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John Oxenham
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 244 pages of information about A Maid of the Silver Sea.

So they sat and kicked their heels and waited for the day, certain in their own minds that their quarry was run to earth and as good as caught.

Gard had swept down both his coat and his cloth full of eggs in his sudden entrance.  He stood at the bottom of the well to see if they would follow, while Peter’s long legs kicked about for foothold.  He heard them decide to wait for daylight, and then he noiselessly picked up his coat and his soppy bundle of broken eggs, pushed them into the tunnel, and crawled in after them.

He was trapped, indeed, but he doubted very much if any fisherman on Sark would venture down that tunnel.  They were brawny men, used to leg and elbow room, and, as a rule, heartily detested anything in the shape of underground adventure.  They might, of course, get over some miners to explore for them.  Or they might content themselves with sitting down on top of his hole until he was starved out.  In any case, his rope was nearly run; but yet he was not disposed to shorten it by so much as an inch.

As he wormed his way along the tunnel, the recollection of those other openings off the dead man’s cave came back to him.  He would try them.  He pushed on with a spurt of hope.

The tunnel was not nearly so long now that he knew where he was going; in fact, now that nothing but it stood between him and capture, it seemed woefully inadequate.

When his head and elbows no longer grazed rock he dropped his coat and crawled into the chamber.  He felt his way round to the dried packages, and cautiously emptied half-a-dozen and prepared them for his use.

This set him sneezing so violently that it seemed impossible that the watchers outside should not hear him.  It also gave him an idea.

He struck a light and kindled one of his torches, and the dead man leaped out of the darkness at him as before.  That gave him another idea.

Propping up his light on the floor, he emptied package after package of the powdered tobacco into the tunnel, and wafted it down towards the entrance with his jacket.  Then with his knife he cut the lashings from the dead man’s hands and feet, and carried him across—­he was very light, for all his substance had long since withered out of him—­and laid him in the tunnel as though he was making his way out.

If he knew anything of Sark men and miners, he felt fairly secure for some time to come, so he sat himself down, as far as possible from the snuff, and made such a meal as was possible off puffins’ eggs, mixed good and bad and unredeemed by any palliating odour and flavour.  They were not appetising, but they stayed his stomach for the time being.

It was only then that he remembered that he had left his gun and powder-flask behind him.  He had placed them on a ledge just inside the mouth of the tunnel, and in his haste had forgotten to pick them up.  He had no intention of using them, however, and he would not go back for them.

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