"There's a ladder leading down," he said. "We can use that. Now to explore a gold mine."
Seeing that he had his candles and matches ready, Dick began to descend. The other boys waited until he was down some distance and then followed. The ladder, as they could see, was built against the side of the shaft, and it was far enough away so that the ascending or descending bucket did not touch it.
"Hold on!" cried Dick, from the dark depths. "I'm going to light a candle."
Presently a faint gleam came up the shaft, and Tim and Frank could make out Dick's form standing below them on a rung of the ladder. They also lighted candles, and the descent continued. In about a minute Dick called again:
"Easy now, fellows; I've struck bottom. Got down to the first level, I guess."
In a little while Tim and Frank joined him. They found they were standing in a sort of cave, hollowed out under ground. Resting at the foot of the shaft was a big bucket, attached to the wire cable that extended to the hoisting drum.
"Is dis all dere is to de mine?" asked Tim.
"No, there seems to be a gallery leading off to no one knows where," replied Dick, pointing to a gloomy hole. "Come on, boys, I haven't seen any gold yet," and he waved his candle to and fro. It flickered over the rocky walls of the mine. They glistened with water that oozed from