No signal crackings, no thin jets or streams from the green immensity beyond.
Just one universal collapse, one chaotic climacteric, begun and ended in the same instant, as the crust of the chamber, no longer supported by the in-pent air, dissolved under the irresistible pressure of the sea.
Where the sparkling chamber had been was a whirling vortex of bubbling green water, in which tumbled grotesquely the body of a man.
The water boiled furiously along the tunnel and foamed into the gallery. The wooden supports of the iron door gave way; the door sank slowly into its appointed place.
Old Tom Hamon was dead and buried.
HOW YOUNG TOM FOUND HIS MATCH
The news spread quickly.
Tom Hamon heard it as he sat brooding over his wrongs and cursing the chicken-heartedness and fear of consequences which had robbed him of his revenge.
He started up with an incredulous curse and tore across the Coupee to the mines to make sure.
But there was no doubt about it. Old Tom was dead: the six weeks were still two days short of their fulfilment; the property was his; his day had come.
He walked straight to La Closerie, and stalked grimly into the kitchen, where, as it happened, they were sitting over a doleful and long-delayed meal.
Mrs. Hamon had been too overwhelmed by the unexpected blow to consider all its bearings. Grannie, looking beyond, had foreseen consequences and trouble with Tom, and had sent for Stephen Gard and given him some elementary instruction relative to the laws of succession in Sark.
Tom stalked in upon them with malevolent triumph. They had tried their best to oust him from his inheritance and the act of God had spoiled them. He felt almost virtuous.
But his natural truculence, and his not altogether unnatural exultation at the frustration of these plans for his own upsetting, overcame all else. Of regret for their personal loss and his own he had none.
“Oh—ho! Mighty fine, aren’t we, feasting on the best,” he began. “Let me tell you all this is mine now, spite of all your dirty tricks, and you can get out, all of you, and the sooner the better. Eating my best butter, too! Ma fe, fat is good enough for the likes of you,” and he stretched a long arm and lifted the dish of golden butter from the board—butter, too, which Nance and her mother had made themselves after also milking the cows.
“Put that down!” said Gard, in a voice like the taps of a hammer.
“You get out—bravache! Bretteur! I’m master here.”
“In six weeks—if you live that long. Until things are properly divided you’ll keep out of this, if you’re well advised.”
“I will, will I? We’ll see about that, Mister Bully. I know what you’re up to, trying to fool our Nance with your foreign ways, and I won’t have it. She’s not for the likes of you or any other man that’s got a wife and children over in England—”