Chapter 88317186

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1909-09-04
Page Number46
Word Count1099
Last Corrected1970-01-01
Newspaper TitleChronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954)
Trove TitleThe Miner's Mistake
article text



'How's she working this morniiig, Ben? asked tie foreman ganger as he entered the -sallery where Akers' gang -were busy hewing great blocks of coal out of the sides. ' 'Main hot 'tis, and a iniddlin' Jot of e^ about.' was the old ganger's curt reply. The foreman sniffed the close, neavy at mosphere -suspiciouBly ?

'Whoe tue looi tnats oeen iigunug uy his pipe?' he rapped out angruy, as an un mistakable eineil of tobacco emoke smote on kis uostrili. 'Mor n once I . shave to speak about it to youi gang, Ben; and I warn the firs* man I catch at it that he'U get his ticket, and it'll be a police court job into the bargain.' There was no response, and Dave Oi-son gave a sidelong glance at his mate, who was like (himself, little more than a lad; but Jake Driver went on -with his work without showing that he tad heard a word of the foreman's warning. 'Come on. if there is a man among you let him own up,' xang out the foreman's voice sharply. 'It's ill work playing wi' men's lives; you ail know die's working hot tow morning, and I needn't tell you what that means.' Again there was silence, and the foreman getting angrier at the culprit's obstinacy, ordered the gang to knock off while the men were searched for pipes or matches-. As Jake Driver dropped his pjck, Dave caw him slip his hand into his pocket and

a moment later he allowed sometning to fal at hi6 feet, then went boldly forward to submit to being searched. Dave followed, pondering in his mind whether or not he Should point out the culprit; but dreading to earn the name of sneak, .he decided . to hold his tongue. The search was concluded without auy discovery being made, but Ben Akers had his suspicions, having ..caught Driver be fore; and while the foreman was examining the men he went round with his lamp, and found Driver's pipe; tobacco box,, and matches just where he had dropped them. But Ben was a kind-hearted man and, hating the thought of anyone losing his job ?with times so hard, he quietly put the, in criminating articles into nis pocket, resold ing to apeak to Driver on the quiet for the last time. . The foreman went his way, grumblir;, and after 'his -men had done a short spell of -work Ben called them round 'him. 'Mates,' he said solemnly, 'I ve worked, man and. boy, in these pits wgh on 40 yrars, anj l-ve 6een 6igDt8 as s0™6 °* vou y°un-B 'uns ain't never dreamt on. Men eiemmin o' hunger, and one time I spent a week wi' ne'er a bite between my lips. Jake Driver, take warning of that, lad, and don't you never smoke down in t' pit again. Put them things in your pocket end leave 'em at home next shift, or you'll get the sack.' 'How do you know they re mine.' 'Ko lip, or I'U go straight to the fore man ana he'll give you your ticket,' eetid Ben, angry at the lad's ingratitude. 'Now, lads, another spell) by eum; 'tit warm,, fchAlldi.' . ' s j

??*Tfl; teeak, your heck for fou, iwuie' Dave, going sneaking about me (ike ttfot,' said Driver as he went back to ins work be side Dave: . . -?.-?? ' 'I never opened _ my mouth, though I don't mind telling you I reckoned I ought to,' was' the : indignant response. 'Yoirve got no right to risk other folks' lives, Jakej what old Ben said just now was true.' _'That'B only Ben's bogey,' scoffed Jake. 'You are a poor sort of kid, Dave, and 1 reckon jwiM do a *ight better to enjoy life a bit stead -of reading all them books o* nights.' . - 'It would do you a bit of good if it only taught you not to smoke when there was so much, gas about,' said Dave, as he raisiid his pick to cut short his mate's talk. Driver laughed scornfully; he was talk* and stronger than Davej who had only just joined the gang, and he led the lad a hard lite for a time till he saw it made no diffe rence to Dave, who was haiSi to get out of temper. , j The air in the gallery became more and ] more oppressive as the morning wore ou, , and it was with a feeling of relief that Dave heard the word giren to knock off for dinner. Driver did not stay and eat his with him as he usually did, and when Dave had finished, knowing what sort of a lad Jake was, he went, off in search of him and found him in a refuge, puffing surreptiti ously at his pipe. He started on seeiDg Dave and swore at him wrathfully. Spying around, i& that your game?' he sneered. * 'Don't be a fool, Jake; put that thing out, or I shall go right away and tell Ben,' retorted Dave. 'I'll break every bone in your body if you do,' said Driver, getting up on his feet. 'What business is it of your'nf' 'I'm going anyway,' ' said Dave deter minedly, and was on the point of turning away when Driver caught him by the arm, end with his right hand hit him a violent blow in the face. 'That'll teach you to~ sneak,' he said, and then as Dave made a rush at him to relurn the blow with interest, he hissed between his clenched teeth, 'Ah! would you?' The pair closed and for a brief space blows rained fast and furious, till sud denly, as he was making one ©I his most vicious effort* to finish Dave off, Driver let hi* pipe fall out of his mouth. Several sparks flew out from the still lighted tobacco sis thtf pipe touched the ground, and the next moinent there was a blinding flash of light, which illumined the deep gloom of the gallery for an in stant. Following close upon it tliere reverbe rated through the place the sound of a ter rific explosion, and. the two lads were hurled off their feet . and lay insensible side by ?ide. Around and about them was the sound of falling masses of coal as the shoring gave way, and in thc space of a few moments the two imniniatfi forms were cut off from their fellows by a solid wall of coal: