“It is too late,” he said in a monotonous voice, “You have killed both of us!”
And, with the sweat still on his forehead, he stood looking maliciously at me.
“If you had let me go,” he said, “you would have died just as you are going to die.”
I saw the face of the cliff quiver; I saw an immense rock, half-way up, leap into the air and seem to hang there; then the ground was upheaved beneath my feet, and with a frightful roar the rocky walls swayed and fell together.
And the rivulet became a cataract that surged over me and filled my ears with tumult and sealed my eyes with sleep.
Darkness impenetrable about me, and a thick air that I breathed with great gasps that hardly brought relief to my choking throat. And a voice out of the darkness crying ceaselessly in my ears:
“Help me! Help me!”
In that nightmare I saw again those awful scenes as vividly as though they had been etched in phosphorus before my eyes. I saw the last struggle of Pierre and Leroux, and I pursued Lacroix along the tunnel. I saw the cliff toppling forward, and the rock poised in mid-air.
And the voice cried: “Help me! Help me!” and never ceased.
I raised myself and tried to struggle to my feet. I found that I could move my limbs freely, I tried to rise upon my knees, but the roof struck my head. I stretched my arms out, and I touched the wall on either side of me.
I must have been stunned by the concussion of the landslide. By a miracle I had not been struck.
“Help me! Help me!”
I tried to find the voice. I crawled three feet toward it, and the wall stopped me. But the voice was there. It came from under the wall. I felt about me in the darkness, and my hand touched something damp. I whipped it back in horror. It was the face of a man.
There was only the face. Where the body and limbs ought to have been was only rock. The face was on my side of a wall of rock, pinning down the body that lay outstretched beyond.
I recognized the voice now. It was that of Philippe Lacroix.
“Ah, mon Dieu! Help me! Help me!”
He continued to repeat the words in every conceivable tone, and his suffering was pitiable. I forgot my own troubles as I tried to aid him. All my efforts were vain. There were tons of rock above him, and under the inch or two of space where the rock rested above the ground I felt the edge of a burlap bag.
He had been pinned beneath the bags of earth and gold which he had prized so dearly; the golden rocks were grinding out his life. He was dying—and he could not take his treasures to that place to which he must go.
I felt one hand come through the tiny opening in the wall and grasp at me.
“Who is it?” he mumbled. “Is that you, Hewlett? For God’s sake, kill me!”