"Well, I shall be much surprised if that comes from the lungs of any man but Jack Ryan."
"And who is this Jack Ryan?" asked James Starr.
"An old mining comrade," replied Harry. Then leaning from the platform, "Halloo! Jack!" he shouted.
"Is that you, Harry?" was the reply. "Wait a bit, I'm coming." And the song broke forth again.
In a few minutes, a tall fellow of five and twenty, with a merry face, smiling eyes, a laughing mouth, and sandy hair, appeared at the bottom of the luminous cone which was thrown from his lantern, and set foot on the landing of the fifteenth ladder. His first act was to vigorously wring the hand which Harry extended to him.
"Delighted to meet you!" he exclaimed. "If I had only known you were to be above ground to-day, I would have spared myself going down the Yarrow shaft!"
"This is Mr. James Starr," said Harry, turning his lamp towards the engineer, who was in the shadow.
"Mr. Starr!" cried Jack Ryan. "Ah, sir, I could not see. Since I left the mine, my eyes have not been accustomed to see in the dark, as they used to do."
"Ah, I remember a laddie who was always singing. That was ten years ago. It was you, no doubt?"
"Ay, Mr. Starr, but in changing my trade, I haven't changed my disposition. It's far better to laugh and sing than to cry and whine!"
"You're right there, Jack Ryan. And what do you do now, as you have left the mine?"
"I am working on the Melrose farm, forty miles from here. Ah, it's not like our Aberfoyle mines! The pick comes better to my hand than the spade or hoe. And then, in the old pit, there were vaulted roofs, to merrily echo one's songs, while up above ground!--But you are going to see old Simon, Mr. Starr?"
"Yes, Jack," answered the engineer.
"Don't let me keep you then."
"Tell me, Jack," said Harry, "what was taking you to our cottage to-day?"
"I wanted to see you, man," replied Jack, "and ask you to come to the Irvine games. You know I am the piper of the place. There will be dancing and singing."
"Thank you, Jack, but it's impossible."
"Yes; Mr. Starr's visit will last some time, and I must take him back to Callander."
"Well, Harry, it won't be for a week yet. By that time Mr. Starr's visit will be over, I should think, and there will be nothing to keep you at the cottage."
"Indeed, Harry," said James Starr, "you must profit by your friend Jack's invitation."
"Well, I accept it, Jack," said Harry. "In a week we will meet at Irvine."
"In a week, that's settled," returned Ryan. "Good-by, Harry! Your servant, Mr. Starr. I am very glad to have seen you again! I can give news of you to all my friends. No one has forgotten you, sir."
"And I have forgotten no one," said Starr.
"Thanks for all, sir," replied Jack.
"Good-by, Jack," said Harry, shaking his hand. And Jack Ryan, singing as he went, soon disappeared in the heights of the shaft, dimly lighted by his lamp.
A quarter of an hour afterwards James Starr and Harry descended the last ladder, and set foot on the lowest floor of the pit.
From the bottom of the Yarrow shaft radiated numerous empty galleries. They ran through the wall of schist and sandstone, some shored up with great, roughly-hewn beams, others lined with a thick casing of wood. In every direc-
tion embankments supplied the place of the excavated veins. Artificial pillars were made of stone from neighboring quarries, and now they supported the ground, that is to say, the double layer of tertiary and quaternary soil, which formerly rested on the seam itself. Darkness now filled the galleries, formerly lighted either by the miner's lamp or by the electric light, the use of which had been introduced in the mines.
"Will you not rest a while, Mr. Starr?" asked the young man.
"No, my lad," replied the engineer, "for I am anxious to be at your father's cottage."
"Follow me then, Mr. Starr. I will guide you, and yet I daresay you could find your way perfectly well through this dark labyrinth."
"Yes, indeed! I have the whole plan of the old pit still in my head."
Harry, followed by the engineer, and holding his lamp high the better to light their way, walked along a high gallery, like the nave of a cathedral.