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Twombley’s Tale
by [?]

I could not tell accurately how long I had been in the shaft, for I had no matches by which to see my watch. I also had no watch.

All at once, someone fell down the shaft. I knew that it was a woman, because she did not swear when she landed at the bottom. Still, this could be accounted for in another way. She was unconscious when I picked her up.

I did not know what to do, I was perfectly beside myself, and so was she. I had read in novels that when a woman became unconscious people generally chafed her hands, but I did not know whether I ought to chafe the hands of a person to whom I had never been introduced.

I could have administered alcoholic stimulants to her but I had neglected to provide myself with them when I fell down the shaft. This should be a warning to people who habitually go around the country without alcoholic stimulants.

Finally she breathed a long sigh and murmured, “where am I?” I told her that I did not know, but wherever it might be, we were safe, and that whatever she might say to me, I would promise her, should go no farther.

Then there was a long pause.

To encourage further conversation I asked her if she did not think we had been having a rather backward spring. She said we had, but she prophesied a long, open fall.

Then there was another pause, after which I offered her a seat on an old red empty powder can. Still, she seemed shy and reserved. I would make a remark to which she would reply briefly, and then there would be a pause of a little over an hour. Still it seemed longer.

Suddenly the idea of marriage presented itself to my mind. If we never got out of the shaft, of course an engagement need not be announced. No one had ever plighted his or her troth at the bottom of a prospect shaft before. It was certainly unique, to say the least. I suggested it to her.

She demurred to this on the ground that our acquaintance had been so brief, and that we had never been thrown together before. I told her that this would be no objection, and that my parents were so far away that I did not think they would make any trouble about it.

She said that she did not mind her parents so much as she did the violent temper of her husband.

I asked her if her husband had ever indulged in polygamy. She replied that he had, frequently. He had several previous wives. I convinced her that in the eyes of the law, and under the Edmunds bill, she was not bound to him. Still she feared the consequences of his wrath.

Then I suggested a desperate plan. We would elope!

I was now thirty-seven years old, and yet had never eloped. Neither had she. So, when the first streaks of rosy dawn crept across the soft, autumnal sky and touched the rich and royal coloring on the rugged sides of the grim old mountains, we got out of the shaft and eloped.