Jacqueline of Golden River eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 174 pages of information about Jacqueline of Golden River.

I was within three hundred feet of Jacqueline’s home and yet as far away as though leagues divided us.  I looked down at the chateau and ground my teeth and swore that I would win her.  But all the rest of that day went in fruitless searching.

I must succeed in finding the entrance on the following day, for now Pere Antoine might return at any time, and I knew that he would prove far less tractable here in his own bailiwick than he had been when I defied him at the Frontenac.  By hook or by crook I must gain entrance to the valley.

This was to be my last night in the cabin.  I could not return, not though I were perishing in the snows.

Happily my eyes were now entirely well, and my hands, though chapped and roughened from the frost-bites, had suffered no permanent injury.  So I started out with grim resolution on the sixth morning, when the dawn was only a red streak on the horizon and the stars still lit my way.  Before the sun rose I was standing once more outside those two sentinel peaks.

To this point I knew the sleigh had come.  But whether it had continued straight down the valley or turned to the right along that same ridge which I had fruitlessly explored before, it was impossible to determine.

I tried to put myself in the position of a man travelling toward the chateau.  Which road would I take?  How and where would it occur to me to seek an entrance into the heart of those formidable hills?

The more I puzzled and pondered over the difficulty the harder it was to solve.

As I stood, rather weary, balancing myself upon my snow-shoes, I heard a wolf’s howl quite near to me.  Raising my head, I saw no wolf, but an Eskimo dog—­the very dog I had encountered in New York, Jacqueline’s dog!

CHAPTER XII

UNDER THE MOUNTAINS

The dog was standing on a rock at the base of the hill immediately before me—­and calling.

I almost thought that it was calling me.

I took a few steps toward it, and it disappeared immediately, as though alarmed—­apparently into the heart of the mountain.

I thought, of course, that it was crouching in a hollow place, or behind a boulder, and would reappear on my approach, but when I reached the spot where it had been it was nowhere to be seen.  And the pad-prints ran toward a tiny hole no bigger than the entrance to a fox’s lair—­and ended there.

At this spot an enormous boulder lay, almost concealing the burrow.  I put my shoulder against it—­in the hope of dislodging it sufficiently to enable me to see into the cavity.  To my astonishment, at the first touch it rolled into a new position, disclosing a wide natural tunnel in the mountainside, through which a sleigh might have passed easily!

I saw at once the explanation.  The boulder was a rocking stone.  It must have fallen at some time from the top of the arch, and happened to be so poised that at a touch it could be swung into one of two positions, alternately disclosing and concealing the tunnel in the cliff wall.

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Jacqueline of Golden River from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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