George Streynsham Master.

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called the blacksmith and master mechanic.

" We must a have a drill eight hundred
feet long," he said, and then, with a pencil
on a board, he sketched out full working
plans of an original piece of engineering con-
struction. He also made rough plans for
two wooden air-locks of novel construction.
All this work took more than an hour, and
in the meantime the news of the disaster
had spread over the countr}'.

A messenger had been sent to Emberton
City for a telegraph operator, and in a short
time a young girl was announced as the
only operator within reach. Though only a
child, she bravely consented to go down
the pit.

A reporter of the New York "Herald"
also appeared and began voluble questions
concerning the disaster and possible rescue.
Breewood shut him up with decisive vigor.

" Lives depend on our work. We can-
not be disturbed. You shall have every
chance to see, but you must not talk to the

The reporter retired within himself and
considered the matter :

" A Great Disaster.

Three men buried alive.

Science to the rescue.

Splendid technical ability aiding

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locomotives doing strange duty on the tracks
below. He looked abroad over the mount-
ains, the sleeping town, and the strange, wild
scene, and wondered if it was not all a dream
to melt away in the morning. Some one
drew near.

" Young man, you must have rest This
sort of work is wearing on you. Everything
is going on well now, and you must go home
and sleep. I will take charge of the work
while you rest."

After some urging, Breewood cons^ted to
the president's request, and went down the
long stairs of the breaker and on down the
mountain-side to the deserted town. Here
and there were lights, as if some still watched
for those lost in the deeper darkness under-
ground and for the heroic souls who toiled
to rescue them.

At his own home, he found a light burn-
ing and a supper laid for him. He ate a
litUe, and then threw himself upon the sofa
and instantly fell asleep.

At ten o'clock he awoke to what seemed
a new and fairer day. There was a fire
burning brightly in the room, and on the
table was an inviting breakfast. Maria sat
by the fire, as if watching for him to awake.
He looked at her for a moment, and recog-
nized her kind attention to his comfort

" You are very kind, Maria."

She was startled, and rose and came
toward him with a bright blush upon her

"Oh I I am very glad you have waked.
Breakfast is ready. Do you feel rested?
I thought you would like a fire, and — I
didn't mean to stay here so long."

" It is of no consequence. I am glad to
have your company."

She drew nearer, and he observed a tremu-
lous brightness in her eyes, a half-smiling
eagerness ta add to his comfort, mingled
with an earnest solicitude but ill suppressed.
For whom could she show so much feeling ?
He could but think she loved him. He had
thought once, in a general way, of the re-
ception this buxom mountain maiden would
meet in the thin air of the Brahmin quar-
ter of Boston. But all doubt or fear on this
score was swept away now. He believed she
loved him, and he felt sure he could love so
fine a specimen of vigorous womanhood.

Immediately after breakfast, Breewood
went to his room and in high glee prepared
for his day's work. Now he could work,
indeed, helped and applauded by such a
splendid creature. When he came back,
ready to go to the mine, Maria also appeared

dressed as if to go out Would she like to
go to the mine ? Oh ! gladly, if he would
take her. So they set out together. At
the door, she took his arm, as he thought,
by a natural instinct, and they thus walked
through the streets till they came to the
open fields outside the town.

It seemed as if all the country side had
met upon the mountain. Hundreds of car-
riages and country wagons were tethered to
the fences. An excursion train was dis-
charging a multitude of people, and thou-
sands of men, women and children swarmed
over the rough, bare mountain, treading the
snow into black mud. The coal-breaker
was crowded with men, and there were
several tents on the slope near the engine-
house. There was also a gleam of bayonets,,
for the militia had been called out to keep
the crowd away fi-om the works. Our hero
pressed eagerly forward, and his companion,
quite as eagerly, kept pace with him. At the
breaker they came to the two locomotives
still busy at their new work; but here there
was a delay, for the guard would allow no
one to pass. Then the men on the engines
saw them, and there was a cheer " for the
new boss," and the guard gave way, but
objected to Miss Baumgarten.

" My fiiend must go with me," said Bree-

" Oh, that's all right ! " was the significant
answer, and they both passed on.

At the pit's mouth they met the president
of the company, and Maria was introduced
by Breewood as " my fiiend." The presi-
dent smiled graciously, but made no com-
ment, and immediately called attention to
the progress of the work. The new drift
had advanced three hundred and five feet,,
but the water was steadily rising in spite of
the pumps.

Breewood said he would go down the pit
at once, and the trolley was signaled and
brought up. The telegraph operator came
up on it with the men, and they reported
that she had heard from the men below^
who had appealed for speedy help, say-
ing that they could not hold out much

" Oh 1 " cried Maria, " it is dreadful to
think of them buried alive and in darkness
and without food."

" We shall send them food by to-night or
to-morrow morning," said Breewood.

" Oh ! I hope so, indeed."

Had Breewood been less interested in the
work before him, he would have noticed the
tears that had gathered in her eyes, but he

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men and materials about in this extraordi-
nary manner ?

" The accident threw everything into con-
fusion, and I took charge of the people, and
made preparations to rescue the men below.
I will show you my plans and surrender
the work to you."

The man doubted if any men were left alive,
and preferred to carry out his own plans.

" There are three men caught at the top
of the third slope. We heard from them
and sent word to them."

The superintendent laughed. Hear from
men through fifteen hundred feet of coal!

Breewood made neither resistance nor re-
monstrance to the superintendent's power, and
merely explained his plans for the respue.

" Yes, and supposing your machine works,
— and it will not, — the moment you reach
the men the air will escape, and the water
will rise and drown them."

" Air-locks are provided," said Breewood,
and before he could add more, a gentleman,
who had joined the crowd of people that
had gathered near, said quickly :

" Mr. Superintendent, you will place this
young man in charge of the rescue party,
and give him every aid in your power."

It was the president of the coal company,
who, hearing of the disaster, had come up
on a special engine from Pottsville.

Three minutes later, a messenger was
dispatched for surveying instruments; the
company's engine and a powerful freight-
locomotive were brought up the tracks as
near the pit as possible. Machinists were
put to work upon them to make steam con-
nections with them up the mountain-side,
so that they could be used to provide steam
for the pumps. The mayor was sent for to
call out a police force to keep away the
surging mass of people who swarmed about
the breaker and pit Breewood personally
laid out the new rescue drift, and, in the
presence of the president, showed how the
girl operator could telegraph by sotmd
through the coal to the men locked up at
the head of Slope No. 3.

By sundown all the work was well under
way, and over a hundred men were busy
at the immense task laid out by the engi-
neer. The steam-pumps and the pipe ar-
rived from Pottsville and were put in position
at the platform and properly connected with
the two locomotives. By this device, two
extra boilers had been obtained, and by nine
o'clock in the evening two enormous streams
of water were pouring from four-inch pipes
Vol. XIX.— 21.

and rushing in a brook down the mountain-
side. The miners, with wedge, pick and
hammer, made vigorous progress at the new
drift running down through the coal. Men
were stationed at short mtervals along the
drift to pass up the baskets of loose coal
and throw it down the hole left in the plat-

Very soon the heat of the steam-pumps
and the confined air of the drift became
unbearable. Ventilation must be provided
or the work would come to a stop.

Breewood was thinking of this as he stood
at the pit's mouth, listening to the rush of
water thrown up by the steam-pumps. Sud-
denly, he pushed through the crowd and
ran back to the shop, where the men were
at work on his new drill. Picking up a
piece of four-inch pipe, he chalked a mark
for a hole to be dnlled in the side, and set
a man at the work. To another man he
gave a piece of two-inch pipe, with direc-
tions to cut it up into lengths, and to join
these with elbows according to a pattern that
he hastily drew on a board. In an hour
he had four injectors, formed of iron pipes
one within the other, the larger designed
for water, the smaller for air. These he had
secured to the discharge pipes of the steam-
pumps, placing two at each outlet so as to
give the water an equal pipe area at the
outlet. The discharge pipes lay on the
ground pointed down the mountain, and the
interior iron pipes were connected with a
two-inch pipe laid down the slope and into
the new cut Within an hour, the new
injectors were at work sucking the foul,
heated air firom the pit, and throwing it
out with the water with a dull, roaring

A late and waning moon rose on this
scene of intense activity, and thousands of
people sat up to hear the news from the pit
Hundreds of men, wrapped in thick cloaks,
Uned the high-level bridge of the breaker,
and watched the firemen plying the two loco-
motives and listened to the incessant ham-
mering in the machine-shop and the deep,
booming roar of the great water- injectors.
Over all flashed and flared an enormous
bonfire, that had been lighted to aid the
men at their work. A tent, not far away,
was lighted up, and through the open door
could be seen two men writing on an over-
turned barrel, and dispatching full descrip-
tions of all these scenes to the ** Herald."

It was nearly morning as Breewood came
out on the high bridge of the breaker and
gazed down on the men busy about the two

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both the lost men and the rescuing party.
The two steam-pumps were lifting 15,000
gallons of water an hour, and still the water
had gained on them. It had risen in the slope
to within twenty feet of the platform, and
was, therefore, over the heads of the rescue
party below. The pressure would be enor-
mous, and they must guard against an ex-
plosion of air when the drill broke through
into the cave where the lost men were im-

The last length of pipe had a smaD branch
pipe at the side, and on this was secured a
pressure-gauge to indicate the pressure of
the air in the slope below when the tool
passed through. Besides this it had two
air-locks or gates to prevent the escape of
the air through the drill.

Suddenly the man at the crank fell for-
ward, and the handle slipped out of his

The drill was through ! It turned freely
in the coal, and the pressure-gauge marked
a pressure of five pounds per square inch.
The men had been reached, and if they
were still alive, food could be sent to them.
While the drill was moving, it made so
much noise that the knocking could not be
heard. For a moment there was a solemn
silence in the dark and narrow hole in which
these heroes worked. Then came a tap-
ping on the pipe. They were alive ! They
had found the drill !

Breewood went up to the daylight to get
the carriers and food, and was surprised to
find Maria waiting with soup, bread and
meat for the men. A tin carriage on wheels
was loaded with food and inserted in the
drill, and one air-lock was opened when it
rolled down to the second. The lock be-
hind was closed and the second opened,
and then they heard it roll away down to
the men below.

A mighty cheer went up from the people
who still lingered in multitudes about the
pit when the news was sent up that the drill
had reached the men. Within two hours,
posters were up in every city, from Boston
to Chicago, announcing the fact. Extras
were published every few hours in all the
large cities, and the progress of the rescue
was noted by millions of readers.

The discovery of the great pressure under
which the men were confined alarmed the
president and the mining engineers and
experts who had gathered from far and
near, and doubts were expressed as to the
possibility of bringing up the men alive.

"^rybody said they would be lost the mo-

ment the pick struck through their prison
wall, should the air be released. The res-
cuers, also, would be exposed to instant
death, as they, too, were below the level of
the rising water in the mine.

Breewood had but one reply — air-locks!
These he had wisely ordered in advance,
and when the work was resumed, as soon
as the prisoners below had been fed, one
of these locks was put in place. A deep
slot was cut in the coal all round the rescue
drift, and in this was set a stout door-
firame. All the cracks were filled with ce-
ment, and an air-tight door was hinged to
the fiame. Five feet lower down a second
door was put up in the same manner.

So the hours went on. The relays of men
were changed rapidly, and pick and shovel
were worked with all the energy of despair.
The water was now within ten feet of the
platform. Another pump, throwing ten
thousand gallons an hour, came up from
Philadelphia and was set to work. Still,
the water crept higher and higher. Bree-
wood seldom went up to daylight; his
meals were sent down to him. Once when
he went up, about midnight, he foimd
Maria sitting watchftil in the engine-room
among the anxious company of officers, en-
gineers, miners, soldiers and reporters, who
were waiting for news. There were ether
women also waiting for news, but they had
sons or husbands below. She waited for
him and he was glad.

The hours slipped swiftly away. It was
day again and then night The water had
gamed four more feet in spite of the three
enormous pumps pouring a muddy tojrent
down the mountain-side.

At last word came up. Only ten feet
more! A last call for volunteers! This
dme there was death and danger to be
faced. The working party were to be locked
in behind the air-locks when they broke
through the wall !

There were six miners, — all unmarried
men (to save making widows), — Breewood,
old Josh Binny, the boss, and the reporter.
The president shook Breewood by the hand
at the first air-lock, and with his own hands
barred them in. It was a moment of in-
tense suspense. The Catholic church bell
rang for midnight prayers for their safety.
The entire population stood in the streets
or on the mountain-side in anxious si-

With a splintering crash Josh Binny's
pick went through, making a hole like a
man's hand. Then came a silence. Were

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they all dead ? There was a slight rush of
air, and the rescuers stood in breathless sus-
pense. Then came a feeble cheer through
the hole. They were alive ! To break out
the hole, to drag the men, half dead, through
the opening, to carry them up the drift past
the second air-lock, took just twenty min-
utes. Then Breewood closed the wooden
air-lock. They were still all imder the
pressure of the imprisoned air, and under
water. Would the air-lock hold while they
escaped into the slope ?

Slowly the trolley crept up the slope bur-
dened with the saved and savers. Bree-
wood stood erect on the front of the trolley,
his face shining with joy and triumph. His
love should see his day of success, should

share in his honors. The trolley rose to day-
light in the center of an immense throng of
people, for it was day once more.

At sight of the rescued men lying pale
and feeble on the floor of the trolley, the
crowd broke into a shout of joy and tri-
umph. It echoed down the mountain-side,
and the people shouted in hoarse hurrahs.
Every whistle screamed, and all the chiu*ch
bells rang in sonorous chorus. Here were
honors indeed for the young engineer. Ev-
ery wire in the country was telling his fame
to the people.

Suddenly, a woman burst through the
crowd of people about the trolley and fell
upon one of the prostrate men with a cry
of joy, covering his face with kisses and
passionate tears. It was Maria, welcoming
her rescued lover — ^John Krumburger.


The poets are usually the best naturalists ;
not only because they are alert and impres-
sionable, but because a true poet is more or
less m rapport with nature. Yet it is curi-
ous to note how our singers sometimes trip
in their dealings with her. A prominent
New England poet speaks of "plucking the
apple from the pine," as if the pine-apple
grew upon the pme^tree. A Western poet
sings at length of the blue-bird, in strains
only befitting some rare songster, like the
hermit thrush. When the robin and swal-
low come, he says, the blue-bird hies him to
some mossy old wood, where, amid the deep
seclusion, he pours out his song, etc. Not
one trait of the blue-bird is faithfully set
down. I notice another curious departure
from the truth of natural history in a recent
poem by a well-known author, in one of the
popular journals. A humming-bird's nest is
shown the reader, and it has blue eggs in it.
A more cautious poet would have turned to
Audubon or Wilson before venturing upon
such a statement. But then it was neces-
sary to have a word to rhyme with " view,"
and what could be easier then to make a
white egg " blue " ? Speaking of the hum-
ming-bird reminds me that the author of
" Fantasy and Passion " has evidently con-
founded this bird with that curious parody
upon it, the hawk or sphynx moth, as in his
poem upon the subject he has hit off exactly
die habits of the moth and not those of

the bird ; or, to be more exact, his creature
seems a cross between the moth and the
bird, as it has the habits of the one and the
plumage of the other. The time to see the
humming-bird, he says, is after sunset in
the summer gloaming; then it steals forth
and hovers over the flowers, etc. Now,
the humming-bird is eminently a creat-
ure of the sun and of the broad open
day, and I have never seen it after sun-
down, while the moth is rarely seen except
at twilight. It is much smaller and less
brilliant than the humming-bird; but its
flight and motions are so nearly the same
that it might easily be mistaken for the
other. It is but a small slip in such a poet
as poor George Arnold, when he makes the
sweet-scented honeysuckle bloom for the
bee, for surely the name suggests the bee,
though in fact she does not work upon it;
but what shall we say of the Kansas poet,
who, in his published volume, claims both
the yew and the nightingale for his native
state ? Or of a Massachusetts poet, who
finds the snow-drop and the early primrose
blooming along his native streams, with the
orchis and the yellow violet, and makes the
blackbird conspicuous among New England
songsters ? Our ordinary yew is not a tree
at all, but a low spreading evergreen shrub
that one may step over, and as for the
nightingale, if they have the mocking-bird
in Kansas, they can very well do without

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him. We have several varieties of black-
birds, it is true ; but when an American poet
speaks in a general way of the blackbird
piping or singing in a tree, as he would
speak of a robin or a sparrow, the sug-
gestion or reminiscence awakened is always
that of the blackbird of English poetry.

**In days when daisies deck the ground.

And blackbirds whistle clear,
With honest joy our hearts will bound

To see the coming year *' —

Sings Bums. I suspect that the English
reader' of even some of Whittier's and
Emerson's poems would infer that our black-
bird was identical with the British species.
I refer to these lines of Whittier :

** I hear the blackbird in the com ;
The locust in the haying" —

and to these of Emerson :

"Where arches p[reen the livelong day
Echo the blackbirds* roundelay."

The blackbird of the English poets is
like ovj robin in everything except color.
He is familiar, hardy, abundant, thievish,
and his habits, manners and song recall
our bird to the life. Our own native black-
birds, the crow blackbird, the rusty grackle,
the cow-bird and the red-shouldered star-
ling, are not songsters, even in the latitude
allowable to poets. The two first named
have a sort of musical cackle and gurgle in
spring (as at times both our crow and jay
have), which is very pleasing, and to which
Emerson aptly refers in these lines from

"The blackbirds make the maoles ring
With social cheer and jubilee " —

but it is not a song. The note of the
stariing in the trees and alders along the
creeks and marshes is better calculated to
arrest the attention of the casual observer ;
but it is far from being a song like that of the
European blackbird, or our robin. Its most
familiar call is like the word ^^ baziqu^,'
^^ bazique^' but it has a wild musical note
which Emerson has embalmed in this line :

"The red-wing flutes his o-ka-UeJ*^

Here Emerson discriminates; there is no
mistaking his blackbird this time for the
European species, though it is true there is
nothing fluty or flute-like in the red-wing's
voice. The flute is mellow, while the
''O'ka-iee^' of the starling is strong and
sharply accented. The voice of the thrushes
'—^ our robin and the European black-

bird are thrushes) is flute-like. Hence the
aptness of this line of Tennyson :

"The mellow ouzel fluted in the elm" —

the blackbird being the ouzel, or ouzel-
cock, as Shakspere calls him.

In the line which precedes this, Tennyson
has stamped the cuckoo :

" To left and right,
The cuckoo told his name to all the hills."

The cuckoo is a bird that figures largely
in English poetry, but he always has an
equivocal look in American verse, unless
sharply discriminated. We have a cuckoo,
but he is a great recluse, and I am sure the
poets do not know when he comes or goes,
while to make him sing familiarly like the
British species, as I have known at least
one of our poets to do, is to come very
wide of the mark. Our bird is as solitary
and joyless as the most veritable anchorite.
He contributes nothing to the melody or
gayety of the season. He is indeed known
in some sections as the "rain-crow"; but
I presume that not one person in ten of
those who spend their lives in the country
has ever seen or heard him. He is like
the Orchis vera^ or the ladies'-slipper, or tlie
shooting-star among plants, — a stranger to
all but the few, — and when an American
poet says cuckoo, he must say it with such
specifications as to leave no doubt what
cuckoo he means, as Lowell does, in his
" Nightingale in the Study " :

"And, hark, the cuckoo, weatherwise.
Still hiding, farther onward wooes you."

In like manner the primrose is an exotic
in American poetry, to say nothing of the
snow-drop and the daisy. Its prominence
in English poetry can be understood when
we remember that the plant is so abundant
in England as to be almost a weed, and
that it comes early and is very pretty.
Cowslip and oxlip are familiar names of
varieties of the same plant, and they bear
so close a resemblance that it is hard to
tell them apart. Hence Tennyson, in
" The Talking Oak " :

" As cowslip unto oxlip is
So seems sne to the boy."

Our familiar primrose is the evening prim-
rose, — a rank, tall weed that blooms with
the mullen in late summer. Its small, yel-
low, slightly fragrant blossoms open only at
night, but remain open during the next

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day. By cowslip, our poets and writers gener-
ally mean the yellow marsh marigold, which
belongs to a different family of plants, but
which, as a spring token and a pretty flower,
is a very good substitute for the cowslip.
Our real cowslip, the shooting-star (Dode-

Online LibraryGeorge Streynsham MasterThe Century, Volume 19 → online text (page 50 of 160)