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at the table. Cold roast beef, and ham, and
slices of cold boiled turkey were placed before
him, with a loaf of bread, fresh dairy-butter,
and a brown jug of porter. He was scarcely
aware whether he ate or not, but he soon
began to feel much revived; and then he saw
a hot roast duck; and then another; and then
three more; and then a great iron dish, quite
hot, and with flakes of fire at the bottom, full
of roast ducks. Green peas were only just
coming into season, and sold at a high price
in the markets; but here were several delphic
dishes piled up with them; and Flashley could
but admire and sit amazed at the rapidity with
which these delicate green pyramids sank
lower and lower, as the great spoonfuls
ascended to the red and white open mouths of
the jovial black visages that surrounded him.
He was told that the 'undergoers' dined
here every day after this fashion; but only
with ducks and green peas at this particular
season, when the miners made a point of
buying up all the green peas in the markets,
claiming the right to have them before all
the nobility and gentry in the neighbourhood.

While all this was yet going on, Flashley
became aware of a voice, as of some one
discoursing very gravely. It was like the voice
of the Elfin who had wrought him all this
undesired experience. But upon looking
forwards in the direction of the sound, he
perceived that it proceeded from one of the
minersa brawny-chested figure, who was
making a speech. Their eyes met, and then
it seemed that the miner was addressing
himself expressly to poor Flashley. Something
impelled the latter, averse as he was, to stand
up and receive the address.

'Young manor rather gent!' said the
miner' You are now in the bowels of old
mother Earthgrandmother and great
grandmother of all these seams of coal; and
you see a set of men around you, whose lives
are passed in these gloomy places, doing the
duties of their work without repining at its
hardness, without envying the lot of others,
and smiling at all its dangers. We know very
well that there are better things above ground
and worse. We know that many men and
women and children, who are ready to work,
can't get it, and so starve to death, or die with
miserable slowness. A sudden death, and a
violent is often our fate. We may fall down
a shaft; something may fall upon us and
crush us; we may be damped to death; * we
may be drowned by the sudden breaking in
of water; we may be burned up by the
wildfire,† or driven before it to destruction; in
daily labour we lead the same lives as horses
and other beasts of burden; but for all that,
we feel that we have something else within,
which has a kind of tingling notion of heaven,
and a God above, and which we have heard
say is called ' the soul.' Now, tell usyoung
master, you who have had all the advantages
of teachers, and books, and learning among the
people who live above groundtell us,
benighted working men, how have you passed
your time, and what kind of thing is your

* The choke-damp, carbonic acid gas.
† Fire-damp, also called the sulphurhydrogen gas.

The miner ceased speaking, but continued
standing. Flashley stood looking at him,
unable to utter a word. At this moment, a
half-naked miner entered hurriedly from one
of the main roads, shouting confused words
to the effect that the fire which is always
placed in the up-cast shaft to attract and draw
up the air for the ventilation of the mine, had
just been extinguished by the falling in of a
great mass of coal, and the mine was no longer

' Fire-damp! '' The sulphur! '' Choke-
damp! ' ejaculated many voices, as all the
miners sprang from their seats, and made a
rush towards the main outlet. Flashley was
borne away in the scramble of the crowd; but
they had scarcely escaped from the cavern,
when the flame of the candles ran up to the
roof, and a loud explosion instantly followed.
The crowd was driven pell-mell before it,
flung up, and flung down, dashed sideways,
or borne onwards, while explosion after
explosion followed the few who had been
foremost, and were still endeavouring to make
good their retreat.

Among these latter was Flashley, who was
carried forwards, he knew not how, and was
scarcely conscious of what was occurring,
except that it was something imminently
dreadful, which he momentarily expected to
terminate in his destruction.

At length only himself and one other
remained. It was the miner who had been his
companion from the first. They had reached
a distant ' working,' and stopped an instant to
take breath, difficult as it was to do this, both
from the necessity of continuing their flight,
and also from the nature of the inflammable
air that surrounded them. Some who had
arrived here before them, had been less
fortunate. Half-buried in black slush lay the
dead body of a miner, scorched to a cinder by
the wild-fire; and on a broad ledge of coal
sat another man, in an attitude of faintness,
with one hand pressed, as with a painful effort,
against his head. The black-damp had
suffocated him: he was quite dead.

Beyond this Flashley knew nothing until
he found himself placed in a basket, and rising
rapidly through the air, as he judged, by a
certain swinging motion, and the occasional
grating of the basket against the sides of the
shaft. After a time he ventured to look up,
and to his joy, not unmixed with awe, he
discerned the mouth of the shaft above,
apparently of the size of a small coffee-cup. Some
coal-dust and drops of water fell into his eyes;
he saw no more; but with a palpitating heart,
full of emotions, and prayers, and thankfulness,
for his prospect of deliverance, continued
his ascent.