The House on the Borderland HTML version

5. The Thing In The Pit
"THIS HOUSE IS, as I have said before, surrounded by a huge estate, and wild and
uncultivated gardens. "Away at the back, distant some three hundred yards, is a dark,
deep ravine--spoken of as the 'Pit,' by the peasantry. At the bottom, runs a sluggish
stream, so overhung by trees, as scarcely to be seen from above.
"In passing, I must explain that this river has a subterranean origin, emerging, suddenly,
at the East end of the ravine, and disappearing, as abruptly, beneath the cliffs that form its
Western extremity.
"It was some months after my vision (if vision it were) of the great Plain, that my
attention was particularly attracted to the Pit.
"I happened, one day, to be walking along its Southern edge, when, suddenly, several
pieces of rock and shale were dislodged from the face of the cliff, immediately beneath
me, and fell, with a sullen crash, through the trees. I heard them splash in the river, at the
bottom; and then silence. I should not have given this incident more than a passing
thought, had not Pepper, at once, begun to bark, savagely; nor would he be silent when I
bade him, which is most unusual behaviour on his part.
"Feeling that there must be some one or something in the Pit, I went back to the house,
quickly, for a stick. When I returned, Pepper had ceased his barks, and was growling and
smelling, uneasily, along the top.
"Whistling to him, to follow me, I started to descend, cautiously. The depth, to the
bottom of the Pit, must be about a hundred and fifty feet, and some time, as well as
considerable care, was expended before we reached the bottom in safety.
"Once down, Pepper and I started to explore along the banks of the river. It was very dark
there, due to the overhanging trees, and I moved warily, keeping my glance about me,
and my stick ready.
"Pepper was quiet now, and kept close to me all the time. Thus, we searched right up one
side of the river, without hearing or seeing anything. Then, we crossed over--by the
simple method of jumping--and commenced to beat our way back through the under-
"We had accomplished, perhaps, half the distance, when I heard, again, the sound of
falling stones on the other side--the side from which we had just come. One large rock
came thundering down through the tree-tops, struck the opposite bank, and bounded into
the river, driving a great jet of water right over us. At this, Pepper gave out a deep growl;
then stopped, and pricked up his ears. I listened, also.