Hope made his daughter mount a large fragment of coal we have already mentioned, and from that she sprang to the truck, and with her excitement and with her athletic power she raised herself into the full truck, and even helped her father in after her. But just as she got him on to the truck, and while he was still only on his knees, that section of the wall we have called the tank rent and gaped under Burnley’s pickaxe, and presently exploded about six feet from the ground, and a huge volume of water drove masses of earth and coal before it, and came roaring like a solid body straight at the coal truck, and drove it against the opposite wall, smashed the nearest side in, and would have thrown Grace off it like a feather, but Hope, kneeling and clinging to the side, held her like a vise.
Grace screamed violently. Immediately there was a roar of exultation outside from the hitherto silent workers; for that scream told that the woman was alive, too: the wife of the brave fellow who had won all their hearts and melted away the icy barrier of class.
Three gigantic waves struck the truck and made it quiver.
The first came half-way up; the second came full two-thirds; the third dashed the senseless body of Ben Burnley, with bleeding head and broken bones, against the very edge of the truck, then surged back with him into a whirling vortex.
Grace screamed continuously; she gave herself up now for lost; and the louder she screamed, the louder and the nearer the saving party shouted and hurrahed.
“No, do not fear,” cried Hope; “you shall not die. Love is stronger than death.”
The words were scarce out of his mouth when the point of a steel pick came clean through the stuff; another followed above it; then another, then another, and then another. Holes were made; then gaps, then larger gaps, then a mass of coal fell in; furious picks—a portion of the mine knocked away—and there stood in a red blaze of lamps held up, the gallant band roaring, shouting, working, led by a stalwart giant with bare arms, begrimed and bleeding, face smoked, hair and eyebrows black with coal-dust, and eyes flaming like red coals. He sprang with one fearless bound down to the coal-truck, and caught up his wife in his arms, and held her to his panting bosom. Ropes, ladder, everything—and they were saved; while the corpse of the assassin whirled round and round in the subsiding eddies of the black water, and as that water ran away into the mine, lay, coated with mud, at the feet of those who had saved his innocent victims.
Exert all the powers of your mind, and conceive, if you can, what that mother felt whose only son sickened, and, after racking her heart with hopes and fears, died before her eyes, and was placed in his coffin and carried to his rest. Yet One in the likeness of a man bade the bearers stand still, then, with a touch, made the coffin open, the dead come back, blooming with youth and health, and handed him to his mother.