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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.

And, after prolonged discussion as to the proper method of procedure, especially in the matter of precedence, it was at last arranged that Evan Morgan should go first with his miner’s lamp, and that John Trevna should follow close behind, carrying the gun.

“And iss it understood that I shoot him if I see him?” asked Trevna, to make sure of his ground and make his conscience easy.

“Pardi, yes, mon gars!  Shoot straight, and the Island will thank you,” asserted John Drillot.

“Ant for Heaven’s sake, John Trevna, see you ton’t shoot me behint by mistake,” urged Evan Morgan; and they disappeared slowly into the tunnel, while the other two stood waiting expectantly in the well.

Accustomed as they were to narrow places, this long worm-hole of a tunnel, with the doubtful possibilities that lay beyond it, seemed as endless to the militant members of the expedition as it did to the waiters outside.

Occasionally a hollow sound came booming down the tunnel, when one or other grunted out a word of objurgation on the narrowness of things, but for the most part they wormed along in silence, Morgan shifting forward his lamp, foot by foot, and straining his eyes into the darkness ahead, Trevna close behind with his gun at full cock and ready for instant action.

“Gad’rabotin, but they take their time, those two!” said John Drillot, impatiently, outside.

“It iss going right through to Wailee, I do think,” growled Evan Morgan inside.

And it was just after that that there broke out in the depths of the tunnel a commotion so extraordinary that the listeners outside could make nothing at all of it, and could only lurch about in amazement and climb up and push their heads into the tunnel, and wonder what it all meant.  Then, in the midst of the turmoil, there came the thunderous bellow of the gun, and after a time a trickle of thin blue smoke floated lazily out and hung about the well; and the men outside sniffed appreciatively, and said, “Ch’est b’en!” and waited hopefully.

Evan Morgan, shifting forward his light, got an impression of something in the narrow way in front, and suddenly he was taken with the biggest fit of sneezing he had ever had in his life.  He banged down the lamp and threw up his head till it cracked against the roof, then banged his chin against the floor, and finally propped himself, like a sick dog, on his two front paws, and sneezed and sneezed and sneezed for dear life.

Then John Trevna began.  He had the sense to lay down his gun, or Morgan might have got the charge in his back.  And so they sneezed in concert, until their heads were clearer than they had been for many a day.  And the sound of it all to those outside was like the sound of mortal combat.

Then Morgan, wiping his streaming eyes on the sleeve of his coat, in a state of extreme exhaustion, caught sight of that which lay just beyond him, and he saw that it was a man crawling down the tunnel to meet him.

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