"Come, bring the dapple grey," he cried,
"And my good steed bring me,—
My love and I away will ride,
Some countries for to see."
"SCRAPE thi shoo," said
Betty, when Ben came to the threshold. "Scrape th' dirt off thi
shoon! I could like to leave th' heawse some bit like tidy; an' then
one can come back to't wi' comfort. Here, wipe thi feet o' that!"
And she flung a piece of old sacking to him in the doorway.
"I think I'd better get weshed," said Ben, as he scraped the
garden soil from his shoes. "Heaw soon wilto be ready, Betty?
It's time to be shappin'. Look at th' clock. It's gwon nine."
"I'm donnin' this lad as fast as I con," replied Betty.
Be still, thae little urchin, do!" said she, addressing Billy. "Ben,
thae's marred him till he connot abide. He wants this, an' he wants
that, an' he doesn't know what he wants. I declare it's enough to
moighder (to confuse) a stoo'-fuut (the leg of a stool), what wi' one
thing, an' what wi' another. Be still, I tell tho, thae little
pousement! I's be like to get yon birch-rod, in neaw."
This unusual tone of severity was too much for Billy's
sensitive nature, and, hiding his face in his mother's breast, he began to
"Dunnot be so sharp wi' him, mon," whispered Ben. "Th'
lad connot ston' it."
"Well, come then," said Betty, clipping him to her breast and
kissing him. "Come, be a good lad, an' his mam wouldn't hurt him for
the wide world. Come, neaw! Kiss me, an' let's be friends!
That's a good lad. Let's don him, an' then we'n goo a ta-ta wi'
Dimple, munnot we? . . . What doesto think, Ben?
He wants to tak th' cat wi' him."
"Well, let th' lad tak th' cat, if he wants it," said Ben.
Let him tak it, an' then we's be o' together. It'll be a bit of a
eawt for th' cat, too."
"Neaw then!" replied Betty, "thae'll have him agate again.
Go thi ways back into th' garden again, or else get thisel weshed. I
con manage yo one at a time; but when you're both agate at once, it's
rayther to mony for me. Come, my lad," continued she, clipping Billy
to her breast once more, "wipe his face, an' let's get him donned."
Then turning to Ben, she said, "He wants to have his fither-hat on; an' he
says he'll have a posy in it, same as his dad . . . Eh,
Ben! onybody may know who's choilt this is. He's just thy marrow to
nought,—temper an' o'."
"I thought thae wouldn't lev (leave) that eawt!" said Ben.
"But let th' choilt have a posy, if he wants one."
"Oh, ay. Thae'd let him wear a red cabbich (cabbage) in
his hat, if he'd cry. Reitch him th' clock deawn, an' let him tak
that . . . But go thi ways into th' garden, an' get him a
posy,—or else there'll be no quietness."
"I'll get him one, thae's see," said Ben, as he went out to
"Come, my lad," said Betty, "thi dad's gone for a posy.
We's be like to make him look pratty,—shan't we?"
"Mam," said the little fellow, "I want a posy 'at's asleep."
"Thae wants what?"
"I want one 'at's asleep, same as yon upstairs."
"Eh, Billy," said his mother, "thae art a quare lad!
Here, come thi ways, an' let's see what we can do."
Then, taking him up in her arms, she went to the doorway, and
shouted to Ben in the garden,―
"Heigh, Ben! Doesto yer!"
"Well," said Ben, looking over the garden hedge.
"He says he wants a posy 'at's asleep," replied Betty.
He meeons one like thoose 'at's on th' bed-quilt upstairs. They're
"Let him tak th' bed-quilt wi' him, an' then he'll ha' roses
enoo'," said Ben, chuckling to himself.
"Howd thi bother!" cried Betty, "an' bring him some roses! .
. . Both colours, else thae'll ha' to go again."
"Theer they are!" said Ben, as he came out at the garden
gate, with the flowers in his hand. "Theer they are! Tops o'
trees, an' shinin' daisies! Eh, Billy, thae'll be as fine as a
mountebank's foo! Neaw, which wilto have?"
"I'll have a red un," said Billy.
"Theer it is, sitho!" said Ben. "A pummer!"
"I'll have a white un, an' o',—munnot I, dad?"
"I thought heaw it would be," said Betty.
"An' thae shall have a white un, an' o', my lad," said
Ben. "There,—I'll put it into thi hat."
"Go thi ways, an' get thisel weshed," said Betty, pushing Ben
aside. "Gi me thoose posies. I'll trim him up, thae'll see.
Thae knows, thae'll ha' to mind him while I get ready . . .
What dost think he's bin sayin'?"
"Eh, there's no tellin'," said Ben.
"Well, thae knows, his shoon are lace't up like thine," said
Betty; "an' when he wur puttin' 'em on he cock't his fuut up, an' he said,
'These are felly's (men's) shoon, aren't they, mam?"
Here, little Billy, who was hearkening to every word, put his
arm round his mother's neck, and said, "Well, I's be a felly, soon, shan't
"Ay, in a bit, my love," replied Betty, with a long-drawn
sigh,—"in a bit,—if God spares thi life."
"Little lads o' groon into fellys, don't they, mam?"
"Ay, if they liven, my love," answered Betty, in a quiet
The child croodled thoughtfully to himself a minute or two,
whilst his mother went on dressing him; and then, suddenly turning up his
face, he said, "Eawr little Ben's i'th bury-hole, isn't he, mam?"
This unexpected turn in his talk set all Betty's heart in a
tremble, for it brought back to mind the death of her firstborn; and when
she had recovered herself a little she replied in a low voice, "He is, my
love!" But when the lad, after another moment's silence, looked up
again and said, "He's gone a-bein' made into a felly, isn't he, mam?" the
pent waters overflowed her eyes, and tears began to fall on the child's
clothes as she dressed him; and Billy, seeing his mother begin to cry,
stretched up his little arms to clip her neck, as if she was herself a
child, and, with tears in his eyes, he said, "Husht, mam,—I'll be a good
lad! Give o'er cryin', an' I'll buy yo summat!"
"Eh, heaw this little thing does talk!" said Betty, unable to
restrain herself any longer. "Here, Ben, tak howd on him a minute,
till I goo upstairs to look after yon things."
Ben took the lad in his arms, and went to the door, and in an
instant the lad's thoughts had veered round to another drift, and he began
to prattle about the things outside with the changeful vivacity of
childhood. And Ben prattled with him, too, although the water was
standing in his eyes all the while.
In the meantime Betty was giving full vent to her tears a she
turned over the clothes of her first born, laying them aside again, one by
one, with tender care, in the herb-scented treasury where her dearest
relics were stored.
"Come, my lass," said Ben, going to the foot of the stairs,
"let's be off! "
She did not answer, but Ben guessed right well the reason
why, so he went quietly back to the door again, with the lad in his arms,
and waited. He had given Billy a rose to play with, that it might
divert his thoughts, and the child fondled it and sang to it; and as his
eyes wandered around whilst he swung the rose carelessly in his hand, he
stopped suddenly, and, gazing into his father's face, he said, "Dad, wheer
does God live at?"
"Oh, he lives up i'th sky," said Ben. "He lives
"What, wheer there is nobody?"
"Ay, everywheer, my lad."
"Eh, well," said Billy, swinging his rose. "An' who
makes his baggin'?"
"He never needs noan, my lad," replied Ben.
The child stopped as still as a statue, with the rose in his
hand, and, gazing earnestly at his father for an instant, he gave a long,
thoughtful sigh; and then he sang, and played with the rose again.
But, almost before a minute had elapsed, he seemed to return to the same
train of thought, for he stopped again, and said,—
"Wheer does he sleep?"
"He never does sleep," said Ben.
The child gave another sigh, and was silent for a minute or
"Does he live eawt o'th dur when it's rainin'?
"Oh," said Ben, "he maks rain, my lad."
"Did he mak it rain yesterday?"
"Ay, I guess he did," said Ben.
"Oh!" cried Billy, swinging his rose round, with sudden
,glee, "He's a rain-maker! He's a rain-maker! Isn't he, dad?"
"He is, for sure," replied Ben.
"Ay," said Billy, flinging his little arms round his father's
neck, "an' you're a besom-maker, aren't yo, dad?"
Ben went to the foot of the stairs, and cried, "Come, come,
my lass,—it's time to be gooin'?"
"I'll be deawn in a minute," said Betty, closing the lid of
the kist, which contained the underclothing of the little family, all
scented with lavender and other sweet herbs.
When she came downstairs, she was dressed in her Sunday
clothes, and her eyes were red with weeping. She quietly told Ben
that she had left his clean things out for him, but not a word more passed
between them. Billy played with his rose, and prattled on to
himself, in his fitful, childish way, about his fine clothes, and about
Dimple, and there was something touchingly strange in the thoughtless glee
of that little voice, contrasted with the unusual stillness of the
In a few minutes Ben came down again, ready to start; and,
taking the lad in his arms, he went silently outside, followed by his
wife, with the key in her hand.
"I think o's reet," said Betty, looking into the house before
locking the door. "I've laft th' hens their meight, an' some milk
for th' cat. Th' fire'll tak care of itsel. I put some sleck
on. Stop, I've laft th' hond-brush upo' th' table. One should
have a tidy place to come back to."
"Turn th' key, an' come thi ways," said Ben. "Th,
She locked the door, and put the key in her pocket, and there
they were,—Ben, and Betty, and Billy, all dressed in their best, ready for
"Here," said Ben, "tak this lad till I bring th' jackass."
"Come, my lad," said Betty, "we're beawn a ta-ta,— aren't
When Ben had arranged the padding upon the rude saddle which
he kept for his wife's use, he took the lad from her again, and said, with
a sly smile, "Come, jump up, lass, an' let's be off."
"Eh, Ben," cried Betty, "I con jump noan."
"Here, come," replied Ben, "I'll gi' tho a leg on."
"Thae greight foo!" cried Betty. "Thae'll gi' me no
legs on, noather. It'll be a good while afore I con do ony jumpin'.
I wonder heawever thae con think to ax one sich a thing. But some
folk has no feelin' for nought nobbut theirsel."
"Well, well," said Ben, patting her on the shoulder, "keep
thi temper. I're nobbut havin' a bit of a marlock wi' thou."
"I wish thae'd keep thi marlocks to thisel moor than thae has
done, or else I don't know wheer we's be,—some on us."
"Howd thi din!" said Ben. Here, I'll draw th' jackass
up to th' well-side. It'll do for a horse-block,―if
we han nobbut a jackass to tak to't. An' sin things are no better
nor they are, owd lass, let's thank God they're no worse."
"I wish thae'd give o'er thi preitchin', an' draw that
jackass up to th' well," said Betty.
"Well," replied Ben, when he had brought Dimple close to the
trough, "th' jackass is there, sitho; an' thank God 'at we han one
for tho to get onto,—an' a good un."
"I tell tho what, Ben," said Betty, looking into his face,
"I deawt thae'rt noan beawn to live lung."
"Why, what for?" said Ben.
"Why," replied Betty, "becose thae'rt gooin' so terrible
religious o' at once . . . But what arto stonnin'
starein' theer for?" continued she, gathering her skirts together. "Thae'll
be like to help me up, mon! Folk 'at's like me connot be expected to
beawnce up an' deawn like fuut-bo's. Come, get howd!"
"Sure I will, lass," said Ben, setting the lad down upon the
ground. "Sure I will. I don't know whatever thae'd do without
"I'm fast what to do witho, sometimes," replied Betty.
"But come an' get howd; an' give o'er makin' a foo' o' thisel."
"Sure I will, lass," said Ben, lifting her, almost bodily on
to the edge of the well-trough.
"Theighur! That'll do!" said Betty. "I shouldn't
fo in,—should I?"
Ben smiled, and as he drew his arm across his forehead, he
said, "Eh, thae art gettin' into a greight beawncin' crayter."
"Theighur! That'll do!" said Betty. "Howd thin
din, do! an' come an' help me on to this jackass,—afore I slip into th'
Ben went to the well-side, and when he had got a safe grip he
gave Betty a sly nudge before lifting her on to the donkey.
"Neaw then, thae greight foo!" cried Betty, "mind what
thae'rt doin'! Thae'll ha' me in! . . . Theighur!
That's it! Stop! I could do wi' a bit o' summat moor under
"Thae'll do very well, lass," said Ben. "Thae'rt
middlin' weel cushin't, to start wi'."
"Doesto think everybody's as hard as thee?" replied Betty.
"Here, tak th' keigh. Thae'll find an owd seck i'th buttery, yon."
Ben took the key, and went back into the house, and when he
returned, with the sack in his hand, he found Billy standing on the
ground, with outstretched arms, stamping his feet, and crying, "Mam! mam!
"Stop a minute, my lad!" said Ben; and when he had got the
sack settled upon the saddle, he handed him up to his mother.
"Here, tak him," said Ben. "Tak him! . . .
Neaw then, owd lass, thae looks like a five-shillin'-piece, wi' a
fourpenny bit i' thi arms!"
"God bless this little lad o' mine!" cried Betty, clipping
him to her breast. "He's worth five hundred theawsan' million peawnd,—i'
guinea-gowd,—every yure of his yed! An' I'll not bate a bodle,
noother! . . . Neaw then, let's be off!"
"Are yo o' reet? " said Ben, glancing at the posy in his
"As reet as a ribbin'!" said Betty, settling herself upon the
"Stop," said Ben, going to the side of the donkey. "I
mun tighten this bally-bant a bit,—or else I's be slatterin' yo!"
"Ben!" cried she, "do give o'er shakin'! Thae'll waut
(upset) us, i' thou doesn't mind!
"Come here," said Betty. Let's look at that handkitcher.
Thou has it twisted like a boat-rope. I'd ha put another singlet on,
if I'd bin thee . . . Thi nose does look a
bit better,—that's one good job. Well, come, let's be off!"
"Lap thoose legs o' thine up," said Ben. "I don't want
o'th world to see 'em."
"There's no world here, to look at nobry's legs," said Betty.
"Come, let's be off!"
"Stop, stop!" cried Ben.
"Well, what neaw?" said Betty.
"Well, to tell tho truth, lass," said Ben, "I could just like
to kuss (kiss) tho once, afore we starten, if thai's no objection, —for,
by th' mon, thae looks hondsomer nor ever this mornin'! Weddin'
becomes some folk better nor other-some. Let's just ha' one kuss,
"Well, come here, then,—for thae'rt a foo! Come, get it
o'er, an' let's be off!"
And she bent her head down to meet his lips, and she seemed
very patient till it was over.
"Neaw then," said Ben, flirting his whip, "are yo o' reet?"
"Stop!" cried Betty, looking into her basket. "Oh,
they're here! . . . Hasto getten summat to height i'thi
"Ay, it's here," said Ben, giving his jacket a slap.
"Well, I'll tell thou what," continued Betty, "doesn't thou
think we'd better tak a posy for th' owd body, at th' Red Lion?"
"Reet again,―jow thi yed!"
cried Ben. "Here, stick to that whip."
And away he ran into the garden. In a minute or two he
popped his head over the hedge, and cried out,―
"Neaw, win yo have another rose apiece, afore we starten?"
"Well, bring 'em, an' be sharp," said Betty. "It's time
to be gooin', mon."
"Theer," said Ben, returning with a posy as big as a new
besom in his hand. "Theer, heaw will that do?"
"Eh, grandly!" said Betty.
"Well, tak howd, then," said Ben, "an' let's be goon'."
Ben gave his whip another flirt, and, stepping back a yard or
two, he cried,―
"By th' mass, owd crayter, I never clapt my een on a prattier
seet sin I wur born o' mi mother! A rushcart's a foo to this!
By th' mon, it looks like a four-legged garden! Eh, Dimple, owd brid,
thae may weel prick thoose ears o' thine! Thae never had as bonny a
burn (burden) o' stuff upo' thi back, sin thae begun o' wearin' a tail!
Thae'd start o' singin' if thae could see thisel, just neaw! . .
. It's a fleawer-show upo' th' tramp! . . . Th'
childer of Israel, crossin' th' Red Say wi' posies i' their honds! .
. . Lamb an' sallet for ever! Thoose are my colours! . .
. It's a jackass load o' angels, by th' mon! . . .
"Ben," cried Betty, "arto goin' mad!"
"Am I hectum as like!" replied Ben. "By th' mon, lass,
I'm preawd on you! . . . Wheer's mi 'bacco? I mun do
summat or another, to keep this yed o' mine straight . . .
Neaw, off wi' yo, an' I'll follow yo,—ay, I'll follow yo, through Ay-gypt,
or th' land o' Canaan, or onywheer yo'n a mind. Goo wheer yo win,
I'll follow yo,—as long as my shoon stops on! Fly up i'th element,—I
con howd on by th' tail! An' by th' mon, Betty, I con tell thou
another thing,—I'll have a good price if I part wi' aught there is upo'
"Thae'll be hard set to find a market for some on us, I
think," said Betty.
"I dunnot care," answered Ben. "I dunnot care.
I'll stick to my stall, if I dunnot sell a hawp'oth!"
"Do let's be off," said Betty, "for thae'rt gooin' eawt o'
"Well, are yo ready? Say the word!
"Ready?" said Betty. "We're waitin' o' thee."
"Then, Seawnd the loud timbrel!" cried Ben, cracking his
whip. "Come up, Dimple."
And away they went in the sunshine, down the bridle-road,
between sprawling old hedges, all drowned in their wild variety of summer
growth, Ben flirting his whip to and fro, as he walked by Dimple's head,
In the merry month of June—
In the sweetest of the year,—
It's deawn i' yon green meadows
There runs a river clear;
And many a little fish
Does in that river play;
While many a lad, and many a lass,
Are eawt a-makin' hay.
In come the jolly mowers,
To mow the meadows down;
Wi' budgets, an' wi' bottles
O' whoam-brewed ale nut-brown.
All men of courage, stout and bold,
They come their strength to try;
They sweat an' blow, an' cut an' mow—
For the grass is very dry.
There's nimble Tom and Ben,
Wi' pitchfork an' wi' rake;
There's Mall an' Nan, an' Sue an' Sall,
They come the hay to make;
And sweetly,—jug, jug, jug,—
The wild birds they do sing,
From morning prime to evensong,
Whilst they are haymaking.
And when the day did fade,—
And the bright sun he went down,—
There was a merry piper
Approachèd from the town.
Out came his pipe and tabor,
An' sweetly he did play,
Which made 'em all throw down their rakes,
And leave a-making hay.
Then joining in a dance,
They jigged it on the green;
An' though all tired with labour,
No weariness was seen:
But like so many fairies,
The dance they did pursue,
In leading up an' casting off,
Till mornin' came in view.
An' when the soft daylight,
The peep o' day was come,
They lay them down to rest
Till the rising of the sun,—
Until the rising of the sun,
When the merry lark doth sing,—
And then each lad he took his lass
Once more a haymaking.
Jog on, jog on, the footpath way,
And merrily pent the style-a;
A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad tires in a mile-a.—
AWAY went Dimple,
trickling down the bridle-path, with his flower-garnished load of
joy,—frisking his tail, and pricking his ears, as if he felt proud of such
a blithe and bonny burden. Away he went, through the sunshine,—that
patient little rusty paragon of quadrupeds,—with the posies nodding at the
ear of his bridle, and his heart beating time to the prattle of the mother
and her child upon his back; and with Ben, full of lazy glee, stepping
gaily by his side, to the measure of an old country song. Away they
went,—Betty and Billy, and Dimple and Ben,—through the heather-scented
sunshine, with a thousand varied wild-flowers gushing over the borders of
the rugged way, and the bloomy wilderness smiling all around, and the wild
birds fluttering after them, from bush to bush, chanting pretty trills of
lyric kindliness to the smiling cortege, as it meandered down the wild
As they began to glide away from the front of the cottage,
the little rindle that fed the well with water tinkled a silvery adieu to
the departing train, and the pot-flowers in the window leaned forward to
catch another glimpse before they disappeared at the house-end, and the
whole flowery slope of the hill seemed to listen to Ben's receding song.
And even the weather-stained walls of the lonely cot they were leaving
seemed to gaze down the rugged pathway, after the kind hearts they had
sheltered so long, as if every grey stone, every creeping tinge of mossy
emerald, and every delicate lichen that had found a home upon those
many-tinted walls, had, through long acquaintance, become endued with
something of the emotional gentleness of those whom they had shielded with
friendly care from many a wintry storm, and who had made everything in
that lowly nook so sweet,—so very sweet and glad. And as that lonely
homestead faded from view there was something touching in the way in which
Betty turned her face,—like the "bending pennant" of a departing ship,—to
take another look at its humble walls, and then, with a quiet sigh, seated
herself upon her seat once more; for, in spite of the unusual elation of
her spirits, a flush of kindly remembrances, connected with that little
nest of her wedded years, came over her mind,—and, with them,
remembrances, too, of many a little household treasure she was leaving
there. These things came over her mind as she turned to look upon
the retiring gables of the little cottage, like a fleecy cloud sailing
across a sunny sky. A touch of plaintive tenderness mingled with her
joy as she thought of her kindly hearthstone, left silent now, to watch
the fading fire's decay, and to listen, hour after hour, for the return of
those whose footsteps had so often made it glad. She thought, too,
of the clock, left ticking to the lonely walls,—of the tinkling well,
playing its silvery cymbals to the silent air,—of the garden, wondering at
the unusual stillness of the cottage,—of the flowers upon the window-sill,
and of the old kist, where the clothing of her buried darling lay.
She thought of all these things as of so many old friends. The
twittering birds, the pet poultry, and a thousand nameless trifles that
had twined around her heart, came crowding across her mind in one tender
retrospective glance,—so subtle are the sympathetic bonds of Nature and
the human spirit.
Away they went, down the bridle-path and it was indeed a
pleasant sight to see that little company wandering alone, so fair and
glad, along the sunny way. It was a rugged path, full of
Quips, and cranks, and wanton wiles;
but it led through a scene full of wild sweetness; and the feet that trod
it loved it well. Even the very boulders, and ruts, and tangled
irregularities of that ancient storm-worn way had unconsciously become
familiar and dear to them as the furrows upon the features of an agèd
Any one well acquainted with the hills of Lancashire will
remember meeting with strips of old road, here and there, which, though
long since deserted, and almost forgotten now, have evidently been the
common pathways of ancient times, when many of the valleys of the North of
England were impassable swamp and jungle. They are sometimes found
far away from any track of man in these days, peeping out from the
overgrowth of centuries, like the bones of a deserted graveyard.
These silent roads are ancient channels of human life, from which the
streams have been diverted long ago . . . And the path
which led up from the valley past Ben's cottage was an old pack-horse
road, which, though it had long since been widened for the admission of
carts, as far as cultivation had crept up the hill-side, beyond that was
nothing more than a deserted bridle-track,—rocky and rutty, and full of
boulders and sprawling wash from the moorside; and, in seasons of heavy
rain, quite as much a water-course as a practicable road. Ben had
done something towards keeping it a little in order up as far as his
cottage lay, and in front of his own dwelling he had cleared a wider
space, and he had enlarged and improved the rude old sandstone pavement
which had been laid down there two or three generations before he was
born. But beyond Ben's cottage it wandered away, almost untrodden
and quite neglected now; and, in many places, very dim and difficult to
trace. Far away northward it wandered, in silent windings, over many
a heathery hill, through many a clough, and athwart many a lonely stream,
where even the old stepping-stones have long been washed away. It
was only where it approached some quaint farmstead that it assumed
anything like practicable condition. All the rest was one long train
of wild neglect and ruinous solitude.
It was a glorious forenoon as our happy family descended the
slope of Lobden Moor, in the direction of the hamlet of Facit; and Dimple
trod the rough pathway with a daintier step than usual, as if he was
walking a minuet. But if ever jackass was a gentleman, Dimple was
one. He was a gentleman in heart and thought; for he had a heart,
and a kind one, too,—a heart that had twined its tendrils in a noiseless
way around far more things than the blustering would ever dreamt of.
Ben and Dimple had been companions in the ups and downs of life so long,
and they had been so helpful and kindly together through it all, that they
now absolutely loved one another; and each was uneasy when the other was
away. They loved one another like very brothers; and if all the
world loved one another half so well as Ben and his jackass did, there
would be less inhumanity to be mourned than now. Dimple was a
gentleman in thought, too, for he had thoughts of his own,—not gathered
from books, certainly, but fed on quiet observation and lonely musings;
though, as a rule, he kept his thoughts to himself, for he was of a
reticent and contemplative nature, and his blood and judgment were so
commingled that he rarely indulged in a bray. Oh, if all the,—but
let that pass. And when, impelled by some impressible emotion, he
did give way to an impassioned burst of asinine eloquence, it was no
personal vanity that moved him, no desire for vulgar display, no wish to
delude, nor vaulting ambition to over-ride his kind. It is true
that, to a susceptible and observant spirit, like his own, there was a
ceaseless and expressive language at work in the frisk of his tail, and in
the fitful play of his ears, and in the changeful gleam of that quiet,
philosophic eye; but, to the dull world at large, these were all an
inarticulate mystery,—seldom noticed, never explained, but passed by, like
the unheeded pebble at a man's foot, which could put him to the riddle of
the universe, if he cared to inquire of it. But, apart from all this
play of silent action, and what it revealed to the penetrative spirit,
Dimple's thoughts were his own. Long ears and long-suffering were
the accidents of his birth, and the hereditary badges of his tribe; but he
never wearied either his own ears or the ears of others with doleful
complainings, nor gusts of windy utterance, "signifying nothing," but
silently went his way through storm and sunshine, towards his end,—like a
gentleman. His words were few, his thoughts were many. He had
a true and tender heart for his friends, and a pair of hard heels for his
enemies; he had a patient and enduring spirit for all that befel, and a
quiet, observant eye for everything.
Betty and Billy, and Dimple and Ben. There they were,
all freaked with summer flowers, and wandering through the sunshine, as
happy as the lark that sang above them. It was a great event for
them all, this little summer trip together to the old village of
Whitworth. Ben was accustomed to travelling about to the towns and
villages around, within the distance of an easy day's journey from home;
and he was looked upon as a man who had seen a good deal of the great
world, in comparison with many of his neighbours, with whom an annual trip
of four or five miles, to the "Rush-bearing" at Rochdale town, was an
event to talk about through all the rest of the year. To Ben the
mere journey was therefore no novelty. But Betty was unusually
elated in spirits; for, like most folks born in remote nooks of those
hills, she was not much given to wandering, even in her own neighbourhood.
And this home-keeping habit had become more confirmed in her ever since
her wedding-day. She was quite content with her little cot upon the
sweet wild slope of Lobden Moor, and she listened to Ben's description of
scenes and events met with in the towns and villages within a few miles'
circuit, with as much wonderment as men in these days listen to the tales
of travellers returned from far foreign lands. To her mind the
distances from nook to nook of her native hills still retain something of
the importance which they had in childhood,—so little need had she found
for travelling, and so little facility was there for it, especially in
such retired places at that time. The people of those days little
dreamt of the change which a few years were to bring forth in this
respect. The wonders of modern railways were still in the womb of
time; and there are old people living in those hills who, even yet, view
the vast change in the mode of travel, and the wonderful results arising
there from, with no small amazement.
But it was not alone the novelty of the trip, nor the beauty
of the day, that made Betty's heart gladder than usual. The chief
feature of the event that pleased them all was that they were going
As they descended the hill, the top of the cottage chimney
disappeared, and the fields, and meadows, and scattered homesteads of the
valley began to expand upon the sight. The last note of Ben's song
had died out upon the air, and they had journeyed on a minute or two in
silence together, as if drinking in the varied beauty of the scene before
them, when Billy's rosy face peeped over the top of the posy which his
mother was carrying, and clapping his little fat hands, he cried out,
"Sing again, dad!"
"Doesto yer what he says?" cried Betty to Ben, who was a few
yards ahead of the donkey, flirting his whip at the gorse bushes by the
roadside. "Doesto yer what this lad says?"
"Nawe," replied Ben. "What is it this time?"
"He says he wants tho to sing again."
"Well then, I will, my lad!" cried Ben. "Here goes!—
As I crossed the fields wi' my milkin'-can,
In a May mornin' early,
I met with a fine young gentleman,
An' he said 'at he loved me dearly!
I made him a curtsey, he made me a bow,
He kissed me, an' said he would marry I trow;
I wish i' my heart he wur here just now,―
In a May mornin' early."
"Neaw then, Billy, my lad," said Ben, patting the little
fellow on the cheek, "heaw will that do?"
The little fellow crowed and clapped his hands.
"Well, come," said Ben, "I've just time to gi' tho another
bit of a ditty afore we come'n to yon heawse. What's it to be?"
"Sing him 'Th' Carion Crow,' or else 'Poor Owd Horse,'" said
And little Billy clapped his hands again, and crowed among
the posies which half-concealed his chubby face.
The carrion crow he sat upon an oak,
An he spied an owd taylior cuttin' eawt a cloak.
Heigho! the carrion crow.
The carrion crow he began for to rave,
An' he code th' owd taylior a dirty knave.
Heigho! the carrion crow.
Dame, go fetch my arrow an' my bow,
An' I'll have a shot at yon carrion crow.
Heigho! the carrion crow.
Th' taylior he shot, but he missed his mark,
An' he shot th' owd sow slap through th' heart.
Heigho! the carrion crow.
Dame, go fetch me some traycle in a spoon,
For th' poor owd sow's in a terrible swoon.
Heigho! the carrion crow.
Th' owd sow deed, and the bells they did toll,
An' th' little pigs prayed for th' owd sow's soul!
Heigho! the carrion crow.
They were now entering the cultivated lands upon the lower
slope of the valley. Kine (cattle) were cropping the green herbage
of the pasture lands; and, lower down, the light green hue of the new-mown
meadows was visible in all directions. Old sprawling hedges, drowned
in the wild growth of summer plants and flowers, began to flank the sides
of the way. Farmhouses stood here and there, one or two near the
road down which they were going, others scattered irregularly along the
valley, in shady nooks, and on shelves of green land. Some of these
were quaint stone-built homesteads, some centuries old.
As they approached a gate which led up to an old farmhouse, a
few yards retired from the road, a burly old farmer was coming down the
path, from the door of the house, towards the gate, with a hay-rake in his
hand. Recognising Ben, as he came down the road by the side of the
jackass, chattering to Betty and Billy, the old man shaded the sun from
his eyes with his hand for a second or two; and when he had reconnoitred
the approaching travellers, he lifted his rake and cried out,―
"Hello, Ben, my lad! Heaw fur? Heaw fur?
What, arto for tryin' th' green-grocery line? Or thae'rt hawkin'
garden-plants? . . . Well, Betty, haw are yo? What,
Billy theer an' o'? What's to do? What's to do? Arto for
flittin', Ben? Arto for flittin'? Or thae'rt beawn to a
rushbearin' somewheer? What's th' price o' thi garlan', owd lad?
It looks weel,—an' nought else."
"Well, are we fit to turn eawt, thinken yo?" said Ben,
stopping the donkey in front of the gate.
"Turn eawt!" cried the old man. "Turn eawt, saysto?
I never seed a prattier dooment sin I're born into th' world! Lobden
garlan', by th' mon! An' yor Betty sits theer, i'th middle on't, as
grand as th' Queen o' Shayba! Betty, heaw arto,—heaw arto lass, for
thae looks primely?"
"I'm just middlin', Amos, thank yo!" cried Betty. "Are
"Oh, I'm th' reet side eawt, lass,—th' reet side eawt.
What, han yo getten Billy wi' yo,—is Billy theer an' o', th' little
urchin? I see tho theer, at th' back o' thoose posies! I see
tho peepin'! What, Ben, lad, thae's getten o'ath lot here,—stock,
lock, an' barrel. Arto for flittin', lad? Arto for flittin'?"
"Nay, we're noan beawn so fur, Amos," replied Ben. "We's
be back again abeawt th' edge o' dark, when th' crow flies whoam."
"Well, come, that'll do,—that'll do. I thought yo're
off, like; as you're so donned, an' so trimmed, an' so garlanded up to th'
een, o' on yo. By th' mass, it favvours a gardener's weddin'!
As for thee, Ben, I never seed thee as smart sin I're wick!
Thae'rt as grand as a recruitin' sarjen', i' war time! An' th'
jackass an' o',—th' jackass an' o',—brokken eawt in a rosy rash!
There never wur sich a jackass i' this world as that o' thine, Ben, never!
Eh, dear o' me! I'm fain to see yo,—I'm fain to see yo,—th' jackass
an' o'! I'm fain to see yo! But heaw fur arto for, Ben,―heaw
fur arto for?"
"Eawr Betty an' Billy's beawn as fur as Whit'oth. I'm
gooin' as fur as Blacks'nedge; an' I'se co' for 'em as I come back, at
"A bit of a junkettin'-jawnt, I guess?" continued the old
"Nought else, Amos," replied Ben. "Eawr Betty an' me
are noan beawn to tak things as quietly as we han done. We're for
havin' a jawnt together to-day, for a leetenin', as it's turns eawt so
fine at after bein' so rough."
"Ay, ay, an' nought but reet, noather," said Amos "nought but
reet, noather, lad! Pluck up, an' look reawnd tho, an' do a bit o'
summat for thisel! An' dunnot be rootin' wi' thi nose upo' th'
grindlestone for everlastin', mon. Pluck up, an' twirl thisel reawnd
a bit! Faint heart never won fair lady, mon,—never! Not i'
this world; I don't know heaw they'n go on i'th next. Doesto yer,
Betty, lass? Am I reet? Faint heart never won fair lady.
Am I reet? Am I reet?"
"I yer yo," replied Betty.
"Well, am I reet, then, I want to know?" continued the old
"You're noan so fur off th' mark, Amos," answered she, with a
"Neaw then, Ben, lad, doesto yer that?" cried Amos. "Doesto
yer that hommer-rap?"
"I yer," replied Ben, stroking Dimple's fore-leg down.
"I yer what yo say'n."
"Well, heed, then, lad, heed!" said Amos. "Faint heart
never won fair lady,—nor it never won mich o' nought else, noather."
"Fair ladies!" said Ben, lifting up his head, with a flush
upon his countenance. "I know nought abeawt yor fair ladies.
Look at eawr Betty, as hoo sits theer, at th' top o' that jackass!
By th' 'ounds, Amos, I deawt I'm set up i'th lady-line, as fur as this
world gwos. I don't know what th' next'll do for me,—as yo say'n.
But, hoo is theer, to look at. I think I'm very weel fitted, Amos.
I don't know what yo thinken."
"I dar say thae art well fitted, Ben,—an' a good job, too.
Be thankful, lad, be thankful. There's noan so mony 'at's let on
better nor thee. Dun yo yer him, Betty? Dun yo yer what he says?"
"I yer yo," said Betty, blushing. "I yer yo, both on yo.
I don't know whether yo co'n me a lady or not; an' if it's o'th same to yo,
I'd as lief yo would'nt co' me no mak o' nicknames. But, lady or no
lady, I am here, sich as I am,—to be gooin' on wi'. An' if I'm a
lady,—eawr Ben's a gentleman, I guess. A bosom-maker's wife has no 'casion
to reckon to be so mich aboon porritch. I dunnot thank folk for
throwing their slurs. Everybody knows what trade we are,—an' I don't
care whether they dun or not."
"Keep thi temper, lass,— keep thi temper," said the old
farmer, laughing aloud.
"Hoo's noan short o' pluck, is hoo?" said Ben. "Hoo's
roan short o' pluck, if hoo has nobbut a jackass to ride on."
"Pluck? Nawe, by th' 'ounds, I wish thae'd hauve as
mich, Ben," said the old farmer. "But yo munnot tak me wrang.
Yo ail'n nought at o', Betty,—yo ail'n nought at o'! God bless yo
bwoth! There's mony a rare good nut wi' a rough shell. God
bless yo! You're o' reet, if yo con poo through together."
"Well, I'm content, if eawr Ben is," replied Betty.
"An' I don't think he has mich occasion to grumble, if he con sattle his
"That's wheer it is, Betty," said Amos,—"that's just wheet it
is. There's a deeol o' trouble wi' some folk's yeds. Owed
Snitch, th' taylior, use't to say that he could mak a pair o' breeches to
fit their Nathan ony wheer except o'th yed. He could never mak a
pair to fit his yed. An' it's happen th' same wi' Ben, here."
"A little bit, sometimes, I think," said Betty, smiling.
"Oh, Ben! oh, Ben!" said old Amos. "I deawt thae's a
twothre curly fancies i' that pate o' thine, sometimes."
"I wish to the Lord yo'd howd yor tungs," said Ben, playing
with the end of his whiplash. "As for thee, Betty, thae'll mak it
eawt in a bit at I'm oather leet-yedded, or summat war."
"Eh, dear o' me!" said Betty. "Who's settin' their
bristles up neaw, I wonder? Thae plagues me mony a time; but thae
connot stop' jokin' a bit thisel. Put that neck-hankitcher o' thine
straight, an' let's be gooin'."
"Ay, come, come, come,―let's
drop it," said Amos. "But what's o' yor hurry?"
"We mun be gettin' forrad," replied Ben, taking hold of the
bridle. "I think yo'n done middlin' wi' yor hay this time, Amos,
"Oh, ay," replied the old farmer, "we'n done very weel, tak
it o' together. Just th' tail end o'th harvest geet catcht by th'
storm, yesterday,—but nought o' no weight. Two or three hours' moore
dry weather, an' we should ha' had it every bit snugly heawse, an' i' good
"Eh, it wur a storm," said Ben.
"Ay, it wur, lad," replied the farmer. "It's a lung
time sin aught like it befel, i' my time. We's yer of a deeol o'
damage bein' done, up an' deawn, I deawt. Heaw did thae go on, Ben?"
"Oh, I geet steep't to th' skin i'th for-end o'th storm,"
said Ben; "but I crope into th' Red Lion, at Whit'oth, an' geet my clooas
dried, while th' storm went by."
"Eh, ay," said Betty. "I couldn't tell wherever he
could be, Amos. An' th' childer an' me wur o' alone i' yon bit o'th
cot, wi' nought nobbut th' wild moor abeawt us. I wur terrible
fleyed, I con tell yo."
"Thae met ha' come'd deawn here wi' th' childer," said the
old farmer. "It would ha' bin company for tho."
"Eh, thank yo," replied Betty; "but it coom o' of a sudden,
yo known, Amos. An', fleyed as I wur, I never once thought o' gooin'
eawt o'th heawse, for I lippen't of eawr Ben comin' in every minute, as
weet as a wayter-dog. An' if he had, yo known, I wouldn't ha' had
him to ha' fund th' dur fast again him, for a keaw-price . . .
But, eh, dear o' me, Ben, do let's be off! Thae'rt forgettin' thisel.
mon! Th' day's creepin' on!"
"Ay, lass, we mum be gooin' for sure," said Ben, laying hold
of Dimple's bridle once more.
"Heaw's th' owd mistress?" said Betty, as she settled herself
upon the saddle for another start. Heaw's th' owd mistress, an' yor
"Eh, dear! ay, ay, ay," said the old farmer. "By th'
mass, Betty, I'd like to made a hole i' my manners. Hoo'd ha' played
th' upstroke wi' me if I'd letten yo go by. Come, I'll co' on her."
Then the old man turned round, and shouted up towards the
"Eysther! Doesto yer, Matty? Come here, you're
wanted a minute."
The farmer's wife came to the door with spectacles on her
nose. She had evidently been baking, for her hands were white with
flour, and she had brought a rolling-pin to the door. Esther was
about sixty-five years of age; but she was a fine, healthy, cheerful woman
still. She was far above the middle height, and she was round, and
sound, and as fresh-coloured as a well-grown apple. Silver threads
were beginning to shine among her auburn air, and time had engraved a few
delicate wrinkles upon her open forehead; but a sound constitution, and a
happy temperament, combined with a sweet and simple life, in easy
circumstances, had made her almost insensible to the approach of age; and
she was a pleasant picture to look upon, as she stood there, smiling in
the doorway, with the rolling-pin in her hands.
"Hoo is yon, sitho, Betty," said the old farmer. "Hoo
is yon,—as cant as a kitlin'. It's th' bakin-day, thae sees, an'
hoo's up to th' een i' flour, an' sich like. It'll be th'
churn-supper th' day after to-morn, too; an' we're o' upset,—we're o'
upset . . . Neaw, then," continued he, turning round,
and shouting to his wife, "arto noan beawn to come deawn,—wi' that rollin'-pin
"Who is it?" said the old woman.
"Come thi ways an' see," said Amos. "Come thi ways an'
"I'm sich a seet, mon," said the old woman, wiping her hands
upon her apron.
"Seet!" replied the farmer. "Thae ails nought.
Come thi ways deawn, an' bring th' rollin'-pin wi' tho,―th'
mug an' o', if thae's a mind. Come thi ways. What, we sha'not
"Whatever hasto agate?" said the old woman, as she came down
to the roadside, smiling and wiping her hands.
"Agate?" replied the farmer. "Thae met be freeten't o'
sombry runnin' away wi' tho. Doesto see what there is at th' top o'
that jackass, theer?"
"Eh, God bless mi life!" said the old woman. "What, is
it Betty? An' Billy an' o'! Well, well, by my truth, but yo
looken vast smart! Wheerever are yo for?"
"We're beawn as far as Whit'oth, Eysther," said Betty.
"Whit'oth?" replied the o'd woman. "What, yo're noan
beawn to th' doctor's, are yo? Han yo had a misfortin, some on yo?
No limbs brokken, I hope?"
"Eh, nawe, we'n had no misfortins at eawr heawse, Eysther,—thank
God for it! Nawe, I'm nobbut gooin' for a bit of an eawt," replied
"It's weel to be yo, Betty, 'at con go flirtin' up an' deawn,—that
it is," said the farmer's wife. "But never mind, lass," confined
she, "never mind. See a bit o' summat while there's a chance.
For when thae get's four or five moor childer reawnd tho, thae'll not be
able to stir far away fro whoam."
"Doesto yer that," said the old farmer, whispering to Ben.
"Doesto yer that, lad? Four or five moor. Eawr owd woman's
cuttin' wark eawt for yo."
"I yer her," replied Ben, kicking a little stone which lay at
"Eh, mistress," said Betty, "four or five moor! It
makes me tremble to think on't. We'n as mich as th' pastur'll keep,
neaw. I'm quite content as we are."
"Howd thi din, lass, do," replied the old woman. "Dunnot
thee be flayed, Folk mun do as they con i' this world, and not as they
win. Eawr Amos an' me,—we'n had nineteen; an' I believe 'at they
every one on 'em brought us fresh luck,—I do for sure,—thank God for't!"
"Eh, mistress," said Betty, blushing and smiling, "you're as
bad as eawr Ben, every bit. That's just his talk to nought at o'."
"Well, an' he's reet," replied the old woman. "But,
here, Amos, tak howd o' this rollin'-pin. I'll wipe my honds.
Code, Betty, gi's howd o' that little lad o' yor's. Yo mun get off a
twothre minutes. Ben, help her deawn."
"Eh, nay," said Betty, "I dar not get off, Eysther,—I dar not
get off! Eawr Ben's to be at Yealey Ho' at noon; an' we'n to go to
Whit'oth th' first. He's takkin' me deawn to see th' londlady at th'
Red Lion. Hoo's bin an owd friend o' mine ever sin' I wur a bit of a
lass; an' I hadn't sin her, I dunnot know th' time when. Hoo's
gettin' a good age, is th' owd woman; an' hoo's nobbut in a tickle state
o' health; an' hoo wants me to go deawn. If aught wur to happen her,
I should fret sadly if I hadn't sin her, for hoo's bin very good to me."
"An' nought but reet," said the farmer's wife. "But,
what the hangment, you're noan i' that hurry? Thae can get deawn a
minute. Gi' me howd o' that lad. Ben, help her off."
"Eh, I dar not,—I dar not, Eysther," cried Betty. "I
dur not, for sure! It'd tak me hauve-an-heaver to get on again.
We'n co' as we come'n back. Come, Ben, let's be gooin'."
"Ay, we mun be gooin', for sure, lass," said Ben.
"Well, then, if yo win co' as yo come'n back, I'll let yo
off," said the old woman.
"Oh, we'st come back this gate, Eysther," replied Betty; "an'
I'll co', if I'm livin'."
"That'll do!" said old Esther,—"that'll do; an' then yo con
stop a bit."
"Sure, I con," replied Betty. "Well, I'll bid yo good
mornin'. Come, Ben."
"Here, here," cried the old man, turning to his wife, "What,
thae'rt noan beawn to let 'em go by dry meawth arto? Look at Ben,
here. Th' lad's as dry as soot!"
"Eh, dear!" replied the old woman, "whatever am I thinkin'
abeawt! This yed o' mine isn't worth a row o' pins."
"Nawe, nawe," said Betty. "Never mind it just neaw,
Eysther. Thank yo o'th same. But we hadn't time,—we hadn't,
"Stop wheer yo are a minute," said the farmer's wife, as she
hurried up to the house.
"Here, here," cried the farmer, "tak this rollin'-pin o'
thine. What hasto left it wi' me for?"
But the old woman had disappeared into the house.
"Hoo's off!" said the old man, laughing, as he flung the
rollin'-pin up and caught it again descending.
"Ben," said Betty, "I wonder at tho. Thae knows what
what we han to do; an' theer thae stops, as quiet as a milestone, just as
if thi meawth wur stitch't up!"
"Well, thae knows," replied Ben, "thae'rt a better talker
than I am. It's no use on us both bein' agate at once, mon."
"Thae knows wheer to find thi tung, when thae's a mind, too,"
"I wish I knowed heaw to stop thine, sometimes," replied Ben.
"Come, come, hoo's here," cried the farmer, as the old woman
returned with a tray in her hands, upon which were refreshments.
"Here, Amos, tak howd a minute," said she, handing the tray
to the old farmer. "Neaw then, Betty lass, there's a drop o' elder
wine for tho; get it 'into tho. It'll do tho no harm, lass.
Ben, I dar say thae's dry. Thae'll find that a saup o' good ale, I
think . . . An' as for this pratty little lad o' yors,"
continued she, patting Billy's dimple chin, "I've brought him some bits o'
sweet-cakes, an' two red-cheeked apples,—God bless him! Come, I'm
like to have a kiss." And Billy stretched out his little arms to
clip the kind old woman's neck. "Betty," said she, "he'd happen like
a saup o' new milk to his cake."
"Oh, nay, thank yo," replied Betty, "I'll let him taste wi'
"Well," said the old woman, "it'll not do him a bit o' hurt,
bless him,—th' poor little thing."
And so they chatted kindly together, whilst Betty sipped her
"Mistress," said Betty, "I don't see yo're lasses abeawt.
Wheerever are they?"
"Eh, they're off at th' teawn, marketin'. We're o' up
to th' neck, gettin' ready for th' churn supper. It comes off th'
day after to-morn; an' I've my honds full, thae may depend."
"Ben," said the old man, "thae met come deawn to th' churn
supper, an' bring Betty wi' tho."
"Eh, ay, do come!" added the old woman. "What's th' use
o' mewin' yorsels up i' yon lonely heawse, fro' week-end to week-end?
Do come. I'm sure we'n make yo welcome. What say'n yo, Betty?
Win yo come? Eawr lasses win be some fain."
"Eh, ay, bith heart, mistress, I'll come, an' thank yo mony a
time! I'll come for an heawer or two, if eawr Ben'll come wi' me."
"Oh, we'n not ha' yo sunder's, lass," cried the old farmer.
"Yo mun come together. An' yo mun stick together. Ay, an' yo
mun doance together, too."
"Eh, my dancin' days are o'er, I deawt," replied Betty.
"Howd thi din, lass, do!" said the old woman, "thae'll be
reet enough, i' thae'll ha' patience! . . . But it's a
bargain, I guess,—isn't it, Betty?"
"Oh, we'n come, for sure," said Betty. "It will
"Sure, it will," replied the old woman.
"Neaw, doesto yer that?" said the farmer, giving Ben a slap
on the shoulder. "If thae doesn't bring her, I'll ha' thee ducked
i'th hoarse-poand, th' next time thae comes by."
"Oh, we'n come, Amos, yo'n see," replied Ben. "I'll
come afore I'll be ducked, as heaw."
"An' neaw then," said Betty, handing down the empty glass,
"we mun be gooin',—we mun, for sure! Ben, do start!"
"Well, then," said the farmer's wife, "good mornin' to yo,
Betty! Good mornin' to yo o'! An' I hope yo'n have a pleasant
And so, with many kind parting words, they started on their
The old woman watched them down the lane, and as she stood
leaning over the gate, little Billy chanced to turn his head and looked
"I see tho theer," said she,—" I see thou, wi' thi bonny blue
een! God bless tho! . . . Poor little thing! It's
a bonny lad!"
"He's a pratty lad, for sure," said the farmer, gazing after
them; "an' they're two very daycent folk,—Ben an' th' wife."
"Ay, they are," replied the old woman. "But I mun go
back to yon bakin'. Put th' rollin-pin upo' this tray, an' let me be
The old man laid the rolling-pin upon the tray, and she
walked back into the house, whilst he went humming across the road, with a
rake in his hand, disappearing at the entrance of a meadow on the opposite
In the meantime the little family were wending their way
quietly downward, between the thick-grown hedgerows, as happy as the day,
Betty and Billy chatting together about his cakes and red-checked apples,
whilst Ben walked by their side, whistling, and switching at the brambles
that grew by the way.
They had reached the bottom of the bridle-path, and emerged
upon the high road leading along the valley from Rochdale to Rossendale,
when Ben, in a sudden fit of hilarity, gave Dimple a switch behind, and
cried, "Come up!" and away went Dimple, as if quite willing for a frolic.
Away he went, at full gallop, to the dismay of Betty and Billy, who, being
hampered with the basket and the flowers, began to roll about in an
ominous way. Billy screamed, and Betty cried out, "Stop it!
Do stop it! I'm slurrin' off!" Ben ran ahead, and caught
the donkey by the bridle. "Thane great foo," said Betty, wiping the
perspiration from her face, "what didto set it off o' that shap for?
Thae knows I'm as fast as a midge in a traycle-pot, wi' this lad i' my
arms. We should ha' bin rollin' upo' th' floor in a minute.
Do drive gently! I connot do to be shake't o' that road! I
wonder what thae'rt thinkin' at?"
"I never thought it would ha' started a-gallopin'," said Ben,
still keeping hold of the bridle. "I've hard work to get it to walk,
sometimes. Thae mun ha' some pins abeawt tho."
"Pins be hanged!" replied Betty. "Keep thi whip still,
an' stick to th' bridle a bit. I don't want to make a job for th'
doctors, if we are gooin' to Whit'oth."
" Well, sattle thisel, lass. I'll keep him up," said
Ben, walking on, with his hand upon Dimple's neck.
"Sattle mysell!" cried Betty. "Stop it! Stop it,
this minute! Th' saddle's givin' way, neaw! We're o' slutterin'
deawn o' one side! Come thi ways reawnd, an' look at this batty-bant."
Ben ran to the other side, to see what was the matter.
"Heawever hasto getten these things twisted reawnd thi legs?"
said he. "Tak thi feet o' one side, till I tighten this bally-bant."
"Stop a minute," replied Betty. "I'm fast as a thief in
a mill, mon, with o' these things abeawt me . . . theer,
"Arto reet neaw?" said Ben.
"Ay," replied Betty, "I think we's do neaw. But,
prithee, neaw, do drive quietly! Thae knows heaw I am."
"Ay, I know, lass,—I know," said Ben, laying hold of the
bridle. "Come up, Dimple!"
In a few minuses they were journeying on again, seemingly
forgetful of all but the beauty of the day and the novelty of the trip.
They had not gone far before they came in sight of a herd of cattle,
whisking their tails as they wended their way slowly onward, at a short
distance ahead, with two drovers lounging after them, staff in hand.
In the rearward came the drovers' dogs. They had little trouble with
the cattle on this quiet road; but now and then they darted from side to
side, at their heels, and gave a bark or two, which sounded loud and clear
in the still valley. The cattle had evidently come a long way, and
occasionally one or other of them would stop and gaze dreamily around, and
then begin to low at the sky, as if calling to the mates it had left far
behind among the hills among and dales of the north, until aroused from
its reverie by a snap on the heel, from one of the dogs, it darted forward
to find shelter among the lazy-pacing herd in front. The drovers
were tall, hardy men, with plaids upon their shoulders; and they had a
weather-stained appearance, as if they had come a long way. One of
them was eating a raw turnip, from which he cut a slice now and then, with
Billy was delighted with the sight of the cattle, and,
clapping his hands, he cried out, "See yo, mam, moo-keaws!"
Ben gave a passing salute to the two drovers, and he was
following Dimple quietly through the midst of the herd when one of them,
as if seized with a fit of indignation at the companionship of the donkey,
gave Dimple a sudden prod in the rear with his horns,—an unexpected
compliment which Dimple instantly returned with his heels, to the speedy
discomfiture of his bovine foe. Again and again, Dimple's
hind-quarters rose into the air, and out flew his heels, like shot.
The sudden upset frightened Betty and the child, and they screamed out in
concert. Of course she blamed Ben for the whole thing; and what
vexed her most of all was that the two drovers were laughing heartily, and
Ben joined them.
"For two pins," said she, "I'd get off this jackass, an' turn
back whoam again! I wish to the Lord I'd never com'd! Thae
like as if thae does everything 'at thae con to mak a foo' o' one.
It'll be a good while afore thae catches me eawt wi' thee again,—I con
tell tho that! Thae hasn't a bit o' thought for nobody nobbut thisel!
Ben held his tongue, and allowed her to exhaust her temper,
unopposed. Taking Dimple by the bridle, and leading him quietly
through the herd, they went ahead. A turn of the road soon took them
out of sight of the drovers and their cattle, and they were travelling on,
with the road to themselves once more. When Betty came to look into
Billy's basket, she found that Billy's apples were gone. In fact,
they had been shaken out of the basket during the gallop, and had long
since been eaten by a hungry lad who found them lying on the road.
Billy began to whimper for his lost apples, but he was soon pacified, and
so was Betty; and in a few minutes the lad had leaned his head on his
mother's breast, in a dreamy state of happiness, listening whilst she sang
As they were thus wending their quiet way again, Billy caught
a glimpse of a tall fox-glove shining through the thorns by the road-side,
and, clapping his hands, he cried out, "A posy,—a posy!"
"What is it, Billy?" said Ben, stopping the donkey.
"It's yon, sitho," replied Betty, pointing to the fox-glove.
"He's just thy marrow for posies."
"Here, I'll fotch it," said Ben.
And away he ran to a gap in the hedge, and, jumping through,
he alighted in a wet ditch, up to the ankles,—which, for the sake of
quietness, he did not mention to his wife. When he had wiped his
shoes carefully with grass, he plucked the flower from the hedge-side,
and, returning triumphant, he held it aloft, and cried, "Sitho,
Billy,—it's a grand un!"
"Dad," said the little fellow, "give it Dimple."
"I will, my lad," replied Ben.
And when Ben had fixed it upright in the head of Dimple s
bridle, like the plume of a knightly steed, Billy clapped his hands, and
crowed again with glee; and then he bent forward to clip Dimple's neck
with his little fat arms.
"Mam," said Billy, looking into his mother's face, as they
went on, "mun I drive a jackass when I'm a felly?"
"Eh, I hope not, my lad," replied Betty, in a low, soft tone.
"I could like thee to do summat better,—if,—" She was going
to say, "If God spares thi life;" but she stopped, for fear of reviving
the sad train of thought which had troubled their hearts before. The
child gave a look of silent inquiry into his mother's face; then, lifting
his little mouth for a kiss, he whispered to her.
"Ben," said she, "he wants tho to sing for him again.
Thae mun give him an odd verse o' some sort, or else there'll be no
"Well, I will," replied Ben. "Neaw for it, Billy:―
'Twas down in Cupid's garden
For pleasure I did go,
To see the fairest flowers
That in that garden grow.
The first it was the jessamine
The lily, pink, and rose;
And surely they're the fairest flowers
That in that garden grows.
I'd not walked in that garden
The past of half an hour,
When there I saw two pretty maids
Sitting under a shady bower.
The first was lovely Nancy,
So beautiful and fair,
The other was a virgin
Who did the laurel wear.
I boldly stepped up to her,
And unto her did say,
Are you engaged to any young man
Come, tell me, I pray."
"I'm not engaged to any young man,
I solemnly do swear,—
I mean to live a virgin,
And still the laurel wear."
Theer Billy," said Ben, chucking the lad under the chin,—"will will that
do? Come, gi' me a kiss."
They were now approaching the little hamlet of Facit, and
they were in sight of the Bull's Head,—the rock on which Ben had split
many a time, when alone. But now that his trusty wife was by his
side, he was not afraid. He remembered, too, that be had promised
the landlady that he would bring Betty down to see her.
"Sitho, Betty," said he, pointing ahead, "theer's th' Bull's
"Ay, I see it," replied Betty "an' it may stop yon, for me.
Thae'rt noan beawn in, so I've towd tho."
"It's no use," said Ben, "we connot get by beawt co'in'; if
it's nobbut for a minute or two. Hoo laid sich a charge o' me as
never wur, that I wur to bring tho deawn. Beside, hoo wants to look
at eawr Billy. We's be like to peep at her."
"Eh, Ben," replied Betty, "we'n no time to stop botherin'
"I know that," said Ben; "but it's no use tryin' to snake off
it, mon; for we connot get by. Somebory's sure to stop us; so we met
as well face up at once. We's get better through."
"Well," replied Betty, "I don't mind for a minute or two.
But I'll not get off this jackass, at no rate,—so neaw thae knows; an'
I'll tell tho another thing,—if we are to co', let's go reawnd to th'
kitchen dur. I don't want to sit at th' top o' this thing, i'th
front of a alehouse, to be a show for ony mak o' rabblement 'at happens to
be i'th tap-reawm, while thae'rt makin' a hobby-horse o' thisel i'th
"I'm noan beawn to make a hobby-horse o' misel," said Ben.
"But thae has done afore, Ben," replied Betty,—"thae has done
afore. Or else thae's letten other folk do it for tho; an' that's
nearly as ill. But go thi ways reawnd to th' kitchen dur. An'
dunnot stop, I pritho,—dunnot stop, neaw!"
They were now within a few yards of the house, and Ben said
no more, but quietly laying hold of the bridle he led Dimple round to the
back door. The landlady was bustling about among the servants in the
kitchen, helping in the preparations for dinner; for she was a notable
cook, and she liked to be amongst that kind of work. She had a fine
saddle of mutton in her hands when Ben and the donkey came into the yard,
and when she saw them, she laid the mutton down upon the dresser, and
setting her hands upon her sides, she stared through the window, and said,
"In the name o' fortin', what's comin' neaw?"
She ran to the door, and when she saw who was there, she
welcomed them with all the warmth of her genial nature. She would
fain have had Betty get down from the saddle; but Betty firmly resisted
all her kindly importunities, on the plea that there was so little time to
spare. Then the warm-hearted landlady seemed as if she hardly knew
what to do to show her kindly feeling for the little family. She
fetched Betty a tumbler of hot negus, and though Betty strongly urged that
she was "fleyed on it gettin' into her yed," she insisted on her sipping
at it. She then took Betty's basket and crammed it with fruits, and
with all sorts of sweets "nifles," to the great delight of Billy, whose
little blue eyes were full of wonderment at the warmth and briskness of
the buxom dame, as she went smiling, and chattering, and frisking to and
fro, with her snow-white cap-strings fluttering about her neck.
Taking the lad in her arms, she smothered him with kisses; and as she
carried him into the kitchen she pushed the lad's father in before her,
and said, "Go thi ways into th' kitchen! Thae'll be like to have a
meawthful o' summat."
"Ben," cried Betty, beckoning him, "I want tho a minute," and
he went and listened, whilst she whispered to him.
"O' reet," replied Ben, nodding. "I yer what tho says."
And he went and sat down by the open door, in the kitchen. The
landlady ordered some refreshment for him; and then, setting Billy upon
the top of the dresser, she patted his rosy cheek, and said, "Stop theer a
bit, thae little curly-paced midge!" Then, turning to the servants,
she said, "Neaw, lasses, stir yorsels! Mary, thee get that stuff
deawn to th' fire, as soon as thou con, an' onswer yon bell! An'
Sally, come here, an' stick to this lad a minute, while I run upstairs."
The servant took him in her arms, and dandled him, and chatted to him,
whilst Billy silently examined her countenance, and her dress; and when he
had looked her over well he said, "Thae artn't sich a nice un!" which set
them all a-laughing. His eyes then began to wander silently round
the kitchen, and pointing to the clock, he said, "That clock isn't as dud
(good) as ers (ours)." And so he went from one thing to another,
complaining that there was nothing so good or so pretty as the things he
had left at home. When the landlady came downstairs again, she had a
piece of bright pink ribbon in her hand.
"Neaw then, Sally," said she, "set him onto th' top o' that
The servant set him down upon his feet, and she told the
landlady how he had been speaking slightingly of,—first one thing, then
another, in the kitchen; and that he had told her that she was "not such a
"Well," replied the landlady, "an' th' lad's reet enough,
Sally, for thae'll no greight shakes, as fur as beauty goes; but thae'd
pass better, mon, if thae'd keep thisel tidy. If I wur thee, I'd
wesh mi face, an' ready mi yure a bit. Th' choilt may weel say thae
artn't a nice un, for thae'rt as dirty as an owd tramp. I would keep
myself some bit like, if I wur as young as thee. John o' Simons'll
have a smart hondful when he gets thee. I wonder heaw thae'll look
when thae's hauve a dozen childer at thi heels? If I're a lad I
should as soon think o' gettin' wed to a corn-boggart as sich a trollops!
Go thi ways, an' swill th' dirt off tho; an' put some mak of a daycent
frock on;" and she pushed her away. Then, turning to Billy, who was
standing upon the dresser, she said, "An' as for thee, thae little saucy,
niddlety-noddlety, camplin, curly-paced pousement,—wi' thin blue een,—there
never wur nought i' this heawse one hauve as nice as thou art; nor there
never will be, I deawt,—not belongin' to me, as heaw 'tis. Come
here; let's tee this bit o' ribbin reawnd thin neck! . . .
Neaw then!" said she, stepping back, and looking at him, "Isn't that
nice,—thou little sweet-lipped scopperil! Then, in a gushing fit of
admiration, she clapped her hands, and cried, "He's a pratty little
crayter, an' nought else! I've a good mind to squeeze him i' two!"
And, folding him in her arms, she smothered him with kisses, till Billy
began to stamp and kick with impatience; and when she let go her hold,
Billy pushed at her pettishly, and said, "Yo are not my mam!"
"The dule I am not?" replied she, laughing. Then, setting her hands
upon her hips, she sighed, and said, "Nawe, choilt; nor I am not thin
mother. I doubt thae'd be ill marred if I wur. I should be
bitin' that bonny little yed o' thine off, or some lumber." . .
. Owd Dody o' Flutter's, the wooden-legged brewer, was swilling the
yard, and the landlady rapped at the window, and beckoned for him to come
in. The old man reared his besom against the wall, and then came
stumping into the kitchen. "Dody," said the landlady, "gi' that
jackass some wayter, an' a bit o' summat to height (eat)." When
Billy heard the sound of Dody's wooden leg upon the kitchen floor, he
looked at it very earnestly, and then, turning to Ben, he said, "Dad, he's
getten a table leg." "Theer, Dody," said the landlady, laughing,
"it's thy turn this time. Thae'd better tak that peg-leg o' thine
eawt o' seet, or else he'll be at it again. Off witho, an' get yon
swillin' done. Ben, lad, sup up,—thae con manage a drop moor."
"Not another toothful, thank yo," replied Ben. "I con
hardly manage this."
"An' as for thee," continued the landlady, turning to Billy
again, "I'll stop that little saucy meawt o' thine, oather bi hook or
crook! Mary, reitch th' black-curran presarves eawt o' yon cubbort .
. . Come here, thae little urchin," continued she, holding out
a spoonful of the preserves. "Oppen thi meawth!" Billy gaped, like a
little unfledged throstle, and the preserves disappeared. "Again,"
said she, holding out another spoonful; and again they went out of sight.
"Neaw then," said the landlady, " isn't that nice?" Billy nodded,
and licked his lips, and looked at the empty spoon; and, after he had
swallowed another dose, and she had wiped his mouth, he said, "We'n
traycle a-whoam!" "What, aren't we reet yet," said the landlady,
laughing, "thae little comical, twitterin', twinklin' cricket? I've
a good mind to empty th' jar into thi hat!" And she seized the lad
again, and kissed him till he fairly screamed.
At this point old Dody entered the kitchen, and said that
Betty was clamouring for Ben to come out and be off.
"Ay, we mun be goin', for sure," said Ben, laying his pitcher
down. And when he had explained to her what he had to do, and that
he should be due at Healey Hall at noon, she saw that he was in earnest
about the matter; so she took Billy in her arms, and went into the yard
with him. And as she handed the lad to his mother, she said, "Neaw,
Betty, if yo dunnot bring him deawn to see us again afore mony days are
o'er, I'll come up to yor heawse, an' I'll poo yor toppin' off for yo, as
sure as I'm livin'! Dun yo yer that?" And so, with many kind
words at parting, and promises to meet again, they separated; and Ben set
out with his charge upon their journey once more. They had scarcely
got out of sight of the house before Betty complained that the stuff she
had taken was getting into her head a little.
"Ay, ay," said Ben. "Neaw thae may see, lass, what a
job I have sometimes."
But, they were all in good spirits, and they chatted
pleasantly together as they journeyed on, evidently pleased with the
reception they had met with by the way. A mile or so brought them to
the end of the village of Whitworth. As they turned out of the
high-road to go up into the old village, the neighbours began to look out
as usual to see what fresh cripples were coming to "th' owd doctors."
Ben was well-known to everybody in the place, old and young; and first one
and then another saluted him as he went up between the houses.
"Hello, Ben," said an old man, "hasto somebory lame't amung
"Oh, nawe," replied Ben, "we're o' reet, James, thank yo!"
"That'll do!" said the old man. A little further on, a
burly fellow who was lounging against a doorway, beckoned and cried out,
"Well," replied Ben, "what is it, Joe?"
"Here," said he. "I don't want thi wife to yer."
Then, drawing Ben closer, he whispered into his ear, "Is this th' same
"Same jackass as what?" said Ben.
"Why, th' same 'at wur wund up into th' mill chamber?"
"Here," replied Ben, drawing the other close up, and
whispering into his ear, in turn, "it's just th' very same." And as
he ran on after the jackass, he turned round and shouted back, "Don't thee
go an' tell nobry!"
Two or three minutes more brought them to the front of the
Red Lion, in the middle of the village,
Mary, the landlady's daughter, was standing at the door of
the Red Lion, as they came up; and, as soon as they were near enough for
her to recognise their features, she ran into the little parlour, where
her mother sat knitting.
"Mother," cried she, "Ben's comin', wi' Betty an' th' choilt
upo' th' jackass!"
"What, Betty o' Crapple's?"
"It is, for sure," replied Mary, as she ran to the front
The old woman followed her daughter to the door as fast as
her rheumatic limbs would carry her. She received Betty with tears
in her eyes; and in a few minutes they were all comfortably seated
together in the little parlour. Ben lingered with them a little
while, and then set out, alone, upon his errand to Healey Hall, leaving
the dearest treasures of his heart behind him, in the care of their kind
LTD., Excelsior Printing and
Bookbinding Works, Manchester.