A Mile High and a Mile Deep


Wyllis Cooper

Sunday, August 17, 1947
10:10-10:30 PM EDST (Network)

Monday, August 18, 1947
10:00-10:30 PM EDST (WOR)

Fri. Aug. 15, 2:00-5:00 PM Studio 15
Sun. Aug. 17, 8:00-10:00 PM Studio 15

CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.


CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.


ANNCR: Your story for tonight, written and directed by Wyllis Cooper, and 
featuring Ernest Chappell, is called "A Mile High and a Mile Deep"



LINCOLN: How old would you say I am, partner?

I bet you wouldn't guess in a million years.

This beard would fool you, I s'pose. Quite a set of whiskers. You'd probably 
guess me around sixty, sixty-five.

Well, I'm not sixty, sixty-five, partner.

Can't guess, huh?

Well, I'll tell you. I'm thirty-four.

(HE LAUGHS) Wouldn't think it, would you?

Practically everybody where I come from wears a beard.


Silver Bow County.

Butte, Montana. Mile high and a mile deep.

Why, the city of Butte is almost exactly a mile above sea-level. And the 
copper-mines go down through the solid rock of the Bitteroot Mountains more 
than a mile.

Mile high, mile deep - get it?

See, this mountain that Butte sits on was pretty near solid copper once. Still 
a lot of it there, but in seventy or eighty years, they've cleaned out a lot, 

That mountain's like a honeycomb now, with drifts and stopes and tunnels 
and crosscuts going every which way down under. Miles and miles of tunnels, 
bored out of living rock at about a million levels. Used to have a joke they'd 
tell visitors that went down in the mines: "where's the nearest saloon?" one 
fellow'd say, and the other'd come right back. "One mile from here," he'd say. 
"One mile, straight up." True, too. Gives you a funny feeling, doesn't it.

If you're underground you can think about the people up top, riding around in 
their automobiles, buying groceries, talking to people - all that, and never 
giving you a thought maybe. And if you're walking down Broadway Mercury St. 
Arizona St. you could maybe give your imagination a workout thinking about 
guys in hard hats 'way down there in the bowels of the mountains, pecking away 
at the seams of copper with seventeen thousand million billion tons of rock 
pressing down on 'em, and the heat sucking the sweat out of 'em and turning 
'em into rags ... yeah. I should say so.


Oh, it's different today. The mines are air-conditioned now mostly. They've 
got ventilating plants three-quarters of a mile underground that'd serve a 
town of two thousand. Great big rooms full of machinery forty-fifty feet high, 
and every bit of it brought down piece by little piece, down a shaft maybe as 
big as your kitchen door.

You'd be surprised what men and machinery can do, partner. (A PAUSE) And then 
again you'd be surprised by what men and machinery can't do. A mile 

I found out.

I'll say I found out.

I found out the hard way, partner.


LINCOLN: I wish you didn't have that light on.

It hurts my eyes.

See, there isn't much light down there in the copper mines. Some places there 
isn't any light at all.


LINCOLN: Some places there's just hot, heavy darkness.

And silence.

Like a grave.

Only in a grave there's a nice heavy coffin to keep the earth from pressing 
down on you.

Down there, there's nothing. Just the naked rocks.

And they're awful close.


LINCOLN: You know, it's a curious thing. There isn't much of the earth's 
surface that people haven't seen. Sure, there's a few blank spots on the map, 
but throughout the millions of years the earth's been here, people have 
learned a lot about the outside. They've even got a pretty fair knowledge of 
what's down in the ocean. But the inside of the earth: you don't know much 
about that, do you? See, the earth's about eight thousand miles from one side 
to the other. And a few people have been down maybe a mile, a mile and a half. 
The deepest mine in the world is just a scratch on the surface.

The rest is a mystery.

There's a few people who have a pretty good idea what the rest of it's like.

There's ... maybe a half a dozen who know.

Me, for instance.

I know.

That's what I wanted to tell you about.


It was January 26th, 1932.

It doesn't seem like sixteen years ago.

It seems like six hundred.

My father was assistant superintendent of one of the big mines, and I had 
pretty much the run of the place. They used to let me guide parties of 
tourists down below; take 'em down and answer all the silly questions, see 
they didn't get lost or smacked by a car load of ore or lose a shoe in the 
mud...you know.

I knew that mine pretty well; about as well as anybody. Nobody, though, knows 
all the passageways down there. I told you there's hundreds of miles of 'em 
that are known. Also, there's some that nobody knows about.


I'd had a party down at the 3700 foot level. Eight of 'em, I remember; four 
women and four men, politicians and their wives from Pennsylvania. And Louie 
Sullivan was with me. Lad about my age that I used to run around with. His 
first time underground. I'd asked him to come along half a dozen times, but he 
always turned me down. Claustrophobia, isn't that what you call it? Fear of 
enclosed spaces? Yeh.

I can still see Louie, standing there with a raincoat on (it's damp down 
there, you know) and a hard hat with a miner's lamp on it, breathing through 
his mouth and the sweat pouring down his face as I dropped the gate on the 
cage and rang the signal to take it away.


LOUIE: Hey, wait - ain't we going?

LINCOLN: Ah, the cage's pretty full, Louie.


LINCOLN: It'll be right down again.

LOUIE: I don't like this, Link.

LINCOLN: (LAUGHS) Ah, cut it out, Louie.

LOUIE: Can't breathe down here.

LINCOLN: Keep your shirt on; we'll be out in a few minutes.

LOUIE: And I don't like the cage, either.

LINCOLN: Well, it's the only way to get out.

LOUIE: It goes too fast.

LINCOLN: You'll get used to it.

LOUIE: Not me. You're never going to get me down here again. How long before 
the cage'll be down again?

LINCOLN: Few minutes. Oh, say, you want to see something?

LOUIE: See what?

LINCOLN: The Indian writing?

LOUIE: What Indian writing?

LINCOLN: Over here in this cross-cut.

LOUIE: I don't want to see it.

LINCOLN: Come on; we got time. You ought to see it.

LOUIE: What is it?

LINCOLN: Nobody knows. When they headed in this cross-cut about eight years 
ago they busted right into a tunnel that was already there.

LOUIE: What?

LINCOLN: Yeh. Can you imagine that? 3700 feet underground, a blind tunnel - 

LOUIE: You're crazy.

LINCOLN: I'm telling you. And Indian writing is on the wall.

LOUIE: I don't believe it.

LINCOLN: Come on and look. It's right here.

LOUIE: I'll take your word for it, Link.

LINCOLN: No, no kidding. I won't let you get lost. Come on.

LOUIE: Well - you go first.

LINCOLN: Light your lamp, there's no light in there.

LOUIE: Listen, Link - 

LINCOLN: (AWAY A LITTLE) Come on, come on. The cage'll be back down in a 

LOUIE: (SUDDENLY PANICKY) Hey, wait! Wait for me!

LINCOLN: (OFF) Well, come on!

LOUIE: Where are you? Where are you - 

LINCOLN: (OFF) Here! Come on!

LOUIE: (SCRAMBLES OVER ROCKS A LITTLE WAY) Gee, don't go away like that, Link!

LINCOLN: (CLOSER) Light your lamp. Here, I'll light it. Hold still.


LINCOLN: That's my last match. There. Okay?

LOUIE: I don't like this place.

LINCOLN: Picture's right here.

LOUIE: Where?

LINCOLN: Here, down close to the floor. See?


LINCOLN: See? The face?

LOUIE: Yeah. It's ... horrible.

LINCOLN: Flames?

LOUIE: People.

LINCOLN: Yeh. Kind of scary.

LOUIE: Did - did you say they found the place like this?

LINCOLN: Busted right into it.

LOUIE: How could anybody get in here to draw those pictures?

LINCOLN: I don't know.


LINCOLN: Nobody knows. (A PAUSE) Must've been a passage of some kind up to the 
surface at one time, I s'pose.

LOUIE: What - what d'you suppose it means?

LINCOLN: I don't know.

LOUIE: Where does this tunnel go?

LINCOLN: I'm going to find out some day.

LOUIE: Hasn't anybody ever been down there?

LINCOLN: You couldn't get one of these miners to go down there for a million 

LOUIE: Nor me.

LINCOLN: Well, I'm going to explore it some day, by golly.

LOUIE: Well, you can do it some other day. Let's get out of here.

LINCOLN: Why don't you come with me when I do it, Louie?

LOUIE: Listen, Link, if I ever get out of here you're never going to get me 
down here again. Not never.

LINCOLN: Don't be such a sap.

LOUIE: Come on, let's go. I got a bellyful. I'm scared.

LINCOLN: What are you scared of? What's there to be scared of down here?


LINCOLN: Sure. What was there to be scared of? The entrance to the lighted 
drift we'd just come from was only twenty feet away. The cage to take us back 
to the surface would be there in a couple of seconds. I stepped around a fall 
of rock that I knew like I knew the back of my hand and there was the mouth of 
the passage. But it wasn't the right mouth. There was nothing out there but 
blackness. Thick, crawling blackness that plucked at the feeble lights in our 
hats. And there was a wind blowing. There shouldn't have been any wind. And 
then Louie Sullivan yelled at me.

LOUIE: (OFF) Link! My light's going out!

LINCOLN: And I said don't be silly these lights can't go out. But the light on 
his hat flickered and died. And then my light went out, too.


LINCOLN: Sixteen years ago this coming 26th of January. Little kids that were 
just out of their didies then have grown up and gone away to that war you had, 
and come back heroes. Girls that were still in their didies have kids of their 
own now. People that were what you might call in the prime of life then have 
died of old age since. And I haven't seen - well, I'll tell you about that in 
a minute.

You want to know what happened down there that afternoon, two-thirds of a mile 
below where the snow was falling and the people were going about their 

Maybe you might have been in Butte that Tuesday afternoon. You'd remember the 
headlines in the Standard-Post about me, Lincoln Pendarvis, Junior, son of the 
well-known mining executive, and Louis W. Sullivan, son of Mr. and Mrs. 
Vincent de Paul Sullivan, about us being lost.

I heard about the search for us.

It was one of the biggest, most frantic searches in the history of Butte.

It went on for weeks, almost.

They scoured every inch of the workings.

Except the tunnel where the Indian pictures were. You couldn't get those 
superstitious miners to go in there. 

And, of course, they never found us.


LINCOLN: I don't want to get excited and emotional about this, partner. 

It would be so easy to; and maybe before I get through, I may blow my top. If 
I do, you just go along with me, and listen. I don't know whether you're going 
to believe all this or not. I don't particularly care. I've got something to 
get off my chest, and that's what I'm up to. You can flip off your radio when 
I get done and say "that guy's nuts" if you want to. It isn't going to make a 
particle of difference to me. I happen to believe what I'm telling you, 
because I've seen it, but you make up your own mind. Only thing is, I want you 
to remember that I didn't get excited and holler at you, and try to scare you. 
So take it or leave it, partner. I'll personally feel a good tell better for 
having told you, and that's enough.

So our lights went out.

So we weren't where we thought we were at all.

We were lost, 3700 feet down in the earth.

And I'm scared, only I know that if I let Louie know I'm scared there's going 
to be trouble, the way he is. So I said give me a match, Louie, I said, and 
I'll light our lamps again. 

LOUIE: I haven't got any matches.

LINCOLN: And I remember that the match I used before was my last one, and so I 
didn't say anything for a minute, and pretty soon Louie began to cry in the 


LINCOLN: And I tried to shut him up. I said, hey, cut it out, Louie, they'll 
be down here after us in no time. And Louie kept right on crying, and I said, 
Louie do you hear me we'll be out of here before dark and we'll ride over to 
Meaderville and we'll have a big Italian dinner, I said. I said we'll have 
spaghetti and some of that hot sausage with peppers, and we'll have a big veal 
cutlet and ravioli, and we'll get Dominick to break out a bottle of Barbera, 
and all the time I'm talking I'm getting hungrier and hungrier, and Louie's 
sitting there in the dark kind of crying

LOUIE: Mamma ...

LINCOLN: and I go on talking about food and red wine and stuff, and pretty 
soon I notice Louie isn't crying any more, and I stop and listen


LINCOLN: and I figure I've talked him out of his crying for a while and I say 
how's about it, Louie? You go for that, huh? That Meaderville business?


LINCOLN: Louie ...



LINCOLN: Louie! (PAUSE) Louie! Say something, will you? Has the guy fainted? 
Louie! Where are you? (PAUSE) Listen, Louie, don't do that to me! I can hear 
you breathing - 

TOM: That isn't Louie you hear, son.



TOM: Tom.


TOM: Tom McDonald.

LINCOLN: Tom McDonald! Where did you come from, Tom?

TOM: Back there.

LINCOLN: Where's Louie?

TOM: He went back there.

LINCOLN: Back where? Down the tunnel?

TOM: Mm-hm.

LINCOLN: By himself?

TOM: Mm-hm.

LINCOLN: Why, he was so scared...

TOM: He's not scared any more.

LINCOLN: Well, that's funny. Say, I'm sure glad you came, Tom.

TOM: Sure.

LINCOLN: You got a match, Tom?

TOM: Match? No.

LINCOLN: How'm I going to light my lamp?

TOM: I don't think you are going to light it.

LINCOLN: Well, how am I going to get out of here, then?

TOM: What?

LINCOLN: I said how'm I going to get out of here, then?

TOM: Oh. (PAUSE) Why, I don't think you are going to get out of here, Link.

LINCOLN: What'd you say?

TOM: (GETTING UP) Come on with me.


TOM: With me. (MOVES AWAY A LITTLE) Come on.

LINCOLN: Where are we going?

TOM: (AWAY) Back there.

LINCOLN: With Louie?

TOM: (OFF) With all of us.

LINCOLN: All of who?

TOM: (OFF) Come on, Link.

LINCOLN: Where are you?

TOM: (OFF) Right here.

LINCOLN: I hear you breathing, but I can't - 

TOM: (OFF) That's not me, Link.

LINCOLN: What! Well, who else is there? (PAUSE) Who is it I hear? Tom! Answer me!

TOM: (OFF) Why, son, that's the earth you hear breathing.


LINCOLN: And that was when I remembered that Tom McDonald had been buried in a 
cave-in a year before ... and they'd never found his body.

I sat there in the dark for quite a while, I guess, before I spoke again.  
You know, unless you've been down there, you haven't any idea how quiet it is 
that far underground.  There isn't any echo when you speak; your voice is just 
as flat as if you's talking into a blanket.

And you think you hear things: you think you hear somebody walking in the 
dark, and you listen, and it's nothing but the blood pounding in your ears.  
You listen close, and you hear a sound you never heard before in all your 
life:  the sound of your heart beating.

And in the dark ...

With your matches gone ...

And somebody there with you that says he's a man that's been dead for a year 

He didn't speak for quite a while, either.

I didn't know whether he was still there, or not.

I called to him.  Tom, I said.  Tom McDonald.

He didn't answer.  He was letting me think things over.

Letting me decide I'd better follow him if I ever hoped to get out of there.

What did he mean, though, he didn't think I was going to get out?

Where did he want me to go?

I thought of the Indian pictures; the terrible face, the flames, and the 
figures of the bearded men.

What else was there back in that tunnel, where Tom McDonald wanted me to go?

I felt my hair begin to rise, and he spoke again, right in my ear: 

TOM (CLOSE) Come on, Link.  Get up.


LINCOLN: I got up.

I listened for his footsteps.

I heard him speak again (TOM: Come on) and I made up my mind.

I followed him into the blackness.


LINCOLN: I smacked my head against the walls as I followed Tom's footsteps 
down the twisting tunnel. I stumbled in the wet black darkness. I called to 
him - Tom! Hey, Tom! - and the only answer was plodding footsteps ahead of 


LINCOLN: What could I do? I didn't dare to stop! I had to follow him! And we 
walked on and on, and it was always downhill, and I was so tired I could 
hardly take another step. And there seemed to be a little glow of reddish 
light ahead. And the footsteps went on and on. I wanted to stop and rest, but 
I could hear him ahead of me, and somehow I knew if I stopped I'd never catch 
up with him again. And then the footsteps halted, and the voice spoke again.

TOM: Stop right there, Link.

LINCOLN: Are we nearly out of here, Tom?

TOM: Be still...

LINCOLN: And the little glow of reddish lights began to grow brighter. And I 
looked around to see where it came from; I looked around to see who this was 
that was pretending to be a man dead for a year; I looked around to find my 
friend who had disappeared in the darkness. And there wasn't anybody. I stood 
there alone, and the light got brighter and brighter. And I heard Tom's voice.

TOM: Don't move, Link.

LINCOLN: And I heard Louie Sullivan's voice.

LOUIE: Don't be afraid, Link.

LINCOLN: And the light got brighter and brighter, and I still couldn't see 
anybody, and then suddenly it seemed like a great curtain was flung aside, and 
the place was brighter than day; brighter than ten thousand days!


LINCOLN: And I still heard Louie's voice.

LOUIE: Stand still, Link.

LINCOLN: And I heard Tom McDonald's voice.

TOM: Look down, Link. Look down.

LINCOLN: And I looked down.

I looked down into flames that leaped at me from a thousand miles below me: 
red and green and blue and colors I never knew existed. Its was like looking 
down from a mountaintop on a whole world afire, and the flames leaped and 
pulsed like the beating of a great heart as I looked at them there below me, 
and saw - 

LOUIE: Watch, Link.

TOM: Watch....watch...

LINCOLN: And in the sea of flames below I thought I saw a face....a face that 
filled the whole world, it seemed, and it was a cruel face, but somehow a 
serene face and its eyes gazed into mine

And then it faded

And then I heard the voices again

TOM: You saw her, Link.

LOUIE: We saw her.

LINCOLN: And I tore my eyes away from the flames below - And there stood 
Louie. And Tom McDonald. And I said without any surprise at all

Yes, I saw her.

It was the face in the Indian picture back there, wasn't it?

TOM: You saw her.

LINCOLN: Who - who is she, Tom?

TOM: That is Mother Earth, son.


LINCOLN: No, I wasn't surprised.

Tom McDonald stood there on the brink of that sea of flames and looked at me 
and talked to me, and I knew it was Tom McDonald, even though I knew Tom 
McDonald was dead. I recognized him: Tom McDonald when I knew him had been
clean-shaven. Now he was wearing a beard like some patriarch out of Holy Writ. 
But there was no doubt in my mind. I can hear that dry voice of his, as 
matter-of-fact as it had ever been.

TOM: The Earth lives, son.

The Earth lives just the same as we do.

She gives us all the gifts she thinks are good for her children, and some of 
her gifts she's still keeping till we're ready for them.

She's a good mother to us all; but when we don't do right, she can be a 
terrible mother.


LINCOLN: And I swear, the flames leaped higher when he said that.

TOM: She asks very little from us, son.

But what belongs to her, she takes.

All of us belong to her.

To Mother Earth.

LINCOLN: Then the sea of flames below us seemed to make a kind of great music 
that was almost a voice chanting something that I knew I ought to understand, 
but I couldn't quite get. And as the flames reached higher again and the music 
rolled up at us and in their light I saw hundreds, thousands, millions of men 
and women, standing on the same ledge we were standing on, gazing down 
into...into the face of Mother Earth, dim in the raging fires. And the flames 
rose higher and the music sounded louder and suddenly the flames swept up to 
us, to all the millions of people I had seen, and I heard Tom McDonald's voice 
again through the music and the roar of the flames.

TOM: Mother Earth takes us now.

You are the one that is left.

You will know what to do.

LINCOLN: And the flames fell back again, and I was all alone.

Alone with Mother Earth.

It was dark again, but I could see.

I could see the smile on her face.

And I knew.


LINCOLN: And so I've come to tell you, partner.

I said I don't care whether you believe me or not.

I know what I believe. I know what I learned.

I know that this place under the city of Butte, Montana, county seat of Silver 
Bow county, population 1940 37,081, elevation above sea level approximately 
one mile ... I know that this place is not the only one in the world where 
there's a gateway to Mother earth and her fires. I know there is one back of a 
certain hangar at Templehof Field in Berlin. I know about one near Mono Lake, 
in California. There is one a few miles from Haverstraw, New York; and there 
are many others.

No, you can't find them, partner.

And the reason why nobody has ever heard of them is simple, have you guessed 
it? That's right. Nobody ever comes back to tell about them.

There's just one or two other things to tell you, and then I'll be going.

Every year, one of these...I'll call them Gateways...every year one of the 
Gateways supplies the people for Mother Earth. It was Butte in 1932. Last year 
they came from a place in Mexico where there's an ancient Maya ruin. 

In the years between we who are left go out and bring people back to our 
underground caverns...to wait.

You've heard of people disappearing...

There was that man who disappeared from Room 307 of the Finlen Hotel in Butte.

The girl named Lucienne, from down on Mercury Street, in Butte.

People who drop out of sight and are never heard of again? That's what becomes 
of them.

They belong to Mother Earth.

Incidentally, remember I told you about the Gateway behind the hangar on 
Templehof Field, in Berlin? Wasn't there a man and a woman who disappeared a 
couple of years ago, in Berlin?

Quite well-known people?

Don't worry about them.

They belong to Mother Earth, with all the rest.

This year it's our turn again, in Butte.

We haven't got quite enough people yet.

But we'll get them.

Mother Earth takes what belongs to her.

So...maybe some night you'll wake up suddenly in the dark, and you'll hear 
somebody breathing, when you know there isn't anybody there.

Maybe you'll believe me then.


We'll see, partner, won't we?

ANNCR: You have been listening to Quiet, Please. Tonight's story, A Mile High 
and A Mile Deep was written and directed by Wyllis Cooper. The man who spoke 
to you was Ernest Chappell.

CHAPPELL: And Lon Clarke played Louie Sullivan. Tom was Edgar Stehli. The 
music was composed and played by Gene Perrazzo.

And now for a word about next week's Quiet Please story, here is our writer-
director Wyllis Cooper.

COOPER: Next week we have the story of a murderer by proxy, and the fate that 
overtakes him. It's called "Mirror, Mirror On the Wall".

CHAPPELL: And until next week, I am quietly yours, Ernest Chappell.


ANNCR: This program came to you from New York.

This is the Mutual Broadcasting System.