Page:Ballinger Price--Us and the Bottle Man.djvu/71

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I walked then, breathless, into a street paved with rough silver ingots, each one surely weighing a quintal, between tremulous shapes of buildings which pointed lustrous towers upward through fathoms of green water. It was many minutes before I dared enter one of those great silent halls. Dragging my heavy leaden-soled boots, I pushed through a shapely silver doorway, and a fish darted past me as I entered. Who could imagine the wonder of that vast room! The mosaic that covered the walls and ceilings was of gold and jewels, not porphyry and serpentine, such as delight the wondering visitor to Venice, but precious stones—rubies, sapphires, emeralds, amethysts as richly purple as grape clusters, topaz as clear and mellow as honey.

Behind a traceried grillwork lay heaped a mound of treasures such as no human eye will ever see again. I lifted a little tree fashioned all of gold,—each leaf wrought of the metal—and strung with jewelled fruits on which ruby-eyed golden birds fed. In despairing rapture I clutched after a neck ornament hung with pendulous pearls as large as plums. But as I reached for it, I felt that something was looking at me from the corner. Not Acuma; no human being was in sight. Peering out through the glass