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The Mystery

The Twin Slabs
Within half an hour the gig had reached the mouth of the cave. As the coxswain had
predicted, the seas ran into the lofty entrance. Elsewhere the surf fell whitely, but through
the arch the waves rolled unbroken into a heavy stillness. Only as the boat hovered for a
moment at the face of the cliff could the exploring party hear, far within, the hollow
boom that told of breakers on a distant, subterranean beach.
"Run her in easy," came the captain's order. "Keep a sharp lookout for hidden rocks."
To the whispering plash of the oars they moved from sunlight into twilight, from twilight
into darkness. Of a sudden the oars jerked convulsively. A great roar had broken upon the
ears of the sailors; the invisible roof above them, the water heaving beneath them, the
walls that hemmed them in, called, with a multiplication of resonance, upon the name of
Darrow. The boat quivered with the start of its occupants. Then one or two laughed
weakly as they realised that what they had heard was no supernatural voice. It was the
captain hailing for the marooned man.
No vocal answer came. But an indeterminable space away they could hear a low splash
followed by a second and a third. Something coughed weakly in front and to the right.
Trendon's hand went to his revolver. The men sat, stiffened. One of them swore, in a
whisper, and the oath came back upon them, echoing the name of the Saviour in hideous
sibilance.
"Silence in the boat," said the captain, in such buoyant tones that the men braced
themselves against the expected peril.
"Light the lantern and pass it to me," came the order. "Keep below the gunwale, men."
As the match spluttered: "Do you see something, a few rods to port?" asked the captain in
Trendon's ear.
"Pair of green lights," said Trendon. "Eyes. Seals!"
"Seals! Seals! Seals!" shouted the walls, for the surgeon had suddenly released his voice.
And as the mockery boomed, the green lights disappeared and there was more splashing
from the distance. The crew sat up again.
The lantern spread its radiance. It was reflected from battlements of fairy beauty.
Everywhere the walls were set, as with gems, in broad wales of varied and vivid hues.
Dazzled at first, the explorers soon were able to discern the general nature of the
subterranean world which they had entered. In most places the walls rose sheer and
unscaleable from the water. In others, turretted rocks thrust their gleaming crags upward.
Over to starboard a little beach shone with Quaker greyness in that spectacular display.
The end of the cavern was still beyond the area of light.
 
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