|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||Facing Death: A Tale of the Coal Mines|
A TALE OF THE COAL MINES.
Bï G. A. Henty, in the Union Jack.
Author of "Times of Feril: A Taie of India."
As artist sitting in the shade under a tree, Jntinirabit of ruBtio gate and a lane bright S*y honeysuckles. Pr^ntly he is con
?",,« of a movement behind him, and looking nnd sees a sturdily built boy of some ten years
TÍA an old bull-dog lying at bia feet,
ítimdúig watching bim. .
«Well lad, what are you doing ?
" Nowt !" said the boy, promptly.
" i meaut " the artist said with a smile, have Mn anything to do ? If not, 1 will give you six nence to rit still on that gate for a quarter of an L.ir I want a figure."
The boy nodded, took his seat without a word, and remained perfectly quiet while the artist
"That will do' for the present," the artist said,
»You on come and sit down hero and look tit me at work, if you like ; but if you have nothing Z do for au hour, don't go away, as I shall want 1 "Min presently. Here is the Bixpence ; you ¿¡11 have another if you'll wait. What s your
me!" he went on, as the boy threw himself down on the grass, with his head propped up on *"" Bull-dog," the lad said promptly ; and then, colouring up, added, "at least they call me Bull- dog, but my right name ia Jack Simpson."
» And why do they call you Bull-dog, Jack l
The artist had a sympathetic voice, and spoke in tones of interest, and the lad answered
" Mother-that is my real mother-she died when I were a little kid, and Juno here, she had pupa at the time, and they used to pretend ahe suckled me. It ain't likely, is it ?" he aeked, as if after all he was not quite sure about it him- self. "Schoolmaster says as how it's writ that there waa once two little rum'uus Buckled by a wolf but he can't say for sure that it's true. Mother says it's all a lie ; she fed me from a bottle. But they call me Bull-dog from that, and because Juno and me always went about together ; and now tbey call meso because," and he laughed, " I take a good lot of licking before I give in."
"You've been to school, I suppose, Jack Î"
"íes, I've had five years' schooling," the boy
"And do yuii like it?
"I liked it well enough ; I learnt pretty easy, and so 'ecaped many hidings. Dad says it was eos my mother were a schoolmaster's daughter atore she married my father, and so larning'B in the blood, and cornea natural. But I'm done with school now, and am going down the pit next
" What are you going to do there ! You are too young for work."
"Oh, I shan't have no work to do int' pit, not hard work-just to open and shut a door when the tubs go through."
"You mean the coal-waggons ?"
" Ay, the tubs," the boy said. " Then in a year or two I shall help dad in his stall, and at
last I shall bo on full wages.
"And »fter that ?" the artist asked. The lad looked puzzled.
"What will you look forward to after that?"
"I don't know that there's nowt else," the boy aaid, " except perhaps some day I might, perhapB -cut it ain't likely-but I might get to be a
" But why don't you make up your mind to be something better still, Jack-a manager ?"
" What !" exclaimed the boy incredulously, "«manager, like Fenton, who lives in that big white house on the hill ! 'Why, he's a gentle-
"Jack," the artist said, stopping in his work now, and speaking very earnestly, " there is not a lad of your age in the land, with the cliauce of being a miner, or a mechanic, or au artiBiiu, who may not, if he sets it before him, and gives his whole mind to it, end by being a rich man and ii gentleman, If a lad from the first makeB 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 Eave 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 got better wages, save something ; when, at tweuty oue or so, you get man's wages, live on less than lull and lay by the rest. Don't marry till you're thirty ; keep away from the public-house ; work, study steadily nnd intelligently ; and by the time you are thirty you will have a thousand pounds laid by, and be lit to tako a manager's place."
"Do you mean that, sir?" the boy asked quickly.
" I do, Jack. My case is something like it. My lather was a village schoolmaster. I went, when about twelve years old, as a boy in a pottery nt Burslem. My father told me pretty well what I liave told yon. I determiued to try hard at any rate. I worked iu evory spare hour to improve mjoelf generally, aud I went threo evenings a week to the Art School. I liked it and the master told me if I stuck at it I might be a punter some day. I did stick at it, and at twonty 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 ob anyone in Burslem, except one or two foreign artists. I am thirty now. I still paint at times on -china, but I am now getting well known as an artist, and am, I hope, a gentleman."
"I'll do it," the boy said, rising slowly to his feet and coming close to the artist. " I'll do it, sir. They call me Bull-dog, and I'll stick 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 1st of May to-day. Now perhaps it will help you a little if I write to you on the 1st of May every year ; and you shall answer me, telling me how you'.are 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 tired 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 bec-u 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 hu plans for the future. I shall be very proud of that boy if he ever makes â name for himself."
A week later, there was a knock one evening at the door of the Bchoolmaster of the Stokebridge
| Please, Mr. Merton, can I speak to you ?"
^Yhat, is that you, Jack Simpson ?" the schoolmaster said, holdiug the candle so that the hght fell upon the boy before him. " Yes, come m, my boy." The lad followed him into the parlour. "Sit down, Jack. Now, what is it? nothing the matter at home, I hope ?"
No, sir. I wanted to ask you to tell me what cooks I ought to read, so that I may grow up a
"Bless me, Jack," Mr. Merton Baid, " why, I neverexpected this from you."
No, sir, but I ha' made up my mind to get on, and I mean to work hard. I've been told, 'if> u I study at books in aU my spare time, and ewe money, and work well, 1 may get up high some day ;" and the boy looked wistfully up in tne master's face for a confirmation of what had teen told him.
"That's quite right, Jack, whoever told you. mm work, study, thrift, and intelligence will «ee any lad from the bottom of the tree to the
??'« ^ud you are quite in earnest, Jack ?"
title16 schoolmaster sat în silence for a little 0J;iT<ill> m? b°y> for a bit yo« must work at wfl Mhool-books, and get a fair general wowiedge, and be careful to observe the way r^,Wi? "^Pressed-the grammar, I mean ; tau ¿loud when you are alone, nnd try in speak I0jf,ndol "thees," and "thoua," and Xu , B of sPeech- 1 caa lend you ordinary vearf °fks!,,üfc for 3'0U for tQe ne*t four or five inw T >. W*' alwfty8 esPlaia auy difficulties you »ay meet Wlth# n& hook¡¡ you ^ ^ J^ ton n.yr?-U Can buy second-hand at Wolverhamp. Ul<-,j, BlT,1nBll,ani' But there will be time to to ,$, , *at hereafter. What time have you
?»ve" younoVr G°°& "^ ^ Vaußhan PU' b'nowV't'^ Iib?? t!me enoußu a11 <%.£°rl when 7t ? î° but }ust to °Pen and Bhut a d°°'
«1th0 tubs come along ; but I ha' no light." all day " mUBt 8eem very louS in the ^k wh'enV0 lSem lon£i 6ir î and îfc w"l be wuss
tim» b ? t read'and know 1 am J"st wasting
<.. -but I can read a bit at home at nights,
when did goea out It gets lighter now every evening, and I Bhall be able to read out of doors on till 9 o clock in summer Mother would give me a candle now and again , and I should get on first rate in the pit, but the Vaughan is a fiery vein, and they ha nowt but Di\cyB
" Well, my boy, here are a dozen books, which will suit you for a lime Let me know how you are getting on , and when you have learned the books thoroughly lot mc know Remember you wmt to learn the bo ks thoroughly, and not just well enout,ri to rub through without getting the strap But don t overdo it You aro a very bunill boy yet, and it is of as much importance for your future life tint you should grow strong in body as in bruin So you must not gi\e up play If you were to do nothing but sit in the dark, ind study it other time«, you would soon become a fool So you must give time to play as well as to work And rememter don t be cast donn with difficulties, they «ill pa«s by , ind you aie sure to find friends who will give you a hand There ib an old saying 'God helps those who help themselves And look here jick I can tell you a way to make the time pas3 moro quickly in the dark Set yourself Bums to do in your beid lou 11 find it hard nt first, but it will get easier with practice,and is you get on I will give you a book called 'Mental Arithmetic , and you 11 find there ia nothing more ii°eful tb m being ible to make complicated calculations in your head Good night '
The next six months pissed qi îckly 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 ripidly as he multiplied and aided and subtracted, finding thit he could daily master lonçer h es of figures, while of an evening he played at carnes, or bird's nested, with other boys of his age From time to time he went to Mr Merton, who was astonished at the progresa which the boy was making
"I shan tget on much for the next bix months,' Jack Baid with a eigb, when September began " I can t eee to read for even an hour before I have to go to work , but then I shall be at home o nights, and Bhall get a little time when dad s at the public house '
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