Still the man ignored him.
Trethewy had come within a dozen yards of him, and again he called out a warning.
Now the man turned, and Trethewy stopped dead in his tracks. He knew the man after all.
But this was not as he was now, but as he had been thirty or more years ago.
'John Thomas!' he gasped. 'You!'
While these words were being forced from his throat, the figure raised its right arm and
pointed with its finger over the edge of the pit.
'What is it then, lad?' Trethewy asked, and found himself approaching against his will.
He was near enough to touch the figure now. 'What is it?' he asked again.
Gesturing with what seemed to be impatience, the figure looked him full in the face, its
eyes shining, its brow creased with an expression of anger; and even as Trethewy peered back at
it, slowly it began to dissolve and disappear, until only the hand with the finger pointing
downwards remained, disembodied. Then it, too, vanished.
If Trethewy lacked the learning of Tom Blower, he was not entirely devoid of
commonsense. Throwing himself down at full length, he worked his way carefully towards the
crumbling edge of the pit, but when he could see the bottom there was nothing but stones and
clumps of coarse grass.
He was never able afterwards to explain why he called out, 'Hallo, is there anyone down
And then he received another shock, for faintly there came up to him a cry, 'Help! It's
me, John Thomas of Sancreed. Help!'
Trethewy pushed himself a little farther out, and now he could see, right up under the wall
of the pit's side, the figure of a man lying, and what was more he recognized him as his neighbor,
John Thomas, not as he was thirty years ago, but as he had last seen him in Sancreed inn nine
'It's me, James Trethewy,' he called down. 'I'm going to fetch help. We'll be back in no
He scrambled to his feet and despite his paunch, he ran all the two miles to Sancreed. He
had some difficulty in persuading his neighbors that he had spoken to John Thomas, but they
could not deny that he had seen him at the bottom of the pit.
'We can't leave his corpse there,' they said, 'otherwise the old man will haunt us for the
rest of our lives.'
So they fetched ropes, and marched out to the pit. There they lowered two men with
ropes, and when they heard the voices of the men excitedly calling up to them, 'He's alive!
James was right! He's alive!' no one could have been more surprised.
William Moore of Redruth gave the first account of this strange event in a letter to the
Arminian Magazine, which was published within a month of its taken place, on 22 January, 1784.
Mr. Moore had taken the trouble to travel to Sancreed to interview Thomas and his friends before
he wrote his description. He concluded his letter:
'As Thomas had been there in the pit more than eight days, he was very low when he was
got out; but is now in a fair way to do well, his legs mending amazingly for so old a gentleman.
In the bottom of the pit, near to where he fell, he found a small current of water; which he drank
freely of. This, in all likelihood, was the means of keeping him alive.'
There were few in Sancreed, however, who would credit this. 'He has pickled himself
over the years,' they said. 'That's what kept him alive.'