A PARK EPISODE
It wur a weet, cowd day i’ May an’ istid o’ th’ sun bein’ eawt, as it should ha’ been, to breeten up th’ little May ﬂeawers, it wur shelterin’ behind some big black cleawds an’ dursno’ show its face. An’ aw wurno’ surprised, for really it rained so mich lately ’at aw’m capp’d at oather th’ sun or th’ moon venturin’ eawt at o. Heawever, aw thowt, “Rain or snow, aw mun have a bit o’ fresh air, so aw’ll have a bit of a walk as far as th’ Park, wheer they tell me there’s some pratty rhododenron bloom.” So aw put on a good pair o’ thick shoon, an’ a warm tag an’ with an owd-fashion’d whalebooan umbrell’ aw set off.
Th’ Park’s wheer it used to be, but th’ surreawndin’s have awther’d a good deeol. Th’ Shapwashes Brook has gone an’ yo’ couldno’ ﬁnd wayther enoof, neaw, to wesh a kitten, owt abeawt a sheep. Th’ grand bridge, ’at wur put up to mak’ a road to th’ Park, has gone too, an’ its place has been ﬁll’d up wi’ ashes. But o wur i’ mournin’ when aw geet theer, whether for th’ loss o’ th’ bridge or th’ sun aw coouldn’t say, but aw dar’ say it wur th’ sun, as nob’dy hardly remembers th’ bridge neaw.
I’ th’ front o’ th’ Park gates there’s what folks would coe a big square, but it isn’t notable for havin’ ony grand buildin’s reawnd it, an’ there’s nowt in it nobbut a solitary lamppost i’ th’ middle ’at seems to be, like th’ swan on th’ Park lake, pinin’ for a companion. I understond, heawever, ’at they’ve ta’en pity on th’ swan an’ shut it up in a little lake of its own. Aw wish somebody would tak’ pity on th’ lonely lamppost, too, an’ give us what would be “a thing o’ beauty an’ a joy for ever.”
But let me say ’at th’ Park, in its nice Spring costume, look’d as pratty as ever. Yo’ll ha’ to go a good way before yo’ con beat th’ Park for beauty. What with its lakes an’ its dells — but howd on, its dells are bein’ made into essmiddens, an’ what they’re intended to be at th’ ﬁnish aw dunnot know. Heawever, th’ Park’s very nice neaw, even under a cleawd. An’ it wur a big cleawd that day, an’ it rain’d, too, to some bant. As th’ owd sayin’ has it, it coom deawn very dree. Even th’ ducks had had enoof on it, for they wur o sheltered under th’ trees. There were nobody else in nobbo’ some gardeners an’ they wur sheltered, too. So aw thowt aw couldn’t do better nor proﬁt by their example an’ shelter also. So aw went an’ sit me deawn i’ that shelther i’ th’ front o’ th’ beawlin’ green an’ started o’ thinkin’ things o’er — heaw things used to be when that Park wur oppen’t an’ heaw they are neaw. Eh! Heaw things han awther’d for sure. But then a good deeol o’ wayther has run along Shapwashes Brook sin’ then.
Aw wur so lapt up i’ my reminiscences, or summat they coe ’em, ’at aw didn’t notice two other fellies ’at had come in eawt o’ th’ rain.
“What dosta think abeawt this, Joe?” said one.
“Aw think ’at it’s a gradely corker, Bob,” onsert th’ other.
“Aye, if we’d stopp’d up theer mich longer we should ha’ been weet throo,” said Bob.
“That is so,” replied joe, “but there is one consolation.”
“An’ what is that?” inquired Bob.
“We! we shouldn’t ha’ been witcher’t,” said Joe.
“But eawr admirers met ha’ provided us with an umbrella,” suggested Bobby.
“What an idea,” ridiculed Joe. Didta ever see a statute with an umbrella up?”
Aw looked up an’ who should ha’ comn in but Blind Joe an’ Bobby Ascroft.
Just then a lad wur seen runnin’ up th’ Broad Walk as if th’ Owd Lad wur after him.
“Who’s yon?” said Bobby.
“Dostna know?” replied Joe. “Yon’s Mally o’ th’ Lone Fowt’s lad. He does nowt nobbo run her arrands, an’ that, becose he’s thowt to be a bit short like. What dost think he did th’ other day?”
“Nay, aw connot tell,” onsert Bobby.
“Well, he coom back one day from an arrand wi’ a bad sixpence an’ his mother couldn’t tell whatever hoo must do becose hoo could ill afford to lose sixpence. “Aw’m sure we connot get beawt it,” hoo said. “Oh! never yo’ fear, mother. Aw’ll get beawt it i’ th’ mornin’,” th’ lad assured her. So i’ th’ mornin’, when he wur goin’ another arrand, hoo gan him this sixpence an’ towd him to be very careful heaw he managed it. He coom back i’ great glee an’ said he’d getten beawt it. “Heaw did ta do it?” ax’d his mother. “Well,” he said, “aw put it between two hawpennies an’ they never seed it.”
“Yo may weel say he’re a bit short,” said Bobby, laughin’.
“Aye, but his brother made up for what he wur short,” added Joe.
“Aye! He wur a little piecer at a facthry deawn i’ Royton, an’ they lived up i’ Glodik, theau knows. So he had to tak’ his breakfast an’ his dinner wi’ him when he went to his wark. There were other lads ’at had to do th’ same at this facthry, an’ as these lads generally sat together havin’ their dinners, it sometimes happen’d ’at two on ’em would swap their dinners when they had what one another would like better. One time this lad o’ Mally’s o’ th’ Lone Fowt had a fayberry cake made i’ th’ owd-fashioned style, like ta long boat wi’ two taper’d ends. Th’ other lad had a potato pie. He said as he didn’t care for potato pies an’ he’d swap it for th’ fayberry cake. Mally’s lad look’d at th’ potato pie an’ then ax’d what sort of a crust it had. When he wur towd ’at it wur a suet crust he agreed to swap at once, as he knew ’at his cake wur nobbut a berm crust. Th’ swap wur made an’ Mally’s lad geet into th’ pie at full speed for fear at th’ other lad met change his mind an’ want to swap back. When th’ other lad had etten abeawt ﬁve or six inches off one end o’ th’ cake, he said, “Hey! aw thowt theau said ’at this wur a fayberry cake.” “Aye! so it is,” said Mally’s lad, “but theau hasn’t getten to th’ fayberries yet.”
“Come, that’ll do,” said Bobby. “But what dosta say to a game at bowls before we go back to eawr peerch again?”
“Agreed,” said Joe, an’ i’ less time nor it tak’s me to tell yo’ they wur on th’ green an’ Joe wur sendin’ th’ jack across. They wur weel match’d an’ were level up to th’ last throw. Then Bobby had two good woods in, close to th’ jack on each side, but Joe made no moore ado, but aim’d at th’ jack an’ sent it spinnin’ off th’ green. Off it went o’er th’ green an’ on th’ walk an’ deawn by th’ lake, and Joe an’ Bobby after it, but whether they ever catch’d it aw dunnot know, but aw wur gettin’ up to follow ’em when aw wakken’t. Aw went reawnd to see if they’d getten back, but they wur on their pedestals as if nowt had happen’d.