By nine, the skies opened up. The pumps draining the pit were running full bore. At ten, the whistle blew, and the pit was closed for flooding. Frank was with Purdie, delivering his final message of the day, when he heard a frantic cry from the first coal cart.
“Help!! Git a crew ’ere! Crawford’s stuck under th' wheel ’n’ canna git free!”
Frank rushed over and saw Robbie Crawford with his leg crushed under a wheel. The wheels on the other side of the cart were stuck in a deep, muddy rut, and the horses couldn’t pull the cart free. Crawford was screaming in agony as the three other carters pushed the full coal cart, trying to free it but to no avail.
Frank didn’t waste a second. He ran to the side of the cart closest to Crawford, bent his knees deeply, and put his back under the cart. He put his hands up on the cart bottom and heaved with all his might. Several of the miners had been running to help, and when they saw what Frank was doing, they grabbed Crawford and managed to pull him out right before Frank’s legs gave out. He dropped the cart heavily back into the mud and fell to his knees.
By now, a full gaggle of miners were behind the cart, pushing as the drover commanded the draw horses to pull with all their might. The cart finally released, and several of the miners fell face first into the mud.
Purdie grabbed Frank under an arm and pulled him up.
“Laddie! Are ye aw richt? Ah ne’er saw a laddie o’ twelve ha’
th' brawn tae raise a cart!”
Frank looked around, not realizing fully what he had just done. Several miners were just staring at him – in awe, in disbelief…he wasn’t sure. He became very uncomfortable, stuck his hands out in the rain to clean them before wiping them on his trousers, and looked down, red-faced.
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