by George Manville Fenn
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"I thought you was going pretty close," said Josh, "but I said as you know'd best."

The boxes were dragged forward again, and soles and plaice were thrust in, flapping and springing in their captors' hands. Then the whiting were sorted into their home, the sundry fish that were worth saving placed in another box, and once more the visitors were allowed to have their turn in the heap, till, amidst such an embarrassment of riches, as the French call it, Dick stopped short with a laughing, puzzled face, to rub his ear.

"There's such a lot," he cried. "There's so much to see, I don't know what to take first, and what to leave."

It resulted in nearly everything going overboard,—tiny fish entangled in sea-weed, curious stones, dog-fish, and skates' eggs, barnacles, pieces of hard English sponge, bones of cuttle-fish, and scallop and oyster-shells; but one basket was set aside for Mr Temple by Will, who stored in it a fair number of delicious oysters and scallops, whose beautiful shells were bearded with lovely weeds like ferns or plumes of asparagus, while one that gaped open showed his flesh to be of the most brilliant orange scarlet hue.

And so it went on hour after hour, the fresh breeze making the trawling most successful, and at every haul there were so many treasures that at last Dick gave up collecting in despair, confiding his opinion to his brother that the happiest life anybody could lead must be that of the master of a trawler.

Towards four o'clock they were sent ashore with Josh and Will, loaded with bucket and basket of the treasures they had found, including a handsome lot of fish for Mr Temple, with the master's compliments.

"Why, Taff," said Dick suddenly, "you were going to be sea-sick, weren't you, when we started off?"

"Yes," said Arthur uneasily, and then smiling, he added, "I forgot all about it."

"Forgot all about it!" said Dick. "I should think so. Why, it wouldn't matter how bad a fellow were: a day's trawling would make him well."



It wanted a perfectly calm day for the visit to the seal-cave, and this was long in coming. There were plenty of fine days when the sun shone brightly and the sea was as clear as crystal; but there was generally a pleasant breeze, and the pleasant breeze that only seemed to ripple the water was sufficient twice over to raise good-sized waves amongst the rocks, and to send a rush of broken water enough to upset a boat, foaming and dashing in at the mouth of the cave.

Failing the success of this enterprise, Mr Temple, who was with them, made Will and Josh row on to the rift in the cliff where the vein of white spar had been found by Will; and leaving all in the boat, Dick's father went up by himself and stayed for long enough, while his sons were rowed to and fro fishing with more or less success.

One morning, though, as Dick was dreaming of being in the green-house at home when the hail was pattering down, there seemed to come three or four such sharp cracks that he awoke and jumped out of bed. The next moment he was at the window pulling up the blind and looking out, to see Will on the rugged pathway waiting for him to open the window.

"Seal-cave to-day," he said. "Look out to sea."

Dick looked out to sea, where there was a dense mist that seemed to wrap everything in its folds. The luggers appeared dim—those that were near shore—while others were completely hidden. Overhead the sky was clear, and the sun was shining brightly, while where its light fell upon the mist it became rosily transparent, and the masts of some of the luggers looked double their usual size.

"Seals, Taff, seals!" cried Dick, shaking his brother's shoulder, with the effect of making him hurriedly scramble out of bed, yawning terribly, and gazing in an ill-used way at his brother, as he sat down and began to rub his feet one over the other.

"Don't sit down, Taff; dress yourself. I'm going to call father."

"Shut that window first," cried Arthur; "it's so horribly cold."

"Cold! Ha! ha! Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Dick. "What a chap you are, Taff! Here, Will, he says it's cold. Go to the pump for a pail of cold water to warm him."

"He had better not," cried Arthur, hurriedly scuffling into his trousers. "If he did I would never forgive him."

"I'm not going to get any water, Master Arthur," cried Will; "but make haste down, it's such a glorious morning!"

"'Tisn't," said Arthur, whose eyes were swelled up with sleepiness. "It's all misty and thick, and the window-sill's wet, and the roses outside look drenched. Heigh, ho, ha, hum!" he yawned. "I shall go to bed for half an hour longer—till the sun comes out."

"No, you sha'n't," cried Dick, seizing the pillow for a weapon of offence. "If you do, I'll bang you out of bed again."

"If you dare to touch me," cried Arthur furiously, "I shall complain to papa."

"And he'll laugh at you," said Dick; "and serve you right."

Arthur snatched off his lower garment with the obstinacy of a half-asleep individual, and scrambled into bed again, dragging the clothes up over his chest, and scowling defiantly at his brother, as if saying, "Touch me if you dare."

"There's a stupid, obstinate, lazy old pig," cried Dick, throwing the pillow at him and standing rubbing one ear. "Here—hi, Will!" he said, going to the window, "come round and upstairs. Here's a seal in his cave asleep. Come and let's tug him out."

"He had better not dare to come into my bed-room," cried Arthur, punching the pillow thrown at him viciously, and settling down in his place; not that he wanted more rest, but out of dislike to being disturbed, and from a fit of morning ill-temperedness getting the upper hand.

Just then Dick was leaning out of the window half-dressed, and with his braces hanging down as if they were straps to haul him back in case he leaned too far.

Arthur glanced at his brother for a moment and then shouted:

"Here, Dick, shut that window!"

Dick evidently did not hear him, and a low giggling laugh reached his ears.

"They had better not try to play any tricks with me," said Arthur to himself, as he lay frowning and feeling very much dissatisfied, as he thought, with Dick, but really with himself.

Then he heard more laughing, the sound of steps in the garden, and something thump against the wall of the house.

There was no mistake now about Arthur's wakefulness, as he lay with the clothes drawn right above his nose; one eye glanced at the window, and he breathed quickly with indignation as Dick drew a little on one side to make room for Will, who had obtained the short ladder used by his uncle to nail up his creepers, and placed it against the wall, and he was now on the top with his jersey-covered arms resting on the window-sill, and his sun-browned face above them looking in.

"Good-morning, sir!" he said merrily. "Want anybody to help you dress?"

"How dare you!" cried Arthur indignantly. "Go away, and shut that window directly. It's disgraceful. We had no business to come to such a place as this," he continued, forgetting all his good resolves, and giving rein to his anger.

"Why, hullo! what's all this?" said Mr Temple, entering the room, dressed for going out.

"I'm glad you've come, papa," cried Arthur, whose face was scarlet with anger. "These boys have—"

"Oh, I say, Taff, don't be disagreeable," cried Dick. "It was all my doing, father. Taff wouldn't get up, and Will here had come to call us, and I told him to get up the ladder and look in, pretending that there was a seal in a cave, and Taff turned cross about it."

"Get up directly, Arthur," said Mr Temple quietly, "and make haste down. How would to-day do to visit the seal-cave?" continued Mr Temple, turning to Will.

"I came to tell the young gentlemen it was just the morning, sir," said Will, who was feeling very uncomfortable. "It is as still as can be, and the tide will suit. I should go, sir, directly after breakfast."

"And so we will," said Mr Temple. "There, finish dressing, Dick," he said, as Will slid down the ladder and took it away. "I thought there was to be no more of this petty anger, Arthur. You are old enough to know better, and yet you behave like a fractious child. Don't tease him, Dick; he can't bear it, I suppose."

Mr Temple left the room, and Dick went on hurriedly dressing, while Arthur, flushed and uncomfortable, sat in his trousers on the edge of the bed, his hair touzled and the pillow creases marked like a map on his right cheek.

"Here, I say, get dressed, Taff," cried Dick, "and let's go down and collect some sea-anemones before breakfast."

"I don't want to dress," said Arthur. "I'm always wrong. I'm a miserable wretch, and nobody understands me. I sha'n't go to the seal-cave to-day."

"Yes, you will," cried Dick, who was very sympathetic but very busy, for he had suddenly awakened to the fact that he had put too much pomatum on his hair. The result was that it looked shiny and greasy, and there was nothing for it but to give it a good rub over with the sponge and then towel it, which he was doing by holding the cloth over his head, and sawing it vigorously to and fro.

"No, I shall not go," said Arthur despondently. "I shall stop at home."

"So shall I then," said Dick panting, and out of breath from his exertions. "It's all right, Taff, I tell you. Get dressed. You'll feel as different as can be when you've had your breakfast. That's what's the matter with you. It makes you feel cross sometimes when you are so precious hungry."

Arthur sat unmoved, making no effort to dress, and Dick, who was nearly complete, wanting only his jacket, turned to him once more.

"Come on, Taff," he cried. "Get dressed, and let's find some anemones, and put in a tub of salt-water. We can feed 'em on shrimps."

"I wish we were back in london," said Arthur bitterly.

"What! to have the fellows shouting 'sweep!' and the girls beating the mats and knocking their brooms against the area railings as you're dressing. No, thank you. I like being here. Oh, I say, how lovely old Mr Marion's flowers smell! Here's a lugger! Hi, Will, what boat's that?"

"The Grey Gull, Thomson's boat," came up from the garden. "Been out all night for pilchards. I'll go down and get some for bait."

"I never saw a pilchard," said Arthur, suddenly beginning to dress.

"Look sharp, then, and we'll go down and have a look. Here, I shall go now. You can come on."

"That's always the way," said Arthur bitterly. "You never will wait for me."

"I will now, then," cried Dick. "Look sharp;" and he went and leaned his elbows on the window, to gaze out at the lovely opalescent mist through which, looking huge in proportion, a brown-sailed lugger came creeping over the steely sea, which shone and glanced wherever the sun passed through the heavy mist. The men on the lugger looked huge, and it was evident from the shouts from the pier and the responses that there was some little excitement going on about the new arrival, but what it was Dick was too distant to hear.

"Oh, do make haste, Taff!" he cried, glancing back to see with satisfaction that his brother was now making good speed; "there's no end of fun going on. I've never seen a pilchard yet. There's Will Marion down there, and—oh, I say, what a shame to go down without us! There goes father!"

Arthur's toilet proceeded by big strides now, and it was not long before, looking a good deal more amiable, he declared himself ready, and was in fact so ready that he raced with his brother down to the cliff— rather a breakneck proceeding, considering the steepness of the way; but they got down to the harbour in safety, and to Dick's delight he found that the lugger was not yet in, the progress by means of her sweeps having been very slow, and now for the first time he noticed that she was extremely deep in the water.

"A be glad you've come, Master Diehard," said a voice behind them; and there stood Josh. "Grey Gull's coming in with 'bout the gashliest take o' pilchards as never was. Say they could have filled the lugger twice over."

The little pier was pretty well crowded, and the men were in an unwonted state of excitement, but place was made for the boys, and they were soon after standing gazing down into the hold of the lugger, which seemed to be filled with silver whose dust had been scattered all over deck, bulwarks, combings, buoys, ropes, nets, for everything was specked and spangled with silvery scales.

"Here, boys," said Mr Temple, "this is a fresh sight for you. What do you think of these?"

Mr Temple was standing beside Will, who had been on board the lugger and returned with a little basket containing a dozen or two of the little oily fish, which looked like small large-scaled herrings, but richer and fatter and of tenderer skin.

"Wonderful bait," said Will. "We can catch no end to-night with these."

They waited to see the business begin—the said business being the rapid unloading of the pilchards, which were borne along the pier to one of the long low pilchard-houses to be regularly stacked somewhat after the fashion of drying bricks, and salted ready for packing in barrels and sending to the Mediterranean ports.

But after the first inspection the sight of baskets full of silvery pilchard began to grow monotonous, and Dick exclaimed:

"I say, father, it must be breakfast time now."

Breakfast time it was, and after arranging to be back at the pier in an hour, they sought the old purser's cottage, from whose open window the extremely fragrant odour of broiled ham was floating out, ready to act like a magnet upon the sensations of a couple of hungry lads.



The boat was ready when they returned to the little pier, and the unloading in full swing. Every now and then scraps of damaged fish were thrown overboard to wash about the harbour, but which Josh intimated would have some effect by and by.

"Just you wait till the tide comes and washes them bits o' pilchar' all away about the place. You'll have the fish coming up from sea after 'em, and the whole place 'most alive—eh, Will?"

"Yes," said the latter, who was rowing steadily away. "Some good fishing might be had to-night if the young gentlemen liked to try."

It was decided that if they were not too tired they would try for a few fish after tea.

"Wouldn't the young gents like to go drifting—means all night?" said Josh; "but while the nets is out there's some haking to be done."

"I don't know about that, boys," said Mr Temple; "but I think a good daylight sail with the trawler would be enjoyable. I should like it myself."

"Then jus' you go an' speak to Tom Purnowen, Will, lad," said Josh; "he'll be glad enough to take the gentlemen and pick you out a good day."

They were bound for the seal-cave, but all the same, in spite of the coming excitement, Dick had not forgotten a fishing-line, while Will had ready for him, in a finely-woven basket, a couple of score of silvery sand-eels, which were kept alive by the basket being dragged astern in the sea.

These bright little fellows proved to be a most attractive bait, mackerel, pollack, and bass being taken, only one of the latter, however, which fell to Arthur's share, it being his turn to hold the line; but he did not care to let Will unhook it, and with the usual luck that followed his obstinacy he managed to get a sharp prick from one of the spikes.

Eight or nine fair-sized fish had been placed in the basket before Josh suggested that it would be better to leave off fishing, as the boat was now about to be taken close inshore, and the hooks would be fouled in the floating and anchored weed.

Mr Temple had indicated that he would like to examine the rocks here and there, and hence it was that the boat was taken so far in, where the rowing was more arduous, and the risks greater of being overturned upon some rock that was one minute submerged, the next level with the water.

Josh was too clever a boatman, though, for any such accident to occur, and he ran the little craft here and there most cleverly among the rocks; and, clearing the broken water, backing in for Mr Temple and Dick to land, and rowing out again till they were ready to leap on board once more.

For though, to use Josh's expression, the sea was "like ile" fifty yards out, it was fretting and working incessantly amongst the rocks, and running up rifts and chasms to come back in foam.

One landing of this kind seemed to excite a desire for more, and, hammer in hand, Mr Temple was as busy as could be breaking "the gashly rocks," as Josh expressed it in rather a pitying tone of voice to Will. So search after search was made, Dick scrambling up the most difficult places he could see, and seeming to find the most intense enjoyment in perching upon some narrow ledge, with his feet dangling over the side, though what the pleasure was he would have found it hard to say.

"There," said Mr Temple at last, as he and Dick leaped on board once more, "go on, or we shall see no seals to-day. It is not fair to you boys."

"Oh! I like scrambling about the rocks, father," cried Dick; "it's poor Taff who misses the fun."

"I can enjoy seeing you climb," said Arthur sedately.

"Yes," said his father shortly, "I have no doubt it is pleasant to look on; but is it not rather too ladylike a pursuit for a boy like you?"

Arthur coloured highly, and glanced forward to see if the rowers had heard; but he was relieved, for it was evident that they were too much occupied in circumventing the submerged rocks to pay any heed to the conversation, and the lad heaved a sigh full of content.

A couple of hours' hard rowing brought them to the mouth of the seal-cave, which, as they approached, looked far larger than it had seemed before when the sea was higher, for it generally nearly covered it, and at certain times completely closed it in.

"So now we are to see some seals?" said Dick excitedly.

"I don't know," said Will quietly. "This is the cave they are in sometimes; but one don't know whether there are any here."

"I think I see a little one drop off the rock as we come in sight," said Josh quietly. "Might have been a shag; but there was something on yonder rock; we shall see."

"It looks a rum place," said Dick. "Why, the water goes right in. We shall have to wait till it's dry."

"Then we shall never go in, sir," said Will smiling. "It is never dry, and the water is deep."

"What are we going to do, then?" said Dick.

"Row in—I mean push the boat in. The entrance is wide enough for that."

"What! Are we going to pass right in there?" said Arthur rather excitedly.

"I suppose so," said his father quietly. "Are you afraid?"

"No, I'm not afraid," said Arthur quickly, but colouring a little the while; "only—only it seems so queer—such an awkward place to go in."

"Yes, it will be awkward," said Mr Temple dryly.

"There's lots of room, sir," said Josh. "No fear o' knocking your head. You see, there wouldn't be anything to be afraid of round our coast if there were no rocks."

"I say, Josh, where shall we find the seals?" said Dick as they slowly approached the low arch in the face of the cliff, the boat being backed in so that its rowers could pull strongly away should a dangerous wave come in and threaten to dash them against the rocks—a mishap that occurred sometimes on the calmest days.

"Oh! if there be any, Master Dick, sir, they'll keep going farther and farther away, right into the end of the cave, where it be so small you can't follow unless you wade."

"Will seals bite, Josh?" cried Dick.

"Well, sir, they say they will, and fine and sharp, and fight too; but I never see 'em do it. Only thing I ever see a seal do was try to get away as fast as she could; that's all I ever see."

"But have you ever seen seals in here?" said Arthur, who, in spite of himself, looked rather white.

"Six or seven times, sir," replied Josh. "I've been with gentlemen as come shooting seals, and with a couple of gentlemen who went right in with clubs to kill 'em."

"And did they shoot and kill any?" said Dick eagerly.

"No, sir; not as I see," replied Josh. "One of 'em shot at a seal out on a rock, but I don't think he hit her, for she only looked up at us like a human being and then dived into the water and—but, look!"

Josh, who was about thirty yards from the entrance, ceased rowing; and as Dick and his father followed the direction of his eyes, and Will's pointing hand, they saw a curious, grey-looking creature rise up out of the water and begin to scramble up on to one of the rocks by the cave entrance, but on seeing the boat it gave a wallow, something like a fish, and turning, dived off the rock with a dull plash into the deep water.

"She's gone in," said Josh, propelling the boat towards the rugged arch. "We've seen one. P'r'aps we shall see more seals to-day."

"But won't it be dark?"

"Will's brought the big lantern, sir," said Josh.

"And I," said Mr Temple, "have brought some magnesium wire."

A good-sized wave came in just then, carrying the boat forward upon its swell right up to the archway; and then, as the wave retired, Josh managed to give a touch here and a touch there with his oars, and the next minute the sunshine seemed to have gone, and they glided in beneath a fringe of ferns and into a dark grotto, where the trickling drip of falling water came musically upon the ears.

It was a wonderful change—from the brilliant light outside, to the soft, greenish obscurity of the cave, whose floor was of pellucid water, that looked black beneath the boat, and softly green where some rock came near the surface.

It was of no great size as to width, resembling more a rugged passage or subterranean canal made by nature, regardless of direction or size, than a cavern; but to the boys it was a weird, strange place, full of awe and mystery. Every time oar or boat-hook touched the rocky side, there was a strange, echoing noise. Now and then the keel of the boat grated on some unseen rock, or was lifted by the water and dropped softly, as it were, upon some portion of the stony bottom as the water rose and fell.

The opening was left behind, and it seemed horrible to Arthur that calm coolness with which his father sat still and allowed Josh to thrust the boat along farther and farther till it became too dark for them to see, and Josh laid his boat-hook down. As he did so there was a silence for a few moments, in the midst of which, heard beneath the dripping musical tones of the falling water, came a curious hissing, whispering sound from beyond them farther in the cave.

"What's that?" said Arthur in a low voice as he spasmodically caught at his brother's arm.

Truth to tell, the mystery of the place had impressed Dick, who suffered from a half self-confessed desire to get out into the daylight once more; but now came this evident display of dread on his brother's part, and its effect was to string him up at once.

Laughing at Arthur meant laughing at himself, and he snatched at the opportunity as Arthur whispered once more, "Dick—Dick—what's that?"

"That?" said Dick in the same low tone. "That's the bogle-booby breathing. He's asleep now, but when he wakes he'll roll about so that he'll fill the place with foam."

"Don't you take any notice of him, Master Arthur," said Will gently. "He's making fun of you. That whispering noise is made by the water as it runs gurgling up the cracks of the rock and comes back again."


Arthur uttered a shrill cry, and Dick burst out laughing.

"Why, it was only a noisy match, Taff," he exclaimed, as, after a loud cracking scratch, there was a flash of light, and then a clear glow was shed around by the lantern, whose lamp Josh had just lit, its rays showing dimly the rugged walls of granite, all wet with trickling water, while the shadows of the boat and its occupants were cast here and there.

"Now, Master Dick, if you'll take the lantern and hold it up I'll send the boat farther in, so as if there be any seals you'll have a chance of seeing 'em."

"You think there are some then?" said Mr Temple.

"Ay, I do, sir. They won't have got out either. The only way, you see, would be under the boat, and they won't try that way yet so long as there's plenty of room forward."

Dick took the lantern, and as the light spread about the boat and glimmered on the surface of wet rock and water Arthur made a brave effort to master his dread; but all the same he gazed doubtfully forward as the boat was thrust more and more along the waterway among the rocks.

"I don't hear any seals yet," said Mr Temple.

"Oh, you won't hear 'em p'r'aps, sir," said Josh, "till we are close on to them, and then there'll be a splash and a rush. If there be any of 'em they're huddled up together, wondering what this here lantern means."

"Then there is no other way out?"

"Not for them, sir. There's a bit of a hole up towards the end, where a bird might fly out, but there's no way for the fish."

All this time Josh and Will were propelling the boat along with an oar or a boat-hook, and when the way was very narrow and the rocks within reach thrusting it forward with their hands.

"There, there, there's one," cried Dick, as there was a heavy rushing noise which came whispering and echoing past where they were.

"Ay, that be one, Master Richard," cried Josh, mastering the boy's name for once. "She'll go right to the end and come up again."

"How far is it to the end?" said Mr Temple.

"Six or eight fathom," said Josh; "not more, sir. If the light was stronger you could see it."

"Then we'll have a stronger light," said Mr Temple. "Open that lantern, Dick."

The boy obeyed, and his father ignited the end of a piece of magnesium wire, which burst out into a brilliant white light, showing them the roof and sides of the narrow cave, flashing off the water, and, what was of greater interest still, displaying the heads of a couple of seals raised above the surface at the end of the channel, and the dark-grey shiny body of another that had crawled right into a rift but could get no farther, and was now staring timidly at them.

The light sputtered and glowed, and dense white fumes floated in a cloud above their heads, while the boat was urged softly closer and closer towards the seals, the effect being that as the animals saw the light and the curious objects beneath advancing towards them the two in the water swam to the end and began to crawl out upon the rock, forcing themselves towards their companion in the rift.

"Go right on, sir?" said Will in a low voice.

"Yes. Close on, my lad," said Mr Temple. "Have a good look at them, boys, before they go."

"You're not going to catch one, are you, father?"

"Oh no! We'll have a good look at them. Wild creatures are getting far too scarce about the coast as it is."

He kept manipulating the wire as he spoke, sparks and incandescent pieces falling the while with a loud hiss in the water, making Arthur start till he was prepared for what was to come. And as Mr Temple managed the light and stood up in the boat its pale dazzling rays made the cave as light as day; and at last they were within three or four yards of the seals, which suddenly, after gliding and shuffling one over the other in utter astonishment, made Arthur and Dick start back, falling over into the bottom of the boat.

For, evidently frantic with dread, and helpless as far as relief was concerned, the three seals, as if moved by one idea, gave a wallowing movement, and dashed from the rocks together, seeming for the moment as if they were bent on leaping into the boat, but of course falling short and plunging into the water with a tremendous splash, which sent the spray all over those who were nearest; and at the same moment there was a hiss, and they were in total darkness.

"I won't be afraid," said Arthur to himself; and he clenched his teeth as his father said loudly:

"Rather startling. I did not expect that. Dropped my magnesium ribbon. Why, where's the lantern?"

"It's underneath me, father," said Dick in a half-ashamed grumbling tone. "I tumbled back over it and knocked it out."

"Never mind, Master Dick, I've got some matches," said Will; and after a good deal of scratching, which only resulted in long lines of pale light, for every part of the boat seemed to be wet, there was a glow of light once more, and the lantern was lit; but its rays seemed pitiful in the extreme after the brilliant glare of the magnesium.

"And now where are the seals?" said Mr Temple, holding the lantern above his head.

"Out to sea long enough ago, sir," said Josh. "They went under the boat, and I felt one of 'em touch the oar as they went off. You won't see no more seals, sir, to-day."

"Ah well!" said Mr Temple, "we've seen some, boys, at all events. Now let's have a look round here."

He held up the lantern, and as the boat was thrust onward he examined the rock here and there, taking out his little steel-headed hammer and chipping about.

"Granite—quartz—gneiss—quartz," he said in a low voice, as he carefully examined each fresh fracture in the stone. "Why, boys, here's tin here," he said sharply. "This place can never have been worked."

As he was speaking these latter words he held out a fragment of the stone he had broken off to Josh.

"That's good tin, my man," he said.

Josh growled. He had more faith in a net or a bit of rope.

"What do you say to it, Will?" said Mr Temple.

Will took the piece of quartz that was sparkling with tiny black crystals and turned it over several times close to the light. "Good tin ore, and well worth working," he exclaimed readily.

"Yes," said Mr Temple, "you are right, my lad. It is well worth working. Let's look a little farther. Here, you come and stand up and hold the lantern. We can land here."

Will obeyed, and as the boys watched, and Josh solaced himself with cutting a bit of cake tobacco to shreds, Mr Temple and Will climbed from place to place, the boys seeing the dark wet pieces of rock come out clear and sparkling as the blows fell from the hammer.

Now they were here, now there, and the more Mr Temple hammered and chipped the more interested he seemed to grow.

Click, click, click, click rang the hammer, and splish, splash went the fragments of rock that fell in the water or were thrown into it; and thus for quite two hours Mr Temple hammered away, and after giving up a fragmentary conversation Dick and Josh grew silent or only spoke at intervals.



"I say, Dick," said Arthur after a long silence, "I wish we could go out now."

"Not frightened, are you?"

"Not now," said Arthur with simple truthfulness. "I was at first, but I don't mind now."

"It was unked, as the people here call it," said Dick, "and gashly. I wondered at first whether there were any sea-serpents or ugly things living in a place like this."

"Sea-monsters," said Arthur. "So did I, but I seem to have got used to it at last."

"Oh, I say," said Dick, "I'm getting so hungry! What a long time father is!"

"He's finding good ore," said Arthur, "he seems to be so interested. Dick—Dick—oh! what's that?"


It was not the snarl of a wild beast, but a sound that seemed to be represented by that word.

"Old Josh's fast asleep," said Dick merrily. "It's he snoring. Let's splash him. No; I'll rock the boat."

Suiting the action to the word, Dick gave the boat a rock whose result was to bump it hardly against a rock, and then there was a loud start out of the darkness a few feet away, and then the boat bumped again.

"Why, halloa! what cheer—eh? What?"

"Why, you've been to sleep, Josh."

"No; on'y just closed my eyes," cried Josh; "on'y just shut 'em a moment;" though the fact was Josh had been asleep a long way over an hour. "Master 'most done?"

"I don't know," said Dick; "I know I'm precious tired of waiting."

"Tell 'ee what," said Josh suddenly, as he began to feel about with an oar as the boat swayed more up and down, and was carried a little towards where Mr Temple was standing, and then drawn back; "tide's coming in fast."

"Why, Will," said Mr Temple just at the same moment, "how's this? That ledge was bare—"

"Now it's six inches under water, sir," replied Will. "I think we ought to get out at once."

"Stop a few minutes longer," said Mr Temple; "there is evidently the outcrop of a vein here. Hold the light."

Will obeyed at once, and Mr Temple began chipping at a fresh block of quartz rock which projected from the cave wall at an angle.

"Yes; copper this time," said Mr Temple.

"Father," cried Dick, "Josh thinks we had better get out again now. The tide's rising."

"I'll be done directly," said Mr Temple. "The tide will not run so high that we cannot pull against it."

"Tide's coming in gashly fast," said Josh to himself; "but if he don't mind, I don't."

Twice more Dick spoke to his father about coming, for Josh was muttering very sourly, and seemed disposed to resent this hanging back when he suggested that it would be better to go; but Mr Temple was so deeply interested in his discovery of what seemed to be a promising and, as far as he could for the moment tell, absolutely a new vein, that he forgot everything else in his intense desire to break off as good a specimen of the rock as he could.

"There," he said at last in a tone of triumph, "I think that will do. Steady, Dick, take these pieces. Now, you, my lad, go forward to your place. We'll hold the lanthorn, and—why, how's this? the ceiling seems to be lower."

"But it aren't," growled Josh sourly; "it's the gashly tide come in. There," he said, as he thrust the boat round an angle which had hidden the entrance of the cavern, "the boat won't go through there."

"Through there?" cried Mr Temple, as Dick felt his heart sink at the sight of the little archway in the rock not a foot above the surface of the water and sometimes with that surface going closer still towards the rugged crown of the natural arch.

"Well, there aren't no other way," said Josh, whose long sleep had been the cause of the mishap, for had he been awake he would have known that they were staying longer than was safe.

"But," cried Mr Temple, who felt alarmed now on account of his boys and their companions, "what are we to do? We must leave the boat and wade out."

"Wade!" growled Josh. "Why, there's three fathom o' water under where we sit."

"Then we must swim through," cried Mr Temple excitedly. "There is no time to spare. Man, man, why did you not warn us of the danger?"

"Why—why?" growled Josh. "I didn't know. I never see the tide come up that gashly way afore."

"It was while you were asleep, Josh," said Dick in a whisper; and Josh turned upon him as if he had been stung.

"Now," cried Mr Temple, as he pointed to the low opening through which was the sunshiny sea and safety, while on their side was apparently darkness and death; "now, Dick, you can swim through there; but first try whether by lying down we can force the boat under."

"Oh, I'll try!" said Josh; "but it's of no use, not a bit of use. Be it, Will?"

"No," said the latter decidedly, as he and Josh urged the boat right up to the entrance, and Mr Temple saw at once that it would be an impossibility.

"Then we must swim," said Mr Temple. "You can swim that, Dick?"

"Yes, father," said Dick. "Clothes and all."

"Yes, of course, the distance is so short."

"And you, Arthur, you can swim through there?"

The boy could not speak, for he was battling down the horrible feeling of dread that came over him.

"I say, you can swim that, Arthur?" said Mr Temple sternly.

"Yes, father. I'll try," said the boy quickly.

"That's well. Of course you two can swim?"

"Tidy, sir, tidy," said Josh; "and Will here, he could 'most beat a seal. But there ain't no call to get wetting of ourselves. I'll shove the boat back to where it's highest and where the water never reaches. We can wait there till she goes down again."

"Do you know what you are talking about, man?" cried Mr Temple sternly. "We should be suffocated."

"Josh means put the boat, sir, under the opening in the rock that he spoke about," said Will. "There'll be plenty of air. You can stand up on the rocks, sir, and hear it rush out with a regular roar when the water drives in, and when it goes out again the air sucks in so fast that it will take a piece of paper with it, and sometimes blows it out again."

"There is no time to be lost then if you are sure of this," said Mr Temple anxiously; "but are you sure?"

"Yes, sir, quite sure," cried Will.

"Oh! you may trust Will, sir, that's right enough all as he says. Tide never comes up anything like so high as we shall be."

Mr Temple hesitated, and as he paused, wondering which would be the wisest plan to pursue, there was a wave ready to rise up and completely blot out the faint daylight which streamed through the narrow opening.

This was only for a few moments, and then the daylight streamed in again, but only to be eclipsed by what seemed to be a soft green mass of crystal, that gradually darkened more and more.

Then came sunshine and blue sky again, but a smaller arch than ever, and had the little party not been filled with alarm, nothing could have been more beautiful than the succession of effects.

But in a state of intense excitement Mr Temple was urging Josh and Will to force the boat back to where they would be in safety, if safety it could be called.

Dick was quite as excited as his father, and eagerly seized an oar to help force the boat back, while Arthur, perhaps the most alarmed of the three, sat perfectly still, for, poor boy, he had been fighting for weeks now to master his cowardice, and, as he called it, to make himself more like his brother.

As the boat floated back more and more along the irregular channel they could see the archway entrance open and close—open and close. Now it seemed as if it would not close again, for the water went suddenly lower, and Mr Temple exclaimed:

"Look! the tide is at its height."

"Not it," said Josh. "She's got another two hours to run, I know. But don't you mind, sir, we shall be all right."

Perhaps Josh felt quite confident, but no one else did, as the water rose and fell, giving lovely little views of sea and sky, and then turned into veils of crystal, green and blue, sparkling sometimes like emerald, then changing to amethystine or sapphire hue.

It was surprising what an amount of light seemed to come in when the water sank, and then by contrast the darkness was horrible, and the lanthorn seemed to emit a dismal yellow glow.

They might have stayed for another quarter of an hour watching the light come and go, but there was the danger of their being inclosed in some portion of the cavern where the roof was low, and the boat would be made a prisoner within a prison. So Josh urged the boat forward towards where Mr Temple had been so busy with his researches, and after a little examination he bade Will cover the lanthorn with his jacket.

"It's a long time since I were in here," he said; "but I think as the air-hole ought to be somewhere about here. One moment, Will, lad; hold the light up and lets see the roof."

The rocky summit was in the highest part, some twelve feet above their heads, and satisfied as to this, Josh had the light darkened, and then began to look upward.

"No," he said. "Must be the next. Show the light."

He thrust the boat along once more, grinding and bumping over fragments of rock, till they had passed under another low part of the roof, when this rose once more, and the lanthorn being hidden Josh pointed upward to a narrow crack, through which came a faint light.

"There y'are," he said. "Don't matter how high the water gets, we can get plenty of fresh air. Tide won't get up there."

The position seemed more hopeful now, for the tide would have to rise fourteen or fifteen feet to carry them to the roof; and though in certain places from low water to high water might be perhaps forty feet, they were now so near the height of the tide that it was not likely to rise much farther.

"Don't be frightened, Taff, old chap," said Dick in a whisper; "father's with us, and he'll mind that we don't get hurt."

"I'm not going to be frightened," said Arthur coolly; and then Mr Temple began to talk cheerily as he stood up in the boat and held the lanthorn here and there; but first of all Will noticed that he took his geological hammer and chipped the rock on a level with the water, and soon after he made a clear bright sparkling chip about a foot higher, the granite rock glittering in the feeble rays of the lanthorn.

"I should not be a bit surprised if a good lode of metal were discovered here," said Mr Temple; and he went on chatting lightly about mines and minerals and Cornwall generally, but somehow he could not draw the attention of his companions from that bright mark on the rock, towards which the water was constantly creeping, and then seemed to glide away, as if exhausted with the effort.

And certainly it was a horrible position to sit there with no light but that shed by the yellow lanthorn, the boat heaving up and sinking beneath them, and the sounds of the water dripping and splashing, and now and then making curious sucking and gasping noises, as it ran in and out of cracks and crevices in the rocks.

All at once there was a loud, ringing, echoing blow upon the rock, as the boat approached close to the side, and Mr Temple struck it sharply with his hammer, for one mark had gone and the water was lipping and lapping fast towards the other.

The scraps of granite flew pattering into the water, as blow succeeded blow, Mr Temple making a deep mark on the rock to relieve his pent-up feelings, and to take the attention of his boys, who kept looking at him nervously, as if asking for help in this time of peril.

This done, he made Josh move the boat from side to side of their narrow prison, inviting Dick and Will to help as he chipped here and chipped there, and talked about the different kinds of granite and quartz that he cleared from the dark mossy growth and the film of ages.

But there was the water lapping and lapping and rising, and it was plain now that there would hardly be room to turn beneath the arch-like opening that separated them from the portion where Josh had expected to see the daylight.

It seemed to have grown intensely hot too, for the faint current of cool air that they had felt since entering the place had stopped for some time past, and still the water kept rising, and at last seemed to come through the narrowing opening with so horrible a gurgling rush that it affected even stolid Josh, who took his cap off and said that it was "a gashly ugly noise."

No one spoke, for the attention of all was taken by the increasing sounds made by the water, which seemed forced in now in a way that affected the boat, making it rock and adding so to the horror of the situation that Will leaned towards Josh and whispered for a few moments.

"It's only because there isn't so much room, Master Dick, that's all," he said.

"Yes, that be all," growled Josh; "it don't rise no faster than it did afore. P'r'aps you wouldn't mind making another water-mark, sir. T'other's 'most covered."

But Mr Temple's hammer was already raised as he spoke, and the cave echoed with his blows.

"It sounds different, doesn't it, Will?" said Arthur softly. "It don't echo so much, and seem to run along."

"No," said Will, in the same tone of voice, "there is not so much room. We seem more shut-up like. But it will soon begin to go down now."

"Will it?" whispered Arthur; "or shall we all be shut-up here and drowned?"

"Oh, no, no!" whispered back Will; "don't you get thinking that. The water must begin to go down again soon."

"What time is it high water?" said Mr Temple suddenly.

"Two o'clock, sir," said Josh.

"Why, it must be near that time now," said Mr Temple, laying down his hammer to take out his watch. "Hold the light here, Dick."

Dick caught up the lanthorn, but in doing so caught his foot against one of the bottom boards, stumbled, and there was a splash, and then utter darkness.

The lanthorn had gone overboard, and as the water, disturbed by the fall of the lanthorn and the rocking motion given to the boat, washed and lapped and whispered against the sides, with gasps and suckings and strange sounds, that seemed to be ten times louder in the darkness, Josh growled out:

"Well, you have gone and done it now!"

Then there was utter silence. The water came in with a rush and gurgle that was fearful. The boat heaved and bumped against the side, and it seemed to the prisoners as if the next moment they must be swamped.

But as with breathlessness they listened, the sounds and disturbance died away to whispers, and there was nothing but a feeble lapping.

"It's only noise," said Will, suddenly breaking the silence. "The boat can't hurt."

"Will's right," growled Josh; "but it's a gashly place to be in without a light."

"Crick, crack!"

There was a flash, and a little flame for a few moments as Josh, who had taken out his match-box, struck a light, and held it till it was ready to burn his fingers, when he let it fall in the smooth surface of the water, where it was extinguished with a hiss.

"Don't burn any more, my man," said Mr Temple; "we may want them—"

He was about to say, "in a greater emergency," but he checked himself.

"Right, sir," replied Josh.

"Do you think it is high water now?"

"No, sir. 'Nother two hours to flow," replied Josh. "I remember a case once where some chaps was shut-up in a zorn like this, and—"

"Hush!—hold your tongue!" whispered Will excitedly; "don't tell about that."

"Why not?" growled Josh. "We aren't going to be drowned and washed out to sea."

"Are you mad, Josh?" whispered Will. "You'll frighten them."

"Oh! all right, then," growled Josh; "I didn't know."

Mr Temple was silent, and, bending forward, he took hold of Arthur's hand and pressed it.

"Don't be alarmed, my boy," he said. "There is no more danger now than when it was light."

"I'm trying to be brave, papa," said Arthur softly.

"That's as good as being brave," whispered back Mr Temple. "What?" he said, as the boy clung to his hand and leaned forward till his lips nearly touched his father's ear.

"I want to tell you something," whispered Arthur. "I was too great a coward to tell you before. That cigar-case was not Dick's, but mine."

Mr Temple was silent for a few minutes, and then he said:

"Better late than never, my boy. If you had come frankly to me, and not let your brother take that bit of blame, I should have felt that you could not be a coward. Arthur, my boy, you have a good deal to master yet. Well, Dick," he said aloud in a cheery tone, "how are you?"

"Capital, father," said Dick, "but so dreadfully hungry."

"Well, we can't be prisoners much longer."

"Hours yet," growled Josh—"eh, Will?"

"I don't think so, Josh. You must have been asleep a long time, and don't count that."

"G'long," cried Josh. "Don't talk gashly nonsense."

"Strike another light," said Mr Temple after they had listened once more to the horrible gurgling and washing of the incoming water, and the hardly less startling sounds it made as it escaped. "Hand the light to me directly."

Josh struck a match and passed it to Mr Temple, who had just time to see that his last mark was covered, and the boat far higher up the sides of the cave before he had to drop it in the water.

"Still rising," he said quietly. "This will be a curious adventure to talk of, boys, in the future."

Neither Dick nor Arthur spoke, for Dick was wondering whether they would ever get out alive, and Arthur dared not trust himself to utter a word, for he was finding it terribly hard work to be brave at a time like this.

All at once Josh began to whistle an air—a doleful minor melody, that sounded so strange and weird there in the darkness that Will stopped him.

"Don't do that, Josh," he said softly.

"Why not? One must do something."

"It annoys them," whispered Will.

"Ho!" said Josh. Then he was silent, and for quite half an hour all sat listening to the gurgling, hissing, and rushing noises made by the water.

Then, when it seemed to Dick, who had tight hold of his brother's hand, that he could bear it no longer, his father asked for another match.

Josh struck it, and it snapped in two and fell in the bottom of the boat, but burned long enough for him to light another, which was successfully handed to Mr Temple, while Will took the hitcher and forced the boat back to where the marks had been made on the wall by Mr Temple's hammer.

"Strike another, my man, and hand it to me quick," cried Mr Temple excitedly; and as it was done, and the tiny flame burned brightly in the black darkness, he stood holding it close to the wall of rock; and then as he let the little flame fall and extinguish itself, he exclaimed joyfully:

"At last, boys! There's no danger. The tide is falling fast."

"Falling fast a'ready?" cried Josh.

"Yes; it is down a foot."

"Then—well, of all the gashly things! I must ha' been asleep."

It was but a question of waiting now; and though the time seemed long there was plenty to interest the little party, as Mr Temple had the boat kept close up to the rock, and felt his marks, announcing from time to time how much the water had gone down. Then Dick got Will to thrust down the boat-hook to try how deep it was, but to try in vain, though they were more successful with the lead on a fishing-line, Josh measuring the line after the lead had touched bottom, and announcing it as "'bout five fathom."

All at once they noticed that the horrible rushing and gurgling of the water had ceased; and soon after it became plain that it was harder work to keep the boat close to the rock, for, in spite of the returns of the water as the waves beat outside, there was a steady, constant set of the current towards the mouth. So at last the measurement by the rocks had to be given up, for Josh gave it as his opinion that they might as well let the boat drift towards the cave mouth.

This was done; and though they were unable to calculate their progress, as time went on they felt that they must be nearer the entrance.

Josh poked about with a boat-hook, now at the sides, now at the roof; and then, as they were sitting down waiting patiently, there was a peculiar shuffling and splashing noise heard.

"What's that?" exclaimed Dick.

"Seal!" cried Will; and as he spoke there was a splash as if the creature had dived off a rock into the water.

But they had something more interesting than the seal to take their attention, for all at once there was a faint greeny transparency right before them. Then it darkened, lightened again, darkened and lightened more or less till, all at once, there was a flash, so short, quick, and brilliant that it dazzled their darkness-becurtained eyes like lightning.

"Hoo-ray!" shouted Dick, stamping his feet on the bottom of the boat. "Now, all together—hip-hip-hip hooray!"

Arthur, Will, and Josh joined in making the cave echo as there was another and another flash of light, and soon after the arch at the mouth of the cave began to open more and more; and at last the boat floated out into the dazzling afternoon sunshine, and was rowed steadily back.

"Been shut-up in a zorn!" cried Mrs Marion, who declared that the dinner was spoiled; "then it was all the fault of that great idle Josh and that stupid, good-for-nothing boy."

"No, Mrs Marion," said Mr Temple gently, "the fault was entirely mine."



"Dick," said Mr Temple one morning, as he looked up from the table covered with specimens of ore and papers.

"Yes, father."

"Is Will Marion at home?"

"Yes, father. Hark!" He held up his hand to command silence, and from the back garden came the sound of a shrill voice scolding, and the deep rumble of Uncle Abram, apparently responding.

"You idle, good-for-nothing, useless creature. I wish we were well rid of you, I do."

"Softly. Steady, old lady, steady," growled Uncle Abram.

"Oh! it's no use for you to take his part. I say he's a lazy, idle, stupid, worthless fellow, and he sha'n't stop here any longer. There: get out of my sight, sir—get out of my sight, and don't come back here till you're asked."

"Easy, old lady, easy," growled Uncle Abram. "What's the lad been doing now?"

"Nothing," cried Aunt Ruth, who was suffering from the effect of what people call getting out of bed the wrong way—"nothing, and that's what he's always doing—nothing. I'm sick of the sight of him—eat, eat, eat, and sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, and grow, grow, grow, all the year round. I'm sure I don't know what we do having him here. I hate the sight of him."

"Will," said Uncle Abram, "go down and see that the boat's cleaned out; perhaps Mr Temple will want her to-day."

"Eat, eat, eat, and grow, grow, grow," cried Aunt Ruth.

"Which it is the boy's natur' to," said the old man good-humouredly. "There, be off, Will."

"Run out now and you'll catch him before he goes," said Mr Temple.

Dick hurried out by the front to waylay Will, but encountered Uncle Abram.

"Where's Will, my lad? Oh! he's coming. Old lady's been blowing off steam a bit. Busy day with her, you see. Cleaning. Didn't hear, did you?"

"Oh, yes! we could hear every word," said Dick with a comical look.

The old gentleman glanced over his shoulder and then patted Dick on the chest with the back of his hand. "It's all right," he said in a deep bass. "She don't mean nothing by it. Fond o' Will as ever she can be. Feels often, you know, as she must scold something, and sometimes she scolds Will, sometimes it's Amanda the lass, sometimes me. Why," he said cheerfully, "I have known her set to and let the tables and chairs have it for not shining when they were being rubbed. It's all right, my lad, all right. She's awfully fond of our Will, and if you hear her say she aren't don't you believe her. Here he comes."

Will came round from the back just then, with his head hanging, and a look of dejection in his whole aspect; but as he caught sight of Uncle Abram and Dick he made an effort to hide his trouble.

"Here he is," said the old gentleman, clapping Will on the shoulder, "here he is, Master Dick, my nevvy, and as stout and strong a lad of his years as there is in these parts. Your par wants him, does he?"

"My father wants him," said Dick sturdily. "I never call him pa."

"That's right, my lad. I never called my father pa. Wants our Will, do he? Well, I was going to send him down to get the boat ready. Go and see what Master Temple wants, my lad. 'Member what I said, Master Dick, sir."

"All right!" replied Dick; and Will followed him to the door.

"What has my uncle been saying?" he said quickly.

"Oh! only that I wasn't to notice what your aunt said, and that she don't mean all that scolding."

Will drew a long breath, and leaning his arm against the door-post he placed his forehead against it.

"I can't bear it," he groaned; "I can't bear it. I seem to be so poor and dependent, and she is always telling me that I am a beggar and an expense to them. Master Dick, I'd have gone years ago, only it would half break poor old uncle's heart. He is fond of me, I know."

"Oh! I say, Will, don't—please don't!" cried Dick.

"It hurts me, it does indeed. Oh, how I wish I could do something to help you! I tell you what I'll do, and Taff shall help me. I'll save up to help you buy a boat of your own."

"Thank you," said Will gently; "but you must not think of that. No, Master Dick."

"There; don't call me Master Dick; say Dick. I want you to be friends with me, Will. It's all nonsense about you only being a fisher lad. My father said only yesterday to Taff that he should have been very proud to have called you his son."

"Oh!" cried Will, with a deprecatory movement of his hand.

"He did; and that you had the spirit of a true gentleman in your breast. I say, Will Marion," cried Dick, giving him a playful kick, "what a fellow you are! I'm as jealous of you as Taff is."

"Nonsense!" cried Will; "and don't you be so hard on him. Do you know what he did yesterday?"

"Made some disagreeable remark," said Dick bitterly.

"He came up to me when I was alone and shook hands with me, and said he was very sorry that he had been so stuck-up and rude to me as he had been sometimes, and said it was all his ignorance, but he hoped he knew better now."

"Taff did? Taff came and said that to you?" cried Dick excitedly.

"Yes; and we parted the best of friends."

"There's a chap for you!" cried Dick warmly. "There's a brick! I say Taff is a fine fellow after all, only he got made so stuck-up and tall-hat and Eton jacketty at one school he went to. But, I say, my father wants you. Come along."

Dick led the way into the parlour, where the object of their conversation was sitting by the window reading, and Mr Temple busy over some papers.

"Here's Will, father," said Dick.

"I'll attend to him in a moment," said Mr Temple. "Let me finish this letter."

Will stood in the middle of the room in his shabby, well-worn canvas trousers and coarse jersey, his straw hat hanging at full arm's-length by his side, and his clear grey eyes, after a glance at Arthur, fixed almost hungrily upon the specimens of ore and minerals that encumbered the table and window-sill wherever there was a place where a block could be laid.

The sight of these brought up many a hunt that he had had amongst the old mines and rifts and chasms of the rocks round about the shore, and made him long once more to steal away for a few hours in search of some vein that would give him a chance of making himself independent and working his own way in the world.

Dick broke his train of thought by coming behind him and placing a chair for him, but he declined.

"I wish I had thought to do that!" said Arthur to himself. "I never think of those little things."

"That's done," said Mr Temple sharply as he fastened down a large blue envelope and swung round to face Will. "Sit down, my lad," he said quickly.

Will hesitated, and then sat down, wondering what was coming; and so accustomed was he to being taken to task that he began to run over in his mind what he had done lately likely to have displeased Mr Temple. He came to the conclusion at last that he had been encouraging the two lads too much to go out fishing, and that their father was annoyed with them for making a companion of so common a lad.

Mr Temple gazed straight at him in silence for a few moments, and Will met his gaze frankly and well.

"Let me see, my lad," said Mr Temple at last. "You are quite dependent on Mr and Mrs Marion?"

"Yes, sir," said Will with an ill-suppressed sigh.

"And your parents are both dead?"

"Yes, sir."

"You have no other relatives?"

"No, sir;" and Will looked wonderingly at the speaker, who now ceased, and sat nursing one leg over the other.

"Should you like to be master of a boat of your own?"

"Ye-es, sir," said Will slowly.

"You are very fond of the sea?"

"I like the sea, sir."

"And would like to grow up and be a fisherman?"

Will shook his head.

"I don't want to despise the fishermen, sir," said Will; "but I should choose to be a miner and have to do with mines if I could do as I liked."

"And go down into a deep hole and use a pick all your life, eh?"

"No," replied Will; "I should try to rise above doing that. Most of our miners here work with their arms, and they seem to do that always; but here and there one of them works with his head as well, and he gets to be captain of a mine, or an adventurer."

"Ah!" said Mr Temple sternly. "Why, what an idle, discontented dog you must be, sir! I don't wonder at your aunt scolding you so that all the people in the village can hear. Why don't you attend to your work as a fisher lad, and be content with your position?"

"I do attend to my work, sir," said Will firmly; "but I can't feel content with my station."

"Why not, sir? Why, you are well fed and clothed; and if you wait long enough you will perhaps succeed to your uncle's property when he dies, and have a boat or two and a set of nets of your own."

Will flushed up and rose from his chair.

"You have no business to speak to me, sir, like that," he said warmly; "and I am not so mean and contemptible as to be looking forward to getting my poor old uncle's property when he dies."

"Well done, Will!" cried Dick enthusiastically.

"Silence, sir!" cried Mr Temple sternly. "How dare you speak like that! And so, sir, you are so unselfish as to wish to be quite independent, and to wish to get your living yourself free of everybody?"

"Yes, sir," said Will coldly; and he felt that Mr Temple was the most unpleasant, sneering man he had ever seen, and not a bit like Dick.

"Like to discover a copper mine with an abundance of easily got ore?"

"Yes, sir," said Will quickly. "I should, very much."

"I suppose you would," said Mr Temple. "Are you going to do it?"

"I'm afraid not, sir," said Will respectfully; but he was longing for the interview to come to an end. "The place has been too well searched over, sir."

"Try tin, then," said Mr Temple.

"The tin has been all well searched for, sir, I'm afraid," said Will quietly, though he felt that he was being bantered, and that there was a sneer in the voice that galled him almost more than he could bear.

"Why not look then for something else?" continued Mr Temple. "That is what I'd do."

"Because," said Will, "I am not learned enough, sir, to understand such things properly. If I had books I should read and try to learn; but I have very little time, and no learning."

"And yet," said Mr Temple, speaking warmly now and quite changing his tone, "you without your learning have done more than I have with all my years of study and experience."

"I don't understand you, sir."

"I'll tell you then. I have been far and wide about Cornwall for these last three years and done no good this year I thought I would have another search for something fresh, and give my boys a change. I am glad I have come."

Will did not reply, but looked at him more wonderingly than ever.

"Suppose, my lad," said Mr Temple, speaking now kindly, "I were to tell you that I have watched you very narrowly for some time past."

"I hope I have done nothing wrong, sir?" said Will.

"Nothing, my lad. I was beginning to form a very pleasant impression of you, and then came the day of the storm."

"If—if you would not mind, sir," said Will uneasily, "I would rather you did not talk about that."

"I will only say, my lad, that it confirmed my agreeable impressions about you. And now, look here, I have paid at least a hundred visits to the vein you showed me—the decomposing felspar vein."

"The vein of white spar, sir?" cried Will.

"Yes, my lad; and I have concluded that it is very valuable."

"Valuable, sir?"

"Yes, far more so than many of the best of the copper and tin mines here."

"I am glad," cried Will.

"Why?" said Mr Temple sharply. "Can you buy the land that contains it?"

Will shook his head.

"Can you get up a company to buy and work it?"

"No, sir," said Will sadly. "I should not understand how to do that, and—"

"Some one else would get hold of it, and you would not benefit in the least."

"No, sir, not in the least," said Will sadly. "I am a fisher lad. That is my business."

"But you discovered the vein," said Mr Temple.

"Yes, sir, I found it when I was hunting about as I have done these two years."

"Then don't you think you have a right to some of the profit from such a vein?"

"I don't know, sir. Of course I should like to have some of it, sir, but I don't see how I could expect it."

"Then I do," said Mr Temple. "Look here, my lad, I will tell you something. I have purchased the whole of the land that contains that vein."

"You've bought it, father?" cried Dick. "Oh, I am glad!"

"Why?" said his father sharply.

"Because we shall come here to live."

"Oh!" said Mr Temple. "Now look here, Marion. You showed me what I hope will prove very valuable to me, and I don't want to be ungrateful in return. Now what should you say if I spent a hundred pounds in a boat expressly for you, and after we had called it The White Spar, I presented it to you?"

"I should say it was very generous of you, sir."

"And it would make you very happy, my lad?"

"No, sir," said Will sadly, "I don't think it would."

"Then suppose I spent two hundred and fifty pounds in a boat and nets. Come, that ought to set you up for life." Will was silent.

"You like that idea?" The lad shook his head.

"Then look here, Marion," said Mr Temple. "Suppose I say to you, I am going to open out and work that vein at once, will you come and help me, and I'll give you five shillings a week?"

"Yes, sir, I'll come," cried Will, with his eyes sparkling; "I'll work so hard for you, I will indeed."

"I know you will, my lad," said Mr Temple, shaking hands with him warmly.

"And you will take me, sir?" said Will excitedly.

"Certainly I will, but not on such terms as that. My good lad, there is honesty in the world, though sometimes it is rather hard to find. Look here. You helped me to the discovery, but it was useless without capital. I found the capital, and so I consider that I and mine have a right to the lion's share. I have worked out my plans, and they are these. We will divide the adventure into four parts, which shall be divided as follows, one part to you, and one each to me and my sons. The only difference will be that you will get your part, and I shall keep Arthur's and Dick's along with mine. Do you think that fair?"

"No!" cried Dick, giving the table a thump with his fist.

"Till my boys come of age and are men," said Mr Temple smiling. "Then they can draw their shares. I think it is a fair arrangement. Come, Marion, what do you say?"

"I don't know what to say, sir," cried the lad, whose lip was working with emotion. "You are not playing with me?"

"Playing, my lad! I never was in more sober earnest in my life," said Mr Temple. "There, I see you agree, and I congratulate you on your success, for it will be a most successful venture—of that I am sure."

"So do I, Will," cried Dick, with his eyes sparkling. "I am glad. Hooray!"

Arthur hesitated. For the last few minutes a feeling of resentment and jealousy had been rising in his breast at the idea of this fisher lad winning to such a successful position and being placed on a level with him and his brother; but he crushed the feeling down, triumphed over it, came forward holding out his hand, and offered his congratulations too. "I am glad, Will Marion," he said, and his words were true and earnest; but in spite of himself the thought would come, "I hope he won't always dress like that."

"Then that matter's settled," said Mr Temple. "Everything necessary has been done. The land is mine, and my solicitor has all the papers. Mr Will Marion, I too congratulate you on being a mine owner and on the road to fortune."

"But look here, father," cried Dick suddenly, "what's the good of your white stone? You can't make tin pots and copper kettles of it."

"No," said Mr Temple smiling; "but don't you know what that stone and the clay beneath it will make?"

"Yes," cried Dick, "of course. Houses of brick made of the clay with white stone facings."

"What do you say, Arthur?" said Mr Temple; but Arthur shook his head.

"Can you tell, Marion?" said Mr Temple.

"No, sir," said Will sadly; "I don't—Yes, I do. It's china-clay."

"Right, my lad. A valuable deposit of china-clay, which we can send off after preparation to the potteries—perhaps start a pottery ourselves, who knows? Yes, it was about the last thing I thought of when I came down. My idea was to get hold of a vein of some little-worked metal, antimony, or nickel, or plumbago perhaps; but I have never found anything to equal this, and I thank you, Will Marion, from my very heart."

Will Marion looked from one to the other as if stunned by the tremendous nature—to him—of the intelligence; then, unable to contain himself, he rushed out of the room to see old Uncle Abram.

"Well, Dick, what do you think of it?" said Mr Temple as soon as they were alone.

"Think, father? Why, I was never so pleased before in my life—at least I don't think I was. Poor old Will! how pleased he is!"

There was not time to say much more, for there was a sharp tap at the door, and Uncle Abram came in to have the matter explained.

"For you see, sir, I can't make neither head nor tail of Will here. Seems to me as if he's been dreaming."

Then after it had all been explained the old man took three or four pulls at an imaginary pipe.

"It's like being took all aback," he said, rubbing his grey head. "I can't understand it like quite. I knew he was always off hunting something, butterflies, or fishing up on the moor, but I didn't think it would turn out like that, sir. And I was always making a fender of myself 'twixt his aunt and him because she was wanting to know where he was, and me pretending he was painting the bottom of the boat and mending nets or something. Well, I've been terrible sorry sometimes at his being away so much; but I feel right down pleased, sir, and—and if you wouldn't mind shaking hands, sir, it would do me a power of good."

Uncle Abram shook hands then with Mr Temple, and then with Dick and Arthur, and next with Will, after which he stared at all in turn, and ended by saying as he went out:

"It's 'most more than I can understand after all."



To enter into the occurrences of the next few years would be to give the business career of young men, when the object of this book was to tell of some of the pleasant adventurous days passed by three boys and their friends in that beautiful rugged county in the far west of England which the sea wraps so warmly that winter is shorn of half his force.

It is only right to tell, though, that Mrs Marion, upon being taught by Mr Temple's treatment of her nephew that the boy was what some would call a lad of parts, suddenly began to display a deep interest in him— in his clothes—in his linen; and Uncle Abram found her one day scolding poor Amanda the maid till she put her apron over her head and sat down on the floor and cried.

Uncle Abram stood smoking his pipe and sending puffs here and there as Aunt Marion's tirade of bitterness went on.

"What's matter?" he said at last.

"Matter!" cried the old lady fiercely. "Matter enough. Here's this thoughtless, careless hussy actually been throwing away some specimens of ore that Will brought in. I declare it's monstrous—that it is."

Uncle Abram nodded solemnly, sent a puff of smoke to east, another to west, and another due south, and then went out into his garden to tie up an Ayrshire rose that had been blown down by a late gale.

"Wind's changed," he said to himself, "dead astarn; and our boy's v'y'ge through life will be an easy one now."

Uncle Abram was right, for Mr Temple began to make quite a confidant of Will Marion at once, and depended greatly upon him for help in his business transactions over the kaolin and felspar upon his land.

Dick said it was a jolly shame, and Arthur considered it to be a nuisance; but Mr Temple told them it was for their benefit, and to make them more useful to him in time to come, so they had to go to a great school for the next two years, at the end of which time the kaolin works were in full swing, and Mr Temple, as he never forgot to say, thanks to Will Marion, on the high road to fortune.

For while this tin mine proved a failure, and that copper mine had paid no dividend for years, while the fisheries were sometimes successful, sometimes, through storms and loss of gear, carried on at a loss, Mr Temple's kaolin works became yearly more profitable, the vein growing thicker and finer in quality the more it was opened out.

Kaolin—of course you all know what that Chinese word means. Eh? What? A little boy at the back says he doesn't know? Then we must enlighten him, and be a little learned for a minute or two.

Earthenware is of course ware made of earth that was ground into a paste, and after working into shape, baked or burned hard in a kiln. The roughest earthenware is a brick, the red brick of simple clay, the yellow and white bricks of simple clay mixed with more or less chalk. Then we get the flower-pot, again of clay; the common pan, which is glazed by covering the interior with properly prepared minerals, which melt in the baking, and turn into a glaze or glass. Then we have finer clay worked up into crockery; and lastly, the beautiful white clay which, when baked, becomes transparent,—a Chinese discovery, and to this day it bears its name, "china."

This fine white clay the Chinese call kaolin, and it is to the discovery of veins of the soft white plastic material in England that the wonderful strides in our china manufactures are due.

And what is this kaolin of which Will had discovered so grand a store? Well, it is easily explained. The rocks of Cornwall are largely of granite, a stone that must be familiar to every one. It is formed of grains of quartz, mica the shiny, and felspar, that soft white creamy stone like our old alley marbles. This vein of granite will be close and hard, and contain a vast preponderance of quartz, the flinty; and that vein of granite will be very soft from containing so much felspar; and this granite, a familiar example of which can be seen in the material of Waterloo Bridge, the learned, who give names, call porphyry.

Such granite as this abounds in Cornwall, and some, too, which is nearly all felspar, and such rock as this in the course of ages forms such a bed of kaolin as Will Marion disclosed to the father of his friends.

For the felspar is soft, and imbibes water; and in the course of time the water causes it to break up, decay, and change from stone to a soft white clay, while where it is hard, burning and pounding will do the work that nature has not quite finished yet.

Mr Temple did not go so far as to commence a pottery, for there was no need, the manufacturers being ready to purchase all the clay that the works could produce; and when Dick and Arthur Temple finally settled down to business, it was to find Will Marion their father's right-hand man.

Later on some further investigations were made of the mineral deposits in the seals' cave; but, good as they were, Will Marion shook his head at them, and Mr Temple took his view. The tin looked promising; but tin and copper mining was so speculative a venture that it was determined to keep only to the china-clay, which brought prosperity to all.

The lads often visited the haunts of their old adventures in company with Josh, who was still venerable Uncle Abram's head man; and it was only necessary to hint at the desire for an evening's fishing to make Josh declare, that as long as there was a gashly boat in the bay, they should never want for a bit of fishing.

But Josh never forgave Will in his heart for deserting the fishing business.

"Oh, yes! I know all about the gashly old clay, Master Rickard, sir," he would say; "and it's made him a sort of gentleman like; but I can't seem to see it, you know. He was getting to be as fine a sailor as ever stepped, and look at him now; why, he wouldn't be satisfied to sail anything commoner than a yacht."

Dick remained the same frank merry fellow as ever; and even when there was a thick crop growing on his cheeks and chin, which he called brown mustard and cress, he was as full of boyish fun as ever.

It was Arthur in whom the greatest changes had taken place. Contact with the world had rubbed off the stiff varnish with which he had coated himself. He had learned, too, that a lad can command more respect from his fellows by treating them with frankness than by a hectoring haw-haw display of consequence, and a metaphorical "going about with a placard on the breast saying what a superior young being I am ism." In fact Arthur Temple's folly had all gone, and he had developed into a true English gentleman, who could be refined to a degree, but in time of need lend a hand in any of the many struggles of life.

Will, too, refined greatly, and one of the Sunday sights down at Peter Churchtown was to see Aunt Ruth Marion waiting at her door, while the bells were going, for Will to come and take her to church, while Uncle Abram in his best blue coat, with crown-and-anchor buttons, smoked his pipe to the last minute and then trotted after them along the cliff path to the pew close under the reading-desk.

"Yes, Abram," she used to say, "our Will has grown to be as fine a gentleman as ever stepped; but you always spoiled him, you did; and I don't know what he would have done if it had not been for me."


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