Armed with a revolver, he groped on, using a torch as far as he dared. The absence of crystal formations, so thick and shining elsewhere, left large, roomy passages easy to traverse, though there were frequent turns puzzling to the uninitiated. As he approached the cosy bower he heard, to his chagrin, the voice of the guide. What should he do? The odds were too many for him. Wait till next day when his victims would probably be alone? Risk going in upon them before nightfall? How had Stephen eluded his vigilance? In this dilemma he crept near enough to get a view of the interior. The sight of Minnie Brand seated at her husband’s knee, his hand caressing her flowing curls, so inflamed his wrath that an oath burst from his lips. The sound penetrated the boudoir. It was this time unmistakable. Minnie uttered a faint cry. The two men started up, and snatching a torch, quickly lit it, and dashed out.
“To the inner chamber, my darling!” Eldon called back, as he threw down the folds of the portiere and rushed headlong with Stephen.
They scoured the Short Route avenue to its full length, while Hammond, his soul raging with murderous intent, traversed as rapidly as he dared, the Beersheba avenue toward the Long Route opening.
“By the eternal! He’s gone the other way! But he can’t get out! Right about!”
Retracing their steps they had to proceed more cautiously, but they soon caught sight of the figure ahead, now lost, now reappearing.
“It is that blackhearted villain, who has hounded us!” cried Eldon. “On! on!”
But the guide, true to his calling, shouted:
“Surrender, or you are a dead man! The Bottomless Pit is right ahead of you.”
The fugitive halted a moment, glanced back, then dashed on again in defiance. At a sudden projection he tripped and fell, discharging the pistol into his own body. The sound reverberated in a thousand echoes. The wounded man staggered to his feet, and managed to gain the frail bridge. Here he fell across the railing, swayed there an instant; then as his pursuers came up with helping hands, he plunged into the abyss below.