Come, all ye weary wanderers,
Beneath the wintry sky,
This day forget your worldly cares,
And lay your sorrows by.
THE supper things
were cleared away, the room was trimmed up and swept, the fire had
been mended, and the guests were seated once more around the board
with their glasses before them. Pipes and tobacco lay about.
At the head of the table Giles sat, with an old-fashioned silver
ladle in his hand, in front of a great bowl of punch, chatting
cheerfully, as he served the steaming liquor out right and left.
At the other end "Jem o' th' Har-barn" presided over another bowl of
the same inspiring compound. "Bith heart, lads," said he,
"this is a grand brew! Talk about posies! It's making my
yure curl! Here, Craddy, tak howd! That'll tickle tho
up, owd brid, wi' thi rags, an' jags, an' tinkerin' bags!"
"Now, lads," said Giles, rapping the table with his ladle,
"as we're getten meeterly weel sattl't again, I propose that every
mon round th' board oather tells a tale or sings a sung. What
"I'll agree to that," said Snip, who was a good singer; and
"Agreed, Agreed!" was the general cry.
Turning to the shoemaker, who was a notable budget of country
story, Giles said "Capstone, what says thou?"
"Oh," replied the shoemaker, "I'm never again a good thing!"
"Well, then," said Giles, "we couldn't do better nor start wi'
"Nay, nay," replied the shoemaker, "let somebody else begin.
I'm noan at concert pitch yet."
"Thou shall be, afore thou'rt mich owder," said Giles.
"Here, let's fill for tho. Thou'rt hanging fire terribly.
Theeri, sitho. Sup, an' then brast off."
"Giles, I think thou should set us agate, thisel'."
"Me! nought o' th' sort. Rats afore mice! Come,
gi mouth, an' bother noan."
"Well, well," replied the shoemaker, "I've oft yerd that
force were physic for mad dogs. What is to be mun be,
there's nought else for it."
And quietly trimming the bowl of his pipe, the old man began
the tale of
THE WICK SECK.
"It's a bit of a crack o' mi' faither's," said he. "I've yerd
him tell it time an' time again, when I wur a lad; an, it isn't a
week sin I wur tellin' it mysel, up at owd Mistress Taylor's yon, at
th' sign o' 'Th' Trumpeter.' . . . It's about an owd farmer, known
by th' name o' 'Judd o' Jers.' He live't upo' Chadderton side,
yon, an' he wur reckon't very weel off. His wife had been
deeod some time, an' he'd nought but hissel' an' an only daughter,
as hondsome a lass as ever stept shoe-leather. Hoo wur th'
pride o'th country side, an' hoo commonly went bi th' name o' 'Th'
Rose o' Chadderton.' Well, gentle an' simple, an' rich an'
poor, theyr'n cockin' their hats at this lass of owd Judd's, on o'
sides. Two or three fine lads listed through her; an' I
believe one poor divvle fro' Owdham drown't hissel' becose hoo'd ha'
no truck wi' him. It matter't nought to Mary who coom, silk
or fustian, they had to fo' back, every one on 'em but one,
an' that wur a limber, weel-mettle't yung farmer, co'd 'Dick o'
Rattler's,' 'at coom out o' Thornham. As fine a lad he wur, I
believe, as ever bote off th' edge of a cake, an' he turn't out as
weel at th' end of o', but he'd bin raither of a rackle turn up to
that time. Well, o' somehow, this lass of owd Judd's an' him
geet terrible thick, an' come what would, hoo were like as if hoo
couldn't bide to clap her een upo' nobody else nobbut him. But
owd Judd thought there were nought i' th' world good enough for his
daughter; an' there were so mony ill tales flyin' about this
Thornham cowt that he wouldn't yer tell on him at o', an' he swore
mich an' moore, that if ever he catch't him about th' house again
he'd tan his hide for him; an' he would ha' done, too, for he wur
a great strung chap, an' he'd a very strung temper. Bull Ben
o' Blakeley were a lusty fellow, an' as swipper as a kitlin; but owd
Judd thrut him o'er th' hedge, one Middleton rushbearin', just
like a bit of a catch-bo'.
Well, i' spite of o' 'at could be said an' done, this lad
stuck to th' lass, an' th' lass stuck to th' lad, for they were
gradely fond o' one another, an' th' moore they were sander't th'
moore they crope together.
Well, th' owd chap never wur rough wi' his daughter, but he
wur anxious about her, for hoo wur th' leet of his e'en, an'
he'd getten it into his yed that this Dick wouldn't behave weel to
her; beside, he didn't like th' notion of his hard-getten brass bein'
squander't bi a fast-gated spendthrift, sich as he thought him at
that time. So he talked to Mary about it again an' again; but
hoo did nought nobbut fret; an' when hoo began o' cryin' th' owd lad
couldn't ston it at o', an' he use't to walk off wi' a sore heart,
for he lippen't o' nought but ill to th' poor lass. . . . Well, o'
wur no use. These two war so taken up wi' one another that
they still met at by-times i' odd nooks an' corners, as they weren't
allowed to meet i'th oppen; an' owd Judd couldn't go to noather
market not fair, but, o' somehow, Dick geet to know on it aforehond.
Well, things went on o' this ill fashion till, at th' end of
o', Dick played one bit of a marlock 'at brought th' upshot on, an'
put o' to reets. It seems that he wur determined, if Mary
couldn't get out o' th' house to him, he'd goo into th' house to
Mary, o' somehow; so he made it up wi' two of his mates that they
should put him into a seck, an' co' at owd Judd', wi' th' cart, just
afore lockin'-up time, an' ax if they could lev it i'th kitchen till
mornin'. Well, they put a lot o' sawdust into th' bottom of a
lung seck; an' then Dick geet into 't; an' they packed him nicely
about wi' hay, so as to make it look round, an' shapely; an' they
laft two or three peep-holes at th' top, so that he could get his
breath, an' see what were gooin' on; and he'd a bit of a knife in
his hond, so that he could let hissel out when th' time coom.
Well, when neet coom on, Mary sit bi th' kitchen fire, mendin'
stockin's, an' hearkenin' for th' sound o'th wheels, bringin' this
seck of hers, for hoo wanted to get it snugly in afore her faither
coom whoam fro' th' market. Well, it wur gettin' nee bed-time,
an' still owd Judd hadn't londed. . . . But stop; I'm missin' my
tale. It seems that one o' these cronies o' Dick's had bin
tattlin' at th' owd alehouse i' Chadderton Fowd, an' he'd letten cat
out o'th bag; and somebry that wur theer happen't to leet of owd
Judd at th' market th' same day, an' he towd him th' whole tale
about this seck, what there wur in it, an' when it wur to lond.
Well, th' owd chap wur terribly put about; for he see'd that it wur
no use strivin' ony lunger; and he went up and down th' market
frettin' and mutterin' to hissel', 'I met as weel give in, an' let 'em
have it to theirsels; and try to make a good job of an ill un. . . .
But I'll sattle wi' yon seck this neet!'
So he hung about later than usual, to gi' th' seck time to
get londed. Well, it wur gettin' nee bedtime when those
cronies o' Dick's set off wi' th' cart wi' th' seck in it; an' they
knocked at owd Judd's kitchen dur, and axed if they could lev th'
seck till mornin', as they weren't goon' whoam. An' Mary said:
'Ay; they could lev it an welcome;' an' hoo towd 'em to rear it up
at th' side o'th owd clock, 'at stoode in a nook nearly out o' seet.
So they rear't it nicely up, an' then they bad her 'Good neet,' and
crope out, sniggerin' an' laughin' to theirsels. Mary watched
'em off, out o'th yard, an' down th' lone; an' then hoo barred th'
dur beheend 'em. Hoo hearken't a minute or two, till o' were
still; an' then hoo went quietly up to th' seck, an' said, Dick!'
An' th' seck gave a bit of a wriggle, an' said 'Mary!'
"'Eh, Dick,' said Mary again, talkin' to th' seck; 'this is
"Th' seck stirred again a bit, an' said, 'Let mi yed out!'
"'Stop a minute,' said Mary. An' hoo went an' hearkened
at th' dur. O' wur still, an' there wur nought comin'; so hoo
crope back, an' unteed th' seck mouth; an' out popped Dick's yed,
wi' his yure full o' hayseeds.
"'Wheer's thi faither?' said Dick.
"'I expect him every minute. Get in witho' till I've
getten him to bed.'
"'Give us a kussin'!'
"An' hoo gave him one, an' hoo said, 'Eh, Dick, whatever man
I do if my faither finds this out?'
"'Thou mun do as I towd tho, an' let me put th' axins up.
Mon, th' owd chap 'll come to, if we getten wed. . . .Gi' mi
"'Eh, Dick, I wish he would let tho come into th' house, an'
see one daicently. I don't like this mak o' wark. It'll
come to no good.'
"'Well, let's get wed, I tell tho! He connot get o'er
that! An' I'll come where thou art as lung as I live, if I
have to come down a chimbley! . . . Come, give o'er cryin', lass!
I can ston aught but that! I wish th' owd chap didn't think so
ill on me, so as things could go on straight-forrad an' gradely.
Wipe thi een, lass, an' gi' me another; or else thou'll ha' me cryin'
too. . . . I wish my honds wur free! . . . Com a bit nar! . . . It's
first time i' thi life thou ever clipt a seck, isn't it, lass?'
"'Eh, Dick, pritho, don't talk! I connote bide to think
about it! . . . Husht! . . . Put thi yed in, put thi yed in!
Mi faither's comin'!'
"Dick needed no moore tellin'. Down went his yed; an'
Mary's hands flutter't as hoo teed him up again. Then hoo ran
an' unbarred th' dur; an' hoo'd hardly getten nicely sit down bi th'
fire to her stockin's again afore her faither walked in.
"'Faither,' said Mary, 'yo're very late.'
"'Ay,' said Judd, givin' a sly glent round th' kitchen; I've
stopt too lung.'
"'Win yo have ony supper?'
"'Yo'd better ha' summat. It's ready here.'
"'Nay; I've no stomach for supper to neet.'
"Well, th' lass felt soory for him; an' hoo could hardly help
for cryin'; an hoo kept hur yed down at her wark.
"Thou may go to bed, Mary,' said Judd; 'I'll lock up.'
"'I've a lot o' stockin's to mend yet,' said Mary.
"'Well, then,' said Judd, 'I may as weel have a bit of a
smoke;' an' he lit his pipe, an' planted his cheer so that he could
see o' round th' kitchen.
"For th' next quarter of an hour there weren't a word spokken;
but there wur three folk i' that hole that wur about as ill
thrutched i' their minds as ony poor craiters i' Christendom could
be, partickilar th' seck. That began o' wishin' it wur a
"In a a bit owd Judd knocked th' dust out of his pipe, an
said, 'Well; I may as well be goin.' Thou'll not be long, I
"'Nawe,' said Mary, 'I'll not be long.' But hoo never
lifted her yed when hoo spoke.
"Then owd Judd geet up, an stretched hissel', an' began o'
saunterin' about kitchen, till he coom up to th' nook where th' seck
wur rear't again th' clock, an' theer he made a full stop.
Mary tremble't from yed to fuut; an' th' seck began o' feelin'
"'Hello,' said Judd what's this seck?'
"Well, th' poor lass wur i' sich a flutter that hoo could
hardly get a word out; but hoo managed to tell him that two o'
Stakehill Robin lads had co'd wi' th' cart, at th' edge o' dark, an'
axed if they could lev this seek till mornin'.
"Owd Judd gav a surly sort of a grunt; an' he said, 'I think
they'd better ha' takken it where it belungs, or else ha' put it
into th' shippon, yon. This is no place for sich like things.
. . . I wonder what there is in it?'
"An' he gave a rough punce at th' seck, where it bulge't out
"Th' seck jumped, an' said, 'Oh!', an' weel it met, for th'
owd lad had a sayrious fuut.
"Mary dropt th' stockin's to th' floor, an' went as white as
"'It's happen barley,' said Judd; an' he punce't at th' seek
again; an' th' seck jumped, and said 'Oh!' again, for this time it
let upo' th' shins.
"Then Judd nipt up a knobstick, an' began a weltin' at th'
seck as he said, 'to penk th' dust out on't a bit,' an' th' stick
happen't to come across summat tender, for th' seck gav a grate
yeawl, an' started o' swearin' like a drunken tinker.
"'Hello,' said Judd, 'what han we agate now? This seck's of a
feaw-mouthed breed! There's some mak o' jumpin'-stuff in it
too. . . . Here; I've shot mony a queer thing i' mi' time; and I'll
have a bang at a seck, for once!'
"An' he nipt th' gun down.
"When th' seck yerd that, it tumble's out o' th' nook, an'
began o' rollin' up an' down th' floor; an' it skrike't out 'Howd,
howd! D――― it, howd a minute! Untee this bag, an'
let's have a chance for mi life! Cut this bant; I'm noan beawn
to dee in a poke!'
"'Ifs ever seck deed i' this world,' said Judd, 'thou dees
"Well, th' seck roll't, an' wriggle't, and skrike't 'Murder!'
an' Mary dropt on her knees, an' cried 'Eh, faither; for God in
heaven's sake, don't shoot! It's Richard!'
"Owd Judd grounded th' gun, as if he wur fair dumfounder't
though he knew o' about th' job th' hare an' th' hare-gate.
"Bi this time Dick had cut a bit of a hole i' th' seck, an'
he'd getten his yerd out at th' top; an' theer he lee upo' th'
kitchen floor, starin' up at Judd, an' Judd starin' down at him.
"Mary had dropt into a cheer i'th corner, cryin' as if her
heart would break.
"When these two had stared at one another a while, Judd said,
'Well, an' what does to think o' thisel'?'
"'I think I'm a ―― fo',' said Dick.
"'Thou'rt as like one,' said Judd, 'as aught 'at ever I clapt
"'I dar' say,' said Dick, hagglin' at th' seck to get hissel'
"'Well, an' what dost to want here?' said Judd.
"'Yo'n known that a good while,' answered Dick; 'I want yo'r
"Owed Judd gav a turn or two about th' kitchen; an' then he
said, 'Here, I'll hae this job settle't afore thou comes out o' that
seck. I've gan thee th' bag mony a time, but thou's taen it
thisel' at last. An' now, I think we'n try what a noose 'll do
for tho, as there's nought else for't. . . . Here get out o' that
seck, an' let's see what thou'rt like, for thou'rt a weary seet at
"Well, Mary weren't a minute wi' helpin' Dick to get out o'
th' seck; and they sattle't th' whole concarn, straight off.
Dick went liltin' back to Thornharn that neet, as leet as a layrock;
an' Mary crope off to bed i' better heart nor hoo'd bin for mony a
year afore. Well, about a month after that they geet wed at
Middleton Church here; an' they live't wi owd Judd till he deed.
Dick wur a good-hearted lad, an' he turned quite stiddy; an' they'd
as fine a family as ever sun shone on. One o'th grondsons
lives upo' th' same lond now; an' they han' th' owd seck by 'em to
I love a ballad but even too well, if it
be doleful matter merrily set down, or a very pleasant
thing indeed and sung lamentably.
IN THE WINTER'S
story was received with a buzz of approbation all round the board.
"Well done, Lapstone," said Giles; "that's a good tale; an'
thou's towd it weel! . . . Push thi glass here I'm sure thou'rt dry.
. . . Now, lads; yon had a start. Who's th' next? . . . But
stop; afore we gwon ony fur, let's buttle out an' pipe up, an' have
a bit of a chat. Send yo'r tots up! . . . Now then; is there
nobody at th' table 'at can give us a bit of a ditty, for a change?
. . . Here, Snip; thou use't to be a good bond at a sung.
Brast off, owd brid!"
"Well," said Snip, "I'm willin' enough; but my supper's noan
sattle't yet, man; an' it's hard wark singin' through a pile o'
beef. Beside, I haven't a memory worth a hep now. I know
lots o' bits o' sungs. They done weel enough for one to wortch
to; but I don't think I could waggon through a sung of ony sort fro
end to end. Th' fact is, Giles, I known nought at o' about
aught i' this world, nobbut bits."
"Well, let's have a bit then," said Giles. "Come, get
agate; an' give o'er preachin'."
"O' reet," said Snip; "I'll try my bond at Tum Pobs!"
"Tum Pobs," said Giles, rapping on the table with his ladle.
"Snip's beawn to give 'Tum Pobs.' . . . . Now then, gi' mouth, owd
With his pipe in one hand, and his glass in the other, Snip
turned his face to the ceiling and began:
Tum Pobs War a good-nature't sort of a
He wove for his livin', an' live't wi' his dad;
He wur fond o' down-craiters, an' th' neighbours o'
That he're reet in his heart, but he'd nought in his yed.
Nan o' Flup's wur a lass that wur swipper and strung:
Hoo'd a temper o' fire, an' a rattlin' tung;
Hoo're as handsome a filly as mortal e'er see'd,
But hoo coom of a racklesome, natterin' breed.
"Now, then," said Snip, "I towd yo I should be fast. . . .
But, stop. . . . This Nan o' Flup's wur gettin' thirty year owd; and
hoo thought it wur about time to look round, an' tak a chance o'
some mak; so hoo began o' settin' her cap at this lad:
An' hoo coodle't, an' foodle't, an'
simper't, an' sken'd,
Till Tummy geet middle't clen up i' th' fur end.
He're so lapt up i' Nan, both i'th heart an' i'th yed,
That I doubt he'd ha' dee'd if they hadn't bin wed;
So at last they stroke honds, an' agreed to be one;
An' hoo trice't him to church, an' poor Tummy wur
An' when th' news o' this weddin' geet down into th'
Folk chuckle't an' laughed, an' thought Tummy wur sowd
An' th' women o' said, "Nan's too mich for yon lad;
He'd better ha' stopped till he deed wi his dad."
But they buckle't together, for better an' wur;
An', at first, things wur reet between Tummy an' hur
An' they'rn meeterly thick, both by dayleet an' dark,
Till th' wayter o' life cool't 'em down to their wark.
Then Nan lost no time, but coom back to hersel';
An' hoo cample't, an' snapt, as no mortal can tell;
An' poor Tum o' Pobs soon fund out that his wife,
Though an angel at first, wur a divul for life.
Here the singer stopped again, and hemmed, and coughed, and
played with his pipe.
"It's no use," said he, "there's another hole i' th' ballet."
"Hark back," said Giles.
"Rom a bit o' talk in," said Rondle o' Rogers, "an' get
"Come, I'll try," said Snip, trimming his pipe again.
"Well, Tum o' Pobs soon fund out that he'd dropt in for a
boighlin-piece; but he determin't to make th' best on't so he gran'
an' bode, fro' day to day; an' he'd a deeol to bide, for Nan went
wur an' wur; till, at last, hoo hector't an' natter't o'er him to
that degree that he hadn't a minute's comfort bi neet nor day.
But still Tum took it quietly; an' that made her wur nor ever, for
hoo'd bin brought up amung o' maks o' racket, an' hoo couldn't
ston a quiet life. So, to make ill wur, hoo began o'
hittin' him, and scrattin' his nose-end wi' forks, an' flingin'
things at him:
It wur sometimes a pitcher, an' sometimes
Nan didn't care what, if it let o' th' owd mon.
An' if that didn't vex him, her temper wur sich,
Hoo'd nip up a tough-lookin' lump of a switch;
An' sometimes it lapt round his yed wi' a bend,
An' sometimes it coom across Tummy's nose end.
"An' so they tart't on, o' this ill fashion, year after year,
till, at last, Nan wur taken ill,
An' hoo flang no moor pots at owd Tum for
"Well, at th' end of o', Nan dee'd, th' same as other folk,
an', o' somehow, poor owd Tum missed her just as mich as if hoo'd
bin an angel; for, after o' 'at he'd gone through, Tum wur a good-nature't
As Nan wur laid down he hove mony a sigh,
An', o' somehow, th' owd lad made a shift for to cry.
"Theer," said Snip; "that's th' end o' mi sung. It's
been mixture of a trot and a canter; but I've done as weel as I
"Thou's done very weel, Snip," said Giles, "but it's nobbut a
bit, after o'. I think thou should give us another bit of a
stave, to mak up wi'. Bang off again, while thou'rt warm
under th' saddle."
"Here, here," replied Snip; "I'll have a bar's rest, if yo'n
a mind. Let Craddy try his hond. He knows a ballet forty
verses lung. I'll come in again, at after he's done."
"Forty verses, eh?" said Giles. "By Guy, that'll last
Craddy till to-morn at noon; for he al'ays sings as if he're at a
funeral. It'll tak' him hauve-an-hour to get through one
verse. . . . Bi th' mass, he's asleep! . . . Come Craddy, my lad;
let's see what thou'rt made on!"
But Craddy had been boozing all day, and he was fast sinking
into a state of maudlin helplessness; and flourishing his pipe in
the air, he said:
"Ay, fill it up! . . . Robin at th' Crowshaw Booth has a
lad 'at can creep through a cat-hole!"
"Here; I think we'n let him alone," said Giles. "It's
gettin' time for him to be gooin' up yon broo. . . . Come, Snip, owd
lad; fill this bit of a gap up, an' then we'n co' o' somebody else."
"Stop," cried Jem o' th' Har-barn, "we'n a volunteer at this
end. Rondle's beawn to give us a stave. . . .Silence! . . .
Goo on, Rondle."
And old Randle struck up,
Bill o' Sheepsheawter's;
Robin o' th' Dree;
Rondle o' Sceawter's;
Twilter an' me;
We made Mall o' Sleet's
Owd pewter pots ring;
That neet wur a neet
To comfort a king!
Rondle sang keaunter;
Robin sang bass;
Twilter sang o' maks
O' comical ways;
Th' tenor wur fine
Bill took it up well;
An' th' tribble wur mine,
I sang it mysel'.
Th' first we'd a psaum,
An' then we'd a sung;
An' then we sang glees,
Till th' rack-an'-hook rung;
An' merry owd Mall
Chimed in like a brid,
As hoo tinkle't to th' tune,
Upo' th' owd kettle-lid.
"Weet yo'r whistles," said Mall,
"It makes better chime."
"Stop, an' rosin," said Bill,
"It's gettin' hee time."
"A tot-a-piece bring,"
Said Rondle, "an' then,
Like layrocks o' th' wing,
We'n tootle again."
We tootle't an' sang
Till midneet coom on;
We caper't down th' broo,
Bi' th' shinin' o'th moon;
As we wander't o'er th' moss,
Bill lap shoolder-hee;
An' "I'm fain at I'm wick!"
Cried Robin o' th' Dree.
"Well done our side!" said Jem o' th' Har-barn. "Thi
ballis-pipes are i' fine fettle, Rondle, owd lad; good luck to tho!"
Three-man-song-men all, and very good
ones; but they are most of them means and basses; but
one Puritan amongst them, and he sings psalms to
THE clatter of
applause which followed old Rondle's song woke up poor Craddy, who
had been sitting in a kind of doze, with half-shut eyes. He
started to his feet; and waving his pipe in the air, he cried out,
Reet leg, lift leg, under-leg, over-leg;
Th' little bird sings in a mornin'!
"Owd Ben, at 'Th' Mattocks,' had a daughter wed, an' a keaw
cave't, an' a mare foal't, an' a cat kittle't o' in one day.
There, nought i' Englan' can lick that! "
Then he dropt on his seat again, and closing his eyes again,
his pipe fell from his fingers.
"It's time for that lad to go whoam," said Jem o'th' Har-barn;
"he con ston nought."
"Poor Crad," said Giles; "he's hard wortch't an' underfed;
an' he's noan o'er paid; an' when he comes to a hearty feed, an' a
warm fire, he's sooner done up than sich as thee and me, Jem. . . .
But he's asleep. Let him rest a bit; an' we'n see how he goes
on. I'll see him safe londed."
"Well, Giles," said Jem, rising from his chair, with his
glass in his hand, "here's good health an' good hearts, an' milk
and meighl enough for us o'!"
"Th' same to thee, Jem!" said Giles. And the toast went
heartily round the board.
"An', now then, Giles," said Jem, "as I'm no hond at tellin'
a tale, if thou's nought again it, I'll do a bit of a stave
"Bravo, Jem," said Giles, "get agate, owd lad I!" . . .
"Silence," cried he, rapping the table with his ladle.
And, in a deep but melodious voice, Jem o' th' Har-barn began
It's of three jolly hunters, an'
a-hunting they did go;
An' they hunted, an' they halloo'd, an' they blew their
Look ye there!
An' one said, "Mind yo'r e'en, an' keep yo'r noses reet
An' then, bi scent or seet, yo'n leet o' summat to yo'r
Look ye there!
They hunted, and they halloo'd, an' the first thing they
Was a tatter't boggart, in a feelt, an' that they left
Look ye there!
One said it was a boggart, an' another he said "Nay;
It's just a drunken tinker that has gone an' lost his
Look ye there!
They hunted, an' they halloo'd, an' the next thing they
Was a turnip in a stubble-field, an' that they left
Look ye there!
One said it was a turnip, an' another he said "Nay;
It's just a cannon-bo' 'at owd Noll Crummill thrut
Look ye there!
They hunted, an' they halloo'd, an' the next thing they
Was a cratchinly owd pig-trough, an' that, too, they
Look ye there!
One said it was a pig-trough, but another he said "Nay;
It's some poor craiter's coffin," an' that caused 'em
Look ye there!
They hunted, an' they halloo'd, an' the next thing they
Was a jackdaw, lyin' cowd an' still, an' that they left
Look ye there!
One said it was a jackdaw, an' another he said "Nay
It's nobbut an' owd blackin'-brush 'at somebry's thrut
Look ye there!
They hunted, an' they halloo'd, an' the next thing they
Was a gruntin', grindin' grindlestone, an' that they
Look ye there!
One said it was a grindlestone, another he said "Nay
It's nought but an' owd frozzen cheese 'at somebry's
Look ye there!
They hunted, an' they halloo'd, an' the next thing they
Was a bull-cauve in a pin-fowd, an' that, too, they left
Look ye there!
One said it wur a bull-cauve, an' another he said "Nay;
I's just a painted jackass that has never larnt to
Look ye there!
They hunted, an' they halloo'd, an' the next thing they
Was two young lovers in a lane, an' these they left
Look ye there!
One said that they were lovers, but another he said "Nay
They're two poor wanderin' lunatics come, let us go
Look ye there!
So they hunted, an' they halloo'd till the setting of
An' they'd nought to bring away at last, when th' huntin'
day was done.
Look ye there!
Then one unto the other said, "This huntin' doesn't pay;
But wean powler't up an' down a bit, an' had a rattlin'
Look ye there!
"Jem, owd lad," said Giles, "thou's a rare voice, an' thou
al'ays had, I've yerd it mony a time, when thou's bin after th'
dogs, up i' Thornham Heights, yon; but, if I wur thee, th' next time
I sang a sung I'd pike one 'at had oather some sense or some fun in
it. There is'nt mich o' noather on 'em i' that thou's just gan
"I'll tell tho what, Giles," replied Jem, "I doubt this bit
o' supper hasn't agreed wi' tho very weel, for thou'rt gettin' am'd
as a crushed whisket; an' I think it's hee time thou tried thi' hond
thisel. Come, get agate, and let's see what thou can do!"
"Thou has me theer, owd lad," said Giles; "but bide a bit,
bide a bit, I'll come in i' my turn, thou'rt see. . . . Come,
chaps, buttle out; yo're doin' nought."
"Ay, come," said Jem o' th' Har-barn, flourishing his ladle,
"drink up, and no heel-taps. Here, send yor glasses this road
on. Come, Henry, straighten that face o' thine; arto beheend i'
thi rent, or is th' wool trade out o' flunters? Cheer up, owd
lad; all things has but a time. It's a poor heart that never
rejoices, mon. Cheer up."
"I'm o' reet, Jem," replied th' wool chap.
"Well, then," said Jem, "what arto lookin' so rivven about?"
"God bless thi life, Jem," said th' wool chap, "I'm noan
rivven. I'm as happy as a cat in a tripe shop; but I've bin
watchin' owd Craddy theer, as he sits chunnerin' to hissel', wi' his
e'en shut, till I feel as drowsy as if I'd bin hearkenin' a lung
sarmon after a hearty meal."
"He's sound asleep now, I see," said Jem. "Thee wakken
up, ony how. Thou's sin a deal i' thi time: come tell us
summat or another."
"Nawe, nawe; I'll come in a bit fur on. Try th'
painter, here; he's as lively as a cricket, an' his tung's as limber
as a lamb's tail. Try th' painter."
"Ay, ay," said Giles, at the other end of the table.
"Ay ay, an' nought but reet noather. Come, Dabble, old craiter,
get into thi looms. Thou's generally a bit o' summat to say.
Thou mun oather sing or tell us a tale."
"Well," said the painter, "I don't know many songs, but"
"Howd, howd a minute," said Giles. "Don't sing, that's
a good lad, don't sing. Now I remember th' ast time thou
tried to sing i' this hole it stopt th' clock, an' turn't th' ale
sour; an' it made us o' ill for a week after. If I wur a
house, an' thou tried to sing i' my inside, I'd fo' a-top on thou.
So, as far as singin' gwos, we'n let tho off."
"Well," said the painter, "just as you've a mind; but I used
to be reckoned a very fair tenor up at th' owd chapel yon."
"Husht, Dabble, my lad," said Giles, "husht! Not
another word about singin'! Keep thi tenor to thiser' this
neet! If they wanten it up at th' owd chapel, let 'em have it,
an' welcome; but keep thi tenor to thysel' this neet, I pritho! . .
Let's see, didn'to paint a sign or summate once, code 'Th' Turk's
Yed'? I remember some mak of a tale about it. Tell us
"Very well," said the painter, "if you think I'm not
intrudin', I'll tell it as well as I can."
"Come, come," said Giles, "get agate o' thi tale, an' don't
make a barn-owl o' thisel'."
THE PAINTER'S STORY.
I wol yow telle a litel thing in prose,
That oughte like yow, as I suppose,
Or elles certes ye be to dangerous.
NOW, the painter
was a natural genius in his art, although in other respects he was a
man of no especial mark, and of very little culture. Under an
air of uncommon simplicity, he concealed great shrewdness in worldly
affairs; and his conversation was a quaint mixture of artistic
insight, cunning innocence, dry humour, and maundering
"Come, Dabble," said Giles, "get forrad wi' thi tale."
The painter screwed up his mouth, as usual, and began with an air of
"Well, ye know, Giles, I've painted a good deal o' portraits
in my time"
"Ay, ay," said Giles; "I know thou'rt a clivver chap, Dabble.
Get eend-ways wi' thi tale. Thou talks as if thou'd a
fish-hook i' thi tung."
"Well, ye know, Giles," replied Dabble, "I'm not a man as has
been used to talkin' among sich like glib-tongued people as you; so
you must excuse me bein' so slow. For my mother used to say
when I was a boy"
"Get eend-ways, I tell tho," replied Giles; "or I'll fling th'
ladle at thi yed! "
"Very well, then," said Dabble, "if you'll promise not to
fling th' ladle at me, I'll try to go on. . . . Well, as I wus
saying, I've painted a good deal o' portraits in my time, ― that is,
when I wasn't engaged in somethin' as had rather more weft in it.
Though, mind ye, a man as has any power in him, he may put a
good deal into a portrait, if he likes, for, mind ye, Giles,
there's a great deal in the very commonest face as you can meet when
ye come to consider it properly. Sir Joshua Reynolds, now, he
knowed all about that, as well as any man livin' . . . . Well but,
this that I was going to tell about . But, stop. You
may fill this glass again, if ye please; an' then I can go on
comfortably. . . . There; thank ye! Now, I'm all right! . . .
"Well, I should happen to be about five-an'-thirty years of
age when it happened. I remember my birthday was on the
fourteenth of November, owd style, at a quarter past three in the
morning; an' both me an' my mother had a very hard time of it, I can
tell ye. But never mind that; we got over it in the end, an'
that's more than some can say. . . .
Well, at this particklar time I was livin' in a town not
above a hundred miles from here, but I'd better not tell ye where
it was, or else ye might know the man. His name was John
something, I forget just now, but I remember that people as
didn't admire him much used to call him 'Jove o' Blunders.' He
was very well off; but when you've said that you've done, for he
hadn't much else about him, except his paunch; an' I can assure you,
Giles, that that was a thing which would ha' made ye look at him a
second time, that is, if ye'd never seen his face; for, to tell ye
truth, he was ugly enough to make into a corn-boggart. The
very dogs used to bark at him, an' then run away, when they met him
on the street. But never mind. The fact is, Giles, at
that time I had very little to stir on, an' I was right down glad of
any sort of a job as would help to make both ends meet; for, don't
ye see, Giles, I was a married man, an' there's always somethin'
wantin' where there's a wife an' children about.
"Well, one gloomy day, when I was sittin' by myself in my
room, potterin' away at somethin' or another, the latch was lifted,
an' all at once a great big ugly fellow comes walkin' right in, with
a bandy-legged dog at his heels. He didn't knock nor nothin',
but he came right in; an' the look of his face made me shake in my
shoes. . . . I remember I used to wear shoes at that time. I
wear boots, now, ye see. Well, I thought at first that he must
be a bum-bailiff; for he was the very cut o' one o' that breed; an'
I began o' feelin' rather queer; for, don't ye see, Giles, I owed a
little money at that time, an' when I looked at this surly-lookin'
chap an' his dog, I thought to mysel, 'It's all over; I'm in for it
now!' But I thought it was best to keep a civil tongue in my
head, so I said, 'How d'ye do, sir! It's a fine mornin'!'
"Well, ye know, I'm not generally given to lyin', not as a
rule, but that was a sneezer for a start; for, between you and me,
Giles, it was anything but a fine mornin'; for it was damp an'
drizzly, an' as dark as a fox's mouth; but the fact is, Giles, I
hardly knew what I was sayin' just at the time, don't ye see.
However, I might have been talkin' to a milestone, for he took no
notice, but kept standin' there, i'th middle o' th' floor, with a
cudgel in his hand, starin' round as if he was goin' to mark my
goods for rent. I didn't half like it, I can tell ye.
Besides, there was this ugly dog of his; it stood just behind him,
lookin' through his legs, with its eyes fixed right on me, as if it
was choosin' a spot to fly at as soon as the word was given. I
can assure you, Giles, that the general state of affairs made me
feel bad in my inside for a minute or two.
"At last I managed to pluck up my spirit a bit, and I asked
him if he would take a chair. Well, ye see, Giles, in the
first place that was a queer thing to say to a bum-bailiff, to begin
with. Besides, it was wrong in another way, for I hadn't a
single chair in the place. The only thing I had to sit on was
two three-legged stools. I wonder now that the fellow didn't
hit me with his stick. But, however, as I was tellin' ye, I
was in such a frustration that I pulled up one o' these stools and I
said, 'Will ye take a chair, sir, if ye please?' But it was no
use, bless ye. He still kept agate o' takin' no notice.
An', between you an' me, Giles, it was a good job; because the stool
was such a little un that he wouldn't have been comfortable, for he
was three times as broad as top o' th' stool, an' that leaves rather
too much margin outside, ye know, Giles. Don't ye think it
"I think nought at o' about it," said Giles. "Get
forrad witho, an' get done witho, for thou'rt makin' me as mazy
as a tup. I doubt there's moore clout than dinner about this tale o'
thine. . . . Here; grease thi wheels, an' start again."
"Thank ye, Giles," said Dabble; and drinking off his glass he
said, "Now then; I shall soon be at it, if you'll not hurry me.
When I was a boy at school, my mother used to say――"
"Here, come, come," said Giles; "we'n ha' noan o' that.
Get forrad wi' thi tale, an' bother no moore about thee an' thi
"Stop a minute!" cried Jem o'th' Har-barn; "hadn't we better
have a bit of a sung or summat, between; an' then he can go on
"Nawe, by th' mass!" said Giles; "we'n let him get it o'er,
if ever he will get it o'er! Come; get forrad! . . . Silence,
"I'm ready," said the painter, trimming his pipe.
"Let's see; where did I leave off? . . . Oh! . . . Well, as I was
sayin', this man as I took for a bum-bailiff stood a while in the
middle o'th floor, lookin' round without takin' a bit o' notice of
anything that I said to him. At last he gave a surly sort of a
grunt, and he said, 'I underston' thou'rt a sort of a painter.'
"An' I said, 'Yes; I have painted a good deal in my time.'
"'What mak?' said he.
"'Well,' I said, 'some of my work's not so bad though I say
"'That's nought to do wi't,' said he, groundin' his cudgel,
with a bang; 'arto a sign-painter, or what mak o paintin' doesto
"An' I said, 'Oh all sorts.'
"'Canto do faces?' said he.
"'Of course I can,' said I.
"'Doesto think thou could paint mine?'
"'Certainly,' said I. 'Whereabouts?' I saw, ye
know, that one of his eyes was a great deal darker than the other;
and having had a little experience in the art of restoring certain
departments of the human countenance to the original tone of colour,
which had been lost by the sudden application of injurious external
influences, ye know, Giles, I began to think this was another
job of the same kind, and so I gave him a bit of a smile, and I said
to him again, 'Certainly, sir. Whereabouts, please?' Ye
know, Giles, I didn't like to mention his eye, because I thought he
mightn't like it. 'Whereabouts, please?' said I.
"Whereabouts?' cried he. What arto bletherin' about? I want
it paintin' all o'er!'
"'Oh, I see,' said I; 'you're gooin' to a masquerade ball, or
something. All right. I'll soon make ye so as nobody'll
"'Gooin' to what?' cried he.
"'By the living jingo,' thinks I, 'I'm wrong again;' so I
said to him, 'I hope you will excuse me, sir, but I thought perhaps
you might be going to a masquerade ball, or something.'
"'Bith hectum!' cried he, grappling his cudgel, 'ifs thou
talks to me about masquerades I'll rub tho down wi' a wooden towel,
tightly!' And his dog began to grin.
"Thinks I, 'This is goin' to turn out an ugly customer,' and
I gave a sly look round; but there was no chance of escape, bless
ye, for this fellow and his dog stood right between me and the door.
Well, you know, Giles, I saw at once that there was nothing for it
but to keep as thick with him an' his dog as possible. An' it
made me sweat, I can tell ye, for I began to think that he was a
lunatic, or something, don't ye see, Giles. So I took my hat
off; an' I wiped my forehead again; an' I said, 'Well, sir; I should
be very glad to oblige ye in any way that I possibly can, I'm sure,
but, just now, I can't say that I quite understand what it is that
you want exactly.'
"'Well, then,' said he, 'thou'rt a leather-yed.'
"I was going to say, 'Thank you, sir,' but I thought I'd
better not, because it might vex him; so I only grinned a little,
and wiped my forehead again.
"Well, he gave another look round the place, and he said,
'Hast nought to sup i'th hole?'
"And I said, 'No, sir, I have nothing at all in the place in
that line except some copal varnish, and a little drop o' ginger
cordial, that I take now an' then when I'm seized with a pain in my
inside. Will ye try a little? You're quite welcome.'
"He grunted again, an' he said, 'I'd as soon ha' tone as
tother. But I'll ha' noather on 'em; mix 'em together, an' sup
'em thisel'. . . . But come,' said he, 'I didn't want to stop
botherin' here o' day. Didto never yer tell of a portrait?'
"'A portrait!' said I; 'Oh, that's it, is it? Ah, well,
now I begin to comprehend.'
"'Thou's bin a good while about it,' said he.
"'Well, yes,' said I, that's true. But it's better late
than never, ye know, isn't it!'
"'I don't know whether it is or not,' said he; it just
"Well, ye know, Giles, I thought I'd better not contradict
him; so I said, 'Oh! a portrait is it! Ay, very well, sir.
See ye, take this chair, please;' and I pushed the stool towards him
"Well, he just gave the stool a touch with his foot, an' away
it went spinning to the other side of the room.
"'Thou met as weel gi' mi a fire-potter nob to sit on as
that,' said he. 'Haste nought bigger?'
"'Well, ye see, sir,' said I, 'I'd not overstocked with
furniture; but, if ye like, I'll clear the things away from this
table; and, judging by the naked eye, I should say that would be
about the size required for your convenience.'"
"'Let thi bits o' tanklements stop where they are,' said he;
'I can stop.'
"'Very well, sir,' said I, 'and what size d'ye think as you
would like this portrait of yours to be?' said I.
"'Oh, th' yed,' said he; 'nought nobbut th' yed, I don't
think tother's worth botherin' about.'
"And between you and me, Giles, he was right there; for
though he was a tremendous size of a chap, at the very least three
parts of him was paunch, and such like; and he was terribly
knock-kneed, and he was a queer shape altogether. He looked
like a pack-sheet full o' tripe badly tied up. And yet, ye
know, Giles, he would have made a very striking picture, in a
certain sense, for he was what ye may call beautifully-ugly from top
to toe. But, however, he seemed to have taken a particular
fancy to his own face, some people, do, you know, Giles, his
face he would have, an' nothin' else, an', God knows, that wasn't
handsome. However, it was no business o' mine; an' it was a
thing that couldn't be helped; for the man wasn't his own father,
nor I wasn't his father; and, between you and me, Giles, I should
have been sorry if I had been. I dare say his mother thought
him nice, once, women do get such things into their heads, but I
question whether anybody else would think so that had good eyesight.
I remember an old rhyme that says:
Although I'm feaw, despise me not,
The truth to you I'll tell;
I'm of another's hondy-wark,
I didn't make mysel'.
And it's quite true. Beside, if he had made hissel', it's just
possible that he might have been uglier than ever. But that's
neither here nor there. Let every tub stand on its own bottom,
say I. The man was as God made him, and he was a customer, ―
and that was enough for me. So I spoke him fair, for this dog
of his was keeping its eyes on me all the tine.
"'Very well, sir,' said I; 'you want just the head, and
nothing else. . . . Kit Cat, I suppose?'
"'Kit what?' said he.
"'Kit Cat,' said I.
"'I noather want Kit Cat, nor Kit Dog,' he said. 'I
want a gradely pickter!'
"'Well, sir,' said I; 'ifs you'll leave the thing to me, you
shall have a gradely pickter.'
"'Well; get agate o' thi paintin', then,' said he; 'get agate
o' thi paintin'. Brass is no object to me.'
"Well, ye see, Giles, I was a bit flurried, so I said, that
it was no object to me neither.'
"He took me up in a minute, and he said, 'That's o' reet,
then. Thou connot begin to soon.'
"Thinks I to myself, 'This'll not do;' so, for fear of any
further mistakes, I said, 'Well, sir, you'll excuse me, but I've
noticed several times in the course of my checkered existence that
money comes in very handy when one wants to buy things; and, as
one's always needin' something or another, perhaps it would be as
well to name a price, if you've no objections.'
"Then he banged his cudgel on the floor again, and he said,
'How leets thou didn't say so at first? Come, what's it to be?
Oppen thi mouth, an' done wi't.'
"So at last we agreed that this portrait was to be ten
pounds; and when we had struck the bargain, he said, 'But mind, it
mun be a good un, or else I'll not have it.'
"'Well, sir,' said I, 'when the portrait's finished, if you
don't like it, I'll leave it to any respectable judge to decide the
"Well, then,' said he, we'n lev it to this dog o' mine.
If it wags it tale at it I'll pay for it; but if it barks at it
you'll have it thrut o' thi honds.'
"'Very well, sir,' said I, 'agreed. I'll leave it to
the dog.' It was a foolish thing to do, ye know, but I did it.
Beside, ye see, though I didn't like th' dog, nor th' dog didn't
like me, I thought it couldn't object to a genuine work of art; for
I've noticed, Giles, that, as a rule, dogs are as good judges of
these thing as the ordinary run of Christians are, though they don't
say as much about it.'
"Well, to make a long story short, we agreed. . . . But
before I go any further I must tell ye that this customer of mine
had a great wart playfully planted on the left side of his nose, and
it was a very unsightly thing. So I laid my finger on my
nose-end, and I said to him 'Well, but how about the wart? I
hope you'll not consider me impertinent, but you'll not have that
in, will ye?'
"'Wart,' cried he; 'what business has thou wi' th' wart?
It's noan o' thine! I'll have it in!'
"'Well, my friend,' said I, 'I hope you'll excuse me; but if
you was to touch it every morning with a little vitriol, it would be
gone in a few days.'
"'Vitriol!' cried he; 'put thi vitriol into thi porritch!
I'll ha' no vitriol! I've had this wart ever sin' I wur born,
an' I'll not part wi' it now! I'll have it in! I
shouldn't look like mysel' beawt it!'
"So I hinted to him that, taking everything into
consideration, perhaps it mightn't be an advantage to look like
one's self sometimes."
"Well, that made him roar again; and, grappling his cudgel by
the middle, he cried, I'll have it in, I tell thou! It's my
own, an' I'll have it in!'
"'Very well, my friend,' said I; far be it from me to
infringe upon the rights of private property. It's your own,
as you say; and you shall have it in. . . . Be content, my
friend,' said I, laying my hand on his shoulder like that, just to
quieten him, ye know, Giles, 'be content, my friend, you shall
have it in, an' I'll put another on the opposite side, if you like,
just to make an even balance.'
"Well, that set him roaring worse than ever, and he made such
a din that this dog of his seemed to get it into his head that we
were fighting, and all at once he made a dart at me, and got fast
hold of the calf of my leg. I hadn't much of a calf, to be
sure, but it made free with what there was, I can tell ye.
Well, ye see, Giles, that set me agate o' roarin' too, and I danced
up an' down a bit, wi' th' dog hanging to my leg, and I kept cryin'
out 'Take' it off, tak it off!' Well, he was in no hurry
about the matter. To tell ye the truth, Giles, he seemed
rather to enjoy it. However, he did take it off at last, and
the moment I got loose I jumped on to the table, and I said, 'My
friend, are you the proprietor of that animal?'
"And he said, 'Ay; I've had it sin it wur a pup. There
isn't a better dog i'th town for varmin?'
"'Oh, thank you,' said I; 'then I suppose you take me for
varmin, do ye?
"'Well,' said he, 'this dog's noan a bad judge about sich
like things as that.'
"So I thanked him again.
"'Come off that table,' said he. 'What arto' doin' up
theer? Arto beawn to sell up, or summit?'
"'I'm much obliged to you, my friend,' said I; 'but I prefer
my present position, so long as that dog's in the room.' Then
I rubbed my leg again, and I said, 'What d'ye feed it on, as a
"'Shin o' beef, an' garbage,' said he.
"'Ay, then,' said I, 'I suppose the brute takes me for a
stock you've been layin' in.'
Here Giles rapped the table with his ladle.
"Stop, stop, Jemmy," cried he. "How long's this
maunderin' nominy o' thine gooin' to last? I can make noather
top nor tail on't. Thou's bin agate o' buzzin' for this last
hauve hour, like a hum-a-bee in a foxglove, about dogs an' pickters,
an' warts, an' warts, an' pickters, an' dogs, till I'm gettin' as
mazy as a tup. Thou'rt as ill as a maut-mill wuzz, wuzz,
wuzz, grind, grind, grind. Cut it short! What the dule,
thou'll have us o' asleep. Thou's done for 'Bonny Mouth,' a
good while sin. Look where he is, theer, ― wi' his een shut,
an' his mouth wide oppen, as if he wur catchin' fleas. An'
Craddy's noan so mich better; he keeps droppin' off, an' startin'
up again, like a goose wi' a nail in it yed. Cut it short, I
pritho, ― or else drop it o'together, ― an' let someb'dy else start.
By th' mass, I'd as soon be at a berrin', as sit hearkenin thee. . .
. Come, lads; wakken up! Jem; nudge owd Bonny, he's a mouth
like a breast-hee coalpit."
"Here; I'll wakken him," said Jem. "Now then!
Come, Bonny Mouth! Wakken up, my lad!"
Bonny Mouth gave a great yawn; and then, looking round with
half-wakened eyes, he said, "O' reet! has he getten it o'er?"
"Not quite," said Jem.
"Well then," said Bonny Mouth, dropping his chin again, I'll
have another bit of a nap, yo can wakken me up when he's done."
"Here, here," cried Giles; "we'n ha' no sleepin'!
Beside, thou snoors like a reawsty trindle! Prop thoose foggy
e'en o' thine a minute or two, till we se'en what he's for doin'."
Then turning to the painter, he said, "Now, Jemmy, my lad,
thou's had a fairish do, an' it's knockin' us o' up. How
long's this tale o' thine beawn to last?"
"Well, Giles," said the painter, "if you keep stoppin' me
this way, it'll last till about three o'clock i'th afternoon o' New
Year's Day; but if you'll let me go on in my own way I'll wind it up
in a few minutes."
"Then wind it up, an' soon!" said Giles; "wind it up,
that's a good lad!"
"Ye know, Giles," said the painter, "you set me goon'
"Come, come," said Giles, "let's ha' no preichment! Get
end-ways! I know I set thee gooin'. I've that to answer
for, among th' rest o' mi sins. But, never mind, get endways,
an' get it o'er."
"Very well, then," said the painter, "I will get it over. . .
Let me see. Where was I? Oh, the dog. . . . Ah, well;
I'll say no more about that. But the end of the thing was that
I painted this portrait; but when it was finished I couldn't get him
to say whether he liked it or he didn't like it. All that I
could get out of him was, 'Wait a bit till I see what th' dog thinks
about it.' Well, he set a day; and he brought his dog to
criticise the portrait. And, mind ye, Giles, I've seen worse
art critics than a dog in my time. But, as it happened, this
turned out rather unfortunate for me, and it was this way. He
took th' dog in his hands on th' floor, and he said, 'Now then; set
th' pickter i'th front on't, and let's see.' Well; I reared
the portrait up against the table, in what I considered a good
"'Now then, Pinch,' said he to the dog, 'doesto see that?'
"'Now for it,' thinks I; death or glory and I kept myself
ready for action; for ye know, Giles, I had a lively remembrance of
the animal's last visit to my leg; and I thought it just possible
that it might take a fancy to another mouthful.
"Now, Pinch," said he, doesto see that?'
"Well; the dog began to snarl savagely, the very first thing
and put me into such a sweat, that I knocked a bottle over and then
th' dog darted straight at me. But I was on th' table again in
a jiffy; and there I stopt till the whole thing was ended.
"Well when the dog began to snarl, he said, 'Come, that
"'My friend,' said I, 'you don't give the picture a fair
chance. If you'll let the dog alone, it'll be quiet enough.'
"Th' dog noather likes thee nor thi pickter,' said he, 'so
thou may keep thi pickter, an' I'll keep mi dog.'
"And away they went together.
"Well, the end of it was that I had this portrait left on my
hands for months; and it was a dead loss, for I didn't know what to
do with it. But 'it's a long lane that never has a turn,' yo
know, Giles; an' one fine morning, when I was sitting at my work, a
man came in and said that he wanted me to paint him a sign for his
public-house. And so I asked him what sign?
"'Th' Turk's Yed,' said he.
"Well, I was turning over in my mind whether to accept the
job or not, for I didn't half like it though I'd hard strugglin'
at that time to make ends meet. Well, while I was turning the
thing over in my mind, the man stood in the middle of the floors,
looking round; and his eyes happened to light on this rejected
portrait, that had been reared up i'th corner so long.
"'Hollow,' said he, 'what's this?'
"So I told him the whole tale about this portrait.
"'Oh, I know him,' said he; 'Owd Jone o' Blunder's. . . . Ay,
an' it's like him, too he's as feaw as a fried dromedary.'
"'Well,' said I, he certainly isn't handsome.'
"'Hondsome,' said he; 'nawe, bi th' heart he's noather
hondsome face nor hondsome ways! . . . But, by th' mass, I'll tell
tho what,' said he, 'thi pickter of owd Jone's would come in grandly
for my sign, with a bit o' touchin' up. An' it wouldn't need
much, noather, for he's as ugly as ony Turk i' this wide world,
an' as savage.'
"Well, to make a long story short, I agreed to touch his
portrait up, and make it into the sign of 'The Turk's Head.' I
put him a turban on, and I made him a black beard, and I put rings
into his ears; and a very good Turk he made, I can tell ye. It
was a kind of a godsend to me, for the man was pleased with his
sign, and he paid me a good price for it. . . . Well, this sign
hadn't been up a week before the whole story had got out about Jone
o' Blunder's portrait being turned into the Turk's Head sign; and
from that day to this, Jone has gone by the name of 'Th' Owd Turk.'
But, mind ye, before the sign had been up a month it disappeared one
dark night, and was never heard of afterwards. . . . And that ends
"That's reet, my lad," said Giles. "Here; let's fill
thi tot again. I'm sure thou'rt dry."
"An' now then, Giles," said the painter, "the next time you
ask me to tell a tale I'll either sing a song, or stand on my head,
"Well, my lad," said Giles, "oather 'll do, though thou'rt
nobbut a poor bond at singin' but oather 'll do."
"I know you think I'm very simple, Giles," said the painter.
"Thou knows nought o'th sort, Jemmy," replied Giles; "thou
knows nought o' th' sort; for I think thou'rt as deep as th' north
star. If onybody bruns thee for a foo', James, they'd waste
their coals. But never mind, my lad, thou's done as weel as
thou could, an' that's as much as one can expect i' this world,
an' a good deal moore than we getten' sometimes. Here, let's
gi' tho another thimbleful."
"Come, lads," said Giles, "time's gettin' on. It'll be
Kesmass Day afore we known where we are. Let's be gettin' on.
Here, Harry, old buzzart, keep th' backstone warm. What arto
dremin' about? Thou looks as if thou'd bin stonnin' o' one leg
under a pump o' day for a wager. Wakken up, an' keep th'
backstone warm! Thou's done nought yet. What conto give
"I'll be there when I'm wanted, Giles," said th' wool chap,
"Now's the time, then," said Giles, rapping the table with
his ladle. "Order, for th' wool chap. . . . Now, Harry, what's
it to be? Arto for singin' or doancin', or tellin' a tale?"
"I think I'll try an old song, Giles."
"That'll do, my lad. Pipe up, an' good luck to tho. . .
Silence, for an owd sung! Goo on, Harry."
And Harry struck up at once, in a melodious voice, and like a man
who had been used to that kind of thing:
If I live to grow old, for I find I go
Let this be my fate in a country town:
May I have a warm house, with a stone at the gate,
And a cleanly young girl to rub my old pate;
May I govern my passions with absolute sway,
And grow wiser and better as strength wears away,
Without stone or gout by a gentle decay.
I govern my passions, &c.
In a country town, by a murmuring brook,
With the ocean at distance, on which I may look
With a wide green plain, without hedge or style,
And an easy pad nag for to ride out a mile.
I govern my passions, &c,
With Horace and Plutarch, and one or two more
Of the best wits that lived in the age before;
With a dish of roast mutton, not venison or teal,
And clean, though coarse, linen at every meal.
I govern my passions, &c.
With a pudding on Sunday, and stout humming liquor,
And scraps of old Latin to welcome the vicar;
And a hidden reserve of good Burgundy wine,
To drink the King's health in as oft as I dine.
I govern my passions, &c.
When the days are grown short, and it freezes and snows,
May I have a coal fire as high as my nose;
A fire which, when only stirred up with a prong,
Will keep the room temperate all the night long.
I govern my passions, &c.
With courage undaunted may I face my last day;
And when I am dead may the better sort say
"In the morning when sober, in the evening when mellow,
He's gone, and he leaves not behind him his fellow."
I govern my passions, &c.
The wool chap's song was received with a clatter of applause.
"By th' mon, Harry," said Giles, "thou's a gowden throttle, owd
brid! Good health to tho!"
"Good health to th' wool chap!" cried Craddy, who had wakened up
again by the din; "good health to th' wool chap!
'Bravo bravo very well sung;
Jolly companions, every one.'"
"To order! cried Jem o' th' Har-barn; "to order, lads. We'n plenty to
go on wi'. . . . Giles, we'n another sung at this end if thou'll
keep 'em quiet a bit."
"Good again!" said Giles. "Order for another sung. . . Here, let's buttle out first. . . . Now then, Jem, we're o' ready. Who's beawn
"Well, I'll try another bit of a ditty mysel', Giles; if thou's
nought again it."
"Then tootle away, old layrock; till th' welkin rings! Silence,
lads, Jem's gettin' his top-lip ready. Brast off, Jem!"
Now, since we're met, let's merry, merry
In spite of all our foes;
And he that will not merry be,
We'll pull him by the nose.
Let him be merry, merry there,
And we'll be merry, merry here;
For who can know where he shall go,
To be merry another year?
Let him be merry there, &c.
And he that will not merry, merry be,
With a generous bowl and a toast,
May he in Bridewell be shut up,
And chained unto a post.
Let him be merry there, &c.
And he that will not merry, merry be,
And take his glass in course,
May he be obliged to drink small beer,
Without money in his purse.
Let him be merry there, &c.
And he that will not merry, merry be,
With a lot of jolly boys,
May he be plagued with a scolding wife.
To confound him with her noise.
Let him be merry there, &c.
And he that will not merry, merry be,
With his sweetheart by his side,
Let him be laid in the cold churchyard,
With a head-stone for his bride.
Let him be merry there, &c.
"Bravo, Jem," said Giles. "By th' mass, thou'rt i' grand fettle. Thou mends as thou gets owder."
"Stop a minute," said Jem, "we'n another volunteer at this end. . .
. To order! . . . Goo on, Snip!" And Snip began:
Wassail! wassail! all over the town
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown
Our bowl it is made of a maplin tree;
And we are all good fellows I drink to thee!
Here's to our horse, and to his right ear,
God send th' owd lonlort a happy new year;
A happy new year to thee and to me;
With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee!
Here's to our mare, and to her right eye;
God send th' owd mistress a Kesmass pie;
A good Kesmass pie as hoo ever did see;
With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee!
Here's to th' owd cow, and to her long tail,
And God send that th' maister never may fail
To brew us good beer; I pray you draw near,
And my wassailing song you soon shall hear.
Send hither a maid you're sure to have one
That'll not leave us here in the cold alone;
Come hither, fair maid, an' trole back the pin,
And we'll sing you a song when we do get in.
Come, butler, and bring us a bowl of the best,
And I hope that your soul in heaven may rest;
But if you do bring us a bowl of the small,
I care not if butler and bowl do fall.
"Well done, Snip!" cried Giles; and, lifting his glass, he said,
"Come, lads, chorus:
With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee!"
Then each man took his glass in his hand; and again and again the
blithe burden rang in every nook and corner of the Old Boar's Head
that wintry night.
"Giles," said Lapstone, "did'n yo ever yer tell o' Sam o' Boar-cloof
an' his stuffed hare?"
"I've yerd summat about it; but what it is I connot justly remember. Let's have it."
"Well, yo known that he wur a top-mark shooter?"
"I know that he thought so; but he were terribly wrang. If he wur to
aim at a hay-stack he'd be sure to hit oather a church or a
coal-house. I durst let him shoot at me for a shillin'. There isn't
a brid i' this part o' the country that would stir a peg for him, if
he wur to boke (point) his gun at it a whole day."
"Well, he wur noan quite as ill as that, but he wur terrible fond
o' bein' thought a sportsman; an' he're al'ays botherin' wi' guns,
an' wearin' leather gaiters, an' shootin' jackets, wi' as mony
pockets in as would howd a seck o' potitos. Well, thoose 'at knew th'
owd lad knew that he wur moor of a freetener than a killer; an' they
used to play bits o' warlocks wi' him. . . . Well, one day, two or
three mischievous cowts i'th fowd yon, geet a hare skin, an'
stuffed it nicely wi' fithers an' bran, an' sich like, an' stitched
it up a bit, an' then they went an' planted it slyly in a bush at
the bottom o' Sam's garden, so that it showed itsel' a bit fro' th'
back window. . . . So far so good. . . . When they'd done that, they
crept to th' back o'th trees to see th' gam; an' they sent a lad in
at Sam's front dur, wi' th' news o' this hare i' the garden. 'Sam,'
said th' lad, 'there's a hare under th' fayberry tree, at th'
bottom o' yo'r garden, yo' mun be sharp;' an' off he darted back
again. Well, th' whol house wur up in a second. Reitch that gun,'
cried Sam. 'It's gwon to th' mendin',' said his son Joe.
thee, like a red-shank up to owd Dick's, an' borrow his gun. Be
sharp, now!' An' th' lad darted off to owd Dick's. 'Keep still,
every one on' yo'. I see it yon. I'll have that hare if I'm a livin'
mon. What the dule's yon lad after 'at he's so lung? I could ha' bin
at Rachda' an' back bi now. Keep off that back dur, I tell yo. I see
it! It's yon yet. We'n ha' that divulskin jugged to-morn, if y'o'n
be quiet a bit. Howd, it's off! Nay, it's theer yet! What the hectum's yon lad doin'?' Th' owd'st daughter looked through th'
front window, an' hoo said, 'I see him! He's comin' down th' brow,
yon, full pelt, wi' th' gun on his shoulder.' 'O' reet,' said Sam,
rubbin' his bonds; o' reet. Keep still. This is a grand do.' In coom
th' lad, pantin' for breath, wi' th' gun in his bonds. 'Make a less
din,' said Sam, givin' th' lad a souse on th' yed, 'an' gi's howd o'
that gun. If thou speaks a quarter of a word for this next five
minutes, I'll shoot thee wheer tho stons.' Well, Sam charge't gun,
an' o' th' time he wur doin' it he kept sayin', 'Don't stir, now. Keep still. . . . Now then, oppen that shut gently, an' I'll teich
yon divvle for comin' into my garden. Ston' fur, o' on yo. Now then,
my lad, thou'll height no moore cabbich after to-day.' . . . Bang
went th' gun, an' bran an' fithers flew i' o' directions; an' Sam
ran to pike th' hare up; but afore he'd getten theer these chaps
'at had been watchin' him began o' shoutin' ―――."
"Howd!" cried Jone o' Gavelock's, striking the table with his fist;
"I'll not yer another word said against Sam o' Boarcloof, bi never a
mon 'at stept shoe-leather. He's own cousin to me."
"Well," said Lapstone, "an' if he is own cousin to thee, he's no
better for that."
"Better or wur, it's theer; an' he owes thee nought."
"Nawe, he doesn't," said Lapstone; "an' I'll take good care 'at he
never does do, noather. Doesto yer that, owd lad?"
"Come, come, lads; let's ha' no fratchin'! Jone, thou'rt gettin'
terribly rivven o' at once. Arto potter't i' thi inside about summat?"
"Not I. But I don't like to yer folk co'de beheend their backs."
"Who wur co'in' him beheend his back?" cried Lapstone.
"Why, thou wur," replied Jone; "and I know how it is, too. It's o'
because thou made him a pair o' shoon 'at didn't fit, an' he thrut 'em
o' thi honds."
"I'd as soon make a pair o' dancin' pumps for a camel as make shoon
for him at ony time; for his feet arn't both of a size; an' his
yed's wur to fit than his feet."
"Come, come, lads; drop it!" said Giles. "We'n ha' no foin' out to-neet,
but what I do mysel'! Keep your tempers, an' sup again! Wean ha' no fratchin', not till Kessmas is o'er as how 'tis. . . . Here,
Lapstone, as thou didn't finish th' tother, thou'd better give us a
bit o' summat else."
"I'm willing," said Lapstone.
"Let hur went, then!" cried Giles; "let hur went! as th'
"Well," said Lapstone, "didn't yo ever yer a tale about Dan o'
Nelly's, better known bi th' name o' Scutterslutch, ridin' fro'
Owdham to Bill o' Jacks, i' Saddleworth, in a coach beawt horses?"
Here Jone o' Gavelock's struck the table again, and sprang to his
"I'll ston this no lunger!" cried he. "That's another cousin o' mine! He's doin' this o' purpose; an' he's no casion, for his gronfather
wur hanged for sheep-steighlin'! let him crack that nut! Dan o'
Nelly's is own cousin to me o' th' mother's side; and I'll not yer a
word said again him bi mortal mon! Now, what have I towd yo?"
And the old man sat down again, foaming with passion.
"By th' mass! Jone," said Giles, "thou seems to be akin to o' th'
foo's o'th country side."
"Well, then," replied Jone, "thee an' me should be relations, Giles;
an' I didn't know it afore."
This raised a general laugh round the board; in which Giles joined
as heartily as the rest.
"Thou had me theer, owd lad," said he. "Well, well, come, never
mind. I'm content to be a cousin o' thine amung th' rook. As far as
foolishness gwos, I doubt we're o' sib-an-sib, rib-an'-rib. But
bridle your tempers, lads; an' let's get on as weel as we con."
"Gi mi thi hond, Giles!" said Jone o' Gavelock's; "Gavelock's; mi
thi hond! I've nought again Lapstone, theer, if he'll let mi
relations alone. Blood's thicker nor wayter, thou knows,
Giles, blood's thicker nor wayter,"
"Ay, ay; it is, owd lad," said Giles an' a great deeol dirtier, too,
This raised another laugh among the company; and they melted into
jovial amity again.
"By th' mon," said Jone o' Gavelock's, thumping the table, "I've a
good mind to tell a tale mysel'."
"Do, owd brid," said Giles; "an' I'll let tho off for o' 'at ever
thou did again mi i' thi life!"
"It'll he about th' Owd Volunteers," said Lapstone to Snip, in a
whisper, "It'll be about th' Owd Volunteers, for a crown. He
generally tells that about this time at neet. Husht! he's coughed
twice; he'll be ready directly."
"Ay, but he'll sup first," said Snip.
"That's sartin," said Lapstone, taking hold of his glass;
"an' so will
THE KING AND THE VOLUNTEER.
"I wol yew teller as wel as eny
A litel jape that fell in our cite."
"NOW, Jone, my
lads," said Giles, "what arto beawn to give us?"
"If yo'n wait a minute, till I've charge't this pipe, I'll gi' yo'
summat, yo'st see," said Jone.
"That'll do, my lad," said Giles, "but mind thou mentions nobry's
relations this time."
"Come, come, Giles," cried Jem o' th' Har-barn, "we'n had enough o'
that! Thou'll not let 'em be quiet when they are quiet."
"It's o' reet, this time, Giles," said Jone, trimming the bowl of
his pipe with his finger, "it's o' reet this time. This is about mysel'."
"Thou couldn't do better," said Giles, "off witho!"
"Well, then, here goes," said Jone. . . ."When I wur i' th'
"Didn't I tell tho?" said Lapstone to Snip. "Didn't I tell tho it
would be 'th' Volunteers?' He's sure to begin that about this time
Jone overheard the half whisper on the other side of the table, and,
stopping in his story, he looked mazily round, as if searching for
the speaker, and said, "Here, come; if we're o' gooin' to talk at
once, like Rossenda' churchwardens, I'll wait a bit till there's a
"Silence," cried Giles, "silence for Jone! We'n not have a word
fro' nobry till th' owd lad's done his do! . . . Start again, Jone,
my lad," said Giles, "I'll keep 'em quiet."
"Well; I'll try again, then," said Jone. . . . "When I wur
Lancashire Volunteers we wur summon't up to Lunnon to a review, an'
we geet a bit of a glent at a different mak of life while we were
theer. An' mind yo, they were a lot o' th' swipper'st, stark'est
lads in Christendom, wur th' Lancashire Volunteers. They'd'n a
foughten a lion a-piece for a quart of ale! Well, th' King were
very fond of us Lancashire chaps; an', when he were at a loose end,
he passed as mich time wi' us as ever he could spare. Him an' me geet terribly thick, an' when he'd knocked off for th' day, we
powler't up and down Lunnon together, i' o' maks o' nooks an'
corners; an' this is how I let on him first of o': We lee down at
Chelsea at that time, an' one day when I wur walkin' th' sentry, a
fattish owd chap coom up to th' gate, wi' a ash plant in his hond;
an' he wur walkin' straight in, beawt sayin' a word. But I stopt him wi' mi gun, an' I said,
'Here, owd mon, keep o' thi own side! Thou munnot go in here! We can do
beawt thee when we're busy!' Wi' that, he up wi' his stick,
an' he said, 'Thee keep thi gun to thisel, an stop out o' mi gate,
or else I'll tak tho a-top o'th nob once or twice! I'll hae
thee to know I'm th' maister o' this cote!'
Well, wi' that, I brast out a-laughin', an' I said, 'Come,
that's a good un! Thou's done it this time, owd brid!
Who arto, if I mun be so bowd?' 'Well,' he said, 'I'm th'
King, that's o'.' Well, that made me oppen my e'en a bit, yo
known, so I said, 'What, thee a king! By th' mon, I thought
thou'd been hawkin' stockin'-yorn! Arto reet i' thi yed,
thinksto? . . . Wheer's thi crown?'
"'Well,' he said, 'I haven't it on to day, becose
it's off at th' mendin.' I happen't to lev it upo' th' table
one day th' last week, while I went out for a bit o' bacco, er
Charlotte wur busy wi' th' weshin', an' th' childer geet hold on't,
an began o' rollin' it up an' down th' floor, till th' revits coom
out. I had to send it off to owd Ben, th' whitesmith. He
promised to have it done bi yesterday, at baggin-time; an' he said
he'd send it down bi th' lad; but I doubt he's getten upo' th fuddle
again. Th' last time it went to th' mendin', he pops it; an'
er Charlotte had to go four or five times afore hoo could get th'
ticket out on him; an' then hoo had to go an' get it out for me to
go to church in o' Sunday.'
"Weel, yo known, when I yerd that, I began o'
pooin' my horns in; an' I put my gun o' one side, an' I said, 'Well,
thou may go in, owd lad, as it's thee. But, if I wur thee, I'd
al'ays ha' mi crown wi' me, or else nobry'll know'at thou'rt a
king.' . . .
"Well, at after that th' owd lad an' me geet thicker
nor ever; an' he wur like as if he never were comfortable but when
we wur together. Well, time went on a bit; an' one day, when
us lads were upo' th' parade, th' sarjan' comes up to me, an' he
says, 'Howd that gun straight!' An' I said, 'I am howdin' it
straight!' An' he said, 'Thous artn't howdin' it straight!
An' I said, 'Thous lies, I am hawdin' it straight!' An' wi'
that, he knocked th' gun straight out o' my hond; an' then he said,
'Pike that gun up!' An' I said, 'Nawe, I'll not pike it up! It
is wheer thou's put it, an' thou'll ha' to pike it up thisel'! '
An' he said, 'Pike that gun up, or else I'll ha' tho put i'th
"Well, I towd him 'at I didn't care for noather
him nor th' guard-house! An' that set him agate o' bletherin'
an' gosterin' up an' down like mad. An' while he wur agate of
his din, who should come up, bi' th' mass, but th' king hissel'; an'
when he see'd th' gun lyin' upo' th' floor, he said, 'Jone, is that
thy gun?' An' I said, 'Ay, it is, owd lad!' An' then he said,
'What's it doin' upo' th' floor?' An' I said, 'Th' sarjan'
theer's just knocked it out o' mid' hond, an', with that, he up wi'
his foot an' punce't that sarjan' up an' down th' yard till he
skriked like a jay; an' if I'd spokken hauve a word to owd George
just then, I could ha' had him shot; but I thought I'd see how he
went on? . . .
Well, th' king an' me geet thicker than ever; an'
one day I axed him up to his baggin'; an' he coom. Our Betty
an' th' childer wur up i' Lunnon wi' mo, an' we had er baggins
together. Well, th' king kept lookin' at these childer of
ours, an' he said, 'I'll tell tho what, Jone, thou's a lot o' th'
finest, fresh-colour't childer 'at ever claps e'en on. Mine
are o' as yollo' as marigowds. What dun yo feed 'em on?'
An' I said 'Porritch.' 'Porritch, porritch,' he said; 'what's
that?' 'Why,' I said 'haste never had noan?' An' he
said, he'd never yerd tell on 'em afore. 'Come,' I said, 'Our
Betty's make us a pon-full.' So hoo made 'em, an' we o' fell
to, an' when th' owd lad had taken two or three spoonful, he said,
'By th' mass, Jone, I'll tell tho what, this is grand stuff!
If our Charlotte knowed how to make these, we'd have 'em regilar!'
'Well,' I said, 'ifs thou's a mind, our Betty's go down an' larn
her!' An' he said, 'Agreed on, owd lad! Gi' us thi hond!
So we set a time, an' our Betty went down; an'
owd Charlotte an' her wur up an' down th' kitchen a whole day, among
this porritch; an' I believe that, fro' that day to this, they'n
never had a meal i' that house but they'n had a bowl o' porritch upo'
th' table. An' when th' Lancashire Volunteers left Lunnon, th'
owd lad coom a-seeing me off, an' he made me promise to send him a
stone or two o' gradely meighl fro' whoam, an' he'd send th' brass
at th' end o' th' month, when th' pay-day coom. An' I sent him
a lot, an' he sent th' brass in a week or two after bi a chap 'at
wur comin' down to Manchester a-buying a bit o' fustian for a suit
o' clooas for th' Prince o' Wales. I've never sin him sin',
but he's sent word now an' then; an' I believe thoose children o'
th' king's han never looked beheend 'em sin' they started o' aitin'
porritch. . . . An' that's o'."
"Jone, owd lad," said Giles, "thou's towd us a tale, an' its
a good un o' th' mak. Lads, here's to Jone o' Gavelock's an'
owd King George!"
The health was drunk with boisterous glee.
"An' now," said Giles, rising from the table, "that clock's
just upo' th' stroke o' twelve. It'll be Kesmass Day in a
twothre minutes, an' afore we parten, I should just like Hush!
It was a sweet, childlike voice, that seemed to hover about
them in the air, singing―
Long time ago in Palestine,
Upon a wintry morn,
All in a lonely cattle shed,
The Prince of Peace was born;
His parents they were simple folk,
And simple lives they led,
And in the way of righteousness
This little child was bred.
The last stroke of twelve rang out from the clock before
these words were ended. Up struck the bells of St. Leonard's
church upon the hill in front of the house; and from a band of
"waits," who had gathered beneath the window of the inn, there arose
into the starlight wintry air the glad old carol of the day:
Christians, awake! salute the happy morn,
Whereon the Saviour of this world was born.
Giles ran and flung open the door. "A Merry Christmas
to yo, lads!" cried he. "Come in out o' th' cowd!"
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the
And all the air a solemn stillness holds.
afternoon in the fall of the year, I came I through a lonely clough
in the forest of Rossendale. It had been a shady place in
summer; but sere leaves lay thick that day upon the footpath which
wound up to an old village upon the northward hill-top. It is
not unlikely that some rude settlement of man looked round from that
bold height when King Alfred was fighting with the Dane. A
little stream ran down the hollow, hidden in some places between
lofty banks, and over-bowered here and there by trees in summer; but
the leaves were fast falling away, and the wild flowers that once
nodded to the water as it frolicked by, were nearly all dead.
The little brook still wimpled on, but there seemed to me a touch of
tender complaining in its song, as if it felt lonely.
Whilst wandering through these withering woods, I felt
something of that contemplative mood, in which "pleasant thoughts
bring sad thoughts to the mind." There was a solemn charm in
the tempered harmony of autumnal hues that clothed the scene; and
there was something unusually chill and hushed in the appearance of
the sky, where streamy cloudlets, wild as a Druid's hair, were
gliding southward, with subdued motion, as if impressed with the
thought that they, too, were drifting they knew not whither.
The thinning trees had a starved look, and all the landscape was
preaching the funeral sermon of the year. The bleak hills
stood like mourners round the scene, and the finger of silence lay
upon the lip of nature as in the chamber of a dying man, save that
now and then a low wind came with dirge-like sough through the glen,
bringing down another shower of dead leaves from "bare ruined choirs
where late the sweet birds sang."
Trailing my solitary way through these rustling relics of the
summer's green I came up from the clough just as twilight was
beginning to dusk the woodland hollows into deeper gloom. As I
crossed the sloping field near the old church the chimes rang out
sweet and distinct upon the evening air. The thin crescent of
a new moon was bright in the sky; and, between flying clouds, the
evening star looked down with steady gleam upon them folding world.
The old church wore an unusually solemn aspect at that contemplative
vesper-hour. I lingered a few minutes in the graveyard.
The tenants of that silent ground were sleeping soundly, "after
life's fitful fever." Here was a storied monument; there, a
pauper's undistinguished mound; but the closing event, that comes to
all alike, had laid them side by side in the peaceful companionship
of common decay at last. They had crossed the edge of the
great forest, "the undiscovered country, from whose bourne no
traveller returns." I tried to read some of the epitaphs upon
the gravestones, but the shades of night had begun to shroud those
brief records of the poor inhabitants below, so I took my way out by
the great gate, where withered leaves from the trees about the
entrance rustled audibly around me in the fading light.
A little street, mostly of old-fashioned cottages, with
gardens in front of them, led from the church gates into the
village. There was a quaint irregularity about this little
street. It looked pretty and picturesque, and full of sweet,
nest-like simplicity. The houses seemed to have each a story
and a will of its own. On both sides they stood a little in
and out, here and there; some leaned forward, some backward, and one
or two had got a a paralytic twist, that threw the gable end
curiously out of the line, as if the window round the corner was
trying to see what time it was by the church clock at the end of the
street. They were a "good deal out of drawing," as painters
say; but there was a clean, cosy air about them, that was pleasant
to the eye. Taken altogether, with the bit of trailing
greenery about the doors and windows, they looked like two lines of
old people advancing to each other in a country dance at holiday
time, with three or four smart young sprigs, more gaily dressed,
joining in the fun, and eyeing the wavering string of ancient
taperers with a kind of patronising admiration.
Many of the doors were open. Pot-plants peeped through
almost every window; and here and there I saw bright utensils
winking upon the walls inside. In one cottage I heard a
cheerful jingle of tea-things; in another a lad sat near the open
door playing "The Sicilian Mariner's Hymn" upon an accordion.
At the threshold of the next there stood a comely woman, wearing a
clean white cap and a print bed-gown, and with suds upon her stout
arms, as if she had just left the washing-mug. Her cap-strings
fluttered in the wind as she leaned with one hand against the
door-cheek, calling her children in from play, in a shrill,
long-drawn cry, that rang all over the neighbourhood. "Martha!
. . . Mary! . . . Come in this minute! . . . 'Lijah! Come in
to thi porritch! Eh, I'll warm thee, gentleman, I will!
Look what a seet thae's made o' thi clooas!" She gave the
ruddy lad a motherly love-tap as he ran by her into the house, and
then she closed the door upon her little fold. I knew that
these cottages were the homes of working-people, most of them
weavers, and, in addition to their handicraft, some of them students
of science, botany, music, or mathematics.
A grey-haired man, with his shirtsleeves rolled up, and
stocking-legs drawn upon his arms, leaned upon a garden gate,
smoking, and looking drowsily round. The village gossips were
gathering to their old lounging-place at the far corner of the
street; and I met tired workmen sauntering homeward with their cans
and dinner-baskets. A bright fire filled the front room of
"Billy Wimberry's" ale-house with a cheerful glow. The "Duke
o' York's March" rang merrily from the hand-bells inside; and an old
weaver was sidling up to the door with his hands in his pockets, and
looking slyly round, with a face as innocent as a kitling, ― the
first drop before the shower of nightly revelry came on.
The evening grew wilder as daylight died away; and a little
further up a swing sign creaked rustily in the wind in front of the
"Old Bull." "Blind Jerry," the fiddler, had taken his seat in
the tap-room corner for the night; and as no customers had yet
arrived, he was playing "Roslin Castle" for his own pleasure.
The beautiful wail streamed forth upon the moaning wind in fine
accordance with the hour and the whole mood of nature outside.
The "Bull" was one of the homeliest inns a mortal man could
put his head into. An old wood-and-plaster house but sound
and substantial still like a good constitution well preserved.
Many a fine oak fell to supply the timber for that quaint-gabled
hostelry. It had an inviting look, even outside.
Something frank and generous beamed through those checkered walls
and diamond-paned lattices, that warmed the whole neighbourhood.
The white and black that distinguished the wood from the rest of the
building were clean white and clean black. The windows, the
blinds, the clean pavement in front, the well-filled
watering-trough, the old horse-block, and everything about the open
doorway, hinted that all was right inside. A good
old-fashioned inn, glowing throughout with genuine comfort.
There was neither stint, nor extortion, nor dirt, nor disorder of
any kind, allowed therein. Some of its rooms were wainscotted with
black oak. It was full of cosy nooks, too; and stored with
many a rare piece of furniture, inlaid cabinets, and carved oak
chairs and tables, that shone like dusky looking-glasses. On
the shelves of the bar there were several quaint gilt vases, and two
mighty old China punch-bowls, which were only taken down three times
a year, on certain red-letters days, when the "Old Bull" was alive
from the cellar to the ridging with the flowing revel of some annual
holiday, long and regularly "kept up" under that many-chimneyed
The kitchen, too, had a charm of its own. Its snowy
walls glittered with bright dish-covers, warming-pans, ladles, and
other shining metal utensils. The vast firegate was always
clean, and hardly ever cold. The grand oak clock in the corner
beat time with slow and solemn sound, as if it had authority to keep
order in that place. The delf-rack was full of crockery, and
the thick plane-tree top of the long dresser was as white as
scouring could make it. And then, the ceiling! Ah! the
ceiling of that bright little kitchen world was a firmament studded
with cheerful things! It was hung with great hams and flitches;
and rounds of spiced beef, sewed up in brown holland; and bundles of
dried herbs; with here a copper kettle, and there a brass pan for
boiling preserves. In the middle there was a large stringed
frame, or "brade-fleigh," covered with crisp oat-cakes, the ends of
which hung down in inviting curls, free to all hands. "It
snowed of meat and drink in that house," as Chaucer says; and a good
deal of that snow, like the snows of heaven, fell quietly upon the
poor; for the old landlady and her daughter had womanly hearts
within them, and were always glad to do a good turn to the needy;
and they liked to have people of the same disposition about them. .
. . But who can tell how many famished wanderers may have
halted at meal times, and looked wistfully in at that cheerful
doorway for a moment, and then crawled forward into the cold world
beyond, unknown to the kind hearts within those quaint walls. . . .
On one of the beams an antique halbert hung; and on another there
was a long fowling-piece a cherished relic of the landlord, who
had been laid at rest, many a long year since, in the churchyard.
Everything in the "Old Bull" betokened long-continued care
and successful housekeeping. Ay, even the cats in the kitchen,
so portly and sleek, and so magnificently lazy, that they looked as
it they had to lean against the wall to mew. They glided about
with a slow, serene majesty, as if they had no need to be in a hurry
about things. They had made a position in the world, and you
could see at a glance that they knew it. Their bread was
baked. There was a full-fed, self-satisfied calm about them,
as if they had been aldermen a good while, and were going to be
mayors next year. They looked as if they owned a good deal of
valuable scrip, and subscribed to things, and had "two coats, and
everything handsome about them." It was very clear that they
had long since retired from the mouse line, or, at least, that the
business was now managed entirely by junior partners. They had
nothing to do but to sign cheques, and eat and drink, and doze, and
be grand. If ever cats aspired to a pedigree, and coats of
arms, and things, these were the cats. I could almost imagine
them taking a bath every morning, and then ringing the bell for
breakfast and the newspapers. . . .
The poultry in the yard, too, were all well off. They
were plump, comfortable-looking fowls, who had less scratching to do
than their neighbours. Their plumage was rich and clean, and
glossy with good living. They slept soundly o'nights, and they
rose in a morning with minds at ease about the day's peck. In
fact, everything about the "Old Bull" seemed healthy and prosperous,
and well-cared for ay, even to the loud-chirping crickets on the
hearts. . .
At the rear of the house there was a pretty little parlour,
with a bow-window, that commanded a view of the clough and the hills
beyond. It was pleasant to sit by that open window on a summer
evening, when birds peeped in and sang; when the roses, clustering
by the wall, filled the room with a sweet smell; and when the voices
of the bowlers at play upon the old green came clear upon the air.
I thought of this little parlour as I drew near the door of the "Old
Bull" that cold night, and I went in.
As I walked up the lobby, crooning to the sound of Jerry's
fiddle, the house seemed to me unusually still. I peeped
through the bar-window. There was nobody in; but I met the
landlady's daughter, Mary, coming from the kitchen with a cup of tea
in her hand. She was in haste, and I thought she looked
anxious. Pointing towards the little parlour, she said,
"You'll find the doctor in there, sir. My mother's not well."
And then she ran upstairs with the tea.
I was glad to hear that the doctor was in. It was a
pleasure and a benefit to meet with him, for he was a fine old man,
a gentleman in heart and thought; and a man of rare cultivation.
In youth he was an active politician; but his whole life had been
marked by a catholic respect for all shades of sincere opinion, even
whilst warmly advocating his own. Singularly child-like in his
trustful simplicity, there was yet a natural dignity about him,
arising from the goodness of his heart and the noble tone of his
mind a dignity that could bear the shock of free contact with his
kind, and needed no outworks of frigid mannerism to defend it from
impertinent familiarity. He was a genial man, too, and could
crack his joke with the best, at the right time. Strongly
attached to his profession, the long practice of it had brought him
into contact with a great variety of human life, and his sympathies
were wider even than his experience. The poor loved him well;
and they had a good reason for it. I found him sitting by the
fire, with the Times in his hand.
"Good evening, doctor," said I.
"Good evening, sir," replied he. "I'm glad to see you."
"Thank you," said I, shaking his offered hand. "Mary
tells me that her mother is unwell. Do you know what's the
"Well," replied he, "the old lady has had an excellent
constitution, but she has reached that time of life when nature
begins to whisper to the best of us that the inevitable hour is not
far off. She is seventy-five, and a very sensitive person by
nature; and she has had a great shock to-day. Have you heard
of the accident?"
"Not a word. What is it, sir?"
"Oh, a very sad thing," replied he, taking a pinch of snuff,
and laying his old tortoise-shell box upon the table:―
"For the last twelve years I have attended the family of a
labourer of the name of Greenhalgh, but better known among his
neighbours as 'Solid Jimmy.' I never knew a more comfortable
couple, in their humble way, than Greenhalgh and his wife. I
don't think his wages averaged more than seventeen or eighteen
shillings a week, the year round; but they managed to pay their way,
and live respectably upon it; and their little cottage was as sweet
a nest as any poor man need wish for. They have had nine
children, too. The youngest is not quite ten months old, and
Matty's in what country folk call 'th' expectin' way' again.
Jenny, the eldest, is about eleven, and she lies dangerously ill of
inflammation. I called to see her this forenoon; and, as I was
about to leave the house, Matty took me aside, and said, 'Doctor,
eawr James axed me to go wi' his dinner to-day, an' tak word heaw
Jenny's gooin' on. He's quite unsattl't abeawt her.' So
I told her that I was going partly the same way, and, if she was
ready, we would walk together. She seemed pleased, and she
began to hurry the dinner things into her basket; and it was
touching to see her flutter about the house, as if half loath to
leave it. Pointing to a young woman, who was busy about the
fire, she said, 'This is my sister Nelly; hoo's comed to look after
th' childer while I'm away.' Then she went to the cradle,
where the youngest child lay asleep, and, tucking the clothes in
tenderly, she croodled over it in a dove-like way, as only a mother
can do. They had brought a bed down into the next room for the
girl who was ill. The door was open, and the child lay there
watching her mother as she went to and fro. Matty went to her
bed-side, and softly smoothed the pillow; and, as she straightened
the clothes about her, she whispered, 'Neaw, my lass, I'm gooin' wi'
thi father's dinner. I'll not be long. Thae mun lie
still, an' thae'll soon be weel, thae'll see.' Then, as she
closed the door in coming away, she looked back again into the room,
and said, 'Thi faither 'll bring tho some posies when he comes fro
his wark.' . . . When we had got a few yards away from the cottage,
Matty gave a great sob, and she said, 'Eh, doctor, I'm fleyed we're
gooin' to lose her!' But I reassured the poor woman as well as
I could; and when I parted with her at the corner of the orchard she
was in good spirits again, and she went forward up the road with her
husband's dinner. It was then about ten minutes to twelve."
"And now," continued the doctor, taking another pinch of
snuff, and ringing the bell, "'Lame Jonas,' the old servant man
here, can tell the rest of the story better than I can, for he saw
more of it."
"Fanny," said he, when the servant entered, "if old Jonas is
at liberty, send him here for a few minutes."
She closed the door, and I heard her tell a lad in the lobby
to fetch " Owd Jonas."
"What Owd Jonas?" inquired the lad. "Is it Limper?"
"Yes. He must come directly."
Away went the lad shouting through the back yard, "Limper's
wanted i'th bar this minute!"
The house was so still that we could hear the old man reply
gruffly from the stables, "Hello! What arto makin' that din
abeawt? I'll may thee limp if I get howd on tho!"
In a minute or two he came stumping up the lobby.
"Neaw, then," said he to Fanny; "what's to do again?"
"Th' doctor wants yo i'th parlour, Jonas."
"Oh," replied he in a softer tone, as he rolled down his
shirt sleeves in a hurry. "Bobby, go thee fot my jacket eawt
o'th kitchen. Be slippy!"
In another minute he stood in the doorway, with an old
crushed milking hat in his hand. "Dun yo want me, doctor?"
"Yes," replied the doctor; "if you've time, I want you to
tell us about the accident to-day. Sit down, Jonas.
How's your leg? "
"Well," said Jonas, "it gi's bits o' steawnges neaw an' then;
but it's no wur, upo' th' whol."
"Well," said the doctor, "before you begin, Jonas, what will
you have to drink? I know you don't like to sit dry-mouth."
"A saup o' rum, if yo plezzen, doctor," said Jonas.
"It's good for th' rheumatic, isn't it?"
The old doctor smiled, and rang the bell.
When the rum came, Jonas laid his hat upon the windowsill,
and sat down. "Ay, ay," said he, stirring his glass
thoughtfully; "it's a bad job for sure very. . . Come, here's
yo're good health, doctor;" and then, nodding sideway to me, he
said, "an' yors an' o'." And then, settling down in his chair,
with his glass in his hand, he began.
And will he not come again?
And will he not come again?
Ah, no, he is dead;
Go to thy death-bed;
He never will come again.
said Jonas, still stirring his rum and water, and looking
thoughtfully in the glass, "I hardly know heaw to begin my tale, I
didn't see it fro' th' first exactly; but I'll tell yo what I did
see, as weel as I con:
"Eawr mistress sent mo this forenoon wi' a bottle o' red port
an' some bits o' nourishments for Owd Hannah, th' mangle-woman,
that's bin lyin' ill so lung. Th' poor owd lass ― hoo's had a
weary time on't; but hoo's welly done wi' this world. Well, as
I coom back, I stopped a minute or two at th' side o'th main-soof
'at they're makin' up i'th road, yon. They'n cut happen three
yard an' a hauve deawn; an' Jimmy Greenhalgh, fro' th' Birches,
him 'at they co'n 'Owd Solid,' wur wortchin deawn at the bottom.
I didn't know who it wur till he looked up, an' axed me what time it
wur. I tow'd him that it had just gone a quarter to twelve;
and he said, 'It's bin a long forenoon, Jonas; but it's drawin' to
an end. I wish eawr Matty'd come. We'n one o'th childer
ill, an' I want to yer haw hoo's gettin' on.' I axed him which
it wur, an' he said it wur their Fanny. An' I don't wonder at
Jimmy bein' consarnt abeawt her, for there's summat moor nor common
abeawt that lass; an' I know that hoo's olez bin a sort of a nestle-brid
at their heawse. But I didn't like to say nought no fur to him
at th' time, for he's a very feelin' mon, is Jimmy. So, he
went on wi' his wark, an' I coom deawn whoam. When I geet into
the heawse, eawr mistress said, 'Well, heaw's yon poor owd woman?'
But hoo'd hardly getten th' words beawt of her meawth afore we yerd
a fearful skrike o' women set up, and a strange hurry agate o'th
street an' folks' feet clatterin' by th' front dur at a terrible
rate. I felt a bit of a cowd crill, for summat towd mo that
there wur misfortin' afoot. Eawr mistress dropped her knittin'
to th' floor, an' hood said, 'Eh, Jonas, there's somebory run o'er!'
An' hoo tremble't fro yed to foot. I would ha' gone beawt to
see what were to do, but hoo said, 'Nawe, nawe; stop here till eawr
Mary comes!' An' hoo rang th' bell.
"There wur a lot o' carters i'th tap-reaum, and two riders-eawt
i'th bar; but they wur off in a minute, an' th' servants an' o' went
flutterin' deawn th' lobby. Then somebory in a leet geawn ran
by th' bar window, an' th' mistress said, 'Yon's eawr Mary!
Let's go an' see what's th' matter!' An' hoo laid her hond o'
my shoolder, an' we followed to th' front dur.
"When we geet theer, folk wur hurryin' fro' o' sides up to
the new soof, and theer they stoode, in a greight welter, lookin
deawn into th' hole, wi' faces as pale as my shirt. I would
fain a-gwon up to th' spot, but th' owd woman wouldn't let me stir a
peg. Well, in a minute or so, there wur a cry set up for 'Moor
spades!' an' some ran one gate, some another. Little Jerry, th'
stable lad, coom hurryin' up to th' dur, beawt o' breath, an' he
said, 'Th' soof's fo'n in! There's a chap smoorin'! I'm
beawn for some spades!' an' he dashed through to th' back yard.
Owd Sprint, th' taylior, wur runnin' deawn th' middle o'th road,
beawt hat, an' I beckon't on him, but he cried eawt that he wur
gooin' for a doctor, an' he couldn't stop. . . . It wur a terrible
thing to see th' folk cluster't abeawt that soof. . . . Onybody 'at's
yerd that low buzz 'at a lot o' men makes when there's aught
sayrious agate, they may tell it again as long as they liven. . .
. Well, th' next thing, Mary coom to us, and begged of her mother to
go into th' heawse; an' hoo said that hoo sent Robin up to see heaw
they wur gooin on, an' he'd be back directly. So we helped her
into th' parlour, here; an' some an' ill hoo wur, I con tell yo.
"We wur just talkin' abeawt gettin' th' owd woman upstairs,
when Robin coom in wi' th' news. 'Eh, mistress,' he, said,
'it's poor Jim Greenhalgh! I've sin sich a seet! Just as
it stroke twelve, his wife coom off at th' corner o'th road wi' his
dinner. Owd Suzy, th' wesherwoman, wur wi' her, an' they
seam't to be talkin' very comfortably together. It would ha'
been better if somebory could ha' stopped 'em afore they'd gettin'
to th' place; but hoo wur too near. When Matty see'd th'
creawd, hoo walked up, quite unconsarnt, an' axed a chap 'at stoode
at the eawtside what there wur to do. He wur a stranger, and
breek-maker bi th' look on him, an' he onsor't her very snappish,
an' said, 'There's somebory kilt i'th soof;' an' then he towd her to
mind her own business. But summat seam't to strike her o' at
once, on' hoo gripp't him by th' arm an' said, 'Oh, what's he code?'
The chap stare't at her white face; but afore he could say a word,
somebory beheend sheawted eawt, "It's Jimmy Greenhalgh, at th'
Birches an' then, in an instant, th' dinner-basket dropped to th'
floor, an' her arms shot up, an' hoo gav a wild skrike 'at startle't
th' folk i'th street, like a flash o' leetenin'. They just
catch't her afore hoo fell to th' greawnd like a lump o' wood.
The neighbour women coom runnin' reawnd when they yerd her cry; an'
as first one then another looked at her, they said, 'Eh, it's Matty!
It's his wife! Eh, poor thing!' . . . An' they geet howd on
her, and carried her into Sally Grimshaw's, an' laid her upo' th'
couch theer, as dateless as a stone! "
"An' neaw, doctor," continued Jonas, "I've towd th' tale as
far as I con, bwoth what I seed, an' what Robin seed. I dar
say yo can tell th' remainder better nor me."
"Well," said the doctor, taking another pinch of snuff and
wiping his eyes, under pretence of cleaning his spectacles, "perhaps
I can, Jonas. I have seen a good deal of sorrow in my time,
but the circumstances connected with this accident have certainly
touched me a little. It is very sad.
"I was standing by the sewer, when old Sally Grimshaw came
and said that I was wanted in her house directly. I had only
just learnt that the poor fellow they were extricating from a living
grave was the man whose sick child I had visited about an hour
before; and it did not strike me at that moment that his wife was on
her way to the spot with his dinner. But when I saw that pale
face, as she lay there insensible, I knew her at once.
"She was slowly recovering, when a lad shouted into the
house, 'They're gettin' him eawt!' Old Sally closed the door
quietly, just as the poor woman opened her eyes. Looking
vacantly from face to face, and then at the walls, she put her hand
to her forehead, and said 'Wheer am I?' But when she saw the
dinner-basket on the table, she sank down insensible again.
Just then I heard an increased bustle outside, and I looked through
the window. They were lifting the body up to the bank of the
sewer, and two men were coming down the street with a bearing barrow
and a sheet. Leaving some instructions with old Sally, I went
out, and found the poor fellow quite dead. I directed the men
to bring the body down to this house, where they laid it upon the
tressle-table in the club-room.
"By this time my friend Dr. Lord had arrived, and leaving him
with the body, I was hurrying back to the cottage, when I saw a
little company of women coming down towards this place. I knew
at a glance what was the matter. It was poor Matty, and the
women I had left with her at Sally Grimshaw's. They were
trying to persuade her to turn back; but it was useless. 'I mun go,'
she said; 'oh, I mun go to him!' and her countenance looked
fearfully pale and wild. She carried the dinner basket on her
arm, too, and would not let anybody else touch it. I made no
attempt to hinder her, but turned back with them to the room where
he was lying. . . Poor Matty! She walked calmly up to the
table, and, taking off the cloth that covered the things in the
basket, she lifted the bowl out containing the dinner, and set it
down with the bread, and knife and fork, beside the dead man.
Then she looked at his cold face, and said 'Jim!' as if inviting him
to eat. I began to fear for the poor woman's reason. She
sat down by the table, and all was silent for a minute or two.
The stillness seemed to wake her from this fearful calm. She
got up, and looked steadily at the dead man's face again for a few
seconds, and then the flood-gates of nature were mercifully opened,
and she burst into a passionate fit of tears. I was glad to
see this, for I knew it would relieve her. It was a touching
scene. Everybody was moved to tears. She kissed his pale
face, and shading the hair away from his brow, she said, 'Oh! my
poor lad! He'll never speighk to me again! never! never!'
And then she sat down again, and moaned and sobbed bitterly.
As she sat thus, rocking herself to and fro, old Sally touched her
arm, and whispered to her; but the poor creature seemed to take no
notice of her. She rose, and looking at her husband's face
again, she said, 'He towd me to be sure an' come at twelve o'clock.
. . . Oh, Jim! Jim! my poor lad! What mun I say to thi
childer?' And then she sank down upon the seat again, in a
kind of stupor. Whilst she was in that state, I ordered a
coach into the yard. Mary and old Sally led her passively into
it; and by the time we got down to her own cottage, she seemed more
dead than alive, in fact, I fear that her life is in great danger.
They got her to bed as quietly as possible.
"The news had reached the cottage before we got there.
The door was open, and poor Matty's sister was moving about the
melancholy house in silence, with tearful eyes. Two neighbour
women from the village had brought the news; but I was glad that
they had not told it to the poor girl who was ill, although she had
asked several times if her mother had come back. A kind widow
lady here, in the village, had provided for the rest of the children
in her own house, for the present, till their relatives arrived, who
lived at some distance.
"I stayed at the cottage till Dr. Lord arrived at five this
afternoon, and I promised to relieve him at half-past eight. I
see it is half-past seven now. It is very likely I may have to
remain there through the night, for I fear, from the symptoms, that
premature labour may ensue; and, if so, it will be a very dangerous
case. I don't know what is to be done with that family of
little children. Poor creatures! When I think of this
day's business, I pray, as I have often prayed, that I may never
forget the unfortunate. The old lady here, too," continued the
doctor, "will need careful attention. I must see her before
leaving," and he rang the bell. When the landlady's daughter
entered, he enquired how her mother was.
"She is sound asleep, sir," said Mary.
"Then don't disturb her on my account," replied he.
"But you know where I am going?"
"Yes," said she, "and if you happen to want anything we have
in the house, doctor, somebody will be up all night to attend you.
Will you take any supper before you go, sir?"
"Well, I may stop all night. I'll take a few biscuits
with me, and a little port wine in one of your small flask bottles."
She brought the biscuits and the wine, and the doctor stowed
them away in his pocket. As he rose to go, I told him that, as
it was on my way home, we could walk together, if he had no
objection. He accepted the offer with pleasure. I was
helping him on with his great-coat, when somebody knocked at the
It was old Jonas, with a thick red muffler tied round his
"Win yo ha' th' lantron, doctor? I've nought else to
do. Mary sent me to ax you."
"No, no; thank you," replied the doctor; "it's a clear night,
and this gentleman is going the same way."
"Well," said Jonas, following us down the lobby, "If yo
chancen to want a bit of an arran or ought doin i'th neettime, yo'n
nought to do but to send somebory, and tell 'em to ring at th' front
dur here. I'll beawnce eawt in a minute, for I'm nobbut a leet
sleeper. But there's to be somebory up i'th kitchen o'neet, I
believe, so yo'n no 'casion to be fleyed o' disturbin' us."
"Thank you, Jonas; thank you," replied the doctor.
"I'll not disturb you unless there be serious reason for it, you may
"Eh, never yo mind, doctor," said Jonas. "We're noan
tickle at a time like this. I'll go an' sit up o' neet wi' yo,
if I can be of ony sarvice, an welcome."
"No, thank you," answered the doctor; "I'll send up if there
be any need, and I shall be glad to have your assistance. Good
"Good neet to yo!" said Jonas, looking round. "It is
starleet, I see." And he stood in the doorway, watching us as
we walked down the road.
"Poor old fellow!" said the doctor. "He is a
kind-hearted, faithful creature. And, simple as he looks, he
is a shrewd, clear-headed man; and his life has been marked by
strange events, and more suffering than falls to the common lot of
mankind. To me he is a very interesting character, and, when
he is in the mood, I am always glad to listen to his artless tales
and quaint comments upon persons and things. In fact, I have
found all through life that, if one had only the eye to perceive it,
there is a charmed circle of good around every man one meets,
however humble or obscure, within which he is unique in his service
to mankind, ― a new volume of that great library of human life that
fills the world with interesting variety."
There was a solemn grandeur about the night. The stars
shone out in unusual numbers and brilliance. The wind was wild
and cold, and moaning sounds came up from the woody clough, like the
changing surge of the sea, as heard in the distance at midnight.
As we drew near the dead man's cottage, the blinds were all down,
and lights shone in every window; but not a sound was audible
outside. As I parted with the doctor at the door I caught
sight of women moving to and fro, and heard a sound of sobbing.
The door closed, and I stood for a minute gazing at the windows
where ghostly figures flitted now and then between the lights and
the white blinds. The sacred atmosphere of sorrow enveloped
that little dwelling, over which such an unexpected change had come
since the morning. "No man knows what a day may bring forth."
And it is no wonder that, as I walked home in the starlight that
night, those noble words should occur to my mind which commend to
the fatherly goodness of heaven "all those who are any ways
afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate, that it may please
Thee to comfort and relieve them, according to their several
necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a
happy issue out of all their afflictions."
Excelsior Printing and Bookbinding Works, Manchester.