“And how far does this go?” asked my grandfather, trying to see the end.
“Right through the Eperquerie. It runs into a water cave there. Its mouth is below tide level, but sometimes the light comes through. If you want brandy, Phil, broach a keg. If you want more tobacco, open a package.”
“And water?” asked Carette.
“About fifty yards along there on the right in a hollow place. You can’t miss it.”
“Keep your hearts up, my children,” said my grandfather. “You will be quite safe here. Our work lies outside, and we must get back. George will come to you as soon as the way is clear. God be with you!”
“You are quite sure there are no ghosts about, Uncle George?” asked Carette in a half-scared whisper, for she was still a devout believer in all such things.
“I’ve never seen the ghost of one,” said Uncle George, with a laugh. “Here, Phil! Take this!” and he handed me from his pocket an old flint-lock pistol, of which I knew he had a pair. “You won’t need it, but it makes one feel bolder to carry it. If you see any ghosts, blaze away at them, and if you hit them we’ll nail their bodies up outside to scare away the rest.”
Then, still laughing, to cheer us, I think, they bade us good-bye and went off down the tunnel.
Carette was already spreading out the hay, which Uncle George and my grandfather had got through the narrow ways with difficulty. Their voices died away and we were alone, and I was so heavy that, from sitting on the hay, I rolled over on it, and was asleep before I lay flat.
HOW LOVE COULD SEE IN THE DARK
Carette says I slept through three days and nights, but that is only one of her little humours. When I woke, however, I was in infinitely better case than before, and as she herself was fast asleep she may have been so all the time.
It was quite dark. The candle had either burned out or she had extinguished it. But in the extraordinary silence of that still place I could hear her soft breathing not far away, and I lay a long time listening to it. It was so calm and regular and trustful, as though no harmful and threatening things were in the world, that it woke a new spirit of confident hope in me, and I lay and listened, and thought sweet warm thoughts of her.
It seemed a long time, and yet not one whit too long, before the soft breathing lost its evenness, and at last I could not hear it at all, and knew she was waking. And presently she stirred, and after a time she said softly—
“Phil ... are you awake?”
“Yes, my dear,” I said, sitting up, and feeling first for her, for love of the feel of her, and then in my pockets for my flint and steel.
“How still it is, and how very dark!” she whispered.
“I’ll soon see how you’re looking;” and my sparks caught in the tinder and I lit a candle.