‘Forty year come Candlemas, Malachi.’
’Yi, forty year come Candlemas. Aw were bred and born aboon Padiham, an’ aw come to th’ Brig Factory as cut-looker, an’ never laft th’ job till aw went to weighin’ coil on th’ pit bonk.’
‘All but that eighteen month thaa were away i’ Yorksur, when th’ cotton panic were on, thaa knows, lad.’
‘Yi, lass, aw know. Naa let me ged on wi’ mi tale. Well, as aw were sayin’, Mr. Penrose, I come in these parts as cut-looker at th’ Brig Factory, and th’ fust lass as brought her piece to me were Betty yonder.’
‘Thaa’rt wrang agen, Malachi. Th’ fust lass as brought her piece to thee were Julia Smith. Aw remember as haa hoo went in afore me, as though it were nobbud yester morn.’
‘Well, never mind, thaa wur t’ fust I seed, an’ that’s near enugh, isn’t it, Mr. Penrose?’
The minister nodded, and smiled at old Betty, who so jealously followed the story of her husband’s early life.
‘Well, when hoo put her piece daan afore me, I couldn’t tak’ mi een off her. Aw were fair gloppent (taken by surprise), an’ aw did naught but ston’ an’ stare at her.
‘"What arto starin’ at?” hoo said, flushin’ up to her yure (hair).
’"At yo’,” I said, as gawmless as a nicked goose.
‘"Then thaa’d better use thi een for what th’art paid for, an’ look at them pieces i’stead o’ lookin’ at lasses’ faces.”
‘And hoo walked aat o’ th’ warehaase like a queaan. An’ dun yo’ remember, Betty, haa th’ young gaffer laffed at me, an’ said as aw could noan play wi’ th’ likes o’ yo’?’
‘Yi, aw remember, Malachi; but ged on wi’ yor tale. Mr. Penrose here is fair plagued.’
’Indeed, I’m not. Go on, Malachi. Take your own time, and tell your story in your own fashion.’
’Aw will, Mr. Penrose, if hoo’ll nobbud let me. Betty were a four-loom weyver; and i’ those days there wernd so many lasses as could tackle th’ job. An’ th’ few that could were awlus piked up pratty quick for wives—for them as married ’em had no need to work theirsels, and had lots o’ time on their hands for laking (playing) and such-like. Bud that wernd th’ reason aw made up to Betty. It wernd th’ looms that fetched me; it were her een. There’s some breetness in ’em yet; bud yo’ should ha’ sin ’em forty years sin’! They leeted up her bonnie cheeks like dewdrops i’ roses; an’ noabry ‘at looked i’ them could see ought wrang i’ ‘em.’
’Malachi, if thaa doesn’t hold thi tung I’ll smoor (smother) thee wi’ this stockin’. Thaa’rt as soft as when thaa were a lad;’ and the old woman held up the article of clothing that she was darning in her hand, and shook it in a threatening manner at her eloquent spouse.