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soul,” solemnly rejoined Carleton. “Can penetrate a little distance, revealing only it be that the superstitions of the ancients, the naked sides of the rock, while still in relation to a world of beings in the the strains seemed to mock them with centre of the earth had any foundation in their wild and exultant melody. reality ?”
“It must be the wind, striking some “I do not know," said the pedler. flexible objects. There must be an outlet “ After this, if I live to enter the sweet above our heads. Take the torches, Josh, world again, I shall believe every legend and go back beyond the last turn, that I I have ever read of superhuman visita- may see if we cannot discern daylight.” tions to men, however improbable they The negro obeyed; and no sooner had may seem to others."
the torchlight disappeared, than Carleton Again the wild strain rose, wilder, sad saw that his surmise was right. Sheer der, more unearthly than before. up the narrow chasm, full five hundred
“ For God's sake, let us inquire into feet above their heads, gleamed a slender this !” said Carleton, with a dilating eye, line of daylight, and along its length, as as he resolutely strode forward in the di- the two gazed intently, they perceived rection of the unearthly sounds.
huge vines stretching below the opening, “ Stop, Guy, for Heaven's sake!” ex- over which swept the wind, waking them claimed the pedler, seizing the young to music, as if they had been the strings officer by the arm.
of some colossal lyre. It may
show the extent of the awe and " It is wonderful!” said the pedler, excitement to which the young officer was with a great sigh of relief. “I am glad wrought up, that he did not, for an in- we have discovered the cause of what stant, observe the singularity of the fact seemed so strange a phenomenon; for, that the stranger by his side had called little inclined to superstition as I am, had him by his Christian name, - a singular- it been left unexplained, I think I should ity of which the pedler himself was in- have remembered it as a supernatural stantly conscious, judging by the crimson warning all my days." which rushed over the pallid hue of his “It would have been only natural; for face. But he saw that Carleton had not surely, the proudest philosopher might be observed it, and with a flitting smile, he pardoned for yielding to superstitious fandropped the young man's arm.
cies under so peculiar circumstances. "It was through this passage that the Hear it again! How unearthly the strains strains came,” said Carleton, turning into are! yet not half so much so as when the narrowest of the chasms, "and the wailing and echoing through the distant cause cannot be far off. You are not un labyrinths where we first heard them. willing to follow me ?”
Then they were infinitely wild and awful.” No," said the 'pedler; nevertheless, They were, indeed! I doubt if the it was with trembling and hesitating steps world can offer a situation so calculated that he, with the negro, who had been to thrill one with dread and superstibusy packing up his knapsack, followed tion." him into the narrow crevasse.
“ But now that this is explained,” said The way led, with many angular turnings, Carleton, “it is time to return, once down abrupt descents and up steep accliv- more, to the difficulties of our position. ities, each turn evidently bringing them How are we to make our way out of nearer and nearer to the cause of the these caverns, far down, as we are, in the unearthly music, which, alternately rising bowels of the earth ? Look up! You and falling, now pierced them with its can absolutely see a star, distinctly, though shrill and lengthened cadences and now it cannot be more than noonday. This grew so faint and far as to be scarcely chasm, five hundred feet in depth, or more, perceptible. At length, it seemed to be acts like an immense telescope. This directly over their heads. They raised will be something also to remember, if their torches, endeavoring to cast their we ever get out into the world again, as light up the chasm ; but it could only we shall not, unless we move on.”
Carleton called to the negro to return den turn, however, revealed the startling with the torches, and he immediately fact that the walls approached so close to made his appearance with a huge slice of each other as to be absolutely impassable, Tenison in his hand, he having taken ad- not more than eight or ten inches intervantage of the pause to finish his inter- vening between them; and through this rupted dinner.
narrow passage, the wind swept with a “We soon get out uv dis yar, massa,” velocity which at once extinguished their said he, his spirits having evidently risen torches. under the influence of his dinner.. “I
They were now in impenetrable darkreckon we'm pretty nigh trou."
ness, a darkness that could be felt, "I hope so, Josh ; at any rate, we'll buried a hundred fathoms deep in the not give up. We have certainly one en- bowels of the earth, at an impassable couraging sign,” he continued, turning to point, and without the means of rekinthe pedler, —the fact that the wind, to dling their torches (for not one of them produce this music which has so much was provided with matches). It was a alarmed us, must have an entrance some- fearful position. where among these labyrinthian passages.
“Good God! what shall we do now?” It could not sweep down the chasm; it exclaimed Carleton. evidently enters below and rushes upward. A quick, low, gasping sob at his elbow I wish we could only feel 'it; then we and a shaking hand upon his arm told the should know that it entered on a level terror of the pedler. The negro mani. with, or below us. And now let us take fested a self-possession and courage that a little of this wine, and start.”
were not to have been looked for. Each drank a snall cup of the wine . Oh, lors, massa,” said he, “wese hard which Carleton poured out, and they pro- up, sar; but I reckons de Lord can show ceeded.
|us de way out uv dis yere, sar, ef wese “ I have every hope of finding a place ony tells him de fix we's in, sar;” and he of exit, since I have strengthened myself dropped on his knees, bursting into a with this wine and the bread and venison fervent prayer that rung through the we have eaten," said the pedler, laughing, chasm. displaying, as he did so, an even set of “Oh, massa God, ef ye's ever want to teeth of dazzling whiteness. “It is sur- help poor niggers out uv der troubles, jis’ prising how brave one is after a good din 'trive sum way to git us out uv dis yere ner. If I were a general, my men should fix now. Oh, massa Lord, don't wait too always feast before fighting.”
long, fur it's awful dark yere! Amen." - That is the true philosophy,” said The negro rose from his knees. “I Carleton; “and I consider that we are reckon wese find de way now, sar," said now ready to encounter all the gnomes he, with a voice full of confidence. and uncanny beings this mountain con- wait a bit, till de light comes." tains. It is best to follow this chasm, * You have done well, my friend, to the wind that makes our music without turn to Him who alone can aid us now; doubt finds its way through here.” but he will take his own time,” said the
Their path, for some distance, presented pedler, solemnly, his clear, low voice no new feature, and they pressed on as thrilling Carleton with that peculiar feelrapidly as possible, hope growing with ing he had several times that day expeevery rod of distance they left behind rienced. them. Carleton, as for some hours past, “We must turn back," said the latter, still led the way, and it began, at length, gently; "and let us all keep close toto seem to him that the chasm was con- gether, that we may not be separated. tracting in width, - an impression that We will walk while we can, and may God was soon confirmed by the fact that he direct our steps ! ” could touch the walls on either hand. They walked carefully, the rugged path He felt uneasy, but made no remark, offering many obstacles which several thinking it might widen again. A sud- times nearly threw them down. It was
so fearfully, fearfully dark! They said observed in going out, occurred on both little.
sides of the chasm. They paused a mo“ My mouth is so parched !” the pedler ment to consult, and determined to enter at length huskily observed.
one of them, which seemed somewhat “ And so is mine!” said Carleton. “I wider than the others, and follow it as have two or three lozenges in my pocket; long as they could. we will hold them in our mouths to keep They turned into it, and after going on them moist."
for two or three hundred yards, they He put his fingers into his vest to feel found it to grow wider and wider, finally for the lozenges, when suddenly he shout- terminating in a chamber of considerable
size and of a new appearance. The walls “We are saved! We are saved! I were of black marble, smooth and shinhave a match !”
ing and very regular, but gloomy and They had all mechanically retained dark, their torches diffusing their light their torches, and the precious little splin- but a very short distance. ter of wood, upon which so much depended, They stopped to examine the rocks. was drawn carefully against the rock, and “ This is a new formation,” said Carleinstantly a tiny blue flame appeared, flick- ton. “We have left the earlier formaered for an instant, then blazed cheerily tions, and are evidently approaching the
Carleton's torch was instantly held exterior of the mountain. This marble over the little flame, and with a joy im- is one of the latest formations." possible to describe, the wanderers saw it Fresh hope sprung up in the bosoms of gradually crcep along the resinous pine the wanderers at this cheering promise ; until the whole end was in a blaze. Un- and they entered the chasm opposite to til then, they had hardly breathed, and the one they were leaving, determined to they now lighted the other torches and pursue as straight a course as possible. looked in one another's faces, unable, for They went on and on, the path sometimes some moments, to speak, but revealing, descending and sometimes level. New by their expression, a gratitude they only rooms appeared, until they had passed can appreciate who have been suddenly through four of the same character as the rescued from almost certain death. last. Each had several outlets, leading
“I know'd de Lord ud fine out some off in different directions; but they careway to save us," said the black, devotedly. fully selected that having the same gen“ He ollis do dat ar when we axes him.” eral course as the one last followed.
“ You are right, Josh,” said Carleton ; After walking in this chasm several " and we all thank Him with our whole miles, as they computed, finding very hearts. I had not the slightest idea that little variation from a dead level, they I had the match in my pocket. God be struck off into a low, narrow passage thanked for the boon!"
which had a gradual descent. Soon, to “I tink God put him dar, sar," said their consternation, it began to drop very
suddenly, seeming, as they projected the • The pedler did not speak; but Carle- light of their torches down the declivity, ton knew by his bowed head and tremu- like an endless flight of stairs of irregulous lips, that he felt more than words lar sizes. They determined, however, to
go on, to turn back being more terrible The fact that they had to retrace their still. steps for two or three miles along the nar- Their descent now required the utmost row chasm, until they should reach the care and exertion. Sometimes stepping last cavern, in order to take one of the down from crag to crag, sometimes forced other passages, seemed as nothing now in to let themselves down perpendicular detheir eyes, and they went on with elastic scents by their hands, they were becomsteps. They, however, soon made the ing weak and exhausted. discovery that several branches, leading « Good God! this must end in some off at acute angles, which they had not way before very much longer,” said Carle
ton, as, panting and moist with perspira- fell upon the object, revealing a little tion, he leaned for rest against the rock. cluster of beans, ghastly in their paleness,
“Who knows,” rejoined the pedler, as plants will be which have never basked who had for some hours been growing in the light of day, but fresh and full of very pale, and now sat weak and trembling life. on a projecting crag, ." who knows but “O good Father, I thank thee !” said We are descending into some subterranean the pedler, bursting into a passion of well, into which we shall plange, strug. tears that told how great the strair upon gle for a few dreadful moments, and then his heart had been. sink forever! Who, then, will ever solve It would be in vain to attempt to dethe mystery of our loss, or carry comfort pict the joy and gratitude of the little to our friends ?”
party at the certainty that this little plant Carleton shuddered; but resolutely put- gave them that they were now not very ting aside the frightful suggestion, deter- far from the outlet of the caverns, through mined to look on a brighter side, seeing which they had been wandering for nearly well that they had all need of courage twelve hours, with so little real probabiland hope to enable them to still perse- ity of ever finding the way out of the vere in their efforts to save themselves. intricate labyrinth, or beholding the face
"I do not apprehend that,” said he, of day again. It was expressed in variwith a forced cheerfulness. “ Thus far, ous ways suited to the character of each, there has been no dampness. See! these the negro devoutly maintaining that he walls are quite dry, which could not be s know'd Massa God would show 'em de the case were there a reservoir of water way out uv dat ar!” below. No; I still adhere to the opin- As soon they had recovered sufficient ion that the external air finds a constant composure, the party again started on the passage through these chasms, and that journey now evidently near its terminawe shall soon emerge from our dreadful tion, the pedler carefully lifting the roots dungeon into the blessed daylight. What of the little signal-plant from the ledge. say you, Josh ?"
“ This is my beacon-star, and I shall “I trusts in de Lord, sar. I aint always preserve it," said he. gwine to gub up my b’lief in him, sar. They had continued their difficult deLors, massa, doesn't yer 'member how he scent but a few rods further, when the tuk car ob de prophet in de lion's den ? | chasın made an abrupt turn, and Carleton, Didn't I ask him to tak car' we, sar, and who led the way, thought he perceived, does yer s'pose he aint gwine to pay no like a star far down in a deep well, a faint 'tention to dat ar prayer, wun we jis got glimmer of daylight. On putting his out de lion's den weselves too? No, sar; torch behind him, it proved to be real. I doesn't b’lieve dat ar, no way! Daylight actually shone faintly in, but
" You are right, my good fellow," said far away in an oblique direction, hunthe pedler, lifting up his face again. “ It dreds of feet below them. It was like would be a shame for us to have less faith the polar star to a lost voyager. Down than you; and now that I am rested a they plunged, heeding little that their little, I feel a strong confidence that we path was jagged and rough and their perare not to be left to die in these dreary pendicular descents often of frightful caverns. So if you please, Captain Carle- depths, clutching the craggy points with top, we will go on again.”
their hands, and dropping sometimes into The faith of the little company was unknown abysses from which they were about to be rewarded; for scarcely had obliged to climb up again, but all the they proceeded twenty rods further when, while rapidly approaching the point of laying his hand on a ledge to steady him- light which every moment grew larger self, the pedler suddenly exclaimed, and brighter.
• What is this? It feels like a cluster At length they reached it. It was a of beans!”
low, narrow aperture, the passage they The next instant, the light of the torch had been following turning abruptly to the left and leading away into utter dark- opening, a long passage scarcely three ness! They crawled out into this aper- feet high by six wide, and having crawled ture, and found it to terminate on a shelf through it, they found themselves in a about three feet in width, half-way up narrow ravine whose perpendicular walls, the wall of a wide chamber, into which hundreds of feet high, enclosed them bethe light came from two directions, - hind, before, and on their right hand. from a narrow fissure near its roof and But the blue sky was over their heads, from an entrance on the floor nearly op- and trees of grand proportions shivered posite where they were. They held down their green leaves in the fading sunlight, their torches and saw that the floor was whose last rays were shining brightly on only twelve feet below them. Making the lofty summits of the rocks before their way carefully to the edge of the them. They were, then, on the east side shelf, they found secure clutching-places of the mountain. They had entered it for their hands, when, working their way on the west, having been travelling twelve over, they let themselves down, and in a hours and passed completely through it. moment were on the floor. They looked A swift little stream was running along up the wall down which they had dropped, at the bottom of the ravine toward the but the aperture was completely invisible, north. - hidden by the projecting shelf.
“ This stream leads somewhere,” said Curiously enough, this cavern in which Carleton, “and I do not know any better they now found themselves gave evidence way than to follow it. This really looks of being at least a temporary lurking as if it were made for our grave, so inacplace for human beings, probably guer- cessible on all sides does it seem; but rillas. A few culinary utensils of the where this stream finds an outlet we may.” coarsest, rudest character, lay disorderedly As they turned to follow the noisy litscattered about, two or three bearskins tle torrent, they looked back, but not a hung on projections of the wall, a pile of trace of the hole through which they had cedar branches lay not far from the out- left the mountain could they discern. let, and nearer still to the opening was a “ Are we in magic land?” said the heap of light ashes and a few extinguished pedler, gazing on the blank rock in surbrands evidently of no very distant origin. prise. “The opening of the cave is van
“We are still among the haunts of the ished !” guerrillas,” said Carleton, after the little “I think
will find an easy explaparty had stood for two or three minutes nation of that, if you notice that steep looking about them.
declivity down which we slid as we “Yes,” replied the pedler with a deep emerged from the rock,” said Carleton, breath ; “ but it is evident not those oc- smiling at his companion's apparent tercupying the cavern we first entered. In ror. "The opening is hid by the projectfact, there is not the least reason to sup- ing shelf on to which we stepped as we pose that the dreadful chasms through came out.” which we have been wandering for cer- " True," laughed the pedler; “we are tainly thirty miles or more are known to not bewitched yet, I see.
how any one but ourselves. Thank God! are we to find our way back to your thank God! who guided us safely through camp?” them!”
“Oh, de good Lord'll show us de way,