Tufts of Heather, Vol. I (1)

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THE OLD FIDDLER.
――――♦――――


CHAPTER I.


The traveller stops and gazes round and round,
O'er all the scenes that animate his heart
With mirth and music.   E'en the mendicant,
Bowbent with age, that on the old gray stone
Sole sitting, suns him in the public way,
Feels his heart leap as to himself he sings.

MICHAEL BRUCE.


IT was not quite eleven in the forenoon as Lobden Ben sauntered along the road towards the head of the Clough, near Healey Hall, as happy as the summer day.  And right well did that jolly-hearted besom-maker harmonise with the scene around him.  He was a healthy, hardy, comely fellow, just in his prime, — as clean as a new pin, and dressed in his holiday clothes, freaked with such bits of rustic prettiness as his little garden and his native fields afforded.  He looked like "a man of cheerful yesterdays," and hopeful future.


Embroidered was he, as it were a mead,
All full of freshι flowers, white and red,
Singing he was or fluting all the day:
He was as fresh as is the month of May.


The day was hot, and Ben was idle, and, as it still wanted more than an hour of noon, he paced the road with a slow, wandering gait.  His hat was thrown back from his broad forehead, and in his right hand he carelessly swung a green branch, as he chanted aloud, —


Be merry while it's day, my lads,
    'Twill soon be set o' sun;
An' fate will have her way, my lads,
    Let a mon do what he con!
        What he con!
    Let a mon do what he con!


Then, wiping his moist forehead, he lounged onward in silence for a few yards.  But he was too glad-hearted to be silent long, and, according to his wont when thus wandering alone, he began again to interweave the quiet thoughts that played about his mind with quaint threads of the minstrel memories of days gone by.  Like a fitful bird in the summer woods, he chanted as he went, — now this, now that; but nothing long, —


I'm quite content, I do not care,
    This world may wag for me;
When fuss an' fret wur o' my fare,
    I geet no greawnd to see.
So, when away my carin' went
    I ceawnted cost, an' wur content.


And then, after another moment's silence, another fragment flitted across his thoughts, and he trolled forth, —


And she did laurel wear!
And she-e did laurel wear!


Ben's voice rang loud and clear in that quiet scene, where the rich repose of summer noontide seemed to steep every thing in drowsy delight.  Haymakers were at work upon the hill-sides, spreading out the damp grass which had been cut before the previous day's rain; and, now and then, a cheery laugh, or the cadence of some snatch of old country song, came sailing on the sunny air, softened by distance; but Ben had all the highway to himself, and the man and his melody lent a charm to the landscape, as he wandered on, chanting "like tipsy jollity that reels with tossing head."  The birds eyed him curiously from the trees as he went lounging by, with the cosy sprig nodding in his hat at every footstep, and the green branch swinging in his hand; and they seemed to listen intently to his lay, till some dreamy pause of silent thought stole in upon the fitful strain, and then they gushed forth into wilder music than before, as if they had suddenly discovered an old friend, and were delighted to find any human creature astir in the gay, green world as happy as themselves.

    He was approaching the head of the Clough called "The Thrutch," the most picturesque part of the road, and ten minutes' walk would have brought him up to Healey Hall; but, though afraid of being too late for his appointment with the colonel, he was too shy a man to wish to be too soon in such an unusual place; and, therefore, he began to linger, and look about for a place where he might rest and cool himself during the intervening time.  Seeing a bush of ripe "heps" that overhung the pathway, he climbed the prickly hedge, and began to pluck them, like a truant school-boy whiling away the sunny hours, and as he put them, one by one, into his pocket, he sang,—


An' still the burden o' my song,
    Shall be, to great an' smo',
For hee and low, for weak an' strong,
    Good government is o'!


Here he suddenly leaped down from the hedge-side, and seating himself upon the bank, he began to look at his hand, into which a great thorn had penetrated; and, as he examined the bleeding finger, he kept quietly repeating the last line,—


Good government is o'!


over and over again, until, with the help of his pocket-knife blade, he had extracted the thorn.  Then, rising lazily to his feet again, he sauntered on, and sang,—


For I never—no, never,—no, nev-er,—
    Shall see my love more!

        .        .        .        .        .


Go from my window, love, go,
    Go from my window, my dear,
        The wind and the rain
        Will drive you back again,
    You cannot be lodgιd here.

Begone my fuggy, my puggy,
    Begone my love, my dear;
        The weather is warm,
        'Twill do thee no harm,
    Thou cannot be lodgιd here.


Ben walked so near to the hedge-side, for the sake of the shade afforded by the overhanging bushes, that his face came in contact with a spider's web, fine as the down of a midge's wing.  He halted, and wiped away the ruins of the delicate rosace from his cheek; and even this trifling incident seemed, unconsciously, to change the tone and direction of his wandering fancy, for he burst forth with an old ditty, of another tune:—


Come, ye young men, come along,
With your music, dance, and song;
Bring your lasses in your hands,
For 'tis that which love commands;
    Then to the Maypole hie away,
    For it is now a holiday.

It is the sweetest of the year,
For the violets now appear:
Now the rose receives its birth,
And the primrose decks the earth
    Come to the Maypole, come away,
    For it is now a holiday.

Here each bachelor may choose
One that will not faith abuse;
Nor pay with coy disdain
Love that should be loved again;
    Come to the Maypole, come away,
    For it is now a holiday.

And when you well reckoned have
What kisses your sweethearts gave;
Take them back again, and more,
It will never make them poor.
    Come to the Maypole, come away,
    For it is now a holiday.

When you thus have spent the time,
Till the day be past its prime;
To your beds repair at night,
And dream there of your heart's delight.
    Then to the Maypole hie away,
    For it is now a holiday.


Here, spying a well at a little distance, on the other side of the road, he muttered to himself, "Hello, let's sup!" and away he went lounging across towards it.  Laying his hat on the green bank, he knelt down upon the edge of the well; and, as he bent down to drink, the reflection of his face rose up in the water to meet him.  Ben paused to contemplate the sight, and groping at his sore nose, which still bore marks of the old fiddler's heel, he said, "Come, it does look a bit better; but it's hardly fit to be sin yet.  They'n be sure to ax me abeawt it up at th' ho', yon.  Well, I's be like to poo through as weel as I con; for I connot go beawt it, that's sartin.  It would do weel enough to go a-fuddlin' wi', but it's noan fit for a parlour.  I wish I could wear eawr Betty's a day or two till this gets mended.  Hoo's a angel of a nose compar't wi' mine. Come," continued he, caressing it once more, "I'll poo tho through, owd lad, as weel as I con."  Then, seeing his holiday clothes, and the posy in his button-hole, reflected in the water, he cried, "Hello, Benjamin! what's up at you're so fine to-day? Yo're like th' better side eawt!  Are yo beawn to a weddin' or summat?  I'll tell yo what, maister, you're gettin' new things fast!  Has somebry laft yo some brass latly, or summat, at there's o' this fancy-wark agate? . . . Posies an' o'!  Eh, dear!  There'll be no touchin' yo wi' a pike-fork in a bit. . . . 'Ston fur!' said Simon o' Twitter's!  'Stone fur!  I never talk to poor folk when I've these clooas on!  Ston fur!  I'm busy wi' th' quality.  Co' to-morn, when th' brass is done! . . . Well, come, here's luck, owd lad!"  And dipping his mouth into the well, he took a long drink; then, rising slowly, and with half shut eyes, he gave a sigh of satisfaction, wiped his mouth with his napkin, brushed the dust carefully from his knees, donned his rose-wreathed hat, re-arranged the posy in his button-hole, and taking up the green branch, he lounged back to the shady side of the road again, singing,—


For I nev-er,—no-o, nev-er,—no, never,
    Shall see my love more!


    "Nawe, nor I never shall," said Ben, with a sigh.  "Eh, hoo wur a bonny lass, wur Jenny.  God bless her!  Eawr Betty's forgetten o' abeawt it, neaw.  But hoo use't to ding me up wi't a bit, sometimes, when we wur cwortin'."


My lodging it is on the cold ground,
    And oh, very hard is my fare;
But that which grieves me more, love,
    Is the coldness of my dear.
        Yet still he cried, "Oh turn, love,
            I prythee, love, turn to me;
        For thou art the only girl, love,
            That art adored by me."

With a garland of straw I'll crown thee, love,
    And marry thee with a rush-ring;
Thy frozen heart shall melt with love,
    So merrily I will sing.
        Yet still he cried, "Oh turn, love," &c.

But if thou will harden thy heart, love,
    And be deaf to my pitiful moan,
Then I must endure the smart, love,
    And shiver in straw all alone.
        Yet still he cried, "Oh turn, love," &c.


    "Hello; what's comin' neaw!" said Ben, staring down the road.  It was a handsome, well-dressed, and well-mounted horseman, who came riding hastily along.  As soon as he had got within a few yards of Ben, he pulled up, and inquired how far he was from the village of Whitworth.

    "Oh, three-quarters of a mile, happen," said Ben.  "Th' first heawses yo come'n to.  Turn up at th' reet hond amung th' heawses, an' yon be i'th midst on't, i' two minutes.  I've just come fro' thither mysel."

    "Do you think Dr. James will be at home?" inquired the rider,

    "Sure to be," replied Ben.  "He's seldom off, except when he's oather huntin' or shootin'; an' then he doesn't go far fro' whoam.  Well, yigh; he twos into th' Red Lion a bit of a neet, after he's done."

    "What kind of a place is the Red Lion?" inquired the horseman.

    "Oh, the best shop i' Whit'orth, if yo wanten to put up.  I know th' folk 'at keeps it, very weel.  Th' landlady's an owd friend o' my wife's.  I left my wife theer this forenoon.  They'n a rare good stable, too."

    "Thank you!" said the rider, and flinging a shilling towards Ben, he galloped off.

    "Yon's moor money nor wit, I deawt," said Ben, looking after the disappearing horseman.  Then, walking up to where the shilling lay, he looked down at it, and said, "Well, I never expected that, as heaw. . . . He met
(might) ha' gan it one decently, beawt flingin' it o'th floor. . . But it's no use lettin' it lie theer.  It'll come in for summat (somewhat) better nor mendin' th' hee-road wi'."

    Then he pocketed the shilling, and went on singing, ―


Green grow the leaves on the hawthorn tree;
Green grow the leaves on the hawthorn tree;
        They hangle, an' they jangle,
        An' they cannot well agree,
While the tenor o' my song goes merrilee.
        Merrilee!
        Merrilee-ee!
While the tenor o' my song goes merrilee!


    "I wish I'd axed yon chap what time it wur," said Ben.  Then, after walking thoughtfully on a few paces, he burst out again in a fresh direction.


There wur an owd fellow coom o'er the lea,
    An' it's oh, I'll not have him!
            He coom o'er the lea,
            A-cwortin to me,
    Wi' his owd gray beart new-shorn.

My mother hoo tow'd me to oppen him th' door.
    An' it's oh, I'll not have him!
            I oppen't him th' door,
            An' he fell upo' th' floor,
    Wi' his owd gray beart new-shorn.

My mother hoo bade me set him a stoo.
    An' it's oh, I'll not have him
            I set him a stoo,
            An' he looked like a foo,
    Wi' his owd gray beart new-shorn.

My mother hoo towed me to cut him some bread,
    An' it's oh, I'll not have him
            I cut him some bread,
            An' threw't at his head,
    An' his owd gray beart new-shorn.

My mother hoo towed me to leet him to bed.
    An' it's oh, I'll not have him
            I let him to bed,
            An' he're very near deeod,
    Wi' his owd gray beart new-shorn.

My mother hoo towed me to take him to church.
    An' it's oh, I'll not have him!I
            I took him to church,
            An' I left him i'th lurch,
    Wi' his owd gray beart new-shorn.


    When Ben had ended the ditty, he wiped the moisture from his forehead again, and muttered to himself, "'Eh, it's warm, God bless yo,' as th' owd woman said when they axed hur heaw hoo liked th' thin broth.  I wonder what o'clock it is.  Hardly eleven, bith' day, I think.  Twelve's my time; an' I'll go noan afore, as heaw th' cat jumps.  I may no 'ceawnt o' bein' catechise't bi folk, — quality or no quality.  Th' owd kurnul's sure to be theer, — an' happen a parson or two.  I wish this nose o' mine wur reet; they're sich chaps for readin' folk fro yed to fuut. . . . An' then, they're sure to begin abeawt yon bit o'th jackass o' mine bein' round up into th' mill chamber [Ed.―  for this story, see BESOM BEN AND HIS DONKEY].  Rare gam' for 'em, that'll be.  It'll last my life-time, that jackass dooment.  Sarve me reet, too, — leather-yed.  I could ha' laugh't rarely if onybody else had done it but me.  But th' laughin's o' upo' one side, this time, like th' handle of a can.  Ne'er mind; it'll be somebry else's turn th' next. . . . Th' most o' folk are fain to see other folk make fool's o' theirsels.  It's th' way o'th world. . . . An', by th' mon, if a poor lad happens to be born wi' a hair-shorn lip, or his yure a bit cauve-lick't, he's sure to be punce't for't, oather by one bowster-yed or another, — though he's no moor to do wi't nor he has wi' makin' moonleet.  There's a decol o' feaw flytin' i' this cote, — that they co'n a world. . . . But then, I wur a jumpt-up foo abeawt that jackass-do, — there's no gettin' off that.  Well,—come,—I's happen larn sometime.  It's a lung lone 'at's never a turn. . . . But I's catch it, when I get to th' ho'.  If it isn't mention't o'th parlour, it'll be mention't i'th kitchen.  Th' sarvants are ten times war nor th' tother.  But, never mind, every mon mun do his do, while th' time's up.  Come on!' said Kempy; 'we're noan freeten't o' frogs!  Folk 'at's boggart-fear't han nobbut a feaw life.'  'Forrad, lads!' cried Tickle-but; 'yo'r wark's i'th front on yo!'. . . . I'll face up at twelve, — but not a minute afore, — that's sattle't.  An' there's an hour to do on, yet.  Come, I'll keawer me deawn, an' pike a two-thre o' these heps."

    Taking a few of the red hips from his pocket, he was just preparing to seat himself upon the hedge, when, glancing along the road, he spied somebody sitting in a shady place, close by the wayside.  "Hello," said Ben; "what's yon?  Somebry sittin' bi th' roadside, as snug as a button, wi' o'th world to theirsel'.  I wonder who it is.  A tramp o' some mak, I dar say.  Come, I'll have a look at 'em, as heaw."  And away he went lazily onward, chanting,


Han yo sin my love, my love, my love;
    Han yo sin my love, lookin' for me?
A cock't hat, an' a fither, an' buckskin breeches
    An a bonny breet buckle at oather knee.


    As Ben drew nearer, he began to recognise some features of the person he had seen from the distance, and, stopping suddenly, his eyes began to glisten, and, raising his hands, he cried, "By th' mass; I believe it's Dan o' Tootler's, th' owd fiddler!  Eh, if it's him!  Come, that'll do!" And then he strode forward more briskly, singing,—


Robin Lilter's here again
    Here again, here again?
Robin Lilter's here again,
    Wi' th' merry bit o' timber.


    It was, indeed, Dan o' Tootler's, a blind fiddler, well known all over the country side.  His native spot was a wild moorland fold, near to the foot of Brown Wardle Hill, at the north-eastern end of the vale of the Roch; but he was a great wanderer; and his wide acquaintance with old melodies, especially those peculiar to the north of England, as well as his remarkable power as a performer upon the violin, made him a favourite guest wherever he went.  At wakes, and weddings, and churn-suppers, or any country holiday, his was a well-known and welcome face, in every country nook between Blackstone Edge and the bleak ridge of Rooley Moor; and even far beyond that great dividing line, — in the hills and dales of Rossendale Forest, and amongst the lonely folds of Ribblesdale, up to the great end of Pendle, many a merry heart leaped with joy at the mention of blind Dan o' Tootler's, and his fiddle.  There the minstrel sat, upon an old tree root, which had been left by the wayside, sunning himself, and crooning a quaint tune, with his blind eyes turned upward to the summer sky.  He was called "Owd Dan" wherever he went; but this was meant more as an acknowledgment of kindly acquaintance than as indicating the decrepitude of age; for he was not yet sixty, and he was a happy-hearted and remarkably hale man for his years.  He was humbly clad, but all was clean and whole from head to toe; and even the clumsy, unconcealed patches upon his clothing, here and there, were indicative of wholesome thrift, and showed that, though poor, he was not severely so, and also that, in his lowly estate, he was kindly cared for.  His son, a chubby lad of nine years old, whose business was to lead him by the hand, had wandered into a field, hard by, to gather flowers, always keeping within call, whilst the old man rested himself; and as the blind fiddler sat there, with his face up-turned, and quietly swaying his body to and fro, to the measure of an old tune, which he was crooning dreamily to himself, there was something very touching in the placid helplessness which pervaded his well-cut features.  Indeed, there is often a strange heaven of peaceful expression in a blind man's face; as if the loss of sight, which deprives life of so many pleasures, had taken away also some of its troubles; and the mute, pleading eloquence, — the plaintive quietude — that dwells in a sightless countenance, moves the heart more than strength, more than beauty ever can; as if helplessness itself was surrounded by an angelic atmosphere, more potent for its defence than any merely physical protection could be.

    The fiddler was on his way to the house of an old friend, who farmed a large tract of land upon the edge of the moors, near the town of Bacup.  Indeed, the minstrel and the farmer were distant relatives, bearing the same name, apart from the personal attachment which bound them to each other; and, according to a custom long established between the two, the fiddler had been specially invited, quite as much in the character of a guest as of an itinerant musician, to enliven the rustic gathering which thronged the old house at the Nine Oaks' Farm at the annual churn-supper, as the feast of the hay-harvest is called in South Lancashire.  The churn-supper at Nine Oaks was famous all over the Forest of Rossendale, no less on account of the number of the guests and the bounty of the cheer, than on account of the presence of a minstrel so well known and so universally welcome as Dan o' Tootler's was in those days.  He had already walked many a rough moorland mile, and, having still several miles further to go, the old man had sat himself down in this shady nook of the road to rest a little while.  The loss of sight had made the fiddler's hearing more acute than is common to those whose senses are all in full play; and in the all-pervading stillness of the scene, where nothing seemed astir but the songs of wild birds, his quick ear caught the sounds of Ben's footsteps approaching from the distance.

    "Husht!" said he, as if talking to the birds around him;? "husht! there's somebry comin'!"  Then, catching the tones of Ben's voice as he came singing on, a quiet smile crept over the old man's up-turned face, as he rubbed his hands and said, "Come, I know who that is! . . . Husht!  Let him goo on again! . . . Ay; it's him.  Lobden Ben, for a creawn!"  As Ben drew near, the fiddler cried out, with his smiling countenance still turned sunward, "Hello, Ben, owd lad!  Is that thee?  Heaw arto gettin' on amung yon yirth-bobs (tufts of heather) upo' Lobden Moor?"

    "Eh, — Dan o' Tootler's, — owd dog!" cried Ben, running up, and catching the fiddler by the hand.  "God bless thy owd tweedlin' soul!  Wheerever arto wanderin to, wi' thoose bonny bits o' cat-bant o' thine?"

    "Oh, a bit fur up, Rossenda' gate on," replied the fiddler.  "I'm beawn to a churn-supper, at th' Nine Oaks."

    "Th' dule theaw art!" cried Ben.  "Eh, thae will tickle yon owd clinkert shoon o' theirs up, aboon a bit!  By th' maskins, I wish I're beawn witho', owd brid!"

    "An', by the good Katty, I wish thae wur, owd crayter!" replied the fiddler.  "But I'm i' good time, yet.  Come, keawer tho deawn a bit."

    "I'm i' good time, too," answered Ben.  "I've aboon an hour o' mi honds."

    "Well; come thi ways, an' have a keawer, then," continued the fiddler, shifting, to make room for Ben upon the old tree root.  "Keawer tho deawn.  Th' moon's had mony a reawnd sin I let on tho afore.  An' wheer arto for when tho sets off again, like, — conto tell?  Or, thae'rt like wayter in a bruck, — noan tickle if thae can keep gooin'."

    "Yelley Ho's (Healey Hall) th' first shop I have to play for, as soon as th' time comes," replied Ben.

    "What, owd Kurnul (Colonel) Cherrick's?" said the fiddler.

    "Ay."

    "Why, thae'rt noan so fur off theer, now, arto?" replied the fiddler.

    "I can year th' dogs barkin' i'th yard, fro' here," answered Ben.

    "Come, that'll do!" said old Dan, rubbing his hands; "that'll do!"

    "He wants me to goo up to th' top o' Blacks'n Edge wi' him an' some friends of his, this afternoon," continued Ben.

    "Oh, ay!" replied the fiddler.  "There'll be find doin's thae'll see.  He's a rare owd cock, is th' kurnul.  Yo'n be nought short, if he's theer.  But yo'n be pinch't for time, winnot yo?  I'd ha' started i'th mornin'."

    "Well, thae knows," replied Ben, "I go bi orders.  Twelve o' clock's my time; an' I's go noan afore."

    "Shootin', I guess?" inquired the fiddler.

    "Nay; I know nought what they're after," answered Ben.  "It's reet to me, as what it is; though I like to see a bit o' good spwort, for o' that.  But twelve o' clock's my time an' it wants an hour yet."

    "Well, then," said the fiddler, "thae'rt i' no peighl.  So come an' sit tho deawn, an' let's have a bit o' talk.  I'll be sunken if I'm not gooin' meawldy for th' want o' somebry to fratch wi'!  Come an' sit tho deawn."

    "I'm willin'," said Ben, giving the old man a friendly slap on the shoulder, as he sat down beside him on the tree root.  "Hutch up a bit.  Well, an' heaw arto gettin' on, Dan, owd lad?"

    "Oh, peeort (pert), lad; peeort as a pynot (a magpie)," replied the old fiddler, smiling.

    "That's reet," said Ben, "I like to yer o' folk doin' weel, particilar fiddlers, ― they'n so mich fancy-wark abeawt 'em.


A mon 'at plays a fiddle weel,
Should never awse (attempt) to dee,


I'll tell tho what, Dan!"

    "Well."

    "It's a fine day, an' we'n plenty o' time on er honds, an' it's a good while sin we let o' one another afore; an' there isn't a wick soul i'th seet nobbut thee an' me."

    "Well; an' what bi that?"

    "Why, thae met trate a body to a bit of a do upo' that friskin'-stick o' thine.  Come, strike up!"

    "Well," replied Dan, drawing his fiddle from the bag; "I've nought again that noather."

    "Good again! " cried Ben.  "What arto beawn to give us, owd brid?"

    "Aught 'at ever thae's a mind, Ben," answered the fiddler, as he rosined his bow.

    "Well, let's have a good owd minor, then," said Ben.

    "Agreed on," replied the fiddler.  "But I'll tell tho what, Ben."

    "Well."

    "I'm just thinkin' 'at I could like to yer thee tootle one o' thoose bits o' ditties o' thine, th' first."

    "So be it, then," said Ben. "What's it to be?"

    "Try 'Chad'ick o' Chadick Ho'!"'

    "I don't know it through," said Ben.

    "Let's ha' 'Fair Ellen o' Ratcliffe,' then," continued the fiddler.

    "Oh, it's so lung," replied Ben.  "Thea'll have us agate o' yeawlin' till mornin'."

    "Well," said the fiddler, "sing 'Bowd Byron an' his men,' then; or else 'Iron Cap o' Bernshaw Tower.'"

    "Oh, I couldn't get through 'em i' time, mon," replied Ben.  "I could happen manage Tuttlin' Tummy,' or 'Skudler o' Buckstones,' or 'Th' Piper o' Wardle.'"

    "Doesto know 'Thungin' Robin?'" inquired the fiddler.

    "Nawe."

    "Or, 'Dark Rondle o' Sceawt Scar,"' continued the fiddler.

    "I don't know that, noather," replied Ben.

    "Well 'Cowd Simeon,' then," continued old Dan.

    "Eh, nawe," said Ben.  "It's to hee, — it's to hee!  By th' mon, Dan, where I know one thae knows twenty."

    "Well, I'll tell tho what," said Dan; "try 'The Flowers o' Joy.'  That's short enough; an' a bonny thing too."


Full oft the sweetest flowers of joy.
    From the soil of sorrow spring.


    "Here, here," said Ben, doffing his hat, and stroking his hair aside.  "I'll try one."

    "Well, get agate," said Dan, beginning to tweedle on his fiddle.  "Get agate, an' I'll put an odd note or two in as thae gwos on.  Eh, Ben, I wish I could sing like thee!—


Bowd Buckley o'er the wild hills rode,
    A darin' dance to tread;
Wi' twenty-four o'th starkest lads
    That ever Rachda' bred.


Come, get agate, Ben; or else I'll start mysel'."

    The fiddler's little lad, hearing the noise, had come out from the field, with his hand full of posies; and he was now standing by his father's side, holding the lap of his coat, and gazing at Ben with wondering eyes.

    "Come, Ben; what is it?" said the fiddler.

    "'The girl I left behind me,'" replied Ben.

    "Brast off, then," replied the fiddler.


I'm onely since I crossed the hill,
    An' o'er th' moor an' valley;
Such heavy thoughts my heart do fill
    Since partin' wi' my Sally.
I seek no more the fine an' gay,
    For they do but remind me
How swift the hours did pass away
    With the girl I left behind me.

Oh! ne'er shall I forget the night, ―
    The stars were bright above me,
An' gently lent their silver light,
    When first she vow's to love me.
But now I'm bound unto the camp,
    I pray that heaven may guide me,
An' send me safely back again
    To the girl I left behind me.

Had I the art to sing her praise,
    With all the skill of Homer,
One theme alone should fill my lays,
    The charms of my true lover.
Then, let the night be e'er so dark,
    Or e'er so wet an' windy,
I pray kind heaven may send me back
    To the girl I've left behind me.

Her golden hair in ringlets fair,
    Her eyes like diamonds shining,
Her slender waist, her carriage chaste,
    May leave the swain repining.
Ye gods above! oh, hear my prayer,
    To my true love to bind me,
And send me safely back again
    To the girl I've left behind me.

The bee shall honey taste no more,
    The dove become a ranger,
The rolling waves shall cease to roar,
    Ere I shall seek to change her.
The vows we've register'd above
    Shall ever cheer and bind me,
In constancy to her I love, ―
    The girl I've left behind me.

My mind for her shall still retain,
    In sleeping or in waking,
Until I see my love again,
    For whom my heart is breaking.
If ever I return that way,
    And she should not decline me,
How gladly will I live and stay
    With the girl I've left behind me.


    "Weel chanted, owd lad!" cried the fiddler, slapping Ben on the back heartily.  "Weel chanted.  It's a bonny owd thing, to this day.  An', eh, I'll tell tho what, Ben, there's many a poor sodiur lad has sung that wi' a achin' heart when he's bin far away fro' whoam, an' little chance o' comin' back again."

    "Eh, ay," replied Ben; "I know summate abeawt that.  Eawr Bill wur kilt at th' stormin' o' Badajos.  Thae knows Moses Whistler, th' white-limer?"

    "Sure, I do."

    "Well, eawr Bill an' him listed together," said Ben.

    "Oh, ay?" said the fiddler.

    "Ay," continued Ben, looking thoughtfully round.  "Moses has getten whoam again, lam't for life; but eawr Bill, poor lad, he's lyin' somewheer abeawt Badajos, quiet enough, — what there is laft on him."

    "Well," replied the fiddler, "my young'st brother, eawr Joe, — a finer lad, nor a better-hearted, never steps shoe-leather, — he deed, wi' Nelson, at Trafalgar.  Eh, I thought my mother would ha' brokken her heart!  He're like th' nestle-cock at eawr heawse. . . . I don't know heaw it wur, but he would be a sailor, lung afore he'd ever set een upo' salt wayter. . . . Poor Joe!"
 

"AMEN CORNER," ROCHDALE.


    "Ay, it's so, sometimes, for sure," said Ben, in a dreamy tone.  "Th' last time 'at I yerd 'Th' Girl I left behind me' wur at 'Th' Amen Corner,' i' Rachda'.  It wur one o'th leet horse, a fine yung chap as ever I claps een on.  He'd come upo' furlough, a-seein' his relations; an' when he geet to Rachda' he fund 'em o' laid by i'th churchyard, th' owd sweetheart an' o'.  An' th' lad look't lost, — quite lost, — as he sit theer i'th nook bi hissel', as still as a meawse.  But nought 'ud fit these tother but he mut (must) tak' his turn, an' sing 'Th' Girl I left behind me.'  Well, I tell tho, he tried, an' I never yerd it better sung sin I're born o' mi mother.  But when he'd getten abeawt th' hauve gate through, he brasts eawr a-cryin', an', by th' mon, he sets us o' agate, — th' drunkenest foo' i'th hole, they're o' cryin' at once.  There weren't a dry face i'th spot.  Owd Bill Hollan', th' butcher, wur sheer, but he couldn't ston it.  He had to goo eawt.  Eh, heaw that lad did cry! . . . But, come, let's drop it, for God's sake. . . . Here, it's thy turn, Dan.  Strike up summate or another."

    "Agreed on," said the fiddler, drawing his sleeve across his eyes, and then shouldering his instrument.  "Agreed on; what mun us have?"

    Try 'Remember the Poor,'" said Ben.

    "Well done, Ben!" said the fiddler.  "That's a fine owd minor tune!"

    "It's nought else," replied Ben.  "Brast off!"

    The old man began to arrange the pegs of the instrument, and, as he tried the strings, one after another, and then in unison, he muttered affectionately to his fiddle, as if it was a living thing.  "Neaw, owd lad," said he, as he screwed first one peg, then another, and tweedled over little fits of wailing prelude, to get the tones he wanted.  "Neaw, owd lad, this is a nice job for tho.  Just thee talk to 'em a bit, i'th owd fashion.  Thae can do it if thae's a mind, I know.  We'n had mony a happy day together, — thee an' me, —  hadn't we, owd brid?  Ay, an' we'n ha' mony another, if God spares er lives. . . . Neaw, mind thi hits! . . . 'Remember the Poor,' thae says, Ben?"

    "Well, wean see what we can do," continued the fiddler.  Then he quietly began the plaintive old forest tune, and, as the beautiful wail rose upon the air, it seemed to hush the wild birds around, and fill the summer noontide with a sweet sadness.  The rindle of water, dribbling into the well hard by, subdued its silvery tinkle, and the very trees and hedges seemed to stand still and listen, as if spellbound by the old man's touching lay.  Ben was so moved that he could not help taking up the melting strain, and so they played and sang the tender old ditty together, till tears began to trickle down their cheeks; and when the song was ended, and the last soft cadence was dying out upon the woods in the clough, they sat silent together for a minute or two.


 
CHAPTER II.


Oft seated 'neath some spreading oak,
To rapturous strains his soul awoke;
Whilst ii,tening hinds would drop the spade
Forgetful of their hardy trade;
And peeping maidens raised the latch,
The minstrel's melting lay to catch;
And the lone brook that crept along,
Bore on its breast the fiddler's song.

THE LAY OF THE POOR FIDDLER.


"THAT'S a nice thing," said Ben, drawing the sleeve of his coat across his eyes.

    "Ay, it is" replied the old fiddler.  "Gi' me thi hont, Ben; I con play for thee wi' some'at like comfort.  But, eh, mon, it hurts me, — it hurts me to play for folk at's no feelin'.  There's nobry knows nought abeawt music if they hadn't a heart i' their inside.  But, th' most o' folk, neaw-a-days, are like as if they'd bin made eawt o' button-tops an' scaplins, put together cowd. . . . But, gi me thi hont, Ben, lad!  Thae knows what things belungs."

    And they shook hands together, whilst the tears stood gleaming in the old fiddler's blind eyes.

    The little lad was still standing by his father's side, gazing, wonderingly, first at one, then at the other.

    "Billy," said the fiddler, "go thi ways an play tho i'th feels again a bit.  I'll shout when I want tho."
                     .                                .                                .                                .

    "Dan,' said Ben, groping in his pocket, "hasto had ony dinner?"

    "Nawe," replied the fiddler, "but eawr Billy has a bit in a hankitcher somewheer."

    "Wilto have a bit o' mine?" continued Ben.

    "What hasto getten?" inquired the fiddler.

    "Green-sauce-cake an' cheese," replied Ben.

    "Ay, an' good, too," answered the fiddler.  "Come, I'll have a bite wi' tho."
                     .                                .                                .                                .

    "Ben," said the old man, "hasto sin 'Duck-fuut' lately?"

    "What, Tummy o' Doddle's?"

    "Ay," replied Dan.  "They co'n him 'Duck-fuut,' for a bye-name, dunnot they?"

    "I thought his bye-name had bin 'Whelp,'" said Ben.

    "Well," replied the fiddler, "I've yerd him co'd both 'Whelp' an' Duck-fuut.'  It's thoose 'at doesn't like him at co's him 'Whelp,' I dar say."

    "Well, but," continued Ben, "it's same chap that I meeon.  It's lung Tummy, th' ceawnter singer, isn't it?"

    "Sure it is," replied the fiddler.

    "Eh, I connot tell when I seed him last," said Ben.  "I believe it wur one Sunday forenoon, up at Ash'oth Chapel, soon after Kesmass.  An' what dost think he did?"

    "Nay, I know not," replied the fiddler.  "Some'at quare, for a creawn."

    "Well, thae knows, they'd no organ up at Ash'oth Chapel; they'n nought nobbut th' singers, an' a bass fiddle, an' a little fiddle, an' a piccolo, an' sometimes a bazzoon, — that's when Billy Diggle's th' solid side eawt.  Tim o' Yeawler's plays th' bass fiddle.  Well, that forenoon, owd Nobbler, th' clark, ga' th' hymn eawt, — 'Let us sing to the praise and glory of God, th' fourteent' hymn.'  Then there wur a deeod stop for a minute or two, an' folk wur wonderin' that th' singers didn't start o' their wark.  An' just as they began o' turnin' reawnd to see what wur to do, up rose 'Duck-fuut,' — two yards hee, — i'th singin' pew, — sich a seet!  He'd a thick red wool muffatee reawnd his neck; an' he'd two o'th primest black een i'th front of his face 'at ever thae seed, — for he'd bin to a fuut-bo' match, th' day afore, an' it had finish's up wi' a battle.  Well, up that figure rose i'th singin' pew, — six fuut o'th quarest-lookin' stuff 'at ever stoode i' that spot, — an' he sheawted deawn to th' clark, 'Heigh, Bobby! doesto yer?'  Owd Bob happen't to be blowin' his nose at th' time, an' didn't just catch him, so 'Duck-fuut' sang eawt again, 'Doesto yer, Nobbler?'  Th' owd clark jumps, an' drops his hankitcher, when he yerd that word Nobbler,' an' he stare't at th' singin' pew, an' said, 'What's up?'  'Well,' cried 'Duck-fuut,' lookin' deawn at him, 'you mun stop a minute or two; owd Tum's brokken a streng.  Sit yo still a bit.  I'll gi' yo th' item when we're ready."

    "Just favvours him!" said the fiddler.

    "A bit like him, for sure," said Ben.  "But he geet th' bag for that."

    "Sarve him reet," replied the fiddler.  "But he never wur very breet.  I can remember 'em tellin' on him gooin' to Rachda' rushbearin' when he wur a little lad, an' he happened to see a chap i'th street playin' a trombone.  He'd never sin a trombone player in his life afore, so he stood a while, watchin' this chap play.  At th' last he turn't to his faither, an' he said, 'See yo, faither, at yon chap 'at's playin' yon brass thing; he connot get it th' reet length, as what he does.'"

    "By th' mon," said Ben, "he's as ill as owd Nukkin, 'at went up Knowe Hill a-meetin' a sheawer o' rain."

    "I yerd on him bein' at a rent-supper, once," continued the fiddler, "an' when th' supper wur o'er, th' cheermon code for 'order!'  An' when he'd getten 'em still, he said, 'There is no parson here, is there?'  'Nawe.'  'Well; I could like to yer some on yo say 'Grace,' after sich a supper as we'n had to-neet.  Here, Duck-fuut, thee try thi hond, — thae'rt a church-singer.'  Then up jumped 'Duck-fuut' in a minute, an' he cried eawt, 'Thank God 'at there's nobry brawsen.'"

    Here Ben began to feel a little compunction, remembering how often he had laid himself open to ridicule.  And, wondering within himself whether the old man had heard of his foolish freak with the jackass, which was now the talk of the whole country-side, he silently determined to seize the opportunity of turning the conversation into a different direction.

    "Dan," said Ben, "I've a good mind to gi' tho another bit of a ditty."

    "Do, Ben, do, — God bless tho!" said the old man, shouldering his fiddle once more.

    "Here goes!" said Ben, —


The day was spent, the moon shone bright,
    The village clock struck eight,
Young Mary hastened with delight,
    Unto the garden gate.
But what was there that made her sad?
The gate was there but not the lad;
Which made poor Mary say and sigh,
"Was ever poor girl so sad as I?"

She traced the garden here and there,
    The village clock struck nine,
Which made poor Mary sigh, and say,
    "You shan't, you shan't be mine.
You promised to meet me at the gate at eight,
You never shall keep me nor make me wait;
For I'll let all such creatures see,
They never shall make a fool of me!"

She traced the garden here and there,
    The village clock struck ten;
Young William caught her in his arms,
    No more to part again
For he'd been to buy the ring that day,
And O! he had been a long, long way;—
Then, how could Mary so cruel prove,
To banish the lad she so clear did love?

Up with the morning sun they rose,
    To the church they went away,
And all the village joyful were,
    Upon the wedding-day.
Now, in a cot, by a river side,
William and Mary both reside;
And she blesses the night that she did wait
For her absent swain at the garden gate.


    "Bravo, Ben!" cried the fiddler.  "Thae mends!


Bravo, bravo, very well sung,
Jolly companions, every one!


    He then quickly began to play the air of the quaint old country song,—


My owd wife, hoo's a good owd crayter;
My owd wife, hoo's a good owd soul!


But before he had quite drawn out the last note of the second bar, Ben laid his hand upon his shoulder and said, "Dan, owd lad, we'n o'th world to ersels (ourselves), yet.  There isn't a wick soul i'th seet.  Let's have a doance!  These toes o' mine are ram-jam full o' flutterment!  Strike up 'The Flowers of Edinburgh,' or else 'The Devil Rove his Shirt!'  There's a bit o' nice hard greawnd i'th front on tho here, 'at looks as if it'd bide thumpin'.  Strike up, owd brid! 'The Flowers of Edinburgh.'  I'll fuut it!  Just thee hearken my feet, neaw!  Brast off!  There's nobry comin'."

    "Howd!" said Dan.  "Howd a minute, till I get my strengs reet!"

    Then he twisted and tweedled a minute or two, and when he had got his instrument into tune, he tapped upon the back of it with his fiddle-stick.

    "Nae then, Ben," said he, "arto ready?"

    "Crash off! " replied Ben.

    And at it they went, ding-dong.

    Ben, though unusually strong-built for his height was a lithe-footed, and, — what is called in the country, — a "lark-heeled lad," a good runner, and a capital dancer of the dances common to his own country-side.

    The fiddler's quick ear followed Ben's footsteps with glee.

    "Go it, my lad!" cried he.  "Go it, Ben, owd dog!  Weel fuuted!  By th' mon, weel fuuted!  Rare time, Ben, owd brid, — rare time!  Welt at it!  Theighur!  By th' mass, thae'rt makin' that bit o' floor talk like a Christian!  Capital races! . . . Go thi ways, Ben, my lad!  Dee when tho will, — thae'rt a glitterin' jewel!"

    There they were, "with all the world to themselves," — Ben dancing in the sun, with the posies in his hat nodding to the tune; and the blithe old fiddler, with his smiling face upturned, frisking his gleeful elbow, and his whole body moving restlessly to the beat of the dancer's feet, whilst the fiddler's lad, with his hands full of wild flowers, leaned through a gap in the hedge, gazing upon the scene with mingled astonishment and delight.

    "Stop! stop!" cried the fiddler, ending the tune with a soft wailing cadence.  "Stop, an' rosin!  Tak thi woint, Ben.  Thae's done weel this time reawnd.  Eh, if thou'd had a brewheawse-dur or summat to caper on, it would ha' made it sing!  Come, sit tho deawn, owd lad!"

    "It's warm wark, Dan," said Ben, wiping his forehead.  "I wish we'd summat to sup.  I'm as dry as soot."

    "Eh," said the fiddler, " I wish thae'd a quart o'th best ale 'at ever wur brewed i' this world, o'th front on tho just neaw, fair singin' for tho to seawk at it!  God bless thi heart!  Thae's a fuut like a angel, Ben, an', by th' mon, thae'rt as lennock as a snig!  Gi' me thi hont!  That bit o'th heart o' thine followed th' music, or else thae could ne'er ha' stricken sich time as that!  Thae can doance both leet an' shade, owd brid!  It does my heart good to yen a doancer touch th' tender bits of a tune with a soft fuut!  Oh, it maes me feel as fain as a cat in a tripe shop!  Come, an' sit tho deawn upo' this tree-root.  Eh, it would ha' eawnded weel if it had bin a wood floor!  Let's stop an' rosin.  Gi' me thi hont, lad! . . . I'll tell tho what, Ben, thou's some music in thou,' as owd Swatter said when th' jackass eat his tune-book.  Thou has, owd lad!  'God bless thoose hoofs o' thine!' as Tuner said when th' lon'lort brought him two keaw-heels to his supper.  Come, sit tho dawn.  By th' mon, that's warmed me up!"

    "Ay, an' it's warmed me up, too, primly," replied Ben, taking his seat by the side of the old man.

    It is a remarkable thing, that blind people, — even those that have been born blind, — often speak of the appearance of persons, and places, and things, as if they had actually seen them.  Whether this is merely an imitative manner of speech in their case, or it may be accounted for by the unusual acuteness of the senses still left to them, and the keener attention to the reports of those who can see, aided by the shaping power of imagination, which must be greatly stimulated by the loss of sight, it is not easy to decide.  But the result is often so.  And so it was with old Dan, the fiddler.

    "An' wheer is it 'at you're off to this afternoon, Ben?" said the old man.

    "Top o' Blacks'n Edge," replied Ben.

    "Well, yo couldn't have a nicer day for th' job," said the fiddler. . . "I guess thae never wur i' Turvin Cloof, Ben?"

    "Never.  I know nought mich abeawt that countryside," answered Ben.

    "Eh, it's one o'th wildest nooks 'at ever I set een on," replied the fiddler.  "I know o' that country-side, deawn as far as Ripponden, — hill an' dale, wood an' wayter-stid, hamil (hamlet), an' roadside heawse. . . . Yo'n co' at th' White House, at' top o'th Edge, I guess?"

    "I dar say we sha'n," replied Ben.  "There is nowheer else to co' at up theer."

    "Nawe, there isn't," said the fiddler.  "It's a wild country up theer, for sure.  I've bin frost-bitten mony a time crossin' thoose tops. . . . Hasto ever bin to Robin Hood Bed?"

    "Oh, ay," replied Ben, "three or four times.  It's a fine lump o' rock, is that."

    "Ay, it is," said the fiddler.  "It stops upo' th' edge o'th moor-side, as if it own't everything within seet, an' that's no little."

    "Nawe, by th' mon, it isn't so," answered Ben.  "They can see across Lancashire an' Cheshire into Wales, fro' th' top o' Robin Hood Bed."

    "Ay, they con," said the fiddler.  "Let's see, I guess thae wouldn't know th' owd folk 'at kept th' White Heawse afore Joe Faulkner went to't."

    "Nawe," replied Ben, "that wur afore my time."

    "Eh,' continued the fiddler, "I once yerd a bit of a tale at th' White Heawse.  But heaw arto for time, Ben?"

    "Oh, I've aboon hauve an heawer yet," replied Ben.

    "Come, that'll do," said the fiddler.  "This tale'll just do to put a two-thre minutes on, while we're restin' us. . . It wur one afternoon, i'th depth o' winter,―――

    But perhaps the old fiddler's story had better begin another chapter.


 
CHAPTER III.


How she did wish, with useless tears,
To have again about her ears
    The voices that were gone.

WILLIAM BARNES.


Her lonely heart was breaking,
    And crazed was her mind;
She sighed, and wandered, seeking
    A face she could not find.

ANON.


IT wur i'th depth o' winter, an' th' snow lee thick upo' th' greawnd.  This lad o' mine an' me, — we'd bin deawn at Mytholmroyd; an' late on i'th afternoon, we set off up through Turvin Cloof, to get to th' White Heawse, at th' top o' Blacks'n Edge.  An' a wild an' lonely cloof it is, partickilir i' winter time.  Th' road wur terrible dree, an' hard to travel; for it wur rough, an' sometimes very steep; an' here an' theer, wheer rindles o' wayter had run o'er it fro' th' hill side, th' keen frost had made it as slippy as a lookin'-glass.  It wur as mich as I could do to keep my feet; an' thae may depend we didn't get forrud so very fast.  I wur fain to sit me deawn neaw an' then, an' eawr Billy started o' cryin', — for th' lad thought we're lost, an' done for, sure enough, — when it geet th' edge o' dark, an' nought but th' wild cloof abeawt us; and it made me rayther for-think (regret) ever settin' beawt.  But I cheert't him as weel as I could; for, thae knows, th' lad wur o' that I had to depend on.  Well, we geet forrud o' someheaw, bit by bit, but dark overtook us lung afore we geet to th' top end o'th cloof, an' we'd o' th' wild oppen moor-side to tramp at after, afore we coom to th' White Heawse, at th' top o'th Edge.  An' th' wynt blew so keen that it welly (well-nigh) flayed (fleeced, strips) th' skin off my face; an' eawr Billy cried, poor lad, — he cried, — but I believe he cried moor because he wur freetent o' me foin', than he did for hissel'; for every time that I slipt, or gav' a bit of a clunter again a stone, he brast eawt again, as if his heart wur breighkin.  An' he tremble't fro yed to fuut, an' he kept tellin me to tak care, an he gript my hond, as tight as deeoth.  An' he'd a hard job, had th' lad, that day; for, bi what he said, bi th' time we geet to oppen moor-side it had getten as dark as a fox's meawth, an' he could hardly see th' gate afore us.  But eawr Billy's made o' good stuff, — God bless him! — an' I don't know what I could do beawt him. . . .

    Well, at th' lung-length we geet to th' White Heawse, fair stagged up, an' as starved as otters, — for th' north wynt blew as keen across that hill as if it had bin full o' razors.  I wur some fain for us to creep into shelter, I con tell tho.  But, afore many minutes wur o'er, eawr Billy an' me wur comfortably keawert (cowered, seated) bi a roarin' fire i'th kitchen, chatterin' together as if we'd live't among roses, an' etten nought but lamb an' sallet, ever sin we were born.  An' th' londord an' his wife wur as good as goose-skins to us.  They're two very daycent folk, I con tell tho.  Th' owd lass, hoo set us a rare baggin' beawt afore we'd bin mony minutes i'th heawse, an' we fell to't wi' good heart, thae may depend. . . . An' th' woint went whistlin' an' yeawlin' reawnd that heawse as if o'th witches between theer an' th' big end o' Pendle had bin frozen eawt o' their holes, an' wur ridin' reawnd upo' th' storm, like a boggart-hunt i'th air.  I yerd it o'th time; for, thae knows, I've a keen ear for sich like things.  But theer we wur, snugly heawse't for th' neet; for they wouldn't yer on us goon' a fuut fur, till mornin'; an' to tell tho th' truth, I wur fain on't. . . .

    There wur five or six moor i'th kitchen, — a gam-keeper, an' two delph-chaps, an' three or four moor, 'at looked like hawkers; they'd bin deawn Ripponden Road on, an' they'd dropt in, one after another, as they'rn makin' th' best o' their gate whoam again; an', in a bit, we wur as thick as if we'd every one bin mates together fro' chylt-little (child-little).  An' nought would suit these chaps but I mut (must) give 'em a touch upo' th' fiddle.  So I played, first one thing, then another, — an' we'rn o' as comfortable as crickets, — nobbut one on 'em, — he'd rayther a three-nook't mak of a temper.  But I took no notice on him, for he'd had to mich to drink upo' th' road, afore he geet to 'th White Heawse. . . .

    Bi this time, th' moon wur up; but th' sky war o'erkest (over-cast), an' thick snow wur drivin', white an' wild, across th' top o' th' Edge. . . .

    Well, I're agate o' playin' 'Roslin Castle,' an' th' folk i'th kitchen wur as whist as mice, for they seam't a bit taen wi' th' tune; an' weel they met (might), for it's as bonny a minor as ever tremble't fro' fiddle-streng. . . .

    Well, I wur up to th' eon i' this fine owd tune, an' th' heawse wur as still as a chapel, when o' at once, we wur startle't wi' aclatterin' o' feet eawtside, an' then th' dur flew open, an' a chap coom runnin' into th' kitchen, o' in a cowd sweat, wi' a face as white as millk, an' shakin' till his teeth fair chatter't i' his yed.  'God bless us o'!' cried th' lon'lady, 'whatever's th' matter!'  But th' chap wur clean done up, an' he thrut (threw) hissel' into a cheer, an' theer he sit, speechless an' pantin' an' tremblin' fro' yed to fuut, like a hunted hare.  O' th' heawse wuar terrified, for they could noather make top nor tail on him an' they thought th' felly (fellow) wur deein.

    In a bit he gasped eawt for 'em to let him sup o' wayter, an, he said that he'd 'sin summat.'  Well, when this drunken hawker yerd him say that, he began a-laughin', an' makin' o' maks o' gam on him; but these two keepers soon stopped him, for they threaten't mich an' moor that if he didn't howd his din they'd throw him eawt at th' dur-hole; so he kept his tongue between his teeth, like a good lad. . . .

    Well, as soon as this chap had getten reawnd, he set to, an, towd his tale. . . .

   It seemed that he'd bin to th' owd hamil (hamlet) o' Sawrby (Sowerby), a-seein' an uncle of his that wur just at th last; an he'd stopt theer, bi th' bed-side till th' owd mon had drawn away; an' then he'd come'd back i'th dim moonleet, across th' owd moor, that skirts by th' top end o' Turvin Cloof.  An' when he'd getten abeawt a mile off th' White Heawe, as he wur feightin' on through th' drivin' snow, o' at once he seed a tall figure of a mon, wi' summat like a fur cap on his yed, travellin' on abeawt twenty yards afore him, but he couldn't yer th' seawnd of a footstep.  He co'd eawt to him, for he thought he could like company, but still this tall figure travell't on, an' not a word nor th' seawnd of a fuutstep; an' though th' keen woint wur blowin' so strong across th' moor, he said it never seemed to stir this traveller's clooas (clothes), an' he began to think it very strange.  But when it geet close to th' owd division stone, between Yorkshire an' Lancashire, he said this tall figure stopt, and seemed to stare deawn towards th' White Heawse, an' as he drew nearer up to it he sheawted again, an' then, he said, it turn't slowly reawnd, an' he could see streaks o' blood fro th' for-yed, deawn a lung white face; an' then th' whole thing began a-meltin' away into th' moonleet, an' it seemed to float across th' road, an' o'er th' moor, i'th direction o' Robin Hood Bed.  An', wi' that, he took to his heels, like a red-shank, an' never stops till he geet to th' inside o' th' White House kitchen. . . .

    Well, when he'd towd his tale, they made him a bed up, an' he laft us to ersels (ourselves), for he wur quite done o'er, an' he durstn't go east again that neet. . . .

    As soon as he'd gone, some on 'em i'th kitchen reckon't that they'd never sin no ghosts; but, evenly, if there wur ghosts o' folk theirsels, they couldn't see heawe there could be ghosts o' folk's clooas, ― fur caps an' sich like.  But these two keepers wur very quiet, an' as soon as th' chap had done his tale, one on 'em whisper's to th' other, 'He's sin Breawn Dick!'  An', whether they believ't i' ghosts or not, they couldn't get one o'th lot to goo eawt o'th heawse that neet, so they had to find 'em quarters till mornin'.  They wanted no moor music, an' as soon as these hawkers wur gone to bed, we crope together, reawnd th' fire, an' I yerd th' tale abeawt 'Breawn Dick,' an' it wur this:—

    "It seems that lung afore Joe Faulkner coom to th' White Heawse, it wur kept bi an owd widow woman.  Hoo'd buried her husband fro' th' same heawse; but hoo kept it on, for hoo'd two or three good owd sarvants abeawt her; an' hoo'd an only son, — a fine, strappin', swipper (active) young fellow, th' pickter of his feyther, an' th' very leet o'th owd woman's ee.  Well, it seems that this lad, — bein' th' nestle-cock, — had bin very much marred when he wur yung both by feyther an' mother.  They'd letten him have his own way, an' he grew up very yed-strung an' maisterful.  An' at after his feyther deed, he becoom quite a terror to th' country-side, for he took to neet-huntin', an' he geet connected wi' a lot o' desperate hee-way robbers, that prowl't abeawt th' Edge at that time o'th day.  Some on 'em coom eawt o' Turvin Cloof, an' some fro' th' Tunshill, another fro' Booth Deighn (Dean), — but th' warst o'th lot wur 'Iron Jack,' that kept th' owd aleheawe, at 'Th' Buckstones,' — wheer th' gang stable't their horses under th' heawse.  Th' owd woman's son wur known bi th' name o' 'Breawn Dick o' Blacks'n Edge.' . . .

    Well, I believe there wur mony a feaw deed done upo' th' moorlan' roads i' thoose days.  Mony a traveller wur stopt an' robbed, an' mony a lonely heawse wur brokken into, an' stript; an' neaw an' then, folk disappeared fro' th' road, an' never wur yerd on again.

  News o' these things kept comin' into th' White Heawse, but th' owd lon'lady little dreamt that her own lad had a hond i' 'em.  Well, that gang wur not brokken into for years an' years.  'Breawn Dick' use't to be oft away fro' whoam, sometimes two or three days together; but his mother could never get to know wheer he'd bin; for he wur very close-temper't, an' very seldom oppen't his meawth to onybody. . . .

    But a' last there coom a lung an' weary day.  A whole week flitted by, an' he never darken't his mother's dur.  An' th' lonely woman began o' mournin' for her son; for, to th' end of her days, he wur the leet of her ee, an' hoo couldn't see a faut in him; but, when folk began to ax wheer Dick wur, hoo cried, an' said, 'Nay, there's no accountin' for eawr Richard.  He comes an' he gwos, just as th' fit taks him, an' I noather know wheer he's goon' nor what he's after, nor when I mun see him again, nor wheer he's bin, when he gets back.  I wish he would stop moor a-whoam, for I feel so lonely.'  But still, day after day, an' week after week, went by, an' he never coom; an' th' owd woman began o' lookin' wizzen't an' weary, fur hoo wur frettin' her heart eawt, neet an' day.  At last it began to be clear to everybody that th' poor owd crayter's senses wur givin' way, for hoo would have two candles set i'th window every neet, so that he could see th' heawse i'th dark; an' when th' wynt shook th' dur after hoo'd getten to bed, hoo'd come deawn an' oppen th' dur an' look into th' dark, an' hoo'd say, 'Richard, wheerever hasto bin, lad?  Come thi ways in, eawr o'th cowd, — thae'll be starve't to deeoth!  Thi supper's i'th oon!' — for hoo kept his supper ready for him, neet bi neet, week after week.  But still, he never coom.  At last, hoo geet worse an' worse, an' hoo began o' axin' every stranger 'at entered th' heawse, if they'd sin Richard, an' hoo kept turnin' to th' sarvants, an' sayin', 'Han yo sin aught of eawr Richard?'  An' hoo began o' wanderin' up an' deawn th' road, an' cryin' eawt for him across th' wild moor, as if he wur a little lad that had gwon an arrand, an' wur lingerin' bi th' way.  But still, week after week went by, an' 'Breawn Dick' never darkens' his mother's dur. . . .

    At last, one wild neet, when o'th heawse wur dark, except th' two candles hoo kept brunnin' i'th window to leet him whoam, there wur three men coom shuffling up to th' dur, carryin' another that had bin shot, an' wur fast hastenin' to his end.  When th' owd woman yerd th' knock hoo wur comin' deawn th' stairs, cryin', 'Richard, wheerever hasto bin?' but th' sarvants kept her back, an' pacified her as weel as they could.  But th' rest o'th heawse wur astir that neet, for this chap that had bin shot wur bleedin' to deeoth.  He proved to be 'Iron Jack,' a noted neet-hunter, an' one o' this gang o' robbers that had done sich depredation upo' th' moor-roads.  An' they saddlet a horse, an' th' hostler rode deawn to Littlebruf (Littleborough) for th' parson an' th' doctor, an' they geet up to th' White Heawse a very light (few) minutes afore he drew away (drew his last breath). . . .

    It turned eawt that 'Iron Jack' an' another o' th' gang had stopt these three men upo' th' hee-road, an' threaten't 'em wi' loaded pistols, if they didn't give up what they had.  Well, they fought for it.  One o' these travellers wur a desperate strung chap, an' he gript 'Iron Jack.'  Jack fired at him, an' just grazed th' tip of his ear, an' then, as they wur wrostlin', mon to mon, for they liives, tother robber fired, but he missed his mark, an' shot 'Iron Jack,' an' when he seed Jack drop, he took to his heels up th' moor-side.  An' then these three travellers carried Jack into th' White Heawse, to dee. . . .

    When th' parson an' th' doctor geet to his bed-side, he hadn't mony minutes' life in him; but he made a terrible confession afore he drew away.  I don't know heaw moray murders an' robberies he'd had a hond in, but among other things, he said that five o'th gang had robbed a farm heawse, up at 'Th' Whittaker,' an' then they'd taen up th' dark moor-side, to th' little cave i'th bottom o' 'Robin Hood Bed,' an' theer they divided what they'd taen, bi lantron-leet.  Well, to make a lung tale short, it seems they fell eawt abeawt their spoil, an' one on 'em shot 'Brawn Dick' through th' yed, an' they buried him abeawt forty yards below Robin Hood Bed. . . .

    Well, when he towd his terrible tale, they tried to get th' names o'th gang fro' him, but they couldn't.  He gaspt an' moaned to his last, beawt utterin' another word.  That wur th' end o' 'Iron Jack, o' Buckstones,' an' it wur th' end o'th gang, too; for they wur soon brokken into after that. . . .

    Well, they fun th' body, as he towed 'em, sure enough, an' it wur taen up, an' 'Breawn Dick' wur buried i' Ripponden Churchyard, close to th' yew-tree hedge.  An' th' owd woman followed him to his grave, witheawt a word, an' witheawt a tear in her ee.  Th' White Heawse had to goo into other honds; for th' poor owd crayter wur getten quite dateless (disordered in mind), an' hoo wur takken to live wi' some relations not far fro' Ripponden.  But, though hoo wur harmless, — rain or fair, they couldn't keep her in, an' they had to send a lad wi' her, for hoo would goo an' sit bi th' side of his grave, an' sing to him, as if he'd bin in his cradle.  An' one cowd day this lad left her, an' went a-playin' him a bit, an' when he coom back to tak her whoam, he fund her lyin' across he son's grave, as still as a stone."



CHAPTER IV.


Is this thi own yore, or a wig?

BEDFLOCK.


WHEN the fiddler's tale was ended, Ben and the old man sat in silent thought for a few minutes; and then, being both deeply imbued with superstitious feeling, they were beginning to talk about the old halls and other places in the district which had the reputation of being haunted by supernatural beings, when Ben announced the approach of a stranger, from the direction of Rochdale.

    "Hello, Dan," said he, "there's summat comin' at last."

    "What's it like?" said the fiddler.

    "Nay, I can hardly tell yet," replied Ben.

    "Is it a mon or a woman?" inquired the fiddler.

    "It should be a mon, o' some mak'," answered Ben, "for, as far as I can see, it's getten breeches on."

    "It may be a woman for that matter," replied the fiddler; "they wear'n breeches, sometimes.  I don't know heaw it is at yor heawse, Ben, but it is so at eawrs."

    "Eawr Betty may wear what hoo's a mind for me," said Ben.

    "Weel, an' thae'rt reet, lad," replied the fiddler.  "We getten better through when we letten 'em have a bit o' their own road."

    "Besides, hoo's moor wit nor me, i' some things," continued Ben, still keeping his eye on the advancing stranger.

    "I dar say hoo has," replied the fiddler.  "I dar say hoo has, lad.  An' it's weel 'at thae can tak it so."

    "Oh, I'll al'ays give in to a reet thing, as wheer it comes fro'," said Ben.

    "That'll do, owd lad," replied the fiddler.  "My mother use't to say that onybody that had ony sense met (might) larn fro' a foo. . . . But which gate is this thing comin', wi' breeches on?"

    "Fro' Rachda' side," answered Ben.  "It's a poor tramp, o' some mak', bi th' look on him.  By th' mon, it's Owd Skudler, I believe."

    "Skudler?  Skudler?" said the old fiddler.  "What does he do?"

    "Well, I connot tell what he is bi trade," answered Ben.  "I can hardly tell what he is, he's so mony jobs; but I think he's keaw-jobbin' just neaw, bi th' look on him; for he's a cauve-stick in his hond, as lung as a clooas-prop.  An' I know he does a bit for th' butchers neaw an' then; an' he use't to be a mak (make, kind) of an odd lad abeawt th' slaughter-heawse, at th' top o'th Bull Broo, i' Rachda'."

    "Oh, I know him!" cried the fiddler.  "He's better known bi th' name o' 'Boot-jack.'"

    "I never knowed him bi nought nobbut Skudler," replied Ben.

    "Then, I guess thae never ye'rd heaw he geet 'Boot-jack' for a bye-name," said the old man.

    "Nawe; I don't know that ever I did," replied Ben.

    "Well, thae knows, abeawt ten year sin, this Skudler wur a sort of a sarvant mon for owd Clement Royds, at th' Failinge; an' one time, when he're off wi' th' family, i'th south of Englan', they put up at an inn for th' neet.  Well, it seems that Skudler geet to mich drink i'th heawse, wi' one an' another on 'em; an' when it wur gettin' late on, th' owd lad geet wander't into a grand reawm, wheer there wur twu or three travellers set drinkin' their glass, afore goin' to bed.  Well, one o' these travellers rang th' bell, an' towd th' waiter to bring him a glass o' brandy an' a boot-jack, an' owd Skudler stare't at this traveller fro' yed to fuut, for he thought he're beawn to ha' th' boot-jack to his supper.  At last, Skudler rang th' bell, an' when th' waiter coom, he said, 'Here, bring me a glass o' brandy, an' a boot-jack, too!  If that mon can height (eat) a boot-jack, I con!'  That's heaw he geet th' name o' 'Bootjack!'  But he geet th' bag fro' Clement's, at after, through bein' to fond o' drink."

    "Husht, hush!" said Ben.  "Here he comes!  Neaw, Skudler, owd lad, is that thee?"

    "Hello, Ben!" said Skudler.  "Heaw arto?"

    "Oh, as nice as ninepence," replied Ben.  "Heaw arto gettin' on, Skud?"

    "Just middlin'," said Skudler.  Then recognising the old fiddler, he continued, "Hello, Dan, owd lad, art thou theer, too?"

    "Aye.  I'm here; I'm here," replied the old man.  "Thae sees, I keep turnin' up again, — like Clegg Ho' Boggart."

    "And nought but reel, noather," said Skudler. "Nought but reet, noather, owd lad!"  Then, turning towards Ben, he whispered, as he pushed his fingers through his unkempt hair, "Eh, I am some ill, to-day, Ben."

    "Thae looks rather wild," replied Ben.  "What's th' matter, owd mon?"

    "I wur wrestlin' th' champion, again, yesterday," answered Skudler.

    "Th' champion?" said Ben.

    "Ay, th' champion," replied Skudler.  "An' he geet me deawn again."

    "What champion?" inquired Ben.

    "I're drinkin', mon; I're drinkin'!" replied Skudler.  "I geet too mich drink!  That's o'!"

    "Aye, aye," said the old man; that's th' champion, reet enough!  He's deawn't mony a better chap nor thee, Skudler.  An' he'll deawn mony another, yet."

    "I dar say he will," replied Skudler.  "I dar say he will, if they dunnot let him alone. . . . But, beside that," continued he, "I've been ill trouble's wi' th' worms, this day or two back."

    "Worms!" cried Ben.  "I con tell tho heaw to cure th' worms, owd lad!"

    "Let's be yerrin' (hearing), then," replied Skudler; "for they dun punish me, — to some gauge!"

    "Well," answered Ben, "thae knows th' Hauve Moon, i'th Black-wayter, at Rachda'?"

    "Ay, weel enough," replied Skudler.

    "Well, then; co theer, as soon as tho gets back," continued Ben, "an' sup three pints o' their sour ale.  An' if it doesn't kill th' worms, it'll kill thee."

    "Oather'll do!" cried the old fiddler, rubbing his hands. "Oather'll do!  But come an' sit tho deawn a minute or two, Skudler."

    "Well," replied Skudler, "I've nought again that, noather. I wur al'ays a good hond at sittin'.  If onybody wur to look at my breeches, they'd find that they wear'n eawt i'th sittin'-quarter th' first of onywheer.  My mother use't to say that I wur just reet build for sittin' duck-eggs."

    "Well," said the old fiddler, laughing, "an' it would be a nice quiet job, too; for onybody that would gi' their mind to't.  But I deawt thae'd never stick to't lung enough to mak' a fortin eawt on't. . . .  But, wheer arto for, lad; wheer arto for?"

    "Well," replied Skudler, "I'm beawn as fur as th' Thistley Bonk Farm, for a wye-cauve, for Tummy Glen, th' butcher, at Rachda'.  Yo known Jem at th' Thistley Bonk, dunnot yo, Dan?"

    "Aye, aye," said the old fiddler, "I know th' whole seed, breed, an' generation.  There's seventeen yards o' brothers on 'em, an' they're two sisters that are aboon five fuut eleven a-piece.  Their mother's just prick-mete their dur-hole full, to an inch, an' hoo has to bend deawn, an' come eawt sideways.  An' then, Jem had an aint (aunt), — his aint Sally, — hoo wur so tall that hoo couldn't for shame stretch hersel'! "

    "There's a deeol o' stuff wasted i' makin' folk sich a length as that, too," replied Skudler.

    "Well, I don't think it's a useful size for wark, mysel,' said the fiddler.

    "It depends upo' th' build, an' what sort o' wark they han to do," said Ben.

    "It be reet enough for lamp-leeters an' white-limers, an' sich like," continued Skudler.

    "Well, aye," said the fiddler, "it would save summat i' ladders, happen."

    "Aught fresh deawn i' Rachda'," said Ben, addressing Skudler.

    "Well," replied Skudler, "there's bin a bit o' damage done, here and theer, bi thunner and leetenin', yesterday."

    "I say, Dan," said Ben, addressing the old fiddler, "thae'll remember that greight woint-storm 'at happen't i'th last back-end (autumn)."

    "I should think I do," answered the old man; "it blew part o'th slate off eawr heawse.  It wur a storm, wur that!  Slate-stones, an' windows, an' shutters flew up an' deawn, like pigeons."

    "Well," continued Ben, "that day I wur sit in a aleheawse kitchen, at Rachda', an' folk kept comin' in wi' news o' this damage an' that damage, — when, just as we'rn sit reawnd th' fire talkin' together, abeawt th' storm, a chimbley, belungin' th' next heawse, coom crash deawn, an' part on't fell through th' kitchen-slate wheer we wur sittin'.  But, by th' mon, there wur some scutterin' abeawt i' that hole.  Well, while they'rn agate o' sidin' th' dirt, an' breek an' stuff, that had fo'n through, there wur a strange chap coom in, fro' somewheer abeawt Castleton Moor, an' when he seed this rubbish lyin' upo' th' floor, he said, "What, yo'n had a bit of a touch o' this woint, I see.  But, eh, by th' mass," said he, "it's bin a deeol war (worse) wi' us!  I wur in a heawse at Castleton Moor, this forenoon, an' it blew th' window slap eawt; an' in abeawt two minutes at after, th' woint brought another window wap into th' same place, — an' it just fitted, — to a yure (hair)."

    "Nea then, Ben," said Skudler, "thae's done it at last."

    "Aye," said the fiddler, "I think he's polish't that tale off middlin' weel."

    "Yo han it as I had it," replied Ben.  "But I thought at that time, that if this chap had said mich moor o' that mak, he'd ha' bin agate o' lyin'."

    "Well, come," said Skudler, rising to his feet, "I mun be off."

    So they bade him "good day!" and away he went, to fetch his wye-calf.

    And, after a few minutes' further chat together, the old blind fiddler whistled his lad from the next field, and, taking his fiddle-bag under his arm, he shook hands with Ben, and went his way towards Bacup, with his face up-turned to the sky, and holding his little lad by the hand.

                     .                                .                                .                                .

    "Theer he gwos!" said Ben, looking up the road after the old fiddler.  "There he gwos, — like a good un, as he is!  Good luck go witho, owd crayter, for thae'rt one o'th better end o' God Almighty's childer!" and when he had watched the old man out of sight, he said, as he turned his face the other way, "It's time for me to be hutchin' a bit nar (nearer) Yelley Ho!  It connot be so fur off noon."

    As he went singing up the road towards the hall, under the thick-leaved shade, through which the strong sunshine stole here and there, freaking the highway with streaks of gold, he met a stout old farmer descending the road, and dressed in his best, as if he was on his way to a cattle fair.  When they drew near, Ben stopped, and asked the old man what o'clock it was.

    "It's close upo' puddin'-time, if my stomach's aught to go by," said the old man, eyeing Ben all over as he pulled a large, old-fashioned silver watch out of his fob.  "It'll be within a light (few) minutes o' noon, I'll be bund.  But I'll look at this silver turnip o' mine, as soon as I can get it eawt."  And, as he tugged at the chain, he continued, "What, I guess thae'rt hungry?  Thae's rayther a twelve o'clock mak of a look, lad."

    "Yo'n sided some beef i' your time, too, maister; bith' look on yo," replied Ben.

    "Well, lad," said the old man, looking at his watch, "I've done middlin', for sure. . . . Let's see, I'm rayther of oather fast; but it wants abeawt five minutes o' twelve, bi Rachda' (by Rochdale Church clock)."

    "Thank yo!" replied Ben.  "Good day!"

    "Good day to thee answered the old man, taking his stick from the hedge side again, and trudging sturdily down the road.  When he had got a few yards off, he turned round, and cried out to Ben, "Heigh, my lad!"

    "Nea then!" said Ben, looking back.

    "I've bin towd yo'n had some lumber done abeawt here yesterday, bi thunner an' leetenin'.  Hasto yerd aught?"

    "Well, ay," replied Ben.  "There's bin four keaws kilt up i'th White Hill pastur', here; an' it's knocked th' gable-eend of a heawse in, up Facit road on."

    "So I've bin towd," said the farmer.  "An' I yer there's bin a woman kilt deawn at Shay Cloof, yon."

    "Nay, sure," replied Ben.  "Dun yo know who it is?"

    "Well, I did yer th' name," said the old man, "but it's slipped mi mind.  But I deawt we's yer o' moor, yet; for I don't know 'at I con recollect a heavier storm, i' my time."

    "Nawe, nor me noather," replied Ben.  "But it's takken up nicely."'

    "It has," said the old man.  "Han yo mich hay eawt, abeawt here?"

    "Oh nawe," replied Ben. "Very light (very little)."

    "Come, that's better," said the farmer.  "Well, good day to tho!"

    "Good day," answered Ben.

    And then the old man went his way, and Ben was left loitering about under the shade of the trees, waiting for the stroke of twelve.

    "Come," said he, rubbing his hands, "they connot say that I'm too lat this time!  I'll walk in just to th' minute, like clock-wark!  That'll stop their meawths, I should think. . . . It wants abeawt four minutes, yet," continued he, groping at his sore nose.  "I'll watch till it strikes."  He was close to the yard door, and as he paced to and fro in front of it, he straightened his clothing, and trimmed his posy, and tied his kerchief afresh, with nervous fingers; for he was naturally shy and sensitive.  There was a well by the wayside, a few yards off, and going up to it, he bent down to examine the reflection of his face in the water, and when he had looked himself well over, and had given another finishing touch to his kerchief, he said, "Come, I think I's do!"  Then walking back, he halted at the yard door, and peeping through the lock-hole, said, "I wonder wheer that dog is?"  The last word had hardly left his mouth, when the great clock in the hall kitchen began to strike the hour of twelve, and the kitchen-door being wide open, the sound of each stroke came with a solemn, measured pause between, clear and sonorous, into the noontide air of that still and shady spot.  Ben's heart beat quicker and quicker as he counted the strokes; and, laying his hand upon the latch, he said, as he told the eleventh, "Neaw for't!  Th' next is a finisher!"


 
CHAPTER V.


Oh thou, who dost these pointers see,
    And hear'st the chiming hour,
Say, — do I tell the time to thee,
    And tell thee nothing more?
I bid thee mark life's little day
    By strokes of duty done;
A clock may stop at any time, —
    But time will travel on.

THE CHURCH CLOCK.


THE clock in Healey Hall kitchen had not struck three times before the solemn monitor in the gray tower of St. Chad's began to boom forth its mid-day warning along the winding river, telling the inhabitants of the good old town of Rochdale that it was now "high twelve," — the ancient dinner-time in the valleys of the north; and, at the first stroke, the hungry workman dropt his half-filled spade, and hurried homewards, — from labour to refreshment. . . . From hoary steeples, and from lordly towers, — in cottage and in hall, throughout our English land, the hour of noon was pealing, — from clocks of all kinds, and of different tempers of tone, — some solemn, some gay; some too fast, some lagging in the rearward of the sun; some musical and sweet as the ring of silver cymbals, others dull as the stroke of a cobbler's hammer upon a leather sole; some wheezy, asthmatic, and irregular,—some funereal and measured as a passing-bell; others tripping forth the tale with brisk precision, with the strokes treading on each other's heels, as if they, too, were hungry, and in a hurry to get done, and go to dinner. . . . The captive school-boy had long been pining for this blessθd hour of his release.  Oft had he glanced at the window of his prison-house, and watched the slow-moving sunbeams, streaking the dust floor with bars of gold, which seemed as if they had stolen in with the special intent to fret his heart, and beguile his thoughts into the open summer day.  Long before the fingers of the clock had met at the striking mark, he had rubbed his hands, and whispered to the right and left that it was nearly dinner-time; and as the lazy pointers drew nearer to the hour of his enfranchisement, he had slyly grasped his cap, and gathered himself together, like a greyhound straining upon the slip, for a sudden rush into the open air, the moment the first stroke came.  Dinnertime!  Oh, welcome hour to the healthy, the hungry, and the well-to do.  Oh, welcome hour to the happy-hearted school-boy, newly freed from the tether of his taskful time, and with a bountiful board to run to!  Oh, glad hour to those careless young lordlings of life, who dream no more than the well-fed fledgling that anything but plenty and pleasure is theirs, by natural right of inheritance! . . . But the poor, the forlorn, and the houseless,—what of these?  The little pinched student, with the iron teeth of penury preying upon his vitals, — the pale lad, whose scraps of learning are purchased by careful parings from his scanty meals, and who creeps homeward at noon with melancholy heart, because he knows that famine awaits him there, like a lean wolf whetting its teeth upon bones, — the child of a joyless life, whose days are all in shadow, — what of him?  What is dinner-time to the poor mother, trembling as the hour approaches when her young brood will clamour for meat in vain; and when they will gaze into her pale face, with wondering eyes, trying to read how it is that the rest of the world have food, and they have none?  Oh, the sadness of that mother's heart!  Oh, the strange thoughts of that hunger-bitten child! . . . This is the hour when perspiring cooks are hard at work in rich men's houses, preparing ingenious dainties for educated palates, amidst a sickly atmosphere of savoury fumes!  This is the hour, too, when famished wanderers stop to sniff the aroma of steaming kitchens, and gaze, with wolfish eyes, through cook's-shop windows!  This is the hour when the happy cottager's family gather round their simple meal, promptly spread; and when poor men's slatternly gossips exclaim, as the clock strikes, "Eh, dear o' me! why, it's dinner-time, an' th' fire's out!"  This is the hour when many a keen appetite clears the scanty board before it is half satisfied; and when rich meals are spread for vitiated epicures, who can find no pleasure therein.

    The shadow upon the sun-dial in front of Healey Hall had glided by the mark of noon, silent and sure as the finger of fate.  The last stroke had boomed from the gray tower of St. Chad's; and the old chimes were beginning to trickle forth the silvery tones of "Life let us cherish," — the melody for the day, — marking the time, here and there, with a kind of tottering irregularity, like the shaky treble of an agθd minstrel's song.  Just before the last stroke of twelve came from the clock in the kitchen of the hall, Ben laid his hand upon the latch of the yard-door and said, "Neaw for't!  Th' next is a finisher!"  The sound was still ringing upon the air when he lifted the latch; and, after he had looked carefully round, to see where the dog was, he entered the yard.  The fat cook stood in the open doorway, with her arms akimbo, and her face glowing with the heat of the kitchen fire.

    "Come," said she, smiling, "thae's hit it middlin' weel this time, Ben."

    "What time is it?" replied Ben, looking as innocent as if he had never heard the clock strike.

    "Just gwon twelve," replied the cook.  "It's a good job thae'rt here; I expect him ringin' for tho every minute; he's so partickilar abeawt folk bein' to their time.  Come forrud."

    But she had little need to invite him to come forward; for, though Ben was giving the kennel as wide a berth as possible, the dog, which had been watching his motions, sprang out to the full length of his chain, and at the sound Ben darted at the doorway, right into the cook's arms, nearly upsetting both himself and her.

    "God bless mi life, lad!" said she, "whatever arto doin'?  Thae's knock't breath eawt on me!"

    "It's that dog," replied Ben, wiping his forehead, and looking back into the yard.

    "Dog be hanged," said she.  "Th' dog wants nought wi thee, mon."

    "Oh doesn't it," replied Ben.  "What did it come eawt o' that shap (shape, manner) for then?"

    "Why, becose it sees thae'rt soft, mon; that's o'," said the cook.

    "Oh well," replied Ben.  "Soft or not soft, I thought I'd better be comin' forrud, eawt o'th road."

    "Thae'd no need to come with sich a ber," said the cook, wiping her hot face, and straightening her dress.  "But go thi ways in, an' sit deawn, till I get my wynt; for thae's welly (well-nigh) kilt me."

    Ben laid his hat upon the kitchen dresser, and sat down, and he had scarcely got settled in his seat before the colonel's bell tingled in the parlour.

    "Theer," said the cook, "I towd tho.  He's yerd th' dog barkin'; an' he's ringin' to see if thou'rt com'd."

    One of the servants went to answer the bell, and returning almost immediately, she said, "Th' kurnul says that Ben's to get his dinner, an' he'll ring for him in a bit."

    "Come, I'll look after that," said the cook, "if he has knock't th' woint eawt on me."

    The colonel's bell rung again, and when the servant returned, she said that he had sent word that Ben could take time with his dinner, as Dr. Skelton didn't intend to start for more than an hour yet.

    So Ben sat down, and enjoyed his noontide meal in pleasant chat with the servants in the kitchen.


 
CHAPTER VI.


'Fore God, you have a goodly dwelling and a rich.

HENRY THE FIFTH. I


IN the great wainscotted parlour of Healey Hall, Colonel Chadwick's ancient friend, Doctor Skelton, sat alone, reading a quaintly-bound volume of the Spectator.

    Doctor Skelton was a native of Gloucestershire, and a justice of the peace of that county; and had come to Healey Hall, accompanied by his maiden sister, on a visit to his old college friend; according to annual custom, of fifty years' standing.  The doctor was a curious, bookish man, naturally dreamy, and of a speculative turn of mind; and a man of varied acquirements.  And yet he was sound-hearted, and clear-headed in all practical affairs of life.  Apart from his own profession, of which he was an eminent member in those days, he was a learnθd man, in some of, what may be called, the by-ways of learning.  Amongst the rest, archaeology was one of his pet studies.  His manners, however, were, in a worldly sense, so void of ornament and complacency, so evidently contemptuous of bald customs and little pleasing seemings, that to a superficial observer he appeared cynical and cold; and sometimes even absolutely rude.  But, like the pine-apple, in spite of his prickly rind, the old gentleman was wonderfully sweet at the core.  His life had been curiously checkered; and he might, indeed, be reckoned as one whose career had a specialty in it.  The strange events, and painful struggles of his youth had tinged his character with melancholy; and some frowning events had thrown his early days into shadow, so dark and impenetrable, that it seemed endless.  Many a sad experience had dropt the plummet of his thoughts below the level of custom; but he had taken the lesson of life with such a tractable spirit that his mind had become elevated thereby.  He had indeed "suffered persecution and learnt mercy."  And yet, though tender-hearted as a woman, and privately generous to a fault, he might be accounted a crotchety man; for, though time had healed his wounds, the scars were visible still.

    Colonel Chadwick was a Tory of the old school; and, though the doctor and he were far asunder in their political views, there were so many points of affinity in their characters, that they had been drawn together by natural attraction when young; and, as years rolled on, quiet observation of each other's strokes of character had insensibly endeared them more and more.  They had learned to admire each other's sincerity, and truthfulness, and independence of mind; and now they were inalienably attached to each other.  "What a strange fellow that Skelton o' mine is," the colonel would sometimes say to himself.  "How thorough, how genial, how crotchety, and yet how really good-hearted and wise! — except for his politics.  He has a thousand bits of quaint wisdom stowed away in odd nooks of that queer brain of his, where other men have at best only cold piles of mouldy platitude!"

    Doctor Skelton was a great reader, and he had a wise leaning to the old and famous books, that have proved their vitality.  He sat that day, with spectacles on nose, reading a quaintly-bound volume of the Spectator.  He was quietly poring over the fine essay on "Novelty," No. 626, — an essay thoroughly in unison with the tone of his own mind, when his friend entered the room with a letter in his hand.

    "This is a bad world, Skelton," said the colonel, shaking the letter in his hand, as he flung himself into a chair, — "a miserable world.  By Jove! it's enough to make one willing to go to the lower regions a while, till things get settled upon a different footing, — it is, upon my soul!"

    "What, Chadwick," said the doctor, raising his spectacles, "are you railing at the incomprehensible, too?  Why, you talk of the government of the world as if it was a hall of thread that you had measured off, and found to be a few yards short of what you expected, — and bad stuff withal."

    "Well," replied the colonel, sighing, "Heaven forgive me, if I'm irreverent; but I say again, it's a bad world, — and I'm sick of it!"

    "Why Chadwick, my good fellow, what's the matter now?" said the doctor, closing his book and rubbing his spectacles.

    "Oh, — nothing," — replied the colonel, "nothing new.  Only an ungrateful rascal of a friend.  Read that!" continued he, handing the letter to the doctor, "read that!"

    When the doctor had read the letter, he gave a quiet whistle.  "Phew!"—


Blow, blow thou winter wind.
Thou art not so unkind
    As man's ingratitude.


"Well, this is something certainly," continued he.


Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky,
Thou doss not bite so nigh,
    As benefits forgot;
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
    As friend remember'd not.


"But you'll get over this, Chadwick, — you'll get over this!"


Heigho! sing heigho, unto the green holly
Most friendship is feigning, most loving is folly.
                 Then heigho, the holly!
                 This life is most jolly!


"You've seen worse things than this in your time, Chadwick.  Take it quietly, my friend.  It'll do you good," said the doctor, handing back the letter, and taking up his book again.

    "Do me good!" cried the colonel, striking the table.  D――n the fellow!  I tell you, it makes me sick of life to see such villiany, Skelton.  It does, upon my soul!"

    "Ah, Chadwick," replied the old doctor, "you remember Shakspere's lines:—


Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.


    "Oh, yes; I remember," said the colonel, "I remember that, and many another thing of the same kind.  But, when a man's got the toothache, he will pull wry faces, in spite of all you can say.  And Shakspere, and you, may preach till doomsday; but you cannot preach away the abominable fact, ― you cannot make black ingratitude pleasing to the human heart."

    "It's not a bad thing, Chadwick, that helps one to bear their crosses like a man.  I never saw you so moved before.  What, you're like a child crying because it has too much salt in its porridge."

    "Oh, yes; I know," replied the colonel, bitterly.  "I know how easy it is for one to bear anybody else's troubles.  Pelt me with passages from the book of Job, my friend! . . . It's not the property, Skelton; it's not the property.  I could bear that, — well enough, — though it's not pleasant.  But it breaks down one's faith in human nature; that's the worst of it.  It make's one a worse man, — it hardens one's heart, Skelton; and that's a great calamity. . . . It's a sad world, my friend; it's a sad world!  Ask me no more questions about it, for heaven's sake.  You remember the proverb, Skelton, 'Whether it's the stone that hits the pitcher, or the pitcher that hits the stone, it's all the same to the pitcher.  I would not have cared if —.  But here," continued he, tearing the letter to pieces, and flinging it into the fire; "I'm making too much of this!  'Perish the record!' as one of your favourite play-wrights says 'Perish the record!' and, perish the remembrance, too; for I will mention it no more!"

    And he rose to his feet, and paced the room to and fro, struggling to smother his excited feelings; whilst the doctor, seeing his friend so much moved, gave a quiet sigh, and opened his book again, and read on, or seemed to read on, in silence.

    At last, the colonel took his hat, and walked out into the garden.

    The doctor silently watched him out; then, laying down his book, he, too, rose, and paced the room, thoughtfully, muttering to himself, "What a fine fellow that Chadwick is!  He always was!  And he always will be!  It's a sad thing.  But that heart of his is too genial, — too forgiving, — to trail any lasting feeling of resentment about the world!  He will soon be himself again, and able to look upon this unhappy event as he looks back upon yesterday's storm, which has left the air clearer, and the sky brighter than ever, to-day!"

                     .                                .                                .                                .

    After about a quarter of an hour's absence, the colonel entered the room again; and, though he began to walk to and fro, as before, he was evidently in a calmer mood.  The doctor had resumed his book; and, in a few minutes, the colonel took a chair, and, after a quiet sigh of preparatory relief, he entered into conversation with the doctor once more.

    "Skelton," said he; "what do you think of our reverend friend, Henley, after his last freak?"

    The old doctor was glad to join in any theme which he thought likely to divert the thoughts of his friend, and relieve the pent-up bitterness which he knew was still scalding his heart.

    "Well, Chadwick," replied the doctor, laying down his book again, "I think he's a very indifferent specimen of the cloth, — not the kind of man to do honour to his calling, certainly."

    "Well," replied the colonel, "I suppose he's only a human creature, — he's only a man after all, — as you say, sometimes."

    "Nay, nay," said the doctor, "if he was a man, he would do; if he had even sufficient humility to remember, now and then, that he was, in some sort, a human being 'of like passions' with ourselves, — he would be passable.  But the truth is, Chadwick, he's a precious sneak, wearing the disguise of a lofty office.  It was a mistake, Chadwick, it was a mistake!  He should never have entered a pulpit!  Such fellows bring evil tongues upon religion itself!"

    "So proud, too," said the colonel.

    "Proud!" replied the doctor, "yes; proud as Lucifer!  Proud! aye! and of all the prides that afflict poor humanity, spiritual pride is the most beguiling, and the worst to cure.  Talk of that rare virtue, true humility!  Oh, Chadwick; if the crust was taken off that fellow, the rest would be unendurable.  Humility, forsooth!  Lord help us all, — for we're all tarred with the same stick, more or less!  But the creatures that I have seen stalking about this planet, as if each had a consecrated wall built round him, and he alone were admitted within the pale of the redeemed!  And when they do lift their chins over the paling, and condescend to bestow a look of 'mitigated regard' upon the unregenerate wretches outside, they do it with an air of ineffable contempt for the whole human race.  I hate such fellows, Chadwick. . . And then, they talk and walk as if they were in the habit of taking wine with the Creator of the universe, in some sly vestry; where they held council together as to what was to be done with the miserable mass of mankind.  Heaven save me from any irreverent feeling for what is truly reverend!  But I say again, I hate such fellows!  I'd rather have a wholesome sinner than a sham saint any day."

    "Stop, stop, Skelton," said the colonel.  "Why, you're getting worse than ever!"

    "Worse!  Nay, nay, Chadwick," replied the doctor; "a man of my age seldom gets much worse.  His virtues and his vices have culminated, long before that.  Men's sins change, as years roll on, — true enough, — mine have done so, I know; but I can't get worse than I have been; 'No, no,' says the Frenchman, that can't be!' — as that fine old sea-song of yours has it. . . . And then, we old fellows sometimes deceive ourselves with the idea that, as age creeps on, we are leaving our sins, when it is only our sins that are leaving us.  But, what do you know about sin, Chadwick?  You're all right; my stainless paragon of the elected few!"

    "Why, Skelton; this is worse still said the colonel.

    "Nay, nay," replied the doctor.  "If this be anything, it is one of my poor virtues."

    "You're a sad fellow, Skelton," said the colonel; "but you may as well pass the bottle, for all that."

    "Well," replied the doctor, pausing an instant, and then heaving an involuntary sigh, "that's true enough.  I am sad enough, sometimes, Chadwick, — God knows."

    The colonel saw in an instant that he had touched a wrong chord, and, when he had filled his glass, he assumed a jovial tone, and, stretching out his hand, he said, "We know one another, Skelton; we know one another, old boy!  I am proud of you!  Give us your hand!  The worst thing about you is that you are such an infernal Jacobin."

    The shade passed from the doctor's countenance in an instant, and he bristled up at once.

    "Jacobin!" cried he, sitting upright in his chair.

    "Now you're off again," said the colonel, leaning back in his chair, and smiling.  "You're off again!  Well, 'Let her went,' as the Welshman said."

    "Jacobin!" continued the doctor.  "Why, Chadwick, I'll bet odds you don't know what you're talking about.  But, if you mean that I am a reformer, let me remind you that wherever reform is impossible, revolution is certain.  The whole course of history shows it. . . . But what do such fellows as you care about history?  You read it as a painful duty, at school; and perhaps you may remember some scattered fragments, sufficient for a little disjointed table-talk with folks of your own way of thinking; but you never digest it, no more than a cat could digest the wheels of a watch.  Reform!  Why the whole course of Nature is incessant reform!  You might as well try to stop the rain from falling, with a pitch-fork, as try to stop the progress of reform!  But what the devil's the use of talking to such an unchangeable fogey as you, Chadwick!  When you were made, the politics were made for you at the same time.  The same old programme from father to son, from father to son — world without end."

    "Whatever is venerable and just, Skelton," replied the colonel, "cannot be defended too long.  Our ancient institutions in church and state ――"

    "Yes," continued the doctor, interrupting him; "and you pin your politics down to your acres, too; for you absolutely make the unthinking land into an engine for the control of thinking men!  Your acres make laws for your people!  Oh, if the fields of England think, — the fields of England that have been so often soaked with the blood of the brave, — if they think at all, I wonder what they think of that!  I can imagine the beautiful meadow-grasses having great fun amongst themselves with the idea of their having more power in Parliament than the perspiring lout who sings as he whets the scythe that is to cut them down!"

    Here, the doctor's deaf old maiden sister entered the room, with her ear trumpet in her hand.  Seeing that her brother was in the midst of one of his old flights, she said, as the colonel courteously rose to receive her, "Politics again, I'll be bound!  But you know him, colonel.  I've heard it all before.  After the training I have gone through, I think I should be able to represent the county in the Liberal interest, colonel, but for this deafness of mine."

    "Humph!" said the doctor, giving a grunt; "we've plenty of old women in parliament already, Mary."

    These words were spoken in too low a tone for Miss Skelton to catch them.

    "A little friendly tilting-match, Miss Skelton," said the colonel, speaking into her ear trumpet, as he placed a chair for the ancient maiden "a little friendly tilting-match.  Be seated, pray."

    "No, thank you colonel," replied Miss Skelton.  "I merely came for a volume I had left behind me," continued she, taking up a book from the table.  "I have presided at your tournaments before, colonel.  These faded eyes of mine could rain no new influence upon such familiar knights.  I will leave you to tilt it out alone."

    The colonel bowed and escorted her to the door; and when he had taken his seat again, the doctor resumed the same strain.

    "I'll tell you what it is, Chadwick," said he; "you remind me of a passage in Smollett's translation of 'Don Quixote' — which, by the way, is the best translation of all, in my opinion.  The passage runs thus: "'The king is my cock,' quoth Sancho.  'It is plain," said Don Quixote, 'that thou art an arrant bumpkin, and one of those who always cry, 'Long live the emperor!'"

    "And why not cry, 'Long live the emperor!'" replied the colonel.  "Loyalty is a noble virtue."

    "Loyalty!" cried the doctor.  "Let your kings be loyal to the people, then!  They are human creatures, I suppose.  Let them acknowledge the common dignity of human nature!"

    "Dignity of the devil!" replied the colonel, warmly.

    "Yes," replied the doctor; "and the devil has a kind of dignity about him, too; if all be true that Milton says of him. . . . Did you ever read Milton's 'Tenure of Kings,' Chadwick?"

    "No," replied the colonel, with emphasis, "nor I don't intend."

    "I dare say not," said the doctor.  "Did you ever read his 'Liberty of Unlicensed Printing?'"

    "Liberty of the devil! I say again," cried the colonel; "no, I have not read it! nor I never will, ――'Deo Volenti!'"

    "Hello, Chadwick," replied the doctor; "you've managed to save that fragment from the wreck of your school-Latin, I see."

    "Yes, — Latin," said the colonel.  "And I'll say the same thing in any language under heaven, Skelton, — if I can only muster words."

    "I'm sorry for you, Chadwick," replied the doctor.  "And yet I like you, — at least for one thing."

    "And pray, what's that?"

    "Because you're such a — fool!"

    "Well, — thank you."

    "Oh, you're welcome — as the flowers in May."

    "I tell you again, Skelton," said the colonel, "I hate Milton, — and you know why."

    "Hush!" replied the doctor, raising his hand.

    "What's the matter, now?" said the colonel.

    "Don't let the winds of heaven hear you say that," replied the doctor.

    "Why?"

    "Perhaps they mightn't like it."

    "Rubbish!" replied the colonel.  "The winds of heaven are as much mine as ever they were Milton's!"

    "Aye," says the doctor, "that comes of the all-pervading goodness of the great scheme, Chadwick.  The Creator of the world is kinder to us than we are to one another."

    "I'll stick to my text, Skelton," continued the colonel; "I hate that canting, rhyming, republican rebel, for his share in the mar ――"

    "Never mind it, Chadwick, never mind it; I know all about it," replied the doctor. . . . . "Well, let us drop it.  I see it's a bad case.  'He who will not be advised, neither can he be helped.'  Come, let us change the subject."

    "With all my heart, Skelton," said the colonel, "with all my heart!  You know we never agree about these things.  Confound it; what an old fool I am!  Well, come, fill up; and let us talk of something else."

    "Agreed," said the doctor, pulling out his watch what's the time?  Why, it's near one o'clock."

    "Yes," replied the colonel, looking at his own watch "you'll have to leave here in half an hour.  George will have the drag at the door exactly at the time.  I suppose Ben can ride behind with you?"

    "Certainly," said the doctor; "where is he?"

    "Oh, the lad's all right," replied the colonel; "he's in the care of my cook; and they have a neighbourly liking for one another."

    "Oh, by the bye," said the doctor, "Mary said she should like to see the hero of this donkey-story that amused her so much.  Couldn't we get him into the parlour for a few minutes?"

    "Of course," replied the colonel.  "But stop; hadn't we better have Miss Skelton in first?"

    "Fetch her, Chadwick; fetch her!  She'll be delighted," said the doctor.

    Away went the gallant colonel, returning in two or three minutes, chatting and laughing with Miss Skelton, as he led her into the parlour.

    When they were all comfortably seated, the colonel rang the bell, and told the servant to send Ben into the parlour.

    Ben entered the room in a shy and awkward manner, as usual; but the kind-hearted old colonel entered so freely into conversation with him in the native vernacular, that his embarrassment began to subside at once; and the doctor and his sister, with true courtesy, began to chat with him in such a frank and simple way that, in a few minutes, Ben was almost as much at ease with his genteel companions as if they had been cottage neighbours all their lives.  At last the ice got so thoroughly melted that the colonel ventured to ask Ben to sing a song for Miss Skelton.  This request rather staggered the poor fellow at first; but, being earnestly pressed, especially by the lady herself, he consented to sing a favourite country song called "Cupid's Garden."  The great difficulty was, however, that he had to bend down and sing into the end of the ancient maiden's ear-trumpet, which confused him very much, for he was sensible of the absurdity of the situation.  He could see, too, that the humorous old lady was enjoying the fun of the thing.  But he encountered the difficulty like a man.  He struggled through the first verse, bent down with his mouth at the end of the ear-trumpet; and with big drops of perspiration rolling from his forehead, and with the old lady's dark eyes fixed intently upon his own.  He got to the end of that, and then he stopped to take breath, and to wipe his face.  He began the second; and he had nearly fought through it, under the same circumstances, when he suddenly stopped, and, drawing his sleeve across his forehead, he reared himself upright, and said, "By th' mon, aw connote ston this!" at which the doctor and the colonel laughed "till the girdle rang," as the Scotch say.  The old lady had not heard what he said; but when she saw the sudden burst of mirth from her brother and the colonel, she inquired what was the matter; and when they had told her what he had said, the quaint damsel laughed, and laughed again, till the tears stood glistening in her eyes.  Then laying her hand upon Ben's broad shoulder, she thanked him, and said she was only astonished that he had done so well under the circumstances.  "Eh, God bless yo, mistress," said he, "if there'd bin nobody lookin' aw could ha' sung ten times better nor that for yo!"  At which they all burst out again, till Ben began to wonder what on earth he had said to move them to so much merriment.  But he had won their hearts by his frankness and the simplicity of his demeanour; and as Burns says, in "The Twa Dogs,"


They were unco pack an' thick thegither,


till the servant knocked at the parlour-door, and said that the vehicle was ready.

    In a few minutes after that they were all mounted, and away they went.  A pleasant ride of four miles brought them to the little village of Littleborough, at the foot of Blackstone Edge.  The way thence to "Th' White House," at the top of that wild ridge, is a winding road, about two miles and a half in length.  The heavy rain of the previous day had left it slushy, and it was difficult for wheel-carriages to travel.  But, about half-past two on that glorious summer afternoon, they dismounted at the door of the old hostelry, on the top of the Edge.

    There the learnθd doctor met with his learnθd friends, and they wandered about the wild moorland ridge that divides the counties of York and Lancaster, — from one point of interest to another.  The feature of the scene that had special attraction for that learned company was, however, the remarkably fine relic of the Roman roads of Britain, which climbs to the summit of Blackstone, from the Littleborough side, and then winds along the moors to Slack, the ancient Cambodunum of the Romans.  In that well-preserved remnant of the Roman road, they found so much to examine, and to trace, and to speculate upon, that it was unanimously resolved that the whole company should pay a second visit to the scene on the following day.  There was all the greater reason for this, as they found, on meeting together, that each had some pet point of interest, which together not been sufficiently considered in the general scheme of the day's trip, — the ruined entrenchments thrown up during the Cromwell wars; the Druidical stones upon the lofty mountain track, called "The Wilderness;" the ancient halls of the district; and certain remarkable geological features of the scene.  These things, together with the stress laid upon the matter by certain hospitable local gentlemen, of archaeological tendencies, induced the assembled savants to resolve upon a second visit to the scene.  However, they spent a pleasant and instructive day together, and when twilight began to dusk the evening air ―


Each took aff his several way,
Resolved to meet some ither day.


――――♦――――

[Jannock]

 


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