The moment the engineer set foot on the platform at the end of his journey, the young man advanced towards him.
"Are you Harry Ford?" asked the engineer quickly.
"Yes, Mr. Starr."
"I should not have known you, my lad. Of course in ten years you have become a man!"
"I knew you directly, sir," replied the young miner, cap in hand. "You have not changed. You look just as you did when you bade us good-by in the Dochart pit. I haven't forgotten that day."
"Put on your cap, Harry," said the engineer. "It's pouring, and politeness needn't make you catch cold."
"Shall we take shelter anywhere, Mr. Starr?" asked young Ford.
"No, Harry. The weather is settled. It will rain all day, and I am in a hurry. Let us go on."
"I am at your orders," replied Harry.
"Tell me, Harry, is your father well?"
"Very well, Mr. Starr."
"And your mother?"
"She is well, too."
"Was it your father who wrote telling me to come to the Yarrow shaft?"
"No, it was I."
"Then did Simon Ford send me a second letter to contradict the first?" asked the engineer quickly.
"No, Mr. Starr," answered the young miner.
"Very well," said Starr, without speaking of the anonymous letter. Then, continuing, "And can you tell me what you father wants with me?"
"Mr. Starr, my father wishes to tell you himself."
"But you know what it is?"
"I do, sir."
"Well, Harry, I will not ask you more. But let us get on, for I'm anxious to see Simon Ford. By-the-bye, where does he live?"
"In the mine."
"What! In the Dochart pit?"
"Yes, Mr. Starr," replied Harry.
"Really! has your family never left the old mine since the cessation of the works?"
"Not a day, Mr. Starr. You know my father. It is there he was born, it is there he means to die!"
"I can understand that, Harry. I can understand that! His native mine! He did not like to abandon it! And are you happy there?"
"Yes, Mr. Starr," replied the young miner, "for we love one another, and we have but few wants."
"Well, Harry," said the engineer, "lead the way."
And walking rapidly through the streets of Callander, in a few minutes they had left the town behind them.
CHAPTER III THE DOCHART PIT
HARRY FORD was a fine, strapping fellow of five and twenty. His grave looks, his habitually passive expression, had from childhood been noticed among his comrades in the mine. His regular features, his deep blue eyes, his curly hair, rather chestnut than fair, the natural grace of his person, altogether made him a fine specimen of a lowlander. Accustomed from his earliest days to the work of the mine, he was strong and hardy, as well as brave and good. Guided by his father, and impelled by his own inclinations, he had early begun his education, and at an age when most lads
are little more than apprentices, he had managed to make himself of some importance, a leader, in fact, among his fellows, and few are very ignorant in a country which does all it can to remove ignorance. Though, during the first years of his youth, the pick was never out of Harry's hand, nevertheless the young miner was not long in acquiring sufficient knowledge to raise him into the upper class of the miners, and he would certainly have succeeded his father as overman of the Dochart pit, if the colliery had not been abandoned.
James Starr was still a good walker, yet he could not easily have kept up with his guide, if the latter had not slackened his pace. The young man, carrying the engineer's bag, followed the left bank of the river for about a mile. Leaving its winding course, they took a road under tall, dripping trees. Wide fields lay on either side, around isolated farms. In one field a herd of hornless cows were quietly grazing; in another sheep with silky wool, like those in a child's toy sheep fold.
The Yarrow shaft was situated four miles from Callander. Whilst walking, James Starr could not but be struck with the change in the country. He had not seen it since the day when the last ton of Aberfoyle coal had been emptied into railway trucks to be sent to Glasgow.