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Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 2, by William Bottrell, [1873], at

p. 207

How a Morvah Man Bought Clothes for his Wife.

"Contented toil, and hospitable care,
And kind connubial tenderness are there."

MOST of the dwellers in the cottages scattered over the hills to the north of Penzance (like the tinners of old) work in the mines and cultivate a few acres 'out of core.' They are also remarkable for preserving many old customs which are become extinct in less remote and more populous districts, as well as for the quaint simplicity of their manners and language. A few weeks ago a tall, middle-aged man entered a draper's shop in Penzance. His blue smock-frock, corduroy trousers, ruddy with tin stuff, and the high-poled Sunday's hat, marked him for a high-country tinner. He paused in the middle of the shop and looked around as if to select some particular one of the assistants to serve him; then going over to the counter, where the forewoman was standing, he placed three little packets of money, done up in paper, before her.

"Look-e here, my dear," says he, "here's three packats of money for three things I want of ’e. Fust of all les have some-than to make a sheft for my old oman—dowlas or calico, you know the sort of stuff, and how much will do; for my old oman es of a tidy built and shaped much like you. (The blushes and titterings among the shop girls may be imagined). She told me how much, but I have forgot, only that a must cost ten-pence a yard; so cut off as much as will make a sheft for yourself, my dear, and see if you don't find the exact money for ’n in that paper, tied up with tape."

The paper opened, the money was found right to a farthing.

Now, my dear, that's all right. Get some sort of stuff, made of sheep's clothing, I don't know what you call ’n, for to make an undercoat for the old oman. Yon know how much will do by your own measure; a must be two shellans a yard, and there's the money for ’n in that paper tied up with white yarn."

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To make sure of the quantity wanted, the shop woman counted the cash sent, before she cut the required length of sanford. When that was adjusted,

"Now, my dear," says he, "we are getting on cappetal, sure nuf. Next let's have a pound of blue or black wostard—must be four shellans a pound and plum (soft) like yarn; there can be no mistake about that, and there es the money in tie paper tied with black yarn. Now, over all these, I spose you will give me a nackan (handkerchief) for myself, waan’t ’e, my darlan?"

The master of the establishment, who had been rather amused at the scene, though it was nothing new to him, left the desk and desired the shop woman to open some of good quality and neat patterns, for him to choose from.

"Why, Mr. ——, my dear, havn't ’e any smarter ones than these in your shop than?"

Some old-fashioned ones, of a gay pattern, were soon found, which pleased the customer exactly. Mr. —— gave the tinner a glass of wine besides, and asked him how he liked it?

"Well, I can't say but a wed be pure keenly stuff with a glass of gin or brandy to warm un a little.

The master replied that he had no spirit in the shop, but gave his customer sixpence to buy a dram to warm the wine, on the way home.

"God bless ’e," says our Morvah man, slapping Mr. —— on the shoulder, "but you are one of the right sort, and when my old oman do want a smock again I'll come and buy ’n for her, I don't wender now that all the women like to go to your shop, and that young woman there is pure block tin. But I spose, my dear," says he, turning towards the one he compared to pure tin, "you think me an old Molly-caudle, don't ’e, for coman here to buy the dudds for the old oman home? But 'force put es no choice,' my dear. I'll tell ’e a minute how she esn’t here herself. This mornan, when I was takan breakfast to go to bal, Jenny took off a crock of petates from the brandes, that she had, to save time, boiled for the pig along-side of the tea-kettle for my breakfast. She must always be doan two or three jobs together like the milkmaid before now. She took the crock of petates out in the court to empty away the waater, and a minute before she had put a tub of calves’-meat to cool on the caunce, and the cheeld et to custom was trying to et at ’n to splash and play in the milk. The cheeld todlan round the tub, tumbled in souce, head down, Jenny left the cover slip from the crock in her fright, and out came the boilan waater and petates all over her foot.

"Then she cried, 'Come thee way'st out here Billy and take the cheeld out of the calves’-tub; see what I've done, and a es

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all thy fault; why disna (dids’t thou not) keep the cheeld out of the way?' Ah was no good to say anything to her, my dear, because all the women, except you, will lay the blame on somebody else, for the foolish things they do. I dragged the cheeld out of the milk, left the dog to lick ’n clean, and dipped Jenny's foot in a bucket of waater. The pigs got at the crock and made some screechan when the hot petates burnt their throats. Next I put my old oman on the bed and pulled off her stockan with as much care as of I'd ben peelan a petate. Then, by her direction, put a linan rag, spread with raw cream, all over the scald, and, without clunkan a bit more breakfast, got ready in a jiffy to run in to the doctor for a plaster, and salve, and things, and to know what was best to do.

"'Billy,' says she, 'as sure es I'm alive, I shall be laid up for weeks, and thee west have to do the work indoors and out, but I can never put away the time doan nothan. Put on thy best hat and blue coat, thy old clothes make thee look foolish in town, and go in to Mr. ——’s shop; mind what I do tell thee. I've been savan money these weeks past to buy some underclothing for winter, the next time I did go to town, and there a all es in the skibbat of the chest, in three pieces of papar, the money that each thing will come to.'

"Then she told me all about the price and number of yards, that I kept repeatan to myself all the way in till I come to the doctor's shop and there I forgot all about et. But she told me I should find a nice motherly oman in this shop just her size, and that's you my dear, who would tell me what to do of I forgot. Jenny wanted to have something to do while her foot was healan. I told her I didn't much like to go to shop to buy her smock and undercoat; she could ask the nearest neighbour's wife to do et for her. 'No, the devil a bit,' says she, 'that I waan't! Ask Honney's boy Tom's wife, to buy the things for me! I'll go without a sheft fust, for she will go to meetan somewhere or other every night for a week that she may tell the rest of them what my things cost (and oh! the lies they will tell about et among them); besides, we shall have the house full all the time with them, makan out they are come to see how I am. Take the cheeld along weth thee down to An’ Nancy Trembaa's; leave ’n there; and ask her to step up to milkey and do the rest of the mornan work for me.' When I left the cheeld down to An’ Nancy's, and told her what had happened, away she went, wethout stopan so much as to put her hat on, up to keep things to rights while I'm wantan.

"Well, soas, I've done the best I could. I've got the plaster and salve in the head of my hat, with a fuggan Jenny made me take to eat on the road. A high bell-topper es as handy as a

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basket to stow away the lumber in; dash me ef a esn’t. None of your low billycocks for me.

"Now I wish ’e all well; my dears, and ef you will come up to see us one Sunday afternoon you shall be as welcome 'One and All,' as of you had been my own sisters. God bless ’e all; I shall be tother side of Ding Dong in less than an hour."

Neither the master nor the shop assistants saw anything to laugh at when the tinner had told his simple story. On the contrary they felt much interested, as his 'old oman' was a well-known customer.

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