“Faither! Faither!” he called, terror in his voice and anxiety in his little heart, but there was no reassuring answer. He felt his breathing getting difficult; the air was thick with dust and heavy with the smell of rotting wood and damp decaying matter.
“Faither! Faither!” he called again louder in his agony, darting forward, thinking to go to their assistance, and knocking his head against a boulder.
“John! Faither! I’m feart,” and he began to cry. Afraid to move, unable to see, he staggered from one side to another, bruising his face and arms against the jagged sides, the blood already streaming from his bruises, and his heart frantic with fear.
“Oh, faither! faither! Where are ye?” and he began to crawl up the incline, in desperate fear, while still the rumbling and crashing went on in long rolling thunder. “Oh! oh!” he moaned, now almost mad with terror. “Faither! John! Where are ye! Oh! oh!” and he fell back stunned by striking his head against a low part of the roof.
Again he scrambled to his feet, certain now that some disaster had happened, since there was no response to his appeals, and again he was knocked to the ground by striking his head against the side of the roadway. But always he rose again, frantically dashing from side to side, as a caged lark, when first caught, dashes itself against the bars of its prison; until finally, stunned beyond recovery, he lay in a semi-conscious condition, helpless and inert, his bruises smarting but unfelt, and the blood oozing from his nose and mouth.
Andrew Marshall, working about fifty yards away, heard the roar and the crash, and the boy’s cries, and at once ran to Geordie’s place. In his haste and anxiety he nearly stumbled over the prostrate boy, who lay unconscious in the roadway.
“Good God! What has happened?” he exclaimed, anxiously bending over the boy and raising him up, then dashing some cold tea from Robert’s flask upon him, and forcing some between his lips. Then, when the boy showed signs of recovery, he plied him with anxious questions.
“Where’s yir faither? What’s wrang?” But the boy only clung to him in wild terror, and nothing connected could be got from him.
Andrew lighted the boy’s lamp and tore up the brae, leaving Robert shrieking in nervous fright.
“Great Christ! It has fa’en in!” he cried, when he had got as far as he could go. “Geordie! Geordie! Are ye in there?” and as no answer came, he began tearing at the great blocks of stone, flinging them like pebbles in his desperation, until another warning rumble drove him back. Immediately he realized how helpless he was alone, so he went back to the boy and hurried him down the brae and out to where some other men were at work. A few hasty words, and Robert was passed on, and Andrew went back with the men, only to find how hopeless it all was; for occasionally huge falls continued to come away, and it seemed useless to attempt anything till more help was procured.