THE SKEERIN O SAM
A Tale of Hough Hill, Stalybridge
Jack and Bill S
were brothers, both working in one of the cotton mills
at Stalybridge. Jack (who was married) resided with
his wife and children in one of the lonely cottages
on the side of Hough Hill, and Bill lodged at Newton
so that after work their homeward way lay in the same
direction, and they generally went home together.
It was Friday night, and the two
brothers had left their employment and were making all
speed towards their destination when Bill suddenly pulled
up saying, How about that parrot we seed last
neet, Jack. Art goint buy him?
I dunnot know, answered Jack, but
well go and hav a look at him. Hes
a rum customer accordin to what some ot
chaps i't mill say.
Accordingly they retraced their steps and soon stood
before the establishment where the celebrated parrot
resided. Entering the premises they were met by the
proprietor, who was very civil and obliging, probably
on account of the fact of it being pay night.
The parrot, sir, he said, smiling and rubbing
his hands, Yes, hes here. As genuine a bird
as ever grew feather.
And drawing a cloth from the cage in the corner he revealed
a large and scraggy parrot standing on one leg and looking
as if it had slept for a week.
Have a look at him, sirs, said the dealer.
He can recite Shakespeare, say his commandments,
and sing till hes hoarse.
I dunna want him furt say Shakespeare,
said Jack. Is he owt i't Lankysheer line?
Well, answered the dealer. I cant
say as he knows much; hes been brought up in a
gentlemans house, but no doubt hell soon
pick it up.
So a bargain was struck, and Jack and Bill sallied forth,
the cage having been duly covered to keep the light
from the parrot.
Having got on Line Edge-road, Bill suddenly said What
will thi wife say, Jack? Thee goin a-spendin
thi hard earned brass on parrots.
I dunno know, answered Jack. I neer
thowt o that before.
We winna tek it whom to-neet, then, answered
Bill. Stick the cage up i that haystack;
hell be as weel theere as anywheere else.
Jack made a bole in the hay and placed the cage in it.
Then he pulled the cover off. The bird was still standing
on one leg and apparently fast asleep. However, they
woke him up, and he began to quote Shakespeare until
Bill cleanted him out yed, and then
he shut up.
Then our two friends went off, and Bill, instead of
going to his lodgings, volunteered to stay with his
brother an hour or so. Time went on, and our two friends
had sat before the fire and smoked until they were tired.
Jacks wife was just putting the children to bed
when the door opened and old Sam Swishale entered, evidently
a little the worse for liquor.
Old Sam was a noted drinker, and it was well known that
most of his wage was spent in liquor, and that his wife
did not receive much of it.
Ive bin to Mottram, he said. I
thowt Id gie thi a call comin back.
They assured Swishale he was welcome, and on being offered
a seat near the fire he sat down, and producing his
clay pipe, enjoyed a smoke. After a little while he
got up and departed in the direction of Stalybridge.
Owd Sams drunk agen, remarked Bill.
I hope he comes to no harm. As he spoke
there was the sound of scurrying feet, the door opened
with a bang, and in rushed Sam Swishale, as white as
chalk and with his hair standing on end.
Whats up? queried Jack and Bill in
a breath. Lock your door, cried Swishale,
trembling. Ive seen th divvil. This
is what comes o drinkin mi money away; but
Ill neer tek another sup as long as I live.
Has summat feeart thee? asked Jack.
Feeart me? said Swishale. Why, Im
weel nigh skeert out o mi wits. Tha con
lock yon door, Jack, for Im no stirrin out
o this house to-neet. This is the last time thall
catch me on Hough Hill, for Im noan that fond
Hast seen a boggart there? said Jack.
Yes, that I han, said Swishale. But
Ill tell thi how I were just opposite Hunters
Lodge, when I seed a big haystack a-looming up afore
me it moonleet. Then summat started a-saying a
lot o murderin names jawbreakers
they were, I con tell thi.
Jack winked at Bill, for they both knew that the redoubtable
parrot had been at work reciting his Shakespeare. Bill
volunteered to go down and see if he could see anything,
but Swishale would on no account accompany him.
In a short while Bill returned, and said he could see
nothing; but as he passed Jack he whispered, Ive
browt th owd parrot up, an Ive stuck
him it kitchen.
Thall hav furt mek me a bed up somewheere,
Jack, said old Swishale, trembling, fur
I daurna pass theere agen.
But what will thi wife think when tha doesna come
whom, asked Jack.
I dunna care what she thinks, answered the
At this moment there was a hoarse shriek from the kitchen
and a terrible voice was heard propounding a passage
from King Lear. Sam jumped up and fled precipitously,
leaving his pipe broken on the floor.
The brothers went to the door, and there was Sam scouring
across the fields towards Newton as fast as ever he
Next morning Jack met Sam Swishale at his work, and
asked him if he got home all right the night before.
Ay, lad, said Sam. I went round by
Newton, and it was a goodish way, but I couldna go thother
road. Ist neer come a visitin thi agen,
altho th freet I got hasna injured me, fur
I signed tpledge this morning.
And old Sam Swishale always boasts that if he
hasna seen a ghost, hes yeered one,
And Jack and Bill take great care not to undeceive him.