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A Hero and Martyr.

(Boston Pitot.) Peter Woodland was the assistantengineer of the Hudson River Tunnel, a part of which caved in on the morning of July 2xst. Twenty-eight men were at work under his directions when the fatal leak was discovered. He at once gave orders to stop it if possible. It needed but a minute to see that this could not be done. He immediately stationed himself at the - door leading to the air-lock, which was the only means of egress. Instead of being the first to escape, as he might easily have done, he stood at his post helping the others out until eight of them had passed through. The ninth got caught in the doorway, anff the heavy gate, impelled by an avalanche of wood and water, swung, to, wedging him firmly between it and the door-posts. Peter Woodland, realising the situation, directed the eight men who had reached a position of comparative safety, to take off their clothes and stop up the part of the , doorway which was ; not closed by the unfortunate man’s body. This gave temporary respite to the survivors, but still the earth and water kept falling in, and it was evident that only a few minutes of life remained to all unless the compressed atmosphere in the air-lock were allowed to escape through the farther door. To open that door would be to offer, a fair chance of escape to the eight, at the cost of sure and instant, death to the twenty. The electric light in the working shaft had been - extinguished, and the men in the air-lock could see but

dimly the forms of their unfortunate friends who were almost submerged in the rapidly rising flood. Woodland was next to the door of the air-lock. This hero was a young man only thirtyfive years old. I Ie t had a happy home, a wife and two children, everything that makes life dear. Such a man at such a moment might well be pardoned l if the thought of home arid all that made life precious had tirade him forgetful of the strange men who were perishing by his side. But if was not "so with Mr. Woodland, the engineer of the Hudson River Tunnel, and 'martyr to a contractor’s ignorance .or mean- : ness. The men in the air-lock saw his face pressed against the bull’s-eye light. It was pale but calm. He made a signal to the man, and said—“ Break open the. outside bull’s-eye.”; The.men,, who knew that to obey meant instant death to the giver of the order, hesitated a . moment.; there was ; surely something of the hero, too, in those men who couldi recognise, and falter; before the sacrifice. But Woodland’s voice was heard again—“ Knock out the bull’s-eye, I say; .knock it. out.” There was no time for p'arley.' The order was obeyed. The. compressed air, , set free, the farther door moved before their united .strength,-and 7 the eight men rushed up the ladders as the flood came pouring; at their, heels., Woodland and his comrades had been suffocated at the first stroke of the breaking glass. The sacrifice made by this simp l ® hero of the tunnel was not- great, if we measure the yaW ot life by its dura- •, tion. He had Rut a few moments to y live at best; but who that realises the ‘ awfulness of impending death can doubt that those moments were dearer to him than years of quiet life to us ; T;hatr-to-abridge them by the hundreth fraction; of , a minute . .was hs, heroic a.. | sacrifice as any that the humane mind can conceive of ?. •. /Honor to ; „ Peter ■. • Woodland, the Dane,' for that he did r which the Highest Authority has pro- i nbunced the perfection of human love, i

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18801130.2.14

Bibliographic details

A Hero and Martyr., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 204, 30 November 1880

Word Count
631

A Hero and Martyr. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 204, 30 November 1880

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