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Lair of the White Worm eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 165 pages of information about Lair of the White Worm.

Mr. Caswall’s experiments with the kite went on successfully.  Each day he tried the lifting of greater weight, and it seemed almost as if the machine had a sentience of its own, which was increasing with the obstacles placed before it.  All this time the kite hung in the sky at an enormous height.  The wind was steadily from the north, so the trend of the kite was to the south.  All day long, runners of increasing magnitude were sent up.  These were only of paper or thin cardboard, or leather, or other flexible materials.  The great height at which the kite hung made a great concave curve in the string, so that as the runners went up they made a flapping sound.  If one laid a finger on the string, the sound answered to the flapping of the runner in a sort of hollow intermittent murmur.  Edgar Caswall, who was now wholly obsessed by the kite and all belonging to it, found a distinct resemblance between that intermittent rumble and the snake-charming music produced by the pigeons flying through the dry reeds.

One day he made a discovery in Mesmer’s chest which he thought he would utilise with regard to the runners.  This was a great length of wire, “fine as human hair,” coiled round a finely made wheel, which ran to a wondrous distance freely, and as lightly.  He tried this on runners, and found it work admirably.  Whether the runner was alone, or carried something much more weighty than itself, it worked equally well.  Also it was strong enough and light enough to draw back the runner without undue strain.  He tried this a good many times successfully, but it was now growing dusk and he found some difficulty in keeping the runner in sight.  So he looked for something heavy enough to keep it still.  He placed the Egyptian image of Bes on the fine wire, which crossed the wooden ledge which protected it.  Then, the darkness growing, he went indoors and forgot all about it.

He had a strange feeling of uneasiness that night—­not sleeplessness, for he seemed conscious of being asleep.  At daylight he rose, and as usual looked out for the kite.  He did not see it in its usual position in the sky, so looked round the points of the compass.  He was more than astonished when presently he saw the missing kite struggling as usual against the controlling cord.  But it had gone to the further side of the tower, and now hung and strained against the wind to the north.  He thought it so strange that he determined to investigate the phenomenon, and to say nothing about it in the meantime.

In his many travels, Edgar Caswall had been accustomed to use the sextant, and was now an expert in the matter.  By the aid of this and other instruments, he was able to fix the position of the kite and the point over which it hung.  He was startled to find that exactly under it—­so far as he could ascertain—­was Diana’s Grove.  He had an inclination to take Lady Arabella into his confidence in the matter, but he thought better of it and wisely refrained. 

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