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Page 4

    The doors to the Movie House swung open. "Who's making all that racket out here."

    "Mr. Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins. The miners haven't come home, and I can't find mother, and Chester's not at his farm, and I-"

    "Simmer down, Little Ned. You're going to bust a gut. Tell me what's wrong."

    I caught my breath and told Mr. Jenkins the whole story, slowly. He scratched his head. "Hmmm. I didn't hear the alarm whistle go off at the mine. Did you? But, to be on the safe side, and set your little heart at ease, let's motor up the mountain."

    I jumped in Mr. Jenkins' truck, slid on top my special pillow so I could see out the windows, and off we went. The truck pointed up to the darkening sky as we jiggled along the bumpety, curvy road. My little heart raced like it did on Christmas Eve before we opened presents. I was going to the mine.

Mr. Jenkins slammed on the brakes. "We're here!" He jumped to the ground and walked to a shack and swung open the door. I quickly followed. "Hey, anybody home... Alvah, you been asleep. Where's the bossman?"

    Old sleepy-eyed Alvah came to the door. "Shut my mouth, what are you two doing here."

    "Little Ned and I came up to see if everything's okay. We ain't seen hide nor hair of the miners this fine evening."

    Alvah stared at us for awhile. "What are you talking about?"

    I looked around the yard and all I saw were little train cars loaded with coal. "Where are the miners?" I asked.

    "They's gone home I reckon. You don't see 'em, do you."

    Mr. Jenkins was looking around, too. "No, we don't see them, and that's the problem. Where's the bossman."

    "Oh, he and Jake left hours ago." Alvah yawned. "You been over to the mine shaft lately?" Mr. Jenkins asked. "Let's go take a look. Come on, Little Ned, stick close to me."

    We walked toward a little red barn next to a hill. It just had to be the mine, lumps of coal, small lumps, big lumps lay on the crunchy black ground.
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