|About the Book|
It is a little past noon, and many of the women come to their doors and look curiously after a miner, who, in his working clothes, and black with coal-dust, walks rapidly towards his house, with his head bent down, and his thick felt hat slouchedMoreIt is a little past noon, and many of the women come to their doors and look curiously after a miner, who, in his working clothes, and black with coal-dust, walks rapidly towards his house, with his head bent down, and his thick felt hat slouched over his eyes. Its Bill Haden- he works at the Vaughan. What brings he up at this hour? Summat wrong, Ill be bound. Bill Haden stopped at the door of his house in the row first spoken of, lifted the latch, and went in. He walked along a narrow passage into the back-room. His wife, who was standing at the washing-tub, turned round with a surprised exclamation, and a bull-dog with half-a-dozen round tumbling puppies scrambled out of a basket by the fire, and rushed to greet him. What is it, Bill? whats brought thee home before time? For a moment Bill Haden did not answer, but stooped, and, as it were mechanically, lifted the dog and stroked its head. Theres blood on thy hands, Bill. What be wrong with ee? It baint none of mine, lass, the man said in an unsteady voice. It be Jacks. He be gone. Not Jack Simpson? Ay, Jack Simpson- the mate I ha worked with ever since we were butties together. A fall just came as we worked side by side in the stall, and it broke his neck, and hes dead. The woman dropped into a chair, threw her apron over her head, and cried aloud, partly at the loss of her husbands mate, partly at the thought of the narrow escape he had himself had. Now, lass, her husband said, there be no time to lose. It be for thee to go and break it to his wife. I ha come straight on, a purpose. I thawt to do it, but I feel like a gal myself, and it had best be told her by another woman. Jane Haden took her apron from her face. Oh, Bill, how can I do it, and she ill, and with a two-month baby? I misdoubt me it will kill her. Thoust got to do it, Bill said doggedly, and thoud best be quick about it- it wont be many minutes afore they bring him in. When Bill spoke in that way his wife knew, as he said, that shed got to do it, and without a word she rose and went out, while her husband stood staring into the fire, and still patting the bull-dog in his arms. A tear falling on his hand startled him. He dropped the dog and gave it a kick, passed his sleeve across his eyes, and said angrily: Blest if I baint a crying like a gal. Whod a thawt it? Well, well, poor old Jack! he was a good mate too-and Bill Haden proceeded to light his pipe.