xt7prr1pgr6v https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7prr1pgr6v/data/mets.xml Spalding, Henry Stanislaus, 1865-1934. 1901  books b92-32-26573292 English Benziger Brothers, : New York ; Cincinnati : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Cave by the Beech fork : a story of Kentucky--1815 / by Henry S. Spalding, S.J. text Cave by the Beech fork : a story of Kentucky--1815 / by Henry S. Spalding, S.J. 1901 2002 true xt7prr1pgr6v section xt7prr1pgr6v 







A Story of Kentucky-I 8 1 5


    New York, Cincinnati, Chicago
     Printers to the Holy Apostolic See

 This page in the original text is blank.



                   CHAPTER   I.               JPG
A Day's Hunt Along the Beech Fork .......................     7
                  CHAPTER II.
Owen and Martin Visit the Cave ............................ x6
                  CHAPTER III.
In Which Owen and Martin Learn More About the Wonder-
   ful Cave ............................................... 23
                  CHAPTER IV.
The Howards ...................... ....................... 33
                  CHAPTER V.
Owen and Martin Meet Old Friends, and Owen Shows How
   He Can Use a Rifle ..............4...................... 4
                  CHAPTER VI.
A Visit from Father Byrne ................................. 50
                  CHAPTER VII.
Mr. Howard Is Surprised by a Visitor-Owen Hears of the
   Great Shooting-Match ...................59............. S
                  CHAPTER VIII.
Happy Days .68
                  CHAPTER IX.
The Practice .78
                  CHAPTER X.
The Eventful Day .83
                  CHAPTER XI.
David and Goliath ..............,.,.,,.,.go


vi                 CONTENTS.

                   CHAPTER XII.                 PAGN
Killing Goliath With His Own Sword ....................... 96
                  CHAPTER XIII.
Bertha Hears the News of Victory .......................... IO
                  CHAPTER XIV.
Brother and Sister ....................................       107
                   CHAPTER XV.
Around the Fireplace ....................................     117
                  CHAPTER XVI.
On the Trail of the Runaway Slave ..................... ... 124
                  CHAPTER XVII.
Carrying the News ....................................        129
                  CHAPTER XVIII.
Saving the Message ........................................ 138
                  CHAPTER XIX.
The Tinker Disturbs the Inmates of the Cave ............... 148
                  CHAPTER XX.
A Day's Sport Along the Beech Fork ....................... 157
                  CHAPTER XXI.
Mr. Lane Has a Difficulty ....................... .......... I7I
                  CHAPTER XXII.
Mr. Lane Finds a Solution to His Difficulty ................. 178
                  CHAPTER XXIII.
The Mark on Stayford's Pistol ..............................x 88
                  CHAPTER XXIV.
Tom the Tinker....................................I99
                  CHAPTER XXV.
Off to the Cave............             .        21I
                 CHAPTER XXVI.
Sealed Forever ...22...  ................................... 2


  The Cave by the Beech Fork.

                   CHAPTER I.


N  O wonder this river is called the Beech Fork," said
      Owen, as he rested his trusty rifle by his side and
      pointed toward the thickly-clustered beech-trees,
which skirted the banks of a small stream.
  "See, too, how close they are to the water's edge; they
have taken the place of the sycamore and willow," said
his companion, Martin Cooper, at the same time seating
himself upon the trunk of a fallen tree and looking in
the direction indicated.
  "But do you notice anything peculiar about those
beech-trees " asked Owen.
  "Yes; they have long, slender branches."
  "And the leaves-see how green they are, while the
others are beginning to fade."
  Beautiful, indeed, was the scene before them! The
myriad leaves of the underbrush and the lofty canopies



of the trees were dyed with all the varied colors
of an autumn day. Even the thistle, when sheltered
by some impending bough, retained its rose-pink bloom.
Patches of sumac nestling close to the ledge of rocks,
where larger growth could not survive for want of
moisture, raised their cones of crimson berries; the sour-
gum was laden with clusters of purple fruit as tempting
to the eye as the most delicious grapes; the hickories
were conspicuous by their russet foliage; the deep-lobed
leaves of the white-oak were burning with fiery red;
the ash-trees, scattered here and there, were robed irn
garments of purest saffron: only the beech-trees remained
unchanged by the autumn frosts, for their small, serrate
leaves were as green and glossy as during the summer
months. Beech, beech, beech; who could number them
Here nature seemed to have prepared for them a para-
dise. Other trees grew there only to bring out by con-
trast the boundless, unbroken forest of beech-trees.
  "The old forest is a fine place during this month,"
said Martin. "Still, I prefer not to spend the night here.
Let us start home, for it is getting late."
  "I should like to have at least one shot at a turkey
before we go," replied Owen. "Say, Frisk," he con-
tinued, addressing a bird-dog which was enjoying a
good rest at the side of his master, "old fellow, can't
you find a turkey for us Why don't you work as
Bounce does Hear how he is barking and chasing that



  He had scarcely uttered these words when both boys
were startled by a sudden noise. The leaves rustled,
the underbrush of the woods separated and a large
deer bounded past them. Each sprang for his rifle but
it was too late; before either could fire, the coveted prize
disappeared behind a ledge of rocks.
  As they stood there, rifle in hand, they were, in dress
at least, perfect types of western huntsmen, though
neither had seen his sixteenth year. Owen Howard's
entire outfit was in harmony with the wild and rugged
scenes around him. His gray trousers made of coarse
home-spun cloth, his deer-skin hunting jacket, his fox-
skin cap and sturdy moccasins, all bespoke a life far
removed from the busy scenes and worldly comforts of
town or city. He had a bright, piercing eye, a counte-
nance frank and winning, a voice as clear and musical as
the call of the meadow-lark. He was as nimble as a
squirrel. There was about his whole person an air of
singular freedom, and every part of his well-shaped
frame was perfectly developed by continued though not
overtasking labor.
  The friend who stood beside him was dressed in the
same unique hunter's costume. He appeared less active,
but more robust than his companion. His face was
ruddy, round, and freckled; his long, unkempt hair fell
in reddish clusters from beneath his hunting cap. A look
of thoughtful earnestness was stamped upon his features



as he stood and gazed at the place where the deer had
  "Probably it'll cross Rapier's Ford," said Owen, re-
covering from his surprise. "It has been a favorite
crossing for them of late. There's no harm in trying. I
would walk a week for a shot at that fellow."
  "All right. Let us hurry on fast," said Martin.
  So the two pushed on at a brisk rate toward the ford
about a mile below. They posted themselves so as to
cover the narrow path which approached the river, and
waited in true huntsman-like silence. An hour passed,
and no sound of the faithful dog could be heard. At
last, far over the hills his bark was faintly audible.
Then the alarm became louder, and a slight click of their
rifles showed that the boys were preparing to give the
deer a warm welcome. If it was far ahead of the hound,
as usually happened, it might rush by them at any mo-
ment. Suddenly their attention was drawn to a spot
by the rustling of leaves, and peering from behind the
trees they saw a large turkey-gobbler, strutting along
wholly unconscious of the danger near at hand. What
a fine mark it made as it strolled deliberately by with
its head erect and wings arched! Owen was the
first to see it and raised his rifle to fire; but as
Martin signed to him to wait he lowered his rifle
and let the turkey pass by. Judging from the barking
of the dog, the deer was making for the ford. Owen
felt comforted for the loss of the turkey, for if the



deer passed between them one or the other would cer-
tainly bring it down.
  "How I would like to wring the neck off that turkey !"
muttered Martin to himself, for the gobbler persisted in
remaining within rifle-shot, scratching among the dry
leaves, and making as much noise as a whole flock of
  The boys were disappointed in their expectations, for
the deer changed its course, and again left the river.
Another hour passed, and the deep shades of the forest
cast a gloom on all around.
  "Helloo, there, Owen!" shouted Martin,emerging from
his place of concealment, and stretching his cramped
limbs. No answer came, so he called again in a still
louder voice: "Helloo, there, Owen! Wake up, and let
us move; it's getting dark."
  Still no answer came.
  "Owen! Owen!" he called, walking toward the place
where his companion had waited. Not finding him,
Martin took the horn which hung at his side and was
about to raise it to his mouth, when he heard the report
of Owen's rifle. The latter had given up all hope of
killing the deer, and had crept cautiously away in quest
of the gobbler. He had just caught sight of it in the
thick underbrush, but the woods were now so dark that
his aim was not true.
  "We are in a pretty plight," said Owen as Martin



approached. "Hunting all day, and nothing to show
for our work but a few squirrels."
   "Yes !" assented Martin. "And it's seven miles home
-dark, too; in half an hour we won't be able to see ten
steps ahead. We stayed at the ford too long; there is
no going home to-night, and that is all about it. Why,
an Indian would get lost a night like this. We must
stay here; it won't be the first night we have slept on
the banks of the Beech Fork."
  "That's all right for the summer," argued Owen.
"But remember that it's October now, and the nights
are frosty."
  "What's to be done " asked Martin, glancing anx-
iously around the dark forest.
  "I really don't know. But I do know one thing: I
am tired and hungry."
  "Let us stay here. We won't starve. We'll have the
squirrels for supper."
  "Then we'll stay. Squirrels for supper, a soft bed of
leaves, and a fire to drive away the frost. What else
does a fellow want "
  "I'll bring Bounce to the camp," said Martin, blowing
a loud blast on his horn.
  A deep bark answered the echoes, and soon the faith-
ful dog stood panting at the side of the young hunts-
  "Why didn't you bring the deer this way, old fellow"
asked Owen.



   Bounce shook his head, as if to say that he did his
best, but could not succeed.
   "Well, come on. You've worked hard, and shall have
a good supper," said Martin, as the two boys set towork
to prepare for the evening meal.
  A large pile of wood was collected, and a fire was
started against the trunk of a beech, which stretched its
thick branches on all sides, forming a natural tent.
Martin constructed two cups with the leaves of a paw-
paw-tree, and filled them with clear water from a brook
near at hand. Owen had the squirrels dressed in a jiffy.
One was suspended over the fire by a green twig, while
the other was wrapped in damp paper and placed under
the live coals to roast. Thus, two different dishes were
prepared from the same meat. They had also some dry
bread left from their luncheon. Uninviting as their
repast may seem to some, to them it was more savory
than the most tempting viands, having, as it did, the
true Spartan seasoning. Bounce and Frisk were not
forgotten. They shared in the day's spoil, and gnawed
at the bones until far into the night.
  Owen and Martin now collected a large heap of leaves
before the fire, and placed their rifles near by in readi-
ness to receive any wild-cat which chanced to be
attracted by the light.
  Their last and most important duty was that which
every Christian performs before retiring to rest. Our
young friends had pious parents; they had lived in an



atmosphere of simple but deep faith, and would have
considered it almost a crime to neglect their morning or
evening prayers. There, then, they prayed; at night,
and in the stillness of a forest, where giant trees
stretched out their branches like the arches of some great
cathedral, and where all around was hushed in holy
  "I do believe it's going to rain," said Martin, catch-
ing a glimpse of the clouds through a rift in the trees
as he lay down upon his rustic bed.
  "Why didn't I think of it before I-I don't see how
I forgot it-I intended to tell you about it-and it is
not a mile away," muttered Owen in a half audible tone.
  "What are you saying Are you dreaming" asked
  "I was talking about a cave which I found last month
when chasing a 'coon-a big one, too."
  "What, the 'coon "
  "No! the cave. If it rains to-night I'll take you tiere.
It's better than a log-house."
  "Perhaps it is the one that Mr. Rapier told me about the
other day," said Martin. "It's in this neighborhood, but
no one knows the exact spot. Long ago, even before
Daniel Boone came to Kentucky, the Indians used to
live in it during the hunting season."
  "Are there two large rocks before it" inquired Owven,
raising himself up to a sitting posture and staring at
Martin with evident interest.



  "Let me see; I believe he said something about two
rocks. Now I recollect; there were two large rocks,
one on each side."
  "That's the place; and if the rain doesn't drive us
there to-night, we'll see it to-morrow morning."
  Owen then lay down again, and was soon fast asleep,
dreaming that he discovered an immense cave, whose
entrance was guarded by two dogs as large as the two
rocks which he had seen. His dream was scarcely more
wonderful than the wonders which that cave really con-



                   CHAPTER I.


 T was far into the night when the boys awoke. The
    fire had burned low, and the rain which had been
    falling for an hour began to penetrate their leafy
  "Owen! Owen !" cried Martin, the first to awake, "it's
  Owen was stiff from the chilly night air. He rubbed
his eyes and stretched his limbs for some minutes before
he realized his situation.
  "Wake up! wake up !" Martin remonstrated, at the
same time throwing a handful of damp leaves intoe the
sleeper's face as an additional inducement. "You had
better take me to that wonderful cave," continued hle.
  "I dreamt about the place," said Owen, who was now
fully awake, "and that the two rocks had been turned into
  "You must have been enjoying your dream, for I
thought you would never wake up. I was just going
to put a little fire into your moccasins," replied Martin.
  "That would have brought me in quick time, for a
fellow can't sleep and be roasted at the same time. But



come, let us start. It's pretty dark, and I'll have to turn
Indian to find the cave a night like this."
  "Keep your weather-eye open, Bounce," said Martin,
turning toward the dog. "Our rifles are damp. If
there is a wild-cat in the neighborhood, you must do the
fighting. Do you hear, old fellow "
  Bounce shook his head as if to say there was no danger
while in his company.
  After plodding along and elbowing their way through
the damp bushes, the boys reached a hill which ran along
the bank of the river for many miles, rising at times to the
height of some three hundred feet.  Carefully they
clambered up toward the two giant rocks which could
scarcely be discerned in the gloom, Bounce occasionally
giving a low growl of alarm as they approached.
  Again and again they stopped and listened, but noth-
ing could be seen or heard. They therefore concluded
that it was only a fresh trail, and that the animal itself
was not near.
  "I tell you it's dark," said Martin, who was the first
to pass between the two immense rocks into the cavern.
  "Dark as a dungeon," replied Owen in a tone of voice
that showed he was not exactly pleased with the situa-
  "All we need is a little fire to make things look home-
like," said Martin, at the same time searching for some
dry wood.
  As no wood could be found the boys were forced to




remain in the dark cave. Crouched together in a dry
corner they tried to sleep, but could not. Bounce con-
tinued to growl, and, since he never gave a false alarm,
they did not feel perfectly at ease. A strange and sub-
dued sound seemed to issue from the crevices of the rocks.
Both boys listened, yet neither spoke. Was it the drip-
ping of the water from the damp arches above What
could it be
  "Didn't you hear something" asked Martin.
  "I thought so," replied Owen, "but, when I listened
again, I heard nothing except the dripping water.
  Here their conversation was interrupted by a low growl
from Bounce.
  "Something is wrong," said Martin. "I can't sleep
here without a fire. Let us look for wood again."
  As they groped around in the dark searching for
wood, Martin slipped, and at the same time grasped the
side of the cave to prevent his falling. The huge rock
yielded, and opened like the massive door of some great
dungeon, disclosing a lurid light farther in the cave.
  "Heavens! what is this" gasped the boy, losing his
hold and letting the rock swing back to its former
  "A robbers' den," whispered Owen, trembling with
fright. "They have not seen us; let us get away as
fast as we can."
  Fortunately, the dogs did not bark, The boys would



have left the place unobserved, had not a man met them
at the entrance.
  "Who are you" demanded he, in a gruff voice.
  "Two boys; we were overtaken by the night, and had
to sleep in the woods. It commenced to rain, and we
came here for shelter," said Owen.
  "Youngster, don't tell me a lie! Is there no one
around here except yourselves"
  "No, sir! No one!"
  "How-a-did you come to know about this cave"
asked the man in a milder but hesitating way.
  "I found it one day when I was out hunting," an-
swered Owen.
  "I found it in the same way," said the man. "The
rain drove me in here, too. It isn't a very good place to
sleep, still we'll have to hold out here until mo-ning;
so just lie down, boys, and try to take a rest."
  "No, sir !" said Martin, looking toward the place where
the big door had opened. "We are going to leave this
cave immediately. It's a robbers' den or it's haunted."
  "What! What did you say!" demanded the man, all
his former gruffness immediately returning.
  "Robber's den! haunted !" stammered Martin, excit-
edly. "There's a big door to the left. I opened it and
saw a light."
  "You did You did You saw a light in there "
growled the man. "Then, boys, you have seen too much
to leave here until I let you go. Don't try to run away,




or I'll kill both of you I" and he emphasized his threat
with an oath, at the same time swinging open the door
and ordering the boys to go into the inner part of the
   They obeyed tremblingly, and saw the rock door locked
behind them.
   "Now, boys," said the man, "this isn't a robbers' den.
It isn't haunted, either. If you sit down there and keep
perfectly quiet, I won't hurt you. But if you don't do as
I tell you, you'll get into trouble." With these words he
left them, and passing through another door went farther
into the cave.
  Our two young hunters were so frightened that neither
spoke for some time.
  By the flickering light of a fire which had been kindled
in the center of the chamber they could examine their
dingy prison. It was more than eight feet high and
twenty feet long, with solid rock walls and incipient sta-
lactites projecting from above. Skins of minks, foxes,
raccoons and wildcats were stretched on forked staves
the full length of the cave; and from their variety and
number one would infer that he was in the rude home of
a trapper. Nothing else was visible, not even a rough
bench or a bed of straw. No doubt the occupant of this
mysterious cave had other apartments connected with
this one.
  Martin was the first to break the awful silence.



  "What a fool I was," gasped he, "for telling him-
about that door."
  "Well, it's too late to cry about it now," replied Owen.
"Are you much frightened"
  "Why-I was so scared-that I thought-I should
never recover-my power of speech."
  "My heart stopped beating."
  "If mine stopped-it is making up for it now. It isn't
beating-it's hammering."
  "I must confess that I don't feel very brave just at
present," said Owen, trying at the same time to force a
  "I only wish we had Bounce in here with us," replied
  "Yes, I am never lonesome in the woods when I have
him with me. But, say, Mart! did you notice that when
the man left us, he opened another door there to the
right, and that there was another light farther in the
cave "
  "No; are you sure"
  Owen was about to answer, when the door in question
was swung aside, and the man entered, wearing a mask
and carrying a bright torch.
  "Well, boys," said he, "I see you didn't try to run
away. I've been thinking the matter over, and have come
to the conclusion that I'll let you go. Of course, you'll
have to promise not to say anything about the cave."
  "We'll promise that," said Owen,




  "And you will have to keep the promise."
  "Oh, we'll do that, too," replied Martin.
  "Glad to see you so willing; but we'll settle the whole
matter in the morning. Don't be afraid, I am not going
to hurt you. Lie down and try to rest until I come back.
The ground is a little hard, it is true, but it is dry; and
there is no danger of catching cold."
  He extinguished the few smouldering coals in the
middle of the cave, where a fire had previously been kept
burning to dry the skins. After again admonishing the
boys not to move, he took his torch and departed, leav-
ing them in utter darkness.



                THE WONDERFUL CAVE.

 W ], ALTER STAYFORD was not the sole occu-
          pant of that mysterious cave; he had a com-
          panion with him by the name of Jerry. The
two men lived in a hut, about three miles from
the cave, and passed for trappers. They were well
known to all the neighbors, and were both musicians,
and often supplied the music for rural dances and pic-
nics. Jerry especially was sought for, and it was consid-
ered a privilege to have the jolly big fiddler on the music
stand. Whenever he was to play, a special mention of
the fact was found in all the notices which announced
the dance itself. On such occasions his big, round face
was one perpetual smile, his fiddle seemed fairly to talk,
and so much did he add to the pleasure that he received
the appellation of "Jolly Jerry." The two trappers spent
weeks and months in the cave and accounted for their
protracted absence from their home by pretending that
they had gone on long hunting expeditions into the cen-
tral part of the State. Every spring they went south on
one of the many flat-boats or rafts, which carried the
products of Kentucky to the ports along the southern



parts of the Mississippi. There was a third man, who
frequently visited the cave, and who was more directly
interested in its secret than either Stayford or Jerry.
His two friends generally called him "Tom, the Tinker."
  As the night gradually wore away, the three men were
seated around a dim fire, warmly discussing the fate of
the two boys.
  "Shoot 'em! shoot 'em," demanded Tom, the Tinker.
  "If you two don't do it, I will ! They must not leave
this cave!"
  "Tom, you is drunk or crazy !" said Jerry. "Shoot two
boys for a little chink; never! Not for this cave full of
gold and whisky!"
  "No one can find it out," replied the Tinker. "People
will think that they were drowned, that they shot each
other, or that something else happened to them."
  "I'll do anything but kill," said Stayford; "that I'll
never do. I once knew a murderer who was haunted
by a ghost day and night. Besides, what good would
it do"
  "It'll save this cave and everything in it!" said the
Tinker; "besides, those boys are Catholics!  I hate
them !"
  "Tom !" cried Stayford, jumping to his feet, "don't
say anything against the Catholics around here, or I'll
make you swallow one of these red-hot coals. I'm a
Catholic, or I should be one. Yes! I-I am one, and
don't you say anything against them !"




   Tom was silent.
   Stayford looked at him defiantly, and continued, "I
 told you before, Tom, not to run down the Catholics, and
 if you do so again you've got to take back your words,
 or whip Walter Stayford !"
   "Darn my buttonsl" interposed Jerry. "Here you is
 fighting again. I'll club both of you until you feel like
 wild cats under a dead-fall if you keep on fighting. I
 reckon we'll turn the boys loose, and-"
   "Be ruined, robbed, sent to jail !" interrupted Tom.
   "If you want to lose every cent you has, Tom, and be
hauled off to Louisville and hung, just kill them boys!
Just kill them, and you'll have every man in the country
on the trail, like so many hounds, and they'll follow us
up till we're caught I"
  "Yes," chimed in Stayford, "and you'll have these
holes full of ghosts."
  "And if you'd bury them a thousand miles deep, they'd
be found. They'd come up to the top to tell on us some-
how, darn if they wouldn't," said Jerry.
  "But boys can't keep secrets !" argued Tom.
  "I reckon they can, if we do it this here way. Let 'em
know that we are on to 'em, and if ever they says one
word about this here cave, we'll burn their father's
houses, and play thunder in general. I reckon that'll
fetch 'em."
  "Well, Jerry," said Tom, "it would be pretty hard to
kill two boys for such a small thing. I don't like your




plans, but you have been as sly as a red fox since we
started in the business, and if you haven't lost your
senses, I know you will run things all right."
  Tom became himself again as soon as he was con-
vinced that his money was safe. His last words on leav-
ing the cave at break of day were: "Run it well, Jerry !
run it well 1"
  "Yes, run it well," repeated Stayford, as the Tinker
closed the door and left him alone with Jerry. "We've
done all the running. Tom couldn't have done it by
himself. You have done the scheming-I helped, and
the old miser has made the money; that's the only thing
I hate about it."
  "And we ain't stored away much," said Jerry.
  "NoI I am tired of working for the old miser; but
I'll stand by you, Jerry. You have always stood by me
and helped me, and I'll stand by you."
  "I reckon we had better shake on that, Stayford. You
is for a fact the bestest friend I ever had. Walter Stay-
ford never went back on nobody."
  "I never went back on a friend, Jerry, but I did go
back on my Church, and I've been thinking of it ever
since I don't know when."
  "Don't get chick 2n-hearted; when you are old and
about to kick the bucket, I reckon you can make it all
right. You see, foxes don't start to run till they hear
the dogs."




   "That's the reason the fools are caught-and you want
 me to do the same with the devil."
   "No I Stayford, keep away from him. I never seen
 him, but they say he's not good company."
   Jerry then set to work to prepare breakfast for the
boys. He had been his own cook for twenty years, and
could get ready a repast on short notice. The breakfast
on this occasion consisted of fried rabbit, johnny-cake
and rye-coffee.
   In the meantime, Stayford took a torch and went in
to arouse the boys. He found them sleeping soundly.
  "Now, boys," said he, awakening them, "I am going
to set you free. But first I want to show you the size of
this cave, and then, while you are eating your breakfast,
I'll tell you why I have shown it to you. Did you have
a good rest "
  "Yes, sir," replied Owen. "Almost as well as if I was
at home."
  "We agreed to keep awake," said Martin, "and then it
seemed to me that I dozed off and you came in and
called us immediately."
  "Oh, no I" said Stayford. "It has been over four hours
since I left you. I was afraid that you would not be
able to sleep, because I frightened you so much by my
cursing and so on. You see, boys, I was very mad when
you told me that you had seen inside of the cave. But it
is all right; so don't get scared any more. Now, I'll
show you the size of this place. It would take a whole




day to see all of it. I only want to show you a few ways
I have of getting in and out."
   Leading from the interior of the cave to the chamber
 where the boys had spent the night there were two pas-
 sages; one was in the center just opposite to the rock
 door through which Stayford had introduced his fright-
 ened prisoners, and the other to the right of this latter
 entrance. Through this second opening Stayford passed
 with the two boys. To let them enter the first passage
 would reveal the secret he wished to conceal from them.
   The part of the cave through which the boys were led
appeared a little world in itself. Sometimes they were
forced to stoop or crawl along, and then they were sud-
denly ushered into a spacious apartment, whose size was
magnified a hundred-fold in the dim, uncertain light of
the smoky torch. How dreamy and ghost-like it seemed I
Strange, weird shadows flitted silently along the uneven
walls, then suddenly disappeared, as if afrighted by this
unwelcome intrusion of beings of flesh and blood.
  "Wait a moment and I'll let a little light into the cave,"
said Stayford, passing before a large flat rock, which he
began to remove from its place by means of a lever. Sev-
eral smaller stones were then thrust aside, and the light
of day burst in upon the young prisoners.
  "Look I" cried Owen. "The sun is shining."
  "Can't we go out this way" asked Martin, stooping
down and peering out into the bright forest.
  "Not unless you wish to break your necks, for the hill




outside is perpendicular and fully twenty feet high. Be-
sides, I want to show you another way I have of getting
in and out of the cave. Afterward you must look down
into the 'bottomless hole'; that's what we call it. It runs
right through the world to China."
   "There," he continued, after walking but a few feet.
 "If you fall into that well you'll land in kingdom come."
   The boys approached the place cautiously. Before
them they saw a round opening about six feet in diam-
eter, which appeared to be the work of man-a dark,
cylindrical passage cut through the solid, limestone floor,
a portal black and forbidding that led to the abodes of
endless night. Yet it was formed by the hand of Na-
ture; when or how no mortal could tell.
  "Listen, boys, listen!" Into the hole Stayford threw
a large stone.
  It rasped against the walls of projecting rocks. It
bounded from side to side, while the vaults above moaned
with the prolongation of repeated echoes.
  "Down !" Stayford paused.
  "Down-n-n I" Silence again.
  Owen held his breath.
  "Down ! down-n-n-n !"
  Martin grew dizzy and unconsciously grasped the hand
of his companion.
  "Down ! still, still falling," whispered Stayford, as the
noise grew fainter and the echoes ceased. From the
seemingly immeasurable depths below came sharp, quick




notes like the tick of a clock; then silence, stillness-
strange, oppressive, deathlike.
  In his pocket Stayford had carried several stones oi
different sizes. These he cast into the hole at intervals,
the larger first and then the smaller. The effect was most
deceptive. The boys really imagined tha