Chapter 918097

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberIV
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article918097
Full Date1881-04-16
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count1627
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)
Trove TitleFacing Death: A Tale of the Coal Mines
article text

Facing Death.

A TALE OP THE COAL MINES.

Br G. A. HtXTr, in the Union Jack.

Chapter IV.

TitE distress grow daily more intense at Stoke bridge and in the surrounding districts. Tho small traders could no longer give credit ; tho pawnbrokers were so overburdened with house- hold goods that they were obliged absolutely to decline to recoivo more ; the doctors were worn out with work ; the guardians of tho poor were nearly beside themselves in their effortB to faco the frightful distress prevailing ; aud the charit- able committee, aided as they were by subscrip- tions from without, could still do but little in comparison to the great need. Jauo Haden, and tho other women without families, did their best to holp uurso iu the houses where siekuess was rife. The cbildreu were mere shadows ; mid tho mon and womeu, although far less reduced, were yet worn and wasted by waut of food. And still the strike went on, still the men held out against tho reduction. Some of the masters had brought men from other parts, and these had to be guarded to and from their work by strong bodies of police, and several serious encounters had taken place. Some of the banda were wavering now, but tho party of resistauco grow more aud moro violent, and the waverera dared not raise their voices. The delegates of the Union went about holding meetings, and assuring their hearers that the masters were on the point of being beaten, and must give way ; but they were listened to in Bullen and gloomy silence by the men. Then carno muttered threats and secret gatherings; and then Jaue Hadou, obedient to her promise, but very doubtful as to its wisdom, posted the

lottor Jack had left with her.

It was 3 o'clock next day before ho arrived, for he had not received tho lottor until ho went out for his breakfast, and ho had to go back to his work, and ask to bo allowed to go away for the afternoon on particular business, for which ho was

wanted at horne.

"Well, mother, what is it?" was his first question on entering.

"I oughtn't to toll 'ce, Jack ; and I do believo

Bill would kill mo if ho knew."

" He won't know, mother, and you munt tell me," Jack said quietly. ,

" Well, my boy, yesterday afternoon Bill carno in here with eight or ten,others. I were upstairs, but I suppose thoy thought I were out, and as I did not want to disturb 'em, and was pretty nigh worn out-I had beeu up threo nights with lJetsy Mullin's girl-I sat down and nigh dozod off. Tho door was opau, and I could hear what they said downstairs wheu thoy Bpoko loud. At first they talked low, and I didu't heed what thoy were saying ; then I heard a word or two which frightened ins, aud then I got up aud went quiet to my door and listened. Jack, they ara going to wreck the engines, so as to stop tho pumping, and drown the mines. They aro going to do for the ' Vaughan,' aud the 'Hill Side,' and 'Thorns,' and the 'Little Shaft,' aud ' Vale.' It's to hu dont) to-night, mid thoy begin with tho Vaughan,' at ten o'clock, 'causo it's closest, I suppose "

" Thoy aro mad," Jack said, sternly. " How ara they to earn bread if they flood the minos ? and it will end by a lot of them being sent to gaol for years. But I'll stop it it it costs mo my

life."

" Oh, Jack ! don't 'eo d» anything rash," Mrs. Hadou said, pitoously. " WJut can one lad do against two or three hundred men?"

" Now, mother," Jack said promptly, not heed- ing her appeal, " what police aro thero within

reach ?"

" Tho police wcro all sont away yesterday to Bampton. There were riots there, I heard Bay. That's why thoy chose to-night."

"Now tho first thiug, mother, is to proveut dad from going out to-night. Ho rniiBt bo kopt out of it, whatever others do. 1'vo brought a bottlo of gin from Birmingham. Tell him I've como over for un hour or two to seo schoolmaster about some books, and I'm going straight back again, but I've brought him this as a present. Get tho cork out; he's sure to drink agbiBsor two, anyhow, perhaps more, but it will send him off to sleep, suro euough. It's the strongest I could get, and ho's out of the way of drink now. I don't suppose they'll miss him when they Btart; but if anyono comos round for him you tell 'em I brought lum souio Old Tom over, and that he's so drunk he can't movo. Later on, if you eau, got somo woman or child to como in, and lot them seo lum, so that thero'il bo a vvitucoa he was at homo when the thing carno off; that'll make him safe. I've thought it all

over."

" But what bo'est thou going to do, Jack ?"

"Don't mind mo, mother. I'm going lo save tho Vaughan colliery. Don't you fret about mo ; all you've got to do is to make dad druuk, which ain't a difficult job, and to Btick to the story that I havo been over for au hour to see schoolmastor. Good-bye, mother. Don't frot ; it will all como

right."

Ab Jack went down the street ho tapped at

tho door of his friend's house.

"Is Harry in?"

narry was in, and carno out at once.

" How's Annie?" was Jack's first question.

"Better, much better, Jack ; the doctor thinks sho'll do now. Tho broth put fresh life into her; wo'ro all better, Jack, thanks to you." '

"That's all right, Harry. Put on your cap, and walk with me to the schoolroom. Now," ho went on, ns his frioud rojoiued him, and they turned up the street, " will you do a job for mo?"

"Anything in the world, Jack-leastways, any- thing I can."

" You may risk your life, Harry."

"All right, Jack, I'll risk it willing for you."

"Do^t know what's going to bo done to-night,

Harry ?"

" I've heard summat about it."

" It must bo stopped, Harry, if it costs you and mo our lives. What's that when the wholo district depends upon it? If thoy wreck tho engines, and flood tho mines, thero will bo no work for inouthB ; and what's to become of the women and children then ? I'm going to Mr, Merton to tell him, and to got him to write a letter to Sir John Butler-he's the nearest magistrate, and tho most active about hore, and won't let the groas grow under his feet, by nil accounts. The letter inuBt tell him of the attack that is to he made to-night, and ask him to send for the soldiers, if no polieo can be had. ? I want you to take the latter, Harry. Go out the other Bide of the village, aud make a long sweep round. Don't get into the road till you get a full milo out of the place. Then go as hard as you can till you get to Butler's. Insist on Beoiug him yourself ; say it's a question of life and death. If he's out, you must go on to Hooper-he's the next magistrate. When you have delivored the letter slip off home and go to bed, and never let out all your life that you took that letter."

" All right, Jack ; but what bee3t thou going

to do ?"

" I'm going another way, lad ; I've got my woik too. You'd best stop hero, Harry ; I will bring the letter to you. It may get out some day that Merton wrote it, and it's as well you shouldn't be seen near his place."

[TO DE CONTINUED.]

Superintendent Galvin has put up a wire fence to guard the grass plot in the inner mall of Boston-common. It is almost invisible in tho evening, especially if tho eyes of the pedestrian who undertakes to make a short cut across the grass are obscured by claret punch. An amus- ing incident of this kind happened a few even- ings Bince, while a gentleman was standing close to the fence, leaning on a cane, and thoughtfully smoking a cigar. An individual, with slightly irregular but rapid step, passed near him, attempted to cross the grass plot, but being brought up by the to bim invisible barrior floundored clear over it, landing upon all fours upon the grass on the other side. Starting up, ho cocked his damaged hat over his left eye, and looking towards the smoker said : " Syar, olo feller; u'buddy kin trip me up'n that way 'thout givin' mo sasfaxion." And ho advanced fiercely toward.-! the Bupposed offender, when, encountering the wire again, he went clear over it once more, sprawling on his hands and knees on the red gravel walk, and badly fracturing one leg of his pantaloons. This seemed to have a different effect on tho sufferer, for, gathering himself up slowly, and looking at the smoker, who still stood quietly puffing his cigar, ho said : " S'yar, ola feller, I'll call it square an' pay for th' drinks few'll tell ma how'n thunder you can

do that throw so easy."

PEuon.vno.f of the Irish uncle's lecture to biß fccapegraco nephow : "Finally, Birrah, you should endeavour to understand that it is infinitely better, instead of making pledges you always

break, to maka no promises at all-and keep

them."