‘Th’ flute were my salvation agen, Mr. Penrose, when our lad deed. He wor just one-and-twenty, and he’s bin dead eighteen year. Brass is nothin’ when it comes to berryin’ yor own, Mr. Penrose. Poverty may touch a mon’s pride, but death touches his heart. When yo’ see yor own go aat o’ th’ haas feet fermost, and yo’ know it’s for good an’ o’, there’s summat taan aat o’ yo’ that nothin’ ever maks up for at afterwards. I wor a long time afore I forgave th’ Almeety for takin’ aar Joe. And all the time I owed Him a grudge, and kep’ on blamin’ Him like; I got wurr and wurr, until I welly went mad. Then I coome across th’ old flute, and it seemed to say, “I’ll help thee agen.” “Nay, owd brid,” I said, “tha cornd. It’s noan brass this time, it’s mi lad.” And th’ owd flute seemed to say, “Try me.” So I tuk it up, and put it to mi lips and blew—yi, aat of a sad heart, Mr. Penrose—but it wor reet. Th’ owd flute gi’ me back mi prayer—grace for grace, as yo’ parsons say, whatever yo’ mean by’t. And as I sat on th’ bench i’ th’ garden—same bench as yo’ saw me sittin’ on this afternoon—my missis coome to th’ dur, and hoo said, “Enoch, what doesto think?” “Nay, lass,” I said, “I durnd know.” “Why,” hoo says, “I think as thaa’s fotched aar Joe daan fro’ heaven to hear thee playin’; he seems nearer to me naa nor he ever did sin’ he left us.” And so, ever afterwards, Mr. Penrose, when we want to feel aar Joe near us, I just taks up th’ flute and plays, and he awlus comes.’
Old Enoch paused, for his voice was thick, and with his handkerchief he wiped away the moisture from his eyes.
In another minute he continued:
‘Bud, Mr. Penrose, I’d a wurr trouble than oather o’ those I’ve towd yo’ on. A twothree year sin’ I wor a reprobate. I don’t know how it coom abaat, but somehaa I geet fond o’ drink, and I tuk to stopping aat late, and comin’ wom’ rough like, and turnin’ agen th’ missus. They coom up to see me from Rehoboth, and owd Mr. Morell prayed wi’ me; but it wor all no use. Th’ devil hissel wor in me. They say, Mr. Penrose, as yo’ durnd believe in a devil; that yo’ co evil a principle or summat of that sort. If thaa’d bin like me thaa’d hev no doubts abaat a devil. I’ve felt him in me, an’ I’ve felt him tak’ howd o’ me and do as he’d a mind wi’ me. One day, when they’d crossed mi name off th’ Rehoboth register, and th’ missus were sobbin’ fit to break her heart, aw coom across th’ owd flute as aw were rootin’ in a box for some medicine. There it lay, long forgetten. As aw seed it, tears coom in my een. Aw thought haa it bed helped mi when I lost o’ mi brass, and when Joe deed, and aw tuk it up and said, “Can ta help me naa, thinksto?” An’ aw put it together, and went aat on th’ moors and began to play; and fro’ that hour to this aw’ve never wanted to sup a drop o’ drink. Naa, Mr. Penrose, yo’ preachers talk abaat th’ Cross, and it’s o’ reet that yo’ should; but yo’ cannot blame me for talkin’ abaat my flute, con yo’, when it’s bin my salvation? And whenever awm a bit daanhearted, or hardhearted, or fratchy wi’ th’ missus, or plaguey wi’ fo’k, aw goes to th’ owd flute, and it helps me o’er th’ stile. But it’s gettin’ lat’; let’s be goin’ wom’.’