It was Henery Walker’s idea. Henery ’ad been away to see an uncle of ’is wife’s wot had money and nobody to leave it to—leastways, so Henery thought when he wasted his money going over to see ’im—and he came back full of the idea, which he ’ad picked up from the old man.
“We each pay twopence a week till Christmas,” he ses, “and we buy a hamper with a goose or a turkey in it, and bottles o’ rum and whiskey and gin, as far as the money’ll go, and then we all draw lots for it, and the one that wins has it.”
It took a lot of explaining to some of ’em, but Smith, the landlord, helped Henery, and in less than four days twenty-three men had paid their tuppences to Henery, who ’ad been made the seckitary, and told him to hand them over to Smith in case he lost his memory.
Bob Pretty joined one arternoon on the quiet, and more than one of ’em talked of ’aving their money back, but, arter Smith ’ad explained as ’ow he would see fair play, they thought better of it.
“He’ll ’ave the same chance as all of you,” he ses. “No more and no less.”
“I’d feel more easy in my mind, though, if’e wasn’t in it,” ses Bill Chambers, staring at Bob. “I never knew ’im to lose anything yet.”
“You don’t know everything, Bill,” ses Bob, shaking his ’ead. “You don’t know me; else you wouldn’t talk like that. I’ve never been caught doing wrong yet, and I ’ope I never shall.”
“It’s all right, Bill,” ses George Kettle. “Mr. Smith’ll see fair, and I’d sooner win Bob Pretty’s money than anybody’s.”
“I ’ope you will, mate,” ses Bob; “that’s what I joined for.”
“Bob’s money is as good as anybody else’s,” ses George Kettle, looking round at the others. “It don’t signify to me where he got it from.”
“Ah, I don’t like to hear you talk like that George,” ses Bob Pretty. “I’ve thought more than once that you ’ad them ideas.”
He drank up his beer and went off ’ome, shaking his ’cad, and, arter three or four of’em ’ad explained to George Kettle wot he meant, George went off ’ome, too.
The week afore Christmas, Smith, the landlord, said as ’ow he ’ad got enough money, and three days arter we all came up ’ere to see the prize drawn. It was one o’ the biggest hampers Smith could get; and there was a fine, large turkey in it, a large goose, three pounds o’ pork sausages, a bottle o’ whiskey, a bottle o’ rum, a bottle o’ brandy, a bottle o’ gin, and two bottles o’ wine. The hamper was all decorated with holly, and a little flag was stuck in the top.
On’y men as belonged was allowed to feel the turkey and the goose, and arter a time Smith said as ’ow p’r’aps they’d better leave off, and ’e put all the things back in the hamper and fastened up the lid.
“How are we going to draw the lottery?” ses John Biggs, the blacksmith.
“There’ll be twenty-three bits o’ paper,” ses Smith, “and they’ll be numbered from one to twenty-three. Then they’ll be twisted up all the same shape and put in this ’ere paper bag, which I shall ’old as each man draws. The chap that draws the paper with the figger on it wins.”