Arrival of a large Party—Second Visit—Lamps Extinguished—Laughable Confusion—Wooden Bowl—Deserted Chambers—Richardson’s Side-Saddle Pit—The Labyrinth—Louisa’s Dome—Gorin’s Dome—Bottomless Pit— Separation of our Party.
On being summoned to breakfast the next morning, we ascertained that a large party of ladies and gentlemen had arrived during our absence, who, like ourselves, were prepared to enter the Cave. They, however, were for hurrying over the rivers, to the distant points beyond—we, for examining leisurely the avenues on this side. At 8 o’clock, both parties accompanied by their respective guides and making a very formidable array, set out from the hotel, happy in the anticipation of the “sights to be seen.” It was amusing to hear the remarks, and to witness the horror of some of the party on first beholding the mouth of the Cave. Oh! it is so frightful!—It is so cold!—I cannot go in! Notwithstanding all this, curiosity prevailed, and down we went—arranged our lamps, which being extinguished in passing through the doorway by the strong current of air rushing outwards, there arose such a clamor, such laughter, such screaming, such crying out for the guides, as though all Bedlam had broke loose,—the guides exerting themselves to quiet apprehensions, and the visiters of yesterday knowing that there was neither danger nor just cause of alarm, doing their utmost to counteract their efforts, by well feigned exclamations of terror. At length the lamps were re-lighted and order being restored, onward we went. The Vestibule and Church were each in turn illuminated, to the enthusiastic delight of all—even those of the party, who were but now so terrified, were loud in their expressions of admiration and wonder. Arrived at the Giant’s Coffin, we leave the Main Cave to enter regions very dissimilar to those we have seen. A narrow passage behind the Coffin leads to a circular room, one hundred feet in diameter, with a low roof, called the Wooden Bowl, in allusion to its figure, or as some say, from a wooden bowl having been found here by some old miner. This Bowl is the vestibule of the Deserted Chambers. On the right, are the Steeps of Time, (why so called we are left to conjecture,) down which, descending about twenty feet, and almost perpendicularly for the first ten, we enter the Deserted Chambers, which in their course present features extremely wild, terrific and multiform. For two hundred yards the ceiling as you advance is rough and broken, but further on, it is waving, white and smooth as if worn by water. At Richardson’s Spring, the imprint of moccasins and of children’s feet, of some by-gone age, were recently seen. There are more pits in the Deserted Chambers than in any other portion of the Cave; and among the most noted are the Covered Pit, the Side-Saddle Pit and the Bottomless Pit. Indeed the whole range of these chambers, is so interrupted by pits, and throughout is so irregular and serpentine