Chapter 71922543

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter TitleDONE IN THE DARK.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71922543
Full Date1891-12-19
Page Number16
Corrections0
Word Count620
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)
Trove TitleA Drama in the Dark: A Tale of Two Christmas Eves
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Chapter HL— Dose in the Dark.

It was just a week before Christmas Eve, and the night shift men at the Waltham House Colliery had just descended the pit. All the miners to the number of thirty were now grouped about the pit eye awaitiug the orders of the night fireman, Dick Johnson. Dick at that moment was seated in the

otuce, wiiile the men were grouped in various attitudes about the office door. Johnson was a great favourite with the miners who worked under him. He never drove the men like a slave-driver, as borne of his fellow officials did. He had a pleasant word for everyone ; was quiet, 'a gradely dacent chap,' and the men would work for him like blacks, to quote a favourite phrase of pitmen. Presently the night fireman issued bis orders to the men hanging round, among whom was the burly giant, Jim Barry. 'gam Reynolds.' quote Diet, ' You and three men will go to the far end of the North Level, and Lake oat the broken bars in the shunt. Be careful, for the roof is very treacherous there. Boh Gray, you and your gong will go on to the new tunnel, and gob all the loose dirt. Pack ay much as yon can in Joe KorbourneTs place. ' Dick kept issoinfi his orders, sending the. datallers in twos and threes and fonrs to different parts of the mine, and soon all the men had been told off, with the exception of hi* late rival and assailant.

''ion, Barry,' sai-l Dick, 'Will go into the old air road, close to ihe top of the south ji*T, and clean up the fall you find there. There is no other ma,', and you will have to go alone.'

Jim Barry protested against being sent by himself into such a remote part of the mine. The spot indicated -y the fireman was over a mile from the shaft ; it was right in the heart of a network of disused workings, and it was not, and never liad been, the practice to send a man to work all the night there by himself. AH the pitmen present thought that John sou was ' putting it on ;1 Harry on account of their recent quarrel ; Barry thought so too, but be went grumbling away, vowing in his heart that it would be ? little work that he would do that night. It was midnight, £u the different parts of the urine, the men were cither eating their suppers or enjoying ad after meal nap. Far away from all the others, Jim Barry at the top of the the disused south jig, lay asleep. He had all his clothes on, and he had crept out of the air current into o. sduc hole where lie could slumber iu coinfort. Presently a glimmering star filionc in the darkness down the old jig, and a little Inter a man approached the spot where the sleeping and lazy pitntan lay. The new comer uttered no response for the other was fast bound in sleep. The man waited a moment, then be spoke a-r&iu and. crept nearer to the prostrate form to assure himself tliat Barry was not awake, and when he saw that he was really asleep, he paused beside him fur _a moment, a dark scowl on his face.

Suddenly his eyes alighted on a hand hammer that lay near the feet of the snoring man. The sight of the implement bred a devilish idea in his brain, he took it in bis hand, poised it, and the next instant the narrow bead of the heavy steel hammer «ar-fc with a alckeuing crash into Jim Barry's skulL