The explosion took place a little after three o’clock in the morning, and consequently but a few minutes after ’Squire Williams and his party had set out for the swamp. They heard it, and felt the quivering of the earth, though twenty-five miles distant, and for a moment paused in alarm, fully believing it was an earthquake. But as no repetition of the sound or shock took place, they concluded the danger was past, and proceeded on their way.
Duffel also heard the report and felt the shaking, and it filled him with alarm. He was nearing the swamp at the time, and for a little while hesitated to proceed, but finally did so, arriving at the same conclusion as did the party in his rear.
It became the general belief in the neighborhood, and for forty miles around the cave, that the noise and its accompaniments were to be attributed to a veritable earthquake; and we believe a report to that effect finally went the rounds of the press.
EVELINE PURSUED BY WOLVES—BILL AND DICK—DUFFEL.
Terrible was the condition in which Eveline felt herself to be placed when the deep-toned howls and piercing screams of the ferocious denizens of the forest fell upon her ear! In a moment all the wild and horrible stories of adventures with wild beasts she had ever heard or read about, came vividly up in her memory, and from a hundred places her disturbed fancy pictured the glaring eyes of savage monsters which she imagined were in the act of springing upon her. From these she would turn in affright, and hasten away as fast as her trembling limbs could bear her. In this way her confusion became more aggravated, until, finally, every trace of knowledge as to distance or courses, was obliterated in her mind, and she wandered without method or aim, save that she always went in an opposite direction to that from which the last sound proceeded. But this indefinite way of fleeing from harm did not answer her wishes; for soon she heard the baying of wolves in her rear, and the constancy of their howling, and the directness of their movements convinced her that she was pursued! What a thought was that! Alone, and lost in the wide wilderness, and the fiercest and most daring of its ferocious inhabitants on her track!
No sooner was this conviction fixed in her mind, than she flew rather than ran, tearing her clothes and lacerating her flesh against the brush and thorns which beset her way. She scarcely felt the wounds and thought as little of the destruction of her garments, but kept on, on, on, she knew not whither, and cared not, so that she escaped from her dreaded pursuers. All would not do. Ever and increasing, nearer and nearer, came the dismal sound! How her heart died within her, as the increased loudness of the baying of the wolves told her they were fast overtaking her! In vain she exerted all her remaining strength, and taxed every nerve and muscle to its utmost capacity!