John Caldigate eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 617 pages of information about John Caldigate.
and rude water-works.  These, as the miner explained were the outward and visible signs of the world-famous ’Old Stick-in-the-Mud’ claim, which was now giving two ounces of gold to the ton of quartz, and which was at present the exclusive property of Mr. Crinkett, who had bought out the tribute shareholders and was working the thing altogether on his own bottom.  As they ascended one of those mounds of upcast stones and rubble, they could see on the other side the crushing-mills, and the engine-house, and could hear the thud, thud, thud of the great iron hammers as they fell on the quartz,—­and then, close beyond, but still among the hillocks, and surrounded on all sides by the dirt and filth of the mining operations, was Mr. Crinkett’s mansion.  ’And there’s his very self a-standing at the gate a-counting how many times the hammer falls a minute, and how much gold is a-coming from every blow as it falls.’  With this little observation as to Mr. Crinkett’s personal character, the miner made his way back to his companions.

Chapter X

Polyeuka Hall

The house which they saw certainly surprised them much, and seemed to justify the assertion just before made to them that Mr. Crinkett was a swell.  It was marvellous that any man should have contemplated the building of such a mansion in a place so little attractive, with so many houses within view.  The house and little attempted garden, together with the stables and appurtenances, may have occupied half an acre.  All around it were those hideous signs of mining operations which make a country rich in metals look as though the devil had walked over it, dragging behind him an enormous rake.  There was not a blade of grass to be seen.  As far as the eye could reach there stood those ghost-like skeletons of trees in all spots where the soil had not been turned up; but on none of them was there a leaf left, or even a branch.  Everywhere the ground was thrown about in hideous uncovered hillocks, all of which seemed to have been deserted except those in the immediate neighbourhood of Mr. Crinkett’s house.  But close around him one could see wheels turning and long ropes moving, and water running in little wooden conduits, all of which were signs of the activity going on under ground.  And then there was the never-ceasing thud, thud, thud of the crushing-mill, which from twelve o’clock on Sunday night to twelve o’clock on Saturday night, never paused for a moment, having the effect, on that vacant day, of creating a painful strain of silence upon the ears of those who were compelled to remain on the spot during the unoccupied time.  It was said that in Mr. Crinkett’s mansion every sleeper would wake from his sleep as soon as the engine was stopped, disturbed by the unwonted quiescence.

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John Caldigate from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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