Tufts of Heather, Vol. II (4)

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OWD MALLY'S CART.
――――♦――――


He's a cur who can bask in the fire's cheery light,
    And hearken, unheeded, the winter wind blow,
And care not a straw for the comfortless wight
    That wanders about in the frost and the snow:
            Bring in the green holly, the box, and the yew,
                The fir, and the laurel, all sparkling with rime!
            Hang up to the ceiling the mistletoe-bough,
                And let us be jolly another Yule-time!

CHRISTMAS SONG.


IT was a fine winter forenoon, and it was the day before Christmas.  The weather was keen, and the air was pure and bright.  The season, so far, had been the severest known for many years and as strong old country folk met one another they rubbed their hands with hearty glee and said, "This is one o'th owd sort o' winters."  There had been a deep fall of snow, followed by a week of intense frost; and now the roads were hard and slippery, and the crisp snow crackled under foot, and glittered in the wintry sun like diamond dust.  Every pool, and pond, and wayside well was frozen over, and every spout and rindle of running water was hung with twinkling pendants of ice.  The rough roadside walls, the loose stones, and the leafless trees, in grove and garden, were all richly-clad in beautiful frost-work, and everything in sight told of an uncommonly hard season.

    It was a comfortable cottage, in a quiet lane, on the edge of the busy suburban village.  The cosy little house stood in a garden, close by the wayside, and was half-hidden by frost-decked bushes of holly and thickset thorns; and a clean-swept pavement of stone flags led from the door down to the little green-painted iron gate.  A cheerful-looking middle-aged woman stood at the window, looking out upon the road, with her children about her, — three healthy happy girls, ranging from ten to fourteen years of age, and a little bright-eyed, mischievous lad about nine.  The cottage rang with blithe clamour, for they were all talking at once, and they were all looking out, as if in expectation of something they wished to see.

    "Do mak a less din, childer," said the good-natured dame, smiling.  "I'm sure owd Mary 'll not be long, now.  It's just about her time.  Johnny, thee run down to th' gate, an' see if hoo's comin'."

    The lad ran down to the gate and looked out.  In an instant he came back with a rush, clapping his hands and shouting, "Hoo's comin'! hoo's comin'!  Th' cart looks like a garlan'!  An' th' jackass has a greight posy on it yed!  Now for it!  Now for it!"

    And the merry lad capered about the house like mad, while his three sisters clapped their hands and chatted to one another with wild delight.

    Two or three minutes passed, and then a little jackass-cart stopped in front of the gate.  The cart was laden with Christmas boughs, and with green-grocery of different kinds; and the driver was a stout ruddy-faced old widow, who kept a little shop in the neighbouring village, and was well known all over the neighbourhood by the name of Bonny Mally."

    "Roll up fo: green holly!  Green holly!  Green holly!  An' box, — an' laurel, — an' mistletoe!  Roll up here for mistletoe, — an' turmits, — an' carrits, — an' potitos, — prime lapstone kidneys!  Roll up here for Kesmass greenery!"

    The inmates of the cottage all rushed down to the gate to welcome the old woman and her cart.  The girls clustered round the Christmas load of green; and little Johnny began to fondle and tease the donkey.

    "Good mornin', Mally," said the mother of the household.  "Good mornin'!  How are yo?"

    "Well; I'm th' better side out, Hannah!  A merry Christmas to yo!"

    "An' a merry Christmas to yo, Mally! . . . Now, then, what han yo getten i' this cart?"

    "What have I getten?  Come yor ways an' look for yersel'!  I've getten everythin' at's bonny, an' fresh, an' good, an' toothsome!  Yo towd me to bring yo some Kesmass green.  There it is, see yo!  Pike for yersel'!  Holly, green holly!  Roll up here for mistletoe! . . . Now, Hannah, what win yo have?  I've turmits, — an' carrits, — an' potitos, — prime lapstone kidneys, — an' I've oranges, an' I've nuts, an' I've apples, — a nicer lot o' Newtown pippins I ne'er clapt e'en on!  Now, then!  What is't to be?  It'll be Kesmass Day i'th mornin'."

    "What dun yo want for this, Mally?" said Hannah, picking out a fine branch of holly.

    "Yo's ha' that for thripence, — now, then!  An' I'll fling this lump o' laurel in with it!  Will that do for yo?"

    "Put 'em o' one side for me, Mally. . . . An' now then, I mun have a bit o' this ivy, — an' a branch or two o' fir, and some mistletoe!"

    "Mistletoe, — mistletoe, — mistletoe!" cried little Johnny.  And, in the delight of his heart, the lad threw his arms round the donkey's neck, and cried out again, "Eh, this is a bonny jackass! . . . Mistletoe, — mistletoe, mistletoe!  Be sharp wi' that mistletoe!  There's a lot o' nice lasses i'th house, — an' we're gooin' to have a party to-neet!"

    "Do howd thi din a minute, lad!" said his mother, laughingly.  "Now, then, Mally; let's ha' some o' this green stuff, or else there'll be no quietness!"

    "There," said Mally, laying branch after branch upon the step by the gate.  "There, see yo!  A shillin' for th' lot!  That'll not hurt yo, will it?"

    "There's yo'r shillin', Mally! . . . Here, childer, here's yo'r mistletoe, an' stuff!  Here, Johnny; off with it into th' house, an' get it hanged up!"

    And away ran the blithe lad and his sisters, shouting and laughing, each with an armful of Christmas evergreens.

    "Oh, — an' see yo," said Mally; "I'd like to forgetten!  I've brought that bak-stone (bake-stone) that yo ordered th' last week, Hannah."

    "That's reet, Mally.  How much is it?"

    "It'll be ninepence.  Oh, an' I've a new thyble for yo, too."

    "Oh, ay, — th' porritch-slice.  Well, an' what's that, Mally?"

    "Well, we'n co' it thripence, Hannah!  Yo known, it isn't what one may co' a common mak of a porritch-slice, isn't that.  Our Billy puts a deal o' wark into his porritch-slices, — an' I towd him this wur for yo! . . . Let's see, — ninepence an' thripence, — that'll be a shillin' o' together, winnot it, Hannah?"

    "I believe it will, Mally, when it's weel reckon't up.  An' there it is, see yo!  Now, han yo ony dried garbs?"

    "Plenty, plenty, — but stop, — dun yo want ony spiggits an' forcits?"

    "Nawe; we're o' reet for spiggits."

    "That'll do! . . . Well, about garbs, — what dun yo want?"

    "What han yo getten?"

    "I've sage, an' pot marjorum, an' mountain flax, an' sanctuary, an' wood betony, an' baum, an' rue, an' Solomon's seal, an' — I know not what."

    "Han yo ony mint, or penny-royal, or robin-run-i'th hedge?"

    "Plenty, Hannah."

    "Han yo it wi' yo?"

    "Nawe; it's awhoam."

    "Well; yo'n be comin' i'th afternoon again, I guess?"

    "I shall, Hannah."

    "Well; bring some wi' yo.  An' I's want some stuff for th' kitchen beside. . . . Good mornin', Mally!  I mun be goin' in, or else yon childer'll ha' th' house turn't th' wrang side up!"

    "Good mornin', Hannah!"

    And away went Mally with her jackass-cart, singing—


Come all you weary wanderers
    Beneath the wintry sky,
This day forget your worldly cares
    And lay your sorrows by!
        Awake, and sing,
        The church bells ring,
'Twill soon be Christmas morning.


Roll up for green holly! — an' mistletoe.  Kesmass — Kesmass, — Kesmass is comin'!  Cheer up! an' don yo'r houses!"

――――♦――――

 
THE DULE'S I'TH BUTTERY.
――――♦――――


Heigh, Bill, owd lad! yo'r Margit's yon!
        Hoo's comin' like a racer!
Some foo has put her upo' th' track!
Cut, or hoo'll have us in a crack!
        By th' mass, I dar not face her!

MARGIT'S COMIN'.


EARLY in the afternoon of the last day of the year, Billy Tatchin', the village cobbler, crept in at the kitchen door at the Bull's Head, in the hope of spending a genial hour or two of New Year's Eve with his "ancient, trusty, droughty crony," the landlord.  The roads were as hard as iron, and the snow lay thick and crisp upon the ground, for the frost had been bitterly keen for weeks past.  The landlady had brought Billy his pint of "fettled" ale; and she had gone away to the front of the house, where the servant lass was strewing fresh sand upon the slippery path which led to the door, leaving the cobbler and the old landlord with the kitchen to themselves.  Billy had just got comfortably planted by the fire, with his drink upon the hob beside him, and he was filling his pipe, and chatting cheerfully, when the landlord rose and looked out of the window, which commanded a view of the road up from the village.

    "I'll tell tho what, Bill," said he, as he gazed upon the silent, snow-clad scene, "this is a terrible winter.  I doubt it will go very hard wi' poor folk; for it's the heaviest nip that I can remember.  Owd Jonathan wur here this mornin', an' he says there's bin lots o' sheep an' brids fund frozen stiff upo' th' moor-ends.  Poor things! it seems a shame for 'em to be out such weather as this. . . . Hello!  Stop!  What's this?  By Guy, owd lad, thou mun look out!  Thi wife's comin' up th' road here, full scutch!"

    "The dule hoo is!" said the cobbler, starting up from his seat, an' whipping his pipe into his pocket.  "The dule hoo is!  Then I mun get out o' seet, till hoo's gone!  Where mun I go to?"

    "Here," said the landlord, opening a little door at the end of the kitchen, "slip into this pantry!  Thou'll be as snug as a button there till hoo's gone!"

    "It looks dark," said the cobbler, peeping in; "but ony port in a storm! . . . Come," continued he, glancing round at the shelves, well stored with cold meat," come, this'll do!  Shut that dur, — an' lock it, — an' put the keigh i' thi pocket!  I con manage here till our Sally's gone!"

    In went the cobbler.  The landlord closed the door, and then went and took his seat by the fireside again, waiting for the cobbler's wife.

    In the meantime, the cobbler's wife came puffing up to the front door, where the landlady stood watching her servant lass at work.

    "Mary," said the cobbler's wife, "is our William here?"

    "Ay, he is, Sally!  Yo'n find him i'th kitchen, yon!"

    "I have sich bother to keep him to his wark as never wur!  But I mun have him out o' that shop, as how 'tis!"

    "That's reet, Sally!  Get him off whoam, while yo'n a chance; an' as soon as yo'n getten him off, come into this little room, here.  I want to speak to you about a bit o sewin'."

    "I'll be wi' yo directly, Mary," said the cobbler's wife.  And away she went to the kitchen, where the landlord sat smoking by the fire, and looking as innocent as a purring cat.

    "Is our William here?"

    "He wur here, two or three minutes sin'," said the landlord, looking up dreamily, as if he was thinking of something else; "he wur here; but he's off again, somewhere."

    "He'll happen be back again directly," said Sally.  "If he comes, tell him he's wanted.  An' tell him I'm waitin' for him i'th tother room.  Th' mistress wants to see me about some sewin'."

    "I'll tell him, Sally."

    Away went the cobbler's wife into the other room to the landlady; and as soon as the landlord had seen her safely housed with his wife, in the next room, he crept up to the pantry door, and peeped in at his prisoner.

    "How arto gettin' on, Billy?"

    "I'm as reet as a cat in a tripe shop!" replied the cobbler.

    "Well, thou mun keep still a bit!  Hoo isn't gone yet!"

    "Hoo doesn't need to be in a hurry," said the cobbler.  "I can do here a bit lunger."

    "Hasto fund some'at to bite at?"

    "Ay; a bit o' goose!"

    "Get it into tho, owd lad!  Wilt have a gill o' ale?"

    "Mak' it a pint, Sam," said the cobbler; "an' be sharp!"

    "Theer it is, sitho!" replied the landlord, as he handed in the ale.  "Now, thou mun be as quiet as thou con, or else thou'll be fund out!  I'll tell tho when hoo's gone!"

    "Lock that dur again," said the cobbler; "an' keep th' keigh i' thi pocket!"

    The landlord locked the door, and took his seat by the fire.  Then, lighting his pipe again, he began to muse and mutter to himself:―

    "By th' heart, I wish I'd locked him up i'th coal-house!  It would ha' bin a deal chepper!  He couldn't ha' done much damage amung th' coals; but he's an' awk'ard prisoner to lock in a pantry, — for he's as keen-bitten as a winter wolf, is Billy! . . . I wish to the Lord yon wife of his would go!  If hoo stops much lunger we's ha' nought left for th' supper! . . . Husht!  What the dule has he agate now?"


(BILLY, in the pantry, begins to shout and kick the door.)


    "Heigh, Sam!  Let me out!  I'm deein'!"

    "What's up witho?"

    "Send for a doctor!  I've supt a lot o' paint!"

    "We han no paint."

    "What's that, then?"

    "It's starch!"

    "Let me come out!  I'm noan weel!"

    "Get in witho!  A saup o' starch'll do tho no harm!  I could sup a bucketful!"

    "Well, here, then," said the cobbler, "there's a saup left i'th bowl yet, — sup that!"

    "Howd thi din!" whispered the landlord, pushing the cobbler back into the pantry.  "Howd thi din; yo'r Sally's comin'!"

    The landlord had just time to lock the door, and take his seat again by the fire, when the cobbler's wife came in.

    "Has our William come'd back?"

    "Not yet, Sally."

    "Well, if he comes, tell him he's wanted a-whoam, directly.  I mun be gooin'.  A Happy New Year to yo, Sam, — when it comes!"

    "Th' same to yo, Sally!"

    The cobbler's wife had barely got out at the front door of the house when Billy pulled a shelf down in the pantry, and upset a can of treacle upon his head.  This was followed by a great crash of broken pots; after which Billy began to kick the door, and shout "Murder!  Let me out!  I'm kilt!"  The noise brought the landlady into the kitchen with a run.

    "Good gracious!"cried she "whatever han yo agate?"

    "Here," replied the landlord, handing the key of the pantry to her, "unlock yon buttery-dur, an' look for thisel'!"

    The landlady unlocked the door, and out came the cobbler, head-foremost, with the treacle running down his face.

    "Hello!" cried the landlady.  "What's this?"

    "Ston fur!" said Billy.     "Ston fur!  I'm smoorin'!"

    "Whatever hasto bin doin' i'th that pantry?"

    "Howd yo'r din!" said Billy, panting for breath; "an' gi' me some wayter!"

    "By th' mass, Billy," said the landlord, laughing, "thou'rt a sweet-lookin' craiter, — for once!  Thou desarves lickin', owd lad!  Give him some wayter, an' let him wesh his face!"

――――♦――――

 
FLOUNCES AND RIBBONS.
――――♦――――


Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
    The flying cloud, the frosty light
    The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
    Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
    The year is gong, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

TENNYSON.


THE long, keen frost was over, and a rapid thaw had set in.  Soft southerly winds and drizzling rains were gradually melting away the snow from the fields and hill-sides in front of the Moorcock Inn.  It was the last day of the old year; and Sam, the landlord, was seated in the kitchen with Dan o' Simeon's, an old shepherd, and little Twitter, the bird stuffer, two cronies from the moorland village in the neighbouring Clough.  Matty, the landlady, stood in the open doorway with her hands upon her hips, looking dreamily out upon the slushy road in front of the house, and the melancholy landscape beyond, when Jenny Pepper, the dressmaker of the village, came by with an umbrella over her head, and a paper parcel under her arm.

    "Hello, Jenny!" cried the landlady.  "Happy New Year to yo!"

    "An' a Happy New Year to yo, mistress, — an' mony on 'em!" replied Jenny.

    "But come in a minute, lass!  What! yo'r noan i' that hurry, sure?"

    "Well," said Jenny, putting down her umbrella and coming into the doorway, "I mustn't stop long.  This dress is wanted for a weddin'.  It should ha' bin done yesterday.  Th' weddin's i'th mornin'."

    "Never, sure!  An' who's gettin' wed this time, I pray yo?"

    "Well; yo couldn't guess in a week, Matty."

    "Not I, marry!  Who is it?"

    "It's Nancy o' Tum's."

    "Nay, sure!  Well, well!  Hoo's bin fishin' a good while for nought; but hoo's getten a bite at last, it seems!  An' who has hoo catch't, I pray yo?"

    "Yo couldn't guess."

    "I's never try.  Who is it?"

    "It's owd Peg-leg, th' besom-maker!"

    "Good gracious, Jenny!  I never yerd sick a tale i' my life!  Hoo's run through th' wood, an' taen th' scrunt at last!  Why; he's owd enough to be her gron-faither!  Whatever's th' lass thinkin' on?"

    "Well, between yo an' me, Matty, Nanny's chance wur gettin' very thin; an' yo known th' owd sayin', — 'Hungry dogs are fain o' dirty puddin'!'"

    "Well, well," replied the landlady, "this is a wonderful world, to be sure!  There's one good thing about it, Jenny, — hoo'll nobbut have one shoe to polish for him, as he's a wood leg.  But come yo'r ways in.  I want yo to look at yon new dress o' mine."

    The landlady led the dressmaker into a little room near the kitchen.

    "There, Jenny," said she, "sit yo down till I goo an' speak to our Sam.  I'll bring yo a drop o' gin in a minute."
                .                     .                     .                     .                     .                     .

    "Sam," said the landlady, looking in at the kitchen door, "I wish thou'd look to th' bar a minute or two, while I show jenny Pepper yon new dress o' mine.  Hoo'll have to put a fresh gusset under th' arm; an' it wants takkin in a bit; an' hoo thinks it would look better with another flounce or two.  What does thou think?"

    "Nay," replied the landlord, "thou doesn't need to bother me about thi gussets an' thi flounces.  I know nought about thi fithers an' thi furbelows, an' thi top-knots, an' thi tanklements!  Thou may flounce thi dress up to th' neck-hole, if thou's a mind, my lass, — an' thou may ornament thi yed wi' a garland o' picklet'-cabbich, an' horsegowd, an' paycock-fithers, if thou likes, — but if thou does, thou'll ha' to walk bi thisel'!  I'm noan boun a-pace-eggin', if thou art!  I'm not gooin' to walk to church with a two-legged rush-cart upo' mi arm, — an' a lot o' childer after us, shoutin' an' starin'!  If yo'r Jonathan's wife likes to don hersel' like a mountebank's foo, let her do it, — an' among 'em be it; but if thou'rt for doin' th' same, my lass, thou'd better goo an' get a shop among th' show-folk; an' lev me to look after this house mysel'.  I can happen get some poor craiter or another, that's donned like a Christian, to help me a bit."

    "Sam," replied the landlady, "thou talks a lot o' talk that would be a great deal better untalked!  I never yerd sich stuff come out of a mortal mouth!  Doesto think I'm without wit?"

    "Well; thour't noan o'erstocked, lass, no moore than a body's sel'."

    "Ay; thou may weel put that in; for I believe thou'rt gooin' off it, o' together, — I do, for sure!  I don't know what's comin' o'er tho.  I declare I can never have a bit of aught daicent to put o' mi back but thou poos it i' pieces a shame to be sin!  Thou ought to be ashamed to thisel', — that thou ought! an' me slavin' an' tewin' as I do, fro' mornin' to neet, an' fro' week end to week end, an' never puts my yed out o'th dur hardly!  I wonder whatever thou thinks a woman's made on!  If thou'd some folk to deal with, thou'd find a different rub o'th spindle, I can tell tho'.  Bless us an' save us!  Thou doesn't need to fly up o' that road!  I nobbut want to yer what th' woman has to say about it!  Good gracious! if one is to wear anything at o', one may as weel have it to fit!  Look to this bar a bit!  I'll not be mony minutes!"

    "Off witho, my lass; off witho!  I've said my say; an' I know thou'll ha' thi own way, when o's done!"

――――♦――――

 
LOVE IN A SWILL TUB.
――――♦――――


How came this man here,
Without the leave o' me?

SCOTCH SONG.


THE first spell of severe weather was over.  A rapid, rainy thaw had cleared away the deep snow from hill and dale, and the piles of melting mud were fast disappearing from the roadsides.  The change from intense frost to a wet, unseasonable mildness, had been unexpected and strong; and people who had lately complained of the bitterness of the season were just beginning to tire of slushy streets and muggy gloom, and to dread the influence of a "green January" upon the future crops, when the bitter, biting north wind suddenly returned upon us again, as rigorous as before; and once more, all the wide landscape was shrouded in a wintry veil of spotless white; once more "coughing drowned the parson's saw;" and crowds of young folk were rushing blithely back again to the frozen ponds and rivers, in high glee, where,—


                                                           As they swept
On sounding skates, a thousand different ways,
In circling poise, swift as the winds along.
The glad gay scene was maddening all to joy,


    It was at the close of the cattle-market day.  The sun had gone down behind the snow-clad ridge of Pendlebury; and the fall moon was rising, round, and yellow as an orange, from the edge of the horizon, on the opposite side, as the light of day declined.  The roads were hard; and the air was clear and bitterly cold; for the keen north-east, — Kingsley's "wind of God,"—that brought the bold pirates of Scandinavia, with swelling sails, down upon the green shores of England in days of yore, was sweeping wild and strong across Kersal Moor, as old John Burnet, the farmer, came slowly down the slippery road, "setting his staff, wi' a' his skill, to keep him sicker."  The old man was tired with the business of the market; and he was fully bent on making his way right on to his own fireside down in the vale, when a lithe, strong footstep came up behind him; and, with a friendly slap on the shoulder, somebody cried out in a cheerful voice,—

    "Now then, John, owd lad! this is winterly enough for yo, isn't it?"

    It was Jem Royle, a stalwart middle-aged farmer, belonging to the neighbourhood.

    "Hello!" said the old man, turning round, "is it thee, Jem?  Ay, it's winterly, for sure.  It's eighteen year sin we had as keen a nip as this afore."

    "Ay," replied Jem, "that wur a stinger; but it didn't last as long as this has lasted.  Besides, we'd better times then."

    "They couldn't be much worse than they are now, — takkin' everythin' together," said the old man, trudging right on down the road.

    "Here, stop!" cried Jem, pointing across to the old inn on the moor.  "Are you noan goin' to co' at th' owd shop for an odd gill?  Come in, for a minute or two!  What's o' yo'r hurry?"

    "Well, for a minute or two, Jem, — as thou says.  But I munnot stop long; thou knows I've further to go than thou has."

    "Just an odd tot together, John; an' then I mun be gooin', too, for we'n some cattle poorly.  Come on, owd lad; we don't leet o' one another every day."

    "Away wi' tho," said the old man, turning in the direction of the inn, — "away wi' tho; I'm comin'."

    They entered the kitchen of the "Running Horses" together.  There was not a soul in the place; and the fire was getting low.

    "Hello!" cried Jem, knocking loudly upon the table with his cauve-stick.  "Hello!  Is there nobody wick i'th hole!  Hello, Matty!"

    The landlady came in from the back-room, wiping her hands upon her apron.

    "Now, then," said she, "what's o' this din about? . . . But I might ha' known it wur thee, Jem; for thou maks more racket than onybody that enters this dur!  Well; an' what's wanted, now that I am here?"

    "Wanted!" cried Jem.  "Look at this fire!  Is that ony mak o' a fire for a winter's neet?  If it had been summer time yo'd ha' had it roarin' up th' chimbley!  Mend it up a bit, owd lass!  Mend it up!  It maks me dither i' mi shoon to look at it!  Mend it up!  Th' hole's as dark an' as cowd as th' inside of a tombstone!"

    "It's a poor fire, for sure, Jem," said the landlady, scaling out the ashes from the lower bars.  "I towd Harry to put some coals on, hauve-an-hour sin, but he's forgetter.  If one wants aught doin' they mun do it theirsel'.  But we'n had nobody in; an' our folk are o' busy i'th wesh-house; an' that's how it is.  Come I'll see to it! . . . What wi'n yo ha' to drink?"

    "Bring us a pint apiece."

    Matty brought the drink.  In a few minutes the fire was blazing bright; the hearth was swept; and the two friends crept up to the hob together.

    "Well, come," said the old man, taking up his pot, "here's a Happy New Year to tho, Jem!"

    "Th' same to yo, John!" replied Jem.  "An' I hope yo'n live to enjoy yo'r dinner th' next Christmas Day, owd lad! . . . Well; an' is there aught fresh goin' on i yo'r quarter, John?"

    "Well, there's nought fresh, Jem, that I know on. . . . Oh, yigh!  That grieght lollopin' lass o' Jone o' Well-trough's is gooin' to be wed at last!"

    "Never sure!  What, her with red toppin'?"

    "Ay; that's her. . . . Well, hoo's o' th' lass that they han; an' Jone didn't want to part wi' her.  But natur' will tell, thou knows; an' th' owd lad had to give in, an' let her goo."

    "An' nought but reet, noather.  But who's th' chap, Jone, — who's th' chap?  He'll have a rare armful for his brass, as who gets her."

    "Why, it's owd Billy Gusset, lad, o' 'Pendlebury, — that little bow-legged taylior."

    "Never, sure!  Why, he'll be like a tomtit peckin' at a round o' beef!"

    "It doesn't matter; he's getten her, — an' he'll ha' to mak th' best on her, now. . . . He's bin after her a good while, — tootin', an' rootin', and whewtin' about th' house; an' owd Jone swore, mich an' moore, that if ever he geet howd on him he'd break every bwon in his hide.  But it wur no use, — th' lass would have him, — an' he would have her; an' when that's case, thou knows, there's noather lock nor bowt that'll keep 'em long.  Beside, th' lass wur turn't thirty; an' I dare say hoo thought that it wur about th' last chance. . . . Owd Jone did o' he could to keep 'em asunder; but it wur no use.  There wur a bit of a thing happen't one neet about a month sin that brought things to a point; an' th' owd lad had to give in."

    "Oh, ay!  How wur that?"

    "Well, one neet, about a month sin', when owd Jone an' his daughter, an' little Robin th' cow-lad, had finish't their suppers, th' owd lad drew up into th' arm-cheer, bi th' side o'th hob, an' poo'd his pipe out.  Th' eight o'clock bell, at th' church, had just dropt tollin', an' owd Jone said to his daughter, 'Matty; thee go thi ways to bed!  Thou knows thou'll ha' to be up bi four i'th mornin', as it's th' weshin'-day!  Robin an' me can look after th' shippon an' th' pigs!  Off witho!'  An' away went Matty upstairs, without a word; an' o' wur still; for owd Jone an' th' cow-lad had th' kitchen to theirsels . . . . But they hadn't sat there long afore th' gam begun. . . .

    "Matty slept in a reawm o'er th' top o'th kitchen, that looked down into th' back yard, where there wur a lot o' weel-stocked pigsityes. . . . Well, this little taylior had bin rootin' about th' back o'th house an hour or two, tryin' to get a wap o' Matty; but when he see'd th' leet planted i'th chamber-window aboon th' kitchen, he thought to hissel', — 'O' reet!  That'll do!  I can speigk to her now!'

    "Well; afore he went ony further, he peeped through th' kitchen window, to see how things wur gooin' on.  Owd Jone wur smookin' i'th nook, an' th' cow-lad wur sound asleep at th' end o'th dresser; an' o' wur clear; so th' little taylior climbed up onto a coal-house slate that sloped up to Matty's window.  It wur a frosty neet, an' th' slate wur as slippy as glass; an' th' taylior had hard wark to keep his feet; an' it happen't that close bi th' side o'th coal-house there stood a greight tub-full o'swillin's, about five feet deep, for th' pigs.  Th' taylior had just getten howd o'th ledge o'th window, an' he'd gan one bit of a tap at th' pane, when his feet shot fro' under him; an' down he coom into th' tub, up to th' neck among these swillin's, . . .

    "Well; th' din set th' pigs agate o' yellin' an' gruntin' like mad; an' it roused owd Jone i'th kitchen. . . . 'Now then, Robin,' said he, 'wakken up, my lad!  Thee go an do yon shippon up; an' I'll look to th' pigs!  Gi' me that lantron!'  Away went Robin; an' away went owd Jone wi' th' lantron in his hond; an' as soon as he coom to th' swill-tub, th' first thing he set e'en on wur th' little taylior's white face stickin' out at th' top o'th swillin's . . . . 'Hello!' cried owd Jone, droppin' th' lantron to th' floor, 'what the dule is there i'th tub?' . . .

    "Well, th' little taylior were flayed out o' his senses; and he squeaked out, 'It's me! help me out!'  'An' who arto?'  'I'm Jack o' Billy's fro Pendlebury!'  'The devil thou art?  An' what wur thou doin' i'th swill-tub?'  'I've fo'n off th' slate?' . . . Here Matty coom in.  Hoo'd yerd th' din; an' hoo knew o' about it; so hoo hurried her clooas on, an' hoo coom runnin' down into th' yard.  'Eh, faither,' cried Matty, when hoo geet to th' tub, 'it's Jack!  Help him out!'  'Nay,' said owd Jone, 'thou mun help him out thisel!  The devil tak Jack, — an' thee too!  Get him out; an' bring him into th' house!  I mun ha' this job sattle't at once!'  So Robin an' Matty geet th' taylior out o'th tub, — an' they weshed him, — an' took him into th' kitchen.  An' th' weddin' wur made up th' same neet, for Jem see'd that it wur no use feightin' again it ony longer.

    "But I mun be gooin', Jem," continued the old man, drinkin' up his ale.  I mun be gooin'!  So I'll bid tho good neet!"

    "Good neet, John!" replied Jem.  "I'll just have another gill; an' then I'll be off mysel'!"

――――♦――――

 
A BONNY PICTUR'.
――――♦――――


LORD.—What's here? One dead, or drunk? See, doth he breathe?
H
UNTSMAN.—He breathes, my lord. Were he not warmed with ale,
                This were a cold bed to sleep so soundly.
L
ORD.—O, monstrous beast! How like a swine he lies!

SHAKESPEARE.


IT was in the height of summer; and it was six o'clock in the morning after the market-day.  The kitchen of the Blue Bell was a scene of dirt, and swill, and drunken disorder; and its air was redolent of the fumes of drink and tobacco, — the sickly relics of the late carouse.  The landlord's company had staggered off homeward about two hours after break of day, leaving one of their number, — Johnny o' Flops, — sound asleep upon a "long-settle" in the corner.  The six o'clock bell is tolling at the church; and Nanny, the landlady, has just come downstairs.  The servant girl is breaking chips across her knee, to light the fire with.  The landlady stops in the doorway, and looks round:—

    "Eh, good Lord o' me! what a hole this is to be sure!"

    "Come, Sarah, stir thi limbs, an' get that fire leeted! . . . Good gracious! what a smithy for one to put their yed into th' first thing in a mornin'!  An' what a stench there is!  It's enough to sicken a dog!  Oppen that window, lass; an' let's have a bit o' fresh air, for goodness sake!  Eh, dear o' me!  I don't know how to begin to put this place to reets, — I don't, for sure!  It's as ill as shiftin' a midden, — that it is!  I'm weary o' livin' i' such racketty cotes, — that I am!  Just now I feel as if I could like to lie down, an' sign o'er, — an' give everything up, — for I'm sick o' this life, — sick as a dog I am! . . . I' the name o' good Katty, whatever han they had agate?  It looks as if there'd bin a dog-battle i'th hole! . . . Here, Sarah; bring thi brush, an' sweep these brokken pots up, to begin wi'! . . . Talk about savages!  If there's ony savages i' this world worse than these, they're noan fit to live, — an' I'm sure they're noan fit to dee! . . . I think i' my heart that th' world's gooin' yed-lung to rack an' ruin!  An', just now, my back aches to that degree that I can hardly bide!  But it's no use; I mun buckle to.  If I wur deein', it would be just th' same.  I should ha' to keep slavin' at it; an' never as much as 'thank yo!'  Ony poor soul that's forc't to live among drunken company, again' their will, desarves to go to Heaven at last, — that they done!  It's no use talkin', — I mun do some'at!


(She comes into the corner where the drunken cobbler lies, asleep.)


    "Hello!  What han we here?  Good gracious!  Look here!  Look at this mangy tyke i'th nook, here!  That's a bonny pictur' for th' sunshine to leet on!  I wish to the Lord he'd wakken up, an' tak hissel' whoam.  Idle, swillikin', slotch that he is!  He's bin hangin' about here, guzzlin' an' drinkin', mony a week, — an' now he's gradely stagged up!  Sich folk are noan fit to be gooin' loose i'th world!  He's o' filth an' dirt; an' he hasn't a farthin' o' brass about his rags this minute; an' he's covered yon cupboard-dur wi' chalk-marks beside. . . . I mun ha that craiter shifted o' somehow! (She shakes him up.)  Now then!  Dun yo yer?  Get up!  I want to come into that nook . . . It's no use.  I met as weel talk to a milestone.  I'll send somebody else to him. (She goes to the door, and calls JONAS, thje ostler, in from the yard.)  Here, Jonas!  Come an' stir this lump o' stuff that's cruttle't i'th nook, here, an' send him off to where he belongs!  I'll not have him i'th house ony lunger, — an' that's enough!"


(The ostler shakes him up.)


    "Now then, — Johnny, my lad!  Come; wakken up, owd dog!  It's time to be joggin'!  Come; they wanten to clen th' house up!  Dost yer?  Come, owd lad; gether those limbs o' thine together, an' get whoam; it's welly breakfast time!"


(The cobbler yawns, and stretches his arms.)


    "O' reet!  I'm comin'! . . . . Keep thi leg back! . . . . What time is't?"

    "It's hauve-past six."

    "Hauve-past six, eh! . . . . Here, drop it!  Let go mi shoolder! . . . Where am I?"

    "Thou'rt i'th owd nook."

    "Th' owd nook! . . . Which on 'em?"

    "Thou'rt i'th Blue Bell."

    "Blue Bell, eh?  Come; it met ha' bin war (worse).  When I fell asleep I wur in a breek-kil'.  I wonder where I's be next."

    "Thou'll be i'th wrong shop, if thou doesn't mind."

    "I don't care where I am if thou arn't theer.  What day o' th' month is it?"

    "It's th' fifteenth o' June."

    "Fifteenth o' June, eh? . . . By th' mass, this has bin a crumper of a New Year!  I've never bin sober sin th' first o' January! . . . Bring me a gill o' ale, — an' be sharp!  I'm as dry as a kex!"

    "Thou's had enough!  Come, get up, an' wesh thi face; an' brush thi clooas a bit, they're o' barken't wi' slutch!  Come, owd lad; thou'rt a shame to be sin!"

    "Who's a shame to be sin?  Me?  Never thee mind whether I am or not!  Thou doesn't need to look at me!  A shame to be sin, eh!  Thee measure a peck out o' thi own seck!  I've sin prattier folk than thee i' my time! . . . . Off witho out o' my seet, — an' fly up wi'th hens!  Get out o'th leet, I tell tho; an' let's be quiet!  If ever there wur a brokken-hearted lad i' this world it's me! . . . Who-up! cried neet-eawl! (Sings.)


Tum o' Pobs wur a good-natur't sort of a lad;
He're a weighver by trade, an' he live't wi' his dad;
He're fond o' down-craiters, an' the neighboors o' said,
That he're reet in his heart, but he'd nought in his yed.
                                                           Derry down.


    "Mak a less o' thi din, thou yeawlin' hount; an' be off whoam!"

    "Nanny, yo'r terrible rivven, this mornin'!  What's th' matter?  I'll have another skrike, as how th' cat jumps! (Sings again.)


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 hondsome a filly as mortal e'er seed,
But hoo coom of a racklesome, natterin' breed,
                                                           Derry down.


    "Jonas," cried the landlady, "get him out o' this house at once, I tell tho!  Put him out at th' back, — an' shut th' dur on him!"

    "Come, owd lad," said Jonas, dragging him out of the corner, "thou'll ha' to go this time!"

    As Jonas put him out at the back-door, he said, "Now, conto manage to keep thi feet?"

    "I can manage to get out o' thy seet, Jonas, I dar say; an' that'll do for me. . . . Look here!  I'm noan gooin to tak things as I have done!  I'll poo someb'dy's legs fro' under 'em!  It caps the dule if I connot lick Jemmy Robishaw!  Does thou see that arm, Jonas?"

    "Ay, I see it.  If thi yed wur as strung as thi arm, owd lad, I could mak a mon o' tho."

    "Strung!  Mi yed's strunger than thine!  What dun yo co' strung?  I tupped th' brewhouse dur in at th' White Swan tother day, an' never a yure turn't!  Go thee and kom (comb) thi toppin'!  Thou connot do that!

    "Now, conto manage? " said Jonas.

    "Thee tak thi yed into th' house, — an' let me do for mysel'," said the cobbler, as he staggered away.


――――♦――――

 
TOPPIN' FAT.
――――♦――――


Let us have no lying; that becomes none but tradesmen.

SHAKESPEARE.


Time: A keen winter day; the church clock striking twelve.  Scene: An old wayside inn, overlooking the snow-clad fields at the end of the village. MALLY, the landlady, and BETTY O' JUDD'S, the sempstress of the village, talking together at the front door.


"I'LL tell yo what, Betty, this frost gets keener and keener!  Yo mun mind yo'r feet, as yo gone down th' road, for it's as slippy as a lookin'-glass!  I went into th' yard yesterday mornin' with a bit o' stuff for th' hens, an' I hadn't bin out two minutes afore I coom down slap o' mi back!"

    "Eh, Mary! that would shake yo terribly, — yo'r sich a size!"

    "Ay, marry, it did shake me!  To tell yo truth, Betty, I've never bin reet sin', — an' mi hip's as black as a coal; so I'd ha' yo to mind yo'r feet; for yo'r like me, yo connot bide knockin' about at yo'r time o' life!"

    "Eh, bless yo, nawe, Mary!  I connot for sure!  I'm soon put out o' flunters, now, — I am that! . . . But I mun be gooin'!  I've left th' childer i'th house bi theirsels, — an' I'm fleyed they'n be gettin' into some sort o' lumber."

    "Well, — good day to yo, Betty! . . . Now, yo'n do as weel as yo con wi' that dress o' mine; yo'n see what it wants doin' at!  An', for goodness sake, let me ha' thoose shirts of our Sam's afore th' end o'th week, I pray yo!"

    "Yo's have 'em bi Saturday mornin', Mary, — at th' latest! . . . Well, now, I mun be gooin', — for, as I tell yo, — I left th' childer, — an' I've left mi weshin', — an' th' house is o' upset.  I wish to the Lord I could meet with our Judd!  He's off upo' th' rant again!  I think there's no poor soul i' this world that's worse plagued with a mon than I am.  I don't know whatever we should do for a livin' if I didn't stir mysel'!  An' I may wortch my fingers to th' bone, but he never seems to think that I've done enough!  Talk about weddin'!  Eh, dear!"

    "God help yo, Betty, lass, — God help yo!  Folk little known! . . . I'll tell yo what, Betty; yo might come up to yo'r tay some afternoon, an' bring th' childer wi' yo!"

    "I will, Mary! — an' thank yo!"

    "Ay, do, — an' don't let it be long!"

    "I'll come, Mary!  But I mun be off; for childer are nobbut childer, yo known; an' I'm freeten't o' some'at happenin'!  So I'll bid yo good day, Mary!"

    "Well, I mun be gooin', too, Betty; for our dinner's upo' th' table; an' we'n my brother George o'er fro' Rossenda' Forest, — I haven't sin him as mony a month afore!  So I'll bid yo good day, Betty!  Now, mind yo'r feet, for it's very slippy!"
                .                     .                     .                     .                     .                     .

    The dinner was already set out upon the great table in the kitchen; and Sam, the landlord, sat at the head of the board, chatting with his brother-in-law, a burly old farmer from the green slope near the foot of Musbury Tor, in Rossendale.  Little Johnny, the landlord's youngest lad, sat near his father, yammering, and rubbing his hands as he gazed with hungry eyes upon the steaming mass of boiled, beef at the head of the table.  Opposite to little Johnny sat his two elder brothers, both stalwart young men, who had come in hungry as hunters from looking after the cattle of the farm connected with the house.  There were yet three chairs empty at the side of the board.

    "Now, then," said the landlady, as she entered the kitchen, "I hope yo aren't waitin' o' me!  George, thou'll be quite famish't!  Hello! where's yon lasses?"

    "Nay," said the landlord, "thou mun look after 'em thisel'!  They're al'ays i'th feelt when they should be i'th lone!  Thou'd better shout on 'em; they're upstairs, yon, fiddle-faddlin'!"

    "I never see sich wark i' mi life!" said the landlady.  Come, I'll stir 'em! (She goes to the foot of the stairs and shouts up to them.)  Now, then; whatever are yo lasses doin' so long up theer?  I've towd yo mony a time, if yo cannot manage to come down to yo'r dinner when it's ready yo'n ha' to go without till th' next meal.  I wonder how yo con for shame, — that I do, — keepin' th' whole table waitin', — an' yo'r uncle George here, too!  Whatever are yo thinkin' on?  Come down this minute!  Whatever are yo doin'?"

    "We shan't be a minute, mother.  We're nobbut doin' er (our) hair up!"

    "Doin' yo'r hair up! . . . Come down this minute, I tell yo!  If I have to come up to yo, I'll do yo'r hair up for yo, with a rattle! . . . Sarah; I wonder that thou's no moore sense! Whatever's bin keepin' yo?"

    "Mother, we cannot find th' hair oil!"

    "Od drat yo, an' yo'r hair oil!"

    "Let th' lasses alone, Mary," said the landlady's brother; let th' lasses alone!  They're tryin' to mak theirsels as snod as they con, becose there's a visitor to-day.  They're yung, mon; they're yung, — an' thou's bin yung thisel'!  I remember th' time when thou wur as fain of a bit o' toppin' fat for thi yure as ony lass in Rossenda'. , . . I guess thou's forgotten me bringin' a pot o' bear's grease for tho out o'th town once, about thirty yer sin?"

    "Aye; I've quite forgetter o' about it."

    "Well, but I haven't."

    "I dar say not, George.  But thou sometimes remembers things that never happen't."

    "Ay, but this is as true as I'm here! . . . I'll tell thee, Sam. . . . One mornin', about thirty yer sin, when our Mary, here, wur just sich another slip of a lass as yo'r Sarah, hoo took me to one side as I wur startin' off to th' town, an' begged on me to bring her a pot o' bear's grease, unknown to mi mother, fro' owd Joe Sutcliffe's, th' barber, ――"

    "Eh, George," said the landlady, "I wonder how thou can say sich a thing!"

    "Howd thi din, lass," said her brother; "it's quite true! . . . Well, when I geet back fro' th' town, at th' edge o' dark, I happen't to put this pot o' bear's grease down i'th buttery, without thinkin' at it.  Well; it hadn't bin there mony minutes before Lung Robin, a great hungry cow-lad of ours, coom loungin' in fro' th' shippon; an' he went reet into th' buttery, to get a sly bit o' some'at to height (eat); an' th' first thing he laid howd on wur this pot o' bear's grease that I'd brought for our Mary.  Well; he made no more ado, but he cut two or three shivers o' loaf, an' he spread this stuff onto it, and down it went, one skive after another, till he'd emptied th' pot.  Well, in a bit, our Mary comes into th' kitchen, an' hoo axed what I'd done wi' th' bear's grease.  'Thou'll find it i'th buttery,' said I; an' off hoo went.  In a minute or two hoo coom back into th' kitchen, wi'th pot in her hond, an' hoo said, 'Why, th' pot's empty!'  Well, Robin happen't to be sittin' at th' fire-side, an' he said, 'Here; let's look at that pot! . . . What wur there in it?'  'Bear's grease!'  'It doesn't matter what it wur,' said Robin, 'I've etten it, — an' I could have etten twice as mich, if it had bin theer!'  'Why, it'll mak tho ill!'  'I'm o' reet up to now,' said Robin.  An' he wur so, too.  It didn't seem to mak a bit o' difference; for in about two hours after he ate as hearty a supper as ever he did in his life."

    And now the landlord's three daughters came rushing down into the kitchen, with many apologies for keeping their uncle George waiting for his dinner.  And it was a merry meal; for the old Rossendale farmer was full of genial life, and racy humour, and he kept the table in a continual roar.


――――♦――――

 
UNDER THE OWD TREE.
――――♦――――


When the flickerin' light through the window pane
From the candle's dull flame do shoot,
An' Jemmy, the smith, is a-gone down the lane,
A-playin' his ghrill-voic'd flute;
An' the miller's man
Do sit at his ease
On the seat that is under the cluster o' trees,
Wi' his pipe an' his cider can.

WM. BARNES.


A fine evening in hay-time.  BILL O' GROUTYED'S and JACK O'TH MARL HOLE, two mowers, seated on the old ale-bench, under "th' big tree," by the roadside, in front of the Golden Lion, better known as "Th' Brass Dog."  DICK O' DODY'S, leaning against the horse trough, telling a tale.  OWD BILL bursts into a laugh.


"BY th' heart, that needs no provin'!  Stop a minute, till I get mi woint! . . . Dick, owd lad, thou's done it at last!  I never yerd th' marrow to that sin' I're born o' mi mother.  Eh! what a tale! . . . Dick, I connot believe th' hauve o' thy talk!  What does thou think about it, Jack?"

    "Well, — I think it's a sunbrunt lie."

    "Yo han it as I had it, — word for word."

    "Who towd tho?"

    "Joe Plunge, th' bobby-cocker."

    "Ay, well then!  Joe's about as prime a hond at ratchin' (stretching, exaggeration), as ever bote off th' edge of a cake o' brade.   But, I doubt thou's left it nought short, thysel'.  There's no gettin' th' breadth of a hay-seed in between Joe an' thee, for moonshine talk.  There's six o' tone and hauve-a-dozen o' tother.  If he tells a tale, — it needs no mendin', and it needs no contradictin', — and if onybody i' this world tells thee a tale, thou'll put a finishin' stroke o' thi own to't, th' next time that thi mouth flies oppen! . . . If I wur thee, Dick, I'd give o'er lyin' an' start o' steighlin', — thou'll make more brass by it."

    "I'll tell tho what, Bill, thou'rt gettin' terrible tickle about folk's talk, o' at once.  Thou met (might) ha' joined th' 'Owd Body' (the Old Wesleyans), or some'at.  Thou talks a deeol o' Sunday stuff, owd lad!  What's up?"

    "Oh, bother noan!  It's o' reet!  I like a good lie, — if there's no harm in't, — as weel as onybody.  What says thou, Jack?"

    "Well, — I'm the same as thee, Bill, I con do wi' a good lie, if there's no harm in't!  But, at after o', — there's nought like gradely straightforrad talk.  There are no good lies."

    "Thou'rt reet, again, Jack; but if onybody tells me ony lies, I like to know beforehond that they are lies."

    "I'll tell yo what, lads, yo'r very bad to plez!  Has there bin a prayer-meetin' somewheer i'th fowd?  I'd better button mi lip a bit."

    "I'll tell tho how it is, Dick."

    "Well."

    "Thou's bin talkin' dry-mouth, mon.  Thou may weel tell lies."

    "Come; I con soon awter that.  (Shouts to the servant in the doorway.)  Here, Liddy!  Bring me another pint!"

    "That's reet; weet thi whistle, an' to't again! . . . . How didto get on at th' rushbearin' o' Monday?"

    "Well, — what wi' pooin' th' cart, an' whip-crackin', an' doancin', an' feightin', I've bin as stiff as a rubbin'-stoop ever sin'."

    "Well, — well, — youth will have it fling!  I use't to be as limber as a snip, — an' look at me now.  Ay, ay, — I've sin' th' time when I could ha' doance't a bit, — ay, an' ha' foughten a bit, too!  Ax Bull Robin, — an' Black Bill, — an' owd Curly, at th' Lower Yates, — they known!  Ax 'em to count th' notches upo' their shins, — they known! . . . But my junkettin' days are o'er, now.  Once a mon, an' twice a choilt, — that's th' owd tale. . . . Ay, ay, time plays th' upstroke wi' th' best on us!  I'm gettin' as cratchinly as a crush't wisket. . . . What, yo'n had gay deeds amung yo down i'th town, then?"

    "Ay, ay, we had that!  Flitter Billy, at th' Clover Nook, geet wed th' same day; an' we kept it up at th' Hare an' Hounds alehouse."

    "Oh, ay! is Billy getten wed, then?"

    "Ay; he's buckle't to i' good time."

    "Good time, saysto?  That'll depend how it leets. . . . What! it's noan so lung sin' he wur wearin' hippins!"

    "Nawe, it isn't, for sure.  He's hardly larn't how to dry his nose yet."

    "By th' mass, but he's gooin' to a rough schoo', now! . . . An' who's th' lass, saysto?"

    "Dick o' Kitter lass, — th' sond-knocker."

    "Never, sure! . . . Well, by Guy! that's a smart pair o' raa guttlins (unfledged birds) to tee together.  Th' kettle connot co' th' pon 'brunt-rump,' theer, as how 'tis for he isn't aboon ninepence th' shillin', — an' I doubt hoo'll not reitch aboon sixpence-hawp'ny, or sevenpence at th' most."

    "They're a bonny couple, for sure.  But they'n happen poo through, — there's no tellin'. . . . Little Mall o' Robin's wur telling me about this lass o' Kitter's gooin' to th' town a-buyin' some print for her weddin'-dress.  Little Mall went wi' her, — an' one or two moore, — to help her to choose th' pattern. . . . Well, — when they geet to th' town, they went gawpin' about a while, wi' their mouths oppen', fro' one window to another, starin' at things, an' talkie' their awvish talk, an' reckonin' their brass up, an' sich like, — an', at last, they went wamblin' an lollin' into one o' these draper's shops, — an' a counter-jumper coom to 'em, an' axed'em what they wanted; and Little Mall said, 'We're com'd a-buyin' some print to make a dress on, for this lass, here.'  'Yo'n want some'at lively, I guess?' said th' chap.  'Ay,' said Mall, 'it'll ha' to be lively.  It's for Sally, here; an' hoo's boun' to be wed o' Monday, — arn'to, Sally?'  'Yigh,' said Sally, 'I guess I am, — if nought happens.'  'Thats reet!' said the counter-jumper.  'I wish yo mich happiness.'  'Thank yo, maister,' said Sally, — 'it'll be o' reet.  Billy says he'll tak care o' that.'  'That's th' mak!'  said th' counter-jumper.  'Now then; let's see if I can fit yo up wi' this dress-piece.  What sort of a pattern would yo like?'  'Well,' said Sally, 'let's look at some'at wi' brids on, — brids, an' posies, an' sich like.  An' yo mun let us have it chep, — for we ha'not mich brass, — han we, Mally?'

    "'Well, come,' said th' counter-jumper, 'let's see what I can do for yo!'  An' th' owd lad set agate o' pooin' things down for these lasses to look at, — but nought wur reet.  At last, he poo'd down an' he poo'd down till th' counter wur cover't, an' pile't up wi' stuff, an' still these lasses kept sayin', 'Eh! that'll do noan! we wanten bigger picturs nor thoose!'  At lung-length, th' counter-jumper geet out o' patience, an' he said, 'I'll tell yo what it is, lasses; I begin to think that yo'n no taste!'  'Taste!' said Sally an' hoo stare't at th' chap a bit, — an' then hoo turn't to Mally, an' hoo said, 'Yer tho, Mally!  He thinks we're boun' to heyt (eat) it!"

    "Well done, Sall o' Kitters. . . . That reminds me of owd Ben o' Kitter's, — he wur uncle to this lass.  Owd Ben had bin i'th warkhouse a bit; but he couldn't bide i' that shop, — so he lost no time i' gettin' out again th' first chance he had.  He said he'd leifer dee i'th oppen air than be lockt up i' sich a cote as that, wi' o'th fat o'th lond about him. . . . Well, as soon 'as th' owd lad had getten out, he began o' lookin' round, an' thinkin' what he could do for a bit of a livin', — an' he unbethought him 'at he'd try his hond at green-grocerin', — for he'd sin folk make a good lot o' brass wi' gooin' round wi' a jackass-cart a-sellin' potitos, an' carrits, an' sich like.  But th' owd lad wur fast, for he'd noather cart, nor jackass, nor stuff, nor he hadn't a farthin' o' brass in his clooas, — nor he didn't know where to turn to get noan.  At last, he unbethought him o'th owd miller, an' he pluckt up, an' off he went a seein' him.

    "Well, — he knocked at th' front dur, an' when th' sarvant coom, he axed if th' maister wur in; an' hoo said he wur.  'Tell him I want a word wi' him,' said Ben.  In a minute or two th' miller coom to th' dur; an' as soon as he see'd Ben, he said, 'Hello, Ben! what's th' matter, my lad?'  'Well,' said Ben, 'I want yo to lend me a sovereign!'  'A sovereign!' said th' miller.  'What for?  I thought thou'd bin i'th wark-house.'  'Ay,' said Ben, ' I ha' bin theer, — a bit.  But I connot get my breath i' yon hole!  I've stown out an' I'd sooner be hanged than goo in again.  I want to set up i'th green-grocery line.  I can borrow a jackass for a start; an' I know wheer I can buy a cart tor fifteen shillin', — an', if yo'n lend me a sovereign, t'other five shillin' 'll set me up wi' a bit o' stuff.'  'Ay,' said th' miller, 'that's o' very weel!  But what mak o' security am I to have for mi brass?'  'Well,'said Ben, 'yo'r an owd friend o' mine, — an' I'll tell yo what I'll do wi' yo, — yo sha'n ha' yo'r name upo' th' cart!  I connot say fairer than that!'"


(Servant lass shouts from the doorway.)


    "Th' baggin's ready!"

    "That's reet!  Come, Jack!  Come, Dick, my lad, thou'll have a bit wi' us?  Bring that scythe in!"

(A jolly haymaker comes down the road with his coat on his arm, and a rake upon his shoulder, singing)


O'er moor an' mountain grey,
                 Molly, oh!
I've wandered mony a day,
                 Molly, oh!
Trudgin' through wind an' weet,
Onward, fro' morn to neet,
To see thoose e'en so breet,
                 Molly, oh!


(He sits down on the bench under the tree, and shouts to the servant lass, who stands in the doorway.)

    "Liddy! has Fiddler Bill co'de here?"

    "Not yet."

    "Bring me a pint o' ale, then; for mi throttle's as dry as a kex." (Sings again.)


Trudgin' through wind an' weet,
Pantin' fro' morn to neet,
To kiss thoose lips so sweet,
                 Molly, oh!


(A wayworn tramp comes creeping up from the road, and sits down upon the bench to rest.  The haymaker looks at him a bit, and then begins to talk to him.)

    "Thou's never bin here afore?"

    "Yigh, I have."

    "I've never sin' tho!"

    "I wur nobbut four year owd when I wur here afore."

    "Oh, nawe! . . . Well; an' con thou remember bein' four year owd?"

    "Ay; I con."

    "Well, by th' mass! . . . Why, I connot remember what time I went to bed last neet! (The tramp gropes pes in his pocket, and then 'looks about the floor.)  What arto seechin'?"

    "A pipe."

    "What mak of a pipe?"

    "A little wood un, o' perpetrated wi' holes."

    "O' perpetrated wi' holes? (Stares at the tramp.)  How owd arto?"

    "I'se be thirty-five come Thar-cake Monday."

    "Thou'rt gettin' on, owd lad. . . . An' what arto co'de?"

    "I'm code Nathan o' Switcher's; but mi gradely name's Fuzzbo'."

    "Fuzzbo', eh?  Ay, an' a good name, too.  Well, — I'll tell tho what, — if I wur thee, Fuzzbo', — I'd give o'er usin' these one-an'-ninepenny words, — an' stick to nice little round uns, — they're better to manage, — an' they come'n in chepper.  There's a good deal o' sarviceable talk to be getten out o' little words, weel-sorted, an' sarve't up nicely. (The tramp loops about the floor again.)  What arto seechin' now?"

    "I'm seechin' some cheese an' loaf, an' a pint o' ale."

    "Hasto ony brass?"

    "I've a hawpenny."

    "I see. . . . Conto wortch ony, to ony sense?"

    "I've bin poorly!"

    "Thou's bin poorly a good while, bi th' look on tho."

    "Ay; a good while."

    "Ay; an' thou'll tak a deeol o' curin'.  What trade arto?"

    "I sarve't mi time to makin' skewers for butchers."

    "Ay; an' a good trade, too. . . . I dar say thou's turn't o'er a deal o' brass i' thi time."

    "Ay; I've sin better days."

    "Ay; I guess so. . . . An' thou'll see 'em again afore aught's lung, — if thou'll behave thisel'.  Doesto know onybody about here?"

    "Nawe; but there's an uncle o' mine lives about five miles off."

    "Has he ony brass?"

    "He's as poor as a crow."

    "Keep o' thi own side then! . . . I've a bit of a manchet i' mi pocket, here, — if that'll do tho ony good, thou'rt welcome.  Here!  Now, give o'er cockin' thi little finger, — an' get agate o' makin' skewers as soon as thou con!  An' so, good day to tho!  My ale's done; an' I'm off!"


――――♦――――

 
FREETENIN'
――――♦――――


I've heard my reverend grannie say,
In lanely glens ye like to stray;
Or where auld ruined castles gray,
Nod to the moon,
Ye fright the nightly wanderer's way
Wi' eldritch croon.

BURNS.


A dusky night, late in autumn, with a patch of stars looking down, here and there, between the clouds.  TUM RINDLE and JONE O' LIMPER'S entering the shady lane leading up to the church.  All still around.  A low wind moaning through the trees.


"WHAT time is't getten, Tummy?"

    "Noan so fur off nine.  Th' eight o'clock bell drops just as I wur comin' out o' Bull Robin dur-hole, wi' a pluck-an-liver for my Aint Mally."

    "I'll tell tho what, — it's terrible dark."

    "It's raither a sad-colour's mak of a neet, — as thou says, — but it'll get leeter after we'n bin out a bit."

    "Poo up! . . . Hast ony 'bacco?"

    "Ay; thou'll find some i' that box.  Help thysel'!"

    "Well, — I think I's pipe up, afore I goo ony fur! . . . I'll tell tho what, Tummy, — I don't hauve like this lone i'th neet-time!"

    "It's a feaw look, for sure, owd lad, — i'th eawl-leet.  But, thou'rt happen boggart-feared?"

    "Well, I'm noan partial to sich like nooks as these, at th' edge o' dark, nor I never wur, fro' bein' quite a bantlin'.  Beside, I've yerd o' things bein' sin i' this lone."

    "What mak o' things?"

    "Why, — o' maks o' freetenin'!  Things 'at are never sin i'th gradely dayleet!"

    "I've never sin nought o'th sort; an' I've travel't this lone aboon twenty year, — drunk an' sober, — at o' maks o' times."

    "I don't care.  Some folk never dun see nought, — noather bi neet nor day!  But I've both sin things an' yerd things i' this lone at's made my yore ston' straight up, mony a time!  Don't tell me!  Beside, Bill o' Toppin's, th' keaw-doctor, wur smoor't i'th ditch, yon, at th' time o'th greight flood; an' owd Jack o'th Smithy hanged hissel' i'th elm-tree nook, about th' middle o'th lone, th' last back-end; an' folk say'n 'at they both on 'em come'n back."

    "Well, — let 'em come back a bit if they'n a mind, — I'm noan fleyed on 'em!  But I should advise 'em to keep o' their own side now that they're getten safe londed, — if they'n let 'em stop.  They don't need to come back here again, as how 'tis, — for we'd quite enough on 'em afore they laft this country!  But, it's mich to me if they'n let folk out again, at after they getten quietly lapt up in a grave!  What good con they do when they dun come back, — that's what I want to know? . . . But, it's o' bull-scutter!  I don't believe sich tales!"

    "Thou believes i' nought nobbut thi bally."

    "Well, Jone, I've moore reawm i' my inside than thou has!  Thou'rt so thrutcht-up wi' o' maks o' flaysome fancies that thou's no comfort o' thi life.  But, — I tell tho again, — I'm noan freeten't o' deeod folk!  It's th' wick uns 'at I'm fleyed on!  If I can get o'er th' wick uns, I think I can bant tother mak, — for aught that I've sin on 'em yet!  An' as for 'em comin' again, — well, — I've been out at o' times o'th neet, between candle-leet an' cock-crow, i' o' maks o' one-ly spots, — an' I never let o' nought yet mich warse nor mysel'!"

    "I dar say not, Tummy.  But it's no use o' talkin'!  There is folk 'at's sin things, if thou hasn't! . . . Hello! my leet's out!  Let's co' at owd Bill's, here; he'll happen goo up th' lone wi' us."

    "Never thee mind owd Bill!  There's nought'll come when there's two on us together!  Besides, there isn't a ghost i' this world that dar face me!  Come on witho; an' dunnot be a foo!"

    "There's no harm i' co'in, as how 'tis.  Beside, I want a leet!"

    "Well, in witho, then."

(TUMMY opens the door of old BILL'S cottage.  A crabbθd old woman is seated on the hearth, smoking by candlelight.)

    "Is Bill awhoam?"

    "Nawe."

    "Where is he?"

    "He's gwon out."

    "Where's he gwon to?"

    "Somewheer where there's ale to be had, I dar say."

    "Is Bill wife in?"

    "Nawe; hoo's gwon out."

    "Where's hoo gwon to?"

    "Hoo's gwon a-seechin' him; an' if hoo leets on him it'll be rough!"

    "Con I leet my pipe at th' fire?"

    "Nawe, yo connot; for th' fire's gwon out, too.  An' yo may goo out an' o', —as soon as yo'n a mind, — an' shut that dur after yo!"


(They come out, and shut the door.)


    "Well, by th' mass, Jone, yon's a nattle't owd fuzzock, as how 'tis!  Who is hoo?"

    "It's owd Bill wife mother.  Hoo's aboon fourscore.  They say'n hoo can witch folk."

    "Ay; an' hoo favvours it, too!  But hoo'd no 'casion to fly at me wi' sich a ber, — canker't owd besom as hoo is, — I never clapt e'en on her afore i' mi life 'at I know on, — an' I don't care if I never see her again, for hoo's noan so pratty!  To my thinkin' hoo looks as if hoo'd had a deeol o' truck wi' th' lower shop."

    "Thou's just hit it, Jone!  Hoo comes of a moonshine breed!  A scowlin', skulkin', lot o' sky-wanderin' besom-striders, 'at delighten i' hatchin' devilment for folk!  I know th' whole seed, breed, an' generation on 'em.  Owd an' yung,  — they're a prowlin', lurchin', ill-willed brood o' unhowsome spawn, that ever creepen away fro' th' leet, a-brewin' hag-broth i' festerin' nooks, where no gradely thing can live!  When I wur a lad, an' we'n bin sittin' bi th' fire at neet, I've yerd mi mother tell sich tales about ill deeds done bi one an' another o'th lot that, mony a time, my yure's stood of an end, an' goose-flesh has crept o'er me, fro' top to toe!  This nattle't owd hag 'at we'n just sin, — hoo use't to sell charms, an' temptin' powder, an' sich like, — an' hoo's witched mony a score o' folk to deeoth, bi o' accounts.  Folk use't to turn out o'th road when they seed her comin', — for they wur fleyed o' meetin' her.  Th' whole country-side wur fleyed on her, for if they geet her ill will they wur dun for. . . . An' her faither afore her, — he wur just th' same.  He live't at a lonesome outside place, i'th heart o'th moors, — deep down by th' side o' runnin' wayter, — an' it wur known bi th' name o'th 'Wesh-cote.'  There wur no road went by it; an' there wur no regular trod led to't; an' nobody could see th' house, — sich as it wur, till they geet very near a-top on't, — it wur so low down in a nook.  That's where this owd woman's faither live't, and that's where hoo wur brought up.

    "I've yerd say that her faither use't to tell fortin, an' he reckon't to rule planets, an' sich like.  He went bi th' name o' Boggart Bill, — for he wur seldom sin i'th dayleet; but he use't to wander about a good deeol bi hissel' i'th neet-time.  I remember my uncle Jonas tellin' about gooin' to th' 'Wesh-cote' once a-seein' this Boggart Bill, th' wise man, about a cow 'at he'd lost.  He said he never seed sich a fleysome-lookin' cote in his life, — it wur so dark, an' dirty, an lumbersome, — an' it wur o' full o' dusty garbs, an' skins, an' skeletons, an' bottle't snakes, an' hedgehogs, an' feaw-lookin' worms wi' wings on, an' sich like, — an' there were two greight black cats, wi' green e'en, i'th hole, — an' these cats coom reet up to my faither, an' sat down i'th front on him, an' they kept starin' at him.  An' there were a greight owl, up in a nook, that kept oppenin' an' shuttin' it een; an' there were a dried alligator hanged fro' th' ceilin', o' cover't wi' dust, — it had glass e'en — an' it had th' skeleton of a monkey sittin' stride-legs on it back.

    "Well, Boggart Bill laft my uncle Jonas bi hissel' amung these things awhile, an' he went into another reawm, a-seein' about this lost cow.  Well, my uncle Jonas said that as soon as Boggart Bill had gone out o' wur deeod still for two or three minutes, an' he felt very quare arming this fleysome lot; an' then a terrible gam begun 'at made him sweat like a bull; an' he wacker't all o'er like a lump o' warp-sizin'.  He said this stuffed alligator, 'at hanged fro' th' ceilm', began a-winkin' at him; an' a skeleton 'at stoode i'th nook put it arm out to shake honds wi' him; an' then th' owl i'th corner gav a wild skrike, an' everythin' i'th hole rattle't an' turn't round; an' my uncle Jonas said he wur so freeten't that he couldn't stir a peg, but he could feel his yure goin' white.  An' then he said that, just as he wur thinkin' o' tryin' to dry his for-yed wi' his hankitcher, one o' these black cats, that had bin lookin' into th' fire, coom an' stoode reet i'th front on him, an' after it had stare's at him a while wi' two green e'en, it said in a rough voice, 'Thou'd better be gooin'!'  My uncle Jonas said that he wur so capt wi' this that he couldn't tak his woint; but, afore he coom to hissel', there wur some'at else started.  There wur a kettle stoode upo' th' hob, at his elbow, an' th' lid o' this kettle hove up, an' a voice i'th inside co'de out, 'Ay; thou'd better be gooin' while thour't weel!'  Well, — sweat started a running down my uncle Jonas's face i' greight rindles; an' he gav a glent at th' dur-hole; but he said he couldn't stir a fuut, — for he felt as if he wur nail't to th' floor.

    "At last, he unbethought him as he'd try to say his prayers, — an' it wur time, for just as he wur beginnin' a-sayin', 'Our Father, which art in heaven,' th' skeleton i'th nook poo'd a short black pipe from under his hip-bwon, and, knockin' th' ashes out again' th' wall, it said, 'That's reet, owd lad; hast ony 'bacco?' and afore my uncle Jonas could oppen his mouth, one o' these black cats upo' th' hearthstone took a little brass box fro' under his reet oxter, an' he said, as he honded it to this skeleton, 'Here, Scrag, owd brid; thou'll find a bit i'th bottom o' that box'—"

     "Here, stop, Tummy!  Thou doesn't meeon to tell me that thou believes that tale?"

    "Yigh, I do; every word on't!"

    "Well, then, — owd lad, — I've getten it into my yed 'at thou's no business out o'th dur!  It time to turn a keigh upo' thee!  Thour't noan reet, owd buzzart, — thour't noan reet!"

    "Reet or wrung, Jone, it's true what I'm tellin' tho!  But let me finish my tale."

    "Get endways, then.  I want it o'er."

    "Well, at after that, this skeleton poo'd a stoo' up to th' fire, an' then it sit down, an' cross it legs, an' then it filled th' pipe, an' began a-smookin', an' starin' into th' grate, — an' o' wur still fur a minute or two.  At last th' skeleton honds his 'bacco box back to th' cat, an' he says, 'How soon should we begin, thinksto?'  'Well,' said th' cat, 'it's getten welly time.'  'Brast off, then!' said th' skeleton, while I get a reech o' 'bacco!'  Then, my uncle Jonas said th' stuffed alligator wagged it tale, an' begun a-laughin', — an' everythin' i'th hole, — deeod an' alive, — gave a skrike, an' a twirl o'er.  'Howd!' said th' cat, 'there's some on 'em short; I'll co' their names o'er!' an' wi' that it poo'd a bit o' papper fro' under it tail, an' began a-coin' out, 'Batkin!'  A voice i'th chimbley said, 'Here!'  'Blin'-worm!' said th' cat; an' th' onswer coom fro' under th' floor, 'I'm playin' me i'th soof!'  'Come up!' said th' cat; an' then it went on readin'.  'Edder-cop!' an' some'at fro' th' back o'th clock co'de out, 'Here!'  'Slutchkin!' an' a voice fro' th' hinder end o'th alligator cried, 'Here!'  'Flipperswitch!' an' this time my uncle Jonas said, th' onswer coom straight out o' th' solid wall, close to him, — 'Here!' cried a squeakin' voice.  'That'll do,' said th' skeleton, knockin' th' ashes out of his pipe again' his shin, an' puttin' it back under his hip-bwon, — 'That'll do! strike up, Bitterbump!' an' a drowsy mak o' music coom out of an' owd saut-box, 'at hung close to the dur, beawt lid.

    "An' then mi uncle Jonas said there were hell's delight agate i' that hole in a minute.  These two black cats started a-waltzin' i'th middle o'th floor, — an' th' tongs an' poker geet one another round th' middle, an' twirl't away after 'em, — an' th' skeletons coom out o' their nooks, an' began a-rattlin' like mad at a three-bond reel, — an' as for th' cheers an' tables, they lilted and tilted, some one gate, some another, every mon for hissed', an' there wur sich a wild racket o' dins i'th hole that mi uncle Jonas said he felt hissel' gooin' mad, an' he whisper't to hissel', as he crope a bit nar th' dur-hole, 'I mun oather get out o' this cote or I'm a lost mon.'  At last—"

    "Howd, Tummy! . . . What's yon?"

    "Wheer?"

    "Under th' trees, yon!"

    "Ay, — by th' mass! what is it?"

    "Nay! . . . It's two e'en, I see, — as what it is!"

    "Ay, — by th' mass, an' they're pummers, too! . . . Howd!  It's comin' this gate on!"

    "It's comin', for sure, — an' I can yer no feet, noather!"

    "I'm off!"

    "An' so am I! (They take to their heels; and meet again at the church gates, out of breath.)  Now then, Tummy!  Thou wouldn't believe!  What dost think about that?  Wilco believe thi own e'en?"

    "Well, — it looked rayther quare for sure! but it's happen nought nobbut a jackass."

    "Am I a jackass, thinksto?"

    "Well, — I think so, sometimes."

    "Well, but, — if yon's nobbut a jackass, what didto run for?"

    "I ran becose thou ran; thou doesn't think I wur boun' to be laft stondin' yon bi mysel'?  If thou hadn't started, I'd never ha' stirred a peg!  I thought thou'd more pluck than runnin'!"

    "Pluck! what's th' use o' pluck?  It's no-use feightin' wi' things 'at belungs another world!"

    "No moore it is. . . . An' at after o' there's some'at quare about ghosts."

    "There is that.  I wonder, sometimes, what they're made on."

    "Well, — my opinion is 'at they're made o' whiteweshed moonshine."

    "Ay; an' likely stuff, too.  An' there's both white uns an' black uns, — but, bi o' accounts, leet-colour's uns are th' warst to lay. . . . Hello!  Sitho! . . . It's comin' again!"

    "Ay; it's yon, by th' mass!  Tak up theer!  I'll meet tho at th' 'Amen-Corner!'"



――――♦――――

 
ELF-LOND.
――――♦――――


Up the airy mountain,
    Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
    For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
    Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
    And white owl's feather!

WM. ALLINGHAM.


A fine evening in hay-time.  BILL O' GROUTYED'S and JACK O'TH MARL HOLE, two mowers, coming out of the old roadside inn, called the Golden Lion, better known as "Th' Brass Dog."


"I'LL tell tho what, Bill, — yon lad's mother desarves hangin'!

    "What for?"

    "Why, for giving way to his faither."

    "Well, an' his faither desarves hangin'!"

    "What for?"

    "Why, for bein' his faither!"

    "Well, — between thee an' me, — I think it's a breed 'at should be stopt, o' somehow, afore it gets ony fur."

    "Who is th' camplin' pynot, thinksto?"

    "Nay, I know not; but I never yerd a mon wi' a lennocker tung sin I're born. . . . It reminds me o' that lad o' Billy Tricker's.  Billy an' this lad o' his went out in a boat one day; an' they hadn't bin out lung afore a breeze sprung up, an' after they'd wobble't about a bit, the boat upset.  Well, theer they wur, — faither an' son, — both i'th wayter at once, but it wur every mon for hissel', for they could noather on 'em swim mich.  Well, Billy took no notice o' nob'dy, but played straight for dry lond; an' this lad of his splashed after his faither as wee, as he could; an' he kept co'in' out for him to stop a minute.  'Stop, be hanged!' cried Billy.  'I'll stop noan!  Come thee this gate on, — there's no leetin'-shop here (alighting-place) till thou gets to th' bottom!'  Well, that fleyed th' lad war (worse) nor ever, an' he begun a-sayin' his prayers; an' now an' then he yeawlt eawt for someb'dy to come an' save him; but every time he oppen't his chops, down went another greight gulp o' wayter, — till th' lad were as swelled as a balloon.  At last his faither turn't his yed, an' he said to him, 'Johnny, if thou wants to be save't, THOU MUN KEEP THI MOUTH SHUT!'. . . .  An' it's th' same wi' yon mon i'th inside, here."

    "Ay. . . . I could hardly hutch an' abide while he wur agate o' talkin'!  I think that folk han no more reet to rom their talk into one's ear-hole bout axin' one's lev (leave) than they han to walk into one's house bout axin'.  An' I didn't like th' look o' yon chap, noather, for he coom slinkin in at th' dur-hole as if he'd bin robbin' a hen-cote.  An' as for talk!  By th' mass, he licks Batterlash! . . . When he war agate of his cample, it made me think o' Jone o' Twiner's when he wur hearkenin' a greasy-lookin' chap at wur preitchin' at th' market-cross.  This chap had yeawlt, an' shouted, an' thumped, an' pown his book a good while, an' Jone had been meeterly patient; but at last Jone co'de out to th' preitcher, an' said, 'I'll tell tho what, my lad, I've getten it into mi yed that if my salvation depends upo' thy skrikin', I met as weel sign o'er,—for I'm a lost mon!' . . . Bill; we man have another tot, I guess?"

    "Ay.  Let's sit us down."


(They sit down upon the old ale-bench, under " Th' Big Tree.")


    "I'll tell tho what, Bill; yon bit o' baggin's done me good."

    "Ay, an' me, too.  I war as hungry as a foomart-dog!"

    "Ay, an' me, too.  It wur good stuff, — an' there wur plenty on it. . . . Hasto ony 'bacco?"

    "Here, help thisel'! . . . Ay, it wur a bit o' prime stuff, as thou says! . . . He's a good provider, is th, owd lad, — an' good luck to him, say I, — for he brews th' best ale o' this country-side."

    "It's a saup o' good stuff, Bill, — an' there's never a wick thing needs to go short of bally-timber at this house!"

    "There isn't, Jone! . . . Gi's a match! (Lights his pipe.) . . . He'll have a rare hay-crop this time, too, will th' owd lad."

    "Ay, he will.  An' I never cut a bit o' better stuff sin I're born.  I could ha' fund i' my heart to lie down an' heyt (eat) it!"

    "I've etten war (worse) stuff in my time, Jone.  Ay, ay; there's some pleasure i' cuttin' a good yarb!  Where's that scythe o' mine? . . . Oh, it's theer?"

    "It's a new un, isn't it, Bill?"

    "Yigh.  I bought it at Jim Hamilton's, when I're down town last Monday.  Owd Jem o' Thatcher's bought one at th' same time."

    "I'll tell tho what, Bill, owd Jem's gettin' white about th' gills."

    "Th' colour's o' gone into his nose.  Yon nose of his has been terrible red a good while."

    "It's cost as mich brass, paintin', as a row of good-size't houses."

    "Ay, it has; an' it's noan finish't yet."

    "Nawe, nor it never will be till he's finish't hissel'. . .. They say'n he's trouble't wi' a maut-seawker in his inside."

    "What's that?"

    "It's some mak of a worm, that will have ale."

    "Bilady; th' owd lad's noan bi hissel'!  There's a deeol o' maut-seawkers about this country!"

    "There is that, owd lad! . . . I guess thou didn't yer how Jem o'th owd Sur's were gettin' on while thou were down i'th town?"

    "Nawe; I hadn't mich time.  At after I'd bought mi scythe, I geet a pint o' ale, an' some cheese an' brade, at th' Hare an' Hounds, an' then I left mi scythe, an' went out a-buyin' some bits o' oddments for th' wife; an', while I wur agate, I geet a bowl o' stew at owd Boswell's upo' th' New Wole, — an' I dropp't into Billy Whipp's, at th' bottom o'th church steps, a-buyin' a top-cake, an' a catch-bo, an' a pen'oth o' humbugs (a kind of sweets), for yon bantlin o' mine."

    "Well; an' how's Billy gettin' on?"

    "Oh, — as reet as a ribbin!  Thou knows that curly-yure't lad o' his?"

    "What! that little hurcheon wi' th' cauve-lick't toppin'?"

    "Ay; an' blue e'en."

    "Sure I do, — he's co'de Billy, after his gronfaither!"

    "Well, — he wur in when I co'de tother day, an' Billy towd me a bit of a crack about him that raither tickle't me a bit!  He said this lad coom runnin' in one day, an' he said, 'Gronfaither; how mony commandments are there, say'n yo?'  'Well,' said owd Billy, 'there use't to be about ten on 'em, when I wur a lad.'  'Well, then, they may get agate o' makin' a fresh lot, as soon as they'n a mind,' said th' lad.  'Why, what for?'  'Becose th' owd uns are o' done for!  Me an' Johnny Butter'oth has brokken a lot on 'em into smithy-smudge, — an' th' lads i'th fowd are agate o' mashin' tother as fast as they con, — an' nob'dy dar stop 'em!'  'How's that?'  'Becose it's Mischief Neet!'  'Why, — how mony commandments han yo brokken?'  'Eh, — I connot tell, — but I'm sure there's noan o'th owd uns left; for Iron Jemmy has run th' owd bang-beggar into a duck-pond, wi his haliday-clooas on, — an' Tommy Reed has tem'd (teemed, poured) a hauve-a-pound o' traycle into his aint Margit's Sunday boots, — an' Juddy Buckley has twitchel't his gronmother's cat wi an owd tin-kettle full o' brokken pots, — an' Charley Preston has squirted a lot o' blue ink into th' schoo'maister's ear-hole, through a snip i'th window, — an' Billy Livesey's hanged th' Amen Corner alehouse sign o'er th' top o'th Ranter's Chapel dur-hole, — an' little Jack Parker's gin th' parson a black e'e wi' a turmit-lantern, — an' they wur startin' o' fresh warlocks when I coom off!'  'An' what hasto laft 'em for?'  'Becose I want a butter-cake.  Be sharp, — so as I con go back!'  'Well, an' what has Jonny Butter'orth an' thee bin doin', then?'  'Eh, — Johnny Butter'orth's lick't 'em o'!  He started wi' givin' owd Nukkin a wusk o'th chops wi' a stockin'ful o' slutch, — an' then he pickt (pushed) one o' Lung Turner chimbley-sweeps into a mugful o' churn-milk that stood at owd Flocky's dur-hole, — then he climb't o'er th' wole into owd Dearden orchart, an' he coom back again wi' his hat full o' apples, — an' at after that, he ran up a culvert, wi' two foomart-dogs beheend him. . . . An' I've done my share, — for I teed owd Collier toffy-stall to a coach wheel, an' off it went up th' street, wi' o'th lad's i'th town scramblin' for th' toffy.  I geet a greight lump o' Indy-rock, an' some kissins (kind of sweets) for mysel'.  An' after that I sent mi fuut-bo' through a chapel window, — an' as soon as I've had a butter-cake I'm off o' steighlin' coals to make a bran-fire on, — so I think there'll not be so mony commandments laft when we'n done wi' em.'"

    "That lad's like his faither, — he's fair fizzin' wi' life!"

    "Ay; an' he's as full o' mischief as an egg's full o' weight!"

    "Lads win be lads, — if they're weel an' hearty.  An' they're noan o'th worst mak, noather!"

    "Nawe, they are not. . . . I've getten to the bottom o'th pot, — I don't know how thou'rt gettin' on."

    "I'm boun' to have another."

    "That's reet!"
                    .                         .                         .                         .                         .

    "I'll tell tho what, Bill, it's a grand neet!"

    "Ay, it is.  I think it's th' nicest part o'th day just when th' eawl-leet's comin' on."

    "Ay, an' so do I.  Bill, does tho believe i' fairies, an' sich like?"

    "Believe i' fairies?  Ay, an' witches, an' clapcans, an' boggarts, an' o' maks o' deviltry.  I don't know that I ever seed a gradely fairy mysel', but I have sin mony a quare thing 'at doesn't belung this world; an' I know lots o' folk that's both sin fairies an' yerd 'em, — ay, an' felt 'em, too, — for they're noan within doin' a bit o' mischief to folk that they dunnot talk to."

    "It's me that knows that! . . . Thou remembers that red yure't wench 'at use't to be th' sarvant at Billy Nutta's, th' baker, i'th Bull Broo Entry?"

    "Sure, I do."

    "Well, — they say'n hoo's bin fleyed out o' her wits; an' it's mich if ever hoo's hersel' again.  Her mother's terribly put about o'er it."

    "Poor lass!  Fairies, I guess?"

    "Fairies, — an' nought else! . . . Thou knows hoo's bin livin' at an owd farm, down i'th Thrutch, this year or two back, — an' bi o' accounts, every dingle an' dell, an' hollow i' that cloof swarms wi' fairies, an' o' maks o' freetenin'. . . . Well, one moonleet neet, when this lass wur comin' whoam through th' wood fro a churn-supper at Jem o Fairoff's, at Whit'oth, hoo yerd some music playin', — an' hoo pept through th' hedge to see whatever it could be, at that time o'th neet; an' theer, sure enough, in a green dingle, there wur a swarm o'th bonniest little craiters 'at ever wursin, drest i' o' maks o' glitterin' finery, dancin' to music by moonleet. . . . Well, th' lass stare't wi' o' her e'en, — an' at last, hoo war so ta'en up wi' this seet, that hoo clapt her honds, an' started o' singin' an' dancin' to th' tune hersel'. . . . Well, — hoo'd hardly getten her mouth oppen afore these little folk set up a skrike, an' a cloud coom o'er the moon.  Well, this lass remembers nought after that; but hoo wur fund th' next mornin', lyin' on her back i'th cloof, nipt black an' blue all o'er; an' ever sin then hoo, keeps agate o' singin' this tune 'at th' fairies wur doancin' to, — an' they connot stop her."

    "Poor lass!  It's mich if ever hoo's reet again!"

    "Hoo's done for, I believe. . . . Well, look at mi Uncle Joe! . . . He'd bin off mowin' at Marlan',— an', as he wur comin' whoam late one moonleet neet, he yerd a hunt agate up i'th air, just aboon him.  He said he could yer 'em crackin' their whips, an' shoutin' to their dogs, an' he could hear their silver bridles jinglin', an' their dogs barkin', as clear as if the whole thing had bin gooin' by afore his e'en.  Well, — my Uncle Joe wur fond of a hunt hissel', —  so he started a-yeawlin' eawt some o'th owd huntin'-cries, —  'Hark up to Bugle!  Blossom, bonny lass!  By, dogs, by!'  But, by th' mass! he'd better ha' kept his tung between his teeth, for, in a second, there wur ten thousan' little whips flog in' at him, — an' he wur fund th' next mornin', lyin' on his back on a midden, two mile off, as dateless as a rubbin'-stoop."

    "Well, it wur very near th' same wi' Billy Robishaw.  One neet th' last summer, he wur comin' through th' wood, at Sparth Blossoms, wi' a basketful o' stuff fro th' town, when he yerd a silvery sort of a jingle in a green nook at tother side o'th hedge.  So Billy crope up th' bonk, an' pept o'er to see what there wur agate.  An' theer, sure enough, there wur a grand company o' fairy gentry, set at a table covered wi' gowd dishes, an' gowd candlesticks, — an' there wur fairy sarvants i' livery, waitin' on, — an' while th' supper wur agate, full swing, there wur hauve-a-dozen fairy harpers playin' up in a corner.  Well, — Billy, like thy Uncle Joe, couldn't howd his din, — so he shouted, 'Yo'r doin' it nicely, down theer!"  But afore he could say another word, out went th' leet, an' Billy felt a greight whuzz o' hummabees about his yed, an' he rolled down th' bonk; an' theer he lee, on his back, fast to th' floor.  Well, — he felt pins runnin' into him all o'er, but he couldn't stir a peg.  At last, one little divvel, dressed in a green jacket an' a red cap, began o' dancin' on th' end of his nose; an' Billy watched him until he could bide no lunger, so he shouted eawt, 'Go it, Redcap, my lad!'  Wi' that, this fairy-doancer run up Billy's nose-hole, an' he coom eawt at his right ear, an' shouted, 'Off wi' him!'  An' away went Billy an' his basket, through th' air, at th' rate of a hundred mile an hour.  An' he wur fund th' next mornin' at th' top o' Knowe Hill, hauve-starv't to deeoth, — an' it wur mony a day afore they could get a word out on him. . . . Hello who's this 'at's comin'?'"

    "It's Fiddler Bill!"

    "By th' mass! I'm off!"

    "An' so am I!"

――――♦――――





JOHN HEYWOOD, Excelsior Printing and Bookbinding Works, Manchester.

 


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