The Seal Broken continued from October 22nd . . .
THE BOTTOMLESS PIT.Tupps, who was in front, could scarcely squeeze his bulky form through the narrow opening, For more than fifty yards we compelled to crawl along the low tunnel, but the floor was very smooth and dry and the walls were regular. Having proceeded some distance we were halted by an exclamation from Tupps, who was peering into the darkness below. The cavern had now widened so that we all came up and stood abreast. "Here's the bottomless pit!" said Tupps, with a laugh and the sound echoed from the depths like the voice of a lost spirit. "What's that?" said Lane, and echo repeated the question. Braddenham lowered his pole, but the bottom was not reached. The lantern was then tied to the rope and let down, when the bottom was found to be not more than twenty feet below. It appeared that the end of our journey had been reached, for while we might have descended by aid of the rope, the difficulty of getting up the perpendicular walls could not be so easily overcome. The apartment in which we stood was about ten feet wide, and the vaulted roof was some distance above our heads. At length we found a small opening on our right, which we entered, and discovered it led downward, winding to the left. Continuing on in this downward and circuitous route, we reached the level and stood in a large chamber immediately below the place from which we had last started.
THE SKELETON OF AN ADVENTURER.While wandering around in this place we were startled by an exclamation, as one of the party stumbled in the darkness and fell. When Braddenham came up with the light we found Lane at full length on the ground clasped in the arms of a grinning skeleton. We started back, Lane arose, and with some irritation gave the cause of his mishap a kick, which caused the skeleton to fall to pieces and the skull to roll some distance away. Near this object we found a bone-handled hunting-knife much eaten by rust, two copper shoe-buckles and a large flint-lock gun. The stock of the gun fell off as Lane attempted to pick it up, and crumbled with the touch; but by careful handling we were able to examine it, and found carved in large letters the name and date: "Jeremy Allicock, Ancient, 1607," The word "Ancient" probably meant ensign, and from the date we inferred that the luckless owner of the ancient weapon was one of the first "adventurers" to the colony. We now passed through this chamber, and continuing on about 100 yards entered another larger chamber.
THE CYCLONE'S HOME.This apartment was circular in form and about three hundred feet in diameter. In the centre we could not touch the roof with our poles, but it sloped down within reach at the side walls. While, standing here we were surprised to perceive a current of air which swept like a whirlwind around the chamber. At times we could not feel the wind, but soon its approach was heralded by a low, musical sound, and the current swept around the cavern, gaining force and momentum with each shortened circuit. In the middle of the cave the wind roared and rushed with great fury, and whirled us about in a bewildering manner. Our lanterns had been extinguished and the darkness was of that character which could almost be felt, we now groped our way to the sidewall of the chamber, and taking advantage of a lull in the storm relighted the lanterns. Soon the low musical found was heard and the storm was again approaching. "Boys, let's get in the cyclone again," said Tupps "I enjoy it, even if I do have to hold the hair on my head." Saying this, he sprang forward and in a few minutes was mounted on a flat rock in the middle of the cave, whirling around like a Dervish. The lantern in his hand remained lighted, and as he spun around a circle of light encompassed him. We were much amused by the grotesque antics of the fat and amiable Tupps, but our mirth was changed to consternation as we heard him utter a yell for assistance and saw him rapidly sink down and disappear. Braddenham was the first to rush to his assistance. The fury of the storm had not abated, and his lantern was soon extinguished. He gave it to Lane, who returned to the wall to relight it. When the wind had subsided we approached the middle of the apartment and discovered a circular hole, about four feet in diameter, at the spot where Tupps had last been seen. Braddenham, who hail been crawling around in the dark, now came up, and bending over the opening called to Tupps. "Here I am!" sounded a voice very near us, "a little disfigured, but still in the ring." Tupps had been lying down, but he now arose, and taking the light commenced to examine his surroundings. We all then descended and discovered that the flat, circular platform had gone down about five feet in spiral grooves cut into the surrounding rocks. In this well we found the door to another tunnel, which we entered and followed for several hundred yards. This passage inclined gradually downward and grew, larger as we proceeded. Presently we heard the splashing of water. The atmosphere of the cavern was now moist, the ground was covered with a wet, sticky clay, and many large boulders obstructed our progress.
THE FALLS OF LOST RIVERClimbing over these obstructions, we continued on in the direction of the sound until our progress was arrested by a broad sheet of limpid water, falling apparently from considerable distance directly across our path. At this place there were many excavations and side passages, but the most of them led only a short distance. We followed the winding course of one of these passages for more than half an hour, but finally emerged through an opening near the point of entrance at the foot of the falls. In this labyrinth of so many intricate passages it was difficult for us to determine how we should proceed. Lane pushed his pole through the sheet of water and found that it met with no obstruction. We then discovered that although the waters ware spread out more than twelve feet, the sheet was only a few inches in thickness. The pole divided this sheet like a curtain, and by raising it an opening was made sufficiently wide for us to enter, "Here we go," said Lane, and he passed through the opening with a lantern in his hand. The curtain was then allowed to fall, and the effect was indescribably beautiful. The sheet of water gleamed and sparkled like a revolving belt of polished silver, refracting the light from the other side. Again dividing the waters we all went through the opening and found the passage was leading onward and descending down ward.
TO BE CONTINUED . . .