This yer’s a li’l bit of a adventure wat ’appened to Weel Brewer when he went up to Exter. Weel Brewer yu mus’ knew is saxon out to our village, an’ tidden vurry often he go’th up to Exter. I dawn spoas ’e go’th out o’ Muddle- combe parish dree times a year. ’E jiss jogs along quiet and stiddy like, cheemin’ the vokes into church, an’ when they’m duid puttin’ thur bodies into the groun’ an’ tollin’ thur zauls into heab’m.
But las’ wik, as I zed avaur, ’e ’ad a bit o’ bizness witch 'e wiz vorce to go up issel’ and zee tu, cuz thur was zum paapers to be zined, or zummat o’ the zoart. I dunno wat twas ridzackly, zummat to du way zum insurance or other.
Owsumever, I knaw’th that pore Weel was turrable frightened auver thees yer job, an’ eef eed bin gwain ’vore the Jidge to be tried vir ees live ’e cuden a-dreaded it more’n wat ’e did. Eed got to meet a lawyer to zum hotel in Exter to zine thees yer paapers.
“I’d all zo zune meet a lion or a tayger, Jan, as this yer lawyer chap,” pore Weel zed to me.
“An’ yu bant the ony wan, I reckon,” I zed.
Owsever, Weel rode away to Excombe Station een Uncle Tom’s trap so’s not to bissel ees butes witch eed graised up a bit extry for the ’casion. Maister draved min issel an’ told’en up all the ole tales e’ cude think o’ bout lawyers wat 'ad chayted vokes, an’ got em zend to jail for duin nort, an’ all sitch like, jiss to cheer min up a bit.
Wull, Weel come vore to thees yer hotel in Exter (I spoas I muzzen tull ’e the naame o’t, but twadden a underd miles vrim ’Igh-strait), where ’e ’ad to ax vir Maister Jones, thees yer lawyer chap. Cuse, ees name wadden Jones, but I ony carlth en that jiss vir a name like, zame’s us carlth Jim Down “Ebenezer” vir short.
Cuse, Weel ort to a-went right in to the vore door, an’ axed vir thees yer gen’lman. But ’stead o’ that ’e went een aroun’ be’ind an’ zeed the osler.
“Ave ’e yerd anybody a-axin vir me?” zes Weel.
“Who mid yu be?” zes the osler.
“No I ant yurd nobody axin vor e,” e zes. “Better way ax the butes.”
“Ax the wat?" see Weel, Iookin’ a bit surprised like.
“Ax the butes. Een there, lookee.”
’E pointed to a door, an’ Weel went eenside, winderin wat on earth was the gude o’ axin tha butes.
’E vound izzul in a passige place, an’ presen’ly ’e zeed a waiter chap gwain by wi’ a tray an’ zum glasses. Zo ’o zes to ’e,
“Bag yer pardon, maister, ave ’e yurd any body axin vir WeeI Brewer? ”
“No,” ’e zes, slippin by wi’ ees tray, “ax the butes.”
Weel stared arter en arter ’e wiz gone out o’ zite. “Wat be um all maazed?” ’e zes; “there’s another vule tell’th me to ax the butes.”
Zo then a servant maid come along an’ Weel carled out to ’er,
“Yer, miss, my dear, ’ave ’e yurd anybody axin vir Weel Brewer.”
“I ant," ’er said, “but jiss go an’ ax the butes.”
Weel beginned to veel sorter quare like in ees ’aid, an’ laned up agin the wall to right issel’ a bit.
“There go’th agean,” ’e zes, “ax the butes! Yur, miss, my dear,” ’e zes, as ’er wiz gwain out o’ sight, “Where be thees yer butes.”
“Jiss go down auver they dree staps,” ’er zes, an’ went off wi’ the zame.
Zo Weel went ’long to the aind o’ the passige an’ down auver dree staps, an’, sure nuff, there wiz a long rove o’ butes o’ all kinds and zizes; brown butes an’ black butes, an’ big butes an’ smarl butes, all wi’ thur backs up agin the wall, like a ridgement o’ sawjers.
Weel lookid to the butes vir a minit or two, an’ zorter tried to spake wance or twice, then ’e burst out wi’--
“No! I be darned if I can du it. Yu mane to tell me tis any gude my axin they butes. I tull ’e they’m all agreed jiss to make a vule o’ me. I’ll go up an’ zee the lan’lord.”
Zo up ’e goes agean in a doost o’ a tare, sure nuff, an' the vus’ chap ’e meet ’e axed where ’e cude zee the lan’lord. ’E showed min the way intu a private rume, Where ’e zeed the lan’lord.
“Can yu plaize tull me w’ere anybody’s bin axin vir Weel Brewer or no?” zes Weel.
The lan’lord lookid a bit scared like to zee a country chap like Weel in ees private rume, zo ’e zed,
“Go down an’ ax the butes.”
Poor Weel turned about an’ went down the stairs, but ’e didden know ’ardly ’ow ’e got down. ’E veeled like a veller maazed.
“Lemme wance git safe out o’ theas,” e zed, “ and yule niver ketch me in no hotel agean. Where’s they there butes to? ”
Zo ’e stude in vrint o’ the butes, an’ arter eed lookid tu ’em agean vir a minit or two ’e tooked in a long breath an’ zes to em.
“Wull, if I must, must I spoase. I reckon they’d ’ardly all o’m be m-azed, an’ I’ve yurd tell that town vokes ’ave some turrable foolish ideas. But this caps all I ever did yer. ’Ave yu butes yurd anybody axin vir me?”
But the butes didden make no answer.
Then Weel got mad.
“I’ll ax ’e wan to a time,” e zed, "an’ if yu dawn tull me darned if I dawn burn ’e, all lot o’e. Now, then (taking up one in ees ’and) yu gurt brown toad, ’ave yu yurd anybody axin vir me? Won’t zay, wont ’e'? Then yu go auver there,” an’ ’e drawed en zo var’s ’e cude zee ’n.
“Now yu black toad wi’ yer gurt patch auver the heel. ’Ave yu? Yu wont answer nuther will ’e?” An’ ’e drawed ’e arter tuther. Wan arter tuther Weel picked em anul up an’ axed min the zame question, an’ then drawed min in all dreckshins.
Cuse, ev’rybody yurd the noise, an’ very zune the passige wiz vulled up both ends way vooks, but when they zeed Weel tullin to the butes they thort ’e was ma'azed an’ was veered to go neast en. An’ they ’ad to look middlin dapper to zee ’e didden gi’ ’em a scat for ’e didden look to see w’ere ’e was drawin ’em tu.
Owsumever, to las’ Weel ’ad axed the las’ bute, an’ drawed en clane up agin the lan’lord, who ’ad only that minit come down to zee wat all the scummer was about. When thur wadden no butes left ’e got quiet an’ raysonable like.
“ Wat on earth be duin’ o’?” sez the lan’lord.
“Axin the butes, zame’s yu an’ all tuther vules told me to,” zes Weel.
Then they zeed the joke, an’ beginned to half. Zum o’m, so I’ve yurd, ant stapped laffin eet.
“Wy, there’s the butes, mumpaid,” ’e zes, pointin’ to a chap way a green app ern.
“Is er?” zes Weel, “I spose yu carls ’e butes cuz ’e wares shoes, dawn ’e?”
Weel zune vound the gen’lman ’e wanted, an’ twas orright in the end, but yu mussen tull ’e nort ’bout axin the butes, unless yume a lot bigger’n ’e is.
This is the truth about Will Brewer an’ the boots an’ if you take my advice, if ever you meets with Will you waunt say nort about it, unless, of cou’se, you’n lookin’ fer trouble.
Will Brewer is the saxon. He’s a stiddy-gwain ole chap, joggin’ along quiet an’ suant, year in year out, ’ardly ever gwain outside his awn parish. He says the risponses for the babies when they’m baptised, cheems the volk to church all the time they’m alive, an’ when they’m daid he putts ‘em to bed with a shovel, an’ tolls their sauls into heav’m.
But fer wance Will got a shock which purt near frightened ’en out o’ tain year's growth.
There was some lawyer’s business cropped up which I can’t properly explain to you, but it had summat to do with the will of somebody what had dayed, or was sposed to have dayed. All I knaw is that Will was sent for to carr’ in some of his books to Exter for some lawyer chap to see.
Poor ole Will was purt’ near mazed ovver the job. As told ’ee, he ’ardly ever went outside the parish, an’ the idaya of gwain all up to Exter to meet a lawyer was draidful to ’n If he'd abin gwain up bevore the jidge to be tried fer mudder he cude’n a-bin in a wiss state than he was. Fer days he went about the plaace so white as a sheet, an’ he got that fergetful through bein’ so worrited that when the passen told’n that Missis Pearcey’s baby was gwain to be christened on the Zindy mornin’ Will went down to Missis Pearcey’s with a two- voot rule to zee ’ow long to make the grave.
Poor ole Will zed to me, the day avore he waint, “Jan,” he saith, “I'd all so soon go to meet a lyon or a tayger as this yer lawyer fella.”
“I’ve heerd others say the same thing,” I says.
Tom Cobleigh took Will in so fur as Excome station in his trap, so’s Will shude’n bissle up his bes’ boots which he’d a graised up a bit extry fer the ’casion. An’ on the way Tom told ’en up all the most ’orrible tales he cude think of about lawyers what had chayted folks, Can’ ruined ’em or droved ’em to hang theirsells, or had got folks putt away to prisin fer doin nort, until poor Will’s hair was stood up ’pon aind and his flesh was prickles all ovver.
Will had bin appointed to meet this yer lawyer chap at a certin hotel at two o’clock. Jones the lawyers name was. So Will he axed the way from the station to this-yer hotel, an’ when he got there he was frightened to see sitch a masters gurt place. He looked all up at the winders, an’ the gurt doorway with tremenyus wide staps, an’ he thought to hissell.
“That id’n the way fer me to go in. l’ll go around to the back door.”
So round behind he goes an’ found hissell in the yard all among the traps an’ carriages. Bim-by he seed the ossler an’ says to ’en,
“Bag pardon, have you heard anybody axin’ fer me?
“Who mid you be?” says the ossler.
“No, I ab’m heard nobody axin’ fer ’ee. Better slip in an’ ax the boots.”
“Ax the what did you say?”
“Ax the boots. In there looky.”
He pointed to a door an’ Will went inside, ’ardly knawin’ whe’er he was on his ’aid or his ’eels, an’ winderin' what on earth it cude mane by axing the boots.
He vound his-sel’ in a long sort o’ passidge place, with stoanen ﬂoor an’ doors all ovver the place an’ wan lot o’ stairs gwain up an’ another lot gwain down. He cude yer all kinds o’ noises, like knives an’ vorks tingling, an’ plates an’ dishes rattlin’ an’ vokes rinnin’ about, but he cude’n zee nobody, an’ he was afeared to go vore ’cuz he did’n knaw where to go to. He beginned to think the place must be troublesome, an’ was jis’ p’n the point o’ gwain out in the yard again when wan o’ the doors oppened an’ a waiter chap come out wai’ a trayvul o’ glasses. He wude a-bin gone like a shot if Will ad’n olleyed out to’n.
“l bag pardon, zur,” he says. “Have you seed any- body axin’ for Will Brewer?”
“No,” he says, “go an’ ax the boots.” An’ in wan instant he was goo, tray an’ all.
Will lained up agin the wall, fer he veeled like as if ev’rything was gwain round an’ round.
“Ave l got into a lunatic ’sylum,” he says, “where they’m all mazed? There’s another fule tells me to ax the boots.”
Will ’ad jis’ made up his mind to get out in the fresh air again, when all of a sudden a sarvant maid appeared from nowhere paticler, an’ was dappin’ up the stairs like a feather in the wind.
“Missie,” caals Will, “yer, arf a minute. Can you tell me if anybody have bin inquirin’ yer fer Will Brewer?”
“I dunno,” her says. “Go an’ ax the boots.”
Will went ’ot an’ cold all ovver, an’ he groaned in sperrit. He veeled like anybody slippin’ down a graisy pole into the bottomless pit.
The maid went on ’up the stairs, an’ Will pulled hissel’ together with a effort.
“Yer, missie, my dear!” he baals out. “Where be thase yer boots to?”
“Go down ovver they stairs,” her says, an’ disappeared with the same.
Zo Will went along the passage an’ down the stairs like a man in a draime. And there—sure nuff there was a rove o’ boots with their backs up agin the wall like a ridgement o’ sawjers.
Will putt up his hand to his haid like as if his eyes was waik, an’ tried to spaik wance or twice bevore a word wude come. At last he managed to say,
“They’m all witched, I tell ’ee they’m all witched. Do you mean to tell me they boots can say whe’er anybody’s bin axin’ fer me or no. They thinks Will Brewer’s a fule, an’ they’m all agreed to make a laafin’ sport o’ me. But ’ll let ’em know. I’ll go and zee the boss.”
So up he goes in a purty fine ole rig till he comes to the lan’lord’s private office. ln he strakes, no knack ner nort.
“Be you the lan’lord?” he says.
“Ees, I be,” says he, put out o’ the way to zee this country vella blunderin’ into his office.
“Wull. can you plaize to tell me whe’er anybody have bin axin’ fer Will Brewer or no?”
“Go down an’ ax the boots.”
Will veeled summat catch’n in the inside so’s he cudensay another word. How he got out from thikky rume an’ down the stairs he never cude remember. All the way down he was noonin’ like a body tellin’ in his slape,
“Go an’ ax the boots; go an’ ax the boots.”
“Only let me wance get safe out o’ this,” he saith, “an’ you'll never ketch me in no hotel again. Where be they boots to?”
So he stood gazin’ to the boots fer a bit, then all to wance he drayed a long breath an’ says,
“Have you boots heerd anybody axin’ fer me—fer Will Brewer?”
But the boots never uttered a word.
Then Will got mad.
“I'll ax ’ee wan to a time,” he olleyed out; “an’ if you daun’ answer me I’ll burn the lot of ’ee. Now, then,” he says, takin’ up the fus’ boot in his hand, “you gurt brown toad, ’ave you heerd anybody axin’ fer me? You waun’ answer, will ’ee? Well, you go ovver there,” an’ he chucked ’en so fur as he cude zee.
“You black lookin’ beggar wai’ a patch ovver yer eye. Have you? You waun’ spaik nuther. Wull you go arter he.”
“An’ so Will went on axin’ each wan the same question an’ sendin’ ’em flyin’ in all directions. The further he went the faster he got till the air simmed full o’ boots.
O’ cou’se, the noise ’ad roused ev’rybody, an’ very soon both ends o’ the passage was full o’ vokes watchin’ Will talkin’ to the boots, an’ then haivin’ ’em about ’cuz they wude’n spaik. But ev’rybody was feared to go near ’en cuz they considered he was stark starin’ mad. An’ they ’ad to look middlin’ dapper zometimes not to get scat in the haid wai' a boot.
Owsumever, to-last Will come to the only boot left; an’ when he wude’n tell’n no more’n the rest, he drowed’n a bit extry vicious an’ ketched the lan’lord, who only that minute come down, in the back o’ the neck.
“What on earth be you doin’ of?” says the lan’lord.
“Doin’ of? Axin’ the boots, same’s you an’ the rest o’ the fules told me to.”
Then they seed what was the matter, an’ started laafin’. Some o’m, so I bin told, ant stopped ’eet.
“Why you gurt mump’aid,” says the lan’lord, “there’s the boots ovver there wai’ the green appern.”
“Aw!” says Will, “an’ I suppaus you caals he the butes cuz he’ve a-got shoes on.”