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IT was Sunday: the mill was silent, and the water pressed idly against the big dam, opposite which stood old Zam Tapp's cottage. Zam was seated in the dark kitchen, a bucket of water between his knees, peeling potatoes; and lying in a truckle-bed was his grandson Travelling Joe, a boy of about nine years old, small, wizen, and partly paralysed. The tall clock in the corner of the room had struck twelve, and groups of people passed the cottage on their return from church and chapel. Zam, who did not "howld wi' zich things," eyed them with indifference, not unmixed with contempt. He "reckoned," he said, "thet ha didn't want no praicher to teach him tha way tu 'eaven; zalvation wez a kooris thing, and, like cream, let it alone and twid come to 'ee meddle and praying widn't fetch it."
To the boy lying there, his heart full of the spirit of adventure, and his life bounded by the truckle-bed and the four walls of the small kitchen, the thought of heaven was of piercing interest; it haunt ed his dreams sleeping and waking, it was his New America, the land which he would one day explore. To him it never ceased to be a matter of regret that the Crystal Sea lay in front of the throne of God; he would have wished it might have been in what he called the "dimmet1 part o' 'eaven"; a far border-land unknown to the angels, and where even the eye of God fell seldom. And now as he lay and watched Zam peeling the potatoes, he longed
unconsciously to hear the "loosing of the mill," for the sound of the great waters leaping forth was to him as the rushing of the River of Life.
Zam's mind was occupied by the thought of his dead wife. "Eh! eh!" he exclaimed, suddenly, "hur wez a windervul 'and at biling a tetty, wez my owld wuman, and when it coomed tu tha last hur mind dwelt on it painvul. 'Vather,' hur zed, 'I reckon I've cooked 'ee my last tetty.' 'I reckon 'ee 'ave, moather,' I answered. Hur wez zilent a bit, then all-ta-wance hur zot up in bed and ketched howldt o' me by tha weskit. Tull Jane' thic wez yer pore moather-tull Jane,' hur zed, 'twez tha zalt thet did it; twez all along o' tha zalt.' But, law bless 'ee, zalt or no zalt, Jane's tetties wez niver a patch on hurn. I reckon hur hand wull ba moast out o' biling tetties by tha time I jines hur; but law, I doant complain, moast like tez zweet stuff they lives on up ther: I niver cud stomach zich stuff mezulf; but bless 'ee, glory hez tu be paid for the zame ez tha rest."
1 Dimmet, dusky, dim, full of shadows.
Zam stopped peeling the potatoes. "Many's tha time I've thought on thic, Joe," he answered, sorrowfully, "and I ba moast afeardt hur didn't; tha noo-fangled wez alwiz contrary tu hur, and if ther wez wan thing more than a
tother hur cudn't abide twez a loose veather in hur bed. Eh! eh! I wid dearly o' liked tu o' gone along fust and put hur in tha way o' things a bit; but ther, if yer doant lave things tu tha Almighty, who shall 'ee lave 'em to?"
"Tha Laurd ba turribul mindful o' poor folk," the boy said, questioningly.
"Ay, ay, lad," the old man answered, "ther ba a deal o' tha wuman about tha Almighty. Ha wull pramise 'ee an ill tarn if yer doant mend; but Ha ba zlow tu lay it on-zlow tu lay it on."
Joe was silent a moment, and Zam began once more to peel the potatoes. At last the boy spoke. "Sposing grandmoather wez tu break hur wing," he cried, excitedly, "what then, grandferwhat then?"
The old man flushed. 66 Angels baint for doing zich things ez thic, Joe," he answered; "ther's nort promiscuous in 'eaven. I reckon thet they thet ba noo tu tha trade flies mortal zlow fust along-zommat like owld Varmer Rod's payhen; no hitting o' theirselves agin a tray. Yer grandmoather kind o' thought o' thic hurzulf, and jest avor hur turned over in hur bed for tha last time, hur looked up in me vace kind o' trustzome, 'I'll take it aisy, vather,' hur zed, ‘and tha Laurd wull do tha rast.' 'Eh! eh! moather,' I zed, 'Ha woant forzake 'ee. Ha's kin a pore man Hiszulf, an' knaws what tiz not tu ba larned.' Hur zmiled, but I zaw tha tears in hur eyes. 'I shall miss yer hand, vather,' hur zed, 'tha valley o' tha shader ba turribul dark.' 'Tha Laurd wull walk wi' 'ee, moather,' I zed, 'Hiz hand ba more restful than mine.' Eh, but vust along,' hur mur
mured, 'vust 'long'; then hur claused hur eyes and died quietvul. Hur wez mortal murch a duman, pore zoul. Conzarvitive to tha endconzarvitive to the end."
Later, when the frugal dinner had been cooked and eaten, Zam drew his big arm-chair up to the fire and fell asleep. The boy closed his eyes too, but only that he might the more easily dwell in an imaginary world. He wondered what the far confines of heaven looked like, and whether he should find volcanoes there, and as he pictured the scene he suddenly startled the old man out of his sleep. "Grandfer, grandfer," he cried excitedly, "sposing 'eaven shid blaw up!
"Bless tha boy," Zam answered, looking anxiously at the small fire, "I thought vor zure tha kettle wez biling auver."
"Naw, grandfer," said Joe, "I wez ony a-wondering what tha dimmet parts o' 'eaven might be arter when God wez kind o' thinking o' zômmat ulse."
Zam's deep-set eyes twinkled. "A bit contrary may ba," he said, "but nort lightzome, Joe - nort lightzome."
"Folk ba turribul spiritless up tu 'eaven," the boy answered, sadly. "They baistesses now that stand avor tha throne - do 'ee reckon thet they iver roar?"
"Wull," his grandfather answered after a moment, "I widn't reckon on it, if I wez you, Joe— I widn't reckon on it; but," he added, as his eyes fell upon the boy's disappointed face, "who can tull wât the talking o' zich critters as thic wull be like-fearzome, no doubt."
"And, grandfer," Joe exclaimed, with rising colour, "if lame Tom wez ther wi' hiz crutch now, and jest stepped on tha taw o' wan o
they baistesses, then ha wid talk mortal spiritty, grandfer, widn't ba?"
"Eh, for zure, for zure, mortal spiritty, I'll be bound," Zam answered.
The flush of excitement died out from the boy's face. "Moast like 'twull niver happen," he said, a sorrowful voice; up tu 'eaven things ba painful riglar." "Ba 'ee tired, lad?" Zam asked, as he rose from his chair and lifted the child tenderly in his arms. "Shall I carry 'ee tu and fraw a bit."
Joe pressed his thin white face against the old man's breast."
"Tull me about things avor I wez born, grandfer," he said. "Tull me about vather; wez ba vine and upstanding?" 1
day they wez merrid; the vullage riglar tarned out tu look on 'em, and I thort tu mezulf thet twid o' bin a proud day vor my pore owld wuman if tha Almighty had spared bur; but twez better ez it twez-better ez it twez. Wull, they hadn't a-bin merrid a skaur o' wiks avore Jim wez riglar pining tu ba off: ha didn't zay nort, but wid gaw and wander about in tha wids for haurs, and wan day ha didn't coome 'ome; ha wrote from Liverpool tu zay ha wez starting vor Merikey. But tha ship wez lost wi' all 'ands; ay, ay, pore lad, I reckon ha zlapes zound anuff now wi' tha zay a-rolling a-tap o' him: ha cud niver o' breathed iv it had bin airth. But yer moather, hur niver forgave him vor it-niver: twez a Zunday thet tha noos coomed, and Martha Snykes and zome o' tha naybours rinned up yhere ez fast ez they cud, pore zouls, reckoning thet yer moather wid like to cry all-tugether comfortabul, tha zame ez it iz uyshil wi' wimen; but, law bless 'ee, when hur zaw they well-maining dumans cooming droo tha door, hur tarned hur back quat 2 on 'em and marched up-stairs. Arter a bit hur coomed down wi' a bonnet all auver pink roses. atap o' hur 'ead, and Martha Snykes wez thet tooked aback thet hur fell down wi' tha recurring spasams and drank ivery drap o' brandy ther wez in tha 'ause avor hur wez brought to. Yer moather didn't throw a look at hur, but went off down tha strait tu charch wi' all tha naybours standing at ther doors and crying shame; but, law bless 'ee, hur didn't heed 'em ony more then tha geese on tha green. Ay, ay, pore zoul, hur wez alwiz wan for howlding hur head high;
"Ay, ay, lad, ha wez pleasant tu look upon upon," Zam answered, "but ha brauk yer pore moather's heart for all o' thic. Ha wez turribul wild, wez Jim; goodhearted anuff, but turribul wild; ha wezn't built for marrying; ha cudn't stay pauking about in a little vullage zich ez this ba; ha zed thet tha wordel wez zmall anuff, but ez vor tha village, ha cudn't breathe in it; and yer pore moather hur cudn't get tu understand thet nohow-hur reckoned thet if ha loved hur, ha wud stay ; but, law bless 'ee, lad, vor men zich ez Jim ther ba zômmat ulse in the wordel beside tha love o' wimen-folk, tho' they, pore zouls, cant gaw for tu zee it. But ha wez turribul fond o' hur vor all thic, and I cud zee thet it jest went tu biz heart tu act contrary; but ha cudn't help it, pore lad twez the nater thet wez in him foced him on. Eh, but they made a windervul handzome couple tha
1 Upstanding, well-built.
hur niver cud stomach tha contrary. Wull, wull, wimen's wimen, mortal strong in tha affections, but managing tu tha last-managing tu tha last. Them wez turribul days, and yer moather's vace grew that hard I wez moast afeardt tu look at it. I thort mayba thet when yer coomed things might o' bin diffurrent; I tooked 'ee in tu hur. 'Jane,' I zed, 'ha wull want 'ee alwiz,' and when I zed thic hur kained1 acrass at 'ee, and hur vace changed back intu a wuman's vace agin; then all-ta-wance zômmat coomed auver hur and hur tarned hur vace round agin tha wall. 'Take 'im away,' hur zed, 'ha ba nort tu me.' Hur niver spoke arter thic; ther wez ony wan pusson in tha wordel thet hur iver loved, and thet wez Jim, and when ha died, hur wi' all hur pride wez foced tu valler."
Later, when Zam laid the boy in the old truckle-bed, Joe looked up in his face. "Vather wez mortal understandabul," he murmured sleepily.
"But not tu wimen-folk," Zam answered, "not tu wimen - folk. Wull, wull," he continued to himself, "tha lad hez hiz vather's spirut, ivery bit o' it; but ha wull niver break no wuman's heart wi' wandering,-tha Lord hez minded otherwise."
humour with himself and the world in general.
"Wall, Travelling Joe," he said, "thet be a darned queer start o' a name yer have fixed to yerself anyhow. They pins o' yars ain't extra spry at covering the ground, I shud think from the look o' 'em."
It was about a week after the conversation recorded had taken place that Joe's uncle, Ben Tapp, came to Zam's cottage; but the old man was not at home, and Ben, who, after many years spent in America, had arrived in England only to find that most of his relations were dead and he himself forgotten, sat down on Travelling Joe's bed in an exceedingly bad
"But things wull ba mortal diffurent up ta 'eaven, uncle Ben," the boy answered. "Ther woant ba no diffurence 'twixt me and tother folk then, 'cept mayba I shall ba more rasted. I shall do a sight o' travelling when I gets up ther; you zee, uncle Ben, tha Almighty ba powerful understandzome, zo I ain't got no cause tu ba feardt when I gaws up avore tha throne, and I shall jest ax Him tu let me vind noo ways droo tha dimmet parts o' 'eaven. 'Dear Laurd,' I shall zay, 'I knaws wât rasting ba like, and now I wid dearly like tu ba doing.""
Just as Ben Tapp would have tortured any helpless animal that fell into his power, so now, as he looked down on the boy's eager, pathetic face, a desire came into his heart to crush out its happi
"Thar ain't no such place as 'eaven, Joe," he said, leaning forward and placing his great hand on the child's cripple form; "'tis all darned rot-bunkum, as us says out in the States. And as for the Almighty that yer talk so slick about, tha bally old 'oss has kicked his last kick. Nater hez played low down on yer, Joe, and tied yer up to yar darned bed; but when Death gits hould of yer, ha wull tie yer a tarnation sight tighter, yer can bet yer bottom dollar on thet, Joker;" and the man burst into a laugh of coarse
1 Kained, to look intensely.
enjoyment. "Thar, young shaver," he added, as he rose from the bed, "thet's the opinion o' wan thet has covered a darned sight more miles in his life than yer have minutes, so stow it in yar pipe and smoke it" so saying, he left the child alone. But from that moment a change came over Travelling Joe -he began to pine away, and the villagers said he was "marked for death"; but Zam, as he walked to and fro with the dying boy in his arms, muttered, "Better death than thet tha Union shid 'ave him; better thet than thic-better thet than thic."
One day, when it was plain that Joe was more than usually ill, Martha Snykes came to the cottage. "I jest drapped in, Zam Tapp," she said, sinking her stout form in the nearest chair, "to tull 'ee o' a remedy, a mortal efficumcasious remedy, tho' I zay it ez shudn't, baing, zo tu spake, the inventor o' tha zame. But, law, I've suffered thet turribul bad mezulf; what wi' tha recurring spasams, and a percussion in the head that jest drones on continuel for all the wordel like the passon o' praiching o' Zundays, thet I can't a-bear tu think of the pore child wi' death rampaging auver him, and tha cure, zo tu spake, at hiz vury door; tha zame baing nort ulse but a tayspoonful o' tha brownest o' sugar, togither wi' a tayspoonful o' tha strongest o' brandies, and let it be tooked zitting, Natur liking a smoothness at zich times. I have alwiz reckoned mezulf thet if thet child's moather had vallered my advice and tooked thickey remedy, hur wid niver 'ave bin lying in tha charchyard at this yhere blessid minet; tho' I won't gaw for tu deny thet hur made a vine corpse,
straight vaychers favouring the zame. The which I have alwiz allowed, and many's the time I've zed ez much. 'Jane Vaggis,' I've zed, may have acted a bit contrary in hur life, zich ez tha wearing o' roses at mistaken moments, but taken ez a corpse, hur did hur dooty, hur looked hur part.' Not thet I would ever act contrary tu them ez Natur hed less vavoured at zich times; and when my pore moather came tu the last, and what wi' dropsy and wan thing and tother, hur wez moast tha size o' tha feather-bed that hur layed on, 'Moather,' I zed, 'if yer 'ave a fancy in coffins, zay the wud and I woant go for tu deny 'ee.' 'Martha,' hur answered, 'ony colour but black, and let the handels ba shiny;' and I guved hur halum1 picked out wi' brass, and ther ain't a corpse in tha parish ez wez burried more comfortabul. But ther," she added as she rose from her seat, "I must be gettin' along 'ome; law bless us!" she exclaimed, looking down on Joe, "how turribul bad the pore chil does look; but there ha iz gwaying tu a home o' light, tho' I alwiz reckoned mezulf thet 'eaven must ba trying tu tha eyes. Wull, I wish 'ee good day, Zam Tapp,' she added, "and doan't forget a tayspoonful o' the brownest o' sugars togither wi' a tayspoonful o' tha strongest o' brandies, and let tha zame ba tooked zitting."
1 Halum, elm.