The Coming Race HTML version
I am a native of _____, in the United States of America. My ancestors migrated from
England in the reign of Charles II.; and my grandfather was not undistinguished in the
War of Independence. My family, therefore, enjoyed a somewhat high social position in
right of birth; and being also opulent, they were considered disqualified for the public
service. My father once ran for Congress, but was signally defeated by his tailor. After
that event he interfered little in politics, and lived much in his library. I was the eldest of
three sons, and sent at the age of sixteen to the old country, partly to complete my literary
education, partly to commence my commercial training in a mercantile firm at Liverpool.
My father died shortly after I was twenty-one; and being left well off, and having a taste
for travel and adventure, I resigned, for a time, all pursuit of the almighty dollar, and
became a desultory wanderer over the face of the earth.
In the year 18__, happening to be in _____, I was invited by a professional engineer, with
whom I had made acquaintance, to visit the recesses of the ________ mine, upon which
he was employed.
The reader will understand, ere he close this narrative, my reason for concealing all clue
to the district of which I write, and will perhaps thank me for refraining from any
description that may tend to its discovery.
Let me say, then, as briefly as possible, that I accompanied the engineer into the interior
of the mine, and became so strangely fascinated by its gloomy wonders, and so interested
in my friend's explorations, that I prolonged my stay in the neighbourhood, and
descended daily, for some weeks, into the vaults and galleries hollowed by nature and art
beneath the surface of the earth. The engineer was persuaded that far richer deposits of
mineral wealth than had yet been detected, would be found in a new shaft that had been
commenced under his operations. In piercing this shaft we came one day upon a chasm
jagged and seemingly charred at the sides, as if burst asunder at some distant period by
volcanic fires. Down this chasm my friend caused himself to be lowered in a 'cage,'
having first tested the atmosphere by the safety-lamp. He remained nearly an hour in the
abyss. When he returned he was very pale, and with an anxious, thoughtful expression of
face, very different from its ordinary character, which was open, cheerful, and fearless.
He said briefly that the descent appeared to him unsafe, and leading to no result; and,
suspending further operations in the shaft, we returned to the more familiar parts of the
All the rest of that day the engineer seemed preoccupied by some absorbing thought. He
was unusually taciturn, and there was a scared, bewildered look in his eyes, as that of a
man who has seen a ghost. At night, as we two were sitting alone in the lodging we
shared together near the mouth of the mine, I said to my friend,-