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shore. But I had more success than poor Robinson in discovering the cause of this spectral appearance; for, in a minute, I saw, close at my side, the figure of a man sitting on a rock, sound asleep. He had no light; and I thought, at first, that he had lost it, and so been left in darkness; but, looking more narrowly, I saw a lamp and a bucket of lard laid carefully at his side; and, as I recognised him immediately as a gentleman who had been longer at the cave even than I, and who was the only visitor beside myself that rambled about without a guide, I could not believe he was unprovided with matches. I had not yet had any conversation with the gentleman, who, according to report, had come to the cave for his health, and was a very oddish, crabbed man—which was like enough for a dyspeptic. I could not understand his sitting there alone in the dark, and asleep, unless by supposing he had been overcome by fatigue, and fallen asleep while resting. Nor did I know whether it was advisable to disturb his slumbers, until, hearing him utter a heavy groan, and perceiving his countenance convulsed, as if he were suffering from nightmare, although he did not move a limb, I thought it but charity to awake him; which I did, by tugging at his shoulder. My surprise may be conceived, when the gentleman starting up, with looks of rage and distraction, whipped out a pistol, and calling me a villain, and swearing he would have my life, fired it in my face. I certainly should have been killed; but as I started back in alarm, I stumbled over a rock, and in the fall, put out my torch; and so we were left in darkness, which was the more shocking, because of the stupendous din and wild echoes of the pistol, and the idea which seized me that the gentleman was a lunatic, from whom it might not be easy to make my escape; for it could not be effected in the dark, and I might receive the contents of a second pistol, if I attempted to strike a light. The idea of his being mad was confirmed by what followed; for no sooner had the thundering reverberations ceased, than I heard him exclaim —“Death and distraction! was it a vision, after all? I thought the wretch had come to see if I were dead; and, truly, it is time I were dead: but I cannot die. A week—it must be more than a week—of darkness, of despair, of starvation, effects nothing: men die so hard in caves! Oh, my dear wife! my dear children! what would I not give to see you once more, were it but to die in your presence, and in the light of day!” I was moved by the pathos of his last words: I thought I could understand from his expressions the nature of his hallucination; and thereupon I devised a project for his relief, and my own. “My dear sir,” I began, in the most soothing tone imaginable: but he gave me no chance to say any more. He interrupted me with what was fairly a yell of surprise, and exclaimed,— “It was not a vision then? I was not deceived? Wretch! villain! Darling! give me light, give me

my life—let me escape! Take all my money: I will double it, quadruple it: you shall have all I have in the world: only don't murder me in this dreadful manner! take all I have, but let me go!” “I must humour his mad fancy,” thought I to myself: “but I wonder what he means by calling me darling?” “Sir,” said I, “I am no murderer: I have no objection to let you escape—to strike a light: but you just now fired a pistol at me; and you have another!” “Fear nothing,” said the stranger, eagerly: “here it is: take it into your own hands!” “No tricks upon travellers!” quoth I: “fire it into the air!” He obeyed me: and, at my commands, drew out his bowie-knife, (what western man travels without his pistols and bowie-knife!) and threw it away, with his pistols. I heard them rattle over the rocks; and then, having his solemn assurance that he had no other weapon, I produced a lucifer, lighted my torch, and presented myself before him. I never saw such a look of astonishment, doubt and confusion, mingled together on a man's face as was now exhibited on his. He gazed at me wildly, struck his forehead with his hand, and sunk down on a rock. “You are not Darling?” he said. “No, by my faith,” said I, satisfied he was falling into a lucid interval. “And this”—he gazed around him inquiringly —“this is not the Death Cave?” “My good friend,” said I, “I never heard of such a place: it is the Mammoth Cave.” “Then, sir,” cried he, starting up, and bursting into a wild laugh that expressed both mirth and joy, “conceive me—not a madman, though I shot at you—Heaven forgive me! I never missed my aim before! — not a madman, sir, for I am none—but the most unutterable jack and ninny that ever mistook a dream for reality. I remember it now: I sat down here alone, and blew out my light, to try the solitude and darkness. Twenty years ago, I did the same thing in the Death Cave; and the horrors of that adventure were revived in me by a dream. Death and insanity! I will never try it a third time! Pray, sir, forgive me, and don't think me mad any longer. Here is my can of lard: here is my torch, just as I blew it out: and here is my box of lucifers, (only I forgot all about them!) We are among the rocks of the Cross Rooms, near the entrance of the Black Chambers: on this side lies the path to the Cataract, on the other is the way out. You see, sir, I know where I am and what I am; and I talk——as I hope now to behave —like a man in his senses. But it is very odd I should mistake you for that rascal, Darling!” “Oh,” said I, “you were dreaming of him, and I waked you suddenly—which I did because I perceived you were suffering from mightmare. But allow me to remark, that your allusions to ‘that rascal, Darling,'—to the “Death Cave,” (a

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very formidable name of what, I doubt not, must be a very formidable place,)—to the ‘horrors of your adventure' in it—are all extremely mysterious, and wonder-stirring. Now I am a caveamateur, in quest of the marvellous; and nothing stirs me so much as the thought of a cave adventure. You just offered me all you were worth, to suffer, or help, you to escape from darkness: I claim your gratitude—but will only tax it with the gratification of my curiosity.” “With all my heart,” said the gentleman, smiling: “but first let me gather up — I have no thought of losing them — let me gather up my knife and pistols: unless,” he added, with a hearty laugh, “you still distrust the madman!” I did, perhaps, look a little queer; but the laugh disarmed me. I helped the stranger to discover his weapons; not, however, without throwing out a hint of the danger of his carrying them, who showed so little discretion in the use he made of them. To this he made answer, by begging my pardon for having used them so indiscreetly at my expense; but declared it was the first time he ever had been so foolish, and, he doubted not, it would be the last time. “It was all,” he said, ‘the effect of a dream, and of a singular coinci. dence of circumstances, not likely ever to arise again: and, perhaps, when I had heard his story, I would allow his action, though very unwise, to be highly natural.’ He then looked at his watch, and finding we had an hour at our disposal before dinner, invited me to sit with him on the rocks; observing, that that spot of gloom and desolation was the fittest place in which to rehearse a tale of horrors. He informed me that he was a Tennesseean, and mentioned his name and place of residence; which, not being essential to the narrative, I omit recording. But I may observe, that he was a gentleman of good address and intelligence, not quite so “queerish and crabbish” as the guides had represented him, though of a somewhat grim and saturnine countenance, and, as I judged, some forty or more years old. “You have professed yourself a cave amateur,” he began. “Twenty years ago I was the same; and, for a short period, at least, was so devoted an enthusiast, that even when travelling on business, I could not hear of a cave, accounted in any way curious, without running out of my way to explore it. In my own state of Tennessee, one has ample means for indulging such a passion: for, numerous as are the caverns in Kentucky, they are far more so in Tennessee; though this is a fact not generally known. In truth, sir, Tennessee is the land of caves; and many of them are so stupendous, that if you will belic the people, even the Mammoth Cave sinks, in comparison, into insignificance. Twenty-mile caves are plenty as blackberries; I have been in several of them, and a short time ago, I would have sworn I had been in them twenty miles beyond the realms of day; but ever since I have

looked over Mr. Lee's map of the Mammoth here, I have been less hyperbolical: for I would have sworn to the same extent of the Mammoth Cave. Twenty years ago, I drank of the Blue Spring, which every body allowed to be twenty miles in, and some thought forty; and yet the rascally chain of the surveyor makes it only about two miles! But this is another matter. I do not intend to discuss the claims to preeminence, nor to describe the wonders, of the caves of Tennessee. My business is to relate my adventure in the Death Cave. “Pray, sir,” said I, “where is this Death Cave? for, I declare, I never so much as heard of it.” “That is not at all wonderful,” said the gentle. man; “since our most remarkable caverns seem never to be heard of, out of Tennessee; and, indeed, they are now seldom heard of even in the state itself. A great noise was made about them in the days of nitre-making: but the nitre manufacture has been long abandoned; and as the caves have ceased to be profitable (we are a moneymaking people, sir!) they have ceased also to be attractive. The people in their very neighbourhood have forgotten their existence. “Twenty years ago, this indifference was besinning to be quite observable; but men still occasionally talked of caves that were considered remarkable: and travelling once on horseback, (I had been in one of the eastern counties collecting a sum of money due me, and was returning to my home in West Tennessee,) I heard at a tavern where I stopped to lodge, of a cave, called the Death Cave, situated in a wild spot in the mountains at the head springs of one of the branches of the Carey Fork of Cumberland River, which was spoken of as a very vast and terrible cave. I was struck with the name; and asking the origin of it, was told by one of the persons present, a grim-looking mountain farmer of that country, ‘that it had got that name because of a great many persons who had been known to go into it, none had ever been known to come out again. It had been discovered,” he said, “when he was a boy, by two men, hunting for nitre, who made their preparations, and went in it, to explore it; but not coming out again, a party of five men was formed to go in, in search of them; and this party also was never again heard of. Upon this, there was such a terror raised among the people, and so many alarming suppositions of horrible pits, suffocating air, wild beasts, enchanters, devils, and what not, that, although some attempts were made to raise a third party, to examine the cave and discover, if possible, the fate of the seven lost explorers, they all fell through, and the cave was left, with its formidable name, to solitude and mystery. “It was true,' continued the man, nodding his head significantly, “it was said—there were some tales of that kind, he would not pretend to say how true — but it was said (nobody could contradict that) that one or two curious

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travellers, strangers in that country, had, at different times, been foolhardy enough to go into the cave; and, they said—he did not know, but it was said—nobody ever heard of them more: He knew nothing about it; but he did know that no man was ever known to go into the Death Cave, and come out of it again.” To this my landlord answered, with a smile, “there was one man at least who was an exception to the rule: he had heard Billy Darling say, he had often been in the Death Cave.” “So they say,” quoth the grim farmer, with another mysterious nod; “and they say—I don't say any thing; but there are them that say, it was Billy Darling that took the travellers into the cave, that never came out of it: and that's all I ever heard of the matter,-whereof I knows nothing.” “Yet you would seem to insinuate,” I could not help remarking, “that Billy Darling was some such honest good fellow as John Smith, (or whatever was his name,) that kept the Cave Inn, in Kentucky, a long time ago, and used—so runs the story—to murder travellers who had money, and hide their bodies in a cave he had behind his house.” “Was there ever such a rascal as that, stranger? and is it a true story?” asked the farmer, staring” with all his eyes. I professed, in his own phrase, “it was a matter whereof I knew nothing;” and then I told him the popular version of the story—how the man had built him a tavern on the main road near Green river, and just in advance of a spacious cave, the entrance of which served him as a stable; how, when a solitary traveller put up with him, he used, at night, to drive his horse down a yawning pit, some hundred yards in the cave, how he would then go to the traveller, informing him his horse had wandered into the cave, and might get hurt among the rocks, requesting he would go with him to aid in getting the animal safely out, -how when he had decoyed the traveller into the cave, he threw him down the pit,-and how, suspicion coming at last to be excited, the fellow fled the country, before justice could make any investigation of his iniquities.” The grim farmer seemed particularly struck and edified by the story; and, when I had concluded it, gave his head a third nod, full of mysterious meaning, and saying—“I don't say nothing myself, but I always did hear that Billy Darling came out of that very Green river county, and did not leave the best character behind him,”—he rose up, went out of the room, and soon rode away from the tavern. His account had inspired me with a great inclination to visit this formidable cave, which, upon inquiry, I learned lay not so far from my route, but that I might visit it without being diverted from my journey homewards. But as it appeared that the before mentioned Billy Darling, who lived nigh it, was the only man who might be supposed

able or willing to officiate as my guide, I felt solicitous to know how far he deserved the imputations of the grim farmer. My doubts were dispelled by the landlord, who gave Darling an excellent character and laughed at the insinuations of the farmer, as being the effects of petty spite and malice, the consequence of some squabble, in which Darling had come off victor. He, the landlord, knew nothing of the cave: he never troubled himself about caves: he had heard of people being lost in it, but he remembered hearing Billy Darling say some of the stories were not true: and who should know better than Billy Darling? The representations of mine host removed every cause for suspicion; and the next morning, receiving his directions, I pursued my way over a very bad road, to Darling's house, a cabin of a more comfortable class than most in that country, being partly of stone, and more roomy than usual, and appearing to have a very good farm attached to it, though its situation was extremely solitary. I arrived at the dinner hour, and found the family assembled, consisting of Darling and his wife, and two or three sons and daughters, nearly grown up. They had in all respects, the appearance of a common farmer's family raised one or two degrees above a condition of poverty: there was a black woman and her children about the house, the beginning of a stock of servants and dependants: there was an air of comfort and good humour in the look of every countenance; Darling, in particular, had an easy, humorous, devil-maycare expression: and when I looked from him to his family, from his family back again to him, I could not but smile at the absurdity of the grim farmer's insinuations. He treated me very civilly, expressed a great willingness to conduct me to the cave, and indeed began to prepare lights inmediately after dinner; and, upon my asking him what truth there was in the report of so many persons being lost in it, which had given it the name of Death Cave, he declared, with a hearty laugh, “there was no truth in it at all; and, notwithstanding the foolish stories so generally told and believed, no man had ever lost his life in it. This he knew, for it was he who discovered the cave, and was the first to enter it; he had lived close by it all his days, and he knew and had accompanied every man who ever visited it. All the stories had doubtless originated from distorted accounts of a misadventure of his own in it, a long time ago. Upon discovering it, he procured another man to help him explore it, and look for nitre. His companion had the misfortune to fall down a pit, not at all deep, but the man was hurt, the pit could not be climbed, and Darling was compelled to leave the cave for the purpose of obtaining ropes and assistance; but, being in a great hurry, after getting a great distance from his comrade, he stumbled over a rock and put out his light —an irreparable misfortune—for, being young and careless, he had left all his matches with his friend. Escape or return in the dark was equally imprac

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ticable; and the consequence was that he and his comrade remained in the cave, each in his own solitude, without food or water, for nearly two days; when a party of five nitre-diggers from a distance came to the cave, and found and brought them out in safety. And that was the nearest approach to death that ever befel any one in the Death Cave. He had often been in it since, alone, or with his sons; and once or twice he had conducted curious travellers; but he lived out of the way," he said, “his cave had a bad name, and nobody now cared about caves; but he was always glad o excuse to revisit the scene of his early misforture.” You may be sure, I was much interested in his account of this misfortune, which I made him give me in detail, with a description of all his thoughts and feelings. And a very formidable description it was of horrors, which, however, he justly said, no one could realize who had not experienced them in his own person. There was something peculiar in the effect produced by caves on those lost in them, and left in darkness, peculiar in this, that all men were affected alike, the strong and the feeble, the brave and the timid: a horror of despair seized upon all; they fell into a frenzy, or something like it: “it was a sort”—I admired the oddity of the expression—“it was a sort of yelling dream.” The moment dinner was over, we proceeded to the cave, which was about a mile from the house, and opened in a thick brambly wood, by an insignificant entrance; but it grew spacious when we crept in. If you are a cave amateur, you must know that all caverns are pretty much alike; and, therefore, I shall spare you a description of the Death Cave. It was vast, gloomy, grand, awful,—just as the Mammoth Cave is; it had innumerable branches, of which Darling told me he had not examined one half; there were domes, pits, pools, and trickling waterfalls, chambers of rock and halls of stal. *cite, enough, and more than enough to excite enthusiasm and reward curiosity. But I was dis. oppointed. The Death Cave had loomed in my imagination, a place of mystery, the sepulchre of all who had dared to penetrate its labyrinthine Passages; and, now that I found it innocent of any "Tong to man or beast, with not so much as a *leton to show in support of its name and character, I began to lose my interest, and regard it "ith comparative indifference. I passed, there. fore, naturally enough to the only true story of the Death Cave that could stir my imagination. I renewed the subject of Darling's adventure, I made him repeat over again, upon the very scene of the adventure, it was a room as wild, as vast, as formidable as this,) the story of his awful imprison*nt; and as he again, after a vain effort to imbue * with his feelings, declared I could never conteve them, until I came myself to be left like him in a cave, lost, dark, and hopeless of deliver* I was seized with a determination to try the

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experiment—at least so far as I could try it; and I proposed he should leave me alone there in the dark for half an hour or an hour, to try if I could not realize the condition of a man in his dreadful situation. You will say, this was not a very wise or prudent resolution; but Darling really had the openest, honestest countenance in the world, and I will do him the justice to say, that, after first opening his eyes, and then laughing in my face, he swore “I couldn't stand it; it might be the death of me!” (the last expression was rather ominous;) but, as all his objections seemed based upon the idea of my wanting courage to sustain the horrors of such an adventure, I felt the more piqued to adhere to my resolution: and Darling, finally, agreed to leave me for half an hour to myself, in perfect darkness. I blew out my light. “It is easy to light it again,” said Darling. “If you play the play, play fair, and give me up your steel and matches.” “Certainly,” said I, a little irritated at the inuendo. “I had forgot them. Here they are: and you may take my candles,” (for he had provided me with a bunch of them.) “I didn't find my candles of much use, without matches,” quoth the man, “except,” he added with a grin, “that I made one pretty good dinner off them, so you may keep them.” “Stay!” said I, startled by the look and the words which struck me with a sudden alarm. “I have heard a very good character of you—” “And perhaps, also,” he interrupted ine, with a sneer, “a very bad one! You have heard of some tricks played off in this here Death Cave upon travellers, eh?” Well, stranger, it will be good grit to chew the cud on. And so farewell till we meet again.” Did my suspicion deceive me? or was it a real change in the countenance of the man? But I thought I had never seen an expression so sinister—nay, so openly significant of mischief. A thousand alarming recollections crowded on my mind. The hints of the grim farmer revived with the force of conviction; the tavernkeeper was perhaps a confederate; I had a large sum of money in my saddle-bags, and I remembered that Darling had eyed them inquisitively. He might not be the abandoned villain he had been represented and yet open to a temptation, which the solitude of his homestead, the convenience of the cave, and my own fatal folly, rendered the more seductive. And then, his looks, in which I could see the devilish mirth and exultation of villany successful beyond its own expectation! I clapped my hand into my pocket for a pistol; but, oh, double folly! I had left my weapons at the house. He noticed the act and laughed. But I affected firmness—I even made as if I had my hand on a pistol, and sternly commanded him to restore my matches, and lead the way out of the cave, on the peril of his life. “A bargain is a bargain!” cried the wretch, and

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leaping out of my way, for I sprang desperately forward to seize him by the throat, he blew out his light, and in an instant all was the blackness of darkness. I was stupified by this act, at once so strange and unexpected. He could not, himself, get away from me, without a light: did he mean to murder me in the darkness? He was not ten steps from me; but it was impossible he should know where to find me; and, besides, the floor of the cave was rough with loose rocks, and he could not approach without my hearing him. Suddenly I heard the clattering of a stone—then the sound of a falling pebble—then another clattering: it was the noise of footsteps—the footsteps of a man stealing cautiously away. It was Darling: he had some means of escape unknown to me; and the murderer was abandoning me to my fate! Can you not conceive the feelings that then convulsed me, a young man, in the very pride of my youth and strength—happy in all my wordly relations, possessed of fortune and friends—the husband of a young wife, the best and loveliest of her sex—the father of two babes that were cherubs sent me from heaven—happy and competent to a life of happiness; and that unparalleled villain was stealing away, to suffer me to die a death of darkness and starvation in a cave! I could not follow him: at the first attempt to move in the direction of the footsteps, I fell over the broken rocks. I attempted to creep; but the sounds were now behind me; now it seemed they were on my right hand, now on my left. I was wholly bewildered, and every instant they sounded fainter and farther. I called after the villain; and it was with the humbled spirit and supplicating acoents of a slave. I begged for my life; I promised forgiveness and silence—-nay, I pledged an oath of secrecy; I of. fered him the money in my saddle-bags, and not that only, but more: I would double it—quadruple it—I would beggar my wife and children and give him all I possessed, if he would only return, restore me my light, and suffer me to depart. To this piteous appeal there came an answer; it was the sound of distant laughter—such laughter as might come from the lips of a fiend, exulting over the anguish of a condemned soul. I heard the farewell laugh of the murderer; and then all was silent in my living sepulchre—and yet not silent; for I could hear the throbs of my own heart, and a ringing, roaring sound, the pulsations of my brain. I was alone. I could then tell what were the feelings of the cave-lost; I could realize even what had been the feelings of my betrayer. As I thought of him, I invoked maledictions on his head, and insulted heaven with a horrible prayer. I prayed that he might lose his light, and wander back to me, begging help and forgiveness—that I might, while he implored me, tear him to pieces! And then I fainted; and the Death-Cave was the place of death. How could I tell how long I remained unconscious? It must, I was assured, have been hours;

it might have been days. I awoke to a full consciousness of my situation; and the cave was filled with the shrieks and yells I made for assistance. But who was there to assist me? I dropped on my knees and prayed heaven for succour; but heaven was deaf, or seemed so; and I blasphemed the Providence that had abandoned me. This was despair: and no man but the man lost in a cave knows what despair is. I started from my delirium, as a thought flashed through my troubled brain. The villain had carried off my flint and steel; but I had a penknife in my pocket; and among the rocks might certainly be found stones that would strike fire. "Could I but find a substitute for matches, I might strike a light, (he had left the candles with me in very derision,) and then escape was certain. The thought that aroused me was of a substitute for matches! I seized the loose rocks upon which I had been sitting; I tore them up with my hands, burrowed among them until I could grasp up a handful of loose dry earth. I put it to my tongue, and screamed with delight, to find, by the taste, that it was impregnated with nitre. I clutched up a fragment of rock, and with the back of my knife struck off sparkles of fire—gods! how beautiful they were, in that den of darkness! I wrapped the nitre earth in a piece of paper, which I found in my pocket, and struck fire into it from the back of my knife; and, (I know not how it was I managed it, I have tried to strike fire that way since, but never succeeded,) in an instant the paper was blazing, and my candle was lighted! I laughed with joy—I huzzaed—I screamed, and I turned to escape. But, which was the path, and whither was the way? I was in a wild rocky hall, and six or seven different passages yawned around me, all looking alike, yet one only being that by which I had entered and could escape; that one I could not distinguish from the others. I tore my hair with rage and disappointment. I ran wildly from one to the other, penetrating each a little way to see if I could not discover some remembered object. But all was equally new and unknown, or unremembered. I gave way to a second paroxysm of despair and frenzy; until, in the midst of it, my eye was struck by a broad arrow chalked on the wall of one of the passages. I was too familiar with caves not to know that this indicated the path out of the cave; for with this expedient only can explorers be sure of a safe return from an unknown cave. It was with inexpressible delight that I darted into this passage, discovering arrow after arrow, and pursuing my hurried way, until, having travelled as great, nay, a greater distance than I knew the place of my fatal experiment was from the mouth, I found myself at last confused, bewildered, thoroughly lost amid a labyrinth of passages, which I was certain I had never trodden before, and convinced that I was only more inextricably involved in the depths of the cave. Yes! that chain of arrows was but a device of the devilish Darling, to meet

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