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THE SPECTRE SMOKE AND THE SPECTRE BOAT.

While in itself it gave evidence of their daugh-| The smoke continued to issue from this place ter's safety; it threw additional embarrassment in for two or three days, until the weather grew mild, the way of all reasonable conjecture of her locali- when it disappeared. The phenomenon excited ty, her situation and the cause of her concealment. much speculation ; but no one could plausibly ac

count for it. Some persons conjectured that it had

some connection with Elizabeth's disappearanceCHAPTER VI.

but the only ground they could assign was that both happened at the same place, and both were

unaccountable. The first week in February, was the coldest The same phenomenon appeared from time to week of the winter. The snow had fallen six in- time during six weeks. Several attempts were made ches deep, and the North-west wind felt as if it to get some one to examine the place where the had come directly from the North-Pole. During smoke issued. But the difficulty and danger apthe night of the 4th, it blew violently, making the peared to be so great, that none were willing to snow fly in clouds from the high grounds, and heap, undertake it; so that the mystery was left unexing it up in the ravines and wherever a bank or a plained. fence produced an eddy. By the morning of the About the first of April, the mild spring weather 5th all was calm, again, but the river was full of ice began, and the labors of the farin thickened. and every living thing sought a warm shelter. · Jesse Ballentyne was kept busy with his duties as

Doctor Heilbrun was returning from a visit to a superintendant; but it was observed that his health very sick patient and stopped on his return home, and spirits, for a month past, were not as good as early in the morning, lo warm himself. The fami- usual. He seemed to be in a lethargic state; for ly kept him till after breakfast, on Mrs. Steinbach's not only did he go to bed soon after dark, but he account, she having taken a violent cold with symp- was often observed to be drowsy through the day, toms of sore throat.

and to nod whenever his duties allowed him to sit When the doctor went out after breakfast to still. moont his horse, the clear sun was shining, and the The excitement in the family and neighborhood weather gave signs of moderating. He was ob- on account of Lizzy's disappearance, had almost served to stand at the gate, looking intently at ceased for want of fresh matter to keep it op; the high cliff of rocks on the river side, below the when two incidents renewed it: the one was the house. George Steinbach went out to ask him return of Legislator Blarney from Richmond; and what attracted his gaze so intently. The doctor the other was the spectre boat. pointed to a certain part of the cliff, and asked what Elizabeth's letter from Richmond had turned made the smoke that issued from the face of the attention upon the Legislator, as possibly connecteliff there. At first George doubted whether it ed with her disappearance. He was therefore could be smoke, but on coming to the doctor's po- watched after his return; but he betrayed no consilion; the reflection of the sunbeams showed plain- sciousness of any participation in the affair, neither ly the blue color of the ascending wreath, It while he was in Richmond nor after his return. seemed to issue from an inaccessible point of the On a soft, cloudy April night, Jo Steinbach and cliff, forty feet above the river and as many below one of the hired men went, after supper, to angle the wood-crowned summit of the rocks. Next for fish in the deep water at the foot of the cliff. came Mr. Steinbach, and then Jo and Jesse Bal. They seated. themselves on a projecting rock at the lentyoe, to see what they were looking at. All base of the cliff, about twenty rods below the furd, pronounced it to be smoke. But, then, how could and were silently and patiently waiting for the fish smoke issue from a naked rock, rising perpendicu- to bite. They had been sitting a full hour, when larly from the river and in a place where no fuel they concluded to change their position: they had could lie, and no man or beast could stand ? To hitherto sat on the extreme point of the flat rock, see it more plainly they went to the river bank where it projected farthest into the river, and had behind the house, where from the top of a large cast their lives out towards the middle of the rock not more than twenty rods from the cliff, they stream. Now they moved themselves to the side could see the spot from which the smoke issued, of the rock looking down the stream, where by its where the cliff was jagged and furrowed-; but no projection it made an eddy at the base of the cliff. fire was visible, and they could not imagine how A liule way below, perhaps five yards, was the point the smoke originated. There was no way by where the current, especially in high water, struck which a man could get at the place, but by means perpendicularly against the face of the cliff, and of a rope let down from the brow of the cliff above. had in the course of ages undermined it, so as to No ladder could reach it from below, because the form a deep cavern, no one knew 'how deep, in river was eight feet deep at the foot of the cliff, and which the waters whirled and rumbled at such a the force of the current had undermined the cliff, rate, when a little swollen especially, that no one 80 as to leave no foothold at the water's edge. had appeared willing to venture, either by swimming or with a canoe, to see what sort of a place fore to have this river-care explored. But when it was inside.

Indeed, the entrance was so filled he proposed the enterprise to his sons and his hired with the boiling and whirling water, that there was men, not one of them was found willing to ondereven in a dry season but little space between the take it. Jesse Ballentyne was not at hoine, he bar. surface of the water and the rock that covered the ing gone the evening before up to Hansberger's watery cavern. From six to twelve or fifteen mill to load a couple of wagons with flour for marinches was all the height of the impending rock ket. When he returned about ten o'clock and above the water—at least on the outside where it was heard of the spectre boat, he proposed at once to visible; and this low opening did not extend more explore the water cave, if any one would join him. than thirty feet along the base of the cliff. Al As to the hired men, they would as soon hare enpresent, the river was here a few, and only a few, tered a volcano as that devil's den of a cave; but inches above low water-mark.

after some hesitation George consented to join in Now the fishermen had just cast their lines into the adventure. It was near evening before they the eddy between the projecting rock and the were prepared. For a boat they launched a hors. stream that ran into the cavern five yards below, trough bolstered and steadied by a couple of fenee when they were surprised and frightened to see a rails attached to the outer sides. To secure the dark-looking object come gliding with the current return of the boat he attached a rope by one end directly towards the month of the cavern, and be to the projecting rock on which the fishermen mit fore their frightened wits could make out distinctly when the spectre-boat appeared, and fastened the what it was,—the night being cloudy and the half- other end to the trough-boat. Taking some fire filled moon able to give but a faint light,—the and a pine torch in the bollom and a stout padde dark-looking object entered the cavern by the low in his hand he knelt down in the binder end to opening about twenty feet below them. They did, steer, and George knelt in the fore end with the though dimly, perceive that it was a sort of small rope grasped in his hand, that he might let it out flat boat, and that a man sat in it gently rowing or draw it in as occasion should require. Launchwith two short oars, which he held before him, so ing into the stream from the extremity of the fetthat he could look forward as he rowed. When ing-rock, Jesse with his paddle directed the beat this apparition got into the shadow of the cliff, it to the low entrance of the cave. He and George was so indistinctly visible, that they did not actu- had to lie almost flat when they entered. Thej ally see it enter the cavern, but only inferred that found the roof of the cave gradually rise, after it did so, from the fact of its having disappeared they passed the entrance, until, about ten feet withimmediately after it approached the cliff.

in, a great dark cavern suddenly opened above Now Jo was a sensible boy of sixteen, but full their heads, and fifteen feet further, the corrent of ghost stories that he had heard ; and his compan- drove the boat against the face of a rock. The light ion was a clown full of superstitious notions en- from without was sufficient to show them a creries gendered in his ignorance by the superstition of in the rock; into this Jesse thrust bis paddle and others. Both were so frightened by the sudden fastened the boat to it by means of the repe

. apparition, and equally sudden disappearance of Kindling his torch, he soon discovered by its light the boat, under the cliff, in a place where troubled that the roof of the cavern was twenty-five or thirwater and darkness made an exploratory visit hor- ty feet high, that the rock against which they had rible to the imagination—that they knew not what struck rose perpendicularly at least twenty feet; and else to make of what they saw, but that some de- the visible length of the cavern up and down stream mon had taken up his abode there, and was now was about thirty feet. At the lower end the correturned home from a visit in the neighborhood. rent which came in where they entered, turned and They left the fearful place immediately and went flowed out again.

But near this end, there seemed to the house. The family had mostly gone to to be low water-caverns in which the current was bed; they also went to theirs, and said nothing of whirled about with a rumbling noise. It seemned their adventure until the next morning at break- dangerous if not impossible to explore any of these fast, when they gave a very confused account of rumbling caverns, because they were so bearly what they had seen. At first Mr. Steinbach dis- filled with water that the boat could not enter believed their story; but when he remembered the them. There did seem to be, high ep, near the mysterious smoke near the same place, and had roof, the dark mouth of a cavern Fanning back inte drawn from them all that they could tell of the the hill; but its entrance was eighteen or twenty fest matter—especially concerning the rower, his oars, high, and to reach it they would have to set a land and the manner in which he sat in the boat—he der against the perpendicular wall that separated was inclined to believe that some man for some them from it. purpose

had more than once entered a secret cav- Having made these observations, Jesse and ern in the cliff; and a suspicion crossed his mind George, by means of the rope and paddle

, worked that this affair had some connection with the dis- the boat out again to the fisherman's rock, and appearance of his daughter. He determined there-'reported to Mr. Steinbach what they had seen.

terious.

Their discoveries left the mystery of the spectre- river, lodged against a rock at the foot of a high smoke and spectre-boat as dark as ever. The ex-precipice, like that just below Mr. Steinbach's. istence of so large a cavern would have shown the It was so much swollen that the features could feasibility of these apparitions, if the cavern itself not be recognized. A jury of inquest was imcould have afforded accommodation or motive for mediately summoned. Hardy was by his own any one lo visit it for any purpose, however mys. contrivance one of them. As no woman was

known to have been drowned lately in that neighJesse Ballentyne proposed to take in a ladder borhood, and none was missing except Lizzy Sleinand examine the upper cavern, giving it as his bach, it was supposed by almost every one, that opinion ihat some discovery of importance might this was her corpse, and that now every thing be made ; Mr. Steinbach thought otherwise, but about her was cleared up except the cause and the consented to Jesse's proposal. It was some days circumstances of her being drowned. before the requisite preparations could be made The jury made diligent examination, but could amidst the hurry of business on the farm. When not identify the person. The corpse agreed in all was ready, a rain was falling, and the river stature with Elizabeth, but differed in the color of soon rose so as to make the cave inaccessible. the hair ; this being of a much darker hue than Before it fell sufficiently, a new event iurned the hers. The teeth agreed in general, but differed allention of the family elsewhere.

in particulars; these being less sound and complete than hers. The half decayed linsey-woulsy

gown agreed in stripe and coloring with one of CHAPTER VII.

hers that was missing, but was coarser and some

what different in the fashion of its make. Other THE CORPSE AND THE INQU'EST.

articles of dress gave no definite sign; but ElizaThe annual election for members of the Legis- beth had long worn a gold ring on the third finger latare was approaching. There were many candi of the left hand; the corpse had one of pinchbeck dates in the field, and lawyer Blarney was opposed on the same finger. These coincidences and difby a new competitor, who was likely to run him ferences perplexed the jurors generally, but not hard. The coanty sent two members; but old Mr. Hardy. He ingeniously reconciled every Colonel Staufer was a sort of standing meruber- thing with the supposition of its being Elizabeth's three-fourths of the people voting for him, as a corpse. matter of course; so that the only contest was for Then as to circumstances of time and place. the second seat.

Now about two years before, a The corpse was judged by some to have lain certain lawyer Hardy had setiled ai Woodstock. months in the water ; Hardy and others argued He was a successful lawyer, and excited great ad- that it might have been reduced to its present state miration for his eloquence. He was a stout man, by an immersion of four or five weeks in the mild with a round fat face, and a voice like a trompet. season of spring. Five weeks had elapsed since He could stun the ears of a thousand people. Then Blarney returned from Richmond. The deep pool too he could crack excellent jokes; and what was in which the body was found, lay a quarter of a toore, he could make a plausible ease out of slight mile below a bridge, by which the main road of circumstances, and assert ingenious falsehoods with the neighborhood leading to East Virginia crossed the gravest face-and swear to them too, if occa- the river. This was the road by which Blarney sion required. He hated Blarney as a rival in went and came on his legislative mission, and by popular favor, and determined by all means to pull which he travelled forth and back between his him down for his own advancement. He came residence in Woodstock and his farm lying near out this spring as a candidate, and harangued the the place where the body was found. Blarney in sovereign people at masters and on court days; and the vanity of his heart and to the injury of his poprode from house to house with great industry, shak- ularity, had, the last winter, bought himself a lwo)ing hands with the men, kissing the women, and horse carriage in Richmond, and had two or three fondling the children.

limes travelled in it to and from his farm. He But Blarney, though inferior to him in some had laid it aside only during the three last weeks, puints, was superior in others. He had more sa- since the electioneering campaign had become hot. gaeily in discovering the enmities, jealousies and Jake Speck, a poor fellow that lived near the ruling passions of men; and in taking sides with the bridge, swore that on that night four weeks before, strongest in all the strifes of the community. He he was wakened out of his sleep at midnight by was therefore in a fair way to gain his election the loud screams of a female about the river. In third time, when a sorprising discovery enabled answer to a question by Hardy, he said that BlarHardy to get the advantage of him a few days be- ney was that night at his farm. Another witness fore the election.

deposed that about the same time two emigrant Three miles below Mr. Steinbach's the dead families with their wagons had encamped near the body of a woman was found in a deep hole of the bridge. These were all the circunstances appeara

Var. XIV. 63

ing in evidence, that seemed to furnish grounds and other requisites for the enterprise. George for a judgment of the case. . Though vague and was with difficulty persuaded to join in it a second doubtful, Hardy managed them so as to cast no time. He feared to climb a ladder twenty feet slight suspicion upon Blarney.

high and resting on a small boat below. But be at The Steinbach family examined the corpse : last plucked up courage and promised to follow the parents were doubtful-not because the ap- Jesse wheresoever he should go. pearances were satisfactory in favor of this being When they got the boat with the apparatus to Elizabeth's body, but because here was a body not the perpendicular rock to be ascended within the altogether unlike, unaccounted for,—and there was water cave, the one end was fastened as before to Elizabeth's mysterious absence wholly unaccount- a stake thrust into the crevice of the rock. To ed for--and all in the same neighborhood. But keep it steady under the oblique pressure of the Jesse Ballentyne pronounced positively that this ladder, when set up against the wall, iwo poles of could not be Elizabeth's body, because it differed the proper length were fastened by one end to the in material particulars which could not be changed outer side of the boat and set with the other end by lying weeks or months in the water.

against the descending curtain of rock that hoog Hardy made full use of the suspicious circum- over the entrance of the care. Thus the beat stances of this case. Three days before the elec could not be pushed out from the inner wall of rock tion the county was full of rumors concerning new by the pressure of the ladder. Having tied a cord discoveries tending to prove Blarney's guilt. The to each side of the ladder at one end, they raised consequence was that Blarney lost his election, that end up against the wall and set the other end and was Legislator Blarney no more.

in the middle of the boat, where it was secured On election day Mr. Steinbach found in the post from slipping. Then the two cords that were tied office, at Woodstock, a letter with the New Market to the upper end and hung down when the ladder post mark, bearing evidence that Elizabeth was was raised, were run through staples at the two living. It was written in her name and hand wri- ends of the boat and tied after being well stretched. ting, enclosed a lock of her hair, and the identical These acted as stays to keep the ladder from slipgold ring which she had long worn. Though a ping to either side. plain ring it was recognizable by the soldering with Now Jesse took a lighted torch in his hand and which it had been mended when broken only a mounted the ladder. In a minute he was at the week before her disappearance. In this letter she top and standing upon a flat surface of rock where begged her parents to be patient a while longer and he could perceive that a cave opened before bio they should see her again.

towards the interior of the bill. He threw down Notwithstanding the evidence of this letter and the end of a cord that he had wound about his its accompaniments Mr. Steinbach had a lingering waist, and told George to fasien to it the basket suspicion that it was an ingenious forgery of Blar-containing sundries for the exploration and then ney as well as the former letter, and that he had mount. George did so and soon joined his coreally drowned her in revenge for her contemptuous panion above. Jesse now blew three blasts og 3 refusal of his hand. In short his mind was so con- small tin trumpet, the concerted signal that they fused by the mysterious and contradictory circum- had discovered a cave within the case as he prestances of the case, that he did not know what to dicted that they would. think.

Proceeding through a passage thirty feet long Jesse's preparations for exploring the river cave they came to a large and lofty room elegantly had been finished before the election, but high wa. adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, and draier and other circumstances caused him to defer peries around the walls white as soow and hanging the enterprise until the last of April.

every imaginable variety of graceful folds. Here Jesse again sounded his trumpet; echo repeated the sound on every side. From several passages,

leading divers ways from this room, sounds were CHAPTER VIII.

returned so distincıly and so loud that they could

hardly persuade themselves that other trumpets THE MYSTERIOUS CAVE.

were not sounding in distant cavities of the hill. On the morning of the 30th of April the river Entering the widest of these passages at the farwas sufficiently low to permit a shallow boat to en-ther end of the room they found themselves gradter the water cavern. Jesse had found a little flat ually descending 'till they came to a streamlet of boat at Dr. Heilbrun's, a mile above Mr. Stein- pellucid water flowing among stalagmites and ist bach's. He put this liule boat upon a wagon and incrustations resembling ice. This led them now hauled it to Mr. Steinbach's. It was large enough gradually ascending into another spacious and bezeto support a ladder that would reach the mouth of tiful room. At the farther end two openings prethe upper cave proposed to be explored. Jesse sented themselves, one on either hand. They 60had made a suitable ladder, prepared ropes, torches'tered that on the les which conducted them under

THE MYSTERY SOLVED AT LAST.

the higher part of the hill. Pursuing this someceived a passage on the right near the farther end. twenty yards or more they entered a magnificent Entering this Jesse again blew his trumpet. After room fifty yards long, thirty wide, and twenty high, the echoes died away, they heard a few sweet splendidly decorated with pillars, and draperies, and notes of the same music which they had heard beincrasted floors, all glittering in the torch-light and fore, and only a few. They soon entered another looking like enchantment.

room with two passages leading from it. They After they had admired this wonderful sight took the one on the left which brought them diawhile Jesse again blew his trumpet, and lo! the rectly to the first room which they had entered. whole interior of the hill seemed to be alive with Rejoicing at this they went forth with to their ladvoices, first loud and terrible, then softened into der. Here three blasts of the trumpet notified their tones that sounded musically. Presently all died safe return to the watchers outside. Jesse used away except one which soon changed into the me the cord which he had carried with him to fasten lodious lones of a human songstress, softly rever- the head of the ladder securely to a large stalag. berating through the vast hall, and seeming to play mite that was near. Then descending they soon. through every part of it. They walked forward, loosened the boat; and letting the ladder hang they listening to detect the origin of these sweet notes, emerged into the outer world three hours after they which were evidently not the softened echoes of had launched their boat into the watery cavern. the trompet. As they advanced the sounds grew Great was the astonishment of all at the narralouder and more distinct, yet they could not con- tive of their adventures; yet to {the sorrow of all jecture whence they came. Their eyes soon lit it did not solve the mystery. upon a splendid show of drapery by the wall on the left, near the mid length of the hall. Immense sheets, folding over one another, and glittering white, hung from the ceiling to the floor. Here the

CHAPTER IX. music seemed to be most melodious. On approaching they imagined that these thin stony curtains formed the heavenly tones, for they seemed to That evening Dr. Heilbrun called and sat three quiver and be alive with them, and the notes sounded hours with the family. After hearing the story of as if they issued from within and to be the com- the cave, and expressing his admiration of its bined product of a hundred folds of these delicate splendor, and his intention to explore it, and if possounding boards.

sible to clear up the mystery of its music, he beGeorge was alarmed and begged that they should gan a conversation which seemed to have been retreat from this magic cave. But Jesse refused premeditated. He first informed Mr. and Mrs. and told him that such sweet music could not pro- Steinbach that the wicked relations of Jesse Balceed from an evil being. In a few minutes it lentyne had left the country with the intention of ceased, and George plucked up courage enough to going to the Missouri Territory. When they were follow his conductor into a passage at the end of tried for horse stealing the legal evidence was inthe hall. This was at first so low that they had sufficient to convict them, though few doubted their to stoop, and so narrow that they could not go guilt

. About twenty of their neighbors then went abreast. Presently it grew larger and became to their dwelling in the mountain, and told them rather steeply ascending. It turned more to the that if they would leave the State they should be left as it ascended, and finally contracted again to supplied with funds to pay their travelling expenses; a narrow way as it entered a beautiful room, not but that if they refused they might calculate on adorned with stalactites like the others, but dry being punished by Lynch's law. Two of them had

run away when the rest were apprehended for horse Two things were remarkable in this room : first stealing, and had not returned. The rest had set an opening like a window, admitting light through off the preceding day for the far west. the side opposite to the entrance. And secondly, Having given this welcome information, Dr. evident signs that the room had been occupied by Heilbrun began to speak in praise of Jesse, whom a human being. There were marks of fire, stains he declared to be, in his opinion and in that of of

grease, and some chisselings about the window, nearly all the country, one of the finest young men to give it a more regular shape. But except some in Shenandoah, both morally and intellectually. coals and scraps of things, of no value, there was "* It is becoming the general opinion," said the Docnothing to indicate that any person

had lately oc- tor

, “ that Lizzy's disappearance has been caused copied the place, or was now occupying it. On somehow by her attachment to Jesse. In fact,

saw that this was the hole in the sore begin to say openly, that you secretly sent cliff through which the smoke had been bserved er to Pennsylvania again, that she might be sepato issue during the cold weather of the last winter. rated from Jesse, and they say that you are wrong They soorí left this room and retraced their steps in opposing the match, for that you will never find

In passing through it they per-'a son-in-law elsewhere equal to Jesse. Of course

and snog.

looking out they

10 the large hall.

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