The hero of this story is a boy, who, in order to assist his mother, works as "breaker" in a coal mine. The book tells how coal miners work; their social condition; their hardships and privations; and the older reader will get an excellent idea of the causes of labor troubles in this industry, and will become more sympathetic toward this class of people. The young readers will find in this book a high ideal of a boy's devotion to his mother, and will learn how manly courage and a brave heart will overcome great difficulties, and lead to success and honor.
"I ain't so sure of that. Did you know what they were going to do?"
"I had a mighty strong s'picion."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Then I'd got a thumping. I wanted you to hurry out with me?"
By this time the work had begun, and the noise was so great that conversation could be indulged in only at the expense of considerable shouting. Fred's hands, sore from the previous day's labor, were cut anew in many places, and more than one piece of slate was marked with his blood as he threw it among the refuse.
The "gang," as Fred termed his enemies, gave no sign of carrying the threat previously made into execution. The watchful eyes of the breaker boss prevented them from idling, and nothing occurred to arouse the new boy's suspicions until just before the noon-day whistle sounded, when a piece of board, thrown while Donovan was not looking, fell at Fred's feet.
At first he believed the intention was to hit him with the missile; but when the stream of coal ceased to flo