George Manville Fenn.

Patience wins : or, War in the works online

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"Our boys know Mr. Fenn well, his stories having won for him a fore-
most place in their estimation." — I'all Mall Gazette.

"Mr. Manville Fenn may be regarded as the successor in boyhood's
affections of Captain Mayne Reid." — Academy.

" Who can tvrite a better boy's book, or zvho can point a finer moral, than
George Manville J'Vnn?"— Schoolmaster.

"Mr. George Manville Fenn rs amongst the few authors 7vho can write
such books as strike the fancy of intelligent lads. He has a bright, cheery,
manly style, ivhich takes ivith the youngsters; his stories are never dull,
and he never 'preaches,' or if he does it is in such a fashion that the lads
do not detect it." — Nottingham Journal.

" Sfr. Fenn has much of the inventiveness of the tvell-knoion French
writer Jules Verne; indeed, he is in the front rank of writers of stories for
boys. Parents sjyecially ought to be very thankful to him for providing
their sons with so much wholesome and fascinating amusement in the way
of literature."— lAv erpool Mercury.







Author of " Bunyip Land ; " "The Golden Magnet;" "Menhardoc;" "Brownsmith's Boy ; "
" In the King's Name ; " " Nat the Naturalist ; " &c. &c.








Chap. Page

I. A Family Council 9

II. A Fiery Place, 17

III. A Bad Beginning, 27

IV. Our Engine, 40

V. A Night of Anxiety, 53

VI. "Do LET me come," 66

VII. A USEFUL Ally, 82

VIII. On Guard, 91

IX. Drowning an Enemy, 106

X. '"Night, Mate," 116

XL Pannell's Pet, 122

XII. Pannell's Secret, 133

XIII. Only a Glass of Water, 142

XIV. Uncle Bob's Patient, 152

XV. I have an Idea, 175

XVI. Something for Me 184

XVII. My Travelling Companion, 194

XVIII. Against the Law, 207

XIX. Pannell says Nothing, 222

XX. A CoMPAi^ioN IN Trouble, 234

XXI. What I Caught and Heard, 251

XXII. Stevens has a Word with Me, 270


XXIV. Uncle Jack and I have a Run, 298

XXV. A Terrible Risk, 316

XXVI. Fire and Water, 333

XXVII. Eight Years later, 345

rynA O^.'f A


"Lucky yow weern't theer," said Stevens, . . Frontis. 275

"Piter made a dash at their Legs," . 87

A Talk with Pannell the Smith 140

Cob's Adventure on the Railway, . . . , 202

A Plunge into the Wheel-pit, 233

Cob hunted by the Arrowpield Mob . 287





SAY, Uncle Dick, do tell me what sort of a
place it is."

"Oh, you'll see when you get there!"
"Uncle Jack, you tell me then; what's
it like?"

" Like! What, Arrowfield? Ask Uncle Bob."
"There, Uncle Bob, I'm to ask you. Do tell me
what sort of a place it is ? "

" Get out, you young nuisance!"
" What a shame ! " I said. " Here are you three great
clever men, who know all about it; you've been down
half a dozen times, and yet you won't answer a civil
question when you are asked."

I looked in an ill-used way at my three uncles, as
they sat at the table covered with papers; and except
that one would be a little darker than the other, I
could not help thinking how very much they were
alike, and at the same time like my father, only that


he had some gray coming at the sides of his head.
They were all big fine-looking men between thirty
and forty, stern enough when they were busy, but
wonderfully good-tempered and full of fun when
business was over; and I'm afraid they spoiled me.

When, as I say, business was over, they were ready
for anything with me, and though I had a great feeling
of reverence, almost dread, for my father, my three big
uncles always seemed to me like companions, and they
treated me as if I were their equal.

Cricket! Ah! many's the game we've had together.
They'd take me fishing, and give me the best pitch,
and see that I caught fish if they did not.

Tops, marbles, kite-flying, football; insect and egg
collecting; geology, botany, chemistry; they were at
home with all, and I shared in the game or pursuit as
eagerly as they.

I've known the time when they'd charge into the
room at Canonbury, where I was busy with the private
tutor — for I did not go to school — with " Mr. Headley,
Mr. Russell would like to speak to you;" and as soon
as he had left the room, seize hold of me, and drag me
out of my chair with, " Come along. Cob: work's closed
for the day. Country!"

Then away we'd go for a delicious day's collecting,
or something of the kind.

They used to call it slackening their bands, and

Time had glided on very happily till I was sixteen,
and there was some talk of my being sent to a great
engineer's establishment for five or six years to learn
all I could before being taken on at our own place in
Bermondsey, where Russell & Company carried on
business, and knocked copper and brass and tin about,


and made bronze, and gun-metal, and did a great deal
for other firms with furnaces, and forges, and steam-
engines, wheels, and lathes.

My father was "Russell" — Alexander — and Uncle
Dick, Uncle Jack, and Uncle Bob were " Company."
The business, as I say, was in Bermondsey, but we lived
together and didn't live together at Canonbury.

That sounds curious, but I'll explain: — We had two
houses next door to each other. Captain's quarters,
and the barracks.

My father's house was the Captain's quarters, where
I lived with my mother and sister. The next door,
where my uncles were, they called the barracks, where
they had their bed-rooms and sitting-room; but they
took all their meals at our table.

As I said before things had gone on very happily till
I was sixteen — a big sturdy ugly boy.

Uncle Dick said I was the ugliest boy he knew.

Uncle Jack said I was the most stupid.

Uncle Bob said I was the most ignorant.

But we were the best of friends all the same.

And now after a great deal of discussion with my
father, and several visits, my three uncles were seated
at the table, and I had asked them about Arrowfield,
and you have read their answers.

I attacked them again.

" Oh, I say," I cried, " don't talk to a fellow as if he
were a little boy ! Come, Uncle Dick, what sort of a
place is Arrowfield?"

" Land of fire."

" Oh !" I cried. " Is it, Uncle Jack ?"

" Land of smoke."

" Land of fire and smoke!" I cried excitedly. "Uncle
Bob, are they making fun of me?"

12 NOT boys' business.

" Land of noise, and gloom, and fog," said Uncle Bob.
"A horrible place in a hole."

"And are we going there?"

" Don't know," said Uncle Bob. " Wait and see."

They went on with their drawings and calculations,
and I sat by the fire in the barrack room, that is, in
their sitting-room, trying to read, but with my head
in a whirl of excitement about Arrowfield, when my
father came in, laid his hand on my head, and turned
to my uncles.

" Well, boys," he said, " how do you bring it in ?
What's to be done ? "

" Sit down, and let's settle it, Alick," said Uncle
Dick, leaning back and spreading his big beard all
over his chest.

"Ah, do!" cried Uncle Jack, rubbing his curly head.

" Once and for all," said Uncle Bob, drawing his
chair forward, stooping down, taking up his left leg
and holdinfj it across his rio^ht knee.

My father drew forward an easy-chair, looking very
serious, and resting his hand on the back before sitting
down, he said without looking at me:

" Go to your mother and sister, Jacob."

I rose quickly, but with my forehead wrinkling all
over, and I turned a pitiful look on my three uncles.

"What are you going to send him away for?" said
Uncle Dick.

" Because this is not boys' business."

"Oh, nonsense!" said Uncle Jack. "He'll be as
interested in it as we are."

" Yes, let him stop and hear," said Uncle Bob.

" Very good. I'm agreeable," said my father. " Sit
down, Jacob."

I darted a grateful look at my uncles, spreading it


round so that they all had a glance, and dropped back
into my seat.

"Well," said my father, "am I to speak?"

" Yes."

This was in chorus; and my father sat thinking for
a few minutes, during which I exchanged looks and
nods with my uncles, all of which was very satisfactory.

" Well," said my father at last, " to put it in short,
plain English, we four have each our little capital
embarked in our works."

Here there were three nods.

" We've all tried everything we knew to make the
place a success, but year after year goes by and we
find ourselves worse off. In three more bad years we
shall be ruined."

" And Jacob will have to set to work and keep us
all," said Uncle Dick.

My father looked round at me and nodded, smiling
sadly, and I could see that he was in great trouble.

"Here is our position, then, boys: Grandison k> Co.
are waiting for our answer in Bermondsey. They'll
buy everything as it stands at a fair valuation; that's
one half. The other is: the ag-ents at Arrowfield are
waiting also for our answer about the works to let

Here he paused for a few moments and then went

" We must look the matter full in the face. If we
stay as we are the trade is so depreciating that we
shall be ruined. If we go to Arrowfield we shall have
to begin entirely afresh; to fight against a great many
difiiculties; the workmen there are ready to strike, to
turn upon you and destroy."

Uncle Dick made believe to spit in his hands.


" To commit oiitrasres."

Uncle Jack tucked up his sleeves.

" And ratten and blow up."

Uncle Bob half took off his coat.

"In short, boys, we shall have a terribly hard fight;
but there is ten times the opening there, and we may
make a great success. That is our position, in short,"
said my father. " What do you say ? "

My three uncles looked hard at him and then at one
another, seemed to read each other's eyes, and turned
back to him.

"You're oldest, Alick, and head of the firm," said
Uncle Dick; "settle it."

" No," said my father, " it shall be settled by you

" I know what I think," said Uncle Jack ; " but I'd
rather you'd say."

" My mind's made up," said Uncle Bob, " but I don't
want to be speaker. You settle it, Alick."

"No," said my father; "1 have laid the case before
you three, who have equal stakes in the risk, and you
shall settle the matter."

There was a dead silence in the room, which was so
still that the sputtering noise made by the big lamp
and the tinkle of a few cinders that fell from the fire
sounded painfully loud. They looked at each other,
but no one spoke, till Uncle Dick had fidgeted about
in his chair for some time, and then, giving his big
beard a twitch, he bent forward.

I heard my other uncles sigh as if they were relieved,
and they sat back farther in their seats listening for
what Uncle Dick, who was the eldest, might wish to

" Look here," he cried at last.

(( T fT'o ATT rtr\ "


Everybody did look there, but saw nothing but
Uncle Dick, who kept tugging at one lock of his beard,
as if that was the string that would let loose a whole
shower-bath of words.

" Well!" he said, and there was another pause.

" Here," he cried, as if seized by a sudden fit of
inspiration, " let's hear what Cob has to say."

"Bravo! Hear, hear, hear!" cried my two uncles in
chorus, and Uncle Dick smiled and nodded and looked
as if he felt highly satisfied with himself; while I, with
a face that seemed to be all on fire, jumped up ex-
citedly and cried:

" Let's all go and begin again."

" That's it — that settles it," cried Uncle Bob.

" Yes, yes," said Uncle Dick and Uncle Jack. " He's
quite right. We'll go."

Then all three beat upon the table with book and
pencil and compasses, and cried, " Hear, hear, hear ! "
while I shrank back into my chair, and felt half
ashamed of myself as I glanced at my father and
wondered whether he was angry on account of what I
had proposed.

" That is settled then," he said quietly. " Jacob has
been your spokesman ; and now let me add my opinion
that you have taken the right course. What I propose
is this, that one of us stays and carries on the business
here till the others have got the Arrowfield afiair in
full swing. Who will stay?"

There was no answer.

"Shall I?" said my father.

" Yes, if you will," they chorused.

" Very good," said my father. " I am glad to do so,
for that will give me plenty of time to make arrange-
ments for Jacob here."


" But he must go with us," said Uncle Dick.

" Yes, of course," said Uncle Jack.

" Couldn't go without him."

"But his education as an engineer?"

" Now, look here, Alick," said Uncle Dick, " don't
you think he'll learn as much with us down at the new
works as in any London place?"

My father sat silent and thoughtful, while I watched
the play of his countenance and trembled as I saw how
he was on the balance. For it would have been terrible
to me to have gone away now just as a new life of
excitement and adventure was opening out.

" Do you really feel that you would like Jacob to go
with you?" said my father at last.

There was a unanimous "Yes!" at this, and my
heart gave a jump.

" Well, then," said my father, " he shall go."

That settled the business, except a general shaking
of hands, for we were all delighted, little thinking, in
our innocence, of the troubles, the perils, and the
dangers through which we should have to go






time was lost. The agreements were signed,
and Uncle Dick packed up his traps, as he
called them, that is to say, his books, clothes,
and models and contrivances, so as to go
down at once, take possession of the works, and get
apartments for us.

I should have liked to go with him, but I had to
stay for another week, and then^ after a hearty fare-
well, we others started, my father, mother, and sister
seeing us off by rail; and until I saw the trees, hedges,
and houses seeming to fly by me I could hardly believe
that we were really on our way.

Of course I felt a little low-spirited at leaving home,
and I was a little angry with myself for seeming to be
so glad to get away from those who had been so patient
and kind, but I soon found myself arguing that it
would have been just the same if I had left home only
to go to some business place in London. Still I was
looking very gloomy when Uncle Jack clapped me on
the shoulder, and asked me if I didn't feel like begin-
ning to be a man.

" No," I said sadly, as I looked out of the window
at the flying landscape, so that he should not see my

(322) B


face. " I feel more as if I was beginning to be a great

"Nonsense!" said Uncle Bob; "you're going to be a
man now, and help us."

"Am I?" said I sadly.

" To be sure you are. There, put tliat gloomy face
in your pocket and learn geography."

They both chatted to me, and I felt a little better,
but anything but cheerful, for it was my first time of
leaving home. I looked at the landscape, and the
towns and churches we passed, but nothing seemed to
interest me till, well on in my journey, I saw a sort of
wooden tower close to the line, with a wheel standing
half out of the top. There was an engine-house close
by — there was no doubt about it, for I could see the
puffs of white steam at the top, and a chimney. There
was a great mound of black slate and rubbish by the
end; but even though the railway had a siding close
up to it, and a number of trucks were standing waiting,
I did not realize what the place was till Uncle Jack

"First time you've seen a coal-pit, eh?"

" Is that a coal-pit ? " I said, looking at the place more

" Those are the works. Of course you can't see the
shaft, because that's only like a big square. well."

" But I thouf^ht it would be a much more interesting
place," I said.

" Interesting enough down below; but of course there
is nothing to see at the top but the engine, cage, and
mouth of the shaft."

That brightened me up at once. There was some-
thing to think about in connection with a coal-mine —
the great deep shaft, the cage going up and down, the


miners with their safety-lamps and picks. I saw it all
in imagination as we dashed by another and another
mine. Then I began to think about the accidents of
which I had read; when men unfastened their wire-
gauze lamps, so that they might do that wdiich was
forbidden in a mine, smoke their pipes. The match
struck or the opened lamp set fire to the gas, when
there was an awful explosion, and after that the terrible
dangers of the after-damp, that fearful foul air which
no man could breathe for long and live.

There were hundreds of thoughts like this to take
my attention as we raced on by the fast train till, to
my surprise, I found that it was getting dark, and the
day had passed.

"Here we are close to it," said Uncle Jack; "look,
my lad."

I gazed out of the window on our right as the train
glided on, to see the glare as of a city on fire : the glow
of a dull red flickered and danced upon the dense clouds
that overhung the place. Tall chimneys stood up like
black stakes or posts set up in the reflection of open
furnace doors. Here a keen bright light w^ent straight
up through the smoke vv^ith the edges exactly defined
— here it was a sharp glare, there a dull red glow, and
everywhere there seemed to be fire and reflection, and
red or a'olden smoke mingled with a dull throbbing
booming sound, which, faintly heard at first, grew
louder and louder as the train slackened speed, and the
pant and pulsation of the engine ceased.

"Isn't something dreadful the matter?" I said, as I
gazed excitedly from the window.

"Matter!" said Uncle Jack laughing.

"Yes, isn't the place on fire? Look! look! There

20 "LOOKS horrible!"

I pointed to a tierce glare that seemed to reach up
into the skv, cutting the dense cloud like millions of
golden arrows shot from some mighty engine all at

" Yes, I see, old fellow," said Uncle Jack. " They
have just tapped a furnace, and the molten metal is
running into the moulds, that's all."

" But the whole town looks as if it were in a blaze,"
I said nervously.

"So did our works sometimes, didn't they? Well,
here we are in a town where there are hundreds upon
hundreds of works ten times as big as ours. Nearly
everybody is either forging, or casting, or grinding.
The place is full of steam-engines, while the quantity
of coal that is burnt here every day must be prodigious.
Aha! here's Uncle Dick."

He had caught sioht of us before we saw him, and
threw open the carriage door ready to half haul us out,
as he shook hands as if we had not met for months."

" That's right," he cried. " I am glad you've come.
I've a cab waiting. Here, porter, lay hold of this bag-
gage. Well, Cob, what do you think of Arrowfield?"

" Looks horrible," I said in the disappointed tones of
one who is tired and hungry.

" Yes, outside," said Uncle Dick; " but wait till you
see the inside."

Uncle Dick was soon standing in what he called the
inside of AiTowfield — that is to say the inside of the
comfortable furnished lodgings he had taken right up
a hill, where, over a cosy tea-table with hot country
cakes and the juiciest of hot mutton chops, I soon for-
got the wearisome nature of our journey, and the dis-
mal look of the town.

" Eat away, my boys," cried Uncle Dick. " Yeat, as

"AVAST joking!" 21

they call it here. The place is all right; everything
ready for work, and we'll set to with stout hearts, and
make up for lost time."

"When do we begin, uncle — to-morrow?"

" No, no: not till next Monday morning. To-morrow
we'll have a look over the works, and then we'll idle
a bit — have a few runs into the country round, and see
what it's like."

" Black dismal place," I said dolefully. .

" Says he's tired out and wants to go to bed," said
Uncle Jack, giving his eye a peculiar cock at his

" I didn't," I cried.

" Not in words, my fine fellow, but you looked it."

" Then I won't look so again," I cried. " I say, don't
talk to me as if I were a little boy to be sent to bed."

"Well, you're not a man yet. Cob. Is he, boys?"

Uncle Dick was in high spirits, and he took up a
candle and held it close to my cheek.

"What's the matter?" I said. "Is it black? I
shouldn't wonder."

" Not a bit, Cob," he said seriously. " You can't even
see a bit of the finest down growing."

" Oh, I say," I cried, " it's too bad ! I don't pretend
to be a man at sixteen; but now I've come down here
to help you in the new works, you oughtn't to treat
me as if I were a little boy."

"Avast joking!" said Uncle Dick quietly, for the
comely landlady came in to clear away the tea-things,
and she had just finished when there was a double
knock at the front door.

We heard it opened, and a deep voice speaking, and
directly after the landlady came in with a card.

" Mr. Tomplin, gentlemen," she said. " He's at the


door, and I was to say that if it was inconvenient for
you to see him to-night, perhaps you would call at his
office when you were down the town."

" Oh, ask him in, Mrs. Stephenson," cried Uncle Dick ;
and as she left the room — "it's the solicitor to whom I
brought the letter of introduction from the bank."

It was a short dark man in black coat and waistcoat
and pepper-and-salt trousers who was shown in. He
had little sharp eyes that seemed to glitter. So did
his hair, which was of light-gray, and stood up all over
his head as if it was on white tire. He had not a par-
ticle of hair on his face, which looked as if he was a
very good customer to the barber.

He shook hands very heartily with all of us, nodding
pleasantly the while; and when he sat down he took
out a brown-and-yellow silk handkerchief and blew
his nose like a horn.

" Welcome to Yorkshire, gentlemen ! " he said. " My
old friends at the bank send me a very warm letter of
recommendation about you, and I'm at your service.
Professional consultations at the usual fee, six and
eight or thirteen and four, according to length. Friendly
consultations — Thank you, I'm much oljliged. This is
a friendly consultation. Now what can I do for you?"

He looked round at us all, and I felt favourably im-
pressed. So did my uncles, as Uncle Dick answered
for all.

" Nothing at present, sir. By and by we shall be
glad to come to you for legal and friendly advice too."

" That's right," said Mr. Tomj)lin. " You've taken
the Rivulet Works, I hear."

" Yes, down there by the stream."

" What are you going to do ? — carry on the old forg-
ing and grinding?"


" Oh, dear, no!" said Uncle Dick. " We are going in
for odds and ends, sir. To introduce, I hope, a good
many improvements in several branches of the trades
carried on here, principally in forging."

Mr. Tomplin drew in his lips and filled his face
with wrinkles.

"Going to introduce new inventions, eh?" he said.
"Yes, sir, but only one at a time," said Uncle Jack.
" And have you brought a regiment of soldiers with
you, gentlemen?"

"Brought a what?" said Uncle Bob, laughing.
" Regiment of soldiers, sir, and a company of artil-
lerymen with a couple of guns."

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Uncle Dick, showing his
white teeth. " Mr. Tomplin means to besiege Arrow-

"No, I don't, my dear sir. I mean to turn your
works into a fort to defend yourselves against your

" My dear sir," said Uncle Jack, " we haven't an
enemy in the world."

" Not at the present moment, sir, I'll be bound," said
Mr. Tomplin, taking snuft', and then blowing his nose
so violently that I wondered he did not have an acci-
dent with it and split the sides. " Not at the present
moment, gentlemen; but as soon as it is known that
you are going to introduce new kinds of machinery,
our enlightened townsmen will declare you are going
to take the bread out of their mouths and destroy
everything you make."

" Take the bread out of their mouths, my dear Mr.
Tomplin!" said Uncle Jack. "Why, what we do will
put bread in their mouths by making more work."
" Of course it will, my dear sirs."


"Then why should they interfere?"

"Because of their ignorance, gentlemen. Thej^

Online LibraryGeorge Manville FennPatience wins : or, War in the works → online text (page 1 of 26)