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The next morning Derrick went down to the mine as usual. There were several things he wished to do in these last two days. He had heard that the managers had entered into negotiations with a new engineer, and he wished the man to find no half-done work. The day was bright and frosty, and the sharp, bracing air seemed to clear his brain. He felt more hopeful, and less inclined to view matters darkly.

He remembered afterward that, as he stepped into the cage, he turned to look at the unpicturesque little town, brightened by the winter's sun; and that, as he went down, he glanced up at the sky and marked how intense appeared the bit of blue, which was framed in by the mouth of the shaft.

Even in the few hours that had elapsed since the meeting the rumor of what he had said and done had been bruited about. Some collier had heard it and had told it to his comrades, and so it had gone from one to the other. It had been talked over at the evening and morning meal in divers cottages, and many an anxious woman had warmed into praise of the man who had "had a thowt for th' men."

In the first gallery he entered he found a deputation of men awaiting him, a group of burly miners with picks and shovels over their shoulders,—and the head of this deputation, a spokesman burlier and generally gruffer than the rest, stopped him.