|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||A Pit Brow Lassie|
tes and Jfcctite.
[now fibst published.] A PIT BROW LASSIE.
BY JOHN MONK FOSTEB, Author of 'The Moss Pit Mystery,' 'A Poor Man's Tragedy,' '* Judith's Romance,' &.&
[ALL HIGHTC RESERVED.] SYNOPSIS OF PREVIOUS CHAPTERS.
CWHiEa L asd IL-At Ashford, a town of cileries, Is tbe Kii« P«. whew worked tUte Leigh, & ' pit brow kaeie,' somewhit above the ordinary ran of the colliery iririfl- Ht-r handsome ftce and superior mien attract Luke Staailteh, a collier of ii.telliper.ee and tome amoitioa. He apprecUtea an accident wluch enables dud to drag- her from under the wheels of an approachine wagon, bat, elippine himself, sustains a Berions acadeot. which pro-bates him for some time K-te LeUh and her mother visit him in his iiinpm aMj an acquaintance springs np between them He leads her a copy of Miss Brtddon's ?' To the Bitter Ei.d ' 10 read. Chaprr. III ud IV. -Luke Standish and Kate Leigh otteiida picnic and there l«c -me avo*ed lovers, the maniara howetvr beinp poeponed ind finitely. The Story taking m, tvtraepecure step relates hnw the father and mother of Kate Lemh raided at Peodletun wnne treaty years before ihe evenm previously narrated occur. He is thriftless and dronkea while ehe is p&iastalri g and thonpntml. Jealous of the kinduess thovn to her by George Bamforth, a former lover, he q turret a with hrraud leaves her Strucgling alone sdeand her child, Kate, go to life at Orrelhim, and there Kate, working at one of the pits is pnwsly insulted by the uimager She Mi liim with a brush, and she «nd her mother le&re the toirn, rettunint; to Aehford where her father bid to cruel I - left them. Cu&FTEKb V ind V L— Mr. Henry WiUes ten, solicitor, Manchester, receives % letter from an old friend in AuBCruu wbo asks him to undertake a commission for him, namely to discover the » hereabouts of his sister, Margaret Haaipwn, (Mrs. Lei-h) He has prosper.-! in Anstiuia and is anxious to hear of his sister. Arthur UHladen. a nephew of his. a voting Kapegrace, tbou^h bis escapades are unki-own to his relatives undertakes t.asBJtoe tbe nut of unateor detective. Be isla&y in finding the Lcigns. and bei-p captivated by the girl's beauty, resolves to lay a trap for her. Chapter VIL.'— Continued. Joe Thomson's confidence seemed to increase with every step he took, and, (lad of this, Luke and the other two proceeded at bin heels aa bat as the lowness of the roods would permit, and presently they were amid the old workings referred to. For dome time their progress wai both quick and certain ; the ewift ventilating current, nuhing past them in the direction they panned, showing them they were right. lint in a short timft the current became imperceptible, owug to the numerous ways open to ita course. The flames of their Davy lamps were no longer deflected by the air stream pawing through the gauze, and thjq guide lost, they had to depend solely on Joe Thompson's memory. Bat Joe seemed to remember the way right enough, and they trudged on rapidly, now turning to the right, and then to the left, now ascending an incline, then going down a declivity, every turn in the road they followed causing a variation in the gradient. Joe Thomson waa still leading ; Luke followed him, then came the other two. All of them were beginning to feel tired, for so low were the old roads in many places that they had to bend themselves double, and the floor was Blippery as glass in places. Innumerable old workings branched out from the path they followed, and just as Lnke was about to propose a few minutes' rest Thomson stopped suddenly, exclaiming in a tone of infinite surpi is* and August : ? ' Well. Ah'm blest ! This is a fetter, an' no mistake abeawt it I' There was no need to ask any questions as to the cause of their guide's sudden halting and exclamations, for the reason was plain to ail ot them. There, only /oar or five yards sJiead of them, the road ended in a blank wall of stone. They sat down and star* d at each other, surprise and vexation showing clearly in each workgrimed countenance. Luke said nothing, but the other men began to rate Taomaon soundly for pretending to know the road through the air ways, and be confessed that he was quite lost. Looking at his watch, Luke saw that it was half-past five, so that they had been walking fur over an hour, and in that time must have covered considerably above a mile of ground. Bot where were they now ? To this Question none of them could give on answer, an4 after resting a minute or two they turned back, Luke now leading, whilst their late guide dropped discomfited behind. Standish struck boldly along the brat road he came to, trusting to lack for want of a better guide, but his attempt at leading proved no better than Joe Thomson's bad done, for after ways, under dangerous btones in the roof, and over heaps of cUbris they came again to a standstill This time their further progress was effec tually barred by a solid u all of coal. Again they rested, and happening to glance at the coat-side, rear which* he was seated, Luke saw the following writiu*r : — 'June S9th, IS53 Joel: Baitham.' The writing was in chalk, but it appeared almost as clear as if it were written that day. Kane of the other men could read, and seeing Luke scanning the rough, white characters on the coal, one of them asked him what it was. He theo rend it fur them, whereupon Joe Thompson cried out— ** Why Lnke, that's my owd gronfaytber's rahtin. Thah snows he used to work beeur twentv or thirty eer ein. He was a tiremon, an' a've often heerd th' owd cock talk abeawt these owd roads, bur ah never thowt theo as ah had fort* be lost in 'em impel.' Joe seemed deeply affected by the eight of his ancestor's handwriting, but the rugged characters tol t them nothing of tb«-ir w here abouts, nor of a way out of the maze iu which they were lost They were all quite weiry oy this time, and Joe and the other t«*o wished to remain there nnlil someone came to their rescue ; bit Luke refused to give np the
straggle yet, and so he pressed onward, the others following reluctantly at his heels. If they sat down to await the coming of a guide to lead them out of that labyrinth they might starve to death ere aid came. It was now nearly eight o'clock, and each of them aught to have been home two hours ago. By this time the day -shift miners would h«ve gone to the far end of the north level, and there encoantced the heap of fallen roof that forced the four miners to go through the air ways. The manager and other officials of the mine would l*e uneasy about the missiog men, and would perhaps think they were buried beneath the great falL Their relatives aUo would be upset about them ; and thinking of alt these things Luke coold not endure the thought of sittipg there for an indefinite period. S-- on they went again, wearily dragging one leg after another. Often they had to crawl on bands and knees for a great distance where the roof had sunk until it almost mat the floor. One way after another was tried with unvarying failure. They had now gone through many of the old roads, and many more yet remained uutraversed, for the old galleries iutersected each other every ten or fifteen yards like the cirdfi of a huge net. Very frequently they came upon dates many years old, and the names of former officials all written in chalk. At first they had chatted to each other as they trudged along, but the conversation gradually slackened, till it ceased altogether, and nothing broke the dense etillnc*a, into which they seemtd to be going deeper and deeper each Btride, save the clangour of their ironed clo^s striking upon the hard floor of ** Wait here a bit lads, while I have a look up this place !' Lake said, as they came to the bottom of a road that eeemed to ascend more steeply than the ethers they had passed throturh Ttae others Assented readily to this proposal, and Luke went along the road, troBting that it might lead them from the huge subterranean net in which they were enmeshed. On and on he 'went, without encountering any barrier, and with each stride grew a hope that at last he had found the right way. He was now about a hundred yards from bis comrades, and glancing back he could see the glimmer of their lamps gleaming through the intervening darkness like stare. Luke thought he would go a little further before he shouted forhia mates to follow him, and, quickening hig pace, he sped on for another score of yards. Then he came suddenly to a Btop, and a cry of great disgust burst from bis lips. He could get no further. The road was completely blocked by a mighty heap of fallen rocks. Intensely annoyed by the discovery he had made, he dropped upon the floor, intending to rest a little ere rejoining his companions, and sitting there be began to speculate as to when, and by what means, he and those with him were to be freed from their underground prison. The exact nature of what followed Lake Standish was never able to determine to his own satisfaction. Whether it were a dream only, or really a supernatural vision that he aitnessed be could not decide. Weary and exhausted by his wanderings, he might have dropped asleep and dreamed it alL Anyhow, this is what he remembered. He thought he had rested sufficiently, and was about to jump up and h**H*p back to his comrades, when a sudden and overwhelming horror seemed to petrify him. There, at a fathom's distance from him, was seated a man apparently ten years older than himself. He was strongly built rather heavily bearded, with a blue shirt of flannel, sneb as miners wear, corduroy breeches held up by a belt, and a pair of clogs covered his feet. 1 he man's face wore a weird awe-looking expression, aud for a few horrible moments Lake Standish gazed upon it spellbound. The unutterable agony of that b ief space will never be forgotten by 1 nke. Even now the memory of it make- him shudder. There he sat in the middle of the old road mute and mo-'ionlefeS, between the young miner and his companions, and Luke cuuld only stare wide eyed upon the stranger. How loug the horror lasted Luke could not tell. He Baw the mysterious figure rise aud although he was right in the main path, aud oQ that weird figure came as if the miner were not there. The nt-xt moment Luke felt a deadly chill, aa if an icicle had penetrated every pure in his body, and the mysterious stranger was n*st him. How it came about he knew Dot. He felt no shock of colhsiou; he felt only that terrible chill and the man, or phantom, was beyood him, and that the figure had walked right through bim. With distended eyes he watched thai strange silent figure walk touar.ietbe fallen heap of roof, and the next instant it had melted away, hiring apparently pluajjeti through the hard inasees of rock as if they were but a fog. Then Luke's brain seemed to spin madly a deep sob of agony welling from out his dry lips and parched throat. Chapter VIU.- Missing. It wanted but a few miuut^a to six o'clock, a.m., and the oight-sbifc men belonging to the King pit wt-re gathered t^cther at tbe ixKtum of the shaft leady to ascend. Whilst they Mere awaiting the coming of the cage that was to bear them to the surface one of tbe miners inquired : ' Wdere's Luke Standish and his mates?' The question was aidresseti geuerally to those present, and as do one there was able to 6(-jkcu of a churt pause followed th ? intrvrrogfttiou. Then oue of the ot her* ' Lake an' fathers have haply gout whoam.'
'Ab don't think so,' the miner replied, wbo had previously spoken. ' It's too soon Tnett the cage came down with a rush, filled with day-shift miners, and aa these came forth from out the iron structure their places were takeo by those waiting to ascend. Then the hooker on — the man in charge of the pit bottom — pulled the etgualliog lever three times, striking the bell in the engine-house on the surface three times, to let tbe man at the engine know that men were in the cage, and the next moment the great vehicle with ita burden of living beings glided Bwiftly up wards towards tbe day. Amongst the men who had come down in the last cageful was the uoderlooker — the official next in authority to the manager — and going to ths office where tbe other officials were seated he remarked : *' Everything a' reet, ah suppose V Hid question was addressed to the night fire man, f*ain Gritnsbay, who was just potting on bis jacket in readiness to go home, and as he was, of course, ignorant of the mishap which had transpired an hour before at tbe far end of the north level he rep'.ted : * Oh, ay 1 Everthin's a' reet. There waa a bit o' gas up number two jig, bur ah geet it ' Did yo' send Luke Standish an' some moour o' barrio' int' Doctor's shunt?' ' Ah did,'1 the fireman replied, ' an' when an was theer ot sapper toime they war gerrin on very weel.' Ben Chadwick, tbe nnderlooker, had no more questions to put to --rimshay, s-i he took up his can, left the office, and was poing to wards the pit shaft to ascend when he met a of the place the fireman had just quitted. ' Wheer ar' t1 ruonin' to? What's up?' (jrimshay demanded of the lad, wbo answered j by asking him a question. ] ' Whter's Ben Chadwick 3'1 ' In th' office. What dost want bim for ?' ** Doctor's Shunt bas fawn up, an' nnan o't coalers can get to their work,' the lad exclaimed almoet breathlessly. The fireman hurried the pony driver into tbe presence of the underlooker and other officials, who listened in amazement to the lad's news. According to his statement the roof in the shunt indicated had given way, completely blocking the road, so that all the colliers whose working places lay beyond the fill would be thrown out of employment for that day at least. '? At wheer is Luke Standish that he didn't send word abeawt it afoor this ?' ' Luke Standish ?' the la.d iterated, seem ingly bewildered by the question. ?? Ay ; Wheer is he an' t'othera V* 'Ah «Unno know; ah've eeen nowt oo 'em.' ' Haply Luke an' bis mates will be at t'other side o't dirt,' Grimshay suggested. 11 Ah know as they'n not gone up t'pit. ' ' Coold yo' faeer anybody H-oririn' at t'other aide o't dirt ?' the nnderlooker queried of the lad. *' Nowe, ah couldn't,' was the ready answer. ** Me an' t'othera aheawted monny o' tahrae bat nobnddy anatrt us.' *' Ab wonder wheer they are ?' Ben Chadwick asked uneasily and his discomfort was shared by every mas present. The thought which had sprung up instinctively in each mind was that Lake and his workmates were buried under the fallen roof in Doctor's Shunt. ' We'd better make eure first as Luke an' t'othera bannot gone ap pit,** e&id the under looker. *' Tom,' speaking to one of the day firemen, ** gooa ap with Sam faeettr, an' get to know for sartin whether these chaps are deawn or not. If they're np pit their lamps will be into t'tamp heawse.' The man addressed went to tbe pit bottom with tbe night fireman, and they ascended tbe shaft in company with the colliers who had been thrown i ile through the fall at the far end of the north level. tbitber could find none of tbe lamps belonging to cither Luke staudieh, Joe Thomson, or the other two, aud this showed clearly enough that tbe fonr men were still doiro the mtoe. The dny fireman returned to tbe pit and descended to tell the underluoker the result of bis visit to the lamp station, and Sam Gritu ehay went home, after telling one or two of the men upon the pit bank the news that a great fall had taken place during the morning, aud tbat four men were tnis'-iDg. Nor did the conviction that some one. very likely all, t -.« missiog uiiuerg were buried und.nr tht fallen roof The ill tidings flew abnnt in all directions, ao-i H.ite Leigli hus one of the szirlicsi to hear weic all known, and when E.a.te discovered that her lover was among the unfortunates, she sustained the keenest shock it bad hitherto been her lot to bear. bare her suffering in a quiet, dry -eyed way tbat SQ.-er&ct aI ub--ec*vrs mistook for in difference. Her love for Luke now equalled the affection be cherished toward herself, and his death would mean the overwhelming of all the b ight visions they had dreamed together. remained a matter of uncertainty her wishes gave birth to a hope that helped to lighten the load of euspeose from which she suffered. 1b a short time the ill Dews reached Luke SlandUh's mother, aud her sorrow dwarfed that of the pit brow lasdie. And tbe relatives of the other miners missiog had their grief to bear also. WIil-u Kate Loigh went home to breakfast at eight o'clock, she, of coarse, made her mother acquainted with the bad newe, and ! their amiable lodger happened to be present | at the tim?. The pit brow girl did not notice thegltam of pleasure ihat lit up Arthur Willesden'* d*rk eyes as ehe spoke of the accident and oi tuu m=u * ho were missing. HaJ the djtie so her respect for that young gentleman wonld have undergone a apeedy
change. Bat his back was towards her. and the expression of his face passed unnoticed by Kate. Arthur was thinking how much easier of achievement would be tbe task be had act himself to do— namely, tbat of winning Kate Leigh — if an accident in the mine had swept Lake blandish out of the way. There were was totally ignorant in one respect of the value of the pnze for which he was running, and with the young miner put aside the result was easy to calculate. Down the King pit active measures were being adopted for the recovery or finding of tbe missing pitmen. The underlooker and one of the firemen, with a gang of datallers, had proceeded along the north level to the fall in Doctor's, and were already hard at work clearing away the great heap of (Ubrtt. The other fireman, old Ike Ellsworth, a man wbo had worked in the King ever since its commencement nearly forty years before, and another gang of workmen were on their way through the air ways, Ike at their head, their destination being the backside of the fail. It was about half-past seven when Ike Ellsworth and his gang reached, by means of the circuitous route they were forced to take, the spot where Luke Standish and his mates had been working only three or fonr hoars before. A hasty glance about the place were aot buried beneath the fallen roof. The tools they kad used daring tbe preceding shift were ranged orderly against the side of the road picks, spades, saw, and ha.or.mer all being there. And a more careful scru ioy of the spot showed that the cans and garments of Lake and his workmates were unu here to be discovered. -;oiog to the edge of the fall, Ike Bpofce to tne wot kmen on the other side. *' I- Ben ChadwLck there?1' ' Ay ! Dun yo' want him ?' ' Ah -W Ben Chadwick came forward, and standing opoD the tail end of the d£bris «sked his subor dinate how matters were on the other side. Tbe fireman replied that the tools of the miasiHg men were there, but their dotfiwii could not be found, and be expressed himself aa satisfied that none of them were buried under tbe falL ' Then wheer are they ?' Chadwick aiked. ' Lost tut' th* airway, o hundred to one !** Ike cried decisively. 'Dost think to, Ike?' the nnderlooker queried reflectively. ' Ah do, Ben !' the fireman answered,' fox wheer elae con they be ?' ' Ay, jus' so. Well, thad'd better gooa an look tnr1 em Ike, an' I'll aend Jim beenr to help thee. Heaw monny men hast wf theef1 'Foar beside neseT.' ' Then leeav three oa'em tbeeur to wark at fa', an* tek t'other Hi1 thee int' th' air-roads. And Jim heear, an' another shall jine yo' to help find Luke and bis mates.' *' Aw reet,' Ike Ellsworth responded, and after giving the workmen instructions he Mt ( To be continued. )