Sappers and Miners - The Flood beneath the Sea
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English
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Sappers and Miners - The Flood beneath the Sea

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232 pages
English

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Sappers and Miners, by George Manville Fenn This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Sappers and Miners The Flood beneath the Sea Author: George Manville Fenn Illustrator: Hal Hurst Release Date: May 8, 2007 [EBook #21367] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SAPPERS AND MINERS *** Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England George Manville Fenn "Sappers and Miners" Chapter One. Bass for Breakfast. “Have some more bass, Gwyn?” “Please, father.” “You should not speak with your mouth full, my dear,” said Mrs Pendarve, quietly. “No, mother; but I didn’t like to keep father waiting.” “And between the two stools you came to the ground, eh?” said Colonel Pendarve, smiling. “Never mind; hold your plate. Lucky for us, my dear, that we have only one boy. This fellow eats enough for three.” “Well, but, father, we were down by the boat at daybreak, and the sea air makes one so hungry.” “Say ravenous or wolfish, my boy. But go on. It certainly is a delicious fish, and Dolly has cooked it to a turn. They were rising fairly, then?” “Yes, father; we rowed right out to the race, off the point, and for ever so long we didn’t see a fish and sat there with our rods ready.

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Sappers and Miners, by George Manville Fenn
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org
Title: Sappers and Miners
The Flood beneath the Sea
Author: George Manville Fenn
Illustrator: Hal Hurst
Release Date: May 8, 2007 [EBook #21367]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SAPPERS AND MINERS ***
Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England
George Manville Fenn
"Sappers and Miners"
Chapter One.
Bass for Breakfast.
“Have some more bass, Gwyn?”
“Please, father.”
“You should not speak with your mouth full, my dear,” said Mrs Pendarve,
quietly.
“No, mother; but I didn’t like to keep father waiting.”
“And between the two stools you came to the ground, eh?” said Colonel
Pendarve, smiling. “Never mind; hold your plate. Lucky for us, my dear, that we
have only one boy. This fellow eats enough for three.”
“Well, but, father, we were down by the boat at daybreak, and the sea air makes
one so hungry.”“Say ravenous or wolfish, my boy. But go on. It certainly is a delicious fish, and
Dolly has cooked it to a turn. They were rising fairly, then?”
“Yes, father; we rowed right out to the race, off the point, and for ever so long
we didn’t see a fish and sat there with our rods ready.”
Gwyn talked away, but with his mouth rather full of fried bass and freshly-baked
bread all the same.
“And of course it was of no use to try till a shoal began to feed.”
“Not a bit, father,—and Joe said we might as well come back; but when the sun
rose they were breaking all round us, and for half-an-hour we kept hooking them
at nearly every throw. Come and see the rest of my catch; they’re such beauties,
as bright as salmon.”
“That’s right, but don’t let any of them be wasted. Keep what you want, mamma,
dear, and give the others away. What did you use—a big fly?”
“No, father, those tiny spoon-baits. They come at them with a rush. Then they
left off biting all at once, and—some more coffee, please, mother—and we
rowed back home, and met Captain Hardock on the pier.”
“Ah, did you?”
“Yes, father; and we gave him two pairs of fine ones, and he said they looked as
bright as newly-run tin.”
“Humph! Yes, that man thinks of nothing else but tin.”
“And he began about it again this morning, father,” said Gwyn, eagerly.
“Indeed!” said Colonel Pendarve; and Gwyn’s mother looked up inquiringly from
behind the silver coffee-urn.
“Yes, father,” said Gwyn, helping himself to more fresh, yellow Cornish butter
and honey. “He said what a pity it was that you did not adventure over the old
Ydoll mine and make yourself a rich man, instead of letting it lie wasting on your
estate.”
“My estate!” said the Colonel, smiling at his wife—“a few score acres of
moorland and rock on the Cornish coast!”
“But he says, father, he is sure that the old mine is very rich.”
“And that I am very poor, Gwyn, and that it would be nice for me to make a
place for a mining captain out of work.”
“But you will not attempt anything of the kind, my dear,” said Mrs Pendarve,
anxiously.
“I don’t think, so, my dear. We have no money to spare for speculating, and I
don’t think an old Indian cavalry officer on half-pay is quite the man to attempt
such a thing.”
“But old Hardock said you were, father, and that you and Major Jollivet ought to
form a little company of your own, and that he knows he could make the mine
pay wonderfully.”
“Yes,” said the Colonel, drily, “that’s exactly what he would say, but I don’t thinkmuch of his judgment. I should be bad enough, but Jollivet, with his wound
breaking out when he is not down with touches of his old jungle fever, would be
ten times worse. All the same, though, I have no doubt that the old mine is rich.”
“But Arthur, my dear,” protested Mrs Pendarve, “think of how much money has
been—”
“Thrown down mines, my dear?” said the Colonel, smiling. “Yes I do, and I don’t
think our peaceful retired life is going to be disturbed by anything a mining
adventurer may say.”
“But it would be interesting, father,” said Gwyn.
“Very, my boy,” said his father, smiling. “It would give you and Joe Jollivet—”
“Old Joe Jolly-wet,” said Gwyn to himself.
“A fine opportunity for trying to break your necks—”
“Oh, my dear!” cried Mrs Pendarve.
“Getting drowned in some unfathomable hole full of water.”
“Arthur!” protested Mrs Pendarve.
“Losing yourself in some of the mazy recesses of the ancient workings.”
“Really, my dear!” began Mrs Pendarve; but the Colonel went on—
“Or getting crushed to death by some fall of the mine roofing that has been
tottering ready to fall perhaps for hundreds of years.”
“Pray don’t talk like that, my dear,” said Mrs Pendarve, piteously.
“He doesn’t mean it, mother,” said Gwyn, laughing. “Father’s only saying it to
frighten me. But really, father, do you think the mine is so very old?”
“I have no doubt of it, my boy. It is certainly as old as the Roman occupation, and
I should not be surprised if it proved to be as early as the time when the
Phoenicians traded here for tin.”
“But I thought it was only stream tin that they got. I read it somewhere.”
“No doubt, my boy, they searched the surface for tin; but suppose you had been
a sturdy fellow from Tyre or Sidon, instead of a tiresome, idle, mischievous
young nuisance of an English boy—”
“Not quite so bad as that, am I, mother?” said Gwyn, laughing.
“That you are not, my dear,” said Mrs Pendarve, “though I must own that you do
worry me a great deal sometimes by being so daring with your boating, climbing
and swimming.”
“Oh, but I do take care—I do, really,” said Gwyn, reaching out to lay his hand
upon his mother’s arm.
“Yes, just as much as any other thoughtless, reckless young dog would,”
grumbled the Colonel. “I’m always expecting to have one of the fishermen or
miners come here with a head or an arm or a leg, and say he picked it up
somewhere, and does it belong to my son?”“Really, Arthur, you are too bad,” began Mrs Pendarve.
“He’s only teasing you, ma, dear,” cried Gwyn, laughing. “But I say, father, what
were you going to say about my being a Tyre and Sidonian?”
“Eh? Oh! That if you found tin in some gully on the surface, wouldn’t you dig
down to find it where it was richer?”
“Can’t dig through granite,” said Gwyn.
“Well, chip out the stone, and by degrees form a deep mine.”
“Yes, I suppose I should, father.”
“Of course it’s impossible to prove how old the mine is, but it is in all probability
very ancient.”
“But it’s only a deep hole, is it, father?”
“I cannot say. I never heard of its being explored; but there it is.”
“I’ve explored it sometimes by sending a big stone down, so as to hear it rumble
and echo.”
“Yes, and I daresay hundreds of mischievous boys before you have done the
same.”
“Why was it called the Ydoll mine, father?”
“I cannot say, Gwyn. Some old Celtic name, or a corruption. It has always been
called so, as far as I could trace when I bought the land; and there it is, and there
let it remain in peace.”
“If you please, my dear,” said Mrs Pendarve. “Will you have some more coffee
and bread and butter, Gwyn?”
The boy shook his head, for there are limits even to a seaside appetite.
“Wonderful!” said the Colonel.
“What is, my dear?” said Mrs Pendarve.
“Gwyn has had enough for once. Oh, and, by the way, I have had quite enough of
that dog. If ever I find him scratching and tearing my garden about again, I’ll
pepper him with shot.”
The boy smiled and looked at his mother.
“Oh, you may laugh, sir, at your foolish, indulgent father. I don’t know what I
could have been about to let you keep him. What do you want with a great
collie?”
“He’s such a companion, father; and see how clever he is after rabbits!”
“Matter of opinion,” said the Colonel. “I don’t suppose the rabbits think so. Well,
mind this: I will not have him tearing about among my young fruit trees.”
Chapter Two.A Deep Investigation.
Breakfast ended, Gwyn went straight off to the yard with half a fish and some
bread; but before he came in sight, there was the rattle of a chain, a burst of
barking, and a handsome collie dog, with long silky ears and a magnificent frill of
thick hair about his neck, stood upon hind-legs at the full extent of the chain, and
tried hard to strangle himself with his collar.
Then there was a burst of frantic yelps and whines, a kind of dance was
performed as the boy approached with the dog’s breakfast, and then there was
peace over the devouring of the bread, which was eaten in bits thrown at him
from a couple of yards away, and caught without fail.
After this performance the fish was placed in a pan; and as the dog bent down to
eat, Gwyn pulled his ears, thumped his back, sat astride it and talked to the
animal.
“You’re going to be shot at if you go into the garden again, Grip; so look out, old
chap. Do you hear?”
The dog was too busy over the fish, but wagged his tail.
“I’m to keep you chained up more, but we’ll have some games over the moor
yet—rabbits!”
The fish was forgotten, and the dog threw up his head and barked.
“There, go on with your breakfast, stupid! I’m off.”
“How-ow!” whined the dog, dismally, and he kept it up, straining at his chain till
the boy was out of sight, when the animal stood with an ear cocked up and his
head on one side, listening intently till the steps died out, before resuming his
breakfast of fish.
Gwyn was off back to the house, where he fetched his basket from the larder
and carried it into the hall.
“Here, father—mother—come and have a look!” he cried; and upon their joining
him, he began to spread out his catch, so as to have an exhibition of the silvery
bass—the brilliant, salmon-shaped fish whose sharp back fins proved to a
certainty that they were a kind of sea perch.
They were duly examined and praised: and when they had been divided into
presents for their neighbours in the little Cornish fishing port, the Colonel, who
had, after long and arduous service in the East, hung up his sword to take to
spade and trowel, went off to see to his nectarines, peaches, pears, grapes and
figs in his well-walled garden facing the south, and running down to the rocky
shores of the safe inlet of Ydoll Brea, his son Gwyn following to help—so it was
called.
The boy, a sturdy, frank-looking lad, helped his father a great deal in the garden,
but not after the ordinary working fashion. That fell to the lot of Ebenezer Gelch,
a one-eyed Cornishman, who was strangely imbued with the belief that he was
the finest gardener in the West of England, and held up his head very high in
consequence. Gwyn helped his father, as he did that morning, by following him
out into the sunny slope, and keeping close behind.
The Colonel stopped before a carefully-trained tree, where the great pears hung
down from a trellis erected against the hot granite rock, and stood admiringthem.
“Nearly ripe, father?” asked Gwyn.
“No, my boy, not nearly,” said the Colonel, softly raising one in his hand. “They
may hang more than a month yet. We shall beat the Jersey folk this year.”
“Yes, father,” said Gwyn, and he followed to where the Colonel stopped before a
peach tree, and stooped to pick up a downy red-cheeked fellow which had fallen
during the night.
“Not fully grown, Gwyn, but it’s a very fine one,” said the Colonel.
“Yes father—a beauty. Shall I take it in?”
“No, not good enough. Eat it, my boy.”
Gwyn did not need any further telling, and the peach disappeared, the stone
being sent flying into the sea.
A little farther on, a golden tawny Jefferson plum was taken from a tree, for the
wasps had carved a little hole in the side, and this was handed to the boy and
eaten. A nectarine which had begun to shrink came next; and from the hottest
corner of the garden a good-tempered looking fig, which seemed to have
opened a laughing mouth as if full, and rejoicing in its ripeness. After this a rosy
apple or two and several Bon Chrétien pears, richly yellow, were picked up and
transferred to the boy’s pocket, and the garden was made tidy once more,
evidently to the owner’s satisfaction. Certainly to that of his son, who was most
diligent in disposing of the fruit in this way.
Then the Colonel sauntered into the little sloping vinery where the purple and
amber grapes were hanging, and Gwyn thrust in his head; but as there were no
berries to be eaten, and it was very hot, he drew back and went up the slope
toward the wall at the top, carefully peeling one of the pears with a fishy pocket-
knife.
He was in the act of throwing a long curl of peel over the wall when a sun-
browned face appeared as if on purpose to receive it, and started back. Then
there was a scrambling noise from the other side, as the face disappeared very
suddenly, and Gwyn burst out laughing.
“Hurt yourself?” he cried.
There was the sound of scrambling, and the face re-appeared.
“What did you do that for?” cried the owner.
“To get rid of the peel, stupid.”
“Well, you might have chucked a pear instead.”
“All right—catch.”
A pear was thrown, dexterously caught, and the newcomer immediately took a
magnificent bite out of it.
“Oh! beauty!” he cried; and then, as he began to munch, he glanced down at the
pit he had excavated with his keen teeth right to the core. “Er! Yah!” he cried,
spitting out the piece. “Why, it’s all maggoty!” and he threw the pear back with
excellent aim; but it was deftly caught, and returned in a way that would havewon praise at cricket. Joe’s aim was excellent, too; but when a boy is supporting
himself by resting his elbows on the coping of a high stone-wall, he is in no
position for fielding either a pear or a ball. So the pear struck him full on the
front of the straw hat he wore, and down he went with a rush, while Gwyn ran to
the front of the wall, climbed up quickly, and looked over into the lane, laughing
boisterously.
“Got it that time, Joey,” he cried.
“All right, I’ll serve you out for it. Give us another pear.”
The request was attended to, the fruit being hurled down, but it was cleverly
caught.
“Why this is maggoty, too.”
“Well, I didn’t put the maggots there; cut the bad out. The dropped ones are all
like that.”
“Go and pick me a fresh one, then.”
“Not ripe, and father does not like me to pick them. That’s a beauty.”
“Humph—’tain’t bad. But I say, come on.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Do?—why, didn’t you say we’d go and have a good look at the old mine?”
“Oh, ah; so I did. I forgot.”
“Come on, then. Old Hardock made my mouth water talking about it as he did
this morning.”
“But we should want a rope, shouldn’t we?”
“Yes. Let’s get Jem Trevor to lend us one out of his boat.”
“All right. I’ll come round.”
“Why not jump down?”
Gwyn gave a sharp look up and down the lane, but no one was in sight, and he
lightly threw his legs over, and dropped down beside his companion.
“Don’t want any of the boys to see that there’s a way over here,” he said, “or we
shall be having thieves. I say, Joe, father’s been talking about the old mine at
breakfast.”
“Then you told him what Captain Hardock said. I told my father, too.”
“What did he say?”
Joe Jollivet laughed.
“Well, what are you grinning at? Why don’t you speak?”
“Because you’re such a peppery chap, and I don’t want a row.”
“Who’s going to make a row? What did the Major say?”“Sha’n’t tell you.”
“Who wants you to? It was something disrespectful of my father, and he has no
business to. My father’s his superior officer.”
“That he isn’t. Your father was cavalry, and my father foot.”
“And that makes it worse,” said Gwyn, hotly. “Cavalry’s higher than infantry, and
a major isn’t so high as a colonel.—What did he say?”
“Oh, never mind. Come on.”
“I know what he said; and it’s just like the Major. Just because his wounds come
out bad sometimes, he thinks he has a right to say what he likes. I believe he said
my father was a fool.”
“That he didn’t,” cried Joe, sharply; “he said he’d be a fool, if he put any money
in a mine.”
“There, I knew it, and it’s regularly insulting,” cried Gwyn, with his face flushing
and eyes sparkling. “I shall just go and tell Major Jollivet that my father—”
“Oh, I say, what a chap you are!” cried Joe, wrinkling up his rather plump face.
“You’re never happy without you’re making a row about something. Why don’t
you punch my head?”
“I would for two pins.”
“There, that’s more like you. What have I done? I didn’t say it.”
“No, but your father did, and it’s all the same.”
“Oh! is it? I don’t see that. I couldn’t help it.”
“Yes, you could. It all came of your chattering. See if I go fishing with you again!”
“Go it!”
“I mean to; and I shall walk straight up to Cam Maen, and tell the Major what I
think of him. I won’t have my father called a fool by a jolly old foot-soldier, and so
I’ll tell him.”
“Yes, do,” said Joe. “He’s got a touch of fever this morning, and can’t help
himself; so now’s your chance. But if you do go and worry him, you’ve got to
have it out with me afterwards, and so I tell you.”
“Oh, have I? You want me to give you another good licking?”
“I don’t care if you do. I won’t stand still and have my father bullied by old Ydoll,
Gwyn.”
Gwyn turned upon him fiercely, but the sight of his companion’s face calmed his
anger on the instant.
“It’s all right, Joe,” he said; “I like to hear anyone sticking up for his father or his
mother.”
“I haven’t got a mother to stick up for; but my father’s ill and weak, and if you—”
“Don’t I keep on telling you I’m not going, you stupid old Jolly-wet-’un. Come on.
Didn’t we two say, after the last fight, when we shook hands, that we wouldnever fight again?”
“Yes; then why do you begin it?”
“Who’s beginning it? Get out, and let’s go and have a look at the mine. Let’s stick
to what we said: fight any of the fisher-lads, and help one another. Now, then,
let’s go on to the old mine, and see if we can get down. Pst! here’s Hardock.”
For at the corner of the stone-walled lane, whose left side skirted the Colonel’s
property, which extended for half-a-mile along by the sea, the estate having
been bought a bargain for the simple reason that its many acres grew scarcely
anything but furze, heather and rag-wort, the rest being bare, storm-weathered
granite, they came suddenly upon a dry-looking brown-faced man with a coil of
rope worn across his chest like an Alpine guide.
He was seated on the low wall dotted with pink stone-crop and golden and grey
lichens, chewing something, the brown stain at the corner of his lips suggesting
that the something was tobacco; and he turned his head slowly toward them,
and spoke in a harsh grating voice, as they came up.
“Going to the old mine?” he said. “I thought you would, after what I told you this
morning. I’ll go with you.”
“Did you bring that rope on purpose?” said Gwyn, quickly.
“O’ course, my son. You couldn’t look at the gashly place without.”
Gwyn glanced at Joe, and the latter laughed, while the mining captain displayed
his brown teeth.
“Right, aren’t it?” he said. “Didn’t tell the Colonel what I said, I s’pose?”
“Yes, I did,” cried Gwyn; “and he as good as said it was all nonsense.”
“Maybe it be, and maybe it ban’t,” said the man, quietly. “You two come along
with me and have a look. I’ve brought a hammer with me, too; and I say, let’s
chip off a bit or two of the stuff, and see what it’s like. If it’s good, your father
may like to work it. If it’s poor, we sha’n’t be no worse off than we was before,
shall we?”
“No, of course not,” said Gwyn, “what do you say, Joe—shall we go?”
“Of course,” was the reply; and they trudged on together for about a hundred
yards, and then climbed over the loose stone-wall, and then up a rugged slope
dotted with gigantic fragments of granite. A stone’s throw or so on their left was
the edge of the uneven cliff, which went down sheer to the sea; and all about
them the great masses towered up, and their path lay anywhere in and out
among tall rocks wreathed with bramble and made difficult with gorse.
But they were used to such scrambles, and, the mining captain leading, they
struggled on with the gulls floating overhead, starting a cormorant from his
perch, and sending a couple of red-legged choughs dashing over the rough edge
to seek refuge among the rocks on the face of the cliff.
It was a glorious morning, the sea of a rich bright blue, and here and there
silvery patches told where some shoal of fish was playing at the surface or
demolishing fry.
There was not a house to be seen, and the place was wild and chaotic in the
extreme, but no one alluded to its ruggedness, all being intent upon the object oftheir quest, which they soon after came upon in the upper part of a deep gully,
on one side of which there was a rough quadrangular wall of piled-up stones,
looking like the foundations of a hut which had fallen to ruin; and here they
paused.
“Now, look here,” said the man; “that place don’t look anything; but your father,
young Pendarve, has got a fortune in it, and I want to see what it’s like. So what
do you say to going down with my hammer and bringing up a few chips?”
“Why don’t you go?” said Gwyn.
“’Cause you two couldn’t pull me up again. It’s a job for a boy.”
“Then let’s send down Joe Jollivet. He isn’t worth much if we lose him.”
“Oh, I say,” began the boy in dismay; but he read the twinkle in his companion’s
eye, and laughed.
“I wouldn’t mind going down. Is the rope strong?”
“Strong?” said the mining captain. “Think I should have brought it if it warn’t?
Hold a schooner.”
“Shall I go down, Gwyn?”
The lad addressed did not answer for a few moments, but stood leaning over the
rocky wall, gazing down into a square pit cut through the stone, the wall having
been placed there for protection in case four or two-legged creatures passed
that way.
“But look here,” said Joe; “would it be safe?”
“Safe, lad? Do you think I’d let you go if it warn’t? How could I face all your
fathers and mothers after?”
“But are you sure you could hold me if I went,” said Joe, who began to look
anxious.
“Feel here,” said the man, rolling up his sleeves. “There’s muscle! There’s bone!
That’s something like a man’s arm, aren’t it? Hold you? Half-a-dozen on you. Man
either.”
Joe drew a deep sigh.
“I’ll go,” he said.
“No, you won’t,” cried Gwyn, fiercely. “It’s my father’s place, and I ought to go.”
“But I wouldn’t mind, Ydoll,” said Joe, excitedly.
“I know that, but I’ll go first, and you help Sam Hardock.”
“Ay, you help me, my lad. I know’d he’d have the pluck to go down.”
“You’re sure of the rope, Sam?”
“Sure? There, don’t you go down if you’re afraid.”
“Who feels afraid?” cried Gwyn, hotly. “There, how’s it to be? Throw the rope
down and slide?”

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