“That is a fine idea,” said Edna, as she followed him. “You are getting very sharp-witted, Ralph.”
“Now, then,” said he, as he helped her over the wall, “take just as long as you can to get your things ready.”
“It can’t take me very long,” said Edna. “I have no clothes to change, and only a few things to put in my bag. I don’t believe you have got them all, anyway.”
“But you must make it take a long time,” said he. “You must not get through until every sailor has gone. You and I must be the last ones to leave the caves.”
“All right,” said Edna, as she disappeared behind the wall.
When Mrs. Cliff arrived, she was met by Ralph, who explained the state of affairs, and although that lady was a good deal annoyed at the scattered condition in which she found her effects, she accepted the situation.
The mate and his men were much interested in the caves and the great stone face, and, as might have been expected, every one of them wanted to know where the narrow passage led. But as Ralph was on hand to inform them that it was the entrance to Mrs. Horn’s apartment, they could do no more than look along its dusky length, and perhaps wonder why Mrs. Horn should have selected a cave which must be dark, when there were others which were well lighted.
Mrs. Cliff was soon ready, and explained to the inquiring mate her notion that these caves were used for religious purposes, and that the stone face was an ancient idol. In fact, the good lady believed this, but she did not state that she thought it likely that the sculptured countenance was a sort of a cashier idol, whose duty it was to protect treasure.
Edna, behind the stone barrier, had put her things in her bag, though she was not sure she had found all of them in the gloom, and she waited a long time, so it seemed to her, for Ralph’s summons to come forth. But although the boy came to the wall several times, ostensibly to ask if she were not ready, yet he really told her to stay where she was, for the sailors were not yet gone. But at last he came with the welcome news that every one had departed, and they soon came out into the daylight.
“If anything is lost, charge it to me,” said Ralph to Mrs. Cliff and his sister, as they hurried away. “I can tell you, if I had not thought of that way of keeping those sailors out of the passage, they would have swarmed over that lake bed, each one of them with a box of matches in his pocket; and if they had found that mound, I wouldn’t give two cents for the gold they would have left in it. It wouldn’t have been of any use to tell them it was the captain’s property. They would have been there, and he wasn’t, and I expect the mate would have been as bad as any of them.”
“You are a good fellow, Ralph,” said Mrs. Cliff, “and I hope you will grow up to be an administrator, or something of the kind. I don’t suppose there was ever another boy in the world who had so much wealth in charge.”