She accordingly ventured out in the most guarded manner, to make explorations. The water was but a little way below where she stood, and when in a high stage must evidently flood the place she occupied and the steps leading up out of it. But as the stream was now very low, she had a fine opportunity for making observations. Stepping down to the edge of the water, she had an excellent view of the stream both ways. The banks were very high on each side, steep, and inaccessible; so much so, indeed, that for a moment she was in despair of getting from her prison, now that she had found the way out. A closer inspection of the bank where she stood showed her the possibility of escape, by following the water’s edge to some point below or above, where the high bank receded. This was enough; all she wanted was the bare likelihood or possibility of escape, and she would venture all upon the trial.
Having made these hasty observations, she started back, to make preparations for an immediate departure. When she reached the upper passage and closed the door, she glanced at the mirror to see what was going on without. What was her disappointment and horror, to see Duffel’s image passing before her on his way to the cave! She had hoped to get off before his return; but now that hope was gone. She must meet him again; and to what desperate extremities might he not proceed in the interview in which she must now be compelled to take a part! Then she remembered that she had left the door from her room to the passage ajar, and he might reach it before she could get there, and revealing to him her secret, cut off her last and only hope of escape. The thought awoke all her energies, and dashing along the narrow way at the top of her speed, stooping as she ran, to avoid the low places, she reached her room and closed the door of the passage, just as she heard a knock at the other one, opening into the larger room.
THE THREAT AND ITS EXECUTION—EVELINE LOST.
Quickly arranging things in her room, and restoring the lamp to its accustomed place, so that every article should appear in usual order and nothing betray her secret, Eveline—the knocking at her door being just then repeated—demanded:
“Who is there?”
“It is hardly worth your while to ask that question, when you know there can be but one person having access to this place.”
“Excuse me, sir; but I have understood that you were only here by courtesy, the rooms belonging to another.”
“Well, I am here, at any rate, and have the mastery as well as the occupancy of the place. Will you open the door?”
“If I please.”
“Well, do you please?”
“And if I do not?”
“Then I shall enter by another way.”
“As I am not overly anxious to see a master, you may enter as you can.”