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its contents shot out to serve towards the
further extension of the bank.

I was a driver for more than a fortnight,
during which time my clothes were torn to
ribbons. In the course of my third week I
did that which I had seen other unfortunates
do,—I drove horse and truck together with
the earth, over the tip-head.

Forfeiting my wages and my situation, I
trudged to Watford tunnel, which I reached
on the same evening; and, next morning
at day-break I was descending one of the
great shafts, a candidate for subterranean
labour. I rose in the world afterwards; but
my rise dates from this descent.

The man to whom I had engaged myself
was a sub contractor of the fourth degree
Frazer, by name, a thorough Yorkshireman
who never spoke without an oath, was
never heard even to call man, woman, or
child by Christian name; whose only
varieties of expression were that when he was
in a bad humour he swore at others, when in
a good humour he cursed himself. My job
under this man, was bucket-steering. Placed
upon the projecting ledge of a scaffold some
eighty feet above the level of the rails in the
tunnel, and one or two hundred feet below
the surface of the earth, while bricklayers,
masons, and labourers were busy upon the
brickwork of the shaft above, below and
round me, while torches and huge fires in
cressets were blazing everywhere. I was, in
the midst of the din and smoke, to steer
clear of the scaffold the descending earth-
buckets one of which dropped under my
notice every three minutes at the least. This
duty demanding vigilant attention, I had to
perform for an unbroken shift (as it was
termed) of six hours at a stretch.

"Look thou," said Frazer with an oath,
when giving me instructions, "you just do
like this." I was to clasp a pole with my
left arm, hang over the abyss, and steady the
buckets with a stick held out in my right
hand. "Do like this," he repeated, swearing,
"but mind, if you fall, go clean down without
doing any mischief. Last night I'd to
pay for a new trowel that the little fool
who was killed yesterday knocked out of a
fellow's hand." The little fool was the poor
lad whom I replaced, and as I afterwards
learned, was a runaway watchmaker's apprentice
out of Coventry, who had been worked for
three successive shifts without relief, and
who had fallen down the shaft from sheer
exhaustion. And, before I knocked off my
first shift, I was not surprised at his fate. I
was so thoroughly exhausted that Frazer put
me into the bucket, and gave orders to a man
to bear a hand with me to Sanders's fuddling
crib, and let me have a pitch in for an hour,
and a pint.

Sanders's fuddling crib was a double hovel,
situated nearly at the foot of the shaft. The
"pitch in" with which I was to be indulged
was a lie-down on a mattress, of which there
were several; nearly all of them occupied
by men and boys more or less exhausted.
I slept for six hours, and awoke refreshed;
but, no sooner was it discovered that I
was awake, than I was told to "scuttle
out," which I did quickly, and my bed was
instantly filled by another over-wearied
worker. "Now get your pint," said the old
wooden-legged man who had charge of this
sleeping accommodation. I was ushered into
the other section of the hovel in which there
were some thirty men drinking, smoking
and swearing in true navigator style, before a
bar established for the sale of beer. I did
not get my pint, for I eschewed beer; but
bargained it away with a man for a drink of
coffee from his bottle. It was strong and
warm, for the bottle had been standing on
the hot stone hearth; the very smell of the
coffee was inspiriting, and I was on the point
of putting the bottle to my lips when it was
dashed from my hands by a huge fellow, who
rushed past us to the fire, exclaiming,

"Hist! hist! Red Whipper's a gwain to
fight the devil!"

I looked round. Seated on one of the
benches about half-way down the hut was a
man who had fallen asleep over his beer.
He wore a loose red serge frock and red
night-cap, the peak of which appeared through
a newspaper which had been thrust over his
head, and hung down to his knees. A
momentary hush prevailed; when the man who
had knocked down my coffee, returning with
a light, set fire to the paper. Red Whipper
was instantly enveloped in flame, and started
from his sleep in fierce alarm, throwing his
arms about him like a madman. This joke
was called fighting the devil. It led to a
general scuffle, in the midst of which I made
my escape into the wilder, though more
reasonable, turmoil of the tunnel. There
was no day there and no peace: the shrill
roar of escaping steam; the groans of
mighty engines heaving ponderous loads
of earth to the surface; the click-clack of
lesser engines pumping dry the numerous
springs by which the drift was intersected;
the reverberating thunder of the small blasts
of powder fired upon the mining works; the
rumble of trains of trucks; the clatter of
horses' feet; the clank of chains; the strain
of cordage; and a myriad of other sounds,
accordant and discordant. There were to
be seen miners from Cornwall, drift-borers
from Wales, pitmen from Staffordshire and
Northumberland, engineers from Yorkshire
and Lancashire, navviesEnglishmen, Scotchmen,
and Irishmenfrom everywhere, muck-
shifters, pickmen, barrowmen, brakes-men,
banksmen, drivers, gaffers, gangers, carpenters,
bricklayers, labourers, and boys of all
sorts, ages and sizes; some engaged upon the
inverts beneath the rails, some upon the
drains below these, some upon the extension
of the drifts, some clearing away the falling
earth, some loading it upon the trucks, some

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