As he walked up the rising ground toward the caves, that ground he had traversed so often when this place had been, to all intents and purposes, his home, where there had been voices and movement and life, the sense of desertion grew upon him—not only desertion of the place, but of himself. When he had opened his eyes, that morning, his overpowering desire had been that not an hour of daylight should pass before he should be left alone, and yet now his heart sank at the feeling that he was here and no one was with him.
When the captain had approached within a few yards of the great stone face, his brows were slowly knitted.
“This is carelessness,” he said to himself. “I did not expect it of them. I told them to leave the utensils, but I did not suppose that they would leave them outside. No matter how much they were hurried in going away, they should have put these things into the caves. A passing Indian might have been afraid to go into that dark hole, but to leave those tin things there is the same as hanging out a sign to show that people lived inside.”
Instantly the captain gathered up the tin pan and tin plates, and looked about him to see if there was anything else which should be put out of sight. He did find something else. It was a little, short, black, wooden pipe which was lying on a stone. He picked it up in surprise. Neither Maka nor Cheditafa smoked, and it could not have belonged to the boy.
“Perhaps,” thought the captain, “one of the sailors from the Mary Bartlett may have left it. Yes, that must have been the case. But sailors do not often leave their pipes behind them, nor should the officer in charge have allowed them to lounge about and smoke. But it must have been one of those sailors who left it here. I am glad I am the one to find these things.”
The captain now entered the opening to the caves. Passing along until he reached the room which he had once occupied, there he saw his rough pallet on the ground, drawn close to the door, however.
The captain knew that the rest of his party had gone away in a great hurry, but to his orderly mariner’s mind it seemed strange that they should have left things in such disorder.
He could not stop to consider these trifles now, however, and going to the end of the passage, he climbed over the low wall and entered the cave of the lake. When he lighted the lantern he had brought with him, he saw it as he had left it, dry, or even drier than before, for the few pools which had remained after the main body of water had run off had disappeared, probably evaporated. He hurried on toward the mound in the distant recess of the cave. On the way, his foot struck something which rattled, and holding down his lantern to see what it was, he perceived an old tin cup.
“Confound it!” he exclaimed. “This is too careless! Did the boy intend to make a regular trail from the outside entrance to the mound? I suppose he brought that cup here to dip up water, and forgot it. I must take it with me when I go back.”