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|The Underground City||Jules Verne|
The Dochart Pit
|Page 4 of 6||
"I cannot say," answered the young miner.
"Is it not your father?"
"My father, Mr. Starr? no."
"Some neighbor, then?"
"We have no neighbors in the bottom of the pit," replied Harry. "We are alone, quite alone."
"Well, we must let this intruder pass," said James Starr. "Those who are descending must yield the path to those who are ascending."
They waited. The voice broke out again with a magnificent burst, as if it had been carried through a vast speaking trumpet; and soon a few words of a Scotch song came clearly to the ears of the young miner.
"The Hundred Pipers!" cried Harry. "Well, I shall be much surprised if that comes from the lungs of any man but Jack Ryan."
"And who is this Jack Ryan?" asked James Starr.
"An old mining comrade," replied Harry. Then leaning from the platform, "Halloo! Jack!" he shouted.
"Is that you, Harry?" was the reply. "Wait a bit, I'm coming." And the song broke forth again.
In a few minutes, a tall fellow of five and twenty, with a merry face, smiling eyes, a laughing mouth, and sandy hair, appeared at the bottom of the luminous cone which was thrown from his lantern, and set foot on the landing of the fifteenth ladder. His first act was to vigorously wring the hand which Harry extended to him.
"Delighted to meet you!" he exclaimed. "If I had only known you were to be above ground to-day, I would have spared myself going down the Yarrow shaft!"
"This is Mr. James Starr," said Harry, turning his lamp towards the engineer, who was in the shadow.
"Mr. Starr!" cried Jack Ryan. "Ah, sir, I could not see. Since I left the mine, my eyes have not been accustomed to see in the dark, as they used to do."
"Ah, I remember a laddie who was always singing. That was ten years ago. It was you, no doubt?"
"Ay, Mr. Starr, but in changing my trade, I haven't changed my disposition. It's far better to laugh and sing than to cry and whine!"
"You're right there, Jack Ryan. And what do you do now, as you have left the mine?"
"I am working on the Melrose farm, forty miles from here. Ah, it's not like our Aberfoyle mines! The pick comes better to my hand than the spade or hoe. And then, in the old pit, there were vaulted roofs, to merrily echo one's songs, while up above ground!--But you are going to see old Simon, Mr. Starr?"
"Yes, Jack," answered the engineer.
"Don't let me keep you then."
"Tell me, Jack," said Harry, "what was taking you to our cottage to-day?"
"I wanted to see you, man," replied Jack, "and ask you to come to the Irvine games. You know I am the piper of the place. There will be dancing and singing."
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