Lair of the White Worm eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 205 pages of information about Lair of the White Worm.
Accordingly Caswall ordered his men to construct an immense kite, adhering as well as they could to the lines of a hawk.  Then he and his men, with a sufficiency of cord, began to fly it high overhead.  The experience of China was repeated.  The moment the kite rose, the birds hid or sought shelter.  The following morning, the kite was still flying high, no bird was to be seen as far as the eye could reach from Castra Regis.  But there followed in turn what proved even a worse evil.  All the birds were cowed; their sounds stopped.  Neither song nor chirp was heard—­silence seemed to have taken the place of the normal voices of bird life.  But that was not all.  The silence spread to all animals.

The fear and restraint which brooded amongst the denizens of the air began to affect all life.  Not only did the birds cease song or chirp, but the lowing of the cattle ceased in the fields and the varied sounds of life died away.  In place of these things was only a soundless gloom, more dreadful, more disheartening, more soul-killing than any concourse of sounds, no matter how full of fear and dread.  Pious individuals put up constant prayers for relief from the intolerable solitude.  After a little there were signs of universal depression which those who ran might read.  One and all, the faces of men and women seemed bereft of vitality, of interest, of thought, and, most of all, of hope.  Men seemed to have lost the power of expression of their thoughts.  The soundless air seemed to have the same effect as the universal darkness when men gnawed their tongues with pain.

From this infliction of silence there was no relief.  Everything was affected; gloom was the predominant note.  Joy appeared to have passed away as a factor of life, and this creative impulse had nothing to take its place.  That giant spot in high air was a plague of evil influence.  It seemed like a new misanthropic belief which had fallen on human beings, carrying with it the negation of all hope.

After a few days, men began to grow desperate; their very words as well as their senses seemed to be in chains.  Edgar Caswall again tortured his brain to find any antidote or palliative of this greater evil than before.  He would gladly have destroyed the kite, or caused its flying to cease; but the instant it was pulled down, the birds rose up in even greater numbers; all those who depended in any way on agriculture sent pitiful protests to Castra Regis.

It was strange indeed what influence that weird kite seemed to exercise.  Even human beings were affected by it, as if both it and they were realities.  As for the people at Mercy Farm, it was like a taste of actual death.  Lilla felt it most.  If she had been indeed a real dove, with a real kite hanging over her in the air, she could not have been more frightened or more affected by the terror this created.

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Lair of the White Worm from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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