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The House on the Borderland
William Hope Hodgson
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13. The Trap In The Great Cellar
"I SUPPOSE I must have swooned; for, the next thing I remember, I opened my eyes,
and all was dusk. I was lying on my back, with one leg doubled under the other, and
Pepper was licking my ears. I felt horribly stiff, and my leg was numb, from the knee,
downwards. For a few minutes, I lay thus, in a dazed condition; then, slowly, I struggled
to a sitting position, and looked about me. "It had stopped raining, but the trees still
dripped, dismally. From the Pit, came a continuous murmur of running water. I felt cold
and shivery. My clothes were sodden, and I ached all over. Very slowly, the life came
back into my numbed leg, and, after a little, I essayed to stand up. This, I managed, at the
second attempt; but I was very tottery, and peculiarly weak. It seemed to me, that I was
going to be ill, and I made shift to stumble my way towards the house. My steps were
erratic, and my head confused. At each step that I took, sharp pains shot through my
"I had gone, perhaps, some thirty paces, when a cry from Pepper, drew my attention, and
I turned, stiffly, towards him. The old dog was trying to follow me; but could come no
further, owing to the rope, with which I had hauled him up, being still tied round his
body, the other end not having been unfastened from the tree. For a moment, I fumbled
with the knots, weakly; but they were wet and hard, and I could do nothing. Then, I
remembered my knife, and, in a minute, the rope was cut.
"How I reached the house, I scarcely know, and, of the days that followed, I remember
still less. Of one thing, I am certain, that, had it not been for my sister's untiring love and
nursing, I had not been writing at this moment.
"When I recovered my senses, it was to find that I had been in bed for nearly two weeks.
Yet another week passed, before I was strong enough to totter out into the gardens. Even
then, I was not able to walk so far as the Pit. I would have liked to ask my sister, how
high the water had risen; but felt it was wiser not to mention the subject to her. Indeed,
since then, I have made a rule never to speak to her about the strange things, that happen
in this great, old house.
"It was not until a couple of days later, that I managed to get across to the Pit. There, I
found that, in my few weeks' absence, there had been wrought a wondrous change.
Instead of the three-parts filled ravine, I looked out upon a great lake, whose placid
surface, reflected the light, coldly. The water had risen to within half a dozen feet of the
Pit edge. Only in one part was the lake disturbed, and that was above the place where, far
down under the silent waters, yawned the entrance to the vast, underground Pit. Here,
there was a continuous bubbling; and, occasionally, a curious sort of sobbing gurgle
would find its way up from the depth. Beyond these, there was nothing to tell of the
things that were hidden beneath. As I stood there, it came to me how wonderfully things
had worked out. The entrance to the place whence the Swine-creatures had come, was
sealed up, by a power that made me feel there was nothing more to fear from them. And
yet, with the feeling, there was a sensation that, now, I should never learn anything