It was a queer little procession that crept up that steep trail in the gully formed by Nature during the heavy storms of summer and winter. The twin lanterns glimmered and flickered as the night wind puffed the tiny blazes; and ahead of all lay the white glow of the electric hand-torch, showing them how they were now almost at the end of their trail.
Yes, the fissure extended straight into the face of the cliff. Hugh was taking them directly to the place where undoubtedly the mysterious unknown had stood on a sort of rocky platform, and indulged in all those queer telegraphic code motions with a light of some sort.
A FRIENDLY GHOST
Hugh led the way straight into the fissure. As they proceeded they could see the light ahead growing stronger. Low sounds, as of voices, also led them onward; and then, upon turning a bend, they came upon a sight that had them all staring with wonder.
It was indeed a cave, and of considerable dimensions. A wild beast would have delighted in such a den in which to hide from the rigors of winter, but to boys accustomed to the luxuries of home life it would doubtless have few attractions, especially after the novelty of camping-out had worn off in a week’s time.
It was a fire that burned which gave the light. A pile of dry wood, mostly broken branches of dead trees, showed that the occupant of the cave had laid in a supply against a rainy day.
There, sitting with his back against the wall, was their missing comrade K. K. His face looked unusually white, and bore an expression of acute pain, which, however, he manfully tried from time to time to dismiss by a ghastly grin, altogether assumed, since he certainly was in no mood for laughing.
They could see that his left leg was bandaged in some manner, as though he might have broken the bones, and someone had tried to bind up the limb. Even with that superficial glance Hugh marked the fact that this had been done in a fashion indicating considerable previous experience along such lines.
And then they turned their attention upon the other party, the mysterious one who doubtless had found poor K. K. helpless on the ground and borne him to this cavern in the quarry. He was indeed a wild-looking party, with long, unkempt hair and a sunburnt face in which his glowing eyes were deep-seated. There was that about him to convince Hugh instantly he must be deranged, although just then the man bent over poor K. K. solicitously, and seemed to be tenderly doing something calculated to ease his pain.
Hugh coughed, meaning to draw attention to the fact of their arrival. The man immediately stood up and bent a searching look upon the five lads. Perhaps he had been hearing K. K. tell how some of his chums would certainly be coming to search for him, and, therefore, even though he might wish to remain in his hidden retreat undisturbed, he manifested no hostility toward them, simply folded his arms and, stepping back, watched their approach.