[From Ben Brierley's Journal, 1869]

AB-O'TH'-YATE AT THE ISLE OF MAN.

(Two Letters from Ab-o'-th'-Yate to the Editor of Ben Brierley's journal in the year 1869).

Preparing for the Isle of Man
Preparing for the Isle of Man

FIRST LETTER.

Walmsley Fowt,

Mesther Yeadhitter, July, 1869.

THANK yo' for that bit o' papper yo' sent me. It coome in very weel, aw con tell yo'. If it had no' bin for that yo'd ha' had no letther abeaut Pussy-beaut-tail ; for aw should never ha' gone across th' herrin' bruck. As soon as eaur Sal see'd it, hoo went o of a tremble, an' said hoo knew aw should be gettin' misel' in a hobble wi' mi writin' an' mi nonsense. But when aw towd her it wur a bank-cheque, an' not a summons, as hoo thowt, hoo fainted, an' wanted o'er i'th' nook. Hoo said hoo could yer waves dashin' into her ears, an' cats beaut tails maawin'; an' hoo felt her bits o' pains leeavin' her quite natteral like! If that wurno' a hint at th' Isle o' Mon, it's eaut of a woman's peawer to give one; so aw took it for as mich as it meant, an' set abeaut makkin' mi calkilations for th' eaut.

It took abeaut three week fort' prepare things. Different to th' last eaut! Aw wish it had takken three year; for they'rn th' comfortablist three week ever aw passed i' mi life. Aw could noather say wrung nor do wrung; an' aw're never fotched fro' th' "Owd Bell" once i' o th' time Eaur Dick calkilated ut, if things kept on that road, his clooas ud last twice as lung, as he couldno' remember when he'd a threshin'. Ther' wur nobbut one point we couldno' agree abeaut at fust, an' that wur what part o' th' island to go to. Someb'dy had towd th' owd Rib ut Douglas wur th' best shop, an 'ut everybody went theere, whether they went onywheere else or not. Aw said aw didno' care for gooin' wheere so mony folk went, as they stared at me so, an sheauted me. Aw'd rayther goo wheere aw could be quiet. Ther a place they co'ed th' " Cauve," an' another th' " Chickens," wheere folk lived i' rappet-holes, if they lived onywheere. Aw thrwt we'd best lond at one o' thoose shops, an' do a bit o' Robinson Crusoe wark for a change! Afore we could sattle it, ther a letter coome ut put things as straight as ninepence. This is it:-

" Falcon's Nest,
" Port Erin,
" Isle of Man.

" Old Swell,

"A little bird has just dropped into this nest, and told me that you and your old Rib intend coming to the Isle. If you do, come here, and I'll see that you are made as comfortable as two pigeons. The place is very pretty, and the air is as sweet as a nut. Besides, the company will just suit you. We've an old codger that's always laughing, and he's dying to see you. Then the landlord's a jolly fellow. He says he'll see you get pop enough; and if that doesn't suit you, you may have as much" jough" as you can swim in. Say you'll come, and I'll see that a coach and pair meets you on landing. Write at once, and say when you are coming. If you don't,-the next time I meet you, you had better have a pair of cricketer's leg-guards on your shins; so make up your mind in a minute, if you value your understandings. I have determined to stay a week longer, just to have a good spree with you ; so don't disappoint me. Give my best regards to your old Ticket, as you call her, and tell her I've seen nothing on the island that can equal her: I mean nothing of the woman kind. When she comes she will take the shine out of everybody. So no more at present from your old companion and friend,

S. SMITHIES.

" P.S.-You had better make your will before you come, or get a cork to tightly fit your throat !

S.S."

" An' a very nice letther too, it is," th' owd lass said, as soon as aw'd finished readin' it. " Sam's a very sensible chap; a deeal moore so nur aw took him to be. What nice words he uses; an' heaw nicely he puts 'em together. Well, aw think we conno' do betther nur go to -wheere is it, Ab ? "

" Port Erin," aw said.

"Ay, Port Herrin;"-that's wheere o th' fresh herrin' come fro', aw reckon. We may have 'em chep theere, aw should think, fried i' butther an' scittert o'er wi' parsley, as Peggy Thuston does 'em." An' th' owd lass went off wi' her calkilations just as if hoo'd londed an' getten hersel' comfortably sattled deawn at th", Neest."

Aw could see at once ut th' owd damsel wur so bent upo' gooin', ut it wur no use tryin' it on to go by misel' ; tho' aw did just throw eaut a feeler for t' see heaw it 'ud work. Aw said:-

" Aw dunno' like th' thowts o' gooin' across. It's made me aw couldno' sleep for a neet or two."

" Wheay, what art unyessy abeaut ? " hoo said.

" Thee," aw said. " It's mooestly a roough vowage. If theau gets dreawnt what mun aw do beaut thee ? "

" Aw shall stond as good a chance as thee, aw reckon," hoo said.

" Aye, aw dar'say theau would, if thi tongue could help thee ony!" aw said. " But what if we booath on us went to th' bottom ? "

" We took one another for betther an' wurr, an' that ud be a bit o'th' wurr soart ; that ud be o. If we'rn booath dreawnt we shouldno' be feart o' one another gettin' wed agen, an' a stranger wearin' one's clooas. Wheere ther's as mich love as ther' is between us two it should never be parted. Eh, Ab ? " An' hoo gan me one of her owd looks ut took thirty year off mi shoothers, if it took one, an' sattled th' eaut like puttin' a seeal on a bit o' papper.

This wur Wednesday; an' we agreed we should set sail th' Setterday after. Aw took th' bank cheque to owd Thuston, an' he gan me a hontful o' gowd for it, ut aw thowt wur very good on him. He said he could pay it i' Manchester for oil cake. Aw'd mi best woollen cords wesht, an' a canary singlet ut ud bin mi feyther's ; an' aw'd four pair o' lambs' wools ut hadno' a darn abeaut 'em ; an' if yo'd seen th' shirts ut wur getten ready, yo'd ha' thowt aw're some lord, or summat, gooin' off to Ameriky. Heaw one woman could get through o that, an' mak' 'em as white as they wur, is one o' thoose things ut mak's a mon shawm when he thinks heaw little he does

If th' owd lass had made o these preparations for me, yo' may ha' some idea as to what hoo'd done for hersel'.

Between her an' Peggy Thuston ut had gone to Blackpool, they'd farmed every box an' trunk ther' wur i' Walmsley Fowt, an' wur one short at last. Eaur Sal said if it wurno' for th' rockers hoo'd tak' th' kayther (cradle), an' put some things i' that! But when Jack o' Flunter's wife said hoo could mak' her a chignon (chignon) for her yead ut ud howd as mich as a firkin tub, hoo gan th' owd fruit-basket up, an' said hoo'd be i'th' fashion for once.

When th' mornin' coome for bein' off it wur like a rush-cart finishin' abeaut eaur dur. O th' neighbour women wur i'th' heause helpin', or purtendin' t' help, eaur Sal to get ready. Aw dunno' think ther a pin laft i'th' fowt, ther so mony wanted for t' tack her gears t'gether ! Just as th' last touch wur bein' made, ther a big sheaut set up i'th' fowt, an' then a skrike as if someb'dy were bein' kilt! Aw ran eaut to see what ther' wur up, an' seed eaur Dick comin' to'ard th' dur as weet as a dreawnt rotten, an' givin' meauth as leaud as a showmon. Aw couldno' get a word Baut on him as to what he'd bin doin', but eaur wenches said he'd bin sailin' to th' Isle o' Mon on a plank i' owd Thuston's pit, an' he'd getten shipwrecked. Aw dhroighed his back wi' a stick, an' promised him another warmin' when aw coome whoam if aw yerd on him gooin' on a chep trip agen beaut ticket !

Aw'd engaged owd Thuston's donkey cart for t' tak' us to th' station, an' it wur drawn up to th' dur just as eaur Sal wur ready for puttin' her bonnet on; but " Edward " aw fund, had a hauve an heaur to wait yet. When th' bonnet wur tried it fitted th' top of her yead like one o' thoose tin caps they putten candles eaut with; an' hoo could hardly raich it when hoo coome to feel for it ! That ud never do ; so th' shinnon had to be poo'd deawn, an' th' things ut wur put inside on't crommed i' mi pockets till ww're pannier't as weel as ever a jackass wur.

Just five minutes moore, an' then we're off. Eaur Sal wanted that time to hersel' 'ith' loomheause. So hoo went in an' shut hersel'up ; an', enneaw, aw could yer her axin blessin's for everybody, even thoose ut hadno' behaved to her as they should ha' done ; but more par-ticularly her own bits o' chickens, ut met be feytherless an' motherless afore th' day wur o'er. Hoo axed Somebody to raise up a protector for' em i' case one wur wanted; an' to see they didno' go wrung, but kept i' reet ways, so ut hoo could meet 'em agen when th' sae o' life wur crossed, an' th' Isle o' Summat else nur Mon wur raiched. Hoo finished up with-

An' bless eaur owd Ab, if he eautlives me: an' dunno' let him wed Joe Tinker's widow, ut says hoo's waitin' for mi shoon, becose if he is a bit of a foo sometimes, he's to good a mon to throw away upo' sich like as her. Aw'd as lief he'd ha' Peggy Thuston as onybody, for hoo's a dacent hard-workin' woman, an' 'ud be a mother to mi childer. Amen! "

This done, th' childer wur co'ed up, an' towd to be good till we coome back, an' no' fo' eaut an' feight ;-if they did, they'd ha' th' knots dress't off 'em wi' a rope ! Then we set off, an' geet to th' station o reet.

We'd no sooner getten sit deawn i'th' railway carriage, nur th' train shot eaut o'th station like a dart eaut o a gun, an' wur beawled into a tunnel afore we knew wheere we wur. While we'rn i' that dark hole eaur Sal geet howd o' mi arm, an' squose it till it's black this minute. Hoo said hoo could see a dark-complexioned chap, wi' horns an' a fishhook tail, grinnin' at her i'th' darkness, an' then a smell like brunnin' matches, ut hoo didno' hauve like on! At last we coome into dayleet agen, an' soon after we fund we'rn at Liverpool station, wi' as mony chaps i' cord clooas slappin' at carriage durs as would a bin enoogh to ha' etten us.

Ther a gentleman ut had ridden wi' us ut gan me some very good advice. Aw'd axt another chap which wur th' road to th' Isle o' Man, an' he towd me ut if aw'd get on th' reet packet aw should ha' no 'casion t' sper (to inquire), ut made me aw're as wise as ever. But this t'other gentle-man towd me mi best plan ud be to get into a cab, an' tell th' droiver to droive me to th' Isle o' Man packet, an' aw should ha' no bother abeaut it. Aw took his advice, an' thanked him, an' towd him if ever he coome as far as Walmsley Fowt, we'd ha' a pint together for bein' so obleegin'.

So, wi' mich ado, aw geet th' owd Rib into a cab, an' th' luggage wur pil't up so hee, ut ww're feeart on ther' bein' some lumber wi' it upo' th' road. Heawever, we managed to get deawn safe, an' geet amung a creawd o' folk ut wur runnin', an' pushin', an' jostlin' abeaut as if they'rn gone crackt', an' we'd summat to do to get eaut o'th' cab for th' creawd o' lads ut wur bobbin' ther' honds in at th' dur, offerin' shoe-tees for t' tee mi hat on, so as it wouldno' be blown off bi th' wynt. Aw had to gi'e two on 'em a cleaut o'th' side o'th' yead afore they'd shift. One on 'em sheauted eaut-

" Yo'll want arf a dozen for that old pot o' yours! " T'other sheauted-

" Buy a cable for the old girl's bonnet! Get yer one cheap!" Then they clapt the'r thumbs to the'r noses, an' scuttert off wi' a yeawl.

While this wur gooin' on, eaur Sal stood lookin' at a great lot o' summat ut wur rooarin' away i'th' front o' wheere we stood, an' ut wur sendin' as mich reech up two red chimdvs as would ha' driven two factories. Hoo're axin a chap what that big thing wur, an' when he towd her it wur a "boat," an' it wur co'd th' Tinwil', hoo oppened her peepers wider nur ever. Hoo thowt it wur quite big enough for a ship. Ther' no ships upo' Hollin'o'th Lake hawve as big.

" Isle of Man packet," th' chap said, " an' a very fine craft she is! "

" It's a woman ship, then!" th' owd lass said, makkin' th' chap look as if he thowt hoo're trottin' him. " Well, aw'm fain o' that. Aw'd rayther trust misel' with it nur a mon ship. Come, Ab, we'st ha' to get on this-this- Tinwil, aw reckon, as everybody else is gettin' on. Help me o'er that plank, an' see ut th' boxes are safe. Theau knows which they are, aw reckon."

Aw did just happen to know which they wur then ; but when they'rn weel mixed up wi' a lot ut aw see'd abeaut, aw'd some misgivin' ut o wouldno' be reet at th' fur end.

We'd no sooner getten upo' th' ship nur we parted, never to meet agen for an heaur at leeast. Aw seeched th' owd lass up an' deawn, but could see noather top nor tail on her ! Aw thowt they'd happen letten her deawn i'th' hole amung th' boxes, but as aw could see nowt wick deawn theere, aw looked reaund agen. At last aw fund her, laid deawn on a sort o' couch cheear, in a grand parlour deawn some steps. Hoo're busy talkin' to hersel', like owd Ailse o' Beawker's when hoo's knittin', an' th' ramble ut hoo're gooin' through made me think hoo're poorly.

" He're a good Ab to me," hoo said, an' soiked ; " an' heaw he could leeave me this road is moore nur aw con tell ! If this be gooin' to th' Isle o' Mon, an' on a woman ship, too, save me fro' owt o'th' soart next time ! Aw wonder wheerever he is ! Eh, my Ab ! "

Aw thowt aw'd just roose her up a bit; so aw said, just leaud enoogh for her t' yer-

" He's knockin' abeaut Liverpool yonder wi' Joe Tinker widow! "

"What! " hoo said; an' hoo sprang up. Then, seein' me, hoo set to an' gan me th' length an' breadth of her tongue for abeaut two minutes, an wonder't heaw aw could think o' leeavin' her as aw had done. But it wur just like me. Aw never cared nowt abeaut her ; an' sooner hoo gan Joe Tinker widow a chance o' wearin' her clooas an' moore satisfaction it ud be to everybody.

Aw towd her it wur her ut had gan me th' slip when aw're gettin' th' boxes put deawn i'th' saw-pit. But hoo'd have her own road abeaut it, an' said aw'd done it becose aw're feart hoo'd be some trouble to me. After that hoo quietened deawn, an' laid her yead upo' th' pillow agen.

" Heaw soon is th' ship gooin' to start, Ab? " hoo said, coverin' her face wi' her shawl. " Aw dunno' like this ranty-pow wark; it mak's me feel so quare. It's like ridin' in a swingin'-boat. Oh, dear me! "

Aw towd her we'd bin on th' road above an heaur, an' we'rn gettin' eaut o'th' seet o' lond. We should be at th' fur end in abeaut four heaurs if o went weel.

" Eh, aw didno' think we'd stirred!" hoo said. ` Aw'm so thankful! Is ther' a pig-cote somewheere abeaut, Ab?"

" Nawe. What dost ax that for? " aw said.

" Becose," hoo said, " aw con yer a lot o' little pigs squeakin. Wheere are they ? "

"Aw think theaw'd best not know wheere they are," aw said. " Sae pigs are no' very partikilar abeaut folk's clooas, if they getten nee 'em. Lie thee still, an' never mind ship bacon."

" What's that bell ringin' for, Ab ? "

"Aw'll just ax. Oh, it's dinner-time, aw see. Couldto' do wi' a meauthful o' summat?"

Hoo put her hont eaut as if hoo meant to say "husht! " " Heaw would some mutton broth do, wi' th' fat skimmed off?"

Another puttin' eaut o'th' hont.

" Or some fresh herrin' fried i' butther ? "

"Hub! "

" Or a plateful o' Scotch collops ? "

" Hub -hub! "

" Aw'll get thi a bit o' boilt ham, if theau likes."

" Hub-hub-heugh ! "

" Theigher ! If theau doesno' mind theau'll be sae-sick. Howd up!"

" Bucket, Ab !-tub !-owt ! Heugh ! Oh, dear my!"

Just as aw're wonderin' what to do, a sailor chap, wi' a face made eaut o' ballis leather, coome creepin' in ; an' he'd summat with him like a tin grindle-stone ut he put drawn upo' floor o'th' side o' wheere eaur Sal lee. He said summat very kind to her, an' towd me to go on deck, as aw're gettin' very white abeaut my nose. Aw should want a tin grindle-stone misel' if aw didno' mind.

Aw unteed th' owd lass's bonnet-strings so as hoo wouldno' be throttled ; then aw scrambled up steers to what they coed th' deck to see heaw things wur gooin' on theere.

Th' seet as aw seed wur hardly calkilated for makkin' me i' fettle for my dinner! Folk lee abeaut like carrits after a scrimmage in a pantymime ; an' aw con hardly say ut it wur quite as pleasant as bein' in a garden filled wi' roses, an' wallfleawers, an' honeysuckles. Aw may say it wur owt but that. Aw geet to th' wynt side as soon as aw could, an' looked eaut upo' th' sae.

Waves wur tossin' abeaut like a lot o' sheep havin' a fifty-hond reel in a fielt ; an' they dashed agen th' ship as if they wanted to climb o'er th' side an' have an odd twell amung us! Th' owd Tinwil wur workin' away like one o' thoose rockin' hosses in a toy shop, an' churnin' sae wi' her paddles, ut looked like two big bobbin wheels, till aw expected seein' some o' owd Daf Jones' butther turn up, if he deeals i' owt o'th' sooart. Aw axt a chap ut stood at th' side o' me if he didno' co it roough.

" Oh, no; not at all, it's only merry! It may be a bit lumpy when we get further out. I call this very nice! " Just then th' ship gan a yead-fust plunge, an' aw're sent wilta-shalta crash agen summat like a big cage-top, wheere aw could see th' engines pumpin' away like as if th' very owd lad wur droivin' 'em! Aw geet a waft o' summat like th' smell o' brunt oighl, ut made me feel as if somebody wur liftin' mi inside eaut, like takkin' a clock i' pieces. It wur a case wi' me, aw fund. Aw could howd up no lunger ; so o'er aw went, as sick as a wench when hoo's havin' a tooth drawn.

Aw remember nowt no furr !-nobbut neaw an' then yerrin th' plungin' o'th' engines, an' what eaur Sal coed th' squeakin' o'th' little pigs, till someb'dy said lond wur i' Beet.

Aw gethert misel' up then, an' fund my legs wur very bad to manage, an' my singlet wur as slack as if th' back had bin takken eaut. Aw looked reaund, an' seed ut folk ut had bin laid deawn wur neaw on the'r feet, walkin' abeaut as aw've seen patients do i'th' Infirmary gardens ; .an' a woful lot they looked! Aw went deawn i'th' parlour for t' see heaw th' owd Rib wur gettin' on, an' fund her nicely asleep. So aw leet her snooze on till th' ship gan o'er marlockin', an' we'rn gettin' within a stone's throw, as aw thrwt, o'th' Isle o' Mon. Then aw roosed her up; an' hoo soiked, an' said-

" Wheere am aw ? "

" We're gettin' very nee to th' fur end," aw said.

" Eh, thank goodness! " hoo said, an' soiked agen. " Aw thowt aw must never ha' seen lond no moore ! Aw wonder heaw eaur childer are gettin' on! Eh, Ab, aw ha' bin prayin' for 'em! Tak' me eautside, wilts, for aw feel welly smooart ! "

So aw gethert her up, an' took her up steers, an' put her on a form eautside, wheere boo could see a lot moore ut had bin like hersel'. Then th' ship begun a gooin' slower.

" We're gettin' close to th' sod neaw," aw said, " an ther's mony a hundert folk waitin' on us ! "

" Does t' see ony cats beaut tails ? " hoo said.

" Aye ! " aw said,-" ther's three or four runnin' upo' some slates yonder ! "

" Catch me one as soon as theau con, for aw want to see what they're like."

Before aw'd time to ha' mi laaf at her, aw're sent bang thunge deawn th' ladder, wi' a streeam o' folk after me, scramblin' for the'r luggage. Boxes wur knockin' abeaut mi shins like clogs at a foout-bo playin', an' aw're as nee as a toucher bein' tumbled yead-fust deawn th' sawpit, wheere th' luggage wur bein' wun up. For't soart mine eaut o' that pack o' lumber wur like seechin' a wench when hoo's eaut wi' her chap !-aw should aulus be lookin' i'th' wrung place, aw thrwt. One o'th' sailors seein' me powlerin' abeaut like a dog in a fair, took pity on me, an' axt me what mi cargo wur like, an' he'd try t' find it for me. Aw towd him aw didno' know; but aw thowt it wur like nob'dy's else ; an' that wur o th' chance aw had o' ownin' it.

" Haven't you got your name on ? " he said, lookin' at me as if his temper wur breakin' eaut, an' he couldno' howd it.

" Nawe," aw said, " ther's nowt nobbut a weight-rope or two tee'd reaund. If aw conno' own th' lot by thoose, aw shall be like t' wait till everybody else has soarted theers, an' tak' what's laft."

Th' owd lad gan me a look, an' then spit on his bonds, an' walked away, mutterin' summat abeaut a "lubber," ut aw da'say meant me, if it wur nobbut explained reet.

Heawever, aw waited till th' place wur middlin' weel swept eaut ; an' then aw collared o ut wur laft, an' fund aw'd th' reet keawnt, whether they'rn th' reet boxes or not. By th' time aw'd getten th' lumber on th' deck, aw fund we'rn th' last upo' th' ship; an' th' owd rib wur havin' a fluster wi' th' sailors becose hoo wouldno' stir beaut me. Aw towd 'em aw'd talk to the'r betthers abeaut 'em when aw geet upo' dry lond ; so they drew the'r burns in, an' went abeaut the'r wark. At last we londed, an' wur Jaded up some steps on to what they coed th' " pier," but when we wur laft to eaursel's we booath on us dawled abeaut as if we'd bin drunken! Th' pier rocked like th' ship, or favvort doin'; an' heaw folk could keep the'r feet ony betther nur us wur a puzzle to me, becose a lot on 'em had fuddled on th' road, an' we'd had nowt!

We hadno' getten mony yard deawn th' pier, pushin' amung folk ut wur starin' at us as if we'd bin curiosities ut had bin catcht i'th' sae, when a gentleman in a white shoiny cooat an' a straw hat, coome an' tapt me on th' shoother.

" Isn't your name Fletcher ? " he said, lookin' me full i'th' face.

Aw said it wur ; or he met have it Ab-o'th'-Yate, if he liked; oather ud suit me.

" Well, I've orders to arrest you, and take you to Port Erin Castle," he said ; so you'd better follow me!"

" But he's never done nowt wrung !" th' owd Rib put in, lookin' in a great flusterification. "He wouldno' hurt a worm; aw'm sure he wouldno'."

"That may all be very true," th' gentleman said; but it has to be proved. I'm afraid you'll have to go with me."

" Well, aw dar' face up owt ut aw've done," aw said; " so come on! But someb'dy 'll ha' to carry these boxes, too; aw shall no'."

" Oh, I'll see to that. This way, please."

" Theau's bin dooin' summat wrung, Ab 1" th' owd lass said, turnin' to me. " Aw con see it i' thi face! Aw reckon that wur what theau gan me th' slip for. Eh, 'at we'd never come'n ! But wheere theau goes ww'll goo, at ony rate ; so let's know th' wust."

When we geet t' th' gates, th' gentleman ut wur wi' us, ut aw took to be a policeman i' disguise, winked at another ut come up to us, an' this mon said " Oh, I see you've caught him ! "

" Yes, fairly nobbled ! " t'other said. " Where's the van ? "

Getting ready."

" Well we'll just have a nip at the hotel before we go;" an' whether it wur wi' th' woful look ther' wur upo' eaur Sal's face, or they couldno' howd no lunger, aw conno' tell, but they booath brasted eaut o' laaffin' an' then geet howd o' me an' th' owd Rib, an' shook eaur honds till they fairly wartcht !

Aw went as leet as a fither o at once, an' mi owd stockin'-mender's face breetent up like summer when hoo see'd they'd nobbut bin havin' us on. So we went into th' hotel, an' we'd a dose o'th' best physic they could get for curin' sae-sickness ; an' bi th' time we'd finished, ther' wur a two-hoss coach at th' dur, waitin' for t' tak' us eendway. We wur honded in like a king an' a queen; an' when we'd getten sattled deawn aw looked reaund me. Th' whul wo'ld an' his grondmother, an' two or three cousins fro' th' moon, met ha' bin theere, it wur so thrung wi' folk!

It wur like a wakes; an' what they could see i' maulin' abeaut theere aw conno' tell, for it isno' one o'th' sweetest places aw've bin in, no' by a lot. Aw could see mony a face ut aw knew; an some wur middlin' weel oppent when they seed me peearched as aw wur, wi' th' owd Rib at side on me. They seemed to say, " Yond's owd Ab doin' it grandly!" or summat like it; an' one or two sheauted, but aw couldno' tell what they said, as we'rn droivin' off, me an' eaur Sal i'th' carriage, an' th' two gentlemen gooin' on before in a `,trap," as they coed it,, carryin' th' luggage.

We'd hardly getten eaut of a bit o' nice country eaut-side Douglas nur aw yerd my queen wur takkin' it cozily, bein' gradely knocked up. Aw followed th' suit, for aw're quite done o'er misel' ; an' we booath slept like two tops till we geet to eaur journey's end.

It wur getten' abeaut th' edge o' dark when we londed at Port Erin; an' th' Falcon's Neest, aw fund, wur in a blaze o' welcome. Aw wurno' soory ut th' journey wur o'er, as we'd ridden lung enoof, aw thowt, to ha' browt us to th' wo'ld's end. Th' tits had behaved weel, aw thowt, when we just calkilaten what they'd had to draw ; an' they'd kept the'r yeads up for fifteen mile i' fust-rate style, an' coome in as fresh as if they'd just getten ready for gooin' to a main brew.

We fund we wurno' quite by eaursel's when we geet to th' " Neest," for ther' a lot o' ladies an' gentlemen stood i'th' front waitin' on us comin' in, beside some ut wur lookin' eaut o'th' windows; an' these waved the'r hats an' napkins, an' sheauted-" Hurray for Lankeyshur ! " " Bravo Ab ! " ` Welcome to Port Erin ! " " One for th' owd Rib! " " Hurray! "-till it made me feel as preaud as if aw'd won a ribbin at a doancin' match. Aw rose up off mi seeat, an' geet upo' mi pegs, an doft mi hat to 'em, thinkin' they wur sheautin' for me, till th' owd Rib wakkent up an' poo'd at mi cooat laps, an' said they wur sheautin' for her ; an' if hoo could ha' getten her bonnet off hoo'd ha' showed me that too; but th' owd lass had it teed on wi' a knot, an' couldno' losen it.

After th' sheautin' wur o'er, aw geet deawn fro' mi peearch, an' helped th' owd lass deawn, tho' hoo said hoo " needed no helpin', thank goodness." Aw felt a bit stiff abeaut th' angles o' mi shanks wi sittin' so lung, an' lookin' after folk ut couldno' look after the'rsel's ; but aw believe if aw'd bin shreawded up i' mi coffin-shirt, wi' tuppence upo' mi peepers, aw should ha' had to shull eaut agen ; for ther th' smartest lot o' duleskins ut ever aw coome across i' my life! They coome at me as if they'd ha' worried me, an' then etten me wick at afther ; an' they'rn reawnd eaur Sal till nowt could be seen on her nobbut th' bonnet, ut looked like a buoy in a roough sae!

When this squeezin', an' slappin', an' ado makin' on slackent a bit, we'rn pushed whether or not into a reawm wheere ther a lung table laid eaut wi' o sorts o' things for atin', as if ther a regiment o' so'diers for t' feed, or a colliers' club. Aw shuttert my knees under beawt waitin' to be axt, an' geet howd of a knife an' fork ready for t' tackle summat as soon as it wur put afore me. Th' owd Rib said hoo're hardly ready for a job o' that soart yet. Hoo felt as if th' heause wur rowlin' abeaut like a ship ; an' hoo wondered what it wur built on' an' if it wur safe! It must be a neest wi' rockers on, hoo thowt, as it made her feel a little bit in a gooin'-o'er way, as if hoo're gooin' to have a beawt, same as hoo'd had upo' th' wayter. Hoo'd just have a sope o' tae an' a cracklin', an' then hoo'd go to bed, an' see if hoo should be a bit betther i'th' mornin'. Ther a very nice lady made tae for us, an' beside that, made sick ado of eaur Sal, ut th' owd lass said it wur as good as physic to her, an' hoo thowt hoo should be able to stop up a bit lunger. Her tung geet so loce, an' her face geet so nicely French polished,ut aw fancied ther summat else i'th' cup beside tae; but when aw named it, hoo said it wur sae-air ut had done it ! Aw've some deauts yet, but dunno' like to say mich.

After aw'd etten as mich as ud ha' sarved a gang o' navvies, aw're shuttert deawn th' steers into as nice an' snug a fuddlin' shop as ever aw reddent my-nose in ; an' afore aw could get misel' plankt into a cheear, aw'd as mony glasses afore me as ud ha' done for neet-caps for a whul week. Sam Smithies wur as red abeaut th' ears as a turkey's bonnet, an' he're flourishin' abeaut as if th' place belunged to him. Th' londlort coome in an' said-"Ab, mak' thisel' a-whoam; if t' doesno' theau'rt a foo'!" Th' londlady coome in too, an' said th' same, obbut hoo laft th' foo' eaut, an' didno' squeeze my hont as hard, To my thinkin' hoo's th' finest woman i'th wo'ld obbut one! Well, aw met say the very finest, obbut aw like quietness a-whoam, an' sayin' that met mak' things. a little bit lob-sided i' Walmsley Fowt.

As soon as aw'd getten my pipe, an' had dipt my nose a time or two inside a reechin' tumbler, aw begun a-feelin' a-whoam, as if aw're at th' " Owd Bell," gettin' misel' i' singin' fettle. Someheaw it wur like windin' a curtain up to me, as aw hadno' seen th' company gradely before; an' aw must say ut moore aw see'd on 'em an' moore aw felt a-whoam. Ther th' husbant to that lady ut made tae for us; an' aw fund it eaut ut he coom fro' Manchester, an' had yerd abeaut Walmsley Fowt afore. He pointed to a little reaund barrel of a chap, wi' a straw hat on, sit in a corner, an' makkin' th' place fair ring agen wi' laffin'. They said he're th' Bishop o' Port Erin, gettin' hissel' i' tiff for Sunday wark. He had to praich at Castleteawn, they said, an' walk theere i'th' mornin' ; an' as th' distance wur a good five mile, he couldno' manage so weel-as a jolly-lookin' captain said-witheaut " takkin' plenty o' coal on board." Ther' wur a coalin' station abeaut th' hauve road, ut went by th' name o'th' " Shore Hotel," but they never filled bunkers of a Sunday, so he had to prime hissel' o'er neet.

Aw thowt he're th' quarest bishop ever aw coom across, an' ut if o bishops wur like him ther' wouldno' be as mony Dissenters as ther' is. Aw should say he'd more laffin' tackle abeaut him nur ther' is i' th' whul church beside, for it coome rowlin' up fro' under his waistcooat as if he'd had a little steeam engine theere ut worked off condensed whiskey! His face wur made for fun, if ever ther' wur one formered for owt o'th' soart, for it rollicked abeaut his meauth an' his een, an' sit stroddle-leg on his nose, an' peeped fro' under his double-barrelled chin, as if it knew it had to be boxed up o' Sunday, an' wur havin' a extry fling o' purpose. It wur " Ha, ha, ha ! ho, ho, ho! heigh, heigh, heigh!" if nob'dysaid nowt; so what must it be if somb'dy had th' luck to mak' a joke? Wheay, his white neck-napkin favvort hangin' him, an' his waistcooat buttons flew as if they'rn a lot o' keys blown off a flute wi' playin' merry music ! If he'd had a hat-peg heheend his shoothers, an' a cappel put on his nose, he'd ha' done for Punch. Oh, yo' " owd tooad ! " yo'n a good deeal o' soreness abeaut my ribs to onswer for. If aw'd stopt' wi' yo' a week lunger yo'd ha' to ha' said I dust to dust' o'er me! Well, we spent a jolly neet, an' aw fund it wur th' forerunner of a lot o' jolly neets-aye, an' days too ; an' th' fun we had wur too mich to tell yo' abeaut i' one letther; so aw'll let yo' wait another month for it, when aw con tell yo' what wur th' consequences o' not puttin' tickets on my luggage, an' other quare things. For th' present aw'll wish yo' good neet, an' say aw'm

Yo'r own, AB.

 


 

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