Cricket! Dal the ole cricket! I wish twaz tu Halifax, I du. I can’t think, vor the life o’ me, ’ow I kom tu be sitch a very vule. But I ’spoas et mus’ be like as my wive zes, “Ole vules makes tha bigges’ vules.”
Wull, twiz like thees yer. Us never adden ad no sitch thing out thees way avore; an’ passon an’ Squire an’ Doctor Jinkins, an’ wan or tu bezides o’ the bettermus’ voke, thort ’twid be a vine thing eef us wiz tu ’ave a cricket match yer tu Muddlecombe.
Wull, ’cuse, that wiz aul wull an’ gude, an’ I thort btwid e a vine thing vor tha youngsters like, an’ zo I gid’m tha lent o’ my higher me-ad vor tha match, ’cause passon zed ’twid be best een parish, as twiz middlin’ smuthe.
Wull, twiz ordained they shid play a match way tha Barleycombe cricketers, an’ passon putt on tu or dree chaps cuttin’ tha grass an’ drayin’ tha roller back an’ vore, so’s thur shidden be no humps, I spoas.
Passon vound aul tha things—bats an’ barls, an’ sitch like, or passon an’ ’squire between em’ wunts.
Zaturday wiz the day vixed vor tha match, an’ cuse, vokes beginned ta get a bit exzited like.
Whane tha day kom, thur wiz no eend tu tha vokes thur wiz thur, tu zee. Scores kom auver vrom Barleycombe.
I wiz thur, ’cuse, an’ wiz Uncle Tom Cobleigh an’ Weel Brewer, an’ Peter Davey an’ Turney Gurney an’ Dan’l Whiddon, an’ aul o’ us, an’ underds more bezide.
Now, wat I be gwain tu tull yew, is akshally true, eef I never muvee agean; jiss bevore tha match beginned, I be dalled eef Squire didden kom straight acrass, right vore tu where I wiz ztude, an’ ’e zes tu me, “Jan,” ’e zes—
“Zarvant, yer onner!” I zes.
“Jan,” ’e zes agean, jiss like thiky thair, “yew mis’ kom vore tu play.”
“Beggin’ yer onner’s pardon, yer worship,” I zes, “I never du’d sitch a thing een me live,” I zes.
“Never mind,” ’e zes, “ yu’ll manige or-right, I warrner. ’Tes your vield, an’ yu’ve got. bes’ right tu play of uther man een parish. Kom on, Jan,” ’e zaith, “us be aul waiting’ vor ’e.”
Wull, wat cude I du. I cude’n contrydick the Squire; an’ wile I ztude titterin’y auver koms passon an’ ’e beginned tu me, an’ Uncle Tom beg-ged o’ me tu go vore; an’ wat way wan pin wan zide, an’ nuther pin tuther, wan pule-in’ o’me an’ tuther pewshin’ o’me, dalled eef I wadden proper drayed vore tu tha middle o’ the vield avore I knawed whur I wiz tu ; an’ aul the vokes clapped thur ’ands an’ scritched tha vurry zame as eef they wiz mazed.
Wull, thur wiz Barleycombe chaps sticked aul around like a zet o’ gapmouth vules,een whit cloas. Passon sticked a bat een me ’and, and zes-—
“Hat tha barl zo hurd as you can,” ’e zes; “an’ whane I olley, yu urn like Billy-o."
Zo I did.
A Barleycombe chap drawed a barl straight vore tu the passon’s hade. I zid’n du et mezel. I thort zure twid hat the hade o’n clane off. But tha passon ketched ’n prapper way ees bat an’ hat un vore tuther zide o’ tha vield, an’ the ’e olleyed tu me tu urn.
’Cuse, silly like, I didden knaw whur I wiz tu urn tu, no more’n a dunkey, zo I urned arter tha barl zo vast as avver I cude. Laurd, didden ’m laugh? an’ I wiz vorce tu urn back zo vast as I kom.
Tho a chap way a whit night-shirt olley “Auver,” so I beginned tu walk off.
“Yer, whur be gwain?” ’e zes.
“Didden yu zay jis’ this minit twiz auver?” I axed ’n.
“ Giddout,” zes ’e. “I manes change orver, that’s aul. Look out,” ’e says, “ ’tes your turn tu battee. Do yu hat the barl zo hard as yu can.”
Tho a vrash chap tuke the barl; and I be blawed eef tha to-ad didden draw ’n up tu me zo hard as ever ’e cude. I ’opped out o’ tha way zo dapper as I wiz abble tu, but ’e ketched me wan pin tha lig prapper. I got the mark o’n now.
“ Ow’s that?” ’e zes.
“’Tes vurry onkomferable,” I zes. “ Doan ’o draw ’n up zo smurt. I’ve got a wive an’ vamly, do-e-zee? ”
Wull, they kep’ on drawin’ thik barl, zum- times ta me, zumtimes ta passon. Passon, ’e wid hat un aul about the plaace, an’ tho us wiz vorce tu urn like Old Nik wiz arter us, avore they Barleycombe chaps cude vetch un back.
But whane et kom tu my turn, the hurder I did hat ’n the more I did zim tu miss ’n. But, bless thee zaul, ’e never missed me.
But, tu last, I zid a nice wan komin’, an’ I hat un proper. Straight up pin een ’e did go purty near up tu tha sky, an’ whane ’e kom down a chap ketched un een ees ’ands.
“Yew’m out,” zes Night-shirt.
Wha’s mane? ” I zes.
“Yew’m out,” ’e zes, “ ’tes nex’ man’s turn now.”
“Du ’e mane I can go ’oam?” I zes.
“Ees, eef yu mind,” zo ’e zes.
“I be darn glad tu yer ’e tull o't,” zo I zed; “an’ nex’ time yu zees me playin’ thees game, twull be a sartin shure zine yew don’t require no sparticles.”
Cricket! Daun’ee say a word to me ’bout no cricket. I wish twas to Halifax, I do.
I can’t think fer the life o’ me how I come to be sitch a very fule. I spause must be true as my wive says, “Old fules makes the biggest fules.”
I mid so well tell ’ee all about it now I’ve got so fur.
Twas like this yer. Us never ad’n ’ad no-jis thing out thees way avore. Passen an’ squire an’ two-dree more o’ the bettermost volk was the insigation o’t. They thought twid be a gude idaya to have a cricket match out yer to Muddlecombe. So they sent ovver what they caaled a “challenge” to the Barleycome cricketers. Young Mester Jinkins tooked it ovver. I dunnaw what sort o’ thing tiz, but it mus’ be a middlin' gude size, fer I zeed’n gwain off wai’ a gurt green bag as long as my leg. From what I can make out, when you gets this yer challenge brought to ’ee you’m bound to play cricket, an’ I spause the lot that wins the match keeps the challenge. All as I can say is I wude’n do it again if they offered me half-a-dizzen challenges as big as houses.
Cou’se twas all well an’ gude, this-yer cricket idaya, and I thought twude be a fine thing for the young chaps, so l give’d ’em the lent o’ my higher mead to play in ’cus passen said twas best field in parish fer the purpose, bein’ middlin” smoothe like.
Squire an’ passen, an’ the doctor between ’em, found all the things-baals an’ bats an’ the sticks they pokes in the ground. They putt dree or vower chaps on fer a couple o’ days drayin a gurt roller back an’ vore to smoothe out the ’umps.
Saturday was fixed for the match, an’ the vokes beginned to get proper excited. Most o’m did’n knaw a scrap what twis gwain to be like, but they all reckoned us cude win Barleycome. Twas all the talk up to the Black Oss. Enry Cann, what works to the Rectory, ’ad seen the bats, an’ he considered the game was to fetch the Barleycome chaps a crack ovver the haid. Jim Tooze said he hoped he’d be ’lowed to play cuz he owed a gridge to Sam Gunnin, an’ he reckoned if he cude get near ’en with wan o’ they bats twude jist about square off the ’count.
When the day come ev’rybody in the two parishes was there to see the match. A gude many was disappointed when they found that hattin’ over the head wad’n in the rules. Ole Tom Durgiss went away properly disgusted, and reckoned he’d bin chaited.
Wull now, you’ll ’ardly believe what I be gwain to tell ’ee, but tis acsh’ly true. Jis’ bevore the match started squire come right fore where I was stood to an’ says to me, “Jan,” ’e says.
“Sarvant, yer ’onour,” I says, titchin’ me ’at.
“Jan,” he goes again, “us wants for you to come an’ play on the Muddlecome side.”
“Beggin’ yer onner's pardon yer worship,” I says, “I nivver do’d sitch thing in me live.”
“Nivver mind,” ’e zes “Nivver too old to larn. You’ll manage orright I’ll warran’. Tis your field, an’ you've got best right of any man to play. Us wants wan more to make up. Come on, us’ll show ’ee the way.”
Wull, what cude I do? I cude’n contrydic’ the squire to his face, an’ while I stood there titterin’ up comes passen an’ started on to me, an’ two or dree more joined in, an’ what wai’ wan pushin’ an’ another pullin’ darn if I wad’n in the middle o’ the vield avore I knawed what time twas. An’ the fules all around the vield give dree cheers.
The Barleycome chaps was stood all about like a lot o’ gate paustis, an’ they was all togged off in white cloas like a passel o’ cooks.
“Take off yer coat, Jan,” says passen. an’ he give it to a chap in a long white smock. I shude say he were a buttcher, and there was another like ’en up tother aind.
Wull, passen putt a batt in me ’and, an’ stood me up agin dree sticks that was poked in the ground. What they was for I dunnaw, cuz if you can't get droo you cude go round.
“Now Jan,” he says, “when you sees the baal comin, you hat’n so hard as you can, an’ when I ’olleys ‘Rin’ you rin like billy-o.”
So I did.
Passen he went an’ stood bezide the tother dree sticks, an’ tried to make his bat stand up by itsell on the ground an’ lookin’ up to see if people was watchin’. The buttcher chap that had got my coat seed what he was tryin’ to do an’ started makin’ singles to’n which way to lain ’en. But he cude’n make ’en balance. I knawed very well he wude’n when he fust tried it. S0 when he found he cude’n make’n stand up he started diggin’ a pit to stick ’n in. Tomfoolishness I caaled that arter the chaps had took so much trouble to roll it smooth.
Wull, then I seed a dirty bit o’ work sure nuff. A Barleycome fella stood handy where I was to, tooked hold to the baal, an’, mind you, twas as hard as a bullet, an’ he henged ’en straight at passen’s haid. Gurt lurripin’ gurt chap he was, too. an’ old nuff to know better, an’ passen ad’n said a word out o’ place to ’en. Mai’ dear days. I ketched up my bat by the small end, an’ if he’d apn’d [[see apm’d [apn’d ?]]] to hat the passen I’m dalled if I wude’n a-ketched he wan across the top-not that wude a laid he out clane’s a wissle.
But, as it apn’d, the passen zeed his li'l game, an’ he ups with his bat an’ ketches the baal butifle an’ sent ’en half ways across the vield. Then he olleys out. “Rin, Jan, rin.”
Wull, I did’n knaw where to rin to no more’n a dunkey, so I tooked arter the baal so hard as I cude lick.
Laur did'n they fules laaf, an’ I was fo’ced to rin back as fast as I come.
Wull, that apm’d [apn’d ?] a time or two, an’ I discovered that twas summat like “Puss in the Cornder.” When passen said “Rin” I ’ad to flip up to his place an’ then flip back again. I soon got in the way o’t, but twas turrable tryin wi’ so much flippin.
Presen’ly old Buttcher shouted “Ovver,” an’ very glad I was too. But jis as I was walkin’ off he says to me, “Where be you gwain to?
“Ome," I says.
“What for?” he says.
“Did'n you jis say twas ovver?” I says.
“Giddout,” he says, “I means change ovver. Tis your turn to batty now.”
Well, they give the baal to a fresh chap, an’ he had a go at me. Darn the fella, I zeed’n down there takin' aim. He putt out his arm an’ shat wan eye, an’ I cude zee’n sayin’ to hissell, “Now, my buck, this have got ’ee right on the boko.”
I beginned to shake like a leave, and I did’n know whe’er to bide where I was or get behind the buttcher. All of a sudden he started rinnin’ like a stag, he swinged the baal around his haid, give a couple o’ jumps, an’ let rip as hard as ever he cude. I hopped out the way as dapper as I cude, an’ turned round me back to ’en. but he ketched me a whack the fust place he come to. I've got the mark now.
“Ow’s that?” he says.
“Tis very oncomferable,” I says. “Jis you take’n a bit more aisy,” I says. “I ban’t givin’ away cigars or nits.”
Wull, they keeped on drowin’ thik baal sometimes to me and sometimes to passen. Passen he wude knack ’en about all ovver the shop, an’ then us wude have to rin like long-dogs before the Barleycome chaps cude ketch us.
But when it come my turn the harder I did hit ’en the more I did sim to miss ’en. But, by jingo, he never missed me.
But bim-by I seed a nice wan comin’ along soft an’ aisy, and I hat an’ proper. Straight up on een he went like a balloon gwainup, purt near up to the sky.
Passen ’olleyed out “Rin, Jan, rin,” but I says “You can rin by yerzell this time. That’s bes’ knock to-day so far, an’ I be gwain to see how high he’ll go.”
Well, he went up butifle, an’ when he come down a chap putt up his two hands and ketched ’n.
“What’s think of he fer a knock?” I says to Buttcher.
“You’m out,” he says.
“What do ’ee mean?” I says.
“You’m out,” he says.
“So you said jis now,” I says. “Do you mean I can go ’ome?”
“Yes, if you’m mind to,” he says.
“I be mortle glad to hear it,” I says. “An’ if you ketches me playint’ this yer game again of my own accord you’ve got my permission to put me straight into the lunatic asylum.”