DORCAS, THE SPIRIT OF POLBREEN MINE.
POLBREEN MINE is situated at the foot of the hill known as St Agnes Becon. In one of the small cottages which immediately adjoins the mine once lived a woman called Dorcas.
Beyond this we know little of her life; but we are concerned-chiefly with her death, which, we are told, was suicidal.
From some cause, which is not related, Dorcas grew weary of life, and one unholy night she left her house and flung herself into one of the deep shafts of Polbreen Mine, at the bottom of which her dead and broken body was discovered. The remnant of humanity was brought to the surface; and after the laws of the time with regard to suicides had been fulfilled, the body of Dorcas was buried.
Her presence, however, still remained in the mine. She appears, ordinarily to take a malicious delight in tormenting the industrious miner, calling him by name, and alluring him from his tasks. This was carried on by her to such an extent, that when a "tributer" had made a poor month, he was asked if he had "been chasing Dorcas." [a]
Dorcas was usually only a voice. It has been said by some that they have seen her in the mine, but this is doubted by the miners generally, who refer the spectral appearance to the fears of their "comrade."
But it is stated as an incontrovertible fact, that more than one man who has met the spirit in the levels of the mine has had his clothes torn off his back; whether in anger or in sport, is not clearly made out. On one occasion, and on one occasion only, Dorcas appears to have acted kindly. Two miners, who for distinction's sake we will call Martin and Jacky, were at work in their end, and at the time busily at work "beating the borer."
The name of Jacky was distinctly uttered between the blows. He stopped and listened--all was still. They proceeded with their task a blow on the iron rod.--" Jacky." Another blow. --
"Jacky." They pause--all is silent. "Well, thee wert called, Jacky," said Martin, "go and see."
Jacky was, however, either afraid, or he thought himself the fool of his senses.
Work was resumed, and "Jacky ! Jacky ! Jacky !" was called more vehemently and distinctly than before.
Jacky threw down his heavy hammer, and went from his companion, resolved to satisfy himself as to the caller.
He had not proceeded many yards from the spot On which he had been standing at work, when a mass of rock fell from the roof of the level, weighing many tons, which would have crushed him to death. Martin had been stooping, holding the borer, and a projecting corner of rock just above him turned off the falling mass. He was securely enclosed, and they had to dig him out, but he escaped without injury. Jacky declared to his dying day that he owed his life to Dorcas.
Although Dorcas's shaft remains a part of Polbreen Mine, I am informed by the present agent that her presence has departed.
[a] A tributer is a man who agrees with the adventurers in a mine to receive a certain share of the profits on the ore raised by him in lieu of wages. This account is settled wonthly or bi-monthly, which will explain the phrase a 'poor month."