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Chapter 4 ANOTHER NEW FACE

  • As the cook had gone, Mrs. Cliff and Miss Markham prepared breakfast, and the_hey discovered how little water there was.
  • There was something mysterious about the successive losses of his men whic_ressed heavily upon the soul of Captain Horn, but the want of water presse_till more heavily. Ralph had just asked his permission to go down to th_each and bathe in the sea, saying that as he could not have all the water h_anted to drink, it might make him feel better to take a swim in plenty o_ater. The boy was not allowed to go so far from camp by himself, but th_aptain could not help thinking how this poor fellow would probably feel th_ext day if help had not arrived, and of the sufferings of the others, which,
  • by that time, would have begun. Still, as before, he spoke hopefully, and th_wo women, as brave as he, kept up good spirits, and although they eac_hought of the waterless morrow, they said nothing about it.
  • As for Ralph, he confidently expected the return of the men in the course o_he day, as he had done in the course of each preceding day, and two or thre_imes an hour he was at his post of observation, ready to wave his flag.
  • Even had he supposed that it would be of any use to go to look for Maka, _ertain superstitious feeling would have prevented the captain from doing so.
  • If he should go out, and not return, there would be little hope for those tw_omen and the boy. But he could not help feeling that beyond the rocky platea_hich stretched out into the sea to the southward, and which must be at leas_wo miles away, there might be seen some signs of habitation, and,
  • consequently, of a stream. If anything of the sort could be seen, it migh_ecome absolutely necessary for the party to make their way toward it, eithe_y land or sea, no matter how great the fatigue or the danger, and withou_egard to the fate of those who had left camp before them.
  • About half an hour afterwards, when the captain had mounted some rocks nea_y, from which he thought he might get a view of the flat region to the nort_n which he might discover the missing negro, Ralph, who was looking seaward,
  • gave a start, and then hurriedly called to his sister and Mrs. Cliff, an_ointed to the beach. There was the figure of a man which might well be Maka,
  • but, to their amazement and consternation, he was running, followed, not fa_ehind, by another man. The figures rapidly approached, and it was soon see_hat the first man was Maka, but that the second figure was not one of th_ailors who had left them. Could he be pursuing Maka? What on earth did i_ean?
  • For some moments Ralph stood dumfounded, and then ran in the direction i_hich the captain had gone, and called to him.
  • At the sound of his voice the second figure stopped and turned as if he wer_bout to run, but Maka—they were sure it was Maka—seized him by the arm an_eld him. Therefore this newcomer could not be pursuing their man. As the tw_ow came forward, Maka hurrying the other on, Ralph and his two companion_ere amazed to see that this second man was also an African, a negro very muc_ike Maka, and as they drew nearer, the two looked as if they might have bee_rothers.
  • The captain had wandered farther than he had intended, but after severa_houts from Ralph he came running back, and reached the camp-ground just a_he two negroes arrived.
  • At the sight of this tall man bounding toward him the strange negro appeare_o be seized with a wild terror. He broke away from Maka, and ran first i_his direction and then in that, and perceiving the cleft in the face of th_ock, he blindly rushed into it, as a rat would rush into a hole. Instantl_aka was after him, and the two were lost to view.
  • When the captain had been told of the strange thing which had happened, h_tood without a word. Another African! This was a puzzle too great for hi_rain.
  • "Are you sure it was not a native of these parts?" said he, directly.
  • "You know, they are very dark."
  • "No!" exclaimed Mrs. Cliff and her companions almost in the same breath, "i_as an African, exactly like Maka."
  • At this moment a wild yell was heard from the interior of the rocks, the_nother and another. Without waiting to consider anything, or hear any more,
  • the captain dashed into the narrow passage, Ralph close behind him. They ra_nto the room in which they had slept. They looked on all sides, but sa_othing. Again, far away, they heard another yell, and they ran out again int_he passage.
  • This narrow entry, as the investigating Ralph had already discovered,
  • continued for a dozen yards past the doorway which led to the chambers, bu_here it ended in a rocky wall about five feet high. Above this was a_perture extending to the roof of the passage, but Ralph, having a wholesom_ear of snakes, had not cared to climb over the wall to see what was beyond.
  • When the captain and Ralph had reached the end of the passage, they hear_nother cry, and there could be no doubt that it came through the aperture b_hich they stood. Instantly Ralph scrambled to the top of the wall, pushe_imself head foremost through the opening, and came down on the other side,
  • partly on his hands and partly on his feet. Had the captain been first, h_ould not have made such a rash leap, but now he did not hesitate a second. H_nstantly followed the boy, taking care, however, to let himself down on hi_eet.
  • The passage on the other side of the dividing wall seemed to be the same a_hat they had just left, although perhaps a little lighter. After pushing o_or a short distance, they found that the passage made a turn to the right,
  • and then in a few moments the captain and Ralph emerged into open space. Wha_ort of space it was they could not comprehend.
  • "It seemed to me," said Ralph, afterwards, "as if I had fallen into the sky a_ight. I was afraid to move, for fear I should tumble into astronomica_istances."
  • The captain stared about him, apparently as much confounded by the situatio_s was the boy. But his mind was quickly brought to the consideration o_hings which he could understand. Almost at his feet was Maka, lying on hi_ace, his arms and head over the edge of what might be a bank or a bottomles_recipice, and yelling piteously. Making a step toward him, the captain sa_hat he had hold of another man, several feet below him, and that he could no_ull him up.
  • "Hold on tight, Maka," he cried, and then, taking hold of the African'_houlders, he gave one mighty heave, lifted both men, and set them on thei_eet beside him.
  • Ralph would have willingly sacrificed the rest of his school-days to be abl_o perform such a feat as that. But the Africans were small, and the captai_as wildly excited.
  • Well might he be excited. He was wet! The strange man whom he had pulled u_ad stumbled against him, and he was dripping with water. Ralph was by th_aptain, tightly gripping his arm, and, without speaking, they both stoo_azing before them and around them.
  • At their feet, stretching away in one direction, farther than they could see,
  • and what at first sight they had taken to be air, was a body of water—a lake!
  • Above them were rocks, and, as far as they could see to the right, the wate_eemed to be overhung by a cavernous roof. But in front of them, on the othe_ide of the lake, which here did not seem to be more than a hundred feet wide,
  • there was a great upright opening in the side of the cave, through which the_ould see the distant mountains and a portion of the sky.
  • "Water!" said Ralph, in a low tone, as if he had been speaking in church, an_hen, letting go of the captain's arm, he began to examine the ledge, but fiv_r six feet wide, on which they stood. At his feet the water was at least _ard below them, but a little distance on he saw that the ledge shelved dow_o the surface of the lake, and in a moment he had reached this spot, and,
  • throwing himself down on his breast, he plunged his face into the water an_egan drinking like a thirsty horse. Presently he rose to his knees with _reat sigh of satisfaction.
  • "Oh, captain," he cried, "it is cold and delicious. I believe that in one hou_ore I should have died of thirst."
  • But the captain did not answer, nor did he move from the spot where he stood.
  • His thoughts whirled around in his mind like chaff in a winnowing-machine.
  • Water! A lake in the bosom of the rocks! Half an hour ago he must have bee_tanding over it as he scrambled up the hillside. Visions that he had had o_he morrow, when all their eyes should be standing out of their faces, lik_he eyes of shipwrecked sailors he had seen in boats, came back to him, an_ther visions of his mate and his men toiling southward for perhaps a hundre_iles without reaching a port or a landing, and then the long, long dela_efore a vessel could be procured. And here was water!
  • Ralph stood beside him for an instant. "Captain," he cried, "I am going to ge_ pail, and take some to Edna and Mrs. Cliff." And then he was gone.
  • Recalled thus to the present, the captain stepped back. He must d_omething—he must speak to some one. He must take some advantage of thi_onderful, this overpowering discovery. But before he could bring his min_own to its practical workings, Maka had clutched him by the coat.
  • "Cap'n," he said, "I must tell you. I must speak it. I must tell you now,
  • quick. Wait! Don't go!"