The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices HTML version

Chapter V
Two of the many passengers by a certain late Sunday evening train, Mr. Thomas
Idle and Mr. Francis Goodchild, yielded up their tickets at a little rotten platform
(converted into artificial touchwood by smoke and ashes), deep in the
manufacturing bosom of Yorkshire. A mysterious bosom it appeared, upon a
damp, dark, Sunday night, dashed through in the train to the music of the whirling
wheels, the panting of the engine, and the part-singing of hundreds of third-class
excursionists, whose vocal efforts 'bobbed arayound' from sacred to profane,
from hymns, to our transatlantic sisters the Yankee Gal and Mairy Anne, in a
remarkable way. There seemed to have been some large vocal gathering near to
every lonely station on the line. No town was visible, no village was visible, no
light was visible; but, a multitude got out singing, and a multitude got in singing,
and the second multitude took up the hymns, and adopted our transatlantic
sisters, and sang of their own egregious wickedness, and of their bobbing
arayound, and of how the ship it was ready and the wind it was fair, and they
were bayound for the sea, Mairy Anne, until they in their turn became a getting-
out multitude, and were replaced by another getting-in multitude, who did the
same. And at every station, the getting-in multitude, with an artistic reference to
the completeness of their chorus, incessantly cried, as with one voice while
scuffling into the carriages, 'We mun aa' gang toogither!'
The singing and the multitudes had trailed off as the lonely places were left and
the great towns were neared, and the way had lain as silently as a train's way
ever can, over the vague black streets of the great gulfs of towns, and among
their branchless woods of vague black chimneys. These towns looked, in the
cinderous wet, as though they had one and all been on fire and were just put out
- a dreary and quenched panorama, many miles long.
Thus, Thomas and Francis got to Leeds; of which enterprising and important
commercial centre it may be observed with delicacy, that you must either like it
very much or not at all. Next day, the first of the Race-Week, they took train to
And instantly the character, both of travellers and of luggage, entirely changed,
and no other business than race-business any longer existed on the face of the
earth. The talk was all of horses and 'John Scott.' Guards whispered behind their
hands to station-masters, of horses and John Scott. Men in cut-away coats and
speckled cravats fastened with peculiar pins, and with the large bones of their
legs developed under tight trousers, so that they should look as much as
possible like horses' legs, paced up and down by twos at junction-stations,
speaking low and moodily of horses and John Scott. The young clergyman in the
black strait- waistcoat, who occupied the middle seat of the carriage, expounded
in his peculiar pulpit-accent to the young and lovely Reverend Mrs. Crinoline,