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The Ghost of Goudy's Mine

Want me to tell you a story?
Well, perhaps if I tried, I could.
Gather here round the hearthstone,
Throw on a bit of wood.
Maybe another Christmas, you won’t have your granddad near.
Sit on the rug, you youngsters, hark if you want to here.
You know that waste dump of pit mounds, round by Madeley way?
How when I was a boy (Ah! you’re laughing).
You know that wasn’t yesterday.
That mine used to be John Goudy’s.
As dashing a swell young chap, as drove into Wellington Market.
In is own fine horse and trap.

He was left the pit by his father.
And I used to work for him there.
Then wasn’t good times for us miners, poor pay, long hours and bad beer.
Well our foreman was called Willie Cobbet, nice a chap as ever you would see.
And good looking, but somehow Willie and the boss couldn’t well agree.
You see they were both young fellows,
And the same lass they loved and wooed.
Her folks used to keep the tollgate, on the Little Dawley Road.
Her name was Annie Owen, and a sweeter lass I trow.
Never went to the Wakes at Oakengates, or even to Shrewsbury Show.
And I know she loved Willie Cobbet.
But her parents said they would make her marry young Goudy.
He who owned the mine instead.

Well, one winter Sunday, at the Brandlee Chapel gates.
(It hadn’t long been built then, and services were so late).
The lovers fell together, there was no-one in the way.
So they strolled along the wagon lines that led towards Horsehay.
The Wrekin was dim in the distance; the furnaces’ glow lit the sky.
It was just the hour, when the nameless power of the love spirit hovers nigh.

They stood in the tiny coppice near the Little Wenlock Road.
While the star shine circled round them and their eyes with love light glowed.
They were hand in hand together and her head was on his breast.
When hark! A foot behind them and a form towards them pressed.
Long looked and then passed by.
Someone with murder in his heart and hatred in his eyes.

We were all at work next Tuesday, and we noticed all that day,
That Goudy’s brow looked thunder, when Cobbett passed his way.
But our wonder turned to horror, for before that day had passed,
An awful thing had happened, filled the town with grief and dread.
Under a coal lump fallen, someone had found a man covered with gore and lifeless
Ah our grief-frozen blood scare ran.
While we mourned in our bitter anguish, as only strong men can.
For that corpse, boys, was Willie Cobbett, and the day was Christmas Eve.
I shall never forget the morning that we laid him where he lies.
In the little churchyard at Doseley and his mother’s heartbroken cries.
Each sob, that she gave, just pierced me, like a cruel daggers thrust.
When the sexton dropped the gravel, at the parson’s dust to dust.
Nor shall I forget the wedding, when cold and white as death,
I saw poor Annie Owen like one without blood or breath.
Act like one in a dream sleep, nor think of the words she said,
When she gave her hand to Goudy, whilst her heart was with the dead.
Nor can I forget that hour- (just six months had fled).
When I stood once more in the graveyard, and read from a fresh stone cut.
Ah! Heaven, I still remember, how my hot tears seeped the sod.
For she, too ill-treated, heartbroken, went back like a flower to God.
Crying now? Nonsense, darling, old men don’t cry, my pet.
It’s this hacking cough that bothers; it hasn’t quite left me yet.

Well, it was Christmas Eve, the night the corpse was found.
And next Christmas Eve, in the workings some said they heard a sound,
Like coal being pushed, and falling.
And a smothered voice that spake, (as if choked below some covering).
“Don’t kill me, for Annie’s sake.”
Then a white spectre ran before them, like a man who’s chased and scared.
I tell you, the men were frightened, but Goudy just laughed and sneered.
He seemed to have grown hard and cruel, since the night that his wife had died.
And he cursed them when they denied, well, no more of the ghost was seen,
Save on Annie’s burial day,
One said he saw it beckon to the spot where the body lay.

But the Christmas Eve I speak of, there wasn’t a soul in the pit..
But saw it except the master, (Did I? Just wait a bit), .
I was working by Jimmy Davies, and a sudden he whispers low,.
“Great snakes, Ben lad! Can’st see it?” A cold sweat bathed my brow..
I saw a spectre before me in the glimmering lantern light..
Its form was shrouded in grave clothes, and its face was deathly white..
And I saw as I looked again, an ugly scar on the forehead..
Whence the blood ran down like rain. My hair grew stiff with terror..
Whilst it’s withered white lips parted, but no cry, or sound was heard..
Then its lean hands rose in horror, as if to ward off some blow of pain..
And just like a flash it vanished, and our blood ran on again..

Each collier left his labour; they came with spade and pick.
It took a good deal, I tell you, to make them terror sick.
But there wasn’t a hand but trembled, and they vowed they’d work no more.
For old Ranter Jack, the filler, (who was versed in Goblin Lore).
Said “I tell thee, mates, be careful, thee had’st better count the cost,
Summat’s evil sure to happen, the third seeing of a ghost.”
“Stow that rant”, a stern voice shouted, it was Goudy, white with rage.
“Hang your necks, you drunken scoundrels; take your kickshaw out to cage.
“I will find tonight this spectre, if I never get to bed,
“Then the next who talks of goblins, gets a bullet through his head.”

It was Christmas Eve, I tell you, that we saw the ghost appear.
It was Christmas Eve that Goudy told us all to leave him there.
But that night the town of Dawley slept in silence, mute as death.
Scarcely moved the gentle whisper, of the night winds balmy breath.
When a loud crash shook the houses, and each sleeper at the sound.
Just as if it was the judgment, every soul sprang to the ground.
Straining eyes stared through the darkness.
Trembling hands flung back the doors and they saw midnight and darkness.
Joining earth and cloud and sky.
Goudy’s pit, one vast volcano, flaming wide and deep and high.

For one minute, through the blackness, glowed the blood red streaming glare.
Then resumed the night, her sable robe of death and dark despair.
Long amid the smoking debris, on that shadowed Christmas day,
Sought we for the corpse of Goudy, till at last we found him lay.
On the self same spot where Cobbet lay, a corpse two years before.
But if murdered man, or murderer, had been lifted from that floor.
Or if God’s own hand or Goudy’s lit that torch, no man may know.
How that dire explosion happened.
We may guess; but time will show.