Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life (Version 2) | Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell | Talkingbook | 1/9



preface of Mary Barton a tale of manchester life by Elizabeth Gaskell this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org read by Tony Foster Mary Barton a tale of Manchester life by Elizabeth Gaskell preface three years ago I became anxious from circumstances that need not be more fully alluded to to employ myself in writing a work of fiction living in Manchester but with the deep relish and fond admiration for the country my first thought was to find a framework for my story in some rural scene and I had already made a little progress in a tale the period of which was more than a century ago and the place on the borders of Yorkshire when I be thought me how deep might be the romance in the lives of some of those who elbowed me daily in the busy streets of the town in which I resided I had always felt a deep sympathy with the careworn men who looked as if doomed to struggle through their lives in strange alternations between work and want tossed to and fro by circumstances apparently in even a greater degree than other men a little manifestation of this sympathy and a little attention to the expression of feelings on the part of some of the work people with whom I was acquainted had laid open to me the hearts of one or two of the more thoughtful among them I saw that they were sore and irritable against the rich the even tenor of whose seemingly happy lives appeared to increase the anguish caused by the lottery like nature of their own weather the bitter complaints made by them of the neglect which they experienced from the prosperous especially from the masters whose fortunes they had helped to build up were well founded or no it is not for me to judge it is enough to say that this belief of the injustice and unkindness which they endure from their fellow-creatures taints what might be resignation to God's will and turns it to revenge in too many of the poor educated factory workers of Manchester the more I reflected on this unhappy state of things between those so bound to each other by common interests as the employers and the employed must ever be the more anxious I became to give some utterance to the agony which from time to time convulses this dumb people the agony of suffering without the sympathy of the happy or of erroneously believing that such is the case if it be an error that the woes which come with ever returning tide like flood to overwhelm the workmen in our manufacturing towns pass unregarded by all but the sufferers it is at any rate and error so bitter in its consequences to all parties that whatever public efforts can do in the way of legislation or private effort in the way of merciful deeds or helpless love in the way of widows mites should be done and that speedily to disabuse the work people of so miserable and misapprehension a present they seem to me to be left in a state where in lamentations and tears are thrown aside as useless but in which the lips are compressed for curses and the hands clenched and ready to smite I know nothing of political economy or the theories of trade I have tried to write truthfully and if my accounts agree or clash with any system the agreement or disagreement is unintentional to myself the idea which I have formed of the state of feeling among too many of the factory people in Manchester and which I endeavoured to represent in this tale completed above a year ago has received some confirmation from the events which have so recently occurred among a similar class on the continent October 1848 end of preface read by Tony Foster chapter one of Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell this LibriVox recording is in the public domain a mysterious disappearance Oh tis hard tis hard to be working the whole of the live long day when all the neighbors about 1:00 are off to their Johnson play there's Richard he carries his baby and Mary takes little Jane and lovingly they'll be wandering through field and Briery Lane Manchester song there are some fields near Manchester well-known to the inhabitants as green haze fields through which runs a public footpath to a little village about two miles distant in spite of these fields being flat and low nay in spite of the want of wood the great and usual recommendation of level tracts of land there is a charm about them which strikes even the inhabitant of a mountainous district who sees and feels the effect of contrast in these commonplace but thoroughly rural fields with the busy bustling manufacturing town he left but half an hour ago here and there an old black-and-white farmhouse with its rambling outbuildings speaks of other times and other occupations than those which now absorb the population of the neighborhood here in their seasons may be seen the country business of haymaking ploughing etc which are such pleasant mysteries for townspeople to watch and hear the artisan deafened with noise of tongs and engines may come to listen a while to the delicious sounds of rural life the lowing of cattle the milkmaids call the clatter and cackle of poultry in the old farm yards you cannot wonder then that these fields are popular places of resort at every holiday time and you would not wonder if you could see or I properly described the charm of one particular style that it should be on such occasions a crowded halting place close by it is a deep clear pond reflecting in its dark green depths the shadowy trees that bend over it to exclude the Sun the only place where its banks are shelving is on the side next to a rumbling farmyard belonging to one of those old-world gabled black and white houses I named above overlooking the field through which the public footpath leads the porch of this farmhouse is covered by a rose tree and the little garden surrounding it is crowded with a medley of old-fashioned herbs and flowers planted long ago when the garden was the only druggist shop within reach and allowed to grow in scrambling and wild luxuriance roses lavender sage balm for tea rosemary pinks and wallflowers onions and jessamine in most republican and indiscriminate order this farmhouse and garden are within a hundred yards of the style of which I spoke leading from the large pasture field into a smaller one divided by a hedge of Hawthorn and black thorn and near this style on the further side there runs a tale that primroses may often be found and occasionally the blue sweet violet on the grassy hedge Bank I do not know whether it was on a holiday granted by the masters or a holiday seized in right of nature and her beautiful springtime by the workmen but one afternoon now ten or a dozen years ago these fields were much thronged it was an early May evening the April of the poet's for heavy showers had fallen all the morning and the round soft white clouds which were blown by a west wind over the dark blue sky was sometimes varied by one blacker and more threatening the softness of the day tempted forth the young green leaves which almost visibly fluttered into life and the Willows which that morning had had only a brown reflection in the water below were now of that tender grey green which blends so delicately with the spring harmony colors groups of merry and somewhat loud talking girls whose ages might range from twelve to twenty came by with a buoyant step they were most of them factory girls and wore the usual out-of-doors dress of that particular class of maidens namely a shawl which had been day or in fine weather was allowed to be merely a shawl but towards evening or if the day were chilly became a sort of Spanish mantilla or Scotch plaid and was brought over the head and hung loosely down or was pinned under the chin in no on picturesque fashion their faces were not remarkable for beauty indeed they were below the average with one or two exceptions they had dark hair neatly and classically arranged dark eyes but sallow complexion 'z and irregular features the only thing to strike a passerby was an acuteness and intelligence of countenance which has often been noticed in a manufacturing population there were also numbers of boys or rather young men rambling among these fields ready to bandy jokes with anyone and particularly ready to enter into conversation with the girls who however held themselves aloof not in a shy but rather in an independent way assuming an indifferent manner to the noisy wit or obstreperous compliments of the lads here and there came a sober quiet couple either whispering lovers or husband and wife as the case might be and if the latter they were seldom unencumbered by an infant carried for the most part by the father while occasionally even three or four little toddlers had been carried or dragged thus far in order that the whole family might enjoy the delicious May afternoon together sometime in the course of that afternoon two working men met with friendly greeting at the style so often named one was a thorough specimen of a Manchester man born of factory workers and himself bread up in youth and living in manhood among the mills he was below the middle size and slightly made there was almost a don't look about him and his one colorless face gave you the idea that in his childhood he had suffered from the scanty living consequent upon bad times and improvident habits his features were strongly marked though not irregular and their expression was extreme earnestness resolute either for good or evil a sort of latent Stern enthusiasm at the time of which I write the good predominated over the bad in the countenance and he was one from whom a stranger would have asked a favor with tolerable faith that it would be granted he was accompanied by his wife who might without exaggeration have been called a lovely woman although now her face was swollen with crying and often hidden behind her apron she had the fresh beauty of the agricultural districts and somewhat of the deficiency of sense in her countenance which is likewise characteristic of the rural inhabitants in comparison with the natives of the manufacturing towns she was far advanced in pregnancy which perhaps occasioned the overpowering and hysterical nature of her grief the friend whom they met was more handsome and less sensible looking than the man I have just described he seemed hearty and hopeful and although his age was greater yet there was far more of the youths buoyancy in his appearance he was tenderly carrying a baby in his arms while his wife a delicate fragile looking woman limping in her gait bore another of the same age little feeble twins inheriting the frail appearance of their mother the last-mentioned man was the first to speak while a sudden look of sympathy dimmed his gladsome face well John how goes it with you and in a lower voice he added any news of SDA meanwhile the wives greeted each other like old friends the soft and plaintive voice of the mother of the twins seeming to call forth only fresh sobs from mrs. Barton calm women said John Barton you've both walked far enough my Mary expects to have her bed in three weeks and as for you mrs. Wilson you know you bought a cranky saw of a body at the best of times this was said so kindly that no offense could be taken sit you down here the grass is well nigh dry by this time and you neither of your nests folk about taking cold stay he added with some tenderness here's my pocket handkerchief to spread on dear to save the gowns women always think so much up and now mrs. Wilson give me the baby I may as well carry him while you talk and comfort my wife poor thing she takes on sadly about Esther these arrangements were soon completed the two women sat down on the blue cotton handkerchiefs of their husbands and the latter each carrying a baby set off for a further walk but as soon as Barton had turned his back upon his wife his countenance fell back into an expression of gloom then you've heard nothing of Esther Paul us asked Wilson no nor shan't as I take it my mind is she's gone off with some day my wife frets and think she's drowned herself but I tell her folks don't care to put on their best clothes to drown themselves and mrs. Bradshaw where she lodged you know say is the last time she set eyes on her was last Tuesday when she came downstairs dressed in a Sunday gown and with a new ribbon in her bonnet and gloves on her hands I the lady she was so fond of thinking herself she was as pretty a creature as ever the Sun shone on I she was a Fallon Lee lass more's the pity now added barn with a sigh you see them booking ship people as comes to work in Manchester that's quite a different look with them to us Manchester fall you'll not see among the Manchester wenches such fresh rosy cheeks or such black lashes to gray eyes making them look like black as my wife and Esther had I never see two such pretty women four sisters never not what beauty is a sad snare it was Esther soul puffed up or that there was no hold in her in a spirit was always up if I spoke ever so little in the way of advice to her my wife spoil her tis true who you see she was so much older than Esther she was more like a mother to her doing everything for her I wonder she left ear observed his friend that's the worst of factory work for girls they can own so much when work is plenty that they can maintain themselves anyhow my Mary shall never work in a factory that undetermined on you see Esther spend her money in dress thinking to set off a pretty face and got to come home so late at night but at last I told her my mind my missus thinks I spoke crossly but I meant right for I loved Esther if it was only for Mary's sake says I Esther I see what you'll end up with your art officials and your flyaway veils and stopping out when on this women are in their beds you'll be a streetwalker Esther and then don't you go to think I'll have you back at my door though my wife is your sister so say she don't trouble yourself John I'll pack up and be off now but I'll never stay to hear myself called as you call me she flushed up like a turkey and I thought fire would come out of her eyes but when she saw Mary cry for Mary can't abide words in her house she went and kissed her and said she was not so bad as I thought so we talked more friendly or as I said like the last well in often her pretty looks and her cheery ways but she said and at the time I thought there was sense in what she said we should be much better friends if she went into lodgings and only came to see us now and then then you were still friendly folks said you'd cast her off and said you'd never speak to her again folks always make one a deal worse than one is said John Barton testily she came many a time to our house after she left off living with us last Sunday sir no no it was this very last Sunday she came to drink a cup of tea with Mary and that was the last time we sat eyes on her was she anyways different in her manner asked Wilson well I don't know I have thought several times since that she was a bit choir a more womanly like more gentle and more blushing and not psoriasis and noisy she comes in toward four o'clock when afternoon church was loosen and she goes and hangs o bonnet up on the old nail we used to call us while she lived with us I remember thinking what pretty lass she wore as she sat on a low stool by Mary it was rocking herself and in rather a poor way she laughed and cried by turns but also softly and gently like a child that couldn't find in my arts a scholar especially as Mary was fretting already one thing I do remember I did say and pretty sharply – she took our little Mary by the waist and I must leave off calling a little Mary she's growing up into as finalists as one can see on a summer's day more of her mother's stock than thine interrupted Wilson well well I got a little because her mother's name is Mary but as I was saying she takes Mary in a coaxing Soloway and mary says she what should you think if I sent for you some day and made a lady of you I saw I could not stand such talk as that Sam a girl and I said they'd best not put that nonsense in girls and I can tell thee I'd rather see her own in her bread by the sweat of our brow as the Bible tells us she should do I though she never got butter to her bread and be like a do-nothing lady worrying shopman or mourning and screeching a piane all afternoon and going to bed without having done a good turn so any one of God's creatures but herself now never could abide the gentle folk said Wilson half amused at his friends for humans and what good have they ever done me that I should like them hushed Barton the latent fire lighting up his eye and bursting forth he continued if I am sick did they come and nurse me if my child lies dying as poor Tom Lee with his white one lips quivering for once of better food than I could give him does the Richmond bring the wine or broth that might save his life if I'm our work for weeks in the bad times and winter comes with black frost and keen east wind and there's no coal for the great and no clothes for the bed and the thin bones are seen through the ragged clothes does the rich man share his plenty with me as he ought to do if his religion wasn't a home Bob when I lie on my deathbed and married blesser starts fretting as I know she will fret and hear his voice faltered a little Willa a rich lady come and take her to her own home if need be till she can look round and see what best to do no I tell you it's the poor and the poor only as does such things for the poor don't think to come over me with old tale that the rich know nothing of the child's of the poor I say if they don't know they ought to know we're their slaves as long as we can work we pile up their fortunes with the sweat of our brows and yet we are to live as separate as if we were in two worlds I as separate as divas and Lazarus with a great gulf big twixt us but I know he was best off then and he wound up his speech with a low chuckle that had no mirth in it well neighbor said Wilson all that may be very true but what I want to know now is about Esther when did you last hear of her why she took leave of us at Sunday night in a very loving way kissing both wife Mary and daughter Mary if I must not call her little and shaking hands with me but all in a cheerful sort of manner so we thought nothing about her kisses and shakes bond Wednesday night comes mrs. Bradshaw son with Esther's box and presently mrs. Bradshaw follows with the key and when we began to talk we found Esther told her she was coming back to live with us and would pay a week's money for not giving notice and on Tuesday night she carried off a little bundle her best clothes were on her back as I said before and sole mrs. Bradshaw not to hurry herself about the big box but bring it when she had time so of course she thought she should find Esther with us and when she told her story my mrs. set up such a screech and fell down in a dead swoon Mary ran away water for her mother and I thought so much about my wife I did not seem to care at all for Esther but the next day I asked all the neighbors both our own and Bradshaw and they none of them heard or seen nothing over I even went to a policeman a good enough sort of man but a fellow I'd never spoke to before because of his livery and I asks him if his cuteness could find anything out for us so I believe he asks or the policeman and one on him had seen a wench like our Esther walking very clay with a bundle under our arm on Tuesday night toward 8 o'clock and get into a hackney-coach near you mature CH and we don't know if number and can't trace it no further I'm sorry enough for the girl four buds come over her one way or another but I'm sorrier for my wife she loved her next to me Amer and she's never been the same body since poor Tom's death however let's get back to them you're a woman may have done a good as they warped homewards with a brisk apace Wilson expressed the wish that they still were the near neighbors they had once been still our Alice lives in the cellar under number 14 in Barbour story and if you'd only speak the word she'd be with you in five minutes to keep your wife company when she's lonesome though I'm Alice's brother and perhaps ought not to say it I will say that there's none more ready to help with heart or hand than she is though she may have done a hard day's wash there's not a child ill with in the street but Alice goes to offer to sill and does sit up to oh maybe she's to be a work by 6:00 next morning she is a poor woman and it can feel for the poor Wilson was Barton's reply and then he added thank you kindly for your offer and mayhap I may trouble her to be a bit with my wife for while I'm at work and Mary's at school and all she frets above a bit see there's Mary and the father's I brightened as in the distance among a group of girls he spied his only daughter a Bonnie lassie of 13 or so who came bounding along to meet and to greet her father in a manner which showed the stern looking man had a tender nature within the two men had crossed the last style while Mary loitered behind to gather some buds of the coming Hawthorn when an overgrown lad came posture and snatched a kiss exclaiming for old acquaintance st. Mary take that for old acquaintance sake then said the girl blushing rosy red more with anger than shame as she slapped his face the tones of her voice called back her father and his friend and the aggressor proved to be the eldest son of the latter the senior by 18 years of his little brother's ear children instead of kissing and quarreling do you each take a baby but if Wilson's arms be like mine they are heartily tired Mary sprang forward to take her father's charge with a girl's fondness for infants and with some little foresight of the event soon to happen at home while young Wilson seemed to lose his roof kobish nature as he crowed and cooed to his little brother twins is a great trial to a poor man blessum said the half proud half weary father as he bestowed a smacking kiss on the babe ere he parted with it end of chapter one read by Tony Foster chapter 2 of Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell this LibriVox recording is in the public domain a Manchester Tea Party Polly put the kettle on and let's have tea polly put the kettle on and we'll all have tea here we are wife did still think that lost us quaff hearty voiced Wilson as the two women rose and shook themselves in preparation for their Homewood walk mrs. Barton was evidently soothed if not cheered by the unburdening of her fears and thoughts to her friend and her approving look went far to second her husband's invitation that the whole party should adjourn from green Hayes fields to tea at the Barton's house the only faint opposition was raised by mrs. Wilson on account of the lateness of the hour at which they would probably return which she feared on her baby's account now all datong mrs. will you said her husband good-tempered lee don't you know them brats never goes to sleep too long past 10:00 I'm nourish all under which you can took one lads head a safe as a bird under its wing and ice foot to the one I'll put him a pocket rather than not stay now we are this far away from ankles or I can lend you another shawl suggested mrs. Barton I anything rather than not stay the matter being decided the party proceeded home through many half-finished streets also like one another that you might have easily being bewildered and lost your way not a step however did our friends lose down this entry cutting off that corner until they turned out of one of these innumerable streets into a little paved court having the backs of houses at the end opposite to the opening and a gutter running through the middle to carry off household slops washing suits etc the women who lived in the court were busy taking in strings of caps frocks and various articles of linen which hung from side to side dangling so low that if our friends had been a few minutes sooner they would have had to stoop very much or else the half wet clothes would have flapped in their faces but although the evening seemed yet early when they were in the open fields among the pent up houses night with its mists and its darkness had already begun to fall many greetings were given and exchanged between the Wilsons and these women for not long ago they had also dwelt in this Court – rude lads standing at a disorderly looking house door exclaimed as Mary Barton the daughter passed hey look Polly Barton's gotten a sweetheart of course this referred to young Wilson who stole a look to see how Mary took the idea he saw her assume the air of a young fury and to his next speech she answered not a word mrs. Barton produced the key of the door from her pocket and on entering the house place it seemed as if they were in total darkness except one bright spot which might be a cat's eye or might be what it was a red-hot fire smoldering under a large piece of coal which John Barton immediately applied himself to break up and the effect instantly produced was warm and glowing light in every corner of the room to add to this although the course yellow glare seemed lost in the ruddy glow from the fire mrs. Barton lighted a dip by sticking it in the fire and having placed it satisfactorily in a tin candlestick began to look further about her own hospitable thoughts intent the room was tolerably large and possessed many conveniences on the right of the door as you entered was a long ish window with a broad ledge on each side of this hung blue-and-white check curtains which were now drawn to shut in the friends met to enjoy themselves to geraniums unpruned and leafy which stood on the sill formed a further defense from outdoor Pryor's in the corner between the window and the fireside was a cupboard apparently full of plates and dishes cups and saucers and some more nondescript articles for which one would have fancied their possessors could find no use such as triangular pieces of glass to save carving knives and forks from dirtying tablecloths however it was evident mrs. Barton was proud of her crockery in glass for she left her cupboard door open with a glance round of satisfaction and pleasure on the opposite side to the door and window was the staircase and two doors one of which nearest to the fire led into a sort of little back kitchen where dirty work such as washing up dishes might be done and who shelves served as larder and pantry and storeroom and all the other door which was considerably lower opened into the coal-hole the slanting closet under the stairs from which to the fireplace there was a gay colored piece of oil cloth laid the place seemed almost crammed with furniture sure sign of good times among the mills beneath the window was a dresser with three deep drawers opposite the fireplace was a table which I should call a Pembroke only that it was made of deal and I cannot tell how far such a name may be applied to such humble material on it resting against the wall was a bright green japanned tea tray having a couple of scarlet lovers embracing in the middle the firelight danced merrily on this and really setting all taste but that of a child's aside it gave a richness of coloring to that side of the room it was in some measure propped up by a crimson tea caddy also of Japan where a round table on one branching leg really for use stood in the corresponding corner to the cupboard and if you can picture all this with a washi but clean stenciled pattern on the walls you can form some idea of John Barnes home the tray was soon hoisted down and before the merry chatter of cups and saucers began the women disburdened themselves of their out of door things and sent Mary upstairs with them then came a long whispering and chinking of money to which mr. and mrs. Wilson were too polite to attend knowing as they did full well that it related to the preparations for hospitality hospitality that in their turn they should have such pleasure in offering so they tried to be busily occupied with the children and not to hear mrs. Barton's directions to Mary run Mary dear just round the corner and get some fresh eggs at tipping's you may get one apiece that'll be five pence and save easy has any nice ham cook that you would let us have a pound of say 2 pounds missus and don't be stingy chimed in the husband well a pound and a half Mary and get it Cumberland ham but Wilson comes from there away and it will have a sort of relish of home like and Mary seeing the lassie feign to be off you must get a penny worth of milk and a loaf of bread mind you can't eat fresh and new and and that's all Mary no it's not all said her husband they almost get six penny worth of room to warm the tea they'll get it at the grapes and I just called to Alice Wilson he says she lives just right around the corner under 14 Barber Street this was addressed to his wife and sell it's a common sake tea with us she liked to see her brother I'll be bound there long Jane and the twins if she comes she must bring a teacup and saucer fur we have but half a dozen and his six of us said mrs. Barden PO poo Jim American Gigolo on Shirley but Mary secretly determined to take care that Alice brought her teacup and saucer if the alternative was to be her sharing anything with gem Alice Wilson had but just come in she had been out all day in the fields gathering wild herbs for drinks and medicine for in addition to her invaluable qualities as a sickness and her worldly occupation as a washerwoman she added a considerable knowledge of hedge and field simples and on fine days when no more profitable of occupation offered itself she used to ramble off into the lanes and meadows as far as her legs could carry her this evening she'd returned loaded with nettles and her first object was to light a candle and see to hang them up in bunches in every available place in her cellar room it was the perfection of cleanliness in one corner stood the modest looking bed with a check curtain at the head the whitewashed wall filling up the place where the corresponding one should have been the floor was bricked and scrupulously clean although so damp that it seemed as if the last washing would never dry up as the cellar window looked into an area in the street down which boys might throw stones it was protected by an outside shelter and was oddly festooned with all manner of hedgerow ditch and field plants which we are accustomed to call valueless but which have a powerful effect either for good or for evil and are consequently much used among the poor the room was strewed hung and darkened with these bunches which emitted no very fragrant odor in their process of drying in one corner was a sort of broad hanging shelf made of old planks where some old hordes of Alice's were kept a little bit of crockery where was ranged on the mantelpiece where also stood her candlestick and box of matches a small cupboard contained at the bottom coals and at the top her bread and basin of oatmeal her frying pan teapot and a small tin saucepan which served as a kettle as well as for cooking the delicate little messes of broth which Alice sometimes was able to manufacture for a sick neighbor after her walk she felt chilly and weary and was busy trying to light her fire with the damp coals and half green sticks when Mary knocked come in said Alice remembering however that she had barred the door for the night and hastening to make it possible for anyone to come in is that you Mary Barton exclaimed she as the light from her candle streamed on the girl's face how you are grown since I used to see you at my brother's come in last come in please said Mary almost breathless mother says used to come to tea and bring you cup and saucer for George and Jane Wilson is with us and the twins and Jem and you too make haste please I'm sure it's very neighborly and kind in your mother and how come with many thanks steak Mary as you mother got any Nettles for spring drink if she hasn't I'll take her some no I don't think she has Mary ran off like a hare to fulfil what to a girl of 13 fond of power was the more interesting part of her errand the money spending part and well and a Blee did she perform her business returning home with a little bottle of rum and the eggs in one hand while her other was filled with some excellent red and white smoke flavoured Cumberland ham wrapped up in paper she was at home and frying ham before alice had chosen her nettles put out her candle locked her door and walked in a very footsore manner as far as John Barnes what an aspect of comfort did his house place present after her humble cellar she did not think of come airing but for all that she felt the delicious glow of the fire the bright light that reveled in every corner of the room the savory smells the comfortable sounds of a boiling kettle and the hissing frizzling ham with a little old-fashioned curtsy she shut the door and replied with a loving heart to the boisterous and surprised greeting of her brother and now all preparations being made the party sat down mrs. Wilson in the post of Honor the rocking chair on the right hand side of the fire nursing her baby while its father in an opposite armchair tried vainly to quieten the other with bread soaked in milk mrs. Barton knew manners too well to do anything but sit at the tea table and make tea though in her heart she longed to be able to superintend the frying of the ham and cast many an anxious look at Mary as she broke the eggs and turned the ham with a very comfortable portion of confidence in her own culinary powers Jem stood awkwardly leaning against the dresser replying rather gruffly to his aunt's speeches which gave him he thought the air of being a little boy whereas he considered himself as a young man and not so very young neither as in two months he would be eighteen Barton vibrated between the fire and the tea table his only drawback being a fancy that every now and then his wife's face flushed and contracted as if in pain at length the business actually began knives and forks cups and saucers made a noise but human voices were still for human beings were hungry and had no time to speak Alice first broke silence holding her teacup with the manner of one proposing a toast she said here's to absent friends friends may meet but mountains never it was an unlucky toast or sentiment as she instantly felt everyone thought of Esther the absent Esther and mrs. Barton put down her food and could not hide the fast dropping tears Alice could have bitten her tongue out it was a wet blanket to the evening for though all had been said and suggested in the fields that could be said or suggested everyone had a wish to say something in the way of comfort to poor mrs. Barton and a dislike to talk about anything else while her tears fell fast and scalding so George Wilson his wife and children set off early home not before in spite of Mullah proposed speeches they had expressed the wish that such meetings might often take place and not before John Barton had given his hearty consent and declared that as soon as ever his wife was well again they would have just such another evening and will take care not to come and spoil it thought poor Alice and going up to mrs. Barton she took her hand almost humbly and said you don't know how sorry I am I said II to her surprise a surprise that brought tears of joy into her eyes Mary Barden put her arms round her neck and kissed the self-reproaching Alice he didn't mean any harm and it was me as was so foolish only this work about Esther and not knowing where she is lies so heavy on my heart good night and never think no more about it god bless you Alice many and many a time as Alice reviewed that evening in her after life did she bless Mary Barton for these kind and thoughtful words but just then all she could say was goodnight Mary and God bless you end of chapter two read by Tony Foster Chapter three of Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell this LibriVox recording is in the public domain John Barton's great trouble but when the morn came dim and sad and chill with early showers her quiet eyelids closed she had another morn than ours hood in the middle of that say night a neighbor of the Barden's was roused from her sound well-earned sleep by a knocking which had at first made part of her dream but starting up as soon as she became convinced of its reality she opened the window and asked who was there me John Barton answered he in a voice tremulous with agitation mrs. is in labor and for the love of God step in while I run forth doctor but she's fearful but while the woman hastily dressed herself leaving the window still open she heard cries of agony which resounded in the little court in the stillness of the night in less than five minutes she was standing by mrs. Barton's bedside relieving the terrified Mary who went about where she was told like an automaton her eyes tearless her face calm though deadly pale and uttering no sound except when her teeth chattered for very nervousness the cries grew worse the doctor was very long in hearing the repeated rings at his night Bell and still longer in understanding who it was that made this sudden call upon his services and then he begged pardon just to wait while he dressed himself in order that no time might be lost in finding the court in house Barton absolutely stamped with impatience outside the doctor's door before he came down and walked so fast home words that the medical man several times asked him to go slower is she so very bad asked he worse much worse than ever I saw her before replied John no she was not she was at peace the cries were still forever John had no time for listening he opened the latch door stayed not to light a candle for the mere ceremony of showing his companion of the stairs so well-known to himself but in two minutes was in the room where lay the dead wife whom he had loved with all the power of his strong heart the doctor stumbled upstairs by the firelight and met the awestruck look of the neighbor which at once told him the state of things the room was still as he with habitual tiptoe step approached the poor frail body whom nothing now could more disturb her daughter knelt by the bedside her face buried in the clothes which were almost crammed into her mouth to keep down the choking sobs the husband stood like one stupefied the doctor questioned the neighboring whispers and then approaching Barton said you must go downstairs this is a great shock but barely like a man go down he went mechanically and sat down on the first chair he had no hope the look of death was too clear upon her face still when he heard one or two unusual noises the thought burst on him the team might only be a trance a fit her he did not well know what but not death oh not death and he was starting up to go upstairs again when the doctor's heavy cautious creaking footsteps was heard on the stairs then he knew what it really was in the chamber above nothing could have saved her there has been some shock to the system and so he went on but to unheeding ears which yet retained his words to ponder on words not for immediate use in conveying sense but to be laid by in the storehouse of memory for a more convenient season the doctor seeing the state of the case grieved for the man and very sleepy thought it best to go and accordingly wished him good night but there was no answer so he let himself out and Barton sat on like a stock or her stone so rigid so still he heard the sounds above too and knew what they meant he heard the stiff unseasoned drawer in which his wife kept her clothes pulled open he saw the neighbor come down and blunder about in search of soap and water he knew well what she wanted and why she wanted them but he did not speak nor offer to help at last she went with some kindly meant words a text of comfort which fell upon a deafened ear and something about Mary but which Mary in his bewildered state he could not tell he tried to realize it to think it possible and then his mind wandered off to other days to far different times he thought of their courtship of his first seeing her an awkward beautiful rustic far too shiftless for the delicate factory work to which she was apprenticed of his first gift to a bead necklace which long ago been put by in one of the deep drawers of the dresser to be kept for marry he wondered if it was there yet and with a strange curiosity he got up to feel for it for the fire by this time was well-nigh out and candle he hardened on his groping hand fell on the piled up tea things which at his desire she had left unwashed till morning they were all so tired he was reminded of one of the daily little actions which acquires such power when they have been performed for the last time by one we love he began to think over his wife's daily round of duties and something in the remembrance that these would never more be done by her touch the source of Tears and he cried aloud Palmeri meanwhile had mechanically helped the neighbor in all the last attentions to the dead and when she was kissed and spoken to soothingly tears stole quietly down her cheeks but she reserved the luxury of a full burst of grief till she should be alone she shook the chamber door softly after the neighbor had gone and then shook the bed by which she knelt with her agony of sorrow she repeated over and over again the same words the same vain unanswered address to her who was no more Oh mother mother are you really dead Oh mother mother at last she stopped because it flashed across her mind that her violence of grief might disturb her father all was still below she looked on the face so changed and yet so strangely like she bent down to kiss it the cold unyielding flesh struck a shudder to her heart and hastily obeying her impulse she grasped the candle and opened the door then she heard the sobs of her father's grief and quickly quietly stealing down the steps she nailed by him and kissed his hand he took no notice at first that his bursts of grief would not be controlled but when her shriller sobs her terrified cries which she could not repress rose upon his ear he checked himself child we must be all to one another now she is gone whispered he Oh father what can I do for you do tell me I'll do anything I know that wilt thou must not fret the self ill that's the first thing I ask that must leave me and go to bed now like a good girl as thou art leave you father oh don't say so i but thou must I must go to bed and try and sleep don't have enough to do and to bear poor wench tomorrow Mary got up kissed her father and sadly went upstairs to the little closet where she slept she thought it was of no use undressing her that she could never never sleep so threw herself on her bed in her clothes and before ten minutes had passed away the passionate grief of youth had subsided into sleep Barton had been roused by his daughter's entrance both from his stupor and from his uncontrollable sorrow he could think on what was to be done but plan for the funeral could calculate the necessity of soon returning to his work as the extravagance of the past night would leave them short of money if he long remained away from the mill he was in a club so that money was provided for the burial these things settled in his own mind he recalled the doctors words and bitterly thought of the shock his poor wife had so recently had in the mysterious disappearance of her cherished sister his feelings toward Esther almost amounted to curses it was she who had brought on all this sorrow of giddiness her lightness of conduct had wrought this war his previous thoughts about her had been tinged with wonder and pity but now he hardened his heart against her forever one of the good influences over John Barton's life had departed that night one of the ties which bound him down to the gentle humanities of Earth was loosened and henceforth the neighbors all remarked he was a changed man his gloom and his sternness became habitual instead of occasional he was more obstinate but never to marry between the father and the daughter there existed in full force that mysterious bond which unites those who have been loved by one who is now dead and gone while he was harsh and silent to others he humored marry with tender love she had more of a wrong way than his common in any rank with girls of her age part of this was the necessity of the case for of course all the money went through her hands and the household arrangements were guided by her will and pleasure but part was her father's indulgence but he left her with full trust in her unusual sense and spirit to choose her own associates and her own times for seeing them with all this Mary had not her father's confidence in the matters which now began to occupy him heart and soul she was aware that he had joined clubs and become an active member of a trades Union but it was hardly likely that a girl of Mary's age even when two or three years had elapsed since her mother's death should care much for the differences between the employers and the employed an eternal subject for agitation in the manufacturing districts which however it may be lulled for a time is sure to break forth again with fresh violence at any depression of trade showing that in its apparent quiet the ashes had still smoldered in the breasts of a few among these few was John Barton at all times it is a bewildering thing to the poor Weaver to see his employer removing from house to house each one grander than the last till he ends in building one more magnificent than all or withdraws his money from the concern or sells his mill to buy an estate in country while all the time the Weaver who thinks he and his fellows are the real makers of this wealth is struggling on for bread for their children through the vicissitudes of lowered wages short hours fewer hands employed etc and when he knows trade is bad and could understand at least partially that there are not buyers enough in the market to purchase the goods already made and consequently that there is no demand for more when he would bear and endure much without complaining could he also see that his employers were bearing their share he is I say bewildered and to use his own word aggravated to see that all goes on just as usual with the mill owners large houses are still occupied while spinners and Weaver's cottages stand empty because the families that once occupied them are obliged to live in rooms or cellars carriages still roll along the streets concerts are still crowded by subscribers the shops for expensive luxuries still find daily customers while the workmen loiters away his unemployed time in watching these things and thinking of the pale and complaining wife at home and the wailing children asking in vain for enough of food of the sinking health of the dying life of those near and dear to him the contrast is too great why should he alone suffer from bad times I know that this is not really the case and I know what is truth in such matters but what I wish to impress is what the workman feels and thinks true that with childlike in Providence good times will often dissipate his grumbling and make him forget all prudence and foresight but there are earnest men among these people men who have endured wrongs without complaining but without ever forgetting or forgiving those whom they believe have caused all this war among these was John Barton his parents had suffered his mother had died from absolute want of the necessaries of life he himself was a good steady workman and as such pretty certain of steady employment but he spent all he got with the confidence he may also call it in Providence of one who was willing and believed himself able to supply all his once by his own exertions and when his master suddenly failed and All Hands in that mill were turned back one Tuesday morning with the news that mr. hunter had stopped Barton had only a few shillings to rely on but he had good heart of being employed at some other mill and accordingly before returning home he spent some hours in going from factory to factory asking for work but at every mill was some sign of depression of trade some were working short hours some were turning off hands and four weeks Barton was out of work living on credit it was during this time his little son the apple of his eye the cynosure of all his strong power of love fell ill of the scarlet fever they dragged him through the crisis but his life hung on a gossamer thread everything the doctor said depended on good nourishment on generous living to keep up the little fellow strength in the prostration in which the fever had left him mocking words when the Communists food in the house would not furnish one little meal Barton tried credit but it was worn out of the little provision shops which were now suffering in their turn he thought it would be no sin to steal and would have stolen but he could not get the opportunity in the few days the child lingered hungry himself almost to an animal pitch of ravenous nests but with the bodily pain swallowed up in anxiety for his little sinking lad he stood at one of the shop windows where all edible luxuries are displayed haunches of venison Stilton cheeses moulds of jelly all appetizing sights to the common passerby and out of this shop Kay mrs. hunter she crossed to her carriage followed by the shopman loaded with purchases for a party the door was quickly slammed too and she drove away and Barton returned home with a bitter spirit of wrath in his heart to see his only boy a corpse you can fancy now the hordes of vengeance in his heart against the employers for there are never wanting those who either in speech or in print find it their interest to cherish such feelings in the working classes who know how and when to rouse the dangerous power at their command and who used their knowledge with unrelenting purpose to either party so while Mary took her own way growing more spirited every day and growing in her beauty to her father was chairman at many a trades union meeting a friend of Delegates and ambitious of being a delegate himself a Chartist and ready to do anything for his order but now times were good and all these feelings were theoretical not practical his most practical thought was getting mariya Prentice to a dressmaker but he had never left off disliking a factory life for a girl on more accounts than one Mary must do something the factories being as I said out of the question there were two things open going out to service and the dress making business and against the first of these Mary set herself with all the force of her strong will what that will might have been able to achieve had her father been against her I cannot tell but he disliked the idea of parting with her who was the light of his half the voice of his otherwise silent home besides with his ideas and feelings towards the higher classes he considered domestic servitude as a species of slavery a pampering of artificial wants on the one side a giving up of every right of leisure by day and quiet rest by night on the other how far his strong exaggerated feelings had any foundation in truth is for you to judge I am afraid that Mary's determination not to go to service arose from far less sensible thoughts on the subject than her father's three years of independence of action since her mother's death such a time had now elapsed had little inclined her to submit to rules as to ours and associates to regulate her address by a mistresses ideas of propriety to lose the dear feminine privileges of gossiping with a merry neighbor and working night and day to help one who was sorrowful besides all this the sayings of her absent her mysterious aunt Esther had an unacknowledged influence over Mary she knew she was very pretty the factory people as they poured from the mills and in their freedom told the truth whatever it might be to every passerby had early let Mary into the secret of her beauty if their remarks had fallen on unheeding year there were always young men enough in a different rank from her own who were willing to compliment the pretty Weaver's daughter as they met her in the streets besides just a girl of sixteen for knowing well if she is pretty concerning her plainness she may be ignorant so with this consciousness she had early determined that her beauty should make her a lady the rank she coveted the more for her father's abuse the rank to which she firmly believed her lost Aunt Esther had arrived now while a servant must often drug him be dirty must be known as a servant by all who visited at her master's house a dressmakers apprentice must also marry thought be always dressed with a certain regard to her appearance must never soil her hands and need never read an order to her face with hard labor before my telling you so truly what folly Mary felt or thought injures her without redemption in your opinion think what are the silly fancies of 16 years of age in every class and under all circumstances the end of all the thoughts of father and door was as I said before Mary was to be a dressmaker and her ambition prompted her unwilling father to apply at all the first establishments to know on what terms of painstaking and zeal his daughter might be admitted into ever so humble a work woman's situation but high premiums were asked at all poor man he might have known that without giving up a day's work to ascertain the fact he would have been indignant indeed had he known that if Mary had accompanied him the case might have been rather different as her beauty would have made her desirable as a show woman then he tried second-rate places at all the payment of a sum of money was necessary and money he had none disheartened and angry he went home at night declaring it was time lost the dressmaking was at all events a toilsome business and not worth learning Mary saw that the grapes were sour and the next day set out herself as her father could not afford to lose another day's work and before night as yesterday's experience had considerably lowered her ideas she had engaged herself as apprentice so called though there were no deeds or indentures to the bond to a certain miss Simmons milliner and dressmaker in a respectable little Street leading off Ardwick green where her business was duly announced in gold letters on a black ground and closed in a bird's-eye maple frame and stuck in the front parlor window where the work women were called her young ladies and where Mary was to work for two years without any remuneration on consideration of being taught the business and where afterwards she was to dine and have tea with a small quarterly salary paid quarterly because so much more genteel than by the week a very small one divisible into a minut weekly pittance in summer she was to be there by six bringing her day's meals during the first two years in winter she was not to come till after breakfast her time for returning home at night must always depend upon the quantity of work miss Simmons had to do and Mary was satisfied and seeing this her father was contented too although his words were grumbling and morose but Mary knew his ways and coaxed and planned for the future so cheerily that both went to bed with easy if not happy hearts end of chapter 3 read by Tony Foster chapter four of Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell Fox recording is in the public domain old Alice's history to envy not beneath the ample sky to mourn no evil deed no our Miss spent and like a living violet silently return in sweets to heaven what goodness lent then been beneath the chastening shower content Elliot another year passed on the waves of time seem long since to have swept away all trace of poor Mary Barton but her husband still thought of her although with a calm and quiet grief in the silent watches of the night and Mary would start from her hard-earned sleep and think in her half dreamy half awakened state she saw her mother stand by her bedside as she used to do in the days of long ago with a shaded candle and an expression of ineffable tenderness while she looked on her sleeping child but Mary rubbed her eyes and sank back on her pillow awake and knowing it was a dream and still in all her troubles and perplexities her heart called on her mother for aid and she thought if mother had but lived she would have helped me forgetting that the woman sorrows a far more difficult to mitigate than a child's even by the mighty power of a mother's love and unconscious of the fact that she was far superior in sense and spirit to the mother she mourned aunt Esther was still mysteriously absent and people had grown weary of wandering and began to forget Barton still attended his club and was an active member of a trades Union indeed more frequently than ever since the time of Mary's return in the evening was so uncertain and as she occasionally in very busy times remained all night his chiefest friend was still George Wilson although he had no great sympathy on the questions that agitated Barton's mind still their hearts were bound by old ties to one another and the remembrance of former times gave an unspoken charm to their meetings our old friend the cub like Ladd gem Wilson had shut up into the powerful well made young man with a sensible face enough nay a face that might have been handsome had it not been here and there marked by the smallpox he worked with one of the great firms of Engineers who send from out their towns of workshops engines and machinery to the dominions of the Tsar and the Sultan his father and mother were never weary of praising gem at all which commendation pretty Mary Barton would toss her head seeing clearly enough that they wished her to understand what a good husband he would make and to favor his love about which he never dare to speak whatever eyes and looks revealed one day in the early winter time when people were provided with warm substantial gowns not likely soon to wear out and when accordingly business was rather slack at miss Simmons Mary met Alice Wilson coming home from a half day's work at some tradesmen's house Mary and Alice had always liked each other indeed Alice looked with particular interest on the motherless girl the daughter of her who's forgiving kiss had so comforted her in many sleepless hours so there was a warm greeting between the tidy old woman and the blooming young work girl and then Alice ventured to ask if she would come in and take her tea with her that very evening you think it dull enough to come just to sit with an old woman like me but is it tidy young lasses lives in the floor above who does plain work and now and then a bit in your own line Mary she's granddaughter to old job Lee a spinner and a good girl she is do come Mary I've a terrible wish to make you known to each other she's a genteel looking last two at the beginning of this speech mary had feared the intended visitor was to be no other than Alice's nephew but Alice was too delicate minded to plan a meeting even for her dear gem when one would have been an unwilling party and Mary relieved from her apprehension by the conclusion gladly agreed to come how busy Alice felt it was not often she had anyone to tea and now her sense of the duties of a hostess were almost too much for her she made haste home and lighted the unwilling fire borrowing a pair of bellows to make it burn the faster for herself she was always patient she let the coals take their time then she put on her patterns and went to fill er kettle at the pump in the next court and on the way she borrowed a cup of odd sauce as she had plenty serving as plate when occasion required half an ounce of tea and a quarter of a pound of butter went far to absorb her morning's wages but this was an unusual occasion in general she used herb tea for herself when at home unless some thoughtful mistress made her a present of tea leaves from her more abundant household the two chairs drawn out for visitors and duly swept and dusted an old board arranged with some skill upon two old candle boxes set on end rather rickety to be sure but she knew the seat of old and went to sit lightly indeed the whole affair was more for apparent dignity of position than for any real ease a little very little round table put just before the fire which by this time was blazing merrily her and lacquered ancient third hand tea tray arranged with a black teapot two cups with a red and white patent and one with the old friendly will open and sources not to match on one of the extra supply the lump of butter flourished away all these preparations complete Alice began to look about her with satisfaction and a sort of wonder what more could be done to add to the comfort of the evening she took one of the chairs away from its appropriate place by the table and putting it close to the broad large hanging shelf I told you about when I first described her cellar dwelling and mounting on it she pulled to order an old deal box and took thence a quantity of the old bread of the north the clap Bread of Cumberland and Westmorland and descending carefully with the thin cakes threatening to break to pieces in her hand she placed them on the bare table with the belief that her visitors would have an unusual treat in eating the bread of her childhood she brought out a good piece of a four pound loaf of common household bread as well and then sat down to rest really to rest and not to pretend on one of the rush bottoms chairs the candle was ready to be lighted the kettle boiled the tea was awaiting its doom in its paper parcel all was ready a knock at the door it was Margaret the young work woman who lived in the rooms above who having heard the bustle and the subsequent quiet began to think it was time to pay her visit below she was a sallow on the healthy sweet looking young woman with a look her dress was humble and very simple consisting of some kind of dark stuff gown her neck being covered by a drab shawl or large handkerchief pinned down behind and at the sides in front the old woman gave her a hearty greeting and made her sit down on the chair she had just left while she balanced herself on the board seat in order that Margaret might think it was quite her free and independent choice to sit there I cannot think what keeps Mary Barton she's quite grand with the late hours said Alice as Mary still delayed the truth was Barry was dressing herself yes to come to poor old Alice's she thought it worthwhile to consider what gown she should put on it was not for Alice however you may be pretty sure no they knew each other too well but Mary liked making an impression and in this it must be owned she was pretty often gratified and there was this strange girl to consider just now so she put on her pretty new blue merino maid tied to her throat her little linen collar and linen cuffs and salad forth to impress poor gentle Margaret she certainly succeeded Alice who never thought much about Beauty had never told Margaret how pretty Mary was and as she came in half blushing at her own self-consciousness Margaret could hardly take her eyes off her and Mary put down her long black lashes with a sort of dislike of the very observation she had taken such pains to secure can you fancy the bustle of Alice to make the tea to pour it out and sweeten it to their liking to help and help again to clap bread and bread and butter can you fancy the delight with which she watched her piled up clap bread disappear before the hungry girls and listened to the praises of her home remember dainty my mother used to send me some clap bread by any North Country person bless her she knew how good such things taste when farawayfromhome not but what everyone likes it when I was in service my fellow servants were always glad to share with me hey it's a long time ago yon do tell us about you Alice said Margaret why that's the stuff to tell it was more mouths at home than could be fed Tom that's wills father you don't know it will but he's a sailor to foreign parts had come to Manchester and sent word what terrible lots of work was to be ad both for lads and lasses so father sent George first you know George well enough Mary and then work was scarce out toward burden where he lived and father said I'm on try and get a place and George wrote as our wages were far higher in Manchester than Milne thought or Lancaster and lasses I was young and thoughtless and thought it was a fine thing to go so far from all so one day butchery brings us a letter for George to say he'd heard on a place and it was all agog to go and father was pleased like but mother said little and that little was very quiet I've often thought she was a bit to see me so ready to go God forgive me but she packed up my clothes and some of the better end of her owners would fit me in young little paper box up there it's good for now now but I would leave her live without fire than break it up to be burnt and yet it's going on for 80 years old for she had it when she was a girl and brought all her clothes into father's when they were married but as I was saying she did not cry though the tears was often in her eyes and as seen her looking after me down the lane as long as I were inside with her and shading her eyes and that were the last look I ever had on her Alice knew that before long she should go to that mother and besides the griefs and bitter woes of youth have worn themselves out before we grow old but she looked so sorrowful that the girls caught her sadness and mourned for the poor woman who had been dead and gone so many years ago did you never see her again Alice did she never go home while she was alive asked Mary no nor since many a time and oft of our plans ago a planet yet and hoped to go home again before it pleased God to take me I used to try and save money enough to go for a week when I was in service but first one thing came and then another first mrs. his children fell ill of the measles just when three cast four came and I couldn't leave them but one and all cried for me to nurse them then mrs. herself fell sick and I could go less than ever for you see they kept a little shop and he drank and missus and me was all there was to mind children and shop and all and cook and wash besides Mara was glad she had not gone into service and said so hey lass that little knows the pleasure of helping others I was as happy there as could be almost as happy as I was at home well but next year I thought I could go to leisure time and mrs. tailed me I should have a fortnight then and I used to sit up all that winter working hard at patchwork to have a quilt of my own making to take to my mother but master died and mrs. Wentz away from Manchester and I'd look out for a place again well but interrupted Mary I should have thought that was the best time to go on no I thought not you see it was a different thing going on for a week on a visit maybe with money in my pocket to give father a lift to going home to be a burden to him besides how could a year or a place there anyways I thought it best to stay though perhaps it might have been better to her gone then I should have seen mother again and the poor old woman looked puzzled I'm sure you did what you thought right said Margaret gently Eilis that's it said Alice raising her head and speaking more cheerfully that's the thing and then let the Lord send what he sees fit not but that I grieved saw Oh sore and sad when towards spring next year when the quilt were all done tooth lining George came in one evening to tell me mother was dead I cried many a night at after at no time for crying by day for that mrs. was terrible strict she would not hearken to my going to the funeral and indeed I would have been too late for George set off that very night by the coach and letter had been kept a somewhat pulse were not like bowls nowadays and he found the burial all over and father talked in a flitting I can't abide the cottage after mother was gone was it a pretty place asked Mary pretty lass I never seed such a bonny bit anywhere you see that it again to the sky's not near maybe but that makes them all the Baniya I used to think they were the golden Hill of heaven about which my mother sang when I was a child yarr now the golden the hills are heaven where you'll never win something about a ship and a lover that should have been now over the Ballad was well and near our cottage were rocks hey lasses you don't know what rocks are in Manchester gray piece is a stone as large as our house all covered over we mas of different colors some yellow some brown and the ground beneath them knee-deep in purple Heather smelling some sweet and fragrant and the low music of the humming be forever sounding among you mother used to send Sally and me out to gather Ling and Heather for Besson's and it was such pleasant work we stood come on with an evening loaded so she could not see us for all that it was so light to carry and then mother would make us sit down under the old Hawthorn tree where we used to make our house among the great roots as stood above ground to pick and tie up the Heather it seems all like yesterday and yet it's a long long time ago no sister Sally has been in a grave this forty year and more but I often wonder if the Hawthorn is standing yet and if the lass is still go to gather Heather as we did many in many a year past and gone I sicken at heart to see the old spot once again maybe next summer I may set off if God spares me to see next summer why have you never been in all these many years asked Mary pile us first one wanted min and then another I could go without money either and I got very poor at times tom was a scapegrace poor fellow and always wanted help of one kind or another and his wife for I think skate graces are always married long before steady folk was but a helpless kind of body she were always ailing he were always in trouble so I had enough to do with my hands and my money too for that matter they died within twelve month of each other leaving one lad they've had seven but the Lord had taken six to himself will as I was telling you on and I took him myself and left service to make a bit on a home place for him and a fine lad he was the very spit of his father as to looks on this steadier but he was steady although no wood sir hymnbook going to see tried all I could to set him again a sailor's life says I folks he's as sick as dogs all the time that it's see you know mother tell me but she came from following parts being a Manx woman the Tschida thanked anyone for throwing her into the water they I sent him are the way to run gone by the Dukes canal as he might know what C word I look to see him come back as white as a sheet with vomiting but the lad went on to Liverpool and saw real ships came back more set than ever on being a sailor and he said as how he'd never been sick at all and thought he could stand the sea pretty well so tell him him undo as he liked and he thanked me and kissed me for all I was very flooded with him and now he's gone to South America ed to the side of the Sun they tell me Mary stole a glance at Margaret to see what she thought of Alice's geography but Margaret looked so quiet and demure that Mary was in doubt if she were not really ignorant not that Mary's knowledge was very profound but she had seen a terrestrial globe and knew where to find France and the continents on a map after this long talking Alice seemed lost for a time in reverie and the girls respecting her thoughts which they suspected had wandered to the home and scenes of her childhood was silent all at once she recalled her duties as hostess and by an effort brought back her mind to the present time Margaret they must let Mary Healy sing I don't know about fire music myself but folks say Margaret is a rare singer and I know she can make me cry at any time by singing thode and Weaver do sing that Margaret there's a good lass with a faint smile as if amused at Alice's choice of a song Margaret began do you know the Oldham Weaver not unless you are Lancashire born and bred where it is a complete Lancashire ditty I will copy it for you the Oldham Weaver one I'm a poor con waver as money or one knows of near fatigue and I've worn out my claws you'd alley gets opened for all as I've on but clogs are both Brosnan and stockings over non you'd think he were odd to be brought into this world to be cleansed and do the best as you – Oh Dicky Oh Billy's kept telling me long which is better times if I'd boo told me tongue abode in me tongue till of near stop me breath I think he be art as soon cleanser death Oh Dickies wheel crammed he never walked lemmed and in air Pictoris laugh three we chair it on six week thinking H day with lust we shifted and shifted to Noah quite fast we lived upon nettles while nettles were good and Waterloo porridge the best of her food I'm telling you true I can find folky no as we're living now better nah me for owed Billy a done since the Bailey's one day for a shop did I owed him as I could not pay but he were to let for owed billionth bent had sewed tinton cart and taken goods for the rent we'd net left but third stew that were cease for two a nanak cured margaret in me five then Bailey's lucre and ass lies a mouse when they seed his art goods with a native Taos says one shouts at that other as gone then I see says our near fret Mon you're welcome to me they made no more ado but wop top third stew and we both leet waka pot flags six then I said to her Margaret as we lay upon floor we've never been lower in this world on sure if ever things Orton I'm sure them amend or a thinking me art we were both at far end for meat we are non nor looms wave on heed add that as good lost as fund seven her Margaret declares how do clues us to put on who'd go up to London and talk to the Greek Mon and if things were knotted when their who had been who's fully resolved sought mouth and end whose near to say again king will larks a fur thing and who says who can tell when whose hurt the air to which this is sung is a kind of droning recitative depending much on expression and feeling to read it it may seem humorous but it is that humor which is near akin to pay fast and to those who have seen the distress it describes it is a powerfully pathetic song Margaret had both witnessed the destitution and had the heart to feel it and with all her voice was of that rich and rare order which does not require any great compass of notes to make itself appreciated Alice had her quiet enjoyment of tears but Margaret with fixed eye and earnest dreamy look seemed to become more and more absorbed in realizing to herself the wall she had been describing and which she felt might at that very moment be suffering and hopeless within a short distance of their comparative comfort suddenly she burst forth with all the power of her magnificent voice as if a prayer from her very heart for all who were in distress in the grand supplication Lord remember David Mary held her breath unwilling to lose a note it was so clear so perfect so imploring a far more correct musician than Mary might have paused with equal admiration of the really scientific knowledge with which the poor depressed looking young needlewoman used her superb and flexible voice Deborah Travers herself wants an olden factory girl and afterwards the darling of fashionable crowds as mrs. knivert might have owned a sister in her art she stopped and with tears of holy sympathy in her eyes Alice thanked the songstress who resumed her calm demure manner much to Mary's wonder but she looked at her unwearied Lee as if surprised that the hidden power should not be perceived in the outward appearance when Alice's little speech of thanks was over there was quiet enough to hear a fine though rather quavering male voice going over again one or two strains of Margaret's song as grandfather exclaimed she I must be going he said he should not be on till past nine well I'll not say nay for have to be up by four for a very heavy wash at mrs. Simpsons but I should be terrible glad to see you again at any time lasses I hope you'll take to one another as the girls run up the cellar steps together margaret said just step in and see grandfather I should like him to see you and Mary consented end of chapter 4 read by Tony Foster

1 thought on “Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life (Version 2) | Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell | Talkingbook | 1/9

  1. Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life (Version 2) | Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell | Talkingbook | 1/9
    0: [00:00:00] – PREFACE
    1: [00:04:16] – CHAPTER I – A MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE
    2: [00:24:55] – CHAPTER II – A MANCHESTER TEA-PARTY
    3: [00:40:11] – CHAPTER III – JOHN BARTON'S GREAT TROUBLE
    4: [01:02:48] – CHAPTER IV – OLD ALICE'S HISTORY

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