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The Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker

Part 4 out of 4

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but also because it was the place where most description was
required, and Adam felt that he could tell his story best on the
spot. The absolute destruction of the place and everything in it
seen in the broad daylight was almost inconceivable. To Sir
Nathaniel, it was as a story of horror full and complete. But to
Adam it was, as it were, only on the fringes. He knew what was
still to be seen when his friends had got over the knowledge of
externals. As yet, they had only seen the outside of the house--or
rather, where the outside of the house once had been. The great
horror lay within. However, age--and the experience of age--counts.

A strange, almost elemental, change in the aspect had taken place in
the time which had elapsed since the dawn. It would almost seem as
if Nature herself had tried to obliterate the evil signs of what had
occurred. True, the utter ruin of the house was made even more
manifest in the searching daylight; but the more appalling
destruction which lay beneath was not visible. The rent, torn, and
dislocated stonework looked worse than before; the upheaved
foundations, the piled-up fragments of masonry, the fissures in the
torn earth--all were at the worst. The Worm's hole was still
evident, a round fissure seemingly leading down into the very bowels
of the earth. But all the horrid mass of blood and slime, of torn,
evil-smelling flesh and the sickening remnants of violent death,
were gone. Either some of the later explosions had thrown up from
the deep quantities of water which, though foul and corrupt itself,
had still some cleansing power left, or else the writhing mass which
stirred from far below had helped to drag down and obliterate the
items of horror. A grey dust, partly of fine sand, partly of the
waste of the falling ruin, covered everything, and, though ghastly
itself, helped to mask something still worse.

After a few minutes of watching, it became apparent to the three men
that the turmoil far below had not yet ceased. At short irregular
intervals the hell-broth in the hole seemed as if boiling up. It
rose and fell again and turned over, showing in fresh form much of
the nauseous detail which had been visible earlier. The worst parts
were the great masses of the flesh of the monstrous Worm, in all its
red and sickening aspect. Such fragments had been bad enough
before, but now they were infinitely worse. Corruption comes with
startling rapidity to beings whose destruction has been due wholly
or in part to lightning--the whole mass seemed to have become all at
once corrupt! The whole surface of the fragments, once alive, was
covered with insects, worms, and vermin of all kinds. The sight was
horrible enough, but, with the awful smell added, was simply
unbearable. The Worm's hole appeared to breathe forth death in its
most repulsive forms. The friends, with one impulse, moved to the
top of the Brow, where a fresh breeze from the sea was blowing up.

At the top of the Brow, beneath them as they looked down, they saw a
shining mass of white, which looked strangely out of place amongst
such wreckage as they had been viewing. It appeared so strange that
Adam suggested trying to find a way down, so that they might see it
more closely.

"We need not go down; I know what it is," Sir Nathaniel said. "The
explosions of last night have blown off the outside of the cliffs--
that which we see is the vast bed of china clay through which the
Worm originally found its way down to its lair. I can catch the
glint of the water of the deep quags far down below. Well, her
ladyship didn't deserve such a funeral--or such a monument."

The horrors of the last few hours had played such havoc with Mimi's
nerves, that a change of scene was imperative--if a permanent
breakdown was to be avoided.

"I think," said old Mr. Salton, "it is quite time you young people
departed for that honeymoon of yours!" There was a twinkle in his
eye as he spoke.

Mimi's soft shy glance at her stalwart husband, was sufficient

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