The Chimney Corner (IV.)

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COBBLER BILL.


Now all amid the rigours of the year,
In the wild depth of winter, while without
The ceaseless winds blow ice, be my retreat
A rural, solitary, sheltered scene;
Where ruddy fire and gleaming tapers join
To cheer the gloom.

THOMSON.


THE short cold day had died out in the west, and the shades of night had closed upon the winter scene.  A death-like hush lay on all the snow-clad landscape, save when the wind swept across the solitude with hollow moan. . . . The "Moorcock Inn" stood near the highway upon the northern slope of Blackstone Edge, about four miles distant from the nearest market town.  As the darkness deepened, a cheerful gleam of rosy light shone across the snowy road from the kitchen of the inn, where Clinker Bill, the village cobbler, sat by the fire, waiting the return of the landlady, who had gone to "put up" a few nourishments for his wife, who lay ill of a fever in the hamlet at the foot of the hill.

    The cobbler had just finished his bread and cheese, and was shaking the crumbs from his leather apron, when the landlady returned, carrying a little basket, covered with a white cloth.

    "Now then, William," said she, handing the basket to the cobbler, "there's some black currans, an' a few bits o' things, for your Mary, and tell her that I'll come down to see her to-morn.  Yo mun carry th' basket nicely now, for there's a bottle in it. . . . But don't go away just yet; I think I can find two or three more cobblin' jobs for yo.  There's always some'at wantin' in a house like this; an' our lads are terrible for runnin' their shoon off their feet.  But, whatever you do, you must let me have those shoes of George's back bi Thursday, for he hasn't a daicent pair to put on his feet, and this is bad weather to go ill shod. . . Wait there a bit."

    She was turnin' to go when the sound of broken glass came from the next room.

    "Martha," said she to the servant in the next room, "is that another window?"

    "Yes," replied the girl in a timid voice.

    "Well, an' in th' name o' goodness, now, how didto manage that?"

    "I wur puttin' th' shuts (shutters) to," replied the girl, "I wur puttin' th' shuts to,—wi th' long brush i' my hand,—an' th' brush hit th' window."

    "I never yerd sich a tale i' my life!" cried the landlady.  "Whatever wur tho doin' puttin' th' shuts to wi' th' long brush i' thi hond?  Good gracious!  Thou says th' brush hit th' window.  A bonny tale that is?  Weren't it th' window that hit th' brush, thinksto?  But it doesn't matter,—for whether it's th' window that hits th' brush, or th' brush that hits th' window,—it's th' window that suffers; an' it's me that has to pay. . . . I wish to the Lord thou'd mind what thou'rt doin'!  Bless my life, lass, thou costs more for breakage, o' one sort an' another, than thi wage comes to!  I wouldn't be so careless an' so clumsy, if I wur thee!  Thou'rt like as if thou'd a malice again aught that's brittle!  First it's a pot, then it's a glass, then it's a window or two,—an' then it's another glass, then it's another pot, an' then it's another window or two!  If I wur thee I'd empty th' pot-shelf into th' middle o' th' floor, an' jump onto 'em, at once!  It wur nobbut yesterday thou tried to break th' iron kettle, but it wur raither too hard for tho! . . . Come, don't stop there hangin' thi knockles,—it's done now!  Get on wi' thi wark an' do try to keep out o' lumber as weel as thou con! . . . Warm a pint of ale for William here,—an' mend this fire,—an' then goo an' sweep th' snow away fro' yon front dur! . . . Come, stir tho! . . . An' keep that back dur shut,—do!  It's cowd enough to fleece an otter."


(Away goes the girl, with tears in her eyes.)


    "William, sit where you are till I come back."

    The girl brought the cobbler his drink.  He took a pull at the pitcher, and set it down to cool.  Then, filling his pipe, he drew nearer to the hob, and sat smoking and listening to the roaring of the wind in the chimney.

    In a few minutes the back door opened, and Robin, the hostler, came in, rubbing his hands and stamping his feet.

    "By th' mass, Bill," said Robin, as he drew a chair up beside the cobbler, "this is gooin' to be a nipper of a neet! . . . Where's our mistress?"

    "Hoo's gone a-lookin' up some cobblin' for me."

    "That's reet!  Hoo'll find a job or two, if there is aught! . . . Well, I think I've about done for this day, as how 'tis.  I had to help owd Ben with his brewin' this forenoon! . . . Martha, bring me a pint,—an' a pen'oth o' 'bacco! . . . Ben, reitch me a pipe out o' that nook at thi elbow! . . . (Fills his pipe.)  Now, then! . . . Well, Bill, my lad; when didto see owd Throddy?"

    "I seed him last Thursday, gooin' wobblin' through th' fowd as fuddle't as a fiddler, wi' a lot o' childer after him!"

    "He's as numb an' as racketty as ever, I yer."

    "He's about th' same, Robin; an' he'll never mend now,—he's gettin' too owd."

    "Is he dooin' aught?"

    "Well,—ay.  He should be wortchin' i'th stone-delph; but it's off an' on with him; for he's never to be depended upon mony days together. . . . Tother mornin' he went creepin' to his wark about an hour after th' time; an' he met th' maister just as he wur gooin' into th' delph.  'It's a wild mornin', maister,' said Throddy.  'Ay, it's a wild morning',' said th' maister; 'an' thou's a wild look, too, Throddy.  Where wur tho last neet?'  'I wur at a churn-supper up at th' Doldrum,' said Throddy.  'I thought thou'd bin agate o' some'at o'th sort,' said th' maister.  'Thou doesn't look like wark this mornin', my lad!'  'Well, if I mun tell yo truth, maister,' said Throddy, 'I don't care whether I do ony wark or no to-day.  Con yo let me off?'  'I could like,' said th maister, 'for I doubt thou'll never addle thi wage if thou starts.'  'Then yo con let me off to-day?' said Throddy.  'Ay, ay,' said th' maister, 'I con let thee off ony time, my lad!  How much brass hasto?'  'Well, I've about fourpence-haw'p'ny.'  'Is that o'?' said th' maister.  'I doubt thou hardly have enough to tak' th' weather up wi', my lad.'  'Well, if I'd another shillin',' said Throddy, 'I think I could manage.'  'Well, here it is, then!' said th' maister.  'Off witho; an' fuddle thisel' sober.  I'd better gi' thee a shillin' to drink, than pay tho a day's wage for doin' nought!'"

    "I wonder at 'em keepin' him."

    "Well, they wouldn't have him at o', but they're leet-honded.  He's not so much use at th' best; but he's willin',—when he's th' reet side out,—an' he does for an' odd lad, thou knows. . . . Did I ever tell tho what a trick he played down i'th town last week?"

    "Nawe; what wur that?"

    "Well, it wur that day when th' great snowstorm coom on.  Throddy went down to th' town for some'at or another, an' while he wur theer he went maunderin' about th' streets i'th snow, with a thick woollen tee round his neck, till he coom to some sort of a quack-doctor's shop, where there wur a ticket i'th window,—'The Poor treated free, between Twelve and Two.'—'Hello,' said Throddy, as soon as he'd made th' ticket out, 'this is the shop for me! an' I'm i' good time, too; it's just stricken one bi th' owd church!'  An' wi' that he knocked at th' dur, an' a lass coom an' showed him into a room, where there wur a lot o' folk waitin' for th' doctor.  Well, Throddy waited an' waited, an' first one wur beckon't out, an' then another wur beckon't out, an' Throddy thought to his-sel', 'Come, it'll be my turn afore lung!'  In a bit th' doctor his-sel' looked in; an' Throddy shouted to him, 'Heigh, maister; I want to be gooin'!'  'You must wait your turn!' said th' doctor, an' out he went again.  But Throddy followed him to th' dur, an' shouted after him, 'Heigh, couldn't yo gi' me a saup o' some'at, now?  It'll not tak yo a minute; an' I want to be gooin'!'  'No,' said th' doctor; 'you must wait your turn, I tell you!' an' he shut th' dur beheend him with a bang.  'Stupid foo'!' said Throddy, as he went back an' sat down again, 'he might ha! sarv't me in a sniff; an' then I should ha' bin off, out of his road!'  But he thought he'd better wait; so he took his chair, an' he waited, an' waited, till he wur th' last mon left i'th hole; an' then th' lass coom an' towd him that he wur wanted.  'Now for it!' said Throddy, an' off he went into th' next room.  As soon as he geet in th' doctor beckon't him to a chair, an' said, 'Sit down, an' let's look at you! . . . Now, then, what's the matter? . . . Oh, I see,—it's your neck!'  'Ay,' said Throddy, 'mi neck's noan reet,—an' I don't feel well i' mi inside.  I thought yo could happen gi' me a saup o' some'at warm, that would do me good,—as it's sich a cowd mornin'!'  'Well, we'll see,' said th' doctor.  'Put your tongue out! . . . That'll do! . . . Now, let's feel your pulse! . . . Yes, I see!  I'll soon get you right!   I think a good dose of jalap is all you require!' . . . 'Jollup!' cried Throddy; 'well,—I thought yo wur givin' drink away!'  'What do you mean?' said th' doctor.  'Well,' said Throddy, 'as I wur gooin' by,—with a throttle as dry as soot,—I seed a ticket i'th window here that said, 'The poor treated free!' so I thought to mysel',—this is the very shop for me; for I'm poor enough,—I haven't a hawp'ny about my rags!' . . . Well, th' doctor stare't at him for a minute, an' then he said, 'Here, come this way!' an' he took Throddy into th' lobby an' he oppen't th' front dur; an' he sent him yed first into th' street,—an' he gav him a bit of a lifter beheend with his fuut,—to help him on,—an' then he banged th' dur to. . . . Well, when Throddy had piked (picked) his-sel' up out o' th' slutch, he looked up at th' doctor's window, an' he said, 'Well, by th' heart,—that's a corker!  If this be yo're way o' tratin' poor folk, I'll come no more to this shop, as how 'tis!'"

    "Well done, Throddy!" cried Robin, with a great laugh. . . . That reminds me of a bit of a do that Jem Leech had a year or two back . . . . One summer's day, about noon, Jem wur trampin' down th' moorside into Owdham, when he coom to a comfortable-lookin' cottage that stoode bi th' roadside, where there wur a ticket i'th window that said, 'LEECHES kept here!'  Jem stopt and read this ticket; and he looked at th' house.  Well, th' dur o' th' cottage stoode wide oppen, an' there wur a rare smell coom fro' th' inside, for th' family wur just sittin' down to a potito pie, about a stone weight.  Jem sniffed a bit,—an' then he read th' ticket again.  'Leeches kept here!' said Jem.  'O' reet!  This is the shop for me!'  An' he made no more ado, but in he went, an' poo'd a chair up to th' table.  Well, they looked at him for a minute or so, but th' owd woman set a plate afore him, an' hoo said, 'Now then, help yo'rsel', maister,—for yo're as welcome as th' flowers i' May!'  So Jem pegged away at this pie, till he'd tightened his waistcoat to his heart's content.  At last th' owd woman said, 'Now, yo munnot be vex't at me,—I remember yo'r face very weel,—but I cannot co' yo'r name to mind! what is it, if I may be so bowd?'  'Well,' said Jem, 'My name's JEM LEECH, an' as I coom by I seed that ticket i'th window that said, "LEECHES kept here,"—so I thought I'd drop o' mi feet for once.'  Well, they o' set up a greight laugh.  'Eh, I never yerd sich a tale i' my life!' cried th' owd woman.  'I railly thought that it wur one of our Jonathan lads out o' Yorkshire,—I did for sure!  Well, come; we're noan to a mouthful o' pie; not we, marry!  Co' whenever yo'n a mind, maister! yo'n olez be welcome,—particular if it happens to be dinner-time!'"

    And now the landlady returned to the kitchen, with two pairs of shoes in her hands.

    "Here, William," said she, giving the shoes to the cobbler, "look at those; an' do anything that they need doin' at.  An' tell yo'r Mary that I'll be sure to come an' see her to-morn i'th afternoon.  An' don't stop here long, now; for hoo'll be wantin' yo back, poor body!"

    "Thank yo, mistress," said the cobbler; "I'll be off as soon as I've emptied this pot."


――――♦――――

 
MARKET NEET.


"When chapman billies leave the street
 And droughty neibors neibors meet,
 As market days are wearin' late,
 And folk begin to tak the gate;
 While we sit boozing at the nappy,
 And getting fou and unco happy."

BURNS.


THE chill November evening was darkening down on Kersall Moor; the rooks of Agecroft Hall were settled in their nests for the night; the stars were beginning to crowd the sky with solemn splendour; and there was not a sound to be heard upon the fading scene save the wild moan of the wind and the distant bark of a dog at Jem Royle's farm down by the river side.  Jem's old friend, "Jone o' Plunger's," had taken his way homeward, down the hill; and now Jem drew his chair nearer to the hearth, where three or four neighbour folk,—and amongst the rest, Reuben o' Nell's and his little lad, Johnny,—were gathered,


"Fast by the Ingle, bleezing finely."


They had called at the old ale-house on their way home from the market, for a genial hour together, as usual, at the close of the day.  The scene outside had faded from view; and as old Marty, the landlady, closed the window-shutters, she said to the servant lass, "Jenny, fling some coals upo' this fire; and bring another chair or two out o' that back room; we's ha' more company in afore th' neet's o'er, as it's bin market day."  Jem charged his pipe again, and called for another pot; and then, like the rest of the company, he sat silent for a minute or two, looking into the fire, and listening to the sough of the wind outside.  Reuben's little lad, who stood between his father's knees, basking his sunny round face in the firelight, was the first to break the silence.

    "Faither," said he, looking suddenly up, with a smile, "I do so like th' ballywarche!"

    "Whatever for, my lad?"

    "Becose it's so nice when it gi's o'er!"

    This set the whole company off into a roar of laughter.

    "Bravo, Johnny, my lad!" cried Jem Royle; "that's th' best thing I've yerd this day!"

    "Ay; it's noan amiss, for sure," said Reuben, stroking his little lad's bullet-head with his great brown hand; "it's noan amiss!  But it's just like him! . . . Johnny, my lad, go thi ways into tother reawm, an' play wi' little Sam a bit!  I'll shout on tho when I'm ready!"

    Away went Johnny into the next room, to play with the landlady's little grandson.

    "I'll tell tho what, Reuben," said Jem Royle, "yon lad o' thine should make a fine mon, if he's luck."

    "Ay; th' lad'll be o' reet,—if he's luck, as thou says.  He's as sharp as a needle; an' he's as strong as a little galloway.  But he may weel be strong, for he can put as much churn-milk an' porritch out o' seet as ony groon-up mon.  An' he makes some o' the quarest speeches that ever coom out of a mortal mouth.  But we'n a deeol o' bother wi' him, too, sometimes; for th' lad's a will of his own; an' if onybody strokes his yure th' wrong road on, he'll dee afore he'll give in."

    "He taks o' his faither, I see," said Jem Royle.

    "Ay; an' o' his mother, too, for that matter," replied Reuben.  "But that's noather here nor theer.  Th' lad's a fine lad, though I say it that shouldn't say it.  An' he's as tender-hearted a little thing as ever stept shoe-leather,—an' yo wouldn't think it to look at him. . . . I never seed sich a lad as he is for dogs i' my life!  If he meets wi' a dog at's lost, he's sure to bring it whoam.  I've seen him beg an' pray, wi' tears in his een, like a cripple at a gate, for his mother to let a dog stop o' neet that he'd fund upo' th' street as he coom fro' schoo'.  An' th' feawer an' poorer it wur, th' moore he seemed to tak to it.  Sometimes he'd cart it off quietly into th' stable, or into a nook i'th barn, an' theer he'd feed it, an' nurse it, an' keep it till he'd fund it a shop somewheer. . . Ay; he's a quare lad. . . Tother day, when he wur wanderin' i'th feelt down by th' river side, yon, he fund a bit of a mangy mongrel whelp that somebody had been tryin' to drown; but it had just managed to crapple through th' wayter an' out at tother side; an' there it lay upo' th' bank, drippin' an' shiverin', an' strugglin' at th' last gasp, with a stone teed to its neck.  Well, that wur quite a Godsend for our Johnny; an' he cut th' bant off th' dog's neck, an' away he' brought it whoam in his arms, wi' tears in his een.  Then he took it into th' stable first; an' then he had it in a nook i'th barn; an' then he smuggle't it up into th' little reawm where he sleeps; an' he nurse't it, an' fed it, an' weshed it, an' gav it warm milk an' stuff, till he brought it quite round again,—except that it wur as mangy as thump, an' he didn't know how to cure that.  At last his mother fund out that he'd getten this dog, an' hoo said mich an' moore that hoo wouldn't have it i'th house a minute longer,—fillin' everythin' wi' fleas.  'Send it away,' hoo said; 'send it away this minute!'  'But it has nowheer to goo to,' said Johnny, cryin' as if his heart would break.  'I don't care,' said his mother, 'I'll not have it here!  Turn it out, an' let it goo wheer it coom fro'!'  An' hoo co'de th' poor craiter o' sorts o' ugly names,—it wur feaw, an' it wur mangy, an' it wur noather use nor ornament,—an' sich like.  Then Johnny begged an' prayed again, an' he said that if it wur feaw, an' mangy, it wur noan o' th' dog's faut,—an' he wur sure he could cure it.  An' he even offer't to tak it to a doctor, an' pay for it his-sel', wi' some money that he had save't up in a little wood box.  But his mother wouldn't yer on it.  'I'm sure it'll go mad,' hoo said,—'I'm sure it'll go mad,—bi th' look on't.  An' if it goes mad, an' bites tho,—then what wilto do?'  But Johnny's monkey wur gettin' up, an' he said, 'I don't care whether it bites me or not! an' I don't care whether I go mad or not!'  'But I'll make tho care, thou little kempie!' said his mother.  'It shall go out o' this house,—an' it shall go just now!'  'Well, then, I'll go too!' said Johnny, as bowd as Hector.  Well, when it coom to this I had to step in between, an' sattle it mysel', an' wi' mich ado I geet his mother to consent to let one o'th men tak this dog whoam wi' him, an' try to cure it o'th mange; an' day after day Johnny went to look after it, like a regular doctor.  Th' dog's theer yet, an' our Johnny an' it are as thick as two inkle-weighvers. . . . An' between thee an' me, Jem, I raither like th' lad's feelin' about sich things.  It grieves me mony a time to see how down craiturs are abused.  Beside, there's no mon can tell what's gooin' on in a poor craitur's yed that connot speighk for itsel'."


(Enter LITHER DICK, a labouring man, sometimes.)


    "Hello, Dick," said Jem Royle, "is that thee?  What hasto agate?"

    "Nought much.  I'm out o' wark."

    "Then thou'll be comfortable, I guess?"

    "Nay; not very; it's thin pikein' when there's no wark agate."

    "Well, but thou'd raither clem than wortch, wouldn'to?"

    "I don't know.  I'm noan so fond o' clemmin."

    "Well, an' thou'rt noan so fond o' wark,—I know that."

    "I'm gettin' weary o' livin' o' saut-wayter bullocks, and sawdust puddin',—an' noan so much o' that noather."

    "What doesto meeon by saut-wayter bullocks?"

    "Red herring."

    "Well, it's thi own faut, my lad; it's thi own faut.  Thou'rt yung an' strung; an' if thou'll not wortch thou desarves to clem. . . . Doesto ever wesh thisel?"

    "Now an' then."

    "How oft?"

    "Two or three times a week."

    "Well, thou'rt a weary pictur'.  If onybody sees thee i'th dayleet I'm sure they'n never want to run away wi' tho i'th dark.  Go thi ways, an' get a good swill,—for thou'll tak a deal o' sweetenin' afore thou'rt fit to goo amung daicent folk,—an' get that reawsty yure o' thine pow'd a bit,—an' borrow a clen shirt somewheer, if thou con,—an' then thou may goo an' rob a hen-cote safely, for nobody'll ever know that it's thee!"

    "I think I'll be gooin'!"

    "Well, I've nought again tho gooin'.  Off wi' tho,—an' rear thisel' up again a wole (wall) somewheer,—an' scrat thisel',—till somebody brings tho a pint of ale an' a butter-cake."

    "I owe yo nought, Jem, do I?"

    "Nawe; nor thou never shall do,—not wi' my consent, my lad!"

    "Well, good neet!"

    "Good neet to tho, my lad,—an' a good shuttance!"


(Exit LITHER DICK.)


    "By th' mass, Jem, yo'n tickle't yon mon up!"

    "Sarve him reet, for he's a sunbrunt wastrel,―if ever there wur one.  Greight skulkin' slotch,—they may well co' him 'Lither Dick,' for he's too idle to trail his legs one after tother!"

    "I believe it would take him a long while to do very little wark, Jem, by o' accounts."

    "Ay, marry; he's one o' those that can ston a good deal o' rest, is yon!"

    "He's a chap that likes bein' quiet, I guess?"

    "Just so; an' if thou's notic't, Reuben, folk o' that sort generally wear'n th' back o' their breeches out very soon."

    "What trade is he?"

    "Trade?  Nay, marry, now thou fastens me. . . . Well, he's a swill-shifter,—when he can get ony to shift.  An' he's a good sitter, I think he met (might) make a trifle now and then bi sittin' duck-eggs; but I connot think o' aught else."

    "I knew his faither very well.  He wur a comical sort of a cowt wur th' owd chap,—an' he wur nobbut about hauve rocked.—They played sad pranks wi' him among 'em, up i'th fowd, yon.  I's never forget a warlock that he played i'th church when th' sarvice were agate one Sunday."

    "Oh, ay!  What wur that?"

    "Well, one Setterday neet, when he wur fuddlin' at 'Th' Church Inn,' amung th' lads i'th fowd, they towd him that th' parson had been complainin' about so mony folk fo'in' asleep while th' sarmon wur agate; an' that he'd said if he could get onybody to keep 'em wakken, bi hook or bi crook, he should be thankful; an' he'd reward 'em handsomely; an' as th' parish clerk wur among th' company he thought it wur o' reet.  So they persuaded him to tak a peigh-shooter an' a lot o' peighs with him to church th' next day, an' let fly at onybody that he see'd asleep while th' sarmon wur agate.  Well, th' owd vicar started of his sarmon,—an' he hadn't bin agate mony minutes afore first one dropt off, an' then another dropt off; an' Bill whipt his peigh-shooter out, an' he leet fly into their ear-holes.  An', by th' mass,—didn't it wakken 'em!  Well; they jumped, an' stare't round, one after another, as if they'd bin shot.  An' I believe one or two on 'em stoode straight up, an' mutter't a rough word or two at him!  Th' parson had bin watchin' him a bit, too; an' at last he stopt in his sarmon, an' he said, 'Before I go any further, my friends, I must request William Robishaw, in the second pew there, to leave off pea-shooting!'  'Get for'ad wi' yo'r sarmon!' said Bill, 'an' I'll keep 'em wakken till it's o'er!' . . . Hello; what's that?"

    The old clock in the next room struck nine, in slow and solemn tones.

    "Nine o'clock," said Reuben, rising from his chair, and drinking up his ale.  "I mun be off!  Come, Johnny, my lad!  Good neet, Jem!"

    "Good neet, Reuben!"


――――♦――――

 
A SNIP IN A TRAP.


Wha is that at my bower door?
    Oh, wha is it but Findlay?
Then gae ye're gate, ye'se na be here!—
    Indeed, maun I, quo' Findlay.

BURNS.


THE gorgeous hues of sunset had faded from the sky, and a rich after-glow filled the soft, clear summer twilight with dreamy beauty.  In a clean, quiet street of the suburban village, where thick-leaved garden trees gushed over the footpath here and there, a buxom widow kept a little shop, the one window of which was well filled with "smallwares," neatly arranged.  Jenny was still a handsome woman, and in the prime of life.  Amongst all the village dames she was especially remarkable for her cleanliness and thrift; and it was quietly whispered through the neighbourhood that she had "a snug stockin'-ful o' sovreigns laid by somewheer."  This rare combination of charms brought Jenny a host of wooers, and, amongst them, some who were considerably younger than herself.  But the chief favourite of all the devoted crowd was a merry stiff-built tailor, known by the name of "Jack o' Squirrel's,"—a little hearty, round-faced, rollicking blade, full of "quips and cranks and wanton wiles," and as brisk as bottled ale.  Little Jack's humour and comical pranks were the theme of many a fireside story; and he himself was always hailed with delight among the thoughtless and the gay; but many a sage matron of the village wondered "Whatever Jenny could see i' sich a rackety foo," as that; and here and there a greybeard of the hamlet smiled a quiet smile, and shook his head as he muttered "th' owder an' th' madder,—th' owder an' th' madder!"  It was true that Jenny had seen forty years of human life, but long experience and sage advice were utterly unavailing in this case, for she was fairly carried off her feet by the lively little snip.

    It had been market day in the neighbouring town; and the tailor had promised to call at the widow's on his way home.  But the "trysted hour" had long gone by; and, as the shades of night stole on, and stillness sank upon the village, Jenny sat waiting, and listening for the footsteps of her careless lover, with all the fidgety impatience of a disappointed heart.  Again and again, on one pretence or another, she went to the door, and gazed wistfully along the quiet street, in the deepening dusk, but still no footstep came.

    "Martha," said the widow to her daughter, "I think thou'd better go to bed.  I'll stop up a bit, an' iron these clooas.  Here; tak this pair o' stockin's up stairs for yon lad; he'll want 'em i'th mornin'.  Now, off witho, this minute; an' get some sleep; for thou can hardly keep thi een oppen."

    The daughter crept up stairs; and Jenny remained below working, and waiting, and listening; but still the merry little tailor came not.  At last, tired out, she, too, crept off to bed; and all the house was still.

    In the meantime the last tinge of day had died out from the west.  The full moon is aloft in the midsummer sky; and the tailor is toddling homewards from the market-town, with tossing head, and careless heart, unconsciously delighted with the radiant beauty of the night, and crooning as he goes:—


My new shoon, they are so good,
I could doance morrice, if I would
And, when hat and sark are drest,
I con doance morrice wi' the best.


    Then he varied the amusement of his solitary walk with a hunting-cry, which startled the silent woods around:—

    "Heigh, Bugle!—Blossom!—Bouncer!—Bangle, little lass!  Come back, good dog!  By, dogs, by!  Hark away!"

    Here, lapsing once more into a lyrical pause, he sang in a clear tenor,—


Then swap your hats round, lads, to keep your yeds warm,
An' a saup o' good ale, it'll do us no harm!


    The little top-heavy tailor was a notable sword-dancer, and he finished this snatch of song with a wild gyration, which brought him down in the middle of the road.

    "Wo-oh, Tinker!" cried he, "woigh! . . . Rise up, bold Slasher, an' fight again!"

    The lively little fellow was on his feet again in an instant, and away he went lilting in at the end of the village as merry as a cricket, singing in the moonlight,—


John and Jane,
    Jane and John,
John loves Jane,
    And Jane loves John!


    Here, he was just about to turn in at the end of the shady street where his buxom sweetheart dwelt, when a voice from the opposite side of the road pulled him up with a start.

    "Hello, Squirrel, owd craiter; what art thou doin' here, at this time o' th' neet?  Thou'rt after some mischief, I doubt?"

    "Nay," said the tailor, "I war just goin' to tak a short cut whoam across th' coppy (coppice), here."

    "Thou wur just goin' to do nought o'th sort," said his friend, "thou wur playin' straight in at th' street end theer, toward Jenny Pepper's, yon!"

    "Well," replied the tailor, "if I mun tell truth, owd lad,—thou's just hit it!  But thou doesn't need to make a bother about it, thou knows!"

    "Not I, marry," said his friend; "not I!  I'll be goin' whoam,—an' lev yo to't!  So good neet, Squirrel, owd lad; good neet!  I think hoo's stonnin' in her own leet,—but it's nought to me!  Good neet!"

    "Good neet, Billy," said the tailor; "an' God bless tho for gooin'!"

    Then each went on his separate way.

    As the little tailor drew nigh to his sweetheart's door he became silent, and he trod the ground with softer footstep than before.  Halting in the middle of the street, he cast his eyes aloft and alow, and he saw at once that all was still.

    "Hello," said he, "gone to bed!" (He hearkens at the door.)  "Not a mouse stirrin'!" (He peeps through the window.)  "O's dark,—dark as a soot-seek! . . . "I shouldn't wonder but hoo's dropt asleep upo' th' couch-cheer!  Hoo said hoo'd wait up a bit; but I'm raither beheend time! . . . Hush! . . . Nay; it's nobbut a twitch-clock, or a cricket, or some'at! . . . I darn't knock,—freeten't o' wakkenin' th' neighbours . . . Let's see! . . . I have it! . . .  I'll goo down th' coal-grid! . . . Now for a marlock!"

    Finding the coal-grid loose, he quietly lifted it up, and in he crept, feet foremost to the cellar.  Floundering about in the dark, he fell over a barrel, and knocked over a milk-bowl, which came to the ground with a crash.  Then creeping quietly up, he tried the door at the head of the cellar-steps, but to his dismay, he found it fastened on the other side.  Wiping the coal dust from his eyes, he sat down upon the top step, and began to whisper through the opening at the bottom of the cellar door:—

    "Jenny!  Doesto yer?  Heigh!  It's me!"

    In the meantime, the din in the cellar has awakened the widow; and thoroughly frightened, she lies listening to the rattle of the sneck, and the mutter at the cellar-door.  At last she leaps out of bed, and rousing her son and her daughter, she cries out, "Get up; there's thieves i'th house!"  Then, throwing up the window, the whole three begin to scream out, "Help!  Help!  Thieves!  Murder!  Police!"

    The uproar brought two or three of the neighbours to their windows; and, in a few minutes, a slow-motioned Irish policeman came up to the door, and the terrified widow came down stairs, and let him into the house.

    "There's thieves i'th cellar!" said Jenny to the policeman.  "I've bin hearkenin' 'em a good while! . . . Now, don't oppen that cellar door yet! . . . Martha, gi' me howd o' th' poker! . . . Eh, I wish John had bin here! . . . Husht!  What's that?"

    The little tailor, hearing something of the noise above, muttered to himself,—"Hoo's getten up at last! . . . Come; I'll have a bit of a mank!"  Then creeping back up the coal-grid again, he popped his head out, just under the window, and he cried out, "Heigh, Jenny, lass!  What's to do?"  Then slipping back into the cellar, he went and sat at the head of the steps again, waiting for the door to be opened.

    The widow knew her lover's voice; an' whipping open the door, she said, "Eh, that's John!  I am so fain!"  Then, looking around from the doorway, she cried out, "John!  Where are you?"  But there was not a soul in sight; and as she closed the door again with a sigh, she muttered to herself, "Well,—I could ha' sworn that was his voice!"
                   .                   .                   .                   .                   .                   .

    "Now, then," said Jenny to the policeman, "mind what yo'r doin'!  They're a rough lot; an' I don't want to have anybody hurt! . . . Here, Martha; howd th' candle; an' stop a bit fur back! . . . There's one on 'em at th' top o'th steps just this minute! . . . Han yo yo'r truncheon ready? . . . Gently, till I oppen th' dur!"

    Jenny slipt the bolt, and opened the cellar door, and there, at the head of the steps, sat the little tailor, half drunk, and as black as a sweep with coal-dust from head to foot.

    "Now, then, ye scoundrel!" said the policeman, seizing him by the collar, "I got ye this time!  Are ye goan quietly or not?"

    "Hello!" said the little tailor, rubbing his grimy eyes and staring at the policeman,—"Hello, Jenny; what's up now?"

    "Eh!" cried the widow, seizing the policeman's arm,—"Don't touch him,—for God's sake, don't touch him!  It's John,—it's John?"

    "Oh, it's John, is it?" said the policeman "an' av it's John,—as ye call the dirty-looking divul on the steps there—what's the manin' o' the hullabaloo ye war kickin' up, mi darlin'?  See now, for a couple o' pins I'd take both yerself an the little sweep ye call 'John' to the lock-ups!"

    "Husht," said the widow, closing the door, "don't make a din!  Sit yo down, an' I'll goo into th' cellar for a drop o' ale."


――――♦――――

 
A RUN WI' THE DOGS.


"There's slutch upo' the cowt, mon, an' blood upo' thi chin;
 It's welly time for milkin'; now, wherever hasto bin?"
 "I've bin to see the gentlefolk o'th county ride a run;
 Owd wench, I've bin a-huntin', an' I've sin some rattlin' fun!"

SQUIRE WARBURTON.


[Winter evening.  Kitchen of an old ale-house in a moorland fold amongst the hills.  JIM

O' BILLY'S WI' TH' PIPES, and SAM, the landlord, sitting by the fire.  MALLEY, the landlady, bustling about.]


"AY; I tell tho, Jem," said the landlord, "th' owd lad skrike't like a witch in a lock-hole."

    "By th' heart," replied Jem, "he might weel skrike wi' that dog hangin' at his hinder-end."

    "Well, it sarve't him reet; for I'd gan him fair warnin' afore," said the landlord.  "But he coom no moore into our garden i'th neet-time, after that, I can tell tho."

    "Th' owd lad seems to have nought but ill-luck we gardens an' garden-gates," said Jem. . . . "Tother day I dropt in at Bull's Yed, i' Wardle Fowd, yon an' just as I went in owd Ben coom up with his jackass-cart; an' he tether't his jackass to th' garden-gate, at th' end o'th house, an' went in for a gill.  Well, there were a racketty lot o' lads i'th house at the time; an' when Ben entered the kitchen they cried out, 'Hello, Ben, where's thi jackass?'  'I've left it outside, yon, teed to th' garden-gate,' said Ben.  Well in a bit, one o' the crew slipt out, an' loosed th' jackass out o'th shafts,—an' then he pushed th' shafts through th' garden-gate, an' fastened th' jackass into th' shafts again,—an' there he left 'em, wi' cart o' one side o' th gate an' th' jackass at tother. . . . Well, when Ben coom out he stare't at the cart, an' he stare't at th' gate, an' he stare't at th' jackass,—an' he scrat his yed, an' he said to th' jackass, 'Well, this is a crumper, owd lad!  How the devil hasto managed this?' . . . Well, thou knows, if he loosed th' jackass out o'th shafts again, an' poo'd th' shafts out o' th gate he'd ha' bin reet again.  But he never thought o' that.  Th' only way he could see were to lift th' garden-gate off th' hinges, an' bring it away with him.  An' he would ha' done, too; but they were watchin' him through th' window, an' they cried out, 'Now, then, drop that!  Connot thou be content wi' steighlin' th' stuff out o'th garden, without steighlin' th' garden-gate?' . . . Hello; who's this?"


(Enter DICK O' ROUGH CAP'S, singing.)


Our hounds they were staunch, and our horses were good,
As ever broke cover, or dashed through a wood!
                              Tally-ho, tally-ho!
        Sing, hark forward! huzza; tally-ho!


    "Top-boots for my brass!  Now, then,—is there nought alive i'th hole?  Hutch up, lads, or else I'll knock some on yo o'er!  Sam; where's th' mistress?"

    "Hoo'll be here in a minute."


(Enter the Landlady.)


    "Mally; con yo do a bit of a job for me?"

    "What's it like, Dick?"

    "Con yo stitch me a gallows-button on?  I'm breakin'-down."


(She gets the needle and thread.)


    "Come here; and let's see what I can do for tho. . . . Now, thou mun ston still, or else I's be runnin' th' needle into tho!"

    "O' reet, Mally!"


(Begins to sing.)


The dusky night rides down the sky,
    And ushers in the morn;
The hounds all join in jovial cry,
    The huntsman winds his horn.
                    And a-hunting we will go.


    "Mak a less o' thi yeawlin' din; an' ston still, I tell tho.  How con onybody sew, an' thee bouncin' up an' down like a jack-jumper?"

    "O' reet, Mally!"

    "Ay; thou keeps sayin', 'O' reet! . . . Now, then, button thisel' up,—an' sit down,—for thou'rt as restless as wick-silver!"

    "I'm as dry as soot, Mally!  Bring me a pint!  Well, Sam, owd lad, how arto?"

    "Well; I'm th' better side out, Dick!  Wherever hasto bin?"

    "Bin?  I've bin a-huntin', owd craiter! an' we'n had a run that would make ony mon's yure curl!  This chase'll be towd on a hundred year after to-day!


(Sings.)


Bright chanticleer proclaims the dawn
    And spangles deck the thorn;
The lowing herds now quit the lawn,
    The lark springs from the corn;

Dogs, huntsmen, all, the window throng,
    Fleet Towler leads the cry;
Arise, the burden of my song—
    This day a stag must die!


Eh, Sam, I wish to the Lord thou'd bin theer!  Th' finest feelt o' hunters that ever I claps een on!—


(Sings.)


They'd o' got buckskin leathers on, a-fitting 'em so tight,
As round an' plump as turnips are, and just about as white;
Their spurs were made o' silver, an' their buttons made o' brass;
Their coats were red as carrits, an' their collars green as grass!—


—I'll tell tho what, Sam, Brown Wardle's th' finest huntin' ground i' Lancashire!  I'll bate nought at it!  Eh, lads; we'n had a rattling run!  We'n kilt three times!  I haven't had a bite o' nought to eat sin I left whoam this mornin' but a cowd berm-bo' that I begged at my uncle Joss's, at the Pot-House Farm, as we ran by! . . . Mally; if yo're willin' to save life,—bring me some'at to bite at!  Aught'll do!  I'm hungry enough to chew a smoothin'-iron!"

    "I'll bring tho some'at, lad, if thou'll be quiet."

    "That's reet, Mally! . . . Eh, lads; if yo'd bin wheer I've bin this day!


(Sings again.)


Eh, my! a pratty little jingle then went ringin' through the sky;
First victory, then Villager, began their merry cry;
Then every mouth were oppen, from the owd un to the pup,
An' o' the pack together took the swelling chorus up!


Heigh, Beauty!  Blossom!  Bouncer!  Heigh, Bugle, bonny lass!  Hark to Bugle!  By, dogs, by!  Ho, Bangle, good wench!  O'er a gate,—o'er a gate!  Heigh, Blossom, my little darlin'!  Ho, good dogs!  Hark away!  Hark away!  Yo-ho!  Yo-ho!"

    "For the Lord's sake, lad, do mak a less o' thi yeawlin' din!  Thou'rt worse than a sheep-shouter!  Good gracious!  It's enough to stop th' clock!  Thou's freeten't th' cat out an' thou'rt actilly bringin' th' soot down i'th chimbly!  Do bridle a bit, I pritho!"

    "Eh, Mally; if yo'd bin wi' me this day; it would ha' made yo shout, too!  It's enough to mak a lapstone sing!


(Sings again.)


Eh, my! a pretty scouver then were kicked up in the vale;
They skimmed across the running brook, they topped the post an' rail;
They didn't stop for razzor cop, but played at touch an' go;
An' them as missed a footin' theer lay doubled up below!


    "Ay; an' thou's bin doubled up, too, by th' look on tho!  What's that mark at th' side o' thi face?"

    "Well, Snaffle o' Thatcher's an' me fell out as we coom down th' Syke Broo; an' he ga' me a clout o' th' chops.  But he geet nought by it.  I returned his lead wi' my left hond,—an' that took th' odd trick. . . Come, Mally; are yo gettin' me a bit o some'at to bite at?"

    "Directly, my lad; directly!"

    "Be as sharp as yo con, for I'm famish't! . . . Come, let's sup!


(Sings again.)


        Mash tubs an' barrels!
Bottles, an' galkers, an' coolers;
        Bonny quart pots,
        An' nice little tots,
An' spiggits, an' wooden maut-shoolers!


Eh, Sam; this has bin a glorious day!  By Guy, we'n cover't some stretch o' ground sin' we set off wi' th' dogs this mornin'!"

    "Ay; an' thou'll be weel tire't, owd lad!"

    "Me tire't!  By th' mass, I'll doance onybody i' this house for a seck a' potitos!  Here, Jem; thou use't to be a rare hond at a caper!  I'll doance thee for a cow-yed—th' most beats an' least fauts—leet, heavy, an' rollin'!  Now then, get agate!"

    "Here," said the landlady; "come an' get thi supper; an' let thi meat stop thi mouth; for, I declare, thou's less wit than th' huntin' dogs!"


――――♦――――

 
"SHAVING, PLEASE?"


Here, drop it; I've had quite enough!
    Thou's nicked mi chin to th' quick!
If thou'rt boun to cut thi customers,
    I'm boun to cut mi stick!

ANON.


[A cold morning in Autumn.  NICE TOMMY, the polite village barber, at work in his

shop.  Enter JOE O' LUNG ENOCH'S, commonly called TULIP, a village gardener.]


"GOOD morning, sir!  It's a cold morning!"

    "Ay, it's cowd, for sure, Tommy; an' if I wur thee, I'd have a bit o' fire i'th hole; th' look o' that frost-bitten face o' thine is enough to perish an otter.  What's th' matter?  Arto behind i' thi rent,—or hasto bin robbin' a hen-cote, or some'at?"

    "I'm all right, Joseph, thank you! . . . Shaving, please?"

    "Ay,—shavin',—but no slaughter, mind!"

    "All right, sir! . . . Take this chair, please. (JOE sits down.)  Thank you!  (TOMMY tucks the cloth under his chin.)  I think it is some time since I shaved you before, sir!"

    "Ay, it is; an' thou wouldn't ha' shaved me now if I could ha' getten onybody else to do it!"

    "Thank you! . . . Let me see, aren't you cousin to the sexton at the old church?"

    "Never thee mind whether I am or not!"

    "Thank you!"

    "An', now,—stop, Tommy,—afore thou begins o' this job,—let me gi' tho fair warnin'!"

    "Thank you!"

    "Hasto sharpen't that razor?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Will it cut ony?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Well, then,—just tak care what thou cuts with it!  Thou'rt welcome to as much yure (hair) as thou can get at comfortably, but if thou goes ony deeper, I'll let fly at thi shins!  Doesto yer that, now?"

    "Thank you!"

    "Look at these shoon o' mine!"

    "Yes; they're a fine pair!  Thank you!"

    "Ay; but thou'll give o'er thankin' me if thou gets a crack with 'em.  But, now thou's sin 'em, thou knows what to expect."

    "Thank you!"

    "Well, then; get agate o' thi job.  An' mind how thou scrapes round that wart on my chin.  Thou took a piece out th' last time I wur here!"

    "Did I, indeed?  I've quite forgot.  I'm very sorry, I'm sure! . . . How's the gardening trade now?"

    "Th' gardenin' trade's o' reet.  Get done as soon asto con; I want to be gooin'."

    "All right, sir!  I'll lose no time! . . . I should think your trade's one of the oldest trades in the world, Mr. Joseph!"

    "Never thee mind whether it is or not!  Let's have less o' thi ornamental talk; an' get for'ad wi' thi shavin'.  Thou'rt not one o' thoose chaps that can manage two jobs at once. . . . Theer yo go again!  By th' mass, thou's made another 'notch! . . . Here; let's look! (Gets up, and looks in the glass.)  Ay; thou's left thi mark upo' mi chin again,—an' bowdly, too!  Here; gi' me howd o' that razor; an' goo an' sit tho down somewheer!  I'll finish this mysel'!  Thou should ha' bin a butcher, my lad, instead of a barber!  Gi's a bit o' some'at to stop this bleedin'!"


(Somebody tries the latch.)


    "Now, then, Tommy, there's another customer for tho!  Tak that tother razor, an' notch his chin, same as thou's done mine!"


(Enter HARRY O' MON JOHN'S, singing):—


"O, Billy, my boy!   O, Billy, my boy!
 If thou'd live like a horse, an' drink when thou'rt dry,
 Thou'd have haliday duds, an' brass i' thi purse,
 An' thou'd walk wi' thi face turned up to th' sky!"


    "Good morning, Mr. Henry!  You're quite merry, this morning!"

    "Good mornin', Tommy!  Thou'rt busy, I see."

    "Well, yes.  I've just been 'scraping an acquaintance,' as my old master used to say."


(The old gardener turns round from the glass.)


    "Thou may co' it scrapin' an acquaintance, Tommy, but I co' it cuttin' an acquaintance! Look at my chin, Harry!"

    "Hello; is that thee, Tulip?"

    "Ay; it's o' there is left on me.  Thou mun tak care o' that barber, or else he'll have a slice out on tho!"

    "Well; an' if he does, I'll have a slice out of him! . . . Now then, Tommy, where mun I sit?"

    "Take this chair, Mr. Henry."


(HARRY sits down.)


    "Now then, get into thi looms, Tommy, an' get done; for I want to be off."

    "All right. . . . All well at home, Mr. Henry?"

    "If thou co's me 'Mr. Henry' again, I'll gi' tho a bat o' th' ear-hole!  Keep thi tung between thi teeth; an' get on wi' thi mowin'. . . . Aught fresh agate, Tulip?"

    "Nought mich, I think. . . . Oh, yigh!  Th' yung Squire's getten wed!"

    "Oh, ay!  Who's he getten wed to?"

    "Well, bi what I can yer, hoo's one o'th Queen's ladies o'th bed-chamber."

    "Th' dule hoo is!  Why, that's no greight catch, as how 'tis!  I doubt his mother'll not like it."

    "What for?"

    "What for?  Why, just to think on him gettin' wed to a sarvant!  An' gooin' o' th' road to Lunnon for her, too!  By th' hectum, he could ha' fund better stuff than that at whoam, here!  I tell tho his mother'll never tak her in,—never i' this world,--for hoo's as proud as Lucifer!  An' I wonder at him, too, for he's as prodigal a cowt as ever step't i' shoe-leather his-sel'!"

    "Howd thi din, mon; th' lass is a lady!"

    "Lady me noan o' thi ladies!  Hoo's nought but a chamber-maid, I tell tho!  An' I guess hoo makes th' beds, an' empties th' slops, an' sich like!  By th' mass, if his faither had bin alive there'd ha' bin a bonny dust kicked up!  I wonder what th' lad's bin thinkin' on? . . . Who's lass is hoo, saysto?"

    "Nay; I didn't yer."

    "Some o'th coachmen, I guess. . . . Well, let it leet as it will, hoo's nobbut a sarvant!"

    "Weel; thou has it just as I had it; an' I mun be off. . . . Hello; it's rainin'!"

    "Yes; it's very heavy, too!  You'd better wait till it's over.  See; take this chair, sir?"

    "Ay, I'll sit me down, an' have a reech o' 'bacco till it clears up. . . . Hasto done wi' that lad's chin?"

    "I've just finished, Mr. Joseph."

    "Well, then, I'll tell tho what do, Tommy."

    "Yes, Mr. Joseph!"

    "Rom a arm-ful o' shavin's into that fire-hole; an' put a leet to't.  A bit of a blash'll be better than nought; for it's as cowd as a coal-house i' this cote. . . . Here, Harry, come an' keawer (cower) tho down a minute or two, till th' rain's o'er.  It isn't fit to turn a dog out just now."

    "O' reet!  I'll be witho in a minute; as soon as I've wiped this lother off my face! . . . Now then, Tulip, owd lad, how's th' world waggin' witho?  Conto find me a stick or two o' celery, if I look in at th' garden to-morn?"

    "I'll gi' tho a arm-ful if thou'll come i'th forenoon, Harry."

    "That's reet, owd brid, I'll co.  Are thi potitos o' reet this time?"

    "First rate!  But I've hard wark to keep 'em.  Times are so bad, an' there are so mony tramps an' beggars wanderin' about, hauve clemmed to death, that I miss a lot every neet.  An' it's th' same wi' th' farmers o' round.  Tum o' Flup's up at th' Ridge, yon, had as fine a feelt o' Lapstone Kidneys as ever went into a pon; but they kept disappearin', neet after neet, at such a rate that he thought he'd find out wheer they went to; an' one neet he muffle't his-sel' up a bit after dark had come on, an' he said to th' wife, 'Nanny, I'm gooin' to watch yon potitos a bit to-neet; an' if I can catch ony o' these thieves it'll be worse for 'em!'  So he took a knob-stick out o' th' nook, an' a ten-gallon can, an' off he set, an' keawer't his-sel' down at th' bottom end o'th feelt, close bi th' bruck-side, 'at runs through th' hollow.  'Now then,' said he, as he filled his can wi' wayter, an' laid his cudgel down at th' side on't, 'there's wood an' wayter theer; an' th' first thief that comes shall ha' both hard an' soft, as who they are!' 

    "Well, he waited an' waited, till he wur nearly starve't to deeoth; but he wur determin't to see it out; so he gript his cudgel, an' gran (grinned), an' bode (did abide), expectin' some'at turnin' up every minute.  In a while his wife began to think that it wur time for him to have a bit o' supper; so hoo tucked her gown o'er her yed, to keep th' rain off, an' away hoo crept to th' potito-feelt, to ax him to come in an' warm his-sel', an' have his supper.  Well; it wur as dark as a fox's mouth; an' hoo went very quietly in at th' top end o' th' feelt, an' began a-tootin' about, an' whisperin', 'Tom; wheer arto?  Come to thi supper, an' warm tho a bit!'  Well, Tum could see th' whole feelt fro' th' place where he wur lyin'; an' as soon as he spied this strange figure creepin' in at th' top-gate, he mutter's to hissel', 'By th' maskins, there's one on 'em here at last!  An' it's a woman, too, bi th' look on it!'  So he crept up by th' hedge side, with th' knobstick under his arm, an' th' canful o' wayter in his hond, till he geet close beheend her; an' he let fly th' whole ten-gallon o' wayter slap on th' top on her; an' then he gript her by th' shoulder, an' he said, 'Come, I've catched thee, have I?  Here; thou'll ha' to goo wi' me; I'll have a look at thee bi candle-leet!'  An' away he dragged her toward th' house, that stood about three feelt-breadths off.

    "Well, Nanny had getten sich a dowsin' wi' th' wayter that it had takken her breath at first; an' then, as soon as hoo see'd what a blunder he'd made, hoo thought hoo met (might) as weel let him have it out.  So hoo kept her gown tucked o'er her yed, an' hoo went with him very quietly, an' never oppen't her lips.  Th' dur stood wide oppen; an' there wur a good fire; an' a candle burnin' upo' th' table.  So Tum took his prisoner in; an', as he looked round th' house, he cried out, 'Here, Nanny; wheer arto?  Come an' look at this wayter-dog!  I've catched one o'th thieves, here!'  Wi' that Nanny flung her gown off her yed, an' hoo said, 'Ay; thou'rt a bonny thief catcher, thou art!  Look at mi clooas!  Thou may well co' me a wayter-dog!'  'Well,' said Tummy, 'this is a toe-biter, as how 'tis!  How leets thou didn't speighk?'  'Speighk!  How could I speighk wi' o' that wayter about me?  I've hardly getten my breath yet!'  'Well,' said Tum; 'put that dur to; an' away witho up stairs, an' get thoose weet things off!  I've done enough o' potito-tentin' for one neet, as how 'tis!"

    "Well done, Tum!  I'll tell tho what, Tulip, if it had bin some women he'd ha' catched it!"

    "He would that!  But th' rain's dropt, I see.  I mun be off!"

    "An' so mun I! . . . Good mornin', Tommy!"

    "Good mornin', gentlemen,—and thank you!"


――――♦――――

 
MISERABLE SINNERS.


[Time, winter evening.—Scene, the old kitchen.—Persons, OWD SAM, TWITTER,

WOBBLE, JEM O' TH' OWD SUR'S; and BETTY, the landlady.]


"YON'S a quare cowt, Sam."

    "He's nought else."

    "What a mouth he has!"

    "It's a terrible gash, for sure."

    "His yed's th' hauve road off, when it's oppen."

    "Another inch would ha' done it."

    "I wish they'd ta'en it o' round."

    "Didto ever see him agate o' puttin' butter't muffins out o' seet?"

    "Ay; an' I never want to see it again.  He looked as if he were postin' letters.  I'd rather keep him a week than a fortnit."

    "I don't care who keeps him, if he'll keep off me."

    "I tell tho what, Sam, I don't think he's o' theer."

    "Thou'rt about reet, Twitter; but there's too mich on him yet, for my brass."

    "There is, Sam; just about thirteen stone too mich."

    "He's o' offal, an' boilin'-pieces, fro' yed to fuut."

    "Well, but," said Betty, "he reckons to be convarted, doesn't he?"

    "So he does, lass; but he's one o' thoose that takes a deeol o' convartin'."

    "Ay," said Jem o' th' Owd Sur's, "I think they'n ha' to have another do at him, afore he's good for mich."

    "I wish they'd turn him into a pillar o' saut, th' same as Lot's wife."

    "Well, an' if they did," said Sam, "I'd ha' noan."

    "What doesto think, Sam," said Twitter; "it isn't aboon a fortnit sin' I catch't him steighlin' our coals.  I yerd a din i'th back-yard, about two o'clock i'th mornin'; an' I oppen't th' window, an' look't out; an' theer he wur, sure enough, quietly filling a whisket out o' th' coal-rook.  'Now then,' I said, 'thou'rt pikin' 'em out, I see!'  An' he said, 'Nay; thou lies, I'm takkin 'em as they come!'  What dun yo think o' that?"

    "Oh, I know him," said Betty.  "He's a brazen, ready-tunged good-for-nought!  An' he's a wastrel o' gates (all ways)."

    "Ready-tunged!" said Twitter; "ay, ay; he's lost th' latch of his lip, mon!"

    "By th' mass," said Sam, "I wish he'd lost his lip o'together!"

    "Well," continued Twitter, "the very next news I yerd wur that he'd turn't Ranter parson."

    "Eh," said Betty, "what a world this is for change!"

    "Well, but, Betty, didn't yo yer what he code us just now?"

    "Foos, happen," said Betty.

    "Nay; he says we're o' miserable sinners."

    "Well; an' so yo are."

    "Well, ay; as fur as sinnin' goes, yo know, I dar say there isn't a pin to choose amung th' lot!  I've nought again that!  I'm a sinner, I know!  Arn't thou a sinner, Wobble?"

    "I doubt I am," said Wobble.

    "Thou may put me down for another, while thou'rt agate," said Jem o' th' Owd Sur's.

    "An' me, too," said Sam; "but, by th' mass, I'll not be reckon't up amung th' same lot as yon mon is, as how th' cat jumps!"

    "Well, thou may put me down, too," said Betty, "i'th same lot as our Sam."

    "Howd yo'r din, Betty," said Twitter; "yo'r o' reet!  But, it's noather here nor theer!  What, we're o' sinners, oather o' one sort or another!"

    "Ay, ay," said Betty; "if we're gradely reckon't up, there'd be about six o' tone an' hauve-a-dozen o' tother."

    "So far, so good," said Twitter; "but, here Sam; let me ax thee one thing."

    "Get forrud wi' thi barrow."

    "Sam; art thou miserable?"

    "Well, I don't know 'at I am; nobbut, now an' then,—when th' dinner's noan ready."

    "Well, Jem, owd brid; now, art thou miserable?"

    "Oh, I'm o' reet, for aught that I know."

    "Well, Wobble, owd lad, art thou miserable?"

    "Who miserable?  Me?  Am I hectum as like!"

    "Well, an' as for mysel',—see yo, lads,—I'm as leetsome as a layrock!  He may co' us sinners, if he's a mind; but, by th' mass, if he says that we're miserable sinners, he's talkin' off at th' side! . . . Here, Betty, bring me another tot!"


――――♦――――

 
THE HAY-BAG.


"DID I ever tell tho abeawt Jone o' Bob's an' th' Hay-bag?" said the quarryman.

    "Nawe; but I could like to hear it," replied the landlord.

    "Well," said the quarryman, "Jone went to th' rent-supper; an' he stopt till o' th' tother had gone; an' when he turn't out, at one o'clock i'th mornin', quite knocked up, he manag't o' someheaw to tak th' wrong gate (road).  Istead o' gooin' towards whoam, he took th' road to Manchester.  Well, he maunder't on an' on, i'th dark, by hissel'!  At last th' moon broke out, an' he began o' lookin' about him a bit.  'Hello,' said he, starin' at a house that stood close by th' road,—'that use't to be at the left-hond side once!  Howd,—let's see!  If I turn round, th' heawse'll be on th' reet side.  But stop,—I'se be wrong then.  I'se ha' to walk whoam th' back road on, if I turn me round!  That'll do noan!  There's summat out o' tune here!  I'll sit me deawn, an' think a bit!'  An' he rear't hissel' again a milestone, an' dropt asleep.  An' theer he slept on, till four i'th mornin'.  An' he'd ha' slept a good while lunger, but there was a waggon coom by, pile't up wi' stuff for Manchester.  'Hello!' says th' waggoner, shaking Jone up, 'what arto doin' here?'  'I'm beawn whoam,' said Jone, rubbin' his een.  'Thae'll be a good while i' gettin' theer if thou travels at this rate,' said th' waggoner.  'Wheer doest live?'  'Smo'-bridge!' said Jone.  'Smo'-bridge!' cried th' waggoner; 'why, thou'rt within a mile o' Middleton!'  'Middleton!' said Jone.  'By th' mass, I've ta'en th' wrong turn! . . . I've a good mind to goo on to Middleton now, owd lad,—if thou'll gi' me a bit of a lift.  Eawr Mary lives at Middleton.  I'll goo an' see her.'  'I'll gi' tho a lift, wi' o' th' pleasur' i'th world,' said th' waggoner; 'but I doubt thae'll never be able to climb to th' top o' this stuff!' an' he pointed to th' pile upo' th' waggon.  'Here, come,' said he, 'I'll manage it!  Get into this hay-bag!  Thae'll be as snug as a button!'  'Well, thou mun put me out at Middleton, thou knows,' said Jone.  'O' reet,' said th' waggoner; 'I'll put tho out, owd lad!  Make thisel' comfortable.'

    "So Jone crope (crept) into th' hay-bag; an' away went th' waggon,—wi' Jone fast asleep i'th hay-bag,—an' his yed hangin' out at th' top,—like th' nob of a onion.  An' away went th' Waggoner, whistlin',—away he went, straight through Middleton,—till he coom to Blakeley, two mile further on; for he'd quite forgotten that he had Jone i'th hay-bag.  But, when he poo'd up at th' Blakeley ale-heawse, and went round to get some hay for th' horses, he see'd Jone's curly nob hangin' out of th' bag, an' he said, 'Eh, I've forgetter to put this chap out at Middleton!'  An' he roos't (aroused) him up.  'Now, then!  Come, owd lad, get up!'  'O' reet!' said Jone, rubbin' his een.  'Are we at Middleton?'  'Ay—an' two mile o' tother side,' said th' waggoner.  'We're at Blakeley!'  'Why, what hasto brought me here for?  I wanted to get out at Middleton.'  'Well, I clen forgeet that thou were i'th hay-bag—an' that's God's truth, owd lad,' said th' waggoner.  'Well,—by th' mon,' said Jone, as he looked round,—'I never wur here afore i' my life!  I am getten nicely knock'd about between one town an' another, this neet. . . . I'se ha' to walk o' that gate back, thou sees,' said he to th' waggoner.  'Oh, nay,' said th' Waggoner; 'I can manage better than that for tho, I think.  There's Billy Robishaw comin' yon, wi' his cart, I see.  He's gooin' to Rachda'; an' I con get him to let tho ride.'  'That'll do,' said Jone.  So, when Billy coom up, he agreed to let him ride back wi' him; an' when Jone had getten into th' cart, Billy gave him a pack-sheet, an' he said, 'Lap that round tho, owd lad; thou'll be starv't.'

    "When Jone had getten lapped up, he looked out o' th' pack-sheet, an' he said to Billy, 'If thou'll just poo up abeawt ten minutes when thou gets into Middleton, I'll gi' tho sixpence.  I want to speighk to our Mary.  It's close to th' Boar's Yed.'  'O' reet,' said Billy.  An' then Jone went back into his pack-sheet; an' in about two minutes he wur sound asleep again.  Well, by th' mon, Billy Robishaw just did th' same as th' waggoner had done.  He forgeet Jone, as clean as a whistle, an' he drove through Middleton, an' straight on to Rachda', afore he unbethought hissel'.  But, when he poo'd up at th' 'Saddle,' he said, 'Eh, by th' mon! there's that chap i'th pack sheet!  He wanted to get out at Middleton!  An' he went an' looked for Jone among th' pack-sheet; an' when he fund him, he said, 'Here, owd mon; wakken up!'  'O' reet,' said Jone; 'are we at Middleton?'  'Middleton—!' said Billy; 'we're at Rachda'!'  'Rachda'!' said Jone, starin'.  'Wheer—shall I get to th' next? . . . Here, I'll come out o' this.'  An' he crope out of th' pack-sheet.  'I've had a smart neet on't amung yo,' said Jone, as he coom out o' th' cart.  'I went off in a hay-bag; an' I coom back in a pack-sheet; an' I've bin at three different towns; an' I'm noan reet yet!'  'Well, an' wheer arto for, now?' said Billy.  'I'm for Smo'-bridge,' said Jone, 'as hard as ever I con.'  'Well,' said Billy, 'I'm gooin' through Smo'-bridge.  Thou may as weel ride forrud wi' me.'  'Nay, I'll not!' said Jone;  'I'se happen fo' asleep, an' find mysel' i' Halifax th' next.  It's day-leet now.  I'll finish this bit wi' my legs.  Off witho' bi thisel'; for I'll trust no moore to noather carts nor waggons!'  . . . An' that's th' end o' Jone an' th' hay-bag," said the quarryman.

    "Well done, Sam!" said the landlord, lifting his glass; "here's a merry Christmas to tho, when th' time comes!"


――――♦――――

 
EAVES-DROPPINGS.


'Tis some folk's joy to take the road,
An' go abroad, a-wand'rin' wide,
From shore to shore, from place to place,
The swiftest pace that folk can ride;
But I've a joy within the door,
With friends about the fire-side.

WILLIAM BARNES.


[Summer twilight. Kitchen of, "The Eagle and Child," an old roadside inn, better

 known thereabouts as "Th' Brid an' Bantlin'."  JONE O' MARLER'S seated alone by an open window overlooking the bowling-green behind the house.  Rain falling.  JONE looks through the window into the rain, and begins to talk to himself]—


"WELL; here I am bi mysel', again!  An' my pot's empty!  There's nought seems to stop wi' me that's ony sense in it,—noather folk nor drink, nor brass!  As for brass,—I wortch for that like a horse, an' I spend it like a jackass,—an' that'll keep mi nose close to th' grindle-stone as long as I've breath i' mi body!  I wonder if I'se ever come to mysel'!  An' even time, too—time'll not stop wi' me!  Ay, ay; time's a steady traveller,—an' I'se never be able to keep up wi' him at th' rate I'm gooin' at,—for he minds his wark better than some of us!  Our Mally said I wur a foo when I coom out,—an' our Mally wur reet!  How still everything is!  Of o' th' deawly nooks I ever wur in this caps the lot!  An' th' owl-leet's comin' on too!  There's nought i' th' world stirrin',—nobbut th' rain,—an' I can yer (hear) every drop as it leets! . . . It's getten to th' edge o' dark; an' there'll be boggarts abroad in a bit.  I wish it would thunner, or some'at!  This is too mich for me!  My yure's beginnin' a-crakin' o' my broo' an' I'm gooin' o' goose-flesh! . . . Where's o' th' owd fuddlers!  What's th' matter wi' folk that they do'not come a drinkin'?  Is th' world comin' to its senses?  An' am I th' last foo there is left to swill his throttle wi' beggar-berm, and barrel-weshin's?  I'm noan gooin' to sit here bi mysel' mich lunger,—I connot stop it! . . . Another good day gone by, too, an' never a stroke stricken!  By the bowd tinker, this an' better may do, but this an' worse never will! . . . What's to be done? . . . A chap that's getten ale for his master is nobbut a poor mak of a craiter,—an' he get's ill paid for his wark; but, it doesn't matter,—I'm dry,—an' I may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb! . . . Hello, theer!  Bring me another tot."

    "I'm comin'!"

    "Be slippy, then,—I'm deein'!"


(Aside, in the next room—)


    "Well; dee then, an' get done wi't,—for thou'rt not mich good alive.  (Louder.)  I'm comin' in a minute, I tell yo!"


(The landlady's voice heard in the next room talking to the village dressmaker.)


    "This is a bit o' good stuff, mistress.  How wi'n yo have this dress made?"

    "Well; I want it makin' up to th' throttle an' down to th' shackle; a walkin' length; an' a stridin' breadth; an' a belt round th' middle; an flounce't at th' bottom!"

    "Same as th' last, I guess?"

    "I mun have raither moore girth for stridin' this time, Sally,—an' I'se want a lunger belt, thou knows, just now."

    "I know."

    "An',—Sally,—dun yo yer?"

    "Well?"

    "Mind, an' put plenty o' stitches in; for I poo my things to pieces terribly."

    "I'll see to it, mistress."

    "Thou'll have it done bi Thursday, Sally; thou knows it's rent-supper that neet?"

    "I'll have it done."

    "That'll do, Sally!  Good neet to yo!  It is fine, just now, I see.  But it's a good job yo brought yo'r umbrell; for, bi th' look o'th sky, I doubt that it'll rain at intervals."

    "It'll rain here, afore aught's long, mistress, whether it rains at intervals or not . . . Good neet to yo!"

    "Good neet, Sally!"


(JONE, in the kitchen, knocks on the table with his pot.)


    "Now, then; how long are yo boun to be wi bringin' that ale?"

    "I'm comin', I tell yo!"

    "Ay; an' so is Christmas!"


(Enter the landlady.)


    "Now, then; what's wanted?"

    "What's wanted!  I've bin bawlin' here, like a sheep-shouter, this last hauve-hour; an' never a soul i'th hole stirs a peg!  It's like shoutin' to a lot o' rubbin'-stoops in a moor-end pastur!"

    "Well; an' what dun yo want, now that I am here?

    "I want this pot fillin'."

    "Jone, yo'n had enough for one sittin'."

    "Who says I've had enough?"

    "I say so.  Yo'r Matty'll be comin' directly."

    "Well; let her come!  I'm noan freeten't o' frogs!"

    "Frogs or no frogs, I think it's time for yo to be gooin', for yo looken quite done up."

    "Who's done up?  Me done up!  Nought o'th sort!  An' if I am done up, it's noan of yo'r ale that's done it, Liddy."

    "I doubt it is, Jone."

    "Well, if it is, it's th' weight on't,—for I'm sure it isn't th' strength on't."

    "Whether it's th' weight on't, or th' strength on't, yo'n had quite enough to sarve ony gradely mon, Jone."

    "Why; how mich have I had, Liddy?"

    "Yo'n had seven pints that I know on."

    "Seven pints!  Is that o'?  What's seven pints to a mon o' my size?  I need more sleckin' than these under-size's kitlins that has noather height nor weight about 'em!  Bring me another pint, Liddy!  I'm noan boun to sit dry-mouth bi mysel' in a hole like this!"

    "Well, I'll bring yo another, Jone; but, if onybody comes in, mind an' keep a civil tung i' yo'r yed."


(Exit the landlady. JONE shouts after her.)


    "Thee keep thi tung between thi teeth,—an' bi sharp wi' that ale!"


(Enter a country woman, with a basket on her arm.)


    "Maister, han yo sin a chap wi' a red yed?"

    "Ay; mony a one."

    "But has there bin one o' that mak in here?"

    "Nawe; we'n had nobody in here with a ginger-toppin' to-day.  Come an' sit yo down."

    "Nawe; I munnot sit, thank yo. . . . Yo're sure he hasn't bin here, then?—he's a bow-legged chap,—an' he wears a cauve-skin singlet."

    "Nawe; we'n had no bow-legged chaps, wi' red yeds, an' cauve-skin singlets here. . . . But what's o' yo'r hurry?  How are yo getting on?"

    "Oh, just middlin'. . . . Why; dun yo know me?"

    "Ay, sure I do.  Do'not yo know me?"

    "Nawe; yo'n th' odds o' me, this time, maister."

    "Why, dun yo mean to say that yo'n forgotten me, then?"

    "Ay; who are yo?—for I've plump forgotten yo."

    "Well, that's a good un, as how 'tis."

    "It's true, for sure, maister; an' I connot co' yo to mind, yet."

    "Yo'n cappen me, Mally."

    "I'm noan code (called) Mally."

    "Why; aren't yo one of owd Bill o' Fairoff lasses, at th' 'Swine Rootins?'"

    "Not I, marry!  Mi faither war code Nathan o' Fotcher's; but he wur better known bi th' name o' Bitter-bump."

    "Why, then, I mun be wrang,—an' it's noan o' yo."

    "Yo're wrang, for sure, maister. . . . But, now that I come to look at yo, I can remember yo very well.  I've nobbut just fund yo out. . . . How's yo'r Jonathan?"

    "What Jonathan?"

    "Yo'r brother Jonathan."

    "I have no brother Jonathan."

    "Why; aren't yo one o'th Kitters o'th Smo'bridge?"

    "Nawe; by th' mass,—I'm noan come'd to that yet!"

    "Why, then; I'll be hanged if I am not wrang, too, maister; an' it turns out to be noather yo nor me!"

    "Nawe; it's noather on us, as yo say'n, mistress. . . . But it matters nought.  We're both on us somebody, when o's said an' done."

    "Ay; we're somebody, for sure.  But who are yo, maister, so that I can tell yo th' next time I leet on yo?"

    "I'm code Jone o' Marlers; an' mi faither's name wur Sleck-trough."

    "Well; it's a good name to think on is Sleck-trough,—for I've a brother 'at's a blacksmith. . . . So I'll bid yo good day, maister!  I mun goo an' look for yon chap o' mine!"

    "Good day to yo, mistress!  Yo winnot think no warse o' me for speighkin' to yo, wi'n yo?"

    "Not a hawp'oth!"

    "That's reet!  Good day to yo!"


(Exit NANNY O' NATHAN'S.  JONE is left alone again. He begins to sing)


I have lived a good while,
    And I've seen a good deal
Of mirth and of toil,
    And of woe and of weal;
But when a man's old,
    I do think it is well
For to rest in the fold
    Where the weary do dwell,
                 Do dwell;
    Where the weary do dwell.


(Enter a tattered country hawker, with a face full of ale-blossoms.)


    "Hello!  Where's thou sprung fro'?"

    "I come fro' th' Gank, i' Rachda'."

    "An' what arto code?"

    "Galker Jack.  I wur brought up in a brew-house."

    "Thou's had a rare bringin'-up, my lad; an' it tells on tho, too. . . . What arto sellin'?"

    "Corn-plaisters,—an' clooas-pegs,—an' smo-tooth koms (combs).  Buy a kom?"

    "Nawe; I want noan."

    "Well; I've some stuff i'th corner o' mi basket, here, for killin' bed-varmin.  Wi'n yo have a packet o' that?"

    "Nawe; I want noan o' that, noather.  I kill my varmin mysel',—when I con catch 'em?"

    "Oh, ay!  How dun yo kill 'em?"

    "I kill 'em wi' a hommer."

    "Well; I'll be gooin'."

    "Here; stop a minute!  Thou's have a gill afore thou goes.  How owd arto?"

    "Five-an'-twenty, come Thar-cake Monday."

    "Thou'rt gettin' on, my lad.  An' hasto had middlin' o' schooin'?"

    "Not so much; for I don't know a B fro' a bull's fuut."

    "Oh, I see.  Thou's bin to neet-schoo', where they'd no candles.  Conto tak thi meals middlin'?"

    "Ay; when I con get howd on 'em."

    "Is thi faither alive?"

    "Ay."

    "How owd is he?"

    "Seventy-four."

    "He'll never get o'er that. . . . Thou smooks, I see.  I don't like to see lads smookin'.  Aren't tho ashamed o' thisel'?  I wur forty year owd afore I began a-smokin'."

    "You should ha' had moore sense bi that time, maister."

    "Come; that'll do, my lad! . . . . Arto wed?"

    "Nawe."

    "Keep single, then,—whatever thou does, keep single,—we'n plenty o' thy sort i' this world o'ready! . . . Arto aught akin to feaw Tummy o' Lobden, that wur hanged for sheep steighlin',—thou's a great favvour on him?"

    "Nawe; I know nought about him."

    "I'm fain to yer it, my lad.  But, to tell truth, I didn't think there'd bin two folk alive so mich alike as thee an' him. . . . Sit tho down; what arto stonnin' theer for?  Sit tho down for minute; an' let's have a gradely look at tho."


(The hawker sits down.  JONE stares at hint silently for a minute or two, and then mutters to himself)—


    "'And God made man after his own image.'  So th' owd book says,—an' I believe it, too.  But mon makes a terrible hond of hissel', sometimes."

    "Are yo talkin' about me?"

    "Ay; I'm talkin' about thee, my lad."

    "Well, then; I'm noan boun to ston no moore nasty talk! . . . Dun yo want to feight?"

    "Nawe; I don't want to feight, my lad.  An' if I did, I wouldn't feight thee.  Thy days'll be short enough as it is; but if thee an' me gets agate o' feightin', they'n be a deal shorter.  An' do'not thee bother thi yed about gooin' into th' feightin' line; for, if tho does, thou'rt sure to lose by it."


(JONE knocks on the table with his pot.  Enter the landlady.)


    "Here, Liddy; bring this lad a pint o' ale!"


(She brings the ale.)


    "There, my lad; get that into tho; an' do'not thee ston i' thi own leet!  I wish tho no ill!  Wortch hard; an' save as mich o' thi wage as tho con; for thou'll never addle nought bi thi wits.  Give o'er drinkin', an' live o' churn-milk, an' porritch, an' cheese an' brade; an' keep amung daicent folk, as weel as tho con,—for if thou gets amung th' tother mak thou'rt sure to tak after 'em,—an' it'll bring tho to th' floor wi' a rattle. . . . An' if thou mun drink, drink nought but whoam-brewed ale,—it's strung enough for strunger chaps than thee.  An' drink slow,—an' don't sit wi' thi back to th' fire; an' then thou'll happen live till thou dees,—if th' dogs don't worry tho!"


――――♦――――

 
UNDER THE SNOW.


When icicles hang by the wall,
    And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
    And milk comes frozen home in pail;
When blood is nipped, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
                          Tu-whit,
        Tu-who; a merry note,
        While greasy Joan cloth keel the pot.

SHAKESPEARE.


CHRISTMAS DAY had glided by, with a shiver and a song; and the old year was creeping to his close, "wrapped in many weeds, to keep the cold away, and blowing his nails to warm them if he may."  The carols of the season were still ringing faintly in the wintry air; and here and there, around a comfortable fire, the fine old festival of the Christian Church was still kept up in a pensively-merry way amongst those who were healthy, and strong, and well-to-do.  But the unusual bitterness of the weather, the strange combination of disasters that afflicted the times, and the daily-increasing destitution of the poor, had touched the warmest hearth in the kingdom with a tone of melancholy. . . . The poor old year was creeping with feeble steps towards his end.  The white seal of winter lay upon the land; and the intense frost, which had turned the fields to stone, and imprisoned the waters so long, showed no sign of abatement.  Everything boded the continuance of an unusually severe winter, and the sufferings of the poverty-stricken were deepening from day to day, both in town and country; for the whole land was smitten.

    There had been heavy falls of snow in quick succession, from one end of the country to the other; and in cloughs, and creases, and lonely valleys, amongst the hills of the Blackstone Edge range, it lay in greater piles and drifts than had been known for a quarter of a century. . . . Deep in a rut of the hills there stood a rude, but roomy, and firmly-built cottage of stone close by the moorland stream, which runs into the wild Clough of Turvin.  In this solitary nook there dwelt for many years "Jem o'th Ranger's," a sturdy, studious old bachelor, who earned his simple living by hand-loom weaving, and by keeping a few sheep, and watching the neighbouring moors for the owners.  Jem did all his washing, and cooking, and mending for himself; and his house and his person were scrupulously clean.  He liked the lonely moorlands; and nothing on earth could tempt him from his old cottage and his solitary way of life.  He had weathered many a hard storm there alone; but hardly ever so bitter a winter as this.  And as he sat musing by the light of a fire made of tree-roots and dried heather, he listened, and wondered whether the two old friends who had promised to come up from Todmorden Vale to spend New Year's Eve with him would come or not,—for his little house was snowed-up to the top of the doorway, and his only way out for the present was up the wide chimney.

    It was early in the afternoon of the last day of the year when Jem's friends,—two sturdy country weavers,—who were fond of botany and mathematics, made their way up through the Clough of Turvin, and across the trackless waste of deep snow that lay between the old moorland road and Jem's cottage, with long staves in their hands and woollen mufflers round their necks.

    "Ben," said the elder of the two, "I see no signs o'th house yet; but we connot be far off, for th' ash-tree ston's yon, down i'th hollow."

    "Sitho, Jack," replied the other, pointing ahead, "does thou see a bit of blue smooke curlin' up out of a snow-drift, yon, about two hundred yards off?"

    "Ay; I can see that,—but I can see no house."

    "Never thee mind.  That smooke comes fro' th' house; an' th' house is under that snow, as sure as I'm a livin' mon!"

    "By th' mass, I believe thou'rt reet!  Th' owd lad's snowed up this time, if he never wur afore!  I hope he's laid in some'at to fo' back on.  If he hasn't he'll be badly nipped afore this storm's o'er!"

    "Oh! thou doesn't need to be freeten't.  Jem knows what he's doin'.  He's as hard as nails; an' it isn't th' first storm he's had to weather."

    "But, how mun we get at him; for th' house is snowed up to th' edge o'th slate?"

    "Come thi ways on!  We'n find a road to him; or else we'n goo in at th' top."

    One end of Jem's cottage was built against the hill side.  Carefully surveying the ground, so as to avoid the snow-filled hollow, Jem's two friends stepped from the slope of the hill on to the snow-clad roof of the cottage, and peering down the wide chimney, they cried out,—

    "Hello, Jem; arto theer?"

    "Hello!" replied a strong, cheerful voice, from the fireplace below.  "Is that yo, lads?  Come in; an' sit yo down!"

    "Ay; but how mun we get in?"

    "Well, yo mun come down th' chimbly, th' same as I do.  There's no other road at present.  Th' chimbly's wide enough for a cow to come down.  Yo'n tak no harm if yo'n good shoon on; for I'll tak some o' this fire off.  An' there's a bit of a ladder here for yo!  Come down; an' don't ston there starin' into th' chimbly, like a pair o' barn-owls!"

    "Well, I've nought on that'll tak ony harm," said Ben.

    "Nor me, noather," said Jack.

    And, without more ado, they stept in at the top of the chimney, one after the other; and, in a few minutes, they were comfortably seated with their old friend Jem in front of a great fire, newly fed with great crackling roots of dried loak and fir.

    "Well," said Ben, looking round the clean little house, which was all aglow with the light of a great wood fire, "considerin' th' spot, an' th' situation, I mun say that thou looks vast comfortable.  I don't know that thee and me, an' Jack here, ever met under a snow-drift afore."

    "Nawe; I don't know that we ever did, Ben.  An' I can tell tho another thing,—it's th' first time that ever I had to come down th' chimbly to get to bed."

    "Oh, thou does get out, then?"

    "Out?  Ay!  I've bin up th' chimbly mony a time this day or two back but I've always bin fain to come down again; for, between thee an' me, I find it far moore comfortable under this snow than it is up at th' top.  Bless thi life, I think I'm very snug, an' very weel off.  I know bits o' lonely cots amung these hills where there's no fire, an' hardly meight enough to keep soul an' body together.  Poor craiters! it's a hard time for them!  It makes one think they'd be better i' their graves.  I'm buried alive mysel', in a manner of speakin',—but I shall rise again, if nought no worse happens."

    "How arto off for provender?"

    "Oh! I've as much laid in as will last me two or three week.  An' if I want aught I've nought to do but creep up th' chimbly, theer; an' I can always manage to powler some'at out o' some nook afore I come down again.  Oh, ay; I've thought mony a time when I've bin sittin' here at fireside, bi mysel', that there's not mony folk i' this world, just now, that's better off than I am under this bit o' snow."

    "Well, I begin a-thinkin' so, too, Jem; for it's a terrible time up at th' top,—it is that!"

    "It cannot miss; for it's th' hardest winter that I can recollect; an' it's mich if there isn't lots o' folk clemmed to deeoth. . . . How are they gooin' on up at Keb Coit?"

    "Oh! starvation, an' hunger, an' folk out o' wark of o' sides.  An' th' farmers han suffer't, too, for there's bin  so mich raggy weather upo' th' moors that there's bin a great lot o' sheep lost."

    "It's bin a rough back-end, for sure. . . . Hasto sin owd Dan o' Fotcher's, th' butcher, lately?"

    "Well, it's about three week sin' I see'd him; an' I don't think he'll be sin about this quarter again, for a good while,—at least I hope not."

    "How's that?"

    "Becose he's off to another shop."

    "Oh, ay!  Where's that?"

    "Well; I cannot exactly tell; but,—they'n buried him."

    "Nay, sure!  What's that for?"

    "Becose he dee'd!"

    "Well, well!  There's a trick for yo!  Why, it isn't aboon a month sin' I see'd him switchin' through Todmorden Market,—leet, an' breet, an' lark-heelt,—with a pluck-an-liver i' one hond, an' a thwittle i'th tother, as pert as a pynot; ay, an' he'd a face like a full moon; an' his yure flew like a driftin' hay-cock!  Well, well, what poor things we are!  An' so the owd lad's gone, is he?

    "Ay; he's left this country-side."

    "What ail't him?"

    "Well, he geet an ill cowd while he wur rootin' about th' moor-tops, i' this hard weather, after sheep; an' then it turn't to some'at worse; an' he weren't his own mon for a bit; an' he maunder't an' wander't in his talk; for he'd getten it into his yed that his legs wur i' Scotlan', an' his arms wur i' Ireland, an' his neck wur i' Yorkshire; an' he kept sayin', 'I wish some on yo would write, an' see how my legs are getten on!'  An' then, when they showed him his legs, and said, 'Sitho; thi legs are here!' he geet quite vext, an' he cried out, 'Nought o' th' sort!  They're i' Scotian', I tell yo!  I see'd 'em goo!'  An' so he went on.  In a bit he type't o'er,—an' o' wur still."

    "Poor owd Dan!  He's gan' o'er cuttin' beef up, then."

    "He'll cut no moore up i' this quarter, as how 'tis."

    "Why; he'd hardly getten to th' best of his day.  It hadn't stricken twelve with him!"

    "It doesn't matter; th' clock stopt."

    "Ay, ay; an' between thee an' me, Ben, there's no tellin' when th' clock may stop. . . . Husht! . . . Whaes that? . . . There's somebody a-top o'th house!"

    And now a strong clear voice shouted down the chimney,—

    "Hello, Jem!  Where arto?"

    "I'm here!" replied Jem.  "Who is it?"

    "It's me!"

    "Hello; is it thee, William?  Artn'to for comin' in?"

    "Nawe; we thought we'd just see if yo wur alive."

    "I'm wick an' hearty, William!"

    "Well, my faither's sent yo some bits o' things in a basket, here!  How mun I get 'em down?"

    "Thou'll find a rope at th' back o'th chimbly, theer.  Tee it to th' basket-hondle, an' let it down!"

    "There it is, Jem."

    Jem emptied the basket, and sent it up again.

    "There's thi basket back, William; an' tell thi faither I'm mich obleeg't to him!"

    "Yo'r quite welcome, Jem; an' A Happy New Year to yo!"

    "The same to thee, William,—an' mony on 'em!"

    "Now, lads," said Jem, as he spread his stores out upon the table, "we'n have a bit o' baggin'!  Yo'n be like to stop o' neet."

    "I'm willin'," said Ben.

    "An' so am I," said Jack.


――――♦――――

 
WHERE'S TH' KEIGH?


'Tis done! dread winter spreads his latest glooms,
And reigns triumphant o'er the conquered year.
How dead the vegetable kingdom lies!
How dumb the tuneful! . . .
                 .                 .                 .                 .                 .
Muttering, the winds at eve, with blunted point, subdued,
Blow hollow-blustering from the south,
The frost resolves into a trickling thaw,
Spotted the mountains shine; loose sleet descends,
And floods the country round.   The rivers swell,
Of bonds impatient.   Sudden from the hills,
O'er rocks and woods, in broad brown cataracts,
A thousand snow-fed torrents shoot at once;
And where they rush, the wide-resounding plain
Is left one slimy slush.

THOMSON.


THE old year was laid in his grave amongst the things that are gone; and the wide-spread snow that hung upon his departing skirts like a shroud was beginning to melt away from the landscape.  The long keen frost was giving way at last; and famished birds, which, a week ago, might be seen now and then flitting in spectral silence through the bitter air, with "the cauld drift upon their wings," were beginning to cluster about the haunts of man again in twittering flocks.  The first hard spell of winter was over, and a rapid thaw had set in.  The air was softening; and bland southerly winds, and drizzling showers, were changing the whole aspect of the scene from the pure severity of winter to a muggy, murky, mildness.  The streets of the city, and the travelled roads outside, were all changed from the crisp and slippery footing of hard frost to a slushy mixture of mud and snow-broth.  The snowed-up railway lines were gradually opening up to traffic again; the rivers were beginning to swell dangerously beneath the thinning ice; and the fields and trees in the open country, which lately looked so beautiful in their glittering robes of stainless frost-work, were now all flecked and sodden, and sullied with the sooty, sulphurous mixture brought down by the rain from our manufacturing air.

    It was New Year's Eve; and the short-lived light of a gloomy day was declining.  The sky was dark with moist clouds; and the roads were splashy with mud and melting snow, as two old neighbours—Tom o' mi-Gronny's and Ben o' Long Mat's,—took their way homeward, out at the town-end, towards a little suburban village, about three miles off.  They chatted, cheerfully, as they went along, for the prevailing distress had not yet touched them; and each had a little parcel of groceries under his arm; and each had his pockets stored with seasonable toys for the children at home.  In addition to this, they had spent a genial hour together in a cosy corner before starting.  "Now, Ben," said Tom, "thou mun mind thi feet, here; it's as slippy as glass!  I've bin down o' mi back twice to-day, mysel',—an' I can feel it yet. . . . Whoa, Tinker!  By th' mass, I'd like to bin down again. . . . Here; let's tak th' middle o'th road! it's slutchy, but it's safe!"  They were drawing near the last cluster of dwellings at the end of the town when a heavy shower of rain began to fall.

    "Hello!" cried Tom, "this'll do noan!  We'd better house somewhere, while there's a chance, or else we's be weet to skin i' no time!  Run into th' cabman's hut, yon,— I dar say they'n let us sit down till it's o'er."

    "Nawe, nawe," said Ben; "let's goo in to Fiddler Bill's, here!"

    "Oh, ay, bi th' mass,—th' owd butcher's!  In witho!"

    And in they ran at the open doorway.  There was not a soul in the place; but they could hear the voice of the jolly old butcher, singing in the little room behind the shop—


My faither once co'de me a foo;
    An', egadlin, my faither were reet;
An' I doubt yo'n be thinkin so too.
    When I tell yo what happen't last neet,
But that may be just as it will,
    I'll let it off free as the wind,
For a mortal can never be weel
    As long as he's thrutched in his mind.
            Fal-derdal-lal-derdal-ay!

Come round, then, an' hearken my sung,
    It may 'liven yor hearts up a bit;
For, though it'll not keep yo lung,
    It's a comical sort of a skit.


    "There he is," said Tom, "there he is,—th' owd lad,—as merry as a cricket, as usal!"

    Then, knocking upon the floor with his stick, he shouted, "Hello!  Shop!  Now then, Bill!  There's some beef wanted here!"

    "Hello!" cried the butcher, as he came in from the back room, sharpening his thwittle, "Hello!  What's o' this din about? . . . What?  Is it thee, Ben?  Never, sure! . . . Well; I've some prime stuff, here, lads!  What mun I cut yo?"

    "Thou mun cut me nought," said Ben.

    "Nor me, noather," said Tom.  "We'n nobbut slipt in out o'th rain."

    "Oh, I see," replied the butcher, laughing, "I see.  By Guy, lads, I'm doin' a rare trade among yo! . . . Well; come into this back reawm.  It's as chep sittin' as stonnin'.  An' if yo wanten nought to eat yo can happen do with a saup o' some'at to sup,—as it's Kessmas time."

    They were just turning to follow him into the back room when a little lad came into the shop.

    "Well," said the butcher, "what dost want, my lad?"

    "A pen'oth o' cat-meight."

    "Is it for thi mother?"

    "Nawe; it's for th' cat."

    "Well; there it is, sitho."

    "There," said the butcher, pointing to the lad as he went out, "that's th' best customer I've had this afternoon.  Yo may guess what a trade I'm doin'. . . . But, come for'ad lads, into this back reawm; and sit yo down till th' shower's o'er."

    "I'll tell tho what, Bill," said Tom, as they went into the butcher's little back room, "thou's getten a nice snug nook, here, to creep into."

    "Ay," replied the butcher, "it does very weel.  I've mony a comfortable smooke i' this corner, by mysel'.  An' there's a bit of a window, here, sitho.  I've nought to do but peep through that, an' I can see o' that's gooin' on i'th shop; an' I see some quare things, now and then.  I've nobbut had two customers in sin three o'clock this afternoon,—one wur that lad that coom in just now, for a pen'oth o' cat-meight; an' tother wur a customer wi' four legs. . . . I sit smookin' here, about hauve-past three, an' I happen't to peep through thie window just i' time to get a wap of a great hungry-lookin' dog as it darted out at th' front dur-hole, yon, with a sheep's pluck in it mouth.  I nipt up, an' after it like a redshank, with a clever i' my hond; but I hadn't getten to th' end o'th street afore I coom bang o' my back; an' th' cleaver flew out o' my hond. I see'd no moore o' that dog,—nor th' sheep's pluck noather,—an' I doubt I never shall. . . . Thoose two are o' th' customers I've had in sin' three o'clock this afternoon. . . . Howd stop!  There's another comin', now?  This'll be three! . . . I'll be back in a minute!"

    Away went the butcher into his shop.  Returning almost immediately to his friends, he said, as he entered the little back room again, "Well; I haven't bin long i' sarvin' yon customer, as how 'tis!"

    "Nawe, tho hasn't," said Ben.  "What did he want?"

    "He wanted to know what time it wur."

    "Wur that o'?"

    "Ay; that wur o'.  By th' hectum, I'm driving' a gainful trade, at present,—as how long it'll last! . . . Well, come; never mind!  Poo up to th' fire an' I'll find yo a tot o' whoam-brewed ale a-piece. . . Here; try that! . . . Well, Ben, owd lad; how are they getten on i'th owd fowd, yon?  Keepin' th' owd haliday up, I guess?"

    "Ay; keepin' it up, ay,—thoose 'at's aught left to keep it up wi'; an' that's noan so mony, I can tell tho, for it's a hard time, it is that! . . . But my wife an' me kept it up rarely tother neet, for o' that."

    "Oh, ay!  How wur that?"

    "Well; my wife an' me,—we locked th' house up about noon, an' off we set to th' town together, to look about us, an' buy some oddments that we wanted for Kesmass.  It wur the very day that we co'de at this shop, an' bought that cow-yed.  My uncle Sam had sent us a goose; but I thought we'd be nought short, if it wur rough; so that we could give a bit o' some'at away, thou knows,—for there's a deal o' folk clemmin' about yon nook, just now. 

    "Well; we knocked up an' down th' town, out o' one nook into another, an' we kept leetin' first o' one body that we knew, then o' another body that we knew; an' what wi' one thing an' another, I geet like market-fresh, an' careless; an' it wur late on afore we londed a-whoam.  An', at after we'd getten a bit o' supper, I said to my wife, 'Now then, Betty; I think I'll creep off to th' blanket-market!  Thou'll not be long, I guess?'  'Ay,' said our Betty, 'off witho!  I'll just side these things, an' then I'll be up after tho!'

    "Well; I'd hardly getten sattle't i' bed afore hoo coom to th' bottom o'th stairs, an' hoo cried out, 'Ben!'  'Now then!'  'What's thou done wi' th' keigh?  What keigh?'  'Th' keigh o'th dur!'  'Which dur?'  'Th' front dur!'  'I know nought about th' keigh!'  'Well, but thou put it i' thi pocket when we set off!'  'Well; feel i' my pocket, then!'  'I've felt i' every pocket thou has, but I cannot find it!'  'Is it upo' th' mantle-piece?'  'Nawe, it isn't!'  'Look at th' back o'th clock!'  'It isn't at th' back o'th clock, noather!'  'Hasto looked into th' cow-yed?'  'What's th' use o' talkin' sich stuff as that!  Thou knows very weel it isn't theer!  How can it be i'th cow-yed?'  'Well; it mun be somewhere.  Hasto looked?'  'Ay; I've looked; an' it isn't theer!'  'Well, then; I mun ha' left it upo' th' table at Bull's Yed; I remember knockin' for some ale with it.  Never mind th' keigh!  Put a cheer at th' back o'th dur an' a lot o' loaf-tins a-top on't, an' come thi ways to bed!  We's be sure to yer if aught comes in.'

    "So, hoo propped these things again th' back o'th dur, an' hoo coom up stairs; an' in a bit, we geet sattle't down to sleep. . . . Well; about three o'clock i'th mornin', when o' wur still, there wur such a clatter kicked up down below that yo might ha' yerd it a mile off.  Our Betty an' me both jumped up at once.  'Now then,' I said, 'what the dule hasto agate now?'  'Eh, Ben!' said our Betty, 'do get up!  There's thieves i'th house!'  An' hoo tremble't like a dog in a weet seck.

    "Well; I sprang out o' bed; an' off I went down th' stairs, i' my shirt; but, afore I'd getter the hauve road down, I stopt, for there wur a lung, dark figure, stonnin' i'th middle o'th floor with a lantron in it hond.  'Now then,' I said, 'what the — art thou after?'  'Are yo noan freeten't o' bein' robbed?'  'Well,' said I, 'it just depends.  What does thou want?'  'Well,' he said, 'I want yo to lock th' dur.  What han yo left th' keigh outside for?'  It wur th' policeman. . . . I gav th' owd lad a pint o' ale; and crope off to bed again. . . . But fro' that day to this, our Betty an' me can never sattle which on us it wur that left that keigh outside."

    "Come, Ben," said "Tom o' mi Gronny's," rising from his seat, "it's time for us to be gooin'.  Th' rain's drops; an' I want to get to bed soon to-neet!"

    "Well," said the butcher, "mind thou locks th' dur, Tom, afore thou goes up stairs."

    "I'll not lock it wi' loaf-tins, as how 'tis!" replied Tom.

    "Now, lads," said the butcher, "afore yo starten off we'n just have another tot a-piece; an' we'n tak it up-standin' if yo'n a mind. . . Come; here's th' owd toast:—


Meight when we're hungry;
    Drink when we're dry;
Brass when we're short on't,
    An' heaven when we die.


    "So mote it be!" said Ben.

    "Amen!" said Tom.

    "A Happy New Year to yo, lads!" said the butcher.

    "Th' same to thee, Bill"


――――♦――――

 
TODLIN' WHOAM.


Todlin' whoam, fro th' market rant:
Todlin' whoam, content an' cant:
Wi' mi yed i' mi hat, an' mi feet i' mi shoon,
Todlin' whoam, bi th' leet o'th moon;
                           I'm fain to be todlin' whoam!

Todlin' whoam, for fireside bliss;
Todlin' whoam, for th' childer's kiss;
God bless yon little Ingle-nook!
God bless yon bit o' curlin' smooke!
                           I'm fain to be todlin' whoam!

Todlin' whoam, for prattlin' tungs;
Todlin' whoam for twitterin' sungs;
To fondle, an' croodle, an' sink to rest,
Wi' th' wife an' little brids i'th nest;
                           I'm fain to be todlin' whoam!

E. W.


IT was a beautiful moonlight night as Betty's brother Joseph, and his friend, left Tummy o' Burdock's cottage, and took their way out at the town-end towards the quiet village of Marland, about two miles off.  Betty stood in the doorway a little while, with her apron at her eyes, looking after Joseph as he walked pensively away in the moonlight.  She watched his retiring figure as long as he was in sight; and then she turned into the house again, touched with lonely feeling,—for he was her only brother, and they were very fond of each other.  Joseph, too, went on his way in silence; for under his rough exterior beat a heart that was keenly alive to the tenderest feelings of humanity; and the parting words in which she had reminded him that he was now the only one left to her of all their own family since her mother died, had saddened the thoughts of his mind, and sealed his lips for the time.

    On they went, past the "Pinfold," at the town-end, and past the old farmstead at "Goose lone," into the green country beyond.  On they went, with the shadows of overhanging trees lying clear upon the moonlight road, as they stepped silently side by side, in the bright still midsummer night,—and, though the air seemed to swarm with invisible life, there was not a breath stirring, there was not a sound to be heard, except the faint rattle of distant wheels upon the road, and the loud clear knell of the old church clock in the town behind them, as it tolled nine; every stroke of which floated far and wide with startling distinctness, as if it was sole tenant of all the listening scene.  On they went in silence together; for Sam, too, had heard poor Betty's plaintive farewell words to her brother, and, with a fine, instinctive sympathy, he held his tongue, loth to disturb the emotional reverie that swelled the kind heart of his companion.  At length Joseph seemed to recover himself; and, halting under the overhanging trees at Sparth, he took off his hat, and wiped his forehead; and sighing as he looked down into the picturesque village lying asleep below the road he said: "It's a bonny neet, Sam, but it's very close.  Don't go so fast."  "I'm i' no hurry," replied Sam.  This broke the spell; and now they gradually got into talk together, as they went along.

    "I'll tell tho what, Joe," said Sam, "yo'r Betty makes Burdock a rare good wife.  I don't know that I ever set een on a cleaner little house i' my life."

    "Aye," replied Joe, "hoo likes havin' things tidy about her, does our Betty.  It's bred in her; for my mother wur just th' same.  An' my wife's just o'th same turn; but I think sometimes that hoo's rather too particular.  If thou'll believe me, hoo's nipped, an' scraped, an' save't at o' ends to make yon little parlour of ours look nice, an' put good things into it; an' now hoo's made it so nice that hoo'll not let one on us set a fuut into't.  A week or two back hoo went o'er to Unsworth a-seein' her mother, an' while hoo wur away, yon owd'st lass o' mine just ventur't to poo th' blind up, an' let a bit o' dayleet in; but there wur wigs upo' th' green when our Sally coom back, I can tell tho."

    "Let's see," said Sam; "Unsworth, saysto?  That's where th' Pow is, isn't it?"

    "Yigh, it is—Unsworth Pow—it's well known, far an' wide."

    "Ay; I've yerd tell on't mony a time.  When they took th' owd May-pow down, that had stood for mony a generation, they put a new un up; but, when they fund that it wur a bit short, they mucked th' ground about it, to make it groo."

    "It's a tale that somebody's made up," said Joe.

    "Oh, nay," continued Sam; "I believe its true; for it's th' same place where they shot a wheelbarrow becose it had bin bitten by a mad dog."

    "I don't believe it," replied Joe.

    "Well, but; howd thi din a bit," continued Sam; "where is Unsworth?  Isn't it close to Heaton Park?"

    "Ay, sure it is."

    "Well, I've yerd folk tell mony a time about a fine antler's stag breakin' out o'th park, an' gettin' into th' road, close to Unsworth; an' th' first Unsworth chap that seed it took to his heels, an ran into th' owd alehouse, an' he cried out, 'Heigh, lads; look out!  There's a wild cowt rannin' up an' down th' fowd, wi' a cheer (chair) on it's yed.'  Doesto believe that now?"

    "Nawe, I don't.  That's another tale o'th same breed.  I don't believe that Unsworth folk are bigger fops than other folk."

    "I guess thou never met wi' a foo i' Unsworth, becose yo'r Sally comes fro theer?"

    "Well, between thee an' me, Sam, I seldom meet wi' aught else, onywheer."

    "That's one for me," replied Sam.

    "Never mind," said Joe; "thou'll get o'er it, I dar say.  But let's drop Unsworth, an' I'll tell tho a bit of a tale about my uncle Abram.  He lives at Bury, an' that's nobbut about four mile fro Unsworth."

    "Is that him that stoole a gravestone to bake muffins on?"

    "Th' same chap, Sam.  But he didn't steighl it—he bought it."

    "There's not much difference, Joe; for it didn't belung to th' chap that sowd it.  But get for'ard wi' thi tale."

    "Well; at th' last election for Bury there wur a terrible feight between one side an' tother which mut (must) get their mon in.  An' as it happen't, my uncle Abram wur for one colour, an' the maister that he wortched for wur for tother colour; an' that made it raither awk'ard, for things ran so close that noather side stick't at a trifle.  But two or three days afore th' election coom off, th' maister code (called) at my uncle Abram's, an' axed him for his vote.  'Well, maister,' said my uncle Abram, 'yo know very weel that I'm for tother side.'  'Ay,' said th' maister, 'I know that, Abram; but then, as I've fund work for thee an' th' family so mony years, I think thou connot do less than vote for my side for an odd time.  If thou doesn't, thou'd better look out; for I can get plenty o' folk to wortch for me that'll vote o' my side beawt ony bother.'

    "Well; my uncle Abram wur nobbut a poor chap, an' he'd a greight family, an' wark wur scarce; an' it raither put him about; so he towd th' maister that he'd think it o'er a bit, an' let him know.  So th' maister went away an' left him to't.  Well; as soon as th' maister wur gone, my aint Sally said, 'Abram; whatever arto thinkin' on?  Thou knows that our Sarah, an' our Mary, an' our Ailse, an' our Sam, an' his childer,—they o' wortchen at his mill; an' as sure as ever thou votes for tother side, they'n every one get th' bag!  I wonder at tho!  Good Lord o' me, I connot see what difference it makes between tone an' 'tother!  This chap that th' maister's for is as nicelookin' a chap as ever I clapt een on!  If I'd twenty votes he should have 'em!  How leets thou connot vote for thoose that we getten a livin' by!  Doesto want to have us clemmed to deoth?  I'th name o' good Katty, what is a vote, that thou mun make sich a bother about it?  Thou knows what a family we han; an' I hope to the Lord that they'n never come to no harm through thee an' thi votin'!'

    "Then my uncle Abram turn't round, an' he said, 'I'll tell tho what it is, lass!—thous bin a good wife to me, an' a good mother to th' childer,—but between thee an' me, thou'rt talkin' a lot o' talk that would be better untalked!  Th' top an' bottom on't is, thou knows nought at o' about it; an' it's no use tryin' to larn tho!  I believe thou'd vote for the devil his-sel', if he coom wi' a smooth tung, an' thou could make ony brass by it!'

    "Well, he very seldom said aught so hard as this to her; an' it put my aint Sally about to that degree that hoo began a-cryin'.  But at it he went, ding-dong,—for th' owd lad's blood wur up.  Well as it happen't there wur a neighbour chap in,—an' owd friend o' mi uncle Abram's,—that went by th' name o' 'Camomile,' an' Camomile tried to persuade him to get o'er it by keepin' out o' th' road till th' election wur o'er.  'Ay,' said my aint Sally; 'do, Abram!  Goo o'er to Halifax a-seein' thi sister for a day or two till th' election's o'er; an' then they connot blame tho for votin' noather for one side nor tother!'  'Camomile,' said my uncle Abram, cockin' his little finger up, 'does thou see that little finger?'  'Well,' said Camomile, 'an' what bi that?'  'Well,' said my uncle Abram, 'I'd sooner bite th' end o' that finger off than I'd vote for yon chap o'th maister's!  An' I never will vote for him, noather!'  Then my aint Sally began a-cryin' again, an' hoo said, 'I wonder at tho botherin' about it so mich, when thou knows that thi livin' depends on it!'  'Livin' or no livin',' cried my uncle Abram, 'I'll vote as I've a mind,—by —!—that is, if I vote at o'!'

    "But at last they geet him persuaded to goo o'er to Halifax, to his sister's, for a day or two, till th' election wur o'er; an' Camomile agreed to go wi' him for company.  Well, off they set together for Halifax; but, when they geet to th' town end, Camomile stops, an' he said, 'By th' mass, Abram, istid o' gooin' to Halifax, let's run o'er to th' Isle o' Man for a day or two,—it'll be a deal nicer out!'  Well, my uncle Abram agreed to't in a minute, an' away they went to th' Isle of Man; an' never a soul at whoam knew but that he'd gone to Halifax. 

    "Well, the election row went on, an' folk kept co'in', fro day to day, to see how Abram wur gooin' to vote; but, they o' geet one onswer, 'He's gone to Halifax a-seein' a sister of his that's poorly.'  Well, my cousin Sam,—that's my uncle Abram's owdest son,—wur o'th opposite side to his faither, an when th' votin' day coom they sent Sam to look after his faither, an' he wur to bring him up to vote oather bi feaw means or fair.  Sam had getten a hint that they wur keeping his faither out o'th gate till th' election wur o'er, so he coom into th' house in a great passion, an' he cried out, 'Where's mi faither?  Turn him out, or else I'll play hell i' this hole!'  'Now, Samuel,' said mi aint Sally, 'do be quiet, I beg on tho!  Thi faither's noan beawn to vote for noather side!'  'Isn't he, bi —?  I'll see about that!  Turn him out, I tell yo; or else I'll punce this table o'er!'  'Now, Sammul,' said my aint Sally; 'I don't want ony disturbance i' this house!  Thi faither's not a-whoam!'  'Where is he, then?'  'He's gone o'er to Halifax, a-seein' thy aint Matty!'  Well, Sam swore that he'd fotch him back with a rattle, an' make him vote for th' maister's mon; so he darted off to th' train, an' away he went to Halifax; but, when he geet theer, an' they towd him that his faither had never bin near th' place, he wouldn't believe it, an' he kickt up sich a dust that he geet walked off to th' lock-ups, an' afore he geet out again th' election had bin o'er some time; an' he coom whoam again wi' his tail between his legs, for both him an' his faither had lost their votes. . . . Hello, what's that?"

    "It's somebody singin' i'th ale-house, yon."

    "Husht!  There's two on 'em at it!"

    "Ay, there's two on 'em,—an' it sounds like a duet between a corncrake an' a scouring-stone."

    They were now within five hundred yards of home.  The tranquil little mere of Marland lay between the ancient village and the old roadside inn like a sheet of burnished silver.

    They stood for a minute listening and looking round at the pleasant scene.  At last Sam said, "Well, it's not so late.  I guess there'll be time for an odd gill at th' owd shop here?"  "Agreed on," replied Joe, and in they went.


――――♦――――

 
A BITE TOO MUCH.
 


As I went whistlin' whoam fro wark,
One autumn neet, at th' edge o' dark,
As blithe as ony flutt'rin' lark,
             I thowt to mysel',
I'll stop an' look about a bit
             Fro th' top o'th hill.

Farm folk wur callin' in their kye;
A plain owd chap wur trailin' by;
"Come hither, Jone, owd lad," said I,
             "And have a sit;
An' while this dayleet dees i'th sky,
             Let's talk a bit."

OWD ISAAC.


IT was a gloomy autumn evening.  The rain had fallen heavily in the night; and it had rained nearly all day.  The gutters by the side of the road were flushed with water; and rain-drops danced on every "pointed thorn."  There was not a breath of air stirring.  The brooding landscape seemed wrapt in melancholy thought and the steeped foliage, now touched by the finger of death, was ready to come down in a shower, with the first wind that blew.  At the close of a glorious hay-time, we had been cheered by flickering hopes that the ensuing autumn might "turn out" a kind of "Indian summer," or, "a fine back-end," as country folk call it.  But, no sooner was the crop well housed than the inconstant "glass" began to flirt restlessly between sun and shade, settling at last into solid gloom, and a steady downpour; and now, the whole scene looked as soaked, and sloppy, and disconsolate as if the sun had taken an eternal farewell, and left the doomed land a prey to everlasting damp.  Altogether it was what Johnny Collop calls "a weet look out;" for every voice upon the street, every clock that struck, and every bell that tolled in the distance came upon the ear with a distinctness of sound that clearly foretold continued rain.  But, in spite of the dampness of the air, and the dreariness of the scene,—and in spite of his four-score and eight years' pilgrimage in this rough world of ours, hearty old "Bob o' Kersal" came toddling forth from his nest, staff in hand, when the rain ceased for an hour, at the close of the day, to take a parting look at the landscape before rest.  The changes of the weather seemed to make little difference to Bob, for, rain or fair, his constant cry was, "I connot bide under cover!" and even in the wildest storm, his unvarying salutation to the passer-by was, "It's a foine day!" . . . The old man took his usual seat by the wayside, where the dead leaves from overhanging trees lay thick about his feet; and, as he sat there, looking around, now and then, another sere leaf came quivering quietly down upon his head, as if claiming a natural companionship of decay with the veteran whose days were dwindling to the shortest span.

    The old man had not been seated many minutes before an empty coal cart came slowly down the road, attended by two grimy-looking young carters.  As soon as they saw the sturdy grey-heard under the trees, "Amos o' Nancy's," the elder of the two, said to his companion, a squat, square-built young fellow, known as "Jack o'th Clubs,"—"Hello, Jack; there's owd Bob, here!  Poo up a minute; an' let's have a word wi' him!"

    "Agreed on!" replied Jack; "agreed on!  An' then we'n have a warm gill i'th house, yon, afore we gwon ony further; for I haven't a dry stitch o' mi back! . . . Woigh!"

    The horse stopped; and the two came slinging up to the hedge-side, where old Bob was sitting.

    "Is that yo, Robert?"

    "Ay; it's me. . . . Is that thee, Amos?"

    "Ay; it's me.  Hutch up a bit.  Han yo ony reawm?"

    "Ay; there's reawm for both on yo. . . . Who's this chap 'at's witho?"

    "It's little Jack o'th Clubs.  Don't yo know him?"

    "Ay; I know him,—weel enough.  An' I knowed his uncle Sam, too.  There wur mony a bigger foo than thy uncle Sam, my lad."

    "Ay; I believe so, Robert."

    "Ay, it's true, my lad.  There wur mony a bigger foo than thy uncle Sam,—an' mony a bigger wastrel, too,—but, not so mony, noather. . . . I hope thou doesn't tak on him, my lad."

    "Nawe.  They tellen me that I tak terribly o' my faither."

    "Well, come, that is raither better,—but not so mich, noather. . . . Well, Amos; an' how art thou gettin' on?"

    "Well,—nobbut middlin'. . . . Yo're lookin' very weel for yer age, Robert."

    "Well; an' I am very weel for mi age, my lad.  I consider that if I wur bowled out to-day I should have had a very fair innings. . . . But what's th' matter wi' thee?  Thou says thou'rt nobbut middlin'."

    "An' it's true, too, Robert; I am nobbut middlin',—an' hardly that."

    "But what's to do I ax thi again,—what's to do that thou hangs thi nether lip so?"

    "Well; I think I mun ha' bin kessunt (christened) bi a left-honded parson, Robert; for I've had nought but ill-luck, latly."

    "But what's happen't, my lad?  Out wi't,—an' let it leet (alight)! "

    "Well; yo known that rough stone wole that goes round th owd nursery?"

    "Ay, sure; I know it.  It's about a mile long; an' there's no end to 't; for it's as round as a racecourse."

    "That's the very spot, Robert."

    "I know it very well; an' I dar say I can tell tho a bit o' some'at about it thou doesn't know."

    "No doubt yo can, Robert.  What is it?"

    "Ay; an' what's moore, thi uncle Jonas wor in at it."

    "Well, then; let's be yerrin (hearing)!"

    "Well, one neet, about twenty year sin, thi uncle Jonas coom rollin whoam fro th' fair as drunk as a lord.  It wur pitch dark, but he managed to hit th' gate pratty weel, till he coom to th' nursery-wole; an' theer he seemed to lose his yed o' together, for he began a-wanderin' round an' round th' nursery, gropin' at th' wole o' th' road as he went for a dur-latch; an' shoutin' for his wife to coom down stairs an' let him in.  Well, one o'th park gam-keepers happen't to be gooin by at th' time, an' he watched thi uncle Jonas a bit; an', at last, he went up to him, an' he said, 'Now, then, what arto makin' this din about?'  'I'm lookin' for our house!'  'Wheer doesto live?'  'I live i' this street!'  'Street, be—!  There's no street here, thou drunken leather-yed!  This is th' nursery, an' thou's walked twice round it while I've bin here; groping at th' wole, an' yeawlin' out for yo'r Betty to oppen the dur.  Come thi ways wi' me, thou'rt hauve a mile off whoam, yet; an' thou'll never get theer to-neet bi thisel'!"

    "Is that true, Robert?"

    "It's as true as I'm sittin' here, my lad."

    "Well, then, that nursery-wole runs i' th' family, for I'd as ill a do as that with it, about a fortnight sin."

    "Oh, ay?  How wur that, then?"

    "Well; this last year or two I've bin tryin' to save a bit o' brass; an' I managed to scrape six pound ten together, bit by bit, an' put it into th' savings bank.  Well; somebody i'th fowd had towd me that this brass weren't safe; so I went down to th' town o'th market day about a fortnight sin, and drew it out o' th' bank.  Well, as the dule would have it, I met wi' a lot of owd cronies, an' I spent about ten shillin' o' mi brass amung 'em; an' away I coom off whoam, as drunk as Chloe, wi' six pound teed up in abit o' rag, as tight as wax.  Well; whatever coom into my yed, I connot tell; but I wur so fleyed o' losin' this brass that, when I geet to the nursery wole, I poo'd a loose stone out, an' popped this six pound into th' hole, an' then put th' stone back again.  'Theer,' thinks I, 'that's safe now, as how 'tis!' an' off I went whoam as content as a king.  But, by Guy, when I geet up next mornin', I wur a good while afore I could remember what I'd done wi' mi brass; an' when I bethought me about th' nursery-wole, off I set to th' spot; but when I get theer I could no moore tell nor th' men i'th moon what part o'th wole I'd put it in.  So I hanged about till neet coom on; an' then I began a-pooin' th' wole down, but I hadn't done above a yard or so afore a policeman coom an' walked me off to th' lockups.  I nobbut geet out yesterday.  But, I'll ha' that brass yet, if I have to poo every stone o' th' wole down, bit bi bit, i'th neet-time,—an' it's aboon a mile long!"

    "Let th' brass stop i'th wole, mon!  It'll do no harm where it is; an' it'll do thee no good if thou gets it!  Beside thou'rt a man o' property as long as it's theer; an' if ever thou gets howd on't, it'll run through thi fingers th' first Rushbearin' that comes."

    "I'll ha' that brass, I tell yo, Robert; or else I'll rive yon wole down!"

    "Well, then; thee an th' wole mun sattle between yo, Amos . . . I guess thou'll not remember thi uncle Jonas?"

    "Well; I can just remember him, Robert; but it's as mich as th' bargain."

    "I dar say. . . . Him and me wur particular friends.  We had a rare do together i'th Isle o' Man once, twenty year sin.  There wur thi uncle Jonas, an' Jone o' Simeon's, th' bazzoon-player.  Jone had a wood leg, shod wi' iron.  We o' set off together to th' Isle o' Man, an' when we geet together theer, we went straight across to a place co'de Port Erin, at th' west end o' th' islan'; where there wur very good fishin'; an' it's a terrible place for conger eel, an' o' sorts o' big fish.  Well; one day we took a boat, an' a boatman, an' we went out a fishin' i'th bay,—wi' strong lines, an' great hooks, ready for ought that coom.  An' while we sat theer, danglin' th' lines o'er th' edge o'th boat, thi uncle Jonas began a-jokin Jone about his wood leg.  'Jone,' he said, 'If this boat happens to upset thou'll float lunger than me.'  'How so?'  'Thou's so mich wood about tho.'  'Well, but,' said Jone, 'I think thou'll ston as good a chance as me,—if I have a wood leg.'  'How so?'  'Because thou'rt so well timber's at th' top end.'

    "But while they were agate o' their fun, thi uncle Jonas felt a great tug at his line.  'Hello!' cried he, 'what the devil's this?  Come here, lads!'  The boatman went and geet owd o'th line.  'Aye,' said he, 'this is a conger; an' a big un, too!  I hope it'll not break th' line!  By th' mass, how it tugs!  Gently!  It's a big fish is this!  Let him play a bit!  It's comin'!  Eh, what a mouth!  Ston fur!  Here it is!'  It wur a tremendous size; an' as soon as we'd getten it o'er th' edge o'th boat it flew fro side to side, snappin' savagely first at one then at another on us.  'Look out!' cried one.  'Punce it!' cried another.  'It's a devil!' cried another.  'Mind; thou'll upset th' boat!  Heigh, Jone; its coming to thee!  Look out!'

    "Jone took aim at it with his iron-shod wood leg; but he missed 'th fish, an sent his wood leg slap through th' bottom o'th owd boat, reet up to th' knee.  'Theighur!' cried thi uncle Jonas; 'thou's shapt that grandly, owd lad!'  'Poo me up!' cried Jone; 'Poo me up, some on you; I'm fast!'  'Howd, stop!' said thi uncle Jonas; 'Thou munnot tak thi leg out!  We's be drown't!'  'Drown't or not drown't,' cried Jone, 'I mun ha' my leg out o' this hole!'  'Thou mun keep it where it is, I tell tho, or else we's ha' th' boat full o' wayter in a minute.'  'An how long am I to cruttle down here,' cried Jone, 'wi my leg i' this hole?'  Then he gave a sudden jerk, an' he skrike't out louder than ever, 'Oh!  Poo me up, this minute!'  'What's to do, now?'  'Th' conger's getten howd on me beheend!  Tak it off!'  An' sure enough it had getten fast owd o'th soft end of his back,—an' theer it stuck.  'For pity's sake take it off!' cried Jone.  'Oh, don't poo so hard!  Let it get loose of itsel'!  Prize it mouth oppen!  Oh! I connot ston this!'  'It's no use,' said thi uncle Jonas, 'it'll not let go!'  'Then cut it yed off!' cried Jone; 'an' poo ashore as fast as you con,—I'm bleedin' like a cauve!'

    "So we poo'd ashore, as fast as we could, wi' Jone's leg stickin' through th' bottom o'th boat; but when we were gettin' near lond, Jone's leg coom again a sunken rock, an' snaps off close to th' boat.  'Theer,' said Jone, pooin' his stump out o'th hole, 'thank God for that,—sink or swim!  Now then, tak this thing off my hinder-end!'  So, wi' much ado, we manage't to cut the conger off, close to'th yed; but th' yed stuck fast to th' owd lad's breeches when done.  An' thi uncle Jonas had to carry Jone on his back fro th' boat to th' alehouse, with his broken stump, an' th' conger's yed hangin' beheend him.  An when th' folk at th' ale-house seed us coming', they shouted fro' th' dur-hole, an' axed what luck we'd had.  'Luck!' said Jone; 'look at th' back o' me, here!  I've had a bite, if nobody else has!'"

    And now the rain began to descend in torrents again.

    "Fling a sheet o'er that horse, Jack," said Amos an' let's go into th' house till th' shower's o'er!  Come, Robert; come, an' have a gill wi' us!"


――――♦――――



JOHN HEYWOOD LTD., Excelsior Printing and Bookbinding Works, Manchester.

 


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