Edward Barnett; a Neglected Child of South Carolina, Who Rose to Be a Peer of Great Britain,—and the Stormy Life of His Grandfather, Captain Williams eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 74 pages of information about Edward Barnett; a Neglected Child of South Carolina, Who Rose to Be a Peer of Great Britain,and the Stormy Life of His Grandfather, Captain Williams.
far beyond low water mark, and against which the sea beat in fury when the tide was in; and keeping on its inner side; crept along until they reached the entrance of a cave.  Not a word was spoken.  Their instructions had been precise—­for Lambert, who was born and had spent his earliest years there, knew every spot of the ground.  They took their shoes off, and walking upon the hard sand which formed the ground, entered the pitchy darkness.  Lambert going first, and knowing that a sound would be fatal—­for they would have little chance in that narrow passage—­he turned every angle as accurately as if it had been daylight, and the officers holding, one behind the other, followed stealthily along.  Soon their path widened, and a glimmering light allowed them that the cavern was tenanted, or had been so.  A few paces more, and they stopped.  Some large masses of fallen rock here almost blocked up the path, leaving an opening so narrow as to require stooping to enter.  Cautiously peeping through some spaces between the rocks, the agent and his myrmidons gazed upon a scene Salvator would have loved to paint.  The cavern here expanded into a semicircular hall, stalactites hanging from its roof nearly to the ground.  Here and there a niche and recess which seemed done by human art, but which in fact was Nature’s handiwork, was seen, and every point of spar, from the lofty roof to the stalagmites below, was glittering in the light of a huge fire of brushwood fed by Curly Tom.  A small rill of water trickled from a fissure in the rock above, and wound its way through the sand towards the sea.  It was the very beau-ideal of a robber’s cave.  Its existence was known to few:  only accessible at low water, the entrance had escaped notice, and the few that did find it were discouraged on entering by the long and tortuous way which led to this chamber, and did not track it far.  The smoke found vent above, as the fire burnt clear and bright, and did not incommode the watchers.

Horace Hunter was pacing the cave with unsteady step, and with delight the officers saw that he was more than half intoxicated.  No one could have recognized in the bloated countenance and reckless air of the hunted man, the gay and handsome young farmer of seven years before.  There was still the same manly form and intelligent features, but the rich brown hair that then curled round his open brow, now wild and matted, only added to the desperate appearance of his sunken eyes and overhanging brows.  Drink did not make him merry.  On the contrary he was more bitter then than ever.  Gloomy and ferocious as he had become since his sister’s shame had been known to him, when he drank he only brooded heavier upon it; and the hope of a more complete revenge only restrained him then from some desperate act of violence.  As he walked to and fro, chafing with inward passion, he might have been compared to a caged wild beast, hungry and with food in sight, yet unattainable.

‘A curse upon you, Tom!’ said he.  ’Would you roast us alive, this hot night?  Leave the fire alone and bring your hang-dog face here!’

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Edward Barnett; a Neglected Child of South Carolina, Who Rose to Be a Peer of Great Britain,—and the Stormy Life of His Grandfather, Captain Williams from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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