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Eli's Children The Chronicles of an Unhappy Family   By: (1831-1909)

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Eli's Children The Chronicles of an Unhappy Family By George Manville Fenn Published by Chapman and Hall Ltd, 11 Henrietta Street, London WC. This edition dated 1882.

PART ONE, CHAPTER ONE.

PART 1 THE RECTORY FOLK.

HOT WATER IN LAWFORD.

"Eh? What?"

"I say, why don't you give it up quietly?"

"Speak up; I'm a little hard of hearing."

"I say, why don't you give it up quietly?" roared the speaker to a little bent old man, with a weak, thin, piping voice, and a sharp look that gave him somewhat the air of a very attenuated sparrow in a severe frost, his shrunken legs, in tight yellow leather leggings, seeming to help the idea.

"Don't shout at me like that, Master Portlock. I arn't deaf, only a trifle hard of hearing when I've got a cowd just a trifle, you know."

"Have you got a cold?" asked the man addressed, a sturdy looking, fresh coloured, middle aged man, with a very bluff manner, and a look of prosperity in his general appearance that made him seem thoroughly adapted to his office. In fact, he was just the man that a country clergyman would be glad to elect at a vestry meeting for vicar's churchwarden. "Eh?"

"I say have you got a cold? Hang him, how deaf he is!"

"Oh, no! oh, no!" chirped the little old man, sharply; "I'm not deaf. Just a little thick i' the ears. Yes; I've got a cowd. It's settled here just here," he piped, striking himself upon his thin chest with the hand that held his stick. "A bad cowd a nasty cowd as keeps me awake all night, doing nowt but cough. It's that stove, that's what it is, Master Portlock."

"Nonsense, man! It would keep the cold off."

"Eh?"

"I say it would keep the cold off."

"Nay, nay; not it. A nasty, brimstone smelling, choking thing, as sends out a reek as settles on your chest. Stove, indeed! What do we want with your noo fangled stoves? We never had no stoves before. Here he stops away from town all these years, only coming now and then, and now all at once he's back at the Rectory, and nothing's right. Mr Paulby never said a word about no stoves."

"No; but see how damp the church was."

"Eh?"

"Eh?"

"Damp," roared the Churchwarden; "church damp. Cush shuns moul dee."

"Chah! Nonsense, Master Portlock. Damp? Suppose it was? A chutch ought to be damp, and smell solemn like of owd age and venerations. Mouldy? Ay; why not?" he piped. "'Mind ta chutch folk o' decay, and what they're comin' to some day. I once went to London, Master Portlock forty year ago now, sir forty year ago. It was cowd weather, and I got 'most froze a' top o' the coach, and it was a 'mazin' plaace. Ay, that it was. But you've been there?"

"Ay, lots o' times in my life."

"Niver been in your life? Then don't go. Niver go if you can help it. Owd Mr Burton paid for me to go, he did owd vicar's father, you know and he said to me a did, `Mind ta go and see some o' the London chutches, Warmoth,' he says; and I did, and bless thou, pretty places they weer. I niver see a playhouse, but Sammy Mason wint to one i' London, and he towd me what it were like, and the chutch I went into i' the City weer just like it. Why, mun, theer were a big picter ower the 'mandments, and carpets on the floors, and all the pews was full o' red cushions an' basses, just as if they was all squires' sittings, and brass rails and red curtins an' grand candlesticks. Then reight up i' the gallery wheer the singers sit was a great thing all covered wi' goolden pipes, an' a man i' the front sittin' lookin' at his self i' a lookin' glass. That was t' organ, you know, and eh, but it was a straange sort o' plaace altogether to call a chutch."

"Not like our old barn, eh, Sammy?" shouted the Churchwarden.

"Nay, not a bit, Master Portlock," piped the old man. "Gi'e me whitewesh, and neat clean pews and a plait straw cushion and bass. Folk don't go to sleep then, and snore through t' sarmunt. If I had my way, Master Portlock, I wouldn't hev a thing changed."

"No, I suppose not, Sam," said the Churchwarden, nodding... Continue reading book >>




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