Citation
The child of the cavern, or, Strange doings underground

Material Information

Title:
The child of the cavern, or, Strange doings underground
Uniform Title:
Indes-noires
Portion of title:
Strange doings underground
Added title page title:
Underground city
Creator:
Verne, Jules, 1828-1905
Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington
Gilbert & Rivington
Place of Publication:
London
Publisher:
Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington
Manufacturer:
Gilbert and Rivington
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Edition:
3rd ed.
Physical Description:
xi, 246 p., 44 leaves of plates : ill. ; 20 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Adventure and adventures -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Mines and mining -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Magicians -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Courtship -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Revenge -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Prisoners -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Owls -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Mine accidents -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Coal miners -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Fantasy literature -- 1883 ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1883
Genre:
Fantasy literature ( rbgenr )
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Published also with the title: Underground city.
General Note:
Illustration by engraved by Charles Barbant after P. Ferat.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Jules Verne ; translated by W.H.G. Kingston.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
027004886 ( ALEPH )
ALH9736 ( NOTIS )
63108928 ( OCLC )

UFDC Membership

Aggregations:
University of Florida
Jules Verne

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THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN;

oR,

STRANGE DOINGS UNDERGROUND.

By JULES VERNE.

TRANSLATED BY

W. H. G. KINGSTON,

AUTHOR OF “SNOW SHOFS AND CANOES,” ‘‘ PETER THE WHALER,” ‘f THE TWO
SUPERCARGOES,” ETC., ETC., ETC,























LAIRD EDITION.

PLonvVon:
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE, & RIVINGTON,
CROWN BUILDINGS, 188, FLEET STREET,

1883.
[AU rights reserved]



LONDON :
GILBERT AND RIVINGTON, LIMITED
ST. JOHN’S SQUARE,



PREFACE.

THE works of.Jules Verne are too well known for the
purity of their style, and the intense interest they excite in
their readers, to require any commendation from me. One
of ‘his chief merits is the wonderful art with which he lays
under contribution every branch of science and natural
history, while he vividly describes, with minute exactness,
all parts of the world and its inhabitants. In the wild
flights of his imagination, he carries his cnaracters high
above the clouds, sends them whirling through the air,
driven by the howling tempest across the foaming waves,
or allows them to mount up towards the distant moon.
Now he conducts them into the bowels of the earth, or
down to the depths of old ocean. .

For the last production of his fertile brain he has
selected Scotland as the scene on which to display his
unbounded powers of invention ; and, in spite of the sober-
minded character of its population, has by the magic power



vi PREFACE.



of his pen converted it into enchanted ground. He has
called into existence a mine of fabulous wealth, and has
placed in it a mysterious being endowed with super-
human powers, who performs wonders unsurpassed in the
present prosaic age. Those who are unacquainted with
the manners and customs of the Scotch cannot severely
criticize the characteristics he assigns to them; and those
who have resided in the land o’ cakes will not fail to be
highly amused with the pictures he draws of its people,
though they differ not a little from those we have met
with in the tales of the author of “ Waverley,” and give us
impressions considerably at variance with such as we
derive from other Scotch novelists of a later date.

One thing, however, is certain, that the readers of “The
Child of the Cavern” will be as deeply interested in the
extraordinary adventures of its gallant hero and fair
heroine as they have been in those of the numerous
adramatis persone who play their parts in the almost count-
less numbers of the talented Frenchman’s previous works
—works now as well known and as much appreciated in
England as they are in his native land.

W. H. G. K.



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.

CONTRADICTORY LETTERS

CHAPTER II.

ON THE ROAD . °

CHAPTER III.

THE SUBSOIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

CHAPTER IV.
THE DOCHART PIT...

CHAPTER V.
THE FORD FAMILY .

CHAPTER VI.

SOME STRANGE PHENOMENA

CHAPTER VII.

SIMON FoRD’s EXPERIMENT . . .

47

60

68



viii CONTENTS.



CHAPTER VIII.

AN EXPLOSION OF DYNAMITE .

CHAPTER IX.
NEw ABERFOYLE : . . .

CHAPTER X.
EXPLORING .

CHAPTER XI.

THE FIRE-MAIDENS .

CHAPTER XII.

Jack Ryan’s EXPLOITS

CHAPTER XIII.

CoaL TOWN

CHAPTER XIV.

HANGING BY A THREAD

CHAPTER XV.

NELL ADOPTED .

CHAPTER XVI.

ON THE REVOLVING LADDER . :

CHAPTER XVII.

A SUNRISE . . . . . .

PAGE

92

103

. . II4

131

- « &I4I

ra Cy

. + 179



CONTENTS. ix

’ CHAPTER XVIIL

PAGE
LocH LomMonD AND LocH KaTRINE . . «. « «~~ 195

CHAPTER XIX.

A FINAL THREAT . . . . . . ee » 209

CHAPTER XxX.

THE “MONK” . . : . ° . 7 . * © 223

CHAPTER XXI.

NELL’S WEDDING . . . . . . ° . + = 235

CHAPTER XXII.

THE LEGEND OF OLD SILFAX ° ° ° ° 2 ° 244



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

; PAGE
Frontispiece.
A puzzling letter . ‘ . . . . . : . . 9
Harry Ford . . . . + 31

The Engineer and Harry on ‘their way to the Dochart pit . - 32
The Engineer contemplating the changed aspect of the country. 33

‘he abandoned works of the Dochart pit . ee - 36
Jack Ryan above ground. : . : . . : - 42
Simon Ford . oe . : . . . . . - 50
Starting on an exploring expedition . : . oo - 50
Harry suspicious . : . . . : . : . - 65
The Monk at work . . . : . . : . . 2
The fire-damp shows itself . . . . . . : - 89a
Madge attending to her domestic duties. . : . - 83
The moment of success . . . . . : . - 86
The mammoth cave of Aberfoyle . . . . : . - 94
A mysterious accident. . . . . . . . + 100
Prisoners. . : . : - 102
The fire-maidens of Dundonald Castle . . : : . LI
The wreck of the “ Motala”. . . : . . : . 113
A dead stop . . : . . : : . . . 21
The fate of the explorers : . . . : . . . 128
Loch Malcolm and Coal Town . . : . : . - 134
Holiday in Coal Town oo. . . : : . + 140
Harry’s discovery . . . . . . . 7 - 150

A fearful foe . . . . . . . . . . © 152



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

Secrets revealed . ee : 7
Harry explains his intentions . . :
The deadly enemy . . : . .

Nell beholds the starry heaven

“Let her sleep, my boy” .

Edinburgh Castle . . 7

Voyage on Loch Lomond

Highland travelling .. .

The lift at work

The cottage menaced

A monster shower-bath

Proof of malice prepense

Extinguishing the fire .

Harry in danger . .

Horror-stricken . . .

The child of the cavern

“ Wherever you go I will follow” :
On the watch . . . . . . .
The supreme moment . . . ° . 7

PAGE
168
17I
178
183
187
195
198
202
209
210
211
215
219
219
221
230
234

» 235

241



THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



CHAPTER I.
CONTRADICTORY LETTERS.

To Mr. F. R. Starr, Engineer,
30, Canongate, Edinburgh.

“Tr Mr. James Starr will corne to-morrow to the Aber-
foyle coal-mines, Dochart pit, Yarrow shaft, a communica-
tion of an interesting nature will be made to him.

“Mr. James Starr will be waited for, the whole day, at
the Callander station, ‘by Harry Ford, son of the old over-
man Simon Ford.

“He is requested to keep this invitation secret.”

Such was the letter which James Starr received by the
first post, on the 3rd December, 18—, the letter bearing
the Aberfoyle postmark, county of Stirling, Scotland.

The engineer's curiosity was excited to the highest
pitch. It never occurred to him to doubt whether this



2 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

letter might not be a hoax. For many years he had
known Simon Ford, one of the former foremen of the
Aberfoyle mines, of which he, James Starr, had for twenty
years, been the manager, or, as he would be termed in
English coal-mines, the viewer. James Starr was a strongly-
constituted man, on whom his fifty-five years weighed no
more heavily than if they had been forty. He belonged
to an old Edinburgh family, and was one of its most dis-
tinguished members. His labours did credit to the body
of engineers who are gradually devouring the carboniferous
sub-soil of the United Kingdom, as much at Cardiff and
Newcastle, as in the southern counties of Scotland. How-
ever, it was more particularly in the depths of the mysterious
mines of Aberfoyle, which border on the Alloa mines and
occupy part of the county of Stirling, that the name of
Starr had acquired the greatest renown. There, the greater
part of his existence had been passed. Besides this, James
Starr belonged to the Scottish Antiquarian Society, of
which he had been made president. He was also included
amongst the most active members of the Royal Institution ;
and the Edinburgh Review frequently published clever
articles signed by him. He was in fact one of those
practical men to whom is due the prosperity of England.
He held a high rank in the old capital of Scotland, which
not only from a physical but also from a moral point of
view, well deserves the name of the Northern Athens.



CONTRADICTORY LETTERS. 3

We know that the English have given to their vast



extent of coal-mines a very significant name. They
very justly call them the “Black Indies,” and these Indies
have contributed perhaps even more than the Eastern
Indies to swell the surprising wealth of the United
Kingdom.

_ There, indeed, a whole tribe of miners work, night and
day, to extract from the British subsoil coal, that
precious combustible, the indispensable element of indus-
trial life.

At this period, the limit of time assigned by professional
men for the exhaustion of coal-mines, was far distant
and there was no dread of scarcity. There were still
extensive mines to be worked in the two Americas. The
manufactories, appropriated to so many different uses,
locomotives, steamers, gas works, &c., were not likely to
fail for want of the mineral fuel ; but the consumption had
so increased during the last few years, that certain beds
had been exhausted even to their smallest veins. Now
deserted, these mines perforated the ground with their
useless shafts and forsaken galleries, This was exactly the
case with the pits of Aberfoyle.

Ten years before, the last butty had raised the last ton
of coal from this colliery. The underground working
stock, traction engines, trucks which run on rails along the

galleries, subterranean tramways, frames to support the



4 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



shaft, pipes—in short, all that constituted the machinery
of a mine had been brought up from its depths. The
exhausted mine was like the body of a huge fantastically-
shaped mastodon, from which all the organs of life have
been taken, and only the skeleton remains.

Nothing was left but long wooden ladders, down the
Yarrow shaft—the only one which now gave access to the
lower galleries of the Dochart pit since the cessation of the
works.

Above ground, the sheds, formerly sheltering the outside
works, still marked the spot where the shaft of that pit
had been sunk, it being now abandoned, as were the other
pits, of which the whole constituted the mines of Aber-
foyle.

It was a sad day, when for the last time the workmen
quitted the mine, in which they had lived for so many
years.

The engineer, James Starr, had collected the hundreds
of workmen which composed the active and courageous
population of the mine. Overmen, brakemen, putters,
wastemen, barrowmen, masons,. smiths, carpenters, outside
and inside labourers, women, children, and old men, all
were collected in the great yard of the Dochart pit,
formerly heaped with coal from the mine,

Many of these families had existed for generations in
the mine of old Aberfoyle; they were now driven to seek



CONTRADICTORY LETTERS. 5

the means of subsistence elsewhere, and they waited sadly
to bid farewell to the engineer.

These honest people, whom the necessities of life forced
to disperse—some of whom had for many long years
worked man and boy in the old Aberfoyle pit—waited,
before leaving it for ever, for the last farewell from the
engineer. The profits of the present year had been dis-
tributed among the men. Little enough it was for the returns
had hardly exceeded: the cost of working ; but it would be
sufficient to keep them until they got employment, either
in the neighbouring collieries, or at the farms and mann-
factories of the county.

James Starr stood upright, at the door of the vast shed
in which he had for so many years superintended the
powerful machines of the shaft.

Simon Ford, the foreman of the Dochart pit, then fifty-
five years of age, and other managers and overseers, sur-
rounded him.

James Starr took off his hat.. The miners, cap in hand
kept a profound silence.

This farewell scene was of a touching character, not
wanting in grandeur.

“My friends,” said the engineer, “the time has come for
us to separate. The Aberfoyle mines, which for so many
years have united us in a common work, are now exhausted.
All our researches have not led to the discovery of a new

B



6 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

vein, and the last block of coal has just been extracted
from the Dochart pit.”

And in confirmation of his words, James Starr pointed
to a lump of coal which had been kept at the bottom of
a basket.

“This piece of coal, my friends,” resumed James Starr,
“is like the last drop of blood which has flowed. through
the veins of the mine! We shall keep it, as the first frag-
ment of coal is kept, which was extracted a hundred and
fifty years ago from the bearings of Aberfoyle. Between
these two pieces, how many generations of workmen have
succeeded each other in our pits! Now, itis over! The
last words which your engineer will address to you are a
farewell. You have lived in this mine, which your hands
have emptied. The work has been hard, but not without
profit for you. Our great family must disperse, and it is
not probable that the future will ever again unite the
scattered members. But do not forget that we have lived
together for a long time, and that it will be the duty of the
miners of Aberfoyle to help each other. Your old masters
will not forget you either. When’ men have worked
together, they must never be strangers to each other again.
We shall keep our eye on you, and wherever you go,
our recommendations shall follow you. Farewell then,
my friends, and may Heaven be with you!”

So saying, James Starr wrung the horny hand of the



CONTRADICTORY LETTERS. 7



oldest miner, whose eyes were dim with tears. Then
the overmen of the different pits came forward to shake
hands with him, whilst the miners waved their caps,
shouting,—

“Farewell, James Starr, our master and our friend!”

This farewell would leave a lasting remembrance in all
these honest hearts. Slowly and sadly the population
quitted the yard. The black soil of the roads leading to
the Dochart pit resounded for the last time to the tread
of miners’ feet, and silence succeeded to the bustling life
which had till then filled the Aberfoyle mines.

One man alone remained by James Starr. ‘This was the
overman, Simon Ford. Near him stood a boy, about
fifteen years of age, who for some years already had been
employed down below.

James Starr and Simon Ford knew and esteemed each
other well.

“ Good-bye, Simon,” said the engineer.

“ Good-bye, Mr. Starr,’ replied the overman, “let me
add, till we meet again!”

“Ves, till we meet again, Ford!” answered James Starr.
“You know that I shall be always glad to see you, and
talk over old times.”

“T know that, Mr. Starr.”

“My house in Edinburgh is always open to you.”

“Tt’s a long way off, is Edinburgh!” answered the man,

B 2



8 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN

shaking his head. “Ay, a long way from the Dochart



pit.”

“A long way off, Simon? Where do you mean to live
then?”

“Even here, Mr. Starr! We're not going to leave the
mine, our good old nurse, just because her milk is dried
up! My wife, my boy, and myself, we mean to remain
faithful to her!”

‘Good-bye then, Simon,” replied the engineer, whose
voice, in spite of himself, betrayed some emotion.

“No, I tell you, it’s “/ we meet again, Mr. Starr, and not

’” returned the foreman, “Mark my words,

just ‘good-bye,
Aberfoyle will see you again !”

The engineer did not try to dispel the man’s illusion.
He patted Harry’s head, again wrung the father’s hand,
and left the mine.

All this had taken place ten years ago; but, notwith-
standing the wish which the overman had expressed to see
him again, during that time Starr had heard nothing
of him. It was after ten years of separation that
he got this letter from Simon Ford, requesting him
to.take without delay the road to the old Aberfoyle col-
liery.

A communication of an interesting nature, what could it
be? Dochart pit, Yarrow shaft! What recollections of
the past these names brought back to him! Yes, that











mu































































































































































































































































A puzzling letter.



CONTRADICTORY LETTERS. 9

was a fine time, that of work, of struggle,—the best part
of the engineer’s life.

Starr re-read his letter. He pondered over it in all its
bearings. He much regretted that just a line more had
not been added by Ford. He wished he had not been
quite so laconic.

Was it possible that the old foreman had discovered
some new vein? No!

Starr remembered with what minute care the mines had
been explored before the definite cessation of the works.
He had himself proceeded to the lowest soundings without
finding the least trace in the soil, burrowed in every direc-
tion. They had even attempted to find coal under strata
which are usually below it, such as the Devonian red sand-
stone, but without result. James Starr had therefore
abandoned the mine with the absolute conviction that’ it
did not contain another bit of coal.

“No,” he repeated, “no! How is it possible that any-
thing which could have escaped my researches, should be
revealed to those of Simon Ford. - However, the old over-
man must well know that such a discovery would ‘be the
one thing in the world to interest me, and this invitation,
which I must keep secret, to repair. to the Dochart
Pitlasiee
James Starr always came back to that.

On the other hand, the engineer knew Ford to be a



10 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN,



clever miner, peculiarly endowed with the instinct of his
trade. He had not seen him since the time when the
Aberfoyle .colliery was abandoned, and did not know
either what he was doing or where he was living, with his
wife and his son. All that he now knew was, that a ren-
dezvous had been appointed him at the Yarrow shaft, and
that Harry, Simon Ford’s son, was to wait for him during
the whole of the next day at the Callander station. It was
evidently quite necessary for him to visit the Dochart pit.

“JT shall go, I shall go!” said Starr, his excitement
increasing as the time drew near.

Our worthy engineer belonged to that class of men
whose brain is always on the boil, like a kettle on a hot
fire. In some of these brain kettles the ideas bubble over,
in others they: just simmer quietly. Now on this day
James Starr’s ideas were boiling fast.

But suddenly an unexpected incident occurred. This
was the drop of cold water, which in a moment was to
condense all the vapours of the brain.

About six in the evening, by the third post, Starr's
servant brought him a second letter. This letter was
enclosed in a coarse envelope, and evidently directed by a
hand unaccustomed to the use of a pen.

James Starr tore it open. It contained only a scrap of
paper, yellowed by time, and apparently torn out of an old
copy-book.



CONTRADICTORY LETTERS. Il

On this paper was written a single sentence, thus worded :
“Tt is useless for the engineer James Starr to trouble
himself,—Simon Ford’s letter being now without object.”

No signature.



12 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



CHAPTER II.
ON THE ROAD.

THE course of James Starr’s ideas was abruptly stopped,
when he got this second letter contradicting the first.

“What does this mean?” said he to himself.

He took up the torn envelope, and examined it. Like
the other, it bore the Aberfoyle postmark. It had therefore
come from the same part of the county of Stirling. The
old miner had evidently not written it. But, no less
evidently, the author of this second letter knew the over-
man’s secret, since it expressly contradicted the invitation
to the engineer to go to the Yarrow shaft.

Was it really true that the first communication was now
without object? Did some one wish to prevent James
Starr, from troubling himself either uselessly or otherwise ?
Might there not be rather a malevolent intention to thwart
Ford’s plans ?

This was the conclusion at which James Starr arrived,



ON THE ROAD. 13

after mature reflection. The contradiction which existed
between the two letters only wrought in him a more keen
desire to visit the Dochart pit. And besides, if after all
it was a hoax, it was well worth while to prove it. Starr
also thought it wiser to give more credence to the first
letter than to the second; that is to say, to the request of
such a man as Simon Ford, rather than to the warning of
his anonymous contradictor.

“Indeed,” said he; “the fact of any one endeavouring
to influence my resolution, shows that Ford’s communica-
tion must be of great importance. To-morrow, at the
appointed time, I will be at the rendezvous.”

In the evening, Starr made his preparations for de-
parture. As it might happen that his absence would be
prolonged for some days, he wrote to Sir W. Elphiston,
President of the Royal Institution, that he should be unable
to be present at the next meeting of the Society. He also
wrote to excuse himself from two or three engagements
which he had made for the week. Then, having ordered
his servant to pack a travelling-bag, he went to bed, more
excited than the affair perhaps warranted.

The next day, at five o'clock, James Starr jumped out
of bed, dressed himself warmly, for-a cold rain was falling,
and left his house in the Canongate, to go to Granton
Pier to catch the steamer, which in three hours would take
him up the Forth as far as Stirling.



14 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



For the first time in his life, perhaps, in passing along the
Canongate,’ he did xot turn to look at Holyrood, the palace
of the former sovereigns of Scotland. He did not notice
the sentinels who stood before its gateways, dressed in
the uniform of their Highland regiment, tartan kilt, plaid
and sporran complete. On he strode regardless of his
usual interest in anything described by Sir Walter Scott,
past the inn at which Waverley dismounted, and where
the tailor brought him the famous Highland dress, which
the widow Flockhart so naively admired. He did not
even glance at the spot where the Highlanders discharged
their muskets, after the victory of the Pretender, at the
risk of killing Flora MacIvor. He certainly looked at the
prison called the Heart of Mid-Lothian, but only to see
by its grim, old projecting clock, that he was in time
for his train. He saw nothing of the house of the great
reformer John Knox, the only man who could resist the
smiles of Mary Stuart. From the High Street he turned
on to the North Bridge, and soon reached the Waverley
Station.

Half an hour after the train set him down at Granton,
a pretty village, situated near Leith, the port of Edin-
burgh. The rising tide was rapidly covering the black
and stony shore, and the waves were already washing up

1 A famous street in the Old Town.



ON THE ROAD. 15

against a little jetty. On the left, one of the boats which
ply.up and down the Forth between Edinburgh and Stir-
ling, was moored to the Granton Pier.

Just then, the funnel of the “ Prince of Wales” steamer
began to vomit out torrents of black smoke, and its boiler
snorted fiercely. A bell rang hastily, and tardy travellers
began to run.

James Starr was not the last to embark. He quietly
stepped on to the deck of the “Prince of Wales.” Although
it was raining hard, not one of the passengers thought of
taking shelter in the saloon of the boat. All remained
motionless, covered up in their travelling wraps, a few
solacing themselves now and then with a pull at their
flasks. The bell rang for the last time, the ropes were
cast off, and. the “Prince of Wales” backed out of the
little basin which sheltered her from the waves of the
North Sea.

The Firth of Forth is the name given to the gulf between
the counties of Fife on the north, and Linlithgow, Edin-
burgh, and Haddington on the south. It is the estuary of
the Forth, a small river, which springs from the sides of
Ben Lomond, and-widens into a noble Firth below Grange-
mouth.

The voyage from Granton Pier to the extremity of the
gulf would be short, but for the necessity of touching at

different places on the two banks, which causes numerous



16 THE CIIILD OF. THE CAVERN.





detours. The towns, villages and cottages on the banks
of the Forth stand out among the trees ofa fertile country.
James Starr, sheltered under the bridge of the steamer
did not even try to see anything of the country, then con-
cealed by the driving rain. He was chiefly anxious to
find out whether he attracted special attention from any
passenger. The author of the anonymous letter might,
perhaps, be on board. However, the engineer could not
catch any suspicious glance.

On leaving Granton, the “Prince of Wales” steamed
between the two points of North Queensferry and South
Queensferry, beyond which the Forth forms:a sort of lake,
navigable for vessels of a hundred tons. Every now and
then, when the mist lifted, the snowy summits of the
Grampians could be seen.

The steamer soon lost sight of the village of Aberdour,
the isle of Inch Colm, crowned by the ruins of a monastery
of the twelfth century, the remains of the castle of Barn-
bougle, then Donibristle, where the son-in-law of the
Regent Murray was assassinated, and passed the fortified
island of Garvie; leaving on the left the castle of Rosyth,
where formerly resided the branch of the Stuarts to whom
the mother of Cromwell was related. Blackness Castle
was next seen, still fortified, conformably with one of the
articles in the treaty of the Union, and the boat ran along-
side the quay of the little harbour of Charlestown from



ON THE ROAD. 17

whence the limestone from Lord Elgin’s quarries is ex-
ported. The next stopping-place was Crombie Point.

The weather was still very bad. The rain and wind
splashed and howled in concert, and blotted out the land-
scape with a driving mist.

James Starr was not without some anxiety. Was Harry
Ford sure to be at the rendezvous? He knew by ex-
perience that miners, accustomed to the calm of the mines,
are more unwilling than workmen or labourers to face the
inclemencies of the weather, and from Callander to the
Dochart pit being a distance of four miles, the arrival of
the old overman’s son might easily be delayed. However,
the engineer was more occupied with the idea that the
appointment made in the first letter was contradicted in
the second. Truth to say, this was his chief concern.

At any rate, if Harry Ford could not be found at the
Callander Station, James Starr had quite decided that he
would go alone to the Dochart pit, and if necessary to the
village of Aberfoyle. There he would no doubt get news of
Simon Ford, and learn at what place the old man actually
resided. .

In the meantime, the “ Prince of Wales” continued to
churn its way along. Nothing could be seen of the banks
nor of the village of Crombie, nor Torryburn, Torryhouse
Newmills, Carriden House, Kirkgrange and Saltpans on
the right. The little port of Bo’ness, and Grangemouth



18 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

port, at the mouth of the Clyde canal, were hidden in the
damp fog. The old town of Culross and the ruins of its
abbey of Citeaux; Kincardine and its building-yards, at
which the boat touched, Ayrth Castle, with its square
tower of the thirteenth century, Clackmannan and its
castle, built by Robert Bruce, were all concealed in the
mist. *
The “Prince of Wales” stopped at Alloa to land a few
passengers. James Starr's heart beat as he passed after
ten years’ absence, near this little town, where large
collieries still supported a numerous population of workers.
His imagination carried him down into those subterranean
regions in which the miners’ picks found plenty of work.
These Alloa mines, contiguous to those of Aberfoyle, con-
tinued to enrich the county, whilst the neighbouring mines,
exhausted many years ago, did not contain a single worker.

On leaving Alloa, the steamer followed the windings,
which the Forth takes for a distance of nineteen miles
between fine trees on either side. For one moment the
fog cleared enough to show the ruins of the abbey of Cam-
buskennette, which dates from the twelfth century. Then
came the castle of Stirling and the royal town of that
name, and here the Forth, traversed by two bridges, is no
longer navigable for tall-masted vessels.

The moment the “Prince of Wales” touched the quay,
the engineer leapt ashore. Five minutes after he was at



ON THE ROAD. 19

the station. An hour later he alighted from the train at

Callander, a large village on the left bank of the Firth.
There, in the station, stood a young man, 2, who imme-

diately advanced to meet the engineer.

It was Harry, the son of Simon Ford.



20 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

CHAPTER III.
THE SUBSOIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM.

THE better to understand this narrative, it will be as well
to hear a few words on the origin of coal.

During the geological epoch, when the terrestrial spheroid
was still in course of formation, a thick atmosphere sur-
rounded it, saturated with watery vapours, and copiously
impregnated with carbonic acid. The vapours gradually
condensed in diluvial rains, which fell as if they had
leapt from the necks of thousands of millions of Seltzer
water bottles. This liquid, loaded with carbonic acid,
rushed in torrents over a deep soft soil, subject to sudden or
slow alterations of form, and maintained in its semi-fluid
state as much by the heat of the sun as by the fires of the
interior mass. The internal heat had not as yet been col-
lected in the centre of the globe. The terrestrial crust, thin
and incompletely hardened, allowed it to spread through
its pores. This caused a peculiar form of vegetation, such



‘THE SUBSOIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM. 21

as is probably produced on the surface of the inferior
planets, ‘Venus or Mercury, which revolve nearer than our
earth around. the radiant Sun of our system.

The soil of the continents was covered with immense
forests. Carbonic acid, so suitable for the development of
the vegetable kingdom, abounded. ‘The vegetables also
grew under an arborescent form ; there was not a single
herbaceous plant. The ground was everywhere covered
with dense masses of trees, without flowers or fruits, of a
monotonous aspect, and not supplying nourishment for the
support of even a single living creature. The earth was
not yet ready for the appearance of the animal kingdom,

These antediluvian forests were composed as follows :—
The order of vascular cryptogams predominated. Cala-
mints, varieties of arborescent horsetail, lepidodendrons, a
sort of giant lycopod, seventy or eighty feet high, astero-
phylls, ferns, sigillaries, &c., of gigantic proportions, of which
impressions have been found in the mines of Saint Etienne,
all grand vegetable productions then, but now anything
similar to them can only be found among the humblest
botanic specimens of the habitable earth; such, with small
variety in their species, but enormous in their develop-
ment, were the vegetables which exclusively formed the
forests of this period. ,

The feet of these trees were drowned in. a sort of
immense lagoon, kept continually full by currents of fresh

C2



22 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



and salt waters. They eagerly assimilated to themselves
the carbon which they, little by little extracted from the
atmosphere, as yet unfit for the function of life, and it may
be said that they were destined to store it, in the form of
coal, in the very bowels of the earth.

It was the earthquake period, caused by internal convul-
sions, which suddenly modified the unsettled features of
the terrestrial surface. Here, an intumescence which was
to become a mountain, there, an abyss which was to be filled
with an ocean or a sea. There, whole forests sunk through
the earth’s crust, below the unfixed strata, either until they
found a resting-place, such as the primitive bed of granitic
rock, or,settling together in a heap, they formed a solid mass.

The geological structure is built up in the following
order: in the depths of the globe is the primitive soil,
which surmounts the rugged layer, composed of the primary
rocks; then come the secondary rocks, of which the veins
of coal form the lower beds ; then the tertiary rocks, and
above all the ancient and modern alluvial deposits.

As the waters were contained in no bed, and were spread
over every part of the globe, they rushed where they liked,
tearing from the scarcely-formed rocks material with which
to compose schists, sandstones, and limestones. This the
roving waves bore over the submerged and now peaty forests,
and deposited above them the elements of rocks which were

to superpose the coal strata. In course of time, periods



THE SUBSOIL OF TIIE UNITED KINGDOM. 23

of which include millions of years, these earths hardened in
layers, and enclosed under a thick carapace of pudding-
stone, schist, compact or friable sandstone, gravel and
stones, the whole of the massive forests.

And what went on in this gigantic crucible, where all
this vegetable matter had accumulated, sunk to various
depths? A regular chemical operation, a sort of distilla-
tion. All the carbon contained in these vegetables had
agglomerated, and little by little coal was forming under
the double influence of enormous pressure and the high
temperature maintained by the internal fires, at this time
so close to it.

Thus there was one kingdom substituted for another in
this slow but irresistible reaction. The vegetable was
transformed into a mineral. Plants which had lived the
vegetative life in all the vigour of first creation became
petrified. Some of the substances enclosed in this vast
herbal left their impression on the other more rapidly
mineralized products, which pressed them as an hydraulic
press of incalculable power would have done.

Thus also shells, zoophytes, star-fish, polypi, spirifores
even fish and lizards brought by the water, left on the yet

soft coal their exact likeness, “admirably taken off.” *

1 Tt must be remarked that all these plants of which impressions
have been found belong to species now only found in the equatorial
zones. We may conclude that at that time heat was equal all over the



24 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



Pressure seems to have played a considerable part in the
formation of carboniferous strata. In fact, it is to its
degree of power that are due the different sorts of coal, of
which industry makes use. Thus in the lowest layers of
the coal ground appears the anthracite, which, being
almost destitute. of volatile matter, contains the greatest
quantity of carbon. In the higher beds are found, on the
contrary, lignite and fossil wood, substances in which the
quantity of carbon is infinitely less. Between these two
beds, according to the degree of pressure to which they
have been subjected, are found veins of graphite and rich
or poor coal. It may be asserted that it is for want of
sufficient pressure that beds of peaty bog have not been
completely changed into coal. So then, the origin of coal
mines, in whatever part of the globe they have been dis-
covered, is this; the absorption through the terrestrial
crust of the great forests of the geological period ; then, the
mineralization of the vegetables obtained in the course of
time, under the influence of pressure and heat, and under
the action of carbonic acid.

However, nature, usually so-lavish, has not buried forests

in numbers sufficient for a consumption which may con-

world, either that it was brought by currents of warm water, or that
the interior fires were felt through the porous crust. In this way the
formation of carboniferous veins under every latitude may be accounted
for. ‘



THE SUBSOIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM. 25

tinue some thousands of years. Coal will fail one day,
that is certain. A forced stoppage will be imposed on the
machinery of the whole world, if some new combustible is
not found to replace coal. At a more or less distant
period, there will be no more coal seams, unless it be those
covered by an eternal sheet of ice, in Greenland, on the
shores of Baffin’s Bay, where excavations would be next to
impossible. This consummation is inevitable. The coal
mines of America, of Salt Lake, Oregon, and California,
now prodigiously rich, will one day yield but a scanty sup-
ply. It will be the same with the mines of Cape Breton,
and of the St. Lawrence, of the veins in the Alleghanies,
of Pennsylvania, of Virginia, of Illinois, of Indiana, of the
Missouri. . Although the carboniferous strata of North
America must be ten times larger than any others in the
world, a hundred centuries will not pass before the monster
with millions of manufacturing throats will have devoured
the last lump.of coal in the globe. ,

Scarcity will of course be felt sooner in the Old World.
Many beds of combustible mineral exist in Abyssinia,
Natal, on the Zambesi, in Mozambique, Madagascar ; but
their regular working would offer very great difficulties.
Those of the Birman Empire, China, Cochin-China,
Japan, and Central Asia, will be very soon exhausted.
The English will have certainly emptied Australia of its
carboniferous treasures, before the day when coal will



26 -* THE CHILD OF .THE CAVERN.



failcin the United Kingdom, previous to which, also, the
carboniferous seams of Europe, probed to their innermost
veins, will have been abandoned.

We may judge: by the following figures of the quan-
tity of coal which has been consumed since the discovery
of the first bearings. The coal-beds of Russia, Saxony,
and Bavaria, comprise six hundred thousand acres, those of
Spain, a hundred and fifty thousand, those of Bohemia and
Austria, a hundred and fifty thousand. The Belgian beds,
a hundred and twenty miles long, and nine miles wide, also
contain a hundred and fifty thousand acres, which extend
beneath the territories of Liege; Namur, Mons, and Char-
leroi. In France, the bed situated between the Loire and
the Rhone, Rive-de-Gier, Saint-Etienne, Givors, Epinac,
Blanzy, the Creuzot; the mines of the Gard, Alais, the
Grand Combe; those of the Aveyron to Aubin, the beds of
Carmaux, Barsac, Graissessac ; in the north, Auzin, Valen-
ciennes, Lens, Bethune, contain nearly three hundred and
fifty thousand acres.

The country most rich in coal, is unquestionably Great
Britain. Without including Ireland, which is almost entirely
deficient in the combustible mineral, it possesses enormous
carboniferous wealth; but like all wealth it is exhaust-
ible. The most important of these different beds, ‘that
of Newcastle, which occupies the subsoil of the county
of Northumberland, produces annually about thirty mil-



THE SUBSOIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM. 27



lion tons; that is to say, nearly the third of the English
consumption, and more than double what is produced in
France. The mines in Wales, which have concentrated a
whole population of miners at Cardiff, Swansea, and New-
port, yield annually ten million tons of the much-prized
Welsh coal. Less productive, though still very profitable;
are the mines in the counties of York, Lancaster, Derby,
and Stafford. Lastly, in that part of Scotland situated
between Edinburgh and Glasgow, between the two Firths
which indent it so deeply, lies one of the largest coal-beds in
the United Kingdom. The whole ofthese different beds do
not contain less than sixteen hundred thousand acres, and
produce annually a hundred million tons of the grimy fuel.

But what ofthat ? The consumption will become so tre-
mendous, as the demands of industry and commerce increase,
that even these vast riches will be exhausted. Ere the close
ofa third millennium of the Christian era, the European
miners’ hand will have emptied those magazines in which, so
to speak, is concentrated the solar heat ofearth’s early days.’

? Taking into consideration the progressive increase in the con-

sumption of coal, the latest calculations assign, in Europe, the following
limits to the exhaustion of mineral fuel :—

France. : : : : . . in II40 years.
England . : ; : . . - in8o00_ ,,
Belgium . : : . . 7 - in7so ,
Germany . . : : in 300. ,,

In America, at the rate of 500 millions of tons annually, the beds
could produce coal for 6000 years.



28 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

Now, at the time when the events related in this story
took place, one of the most important mines of the Scottish
coal-beds had been exhausted by too rapid working. In
this region, which extends between Edinburgh and Glasgow,
for a distance of ten or twelve miles, lay the Aberfoyle col-
liery, of which the engineer, James Starr, had so long
directed the works.

For ten years these mines had been abandoned. No
new seams had been discovered, although the soundings
had been carried to a depth of fifteen hundred or even of
two thousand feet, and when James Starr had retired, it
was with the full conviction that even the smallest vein had
been completely exhausted. =

Under these circumstances, it was plain that the dis-
covery of a new seam of coal would be an important event.
Could Simon Ford’s communication relate to a fact of this
nature? This question James Starr could not cease asking
himself. Was he called to make conquest of another corner
of these rich Treasure Fields ? Fain would he hope it was so.

The second letter had for an instant checked his specula-
tions on this subject, but now he thought of that letter no
longer. Besides, the son of the old overman was there,
waiting at the appointed rendezvous. The anonymous
letter was therefore worth nothing.

The moment the engineer set foot on the platform the

young man advanced towards him,



THE SUBSOIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM. 29



“ Are you Harry Ford?” asked the engineer quickly.

“Yes, Mr. Starr.”

“T should not have known you, my lad. Of course in
ten years you have become a man!”

“T knew you directly, sir,” replied the young miner, cap
in hand. “You have not changed. You look just as you
did when you bade us good-bye in the Dochart pit. I
haven’t forgotten that day.”

“Put on your cap, Harry,” said the engineer. “It’s
pouring with rain, and politeness needn’t make you catch
cold.” .

“ Shall we take shelter anywhere, Mr. Starr?” asked young
Ford.

“No, Harry. The weather is settled. It will rain all
day, and ITaminahurry. Let us go on.”

“T am at your orders,” replied Harry.

“Tell me, Harry, is your father well?”

“Very well, Mr. Starr.”

“And your mother ?”

“She is well too.”

“Was it your father who wrote telling me to come to the
Yarrow shaft ?”

“No, it was I.”

“Then did Simon Ford send me a second letter to
contradict the first?” asked the engineer quickly.

“No, Mr. Starr,” answered the young miner.



30 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“Very well,” said Starr, without speaking of the anonymous
letter.

Then, continuing,—

“ And can you tell me what your father wants with me?”
he asked.

“Mr. Starr, my father wishes to tell you himself.”

“But you know what it is?”

“T do, sir.”

“Well, Harry, I will not ask you more. But let us get
on, for I’m anxious to see Simon Ford. By-the-bye, where
does he live?”

* In the mine.”

“What! %In the Dochart pit?”

“Yes, Mr. Starr,’ replied Harry.

“Really! has your family never left the old mine since
the cessation of the works?”

“Not a day, Mr. Starr. You know my father. It is
there he was born, it is there he means to die!” ,

“I can understand that, Harry. I can understand that!
His native mine! He did not like to abandon it! And
are you happy there?”

“Yes, Mr. Starr,” replied the young miner, “for we love
one another, and we have but few wants.”

“Well, Harry,” said the engineer, “lead the way.”

And walking rapidly through the streets of Callander, in
a few minutes they had left the town behind them.







Harry Ford.

Page 31.



THE DOCHART PIT. 31

CHAPTER IV.
THE DOCHART PIT.

HARRY FORD was a fine, strapping fellow of five-and-
twenty. His grave looks, his habitually passive expression,
had from childhood been noticed among his comrades in the
mine. His regular features, his deep blue eyes, his curly
hair, rather chestnut than fair, the natural grace of his
person, altogether made him a fine specimen of a lowlander.
Accustomed from his earliest days to the work of the mine,
he was strong and hardy, as well as brave and good.
Guided by his father, and impelled by his own inclinations,
he had early begun his education, and at an age when most
lads are little more than apprentices, he had managed to
make himself of some importance, a leader, in fact, among
his fellows, and few are very ignorant in a country which
does all it can to remove ignorance. Though, during the
first years of his youth, the pick was never out of Harry’s

hand, nevertheless the young miner was not long in acquir-



32 : THE CILILD OF THE CAVERN,

ing sufticient knowledge to raise him into the upper class of
the miners, and he would certainly have succeeded his father
as overman of the Dochart pit, if the colliery had not been
abandoned. .

James Starr was still a good walker, yet he could not
easily have kept up with his guide, if the latter had not
slackened his pace. The rain was now falling with less
violence. The big drops broke and dispersed before they
reached the earth. It was now rather a heavy, damp mist
driven through the air by a fresh breeze.

Harry Ford and James Starr, the young man carrying
the engineer's bag, followed the left bank of the river for
about a mile. Leaving its winding course, they took a
road under tall, dripping trees. Wide fields lay on either
side, around isolated farms. Inone field a herd of hornless
cows were quietly grazing ; in another sheep with silky wool,
like those in a child’s toy sheep-fold. No shepherd was to
be seen, he was probably sheltering himself in some hollow
tree; but his colley, a dog peculiar to this country, and
renowned for his vigilance, was roaming about the pasture.

The Yarrow shaft was situated four miles from Callander.
Whilst walking, James Starr could not but be struck with
the change in the country. He had not seen it since the
day when the last ton of Aberfoyle coal had been emptied
into railway trucks to be sent to Glasgow. Agricultural

life had now taken the place of the more stirring, active,









The Engineer and Harry on their way to the Dochart Pit.

Page 32.

D





























































































































































































































Vy.
J

the changed aspect of the countr

ing

The Engineer contemplat

Page 33.



THE DOCHART PIT. 33

industrial life. The contrast was all the greater because,
during winter, field-work is at a stand-still. But formerly,
at whatever season, the mining population, above and below
ground, filled the scene with animation. Great waggons of
coal used to be passing night and day. The rails, with
their rotten sleepers, now disused, were then constantly
ground by the weight of waggons. Now stony roads took
the place of the old mining tramways. James Starr felt as
if he was traversing a desert.

The engineer gazed about him with a saddened eye. He
stopped now and then to take breath. He listened: Theé
air was no longer filled with distant whistlings and the
panting of engines. None of those black vapours which the
manufacturer loves to see, hung in the horizon, mingling
with the clouds. No tall cylindrical or prismatic chimney
vomited out smoke, after being fed from the mine itself; no
blast-pipe was puffing out its white vapour. The ground,
formerly’ black with coal-dust, had a bright look, to which
James Starr’s eyes were not accustomed.

When the engineer stood still, Harry Ford stopped ae
The young miner waited in silence. He felt what was pass-
ing in his companion’s mind, and he shared his feelings; he,
a child of the mine, whose whole life had been passed in its
depths.

“Yes, Harry, it is all changed,” said Starr. “But, at the
rate we worked, of course the treasures of coal would



34 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

have been exhausted some day. Do you regret that
time?” ;

“T do regret it, Mr. Starr,” answered Harry. “The work
was hard, but it was interesting, as are all struggles.”

“No doubt, my lad. A continuous struggle against the
dangers of landslips, fires, inundations, explosions of fire-
damp, like claps of thunder. One had to guard against
all those perils! You say well! It was a struggle, and
consequently an exciting life.”

“The miners of Alva have been more favoured than the
miners of Aberfoyle,-Mr. Starr!”

“ Ay, Harry, so they have,” replied the engineer.

“Indeed,” cried the young man, “it’s a pity that all the
globe was not made of coal ; then there would have been
enough to last millions of years !”

“No doubt there would, Harry; it must be acknow-
ledged, however, that nature has shown more forethought
by forming our sphere principally of sandstone, limestone,
and granite, which fire cannot consume.” |

“Do you mean to say, Mr. Starr, that mankind would
have ended by burning their own globe ?”

“Yes! The whole of it, my lad,” answered the engineer.
“The earth would have passed to the last bit into the
furnaces of engines, machines, steamers, gas-factories ;
certainly, that would have been the end of our world one
fine day |”



THE DOCHART PIT. 35

“There is no fear of that now, Mr. Starr. But yet, the



mines will be exhausted no doubt, and more rapidly than
the statistics make out!”

“That will happen, Harry; and in my opinion England
is very wrong in exchanging her fuel for the gold of
other nations! I know well,” added the engineer, “that
neither hydraulics nor electricity have yet shown all they
can do, and that some day these two forces will be more
completely utilized. But no matter! Coal is of a very
practical use, and lends itself easily to the various wants
of industry. Unfortunately man cannot produce it at
will... Though our external forests grow incessantly under
the influence’ of heat and water, our subterranean forests
will not be reproduced, and if they were, the globe would
never be in the state necessary to make them into coal.” -

James Starr and his guide, whilst talking, had continued
their walk at a rapid pace. An hour after leaving Cal-
lander they reached the Dochart pit.

The most indifferent person would have been touched at
the appearance this deserted spot presented. It was like
the skeleton of something that had formerly lived.

A few wretched trees bordered a plain where the ground
was hidden under the black dust of the mineral fuel, but
no cinders nor even fragments of coal were to be seen. All
had been carried away and consumed long ago.

On a mound stood an immense framework, slowly de-



36 THE CHILD OF TIIE CAVERN.



caying under the influence of the sun and: rain. -At the
top. of the framework appeared a huge cast-iron-wheel, and
lower. down could be seen great rollers, over which the
cables to bring the baskets up to the surface formerly-ran.

In the lower story was the empty engine-room, formerly
so. bright with all the polished steel and brass: of the
machinery. Bits of the wall lay on the ground with joists
‘broken and green with damp. Remains of beams to which
‘were jointed the rods of exhaust-pumps, greasy iron wedges,
toothless pinions, overturned weighing machines, a few
ladders fixed up on the walls, each looking like the back-
bone of an-ichthyosaurus, rails carried along a line. still
supported by two or three rickety. piles, tramways which
could not. have borne the weight of an empty truck,—such
was the desolate aspect.of the Dochart pit.

The worn kerbstone of the shaft was hidden by thick
moss. Here lay the remains of a basket, there a yard
where coal used to be stored, and sorted according to its
quality and size. Broken casks, to which hung the end
of a chain, fragments of gigantic buttresses, pieces of burst
boilers, twisted pistons, long beams stretching over the
opening of the pump-well, bridges trembling in the wind,
culverts shaking under foot, walls cracking, roofs falling in,
chimneys all disjointed, resembling those ancient cannons
of which the breech is hooped with cylindrical rings; all

this gave a vivid impression of desertion, misery, and sad-





































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































The abandoned works of the Dochart Pit. -
Page 36.



THE DOCHART PIT. 37



ness, beyond anything suggested by the ruins of an old
stone castle, or the remains of a dismantled fortress.

“It is utter desolation!” said James Starr, looking at
the young man, who did not reply.

They walked into the shed which covered the opening
of the Yarrow shaft, whence ladders still gave access to the
lower galleries of the pit. The engineer bent over the
opening. :

Formerly from this place could be heard the powerful
whistle of the air inhaled by the ventilators. It was now
a silent abyss. It was like being at the mouth of some
extinct volcano.

James Starr and Harry stepped on to the upper landing-
place.

When the mine was being worked, ingenious machines
were used in certain shafts of the Aberfoyle colliery, which
in this respect was very well off ; frames furnished with
automatic lifts, working in wooden slides, oscillating ladders,
called “ man-engines,” which, by a simple movement, per-
mitted the miners to descend without danger and mount up
without fatigue.

But all these appliances had been carried away, after the
cessation of the works. In the Yarrow shaft there re-
mained only a long succession of ladders, separated at
every fifty feet by narrow landings. Thirty of these
ladders placed thus end to end led the visitor down into the



38 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.





lower gallery, a depth of fifteen hundred feet. This was
the only way of communication which existed between the
bottom of the Dochart pit and the open air. As to air,
that came in by the Yarrow shaft, from whence galleries
communicated with another shaft whose orifice opened at
a higher level; the warm air naturally escaped by this
species of inverted siphon.

“T will follow you, my lad,” said the engineer, signing to
the young man to precede him.

“ As you please, Mr. Starr.”

“ Have you your lamp?”

“Yes, and I only wish it was still the safety lamp, which
we formerly had to use!”

“Sure enough,” returned James Se “there is no fear
of fire-damp explosions now!”

Harry was provided with a simple oil lamp, the wick of
which he lighted. In the mine, now empty of coal, escapes
of light carburetted hydrogen could not occur. ‘As no
explosion need be feared, there was no necessity for inter-
posing between the flame and the surrounding air that
metallic screen which prevents the gas from catching fire,
The Davy lamp was of no use here. But if the danger did
not exist, it was because the cause of it lad disappeared,
and with this cause, the combustible in which formerly
consisted the riches of the Dochart pit.

Harry descended’ the first steps of the upper ladder,



THE DOCHART PIT. 39



Starr followed. They soon found themselves in a pro-
found obscurity, which was only relieved by the glimmer
of the lamp. The young man held it above his head, the
better to light his companion. A dozen ladders were
descended by the engineer and his guide, with the measured
step habitual to the miner. They were all still in good
condition.

James Starr examined, as well as the insufficient light
would permit, the sides of the dark shaft, which were
covered by a partly rotten lining of wood.

Arrived at the fifteenth landing, that is to say, half-way
down, they halted for a few minutes.

“Decidedly, I have not your legs, my lad,” said the
engineer, panting.

‘ You are stout, Mr. Starr,” replied Harry, “and it’s
ae too, you see, to have lived all one’s life in the
mine.”

' “Right, Harry. Formerly, when I was twenty, I could
have gone down all at a breath. Come, forward !”

But just as the two were about to leave the platform,
a voice, as yet far distant, was heard in the depths of the
shaft. It came up like a sonorous billow, swelling as it
advanced, and becoming more and more distinct.

“Halloo! who comes here?” asked the engineer, stop-
ping Harry.

“TJ cannot say, ’ answered the young miner.



40 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.





“Ts it not your father ?”

“My father, Mr. Starr? no.”

“ Some neighbour, then ?”

“We have no neighbours in the bottom of the pit,”
replied Harry. We are alone, quite alone.”

“Well, we must let this intruder pass,” said James Starr.
“Those who are descending must yield the path to those
who are ascending.”

They waited.

The voice broke out again with a magnificent burst, as if
it had been carried through a vast speaking-trumpet ; and
soon a few words of a Scotch song came clearly to the ears
of the young miner.

“The Hundred Pipers!” cried Harry. ‘Well, I shall
be much surprised if that comes from the lungs of any man
but Jack Ryan.”

« And who is this Jack Ryan, who sings so well?” asked
James Starr. .

“An old mining comrade,” replied Harry.

Then leaning from the platform,—

“Halloo! Jack!” he shouted,

“Ts that you, Harry?” was the reply. “ Wait a bit, I’m
coming.”

And the song broke forth again.

In a few minutes, a tall fellow of five-and-twenty, with

a merry face, smiling eyes, a laughing mouth, and sandy



THE DOCHART PIT. | 41

hair, appeared at the bottom of the luminous cone which
was thrown from his lantern, and set foot on the landing
of the fifteenth ladder.

His first act was to vigorously wring the hand which



Harry extended to him.

“Delighted to meet you!” he exclaimed. “If I had
only known you were to be above ground to-day, I would
have spared myself the trouble of going down the Yarrow
shaft!”

“This is Mr. James Starr,” said Harry, turning his lamp
towards the engineer who was in the shadow.

“Mr. Starr!” cried Jack Ryan. “Ah sir, I could not
see who it was. Since I left the mine, my eyes have
not been accustomed to see in the dark, as they used
to do.”

“ Ah, yes, now I remember a laddie who was always
singing. That was ten years ago. It was you, no
doubt ?”

« Ay, Mr. Starr, but in changing my trade, I haven’t
changed my disposition. It’s far better to laugh and sing
than to cry and whine!” ,

“You're right there, Jack Ryan. And what do you do
now, as you have left the mine?”

“T am working on the Melrose farm, near Irvine, in
Renfrewshire, forty miles from here. Ah, it’s not like our

Aberfoyle mines! The pick comes better to my hand than



42 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.





the spade or hoe. And then, in the old pit, there were
vaulted roofs, to merrily echo one’s songs, while up above
ground! — But you are going to see old Simon, Mr.
Starr?”

“Yes, Jack,’ answered the engineer.

“Don’t let me keep you then.”

“Tell me, Jack,” said Harry, “what was taking you to
our cottage to-day?” ;

“T wanted to see you, man,” replied Jack, “and ask you
to come to the Irvine games. You know I am the piper
of the place. There will be dancing and singing.”

“Thank you, Jack, but it’s impossible.”

“ Tmpossible ?”

“Yes; Mr. Starr’s visit will last some time, and I must
take him back to Callander.”

“Well, Harry, it won’t be for a week yet. By that time
Mr. Start’s visit will be over, I should think, and there will
be nothing to keep you at the cottage.”

“Indeed, Harry,” said James Starr, “you must profit by
your friend Jack’s invitation.”

“Well, I accept it, Jack,” said Harry. “Ina week we
will meet at Irvine.” ©

“In a week, that’s settled,” returned Ryan. Good-bye,
Harry! Your servant, Mr. Starr. I am very glad to have
seen you again! I can give news of you to all my friends,
No one has forgotten you, sir.”

































































































































































































































































































































































































































Jack Ryan above ground.



THE DOCHART PIT. “43

“And I have forgotten no one,” said Starr.

“ Thanks for all, sir,” replied Jack.

“Good-bye, Jack,” said Harry, shaking his friend by the
hand.”

And Jack Ryan, singing as he went, soon disappeared
in the heights of the shaft, dimly lighted by his
lamp.

A quarter of an hour afterwards James Starr and Harry
descended the last ladder, and set foot on the lowest floor
of the pit.

From the bottom of the Yarrow shaft radiated numerous
empty galleries. They ran through the wall of schist and
sandstone, some shored up with great, roughly-hewn beams,
others lined with a thick casing of wood. In every direction
embankments supplied the place of the excavated veins.
Artificial pillars were made of stone from neighbouring
quarries, and now they supported the ground, that is to say,
the double layer of tertiary and quaternary soil, which
formerly rested on the seam itself. Darkness now filled the
galleries, formerly lighted either by the miner's lamp or by
the electric light, the use of which had been introduced in
the mines. But the dismal tunnels no longer resounded
with the grinding of trucks along their rails, the voices of men,
the neighing of horses and mules, the blows of the miner’s
pick, nor the crash of the blasting which broke down the

massive walls,



A4 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



“Will you not rest a while, Mr. Starr?” asked the young
man.

“No, my lad,” replied the engineer, “for I am anxious to
be at your father’s cottage.” ,

“Follow me then, Mr. Starr. J will guide you, and yet I
daresay you could find your way perfectly well through this
dark labyrinth.”

“Yes indeed! I have the whole plan of the old pit still
in my head.”

Harry, followed by the engineer, and holding his lamp
high the better to light their way, walked along a high
gallery, like the nave of a cathedral. Their feet still struck
against the wooden sleepers which used to support the
rails.

But they had not gone more than fifty paces, when a huge
stone fell at the feet of James Starr.

“Take care, Mr. Starr!” cried Harry, seizing the engineer,
by the arm.

“A stone, Harry! Ah! these old vaultings are no
longer quite secure, of course, and—”

“Mr. Starr,” said Harry .Ford, “it. seems to .me
that stone was thrown, thrown as by the. hand of
man!” ,
“Thrown!” exclaimed James Starr. “What do you
mean, lad ?” ,

“Nothing, nothing, Mr. Starr,” replied Harry evasively,



THE DOCHART PIT. 45



his anxious gaze endeavouring to pierce the darkness.
“Let us goon. Take my arm, sir, and don’t be afraid of
making a false step.”

“Here I am, Harry.”

And they both advanced, whilst Harry looked on every
side, throwing the light of his lamp into all the corners of
the gallery.

“Shall we soon be there?” asked the engineer.

“In ten minutes at most.”

“Good.”

“But,” muttered Harry, “that was a most singular thing.
It is the first time such an accident has happened to me.
That stone falling just at the moment we were passing.”

“Harry, it was a mere chance.”

“Chance,” replied the young man, shaking his head.
“Yes, chance.”

He stopped and fistenied:

“ What is the matter, Harry ?” asked the engineer.

“T thought I heard some one walking behind us,” replied
the young miner, listening more attentively.

Then he added,—

“No, I must .have been mistaken. Lean harder on my
arm, Mr. Starr. Use me like a staff.”

“A good solid staff, Harry,” answered James Starr.
“I could not wish for a better than a fine fellow like

”

you.



46 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

They continued to walk in silence along the dark nave.

Harry was evidently preoccupied, and frequently turned,
trying to catch, either some distant noise, or remote glimmer
of light, .

But behind and before, all was silence and darkness,



THE FORD FAMILY. 47



CHAPTER V.
THE FORD FAMILY.

TEN minutes afterwards, James Starr and Harry issued
from the principal gallery.

They were now standing in a glade, if we may use this
word to designate a vast and dark excavation. The place,
however, was not entirely deprived of daylight. A fewrays
straggled in through the opening of a deserted shaft. lt
was by means of this pipe that ventilation was established
in the Dochart pit. Owing to its lesser density, the warm
air was drawn towards the Yarrow shaft.

Both air and light, therefore, penetrated in some measure
into the glade.

Here Simon Ford had lived with his family ten years, in
a subterranean dwelling, hollowed out in the schistous mass,
where formerly stood the powerful engines which worked
the mechanical traction of the Dochart pit.

Such was the habitation, “his cottage,” as he called it,



48 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

in which resided the old overman. As he had some
means saved during a long life of toil, Ford could have
afforded to live in the light of day, among trees, or in
any town of the kingdom he chose, but he and his wife and
son preferred remaining in the mine, where they were happy
together, having the same opinions, ideas, and tastes. Yes,
they were quite fond of their cottage, buried fifteen hundred
feet below Scottish soil. . Among other advantages, there
was no fear that tax-gatherers, or rent-collectors would ever
come to trouble its inhabitants. a .

At this: period, Simon Ford, the former overman of. the
Dochart pit, bore the weight of sixty-five years well. Tall,
robust, well-built, he would have been regarded as one of
the most conspicuous men in the district which supplies so
many fine fellows to the Highland regiments.

Simon Ford was descended from an old mining family,
and his ancestors had worked the very first carboniferous
seams opened in Scotland.

Without discussing whether or not the Greeks and
Romans made use of coal, whether the Chinese worked
coal-mines before the Christian era, whether the French
word for coal (ouille) is really derived from the farrier
Houillos, who lived in Belgium in the twelfth century, we
may affirm that the beds in Great Britain were the first
ever regularly worked. So early as the eleventh century,
William the Conqueror divided the produce of the New-



THE FORD FAMILY. 49



castle bed among his companions-in-arms. At the end of
the thirteenth century, a licence for the mining of “sea-
coal” was granted by HenryIII. Lastly, towards the end
of the same century, mention is made of the Scotch and
Welsh beds.

It was about this time that Simon Ford’s ancestors pene-
trated into the bowels of Caledonian earth, and lived there
ever after, from father to son. They were but plain miners.
They laboured like convicts at the work of extracting the
precious combustible. It is even believed that the coal-
miners, like the salt-makers of that period, were actual
slaves. Indeed, so firmly was this opinion established in
Scotland that as lately even as during the war of the Pre-
tender, it was feared that twenty thousand Newcastle
miners would not rise to gain by force a freedom which
they did not consider had ever been granted to them.

However that might have been, Simon Ford was proud
of belonging to this ancient family of Scotch miners. He
had worked diligently in the same place where his ancestors
had wielded the pick, the crowbar, and the mattock. At
thirty he was overman of the Dochart pit, the most im-
portant in the Aberfoyle colliery, He was devoted to his
trade. During long years he zealously performed his duty.
His only grief had been to perceive the bed becoming
impoverished, and to. see the hour approaching when the

seam would be exhausted.



50 THE CHILD OF TIITE CAVERN.



It was then he devoted himself to the search for new
veins in all the Aberfoyle pits, which communicated under-
ground one with another. He had had the good luck to
discover several during the last period of the working.
His miner's instinct assisted him marvellously, and the
engineer, James Starr, appreciated him highly. It might
be said that he divined the course of seams in the depths of
the coal-mine as a hydroscope reveals springs in the bowels
of the earth.

But, as we have said, the time came when the coal supply
failed entirely in the mine. Sounding yielded no result.
It was evident that the carboniferous bed was entirely
exhausted : work ceased ; the miners retired.

Will it be believed? It was a downright grief to the
gréater number of them. But those who know that men,
in the. main, love their work, whatever it is, will not be
astonished. .Simon Ford was unquestionably the most
distressed. He was par excellence the type of a miner whose
whole existence is indissolubly connected with that of his
mine.. He had lived there from his birth, and now that the
works were abandoned he wished to live there still. And
so he did. . His son Harry foraged for the subterranean
housekeeping ; as for himself, during those ten years he
had not been ten times above ground.

“Go up there! What is the good?” he would say, and
refused to leave his black domain.







Simon Ford.



THE FORD FAMILY. Sk



The place was remarkably healthy, subject to an equable
temperature; the old overman endured neither the heat of
summer nor the cold of winter. His family enjoyed good
health ; what more could he desire?

But at heart he felt depressed. He missed the
former animation, movement, and life in the well-
worked pit. He was, however, supported by one fixed
idea.

“No, no! the mine is not exhausted!” he repeated.

And that man would have given serious offence who could
have ventured to express before Simon Ford any doubt that
old Aberfoyle would one day revive! He had never given
up the hope of discovering some new bed which would
restore the mine to its past splendour. Yes, he would
willingly, had it been necessary, have resumed the miner’s
pick, and with his still stout arms vigorously attacked the
rock. He went through the dark galleries, sometimes
alone, sometimes with his son, examining, searching for
signs of coal, only to return each day, wearied, but not in
despair, to the cottage.

Madge, Simon’s faithful companion, his “oude-wife,”
to use the Scotch term, was a tall, strong, comely woman.
Madge had no wish to leave the Dochart pit any more than
had her husband. She shared all his hopes and regrets.
She encouraged him, she urged him on, and talked to him
in a way which cheered the heart of the old overman.



52. THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“Aberfoyle is only asleep,” she would say. “ You are
right about that, Simon. This is but a rest, it is not
death !” :

Madge, as well as the others, was perfectly satisfied to
live independent of the outer world, and was the centre of
the happiness enjoyed by the little family in their dark
cottage.

James Starr now arrived among them.

The engineer was eagerly expected. Simon Ford was

standing at his door, and as soon as Harry’s lamp announced
the arrival of his former viewer he advanced to meet him.
. “Welcome, Mr. Starr!” he exclaimed, his voice echoing
under the roof of schist. “Welcome to the old overman’s
cottage! Though it is buried fifteen lundred feet under
the earth, our house is not the less hospitable.”

“And how are you, good Simon?” asked James Starr,
grasping the hand which his host held out to him.

“Very well, Mr. Starr. How could I be otherwise here,
sheltered from the inclemencies of the weather? Your
ladies who go to Newhaven or Portobello in the summer
time would do much better to pass a few months in the
coal-mine of Aberfoyle! They would run no risk here of
catching a heavy cold, as they do in the damp streets of the
old capital.”

“Tm not the man to contradict you, Simon,” answered
James Starr, glad to find the old man just as he used to be.



THE FORD FAMILY. 53

“Indeed, I wonder why I do not change my home in the
Canongate for a cottage near you.”

“And why not, Mr. “Starr? I know one of your old
miners who would be truly pleased to have only a 7 pasesoe
wall between you and him.”

“And how is Madge?” asked the engineer.

“The goodwife is in better health than I am, if that’s
possible,” replied Ford, “and it will be a pleasure to her to
see you at her table. I think she will surpass herself to do
you honour.”

“We shall see that, Simon, we shall see that!” said the
engineer, to whom the announcement of a good breakfast
could not be indifferent, after his long walk.

“Are you hungry, Mr. Starr?”

“Ravenously -hungry. My journey has given me an
appetite. I came through horrible weather.”

“ Ah, it is raining up there,” responded Simon Ford, with
a very obvious air of pity.

“Yes, Simon, and the waters of the Forth are as rough as
the sea.”

“Well, Mr. Starr, here it never rains. But I needn't
describe to you all the advantages, which you know as well
as myself. Here we are at the cottage. That is the chief
thing, and I again say you are welcome, sir.”

Simon Ford, followed by Harry, ushered their guest into
the dwelling. James Starr found himself in a large room



54 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

lighted by numerous lamps, one hanging from the coloured
beams of the roof.

The table, spread with a snowy cloth, was ready for the
guests, for whom four chairs, covered with old leather, were
waiting.

. Good day, Madge,” said the engineer.

“Good day, Mr. Starr,” answered the woman, as she rose
to receive her visitor.

“It’s a pleasure to me to see you again, Mrs. Ford.”

“That’s right, Mr. Starr. You must feel it a pleasure to
see again those to whom you have always been so good.”

“The soup is ready, wife,” said Ford, “and it mustn’t be
kept waiting any more than Mr. Starr. He is as hungry as
a miner, and he shall see that our, boy doesn’t let us want
for anything in the cottage! By-the-bye, Harry,’ added
the old overman, turning to his son, “ Jack Ryan came here
to see you.”

“JT know, father. We met him in the Yarrow shaft.”

“He’s an honest anda merry fellow,” said Ford ;.“ but
he seems to be quite happy above ground. He hasn't the
true miner’s blood in his veins. Sit down, Mr. Starr, and
have a good dinner, for it is possible that we may not sup
till late.”

As the engineer and his hosts were taking their places,—

“One moment, Simon,” said James Starr “Do you

want me to eat with a good appetite?”



THE FORD FAMILY, 55

Se

“It will be doing us all possible honour, Mr. Starr,”
answered Ford.

“Well, in order to eat heartily, I must not be at all
anxious. Now I have two questions to put to you.”

“Go on, sir.”

“Your letter told me of a communication which was to
be of an interesting nature.”

“Tt is very interesting indeed.”

“To you?” ;

“To you and to me, Mr. Starr. But I do not want to
tell it you until after dinner, and on the very spot itself.
Without that you would not believe me.”

“Simon,” resumed the engineer, “look me straight in
the face. An interesting communication? Yes. Good!
I will not ask more,” he added, as if he had read the reply
in the old overman’s eyes.

And the second question ?” asked the latter.

“Do you know, Simon, who the person is who can have
written this?” answered the engineer, handing him the
anonymous letter.

Ford took the letter and read it attentively. Then
giving it to his son,—

“Do you know the writing?” he asked.

“No, father,” replied Harry.

“ And had this letter the Aberfoyle postmark ?” inquired
Simon Ford..



56 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“Yes, like yours,” replied James Starr.

“What do you think of that, Harry?” said his father,
his brow darkening.

“J think, father,” returned Harry, “that some one has
had some interest in trying to prevent Mr. Starr from
coming to the place where you invited him.”

“But who,” exclaimed the old miner, “who could have
possibly guessed enough of my secret?”

And Simon Ford fell into a reverie, from which he was
aroused by his wife’s voice.

“Let us begin, Mr. Starr,’ she said. “The soup is
getting cold. Don’t think any more of that letter just now.”

On the old woman’s invitation, each drew in his chair,
James Starr opposite to Madge—to do him honour—the
father and son opposite to each other.

It was a good Scotch dinner. First they ate “hotch-
potch,” soup with the meat swimming in capital broth.
As old Simon said, his wife knew no rival in the art of
preparing hotchpotch.

It was the same with the “cockyleeky,” a cock stewed
with leeks, which merited high praise. The whole was
washed down with excellent ale, obtained from the best
brewery in Edinburgh.

But the principal dish consisted of a “haggis,” the
national pudding, made of meat and barley-meal. This
remarkable dish, which inspired the poet Burns with one



THE FORD FAMILY. 57

of his best odes, shared the fate of all the good things in
this world—it passed away like a dream.

Madge received the sincere compliments of her guest.
The dinner ended with cheese and oatcake, accompanied
by afew small glasses of “usquebaugh,” capital whisky,
five-and-twenty years old—just Harry’s age.

The repast lasted a good hour. James Starr and Simon
Ford had not only eaten much, but talked much too, chiefly
of their past life in the old Aberfoyle mine.

Harry had been rather silent. Twice he had left the
table, and even the house. He evidently felt uneasy since
the incident of the stone, and wished to examine the environs
of the cottage. The anonymous letter had not contributed
to reassure him.

Whilst he was absent, the engineer observed to Ford and
his wife,—

“That’s a fine lad you have there, my friends.”

“Yes, Mr. Starr, he is a good and affectionate son,” replied
the old overman earnestly.

“Ts he happy with you in the cottage?”

“He would not wish to leave us.”

“Don’t you think of finding him a wife, some day ?”

“ A wife for Harry,” exclaimed Ford. “And who would
it be? A girl from up yonder, who would love merry-
makings and dancing, who would prefer her clan to our
mine! Harry wouldn't do it!”

Fo2



58 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



“Simon,” said Madge, “you would not forbid that Harry
should take a wife.”

“T would forbid nothing,” returned the old miner, “but
there’s no hurry about that.. Who knows but we may find
one for him—’”

Harry re-entered at that moment, and Ford was silent.

When Madge rose from the table, all followed her
example, and seated themselves at the door of the cottage.

“Well, Simon,” said the engineer, “I am ready to hear

”

you.
“Mr. Starr,” responded Ford, “I do not need your ears,

but your legs, Are you quite rested ?”

“Quite rested and quite refreshed, Simon... I am ready
to go with you wherever you like.”

“Warry,” said Simon Ford, turning to his son, “ light our
safety lamps.”

“Are you going to take safety lamps!” exclaimed James
Starr, in amazement, knowing that there was no fear of
explosions of fire-damp in a pit quite empty of coal.

“Yes, Mr. Starr, it will be prudent.”

“My good Simon, won’t you propose next to put. meina
miner’s dress ?”

“Not just yet, sir, not just yet!” returned the old over-
man, his deep-set eyes gleaming strangely.

Harry soon reappeared, carrying three safety lamps.

He handed one of these lamps to the engineer, the other











Starting on an exploring expedition.

Page 59.



THE FORD FAMILY. 59

to his father, and kept the third hanging from his left hand,
whilst his right was armed with a long stick.
“Forward!” said Simon Ford, taking up a strong pick,
which was leaning against the wall of the cottage,
“Forward !” echoed the engineer. “Good-bye, Madge.”
“God speed you!” responded the good woman,
“A good supper, wife, do you hear?” exclaimed Ford.
“We shall be hungry when we come back, and will do it

”
!

justice



60 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

CHAPTER VIL
SOME STRANGE PHENOMENA,

MANY superstitious beliefs exist both in the Highlands and
Lowlands of Scotland. In some places the laird’s tenants
collect together in the evening and love to relate to each
other stories borrowed from the old hyperborean mythology.
Education, though widely and liberally spread over the
country, has not as yet been able to reduce these legends
to the class of fiction, they seem inherent to the very soil of
old Caledonia. It is still the land of spirits and ghosts,
goblins and fairies. The malicious spirit, which is only got
rid of by means of money, is still believed in; also the seer
of the Highlanders, who, by second sight, predicts approach-
ing deaths; the “May Moullach,” who appears in the form
of a young girl with hairy arms, and warns families of mis-
fortunes by which they are threatened; the Brownies, to
whom is intrusted the’care of the domestic arrangements ;
the Urisk, who more especially frequents the wild gorges
of Loch Katrine, and many others.



SOME STRANGE PHENOMENA. 61



Of course:the mining population must furnish its con-
tingent of legends and fables to this mythological repertory.
If the Highlands are peopled with imaginary beings, either
good or bad, with much more reason must the dark mines
be haunted to their lowest depths. Who shakes the seam
during tempestuous nights? who puts the miners on the
track of anas yet unworked vein? who lights the fire-damp,
and presides over the terrible explosions? who but some
spiritofthe mine? This, at least, was the opinion commonly
spread among the superstitious Scotch. In truth, the
greater number of miners chose to believe in the work of
spirits, when the phenomena were in reality purely physical,
and it would have been but losing time to endeavour to
convince them of their mistake. Where could credulity de-
velope itself more freely than in the depths of these abysses ?

The Aberfoyle mines being situated in this legendary
country were naturally the scene of many supernatural
incidents.

Legends of course were in plenty. It must be acknow-
ledged besides, that certain phenomena, as yet unexplained
furnished fresh food to the public credulity.

In the first rank of the believers in the supernatural in
the Dochart pit figured Jack Ryan, Harry’s friend. He
was the great partisan of all these superstitions. All these
wild stories were turned by him into songs, which earned

him great applause in the winter evenings.



62 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

But Jack Ryan was not alone in his belief. His comrades



affirmed, no less strongly, that the Aberfoyle pits were
haunted, and that certain strange beings were seen there
frequently, just as in the Highlands. To hear them
talk, it would have been more extraordinary if nothing
of the kind appeared. Could there indeed bea better place
than a dark and deep coal-mine for the freaks of fairies,
elves, goblins, and other actors in the fantastical dramas?
The scenery was all ready, why should not the supernatural
personages come there to play their parts?

_ So reasoned Jack Ryan and his comrades in the Aber-
foyle mines. We have said that the different pits com-
municated with each other by means of long subterranean
galleries. Thus there existed beneath the county of Stir-
ling a vast tract, full of burrows, tunnels, bored with caves,
and perforated with shafts, a subterranean labyrinth, which
might be compared to an enormous ant-hill.

Miners, though belonging to different pits, often met,
when going to or returning from their work. Conse-
quently there was a constant opportunity of exchanging
talk, and circulating the stories which had their origin in
the mine, from one pit to another. These accounts were
transmitted with marvellous rapidity, passing from mouth
to mouth, and gaining in wonder as they went.

Two men, however, better educated and with more prac-
tical minds than the rest, had always resisted this tempta-



SOME STRANGE PHENOMENA. 63



tion. They in no degree believed in the intervention of
spirits, elves, or goblins.

These two were Simon Ford and his son. And they
proved it by continuing to inhabit the dismal crypt, after
the desertion of the Dochart pit. Perhaps good Madge,
like every Highland woman, had some leaning towards.the
supernatural. - But she had to repeat all these stories to
herself,and so she did, most conscientiously, so as not to let
the old traditions be lost.

Even had Simon and Harry Ford been as credulous as
their companions, they would not have abandoned the mine
to the imps and fairies. The hope of discovering a new
vein would have made them brave all the fantastic army of
goblins. They were not credulous, they were believers but
in one point ; they could not admit that the carboniferous
bed of Aberfoyle was totally exhausted. It may be said
with truth, that on this subject, Simon Ford and his son had
a faith in God which nothing could shake.

' For ten years, without missing a single day, obstinate
and immovable in their convictions, the father and son took
their picks, their sticks,and their lamps. They went about.
searching, sounding the rock with a sharp blow, listening if
it would return a favourable sound. So long as the sound-
ings had not been pushed to the granite of the primary
formation, the Fords were agreed that the search, unsuc-
cessful to-day, might succeed to-morrow, and that it ought



64 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

———$—________-—

tobe resumed, They spent their whole life in endeavouring
to bring Aberfoyle back to its former prosperity. If the
father died before the hour of success, the son was to go.on
with the task alone.

At the same time, these two devoted guardians of the
mine, examined it with a view to its preservation. They
assured themselves as to the safety of its roofs and embank-
ments. They found out if a landslip was to be feared, and
if it was necessary to stop up some part of the pit. They
discovered leakages of water, drained it off into channels so
as to collect it into a pool. In short, they had voluntarily
constituted themselves the protectors and preservers of this
unproductive domain, from whence had issued such great
riches, now dissolved in smoke!

It was during one of these excursions that Harry was
more particularly struck by certain phenomena, which he
vainly sought to explain. Several times, while walking
along some narrow cross-alley, he seemed to hear sounds
similar to those which. would be produced by violent blows
of a pickaxe against the wall.

Harry, who knew no fear either of what was natural or
supernatural, hastened to seek the cause of this mysterious
work,

The tunnel was empty. The light from the young
miner’s lamp, thrown on the wall, revealed no trace of any
recent work with pick or crowbar. Harry would then ask





Harry suspicious,

Page 65



SOME STRANGE PHENOMENA. 65



himself if it was not the effect of some acoustic illusion, or:
some strange and faritastic echo, :

At other times, on suddenly throwing a bright light into a
suspicious-looking cleft in the rock, he thought he saw a
shadow. He rushed forward. Nothing, and there was.
no opening to permit a human being to evade his pursuit !

Twice in one month, Harry, whilst visiting the west end
of the pit, distinctly heard distant reports, as if. some
miner had exploded a charge of dynamite. The second
time, after many careful researches, he found that a pillar
had just been blown up.

By the light of his lamp, Harry carefully examined the
place attacked by the explosion. It had not been made.in
a simple embankment of stones, but in a mass of schist,
which had penetrated to this depth in the coal stratum,
Had the object of the explosion been to discover a new
vein? Or had some one wished simply to destroy this
portion of the mine? Thus he questioned, and when he
made known this occurrence to his father, neither could
the old overman nor he himself answer the question in a
satisfactory way.

“It is very queer,’ Harry often repeated. “The pre-
sence of an unknown being in the mine seems impossible,
and yet there can be no doubt about it. Does some: one
besides ourselves wish to find out if a seam yet exists?
Or, rather, has he attempted to destroy what remains of



66 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

the Aberfoyle mines? But for what reason? I will find
that out, if it should cost me my life!”

A fortnight before the day on which Harry Ford guided
the engineer through the labyrinth of the Dochart pit, he
had been on the point of attaining the object ofhis search.

He was going over the south-west end of the mine, with
a large lantern in his hand. All at once, it seemed'to him
that alight was suddenly extinguished, some hundred
feet before him,. at the end of a narrow passage cut
obliquely through the rock.. He darted forward.

His search was in vain. As Harry would not admit a
supernatural explanation for a physical occurrence, he
concluded that certainly some strange being prowled about
in the pit.. But whatever he could do, searching with the
greatest care, scrutinizing every crevice in the gallery, he
found nothing for his trouble, and could not arrive at any
certain conclusion.

Harry therefore left it to chance to unveil the mystery.
He still now and again saw lights hovering from one point
to another like Will-o’-the-wisps ; but they just appeared
like flashes, and there was no use in trying to discover the
cause of them. ;

If Jack Ryan and the other superstitious fellows in
the mine had seen these lights, they would, without
fail, have called them supernatural, but Harry did not
dream of doing so, nor did his father. And when they



SOME STRANGE PHENOMENA. 67



talked over these phenomena, evidently due to a physical
cause,—

“ My lad,” the old man would say, “we must wait. It
will all be explained some day.”

However, it must be observed that, hitherto, neither
Harry nor his father had ever been exposed to any act of
violence.

If the stone which had fallen at the feet of James Starr
had been thrown by the hand of some ill-disposed perscn,
it was the first criminal act of that description.

James Starr was of opinion that the stone had become
detached from the roof of the gallery ; but Harry would
not admit of such a simple explanation. According to
him, the stone had not fallen, it had been thrown; for
otherwise, without rebounding, it could never have de-
scribed a trajectory as it did.

Harry saw in it a direct attempt against himself and his
father, or even against the engineer. After what has been
-said, it may perhaps be admitted that he had some grounds
for his belief.



68 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

CHAPTER VIL
SIMON FORD’S EXPERIMENT.

THE old clock in the cottage struck one as James Starr
and his two companions went out.

A dim light penetrated through the ventilating shaft
into the glade. Harry’s lamp was not necessary here, but
it would very soon be of use, for the old overman was
about to conduct the engineer to the very end of the
Dochart pit.

After following the principal gallery for a distance of
two miles, the three explorers—for, as will be seen, this
was a regular exploration—arrived at the entrance.of a
narrow tunnel. It was like a nave, the roof of which rested
on woodwork, covered with white moss. It followed very
nearly the line traced by the course of the river Forth,
fifteen hundred feet above. '

In case James Starr had become less familiar than
formerly with the labyrinth of the Dochart pit, Ford put



SIMON FORD'S EXPERIMENT. 69



him in mind of the general, plan, by comparing it with the
geographical outline of the ground.

Starr and Simon Ford walked together conversing.

Harry lighted the way in front of them. He tried, by
suddenly flashing his lamp into all the dark clefts, to dis-
cover any suspicious shadow.

“Are we going far in this direction, Ford?” ae the
engineer.

“Another half-mile, sir. Long ago, we should have
made the journey in a waggon on the -traction tramway.
But those times are long past.”

“So we are going to the end of the last vein?” said
James Starr. ,

“Ay! You know the mine well still.”

“Well, Simon,” returned the engineer, “it will be diffi-
cult to go further than that, if I don’t mistake.”

“Ves, indeed, Mr. Starr. That was where our picks tore
‘out the last bit of coal in the seam. I remember it as if
it were yesterday. I myself gave that last blow, and it
re-echoed in my heart more dismally than on the rock.
Only sandstone and schist was round us after that, and
when the truck rolled towards the shaft, I followed, with
my heart as full as though it were a funeral. It seemed
to me that the soul of the mine was going with it.”

The gravity with which the old man uttered these words
impressed the engineer, who was not far from sharing his

G2



7O THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

sentiments. They were those of the sailor who leaves his
disabled vessel—of the. proprietor who sees the house of
his ancestors pulled down. He pressed Ford’s hand; but
now the latter seized that of the engineer, and, wringing
it—,

“That day we were all of us mistaken,” he exclaimed.
“No! The old mine was not dead. It was not a corpse
that the miners abandoned ; and I dare to assert, Mr. Starr,
that its heart beats still.”

“Speak, Ford! Have you discovered a new vein?”
cried the engineer, unable to contain himself. “I know
you have! Your letter could mean nothing else. A com-
munication to be made to me, and in the Dochart pit!
What other discovery but that of a coal-seam could interest
me?”

“Mr. Starr,” said Simon Ford, “I did not wish to tell
any man but yourself.”

“And you did quite right, Ford. But tell me how, by
what signs, are you sure?”

“Listen, sir!” resumed Simon. “It is not a seam that I
have found.” .

“What is it, then ?”

“ Only positive proof that such a seam exists.”

“ And the proof?”

“Could fire-damp issue from the bowels of the earth if
coal was not there to produce it?”



SIMON FORD’S EXPERIMENT. 71
cena te eta ls SNS

“No, certainly not!” replied the engineer. “No coal,
no fire-damp. No effects without a cause.”

“Just as no smoke without fire.”

“And have you recognized the presence of light
carburetted hydrogen ?”

“An old miner could not be deceived,” answered Ford.
“I have met with our old enemy, the fire-damp !”

“But suppose it was another gas,” said Starr. “Fire-
damp is almost without smell, and colourless. It oiily
really betrays its presence by an explosion.”

“Mr. Starr,” said Simon Ford, “will you let me tell you
what I have done, and how I have done it, in my own way,
excusing my slowness?” .

James Starr knew. the old overman, and knew that it
would be best to let him have his own way. ©

“Mr. Starr,” resumed Simon Ford, “for ten years not a
day has passed that Harry and I did not think how to
give back its old prosperity to the mine—no, not a day!
If a seam still existed, we were determined to discover it.
But how to do it? By sounding? That was not possible
for us ; but we had the miner’s’ instinct, and instinct often
leads one more straight to the mark than reason does—at
least, that’s my idea.”.

“ Which I will not contradict,” responded the engineer.

“Now, Harry had once or twice observed something
remarkable in his excursions to the west end of the mine.



72 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



Fire, which suddenly went out, sometimes appeared along
the face of the rock or on the embankment of the further
galleries. How those flames were lighted, I could not and
cannot say. But they were evidently owing to the pre-
sence of fire-damp, and to me fire-damp means a vein of
coal.”

“Did not these fires cause any explosion?” asked the
engineer quickly.

“Yes, little partial explosions,” replied Ford, “such as I
used to cause myself when I wished to ascertain the pre-
sence of fire-damp. Do you remember how formerly it
was the custom to try to prevent explosions before our
good genius, Humphrey Davy, invented his safety-lamp ?”

“Yes,” replied James Starr. “You mean what the
‘monk,’ as the men called him, used to do. But I. have
never seen him in the.exercise of his duty.”

“Indeed, Mr. Starr, you are too young, in spite of your
five-and-fifty: years, to have seen that. But I, ten years
older, often saw the last ‘monk’ working in.the mine. He
was called so: because he wore a long robe like a monk.
His proper name was the ‘fireman.’ At that time there
was no other means of destroying the bad gas but by dis-
persing it in little explosions, beforé its buoyancy had
collected it in too’ great quantities in the heights of the
galleries. The monk, as we calléd him, with his face
masked, his head muffled up, all his body tightly wrapped







































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































The Monk at Work.

Page 72.



SIMON FORD’S EXPERIMENT. 73

in a thick felt cloak, crawled along the ground. He could
breathe down there, when the air was pure; and with his
right hand he waved above his head a blazing torch. When

the fire-damp had accumulated in the air, so as to form a





detonating mixture, the explosion occurred without being
fatal, and, by often renewing this operation, catastrophes
were prevented. . Sometimes the ‘monk’ was injured or
killed in his work, then another took his place. This was
done in all mines until the Davy lamp was universally
adopted. But I knew the plan, and by its means I dis-
covered the presence of fire-damp, and consequently that of
a new seam of coal in the Dochart pit.”

_ All that the old overman had related of the so-called
“monk” or “fireman” was perfectly true. The air in the
galleries of mines was formerly always. purified in the
way described.

Fire-damp, marsh-gas, or carburetted hydrogen, is colour-
less, almost scentless; it burns with a blue flame, and makes
respiration impossible. The miner could not live in a place
filled with this injurious gas, any more than onecould live ina
gasometer full of common gas. Moreover, fire-damp, as
well as the latter, a mixture of inflammable gases, forms a
detonating mixture as soon as the air unites with it in a
proportion of eight, and perhaps even five to the hundred.
When this mixture is lighted by any cause, there is an ex-
plosion, almost always followed by a frightful catastrophe.



74. THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



This danger Davy’s apparatus guards against by isolating
the flame of the lamp in a tube of metallic gauze, which
burns the gas in the interior of the tube, without ever allow-
ing the flame to spread outside. This safety-lamp has
been perfected in twenty ways. If it happens to break, the
light goes out ; if, notwithstanding the strict orders to the
contrary, the miner opens it, it goes out. Why, then, do
explosions ever occur? It is because nothing can guard
against the imprudence of a workman who insists on light-
ing his pipe, nor the blow of a tool which may produce a
spark. Fire-damp does not exist in all mines, and in those
the use of an ordinary lamp is authorized. Among such,
for instance, is the Thiers pit, in the colliery of Auzin.
But when the coal of the worked seam is rich, it contains a
certain quantity of volatile matter, and fire-damp escapes
in abundance. The safety-lamp alone is contrived in a
way to prevent explosions so much the more terrible, in
that miners, not being directly reached by the blast occa-
sioned by the fire-damp, run a risk of being instantly
suffocated in the galleries filled with the “after-damp,”
formed after the explosion, and called “choke-damp” by the
colliers, which is the carbonic acid gas of the chemists.

As they walked on, Simon Ford told the engineer all
that he had done to attain his object ; how he was sure that
the escape of fire-damp took place at the very end of the
farthest gallery in its western part, because he had provoked



SIMON FORD’S EXPERIMENT. 75

small and partial explosions, or rather little flames, enough
to show the nature of the gas, which escaped in a small jet,
but with a continuous flow.

An hour after leaving the cottage, James Starr and his
two companions had gone a distance of four miles. The
engineer, urged by anxiety and hope, walked on without
noticing the length of the way. He pondered over all that
the old miner had told him, and mentally weighed all the
arguments which the latter had. given in support of his
belief. He agreed with him in thinking that the continued
emission of carburetted hydrogen certainly showed the
existence of a new coal-seam. If it had been merely a sort
of pocket, full of gas, as it is sometimes found amongst the
rock, it would soon have been empty, and the phenomenon
have ceased. But far from that. According to Simon
Ford, the fire-damp escaped incessantly, and from that fact
the existence of an important vein might be considered:
certain. Consequently, the riches of the Dochart pit were
not entirely exhausted. The chief question now was,
whether this was merely a vein which would yield compara-
tively little, or a bed occupying a large. extent.

Harry, who preceded his father and the engineer,
stopped.

“Here we are!” exclaimed the old miner. “ At last,
thank Heaven! you are here, Mr. Starr, and we shall soon
know.”



76 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



The old overman’s voice trembled slightly.

“Be calm, my man!” said the engineer. “I am as
excited as you are, but we must not lose time.”

The gallery at this end of the pit widened into a sort of
dark cave. No shaft had been pierced in this part, and the
gallery, bored into the bowels of the earth, had no direct
communication with the surface of the earth.

James Starr, with intense interest, examined the place in
which they were standing.

On the walls of the cavern the marks of the pick could
still be seen, and even holes in which the rock had been
blasted, near the termination .of the working. The schist
was excessively hard, and it had not been necessary to
bank up the end of the tunnel where the works had come
to an end. There the vein had failed, between the schist
and the tertiary sandstone. From this very place had
been extracted the last piece of coal from the Dochart pit.

“ We must attack the dyke,” said Ford, raising his pick ;
“for at the other side of the break, at more or less depth,
we shall assuredly find the vein, the existence of which I
assert.”

“ And was it on the surface of these rocks that you found
out the fire-damp?” asked James Starr.

“Just there, sir,” returned Ford, “and I was able to light
it only by bringing my lamp near to the cracks in the rock,
Harry has done it as well as I.”



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THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN;

oR,

STRANGE DOINGS UNDERGROUND.

By JULES VERNE.

TRANSLATED BY

W. H. G. KINGSTON,

AUTHOR OF “SNOW SHOFS AND CANOES,” ‘‘ PETER THE WHALER,” ‘f THE TWO
SUPERCARGOES,” ETC., ETC., ETC,























LAIRD EDITION.

PLonvVon:
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE, & RIVINGTON,
CROWN BUILDINGS, 188, FLEET STREET,

1883.
[AU rights reserved]
LONDON :
GILBERT AND RIVINGTON, LIMITED
ST. JOHN’S SQUARE,
PREFACE.

THE works of.Jules Verne are too well known for the
purity of their style, and the intense interest they excite in
their readers, to require any commendation from me. One
of ‘his chief merits is the wonderful art with which he lays
under contribution every branch of science and natural
history, while he vividly describes, with minute exactness,
all parts of the world and its inhabitants. In the wild
flights of his imagination, he carries his cnaracters high
above the clouds, sends them whirling through the air,
driven by the howling tempest across the foaming waves,
or allows them to mount up towards the distant moon.
Now he conducts them into the bowels of the earth, or
down to the depths of old ocean. .

For the last production of his fertile brain he has
selected Scotland as the scene on which to display his
unbounded powers of invention ; and, in spite of the sober-
minded character of its population, has by the magic power
vi PREFACE.



of his pen converted it into enchanted ground. He has
called into existence a mine of fabulous wealth, and has
placed in it a mysterious being endowed with super-
human powers, who performs wonders unsurpassed in the
present prosaic age. Those who are unacquainted with
the manners and customs of the Scotch cannot severely
criticize the characteristics he assigns to them; and those
who have resided in the land o’ cakes will not fail to be
highly amused with the pictures he draws of its people,
though they differ not a little from those we have met
with in the tales of the author of “ Waverley,” and give us
impressions considerably at variance with such as we
derive from other Scotch novelists of a later date.

One thing, however, is certain, that the readers of “The
Child of the Cavern” will be as deeply interested in the
extraordinary adventures of its gallant hero and fair
heroine as they have been in those of the numerous
adramatis persone who play their parts in the almost count-
less numbers of the talented Frenchman’s previous works
—works now as well known and as much appreciated in
England as they are in his native land.

W. H. G. K.
CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.

CONTRADICTORY LETTERS

CHAPTER II.

ON THE ROAD . °

CHAPTER III.

THE SUBSOIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

CHAPTER IV.
THE DOCHART PIT...

CHAPTER V.
THE FORD FAMILY .

CHAPTER VI.

SOME STRANGE PHENOMENA

CHAPTER VII.

SIMON FoRD’s EXPERIMENT . . .

47

60

68
viii CONTENTS.



CHAPTER VIII.

AN EXPLOSION OF DYNAMITE .

CHAPTER IX.
NEw ABERFOYLE : . . .

CHAPTER X.
EXPLORING .

CHAPTER XI.

THE FIRE-MAIDENS .

CHAPTER XII.

Jack Ryan’s EXPLOITS

CHAPTER XIII.

CoaL TOWN

CHAPTER XIV.

HANGING BY A THREAD

CHAPTER XV.

NELL ADOPTED .

CHAPTER XVI.

ON THE REVOLVING LADDER . :

CHAPTER XVII.

A SUNRISE . . . . . .

PAGE

92

103

. . II4

131

- « &I4I

ra Cy

. + 179
CONTENTS. ix

’ CHAPTER XVIIL

PAGE
LocH LomMonD AND LocH KaTRINE . . «. « «~~ 195

CHAPTER XIX.

A FINAL THREAT . . . . . . ee » 209

CHAPTER XxX.

THE “MONK” . . : . ° . 7 . * © 223

CHAPTER XXI.

NELL’S WEDDING . . . . . . ° . + = 235

CHAPTER XXII.

THE LEGEND OF OLD SILFAX ° ° ° ° 2 ° 244
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

; PAGE
Frontispiece.
A puzzling letter . ‘ . . . . . : . . 9
Harry Ford . . . . + 31

The Engineer and Harry on ‘their way to the Dochart pit . - 32
The Engineer contemplating the changed aspect of the country. 33

‘he abandoned works of the Dochart pit . ee - 36
Jack Ryan above ground. : . : . . : - 42
Simon Ford . oe . : . . . . . - 50
Starting on an exploring expedition . : . oo - 50
Harry suspicious . : . . . : . : . - 65
The Monk at work . . . : . . : . . 2
The fire-damp shows itself . . . . . . : - 89a
Madge attending to her domestic duties. . : . - 83
The moment of success . . . . . : . - 86
The mammoth cave of Aberfoyle . . . . : . - 94
A mysterious accident. . . . . . . . + 100
Prisoners. . : . : - 102
The fire-maidens of Dundonald Castle . . : : . LI
The wreck of the “ Motala”. . . : . . : . 113
A dead stop . . : . . : : . . . 21
The fate of the explorers : . . . : . . . 128
Loch Malcolm and Coal Town . . : . : . - 134
Holiday in Coal Town oo. . . : : . + 140
Harry’s discovery . . . . . . . 7 - 150

A fearful foe . . . . . . . . . . © 152
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

Secrets revealed . ee : 7
Harry explains his intentions . . :
The deadly enemy . . : . .

Nell beholds the starry heaven

“Let her sleep, my boy” .

Edinburgh Castle . . 7

Voyage on Loch Lomond

Highland travelling .. .

The lift at work

The cottage menaced

A monster shower-bath

Proof of malice prepense

Extinguishing the fire .

Harry in danger . .

Horror-stricken . . .

The child of the cavern

“ Wherever you go I will follow” :
On the watch . . . . . . .
The supreme moment . . . ° . 7

PAGE
168
17I
178
183
187
195
198
202
209
210
211
215
219
219
221
230
234

» 235

241
THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



CHAPTER I.
CONTRADICTORY LETTERS.

To Mr. F. R. Starr, Engineer,
30, Canongate, Edinburgh.

“Tr Mr. James Starr will corne to-morrow to the Aber-
foyle coal-mines, Dochart pit, Yarrow shaft, a communica-
tion of an interesting nature will be made to him.

“Mr. James Starr will be waited for, the whole day, at
the Callander station, ‘by Harry Ford, son of the old over-
man Simon Ford.

“He is requested to keep this invitation secret.”

Such was the letter which James Starr received by the
first post, on the 3rd December, 18—, the letter bearing
the Aberfoyle postmark, county of Stirling, Scotland.

The engineer's curiosity was excited to the highest
pitch. It never occurred to him to doubt whether this
2 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

letter might not be a hoax. For many years he had
known Simon Ford, one of the former foremen of the
Aberfoyle mines, of which he, James Starr, had for twenty
years, been the manager, or, as he would be termed in
English coal-mines, the viewer. James Starr was a strongly-
constituted man, on whom his fifty-five years weighed no
more heavily than if they had been forty. He belonged
to an old Edinburgh family, and was one of its most dis-
tinguished members. His labours did credit to the body
of engineers who are gradually devouring the carboniferous
sub-soil of the United Kingdom, as much at Cardiff and
Newcastle, as in the southern counties of Scotland. How-
ever, it was more particularly in the depths of the mysterious
mines of Aberfoyle, which border on the Alloa mines and
occupy part of the county of Stirling, that the name of
Starr had acquired the greatest renown. There, the greater
part of his existence had been passed. Besides this, James
Starr belonged to the Scottish Antiquarian Society, of
which he had been made president. He was also included
amongst the most active members of the Royal Institution ;
and the Edinburgh Review frequently published clever
articles signed by him. He was in fact one of those
practical men to whom is due the prosperity of England.
He held a high rank in the old capital of Scotland, which
not only from a physical but also from a moral point of
view, well deserves the name of the Northern Athens.
CONTRADICTORY LETTERS. 3

We know that the English have given to their vast



extent of coal-mines a very significant name. They
very justly call them the “Black Indies,” and these Indies
have contributed perhaps even more than the Eastern
Indies to swell the surprising wealth of the United
Kingdom.

_ There, indeed, a whole tribe of miners work, night and
day, to extract from the British subsoil coal, that
precious combustible, the indispensable element of indus-
trial life.

At this period, the limit of time assigned by professional
men for the exhaustion of coal-mines, was far distant
and there was no dread of scarcity. There were still
extensive mines to be worked in the two Americas. The
manufactories, appropriated to so many different uses,
locomotives, steamers, gas works, &c., were not likely to
fail for want of the mineral fuel ; but the consumption had
so increased during the last few years, that certain beds
had been exhausted even to their smallest veins. Now
deserted, these mines perforated the ground with their
useless shafts and forsaken galleries, This was exactly the
case with the pits of Aberfoyle.

Ten years before, the last butty had raised the last ton
of coal from this colliery. The underground working
stock, traction engines, trucks which run on rails along the

galleries, subterranean tramways, frames to support the
4 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



shaft, pipes—in short, all that constituted the machinery
of a mine had been brought up from its depths. The
exhausted mine was like the body of a huge fantastically-
shaped mastodon, from which all the organs of life have
been taken, and only the skeleton remains.

Nothing was left but long wooden ladders, down the
Yarrow shaft—the only one which now gave access to the
lower galleries of the Dochart pit since the cessation of the
works.

Above ground, the sheds, formerly sheltering the outside
works, still marked the spot where the shaft of that pit
had been sunk, it being now abandoned, as were the other
pits, of which the whole constituted the mines of Aber-
foyle.

It was a sad day, when for the last time the workmen
quitted the mine, in which they had lived for so many
years.

The engineer, James Starr, had collected the hundreds
of workmen which composed the active and courageous
population of the mine. Overmen, brakemen, putters,
wastemen, barrowmen, masons,. smiths, carpenters, outside
and inside labourers, women, children, and old men, all
were collected in the great yard of the Dochart pit,
formerly heaped with coal from the mine,

Many of these families had existed for generations in
the mine of old Aberfoyle; they were now driven to seek
CONTRADICTORY LETTERS. 5

the means of subsistence elsewhere, and they waited sadly
to bid farewell to the engineer.

These honest people, whom the necessities of life forced
to disperse—some of whom had for many long years
worked man and boy in the old Aberfoyle pit—waited,
before leaving it for ever, for the last farewell from the
engineer. The profits of the present year had been dis-
tributed among the men. Little enough it was for the returns
had hardly exceeded: the cost of working ; but it would be
sufficient to keep them until they got employment, either
in the neighbouring collieries, or at the farms and mann-
factories of the county.

James Starr stood upright, at the door of the vast shed
in which he had for so many years superintended the
powerful machines of the shaft.

Simon Ford, the foreman of the Dochart pit, then fifty-
five years of age, and other managers and overseers, sur-
rounded him.

James Starr took off his hat.. The miners, cap in hand
kept a profound silence.

This farewell scene was of a touching character, not
wanting in grandeur.

“My friends,” said the engineer, “the time has come for
us to separate. The Aberfoyle mines, which for so many
years have united us in a common work, are now exhausted.
All our researches have not led to the discovery of a new

B
6 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

vein, and the last block of coal has just been extracted
from the Dochart pit.”

And in confirmation of his words, James Starr pointed
to a lump of coal which had been kept at the bottom of
a basket.

“This piece of coal, my friends,” resumed James Starr,
“is like the last drop of blood which has flowed. through
the veins of the mine! We shall keep it, as the first frag-
ment of coal is kept, which was extracted a hundred and
fifty years ago from the bearings of Aberfoyle. Between
these two pieces, how many generations of workmen have
succeeded each other in our pits! Now, itis over! The
last words which your engineer will address to you are a
farewell. You have lived in this mine, which your hands
have emptied. The work has been hard, but not without
profit for you. Our great family must disperse, and it is
not probable that the future will ever again unite the
scattered members. But do not forget that we have lived
together for a long time, and that it will be the duty of the
miners of Aberfoyle to help each other. Your old masters
will not forget you either. When’ men have worked
together, they must never be strangers to each other again.
We shall keep our eye on you, and wherever you go,
our recommendations shall follow you. Farewell then,
my friends, and may Heaven be with you!”

So saying, James Starr wrung the horny hand of the
CONTRADICTORY LETTERS. 7



oldest miner, whose eyes were dim with tears. Then
the overmen of the different pits came forward to shake
hands with him, whilst the miners waved their caps,
shouting,—

“Farewell, James Starr, our master and our friend!”

This farewell would leave a lasting remembrance in all
these honest hearts. Slowly and sadly the population
quitted the yard. The black soil of the roads leading to
the Dochart pit resounded for the last time to the tread
of miners’ feet, and silence succeeded to the bustling life
which had till then filled the Aberfoyle mines.

One man alone remained by James Starr. ‘This was the
overman, Simon Ford. Near him stood a boy, about
fifteen years of age, who for some years already had been
employed down below.

James Starr and Simon Ford knew and esteemed each
other well.

“ Good-bye, Simon,” said the engineer.

“ Good-bye, Mr. Starr,’ replied the overman, “let me
add, till we meet again!”

“Ves, till we meet again, Ford!” answered James Starr.
“You know that I shall be always glad to see you, and
talk over old times.”

“T know that, Mr. Starr.”

“My house in Edinburgh is always open to you.”

“Tt’s a long way off, is Edinburgh!” answered the man,

B 2
8 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN

shaking his head. “Ay, a long way from the Dochart



pit.”

“A long way off, Simon? Where do you mean to live
then?”

“Even here, Mr. Starr! We're not going to leave the
mine, our good old nurse, just because her milk is dried
up! My wife, my boy, and myself, we mean to remain
faithful to her!”

‘Good-bye then, Simon,” replied the engineer, whose
voice, in spite of himself, betrayed some emotion.

“No, I tell you, it’s “/ we meet again, Mr. Starr, and not

’” returned the foreman, “Mark my words,

just ‘good-bye,
Aberfoyle will see you again !”

The engineer did not try to dispel the man’s illusion.
He patted Harry’s head, again wrung the father’s hand,
and left the mine.

All this had taken place ten years ago; but, notwith-
standing the wish which the overman had expressed to see
him again, during that time Starr had heard nothing
of him. It was after ten years of separation that
he got this letter from Simon Ford, requesting him
to.take without delay the road to the old Aberfoyle col-
liery.

A communication of an interesting nature, what could it
be? Dochart pit, Yarrow shaft! What recollections of
the past these names brought back to him! Yes, that








mu































































































































































































































































A puzzling letter.
CONTRADICTORY LETTERS. 9

was a fine time, that of work, of struggle,—the best part
of the engineer’s life.

Starr re-read his letter. He pondered over it in all its
bearings. He much regretted that just a line more had
not been added by Ford. He wished he had not been
quite so laconic.

Was it possible that the old foreman had discovered
some new vein? No!

Starr remembered with what minute care the mines had
been explored before the definite cessation of the works.
He had himself proceeded to the lowest soundings without
finding the least trace in the soil, burrowed in every direc-
tion. They had even attempted to find coal under strata
which are usually below it, such as the Devonian red sand-
stone, but without result. James Starr had therefore
abandoned the mine with the absolute conviction that’ it
did not contain another bit of coal.

“No,” he repeated, “no! How is it possible that any-
thing which could have escaped my researches, should be
revealed to those of Simon Ford. - However, the old over-
man must well know that such a discovery would ‘be the
one thing in the world to interest me, and this invitation,
which I must keep secret, to repair. to the Dochart
Pitlasiee
James Starr always came back to that.

On the other hand, the engineer knew Ford to be a
10 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN,



clever miner, peculiarly endowed with the instinct of his
trade. He had not seen him since the time when the
Aberfoyle .colliery was abandoned, and did not know
either what he was doing or where he was living, with his
wife and his son. All that he now knew was, that a ren-
dezvous had been appointed him at the Yarrow shaft, and
that Harry, Simon Ford’s son, was to wait for him during
the whole of the next day at the Callander station. It was
evidently quite necessary for him to visit the Dochart pit.

“JT shall go, I shall go!” said Starr, his excitement
increasing as the time drew near.

Our worthy engineer belonged to that class of men
whose brain is always on the boil, like a kettle on a hot
fire. In some of these brain kettles the ideas bubble over,
in others they: just simmer quietly. Now on this day
James Starr’s ideas were boiling fast.

But suddenly an unexpected incident occurred. This
was the drop of cold water, which in a moment was to
condense all the vapours of the brain.

About six in the evening, by the third post, Starr's
servant brought him a second letter. This letter was
enclosed in a coarse envelope, and evidently directed by a
hand unaccustomed to the use of a pen.

James Starr tore it open. It contained only a scrap of
paper, yellowed by time, and apparently torn out of an old
copy-book.
CONTRADICTORY LETTERS. Il

On this paper was written a single sentence, thus worded :
“Tt is useless for the engineer James Starr to trouble
himself,—Simon Ford’s letter being now without object.”

No signature.
12 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



CHAPTER II.
ON THE ROAD.

THE course of James Starr’s ideas was abruptly stopped,
when he got this second letter contradicting the first.

“What does this mean?” said he to himself.

He took up the torn envelope, and examined it. Like
the other, it bore the Aberfoyle postmark. It had therefore
come from the same part of the county of Stirling. The
old miner had evidently not written it. But, no less
evidently, the author of this second letter knew the over-
man’s secret, since it expressly contradicted the invitation
to the engineer to go to the Yarrow shaft.

Was it really true that the first communication was now
without object? Did some one wish to prevent James
Starr, from troubling himself either uselessly or otherwise ?
Might there not be rather a malevolent intention to thwart
Ford’s plans ?

This was the conclusion at which James Starr arrived,
ON THE ROAD. 13

after mature reflection. The contradiction which existed
between the two letters only wrought in him a more keen
desire to visit the Dochart pit. And besides, if after all
it was a hoax, it was well worth while to prove it. Starr
also thought it wiser to give more credence to the first
letter than to the second; that is to say, to the request of
such a man as Simon Ford, rather than to the warning of
his anonymous contradictor.

“Indeed,” said he; “the fact of any one endeavouring
to influence my resolution, shows that Ford’s communica-
tion must be of great importance. To-morrow, at the
appointed time, I will be at the rendezvous.”

In the evening, Starr made his preparations for de-
parture. As it might happen that his absence would be
prolonged for some days, he wrote to Sir W. Elphiston,
President of the Royal Institution, that he should be unable
to be present at the next meeting of the Society. He also
wrote to excuse himself from two or three engagements
which he had made for the week. Then, having ordered
his servant to pack a travelling-bag, he went to bed, more
excited than the affair perhaps warranted.

The next day, at five o'clock, James Starr jumped out
of bed, dressed himself warmly, for-a cold rain was falling,
and left his house in the Canongate, to go to Granton
Pier to catch the steamer, which in three hours would take
him up the Forth as far as Stirling.
14 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



For the first time in his life, perhaps, in passing along the
Canongate,’ he did xot turn to look at Holyrood, the palace
of the former sovereigns of Scotland. He did not notice
the sentinels who stood before its gateways, dressed in
the uniform of their Highland regiment, tartan kilt, plaid
and sporran complete. On he strode regardless of his
usual interest in anything described by Sir Walter Scott,
past the inn at which Waverley dismounted, and where
the tailor brought him the famous Highland dress, which
the widow Flockhart so naively admired. He did not
even glance at the spot where the Highlanders discharged
their muskets, after the victory of the Pretender, at the
risk of killing Flora MacIvor. He certainly looked at the
prison called the Heart of Mid-Lothian, but only to see
by its grim, old projecting clock, that he was in time
for his train. He saw nothing of the house of the great
reformer John Knox, the only man who could resist the
smiles of Mary Stuart. From the High Street he turned
on to the North Bridge, and soon reached the Waverley
Station.

Half an hour after the train set him down at Granton,
a pretty village, situated near Leith, the port of Edin-
burgh. The rising tide was rapidly covering the black
and stony shore, and the waves were already washing up

1 A famous street in the Old Town.
ON THE ROAD. 15

against a little jetty. On the left, one of the boats which
ply.up and down the Forth between Edinburgh and Stir-
ling, was moored to the Granton Pier.

Just then, the funnel of the “ Prince of Wales” steamer
began to vomit out torrents of black smoke, and its boiler
snorted fiercely. A bell rang hastily, and tardy travellers
began to run.

James Starr was not the last to embark. He quietly
stepped on to the deck of the “Prince of Wales.” Although
it was raining hard, not one of the passengers thought of
taking shelter in the saloon of the boat. All remained
motionless, covered up in their travelling wraps, a few
solacing themselves now and then with a pull at their
flasks. The bell rang for the last time, the ropes were
cast off, and. the “Prince of Wales” backed out of the
little basin which sheltered her from the waves of the
North Sea.

The Firth of Forth is the name given to the gulf between
the counties of Fife on the north, and Linlithgow, Edin-
burgh, and Haddington on the south. It is the estuary of
the Forth, a small river, which springs from the sides of
Ben Lomond, and-widens into a noble Firth below Grange-
mouth.

The voyage from Granton Pier to the extremity of the
gulf would be short, but for the necessity of touching at

different places on the two banks, which causes numerous
16 THE CIIILD OF. THE CAVERN.





detours. The towns, villages and cottages on the banks
of the Forth stand out among the trees ofa fertile country.
James Starr, sheltered under the bridge of the steamer
did not even try to see anything of the country, then con-
cealed by the driving rain. He was chiefly anxious to
find out whether he attracted special attention from any
passenger. The author of the anonymous letter might,
perhaps, be on board. However, the engineer could not
catch any suspicious glance.

On leaving Granton, the “Prince of Wales” steamed
between the two points of North Queensferry and South
Queensferry, beyond which the Forth forms:a sort of lake,
navigable for vessels of a hundred tons. Every now and
then, when the mist lifted, the snowy summits of the
Grampians could be seen.

The steamer soon lost sight of the village of Aberdour,
the isle of Inch Colm, crowned by the ruins of a monastery
of the twelfth century, the remains of the castle of Barn-
bougle, then Donibristle, where the son-in-law of the
Regent Murray was assassinated, and passed the fortified
island of Garvie; leaving on the left the castle of Rosyth,
where formerly resided the branch of the Stuarts to whom
the mother of Cromwell was related. Blackness Castle
was next seen, still fortified, conformably with one of the
articles in the treaty of the Union, and the boat ran along-
side the quay of the little harbour of Charlestown from
ON THE ROAD. 17

whence the limestone from Lord Elgin’s quarries is ex-
ported. The next stopping-place was Crombie Point.

The weather was still very bad. The rain and wind
splashed and howled in concert, and blotted out the land-
scape with a driving mist.

James Starr was not without some anxiety. Was Harry
Ford sure to be at the rendezvous? He knew by ex-
perience that miners, accustomed to the calm of the mines,
are more unwilling than workmen or labourers to face the
inclemencies of the weather, and from Callander to the
Dochart pit being a distance of four miles, the arrival of
the old overman’s son might easily be delayed. However,
the engineer was more occupied with the idea that the
appointment made in the first letter was contradicted in
the second. Truth to say, this was his chief concern.

At any rate, if Harry Ford could not be found at the
Callander Station, James Starr had quite decided that he
would go alone to the Dochart pit, and if necessary to the
village of Aberfoyle. There he would no doubt get news of
Simon Ford, and learn at what place the old man actually
resided. .

In the meantime, the “ Prince of Wales” continued to
churn its way along. Nothing could be seen of the banks
nor of the village of Crombie, nor Torryburn, Torryhouse
Newmills, Carriden House, Kirkgrange and Saltpans on
the right. The little port of Bo’ness, and Grangemouth
18 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

port, at the mouth of the Clyde canal, were hidden in the
damp fog. The old town of Culross and the ruins of its
abbey of Citeaux; Kincardine and its building-yards, at
which the boat touched, Ayrth Castle, with its square
tower of the thirteenth century, Clackmannan and its
castle, built by Robert Bruce, were all concealed in the
mist. *
The “Prince of Wales” stopped at Alloa to land a few
passengers. James Starr's heart beat as he passed after
ten years’ absence, near this little town, where large
collieries still supported a numerous population of workers.
His imagination carried him down into those subterranean
regions in which the miners’ picks found plenty of work.
These Alloa mines, contiguous to those of Aberfoyle, con-
tinued to enrich the county, whilst the neighbouring mines,
exhausted many years ago, did not contain a single worker.

On leaving Alloa, the steamer followed the windings,
which the Forth takes for a distance of nineteen miles
between fine trees on either side. For one moment the
fog cleared enough to show the ruins of the abbey of Cam-
buskennette, which dates from the twelfth century. Then
came the castle of Stirling and the royal town of that
name, and here the Forth, traversed by two bridges, is no
longer navigable for tall-masted vessels.

The moment the “Prince of Wales” touched the quay,
the engineer leapt ashore. Five minutes after he was at
ON THE ROAD. 19

the station. An hour later he alighted from the train at

Callander, a large village on the left bank of the Firth.
There, in the station, stood a young man, 2, who imme-

diately advanced to meet the engineer.

It was Harry, the son of Simon Ford.
20 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

CHAPTER III.
THE SUBSOIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM.

THE better to understand this narrative, it will be as well
to hear a few words on the origin of coal.

During the geological epoch, when the terrestrial spheroid
was still in course of formation, a thick atmosphere sur-
rounded it, saturated with watery vapours, and copiously
impregnated with carbonic acid. The vapours gradually
condensed in diluvial rains, which fell as if they had
leapt from the necks of thousands of millions of Seltzer
water bottles. This liquid, loaded with carbonic acid,
rushed in torrents over a deep soft soil, subject to sudden or
slow alterations of form, and maintained in its semi-fluid
state as much by the heat of the sun as by the fires of the
interior mass. The internal heat had not as yet been col-
lected in the centre of the globe. The terrestrial crust, thin
and incompletely hardened, allowed it to spread through
its pores. This caused a peculiar form of vegetation, such
‘THE SUBSOIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM. 21

as is probably produced on the surface of the inferior
planets, ‘Venus or Mercury, which revolve nearer than our
earth around. the radiant Sun of our system.

The soil of the continents was covered with immense
forests. Carbonic acid, so suitable for the development of
the vegetable kingdom, abounded. ‘The vegetables also
grew under an arborescent form ; there was not a single
herbaceous plant. The ground was everywhere covered
with dense masses of trees, without flowers or fruits, of a
monotonous aspect, and not supplying nourishment for the
support of even a single living creature. The earth was
not yet ready for the appearance of the animal kingdom,

These antediluvian forests were composed as follows :—
The order of vascular cryptogams predominated. Cala-
mints, varieties of arborescent horsetail, lepidodendrons, a
sort of giant lycopod, seventy or eighty feet high, astero-
phylls, ferns, sigillaries, &c., of gigantic proportions, of which
impressions have been found in the mines of Saint Etienne,
all grand vegetable productions then, but now anything
similar to them can only be found among the humblest
botanic specimens of the habitable earth; such, with small
variety in their species, but enormous in their develop-
ment, were the vegetables which exclusively formed the
forests of this period. ,

The feet of these trees were drowned in. a sort of
immense lagoon, kept continually full by currents of fresh

C2
22 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



and salt waters. They eagerly assimilated to themselves
the carbon which they, little by little extracted from the
atmosphere, as yet unfit for the function of life, and it may
be said that they were destined to store it, in the form of
coal, in the very bowels of the earth.

It was the earthquake period, caused by internal convul-
sions, which suddenly modified the unsettled features of
the terrestrial surface. Here, an intumescence which was
to become a mountain, there, an abyss which was to be filled
with an ocean or a sea. There, whole forests sunk through
the earth’s crust, below the unfixed strata, either until they
found a resting-place, such as the primitive bed of granitic
rock, or,settling together in a heap, they formed a solid mass.

The geological structure is built up in the following
order: in the depths of the globe is the primitive soil,
which surmounts the rugged layer, composed of the primary
rocks; then come the secondary rocks, of which the veins
of coal form the lower beds ; then the tertiary rocks, and
above all the ancient and modern alluvial deposits.

As the waters were contained in no bed, and were spread
over every part of the globe, they rushed where they liked,
tearing from the scarcely-formed rocks material with which
to compose schists, sandstones, and limestones. This the
roving waves bore over the submerged and now peaty forests,
and deposited above them the elements of rocks which were

to superpose the coal strata. In course of time, periods
THE SUBSOIL OF TIIE UNITED KINGDOM. 23

of which include millions of years, these earths hardened in
layers, and enclosed under a thick carapace of pudding-
stone, schist, compact or friable sandstone, gravel and
stones, the whole of the massive forests.

And what went on in this gigantic crucible, where all
this vegetable matter had accumulated, sunk to various
depths? A regular chemical operation, a sort of distilla-
tion. All the carbon contained in these vegetables had
agglomerated, and little by little coal was forming under
the double influence of enormous pressure and the high
temperature maintained by the internal fires, at this time
so close to it.

Thus there was one kingdom substituted for another in
this slow but irresistible reaction. The vegetable was
transformed into a mineral. Plants which had lived the
vegetative life in all the vigour of first creation became
petrified. Some of the substances enclosed in this vast
herbal left their impression on the other more rapidly
mineralized products, which pressed them as an hydraulic
press of incalculable power would have done.

Thus also shells, zoophytes, star-fish, polypi, spirifores
even fish and lizards brought by the water, left on the yet

soft coal their exact likeness, “admirably taken off.” *

1 Tt must be remarked that all these plants of which impressions
have been found belong to species now only found in the equatorial
zones. We may conclude that at that time heat was equal all over the
24 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



Pressure seems to have played a considerable part in the
formation of carboniferous strata. In fact, it is to its
degree of power that are due the different sorts of coal, of
which industry makes use. Thus in the lowest layers of
the coal ground appears the anthracite, which, being
almost destitute. of volatile matter, contains the greatest
quantity of carbon. In the higher beds are found, on the
contrary, lignite and fossil wood, substances in which the
quantity of carbon is infinitely less. Between these two
beds, according to the degree of pressure to which they
have been subjected, are found veins of graphite and rich
or poor coal. It may be asserted that it is for want of
sufficient pressure that beds of peaty bog have not been
completely changed into coal. So then, the origin of coal
mines, in whatever part of the globe they have been dis-
covered, is this; the absorption through the terrestrial
crust of the great forests of the geological period ; then, the
mineralization of the vegetables obtained in the course of
time, under the influence of pressure and heat, and under
the action of carbonic acid.

However, nature, usually so-lavish, has not buried forests

in numbers sufficient for a consumption which may con-

world, either that it was brought by currents of warm water, or that
the interior fires were felt through the porous crust. In this way the
formation of carboniferous veins under every latitude may be accounted
for. ‘
THE SUBSOIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM. 25

tinue some thousands of years. Coal will fail one day,
that is certain. A forced stoppage will be imposed on the
machinery of the whole world, if some new combustible is
not found to replace coal. At a more or less distant
period, there will be no more coal seams, unless it be those
covered by an eternal sheet of ice, in Greenland, on the
shores of Baffin’s Bay, where excavations would be next to
impossible. This consummation is inevitable. The coal
mines of America, of Salt Lake, Oregon, and California,
now prodigiously rich, will one day yield but a scanty sup-
ply. It will be the same with the mines of Cape Breton,
and of the St. Lawrence, of the veins in the Alleghanies,
of Pennsylvania, of Virginia, of Illinois, of Indiana, of the
Missouri. . Although the carboniferous strata of North
America must be ten times larger than any others in the
world, a hundred centuries will not pass before the monster
with millions of manufacturing throats will have devoured
the last lump.of coal in the globe. ,

Scarcity will of course be felt sooner in the Old World.
Many beds of combustible mineral exist in Abyssinia,
Natal, on the Zambesi, in Mozambique, Madagascar ; but
their regular working would offer very great difficulties.
Those of the Birman Empire, China, Cochin-China,
Japan, and Central Asia, will be very soon exhausted.
The English will have certainly emptied Australia of its
carboniferous treasures, before the day when coal will
26 -* THE CHILD OF .THE CAVERN.



failcin the United Kingdom, previous to which, also, the
carboniferous seams of Europe, probed to their innermost
veins, will have been abandoned.

We may judge: by the following figures of the quan-
tity of coal which has been consumed since the discovery
of the first bearings. The coal-beds of Russia, Saxony,
and Bavaria, comprise six hundred thousand acres, those of
Spain, a hundred and fifty thousand, those of Bohemia and
Austria, a hundred and fifty thousand. The Belgian beds,
a hundred and twenty miles long, and nine miles wide, also
contain a hundred and fifty thousand acres, which extend
beneath the territories of Liege; Namur, Mons, and Char-
leroi. In France, the bed situated between the Loire and
the Rhone, Rive-de-Gier, Saint-Etienne, Givors, Epinac,
Blanzy, the Creuzot; the mines of the Gard, Alais, the
Grand Combe; those of the Aveyron to Aubin, the beds of
Carmaux, Barsac, Graissessac ; in the north, Auzin, Valen-
ciennes, Lens, Bethune, contain nearly three hundred and
fifty thousand acres.

The country most rich in coal, is unquestionably Great
Britain. Without including Ireland, which is almost entirely
deficient in the combustible mineral, it possesses enormous
carboniferous wealth; but like all wealth it is exhaust-
ible. The most important of these different beds, ‘that
of Newcastle, which occupies the subsoil of the county
of Northumberland, produces annually about thirty mil-
THE SUBSOIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM. 27



lion tons; that is to say, nearly the third of the English
consumption, and more than double what is produced in
France. The mines in Wales, which have concentrated a
whole population of miners at Cardiff, Swansea, and New-
port, yield annually ten million tons of the much-prized
Welsh coal. Less productive, though still very profitable;
are the mines in the counties of York, Lancaster, Derby,
and Stafford. Lastly, in that part of Scotland situated
between Edinburgh and Glasgow, between the two Firths
which indent it so deeply, lies one of the largest coal-beds in
the United Kingdom. The whole ofthese different beds do
not contain less than sixteen hundred thousand acres, and
produce annually a hundred million tons of the grimy fuel.

But what ofthat ? The consumption will become so tre-
mendous, as the demands of industry and commerce increase,
that even these vast riches will be exhausted. Ere the close
ofa third millennium of the Christian era, the European
miners’ hand will have emptied those magazines in which, so
to speak, is concentrated the solar heat ofearth’s early days.’

? Taking into consideration the progressive increase in the con-

sumption of coal, the latest calculations assign, in Europe, the following
limits to the exhaustion of mineral fuel :—

France. : : : : . . in II40 years.
England . : ; : . . - in8o00_ ,,
Belgium . : : . . 7 - in7so ,
Germany . . : : in 300. ,,

In America, at the rate of 500 millions of tons annually, the beds
could produce coal for 6000 years.
28 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

Now, at the time when the events related in this story
took place, one of the most important mines of the Scottish
coal-beds had been exhausted by too rapid working. In
this region, which extends between Edinburgh and Glasgow,
for a distance of ten or twelve miles, lay the Aberfoyle col-
liery, of which the engineer, James Starr, had so long
directed the works.

For ten years these mines had been abandoned. No
new seams had been discovered, although the soundings
had been carried to a depth of fifteen hundred or even of
two thousand feet, and when James Starr had retired, it
was with the full conviction that even the smallest vein had
been completely exhausted. =

Under these circumstances, it was plain that the dis-
covery of a new seam of coal would be an important event.
Could Simon Ford’s communication relate to a fact of this
nature? This question James Starr could not cease asking
himself. Was he called to make conquest of another corner
of these rich Treasure Fields ? Fain would he hope it was so.

The second letter had for an instant checked his specula-
tions on this subject, but now he thought of that letter no
longer. Besides, the son of the old overman was there,
waiting at the appointed rendezvous. The anonymous
letter was therefore worth nothing.

The moment the engineer set foot on the platform the

young man advanced towards him,
THE SUBSOIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM. 29



“ Are you Harry Ford?” asked the engineer quickly.

“Yes, Mr. Starr.”

“T should not have known you, my lad. Of course in
ten years you have become a man!”

“T knew you directly, sir,” replied the young miner, cap
in hand. “You have not changed. You look just as you
did when you bade us good-bye in the Dochart pit. I
haven’t forgotten that day.”

“Put on your cap, Harry,” said the engineer. “It’s
pouring with rain, and politeness needn’t make you catch
cold.” .

“ Shall we take shelter anywhere, Mr. Starr?” asked young
Ford.

“No, Harry. The weather is settled. It will rain all
day, and ITaminahurry. Let us go on.”

“T am at your orders,” replied Harry.

“Tell me, Harry, is your father well?”

“Very well, Mr. Starr.”

“And your mother ?”

“She is well too.”

“Was it your father who wrote telling me to come to the
Yarrow shaft ?”

“No, it was I.”

“Then did Simon Ford send me a second letter to
contradict the first?” asked the engineer quickly.

“No, Mr. Starr,” answered the young miner.
30 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“Very well,” said Starr, without speaking of the anonymous
letter.

Then, continuing,—

“ And can you tell me what your father wants with me?”
he asked.

“Mr. Starr, my father wishes to tell you himself.”

“But you know what it is?”

“T do, sir.”

“Well, Harry, I will not ask you more. But let us get
on, for I’m anxious to see Simon Ford. By-the-bye, where
does he live?”

* In the mine.”

“What! %In the Dochart pit?”

“Yes, Mr. Starr,’ replied Harry.

“Really! has your family never left the old mine since
the cessation of the works?”

“Not a day, Mr. Starr. You know my father. It is
there he was born, it is there he means to die!” ,

“I can understand that, Harry. I can understand that!
His native mine! He did not like to abandon it! And
are you happy there?”

“Yes, Mr. Starr,” replied the young miner, “for we love
one another, and we have but few wants.”

“Well, Harry,” said the engineer, “lead the way.”

And walking rapidly through the streets of Callander, in
a few minutes they had left the town behind them.




Harry Ford.

Page 31.
THE DOCHART PIT. 31

CHAPTER IV.
THE DOCHART PIT.

HARRY FORD was a fine, strapping fellow of five-and-
twenty. His grave looks, his habitually passive expression,
had from childhood been noticed among his comrades in the
mine. His regular features, his deep blue eyes, his curly
hair, rather chestnut than fair, the natural grace of his
person, altogether made him a fine specimen of a lowlander.
Accustomed from his earliest days to the work of the mine,
he was strong and hardy, as well as brave and good.
Guided by his father, and impelled by his own inclinations,
he had early begun his education, and at an age when most
lads are little more than apprentices, he had managed to
make himself of some importance, a leader, in fact, among
his fellows, and few are very ignorant in a country which
does all it can to remove ignorance. Though, during the
first years of his youth, the pick was never out of Harry’s

hand, nevertheless the young miner was not long in acquir-
32 : THE CILILD OF THE CAVERN,

ing sufticient knowledge to raise him into the upper class of
the miners, and he would certainly have succeeded his father
as overman of the Dochart pit, if the colliery had not been
abandoned. .

James Starr was still a good walker, yet he could not
easily have kept up with his guide, if the latter had not
slackened his pace. The rain was now falling with less
violence. The big drops broke and dispersed before they
reached the earth. It was now rather a heavy, damp mist
driven through the air by a fresh breeze.

Harry Ford and James Starr, the young man carrying
the engineer's bag, followed the left bank of the river for
about a mile. Leaving its winding course, they took a
road under tall, dripping trees. Wide fields lay on either
side, around isolated farms. Inone field a herd of hornless
cows were quietly grazing ; in another sheep with silky wool,
like those in a child’s toy sheep-fold. No shepherd was to
be seen, he was probably sheltering himself in some hollow
tree; but his colley, a dog peculiar to this country, and
renowned for his vigilance, was roaming about the pasture.

The Yarrow shaft was situated four miles from Callander.
Whilst walking, James Starr could not but be struck with
the change in the country. He had not seen it since the
day when the last ton of Aberfoyle coal had been emptied
into railway trucks to be sent to Glasgow. Agricultural

life had now taken the place of the more stirring, active,






The Engineer and Harry on their way to the Dochart Pit.

Page 32.

D


























































































































































































































Vy.
J

the changed aspect of the countr

ing

The Engineer contemplat

Page 33.
THE DOCHART PIT. 33

industrial life. The contrast was all the greater because,
during winter, field-work is at a stand-still. But formerly,
at whatever season, the mining population, above and below
ground, filled the scene with animation. Great waggons of
coal used to be passing night and day. The rails, with
their rotten sleepers, now disused, were then constantly
ground by the weight of waggons. Now stony roads took
the place of the old mining tramways. James Starr felt as
if he was traversing a desert.

The engineer gazed about him with a saddened eye. He
stopped now and then to take breath. He listened: Theé
air was no longer filled with distant whistlings and the
panting of engines. None of those black vapours which the
manufacturer loves to see, hung in the horizon, mingling
with the clouds. No tall cylindrical or prismatic chimney
vomited out smoke, after being fed from the mine itself; no
blast-pipe was puffing out its white vapour. The ground,
formerly’ black with coal-dust, had a bright look, to which
James Starr’s eyes were not accustomed.

When the engineer stood still, Harry Ford stopped ae
The young miner waited in silence. He felt what was pass-
ing in his companion’s mind, and he shared his feelings; he,
a child of the mine, whose whole life had been passed in its
depths.

“Yes, Harry, it is all changed,” said Starr. “But, at the
rate we worked, of course the treasures of coal would
34 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

have been exhausted some day. Do you regret that
time?” ;

“T do regret it, Mr. Starr,” answered Harry. “The work
was hard, but it was interesting, as are all struggles.”

“No doubt, my lad. A continuous struggle against the
dangers of landslips, fires, inundations, explosions of fire-
damp, like claps of thunder. One had to guard against
all those perils! You say well! It was a struggle, and
consequently an exciting life.”

“The miners of Alva have been more favoured than the
miners of Aberfoyle,-Mr. Starr!”

“ Ay, Harry, so they have,” replied the engineer.

“Indeed,” cried the young man, “it’s a pity that all the
globe was not made of coal ; then there would have been
enough to last millions of years !”

“No doubt there would, Harry; it must be acknow-
ledged, however, that nature has shown more forethought
by forming our sphere principally of sandstone, limestone,
and granite, which fire cannot consume.” |

“Do you mean to say, Mr. Starr, that mankind would
have ended by burning their own globe ?”

“Yes! The whole of it, my lad,” answered the engineer.
“The earth would have passed to the last bit into the
furnaces of engines, machines, steamers, gas-factories ;
certainly, that would have been the end of our world one
fine day |”
THE DOCHART PIT. 35

“There is no fear of that now, Mr. Starr. But yet, the



mines will be exhausted no doubt, and more rapidly than
the statistics make out!”

“That will happen, Harry; and in my opinion England
is very wrong in exchanging her fuel for the gold of
other nations! I know well,” added the engineer, “that
neither hydraulics nor electricity have yet shown all they
can do, and that some day these two forces will be more
completely utilized. But no matter! Coal is of a very
practical use, and lends itself easily to the various wants
of industry. Unfortunately man cannot produce it at
will... Though our external forests grow incessantly under
the influence’ of heat and water, our subterranean forests
will not be reproduced, and if they were, the globe would
never be in the state necessary to make them into coal.” -

James Starr and his guide, whilst talking, had continued
their walk at a rapid pace. An hour after leaving Cal-
lander they reached the Dochart pit.

The most indifferent person would have been touched at
the appearance this deserted spot presented. It was like
the skeleton of something that had formerly lived.

A few wretched trees bordered a plain where the ground
was hidden under the black dust of the mineral fuel, but
no cinders nor even fragments of coal were to be seen. All
had been carried away and consumed long ago.

On a mound stood an immense framework, slowly de-
36 THE CHILD OF TIIE CAVERN.



caying under the influence of the sun and: rain. -At the
top. of the framework appeared a huge cast-iron-wheel, and
lower. down could be seen great rollers, over which the
cables to bring the baskets up to the surface formerly-ran.

In the lower story was the empty engine-room, formerly
so. bright with all the polished steel and brass: of the
machinery. Bits of the wall lay on the ground with joists
‘broken and green with damp. Remains of beams to which
‘were jointed the rods of exhaust-pumps, greasy iron wedges,
toothless pinions, overturned weighing machines, a few
ladders fixed up on the walls, each looking like the back-
bone of an-ichthyosaurus, rails carried along a line. still
supported by two or three rickety. piles, tramways which
could not. have borne the weight of an empty truck,—such
was the desolate aspect.of the Dochart pit.

The worn kerbstone of the shaft was hidden by thick
moss. Here lay the remains of a basket, there a yard
where coal used to be stored, and sorted according to its
quality and size. Broken casks, to which hung the end
of a chain, fragments of gigantic buttresses, pieces of burst
boilers, twisted pistons, long beams stretching over the
opening of the pump-well, bridges trembling in the wind,
culverts shaking under foot, walls cracking, roofs falling in,
chimneys all disjointed, resembling those ancient cannons
of which the breech is hooped with cylindrical rings; all

this gave a vivid impression of desertion, misery, and sad-


































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































The abandoned works of the Dochart Pit. -
Page 36.
THE DOCHART PIT. 37



ness, beyond anything suggested by the ruins of an old
stone castle, or the remains of a dismantled fortress.

“It is utter desolation!” said James Starr, looking at
the young man, who did not reply.

They walked into the shed which covered the opening
of the Yarrow shaft, whence ladders still gave access to the
lower galleries of the pit. The engineer bent over the
opening. :

Formerly from this place could be heard the powerful
whistle of the air inhaled by the ventilators. It was now
a silent abyss. It was like being at the mouth of some
extinct volcano.

James Starr and Harry stepped on to the upper landing-
place.

When the mine was being worked, ingenious machines
were used in certain shafts of the Aberfoyle colliery, which
in this respect was very well off ; frames furnished with
automatic lifts, working in wooden slides, oscillating ladders,
called “ man-engines,” which, by a simple movement, per-
mitted the miners to descend without danger and mount up
without fatigue.

But all these appliances had been carried away, after the
cessation of the works. In the Yarrow shaft there re-
mained only a long succession of ladders, separated at
every fifty feet by narrow landings. Thirty of these
ladders placed thus end to end led the visitor down into the
38 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.





lower gallery, a depth of fifteen hundred feet. This was
the only way of communication which existed between the
bottom of the Dochart pit and the open air. As to air,
that came in by the Yarrow shaft, from whence galleries
communicated with another shaft whose orifice opened at
a higher level; the warm air naturally escaped by this
species of inverted siphon.

“T will follow you, my lad,” said the engineer, signing to
the young man to precede him.

“ As you please, Mr. Starr.”

“ Have you your lamp?”

“Yes, and I only wish it was still the safety lamp, which
we formerly had to use!”

“Sure enough,” returned James Se “there is no fear
of fire-damp explosions now!”

Harry was provided with a simple oil lamp, the wick of
which he lighted. In the mine, now empty of coal, escapes
of light carburetted hydrogen could not occur. ‘As no
explosion need be feared, there was no necessity for inter-
posing between the flame and the surrounding air that
metallic screen which prevents the gas from catching fire,
The Davy lamp was of no use here. But if the danger did
not exist, it was because the cause of it lad disappeared,
and with this cause, the combustible in which formerly
consisted the riches of the Dochart pit.

Harry descended’ the first steps of the upper ladder,
THE DOCHART PIT. 39



Starr followed. They soon found themselves in a pro-
found obscurity, which was only relieved by the glimmer
of the lamp. The young man held it above his head, the
better to light his companion. A dozen ladders were
descended by the engineer and his guide, with the measured
step habitual to the miner. They were all still in good
condition.

James Starr examined, as well as the insufficient light
would permit, the sides of the dark shaft, which were
covered by a partly rotten lining of wood.

Arrived at the fifteenth landing, that is to say, half-way
down, they halted for a few minutes.

“Decidedly, I have not your legs, my lad,” said the
engineer, panting.

‘ You are stout, Mr. Starr,” replied Harry, “and it’s
ae too, you see, to have lived all one’s life in the
mine.”

' “Right, Harry. Formerly, when I was twenty, I could
have gone down all at a breath. Come, forward !”

But just as the two were about to leave the platform,
a voice, as yet far distant, was heard in the depths of the
shaft. It came up like a sonorous billow, swelling as it
advanced, and becoming more and more distinct.

“Halloo! who comes here?” asked the engineer, stop-
ping Harry.

“TJ cannot say, ’ answered the young miner.
40 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.





“Ts it not your father ?”

“My father, Mr. Starr? no.”

“ Some neighbour, then ?”

“We have no neighbours in the bottom of the pit,”
replied Harry. We are alone, quite alone.”

“Well, we must let this intruder pass,” said James Starr.
“Those who are descending must yield the path to those
who are ascending.”

They waited.

The voice broke out again with a magnificent burst, as if
it had been carried through a vast speaking-trumpet ; and
soon a few words of a Scotch song came clearly to the ears
of the young miner.

“The Hundred Pipers!” cried Harry. ‘Well, I shall
be much surprised if that comes from the lungs of any man
but Jack Ryan.”

« And who is this Jack Ryan, who sings so well?” asked
James Starr. .

“An old mining comrade,” replied Harry.

Then leaning from the platform,—

“Halloo! Jack!” he shouted,

“Ts that you, Harry?” was the reply. “ Wait a bit, I’m
coming.”

And the song broke forth again.

In a few minutes, a tall fellow of five-and-twenty, with

a merry face, smiling eyes, a laughing mouth, and sandy
THE DOCHART PIT. | 41

hair, appeared at the bottom of the luminous cone which
was thrown from his lantern, and set foot on the landing
of the fifteenth ladder.

His first act was to vigorously wring the hand which



Harry extended to him.

“Delighted to meet you!” he exclaimed. “If I had
only known you were to be above ground to-day, I would
have spared myself the trouble of going down the Yarrow
shaft!”

“This is Mr. James Starr,” said Harry, turning his lamp
towards the engineer who was in the shadow.

“Mr. Starr!” cried Jack Ryan. “Ah sir, I could not
see who it was. Since I left the mine, my eyes have
not been accustomed to see in the dark, as they used
to do.”

“ Ah, yes, now I remember a laddie who was always
singing. That was ten years ago. It was you, no
doubt ?”

« Ay, Mr. Starr, but in changing my trade, I haven’t
changed my disposition. It’s far better to laugh and sing
than to cry and whine!” ,

“You're right there, Jack Ryan. And what do you do
now, as you have left the mine?”

“T am working on the Melrose farm, near Irvine, in
Renfrewshire, forty miles from here. Ah, it’s not like our

Aberfoyle mines! The pick comes better to my hand than
42 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.





the spade or hoe. And then, in the old pit, there were
vaulted roofs, to merrily echo one’s songs, while up above
ground! — But you are going to see old Simon, Mr.
Starr?”

“Yes, Jack,’ answered the engineer.

“Don’t let me keep you then.”

“Tell me, Jack,” said Harry, “what was taking you to
our cottage to-day?” ;

“T wanted to see you, man,” replied Jack, “and ask you
to come to the Irvine games. You know I am the piper
of the place. There will be dancing and singing.”

“Thank you, Jack, but it’s impossible.”

“ Tmpossible ?”

“Yes; Mr. Starr’s visit will last some time, and I must
take him back to Callander.”

“Well, Harry, it won’t be for a week yet. By that time
Mr. Start’s visit will be over, I should think, and there will
be nothing to keep you at the cottage.”

“Indeed, Harry,” said James Starr, “you must profit by
your friend Jack’s invitation.”

“Well, I accept it, Jack,” said Harry. “Ina week we
will meet at Irvine.” ©

“In a week, that’s settled,” returned Ryan. Good-bye,
Harry! Your servant, Mr. Starr. I am very glad to have
seen you again! I can give news of you to all my friends,
No one has forgotten you, sir.”






























































































































































































































































































































































































































Jack Ryan above ground.
THE DOCHART PIT. “43

“And I have forgotten no one,” said Starr.

“ Thanks for all, sir,” replied Jack.

“Good-bye, Jack,” said Harry, shaking his friend by the
hand.”

And Jack Ryan, singing as he went, soon disappeared
in the heights of the shaft, dimly lighted by his
lamp.

A quarter of an hour afterwards James Starr and Harry
descended the last ladder, and set foot on the lowest floor
of the pit.

From the bottom of the Yarrow shaft radiated numerous
empty galleries. They ran through the wall of schist and
sandstone, some shored up with great, roughly-hewn beams,
others lined with a thick casing of wood. In every direction
embankments supplied the place of the excavated veins.
Artificial pillars were made of stone from neighbouring
quarries, and now they supported the ground, that is to say,
the double layer of tertiary and quaternary soil, which
formerly rested on the seam itself. Darkness now filled the
galleries, formerly lighted either by the miner's lamp or by
the electric light, the use of which had been introduced in
the mines. But the dismal tunnels no longer resounded
with the grinding of trucks along their rails, the voices of men,
the neighing of horses and mules, the blows of the miner’s
pick, nor the crash of the blasting which broke down the

massive walls,
A4 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



“Will you not rest a while, Mr. Starr?” asked the young
man.

“No, my lad,” replied the engineer, “for I am anxious to
be at your father’s cottage.” ,

“Follow me then, Mr. Starr. J will guide you, and yet I
daresay you could find your way perfectly well through this
dark labyrinth.”

“Yes indeed! I have the whole plan of the old pit still
in my head.”

Harry, followed by the engineer, and holding his lamp
high the better to light their way, walked along a high
gallery, like the nave of a cathedral. Their feet still struck
against the wooden sleepers which used to support the
rails.

But they had not gone more than fifty paces, when a huge
stone fell at the feet of James Starr.

“Take care, Mr. Starr!” cried Harry, seizing the engineer,
by the arm.

“A stone, Harry! Ah! these old vaultings are no
longer quite secure, of course, and—”

“Mr. Starr,” said Harry .Ford, “it. seems to .me
that stone was thrown, thrown as by the. hand of
man!” ,
“Thrown!” exclaimed James Starr. “What do you
mean, lad ?” ,

“Nothing, nothing, Mr. Starr,” replied Harry evasively,
THE DOCHART PIT. 45



his anxious gaze endeavouring to pierce the darkness.
“Let us goon. Take my arm, sir, and don’t be afraid of
making a false step.”

“Here I am, Harry.”

And they both advanced, whilst Harry looked on every
side, throwing the light of his lamp into all the corners of
the gallery.

“Shall we soon be there?” asked the engineer.

“In ten minutes at most.”

“Good.”

“But,” muttered Harry, “that was a most singular thing.
It is the first time such an accident has happened to me.
That stone falling just at the moment we were passing.”

“Harry, it was a mere chance.”

“Chance,” replied the young man, shaking his head.
“Yes, chance.”

He stopped and fistenied:

“ What is the matter, Harry ?” asked the engineer.

“T thought I heard some one walking behind us,” replied
the young miner, listening more attentively.

Then he added,—

“No, I must .have been mistaken. Lean harder on my
arm, Mr. Starr. Use me like a staff.”

“A good solid staff, Harry,” answered James Starr.
“I could not wish for a better than a fine fellow like

”

you.
46 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

They continued to walk in silence along the dark nave.

Harry was evidently preoccupied, and frequently turned,
trying to catch, either some distant noise, or remote glimmer
of light, .

But behind and before, all was silence and darkness,
THE FORD FAMILY. 47



CHAPTER V.
THE FORD FAMILY.

TEN minutes afterwards, James Starr and Harry issued
from the principal gallery.

They were now standing in a glade, if we may use this
word to designate a vast and dark excavation. The place,
however, was not entirely deprived of daylight. A fewrays
straggled in through the opening of a deserted shaft. lt
was by means of this pipe that ventilation was established
in the Dochart pit. Owing to its lesser density, the warm
air was drawn towards the Yarrow shaft.

Both air and light, therefore, penetrated in some measure
into the glade.

Here Simon Ford had lived with his family ten years, in
a subterranean dwelling, hollowed out in the schistous mass,
where formerly stood the powerful engines which worked
the mechanical traction of the Dochart pit.

Such was the habitation, “his cottage,” as he called it,
48 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

in which resided the old overman. As he had some
means saved during a long life of toil, Ford could have
afforded to live in the light of day, among trees, or in
any town of the kingdom he chose, but he and his wife and
son preferred remaining in the mine, where they were happy
together, having the same opinions, ideas, and tastes. Yes,
they were quite fond of their cottage, buried fifteen hundred
feet below Scottish soil. . Among other advantages, there
was no fear that tax-gatherers, or rent-collectors would ever
come to trouble its inhabitants. a .

At this: period, Simon Ford, the former overman of. the
Dochart pit, bore the weight of sixty-five years well. Tall,
robust, well-built, he would have been regarded as one of
the most conspicuous men in the district which supplies so
many fine fellows to the Highland regiments.

Simon Ford was descended from an old mining family,
and his ancestors had worked the very first carboniferous
seams opened in Scotland.

Without discussing whether or not the Greeks and
Romans made use of coal, whether the Chinese worked
coal-mines before the Christian era, whether the French
word for coal (ouille) is really derived from the farrier
Houillos, who lived in Belgium in the twelfth century, we
may affirm that the beds in Great Britain were the first
ever regularly worked. So early as the eleventh century,
William the Conqueror divided the produce of the New-
THE FORD FAMILY. 49



castle bed among his companions-in-arms. At the end of
the thirteenth century, a licence for the mining of “sea-
coal” was granted by HenryIII. Lastly, towards the end
of the same century, mention is made of the Scotch and
Welsh beds.

It was about this time that Simon Ford’s ancestors pene-
trated into the bowels of Caledonian earth, and lived there
ever after, from father to son. They were but plain miners.
They laboured like convicts at the work of extracting the
precious combustible. It is even believed that the coal-
miners, like the salt-makers of that period, were actual
slaves. Indeed, so firmly was this opinion established in
Scotland that as lately even as during the war of the Pre-
tender, it was feared that twenty thousand Newcastle
miners would not rise to gain by force a freedom which
they did not consider had ever been granted to them.

However that might have been, Simon Ford was proud
of belonging to this ancient family of Scotch miners. He
had worked diligently in the same place where his ancestors
had wielded the pick, the crowbar, and the mattock. At
thirty he was overman of the Dochart pit, the most im-
portant in the Aberfoyle colliery, He was devoted to his
trade. During long years he zealously performed his duty.
His only grief had been to perceive the bed becoming
impoverished, and to. see the hour approaching when the

seam would be exhausted.
50 THE CHILD OF TIITE CAVERN.



It was then he devoted himself to the search for new
veins in all the Aberfoyle pits, which communicated under-
ground one with another. He had had the good luck to
discover several during the last period of the working.
His miner's instinct assisted him marvellously, and the
engineer, James Starr, appreciated him highly. It might
be said that he divined the course of seams in the depths of
the coal-mine as a hydroscope reveals springs in the bowels
of the earth.

But, as we have said, the time came when the coal supply
failed entirely in the mine. Sounding yielded no result.
It was evident that the carboniferous bed was entirely
exhausted : work ceased ; the miners retired.

Will it be believed? It was a downright grief to the
gréater number of them. But those who know that men,
in the. main, love their work, whatever it is, will not be
astonished. .Simon Ford was unquestionably the most
distressed. He was par excellence the type of a miner whose
whole existence is indissolubly connected with that of his
mine.. He had lived there from his birth, and now that the
works were abandoned he wished to live there still. And
so he did. . His son Harry foraged for the subterranean
housekeeping ; as for himself, during those ten years he
had not been ten times above ground.

“Go up there! What is the good?” he would say, and
refused to leave his black domain.




Simon Ford.
THE FORD FAMILY. Sk



The place was remarkably healthy, subject to an equable
temperature; the old overman endured neither the heat of
summer nor the cold of winter. His family enjoyed good
health ; what more could he desire?

But at heart he felt depressed. He missed the
former animation, movement, and life in the well-
worked pit. He was, however, supported by one fixed
idea.

“No, no! the mine is not exhausted!” he repeated.

And that man would have given serious offence who could
have ventured to express before Simon Ford any doubt that
old Aberfoyle would one day revive! He had never given
up the hope of discovering some new bed which would
restore the mine to its past splendour. Yes, he would
willingly, had it been necessary, have resumed the miner’s
pick, and with his still stout arms vigorously attacked the
rock. He went through the dark galleries, sometimes
alone, sometimes with his son, examining, searching for
signs of coal, only to return each day, wearied, but not in
despair, to the cottage.

Madge, Simon’s faithful companion, his “oude-wife,”
to use the Scotch term, was a tall, strong, comely woman.
Madge had no wish to leave the Dochart pit any more than
had her husband. She shared all his hopes and regrets.
She encouraged him, she urged him on, and talked to him
in a way which cheered the heart of the old overman.
52. THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“Aberfoyle is only asleep,” she would say. “ You are
right about that, Simon. This is but a rest, it is not
death !” :

Madge, as well as the others, was perfectly satisfied to
live independent of the outer world, and was the centre of
the happiness enjoyed by the little family in their dark
cottage.

James Starr now arrived among them.

The engineer was eagerly expected. Simon Ford was

standing at his door, and as soon as Harry’s lamp announced
the arrival of his former viewer he advanced to meet him.
. “Welcome, Mr. Starr!” he exclaimed, his voice echoing
under the roof of schist. “Welcome to the old overman’s
cottage! Though it is buried fifteen lundred feet under
the earth, our house is not the less hospitable.”

“And how are you, good Simon?” asked James Starr,
grasping the hand which his host held out to him.

“Very well, Mr. Starr. How could I be otherwise here,
sheltered from the inclemencies of the weather? Your
ladies who go to Newhaven or Portobello in the summer
time would do much better to pass a few months in the
coal-mine of Aberfoyle! They would run no risk here of
catching a heavy cold, as they do in the damp streets of the
old capital.”

“Tm not the man to contradict you, Simon,” answered
James Starr, glad to find the old man just as he used to be.
THE FORD FAMILY. 53

“Indeed, I wonder why I do not change my home in the
Canongate for a cottage near you.”

“And why not, Mr. “Starr? I know one of your old
miners who would be truly pleased to have only a 7 pasesoe
wall between you and him.”

“And how is Madge?” asked the engineer.

“The goodwife is in better health than I am, if that’s
possible,” replied Ford, “and it will be a pleasure to her to
see you at her table. I think she will surpass herself to do
you honour.”

“We shall see that, Simon, we shall see that!” said the
engineer, to whom the announcement of a good breakfast
could not be indifferent, after his long walk.

“Are you hungry, Mr. Starr?”

“Ravenously -hungry. My journey has given me an
appetite. I came through horrible weather.”

“ Ah, it is raining up there,” responded Simon Ford, with
a very obvious air of pity.

“Yes, Simon, and the waters of the Forth are as rough as
the sea.”

“Well, Mr. Starr, here it never rains. But I needn't
describe to you all the advantages, which you know as well
as myself. Here we are at the cottage. That is the chief
thing, and I again say you are welcome, sir.”

Simon Ford, followed by Harry, ushered their guest into
the dwelling. James Starr found himself in a large room
54 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

lighted by numerous lamps, one hanging from the coloured
beams of the roof.

The table, spread with a snowy cloth, was ready for the
guests, for whom four chairs, covered with old leather, were
waiting.

. Good day, Madge,” said the engineer.

“Good day, Mr. Starr,” answered the woman, as she rose
to receive her visitor.

“It’s a pleasure to me to see you again, Mrs. Ford.”

“That’s right, Mr. Starr. You must feel it a pleasure to
see again those to whom you have always been so good.”

“The soup is ready, wife,” said Ford, “and it mustn’t be
kept waiting any more than Mr. Starr. He is as hungry as
a miner, and he shall see that our, boy doesn’t let us want
for anything in the cottage! By-the-bye, Harry,’ added
the old overman, turning to his son, “ Jack Ryan came here
to see you.”

“JT know, father. We met him in the Yarrow shaft.”

“He’s an honest anda merry fellow,” said Ford ;.“ but
he seems to be quite happy above ground. He hasn't the
true miner’s blood in his veins. Sit down, Mr. Starr, and
have a good dinner, for it is possible that we may not sup
till late.”

As the engineer and his hosts were taking their places,—

“One moment, Simon,” said James Starr “Do you

want me to eat with a good appetite?”
THE FORD FAMILY, 55

Se

“It will be doing us all possible honour, Mr. Starr,”
answered Ford.

“Well, in order to eat heartily, I must not be at all
anxious. Now I have two questions to put to you.”

“Go on, sir.”

“Your letter told me of a communication which was to
be of an interesting nature.”

“Tt is very interesting indeed.”

“To you?” ;

“To you and to me, Mr. Starr. But I do not want to
tell it you until after dinner, and on the very spot itself.
Without that you would not believe me.”

“Simon,” resumed the engineer, “look me straight in
the face. An interesting communication? Yes. Good!
I will not ask more,” he added, as if he had read the reply
in the old overman’s eyes.

And the second question ?” asked the latter.

“Do you know, Simon, who the person is who can have
written this?” answered the engineer, handing him the
anonymous letter.

Ford took the letter and read it attentively. Then
giving it to his son,—

“Do you know the writing?” he asked.

“No, father,” replied Harry.

“ And had this letter the Aberfoyle postmark ?” inquired
Simon Ford..
56 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“Yes, like yours,” replied James Starr.

“What do you think of that, Harry?” said his father,
his brow darkening.

“J think, father,” returned Harry, “that some one has
had some interest in trying to prevent Mr. Starr from
coming to the place where you invited him.”

“But who,” exclaimed the old miner, “who could have
possibly guessed enough of my secret?”

And Simon Ford fell into a reverie, from which he was
aroused by his wife’s voice.

“Let us begin, Mr. Starr,’ she said. “The soup is
getting cold. Don’t think any more of that letter just now.”

On the old woman’s invitation, each drew in his chair,
James Starr opposite to Madge—to do him honour—the
father and son opposite to each other.

It was a good Scotch dinner. First they ate “hotch-
potch,” soup with the meat swimming in capital broth.
As old Simon said, his wife knew no rival in the art of
preparing hotchpotch.

It was the same with the “cockyleeky,” a cock stewed
with leeks, which merited high praise. The whole was
washed down with excellent ale, obtained from the best
brewery in Edinburgh.

But the principal dish consisted of a “haggis,” the
national pudding, made of meat and barley-meal. This
remarkable dish, which inspired the poet Burns with one
THE FORD FAMILY. 57

of his best odes, shared the fate of all the good things in
this world—it passed away like a dream.

Madge received the sincere compliments of her guest.
The dinner ended with cheese and oatcake, accompanied
by afew small glasses of “usquebaugh,” capital whisky,
five-and-twenty years old—just Harry’s age.

The repast lasted a good hour. James Starr and Simon
Ford had not only eaten much, but talked much too, chiefly
of their past life in the old Aberfoyle mine.

Harry had been rather silent. Twice he had left the
table, and even the house. He evidently felt uneasy since
the incident of the stone, and wished to examine the environs
of the cottage. The anonymous letter had not contributed
to reassure him.

Whilst he was absent, the engineer observed to Ford and
his wife,—

“That’s a fine lad you have there, my friends.”

“Yes, Mr. Starr, he is a good and affectionate son,” replied
the old overman earnestly.

“Ts he happy with you in the cottage?”

“He would not wish to leave us.”

“Don’t you think of finding him a wife, some day ?”

“ A wife for Harry,” exclaimed Ford. “And who would
it be? A girl from up yonder, who would love merry-
makings and dancing, who would prefer her clan to our
mine! Harry wouldn't do it!”

Fo2
58 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



“Simon,” said Madge, “you would not forbid that Harry
should take a wife.”

“T would forbid nothing,” returned the old miner, “but
there’s no hurry about that.. Who knows but we may find
one for him—’”

Harry re-entered at that moment, and Ford was silent.

When Madge rose from the table, all followed her
example, and seated themselves at the door of the cottage.

“Well, Simon,” said the engineer, “I am ready to hear

”

you.
“Mr. Starr,” responded Ford, “I do not need your ears,

but your legs, Are you quite rested ?”

“Quite rested and quite refreshed, Simon... I am ready
to go with you wherever you like.”

“Warry,” said Simon Ford, turning to his son, “ light our
safety lamps.”

“Are you going to take safety lamps!” exclaimed James
Starr, in amazement, knowing that there was no fear of
explosions of fire-damp in a pit quite empty of coal.

“Yes, Mr. Starr, it will be prudent.”

“My good Simon, won’t you propose next to put. meina
miner’s dress ?”

“Not just yet, sir, not just yet!” returned the old over-
man, his deep-set eyes gleaming strangely.

Harry soon reappeared, carrying three safety lamps.

He handed one of these lamps to the engineer, the other








Starting on an exploring expedition.

Page 59.
THE FORD FAMILY. 59

to his father, and kept the third hanging from his left hand,
whilst his right was armed with a long stick.
“Forward!” said Simon Ford, taking up a strong pick,
which was leaning against the wall of the cottage,
“Forward !” echoed the engineer. “Good-bye, Madge.”
“God speed you!” responded the good woman,
“A good supper, wife, do you hear?” exclaimed Ford.
“We shall be hungry when we come back, and will do it

”
!

justice
60 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

CHAPTER VIL
SOME STRANGE PHENOMENA,

MANY superstitious beliefs exist both in the Highlands and
Lowlands of Scotland. In some places the laird’s tenants
collect together in the evening and love to relate to each
other stories borrowed from the old hyperborean mythology.
Education, though widely and liberally spread over the
country, has not as yet been able to reduce these legends
to the class of fiction, they seem inherent to the very soil of
old Caledonia. It is still the land of spirits and ghosts,
goblins and fairies. The malicious spirit, which is only got
rid of by means of money, is still believed in; also the seer
of the Highlanders, who, by second sight, predicts approach-
ing deaths; the “May Moullach,” who appears in the form
of a young girl with hairy arms, and warns families of mis-
fortunes by which they are threatened; the Brownies, to
whom is intrusted the’care of the domestic arrangements ;
the Urisk, who more especially frequents the wild gorges
of Loch Katrine, and many others.
SOME STRANGE PHENOMENA. 61



Of course:the mining population must furnish its con-
tingent of legends and fables to this mythological repertory.
If the Highlands are peopled with imaginary beings, either
good or bad, with much more reason must the dark mines
be haunted to their lowest depths. Who shakes the seam
during tempestuous nights? who puts the miners on the
track of anas yet unworked vein? who lights the fire-damp,
and presides over the terrible explosions? who but some
spiritofthe mine? This, at least, was the opinion commonly
spread among the superstitious Scotch. In truth, the
greater number of miners chose to believe in the work of
spirits, when the phenomena were in reality purely physical,
and it would have been but losing time to endeavour to
convince them of their mistake. Where could credulity de-
velope itself more freely than in the depths of these abysses ?

The Aberfoyle mines being situated in this legendary
country were naturally the scene of many supernatural
incidents.

Legends of course were in plenty. It must be acknow-
ledged besides, that certain phenomena, as yet unexplained
furnished fresh food to the public credulity.

In the first rank of the believers in the supernatural in
the Dochart pit figured Jack Ryan, Harry’s friend. He
was the great partisan of all these superstitions. All these
wild stories were turned by him into songs, which earned

him great applause in the winter evenings.
62 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

But Jack Ryan was not alone in his belief. His comrades



affirmed, no less strongly, that the Aberfoyle pits were
haunted, and that certain strange beings were seen there
frequently, just as in the Highlands. To hear them
talk, it would have been more extraordinary if nothing
of the kind appeared. Could there indeed bea better place
than a dark and deep coal-mine for the freaks of fairies,
elves, goblins, and other actors in the fantastical dramas?
The scenery was all ready, why should not the supernatural
personages come there to play their parts?

_ So reasoned Jack Ryan and his comrades in the Aber-
foyle mines. We have said that the different pits com-
municated with each other by means of long subterranean
galleries. Thus there existed beneath the county of Stir-
ling a vast tract, full of burrows, tunnels, bored with caves,
and perforated with shafts, a subterranean labyrinth, which
might be compared to an enormous ant-hill.

Miners, though belonging to different pits, often met,
when going to or returning from their work. Conse-
quently there was a constant opportunity of exchanging
talk, and circulating the stories which had their origin in
the mine, from one pit to another. These accounts were
transmitted with marvellous rapidity, passing from mouth
to mouth, and gaining in wonder as they went.

Two men, however, better educated and with more prac-
tical minds than the rest, had always resisted this tempta-
SOME STRANGE PHENOMENA. 63



tion. They in no degree believed in the intervention of
spirits, elves, or goblins.

These two were Simon Ford and his son. And they
proved it by continuing to inhabit the dismal crypt, after
the desertion of the Dochart pit. Perhaps good Madge,
like every Highland woman, had some leaning towards.the
supernatural. - But she had to repeat all these stories to
herself,and so she did, most conscientiously, so as not to let
the old traditions be lost.

Even had Simon and Harry Ford been as credulous as
their companions, they would not have abandoned the mine
to the imps and fairies. The hope of discovering a new
vein would have made them brave all the fantastic army of
goblins. They were not credulous, they were believers but
in one point ; they could not admit that the carboniferous
bed of Aberfoyle was totally exhausted. It may be said
with truth, that on this subject, Simon Ford and his son had
a faith in God which nothing could shake.

' For ten years, without missing a single day, obstinate
and immovable in their convictions, the father and son took
their picks, their sticks,and their lamps. They went about.
searching, sounding the rock with a sharp blow, listening if
it would return a favourable sound. So long as the sound-
ings had not been pushed to the granite of the primary
formation, the Fords were agreed that the search, unsuc-
cessful to-day, might succeed to-morrow, and that it ought
64 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

———$—________-—

tobe resumed, They spent their whole life in endeavouring
to bring Aberfoyle back to its former prosperity. If the
father died before the hour of success, the son was to go.on
with the task alone.

At the same time, these two devoted guardians of the
mine, examined it with a view to its preservation. They
assured themselves as to the safety of its roofs and embank-
ments. They found out if a landslip was to be feared, and
if it was necessary to stop up some part of the pit. They
discovered leakages of water, drained it off into channels so
as to collect it into a pool. In short, they had voluntarily
constituted themselves the protectors and preservers of this
unproductive domain, from whence had issued such great
riches, now dissolved in smoke!

It was during one of these excursions that Harry was
more particularly struck by certain phenomena, which he
vainly sought to explain. Several times, while walking
along some narrow cross-alley, he seemed to hear sounds
similar to those which. would be produced by violent blows
of a pickaxe against the wall.

Harry, who knew no fear either of what was natural or
supernatural, hastened to seek the cause of this mysterious
work,

The tunnel was empty. The light from the young
miner’s lamp, thrown on the wall, revealed no trace of any
recent work with pick or crowbar. Harry would then ask


Harry suspicious,

Page 65
SOME STRANGE PHENOMENA. 65



himself if it was not the effect of some acoustic illusion, or:
some strange and faritastic echo, :

At other times, on suddenly throwing a bright light into a
suspicious-looking cleft in the rock, he thought he saw a
shadow. He rushed forward. Nothing, and there was.
no opening to permit a human being to evade his pursuit !

Twice in one month, Harry, whilst visiting the west end
of the pit, distinctly heard distant reports, as if. some
miner had exploded a charge of dynamite. The second
time, after many careful researches, he found that a pillar
had just been blown up.

By the light of his lamp, Harry carefully examined the
place attacked by the explosion. It had not been made.in
a simple embankment of stones, but in a mass of schist,
which had penetrated to this depth in the coal stratum,
Had the object of the explosion been to discover a new
vein? Or had some one wished simply to destroy this
portion of the mine? Thus he questioned, and when he
made known this occurrence to his father, neither could
the old overman nor he himself answer the question in a
satisfactory way.

“It is very queer,’ Harry often repeated. “The pre-
sence of an unknown being in the mine seems impossible,
and yet there can be no doubt about it. Does some: one
besides ourselves wish to find out if a seam yet exists?
Or, rather, has he attempted to destroy what remains of
66 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

the Aberfoyle mines? But for what reason? I will find
that out, if it should cost me my life!”

A fortnight before the day on which Harry Ford guided
the engineer through the labyrinth of the Dochart pit, he
had been on the point of attaining the object ofhis search.

He was going over the south-west end of the mine, with
a large lantern in his hand. All at once, it seemed'to him
that alight was suddenly extinguished, some hundred
feet before him,. at the end of a narrow passage cut
obliquely through the rock.. He darted forward.

His search was in vain. As Harry would not admit a
supernatural explanation for a physical occurrence, he
concluded that certainly some strange being prowled about
in the pit.. But whatever he could do, searching with the
greatest care, scrutinizing every crevice in the gallery, he
found nothing for his trouble, and could not arrive at any
certain conclusion.

Harry therefore left it to chance to unveil the mystery.
He still now and again saw lights hovering from one point
to another like Will-o’-the-wisps ; but they just appeared
like flashes, and there was no use in trying to discover the
cause of them. ;

If Jack Ryan and the other superstitious fellows in
the mine had seen these lights, they would, without
fail, have called them supernatural, but Harry did not
dream of doing so, nor did his father. And when they
SOME STRANGE PHENOMENA. 67



talked over these phenomena, evidently due to a physical
cause,—

“ My lad,” the old man would say, “we must wait. It
will all be explained some day.”

However, it must be observed that, hitherto, neither
Harry nor his father had ever been exposed to any act of
violence.

If the stone which had fallen at the feet of James Starr
had been thrown by the hand of some ill-disposed perscn,
it was the first criminal act of that description.

James Starr was of opinion that the stone had become
detached from the roof of the gallery ; but Harry would
not admit of such a simple explanation. According to
him, the stone had not fallen, it had been thrown; for
otherwise, without rebounding, it could never have de-
scribed a trajectory as it did.

Harry saw in it a direct attempt against himself and his
father, or even against the engineer. After what has been
-said, it may perhaps be admitted that he had some grounds
for his belief.
68 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

CHAPTER VIL
SIMON FORD’S EXPERIMENT.

THE old clock in the cottage struck one as James Starr
and his two companions went out.

A dim light penetrated through the ventilating shaft
into the glade. Harry’s lamp was not necessary here, but
it would very soon be of use, for the old overman was
about to conduct the engineer to the very end of the
Dochart pit.

After following the principal gallery for a distance of
two miles, the three explorers—for, as will be seen, this
was a regular exploration—arrived at the entrance.of a
narrow tunnel. It was like a nave, the roof of which rested
on woodwork, covered with white moss. It followed very
nearly the line traced by the course of the river Forth,
fifteen hundred feet above. '

In case James Starr had become less familiar than
formerly with the labyrinth of the Dochart pit, Ford put
SIMON FORD'S EXPERIMENT. 69



him in mind of the general, plan, by comparing it with the
geographical outline of the ground.

Starr and Simon Ford walked together conversing.

Harry lighted the way in front of them. He tried, by
suddenly flashing his lamp into all the dark clefts, to dis-
cover any suspicious shadow.

“Are we going far in this direction, Ford?” ae the
engineer.

“Another half-mile, sir. Long ago, we should have
made the journey in a waggon on the -traction tramway.
But those times are long past.”

“So we are going to the end of the last vein?” said
James Starr. ,

“Ay! You know the mine well still.”

“Well, Simon,” returned the engineer, “it will be diffi-
cult to go further than that, if I don’t mistake.”

“Ves, indeed, Mr. Starr. That was where our picks tore
‘out the last bit of coal in the seam. I remember it as if
it were yesterday. I myself gave that last blow, and it
re-echoed in my heart more dismally than on the rock.
Only sandstone and schist was round us after that, and
when the truck rolled towards the shaft, I followed, with
my heart as full as though it were a funeral. It seemed
to me that the soul of the mine was going with it.”

The gravity with which the old man uttered these words
impressed the engineer, who was not far from sharing his

G2
7O THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

sentiments. They were those of the sailor who leaves his
disabled vessel—of the. proprietor who sees the house of
his ancestors pulled down. He pressed Ford’s hand; but
now the latter seized that of the engineer, and, wringing
it—,

“That day we were all of us mistaken,” he exclaimed.
“No! The old mine was not dead. It was not a corpse
that the miners abandoned ; and I dare to assert, Mr. Starr,
that its heart beats still.”

“Speak, Ford! Have you discovered a new vein?”
cried the engineer, unable to contain himself. “I know
you have! Your letter could mean nothing else. A com-
munication to be made to me, and in the Dochart pit!
What other discovery but that of a coal-seam could interest
me?”

“Mr. Starr,” said Simon Ford, “I did not wish to tell
any man but yourself.”

“And you did quite right, Ford. But tell me how, by
what signs, are you sure?”

“Listen, sir!” resumed Simon. “It is not a seam that I
have found.” .

“What is it, then ?”

“ Only positive proof that such a seam exists.”

“ And the proof?”

“Could fire-damp issue from the bowels of the earth if
coal was not there to produce it?”
SIMON FORD’S EXPERIMENT. 71
cena te eta ls SNS

“No, certainly not!” replied the engineer. “No coal,
no fire-damp. No effects without a cause.”

“Just as no smoke without fire.”

“And have you recognized the presence of light
carburetted hydrogen ?”

“An old miner could not be deceived,” answered Ford.
“I have met with our old enemy, the fire-damp !”

“But suppose it was another gas,” said Starr. “Fire-
damp is almost without smell, and colourless. It oiily
really betrays its presence by an explosion.”

“Mr. Starr,” said Simon Ford, “will you let me tell you
what I have done, and how I have done it, in my own way,
excusing my slowness?” .

James Starr knew. the old overman, and knew that it
would be best to let him have his own way. ©

“Mr. Starr,” resumed Simon Ford, “for ten years not a
day has passed that Harry and I did not think how to
give back its old prosperity to the mine—no, not a day!
If a seam still existed, we were determined to discover it.
But how to do it? By sounding? That was not possible
for us ; but we had the miner’s’ instinct, and instinct often
leads one more straight to the mark than reason does—at
least, that’s my idea.”.

“ Which I will not contradict,” responded the engineer.

“Now, Harry had once or twice observed something
remarkable in his excursions to the west end of the mine.
72 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



Fire, which suddenly went out, sometimes appeared along
the face of the rock or on the embankment of the further
galleries. How those flames were lighted, I could not and
cannot say. But they were evidently owing to the pre-
sence of fire-damp, and to me fire-damp means a vein of
coal.”

“Did not these fires cause any explosion?” asked the
engineer quickly.

“Yes, little partial explosions,” replied Ford, “such as I
used to cause myself when I wished to ascertain the pre-
sence of fire-damp. Do you remember how formerly it
was the custom to try to prevent explosions before our
good genius, Humphrey Davy, invented his safety-lamp ?”

“Yes,” replied James Starr. “You mean what the
‘monk,’ as the men called him, used to do. But I. have
never seen him in the.exercise of his duty.”

“Indeed, Mr. Starr, you are too young, in spite of your
five-and-fifty: years, to have seen that. But I, ten years
older, often saw the last ‘monk’ working in.the mine. He
was called so: because he wore a long robe like a monk.
His proper name was the ‘fireman.’ At that time there
was no other means of destroying the bad gas but by dis-
persing it in little explosions, beforé its buoyancy had
collected it in too’ great quantities in the heights of the
galleries. The monk, as we calléd him, with his face
masked, his head muffled up, all his body tightly wrapped




































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































The Monk at Work.

Page 72.
SIMON FORD’S EXPERIMENT. 73

in a thick felt cloak, crawled along the ground. He could
breathe down there, when the air was pure; and with his
right hand he waved above his head a blazing torch. When

the fire-damp had accumulated in the air, so as to form a





detonating mixture, the explosion occurred without being
fatal, and, by often renewing this operation, catastrophes
were prevented. . Sometimes the ‘monk’ was injured or
killed in his work, then another took his place. This was
done in all mines until the Davy lamp was universally
adopted. But I knew the plan, and by its means I dis-
covered the presence of fire-damp, and consequently that of
a new seam of coal in the Dochart pit.”

_ All that the old overman had related of the so-called
“monk” or “fireman” was perfectly true. The air in the
galleries of mines was formerly always. purified in the
way described.

Fire-damp, marsh-gas, or carburetted hydrogen, is colour-
less, almost scentless; it burns with a blue flame, and makes
respiration impossible. The miner could not live in a place
filled with this injurious gas, any more than onecould live ina
gasometer full of common gas. Moreover, fire-damp, as
well as the latter, a mixture of inflammable gases, forms a
detonating mixture as soon as the air unites with it in a
proportion of eight, and perhaps even five to the hundred.
When this mixture is lighted by any cause, there is an ex-
plosion, almost always followed by a frightful catastrophe.
74. THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



This danger Davy’s apparatus guards against by isolating
the flame of the lamp in a tube of metallic gauze, which
burns the gas in the interior of the tube, without ever allow-
ing the flame to spread outside. This safety-lamp has
been perfected in twenty ways. If it happens to break, the
light goes out ; if, notwithstanding the strict orders to the
contrary, the miner opens it, it goes out. Why, then, do
explosions ever occur? It is because nothing can guard
against the imprudence of a workman who insists on light-
ing his pipe, nor the blow of a tool which may produce a
spark. Fire-damp does not exist in all mines, and in those
the use of an ordinary lamp is authorized. Among such,
for instance, is the Thiers pit, in the colliery of Auzin.
But when the coal of the worked seam is rich, it contains a
certain quantity of volatile matter, and fire-damp escapes
in abundance. The safety-lamp alone is contrived in a
way to prevent explosions so much the more terrible, in
that miners, not being directly reached by the blast occa-
sioned by the fire-damp, run a risk of being instantly
suffocated in the galleries filled with the “after-damp,”
formed after the explosion, and called “choke-damp” by the
colliers, which is the carbonic acid gas of the chemists.

As they walked on, Simon Ford told the engineer all
that he had done to attain his object ; how he was sure that
the escape of fire-damp took place at the very end of the
farthest gallery in its western part, because he had provoked
SIMON FORD’S EXPERIMENT. 75

small and partial explosions, or rather little flames, enough
to show the nature of the gas, which escaped in a small jet,
but with a continuous flow.

An hour after leaving the cottage, James Starr and his
two companions had gone a distance of four miles. The
engineer, urged by anxiety and hope, walked on without
noticing the length of the way. He pondered over all that
the old miner had told him, and mentally weighed all the
arguments which the latter had. given in support of his
belief. He agreed with him in thinking that the continued
emission of carburetted hydrogen certainly showed the
existence of a new coal-seam. If it had been merely a sort
of pocket, full of gas, as it is sometimes found amongst the
rock, it would soon have been empty, and the phenomenon
have ceased. But far from that. According to Simon
Ford, the fire-damp escaped incessantly, and from that fact
the existence of an important vein might be considered:
certain. Consequently, the riches of the Dochart pit were
not entirely exhausted. The chief question now was,
whether this was merely a vein which would yield compara-
tively little, or a bed occupying a large. extent.

Harry, who preceded his father and the engineer,
stopped.

“Here we are!” exclaimed the old miner. “ At last,
thank Heaven! you are here, Mr. Starr, and we shall soon
know.”
76 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



The old overman’s voice trembled slightly.

“Be calm, my man!” said the engineer. “I am as
excited as you are, but we must not lose time.”

The gallery at this end of the pit widened into a sort of
dark cave. No shaft had been pierced in this part, and the
gallery, bored into the bowels of the earth, had no direct
communication with the surface of the earth.

James Starr, with intense interest, examined the place in
which they were standing.

On the walls of the cavern the marks of the pick could
still be seen, and even holes in which the rock had been
blasted, near the termination .of the working. The schist
was excessively hard, and it had not been necessary to
bank up the end of the tunnel where the works had come
to an end. There the vein had failed, between the schist
and the tertiary sandstone. From this very place had
been extracted the last piece of coal from the Dochart pit.

“ We must attack the dyke,” said Ford, raising his pick ;
“for at the other side of the break, at more or less depth,
we shall assuredly find the vein, the existence of which I
assert.”

“ And was it on the surface of these rocks that you found
out the fire-damp?” asked James Starr.

“Just there, sir,” returned Ford, “and I was able to light
it only by bringing my lamp near to the cracks in the rock,
Harry has done it as well as I.”
SIMON FORD’S EXPERIMENT, 77

At what height ?” asked Starr.
‘Ten feet from the ground,” replied Harry.

James Starr had seated himself on a rock. After criti-
cally inhaling the air of the cavern, he gazed at the two
miners, almost as if doubting their words, decided as they
were.

In fact, carburetted hydrogen is not completely scentless,
and the engineer, whose sense of smell was very keen, was
astonished that it had not revealed the presence of the
explosive gas. At any rate, if the gas had mingled at all
with the surrounding air, it could only be in a very small
stream. ‘There was:no danger of an explosion, and they
might without fear open the safety-lamp to try the experi-
ment, just as the old miner had done before.

What troubled James Starr was, not lest too much gas
mingled with the air, but lest there should be little or
none. ;

“Could they have been mistaken?” he murmured.
“No: these men know what they are about. And yet—”

He waited, not without some anxiety, until Simon Ford’s
phenomenon should have taken place. But just then it
seemed that Harry, like himself, had remarked the absence
of the characteristic odour of fire-damp ; for he exclaimed
in an altered voice,—

“Father, I should say the gas was no longer escaping

through the cracks!’
78 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“No longer !? cried-the old miner—and, pressing - his
lips tight together, he snuffed the air several times.
' Then, all at once, with a sudden movement,—

“Hand me your lamp, Harry,” he said.

Ford took the lamp with a trembling hand.’ He drew
off the wire gauze case which surrounded the wick, and the
flame burned in the open air.

As they had expected, there was no explosion, but, what

was more serious, there was not even the slight crackling
which indicates the presence of a small quantity of fire-
damp. :
Simon took the stick which Harry was holding, fixed his
lamp to the end of it, and raised it high above his head, up
to where the gas, by reason of its buoyancy, would naturally
accumulate.

The flame of the lamp, burning straight and clear, re-
vealed no trace of the carburetted hydrogen.

“Close to the wall,” said the engineer.

“Yes,” responded Ford, carrying the lamp to that part
of the wall at which he and his son had, the evening before,
proved the escape of gas.

The old miner’s arm trembled whilst he tried to hoist
the lamp up to the cracks.

“Take my place, Harry,” said he.

Harry took the stick, and successively presented the
lamp to the different fissures in the rock; but he shook his
SIMON FORD’S EXPERIMENT. ;

“I

head, for of that slight crackling peculiar to escaping fire-
damp he heard nothing.

There was no flame. Evidently not a particle of gas
was escaping through the rock.

“Nothing !” cried Ford, clenching his fist with a gesture
rather of anger than disappointment.

A cry escaped Harry.

“What’s the matter?” asked Starr quickly.

“ Some one has stopped up the cracks in the schist!”

“Ts that true?” exclaimed the old miner.

“Look, father!”

Harry was not mistaken. The obstruction of the fissures
was clearly visible by the light of the lamp. It had been
recently, done with lime, leaving on the rock a long whitish
mark, badly concealed with coal-dust.

“It’s he!” exclaimed Harry. “It can only be he!”

“He?” repeated James Starr in amazement.

“Yes!” returned the young man, “that mysterious
being who haunts our domain, for whom I have watched a
hundred times without being able to get at him—the
author, we may now be certain, of that letter which was
intended to hinder you from coming to see my father, Mr.
Starr, and who finally threw that stone at us in the gallery
of the Yarrow shaft! Ah! there’s no doubt about it;
there is a man’s hand in all that!”

Harry spoke with such energy that conviction came
80 TIE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



instantly and fully to the engineer’s mind. As to the old
overman, he was already convinced. Besides, there they
were in the presence of an undeniable fact—the stopping-
up of cracks through which gas had escaped freely the
night before. ‘

“Take your pick, Harry,” cried Ford ; “mount on my
shoulders, my lad! I am still strong enough to bear
you!”

The young man understood in an instant. His father
propped himself up against the rock. Harry got upon his
shoulders, so that with his pick he could reach the line of
the fissure. Then with quick sharp blows he attacked it.
Almost directly afterwards a slight sound was heard, like
champagne escaping from a bottle—a sound commonly
expressed by the word “ puff.”

Harry again seized his lamp, and held it to the opening.
There was slight report; and a little red flame, rather
blue at its outline, flickered over the rock like a Will-o’-
the-wisp.

Harry leaped to the ground, and the old overman,
unable to contain his joy, grasped the engineer's hands,
exclaiming,— . ;

“Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! Mr. Starr. The fire-damp
burns! the vein is there!” .








The fire-damp shows itself.

Page 8o.
AN EXPLOSION OF DYNAMITE: 81
a re

CHAPTER VIII.
AN EXPLOSION OF DYNAMITE.

THE old overman’s experiment had succeeded. Fire-
damp, it is well known, is only generated in coal-seams ;
therefore the existence of a vein of precious combustible
could no longer be doubted. As to its size and quality,
that must be determined later.

Such was the opinion which the engineer formed on wit-
nessing the phenomenon. It was in every way similar to
the conclusion already drawn by Simon Ford.

“Yes,” thought James Starr, “behind that wall lies a
carboniferous bed, undiscovered by our soundings. It is
vexatious that all the apparatus of the mine, having been
deserted for ten years, must be sect up anew. Never
mind. We have found the vein which was thought to be
exhausted, and this time it shall be worked to the
end!” .

“Well, Mr. Starr,” asked Ford, “what do you think of

H 2
82 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

our discovery? Was I wrong to trouble you? Are you
sorry to have paid this visit to the Dochart pit ?”

“No, no, my old friend!” answered Starr. “We have
not lost our time; but we shall be losing it now, if we do
not return immediately to the cottage. To-morrow we
will come back here. We will blast this wall with dynamite.
We will lay open the new vein, and after a series of sound-
ings, if the seam appears to be large, I will form a New
Aberfoyle Company, to the great satisfaction of the old
shareholders, Before three months have passed, the first
norves full of coal will have been taken from the new vein.”

“Well said, sir!” cried Simon Ford. “The old mine
will grow young again, like a widow who re-marries! The
bustle of the old days will soon begin with the blows of the
pick, and mattock, blasts of powder, rumbling of waggons,
neighing of horses, creaking of machines! I shall see it all
again! I hope, Mr. Starr, that you will not think me too
old to resume my duties of overman ?”

“No, Simon, no indeed! ‘You wear better than I do, my
old friend!” .

“ And, sir, you shall’be our viewer again. May the new
working last for many long years, and pray Heaven that I
shall have the consolation of dying without seeing the end
of it!”

The old miner was overflowing with joy. James Starr
fully entered into it; but he let Ford rave for them both,




Madge attending to her domestic duties.

Page 83.
AN EXPLOSION OF DYNAMITE. 83



Harry alone remained thoughtful. To his memory re-
curred the succession of singular, inexplicable circumstances
attending the discovery of the new bed. It made him
uneasy about the future,

An hour afterwards, James Starr and his two companions
were back in the cottage.

The engineer supped with good appetite, listening with
satisfaction to all the plans unfolded by the old overman ;
and had it not been for his excitement about the next day’s
work, he would never have slept better than in the perfect
stillness of the cottage.

The following day, after a substantial breakfast, James
Starr, Simon Ford, Harry, and even Madge herself, took
the road already traversed the day before. All looked like
regular miners. They carried different tools, and some
dynamite with which to blast the rock. Harry, besides a
large lantern, took a safety-lamp, which would burn ‘for
twelve hours. It was more than was necessary for the
journey there and back, including the time for the working
—supposing a working was possible.

“To work! to work!” shouted Ford, when the party
reached the further end of the passage ; and he grasped a
heavy crowbar and brandished it.

“Stop one instant,” said Starr. “Let us see if any
change has taken place, and if the fire-damp still escapes

through the crevices.”
84 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“You are right, Mr. Starr,” said Harry. “ Whoever
stopped it up yesterday may have done it again to-day!”

Madge, seated on a rock, carefully observed the excava-
tion, and the wall which was to be blasted.

It was found that everything was just as they left it. The
crevices had undergone no alteration; the carburetted
hydrogen still filtered through, though in a small stream,
which was no doubt because it had had a free passage since
the day before. As the quantity was so small, it could
not have formed an explosive mixture with the air inside.
James Starr and his companions could therefore proceed in
security. Besides, the air grew purer by rising to the
heights of the Dochart pit; and the fire-damp, spreading
through the atmosphere, would not be strong enough to
make any explosion.

“To work, then!” repeated Ford; and soon the rock
flew in splinters under his skilful blows.

The break was chiefly composed of pudding-stone, inter-
spersed with sandstone and schist, such as is most often
met with between the coal-veins.

James Starr picked up some of the pieces, and exa-
mined them carefully, hoping to discover some trace of
coal.

This work went on for nearly an‘hour. By the end of
that time a tolerably deep hollow was made in the rock.

Starr having chosen the place where the holes were to
AN EXPLOSION OF DYNAMITE. 85

—

be drilled, they were rapidly bored by Harry. Some car-
tridges of dynamite were put into them. As soon as the
long tarred safety-match was laid, it was lighted on a level
with the ground. James Starr and his companions then
went off to some distance.

“Oh! Mr. Starr,” said Simon Ford, a prey to agitation,
which he did not attempt to conceal, “ never, no, never has
my old heart beaten so quick before! Iam longing to get
at the vein !” °

“Patience, Simon!” responded the engineer. “You don’t
mean to say that you think you are going to finda passage
all ready open behind that dyke ?”

“Excuse me, sir,’ answered the old overman; “but of
course I think so! If there was good luck in the way
Harry and I discovered this place, why shouldn’t the good
luck go on?”

As he spoke, came the explosion. A sound as of
thunder rolled through the labyrinth of subterranean
galleries. .

Starr, Madge, Harry, and Simon Ford hastened towards
the spot.

“Mr. Starr! Mr. Starr!” shouted the overman. “ Look!
the door is broken open !”

Ford’s comparison was justified by the appearance of
an excavation, the depth of which could not be calcu-

lated.
86 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.





Harry was about to spring through the opening ; but
the engineer, though excessively surprised to find this
cavity, held him back.

“ Allow time for the air in there to get pure,” said he.

“Yes! beware of the foul air!” said Simon.

A quarter of an hour was passed in anxious waiting.
The lantern was then fastened to the end of a stick, and
introduced into the cave, where it continued to burn
with unaltered brilliancy.

“Now ie Harry, go,” said James Starr, “and we will
follow you.”

The opening made by the dynamite was sufficiently large
to allow a man to pass through.

Harry, lamp in hand, entered unhesitatingly, and dis-
appeared in the darkness.

His father, mother, and James Starr waited in silence,
A minute—which seemed to them much longer—passed.
Harry. did not reappear, did not. call, Gazing into the
opening, James Starr could not even see the light of
his lamp, which ought to have illuminated the dark
cavern.

Had the ground suddenly given way under Harry’s feet ?
Had the young miner fallen into some crevice? Could his
voice no longer reach his companions ?

The old overman, dead to their remonstrances, was about
to enter the opening, when a light appeared, dim at first,






The moment of success.

Page 86.
AN EXPLOSION OF DYNAMITE. 87



but gradually growing brighter, and Harry’s voice was
heard shouting,— :

“Come, Mr. Starr! come, father! The road to New
Aberfoyle is open!”
88 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

CHAPTER IX.
NEW ABERFOYLE.

IF, by some superhuman power, engineers could have raised
in a block, a thousand feet thick, all that portion of the
terrestrial crust which supports the lakes, rivers, gulfs, and
territories of the counties of Stirling, Dumbarton, and
Renfrew, they would have found, under that enormous lid,
an immense excavation, to which but one other in the
world can be compared—the celebrated Mammoth caves
of Kentucky.

This excavation was composed of several hundred
divisions of all sizes and shapes. It might be called a
hive with numberless ranges of cells, capriciously arranged,
but a hive on a vast scale, and which, instead of bees, might
have lodged all the ichthyosaurii, megatheriums, and
pterodactyles of the geological epoch.

A labyrinth of galleries, some higher than the most lofty

cathedrals, others like cloisters, narrow and winding—these
NEW ABERFOYLE. 89

following a horizontal line, those on an incline or running
obliquely in all directions—connected the caverns and
allowed free communication between them.

The pillars sustaining the vaulted roofs, whose curves
allowed of every style, the massive walls between the
passages, the naves themselves in this layer of secondary
formation, were composed of sandstone and schistous rocks.
But tightly packed between these useless strata ran
valuable veins of coal, as if the black blood of this strange
mine had circulated through their tangled network. These
fields extended forty miles north and south, and stretched
even under the Caledonian canal.. The importance of this
bed could not be calculated until after soundings, but it
would certainly surpass those of Cardiff and Newcastle.

We may add that the working of this mine would be
singularly facilitated by the fantastic dispositions of the
secondary earths ; for by an unaccountable retreat of the
mineral matter at the geological epoch, when the mass was
solidifying, Nature had already multiplied the galleries
and tunnels of New Aberfoyle.

Yes, Nature alone! It might at first have been supposed
that some works abandoned for centuries had been dis-
covered afresh. Nothing of the sort. No one would have
deserted such riches. Human termites had never gnawed
away this part of the Scottish subsoil; Nature herself had
done it all. But, we repeat, it could be compared to
go THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN,

nothing but the celebrated Mammoth caves, which, in an
extent of more than twenty miles, contain two hundred
and twenty-six avenues, eleven lakes, seven rivers, eight
cataracts, thirty-two unfathomable wells, and fifty-seven
domes, some of which are more than four hundred and
fifty feet in height.

Like these caves, New Aberfoyle was not the work of
men, but the work of the Creator.

Such was this new domain, of matchless wealth, the
discovery of which belonged entirely to the old overman,
Ten years’ sojourn in the deserted mine, an uncommon
pertinacity in research, perfect faith, sustained by a mar-
vellous mining instinct—all these qualities together led him
to succeed where so many others had failed. Why had
the soundings made under the direction of James ‘Starr
during the last years of the working stopped just at that
limit, on the very frontier of the new mine? That was all
chance, which takes great part in researches of this kind.

However that might be, there was, under the Scottish
subsoil, what might. be called a subterranean county, which,
to be habitable, needed only the ‘rays of the sun, or, for
want of that, the light of a special planet.

Water had collected in various hollows, forming vast
ponds, or rather lakes larger than Loch Katrine, lying just
above them. Of course the waters of these lakes had no
movement of currents or tides; no old castle was reflected
NEW ABERFOYLE. gI

there; no birch or oak trees waved on their banks, no
mountains threw great shadows over the surface, no steam-
boats cut their way along, no light glimmered on their
waters; they never sparkled and laughed beneath the
dazzling rays of the sun, the moon never rose on their
horizon. And yet these deep lakes, whose mirror-like
surface was never ruffled by a breeze, would not be without
charm by the light of some electric star, and, connected
by a string of canals, would well complete the geography
of this strange domain.

Although unfit for any vegetable production, the place
could be inhabited by a whole population. And who
knows but that in this steady temperature, in the depths
_of the mines of Aberfoyle, as well as in those of Newcastle,
Alloa, or Cardiff—when their contents shall have been
exhausted—who knows but that the poorer classes of
Great Britain will some day find a refuge?
92 . THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



CHAPTER X.
EXPLORING.

AT Harry’s call, James Starr, Madge, and Simon Ford
entered through the narrow orifice which put the Dochart
pit in communication with the new mine, They found
themselves at the beginning of a tolerably wide gallery.
One might well believe that it had been pierced by the hand
of man, that the pick and mattock had emptied it in the
working of a new vein. The explorers questioned whether,
by a strange chance, they had not been transported into
some. ancient mine, of the existence of which even the
oldest miners in the county had never known.

No! It was merely that the geological layers had left
this passage when the secondary earths were in course of
formation, Perhaps some torrent had formerly dashed
through it; but now it was as dry as if it had’ been cut
some thousand feet lower, through granite rocks, At the
same time, the ait circulated freely, which shawed that
EXPLORING, 93

certain natural vents placed it in communication with the
exterior atmosphere.

This observation, made by the engineer, was correct, and
it was evident that the ventilation of the new mine would
be easily managed. As to the fire-damp which had lately
filtered through the schist, it seemed to have been con-
tained in a pocket now empty, and it was certain that the
atmosphere of the gallery was quite free from it. How-
ever, Harry prudently carried only the safety-lamp, which
would insure light for twelve hours.

James Starr and his companions now felt perfectly
happy. All their wishes were satisfied. There was nothing
but coal around them. A sort of emotion kept them
silent; even Simon Ford restrained himself. His joy
overflowed, not in long phrases, but in short ejaculations.

It was perhaps imprudent to venture so far into the
crypt. Pooh! they never thought of how they were to get
back. The gallery was practicable, not very winding.
They met with no noxious exhalations, nor did any
chasm bar the path. There was no reason for stopping
for a whole hour ; James Starr, Madge, Harry, and Simon
Ford walked on, though there was nothing to show them
what was the exact direction of this unknown tunnel.

And they would no doubt have gone farther still, if they
had not suddenly come to the end of the wide road which
they had followed since their entrance into the mine.

I2
94. ; THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

‘The gallery ended in an-enormous cavern, neither the
height nor depth of which could be calculated. At what
altitude arched the roof of this excavation—at what dis-
tance was its opposite wall—the darkness totally concealed ;
but by the light of the lamp the explorers could discover
that its dome covered a vast extent of still water—pond
or lake—whose picturesque rocky banks were lost in
obscurity.

“Halt!” exclaimed Ford, stopping suddenly. “ Another
step, and perhaps we shall fall into some fathomless pit.” .

“Tet us rest awhile, then, my friends,’ returned the
engineer. “Besides, we ought to be thinking of returning
to the cottage.”

“Our lamp will give light for another ten hours, sir,”
said Harry.

“Well; let.us make a halt,” replied Starr ; “I confess my
legs have need of a rest. And you, Madge, don’t you
feel tired after so long a walk ?” ‘3

“Not over-rauch, Mr. Starr,” replied the sturdy :Scotch-
woman ;°“we have been accustomed to explore’ the old
Aberfoyle mine for whole days together.”

“Tired? nonsense!” interrupted Simon Ford; “ Madge
could’ go:ten times as far, if necessary. But once more,
Mr, Starr, wasn’t my communication worth your trouble
in coming to hear it? Just dare to say no, Mr. Starr, dare
to say no!”


The mammoth cave of Aberfoyle.

Page 94.
' EXPLORING. . 95



“Well, my old friend, I haven't felt so happy for a long
while!”- replied the engineer; “the small part of this
marvellous mine that we have explored seems to show that
its extent is very considerable, at least ‘in length.”

“In width and in depth too, Mr. Starr!” returned
Simon Ford.

“That we shall know later.”

“ And I can answer for it! Trust to the instinct of an
old miner! It has never deceived me!”

“TI wish to believe you, Simon,” replied the engineer,
smiling. “As far as I can judge from this short explora-
tion, we possess the elements of a working which will last
for centuries !”

“ Centuries!” exclaimed Simon Ford; “I believe you,
sir! A thousand years and more will pass before the last
bit of coal is taken out of our new mine!”

“ Heaven grant it!” returned Starr. “As to the quality
of the coal which crops out of these walls?”

7 Superb, Mr, Starr, superb!” answered Ford; “ just
look at it yourself!”

And so saying, with his pick he struck off a fragment of
the black rock.

“Look! look!”: he repeated, holding it close to his
lamp ; “the surface of this piece of coal is shining! We
have here fat coal, rich in bituminous matter; and see
how it comes in pieces, almost withont dust! Ah, Mr.
96 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

Starr! twenty years ago this seam would have entered into
a strong competition with Swansea and Cardiff! Well,
stokers will quarrel for it still, and if it costs little to ex-
tract it from the mine, it will not sell ata less price outside.”

“Indeed,” said Madge, who had taken the fragment of
coal and was examining it with the air of a connoisseur ;.
“that’s good quality of coal.’ Carry it home, Simon, carry
it back to the cottage! I want this first piece of coal to
burn under our kettle.”

“Well said, wife!” answered the old overman, “and you
shall see that I am not mistaken.”

“Mr, Starr,’ asked Harry, “have you any idea of the
probable direction of this long passage which we have been
following since our entrance into the new mine?”

“No, my lad,” replied the engineer; “with a compass
I could perhaps find out its general. bearing ; but without
a compass I am here like a sailor in open sea, in the midst
of fogs, when there is no sun by which to calculate his
position.”

“No doubt, Mr. Starr,” replied Ford; “but pray don’t
compare our position with that of the sailor, who has every-
where and always an abyss under his feet! We are on
firm ground here, and need never be afraid of foundering.”

“J won’t teaze you, then, old Simon,” answered James
Starr. “Far be it from me even in jest to. depreciate the
New Aberfoyle mine by an unjust comparison! I only
EXPLORING. 97



meant to say one thing, and that is that we don’t know
where we are.”
- “Weare in the subsoil of the county of Stirling, Mr.

Starr,” replied Simon Ford; “and that I assert as if—”

“Listen!” said Harry, interrupting the old man. All
listened, as the young miner was doing. His ears, which
were very sharp, had caught a dull sound, like a distant
murmur. His companions were not long in hearing it
themselves. It was above their heads, a sort of rolling
sound, in which though it was so feeble, the successive
crescendo and diminuendo could be distinctly heard.

All four stood for some minutes, their ears on the stretch,
without uttering a word.

All at once Simon Ford exclaimed,—

“Well, I declare! Are trucks already running on the
rails of New Aberfoyle ?”

“Father,” replied Harry, “it sounds to me just like the
noise made by waves rolling on the sea-shore.”

“ We can’t be under the sea though!” cried the old over-
man. ,
“No,” said the engineer; “but it is not impossible that
we should be under Loch Katrine.”

“The roof cannot have much thickness just here, if the
noise of the water is perceptible.”

“Very little indeed,” answered James Starr, “and that is

the reason this cavern is so huge.”
98 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“You must be right, Mr. Starr,” said Harry. ;

“Besides, the weather is so bad outside,” resumed Starr,
“that the waters of the loch must be as rough as those’ of
the Firth of Forth.”

“Well! what does it matter after all?” returned Simon
Ford; “the seam won’t be any the worse because it is
under a loch. It would not be the first time that coal has
been looked for under the very bed of the ocean!. When
we have to work under the bottom of the Caledonian
Canal, where will be the harm?” Se

“Well said, Simon,” cried the engineer, who could not
restrain a smile at the overman’s enthusiasm ; “let us cut
our trenches under the waters of the sea! Let us bore the’
bed of the Atlantic like a strainer; let us with our picks
join our brethren of the United States through the sub-
soil of the ocean! let us dig into the centre of the globe if
necessary, to tear out the last scrap of coal.”

“ Are you joking, Mr. Starr ?” asked Ford, with a pleased
but slightly suspicious look.

“J joking, old man? no! but you are so enthusiastic
that you carry’ me away into the regions of impossibility !
Come, let us return to the reality, which is sufficiently
beautiful ; leave our picks here, where we may find them
another day, and let’s take the road back to the cottage.”

Nothing. more could be done for the time. Later, the
engineer, accompanied by a brigade of miners, supplied
“EXPLORING, 99

with lamps and all necessary tools, would resume the ex-
ploration of New Aberfoyle. It was now time to return to
the Dochart pit. The road was easy, the gallery running
nearly straight through the rock up to the orifice opened by
the dynamite, so there was no fear of their losing themselves.

But as James Starr was proceeding towards the gallery
Simon Ford stopped him. ,

“Mr. Starr,” said he, “you see this immense cavern,
this subterranean lake, whose waters bathe this strand at
our feet? Well! it is to this place I mean to change my
dwelling, here I will build a new cottage, and if some brave
fellows will follow my example, before a year is over there
will be one town more inside old England.”

- James Starr, smiling approval of Ford's plans, pressed
his hand, and all three, preceding Madge, re-entered the
gallery, on their way back to the Dochart pit.

For the first mile no incident occurred. Harry walked
first, holding his lamp above his head. He carefully
followed the principal gallery, without ever turning aside
into the narrow tunnels which radiated to the right and
left. It seemed as if the returning was to be accomplished
as easily as the going, when an unexpected accident
occurred which rendered the situation of the explorers very
serious. , .

Just at a moment when Harry was raising his lamp
there came.a rush of air, as if caused by the flapping of
100 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

invisible wings, . The lamp escaped from his pandas fell on
the rocky ground, and was broken to pieces.

James Starr and his companions were suddenly plunged
in absolute darkness, All the oil of the aap was spilt and
it: was of no further use. \

“Well, Harry,” cried his father, “do you want us all to
break our necks on the way back to the cottage?”

Harry did not answer. He wondered: if he ought ‘to
suspect. the. hand of a mysterious being in this. last
accident? Could there possibly exist in these depths an
enemy whose unaccountable antagonism would one day
create serious difficulties ?. Had someone an interest in
defending the new coal-field against any attempt at work-
ing it? In truth that seemed absurd, yet the facts spoke
for themselves, and they accumulated in such a way as to
change simple presumptions into certainties.

‘In the meantime the explorers’. situation. was bad
enough. They had now, in the midst of black darkness, to
follow the passage leading to the Dochart pit for nearly
five: miles. There they would still have an hour’s walk
before reaching the cottage.

“Come along,” said Simon Ford. ‘We have no time to
lose. We must grope our way along, like blind men.
There’s no fear of losing our way. The tunnels which open
off our road are only just like those in a molehill, and by
following the chief gallery we shall of course reach the


accident.

vious

A myste

ge 100,

Pa
EXPLORING. ‘ , ‘IOL



opening we got in at. After that, it is the old:mine. We
know that, and it won’t be the first time that Harry and I
have found ourselves there in the dark. Besides, there we
shall find the lamps that we left. ‘Forward then! Harry,
go first. Mr. Starr, follow him. Madge, you go next, and
I will bring up the rear. Above everything, don’t let us
get separated.”

All complied with the old overman’s instructions. As
he said, by groping carefully, they could not mistake the
way. It was only necessary to make the hands take the
place of .the eyes, and to trust to their instinct, which had
with Simon Ford and his son become a second nature.

James Starr and his companions walked on in the order
agreed. They did not speak, but it was not for want of
thinking. It became evident that they had an adversary.
But what was he, and how were they to defend themselves
against these mysteriously-prepared attacks? These dis-
quieting ideas crowded into their brains. However, this
was not the moment to get discouraged. -

Harry, his arms extended, advanced with a firm step,
touching first one and then the other side of the passage.
If acleft or side-opening presented itself, he felt with his
hand that it was not the main way; either the cleft was too
shallow, or the opening too narrow, and he thus kept in the
right road.

In darkness: through which the eye could not in the
102 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN,

slightest. degree pierce, this difficult return lasted two hours.
By: reckoning the time ‘since they started, taking’ into-con-
sideration that the walking: had not. been: rapid, Starr
calculated: that. he and his: companions were -near the
opening.: ‘In fact, almost immediately, Harry. stopped...

“Have we got to the end. of. the. clea.” 271 gone Simon
Ford.

“Yes,” answered the young miner.

“Well! -have you not found the hole which:connects New
Aberfoyle with the: Dochart pit?” . ;

“No,” replied: Harry; whose impatient aden: met. with
nothing but ‘a solid wall. ies

The old overman stepped joriatd: and himself felt the
schistous rock. ;

A-cry escaped him.

Either'the explorers had strayed from the right path.on
their return, or the narrow orifice, broken in:the rock by the
dynamite, had been recently stopped*tp.

However that might-be; James Starr and his eolaparions
were prisoners in New: Aberfoyie.




Prisoners.

Page 102.

kK
THE FIRE MAIDENS, 103
eee

CHAPTER XI.
THE FIRE-MAIDENS.

A WEEK after the events just related had taken place, James
Starr’s friends had become very anxious. The engineer
had disappeared, and no reason could be brought forward
to explain his absence. They learnt, by questioning his
servant, that he had embarked at Granton Pier, and they
found from the captain of the steamboat “ Prince of Wales,”
that he had landed at Stirling. But from that time there
were no traces of James Starr. Simon. Ford’s letter had
requested secrecy, and he had said nothing of his departure
for the Aberfoyle mines.

Therefore. in Edinburgh nothing was talked of but the
unaccountable absence of the engineer. Sir W. Elphiston,
the President of the Royal Institution, communicated to his
colleagues a letter which James Starr had sent him, excusing
himself from being present at the next meeting of the
society. Two or three others ‘produced similar letters.

K 2
104 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

But though these documents proved that Starr had left
Edinburgh—which was known before—they threw no
light on what had become of him. Now, on the part of
such a man, this prolonged absence, so contrary to his
usual habits, naturally first caused surprise, and then
anxiety. ,

None of the engineer’s friends could possibly guess that
he had gone to the Aberfoyle mines. They knew that he had
never cared to revisit the scene of his former labours. He
had never set foot there since the day when the last corve
was drawn up to the surface of the ground. However, as
the steamer had landed him at Stirling, search was. made
in that direction.

The search ended in nothing. No one remembered
having seen the engineerin the country. Jack Ryan alone,
who had met him in Harry’s company on one of the landings
in the Yarrow shaft, could have satisfied the public curiosity.
But this young man, as we have said, was working on the
Melrose Farm, forty miles to the south-west, in the county
of Renfrew, and he little guessed that any one was uneasy
about the disappearance of James Starr. Therefore, a week
after his visit to the cottage, Jack Ryan would have con-
tinued to sing as merrily as ever among his companions, if
he had not himself had a reason for great anxiety, of which
we shall soon speak,

James Starr was too eminent and valued a man, not only
‘ THE FIRE-MAIDENS,. 105

in the capital, but in all Scotland, for any fact concerning
him to pass unnoticed. The Lord Provost, or chief





magistrate of Edinburgh, the bailies, the town-counsellors,
of whom the greater number were the engineer's personal
friends, now began an active search. Detectives were
employed, but no result was obtained.

A notice was inserted in the principal newspapers of the
United Kingdom relative to the engineer James Starr,
giving a description of him and the date on which he left
Edinburgh ; nothing more could be done but to wait. The
time passed in great anxiety. The scientific world of
England was inclined to believe that one of its most dis-
tinguished members had positively disappeared. At the
same time, when so many people were thinking about
James Starr, Harry Ford was the subject of no less
anxiety. Only, instead of occupying public attention, the
son of the old overman was the cause. of trouble alone to
the generally cheerful mind of Jack Ryan.

It may be remembered that, in their encounter in the
Yarrow shaft, Jack Ryan had invited Harry to come a
week afterwards to the festivities at Irvine. Harry had
accepted and promised expressly to be there. Jack Ryan
knew, having had it proved by many circumstances, that
his friend was a man of his word. With him, a thing
promised was a thing done.

Now, at the Irvine merry-making, nothing was wanting ;
106 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN,

neither song, nor dance, nor fun of any sort—nothing but
Harry Ford.

Jack Ryan had set his mind upon having him, and the
absence of his friend had an influence on his cheerfulness.
It even affected his. memory in the middle of a song, and,
for the first time, he stopped short in a sword-dance, which
usually earned him well-merited applause.

The notice relative to James Starr, published in the
papers, had not yet been seen by Ryan. The honest
fellow was therefore only worried by Harry’s absence, tell-
ing himself that something serious could alone have pre-
vented him from keeping his promise. So, the day after
the Irvine games, Jack Ryan intended to take the railway
from Glasgow and go to the Dochart pit; and this he
would have done had he not been detained by an accident
which nearly cost him his life. Something which occurred
on the night of the 12th of December was of a nature to
support the opinions of all partisans of the supernatural,
and there were many at Melrose Farm.

Irvine, a little sea-port of Renfrew, containing nearly
seven thousand inhabitants, lies in a sharp bend made by
the Scottish coast, near the mouth of the Firth of Clyde.
Its well-sheltered harbour has an important signal-light to
indicate the reefs and banks, in such a way that a prudent
sailor could never make a mistake. Wrecks were therefore

rare on this part of the coast, and the coasters or cruisers
THE FIRE-MAIDENS., 107

wishing either to make for the Firth of Clyde, to get to
Glasgow, or to bring up in Irvine Bay, could always
manceuvre without danger even in the darkest nights.

When a town can boast of an historical past, however un-
important, it is sure to possess some ruins, such as were those
of the castle which formerly belonged to a Robert Stuart.

Now in Scotland all ruins are haunted by spirits; at
least, such is the common idea in the Highlands and Low-
lands,

The most ancient and the most famed ruins on this part
of the coast were those of this castle of Robert Stuart,
which bore the name of Dundonald Castle. .

‘At this period Dundonald Castle, a refuge for all the
stray goblins of the country, was completely deserted. It
stood on the top of a high rock, two miles from the town,
and was seldom visited. Sometimes a few strangers took
it into their heads to explore these old historical remains,
but then they always went alone. The inhabitants of
Irvine. would not have taken them there at any price.
Indeed, several legends were based on the story of certain
“ fire-maidens,” who haunted the old castle.

The most superstitious declared they had seen these
fantastic creatures with their own eyes. Jack Ryan was
naturally one of them.

It wasa fact that from time to time long flames appeared,
sometimes on a broken piece of wall, sometimes on the
108 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

summit of the tower which was the highest point of Dun-
donald Castle.

Did these flames really assume a human~shape, as was
asserted? Did they merit the name of fire-maidens, given
them by the people of the coast? It was evidently just an
optical delusion, aided by a good deal of credulity, and
science could easily have explained the phenomenon.

However that might be, these fire-maidens had. the
reputation of frequenting the ruins of the old castle and
there performing wild strathspeys, especially on dark nights.
Jack Ryan, bold fellow though he was, would never have
dared to accompany those dances with the music of his
bagpipes.

“Old Nick is enough for them!” said he. “He doesn’t
need me to complete his infernal orchestra.”

We may well believe that these strange apparitions fre-
quently furnished a text for the evening stories. Jack
Ryan possessed a whole stock of legends about the fire-
maidens, and never ran short when they were the subject.

During the last evening of the festivities, when beer,
brandy, and whisky flowed freely, Jack Ryan had not failed
to take up his favourite theme, to the great pleasure, and
perhaps to the great terror, of his auditors.

They were all collected in a large barn at Melrose Farm
near the shore. A good coke fire burned on an iron tripod
in the middle of the party.
“THE FIRE-MAIDENS., , 109



There was rough weather outside. A thick fog hung
over the waves, which a strong south-west breeze dashed
on the beach. It was intensely dark, not a single rift in
the clouds, the earth, sky, and water mingled in one black
mass, and any landing in Irvine Bay would have been diffi-
cult, if a ship dared to venture in with the wind then
blowing on the coast.

The little port of Irvine is not much frequented, at least
by vessels of large tonnage. It is rather more to the
north that merchant vessels, sail or steam, pass on their
way into the Firth of Clyde.

On this evening, a fisherman, belated on the beach, saw,
not without surprise, a ship steering straight towards the
coast. If the day had suddenly broken, she would have
been seen with terror. as well as surprise, for she was run-
ning before the wind with all the sail she could carry. If
the entrance to the bay was missed, there was no escape
among the frightful rocks of the shore. If the imprudent
vessel persisted in approaching, how could she be saved ?

Jack Ryan was ending the evening with one of his
stories. His auditors, transported into the phantom world,
were worked up into a state of mind which would believe
anything.

All at once shouts were heard outside.

Jack Ryan stopped short in the middle of his story, and

all rushed out of the barn.
IIo THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



The night was pitchy dark, Squalls of wind and rain
swept along the beach. .

Two or three fishermen, their backs against a rock, the
better to resist the wind, were shouting at the top of their
voices, :

_ Jack Ryan and his companions ran up to them.

The shouts were, however, not for the inhabitants of the
farm, but to warn men who, without being aware of it, were
going to destruction. A dark,confused mass appeared some
way out at sea. It was a vessel whose position could be seen
by her lights, for she carried a. white one on her foremast,
a green on the starboard side, and a red on the outside.
She was evidently running straight on the rocks.

“A ship in distress ?” said Ryan. ,

“ Ay,” answered one of the fisherman, “and now they want
to tack, but it’s too late!” ,

“ Signals, signals!” cried another.

“What’s the use?”.returned the man. “We couldn’t
keep a torch alight in this wind!”

Whilst these words were rapidly exchanged, the shouts
were resumed with renewed vigour. But how could they
be heard in the midst of the tempest? The crew of
the unfortunate vessel had not .the smallest chance of
escaping.

“ What are they doing now ?” cried a sailor.

“Do they want to run ashore ?.” said another.






























































































































































































The fire-maidens of Dundonald Castle.

Page 111,
THE FIRE-MAIDENS, III



“The captain doesn’t seem to know about the Irvine
light,” remarked Jack Ryan.

“Tt seems so,” responded one of the fishermen, “unless
he has been misled by some—”

The man was interrupted bya yell from Jack. Could
the crew have heard it? At any rate, it was too late for
them to beat back from the line of breakers which gleamed
white in the darkness,

But it was not, as might be supposed, a last effort of
Ryan’s to warn the doomed ship. He now had his back
to the sea, His companions turned also, and gazed at a
spot situated about half a mile inland.

It was Dundonald Castle. A long flame twigs and
bent under the gale, on the summit of the old tower.

“The Fire-Maiden!” cried the superstitious men in
terror.

Clearly, it needed a good strong imagination to find any
human likeness in that flame. Waving in the wind like a
luminous flag, it seemed sometimes to fly round the tower,
as if it was just going out, and a moment after it was seen
again dancing on its blue point.

“ The Fire-Maiden! the Fire-Maiden !” cried the terrified
fishermen and peasants.

All was then explained. The ship, having lost her
reckoning in the fog, had taken this flame on the top of
Dundonald Castle for the Irvine light. She thought her-
112 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



self at the entrance of the Firth, ten miles. to the north,
when she was really running on a shore which offered no
refuge. :

What could be done to save her, if there was still time?
Would it be possible to climb up the ruins and try to ex-
tinguish the fire, so that it would be no longer possible to
confound it with the lighthouse of Irvine Harbour.

No doubt that would have been the thing to do without
delay ; but which of the men would think of it, and then
have the boldness to brave the Fire-Maiden? Jack Ryan
perhaps, for he was courageous, and his credulity, strong as
it was, could not stop him in the performance of a generous
act. : .
It was too late. A frightful crash was heard above the
tumult of the elements.

The vessel had struck. The white line of surf was broken
for an instant; she heeled over on her side and lay among
the rocks.

At the same time, by a strange coincidence, the long
flame disappeared, as if it had been swept away by a vio-
lent gust. Earth, sea, and sky were plunged in complete
darkness. .

“The Fire-Maiden!” shouted Ryai, for the last time, as.
the apparition, which he and his companions believed
supernatural, disappeared. . .
-. But then the courage of these superstitious Scotchmen,


”

“ Motala.

The wreck of the

113.

Page
THE FIRE-MAIDENS. , 113



which had failed before a fancied danger, returned in face
of a real one, which they were ready to brave in order to
save their fellow-creatures. The tempest did not deter
them. As heroic as they had before been credulous,
fastening ropes round their waists, they rushed into the
waves to the aid of those on the wreck.

Happily, they succeeded in their endeavours, although
some—and bold Jack Ryan: was among the number—
were severely wounded on the rocks. But the captain of
the vessel and the eight sailors who composed ‘his crew
were hauled up, safe and sound, on'the beach.

The ‘ship-was the Norwegian brig “ Motala,” laden with
timber, and bound for Glasgow. ©

‘The’ captain,. deceived by the fire on the top of Dun.
donald Castle, had run ashore, instead of making the Firth
of Clyde. :

Of the “Motala” herself nothing remained but.a few
spars, ' washed up by the waves, and’ dashed’ among the
rocks on the beach. ae
I14 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

CHAPTER XII.
JACK RYAN’S EXPLOITS.

JACK RYAN and three of his companions, wounded like
himself, had been carried into a room of Melrose Farm,
where every care was lavished on them.

Ryan was the most hurt, for when with the rope round
his waist he had rushed into the sea, the waves had almost
immediately dashed him back against the rocks. He was
brought, indeed, very nearly lifeless on to the beach.

‘The brave fellow was therefore confined to bed for several
days, to his great disgust. However, as soon as he was
given permission to sing as much as he liked, he bore his
trouble patiently, and the farm echoed all day with his
jovial voice. But from this adventure he imbibed a more
lively sentiment of fear with regard to brownies and other
goblins who amuse themselves by plaguing mankind, and
he made them responsible for the catastrophe of the
“Motala.” It would have been vain to try and convince
JACK RYAN’S EXPLOITS. II5



him that the Fire-Maidens did not exist, and that the flame,
so suddenly appearing among the ruins, was but a natural
phenomenon. No reasoning could make him believe it.
His companions were, if possible, more obstinate than he
in their credulity. According to them, one of the Fire-
Maidens had maliciously attracted the “Motala” to the
coast. As to wishing to punish her, as well try to bring the
tempest to justice! The magistrates might order what
arrests they pleased, but a flame cannot be imprisoned,
an impalpable being can’t be handcuffed. It must be
acknowledged that the researches which were ultimately
made gave ground, at least in appearance, to this super-
stitious way of explaining the facts.

The magistrate, whose duty it was to make an inquiry
relative to the loss of the “ Motala,” came down to examine
the different witnesses of the catastrophe. All were agreed
on the point that the wreck was caused by the supernatural
appearance of the Fire-Maiden in the ruins of Dundonald
Castle.

This explanation was naturally not quite sufficient.
That a purely natural phenomenon had been produced in
the ruins there was no doubt. But was it from accident
or malevolence? This is what the magistrate wished to
ascertain.

The word malevolence need not cause surprise. We
have not to go far back in maritime history to find a

IL 2
116 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

vindication for its use. Wreckers on many coasts have
made a regular trade of attracting vessels to destruction,
so as to share the spoil. Sometimes a clump of resinous
trees, set on fire during the night, has guided a vessel into
channels from which she could not get out. Sometimes a
lantern, fastened to the horns of a bull and carried about
according to the caprice of the animal, has deceived a ship
as to the direction she ought to steer. The result of these
manceuvres has been inevitably some wreck, by which the
wreckers profited.. The intervention of justice and severe
examples have been necessary to do away with these
barbarous customs. Might it not be that in this case
some wicked person had made use of the old stratagem
of the wreckers ?

So thought the officials, whatever opinion Jack Ryan
and his comrades might hold. The latter were divided
into two sections, and when the inquiry was spoken of, one
party contented themselves with shrugging their shoulders;
while the others, more fearful, complained that thus to
despise supernatural beings was sure to lead to fresh
catastrophes.

Nevertheless, the inquiry was made with great care.
Officials came to Dundonald Castle, and they proceeded
to conduct a most vigorous search.

The magistrate wished first to ascertain if the ground
bore any footprints, which could be attributed to other
JACK RYAN’S EXPLOITS. 117



than goblins’ feet. It was impossible to find the least
trace, whether old or new. Moreover, the earth, still damp
from the rain of the day before, would have preserved the
least vestige.

“ Brownie’s footsteps!” exclaimed Jack Ryan, when he
heard of the non-success of this search ; “as well try to find
traces of a Will-o’-the-Wisp on the water of a marsh !”

The first patt of the inquiry being productive of no
result, it was not probable that the second part would yield
more

They had now to find out how the fire could have been
lighted on the top of the old tower, what the fuel had been,
and what remains it had left.

On the first point nothing was ascertained ; no remains
of matches, nor scraps of paper were found to show how
the fire had been kindled.

On the second point nothing was discovered. They
found no dry grass, nor bits of wood, with which, never-
theless, the beacon must have been largely fed during the
night.

Neither was anything found as to the third point; nota
cinder, nor the ashes of any combustible whatever, betrayed
the spot where the fire had been. There was not even a
blackened place on the earth or the rock. Must it be con-
cluded that the fire had been held in some one’s hand?
That was improbable, for, according to the witnesses, there
118 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



was a gigantic blaze, such as the crew of-the “ Motala”
were able to see through the fog, while many miles out to
sea. . a

“Of course!” exclaimed Ryan, “the Fire-Maiden knows
how to do without matches; she blows, and her breath
kindles the air around her, and her fire never leaves
cinders !”

The result of all this was, that the magistrates only got
for their trouble a new legend added to so many others—
a legend which would be perpetuated by the remembrance
of the catastrophe of the “ Motala,” and indisputably con-
firm the truth of the apparition of the Fire-Maidens.

A hearty fellow like Jack Ryan, with so strong a con-
stitution, could not be long confined to his bed. A few
sprains and bruises were not enough to keep him on his
back longer than he liked. He had not time to be ill.

Jack, therefore, soon got well. As soon as he was on
his legs again, before resuming his work on the farm, he
wished to put a certain plan into execution. This was to
go and visit his friend Harry, and learn why he had not
come to the Irvine merry-making. He could not under-
stand his absence, for Harry was not a man who would
willingly promise and not perform. It was unlikely, too,
that the son of the old overman had not heard of the
wreck of the “ Motala,” as it was in all the papers. He

must know the part Jack had taken in it, and what had
JACK RYAN’S EXPLOITS. ; 119g

happened to him, and it was unlike Harry not to hasten
to the farm and see how his old chum was going on.

As Harry had’ not come, there must have been some-
thing to prevent him. Jack Ryan would as soon deny the
existence of the Fire-Maidens as believe in Harry’s indif-
ference.

Two days after the catastrophe Jack left the farm
merrily, feeling nothing of his wounds. Singing in the
fulness of his heart, he awoke the echoes of the cliff, as he
walked to the station of the railway, which wd Glasgow
would take him to Stirling and Callander.

As he was waiting for his train his attention was attracted
by a bill posted up on the walls, containing the following
notice :—

“On the 4th of December, the engineer James Starr, of
Edinburgh, embarked from Granton Pier, on board the
‘Prince of Wales.’ He disembarked the same day at Stir-
ling. From that time nothing further has been heard of
him.

“Any information concerning him is requested to be
sent to the President of the Royal Institution, Edinburgh.”

Jack Ryan, stopping before one of these advertisements,
read it twice over, with extreme surprise.

“Mr. Starr!” he exclaimed. “Why, on the 4th of De-
cember, I met him with Harry on the ladder of the Dochart
pit! That was ten days ago! And he has not been seen
120 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

from that time! That explains why my chum didn’t come
to Irvine.”

And without taking time to ‘ton the President of the
Royal Institution by letter, what he knew relative to James
Starr, Jack jumped into the train, determining to go first
of all to the Yarrow shaft. There he would descend to
the depths of the pit, if necessary, to find Harry, and with
him was sure to be the engineer James Stari.

Three hours afterwards he left the train at Callender, and
proceeded rapidly towards the Yarrow shaft.

“They haven’t turned up again,” said he to himself.
“Why? Has anything prevented them? Could any work
of importance keep them still at the bottom of the mine?
I must find out!”

And Ryan, hastening his steps, arrived in less than an
hour at the Yarrow shaft.

. Externally nothingwas changed. The same silence around.
Not a living creature was moving in that desert region. «

Jack entered the ruined shed which covered the opening
of the shaft. He gazed down into the dark abyss—nothing
was to be seen. He listened—nothing was to be heard.

“And my lamp!” he exclaimed ; “suppose it isn’t in its
place!”

_ The lamp which Ryan used when he visited the pit was
usually deposited in a corner, near the landing of the top-
most ladder.






iy easy Vast Wy Oza





ge 121.

Pa

A dead stop.
JACK RYAN’S EXPLOITS. 121



It had disappeared.

“Flere is a nuisance!” said Jack, beginning to feel
rather uneasy.

Then, without hesitating, superstitious though he was,
“T will go,” said he, “though it’s as dark down there as in
the lowest depths of the infernal regions !”

And he began to descend the long flight of ladders,
which led down the gloomy shaft. .

Jack Ryan had not forgotten his old mining habits, and
he was well acquainted with the Dochart pit, or he would
scarcely have dared to venture thus. He went very care-
fully however. His foot tried each round, as some of them
were worm-eaten. A false step would entail a deadly fall,
through this space of fifteen hundred feet. He counted
each landing as he passed it, knowing that he could not
reach the bottom of the shaft until he had left the thirtieth.
Once there, he would have no trouble, so he thought, in
finding the cottage, built, as we have said, at the extremity
of the principal passage. .

Jack Ryan went on thus until he got to the twenty-
sixth landing, and consequently had two hundred feet
between him and the bottom.

Here he put down his leg to feel for the first rung of
the twenty-seventh ladder. But his foot swinging in space
found nothing to rest on. He knelt down and felt about

with his hand for the top of the ladder. It was in vain,
122 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



The twenty-seventh ladder was not in its place, it had
evidently been taken away. /

“Old Nick himself must have been down this way!” said
Jack, not without a slight feeling of terror.

He stood considering for some time, with folded arms,
and longing to be able to pierce the impenetrable darkness.
Then it occurred to him that if he could not get down,
neither could the inhabitants of the mine get up. There
was now no communication between the depths of the pit
and the upper regions. If the removal of the lower ladders
of the Yarrow shaft had been effected since his last visit
to the cottage, what had become of Simon Ford, his wife,
his son, and the engineer ?

The prolonged absence of James Starr proved that he
had not left the pit.since the day Ryan met with him in
the shaft. How had the cottage been provisioned since
then? The food of these unfortunate people, imprisoned
fifteen hundred feet below the surface of the ground, must
have been exhausted by this time.

All this passed through Jack’s mind, as he saw that by
himself he-could do nothing to get to the cottage. He
had no doubt but that communication had been interrupted
with a malevolent intention. At any rate, the authorities
must be informed, and that as soon as possible.

- Jack Ryan bent forward from the landing.
“Harry! Harry!” he shouted with his powerful voice.
.JACK RYAN’S EXPLOITS. 123



Harry’s name echoed and re-echoed among the rocks,
and finally died away in the depths of the shaft.

Ryan rapidly ascended the upper ladders and returned
to the light of day. Without losing a moment he reached
the Callander station, just caught the express to Edin-
burgh, and by three o’clock was before the Lord Provost.

There his declaration was received. His account was
given so clearly that it could not be doubted. Sir William
Elphiston, President of the Royal Institution, and not only
colleague, but a personal friend of Starr’s, was also in-
formed, and asked to direct the search which was to be
made without delay. in the mine. Several men were
placed at his disposal, supplied with lamps, picks, long
rope ladders, not forgetting provisions and cordials. Then
guided by Jack Ryan, the party set out for the Aberfoyle
mines.

The same evening the expedition arrived at the opening
of the Yarrow shaft, and descended to the twenty-seventh
landing, at which Jack Ryan had been stopped a few hours
previously. ;

The lamps, fastened to long ropes, were lowered down
the shaft, and it was thus ascertained that the four last
ladders were wanting.

There was no doubt that all communication between the
outside and the inside of the mine had been intentionally

broken.
124 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“What are we waiting for, sir?” asked the impatient
Jack Ryan.

“We must wait for the lamps to be hauled up again, my
lad,” returned Sir William Elphiston, “then we will
descend as quickly as possible to the bottom, and you
shall guide us—”

“To the cottage!” cried Jack, “and, if need be, into the
lowest abyss of the mine!”

As soon as the lamps had been brought up, the men
fixed to the landing a rope ladder, which unrolled itself
down the shaft, and all descended one after the other.

Jack Ryan’s descent was the most difficult, for he went
first down the swinging ladders, and fastened them for the
others.

In this way all were soon collected in the mine.

The space at the bottom of the shaft was completely
deserted ; but Sir William was much surprised at hearing
Jack Ryan exclaim,—

“Here are bits of the ladders, and some of them half
burnt !”

“Burnt?” repeated Sir William. “Indeed, here sure
enough are cinders which have evidently been cold a long
time!”

“Do you think, sir,’ asked Ryan, “that Mr. Starr could
have had any reason for burning the ladders, and thus
breaking off communication with the world ?”
JACK RYAN’S EXPLOITS. 125



“Certainly not,” answered Sir William Elphiston, who
had become very thoughtful. “Come, my lad, lead us to
the cottage. There we shall ascertain the truth.”

Jack Ryan shook his head, as if not at all convinced.
Then, taking a lamp from the hands of one of the men, he
proceeded with a rapid step along the principal passage of
the Dochart pit.

The others all followed him.

In a quarter of an hour the party arrived at the excava-
tion in which stood Simon Ford’s cottage. There was no
light in the window.

Ryan darted to the door, and threw it open.

The house was empty.

They examined all the rooms in the sombre habitation.
No trace of violence was to be found. All was in order, as
if old Madge had been still there. There was even an
ample supply of provisions, enough to last the Ford family
for several days.

The absence of the tenants of the cottage was quite un-
accountable. But was it not possible to find out the exact
time they had quitted it? Yes, for in this region, where
there was no difference of day or night, Madge was
accustomed to’ mark with a cross each day in her
almanack.

The almanack was pinned up on the wall, and there the
last cross had been made at the 6th of December ; that is to
126 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.





say, a day after the arrival of James Starr, to which Ryan
could positively swear. It was clear-that on the 6th of
December, ten days ago, Simon Ford, his wife, son, and
guest, had quitted the cottage. Coulda fresh exploration
of the mine, undertaken by the engineer, account for such
along absence? Certainly not.

So at least thought. Sir William Elphiston. After
minutely inspecting the cottage, he was puzzled what to do
next.

It was intensely dark all round. The lamps held by
the men gave light only just where they were standing.

Suddenly Jack Ryan uttered a cry.

“ Look there, there!” he said.

His finger was pointing to a tolerably bright light, which
‘was moving about in the distance.

“ After that light, my men!” exclaimed Sir William.

“Tt’s a goblin light!” said Ryan. “So what’s the use?
We shall never catch it.”

The President and his men, little givert to superstition,
darted off in the direction of the moving light. Jack
Ryan, bravely following their example, quickly overtook
the headmost of the party.

It was a long and fatiguing chase. The lantern seemed,
to be carried by a being of small size, but singular agility.
Every now and then it disappeared behind some pillar,
then was seen again at the end of across gallery. A sharp
JACK RYAN’S EXPLOITS. 127



turn would place it out of sight, and it seemed to have
completely disappeared, when all at once there would be
the light as bright as ever. However, they gained very
little on it, and Ryan’s belief that they could never catch
it seemed far from groundless.

After an hour of this vain pursuit Sir William Elphi-
ston and his companions had gone a long way in the
south-west direction of the pit, and began to think they
really had to do with an impalpable being.

Just then it seemed as if the distance between the goblin
and those who were pursuing it was becoming less. Could
it be fatigued, or did this invisible being wish to entice Sir
William and his companions to the place where the inhabi-
tants of the cottage had perhaps themselves been enticed.
It was hard to say.

The men, seeing that the distance lessened, redoubled
their efforts. The light which had before burnt at a dis-
tance of more than two hundred feet before them was now
seen at less than fifty. The space continued to diminish.
The bearer of the lamp became partially visible. Some-
times, when it turned its head, the indistinct profile of a
human face could be made out, and unless a sprite could
assume bodily shape, Jack Ryan was obliged to confess
that here’ was no supernatural being. Then, springing
forward,—

“Courage, comrades!” he exclaimed; “it is getting

M
128 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



tired! We shall soon catch it up now, and if it can talk as
well as it can run we shall hear a fine story.

But the pursuit had suddenly become more difficult.
Here, in the depths of the mine, narrow passages crossed
each other like the windings of a labyrinth. The bearer of
the lamp might escape them as easily as possible, by just
extinguishing the light and retreating into some dark
refuge.

“And indeed,” thought Sir William, “if it wishes to
avoid us, why does it not do so?”

Hitherto there had evidently been no intention to avoid
them, but just as the thought crossed Sir William’s mind
the light suddenly disappeared, and the party, continuing
the pursuit, found themselves at the end of a tunnel, before
a narrow opening in the schistous rocks. .

To trim their lamps, spring forward, and dart through the
opening, was for Sir William and his party but the work of
an instant.

But before they had gone a hundred paces along this new
gallery, much wider and loftier than the former, they all
stopped. short.

There, near the wall, lay four bodies, stretched on the
ground—four corpses, perhaps!

“James Starr!”. exclaimed Sir William Elphiston.

“Harry! Harry!” cried Ryan, throwing himself down
beside his friend.


The fate of the explorers.

Page 128.
M 2
JACK RYAN’S EXPLOITS. 129

It was indeed the engineer, Madge, Simon, and Harry
Ford who were lying there motionless.



But one of the bodies moved slightly, and Madge’s voice
was heard faintly murmuring,—

“See to the others! help them first !”

Sir William, Jack, and their companions endeavoured to
reanimate the engineer and his friends by getting them to
swallow a few drops of brandy. They very soon succeeded.
The unfortunate people, shut up in that dark cavern for ten
days, were dying of starvation.

James Starr told Sir William that they must have
perished had they not on three occasions found a loaf of
bread and a jug of water set near them. No doubt the
charitable being to whom they owed their lives was unable
to do more for them.

Sir William wondered whether this might not have been
the work of the strange sprite who had allured them to the
very spot where James Starr and his companions lay.

However that might be, the engineer, Madge, Simon,
and Harry Ford were saved. They were assisted to the
cottage, passing through the narrow opening which the
bearer of the strange light had apparently wished to point
out to Sir William.

James Starr. and his companions could never by any
possibility have found the opening which they had made
for themselves with dynamite, as it had been completely
130 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

blocked up with rocks laid one upon another, and in the
dark they could neither have seen nor separated them. |

So, then, whilst they had been exploring the vast cavern,
the way back had been purposely closed against them by a
hostile hand.
COAL TOWN. 130

‘CHAPTER XIII.
COAL TOWN.

THREE years after the events which have just been related,
the guide-books recommended as a “ great attraction,” to
the numerous tourists who roam over the county of Stirling,
a visit of a few hours to the mines of New Aberfoyle.

No mine in any country, either in the Old or New
World, could present a more curious aspect.

To begin with, the visitor was transported without
danger or fatigue toa level with the workings, at fifteen
hundred feet below the surface of the ground. Seven miles
to the south-west of Callander opened a slanting tunnel,
adorned with a castellated entrance, turrets and battle-
ments. This lofty tunnel gently sloped straight to the
stupendous crypt, hollowed out so strangely in the bowels
of the earth.

A double line of railway, the waggons being moved by

hydraulic power, plied from hour to hour to and from the
132 THE CHILD OF TIE CAVERN.



village thus buried in the subsoil of the county, and which
bore the rather ambitious title.of Coal Town.

Arrived in Coal Town, the visitor found himself in a
place where electricity played a principal part as an agent
of heat and light.

Although the ventilation shafts were numerous, they
were not sufficient to admit much daylight into New Aber-
foyle, yet it had abundance of light. This was shed
from numbers of electric discs; some suspended from the
vaulted roofs, others hanging on the natural pillars—all,
whether suns or stars in size, were fed by continuous cur-
rents produced from electro-magnetic machines. When the
hour of rest arrived, an artificial night was easily produced
all over the mine by disconnecting the wires. _

None of these lamps were open to the surrounding
air, all acted in vacuo, so that, if the fire-damp had
mingled with the atmosphere so as to form an explosive
mixture, there was no danger of an explosion occurring.
The electric agent was also invariably employed for all the
wants of industrial and domestic life, as well in the houses
of Coal Town as in the galleries of New Aberfoyle.

The predictions of the engineer concerning the working
of the new mine had been verified. The value of the
carboniferous veins was incalculable. The seam had been
first attacked by miners’ picks to the west of the cavern, a
quarter of a mile from Coal Town, so the labouring town
COAL TOWN. 133



did not occupy the centre of the mine. The underground
works were connected with those above by shafts for ven-
tilation.and extraction, which put the different parts of the
mine in communication with the open air. The great
tunnel, where plied the hydraulic railway, was used only
for the conveyance of the inhabitants of Coal Town.

The singular conformation of the vast cavern, in which
the old overman and his companions had stopped during
their first exploration, may be remembered. Above their
heads rose a lofty pointed dome. The pillars which sus-
tained it were lost in the schistous roof, at a height of
three hundred feet, a height nearly equal to that of the
Mammoth dome of the caves of Kentucky.

That enormous hall, the greatest of all the American
caves, can contain five thousand persons with ease. There
were the same proportions and the same arrangement in
chis part of New Aberfoyle; only, instead of the beautiful
stalactites of the celebrated cavern, the gaze was here
attracted by the projections of black coal, which seemed to
spring out on all sides under the pressure of the rock.
One might have called them bold reliefs in jet, glancing
under the rays shed from the discs.

Below the dome lay a lake of an extent to be compared
to the Dead Sea of the Mammoth caves—a deep lakewhose
transparent waters swarmed with eyeless fish, and to which
the engineer gave the name of Loch Malcolm.
134 THE CHILD OF TIIE CAVERN.

There, in this immense natural excavation, Simon Ford
built his new cottage, which he would not have. exchanged
for the finest house in Prince’s Street, Edinburgh. This
dwelling was situated on the shores of the loch, and its five
windows looked out on the dark waters, which extended
further than the eye could see. Two months later a second
habitation was erected in the neighbourhood of Simon
Ford’s cottage: this was for James Starr. The engineer
had given himself body and soul to New Aberfoyle, and
nothing but the most imperative necessity ever caused him
to leave the pit. There, then, he lived in the midst of his
mining world.

On the discovery of the new field, all the old colliers had
hastened to leave the plough and harrow, and resume the
pick and mattock. Attracted by the certainty that work
would never fail, allured by the high wages which the
prosperity of the mine’ enabled the company to offer for
labour, they deserted the open air for an underground life,
and took up their abode in the mines.

The miners’ houses, built of brick, soon grew up in'‘a pic-
turesque fashion; some on the banks of Loch Malcolm,
others under the arches which seemed made to resist the
weight that pressed upon them, like the piers of a bridge.
Hewers who dig out the coal, putters who carry it away,
viewers, carpenters who shore up the galleries, labourers
who keep the roads in order—in short, all the workmen








Loch Malcolm and Coal Town.

Page 134.
COAL TOWN, 135

who are specially employed in underground works fixéd.
their abode in New Aberfoyle, and gradually founded
Coal Town, situated under the eastern point of Loch
Katrine, to the north of the county of Stirling. It was a
regular settlement on the banks of Loch Malcolm. A chapel,
dedicated to St. Giles, overlooked it from the top of a huge
rock, whose foot was laved by the waters of the subter-
ranean sea. ,

When this underground town was lighted up by the
bright rays thrown from the discs, hung from the pillars
and arches, its aspect was so strange, so fantastic, that it
justified the praise of the guide-books, and visitors flocked
to see it.

It is needless to say that the inhabitants of Coal Town
were proud of their place. They rarely left their labouring
village—in that imitating Simon Ford, who never wished to
go out again. The old overman maintained that it always
rained “up there,” and, considering the climate of the United
Kingdom, it must be acknowledged that he was not far
wrong. All the families in New Aberfoyle prospered well,
having in three years obtained a certain competency which
they could never have hoped to attain on the surface of the
county. Dozens of babies, who were born at the time
when the works were resumed, had never yet breathed the
outer air.

This made Jack Ryan remark,—
136 THE CIIILD OF TIIE CAVERN.



“It’s eighteen months since they were weaned, and they
have not yet seen daylight! ”

It may be mentioned here, that one of the first to run at
the engineer’s call was Jack Ryan. The merry fellow had
thought it his duty to return to his old trade. But though
Melrose farm had lost singer and piper, it must not be
thought that Jack Ryan sung no more. On the contrary,
the sonorous echoes of New Aberfoyle exerted their strong
lungs to answer him.

Jack Ryan took up his abode in Simon Ford’s new cot-
tage. They offered him a room, which he accepted without
ceremony, in his frank and hearty way. Old Madge loved
him for his fine character and goodnature. She in some
degree shared his ideas on the subject of the fantastic
beings who were supposed to haunt the mine, and the two,
when alone, told each other stories wild enough to make
one shudder—stories well worthy of enriching the hyper-
borean mythology. ‘

Jack thus became the life of the cottage. He was, be-
sides being a jovial companion, a good workman. Six
months after the works had begun, he was made head of a
gang of hewers.

“That was a good work done, Mr. Ford,” said he, a few
days after his appointment. “You discovered a new field,
and though you narrowly escaped paying for the discovery
with your life—well, it was not too dearly bought.”
COAL TOWN. 137

“No, Jack, it was a good bargain we made that time!”



answered the old overman. “But neither Mr. Starr nor I
have forgotten that to you we owe our lives.”

“Not at all,” returned Jack. “You owe them to your
son Harry, when he had the good sense to accept my
invitation to Irvine.”

“And not to go, isn’t that it?” interrupted Harry,
grasping his comrade’s hand. “No, Jack, it is to you,
scarcely healed of your wounds—to you, who did not delay
a day, no, nor. an hour, that we owe our being found still
alive in the mine!”

“Rubbish, no!” broke in the obstinate fellow. “I won't
have that said, when it’s no such thing. I hurried to find
out what had become of you, Harry, that’s all. But to give
every one his due, I will add that without that unapproach-
able goblin—” .

“Ah, there we are!” cried Ford. “A goblin!”

“A goblin, a brownie, a fairy’s child,’ repeated Jack
Ryan, “a cousin of the Fire-Maidens, an Urisk, whatever
you like!, It’s not the less certain that without it we
should never have found our way into the gallery, from
which you could not get out.”

“No doubt, Jack,” answered Harry. “It remains to be
seen whether this being was as supernatural as you choose
to believe.” .

“Supernatural!” exclaimed Ryan. “But it was as
138 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

supernatural as a Will-o’-the-Wisp, who may be seen
skipping along with his lantern in his hand ;-you may try
to catch him, but he escapes like a fairy, and vanishes like
a shadow! Don’t be uneasy, Harry, we shall see it again
some day or other!”

“Well, Jack,” said Simon Ford, “ Will-o’-the-Wisp or
not, we shall try to find it, and you must help us.”

“You'll get into a scrape if you don’t take care, Mr.
Ford !” responded Jack Ryan.

“We'll see about that, Jack !”

We may easily imagine how soon this domain of New
Aberfoyle became familiar to all the members of the Ford
family, but more particularly to Harry. He learnt to
know all its most secret ins and outs. He could even say
what point of the surface corresponded with what point
of the mine. He knew that above this seam lay the Firth
of Clyde, that there extended Loch Lomond and Loch
Katrine. Those columns supported a spur of the Gram-
pian mountains. This vault served as a basement. to
Dumbarton. Above this large pond passed the Balloch
railway. Here ended the Scottish coast. There began
the sea, the tumult of which could be distinctly heard
during the equinoctial gales. Harry would have been a first-
rate guide to these natural catacombs, and all that Alpine
guides do on their snowy peaks in daylight he could have
done in the dark mine by the wonderful power of instinct.
COAL TOWN. 139

He loved New Aberfoyle. Many times, with his lamp’
stuck in his hat, did he penetrate its furthest depths. He
explored its ponds in a skilfully-managed canoe. He even
went shooting, for numerous birds had been introduced
into the crypt—pintails, snipes, ducks, who fed on the fish
which swarmed in the deep waters. Harry’s eyes seemed
made for the dark, just as a sailor’s are made for distances

But all this while Harry felt irresistibly animated by the
hope of finding the mysterious being whose intervention,
strictly speaking, had saved himself and his friends. Would
he succeed? He certainly would, if presentiments were
to be trusted; but certainly not, if he judged by the
success which had as yet attended his researches.

The attacks directed against the family of the old over-
man, before the discovery of New Aberfoyle, had not been
renewed.

So things went on in this strange region.

It must not, however, be imagined that, even at the time
when Coal Town was a mere village, it was devoid of
amusement, or that existence there was monotonous.

No such thing. The population, having the same in-
terests, the same tastes, being in about the same circum-
stances, constituted, as it were, one large family. Every-
body was friendly together, and the need of going out
of the mine to seek amusement was little felt.

Besides, every Sunday, walks about the mine, excursions

N
140 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

on the lakes and ponds, afforded much agreeable diver-
sion.

The sound of the bagpipe was often heard on the banks
of Loch Malcolm. The Scotch gladly assembled at: the
call of their national instrument. They danced, and Jack
Ryan, dressed in Highland costume, was king of the sports.

And so it came to pass that, at least in Simon Ford’s
opinion, Coal Town became worthy to rival the capital
of Scotland—that city, subject to cold in winter, to heat in
summer, to all the inclemencies of a detestable climate, and
whose nickname of “Auld Reeky” is justified by its
smoke-laden atmosphere.


































Holiday in Coal Town.

Page 140.
N 2
HANGING BY A THREAD. I4I
— sw

CHAPTER XIV.
HANGING BY A THREAD.

ALTHOUGH in this way the Ford family led a happy and
contented life, yet it was easy to see that Harry, naturally
of a grave disposition, became more and more quiet and
reserved. Even Jack Ryan, with all his good humour and
usually infectious merriment, failed to rouse him to gaiety
of manner.

One Sunday—it was in the month of June—the two
friends were walking together on the shores of Loch Mal-
colm. Coal Town rested from labour. In the world above,
stormy weather prevailed. Violent rains fell, and dull
sultry vapours brooded over the earth; the atmosphere
was most oppressive.

Down in Coal Town there was perfect calm; no wind, no
rain. A soft and pleasant temperature existed instead of
the strife of the elements which raged without. What
wonder then, that excursionists from Stirling came in con-
142 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

siderable numbers to enjoy the calm fresh air in the
recesses of the mine?

The electric discs shed a brilliancy of light which the
British sun, oftener obscured by fogs than it ought to be,
might well envy. Jack Ryan kept talking of these
visitors, who passed them in noisy crowds, but Harry paid
very little attention to what he said.

“T say, do look, Harry!” cried Jack. “See what num-
bers of people come to visit us! Cheer up, old fellow!
Do the honours of the place a little better. If you look so
glum, you'll make all these outside folks think you envy
their life above-ground.”

“Never mind me, Jack,’ answered Harry. “You are
jolly enough for two, I’m sure; that’s enough.”

“Tl be hanged if I don’t feel your melancholy creeping
over me though!” exclaimed Jack. “I declare my eyes
are getting quite dull, my lips are drawn together, my
laugh sticks in my throat; I’m forgetting all my songs.
Come, man, what's the matter with you?”

“You know well enough, Jack.”

“What? the old story?”

“Yes, the same thoughts haunt me.”

“Ah, poor fellow!” said Jack, shrugging his shoulders.
“If you would only do like me, and set all the queer things
down to the account of the goblins of the mine, you would
be easier in your mind.”
HANGING BY A THREAD. 143

“ But, Jack, you know very well that these goblins exist
only in your imagination, and that, since the works here
have been re-opened, not a single one has been seen.”

“That’s true, Harry; but if no spirits have been seen,
neither has any one else to whom you could attribute the
extraordinary doings we want to account for.”

“T shall discover them.” .

“Ah, Harry! Harry! it’s not so easy to catch the spirits
of New Aberfoyle!”

“T shall find out the spirits, as you call them,” said
Harry, in a tone of firm conviction.

“Do you expect to be able to punish them ?”

“Both punish and reward. Remember, if one hand shut
us up in that passage, another hand delivered us! I shall
not soon forget that.”

“ But, Harry, how can we be sure that these two hands
do not belong to the same body ?”

“What can put such a notion in your head, Jack?”

“Well, I don’t know. Creatures that live in these holes,
Harry, don’t you see? they can’t be made like us, eh ?”

“ But they ave just like us, Jack.”

“Oh, no! don’t say that, Harry! Perhaps some mad-
man managed to get in for a time.”

“A madman! No madman would have formed such
connected plans, or done such continued mischief as befell
us after the breaking of the ladders.”
144 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



“ Well, but anyhow he has done no harm for the last
three years, either to you, Harry, or any of your people.”

“No matter, Jack,’ replied Harry; “I am persuaded
that this malignant being, whoever he is, has by no means
given up his evil intentions. I can hardly say on what I
found my convictions. But at any rate, for the sake of the
new works, I must and will know who he is and whence he
comes.”

“For the sake of the new works did you say?” asked
Jack, considerably surprised.

“T said so, Jack,” returned Harry. “Imay be mistaken,
but, to me, all that has happened proves the existence of an
interest in this mine in strong opposition to ours. Many
a time have I considered the matter ; I feel almost sure of
it. Just consider the whole series of inexplicable circum-
stances, so singularly linked together. To begin with, the
anonymous letter, contradictory to that of my father, at
once proves that some man had become aware of our pro-
jects, and wished to prevent their accomplishment. Mr.
Starr comes to see us at the Dochart pit. No sooner does
he enter it with me than.an immense stone is cast upon‘us,
and communication is interrupted by the breaking of the
ladders in the Yarrow’ shaft. We commence exploring.
An experiment, by which the existence of a new vein would
be proved, is rendered impossible by stoppage of fissures.
Notwithstanding this, the examination is carried out, the
HANGING BY A THREAD. 145

vein discovered. We return as we came, a prodigious gust
of air meets us, our lamp is broken, utter darkness sur-
rounds us. Nevertheless, we make our way along the
gloomy passage until, on reaching the entrance, we find it
blocked up. There we were—imprisoned. Now, Jack,
don’t you see in all these things a malicious intention ?
Ah, yes, believe me, some being hitherto invisible, but not
supernatural, as you will persist in thinking, was concealed
in the mine. For some reason, known only to himself, he
strove to keep us out of it. Was there, did I say? I feel
an inward conviction that he zs there still, and probably
prepares some terrible disaster for us. Even at the risk of
my life, Jack, I am resolved to discover him.”

Harry spoke with an- earnestness which strongly ime
pressed his companion.

He could not but acknowledge that Harry was right, at:
least as concerned the past. Whatever the cause, there wa
no dénying that the facts were as he stated. He could not:
bring himself to give up his way of explaining them, but,
perceiving that Harry would never admit the idea of
mysterious and supernatural agency in the evil done, he
took his stand on the incident which seemed to indicate
friendliness instead of malevolence towards the Ford
family. A

“Well, Harry,” said he, “if I am forced to agree with you
in certain points, won’t you admit that some kind fairy of
146 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

brownie, by bringing bread and water to you, was the
means of—”

“Jack, my friend,” interrupted Harry, “it is my beliet
that the friendly person, whom you will persist in calling a
spirit, exists in. the mine as certainly as the criminal we
speak of, and I mean to seek them both in the most dis-
tant recesses of the mine.”

“But,” inquired Jack, “have you any possible clue to
guide your search ?”

“Perhaps I have. Listen to me! Five miles west of
New Aberfoyle, under the solid rock which supports Ben
Lomond, there exists a natural shaft which descends per-
pendicularly into the vein beneath. A week ago I went
to ascertain the depth of this shaft. While sounding it,
and bending over the opening as my plumb-line went down,
it seemed to me that the air within was agitated, as though
beaten by huge wings.”

“Some bird. must have got lost among the lower
galleries,” replied Jack.

“But that is not all, Jack. This very morning I went
back to the place, and, listening attentively, I thought I
could detect a sound like a sort of groaning.”

“Groaning!” cried Jack, .“that must be nonsense; it
was a current of air—unless indeed some ghost—”

“T shall know to-morrow what it was,” said Harry.

“To-morrow?” answered Jack, looking at his friend.
HANGING BY A THREAD. 147

“Yes; to-morrow I am going down into that abyss.”

“Harry ! that will be a tempting ot Providence.”

“No, Jack, Providence will aid me in the attempt. To-
morrow, you and some of our comrades will go with me to
that shaft. I will fasten myself to a long rope, by which
you can let me down, and draw me up at a given signal. I
may depend upon you, Jack?”

“Well, Harry,” said Jack, shaking his head, “I will do as
you wish me; but I tell you all the same, you are very
wrong.”

“Nothing venture nothing win,” said Harry, in a tone
of decision. “To-morrow morning, then, at six o’clock.
Be silent, and farewell !” .

Harry hastily left his companion, knowing that he. would
continue to oppose his project if more was said on the sub-
ject, and returned to the cottage.

It must be admitted that Jack’s fears were far from ground-
less. Harry would expose himself to very great danger,
supposing the enemy he sought for lay concealed at the
bottom of the pit into which he was going to descend. It
did not seem likely that such was the case, however.

“Why in the world,” repeated Jack Ryan, “should he
take all this trouble to account for a set of facts so very
easily and simply explained by the supernatural interven-
tion of the spirits of the mine ?”

But, notwithstanding his objections to the scheme, Jack
148 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

Ryan and three miners of his gang arrived next morning
with Harry at the mouth of the opening of the suspicious
shaft.

Harry had not mentioned his intentions either to James
Starr or to the old overman.

Jack had been discreet enough to say nothing.

The other miners, seeing them set out, supposed them
merely to be engaged in some survey of the direction of
the vein in the vertical cutting.

Harry had provided himself with a rope about 200 feet
long. It was not particularly thick, but very strong—suffi-
ciently so to sustain his weight. His friends were to let
him down into the gulf, and his. pulling the cord was to be
the signal to withdraw him.

The opening into this shaft or well was twelve feet
wide. A beam was thrown across like a bridge, so that
the cord passing over it should hang down the centre of
the opening, and save Harry from striking against the sides
in his descent.

He was ready.

“ Are you still determined to explore this abyss?” whis-
pered Jack Ryan.

“Yes, I am, Jack.”

The cord was fastened round Harry’s thighs and under
his arms, to keep him from rocking. Thus supported,
he was free to use both his hands. A safety-lamp
HANGING BY A THREAD, 149



hung at his belt, also a large, strong knife in a leather
sheath,

Harry advanced to the middle of the beam, around
which the cord was passed. Then his friends began to let
him down, and he slowly sank into the pit. As the rope
caused him to swing gently round and round, the light of
his lamp fell in turns on all points of the side walls, so
that he was able to examine them carefully. These walls
consisted of pit coal, and so smooth that it would be impos-
sible to ascend them.

Harry calculated that he was going down at the rate of
about a foot per second, so that he had time to look about
him, and be ready for any event.

During two minutes—that is to say, to the depth of about
120 feet, the descent continued without any incident.

No lateral gallery opened from the side walls of the
pit, which was gradually narrowing into the shape of a
funnel. But Harry began to feel a fresher air rising from
beneath, whence he concluded that the bottom of the pit
communicated with a gallery of some description in the
lowest part of the mine.

The cord continued to unwind. Darkness and silence
were complete. If any living being whatever had sought
refuge in the deep and mysterious abyss, he had either left
it, or, if there, by no movement did he in the slightest way

betray his presence.
150 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

Harry, becoming more suspicious the lower he got, now
drew his knife and held it in his right hand.

At a depth of 180 feet, his feet touched the lower point,
the cord slackened and unwound no further.

Harry breathed more freely fora moment. One of the
fears he entertained had been that, during his descent, the
cord might be cut above him, but he had seen no projec-
tion from the walls behind which any one could have been
concealed.

The bottom of the abyss was quite dry. Harry, taking
the lamp from his belt, walked round the place, and per-
céived he had been right in his conjectures.

An extremely narrow passage led aside out of the pit.
He had to stoop to look into it, and only by creeping
could it be followed ; but as he wanted to see in which
direction it led, and whether another abyss opened from
it, he lay down on the ground and began to enter it on
hands and knees.

An obstacle speedily arrested his progress. He fancied
he could perceive, by touching it, that a human body lay
across the passage.

A sudden thrill of horror and surprise made him hastily
draw back, but he again advanced and felt more carefully.
His senses had not deceived him ; a body did indeed lie
there ; and he soon ascertained that, although icy cold at

the extremities, there was some vital heat remaining. In
uv
On Hi

A
Hi Hi ie
‘i i

a
a. i i

w







Harry’s discovery.
Page 150.
HANGING BY A THREAD. I51I

less time than it takes to tell it, Harry had drawn the
body from the recess to the bottom of the shaft, and,
seizing his lamp, he cast its light on what he had found,
exclaiming immediately, “Why, it is a child!”

The child still breathed, but so very feebly that Harry
expected it to cease every instant.

Not a moment was to be lost ; he must carry this poor
little creature out of the pit, and take it home to his
mother as quickly as he could.

He eagerly fastened the cord round his waist, stuck on
his lamp, clasped the child to his breast with his left arm,
and, keeping his right hand free to hold the knife, he gave
the signal agreed on, to have the rope pulied up.

It tightened at once; he began the ascent. Harry looked
around him with redoubled care, for more than his own
life was now in danger.

For a few minutes all went well, no accident seemed to
threaten him, when suddenly he heard the sound of a
great rush of air from beneath; and, looking down,
he could dimly perceive through the gloom a_ broad
mass arising until it passed him, striking him as it went
by.

It was an enormous bird—of what sort he could not see;
it flew upwards on mighty wings, then paused, hovered,
and dashed fiercely down upon Harry, who could only
wield his knife in one hand. He defended himself and the

oO
152 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

child as well as he could, but the ferocious bird seemed to
aim all its blows at him alone. Afraid of cutting the cord,
he could not strike it as he wished, and the struggle was
prolonged, while Harry shouted with all his might, in
hopes of making his comrades hear.

He soon knew they did, for they pulled the rope up
faster ; a distance of about eighty feet remained to be got
over. The bird ceased its direct attack, but increased the
horror and danger of his situation by rushing at the cord,
clinging to it just out of his reach, and endeavouring, by
pecking furiously, to cut it.

Harry felt overcome with terrible dread.

One strand of the rope gave way, and it made them
sink a little.

A shriek of despair escaped his lips.

A second strand was divided, and the double burden
now hung suspended by only half the cord.

Harry dropped his knife, and by a superhuman effort
succeeded, at the moment the rope was giving way, in
catching hold of it with his right hand above the cut made
by the beak of the bird. But, powerfully as he held it in
his iron grasp, he could feel it gradually slipping through
his fingers.

He might have caught it, and held on with both hands
by sacrificing the life of the child he supported in his left
arm. The idea*crossed him, but was banished in an


A fearful foe.

Page 152
O02
HANGING BY A THREAD. 153



instant, although he believed himself quite unable to hold
out until drawn to the surface.

For a second he closed his eyes, believing they were
about to plunge back into the abyss.

He looked up once more; the huge bird had disap-
peared ; his hand was at the very extremity of the broken
rope—when, just as his convulsive grasp was failing, he
was seized by the men, and with the child was placed on
the level ground.

The fearful strain of anxiety removed, a reaction took
place, and Harry fell fainting into the arms of his friends.
154 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN,



CHAPTER XV.
NELL ADOPTED.

A COUPLE of hours later, Harry still unconscious, and the
child in a very feeble state, were brought to the cottage by
Jack Ryan and his companions. The old overman listened
to the account of their adventures, while Madge attended
with the utmost care to the wants of her son, and of the
poor creature whom he had rescued from the pit.

Harry imagined her a mere child, but she was a maiden
of the age of fifteen or sixteen years.

She gazed at them with vague and wondering eyes ; and
the thin face, drawn by suffering, the pallid complexion,
which light could never have tinged, and the fragile, slender
figure, gave her an appearance at once singular and
attractive. |

Jack Ryan declared that she seemed to him to be an
uncommonly interesting kind of ghost.

It must have been due to the strange and peculiar cir-
NELL ADOPTED. 155





cumstances under which her life hitherto had been led,
that she scarcely seemed to belong to the human race.
Her countenance was of a very uncommon cast, and her
eyes, hardly able to bear the lamp-light in the cottage,
glanced around in a confused and puzzled way, as if all
were new to them.

As this singular being reclined on Madge’s bed and
awoke to consciousness, as from a long sleep, the old
Scotchwoman began to question her a little.

“What do they call you, my dear?” said she.

“Nell,” replied the girl.

“Do you feel anything the matter with you, Nell?”

“Tam hungry. I have eaten nothing since—since—”

Nell uttered these few words like one unused to speak
much. They were in the Gaelic language, which was often
spoken by Simon and his family. Madge immediately
brought her some food ; she was evidently famished. It was
impossible to say how long she might have been in that pit.

“How many days had you been down there, dearie ?”
inquired Madge.

Nell made no answer; she seemed not to understand
the question.

“How many days, do you think ?”

“Days?” repeated Nell, as though the word had no
meaning for her, and she shook her head to signify entire

want of comprehension.
156 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



Madge took her hand, and stroked it caressingly.

“How old are you, my lassie?” she asked, smiling
kindly at her.

Nell shook her head again.

“Yes, yes,” continued Madge, “how many years old ?”

“Years?” replied Nell. She seemed to understand
that word no better than days!

Simon, Harry, Jack, and the rest, looked on with an air
of mingled compassion, wonder, and sympathy. The state
of this poor thing, clothed in a miserable garment of coarse
woollen stuff, seemed to impress them painfully.

Harry, more than all the rest, seemed attracted by the
very peculiarity of this poor stranger. He drew near, took
Nell’s hand from his mother, and looked directly at her,
while something like a smile curved her lip.

“Nell,” he said, “Nell, away down there—in the mine
—were you all alone?”

19?

“Alone! alone!” cried the girl, raising herself hastily.
Her features expressed terror; her eyes, which had ap-
peared to soften as Harry looked at her, became quite wild
again.

“Alone!” repeated she, “alone !”—and she fell back on
the bed, as though deprived of all strength.

“The poor bairn is too weak to speak to us,” said
Madge, when she had adjusted the pillows. “After a good

rest, and a little more food, she will be stronger. Come
NELL ADOPTED. 157

away, Simon and Harry, and all the rest of you, and let her
go to sleep.”

So Nell was left alone, and in a very few minutes slept
profoundly.

This event caused a great sensation, not only in the coal-
mines, but in Stirlingshire, and ultimately throughout the
kingdom. The strangeness of the story was exaggerated ;
the affair could not have made more commotion had they
found the girl enclosed in the solid rock, like one of those
antediluvian creatures who have occasionally been released
by a stroke of the pickaxe from their stony prison.

Nell became a fashionable wonder without knowing it.
Superstitious folks made her story a new subject for
legendary marvels, and were inclined to think, as Jack
Ryan told Harry, that Nell was the spirit of the mines. -

“Be it so, Jack,” said the young man; “but at any rate
she is the good spirit. It can have been none but she who
brought us bread and water when we were shut up down
there; and as ‘to the bad spirit, who must still be in the
mine, we'll catch him some day.”

Of course James Starr had been at once informed of all
this, and came, as soon as the young girl had sufficiently
recovered her strength, to see her, and endeavour to. ques-
tion her carefuliy.

She appeared ignorant of nearly everything relating to
life, and, although evidently intelligent, was wanting in
158 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

many elementary ideas, such as time, for instance. She
had never been used to its division, and the words signify-
ing hours, days, months, and years were unknown to her.

Her eyes, accustomed to the night, were pained by the
glare of the electric discs ; but in the dark her sight was
wonderfully keen, the pupil dilated in a remarkable manner,
and she could see where to others there appeared profound
obscurity.

It was certain that her brain had never received any im-
pression of the outer world, that her eyes had never looked
beyond the mine, and that these sombre depths had been
all the world to her.

The poor girl probably knew not that there were a sun
and stars, towns and counties, a mighty universe composed
of myriads of worlds. But until she comprehended the
significance of words at present conveying no precise mean-
ing to her, it was impossible to ascertain what she knew.

As to whether or not Nell had lived alone in the recesses
of New Aberfoyle, James Starr was obliged to remain un-
certain ; indeed, any allusion to the subject excited evident
alarm in the mind of this strange girl, Either Nell could
not or would not reply to questions, but that some secret
existed in connexion with the place, which she could have
explained, was manifest.

“Should you like to stay with us? Should you like to
go back to where we found you?” asked James Starr.
NELL ADOPTED. ~ 159

“Oh, yes!” exclaimed the maiden, in answer to his first
question ; but a cry of terror was all she seemed able to
say to the second..

James Starr, as well as Simon and Harry Ford, could
not help feeling a certain amount of uneasiness with regard
to this persistent silence. They found it impossible to for-
get all that had appeared so inexplicable at the time they
made the discovery of the coal-mine ; and although that
was three years ago, and nothing new had happened, they
always expected some fresh attack on the part of the in-
visible enemy.

. They resolved to explore the mysterious well, and did so,
well armed and in considerable numbers. But nothing sus-
picious was to be seen; the shaft communicated with lower
stages of the crypt, hollowed out in the carboniferous bed.

Many a time did James Starr, Simon, and Harry talk
over these things. If one or more malevolent beings were
concealed in the coal-pit, and there concocted mischief, Nell
surely could have warned them of it, yet she said nothing.
The slightest allusion to her past life brought on such fits
of violent emotion, that it was judged best to avoid the
subject for the present. Her secret would certainly escape
her by-and-by. .

By the time Nell had been a fortnight in the cottage, she
had become a most intelligent and zealous assistant to old
Madge.
160 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

It was clear that she instinctively felt she should remain
in the dwelling where she had been so charitably received,
and perhaps never dreamt of quitting it. This family was
all in all to her, and to the good folks themselves Nell had
seemed an adopted child from the moment when she first
came beneath their roof. Nell was in truth a charming
creature ; her new mode of existence added to her beauty,
for these were no doubt the first happy days of her life,
and her heart was full of gratitude towards those to whom
she owed them. Madge felt towards her as a mother
would ; the old woman doted upon her; in short, she was
beloved by everybody. Jack Ryan only: regretted one
thing, which was that he had not saved her himself.
Friend Jack often came to the cottage. He sang, and
Nell, who had never heard singing -before, admired it
greatly; but any one might see that she preferred to Jack’s
songs the graver conversation of Harry, from whom by
degrees she learnt truths concerning the outer world, of
which hitherto she had known nothing.

It must be said that, since Nell had appeared in her own
person, Jack Ryan had been obliged to admit that his
belief in hobgoblins was in a measure weakened. A couple
of months later his credulity experienced a further shock.
About that time Harry unexpectedly made a discovery
which, in part at least, accounted for the apparition of the fire-
maidens among the ruins of Dundonald Castle at Irvine.
NELL ADOPTED. ° 161

During several days he had been engaged in exploring
the remote galleries of the prodigious excavation towards
the south. At last he scrambled with difficulty up a
narrow passage which branched off through the upper
rock. To his great astonishment, he suddenly found him-
self in the open air. The passage, after ascending obliquely
to the surface of the ground, led out directly among the ruins
of Dundonald Castle.

There was, therefore, a communication between New
Aberfoyle and the hills crowned by this ancient castle.
The upper entrance to this gallery, being completely con-
cealed by stones and brushwood, was invisible from with-
out; at the time of their search, therefore, the magistrates
had been able to discover nothing.

A few days afterwards, James Starr, guided by Harry,
came himself to inspect this curious natural opening into
the coal-mine.

“Well,” said he, “here is enough to convince the most
superstitious among us. Farewell to all their brownies,
goblins, and fire-maidens now!”

“T hardly think, Mr. Starr, we ought to congratulate
ourselves,” replied Harry. “ Whatever it is we have instead
of these things, it can’t be better, and may be worse than
they are.” .

“ That’s true, Harry,” said the engineer ; “ but what's
be done? It is plain that, whatever the beings are who
162 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN. |

hide in the mine, they reach the surface of the earth by
this passage. No doubt it was the light of torches waved
by them during that dark and stormy night which attracted
the ‘ Motala’ towards the rocky coast, and like the wreckers
of former days, they would have plundered ‘the unfortunate
vessel, had it not been for Jack Ryan and his friends.
Anyhow, so far it is evident, and here is the mouth of the
den. As to its occupants, the question is—Are they here
still?”

“T say yes; because Nell trembles when we mention
them—yes, because Nell will not, or dare not, speak about
them,” answered Harry in a tone of decision,

Harry was surely in the right. Had these mysterious
denizens of the pit abandoned it, or ceased to visit the spot,
what reason could the girl have had for keeping silence ?

James Starr could not rest till he had penetrated this
mystery. He foresaw that the whole future of the new
excavations must depend upon it. Renewed and strict
precautions were therefore taken. The authorities were
informed of the discovery of the entrance. Watchers were
placed among the ruins of the castle. Harry himself lay
hid for several nights in the thickets of brushwood which
clothed the hill-side.

Nothing was discovered—no human being emerged
from tlie opening.

So most people came to the conclusion that the villains
NELL ADOPTED. 163



had been finally dislodged from the mine, and that, as to
Nell, they must suppose her to be dead at the bottom of
the shaft where they had left her.

While it remained unworked, the mine had been a safe
enough place of refuge, secure from all search or pursuit.
But now, circumstances being altered, it became difficult
to conceal this lurking-place, and it might reasonably be
hoped they were gone, and that nothing for the future
was to be dreaded from them.

James Starr, however, could not feel sure about it;
neither could Harry be satisfied on the subject, often re-
peating,—

“Nell has clearly been mixed up with all this secret
business. If she had nothing more to fear, why should she
keep silence? It cannot be doubted. that she is happy
with us. She likes us all—she adores my mother. Her
absolute silence as to her former life, when by speaking
out she might benefit us, proves to me that some awful
secret, which she dares not reveal, weighs on her mind. It
may also be that she believes it better for us, as well as for
herself, that she should remain mute in a way otherwise so
unaccountable.”

In consequence of these opinions, it was agreed by com>
mon consent to avoid all allusion to the maiden’s former
mode of life.

One day, however, Harry was led to make known to
164 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

Nell what James Starr, his father, mother, and himself
believed they owed to her interference.

It was a féte-day. The miners made holiday on the
surface of the county of Stirling .as well as in its subter-
raneous domains.

Parties of holiday-makers were moving about in all
directions. Songs resounded in many places beneath the
sonorous vaults of New Aberfoyle. .

Harry and Nell left the cottage, and slowly walked along
the left bank of Loch Malcolm.

Then the electric brilliance darted less vividly, and the
rays were interrupted with fantastic effect by the sharp
angles of the picturesque rocks which supported the dome.

This imperfect light suited Nell, to whose eyes a glare
was very unpleasant.

After walking for an hour, Harry and his companion
stopped opposite St. Giles’s chapel, which stood on a kind
of natural terrace, overlooking the waters of the lake.

“Nell,” said Harry, “your eyes are not fit for daylight
yet, and certainly they could not bear the brightness of the
sun.”

“Indeed they could not,” replied the girl; “if the sun is
such as you describe to me, Harry.”

“T cannot by any words, Nell, give you an idea either of
his splendour or of the beauty of that universe which your
eyes have never beheld. But tell me, is it really possible
NELL ADOPTED. 165

that, since the day when you were born in the depths of
the coal-mine, you never once have been up to the
surface of the earth ?”

“Never once, Harry,” said she; “I do not believe that,
even as an infant, my father or mother ever carried me
thither. I am sure I should have retained some impres-
sion of the open air if they had.”

“T believe you would,” answered Harry. “Long ago, Nell,
many children used to live altogether in the miné; com-
munication was then difficult, and I have met with more
than one young person, quite as ignorant as you are of
things above ground. But now the railway through our
great tunnel takes us in a few minutes to the upper
regions of our country. I long, Nell, to hear you say,
“Come, Harry, my eyes can bear daylight, and I want
to see the sun! I want to look upon the works of the
Almighty.’” .

“T shall soon say so, Harry, I hope,” replied the girl;
“T shall soon go with you to admire the world above ; and
yet—”

“What are you going to say, Nell?” hastily cried
Harry; “can you possibly regret having quitted that
gloomy abyss in which you spent your early years, and
whence we drew you half dead ?”

“No, Harry,” answered Nell ; “I was only thinking that

darkness is beautiful as well as light. If you but knew
P
166 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

what eyes accustomed to its depths can see! Shades flit



by, which one longs to follow; circles mingle and inter-
twine, and one could gaze on them for ever; black hollows,
full of indefinite gleams of radiance, lie deep at the bottom
of the mine. And then the voice-like sounds! Ah,
Harry! one must have lived down there to understand what
I feel, what I can never express.”

“ And were you not afraid, Nell, when you were all alone
there ?”

“Harry! it was just when I was alone that I was not
afraid.”

Nell’s voice altered slightly as she said these words:
however, Harry thought he might press the subject a little
further, so he said,—

“But one might be easily lost in these great galleries,
Nell, Were you not afraid of losing your way ?”

“Oh, no, Harry; for a long time I had known every
turn of the new mine.”

“Did you never leave it?”

“Yes, now and then,” answered the girl with a little
hesitation ; “sometimes I have been as far as the old mine
of Aberfoyle.”

“So you knew our old cottage?”

“The cottage! oh, yes; but the people who lived there
I only saw at a great distance.”

“They were my father and mother,” said Harry ; “and
NELL ADOPTED. 167

I was there too; we have always lived there—we never
would give up the old dwelling.”

“ Perhaps it would have been better for you if you had,”
murmured the maiden.

“Why so, Nell? Was it not just because we were ob-
stinately resolved to remain that we ended by discovering
the new vein of coal? And did not that discovery lead to
the happy result of providing work for a large population,
and restoring them to ease and comfort? and did it not
enable us to find you, Nell, to save your life, and give you
the love of all our hearts?”

“Ah, yes, for me indeed it is well, whatever may
happen,” replied Nell earnestly; “for others—who can
tell?”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, nothing—nothing. But it used to be very dan-
gerous at that time to go into the new cutting—yes, very
dangerous indeed, Harry! Once some rash people made
their way into these chasms. They got a long, long way ;
they were lost!”

“They were lost?” said Harry, looking at her.

“Yes, lost!” repeated Nell in a trembling voice. “ Tuney
could not find their way out.”

“ And there,” cried Harry, “ they were imprisoned during
eight long days! They were at the point of death, Nell ;
and, but for a kind and charitable being—an angel per-

P2
168 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

haps—sent by God to help them, who secretly brought



them a little food ; but for a mysterious guide, who after-
wards led to them their deliverers, they never would have
escaped from that living tomb!”

“And how do you know about that?” demanded the
girl, ,

“Because those men were James Starr, my father, and
myself, Nell!”

Nell looked up hastily, seized the young’ man’s hand,
and gazed so fixedly into his eyes that his feelings were
‘stirred to their inmost depths.

“You were there?” at last she uttered.

“Twas indeed,” said Harry, after a pause, “and she to
whom we owe our lives can have been none other than
yourself, Nell!” |

Nell hid her face in her hands without speaking. Harry
had never seen her so much affected.

“Those who saved your life, Nell,” added he in a voice
tremulous with emotion, “already owed theirs to you; do

you think they will ever forget it?”


































Secrets revealed.

Page 168.
ON THE REVOLVING LADDER. 169

— - rr“

CHAPTER XVI.
ON THE REVOLVING LADDER.

THE mining operations at New Aberfoyle continued to be
carried on very successfully.

As a matter of course, the engineer, James Starr, as well
as Simon Ford, the discoverers of this rich carboniferous
region, shared largely in the profits.

In time Harry became a partner.

But he never thought of quitting the cottage. He took
his father’s place as overman, and diligently superintended
the works of this colony of miners.

Jack Ryan was proud and delighted at the good fortune
which had befallen his comrade.

He himself was getting on very well also.

They frequently met, either at the cottage or at the
works in the pit. .

Jack did not fail to remark the sentiments entertained
by Harry towards Nell.
170 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

Harry would not confess to them ; but Jack only laughed
at him when he shook his head and tried to deny any
special interest in her.

It must be noted that Jack Ryan had the greatest possi-
ble wish to be of the party when Nell should pay-her first
visit to the upper surface of the county of Stirling.

' He wished to see her wonder and admiration on first
beholding the yet unknown face of Nature.

He very much hoped that Harry would take him with
them when-the excursion was made.

As yet, however, the latter had made no proposal of the
kind to him, which caused him to feel a little uneasy as to
his intentions.

One morning Jack Ryan was descending through a shaft
which led from the surface to the lower regions of the
pit.

He did so by means of one of those ladders which, con-
tinually revolving by machinery, enabled persons to ascend
and descend without fatigue.

This apparatus had lowered him about a hundred and
fifty feet, when at a narrow landing-place he perceived Harry,
who was coming up to his labours for the day.

“Well met, my friend!” cried Jack, recognizing his com-
rade by the light of the electric lamps.

“ Ah, Jack!” replied Harry, “I am glad to see you. I’ve
got something to propose.”


Page 17t.

tentions

is in

Harry explains h
ON THE REVOLVING LADDER. 171



“I can listen to nothing till you tell me how Nell is,”
interrupted Jack Ryan.

“Nell is all right, Jack—so much so, in fact, that I hope
in a month or six weeks—”

“To marry her, Harry?” °

“Jack, you don’t know what you are talking about!”

“ Ah, that’s very likely ; but I know quite well:what I
shall do.”

“What will you do?”

“Marry her myself, if you don’t; so look sharp,” laughed
Jack. “By Saint Mungo! I think an immense deal of
bonny Nell! A fine young creature like that, who has
been brought up in the mine, is just the very wife for a
miner. She is an orphan—so am I; and if you don’t care
much for her, and if she will have me—”

Harry looked gravely at Jack, and let him talk on with-
out trying to stop him.

“Don’t you begin to feel jealous, Harry?” asked Jack in
a more serious tone.

“ Not at all,” answered any quietly.

“But if you don’t marry Nell yourself, you surely can’t
expect her to remain a spinster ?”

“T expect nothing,” said Harry.

A movement of the ladder machinery now gave the two
friends the opportunity—one to go up, the other down the
shaft. However, they remained where they were.
172 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



“Harry,” quoth Jack, “do you think I spoke in earnest
just now about Nell?”

“No, that I don’t, Jack.”

“Well, but now I will!”

“You? speak in earnest?”

“My good fellow, I can tell youI am quite expable of
giving a friend a bit of advice.”

“Let’s hear, then, Jack !”

“Well, look here! You love Nell as heartily as she
deserves. Old Simon, your father, and old Madge, your
mother, both love her as if she were their daughter. Why
don’t you make her so in reality? Why don’t you marry
her?”

“Come, Jack,” said Harry, “you are running on as if you
knew how Nell felt on the subject.”

“Everybody knows that,” replied Jack, “and therefore it
is impossible to make you jealous of any of us. But here
goes the ladder again—I’m off!”

1»

‘“Stop a minute, Jack!” cried Harry, detaining his
companion, who was stepping on to the moving staircase.

“Tsay! you seem to mean me to take up my quarters
here altogether !”

“Do be serious and listen, Jack! I want to speak in
earnest myself now.”

“Well, I'll listen till the ladder moves again, not a

minute longer.”
ON THE REVOLVING LADDER. ' 173

“ Jack,” resumed Harry, “T need not pretend that I do



not love Nell; I wish above all things to make her my
wife.”

“That’s all right !”

“But for the present I have scrupies of conscience as
to asking her to make me a promise which would be irre-
vocable.”

“What can you mean, Harry ?”

“T mean just this—that, it being certain Nell has never
been outside this coal-mine in the very depths of which she
was born, it stands to reason that she knows nothing, and
can comprehend nothing of what exists beyond it. Her
eyes—yes, and perhaps also her heart—have everything yet
to learn. Who can tell what her thoughts will be, when
perfectly new impressions shall be made upon her mind?
As yet she knows nothing of the world, and to me it would
seem like deceiving her, if I led her to decide in ignorance,
upon choosing to remain all her life in the coal-mine. Do
you understand me, Jack?”

“Hem !—yes—pretty well. What I understand best is
that you are going to make me miss another turn of the
ladder.”

“Jack,” replied Harry gravely, “if this machinery were
to stop altogether, if this landing-place were to fall beneath
our feet, you must and shall hear what I have to say.”

“Well done, Harry! that’s how I like to be spoken to!
174 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



Let’s settle, then, that, before you marry Nell, she shall go
to school in Auld Reekie.”

“No indeed, Jack ; I am perfectly able myself to educate
the person who is to be my wife.”

“And sure enough that will be a great deal. better,
Harry !”

“But, first of all,” resumed Harry, “I wish that Nell
should gain a real knowledge of the upper world. To
illustrate my meaning, Jack, suppose you were in love with
a blind girl, and some one said to you, ‘In a month’s time
her sight will be restored,’ would not you wait till after she
was cured, to marry her?”

“Faith, to be sure I would!” exclaimed Jack.

“Well, Jack, Nell is at present blind; and before she
marries me, I wish her to see what I am, and what the life
really is to which she would bind herself. In short, she
must have daylight let in upon the subject !”

“Well said, Harry! Very well said indeed!” cried Jack.
“Now I see what you are driving at. And when may we
expect the operation to come off?”

“In a month, Jack,” replied Harry. “Nell is getting
used to the light of our reflectors. That is some preparation.
In a month she will, I hope, have seen the earth and its
wonders—the sky and itssplendours. She will perceive that
the limits of the universe are boundless.”

But while Harry was thus giving the rein to his imagina-
ON THE REVOLVING LADDER, 175

tion, Jack Ryan, quitting the platform, had leaped on the
step of the moving machinery.

“Hullo, Jack! Where are you?”

“Far beneath you,” laughed the merry fellow. “While
you soar to the heights, I plunge into the depths.”

“Fare ye well, Jack!” returned Harry, himself laying
hold of the rising ladder; “mind you say nothing about
what I have been telling you.”

“Not a word,” shouted Jack,“ but I make one condition.”

“What is that?”

“That I may be one of the party when Nell’s first
excursion to the face of the earth comes off!”

“So you shall Jack, I promise you!”

A fresh throb of the machinery placed a yet more
considerable distance between the friends. Their voices
sounded faintly to each other. Harry, however, could still
hear Jack shouting,—

“T say! do you know what Nell will like better than
either sun, moon, or stars, after she’s seen the whole of
them ?”

“No, Jack !”

“Why, you yourself, old fellow! still you! always you!”

And Jack’s voice at last died away in a prolonged
“Hurrah!” ;

Harry, after this, applied himself diligently, during all
his spare time, to the work of Nell’s education,
176 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



He taught her to read and to write, and such rapid pro-
gress did she make, it might have been said that she learnt
by instinct. Never did keen intelligence more quickly
triumph over utter ignorance. It was the wonder of all
beholders.

Simon and Madge became every day more and more
attached to their adopted child, whose former history
continued to puzzle them a good deal. They plainly saw
the nature of Harry’s feelings towards her, and were far
from displeased thereat.

They recollected that Simon had said to the engineer on
his first visit to the old cottage, “How can our son ever
think of marrying? Where could a wife possibly be found
suitable for a lad whose whole life must be passed in the
depths of a coal-mine ?”

Well! now it seemed as if the most desirable companion
in the world had been led to him by Providence. Was not
this like a blessing direct from Heaven?

So the old man made up his mind that, if the wedding
did take place, the miners of New Aberfoyle should have
a merry-making at Coal Town, which they would never
during their lives forget.

Simon Ford little knew what he was saying!

It must be remarked that another person wished for this
union of Harry and Nell as much as Simon did—and that

was James Starr, the engineer. Of course he was really
ON THE REVOLVING LADDER. 177

interested in the happiness of the two young people. But
another motive, connected with wider interests, influenced
him to desire it.

It has been said that. James Starr continued to
entertain a certain amount of apprehension, although for
the present nothing appeared to justify it. Yet that
which had been might again be. This mystery about
the new cutting—Nell was evidently the only person
acquainted with it. Now, if fresh dangers were in store
for the miners. of Aberfoyle, how were they possibly to
be guarded against, without so much as knowing the cause
of them?

“Nell has persisted in keeping silence,” said James Starr
very often, “but what she has concealed from others, she
will not long hide from her husband. Any danger would
be danger to Harry as well as to the rest of us. There-
fore, a marriage which brings happiness to the lovers,
and safety to their friends, will be a good marriage, if ever
there is such a thing here below.”

Thus, not illogically, reasoned James Starr. He com-
municated his ideas to old Simon, who decidedly appreciated
them. Nothing, then, appeared to stand in the way of the
match. What, in fact, was there to preventit? They loved
each other ; the parents desired nothing better for their son
Harry’s comrades envied his good fortune, but freely
acknowledged that he deserved it.

Q
178 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



The maiden depended on no one else, and had but to
give the consent of her own heart.

Why, then, if there were none to place obstacles in the
way of. this union—why, as night came on, and, the labours
of the day being over, the electric lights in the mine were
extinguished, and all the inhabitants of Coal Town at rest
within their dwellings—why did a mysterious form always
emerge from the gloomier recesses of New Aberfoyle, and
silently glide through the darkness?

What instinct guided this phantom with ease through
passages so narrow as to appear to be impracticable ?

Why should the strange being, with eyes flashing through
the deepest darkness, come cautiously creeping along ‘the
shores of Lake Malcolm ?

Why so directly make his way towards Simon’s cot-
tage, yet so carefully as hitherto to avoid notice ?

Why, bending towards the windows, did he strive to
catch, by’ listening, some fragment of the conversation
within the closed shutters ?

And, on catching a few words, why did he shake his fist
with a menacing gesture towards the calm abode, while
from between his set teeth issued these words in muttered
fury,—

“She and he? ‘Never! never!”


TT i

oe
le

a ul i







The deadly enemy.
Q2

' Page 178.
A SUNRISE. 179



CHAPTER XVII.
A SUNRISE.

A MONTH after this,.on the evening of the 20th of August,
Simon Ford and Madge took leave, with all manner of good
wishes, of four tourists, who were setting forth from the
cottage. .

James Starr, Harry, and Jack Ryan were about to lead
Nell’s steps over yet untrodden paths, and to show her the
glories of nature by a light to which she was as yet a
stranger.

The excursion was to last for two days. James Starr,
as well as Harry, considered that during these eight and
forty hours spent above ground, the -maiden would be able
to see everything of which she must have remained igno-
rant in the gloomy pit; all the varied aspects of the globe,
towns, plains, mountains, rivers, lakes, gulfs, and seas would
pass, panorama-like, before her eyes.

In that part of Scotland lying between Edinburgh and
180 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN,



Glasgow, Nature would seem to have collected and set
forth specimens of every one of these terrestrial beauties.
As to the heavens, they would be spread abroad as over
the whole earth, with their changeful clouds, serene or
veiled moon, their radiant sun, and clustering stars.

The expedition had been planned so as to combine a
view of all these things in a satisfactory manner.

Simon and Madge would have been glad to go with
Nell; but they never left their cottage willingly, and
could not make up their minds to quit their subterranean
home for a single day.

James Starr went as an observer and philosopher,
curious to note, from a psychological point of view, the
novel impressions made upon Nell: perhaps also with
some hope of detecting a clue to the mysterious events
connected with her childhood.

Harry, with a little trepidation, asked himself whether
it was not possible that this rapid initiation into the
things of the exterior world would change the maiden he
had known and loved hitherto into quite’a different girl.

As for Jack Ryan, he was as joyous as a lark rising
in the first beams of the sun. He only trusted that his
gaiety would prove contagious, and enliven his travelling
companions, thus rewarding them for letting him join them.

Nell was pensive and silent.

James Starr had decided, very sensibly, to set off in the
A SUNRISE. ISL

evening. It would be very much better for the girl to pass
gradually from the darkness of night to the full light of
day; and that would in this way be managed, since
between midnight and noon she would experience the
successive phases of shade and sunshine, to which her sight
had to get accustomed,

Just as they left the cottage, Nell ‘ook Harry’s hand,
saying,—

“Harry, is it really necessary for me to leave the mine
at all, even for these few days?”

“Ves, it is, Nell,” replied the young man. “It is needful
for both of us.”

“But, Harry,” resumed Nell, “ever since you found me,
I have been as happy as I can possibly be. You have been
teaching me. Why is that not enough? What am I going
up there for?”

Harry looked at her in silence. Nell was giving utter-
ance to nearly his own thoughts. '

“My child,” said James Starr, “I can well understand
the hesitation you feel; but it will be good for you to go
with us. Those who love you are taking you, and they will
bring you back again. Afterwards you will be free, if you
wish it, to continue your life.in the coal-mine, like old
Simon, and Madge, and Harry. But at least you ought to
be able to compare what you give up with what you choose,
then decide freely. Come!”
182 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“Come, dear Nell!” cried Harry.

“Harry, I am willing to follow you,” replied the maiden.

At nine o’clock the last train through the tunnel started
to convey Nell and her companions to the surface of the
earth. Twenty minutes later they alighted on the plat-
form where the. branch line to New Aberfoyle joins the
railway from Dumbarton to Stirling.

The'night was already dark. From the horizon to the
zenith, light vapoury clouds hurried through the upper air,
driven by a refreshing north-westerly breeze. The day
had been lovely ; the night promised to be so likewise.

On reaching Stirling, Nell and her friends, quitting the
train, left the station immediately.

Just before them, between high trees, they could see a
road which led to the banks of the river Forth.

The first physical impression on the girl was the purity
of the air inhaled eagerly by her lungs.

“Breathe it freely, Nell,” said James Starr; “it is fra-
grant with all the scents of the open country.”

“What is all that smoke passing over our heads?”
inquired Neil.

“Those are clouds,” answered Harry, “ which are vapours
partly condensed, and blown along by the westerly
wind.”

“Ah!” said Nell, “how I should like to feel myself car-
ried along in that silent whirl! And what are those








































































































































Nell beholds the starry heavens.

Page 183.
A SUNRISE. 183

shining sparks which glance here and there between rents
in the clouds?”

“Those are the stars I have told you about, Nell. So
many suns they are, so many centres of worlds like our
own, most likely.”

The constellations became more clearly visible as the
wind cleared the clouds from the deep blue of the
firmament.

Nell gazed upon the myriad stars which sparkled over-
head.

“But how is it,’ she said at length, “that if these are
suns, my eyes can endure their brightness ?”

“My child,” replied James Starr, “they are indeed suns,
but suns at an enormous distance. The nearest of these
millions of stars, whose rays can reach us, is Wega, that
star in Lyra which you observe near the zenith, and that is
fifty thousand millions of leagues distant. Its brightness,
therefore, cannot affect your vision. But our own sun,
which will rise to-morrow, is only distant thirty-eight mil-
lions of leagues, and no human eye can gaze fixedly upon
that, for it is brighter than the blaze of any furnace. But
come, Nell, come!”

“They pursued their way, James Starr leading the
maiden, Harry walking by her side, while Jack Ryan
roamed about like a young dog, impatient of the slow pace

of his masters.
184 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

The road was lonely. Nell kept looking at the great
trees, whose branches, waving in the wind, made them
seem to her like giants gesticulating wildly. The sound of
the breeze in the tree-tops, the deep silence during a lull,
the distant line of the horizon, which could be. discerned
when the road passed over open levels—all these things
filled her with new sensations, and left lasting impressions
on her mind.

After some time she ceased to ask questions, and her
companions respected her silence, not wishing to influence
by any words of theirs the girl’s highly sensitive imagina-
tion, but preferring to allow ideas to arise spontaneously in
her soul.

At about half-past eleven o’clock, they gained thé banks
of the river Forth. There a boat, chartered by James
Starr, awaited them. In a few hours it would convey
them all to Granton.

Nell looked at the clear water which flowed up to her
feet, as the waves broke gently on the beach, reflecting the
starlight.

“Is this a lake?” said she. ;

“No,” replied Harry, “it is a great river flowing towards
the sea, and soon opening so widely as to resemble a gulf.
Taste a little of the water in the hollow of your hand, Nell,
and you will perceive that it is not sweet like the waters of
Lake Malcolm.”
A SUNRISE. 185

The maiden bent towards the stream, and, raising a little
water to her lips,—

“This is quite salt,” said she.

“Yes, the tide is full; the sea-water flows up the river as
far as this,” answered Harry.

“Do you know that three quarters of our globe are
covered with salt water like this which you have just
tasted ?”

“But,” inquired the girl, “ if river-water is only sea-water
poured down from the clouds, why is it fresh, not salt?”

“Because by evaporation salt water becomes fresh,”
replied James Starr. “The clouds are formed merely by
evaporation, and, in the form of rain, send back sweet water
to the ocean.” :

“Oh, Harry! Harry!” exclaimed the maiden, “what
can that red glow on the horizon be? Is it a forest on
fire ?”

“ No, it is the rising moon, Nell.”

“To be sure, that’s the moon,” cried Jack Ryan, “a fine
big silver plate, which the spirits of air hand round and
round the sky to collect the stars in, like money.”

“Why, Jack,” said the engineer, laughing, “I had no
idea you could strike out such bold comparisons!”

“Well, but, Mr. Starr, it is a just comparison. Don’t
you see the stars disappear as the moon passes on? so I
suppose they drop into it.”
186 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



“What you mean to say, Jack, is that the superior bril-
liancy of the moon eclipses that of stars of the sixth mag-
nitude, therefore they vanish as she approaches.”

“How beautiful all this is!” repeated Nell again and
again, with her whole soul in her eyes. “ But I thought
the moon was round ?”’

“So she is, when ‘full, ” said James Starr ; “that means
when she is just opposite to the sun. But to-night the
moon is in the last quarter, shorn of her just proportions,
and friend Jack’s grand silver plate looks more like a
barber's basin.”

“Oh, Mr. Starr, what a base comparison!” he ex-
claimed, “I was just going to begin a sonnet to the moon,
but your barber’s basin has destroyed all chance of an in-
spiration.”

Gradually the moon ascended the heavens. Before her
light the lingering vapours fled away, while stars still
sparkled in the west, beyond the influence of her radiance.

Nell gazed in silence on the glorious spectacle. The
soft silvery light was pleasant to her eyes, and her little
trembling hand expressed to Harry, who clasped it, how
deeply she was affected by the;scene.

“Let us embark now,” said James Starr. “We have to
get to the top of Arthur’s Seat before sunrise.” 4

The boat was moored to a post on the bank. A boat-
man awaited them. Nell and her friends took their seats ;
























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































“ Let her sleep, my boy.”

Page 187.
A SUNRISE. 187

the sail was spread; it quickly filled before the north-
westerly breeze, and they sped on their way.

What a new sensation was this for the maiden! She
had been rowed on the waters of Lake Malcolm; but the
oar, handled ever so lightly by Harry, always betrayed
effort on the part of the oarsman. Now, for the first time,
Nell felt herself borne along with a gliding movement,
more like that of a balloon through the air than anything
else.

The water was smooth as a lake, and Nell reclined in the
stern of the boat, enjoying its gentle rocking. Occasionally
the effect of the moonlight on the waters was as though the
boat sailed across a glittering silver field. Little wavelets
rippled along the banks. It was enchanting.

At length Nell was overcome with drowsiness, her eye-
lids drooped, her head sank on Harry’s shoulder—she slept.

' Harry, sorry that she should miss any of the beauties
of this magnificent night, would have aroused her.

“Let her sleep, my boy!” said the engineer. “ She will
better enjoy the novelties of the day after a couple of hours’
rest.”

At two o’clock in the morning the boat reached Granton
pier. . Nell awoke ‘at that moment.

_ “Have I been asleep?” inquired she.

“No, my child,” said James Starr. “You have been
dreaming that you slept, that’s all.”

R
188 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

The night continued clear. The moon, riding in mid-
heaven, diffused her rays on all sides.

In the little port’ of Granton lay two or three fishing-
boats ; they rocked gently on the waters of the Firth. The
wind fell as the dawn approached. The atmosphere, clear
of mists, promised one of those fine autumn days so deli-
cious on the sea-coast.

A soft, transparent film of vapour lay along the horizon ;
the first sunbeam would dissipate it; to the maiden it
exhibited that aspect of the sea which seems to blend it
with the sky. Her view was now enlarged, without pro-
ducing the impression of the boundless infinity of ocean.

Harry taking Nell’s hand, they followed James Starr
and Jack Ryan as they traversed the deserted streets. To
Nell, this suburb of the capital appeared only a collection
of gloomy dark houses, just like Coal Town, only that the
roof was higher, and gleamed with small lights.

She stepped lightly forward, and easily kept pace with
Harry. :

“ Are you not tired, Nell?” asked he, after half an hour’s
walking.

“No! my feet seem scarcely to touch the earth,” returned
she. “This sky above us seems so high up, I feel as if I
could take wing and fly!”

“T say! keep hold of her!” cried Jack Ryan. “Our
little Nell is too good to lose. I feel just as you describe
A SUNRISE. 189



though, myself, when I have not left the pit for a long
time.”

“Tt is when we no longer experiénce the oppressive
effect of the vaulted rocky roof above Coal Town,” said
James Starr, “that the spacious firmament appears to us
like a profound abyss into which we have, as it were, a
desire to plunge. Is that what you feel, Nell?”

“Yes, Mr. Starr, it is exactly like that,” said Nell. “It
makes me feel giddy.” ,

“Ah! you will soon get over that, Nell,” said Harry.
“You will get used to the outer world, and most likely
forget all about our dark coal-pit.”

“No, Harry, never!” said Nell, and she put her hand
over her eyes, as though she would recall the remem-
brance of everything she had lately quitted.

Between the silent dwellings of the city, the party passed
along Leith Walk, and went round the Calton Hill, where
stood, in the light of the grey dawn, the buildings of the
Observatory and Nelson’s Monument. By Regent's
Bridge and the North Bridge they at last reached the
lower: extremity of the Canongate. The town still lay
wrapt in slumber.

Nell pointed to a large building in the centre of an open
space, asking, “ What great confused mass is that?”

“That confused mass, Nell, is the palace of the ancient
kings of Scotland; that is Holyrood, where many a sad

R2
190 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

scene has been enacted! The historian can here invoke
many a royal shade; from those of the early Scottish kings
to that of the unhappy Mary Stuart, and the French king,
Charles X. When day breaks, however, Nell, this palace
will not look so very gloomy. Holyrood, with its four
embattled towers, is not unlike some handsome country
house, which the owner wishes to resemble as much as
possible an ancient feudal castle. But let us pursue our
way. There, just above the ancient Abbey of Holyrood,
are the superb cliffs called Salisbury Crags. Arthur’s Seat
rises above them, and that is where we are going. From
the summit of Arthur’s Seat, Nell, your eyes shall behold
the sun appear above the horizon seaward.”

They entered the King’s Park, then, gradually ascending,
they passed across the Queen’s Drive, a splendid carriage-
way encircling the hill, which we owe to a few lines in one
of Sir Walter Scott’s romances.

Arthur’s Seat is in truth only a hill, seven hundred and
fifty feet high, which stands alone amid surrounding
heights. In less than half an hour, by an easy winding-
path, James Starr and his party reached the crest of the
crouching lion, which, seen from the west, Arthur’s Seat
so much resembles.

There, all four seated themselves; and James Starr,
ever ready with quotations from the great Scottish novelist,
simply said, “Listen to what is written by Sir Walter
A SUNRISE. IQ!
e



Scott in the eighth chapter of the ‘Heart of Mid-Lothian.’
‘If I were to choose a spot from which the rising or
setting sun could be seen to the greatest possible advan-
tage, it would be from this neighbourhood.’ Now watch,
Nell! the sun will soon appear, and for the first time you
will contemplate its splendour.”

The maiden turned her eyes eastward. Harry, keeping
close beside her, observed her with anxious interest.
Would the first beams of day overpower her feelings ?
All remained quiet, even Jack Ryan.

A faint streak of pale rose tinted the light vapours
of the horizon. It was the first ray of light attacking the
laggards of the night. Beneath the hill lay the silent city,
massed confusedly in the twilight of dawn. Here and
there lights twinkled among the houses of the old town. ~

Westward rose many hill-tops, soon to be illuminated
by tips of fire.

Now the distant horizon of the sea became more plainly
visible. The scale of colours fell into the order of the
solar.

Every instant they increased in intensity, rose colour
became red, red became fiery, daylight dawned. Nell
now glanced towards the city, of which the outlines became
more distinct. Lofty monuments, slender steeples emerged
from the gloom ; a kind of ashy light was spread abroad.
At length one solitary ray struck on the maiden’s sight.
192 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

It was that ray. of green which, morning or evening, is
reflected upwards from the sea when the horizon is clear.

An instant afterwards, Nell turned, and pointing towards
a bright prominent point in the New Town,—

“Fire!” cried she. ;

“No, Nell, that is no fire,” said Harry. “The sun has
touched with gold the top of Sir Walter Scott’s monument”
—and, indeed, the extreme point of the monument blazed
like the light of a pharos.

It was day—the sun arose—his disc seemed to glitter as
though he indeed emerged from the waters of the sea.
Appearing at first very large from the effects of refraction,
he contracted as he rose and assumed the perfectly circular
form.

Soon no eye could endure the dazzling splendour ; it
was as though the mouth of a furnace was opened through
the sky.

Nell closed her eyes, but her eyelids could not exclude
the glare, and she pressed her fingers over them. Harry
advised her to turn in the opposite direction.

“Oh, no,” said she, “my eyes must get used to look at
what yours can bear to see!”

Even through her hands Nell perceived a rosy light,
which became more white as the sun rose above the horizon.
As her sight became accustomed to it, her eyelids were
raised, and at length her eyes drank in the light of day.
A SUNRISE. 193



The good child knelt down, exclaiming, “Oh Lord God!
how beautiful is Thy creation!” Then she rose and
looked around. At her feet extended the panorama of
Edinburgh—the clear, distinct lines of streets in the New
Town, and the irregular mass of houses, with their confused
network of streets and lanes, which constitutes Auld Reekie,
properly so called. Two heights commanded the entire
city: Edinburgh Castle, crowning its huge basaltic rock,
and the Calton Hill, bearing on its rounded summit, among
other monuments, ruins built to represent those of the
Parthenon at Athens.

Fine roadways led in all directions from the capital.
To the north, the coast of the noble Firth of Forth was
indented by a deep bay, in which could be seen the sea-
port town of Leith, between which and this Modern Athens
of the north ran a street, straight as that leading to the
Pirzeus. .

Beyond the wide Firth could be seen the soft outlines
of the county of Fife, while beneath the spectator stretched
the yellow sands of Portobello and Newhaven.

A variety of small vessels enlivened the waters of the
bay, while in the distance the smoke of two or three
steamers floated like long dark feathers athwart the pure
sky.

From the level ground southward arose various heights,
and the peaks of the Lomonds, of Ben Lomond and
194 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

Ben Ledi, were bright as though crowned by eternal
snows.

Nell could not speak. Her lips murmured a word or
two indistinctly; she trembled, became giddy, her strength
failed her; overcome by the purity of the air and the
sublimity of the scene, she sank fainting into Harry’s arms,
who, watching her closely, was ready to support her.

The youthful maiden, hitherto entombed in the massive
depths of the earth, had now obtained an idea of the uni-
verse—of the works both of God and of man. She had
looked upon town and country, and beyond these, into the
immensity of the sea, the infinity of the heavens.


Edinburgh Castle.

Page 195
LOCH LOMOND AND LOCH KATRINE. 1Q5

CHAPTER XVIII.
LOCH LOMOND AND LOCH KATRINE,

Harry bore Nell carefully down the steeps of Arthur’s
Seat, and, accompanied by James Starr and Jack Ryan,
they reached Lambert’s Hotel. There a good breakfast re-
stored their strength, and they began to make further plans
for an excursion to the Highland lakes.

Nell was now refreshed, and able to look boldly forth
into the sunshine, while her lungs with ease inhaled the
free and healthful air. Her eyes learned gladly to know
the harmonious varieties of colour as they rested on the
green trees, the azure skies, and all the endless shades of
lovely flowers and plants.

The railway train, which they entered at the Waverley
Station, conveyed Nell and her friends to Glasgow. There,
from the new bridge across the Clyde, they watched the
curious sea-like movement of the river.

After a night’s rest at Comrie’s Royal Hotel, they betook
196 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

themselves to the terminus of the Edinburgh and Glasgow
railway, from whence a train would rapidly carry them, by
way of Dumbarton and Balloch, to the southern extremity
of Loch Lomond.

“Now for the land of Rob Roy and Fergus MaclIvor!
—the scenery immortalized by the poetical descriptions of
Walter Scott,” exclaimed James Starr. “You don't know
this country, Jack ?”

“Only by its songs, Mr. Starr,” replied Jack ; “and judg-
ing by those, it must be grand.”

“So it is, so it is!” cried the engineer, “and our dear
Nell shall see it to the best advantage.”

“With a guide like you, Mr. Starr,” said Harry, “we
shall doubly profit, for you will tell the stories of the
country while we examine it.”

“T will do so, Harry,” replied the engineer, ‘‘as well as
my memory will permit, on condition that my jovial friend
Jacl@here will help me out with songs when I get tired of
talking.”

“You won't need to ask me twice, sir!” cried Jack, and
he sang a few clear notes to show he was ready to start at
once. .

By rail from Glasgow to Balloch—that is, from the com-
mercial capital of Scotland to the southern extremity of
Loch Lomond—is but a distance of twenty miles.

The train goes by Dumbarton, a royal borough and the
LOCH LOMOND AND LOCH KATRINE. 197



principal town of its county. Its castle, which, according to
the treaty of the Union, continues to be kept fortified, is
picturesquely situated on the double-pointed summit of a
great basaltic rock.

Dumbarton stands at the confluence of the Clyde and
the Leven. James Starr, as they passed it, related some
particulars of the romantic and adventurous history of
Mary Stuart, who ‘resided in Dumbarton Castle before
going (to France) to marry Francis II., and become Queen
of France. Here also it was proposed in 1815 to imprison
Napoleon, but choice fell upon St. Helena, and therefore the
prisoner of England went to die on a rock of the Atlantic.

The train soon stopped at Balloch, where a small wooden
jetty led to the water’s edge.

A steamboat, the “Sinclair” by name, awaited tourists
about to make the excursion to the lakes.

Nell and her companions went on board, after tickets
had been taken for Inversnaid, at the further end of, geoch
Lomond.

The day had begun in brilliant sunshine, free from the
British fogs which so often veil the skies.

The passengers were determined to lose none of the
beauties of nature to be displayed during the thirty miles’
voyage. Nell, seated between James Starr and Harry,
drank in with every faculty the magnificent poetry with

which lovely Scottish scenery is fraught.
198 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

* Jack Ryan walked the deck incessantly, asking continual

questions, which, however, were not needed to lead the
engineer to point out with much enthusiasm everything
remarkable. He was a great admirer of this land of Rob
Roy.

Numerous small isles and islets soon appeared, as though
thickly sown on the bosom of the lake. The “Sinclair”
steamed her way among them, while between them glimpses
could be had of quiet valleys, or wild rocky gorges on the
mainland.

“Nell,” said James Starr, “every island here has its
legend, perhaps its song, as well as the mountains which
overshadow the lake. One may, without much exaggera-
tion, say that the history of this country is written in
gigantic characters of mountains and islands.”

“Do you know, Mr. Starr,” said Harry, “ what this part
of Loch Lomond makes us think of ?”

“Of what does it remind you, Harry ?”

“Of the Lake of a Thousand Isles in the St. Lawrence,
near Lake Ontario, so finely described by Cooper. You, my
dear Nell, must also be struck by this resemblance; only
a few days ago I was reading to you the romance which
may well be called the masterpiece of the American author.”

“Yes, really, Harry ; it looks just like it,” answered the
girl; “and the ‘Sinclair’ is gliding among the islets like
Jasper’s cutter.”












































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Page 108.

Voyage on Loch Lomond.
LOCH LOMOND AND LOCH KATRINE, 199

“Well,” resumed the engineer, “that proves that the
two places equally deserve a poet’s description. I never
saw your Lake of a Thousand Isles, Harry, but I don’t
believe it can present a more varied and lovely scene than
this archipelago of Loch Lomond. See! there is Murray
Island, with its old fort, where the Duchess of Albany
lived, after her father, her husband, and her two sons had
been beheaded by order of James the First. Here are
Clear Island, Cro Island, Torr Island—some bare and
rocky, others smiling and verdant—covered with birch-
trees, heather, and yellow furze. I cannot well believe
that the Lake of a Thousand Isles can show more than you
have here.” ,

“What little port is that?” asked Nell, turning to the
eastern bank of the lake.

“That is Balmaha, the entrance to the Highlands,”
replied James Starr; “there commences our mountainous
part of Scotland. The ruins you see, Nell, are those of:an
ancient nunnery, and those scattered graves are the resting-
place of different members of the McGregor family whose
name is still famous throughout the country.”

“Famous for the blood it shed and caused to be shed,”
remarked Harry.

“You are right,” answered James Starr; “it must be
confessed that fame due to battles is always the most endur-
ing. These stories of combats are kept in mind for ages.”
s
200 THE CHILD OF. THE CAVERN.





“ And are perpetuated in songs,” added Jack Ryan ; and
to prove what he said, the young fellow struck up the first
verse of an old song relating the exploits of Allaster
McGregor of Glenstrae against Sir Humphrey Colquhoun
of Luss.

Nell listened, but these fighting stories made her sad.
Why all that bloodshed on plains which to her seemed
enormous, and where surely there must have been room
for everybody ?

The shores of the lake form a little harbour at
Luss. Nell could for a moment catch sight of. the
old tower of its ancient castle. Then, the “Sinclair”
turning northward, the tourists gazed upon Ben Lo-
mond, towering nearly 3000 feet above the level of the
lake.

“Oh, what .a noble mountain!” cried Nell; “what a
view there must be from the top!”

“Yes, Nell,” answered James Starr; “see how haughtily
its peak rises from amidst the thicket of oaks, birches, and
heather, which clothe the lower portion of the mountain!
From thence one may see. two-thirds of old Caledonia.
This eastern side of the lake was the special abode of
the clan McGregor. At no great distance, the struggles
of the Jacobites and Hanoverians repeatedly dyed with
blood these lonely glens. Over these scenes shines the
pale moon, called in old ballads ‘Macfarlane’s lantern,’
LOCH LOMOND AND LOCH KATRINE, 201



Among these rocks still echo the immortal names of Rob
Roy and McGregor Campbell.”

Ben Lomond, the last of the Grampian chain, well
deserves to have been celebrated by the great Scottish
novelist. And, as James Starr observed, although there
are many mountains of far greater height, with summits
clothed in the dignity of eternal snows, yet probably in no
corner of the world is one to be found of greater poetic
interest ; “and to think,” continued James Starr, “that
this whole mountain belongs to the Duke of Montrose!
His grace possesses a mountain just as a London citizen
possesses a bowling-green in his bit of garden !”

By this time the “Sinclair” had reached the village of
Tarbert, on the opposite side of the lake, where travellers
bound for Inverary went on shore. From this place Ben
Lomond appeared to great advantage. Down his sides
gleamed mountain torrents like streams of molten silver.

As the “Sinclair” advanced along thebase of the mountain,
the country became more and more abrupt in character.
Trees were only scattered here and there; among them were
the willows, slender wands of which were formerly used for
hanging persons of low degree.

“To economize hemp,” remarked James Starr.

The lake narrowed very much as it stretched north-
wards. The steamer passed a few more islets, Inveruglas,
Eiladwhow, where stand some ruins of a stronghold of the

$2
202 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



clan MacFarlane. At length the head of the loch was
reached, and the “ Sinclair” stopped at Inversnaid.

While breakfast was being prepared, Nell and her friends
went to look at a waterfall, which, from a considerable
height, is precipitated into the lake, appearing just as if it
had been put there as an ornament on purpose for the
pleasure of tourists. A suspension-bridge spanned the
tumultuous waters amidst cloudsof spray. From this spot
the eye surveyed the greater part of Loch Lomond, and
the “ Sinclair” seemed quite small beneath.

Breakfast over, they made ready for the drive to Loch
Katrine. At the Breadalbane Arms (it was the family of
Breadalbane which promised zo afford wood and water to
the fugitive Rob Roy) several comfortable carriages
awaited the orders of travellers, affording all the con-
venience which distinguishes the coaching service of Great
Britain.

Harry seated Nell on the outside, according to the
custom of the day. The rest took their places near her.
A splendid coachman, in. scarlet livery, gathered up the
reins of his four horses in his left hand, and the equipage
began the ascent of the steep mountain side, the road fol-
lowing the windings of the bed of the torrent. As they
ascended, the form of the mountain peaks seemed con-
tinually changing. On the opposite shores of the lake
they rose with ever-increasing grandeur, the heights of






































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Highland Travelling.

Page 202.
LOCH LOMOND AND LOCH KATRINE, ‘203

Arrochar overlooking the valley of Inveruglas, and Ben
Lomond now exhibiting the abrupt face of its northern
side.

The aspect of the country between Loch Lomond and
Loch Katrine is very wild. Narrow defiles lead from the
valley to Glen Aberfoyle. This name painfully reminded
Nell of the terrible caverns in the depths of which her
childhood had been passed. So James Starr made haste
to turn her attention by relating interesting anecdotes.
The neighbourhood was suggestive of many such. The
chief events of the life of Rob Roy took place on the shores
of Loch Ard. There frowned gloomy calcareous and flinty
rocks, hardened. by time and weather into the consistency
of cement. Miserable hovels, called bourocks, more like
the dens of animals than human habitations, appeared amid
ruinous sheepfolds. A few ragged little urchins, whose
uncovered locks were ‘bleached and discoloured by the in-
clemencies of weather, stared with great wondering eyes as
the carriages drove past.

“We are now,” said James Starr, “in what may specially
be called the McGregors’ country. It was at the clachan
of Aberfoyle, as related by Sir Walter Scott, in the pages
of “Rob Roy,” that good Bailie Nicol Jarvie (worthy son
of his father, the deacon) was ‘seized, on suspicion, by the
Lennox Militia under command of Captain Thornton.
Escaping, during the fray with the Highlanders on the
204. THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



rugged margin of this lake, he missed his footing as he
straddled from one huge fragment of rock to another, and
would have slumbered with his father, the deacon, but for
a projecting branch of a ragged thorn, which, catching hold
of the skirts of his riding-coat, supported him in mid-air,
where he dangled not unlikea sign of the ‘Golden Fleece,’
‘See, said the honest bailie, after his deliverance, ‘see
what a thing gude Scot’s braid claith is! If I had been in
ony o’ your rotten French caulets, now, it wad hae screedet
like an auld rag, wi’ sic a weight as mine.’ Not far distant
either are the Fords of Frew, where Rob Roy escaped from
the soldiers of the Duke of Montrose, as they were crossing
the Forth near its source. You see, my friends, it is im-
possible to take a step in this country, full of interest and
marvels of every variety, without meeting souvenirs of the
past, recorded imperishably in the glowing language of Sir
Walter Scott.”

The carriage, after having mounted the steep ascent,
now proceeded downwards into a wild glen, without trees
or stream, covered entirely by brown heath. Here and
there heaps of stones arose in a pyramidal form.

“Those are cairns,” said James Starr. “ Formerly, every
passer-by was expected to place a stone on the heap as a
tribute of respect to the hero resting in the tomb beneath.
Hence the Gaelic proverb, ‘Woe betide him who goes by
the cairn and casts not the farewell stone. If the custom
LOCH LOMOND AND LOCH KATRINE. 205

had continued to be carried out by every generation, these
mounds would have been hills by this time. The fact is
that in this country everything tends to foster the poetic
turn of mind natural to Highlanders. It is the same in all
mountainous countries. The imagination is excited by the
wonders of nature. If the Greeks had inhabited a level
country, they never would have invented the ancient
mythology.”

While conversing in this manner, the carriage entered the
defiles of a narrow glen, just fit for the freaks of the Daoine
Shie, or Men of Peace of the Highlanders,

Leaving Loch Arklet on the left, a steep ascent led to
the Inn of Stronachlacar, on the banks of Loch Katrine.
There, at the end of a light pier, floated a small steam-
boat, named, as a matter of course, the “Rob Roy.” The
travellers immediately went on board; it was about to
start.

Loch Katrine is only ten miles in length; its width
never exceeds two miles. The hills nearest it are full of
a character peculiar to themselves,

“Here we are on this famous lake,” said James Starr.
“Tt has been compared to an eel on account of its length
and windings: and justly so. They say that it never
freezes. I know nothing about that, but what we want to
think of is, that here are the scenes of the adventures in
the ‘Lady of the Lake,” I believe, if friend Jack looked
206 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

about him carefully, he might see, still gliding over the
surface of the water, the shade of the slender form of
‘sweet Ellen Douglas.”

“To be sure, Mr. Starr,” replied Jack; “why should I
not? I may just as well see that pretty girl on the
waters of Loch Katrine, as those ugly ghosts on Loch
Malcolm in the coal-pit.”

At that moment the clear notes of the bagpipe were
heard on the deck of the “ Rob Roy.”

A Highlander in full dress struck up the music of the
national instrument ; its three drones gave respectively the
“sol,” “si,” and octave “sol.” The flute part had eight
holes, and gave the scale of “sol” major with “fa” natural.

The air played by the Highlander was soft, simple, and
artless ; indeed, these melodies impress the listener with
the feeling that they were never actually composed, but
are an involuntary combination of the sigh of the breeze,
the murmur of the stream, and the whisper of the forest
leaves.

A happy man was now Jack Ryan. He knew this air
well, so when the strains of the bagpipe ceased, he sang in
fine, rich tones the words belonging to it.

It was by this time three o’clock in the afternoon. The
less hilly shores of Loch Katrine westward extended like a
picture framed between Ben An and Ben Venue. At the

« distance of haif a mile was the entrance to the narrow bay,
LOCH LOMOND AND LOCH KATRINE, 207

where was the landing-place for our tourists, who meant
to return to Stirling by Callander.

Nell appeared completely worn out by the continued ex-
citement ofthe day. A faint ejaculation was all she was able
to utter in token of admiration as new objects of wonder or
beauty met her gaze. She required some hours of rest,
were it but to impress lastingly the recollection of all she
had seen.

Her hand rested in Harry’s, and, looking earnestly at
her, he said,—

“Nell, dear Nell, we shall soon be home again in the
gloomy region of the coal-mine. Shall you not pine for what
you have seen during these few hours spent in the glorious
light of day ?”

“No, Harry,” replied the girl; “I shall like to think
about it, but I am glad to go back with you to our dear
old home.” ;

“Nell!” said Harry, vainly attempting to steady his
voice, “are you willing to be bound to me by the most
sacred tie? Could you marry me, Nell?”

“Yes, Harry, I could, if you are sure that I am able to
make you happy,” answered the maiden, raising her inno-
cent eyes to his.

But scarcely had she pronounced these words when an
unaccountable phenomenon took place.

The “ Rob Roy,” still half a mile from land, experienced
208 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.





a violent shock. She suddenly grounded. No efforts of
the engine could move her. |

The cause of this accident was simply that Loch Katrine
was all at once emptied, as though an enormous fissure had
opened in its bed. In a few seconds it had the appearance
of a sea-beach at low water. Nearly the whole of its con-
tents had vanished into the bosom of the earth. _

“My friends!” exclaimed James Starr, as the cause of
this marvel became suddenly clear to him, “God help New
Aberfoyle !”





































































A FINAL THREAT. 209

—_————_—— sss

CHAPTER XIX.
A FINAL THREAT.

ON that day, in the colliery of New Aberfoyle,
work was going on in the usual regular way. In the
distance could be heard the crash of great charges of
dynamite, by which the carboniferous rocks were blasted.
Here masses of coal were loosened by pick-axe and .crow-
bar; there the perforating machines, with their harsh
grating, bored through the masses of sandstone and
schist.

Hollow, cavernous noises resounded on all sides.
Draughts of air rushed along the ventilating galleries, and
the wooden swing-doors slammed beneath. their violent
gusts. In the lower tunnels, trains of trucks kept passing
along at the rate of fifteen miles an hour, while at their
approach electric bells warned the workmen to cower down
in the refuge places. Lifts went incessantly up and down,
worked by powerful engines on the surface of the soil.
210 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN..

Coal Town was throughout brilliantly lighted by the electric
lamps at-full power.

Mining operations were being carried on with the
greatest activity ; coal was being piled incessantly into the
trucks, which went in hundreds to empty themselves into
the corves at the bottom of the shaft. ‘While parties of
miners who had laboured during the night were taking
needful rest, the others worked without wasting an hour.

Old Simon Ford and Madge, having finished their
dinner, were resting at the door of their cottage. Simon
smoked a good pipe of tobacco, and from time to time the
old couple spoke of Nell, of their boy, of Mr. Starr; and
wondered how they liked their trip to the surface of the
earth. Where would they be now? What would they be
doing? How could they stay so long away from the mine
without feeling home-sick ?

Just then a terrific roaring noise was heard. It was like
the sound of a mighty cataract rushing down into the mine.:
The old people rose hastily.

They perceived at once that the waters of Loch Malcolm
were rising. A great wave, unfurling like a billow, swept
up the bank and broke against the walls of the cottage.
Simon caught his wife in his arms, and carried her to the
upper part of their dwelling.

At the same moment, cries arose from all parts of Coal
Town, which was threatened by a suddeninundation. The


The cottage menaced.

Page 210,
A FINAL THREAT. 211



inhabitants fled for safety to the top of the schist rocks
bordering the lake; terror spread in all directions ; whole
families in frantic haste rushed towards the tunnel in order
to reach the upper regions of the pit.

It was feared that the sea had burst into the colliery, for
its galleries and passages penetrated as far as the Cale-
donian Canal. In that case the entire excavation, vast as
it was, would be completely flooded. Not a single inhabi-
tant of New Aberfoyle would escape death.

But when the foremost fugitives reached the entrance
to the tunnel, they encountered Simon Ford, who had
quitted his cottage.

“Stop, my friends, stop!” shouted the old man; “if
our town is to be overwhelmed, the floods will rush faster
than you can; no one can possibly escape. But see! the
waters are rising no further! it appears to me the danger
is over.”

“ And our comrades at the far end of the works—what
about them ?” cried some of the miners.

“There is nothing to fear for them,” replied Simon ; “they
are working on a higher level than the bed of the loch.”

It was soon evident that the old man was in the right.
The sudden influx of water had rushed to the very lowest
bed of the vast mine, and its only ultimate effect was to
raise the level of Loch Malcolm a few feet.

Coal Town was uninjured, and it was reasonable to hope
212 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

that no one had perished in the flood of water which had
descended to the depths of the mine never yet penetrated
by the workmen.

Simon and his men could not decide whether this
inundation was owing to the overflow of a subterranean
sheet of water penetrating fissures in the solid rock, or to
some underground torrent breaking through its worn bed,
and precipitating itself to the lowest level of the mine.

But that very same evening they knew what to think
about it, for the local papers published an account of
the marvellous phenomenon which Loch Katrine had
exhibited. |

The surprising news was soon after confirmed by the
four travellers, who, returning with all possible speed to
the cottage, learned with extreme satisfaction that no
serious damage was done in New Aberfoyle.

The bed of Loch Katrine had fairly given way. The
waters had suddenly broken through by an enormous
fissure into the mine beneath.

Of Sir Walter Scott’s favourite loch there was not left
enough to wet the pretty foot of the Lady of the Lake;
all that remained was a pond of a few acres at the further
extremity.

This singular event made a profound sensation in the
country. It was a thing unheard of that a lake should in
the space of a few minutes empty itself, and disappear into
















A monster shower-bath.

Page 21%,
A FINAL THREAT. 213

the bowels of the earth. There was nothing for it but to
erase Loch Katrine from the map of Scotland until (by
public subscription) it could be refilled, care being of course
taken, in the first place, to stop the rent up tight.

This catastrophe would have been the death of Sir Walter
Scott, had he still been in the world.

The accident was explicable when it was ascertained
that, between the bed of the lake and the vast cavity
beneath, the geological strata had become reduced to a
thin layer, incapable of longer sustaining the weight of water.

Now, although to most people this event seemed plainly
due to natural causes, yet to James Starr and his friends,
Simon and Harry Ford, the question constantly recurred,
was it not rather to be attributed to malevolence ?

Uneasy . suspicions continually harassed their minds.
Was their evil genius about to renew his persecution of
those who ventured to work this rich mine?

At the cottage, some days later, James Starr thus dis-
cussed the matter with the old man and his son :—

“Well, Simon,” said he, “to my thinking we must class
this circumstance with the others for which we still seek
elucidation, although it is no doubt possible to explain it
by natural causes.”

“TI am quite of your mind, Mr. James,” replied Simon ;
“but take my advice, and say nothing about it; let us

make all researches ourselves.”
214 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“Oh, I know the result of such research beforehand !”
cried the engineer.

“ And what will it be, then?”

“We shall find proofs of malevolence, but not the male-
factor.” _

“But he exists! he is there! Where can he lie con-
cealed? Is it possible to conceive that the most depraved
human being could, single-handed, carry out an idea so
infernal as that of bursting through the bed of alake? I
believe I shall end by thinking, like Jack Ryan, that the
evil demon of the mine revenges himself on us for having
invaded his domain.”

Nell was allowed to hear as little as possible of these
discussions. Indeed, she showed no desire to enter into
them, although it was very evident that she shared in the
anxieties of her adopted parents. The melancholy in her
countenance bore witness to much mental agitation.

It was at length resolved that James Starr, together
with Simon and Harry, should seturn to the scene of the
disaster, and endeavour to satisfy themselves as to the
cause of it.

They mentioned their project to no one.

To those unacquainted with the group of facts on which
it was based, the opinion of Starr and his friends could not
fail to appear wholly inadmissible.

A few days later, the three friends proceeded in a small




Proof of malice prepense.

Page 215.
A FINAL THREAT. , 215

boat to examine the natural pillars on which had_ rested
the solid earth forming the basin of Loch Katrine.

They discovered that they had been right in suspecting
that the massive columns had been undermined by blasting.
The blackened traces of explosion were to be seen, the
waters having subsided below the level of these mysterious
operations.

Thus the fall of a portion of the vast vaulted dome was
proved to have been premeditated by man, and by man’s
hand had it been effected.

“Tt is impossible to doubt it,” said James Starr; “and

who can say what might not have happened had the sea,
instead of a little loch, been let in upon us?” .
_ “You may well say that,” cried the old overman, with a
feeling of pride in his beloved mine ; “ for nothing less than
a sea would have drownéd our Aberfoyle. But, once more,
what possible interest could any human being have in the
destruction of our works ?”

“Tt is quite incomprehensible,” replied James Starr,
“ This case is something perfectly unlike that of a band of
common criminals, who, concealing themselves in dens and
caves, go forth to rob and pillage the surrounding country
The evil deeds of such men would certainly, in the course
of three years have betrayed their existence and lurking-
places. Neither can it be, as I sometimes used to think

that smugglers or coiners carried on their illegal practices
216 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

in some distant and unknown corner of these prodigious
caverns, and were consequently anxious to drive us out of
them. But no one coins false money or obtains contra-
band goods only to conceal them !

“Yet it is clear that an implacable enemy has sworn the
ruin of New Aberfoyle, and that some interest urges him
to seek in every possible way to wreak his hatred upon us.
He appears to be too weak to act openly, and lays his
schemes in secret; but displays such intelligence as to
render him a most formidable foe.

“My friends, he must understand better than we do the
secrets of our domain, since he has all this time eluded
our vigilance. He must be a man experienced in mining,
skilled beyond the most skilful—that’s certain, Simon!
We have proof enough of that,

“Let me see! Have you never had a personal enemy, to
whom your suspicions might point? Think well! There
is such a thing as hatred which time never softens.
Go back to recollections of your earliest days. What
befalls us appears the work of a stern and patient will,
and to explain it demands every effort of thought and
memory.”

Simon did not answer immediately—his mind evidently
engaged in a close and candid survey of his past life.
Presently, raising his head,—

“No,” said he; “no! Heaven be my witness, neither
A FINAL THREAT. 217

Madge nor I have ever injured anybody. We cannot
believe that we have a single enemy in the world.”

“Ah! if Nell would only speak !” cried the engineer.

“Mr. Starr—and you, father,” said Harry, “I do beg of
you to keep silence on this matter, and not to question my
poor Nell. I know she is very anxious and uneasy ; and I
feel positive that some great secret painfully oppresses her
heart. Either she knows nothing. it would be of any use
for us to hear, or she considers it her duty to be silent. It
is impossible to doubt her affection for us—for all of us.
If at a future time she informs me of what she has hitherto
concealed from us, you shall know about it immediately.” .

“So be it, then, Harry,” answered the engineer; “and yet
I must say Nell’s silence, if she knows anything, is to me
perfectly inexplicable.”

Harry would have continued her defence; but the
engineer stopped him, saying,—

“ Allright, Harry ; we promise to say no more about it to
your future wife.”

“With my father’s consent she shall be my wife without
further delay.”

“My boy,” said old Simon, “your marriage shall take
place this very day month. . Mr. Starr, will you undertake
the part of Nell’s father ?”

“You may reckon upon me for that, Simon,” answered

the engineer.:
218 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

They then returned to the cottage,:but said not a word
of the result of their examinations in the mine, so that to
the rest of its inhabitants, the bursting in of the vaulted roof
of the caverns continued to be regarded as a mere accident.
There was but a loch the less in Scotland.

Nell gradually resumed her customary duties, and Harry
made good use of her little visit to the upper air, in the
instructions he gave her.

She enjoyed the recollections of life above ne, yet
without regretting it.

The sombre region she had loved as a child, and in which
her wedded life would be spent, was as dear to her as ever.

The approaching. marriage created great excitement in
New Aberfoyle. Good wishes poured in on all sides, and
foremost among them were Jack Ryan’s. Hewas detected
busily practising his best songs in preparation for the great
day, which was to be celebrated by the whole eee of
Coal Town.

During the month preceding the wedding-day, there were
more accidents occurring in New Aberfoyle than had ever
been known in the place. One would have thought the
approaching union of Harry ,and Nell actually provoked
one catastrophe after another. These: misfortunes hap-
pened chiefly at the further and lowest extremity of the
works, and’ the cause of them was always in some way
mysterious.


Extinguishing the fire.

Page 219.






Harry in danger.

Page 219.
A FINAL THREAT. 219

Thus, for instance, the wood-work of a distant gallery was
discovered to be in flames, which were extinguished by
Harry and his companions at the risk of their lives, by em-
ploying engines filled with water and carbonic acid, always
kept ready in case of necessity. The lamp used by the
incendiary was found ; but no clue whatever as to who he
could be.

Another time an inundation took place in consequence
of the stanchions of a water-tank giving way; and Mr.
Starr ascertained beyond a doubt that these supports had
first ot all been partially sawn through. Harry, who had
been overseeing the works near the place at the time, was
buried in the falling rubbish, and narrowly escaped death.

A few days afterwards, on the steam tramway, a train of
trucks, which. Harry was passing along, met with an
obstacle on the rails, and was overturned. It was then
discovered that a beam had been laid right across the
line.

In short, events of this description became so numerous
that the miners were seized with a kind of panic, and it
required all the influence of their chiefs to keep them on
the works.

“But you would think that there was a whole band of
these ruffians,” Simon kept saying, “and we can’t lay hands
on a single one of them.”

Search was made in all directions. The county police
U2
220 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

were on the alert night and day, yet discovered nothing.
The evil intentions seeming specially designed to injure
Harry, Starr forbade him to. venture alone beyond the
ordinary limits of the works.

They were equally careful of Nell, although, at Harry’s
entreaty, these malicious attempts to do harm were ‘con-
cealed from her, because they might remind her painfully
of former times. Simon and Madge watched over her by
day and by night with a sort of stern solicitude. The poor
child yielded to their wishes, without a remark or a com-
plaint. Did she perceive that they acted.with a view to
her interest? Probably she did. And on her part, she
seemed to watch over others, and was never easy unless all
whom she loved were together in the cottage.

When Harry came home in the evening, she could not
restrain expressions of child-like joy, very. unlike her usual
manner, which was rather reserved than demonstrative.
As soon as day broke, she was astir before any one else,
and her constant uneasiness lasted all day until the hour of
return home from work.

Harry became very anxious that their marriage should
take place. He thought that, when the irrevocable step
was taken, malevolence would be disarmed, and that Nell
would never feel safe until she was his wife. James
Starr, Simon, and Madge, were all of the same opinion,

and every one counted the intervening days, for. indeed
i
h

i

|

A

























Horror-stricken.
Page 22%.
A FINAL THREAT. 221

every one suffered from the most uncomfortable fore-
bodings.

It was perfectly evident that nothing relating to Nell
was indifferent to this hidden foe, whom it was impossible
to meet. orto avoid. Therefore it seemed quite possible
that the solemn act of her marriage with Harry might be
the occasion of some new and dreadful outbreak of his
hatred.

One morning, a week before the day appointed for the
ceremony, Nell, rising early, went out of the cottage before
any one else. .

No sooner had she crossed the threshold than a cry of
indescribable anguish escaped her lips.

Her voice was heard throughout the dwelling; in a
moment, Madge, Harry, and Simon were at her side.

Nell was pale as death, her countenance agitated, her
features expressing the utmost horror.

Unable to speak, her eyes were riveted on the door of
the cottage, which she had just opened.

With rigid fingers she pointed to the following words
traced upon it during the night :—

“Simon Ford, you have robbed me of the last vein in
our old pit. Harry, your son, has robbed me of Nell.
Woe betide you! Woe betide you all! Woe betide New
Aberfoyle !—SIL¥ax.”

“ Silfax !” exclaimed Simon and Madge together.
222 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“Who is this man ?” demanded Harry, looking alternately
at his father and at the maiden,

“Silfax!” repeated Nell in tones of despair, “ Silfax !”
—and, murmuring this name, her whole frame shuddering
with fear and agitation, she was borne away to her chamber
by old Madge. .

James Starr, hastening to the spot, read the threatening
sentences again and again.

“The hand which traced these lines,” said he at length,
“is the same which wrote me the letter contradicting yours,
Simon, The man calls himself Silfax. I see by your
troubled manner that you know him. Who is this
Silfax 2?”
THE “MONK.” 223



CHAPTER XX.
THE “MONK.”

THIS name revealed everything to the old overman. It
was that of the last “monk ” of the Dochart pit.

In former days, before the invention of the safety-lamp,
Simon had known this fierce man, whose business it was to
go daily, at the risk of his life, to produce partial explosions
of fire-damp in the passages. He used to see this strange
solitary being prowling about the mine, always accom-
panied by a monstrous owl, which he called Harfang,
who assisted him in his perilous occupation, by soar-
ing with a lighted match to places Silfax was unable to
reach,

One day this old man disappeared, and at the same time,
also, a little orphan girl born in the mine, who had no
relation but himself, her great-grandfather.

It was perfectly evident now that this child was Neil.

During fifteen years, up to the time when she was saved
224 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

by Harry, they must have lived in some secret abyss of the
mine.

The old overman, full of mingled compassion and anger,
made known to the engineer and Harry all that the name
of Silfax had revealed to him. ee

It explained the whole mystery. Silfax was the
mysterious being so long vainly sought for in the depths of
New Aberfoyle.

“So you knew him, Simon?” demanded Mr. Starr.

“Yes, that I did,” replied the overman. “The Harfang
man, we used to call him. Why, he was old then! He
must be fifteen or twenty years older than I am. A
wild, savage sort of fellow, who held aloof from every one,
and was known to fear nothing—neither fire nor water. It
was his own fancy to follow the trade of “monk,” which
few would have liked. The constant danger of the business
had unsettled his brain. He was prodigiously strong, and
he knew the mine as no one else—at any rate, as well as I
did. He lived on a small allowance. In faith, I believed
him dead years ago.”

“But,” resumed James Starr, “what does he mean by
those words, ‘You have robbed me of the last vein of our
old mine’?” ,

“Ah! there it is,” replied Simon ; “for a long time it had
been a fancy of his (I told you his mind was deranged)
that he had a right to the mine of Aberfoyle; so he
THE “MONK.” 225



became more and more savage in temper the deeper the
Dochart pit—his pit !—was worked out. It just seemed as
if it was his own body that suffered from every blow of the
pickaxe. You must remember that, Madge?”

“ Ay, that I do, Simon,” replied she.

“T can recollect all this,” resumed Simon, “since I have
seen the name of Silfax on the door. But I tell you, I.
thought the man was dead, and never imagined that the
spiteful being we have so long sought for could be the old
fireman of the Dochart pit.”

“Well, now, then,” said Starr, “it is all quite plain.
‘Chance made known to Silfax the new vein of coal. With
the egotism of madness, he believed himself the owner of a
treasure he must conceal and defend. Living in the mine,
and wandering about day and night, he perceived that you
had discovered the secret, and had written in all haste to
beg me to come. Hence the letter contradicting yours ;
hence, after my arrival, all the accidents that occurred, such
as the block of stone thrown at Harry, the broken ladders
at the Yarrow suaft, the obstruction of the openings into
the wall of the new cutting; hence, in short, our impri-
sonment, and then our deliverence, brought about by
the kind assistance of Nell, who acted of course with-
out the knowledge of this man Silfax, and contrary to his

intentions.”
“You describe everything exactly as it must have hap-
226 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

pened, Mr. Starr,” returned old Simon. “ The old ‘Monk’
is mad enough now, at any rate!”

“ All the better,’ quoth Madge.

“T don’t know that,” said Starr, shaking his head ; “it is
a terrible sort of madness this.” aed

“Ah! now I understand that the very thought of him
must have terrified poor little Nell, and also I see that she
could not bear to denounce her grandfather. What a
miserable time she must have had of it with the old man!”

“Miserable with a vengeance,” replied Simon, “ be-
tween that savage and his owl, as savage as himself.
Depend upon it, that bird isn’t dead. That was what put
our lamp out, and also so nearly cut the rope by which
Harry and Nell were suspended.”

“And then, you see,” said Madge, “this news of the
marriage of our son with his erengeauente added to
his rancour and ill. will.”

“To be sure,” said Simon. “To think that his Nell
should marry one of the robbers of his own coal-mine
would just drive him wild altogether.”

“ He will have to make up his mind to it, however” cried
Harry. “Mad as he is, -we shall manage to convince him
that Nell is better off with us here than ever she was in the
caverns of the pit. I am sure, Mr. Starr, if we could
only catch him, we should be able to make him listen to

reason.”
THE “MONK.” 227

“My poor Harry! there is no reasoning with a madman,”
replied the engineer. “Of course it is better to know your
enemy than not; but you must not fancy all is right
because we have found out who he is. We must be on our
guard, my friends ; and to begin with, Harry, you positively
must question Nell. She will perceive that her silence is
no longer reasonable. Even for her grandfather’s own
interest, she ought to speak now. For his own sake, as well
as for ours, these insane and mischievous plots must be put
a stop to.”

“T feel sure, Mr. Starr,” answered Harry, “that Nell will
of herself propose to tell you what she knows. You see it
was from a sense of duty that she has been silent hitherto.
My mother was very right to take her to her room just
now. She much needed time to recover her spirits; but
now I will go for her.”

“You need not do so, Harry,” said the maiden in a clear
and firm voice, as she entered at that moment the room in
which they were.

Nell was very pale ; traces of tears were in her eyes; but
her whole manner showed that she had nerved herself to
act as her loyal heart dictated as her duty.

“Nell!” cried Harry, springing towards her.

The girl arrested her lover by a gesture, and con-
tinued,—

“Your father and mother, and you, Harry, must now
228 . THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

know all. And you too, Mr. Starr, must remain ignorant
of nothing that concerns the child you have received, and
whom Harry—unfortunately for him, alas !—drew from the
abyss.” .

“Oh, Nell! what are you saying?” cried Harry.

“Allow her to speak,” said Mr. Starr in a decided
tone.

“T am the granddaughter of old Silfax,” resumed Nell.
“T never knew a mother till the day I came here,” added
she, looking at Madge.

“Blessed be that day, my daughter!” said the old
woman.

“T knew no father till Isaw Simon Ford,” continued
Nell; “nor friend till the day when Harry’s hand touched
mine. Alone with my grandfather I have lived during
fifteen years in the remote and most solitary depths of the
mine. I say zw¢k my grandfather, but I can scarcely use
the expression, for I seldom saw him. When he dis-
appeared from Old Aberfoyle, he concealed himself in
caverns known only to himself. In his way he was kind to
me, dreadful as he was;-he fed me with whatever he could
procure from outside the mine; but I can dimly recollect
that in my earliest years I was the nursling of a goat, the
death of which was a bitter grief to me. My grandfather,
seeing my distress, brought me another animal—a dog he
said it was. But, unluckily, this dog was lively, and barked.
THE “MONK.” 229



Grandfather did not like anything cheerful. He had a
horror of noise, and had taught me to be silent; the dog he
could not teach to be quiet, so the poor animal very soon
disappeared. My grandfather’s companion was a ferocious
bird, Harfang, of which, at first, I had a perfect horror ;
but this creature, in spite of my dislike to it, took such a
strong affection for me, that I could not help returning it.
It even obeyed me better than its master, which used to
make me quite uneasy, for my grandfather was jealous.
Harfang and I did not dare to let him see us much together ;
we both knew it would be dangerous. But I am talk-
ing too much about myself: the great thing is about
you.”

“No, my child,” said James Starr, “tell us everything
that comes to your mind.”

“My grandfather,” continued Nell, “always regarded
your abode in the mine with a very evil eye—not that
there was any lack of space. His chosen refuge was far
-—very far from you. But he could not bear to feel that
you were there. If I asked any questions about the people
up above us, his face grew dark, he gave no answer, and
continued quite silent for a long time afterwards.
But when he peceived that, not content with the old
domain, you seemed to think of encroaching upon his, then
indeed his anger burst forth. He swore that, were you tc
succeed in reaching the new mine, you should assuredly
230 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

perish... Notwithstanding his great age, his strength is
astonishing, and his threats used to make me tremble.”

“Go on, Nell, my child,” said Simon to the girl, who
paused as though to collect her thoughts.

“On the occasion of your first attempt,’ resumed Nell,
“as soon as my grandfather saw that you were fairly inside
the gallery leading to New Aberfoyle, he stopped up the
opening, and turned it into a prison for you. I only knew
you as shadows dimly seen in the gloom of the pit, but I
could not endure the idea that you would die of hunger
in these horrid places; and so, at 'the ‘risk. of being
detected, I succeeded in obtaining bread and: water for
you during some days. I should have liked to help you
to escape, but it-was so difficult to avoid the vigilance
of my grandfather. You were about to die. Then
arrived Jack Ryan and the others. By the providence
of God I met with them, and instantly guided them to
where you were. When my grandfather discovered what
I had done, his rage against me was terrible. I expected
death at his hands. After that my life became insupport-
able to me. My grandfather completely lost his senses.
He proclaimed himself King of Darkness and Flame ; and
when he heard your tools at work on coal-beds which he
considered entirely his own, he became furious and beat me
cruelly. I would have fled from him, but it was impossible,
so narrowly did he watch me. At last, in a fit of ungovern-


The Child of the Cavern

Page 230.
THE “ MONK.” 231

able fury, he threw me down into the abyss where you
found me, and disappeared, vainly calling on Harfang,
which faithfully stayed by me, to follow him. I know
not how long I remained there, but I felt I was at the
point of death when you, my Harry, came and saved me.
But now you all see that the grandchild of old Silfax can
never be the wife of Harry Ford, because it would be
certain death to you all!”

“Nell!” cried Harry.

“No,” continued the maiden, “ my resolution is taken.
By one means only can your ruin be averted 1 must
return to my grandfather. He threatens to destroy the
whole of New Aberfoyle. His is a soul incapable of mercy
or forgiveness, and no mortal can say to what horrid deed
the spirit of revenge will lead him. My duty is clear; I
should be the most despicable creature on earth did I
hesitate to perform it. Farewell! I thank you all heartily.
You only have taught me what happiness is. Whatever
may befall, believe that my whole heart remains with you.”

At these words, Simon, Madge, and Harry started up
in an agony of grief, exclaiming in tones of despair,—

“ What, Nell! is it possible you would leave us ?”

James Starr put them all aside with an air of authority,
and, going straight up to Nell, he took both her hands in
his, saying quietly,—

Very right, my child ; you have said exactly what you

X 2
232 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



ought to say; and now listen to what we have to say in
reply. We shall not let you go away; if necessary, we
shall keep you by force. Do you think we could be so
base as to accept of your generous proposal? These
threats of Silfax are formidable—no. doubt about it! But,
after all, a man is but a man, and we can take precautions.
You will tell us, will you. not, even for his own sake, all
you can about his habits and his lurking-places? All we
want to do is to put it out of his power to do harm, and
perhaps bring him to reason.”

“You want to do what is quite impossible,” said Nell.
“My grandfather is everywhere and nowhere. I have
never seen his retreats.. I have never seen him asleep. If
he meant to conceal himself, he used to leave me alone,
and vanish. When I took my resolution, Mr. Starr, I
was aware of everything you could say against it. Believe
me, there is but one way to render Silfax powerless, and
that will be by my return to him. Invisible himself, he
sees everything that goes on. Just think whether it is
likely he could discover your very thoughts and intentions,
from that time when the letter’ was written to Mr. Starr,
up to now that my marriage with Harry has been arranged,
if he did not possess the extraordinary ‘faculty of knowing
everything. As far as I am able to judge, my grandfather,
in his very insanity, is a man of most powerful mind. He
formerly used to talk to me on very lofty subjects. He
THE “MONK.” 233

taught me the existence of God, and never deceived me
but on one point, which was—that he made me believe
that all men were base and perfidious, because he wished
to inspire me with his own hatred of all the human race.
When Harry brought me to the cottage, you thought I
was simply ignorant of mankind, but, far beyond that,
I was in mortal fear of you all. Ah, forgive me! I assure
you, for many days I believed myself in the power of
wicked wretches, and I longed to escape. You, Madge,
first led me to. perceive the truth, not by anything
you said, but by the sight of your daily life, for I saw
that your husband and son loved and respected you!
Then all these good and happy workmen, who so revere
and trust Mr. Starr, I used to think they were slaves; and
when, for the first time, I saw the whole population of
Aberfoyle come to church and kneel down to pray to God,
and praise Him for His infinite goodness, I said to myself,
‘My grandfather has deceived me.’ But now, enlightened
by all you have taught me, I am inclined to think he him-
self is deceived. I mean to return to the secret passages I
formerly frequented with him. He is certain to be on the
watch. I will call to him; he will hear me, and who
knows but that, by returning to him, I may be able to
bring him to the knowledge of the truth ?”

The maiden spoke without interruption, for all felt that
it was good for her to open her whole heart to her friends,
234 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

believing in her generous enthusiasm that she was about to
quit them for ever.

But when, exhausted by emotion, and with eyes. full of
tears, she ceased speaking, Harry turned to old Madge and
said,—

“Mother, what should you think of the man who could
forsake the noble girl whose words you have been listening
to?”

“JT should think he was a base coward,” said Madge,
“and, were he my son, I should renounce and ‘curse him.”

“Nell, do you hear what our mother says?” resumed
Harry. “Wherever you go I will follow you. If you per-
sist in leaving us, we will go away together.”

“Harry! Harry!” cried Nell.

Overcome by her feelings, the girl’s lips blanched, and
she sank into the arms of Madge, who begs ged she might
be left alone with her.


‘Wherever you go I will follow.”

Page 234


On the watch.

Page 235.
NELL’S WEDDING. 235



CHAPTER XXI.
NELL’S WEDDING.

IT was agreed that the inhabitants of the cottage must
keep more on their guard than ever. The threats of old
Silfax were too serious to be disregarded. It was only too
possible that he possessed some terrible means by which.
the whole of Aberfoyle might be annihilated.

Armed sentinels were posted at the various entrances to
the mine, with orders to keep strict watch day and
night. Any stranger entering the mine was brought

before James Starr, that he might give an account of
himself.

There being no fear of treason among the inhabitants of
Coal Town, the threatened danger to the subterranean
colony was made known to them.

Nell was informed of all the precautions taken, and
became more tranquil, although she was not free from
uneasiness. Harry’s determination to follow her wherever
236 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

she went compelled her to promise not to escape from her
friends.’

During the week preceding the wedding, no accident
whatever occurred in Aberfoyle.

The system of watching was carefully maintained, but
the miners began to recover from the panic, which had
seriously interrupted the work of excavation.

James Starr continued to look out for Silfax. The old
man having vindictively declared that Nell should never
marry Simon’s son, it was natural to suppose that he would
not hesitate to commit any violent deed which would
hinder their union.

He was anxious to secure his person, but to respect his
life. The examination of the mine was carried on mi-
nutely. Every passage and gallery was searched, up to
those higher ranges which opened out among the ruins of
Dundonald Castle. It was rightly supposed: that through
this old building Silfax passed out to obtain what was
needful for the support of his miserable existence
(which he must have done, either by purchasing or
thieving). —

"As to the « fire-maidens,” James Starr began to think
that appearance must have been produced by some jet of
fire-damp gas which, issuing from that part of the pit,
could be lighted by Silfax. He was not far wrong ;.but
all search for proof of this was fruitless, and the continued
NELL’S WEDDING. - 237

strain of anxiety in this perpetual effort to detect a malig-
nant and invisible being rendered the engineer—outwardly
calm—an unhappy man.

As the wedding-day approached, his dread of some
catastrophe increased, and he could not but speak of it to
the old overman, whose uneasiness soon more than equalled
his own. :

At length the day came.

Silfax had given no token of existence.

By daybreak the entire population of Coal Town was
astir. Work was suspended ; overseers and workmen alike
desired to do honour to Simon Ford and his son. They
all felt they owed a large debt of gratitude to these bold
and persevering men, by whose means the mine had been
restored to its former prosperity.

The ceremony was to take place at eleven o'clock, in
St. Giles’s chapel, which stood.on the shores of Loch
Malcolm.

At the appointed time, Harry left the cottage, support-
ing his mother on his arm, while Simon led the bride.

Following them came Starr, the engineer, composed in
manner, but in reality nerved to expect the worst, and
Jack Ryan, stepping superb in full Highland piper’s
costume.

Then came the other mining engineers, the principal
people of Coal Town, the friends and comrades of the old
238 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

overman—every member of this great family of miners
forming the population of New Aberfoyle.

In the outer world, the day was one of the hottest of the
month of August, peculiarly oppressive in northern coun-
tries. The sultry air penetrated the depths of the coal-
mine, and elevated the temperature to an unusual degree.
The air which entered through. the ventilating shafts, and
the great tunnel of Loch Malcolm, was charged with
electricity, and the barometer, it was afterwards remarked,
had fallen in a remarkable manner.

There was, indeed, every indication that a storm might
burst forth beneath the rocky vault which formed the roof
of the enormous crypt of the very mine itself.

But the inhabitants were not at that moment troubling
themselves about the chances of atmospheric disturbance
above ground.

Everybody, as a matter of course, had put on their best
clothes for the occasion.

Madge was dressed in the fashion of days gone by,
wearing the “toy” and the “rokelay,” or Tartan plaid, of
matrons of the olden time.

Nell had resolved to show nothing of her mental agita-
tion ; she forbade her heart to beat, or her inward terrors
to betray themselves, and the brave girl appeared before all
with a calm and collected aspect. She had declined every
NELL’S WEDDING. 239

ornament of dress, and the very simplicity of:her attire
added to the charming elegance of her appearance. Her
hair was bound with the “ snood,” the usual head-dress of
Scottish maidens.

Old Simon wore a coat of which Bailie Nicol Jarvie
himself would have approved.

All proceeded towards St. Giles’s chapel, which had been
-handsomely decorated for the occasion.

The electric discs of light which illuminated Coal Town
blazed like so many suns. A luminous atmosphere per-
vaded New Aberfoyle.

In the chapel, electric lamps shed a glow over the stained-
glass windows, which shone like fiery kaleidoscopes.

The Rev. William Hobson was to perform the ceremony ;
at the porch of the chapel he awaited the arrival of the
wedding party.

It approached, after having passed in stately procession
along the shore of Loch Malcolm.

Then the tones of the organ were heard, and, preceded
by the minister, the group advanced into the chapel.

The Divine blessing was first invoked on all present.
Then Harry and Nell remained alone before the minister,
who, holding the sacred book in his hand, proceeded to say,—

“ Harry, will you take Nell to be your wife, and will you
promise to love her always ?”
240 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.

“T promise,” answered the young man in a firm voice.

“ And you, Nell,” continued the minister, “ will you take
Harry to be your husband, and—”

Before he could finish the sentence, a prodigious noise
resounded from without.

One of the enormous rocks, on which was formed the
terrace overhanging the banks of Loch Malcolm, had
suddenly given way and opened without explosion, dis-
closing a profound abyss, into which the waters were now
wildly plunging.

In another instant, among the shattered ee and rush-
ing waves appeared a canoe, which a vigorous arm pro-
pelled along the surface of the lake.

In the canoe was seen the figure of an old man standing
upright. He was clothed in a dark mantle, his hair was
dishevelled, a long white beard fell over his breast, and in
his hand he bore a lighted Davy (safety) lamp, the flame
being protected by the metallic gauze of the apparatus.

In a loud voice this old man shouted,—

“The fire-damp is upon you! Woe—woe -betide ye
all!”

At the same moment the slight smell peculiar to car-
buretted hydrogen was pee diffused through the
atmosphere.

And, in truth, the fall of the rock had made a passage of

escape for an enormous quantity of explosive gas, accumu-








The supreme moment.

Page 241.
NELL’S WEDDINS. 241





lated in vast cavities, the openings to which had hitherto
been blocked. up.

Jets and streams of the fire-damp now rose upward in the
vaulted dome ; and well did that fierce old man know that
the consequence of what he had done would be to render
explosive the whole atmosphere of the mine.

James Starr and several others, having hastily quitted
the chapel, and perceived the imminence of the danger,
now. rushed back, crying out in accents of the utmost
alarm,—

“Fly from the mine! Fly instantly from the mine !”

“ Now for the fire-damp! Here comes the fire-damp!”
yelled the old man, urging his canoe further along the lake.

Harry with his bride, his father and his mother, left the
chapel in haste and in terror.

“Fly! fly for your lives!” repeated James Starr.

Alas! it was too late to fly! Old Silfax stood there,
prepared to fulfil his last dreadful threat—prepared to stop
the marriage of Nell and Harry by overwhelming the
entire population of the place beneath the ruins of the
coal-mine.

As he stood ready to accomplish this act of vengeance,
his enormous owl, whose white plumage was marked with
black spots, was seen hovering directly above his head.

At that moment a man flung himself into the waters of
the lake, and swam vigorously towards the canoe.

Y2
242 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



It was Jack Ryan, fully determined to reach the mad-
man before he could do the dreadful deed of destruction.
Silfax saw him coming. Instantly he smashed the glass
of his lamp, and, snatching out the burning wick, waved it
in the air. ae
Silence like death fell upon the astounded multitude.
James Starr, in the calmness of despair, marvelled that the
inevitable explosion was even for a moment delayed.
Silfax, gazing upwards with wild and contracted features,
appeared to become aware that the gas, lighter than the
lower atmosphere, was accumulating far up under the
dome; and at a sign from him the owl, seizing in its claw
the lighted match, soared upwards to the vaulted roof, to-
wards which the madman pointed with outstretched arm.
Another second and New Aberfoyle would be no more.
Suddenly Nell sprang from Harry’s arms, and, with a
bright look of inspiration, ran to the very brink of the
waters of the lake.
“Hartang! Harfang!” cried she in a clear voice; “here!
come to me!” : oe
The faithful bird, surprised, appeared to hesitate in its
flight. Presently, recognizing Nell’s voice, it dropped the
burning match into the water, and, describing a wide circle,
lew downwards, alighting at the maiden’s feet.
Then a terrible cry echoed through the vaulted roofs.
Tt was the last sound uttered by old Silfax.
NELL’S WEDDING. 243

Just as Jack Ryan laid his hand on the edge of the
canoe, the old man, foiled in his purpose of revenge, cast
himself headlong into the waters of the lake.

“Save him! oh, save him!” shrieked Nell in a voice of
agony.

Immediately Harry plunged into the water, and, swim.
ming towards Jack Ryan, he dived repeatedly.

But his efforts were useless. The waters of Loch Mal-

colm yielded not up their prey: they closed for ever over
Silfax.
244 THE CHILD OF THE CAVERN.



CHAPTER XXII.
THE LEGEND OF OLD SILFAX.

S1x months after these events, the marriage, so strangely
interrupted, was finally celebrated in St Giles’s chapel, and
the young couple, who still wore mourning garments, re-
turned to the cottage. James Starr and Simon Ford,
henceforth free from the anxieties which so long distressed
them, joyously presided over the entertainment which fol-
lowed the ceremony, and prolonged it to the following day.

On this memorable occasion, Jack Ryan, in his favourite
character of piper, and in all the glory of full dress, blew up
his chanter, and astonished the company by the unheard-of
achievement of playing, singing, and dancing all at once.

Next day, the labours of the mine recommenced under
James Starr’s direction.

It is needless to say that Harry and Nell were happy.
These loving hearts, after the trials they had gone through
found in their union the happiness they deserved.
THE LEGEND OF OLD SILFAX. 245



As to Simon Ford, the ex-overman of New Aberfoyle,
he began to talk of celebrating his golden wedding, after
fifty years of marriage with good old Madge, who liked the
idea immensely herself.

“And after that, why not a golden wedding number
two?”

“You would like a couple of fifties, would you, Mr.
Simon?” said Jack Ryan. |

“All right, my boy,” replied the overman quietly, “I see
nothing against it in this fine climate of ours, and living
far from the luxury and intemperance of the outer world.”

Will the dwellers in Coal Town ever be called to witness
this second ceremony? Time will show. Certainly the
strange bird of old Silfax seemed destined to attain a won-
derful longevity. The Harfang continued to haunt the
gloomy recesses of the cave.

After the old man’s death, Nell had attempted to keep
the owl, but in a very few days he flew away. He
evidently disliked human society as much as his master
had done, and, besides that, he appeared to have a particu-
lar spite against Harry. The jealous bird seemed to
remember and hate him for having carried off Nell from
the deep abyss, notwithstanding all he could do to prevent
him. Still, at long intervals, Nell would see the creature
hovering above Loch Malcolm.

Could he possibly be watching for his friend of yore?
246°. THE CHILD OF THE ‘CAVERN.



Did he strive to pierce, with keen eye, the depths hich
had engulfed his master ?

Both ideas were popular. The history of the .Harfang
became’ legendaty, and furnished Jack Ryan with many a
tale.and: song.

Thanks to him, the story of old Silfax and his bird will
long be’ preserved, and handed down to future generations
of the Scottish peasantry.

THE END.



GILBERT AND RIVINGTON, LIMITED, ST. JOHN’S SQUARE, LONDON,



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