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“ No, yer fool! D'ye s’pose we'll tell, hev forgot 'em ! A large, resinous when we'm gwine to drink it all weselves ? torch of the richest pine for each one was Fotch it yere, nigger! quick, now!" immediately selected from a large pile in
The guerrillas did not see the expres- one of the uncounted receptacles in the sion which lit up the sable features of walls. The negro slung the haversack Josh, as, from the receptacle where he over his shoulder, then taking the one that had hidden it, he produced a large bottle was burning in his own hand, he gave anof the strongest brandy. They seized it other look at the sleeping guerrillas, and with savage avidity, and lost no time in turned into a large, closet-like aperture, pouring out each a full tumbler, and which was evidently used by the guerrildrinking it at a draught, as if it had been las as a storeroom. Carleton looked so much water.
around for a place of exit, and in undis“ By ther holy poker !” said one of guised disgust at the practical joke which them, setting his glass down with a bang; he conceived the negro had played them; " thet ar's fust chop. Har, yer nig, fotch for not the slightest sign of an opening 'long 'nother swig: I kin bar a hull bot- through which they could pass out aptle, I kin, en my head'll be clar's an egg. peared. Tip out, I tells yer!"
“Dis 'e way, sar,” said the negro, A second time, the tumblers were filled mounting up the wall by the projecting to the brim with the strong brandy, and stalactites with the alertness of a cat, as speedily emptied.
until, reaching the lofty roof, he disap" Luck a-yere, nig; was thet all ?--peared. ye got any more?”
Carleton and the pedler looked after Nary drop, sar; dat ar's all.” him with amazement and wonder, so like “Well, blast it, I reckons we’m got the work of magic did his disappearance ’nuff!” And they had enough; and pretty seem to them, for, keenly as they looked, soon the effects of so terrific an imbibing no trace of an opening was visible where became visible even upon men in the daily they stood, through which he could possihabit of potations that would astound bly pass. They waited in utter darkness, most men. They sung, they swore, they but presently a light flashed down upon quarrelled, they reeled upon their seats, them, and the broad face of the negro, and finally fell prone upon the floor of covered with a roguish grin, shone out bethe cavern, stark and senseless in a drunk tween the long pendent stalactites, full en sleep. The negro touched them with thirty feet above their heads. his foot in no gentle manner, and seeing “ Clum up, massa, an' be karful ye they did not stir, gave each a contemptu- dun't make no n'ise fur de guerrillas ter ous kick.
yar! Clum up, sar; yer's all right!” “Ye're fast, ye drunken pigs ! I Slowly and with difficulty, Carleton, mought kill yer, whar yer lay, yer brutes; followed by his companion, made his perbut nob’dy shell 'cuse dis yere nig uv tak- ilous way up the perpendicular wall, the ir 'vantage uv ye, yer poor white trash, projections offering obstacles as often as ter kill yer while yer slept, an' whun yer aids to their ascent, and being twenty hardn't a smart chance ter say yer prayers, times in danger of falling, until, finally, 'specially whan I’se sartin de Lord wudn't the anxious negro reached one after the yere ye on t'oder side o' Jurdon ef yer other his hand, and they, too, disappeared prayed ever so yard!” And with anoth- over the projecting shelf, and all was er kick, embodying all the contempt such dark and silent below. an application of the pedal extremity
When the two adventurers came to could do, he left them.
their senses, which had been sorely dis"Now massa, now sar, it's time ter be turbed by their perilous experiment in off. Here's de bread and wenson fixin's, climbing, they found themselves standing and de wine. De white trash's drunk all in a chasm, very narrow at bottom, but de brandy clar up. But stop, sar, till dis gradually widening as it rose far above yar darkey finds de torches; I mought them, and whose smooth and rocky sides
clearly indicated that it was an enormous mebby, kin help sum pore pris’ner to rift in the solid rock, produced, undoubt- 'scape, and den get ’way Iself. But I edly, by some grand convulsion of nature. use ter clum up here and splore all 'bout, Its roof they could not discern, so lofty and I foun' out dat dese yere great cracks. it must have been, rising probably many in de rocks lead out inter de mount’ins." hundreds, perhaps thousands of feet above "How far is it out?” inquired the them into the open air. Carleton now pedler, who listened with intense interest perceived the cause of the extraordinary to the negro's relation. purity of the atmosphere which had sur- Oh, bress yer, sar, it's miles an' miles ! prised him in the caverns. The rift was Ise never reached de end. I on’y knows a grand ventilator, for the outlet of the it hab an end, cos I feel de wind somesmoke of the torches, as well as the neces- time yere.” sary fires, cooking, and the vile odors This announcement fell like a great which would otherwise have accumulated blow on the heart of Carleton. He felt to the destruction of all life in the cav- it more than probable that the wind in
question might enter at the top of the Come on, massa! come on, sar!” rift instead of an opening in the side of whispered the negro. “ Don't speak till the mountain, and that egress might thus we's clar 'way from dis yere opening. be impossible to them; for who could De guerrillas mought har us.”
climb up the smooth and perpendicular This caution did not need to be repeat- sides of these solid rocks ? But he careed. They hurried on, following the ne- fully refrained from giving utterance to gro with the light for some thirty rods, this thought, feeling unwilling to crush or the crevasse maintaining its course in a even dampen the hopes of his companions straight line, when their sable leader stop at the very outset of their attempt to esped.
cape. He would rather endeavor, until “Now you can light your torches, mas- the last moment, to seek that outlet which sa,” said he, in a free and unsuppressed fear still told him might be only an image voice. "No pusson kin har yer yere, nor inary one. see yere light."
They had lighted their torches, and had " But had we not better hurry on fur- stood gazing up, trying to get some idea ther first ? •If the guerrillas should of the height of the split, while these awaken, wouldn't they follow us?” in- thoughts were passing through the mind quired Carleton, with some anxiety. of Carleton. But nothing gave them any
“Lors, bress yer, sar!” replied the clew to that, their torchlight projecting, negro, with a broad grin, “dar isn't in any direction, less than fifty feet, all anoder pusson in dis 'varsal world dat beyond being unfathomable blackness. knows a ting 'bout dis yere place 'cept “ It is time to begin our journey," said dis yere ole darkey. I foun' it one day the young officer; - but before we start, wan I war cluming 'bout for 'musement, let us see the extent of our preparations wan I war left 'lone in de cavern wid for its exigencies. Open the haversack, nary body to spake to, locked up in de Josh !” bowels uv de yarth. Tinks I, • Ole fellow, The negro unslung the little storehouse s’pose massa get killed, who ebber let yer which contained all that three persons had out? You'll die loike starved woodchuck to rely on to sustain life for — God only in he hole.' So I clum an' clum, lookin' knew how long. The examination filled for some hole; fur ye see, sar, de smoke him with blank dismay. It contained could get out, and tinks I, Ole darkey, only two moderately-sized loaves of bread, mebbe
you can get out, too. So I clum the remainder of the haversack being every time I got de chance, an' wan day filled up with nice pieces of venison. I foun' dis hole. And does yer tink I This, and the three bottles of wine they tole any wan uv it? Trus' dis yere dar- carried in their pockets, was all. key for keepin' still ! I never said nary “ It is hazardous to set out with so litwode; fur, tinks I, by'm-by dis yere nig, tle," said he, “as our continuance in these
caverns may have a much longer duration was already in the cavern, and the abthan we imagine. Josh, is there any sence of the negro and the prisoners dismore food in the cavern?"
covered. “Oh, lors bress you, sar, plenty !” “Get up, yer drunken beasts !” roared
"Well; then, my good fellow, you the guerrilla, apparently dealing telling must go back and get it. Dare you do blows on the sleeping guard. “Whar be
ther prisoners! Is thet ther way yer hesitated. “Ef de guerril. keep guard? Whar be the prisoners, I las should be 'wake, or massa back dar!” | ax yer ?”
“ It is not likely; at any rate, you can • The Lord knows, I dun't!” was the listen carefully before you venture.” reply: “How could they git out?”. "Wall, massa, I go!”
“Thet's fur yer ter find out, cuss yer!” "That's a good fellow; and we will go roared the bandit. “Get up! and ef as far as the opening with you.” yer dun't find 'em, yer'd- better neverd
They went back with rapid but cau- bin born!” tious steps, and soon reached the spot, “Let us go, massa !” whispered the when the negro, lying down, listened for negro, fear of his master destroying, for some minutes attentively.
the moment, all his enterprise and courAll 'till, sar," said he, "ony de
guer- age. rillas, snoring like porcupines."
With swift, silent steps, they retreated “Well then, go at once! Will you towards the lights, soon rejoining the pedtake a light?”
ler who waited, pale as ashes, the noise “Better not, sar; I kin fine de wittles of the guerrilla's return having reached in de dark."
him and awakened a thousand fears of In an instant, the brave fellow was recapture. through the opening, and Carleton and his “Let us hasten; oh, let us hasten! I companion listened with beating hearts to have such a horror of that bandit!” his stealthy descent, and knew when he A smile at the womanly expression reached the bottom. They then heard, crossed the face of Carleton, amid all his him fumbling about for a few moments, own anxieties. But he made no remark, when all was still. Presently, they though thinking the pedler not much for heard a loud noise, like the overturning a hero. They soon reached a point beof some ponderous object, and a violent yond where they had turned back. The cursing and swearing.
path was smooth and even, and the at...Oh, what is it?" gasped the pedler, mosphere possessed an exhilarating qualseizing Carleton's arm. “ Where can ity quite delightful; so they hoped to go Josh be? We shall be recaptured!”
on for many hours without fatigue. With" Carry back the lights,” said Carleton, out sensibly varying in width, the chasm " while I wait here to help the negro. I still led straight on, and they had walked think he is coming."
they could not tell how far, when it began The pedler seized the torches, and hur- to descend very gradually but seemingly ried with them beyond the danger of any for many hundred rods, when it suddenly reflection from their light, while Carleton widened into a cavern of small dimencaught the large knapsack which at the sions, out of which branched numerous same moment projected through the aper- chasms of the same character as that they ture, and in an instant more
, the negro, had been pursuing. It was the centre of his teeth chattering, and his whole body a system of rifts radiating in all directrembling from head to foot, darted after tions.
They were narrow and smooth, it.
seeming like vast fissures formed by some “ Massa' come,” he whispered, “an' mighty convulsion splitting the rocks into Jis listen!"
a thousand pieces,
led his companions, without apparent hes- too horrid ?” said he, turning with a itation.
ghastly smile to Carleton. “ Dis de way, sar; come on.”
“ Too horrid to be thought ofi!” he re“You are sure?” inquired Carleton. plied, with a perceptible shiver. “I can“Oh, yes, massa ! I 'members it well.” not conceive of a situation that would
They went on. The chasm was still sooner drive one to madness. But we straight and easy, and they could walk need not fear such a fate here. We can at rapidly, Carleton taking time to observe least go back, should our efforts to escape that on either hand were frequent slightly through another channel fail, radiating branches leading backward. go back, when we can no longer go forThey had walked, as it seemed to them, ward. Yet this passage must end somethree or four miles along this wonderful where, and I begin to see a change alrift, and no signs of any outlet appearing, ready. See," he continued, holding up Carleton began to grow more and more his torch, so that its light was projected uneasy, while weariness, if nothing more, some distance along the chasm. " The seemed to be making rapid inroads on the path is growing rough, and at a little disendurance of the pedler. His steps were tance before us it descends rapidly. But dragging, and his breathing hurried and I will leave it to you. Neither of us irregular.
should, in this strait, be the sole um" I can go no further without rest !” he pire. Shall we go on, or turn back ?” at length exclaimed, dropping on the dry, * Oh, go on!” said the pedler, rising sandy ground. “Let us sit here a few to his feet. “Let us go on; I am rested. minutes, and I shall be better." There Anything is better than being in the powwas a touching sweetness and sadness in er of those desperate men!” his voice, so unlike its former nasal twang The path, as Carleton had said, was that Carleton was struck by it; but he more rough and difficult. Sharp stones, only wondered that fatigue should pro- that had fallen from the heights above duce so agreeable an effect, and endeav- them, cut their feet and rendered their ored to comfort him.
footing insecure; while the descent was “ Take a little of the wine,” said he, so abrupt as to cause the stones to roll kindly, pouring out a half-gill into a under their feet. But they resolutely leather cup which he took from his went on, cheering one another with the pocket.
hope of soon finding some indications of “ Thank you!” said the pedler, grate an approaching outlet. But these indifully accepting it; "it is refreshing. I cations were not at hand, and they grew know not why, but I never felt so ex- uneasy. They had been walking at least hausted. Perhaps it is the strain upon three hours, when, turning a sudden anmy nerves. It is so strange here! Why, gle in the rock, the sound of something we are in the very bowels of the earth, like far-distant music reached their ears. and how do we know that we shall ever, All started and listened. It had ceased, ever find our way out? Josh, you have but presently rose again, far-off and faint, never been so far as this before ?” but shrill, sweet, and long-drawn-out. It
“No, sar," said the negro, dubiously; continued for two minutes, perhaps, then “I nebber hab; but Ise tink we right, died away. though, I dun't tink wese lost."
“ What is it?” said Carleton, gazing " Lost!” exclaimed the pedler. “Good wildly in the face of the pedler. "Did God, what a dreadful suggestion. I have you not hear music ?” heard of men being lost in the intermin- I thought so," said the latter, bend. able labyrinths of such vast caverns, ing eagerly forward. " Where could it men wandering and strayed in the cata- have come from?” combs under the city of Paris have been “ It is impossible to say, unless we are found dead long afterwards, their flesh near the outlet of the cavern, and the eaten from their arms, as if they had died guerrillas are amusing themselves with the awful death of starvation. Is it not singing."
It rose again. The negro laid his ear music seems to thrill upon their senses. to the ground for a few minutes, when, And who can say whether there are not rising to his feet with every sign of ter- always sounds in the air, angel voices, ror depicted on his countenance, he ex- perhaps, though so fine and distant as to claimed, in whisper, —
be unheard by any ear save those soon to « Lors bress we ! Dat ole massa's be open to the music of heaven? We flute, Ise sartio. We're gwine back tow- know that to the eyes of the dying visions ard de cavern.”
of heaven are ofttimes vouchsafed which “ That is impossible,” said Carleton. none who stand beside them can discern. “This chasm runs nearly straight, and we Why should it not be so with us now, have certainly walked ten miles since we when we may be standing on the verge of entered it, and in a direct line from the eternity ? " cavern. That theory will never do. But “You are poetical,” said Carleton, hidwhatever it is, we must keep on; we can- ing the emotion which the words of the not stop here.”
pedler awakened. I think, in the
presAgain they walked on, though it can. ent instance, we ought rather to attribute not be denied with many misgivings in the sounds we thought music to the relation to the strange, weird music which, gnomes and little people who are believed, at intervals, continued to steal faintly on by some, to dwell in the centre of their ears.
At length, their attention mountains and to work in the metals was turned to another matter. Indica- which lie there hidden. They were probtions of a change in the chasm began to ably testing the tones of their bells." appear. It became irregular, gradually Í'he pedler smiled. “You accept the widening as they went on, and at length old German superstition, then,” said he. terminated in another cavern.
• But, after all, you must confess that my narrow and lofty as all they had seen, and theory is the more reasonable. Did not branching off into three passages, running the shepherds of Judea hear anthems sung in different directions, one on each hand, by angels at the birth of the Saviour?” and the third nearly on a line with the “ But that was a miraculous visitation. one they had been pursuing. There they We do not have such now. Besides, the again paused for rest and refreshment, voice of heavenly visitants could hardly the scattered boulders furnishing conven- penetrate the interminable" labyrinths of ient seats for them.
these caverns. “Unsling the knapsack, Josh," said They might be sent to lead us out, the young officer, "and let us see what and Hark! they are wakening again.” it contains."
And indeed, at this moment, such strains The knapsack was soon opened, and its of heavenly sweetness, long drawn out, contents, which proved to be of the most such tones of mournful and piercing melappetizing quality, earnestly discussed. ody,- swelled and trembled upon their Their long wanderings had given each one ears as thrilled through every fibre of of the little party an excellent appetite, their being. and they felt their strength reviving with So musical and sadly sweet, every mouthful. They soon reverted to Such as when winds and harpstrings meet the singular event of the music, which
And take a long, unmeasured tone, had wholly died away, Carleton and the
To mortal minstrelsy unknown.” pedler offering various but unsatisfactory The little group stood spell-bound and theories for its solution.
motionless, as the strains seemed to draw " I think it was but a dream, after all,” slowly near, sweep by them, and gradualsaid the latter, after a few moments' si- | ly die away in the distance. leace. “I have heard of such things “ It sounds like the wail of a spirit of when men were lost. - They grow to hear light imprisoned by some demon." said