“No,” said the captain, “I did not. I wanted to do it,—you do not know how much,—but I made up my mind it would be the worst kind of folly to try and get anything else out of that mound. We have now all that is good for us to have. The only question is whether or not we have not more than is good for us. I was not sure that I should not find something, if I looked for it, which would make me as sick as Shirley was the first time he looked into the mound. No, sir; we have enough, and it is the part of sensible men to stop when they have enough.”
Burke shook his head. “If I’d been there,” he said, “I should have looked for a crack in that floor.”
When the brig weighed anchor, she did not set out for the open sea, but proceeded back to the Rackbirds’ cove, where she anchored again. Before setting out, the next day, on his voyage to France, the captain wished to take on board a supply of fresh water.
BURKE AND HIS CHISEL
That night George Burke went off his watch at twelve o’clock, and a few minutes after he had been relieved, he did something he had never done before—he deserted his ship. With his shoes and a little bundle of clothes on his head, he very quietly slipped down a line he had fastened astern. It was a very dark night, and he reached the water unseen, and as quietly as if he had been an otter going fishing. First swimming, and then wading, he reached the shore. As soon as he was on land, he dressed, and then went for a lantern, a hammer, and a cold-chisel, which he had left at a convenient spot.
Without lighting the lantern, he proceeded as rapidly as possible to the caves. His path was almost invisible, but having travelled that way so often, he knew it as well as he knew his alphabet. Not until he was inside the entrance to the caves did he light his lantern. Then he proceeded, without loss of time, to the stone mound. He knew that the ladder had been left there, and, with a little trouble, he found it, where Shirley had put it, behind some rocks on the floor of the cave. By the aid of this he quickly descended into the mound, and then, moving the foot of the ladder out of the way, he vigorously began to brush away the dust from the stone pavement. When this was done, he held up the lantern and carefully examined the central portion of the floor, and very soon he discovered what he had come to look for. A space about three feet square was marked off on the pavement of the mound by a very perceptible crevice. The other stones of the pavement were placed rather irregularly, but some of them had been cut to allow this single square stone to be set in the centre.
“That’s a trap-door,” said Burke. “There can’t be any doubt about that.” And immediately he set to work to get it open.
There was no ring, nor anything by which he could lift it; but if he could get his heavy chisel under it, he was sure he could raise it until he could get hold of it with his hands. So he began to drive his chisel vigorously down into the cracks at various places. This was not difficult to do, and, trying one side after another, he got the chisel down so far that he could use it as a lever. But with all his strength he could not raise the stone.