracks widened still; the house top became bald in several places — the thatch being substituted in some instances by pieces of old grey slate.  The windows grew less transparent, from rags and pieces of rusty tin taking the place of glass; shreds of paper, fruitlessly pasted over the chinks in the wall, fluttered and flapped at each breath of wind; the door opened with difficulty, from one "angle" being broken, and when closed it looked only a makeshift barrier against the wind and rain.  Little Jack was seldom seen outside of it; and when he did stir abroad, he looked like a portion of his household wreck-going to pieces.

    One winter night, when the snow lay thick upon the ground, and soft flakes were gently falling through the still air, as if mercy was tempering the season's severity by infusing an agreeable mildness in the atmosphere, a solitary wayfarer took the road from Welbrook to Waverlow.  He was wrapped in a thick fur coat, and a cap of the same material was tied over his ears, leaving a rough, weather-beaten face peering from beneath; a pair of strong boots, reaching to his knees, crackled in the snow as he paced leisurely on, and a dog, with a coat almost as white as the road, trotted silently by his side.

    The traveller paused as a faint pattering noise caught his ear; and wondering what the sound could be, or whence it came, he removed the flaps from his ears and listened more attentively.  It was the sound of old Dooley's shuttle that he heard; for the cottage, half buried in snow, which lay thick on the fence around it, was close at hand.  Now he saw a feeble ray of light shining through a small aperture in the wall, and curious to know what was passing within, he made a venture to knock at the door.  It was opened by an old woman, who, with a look of mistrust at the visitor, said, in a voice which harmonised with the loneliness of the scene around, —

    "Yo'r mista'en, rnesthur; — Nob'dy ever comes here."

    "I'm a stranger in this part," said the other, "and knowing nothing of the road, merely called to inquire my way to Birchwood."

    This he spoke in such a gentle tone, that old Mary pushed the door wider, and looking at the fire, which had burnt low, said—

    "If yo' han to go to Birchwood to-neet, God help yo'! for it's a dree road, an' hard to tak when th' snow's so deep. We're poor an' lone — our felly an' me; but yo'r welcome to th' bit o' mayte an' th' coverin we han, if yo'n stop an' have it.  Yo'r someb'dy's poor choilt; so shake th' snow off yo', an' come in."

    "Thank you, my good woman," replied the stranger; "but I cannot avail myself of your hospitable invitation, as I must reach Birchwood to-night by all means.  I will just step in, however, and take a pipe with you, if it be agreeable?"

    "Wi' o th' welcome i'th' wo'ld!" exclaimed the old dame, leading the way into the house, and setting her guest a chair.  "Jone!  Does thou yer?" she called out, as the shuttle paused in its career.

    "In a minnit, Mally," responded Jone, from the loom-house.

    "What is your old man doing?" inquired the stranger, his curiosity re-awakened.

    "He's toilin at his loom.  They mun wortch soon an' late neaw, if they mun have a livin, an' if they'n any wark to do."

    "I have heard, where I come from, of you Lancashire weavers,” the visitor said; "and am glad that I have fallen in with one.  May I see your master at his work?"

    "If it wouldno' be a trouble to yo'.  Goo in, an' mind o' jowin yer yead again th' loomstays."

    "Thank you! 'I would I were a weaver; I could sing psalms or anything;'" and muttering this quotation from Shakspere, and gathering from its tone that a weaver's life was a merry one, he entered the loomhouse.

    It was not quite the lively scene he had anticipated finding.  A thin candle, hanging over the worn and damp-looking harness, showed a figure beyond it that was far from being the impersonation of mirth and jollity.  The weaver had paused over his work, and was taking as distinct a survey of his visitor's person as the napkin which was bound over his head would permit.  An old velveteen jacket was buttoned closely round him, and up to his throat.  Over this was tied a blue apron;—worn and with the colour much faded.  Round his ragged sleeves strings were fastened to keep them close to his arms.  A stocking was pinned round his neck, and tops of similar articles encircled his wrists.  A beard that resembled the mould on a wall was the most conspicuous portion of his face, for by the elevation of his head, so as to level his spectacles at the stranger, the light of the candle seemed to centre itself on his projecting chin.  Altogether he was as winterly an object as ever a Christmas presented, and a most fitting one for a believer in the vanity of all things to moralise over.  As the weaver's face was the only thing that the candle could be said to illuminate, a corresponding gloom would most naturally surround him, and which would render it difficult for him to make out the appearance of his visitor.

    "You are quite busy, I see," said the latter, approaching the end of the seatboard.

    Old Dooley again elevated his glasses, and surveying the other's face, with a mixture of curiosity and astonishment expressed on his own, replied:—

    "No' so busy, mesthur; no' so busy.  Winterly, is it no'?"

    "I was thinking it was a remarkably mild evening," said the stranger.

    "Ay, it will be to some folk.  When I're yo'r age, I thowt nowt of a good rowl i'th' snow, or stondin at a house eend wi' th' wenches for an hour or so i' my shirt-sleeves," and a gleam of humour flitted over his face, leaving a warmer and more lively expression there as it departed.

    The visitor smiled.

    "That day's gone by now," continued the weaver, "an' I'm i' deep winter mony a road.  My leeaves han fo'n long sin', my house is fo'in now — my livin's gooin away, an' th' snow's deep upo' th' ground.  If that isno' winter, what is?"

    "But you are still capable of following your work, and that must be a comfort to you."

    "A comfort to me!  It has bin i' my time; but what comfort con ther be now, sittin here fro' dark i'th' mornin till late o'th' neet, wi' fingers stiff an' body shiverin, an' hardly enoogh o' mayte i' one's inside fort' keep bally an' back fro' grooin t'gether?"

    "You are speaking of exceptional circumstances, I hope."

    "O' what?"

    "You are giving me the worst side of the picture."

    "Ther's no two sides now.  Ther wur a breet side onc't, but times han rubbed it out," said Dooley, shaking his head and sighing.  "Ay, ay, I've seen a better day."

    "I have often heard it said that weavers were the most well-to-do and independent of any class of working people in this country," observed the stranger, surveying with a shudder the fearful gloom around him.

    "I tell yo' they wur onc't; but it's long sin'.  This loomhouse wur a little paradise to me at one time."  And  the weaver took off his spectacles and commenced rubbing them on a shred of his tattered sleeve; whilst a big tear gushed out of the corner of his eye, and rolled down his cheek.

    "Bobbins, Mary!" he called out in a husky voice to his partner, who was winding by the fireside.  "I thowt I'd had one i' my pin-box."  And he groped among the empties till the emotion which had been caused by his recurrence to better days had somewhat subsided; then turning to the visitor, he said, "I've getten a bit of a cowd, I think.  It's this damp, woisty [chill] place, I da'say."  And he fetched up such a sob that the picking-peg which he held fell from his grasp, and the spectacles required wiping and adjusting again.

    The old woman tottered in with the bobbins, and as she placed them in her husband's hand, the visitor could see that she, too, had been weeping.

    "Our Joe ud ha' bin summat like him, if he'd lived," she muttered to herself as she retired; but the remark did not strike the visitor with the force it might have done had he fully understood its significance.

    The weaver commenced throwing his shuttle.  Slowly it went from side to side, as if it had only momentum sufficient to escape being "trapped" in the "shed."  After a few "picks o'er," however, the loom stopped; the candle was burnt to the "save-all," and the weaver, laying down his picking-peg, said—

    "Booath me an' th' candle are done.  I started this mornin afore six o'clock, an' nagurt at it o day, an' how mich dun yo' think I've getten?"

    The stranger could not guess.

    "Barely tenpence.  Eh, mon — what we han to do now for little or nowt!"

    "Tenpence!" echoed the other.

    "Hardly that, I say.  Happen I mit ha' done a shillin's wo'th, but th' frost nips my yarn, an' my fingers are stiff wi' cowd, so ut I conno' get through it as I should; an' then I've had to wait a week o' my piece; an' when it's finisht, an' waitin time comes again, I'st nobbut ha' getten eleven shillin."

    As he said this his eye fell (it might have been from long habit) on one of the cracks in the wall.  Possibly it might have widened — even perceptibly, then; or the old man's imagination might have conjured up a vision of the past; when four looms went merrily there, and the walls shone in whitewash, and the father would look round with pride on bright, cheerful faces, and the "psalms" the poet wrote of were sung.

    "Come, let's goo i'th' house.  Yo'r travellin this road, I reckon; an' I dar'say yo' con do wi' a bit o' summat to help yo' on," and pushing back the seatboard, old Dooley led the way to the fireside, which had brightened up a little, through preparations for the homely supper.

    "I cannot accept of anything where there is so little to spare," said the traveller; "but I have a well-stocked tobacco pouch, and you are welcome to smoke from it as long as you like.  I will take a pipe with you, and then resume my journey."

    "I've had it i'stead o' mayte, mony a time," said the weaver, producing pipes; "when I're bringin up my little ones, an' wark wur slack."

    "You've had a family, then?"

    "Ay, two wenches, as bonny as ever a mother fretted o'er, an' a lad, so like yo' he would ha' bin if he'd lived," said the old woman.  "But God took 'em o — one after another when they'rn i' full flower — he did.  I think, sometimes, he shouldno' ha' done.  For we are no' aulus as good as we should be, nor thowtful about everythin, an' we will meddle wi' God's ways, as if He did no' know what wur reet, an' th' best for us."

    "Theyr're better wheere they are, Mally," said her spouse; "better nor frabbin through this wo'ld; for it's roough on' weary, an' we're hard wi' one another upo' th' road; so God's will be done!"

    "Amen, Jone!"

    Presently a cloud of smoke was hovering over the hearth, and curling itself about the chimney-place; the fire blazed up, and sent its cheerful glow about the house; shadows danced upon the walls, and the few pictures and ornaments which hung around seemed to catch life from the light which fell upon them.  The stranger, not unwilling that the tone of the conversation should be changed to one more cheerful, took advantage of the agreeable glow which the fire emitted, and fixed his eyes upon an old and much spotted portrait which hung at the head of the house.

    "Not your likeness, I think," he observed.

    "Nawe; it's my feyther's," replied Dooley; "deead long sin'."

    "I could almost fancy that I had seen the face somewhere before," said the visitor, and with apparently increasing interest.

    "Nay, nay — I dunno' think yo' han.  My brother, ut wur dooin weel i' Australia, sent for him.  He went, an' laft that portrait as a keepsake for me."

    "What was his name?" said the stranger, suddenly twisting round from his contemplation of the painting.

    "Dooley, same as mine — Owd Jack Dooley."

    "Good God! you're the very man I'm in search of: you're my uncle."

    "What!" exclaimed the weaver; "Yo'r not Little Tummy, ut wur as like our Joe as a pin?"

    "But I am, though."

    "Yo' never are — are yo'?"

    "My name is Thomas Dooley, I believe."

    "Stond furr, Mary; I'll punce th' top bar off, or else th' table top."  And the old man bounced upon his feet, and actually did flourish his clog about the firegrate, as if it really was his intention to kick something up the chimney, or about the house.  The first essay in his demonstrations of joy having been performed, he seized his nephew by both hands, and making a very abortive effort to dance round him, said, "Bless thee, lad — how fain I am to see thee!"

    Old Mary, in sharing her husband's astonishment and ecstasy, let the porridge boil over, and all three tobacco pipes went clean out from want of smoking; and heads were nodding at each other, and performing such singular movements, that for a time it resembled a dumb show, with plenty of incident in it.

    "Well!" exclaimed Little Jack, after taking a long look at his newly-found relative.  "Well!" he repeated, "An' thou comes fro' Australia, doesta?"

    "From Australia?"

    "O'er th' sae?"

    "Over the sea."

    "Well," again.  "An' what hast laft beheend thee?"

    "Nothing?"

    "Thy feyther's deead, I know, an' so is thy gronfeyther.  But art thou o ut's livin?"

    "The only one."

    "Noane wed?"

    The traveller smiled and shook his head.

    "No' bin sich a foo' as that — whorr?"

    "Now, now, Jone," interposed Mary, "thou desarves this wot porritch-slice battin about thy mouth — talkin o' that road," though she laughed as she said it.

    "Well, well; it's nobbut my spoort," said Dooley the elder.  "It's so long sin' I'd any gam in me, ut thou munno' be supprist if I boil o'er, same as th' porritch.  Well, but thou'rt a fine lad, too!  Thou winno' recollect novvt about th' ovvd pleck; thou'd be too yunk when yo' flittud."

    "I was but a child, I believe”

    "Ay," said the old man; "a little curly-yeaded puddin, ut could nobbut just toddle an' walk.  So wur our Joe, ut's now i' heaven, bless him!"

    "My father often spoke of you as a very dear brother, and regretted any unkindness that he had ever shown you," said the visitor, addressing his uncle.

    "Ay, he's byetten me monny a time when wer'n childer, for spoilin his rappit-runs, an' turnin his buzzarts (butterflies) out.  But I've forgan him; I've forgan him — an' could ha' done if he'd byetten me fifty times moore."

    "Did we live in this neighbourhood?"

    "Nawe; yo' peearcht upo' Langleyside, in a stone house about th' hawve road up th' brow.  We coed it th' owd castle."

    "I must see the old place to-morrow.  If possible, I shall make it my home, and shall wish often to see you there.  And now, uncle," said the young man, "tell me how I can serve you."

    "Eh, dunno' mention that, lad, we hanno' lung t' live, an' con hobble on o' any plan.  Think about thysel.  What ar't for dooin, like; if I may be so bowd as to ax thee?"

    "Settling in my native place," said the younger Dooley.  The old man shook his head.

    "There's nowt t' be getten here," he observed.  "We're o on us wayvin oursels to deeath just for t' keep oursels wick.  Things hanno' bin so bad sin' th' embargo wur on."

    "But I have sufficient for both myself and you, uncle.  Come, direct me to the nearest inn; I will go no farther now that I have found you.  To-morrow morning, if God spares us, I will gladden your old eyes by the sight of something that will do your hearts good."

    "Have a taste o' porritch th' fust," entreated Mary, "they'n happen keep a bit o' cowd out."

    "No, thank you, aunt, you've none to spare; but rest assured that after to-night you shall not want for anything."

    "If thou winno' stop wi' us, I'll goo wi' thee as far as th' 'Wheel an' Barrels.'  I hanno' bin i'th' house for mony a year," said the old man, gathering himself up, and trying to look hale and strong.

    "No, no," remonstrated the nephew; "you are not fit to go out on such a night as this."

    "I'm as strong as a little jackass, now," returned the other; "an I'll goo wi' thee if thou pleeases."

    "Now, I know you're not; you're excited."

    "Ay, ay; I feel it's o fluss an' flasker;" and the little fellow dropped again into his chair.  "I'm same as owd Jone o' Grinfilt, I've wovven mysel to th' fur eend.  Well, well, I'll tell thee as weel as I con."

    The "Wheel and Barrels" was not more than a quarter of a mile distant from the cottage, so the direction was easily given.  Buttoning his coat closely round him, and again tying his cap over his ears, the traveller prepared to depart.

    "I shall be with you again early to-morrow morning, and in the meantime accept this to provide against accidents?"

    He took a purse from an inner pocket as he said this, and emptied a portion of its contents upon the table.

    "Come, come; never mind that now, uncle; some other time."

    This remark was elicited by the old weaver's falling upon his knees by the chair on which he had been sitting, and uttering a prayer of three short words — so fervently that it thrilled in the heart of their benefactor, and brought tears upon his rough cheek.

    "God bless thee!"

    The snow was falling still as the traveller left the cottage.  It was thick on the roof, thick in the hedges, thick on the road.  Early footmarks were lost, or hardly denned beneath  the fresh covering, and the wayfarer's boots sank deep as he stepped out at the wicket.  All night the snow continued to fall, and through the calm it everywhere grew deeper.  It was a lovely winter scene when the sun rose upon it; and no sooner had the morn fairly asserted its reign than our stranger friend made his difficult way to his uncle's dwelling.  How was it, he wondered, that no smoke rose from the chimney, which was the first object that caught his eye.  And why were there so many people in the lane?

    "Good God!"

    This exclamation was called forth by the strange appearance the cottage presented on a nearer view.  A catastrophe had taken place.  The roof over the loomhouse, unable to bear the weight of the accumulated snow, had fallen in during the night, and loomposts and rafters, wisps of straw and little avalanches of snow, heaped together, formed a scene of ruin and desolation that made many a heart ache as the eye beheld it.  The inmates, bruised and sorrow-crushed, had been conveyed to a neighbouring cottage, and willing hands were busy removing the dιbris, and rescuing the little household gods from their entombment.  As for the house itself, the walls were following the example of the roof, and were giving way on every side.  A solitary robin — fit spectator of such a scene — perched on a naked rafter, and twittered mournfully as it seemed to contemplate the spreading ruin.  And the walls came down with a loud crash, just as the last piece of furniture — a baby-chair that had never before left its corner — was being brought out, and the last chapter in the history of that once happy  home closed like the last scene of a tragic play, where the funeral pile is about to be lighted.

    There was not a heart in all Waverlow that did not yield a throb of sympathy for the misfortunes of little Dooley and his wife, now without their home or anything upon which to fix an earthly affection.  What little of their furniture could be saved from the household wreck was conveyed to the "Wheel and Barrels," where a room was made as much like a home as it could be for the aged couple to live in till such times as the "Old Castle" up at Langleyside could be got ready for their reception.  Their nephew spent as much of his time with them as he could spare from the many visits he had to make the country round; and kind neighbours came and chatted with old Mary in the little nest she had made; and Jack smoked his pipe at the kitchen hob, where "Owd Snapper-spring" and "Planker" would sometimes come and make a "roosin neet on't," before the jolly winter fire.  What heart could hug its sorrows long in such company; especially when want no longer obtruded its ghastly presence in the cupboard, and the fear of it was for ever banished from the prospect that lay betwixt them and the grave?

    In a few weeks after the catastrophe at the old thatch, there was a "sound of revelry" heard up at Langleyside.  "Thomas Dooley, Esq.," had previously notified to all good and fun-enjoying villagers that his "hearthstone warming" would receive an additional glow from their presence; and that the "Old Castle" had never been so shaken with merriment as he intended it should be on that occasion.  And what a feast was provided!  Not your roast and boiled, your  "stuffing" and sauces — fish, fowl, and foolery, but a noisy, fragrant, crisp-pasted, rib-shifting, mountain of a potato-pie.  Potato-pie?  Who does not love it that hath ever rung his clogs on a Lancashire "fowt."  Who has not stealthily peeped into the oven and watched the gravy bubble up the chimney-hole in the centre of the crust until his mouth has watered, and hath impatiently fancied the dinner-hour was as far distant as the millennium?  Who has not blown at his plate till his head has felt dizzy in his eagerness for the first mouthful of the steaming mess, and patted his wedge of crust as if it were a much-loved pet, that was to lie on the plate to be fondled instead of eaten?  It is a glorious Lancashire dish, that potato-pie — an institution as imperishable as its "whoam-brewed" — and the native love of a bright-glowing fireside, with its rant, and roar, and hearty glee!

    Dooley the younger had thus provided what he knew would be relished by all the guests; and old Mary looked like a gleam of her former self as she superintended the brewing and the baking, whilst little Jack, who had had the mould swept from his chin, and had allowed a warmer hue to gather about his whole person, quietly blinked his eyes and his pipe head in the nook, watching miniature fire-grates dance upon the window, and the sparrows and robins come fluttering about as if they were old acquaintances, and wanted to come in and warm themselves.  By the kind permission of his dame he had dipped rather freely into the drink mug; fetching the liquor from under the barm and mellowing himself over the beverage until his face had quite a summer-time of it.  And when the night came, and neighbours gathered round the hearth, and the potato-pie had vanished, and the hot posset went round and round, who would have thought that the two old people who rested their feet on each end of the fender were the same as were taken helpless and bleeding out of the ruins of the "Old Thatched House?"  Yet they were; and Mary sang one song — a love ditty it was — that she had kept in her memory over fifty years, and little Jack told droll stories, that were droller from his manner of telling them, for it had been so long since he told a story that he had nearly forgotten all he knew; but with the drink and the fire and the merriment, his memory seemed to come back by flashes, which would so startle him that he danced in his seat, and indulged in such a mixture of quaint fun and simple pathos as to make him look almost beside himself.

    The "Castle" was one of those habitations still to be found in out-of-the-way country places, that appear too large for ordinary dwellings, and too small to have any pretensions to the aristocratic.  It was once the residence of a native squire, whose property got absorbed into that of some other proprietor, and the house was empty for years.  The grandfather of the younger Dooley, however, made it the home of a numerous and thriving family, who required plenty of room; but most of the children dying, the house was again abandoned, and left for owls and bats to sleep away their daylight in.  The new tenant at once set himself the task of renovating it; and the mouldy, crumbling walls were cleaned and repaired; old woodwork replaced by new, broken windows made whole, whitewash and paint freely used wherever required, so that  the dwelling, when its fires were kindled and the furniture placed, and the warm curtains folded against the windows, looked a home in which those who loved quietude and sweet country air, with the pleasant prospect of meadow, wood, and brown hill slope, would wish to pass the evening of their life.

    Here the elder Dooleys sat in the sunshine again of a glorious summertime — watched the autumn approach without fear of the winter behind it, and at last fell, like two leaves which the gentlest autumnal wind hath scattered, in that mortal pathway which leads into the vista of futurity.  They sleep now with their children in the Waverlow churchyard, close beside the grave where "Old Colley" the huntsman rests; their latter days being passed in that state of calm and holy happiness which brings with it the hope of a blessed hereafter.  Peace be with them!



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