Chapter 20706131

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1881-03-26
Page Number397
Word Count2364
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleFacing Death: A Tale of the Coal Mines
article text


Facing Death.


Author of "Times of Peril: A Tale of India."


BY G.A. HENTY, in the Union Jack.

AN artist sitting in the shade under a tree painting a bit of rustic gate and a lane bright with many honeysuckles. Presently he is conscious of a movement behind him, and looking

round mm • sturdily built boy of some ten yean of age, with an old bull-dog lying at hii feet, standing watching him. " Well, lad, what are you doing ?" "Nowt!" said the boy, promptly. " J meant," the artist said with a imfle, " have you anything to do ? If not, I will give you six pence to ait still on that gate for a quarter of an hour. I want a figure." The boy nodded, took hi* seat without a word, and remained perfectly quiet while the artist sketched him in. " That will do for the present," the artist said. "You can come and sit down here and look at me at work, if you like; but if you have nothing to do for an hour, don't go away, as I shall want you again presently. Here is the sixpence; you will have another if you'll wait. What's your name?" he went on, aa the boy threw himself down on the grass, with his head propped up on his elbows. ' " Bull-dog," the lad. said promptly ; and then, colouring up, added, "at least they call me Ball* dog, but my right name is Jack Simpson." *' And why do they call you Bull-dog, Jack !" The artist had a sympathetic voice, and spoke in tpnea of interest, and the lad answered frankly: " Mother—that is my real mother—she died, whea I were a little kid, and Juno here, she had pups at the time, and they used to pretend she ?uokled me. It ain't likely, is it ?" he asked, aa if after all he was not quite sure about it him* self. "Schoolmaster says aa how it's writ that there was onoe two little rum'uns suckled by a wolf, < tot be can't say for rare that it's true. Mot** says it's all a lie; she fed me from a bottle. -But they oall me Bull-dog from that, and beoso—Juno aad me always went about together; and now they call me so because," and he laughed, " I takea good lot of licking before I give in." " Yooto been to school, I suppose, Jack!" " Yes, I've had ,five years' schooling," the boy ?aid carelessly. v And do you like it P MI Hired it well enough ; I learnt pretty easy, and so 'scaped many hiding!. Dad says it was cos my mother were a schoolmaster's daughter •fore she married my father, and so lajrning's in the blood, and comes natural. But Tin done with school now, and am going down the pit next week."- • ? ? ? ; • ' ' . - ,: •' What are yon going to do there f You We too yodng for work." " Oh, I shan't hove tfo work to do fait' pit, hot hard work—just to open and shut a door when the tabs go through." " You mean the coal-w&ggons f' "Ay, the tubs," the boy said. "Then in a Ca or two I shall help dad in his stall, and at 11 shall be on full wages. "And after that ?" the artist asked. The lad looked putzled. " What will you look forward to after that?" " I don't know that there's nowt else," the boy Mid, ?* except perhaps some day I might, perhaps —but it ain't likely—but I might get to be a viewer.' 1 ./•?-?? " But why don't you make up your mind to be something better still, Jack—a manager ?" M What I" exclaimed the boy incredulously, M a manager, like Fenton, who lives in that big white house on the hill I Why, he's a gentle* man." " Jack," the artist satd, stopping in his work now, and speaking very earnestly, " there is not a lad of your age in the land, with the chance of being a miner, or a mechanic, or an artisan, who may not, if he setß it before him, and gives. his whole mind to it, end by being a rich man and a gentleman. If a lad from the first makes up his mind to three things—to work, to save, and to learn—he can rise in the world. You won't be able to save out of what you get at first, but you can learn when your work is done. You can read and study of an evening. Then when you get better wages, save something; when, at twenty one or so, you get man's wages, live on less than half and lay by the rest Don't marry till you're thirty; keep away from the public-house ; work, ?tndy steadily and intelligently ; and by the time you are thirty you will have a thousand pounds i bid by, and be fit to take a manager's place." f "Do you mean that, air?" the boy asked quickly. " I do, Jack. My case is something like it. My father was a village schoolmaster. I went, when •bout twelve yean old, as a boy in a pottery at Burslem. My father told me pretty well what I have told you. I determined to try hard at any rate. I worked in every spare hour to improve myself generally, and I went three evenings a week to the Art SohooL I liked it and the master told me if I atuok at it I might be a painter some day. I did stick at it, and at twenty could paint well enough to go into that branch of the pottery. I stuck to it, and at five-and twenty was getting as high pay as anyone in Burslem, except one or two foreign artiste. lam thirty now. I still paint at times on china, but I am now getting well known aa an artiat, and am, I hope, a gentleman." "Ill-do it," the boy said, rising slowly to his feet and coming close to the artist. " I'll do it, air. They call me Bull-dog, aad I'll Btick to it" "Very well," the artist said, holding out his hand ; " that's a bargain, Jack. Now give me your name and address ; here are mine. It's the •Ist of May to-day. Now perhaps it will help you a little if I write to you on the list of May every year; and you shall answer me, telling me how yonjare getting on, and whether I can in any

way give you help or advice. If I don't get an answer from you, I shall suppose that you have got tirqd.of it, and have given it up." " You need never suppose that, sir," the boy said earnestly. "If you don't get an answer, you will know that I've been killed, as father was, in a fall or an explosion. Thank you, sir." And the boy walked quietly off, with the old bull-dog lazily waddling behind him. "There are the makings of a man in that boy," the artist said to himself. " I wish though I had finished his figure before we began to talk about his plans for the future. I shall be very proud of that boy if he ever makes a name for himself." A week later, there was a knock one evening at the door of the schoolmaster of the Stokebridge National School " Please, Mr. Merton, can I speak to you t" "What, is that you, Jack Simpson?'' the schoolmaster said, holding the candle so that the light fell upon the boy before him. "Yes, come in, my boy." „ The lad followed him into the parlour. "Sit down, Jack. Now, what is it! Nothing the matter at home, I hope ?" M No, sir. I wanted to ask you to tell me whs* books I ought to read, so that I may grow up ». clever man." " Bless me, Jack," Mr. Merton said, " why, I never expected this from yon." " No, sir, but I ha' made np my mind to get on, and I mean to work hard. I've been told, sir, if I study at books in ail my spare tune, and save money, and work well, I may get up high some day ;" and the boy looked wistfully up in the master's face for a confirmation ol what had been told him. "That's quite right, Jack, whoever told yo«. Hard work, study, thrift, and intelligsnoe will take any lad from the bottom of the tree to the top. And you are quite in earnest, Jaok f' "Quite, sir." ...... The schoolmaster sat in siLsnee for » little time, "Well, my boy, for a. bit you must work at ordinary school-books, and get a fair general knowledge, and be careful to observe the way things are expressed—the grammar, I mean ; read aloud when you an alone, and try in speak* ing to get rid of "theee," and "thous," and other mistakes of speech. I can lend yon ordinary school-books, fit for you for the next four or five yean, and will always explain any difficulties yon may meet with. The books you will want after wards you can buy second-hand at Wolverhamp* ton or Birmingham. But then will be time to. talk about that hereafter. What time have yon to atudv? You have gone into the Vaogban pit, nave you not f " Yet, sir. 1 have tisae enough all day, for I ha' nowt to do but ju*t>to open and ?hut a door whenthe tubs cotqe along ; but I ha' no light" " The time must seem very long in the dark •llday.'' 44 It do seem long, sir; and it will be wuss when I want to read, and know I am just wasting time. Bixs I can read a bit at home at nights, when dfd goes out It gets lighter now every evening, and I shell be able to reed out of doors on till 9 o'clock ia summer- ?? Mother would give me a candle now and again; and I should get oa . first rate in the pit, but the Vaoghan is a fiery vein, and they ha' nowt bnt Daveya." . " Well, my boy, here are • doeen books, which .will suit you lor a time. Let me know how you are getting on ; and when you have learned the books thoroughly let me know. Remember yoa want to lean the books thoroughly, and not just Well enough to rub through without getting the strap. But don't overdo it You are a very small boy yet, and it is of ac much importance for your future life that yon should grow strong in body aa in brain. So you must not give up play. If you were to do nothing but sit in the dark, and study at other times, you would soon become a fool. So you must give time to play as well ac to work. And remember don't be oast down with difficulties, they will pass by; and you are sure, to find friends who will give yon • hand. There i« an old saying, 'God helps those who help themselves.' And look here, Jack. I can tell you a way to make the time pass more quiokly in the dark. Set yourself sums to do in your head. You'll find it hard at first, but it will get easier with practice, and as you get on I will give you a book called ' Mental Arithmetic ; and you'll find there is nothing more, useful than being able to make complicated calculations in your head. Good night" The next six months passed quickly, with Jack Simpson. He rose every morning aa soon as it was daylight, and worked till it was time to start with his father for the pit The time, which at first seemed so long, slipped by rapidly as he multiplied and added and subtracted, finding that he could daily master longer lines of figures, while of an evening he played at games, or birds-nested, with other boys of bis age. From time to time he went to Mr. Merton, who wae astonished at the progress which the boy was making. " I shan't get on muoh for the next six months," Jack said with a sigh, when September began. "I can't see to read for even en hour before I have to go to work ; but then I shall be at home. o' nights, and shall get a little time when dad's at the public-house." [TO BE COMTIHUID.] .

Gktiho thb Best Ehd of a Joke.—Some years ago there was a number of army officers stopping at a hotel in Washington. Among them were a Captain Emerson and a Captain Jones. Emerson and Jones used to have a good deal of fun together at the table and elsewhere. One day, at the dinner table, when, the dining hall was well filled, CapUin Jones finished bis dinner first, got up, and walked Almost to the dining-hall door, when Emerson called to him in a loud voice: " Hallo, Captain I See here; I want to speak to you a minute." The captain turned and walked back to the table, and bent over him, when Emerson whispered, " I wanted to ask you how far you would have gone if I had not spoken to you." The captain never changed a muscle, but straightened up and putting his fingers into his vest pocket, said, "Captain Emerson, I don't know of a man in the world I would rather lend five dollars to than you : but the fact is I haven't a cent with me to-day; and he turned on hia heel and walked away. Emerson was the colour of half • dozen rainbows; but he had to stand it.