Our Sam Liza Digby Bill Higgins Ten Acre
ARTICLE 2 – A PARISH COFFIN
Old Andrew Goode wer one of the old-fashioned sort o' stockiners; 'im and 'is wife lived in one o' them little thack 'ousen up Bond End; Wick arter wick Andrew sot in 's old frame from early morn tell bedtime. No matter when yer went past the dure, yer were certin t'ear 'in gooing at it, - a sheet-a-boom-boom-cr-r-r-r, allus the same old rattle. They was nivver onny too well off, they wasn't, and as they got older they kep a gettin wusser off all the time astid o' better. But they was as proud as tew peacocks; not chuff o' theirsens or onnythink o' that, but what I mean wunt let nobdy 'elp 'em, nor hay nowt gen 'em, nor goo on the parish. I know plenty of stockingers as are 'stordinry poor but yit cent lost their self-respec, if folks thinks they 'ev.
When Andrew were bad wi' the roomaticks an' wornt able to wak the fra-em, they used to scrape along on what little th' old woman got by a bit o' seaming tell 'er old man (as shay called 'im) were about agen; and yer can back that wornt a sight, what wi' 'er eyes gettin weaker, an' missus stitches, an' aying to do th'osen agen. Monny a time the neighbours felt sorry for 'em an' wanted to gie 'em a luff of bread, or a herring or tew praps, or tuthree appence, and so on, nut they wunt tek nowt, and seemed to tek huff an' said they wornt quate 'ard up yit, nor porpers neether, so folks gen o'er pityin on 'em.
At the same time they wos that fond o' one another as nivver was. The poor old gel wekked 'er fingers to the bo-an t'elp th' old man. Shay'd luk at her old wore-out shoes, wi' a bit of whate stocking paprin threw, and wunder if she 'ednt better spand them few coppers in eving 'em mendid agen the wet weather cum, and then she'd cotch sight of Andrew, 'ard on wi' 'ands an feet, an' she'd goo out an' buy a bit o' fat bacon an' a few broad be-ans, as 'e were so fond on I'll warrant there wornt many coppers she spent on hersen all th'ear.
They 'ed to wuk very 'ard to mek bo-ath ends mate, and get the few 'apence ready for the rent on a Monday; all dee and 'arf the night they both stock to it, tho' Andrew 'ed to stop now and agen wi' a coughing bout, and the little petroline lamp didn't gie 'alf enew light for th'old wench to say by. The consequence were as they both got moor ailin ivvery dee, and when the winter time cum, and a nation 'ard winter it wor, 'er eyesight went algether, and she 'ed to gie up seaming, and sot by the side of the fra-em trying to cheer Andrew up for it were a sore blow ter 'im.
The weather got colder, and the frosses got sharper, an' th' old lady got weaker an' moor doubled up, an' Andrew's cough got moor vilent, an still 'e kep on, wi' tremlin legs an' cold fumbling 'ands a wukking away like a old dying oss, sheet-a-boom-cr-r-r-r. 'e knowed 'is missis wornt long for this world, and shay knowed it an all; and she'd say “Andrew, I'm a gret burden to yer, but I know yer'll nivver let me be buried by the parish, wull yer? We've ed a sore troubled life but thank the Lord we've kep out of the bastile so fer.” And so the old chap, weak as he wor, done wi' a bit less grub, an' gen up 'is little tot of ale, so as to save a shillin or tew to bury 'is missis when the time cum; tho' 'e nivver let 'er know, and when she'd say “Andrew, eent it time yer went an'ed yer arf-pint?” 'd'd goo down strate an' obble back wi'out evin one, an' then 'ed say cheerful-like, Missis, I fale a sight better arter that sup o' lounce.”
An' so 'e went on tell th'old gel died, and when one o' the neighbours'd leed 'er out an' gone agen, he rubbed the tears out'n 'is eyes and said, "Missis, I shaynt be varry long arter yer, but I mun goo down an' finsih them hosen so's yer shaynt be buried by the parish..”
Then 'e went to the fra-em agen an' stuck at it all dee an' fur into the night, ahd the neighbours as they leed abed eerd the sheet-a-boom-boom-cr-r-r-r, and said, "old Andrew's hard on to-night, what a blessing it is t'other poor creetur's gone." And all the while th' old chap sot,wi' a lump in 'is thro-at, an' the tears a trittlin down 'is wrinkled fa-ace, tho' 'e wor a good plucked un, a wukking an' coughing, an' doing, to bury 'is missis.
That night were one o' the coldest I can remember, an' I can back a matter o' sixty 'ear, an' when the neighbours got up i' the mornin they missed the sound of Andrew's fra-em; they lissened but six o'clock come, then seven, eight, nine, an' still ednt sot to wuk. “P'raps 'e's gone up to the relaving officer's," says one', "to ax 'em to gie 'is missis a coffin an' a bit of ground."
They went in about ten o'clock to see if'e were theer, and theer 'e sot i' the fra-em a leaning is ed on the sinckers as if 'e were propped up asleep.
"Andrew," they 'oots, "wake up, old chap, the fire's out," but 'is fire were out an' all. 'E'd finished 'is last stocking an' 'is last spole at the same time; the stockin were still on the needles, an' th' old chap'd been dead hours.
The cold 'ad frez the tears i' the corners of 'is eyes. Andrew Goode an' 'is wife 'ed a parish coffin apiece arter all. T