Mag flew down the brae to the pit almost running, while Leebie and other neighbors looked after her with a strange dread at their hearts.
When Mag arrived at the pit she asked a boy if Walker was up the pit yet for his breakfast.
“I dinna’ think so,” replied the boy. “He’s kind o’ late this mornin’; but there’s the bell chappit three,” he said as the signal was made from the bottom that men were about to come up. “That’ll likely be him coming up.”
The boy had no sooner spoken, than with a mad rush Mag darted forward, and opening the gates at the “low scaffold,” where no one was near, being situated below the pit-head proper, with a loud scream she hurled herself down the shaft.
“God Almichty!” roared the engineman who saw all from the engine house, as he rushed out of the door, calling to the pit-head workers. “Mag Robertson has flung hersel’ doon the shank!” and immediately all was consternation.
The engine keeper had just been in the act of signaling down to Walker, who was ready to ascend when he saw the flying figure dart forward and fling herself into the yawning abyss.
Walker, standing at the foot of the shaft waiting for the answering signal from above, heard the noise and the rush of Mag’s body as it bumped from side to side in its mad descent, and starting back, he was just in time to get clear as the mangled mass of rags and blood and pulpy flesh fell with a loud splashy thud at the bottom, the blood spattering and “jauping” him and the bottomer, and blinding their eyes as it flew all over them.
“In the name o’ Heavens what’s that?” yelled Walker, screaming in terror and jumping aside from the bloody upturned face, with the wide, staring eyes, which he seemed to recognize, as the other parts of the body lay about, still quivering and twitching, and a horrible sickness came over him and terror flooded his mind.
“Bell, three, quick!” cried Walker, frantic with desperation in his voice. “Bell three, dammit. An’ let us up out o’ here. Hurry up, hell to you,” and he drew the bell himself, and without waiting on the signal back from above, jumped into the cage, averting his face from those horrible eyes, which lay staring at him out of the darkness.
“Chap it awa’, man!” he yelled at the bottomer, his voice rising to a scream. “Chap it, an’ let us up to hell oot o’ this,” and the bottomer, no less frightened than he, tore at the bell, and jumping in himself just as the cage began slowly to ascend, clung to the bar, shivering with terror.
BLACK JOCK’S END
When Walker reached the surface, he was like a madman. He raved and swore and frothed like a churn, running here, there and everywhere nearly collapsing with rage, which sprang from terror.
Usually cool and calculating, steady and active-minded, he seemed to have lost all grip upon himself. He had been drinking heavily the night before and was none too sober in the morning when he was called upon to go to work. Mag Robertson’s attack the night before had sent him to the drink, and being a heavy drinker he was in a bad state the following morning. Mr. Rundell found him swearing and raving in a great passion, sacking men and behaving like a maniac.