Good News

My life settled into a somewhat peaceful pace and rhythm after the turmoil and heartache of my first year at the mine. After five years, my Aunt Rebbeca remained without humor or meaningful purpose, enclosed in her silent world but I was hopeful that with much love showed her, her mental state would improve. She did, as one could tell by her demeanour, enjoy the afternoon walks when weather permitted. Elys pushed my aunt’s bathchair along the clifftop path to a spot where they could both look out to sea and watch the Coasters and Collier merchantmen making their way, sometimes through heavy seas, toward the Lizard Point and along the south coast. Time permitting, as business was brisk, I would oft join them to wonder at the rare sight of a ship without sails – thick black smoke rising from a tall stack above its steam engine.

Elys, the young girl from the village whom I had employed to look after my aunt, became an important part of my life and proved a satisfactory guardian. Her duties became more varied as my aunt became more attuned to her surroundings. It was after some two years that I moved her into Condorrow House to become my housekeeper. Perhaps it was fate or as some might say, God’s wish, that I became fonder of Elys as time past. She blossomed into a beautiful young woman, and despite her age, for she was twenty years younger than I, I determined to romance her. However, not wishing to sully her good name, nor my reputation, I thought it best to seek an interview with her parents, both employed at the mine. With their permission to approach Elys and have that fact known around the village, I would avoid the stares and wild stories that the balmaids might spread.

It has to be said that a man seeking approval of a potential father in-law’s permission to romance a daughter is a nervous affair. Despite the fact that I was to meet with an employee, that did not make the task any easier. In fact, if anything, it made things a lot more delicate. I had employed the services of Captain Pumblewood who, through his knowledge of the minds and spoken words of the workers under his supervision, first approached Elys’ mother, Mrs. Nessa Penlerick. On that day my agitation was such that I had to leave the house for fear Elys should notice my state. I do believe though that she had suspicions of my intentions and I did see her smile and turn quickly away with red cheeks as I left the house.

I sat on the grass at the cliff’s edge and looked down at the mine. Smoke rose from the smelting house and the busy noise of hammers drifted up in the warmth of the afternoon sun. It was less than an hour later, as I reclined with closed eyes toward the sky that I heard the familiar voice of Pumblewood calling from along the cliff path. It was a sight to behold my manager’s rotund figure, carried along hastily on short, thin legs, that it was all I could do to stop myself from laughing out loud. Despite his awkward shape, his health had improved a great deal since his promise to me to stop drinking rum. His face was a better pallor and his large nose no longer showed the results of heavy drinking. The redness was gone, and his cheeks glowed pink. A trimmed white beard completed the renewed countenance of the man. Indeed, his whole appearance of crisp shirt: leather jerkin, sturdy cotton trousers, and reliable boots, gave him the suitable look of a man of responsibility.

“Mr. Jeddler,” he wheezed, on reaching me. “Mr. Jeddler, I bring you not one but two bits of good news that will give you much pleasure, although I fear just one bit might be better left until later so you can take breath and recover from the first.”

It was a new lease of life that I saw in the man and a welcome one that not only meant the mine was in good hands, but the men and women were in happier moods and production increased.

“What of Mrs. Penlerick?” I asked impatiently, rising to my feet. “You have an answer, I’m sure.”

Pumblewood clapped his hands together and laughed loudly. “Why sir, you do look anguished so much I fear you may fall with a faint on the spot.”

“Pumblewood, what of the news,” I thundered. “Do not play with my mind or you will regret doing so.” I thrust a finger into his belly.

“Dear me, sir, you are indeed in love, so I will not delay your hopes.” He drew breath and became serious. “Mr. and Mrs. Penlerick would see you tonight at your convenience.”

With heart thumping and my mind in some state of disarray, I sat again on the ground to gather my senses. The thought of being able to walk out with Elys within the community was something I looked forward to. I confess, looking back on the incident, I did react without much dignity.

Pumblewood put a hand on my shoulder. “If it pleases you, Mr, Jeddler, The other news is just as pleasing for me to impart.”

I stood again and noticed a certain look in my manager’s eye, maybe a look of pride or one of a man achieving ambition. He offered me his hand, and we shook as he pulled an open note from his pocket.

“This be from your Chairman, Mr. Edwin Malby, sir. It has been signed by all the members of the Amalgamated Tin Mine Association. Mr. Malby could not wait to see you, him having a meeting in London to attend. He wrote this note and was gracious enough to allow me to read it, on account of the fact that I shall, I hope, be much involved in the pursuance of the work that has to be done.”

His chest rose as he handed me the note and stood to my side with hands on his hips. I read the note twice, not believing my luck or what this news would mean to all my workers.

With immediate affect, should you accept this contract, the board is agreed that the natural Mullians Cove and wagon access below Condorrow mine are ideal for dealing with the new Colliers bringing coal to the mines in South-West Cornwall. On condition a safe Quay is constructed to dock and unload the ships, we award the Condorrow Mining Company the contract to unload and deliver coal to the West and South-West mines.

A line under the announcement read You will need a loan from your bank for half the cost. The board will finance the rest. We must meet next week to discuss plans. Congratulations. The note was signed by Edwin Malby, who had long since become my mentor in all things to do with the mining industry.

I hugged Pumblewood and with a spring in our step, we strode back toward Condorrow House. There had been much talk among the mine owners for three years about creating a central point of coal delivery for the smelting works at ten mines along the coast. All owners agreed that with the greater production of tin and copper, steamships that carried more coal than the sail barges were essential for keeping the smelting houses afire. With much joy between us, Pumblewood and I made for the mine to share our great fortune.




I really like this. I love the description, characterisation and story line. I really enter the world you create. The style is so in keeping with the time.. I can't imagine the story told in any other way. Beautiful.