The Lair of the White Worm
25. The Last Battle
Lady Arabella had instructed her solicitors to hurry on with the conveyance of Diana's
Grove, so no time was lost in letting Adam Salton have formal possession of the estate.
After his interview with Sir Nathaniel, he had taken steps to begin putting his plan into
action. In order to accumulate the necessary amount of fine sea-sand, he ordered the
steward to prepare for an elaborate system of top-dressing all the grounds. A great heap
of the sand, brought from bays on the Welsh coast, began to grow at the back of the
Grove. No one seemed to suspect that it was there for any purpose other than what had
been given out.
Lady Arabella, who alone could have guessed, was now so absorbed in her matrimonial
pursuit of Edgar Caswall, that she had neither time nor inclination for thought extraneous
to this. She had not yet moved from the house, though she had formally handed over the
Adam put up a rough corrugated-iron shed behind the Grove, in which he stored his
explosives. All being ready for his great attempt whenever the time should come, he was
now content to wait, and, in order to pass the time, interested himself in other things--
even in Caswall's great kite, which still flew from the high tower of Castra Regis.
The mound of fine sand grew to proportions so vast as to puzzle the bailiffs and farmers
round the Brow. The hour of the intended cataclysm was approaching apace. Adam
wished--but in vain--for an opportunity, which would appear to be natural, of visiting
Caswall in the turret of Castra Regis. At last, one morning, he met Lady Arabella moving
towards the Castle, so he took his courage E DEUX MAINS and asked to be allowed to
accompany her. She was glad, for her own purposes, to comply with his wishes. So
together they entered, and found their way to the turret-room. Caswall was much
surprised to see Adam come to his house, but lent himself to the task of seeming to be
pleased. He played the host so well as to deceive even Adam. They all went out on the
turret roof, where he explained to his guests the mechanism for raising and lowering the
kite, taking also the opportunity of testing the movements of the multitudes of birds, how
they answered almost instantaneously to the lowering or raising of the kite.
As Lady Arabella walked home with Adam from Castra Regis, she asked him if she
might make a request. Permission having been accorded, she explained that before she
finally left Diana's Grove, where she had lived so long, she had a desire to know the
depth of the well- hole. Adam was really happy to meet her wishes, not from any
sentiment, but because he wished to give some valid and ostensible reason for examining
the passage of the Worm, which would obviate any suspicion resulting from his being on
the premises. He brought from London a Kelvin sounding apparatus, with a sufficient
length of piano-wire for testing any probable depth. The wire passed easily over the
running wheel, and when this was once fixed over the hole, he was satisfied to wait till
the most advantageous time for his final experiment.