We went first toward the spot where lay the remains of “our friend with the eyes,” as Harry called him, and we were guided straight by our noses, for the odor of the thing was beginning to be—to use another phrase of Harry’s—“most awful vile.”
There was little to see except a massive pile of crumpled hide and sinking flesh. As we approached, several hundred of the animals with which Harry had filled our larder scampered away toward the water.
“They’re not fighters,” I observed, turning to watch them disappear in the darkness.
“No,” Harry agreed. “See here,” he added suddenly, holding up a piece of the hide of the reptile; “this stuff is an inch thick and tough as rats. It ought to be good for something.”
But by that time I was pinching my nostrils with my fingers, and I pulled him away.
Several hundred yards farther on we came to the wall of the cavern. We followed it, turning to the right; but though it was uneven and marked by projecting boulders and deep crevices, we found no exit. We had gone at least half a mile, I think, when we came to the end. There it turned in a wide circle to the right, and we took the new direction, which was toward the spot where we had left Desiree, only considerably to the left.
Another five minutes found us at the edge of the stream, which at that point was much swifter than it was farther up. We waded in and discovered that the cause was its extreme narrowness.
“But where does the thing go to?” asked Harry, taking the words from my mouth.
We soon found out. Proceeding along the bank to the left, within fifty feet we came to the wall. There the stream entered and disappeared. But, unlike the others we had seen, above this there was a wide and high arch, which made it appear as though the stream were passing under a massive bridge. The current was swift but not turbulent, and there was something about the surface of that stream flowing straight through the mountain ahead of us—
Harry and I glanced at each other quickly, moved by the same thought. There was an electric thrill in that glance.
But we did not speak—then.
For suddenly, startlingly, a voice sounded throughout the cavern—Desiree’s voice, raised in a shrill cry of terror.
It was repeated twice before our startled senses found themselves; then we turned with one impulse and raced into the darkness toward her.
As we ran swiftly, following the edge of the stream, the cries continued, filling the cavern with racing echoes. They could not quicken our step; we were already straining every muscle as we bounded over the rock. Luckily, the way was clear, for in the darkness we could see but a few feet ahead. Desiree’s voice was sufficient guide for us.
Finally we reached her. I don’t know what I expected to see, but certainly not that which met our eyes.