“No boozin’!” was Sam’s order as he told out small portions of whiskey. Then the gang ate ravenously of the bacon and beans and drank cup after cup of coffee. Later the men threw themselves upon the piles of straw and soon all were snoring. The big woman refilled the lantern and hung it on a peg in the wall of the cave; then she took up her post near the square door leading to the underground passage, her throne an upturned whiskey barrel, her back against the wall of the cave. She glared at Rosalie through the semi-darkness, frequently addressing her with the vilest invectives cautiously uttered—and all because her victim had beautiful eyes and was unable to close them in sleep.
[Illustration: “Rosalie was no match for the huge woman”]
Rosalie’s heart sank as she surveyed the surroundings with her mind once more clear and composed. After her recovery from the shock of contact with the old woman and Sam she shrank into a state of mental lassitude that foretold the despair which was to come later on. She did not sleep that night. Her brain was full of whirling thoughts of escape, speculations as to what was to become of her, miserable fears that the end would not be what the first impressions had made it, and, over all, a most intense horror of the old woman, who dozed, but guarded her as no dragon ever watched in the days of long ago.
The cave in which they were housed was thirty or forty feet from side to side, almost circular in shape, a low roof slanting to the rocky floor. Here and there were niches in the walls, and in the side opposite to the entrance to the passageway there was a small, black opening, leading without doubt to the outer world. The fact that it was not used at any time during her stay in the cave led her to believe it was not of practical use. Two or three coal-oil stoves were used to heat the cave and for cooking purposes. There were several lanterns, a number of implements (such as spades, axes, crowbars, sledges, and so forth), stool-kegs, a rough table, which was used for all purposes known to the dining-room, kitchen, scullery and even bedchamber. Sam slept on the table. Horse blankets were thrown about the floor in confusion. They served as bedclothes when the gang slept. At other times they might as well have been called doormats. One of the niches in the wall was used as the resting place for such bones or remnants as might strike it when hurled in that direction by the occupants. No one took the trouble to carefully bestow anything in the garbage hole, and no one pretended to clean up after the other. The place was foul smelling, hot and almost suffocating with the fumes from the stoves, for which there seemed no avenue of escape.