’Then he’ll noan give us another chonce, lad? But thaa cornd mend it wi’ swearin’—thaa nobbud makes bad worse by adding thy oaths to his roguery.’
‘Oaths, mother! Oaths didsto say? I can tell thee th’ Almighty sometimes thinks more o’ oaths than prayers. Owd Moses’ll say his to-neet—but my oaths’ll get to heaven faster.’
’Hooisht, Jim! hooisht! ne’er mind Moses and his prayers. What did he say about th’ mortgage?’
’Say! why he said he’d oather hev his brass at ten o’clock to-morn, or skift us wi’ law. And he’ll do it—that he will.’
’A, lad—thaa says truth. Owd Moses’ll keep his word; he never lies when he threatens poor fo’k like us. But I never thought it ud come to this. I could ha’ liked to ha’ deed in th’ owd chamber aboon, and left th’ haas feet fermost when I left it for good.’ And the old woman rocked herself in her grief over the dying fire.
’Well, gronmother, wee’n all to dee, and I durnd know as it matters where we dee as long as we’re ready. It’s where we’re baan to live as bothers me,’ said the hard-headed daughter-in-law.
‘I’ve lived my life, thaa sees, lass. I’m nobbud waitin’ to go to them as is gone afore; and I could ha’ liked to foller them from th’ owd haas. And then thaa’rt noan o’ th’ owd stock, lass. Thy folks ne’er rooted theirsels i’ th’ soil like mine. It’s fifty year come next Whisundy (Whitsuntide) since Jimmie’s faither brought me here; and as I come in by wedlock, I could ha’ liked to ha’ gone out by berryin’.’
‘Come, mother,’ said the now subdued son, ’we’ll find a home for thee, and when thaa dees we’ll put thee away. Durnd tak’ on like that.’
But the old woman heeded not the kindly words of her son. Her thoughts were in the past, and she was reliving the years that were gone. Gazing into the expiring embers, she saw the forms of long ago; and talking first to herself, and then to her son and his wife, she continued, in a crooning voice:
’It’s fifty year come next Whisundy sin thi faither brought me here, lad—fifty year, and it only seems like yesterday. We were wed at th’ owd church i’ Manchester. Dan o’ Nodlocks, as used to live up at th’ Chapel-hill, drove us there and back in his new spring-cart; and what wi’ gettin’ there and being spliced, and comin’ wom’ we were all th’ day at th’ job. Th’ sun were just showin’ hissel o’er th’ hill yonder when we started, and it were goin’ daan o’er th’ moors when we geet back; and thi faither, Jimmy, as he lifted me daan from th’ cart and put me in th’ porch yonder, kissed me and said: “Sunshine aatside, Jenny, and sunshine in.” An’ that’s fifty year ago, lad, and I’ve never slept out o’ th’ owd haas from that neet to this, and I durnd want to leave it naa.’
‘Well, durnd tak’ on like that, mother; if tha’ does thaa’ll break my heart. We shall happen stop yet, who knows?’ and Jim almost choked with the lie which he told in his wild anguish to stay the torrent of his mother’s grief.