"See that light, Elinor? We are not lost. We must get up stream a little way. Then we'll find the bridge, all right. The crowd will get home ahead of us, because this is the rough side of the river."
"Oh, what a comfort a light can be!" Elinor murmured as she looked up and caught the welcome gleam.
As they hurried along, the Sunrise light suddenly disappeared and they found themselves descending a rough downward way. Presently there were rock walls on either side hemming them in a narrow crevice in the ledges. Then the rain ceased and Vic knew they had slidden down into a rock-covered fissure, that they were getting underground. They tried to turn back, but the up-climb was impossible, and in the darkness they could reach nothing but the sharp ledge of the cliff sheer above the raging river. Entrapped and bewildered, Vic felt cautiously about; but the only certain things were the straight bluff overhanging the flood, and the cavernous way leading downward; while the same deluge that was keeping Vincent Burgess storm-staid on the veranda of the Saxon House, was beating mercilessly down on Elinor Wream.
"We can't stay here and be threshed to pieces," Vic cried. "This crack is drier, anyhow, and it must lead to somewhere."
It did lead to what seemed to Elinor an endless length of hideous uncertainty, until Vic suddenly lost his footing and plunged headlong down somewhere into the blackness of darkness. Elinor shrieked in terror and sank down limply on the stone floor of the crevice.
"All a bluff," Vic called up cheerily, in the same startlingly deep sweet voice that had caught Elinor's ear on the September afternoon before the door of Sunrise, and out in the edge of her consciousness the thought played in again, "I'd rather be here with you than over the river with anybody else. I feel safer here."
"Slide down, Elinor. I'll catch you. It is n't very far, and there's a little light somewhere."
Elinor slipped blindly down the side of the rock into Vic Burleigh's outstretched arms. As he set her on her feet, somehow, the little light failed. In all their struggle, this part of the way seemed the darkest, the chillest, the most dangerous, and a sudden sense of a presence hidden nearby possessed them both, as they came against a blind wall. A stouter heart than Vic Burleigh's might well have quailed now. The two were lost underground. What deeper cavern might yawn beyond them? What length of dead wall might bar their way? And more terrifying still, was the growing sense of a human presence, a human menace, an unseen treachery. As Vic felt his way along the stone, his hand closed over something thrust into a little niche, shoulder-high in the wall. It seemed to be a small pitcher of unique pattern, solid silver by its weight. Was it the booty of some dead and forgotten robber chief, the buried treasure of some old Kickapoo raiding tragedy, or the loot of a living outlaw?