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TheProjectGutenbergEBookofFacingDeath,byG A Henty ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.net Title:FacingDeath TheHerooftheVaughanPit ATaleoftheCoalMines Author:G A Henty Illustrator:GordonBrowne ReleaseDate:January30,2010[EBook#31128] [Lastupdated:December4,2013] Language:English ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKFACINGDEATH*** ProducedbyDavidEdwards,RoseAcquavellaandtheOnline DistributedProofreadingTeamathttp://www.pgdp.net(This filewasproducedfromimagesgenerouslymadeavailable byTheInternetArchive) BULLDOGFINDSAFRIEND BULLDOGFINDSAFRIEND FACINGDEATH OR, THEHEROOFTHEVAUGHANPIT ATALEOFTHECOALMINES BY G A HENTY, Authorof"WithCliveinIndia;""InFreedom'sCause;" "BySheerPluck;""UnderDrake'sFlag;"&c WITHEIGHTFULL-PAGEILLUSTRATIONSBYGORDONBROWNE LONDON:BLACKIE&SON,LIMITED; NEWYORK:CHARLESSCRIBNER'SSONS, 743AND745BROADWAY CONTENTS CHAP I EVILTIDINGS, II BULL-DOG, III THERESOLUTION, IV THEVAUGHANPIT, V SETTINGTOWORK, VI "THEOLDSHAFT," VII FRIENDSHIP, VIII PROGRESS, IX THEGREATSTRIKE, X HARDTIMES, XI THEATTACKONTHEENGINE-HOUSE, XII AFTERTHESTRIKE, XIII AHEAVYLOSS, XIV THENIGHT-SCHOOL, XV THESEWING-CLASS, XVI ANEWLIFE, XVII THEDOGFIGHT, XVIII STOKEBRIDGEFEAST, XIX THEGREATRIOT, XX THEARMOFTHELAW, XXI AKNOTTYQUESTION, XXII THESOLUTION, XXIII THEEXPLOSIONATTHEVAUGHAN, XXIV INDEADLYPERIL, XXV THEIMPRISONEDMINERS, XXVI ACRITICALMOMENT, XXVII RESCUED, XXVIII CHANGES, PAGE 16 31 39 49 54 64 74 80 96 105 117 124 134 146 156 166 173 183 193 201 209 222 235 239 253 259 274 XXIX THENEWMANAGER, XXX RISEN, XXXI CONCLUSION, 283 289 298 ILLUSTRATIONS PAGE BULLDOGFINDSAFRIEND, Frontispiece INTHEOLDSHAFT—CANHEBESAVED? 58 NELLY'SFIRSTLESSON, 70 ALIFEORDEATHSTRUGGLE, 113 JACKISVICTORIOUS, 170 THENEWSCHOOLMISTRESS, 217 AFTERTHEFIRSTEXPLOSION—THESEARCHPARTY, 237 SAVED! 270 FACINGDEATH: OR,HOWSTOKEBRIDGEWASCIVILIZED CHAPTERI EVILTIDINGS A row of brick-built houses with slate roofs, at the edge of a large mining villageinStaffordshire Thehousesaredingyandcolourless,andwithoutrelief ofanykind Soarethoseinthenextrow,sointhestreetbeyond,andthroughout thewholevillage Thereisadrearymonotonyabouttheplace;andifsomegiant couldcomeandpickupalltherowsofhouses,andchangetheirplacesonewith another,itisaquestionwhetherthemen,nowawayatwork,wouldnoticeany differencewhateveruntiltheyenteredthehousesstandingintheplaceofthose whichtheyhadleftinthemorning Thereisachurch,andavicaragehalfhidden awayinthetreesinitsprettyold-fashionedgarden;therearetwoorthreesmall red-bricked dissenting chapels, and the doctor's house, with a bright brass knockerandplateonthedoor Therearenootherbuildingsabovethecommon average of mining villages; and it needs not the high chimneys, and enginehouseswithwindinggear,dottingthesurroundingcountry,tonotifythefactthat Stokebridgeisaminingvillage It is a little past noon, and many of the women come to their doors and look curiously after a miner, who, in his working clothes, and black with coal-dust, walksrapidlytowardshishouse,withhisheadbentdown,andhisthickfelthat slouchedoverhiseyes "It'sBillHaden;heworksatthe'Vaughan.'" "Whatbringsheupatthishour?" "Summatwrong,I'llbebound." BillHadenstoppedatthedoorofhishouseintherowfirstspokenof,liftedthe latch,andwentin Hewalkedalonganarrowpassageintotheback-room His wife, who was standing at the washing-tub, turned round with a surprised exclamation, and a bull-dog with half-a-dozen round tumbling puppies scrambledoutofabasketbythefire,andrushedtogreethim "Whatisit,Bill?what'sbroughttheehomebeforetime?" "We ha' been talking the matter over in every mortal way, the old woman and me, Jack, and I'll tell 'ee what we've aboot concluded On one side thou really wan'tt'haveusoopwi''ee." "Yes,indeed,dad,"Jacksaidearnestly "Iknowthoudost,lad;meandJanebothfeelsthat Wellthat'sanargimentthat way Thenthere'stheargimentthatnaturallythouwould'stnotlikethemanwho hast brought thee oop to be working in the pit o' which thou wast manager That'stworeasonsthatway;ontheothersidetherebetwo,andtheold'ooman andmethinktheyarestrongerthant'others First,weshouldbeouto'placeat the house oop there Thou wilt be getting to know all kinds o' people, and whatever thou may'st say, Jack, your mother and me would be oot o' place That's one argiment The next argiment is that we shouldn't like it, Jack, we should feel we were out o' place and that our ways were out o' place; and we shouldbejoostmiserable Insteado'doingusakindnessyou'djoostmakeour livesaburden,andIknow'eedon'twanttodothat We'sgettingoninloifeand betoooldtochangeourways,andnothingthoucould'stsaycouldpersuadeus tolivea'waysdressedupinourSundayclothesinyourhouse." "Well,dad,Imightputyoubothinacomfortablecottage,withoutworktodo." "WhatshouldIdowi'outmywork,Jack?noa,lad,ImustworkaslongasIcan, orIshoulddieo'pureidleness ButIneedn'tworkatastall I'mfiftynow,and althoughIha'gotanotherfifteenyears'workinme,Ihope,mybonesbean'tas lissastheywas Thoumightgivemethejobasundergroundviewer Icanputin aproporseetothefiringo'ashotwi'anyman Oi'vetoldmymatesyouwantto have me and the old woman oop at th' house, and they'll know that if I stop undergrounditbeo'myownchoice Iknow,lad,itwouldn'tberoightformeto be a getting droonk at the "Chequers" and thou manager; but I ha' told t' old 'oomanthatIwillswearoffliquoraltogether." "No,no,dad!"Jacksaid,affectedatthisproofofBillHaden'sdesiretodowhat hecouldtowardsmaintaininghisdignity "Iwouldn'tthinko't Ifyouandmother feelthatyou'dbemorehappyandcomfortablehere—andmaybeyouareright,I didn'tthinkoverthematterfromthysideaswellasmyown,asIoughttohave done—of course you shall stay here; and, of course, you shall have a berth as under-viewer As for swearing off drink altogether, I wouldn't ask it of you, thoughIdowishyoucouldresolvenevertodrinktoomuchagain Youha'been usedtogotothe"Chequers"everynightfornighfortyyears,andyoucouldn't giveitupnow Youwouldpineawaywithoutsomewheretogoto However,this mustbeunderstood,wheneveryouliketocomeuptomeIshallbegladtosee you, and I shall expect you on Sundays to dinner if on no other day; and whenever the time shall come when you feel, dad, that you'd rather give up work,therewillbeacottageforyouandmothersomewherehandytome,and enoughtolivecomfortablyandfreefromcare." "That's a bargain, lad, and I'm roight glad it be off my mind, for I ha' been botheringover'teversincetheespoketomelast." ThesameeveningJackhadalongtalkwithHarry Hisfriend,althoughhealthy, was by no means physically strong, and found the work of a miner almost beyondhim HehadnevertakentothelifeasJackhaddone,andhisfriendknew thatforthelastyearortwohehadbeenturninghisthoughtsinotherdirections, andthatofallthingshewouldliketobeaschoolmaster Hehadforyearsread and studied a good deal, and Mr Dodgson said that with a year in a training collegehewouldbeabletopass HehadoftentalkedthematteroverwithJack, andthelattertoldhimnowthathehadenteredhisnameinSt Mark'sCollege, Chelsea,hadpaidhisfeessixmonthsinadvance,hissavingsamplysufficingfor thiswithoutdrawinguponhissalary,andthathewastopresenthimselftherein aweek'stime The announcement took away Harry's breath, but as soon as he recovered himself he accepted Jack's offer as frankly as it was made It had always been naturalforJacktolendhimahand,anditseemedtohim,astoJack,naturalthat itshouldbesonow "HaveyoutoldNelly?" "No,Ileftitforyoutotell,Harry Iknow,ofcourse,onereasonwhyyouwant tobeaschoolmaster,andshewillknowittoo Sheisastrangegirl,isNelly;I neverdidquiteunderstandher,andInevershall;whyonearthsheshouldrefuse youIcan'tmakeout She'shadlotso'otherofferstheselastfouryears,butit'sall thesame There'snooneshecaresfor,whyshouldn'tshetakeyou?" "Icanwait,"Harrysaidquietly,"there'splentyoftime;perhapssomedayIshall winher,andIthink—yes,Ithinknow—thatIshall." "Well,"Jacksaidcheerfully,"asyousaythere'splentyoftime;I'vealwayssaid thirty was the right age to marry, and you want eight years of that, and Nelly won'tgetoldfasterthanyoudo,soifshedon'tfallinlovewithanyoneelseit must come right; she has stood out for nearly four years, and though I don't pretend to know anything of women, I should think no woman could go on sayingnofortwelveyears." Harry, although not given to loud mirth, laughed heartily at Jack's views over love-making,andthetwothenwalkedacrosstoNellyHardy'scottage Jacktold her what Bill Haden and his wife had decided, and she approved their determination ThenHarrysaidwhatJackhadarrangedforhim Nelly shook her head as if in answer to her own thoughts while Harry was speaking,butwhenheceasedshecongratulatedhimwarmly "Youwereneverfitforpit-work,Harry,andaschoolmaster'slifewillsuityou well It is curious that Jack's two friends should both have taken to the same life." Jack's surprise was unbounded when, a month after the reopening of the Vaughan,Mr Brooktook him over to his new abode His bewilderment at the size and completeness of the house and its fittings was even greater than his pleasure "ButwhatamItodoaloneinthisgreatplace,Mr Brook?"heasked;"Ishallbe lost here I am indeed deeply grateful to you, but it is much too big for me altogether." "It is no bigger now than it has always been," Mr Brook said, "and you will never be lost as long as you have your study there," and he pointed to a room snugly fitted up as a library and study "You will be no more lonely than I or othermenwithoutwivesandfamilies;besidesyouknowthesemaycomesome day." "Ah!butthatwillbemanyyearson,"Jacksaid;"Ialwaysmadeupmymindnot tomarrytillIwasthirty,becauseawifepreventsyoumakingyourway." "Yes;butnowthatyouhavemadeyourwaysofar,Jack,awifewillaidrather thanhinderyou Butitwillbetimetothinkofthatinanotherthreeorfouryears Youwillnotfinditsodullasyouimagine,Jack Thereisyourwork,whichwill occupythegreaterpartofyourday Thereisyourstudyfortheevening Youwill speedily know all the people worth knowing round here; I have already introducedyoutoagoodmany,andtheywillbesuretocallassoonasyouare settledhere Inthestable,mydearboy,youwillfindacoupleofhorses,anda saddle,andadog-cart,sothatyouwillbeabletotakeexerciseandcallabout I shallkeepthehorses Iconsiderthemnecessaryformymanager Mymenwill keepthegardeninorder,andIthinkthatyouwillfindthatyoursalaryof£350a yeartobeginwithampleforyourotherexpenses." Jackwascompletelyoverpoweredbythekindnessofhisemployer,butthelatter would not hear of thanks "Why, man, I owe you my life," he said; "what are theselittlethingsincomparison?" Jack found fewer difficulties than he had anticipated in his new position His speechattheopeningofthemineaddedtothefavourwithwhichhewasheld forhisconductatthetimeoftheexplosion,andfurtherheightenedtherespect duetohimforhisdefenceoftheVaughan Ashewentthroughtheminehehad ever a cheery "Good morning, Bob," "Good morning, Jack," for his old comrades,andtheword"sir"wasnowuniversallyaddedtotheanswered"Good morning,"aconcessionnotalwaysmadebycollierstotheiremployers Theminerssoonfelttheadvantagesofthenewmanager'senergy,backedashe was in every respect by the owner The work as laid down by the government inspectorwascarriedout,andMr Brookhavingboughtupforasmallsumthe disused Logan mine, in which several of the lower seams of coal were still unworked, the opening between the pits was made permanent, and the Logan shaft became the upcast to the Vaughan, thus greatly simplifying the work of ventilation,lesseningthedangerofexplosion,andgivingameansofescapefor theminersshouldsuchacatastropherecurinspiteofallprecautions Asnearlyhalftheoldworkersatthepithadperishedintheexplosion,anequal numberofnewhandshadtobetakenon Jack,sharingtheanxietyofthevicar andMr Dodgson,thatallthegoodworkshouldnotbecheckedbytheingressof afreshpopulation,directedthatallvacanciesshouldbefilledupbysuchcolliers of good character as resided at Stokebridge, working for other pits in the neighbourhood AstheVaughanpromisedtobethemostcomfortableandwellworkedpitinthecountry,thesewereonlytoogladtochangeservice,andmore namesweregiveninthanvacanciescouldbefoundfor Asalltheinhabitantsof Stokebridgehadparticipatedinthebenefitsofthenightschoolsandclasses,and intheimprovementswhichhadtakenplace,theadvanceofthevillagesuffered noseriouscheckfromthecatastropheattheVaughan CHAPTERXXXI CONCLUSION ThreeyearsmoreofprogressandStokebridgehadbecomethemodelvillageof the Black Country The chief employer of labour, his manager, the vicar, and schoolmaster all worked together for this end The library had been a great success,anditwasrare,indeed,foradrunkenmantobeseeninthestreetseven ofaSaturdaynight Manyofthepublic-houseshadclosedtheirdoorsaltogether; andinadditiontothelibraryalargeandcomfortableclub-househadbeenbuilt The men of an evening could smoke their pipes, play at bagatelle, chess, draughts,orcards,andtakesuchbeerastheyrequired,anymangettingdrunkor evennoisytobeexpelledtheclub This,however,wasaruleneverrequiringto becalledintoforce Thebuildingwasconductedontheprincipleofaregimental canteen Thebeerwasgoodandcheapbutnotstrong,nospiritsweresold,but excellenttea,coffee,andchocolatecouldbehadatthelowestprices Thebuildingwasclosedduringtheday,butbeerwassentoutbothfordinners and suppers to those who required it There was a comfortable room where womencouldsew,knit,andtalkastheypleased,ortheycould,iftheyliked,sit in the general room with their husbands Entertainments and lectures were of frequent occurrence, and the establishment, supplemented by the library and wash-house,didwondersforStokebridge ThepromisemadebyMr Brookatthefêtehadbeencarriedout Achoir-master came over twice a week from Birmingham, and the young people entered into theschemewithsuchzestthatthechoirhadcarriedawaytheprizethreeyearsin succession at Birmingham The night-school was now carried on on a larger scalethanever,andtheschoolforcookingandsewingwassowellattendedthat Mrs Dodgsonhadnowasecondassistant Toencouragethechildrenandyoung peopleanannualshowwasheldatwhichmanyprizesweregivenforgardening, needlework, dressmaking, carpentering, and a variety of other subjects It was seldom,indeed,thatanuntidydresswastobeseen,stillmoreuncommonthata foulwordwasheardinthestreetsofStokebridge Nothingcouldmaketherows ofcottages picturesque as arethoseofaruralvillage;butfromtubs,placedin front,creepersandrosesclimbedoverthehouses,whilethegardensbehindwere gaywithflowers NoyoungwomanneededtoremainsingleinStokebridgelongerthanshechose, for so noteworthy were they for their housewifely qualities that the young pitmen of the villages round thought themselves fortunate indeed if they could getawifefromStokebridge BillCummings,FredWood,andseveralothersof Jack's boy friends,wereviewers orunder-managersoftheVaughan,and many hadlefttotakesimilarsituationselsewhere Jack Simpson was popular with all classes With the upper class his simple straightforwardness, his cheerfulness and good temper, made him a great favourite, although they found it hard to understand how so quiet and unassumingayoungfellowcouldbetheheroofthetworescuesattheVaughan, for,nowwhenthefactwasknown,Jacknolongermadeasecretofhissharein theattackbytheriotersontheengine-house Amongthepitmenhispopularity was unbounded Of an evening he would sometimes come down to the clubroomandchatasunrestrainedlyandintimatelyasofoldwiththefriendsofhis boyhood,andheneverlostanopportunityofpushingtheirfortunes Once a week he spent the evening with Bill Haden and his wife, who always came up and passed Sunday with him when he was at home At this time all ceremonywasdispensedwith,theservantsweresentoutoftheroom,andwhen thepitmanandhiswifebecameaccustomedtotheirsurroundingstheywerefar moreattheireasethantheyhadatfirstthoughtpossible Ontheeveningswhenhewentdowntohismotherhealwaysdroppedinforan hour's talk with his friend Nelly There was no shadow of change in their relations Nellywashisfriendfirmandfast,towhomhetoldallhisthoughtsand plans HarrywasassistantmasterinaschoolatBirmingham,andwas,ashetold Jack,stillwaitingpatiently JackwasnowoftenoveratBirmingham,andonenighthesaidtoNelly: "Nelly,IpromisedyoulongagothatIwouldtellyouifIeverfellinlove." "Andyouhavecometotellmenow?"sheaskedquietly "Yes,"hesaid,"ifitcanbecalledfallinginlove;forithasbeensogradualthatI don't know how it began Perhaps three years ago, when she refused another man Iwasgladofit,andofcourseaskedmyselfwhyIwasglad Therecameno answerbutone—Iwantedhermyself." "IsupposeitisAliceMerton?"Nellysaidasquietlyasbefore "Ofcourse,"Jacksaid;"itcouldbenooneelse IsupposeIlikeherbecauseshe isthereverseofmyself Sheisgentlebutlivelyandfulloffun,sheismadetobe thelightofahardworkingman'shome Iamnotatallgentle,andIhavevery littleideaoffun Aliceismadetoleanonsomeone IsupposeIammeanttobe leant upon I suppose it is always the case that opposite natures are attracted towardsoneanother,theoneformsthecomplementoftheother." Nellysatthinking ThisthenwasthereasonwhyshehadneverattractedJack Boththeirnatureswerestrongandfirm Bothhadfullcontroloverthemselves, although both of a passionate nature; both had the capability of making great sacrifices, even of life if necessary; both had ambition and a steady power of work NowonderJackhadthoughtofherasacomraderatherthanasapossible wife; while Harry, gentler and easily led, patient rather than firm, leaned upon herstrongnature "Ithink,dearJack,"shesaid,"thatMissMertonistheverywomantomakeyou happy Youhaveknowneachotherfortwelveyears,andcanmakenomistake I neednotsayhowtrulyandsincerelyIwishyoueveryhappiness."Therewasa quiverinhervoiceasshespoke,butherfacewasasfirmandsteadfastasever; and Jack Simpson, as he walked homewards, did not dream that Nelly Hardy was weeping as if her heart would break, over this final downfall of her life's dream It was not that she had for the last seven years ever thought that Jack wouldaskhertobehiswife,butshewouldhavebeencontenttogoontothe endofherlifeashisfirstanddearestfriend Thenshesaidatlast,"That'sdone with JackandIwillalwaysbegreatfriends,butnotaswehavebeen Perhapsit isaswell Betternowthantenyearson." ThenherthoughtswenttoHarry,towhom,indeed,duringthelastfewyearsthey had gone oftener than she would have admitted to herself "He is very faithful andkindandgood,andIsupposeoneofthesedaysIshallhavetogivein He willnotexpectmuch,buthedeservesallIcouldgivehim." Inafteryears,however,NellyShepherdlearnedthatshecouldgiveherhusband verytrueandearnestlove;andtheheadmasterandmistressofthelargestschool atWolverhamptonareregardedbyallwhoknowthem,andbynonelessthanby JackSimpsonandhiswife,asaperfectlyhappycouple It is ten years since Jack married Alice Merton, who had loved him for years beforehe askedhertobehiswife JackisnowpartproprietoroftheVaughan pit,andisstillitsrealmanager,althoughhehasanominalmanagerunderhim Hecannot,however,bealwaysonthespot,ashelivesnearBirmingham,andis oneofthegreatestauthoritiesonmining,andthefirstconsultingengineer,inthe BlackCountry AtMr Brook'sdeathhewillbesoleproprietoroftheVaughan, thatgentlemanhavingatJack'smarriagesettleditsreversionuponhiswife Dinnerisover,andheissittinginthegarden,surroundedbythosehemostcares for in the world It is the 1st of June, a day upon which a small party always assembles at his house By his side is his wife, and next to her are Harry ShepherdandNelly Betweentheladiesawarmfriendshiphassprungupoflate years,whilethatbetweenthethreefriendshasneverdiminishedintheslightest OnJack'sotherhandsitsanartist,bearingoneofthemosthonourednamesin England,whosehealthJackalwaysproposesatthisdinneras"thefounderofhis fortune." Next to the artist sits Mr Brook, and beyond him Mrs Simpson's father,apermanentresidentinthehousenow,butsomeyearsbackaprofessorof mathematics in Birmingham Playing in the garden are six children, two of whomcalltheyoungSimpsonscousins,althoughthereisnobloodrelationship betweenthem;andwalkingwiththemareanoldcouple,wholiveinthepretty cottage just opposite to the entrance of the grounds, and whom Jack Simpson stillaffectionatelycalls"dad"and"mother." THEEND Transcriber'sNote Punctuation has been standardized Inconsistent hyphenation has not been changed This book includes a lot of dialect, which often looks misspelled but was intentionallywrittenthatway Therefore,someirregularitiesthatmightbeerrors havenotbeencorrectedinordertopreserveauthorintent Illustrationshavebeenmovedslightlytocoincidewiththeeventdescribedinthe caption The hyperlinks in the list of Illustrations have been changed to reflect thismovement Thepagenumbersinthatlisthavenotbeenchanged Onpage83,thenameRatcliffewasmisspelledintheoriginaltext Thishasbeen corrected In the paragraph beginning "There was a movement in the crowd," the next sentence in the original text is, '"The soldiers be coming" run from mouth to mouth.'Asthisislikelyanerrorinthetext,"run"hasbeenchangedto"ran." 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