“In haste, your husband,
“Upon my word!” ejaculated Mrs. Cliff, “a most remarkable letter! It might have been written to a clerk! No one would suppose it the first letter of a man to his bride! Excuse me, Edna, for speaking so plainly, but I must say I am shocked. He is very particular to call you his wife and say he is your husband, and in that way he makes the letter a valuable piece of testimony if he never turns up, but—well, no matter.”
“He is mighty careful,” said Ralph, “not to say anything about the gold. He speaks of his property as if it might be Panama stock or something like that. He is awfully wary.”
“You see,” said Edna, speaking in a low voice, “this letter was sent by private hands, and by people who were coming to the spot where his property is, and, of course, it would not do to say anything that would give any hint of the treasure here. When he writes by mail, he can speak more plainly.”
“I hope he may speak more plainly in another way,” said Mrs. Cliff. “And now let us go up and get our things together. I am a good deal more amazed by the letter than I was by the ship.”
“Ralph,” said Edna, as they were hurrying up to the caves, “you must do everything you can to keep those sailors from wandering into the lake basin. They are very different from the negroes, and will want to explore every part of it.”
“Oh, I have thought of all that,” said Ralph, “and I am now going to run ahead and smash the lantern. They won’t be so likely to go poking around in the dark.”
“But they may have candles or matches,” said Edna. “We must try to keep them out of the big cave.”
Ralph did not stop to answer, but ran as fast as his legs would carry him to the plateau. The rest of the party followed, Edna first, then the negroes, and after them Mrs. Cliff, who could not imagine why Edna should be in such a hurry. The sailors, having secured their boat, came straggling after the rest.
When Edna reached the entrance to the caves, she was met by her brother, so much out of breath that he could hardly speak.
“You needn’t go to your room to get your things,” he exclaimed. “I have gathered them all up, your bag, too, and I have tumbled them over the wall in the entrance back here. You must get over as quick as you can. That will be your room now, and I will tell the sailors, if they go poking around, that you are in there getting ready to leave, and then, of course, they can’t pass along the passage.”