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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.

His homely torch did no more than faintly illumine the rock he sat on and those close at hand, and cast a gigantic uncouth shadow of himself on the rough wall behind.  All beyond was solid darkness, blacker even than a black Sark night.

He sat wondering vaguely if any before him had penetrated to that strange place.  It was odd and uncanny to feel that his eyes were the very first to look upon it.  And then, away in front, and apparently at a great distance above him, he became aware of a difference in the solid darkness.  It seemed almost as though it had thinned.  His eye had seemed able for a moment to carry beyond the narrow circle of the torch, but when he peered into the void to see what this might mean, it all seemed solid as before.

As his straining eyes sought relief in something visible, their side-glance caught once more that same impression of movement in the darkness.  And presently it came again and stronger—­a strange greenish fluttering up in the roof—­very faint, as though the roof were smoke on which a soft green light played for a moment and vanished.

But by degrees the light grew, though at no time did it become more than a wan ghost of a light, and from its curious fluttering he judged that it came through water.

Reasoning from the trend of the cavern, he came to the conclusion that somewhere on that further side there were openings into the deep water beyond, on which the sunlight played and struck at times into the cave, and he was keen to look more closely into it.

He lowered his torch to the side of his rock, and its feeble flicker fell on a chaos of rocks below.  He looked long and cautiously for supple yellow arms or tiny whip-like threads which might coil suddenly round his legs and drag him to hideous death.

But he saw nothing of the kind.  The rocks were dry and bare, not a limpet nor a sea-weed visible, and leaving his jacket for a landmark as before, he slowly let himself down from one huge boulder to another, till he found himself climbing another great pile in front.

When at last his head rose above this ridge, he almost rolled over at the sight of two huge green eyes blinking lazily at him out of the darkness in front—­two great openings far below sea-level, through which filtered dimly the wavering green light whose refractions fluttered in the roof.

The vast trough below him heaved gently now and then, with a ponderous solemnity which filled him with awe.  He felt himself an intruder.  He felt like a fly creeping about a sleeping tiger.  He hardly dared to breathe, lest the brooding spirit of the place should rise suddenly out of some dark corner and squash him on his rock as one does a crawling insect; and his anxious eyes swept to and fro for the smallest sign of danger.

But, plucking up courage from immunity, and dreading to be caught in the dark in that weird place, he crawled over the boulders towards the side wall of the cavern to get as near to those openings as possible.  From the very slight movement of the water, which was ever on the boil round the outside of L’Etat, he judged them deep down among the roots of the island, far below the turmoil of the surface, but he must see and make sure.

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